Many people make the same mistake when they start out in marketing—they think there isn’t much to it.
The average newbie says, “Since we’re in the beverage space, let’s send a bunch of our drinks to influencers. That oughta cover it.”
Truthfully, you need a variety of skills and abilities to become a marketing expert. And today—when you likely have hundreds, if not thousands of competitors—great marketing is a fundamental part of any flourishing business.
If you can market your product better than the next person, you’re going to be more successful. Plain and simple.
With that in mind, here are five skills you absolutely need to move from novice to marketing expert:
1: Knowing how to sell and position benefits
A big aspect of marketing is positioning a product or service to be sold and finding an audience for it.
In fact, selling is one of the fundamental building blocks of becoming a marketer. If you don’t know anything about selling, you’re going to have trouble grasping the intricacies of marketing.
That’s why when I’m hiring for a marketing position, I always look for candidates who’ve had to sell something. It doesn’t have to be the direct, “Sell me this pen,” type of sales, either. If they’ve spent time in a position where they had to convince customers not to cancel a service, for instance, that’s an advantage.
As a marketing expert, you must know how to explain the benefits of what you’re selling in an attractive way.
2: Understanding the nuances of communication
People hear “communication” and think, “Of course I know how to do that.”
In reality, not everyone is as great at it as they think. Not only does interpersonal communication have so many different layers, but in marketing, you also have to understand how other people communicate.
It is extremely important for a marketer to really understand how other people communicate and interact with each other.
Great marketers aren’t always social butterflies and can be very data-driven. They can dissect people’s communication and thought patterns very well. In fact, you’ll find that type of person in a lot of marketing positions.
Marketing experts aren’t necessarily the gregarious salesperson type, but they know how to interpret human behavior really well.
3: Writing different styles of
It’s incredibly useful to have a basic understanding of how to write copy as a marketer. Writing is just another form of communication, and you have to master it if you want your emails and ads to be successful.
The basic formula is this: attention, interest, action.
You find a way to grab an audience’s attention right away. You then get them interested in what you’re marketing. Finally, you provide a call to action that prompts an immediate response. (This can range from buying a product right then and there to simply clicking on a link).
You also have to make your message feel relatable. The worst thing you can do as a marketer is to sound like a marketer. Instead, you want your audience to feel like you’re communicating with them, building rapport, and creating a connection.
The moment you sound like you’re selling something, people tune out.
4: Ideating and testing
Over the years, I’ve learned an incredibly crucial marketing lesson: just because I think an idea will work well, doesn’t mean that it will be a hit. Conversely, simply because I believe an idea will bomb, doesn’t mean that it will fail.
Marketing experts and the best copywriters in the world will tell you in a heartbeat they rely heavily on split testing to assess their ideas. If they want to market a car to a certain demographic, they don’t just create one ad. They make 15, or even more. All of them are different because, in the beginning, they’re not absolutely sure what messaging will work. They may have educated guesses, but nothing’s concrete without data.
As the results of the ads roll in, the data is narrowed down. Marketers look at what didn’t perform well, learn from it, and continue to adjust and iterate. So if you really want to succeed in marketing, you have to be able to come up with ideas, and more importantly, you have to test them.
5: Having patience and being able to interpret data
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen people give up on a campaign or a niche market too early. Given a few more weeks and a handful of split tests, they would have been successful.
The problem is that a lot of people don’t realize how badly a small sample size can skew their results. They run a campaign for five days and then get depressed at the low level of engagement with the ad. But by running it for five days with a minimal budget, they were only able to reach a tiny percentage of their target audience. Discrepancies always arise in a small sample size.
For example, if I asked the next 10 people I meet what they think about my favorite movie, they all might agree that it’s great. That doesn’t mean everyone in Los Angeles thinks the same way, or that the ratio would hold up for a larger audience.
If you have confidence in your idea and you’re committed to testing it, then you have to be patient, as well. You need self-restraint to consider the data you receive and identify whether or not the sample size is misleading.
Being a marketing expert requires a greater depth of knowledge than many people imagine. But if you can master these five skills, you’ll impress others with your ability to truly understand and communicate with consumers.