2018 is shaping up to be a pivotal year for small business and their marketers. The list of skills every marketer needs to succeed is growing and it’s leaving many businesses wondering which way to turn.
2018 is the year that every small business will need to make deliberate decisions about their marketing strategy. We no longer live in a siloed world. A business’ reputation follows it everywhere online and off. Everything is connected throughout the consumer’s shopping process.
The biggest problem most small business owners have with marketing is time. And many of them don’t particularly like doing marketing or have a lot of experience with it.
Very few small business owners outsource their marketing. According to the 2017 WASP Barcode Technologies “State of Small Business Report,” only 14% outsource their marketing, public relations, and advertising.
This comes up again in other studies. In the InfusionSoft 2017 “Small Business Marketing Trends Report, 70.8% of small businesses reported doing their marketing in-house.
Unfortunately, this isn’t working well.
Street Fight’s research on small business owners found that among business owners that either do their marketing themselves, delegate it to an internal team, or outsource it to an agency, the owners who do their marketing themselves are the least satisfied with their results.
Marketing is evolving. Small business marketers are not.
Social media, search, content, social ads, digital ads (and the strategies that make them successful) have all advanced to a level that many marketers struggle to keep up with. It’s very difficult now to achieve good outcomes without a specialized group of skills.
Many marketers may be incredibly talented in a few of the more traditional skills. But in the past few years, those traditional skills have become the baseline.
It’s no longer possible to just ‘figure things out.’ In fact, it could be dangerous to your business reputation and future revenue.
7 Skills Every Marketer Needs in 2018
Whether you’re considering promoting from within, hiring an individual, engaging an agency…or you’re someone who’s getting ready to take the leap into entrepreneurship, there’s a number of diverse skills every marketer needs in order to survive in 2018.
1. Web Design
Your website is your digital storefront and in many cases, it’s the first thing customers come in contact with when they’re researching what you sell.
- Does your website represent the company and its products/services well?
- What’s the user experience like?
- Is the site structure solid?
- Is it being optimized for search?
- Does the content answer their questions?
A basic understanding of site structure is crucial.
Pro Tip: Being familiar with or possessing a working knowledge of HTML, PHP and WordPress is of great advantage to today’s marketers. I’m not saying you need to build a full website from scratch, just that a marketer should know enough about it so that when issues arise, they don’t interrupt your daily workflow.
2. Writing Ability
Writing skills are vital in today’s marketing and will continue to grow in importance in 2018.
Writing for the web requires two separate sets of skills:
- Ability to create content that attracts, engages and converts customers.
- Search engine optimization techniques to achieve site authority.
3. Strategy Development
I just had a company reach out to me for marketing advice. They had been bootstrapping it for year and were at a point where marketing strategy was sorely needed. A few months back, they tried PPC/Adwords but said, “Because we didn’t have a strategy, we spent a lot and got very little.”
Goals are at the heart of strategy development.
Many marketers jump to execution of tactics. Some simply take what’s communicated to them by the client or company without using their expertise to uncover the true goals or breakdown how to achieve them.
4. Data Analysis
There is a MASSIVE shortage of marketers that are skilled in the art of data analysis. A recent study found that only 3% of marketers are competent in analyzing data.
In digital marketing, every visitor, view and share is tracked. In fact, there’s so much data now that business owners get a mountain of it to review each month. Sifting through that is exhausting.
Marketers often focus solely on the creative part of marketing. Of course that’s important but the skill of measuring and analyzing results is too. Never accept one without the other.
5. Social Media Savvy
Social media has grown up, graduated college, got married, had kids and is staring down the barrel at middle age.
Every marketer in 2018 should be a regular user of social media personally, as well as professionally, which requires being savvy in the social environment.
To be competitive, marketers should possess social finesse, be able to tell stories well and maintain a working knowledge of storytelling components.
If they have a blog or write for online media, that’s a huge advantage because that means they’ve already tested the waters of content marketing.
Social media is not independent from other media now. It’s an integral part of an overall marketing strategy. Unfortunately, it’s a buzzword and a lot of people are trying to capitalize on this booming market…so here’s a shocker:
Not everyone who says they can do social media marketing has actually done it successfully!
Pro Tip: When you’re ready to hire your social media marketing manager or agency, take advantage of >>these 10 questions<< to ask your candidates. Their answers will inform your decision and help you pick the right person or vendor.
6. Marketing Automation
Marketing automation refers to software platforms and technologies designed for marketers and organizations to more effectively market on multiple channels online (such as email, social media, websites, etc.) and automate repetitive tasks.
Awesome tools like Post Planner and Thrive Architect are saving marketers time while improving their results.
The marketing automation industry grows exponentially each year. As marketing automation tools continue to improve and multiply, it won’t get any easier to navigate in 2018.
Shrewd marketers command the use of specific tools while also investigating and re-evaluating to discover new and enhanced solutions.
For 2018, as digital marketing becomes even more sophisticated, I advise keeping a consistently-updated database of tools, the benefits of each, and the skills needed to apply them in specific marketing campaigns.
And the more we make decisions in a given day, the worse we get at it.
Decisiveness is an element of great leadership. I chose this seventh skill because, with today’s marketing, it’s not only what you put out there to attract customers that counts – it’s what you do once they see it and start interacting with it.
I see so many businesses still trying to keep a veil up between themselves and their customers. Most of it is habit from the old days of advertising and PR. Those businesses (and their marketers) who work at removing this barrier will be positioned for success in the long-term.
It’s a skill to interact with customers and to do it well demands decisiveness.
Often that interaction requires thinking on your feet, which calls for confidence, patience, empathy, gratitude and courage. All those skills make for better decisions and happier, engaged customers.
Is your marketing moving at the speed of digital?
The skills every marketer needs have never been more diverse. Mastering the complexities that are happening now and those beyond 2018, means upping your skills game.
Take control of your business reputation by learning these skills and insisting your marketers possess them.