In with the new … but not necessarily out with the old

I’ve been working in marketing and PR for more than 20 years. So much has changed over this time – particularly in the field of technology. It’s difficult to imagine what the next 20 years will look like as we already seem to have all the technology that we need!

An issue that concerns me, and which I spoke about at today’s Women’s Business Forum, is that digital may be overtaking traditional marketing skills in terms of perceived importance.

Telex machine

I started my presentation this morning by looking at some old technology that was once considered the height of innovation. The examples I gave were telex machines, electric typewriters and fax machines. Those of us who have been working for 20 years or more can probably remember when these devices were considered innovative. But, with the possible exception of fax machines, which are still used in some settings, they would all now be described as obsolete or ‘old tech’.

My view is that regardless of the changes in technology, traditional marketing skills are still vitally important and should not be overlooked. I was delighted, therefore, when I came across some research presented in a webinar by E-consultancy last year, that seemed to support my view

The three skills most valued by marketing chiefs

E-consultancy undertook some research comprising a quantitative study of over 500 marketers and a review of the academic and professional literature. They found that the top three skills most valued by marketing chiefs were:

  • Marketing knowledge – a good theoretical grounding in principles, concepts and knowledge
  • Marketing skills – the ability to use and apply that knowledge
  • Marketing mindset – a ‘growth’ mindset as opposed to a ‘fixed mindset’

From this they identified four types of ‘modern marketer’:

Skills of the Modern Marketer

The Bluffer is someone who works in marketing but has never had any proper training or any knowledge of traditional or digital marketing techniques. S/he is often the one who’s asked by the boss to put together a leaflet or look after the website. In this type of organisation, marketing is seen as something anyone can do. Decisions are made by the seat of the pants.

The Prisoner generally has very well honed traditional marketing skills but s/he isn’t interested or hasn’t bothered to keep up to date with digital techniques. These are often delegated to a junior (often younger) colleague while the Prisoner buries their head in the sand.

The Specialist is an expert in digital marketing, but hasn’t got any underpinning traditional marketing knowledge or experience. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – and is often found in larger organisations. However, it’s important that they are guided and managed by someone who has got this underpinning knowledge.

The Modern Marketer has a blend of traditional and digital skills and knowledge. Decisions and actions are strategically taken, based on sound marketing planning and a range of marketing tools, including digital.

Of course, it’s not just in marketing that the digital revolution has happened. The internet has revolutionised all areas of our life – in our homes and at work. But the skills most sought after by employers (according to research undertaken by Target Careers) are very traditional although often found to be lacking in our school leaver population.

Top ten skills sought after by employers

  • Commercial awareness
  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Negotiation and persuasion
  • Problem solving
  • Leadership
  • Organisation
  • Perseverance
  • Ability to work under pressure
  • Confidence

I would argue that young people in particular are generally so engaged in digital activities that they spend insufficient time practising the vital skills that make a real difference in the world of work.

We can’t get away from digital – and neither should we. My plea is that we don’t allow digital to overtake in importance the more traditional human skills that are the basis of all effective business transactions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *