Like it or not, the world of Marketing is growing, exponentially. (Careful, we may take over the world, eh, eh, eh). Marketing plays a role in almost every department. It can camouflage into IT - with serious analytics (a.k.a. big data) in order to better understand customer behaviors. It can creep into HR - with help in recruiting and branding the company. It can also be an asset to finance in obtaining and maintaining profitable customers. And, of course, Marketing helps Sales with bringing in the hot leads!
So Marketing has many disguises - from analytical to research to content creation to digital & social to design & artistic. Now that Marketing is expanding into multiple areas of an organization - there is much more gray area. Do you hire a Marketing person to read analytics and statistics and translate that into campaigns and sales? Or do you hire a mathematical/IT person for that job? Sometimes your budget doesn't allow for the luxury of both.
As a Freelancer, I come across many job descriptions from small to mid-sized companies. The ones that make me wince are those that desire a Marketing professional that is experienced and proficient in all matters Marketing - writing, analytics, social media, graphic design, web design, etc. (Exhaustive sigh here). If you find somebody that can wear all of those hats - by all means hire them right this second! But for the majority of Marketing seekers - professionals today are more specialized. They are educated and experienced in a Marketing niche - becoming experts inside of their silos. They eat, sleep and breathe keywords, graphics, numbers or whatever their passion. Enterprise companies can hire a full suite of Marketing experts. Small companies, not so much. So what do you do if you are ready to bring Marketing into your business but can't afford an entire team?
Find a seasoned, well-rounded Marketing professional. They will not have a niche expertise, but will be experts of the Marketing field in general. They will see the forest through the trees and know where and when Marketing is most effective. If they feel they don't have enough expertise in an area - they will know when to pull in a third party and how to find the perfect match. Here are some overall skills a Marketing professional should have;
- Excellent writing skills. This is the foundation of all Marketing. If they can't write a compelling story geared towards a specific audience, then they are not going to bring in the leads.
- Communicator. This extends beyond writing into speaking - to customers, to colleagues, to executives. This means being able to make presentations to audiences with ease and confidence.
- Some analytical aptitude. You want the person to be able to know what data is needed, where it can be found and how to interpret the data into making improvements, effective campaigns and better understanding customer behaviors.
- Understanding of the Marketing Cycle. At the most basic level, they must be able to dive deeply into the target audience and understand their needs, wants, pain points and buying habits. In addition, they should also be able to sketch out the your customers' buying cycle and line up Marketing assets according to each step.
- A general understanding a website development and the back end systems. They won't be able to build a website from scratch, but should have knowledge of the steps needed to build one and how to make updates and adjustments through the back end system.
- Knowledge of Marketing email systems like Constant Contact and Mailchimp. And industry best practices.
- Social Media experience. At the very least, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Pinterest, You Tube, Snap Chat are bonuses. They should know how they work, how to analyze and track results and, most importantly, how to target your audience.
- A good eye for design, color and editing. While they may not know their way around Illustrator, they should certainly be able to visualize and interpret concepts for ads, brochures, web pages, etc. How can graphics/illustrations/graphs further explain the words and make them come alive?
(Another exhaustive sigh). This list should cover the basics of a solid, Marketing professional. Don't feel you are short changing yourself. You will, no doubt, have a very effective Marketing 'department' with a person with the right experience and knowledge.