The Biggest Mistake Marketers Make Is Not Learning New Skills
Modern marketing skills rapidly gained importance in the digital era. In response, many established marketers paid for skilled expertise in the form of specialists and consultants, to keep pace with the rapid upswing.
While this approach served as an effective stopgap against evolution overload, marketing leaders realized the influx of new skills required to lead marketing was just beginning. Marketing leaders took immediate action to move beyond stopgaps and developed their own skills.
In contrast, some marketers failed to realize marketing was fundamentally changing. Rather than recognizing the influx of modernized skills would become the new normal, some marketers remained fixed in their skill sets and continued to rely on specialists and consultants.
If you’re a modern-marketing laggard, you may already realize the error of your decision. To be a marketing leader today, modern marketing skills are core competencies, similar to targeting, message development, visual identity, and other traditional marketing skills.
Use Experts as a Catalyst, Not a Crutch
Strategically using specialists and consultants to stay at the forefront of shifts in marketing is great for keeping up with the market as it evolves. The issue develops when you rely entirely on “the experts” as more than just a catalyst to keep pace.
Without also developing your own skills, the ceiling is set very low for improving the proficiency and capabilities of your marketing team. Leadership requires staying at the forefront of the industry. If you’re not keeping pace yourself, your entire team will struggle to grow.
To make the most of your experts, create a plan and timeline for knowledge transfer, and establish the goal of building your own skills parallel to developing your team’s skills.
Move Fast to Close the Skills Gap
If you’re a modern-marketing laggard, you’re already at a disadvantage. You should immediately map out a learning plan that includes studying, reading, and teaming with experts to grow your skills on a set timeline. Use whatever resources necessary for advancement, and be mindful of progresses on the plan.
Don’t stop when you’ve achieved basic understanding. Instead, continually develop your skills to strengthen your expertise, enabling you to lead your team. Even if you don’t do the hands-on work yourself, deep understanding will help you effectively coach your team and seize opportunities.
Roll up Your Sleeves and Gain Hands-on Experience
Knowledge in marketing disciplines is table stakes for today’s marketers. If you want to really lead in today’s modern marketing landscape, experience different disciplines hands-on to learn about aspects you would never get out of study alone.
Everything makes sense in academic principle once you’ve read enough. The reality is raw knowledge will only get you so far. To truly understand details and dynamics that make modern marketing outperform expectations, you must have a first-hand experience and frame of reference to complement your thinking.
Lead by Example to Inspire Others
Developing the right knowledge will arm you with what you need to lead. However, hands-on experience is especially valuable to demonstrate your leadership to your team. Applying your experience and knowledge to show others how it’s done will inspire others to follow your example.
Having sufficient knowledge, skill, and expertise to get others on the right track should be your primary goal as a leader. There are always going to be others better than you in a given area, so your target is to get others moving in the right direction, give them enough to work with to gain momentum, and step back to let their work reach new heights.
Change Your Mindset And Stay Ahead of the Curve
If you’re reading this and feeling behind on your skills, it’s okay. Decide to change and shift to grow in the areas that characterize the modern marketing world. Having done that, you’ve tackled the biggest challenge.
Once you’ve made the decision to move forward, build on your momentum and commit to sustained growth over time. New disciplines aren’t going to stop cropping up and the current set is only going to grow and evolve.
Accept that marketing and leadership require continual learning and seek ways to improve within and across the full breadth of traditional, modern, and next-generation skill sets.
All that stands in the way of your growth is you. Making the decision to stop relying on experts to compensate for your skill deficits is the first step to moving your modern marketing prowess forward.
Start by teaming with your experts to create a plan for knowledge sharing. Formulate a learning plan, seek opportunities to roll up your sleeves, gain hands-on experience, and lead by example. Change your mindset and make continual learning standard practice for you and your team.
Complete these basic steps and you’ll regain your position as a marketing leader in no time. Choose not to change and your journey to irrelevancy will be short.
Make the right choice and remind yourself what it means to be a marketing leader in the modern era.
About John Fildes
I grow the bottom line by connecting marketing to business strategy. By leveraging powerful positioning, content marketing, and client insights, I help CEOs drive qualitative and quantitative results at scale.
I've built an amazing network of incredibly talented people over the years. What I've appreciated most is those who have invested in me, mentored me, and helped me become the talented professional I am today. I pay it forward by doing the same for other high performing professionals and entrepreneurs.
All views are my own and not those of my current or prior employers.