A rant on marketing, writing and technical skills

Most marketers are not prepared for today’s job requirements.

Marketing is not glamorous.

Creative brainstorming A balancing act between Sales, IT, Product and Creative
A think tank not concerned with the Sales team The front line of Sales responsible for driving leads
Using social media several hours a day Matching social activity to business goals in the free 15 minutes you have
Writing catchy slogans and sayings Working with multiple teams to eliminate fluff and be transparent
Handing ideas off to teams to build them Inputting copy into a CMS, tweaking code and escalating issues

This is not Mad Men. This is not The Pitch. Even agencies aren’t as glamorous as you think (shhh!).
Most marketers are not ready for a job in marketing

Marketing is a grind. It requires exceptional people skills that never seem to be fully addressed in job reqs. It requires understanding who to talk to, what to say, how to frame your interactions, how to handle breaking bad news and matching the interpersonal skills with maniacal project management.

Much is made of the age of transparency. Now, you can’t polish a crappy product with nice messages or design. Users, customers and your employees will see right through that. Marketing takes a backseat to Product.

Yes. Marketing takes a backseat. Your success as a marketer is strongly correlated to the success of the product you represent. You do look into that before you take a job right?

Marketing requires you to sort through fluff, not create more.

It requires effective copy, regardless of role.

Marketing also requires technical skills.

If you can’t edit simple HTML, you may not get the job. It isn’t complicated to learn. Write a post in WordPress and click HTML (beside Visual in the top left of your post). Your job will require you to tweak things and break them until you fix them.

You’ll likely be involved with a CMS (content management system). Many times, this won’t be what you hope it will be – not all companies use WordPress, Drupal or Joomla. You’ll have to learn that too. You can learn HTML in CSS in 30 days for free.

Most importantly…

Marketing requires stellar understanding of how to create and execute campaigns.

What are the business goals?

What are the KPIs (key performance indicators)?

What are the gates / milestones you’re trying to hit?

What is your hypothesis (marketing is scientific, dummy)?

How will you execute?

What contingency plans need to be considered?

What does success look like?

What happens if you fail?

How do you report out progress to the broader team?

What does your dashboard look like?

What do you want to communicate at the end of the campaign?

Where is the failure point?

Is it education? Is it training? Is it not having enough challenging internships?

I’m not quite sure. But, I know that my advice to anyone trying to grow in a marketing career is to demonstrate significant experience in all marketing skills, writing, technical matters (even if just HTML) and be able to communicate that value.

Honestly, I think a lot of folks don’t know exactly what to look for.

It isn’t just me.

I’ve talked to multiple marketing leaders, CMOs, entrepreneurs and business leaders. Marketing tends to get a bad reputation. We have to work to change that. Demonstrate that you don’t fit in the prescribed marketing box and push to make things better.

The lines between marketing, product, UX, design and development are blurring.

It is time to adjust accordingly.

Image via almira_a (CC)

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Still not sure who wrote this post? I'm Chris Moody.


  1. Great post. Marketing execution issues are the easiest to spot by everyone else. Finance, engineering, and even sales all will have execution issues, but they are easy to hide. Marketing execution is evident to all.

    That’s why everyone has an opinion about marketing. It looks easy… But that’s exactly what makes it hard. It is all exposed to everyone and every little task is not rocket science. But keeping it all in coordination, done well and effectively measured is management gold.

  2. Pingback: Industry Reading | Pearltrees

  3. Amen brother! I remember my first job in marketing doing desktop publishing, marcom and events. All the developers thought marketing was useless until the sales team thanked us for all the leads we generated so that everyone got a bonus that year. It’s hard but rewarding work that is a vital part of the business.

  4. Great post – and I would add that marketing is knowing the customer so well, your offerings sell themselves. Additionally, let’s not forget the role we need to play in making certain the offerings are easily available to customers wherever they are…because the most amazing promotional effort can’t overcome a lousy product, poorly priced and unavailable in markets where your buyers live and work.

    • Thanks for the comment Pat. I agree. Marketing and product management has to be customer / user focused. As Scott Stratten says, it is pull and stay versus the old push and pray strategies.


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