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7 Essential Skills for a Successful Marketing Career Develop these cutting edge marketing skills and be on top of this new game.

By Santosh Kanekar

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The leather in the chair feels good. The sunshine coming in through the windows feels nice and warm.

There is a delicious smell of warm fresh cookies wafting in.

Your first month at this startup is feeling good. Gone is the stress of working in a traditional company with its processes and endless meetings. Here everyone is working close to each other. There is buzz and excitement as the last round has gone well. You feel good joining as the CMO here.

You are loving it!

"Got a minute?" the 25-year-old CEO of the startup breaks your reverie as he pulls a chair near you.

"We must accelerate our customer conversions. With new funding, we need to double our sales every 6 months. I am banking on you to accelerate our marketing. BTW I rejected the campaign you sent yesterday. Let's get something out quickly"

"Wait! What?" before you can say that, he is gone.

Welcome to the new world of marketing where old models don't work and everything is fair game.

How do you adapt to this fast changing, ever shifting trends?

Develop these 7 cutting edge skills to leave the outdated marketing practices behind, build a strong foundation for your marketing and be on top of this new game.

Listen more, talk less

Gone are the days when companies can overwhelm the customers with advertising across channels and deliver results.

The Spray-and-Pray approach is dead.

Marketers need to listen more, much more.

Spend a day in the life of the customer if you can. If not, have one-on-one conversations to understand their challenges and the opportunities. Know what your brand can take part in their life and help them.

One of the reasons why startups have taken the world by storm is that the successful ones have focused on improving one aspect of the customer life. This comes from deep insight in the way the customer interacts with information around. These insights are generated by developing a buyer persona.

Buyer persona

A buyer persona is not just a bland demographic listing of the customer.

Make the effort to understand the customer deeper.

  • What products do they buy?
  • How do they choose?
  • Whom do they trust for their buying decisions?
  • What attitudes and behaviors shape their life? Whom do they involve in their decision making?

HubSpot has an excellent tool to develop Buyer persona which can be adapted to any industry.

Related: The Science of Building Buyer Personas (Infographic)

Do you want to draw your prospects attention?

Content gets the prospect's attention.

Developing Buyer persona helps you in identifying what the content you should publish.

Publishing Content

Content Marketing is not an option. It is survival.

Marketers have to embrace the changed reality. Consumers who have access to the internet are increasingly using social networks and search engines to make sense of the problems they have and the solutions for the same.

Marketers have to be in tune with this reality by creating content which is relevant to the stage at which the consumer.

  • At the awareness stage, the content has to be more problem solving. Eg "How to"
  • At the consideration stage, the content has to now move more to options and comparing the different solutions. In both stages, there is no product sell
  • At the decision stage, the value of a particular brand is established.

    This approach helps the consumer see the merit in the process and finds a brand which talks to her in this manner as a trustworthy brand.

    Trust is built by having open communication on shared values and interests. This process is accelerated by influencers.

Influencer marketing

In a world where trust and attention are at a premium, Influencers are the gatekeepers.

In every industry, there are influencers which the customer turns to or is inspired by.

Identify the influencers relevant your industry. Reach out to them. Find out how your brand and their proposition can gel. Only if it is a fit between your brand values, the influencer's values and what their community is seeking, develop a partnership.

Don't throw money just to get next to an influencer. It will look like a party gatecrasher desperately photo bombing! Get invited to the circle of the influencer and add value.

Related: 8 Do's and Don'ts of Influencer Marketing

Building trust shifts your focus from just adding customers to retaining them.

Retaining is as or more important than acquiring

Sujan Patel says "Successful companies aren't the ones with the infrastructure and campaigns to quickly attract lots of new customers (even though, on the surface, they might seem enviable). Instead, it's the companies that are able to keep those customers, long-term, that eventually win."

Cost of getting a new customer has risen dramatically. At the same time, just because you have got a sale does not mean you have a customer for life.

Retaining customers and converting them into raving fans is the new game.

Fans help the company spread the message in their social networks and create the trust which other prospects can relate to.

Developing fans mean that within your organization, marketing and sales have to work seamlessly.

Integrated marketing and sales

There was a time when marketing and sales used to work in silos. No more.

Marketing and sales have to be seamless in delighting the customer.

Marketing has to generate qualified leads to enable sales to migrate leads to final purchase. Marketing has to use the buyer persona to establish a common language with sales.

One way you can integrate your marketing and sales is extensive use of Data Analytics


Facebook knows everything about you.

Facebook with its partnerships with data brokers including Epsilon, Acxiom, and Datalogix has on an average of 1,500 data points per person. Can you imagine how targeted their advertising platform has become?

Now ask the questions:

  • Which channels within and outside the company are generating consumer data for me?
  • What social listening methods do I use to generate data?
  • How can I aggregate them?
  • How should I mine them to make my marketing more targeted?

More behavioral data you have, more edge you will have in the competitive battle.

Setup everything as an experiment.

Take the lessons from the failures and run another test.

Do more of what is working.

Make Marketing a Conversion game where both you and the customer are on the same side.

Santosh Kanekar

Startup Mentor, Leadership Coach and Author

Author of Stop Reset Start, Growth Rocket Launcher, and Leadership Coach, Santosh Kanekar founded BeLive Corp, which advices many Global Hedge and Alternative Funds based in New York, London, Singapore and Hong Kong. He regularly advises Startups on Business Planning and business acceleration.

He has coached hundreds of individuals and businesses to deliver high-performance results and launch their own Growth Rocket.

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