How marketers can develop skill sets fit for the future
Marketing leaders Jo Pettifer of Salesforce and Conor McKechnie from Cytiva explain how to create a capable and futureproof marketing organisation.
Today’s marketer is more than adept at the so-called traditional skills, but if organisations want to look to long-range futures, it is clear that those roles have to evolve.
That’s according to Salesforce’s VP of marketing for the UK and Ireland, Jo Pettifer, who was speaking on the final day of the Festival of Marketing’s Fast Forward event. She said that “there has never been a better time to be a marketer” but also warned that the sector faces an impending skills gap.
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Pettifer cited recent research that discovered there were 192,000 sales and marketing jobs open across the UK and Ireland that would require some kind of martech-related skills. Further, by 2025, 60% of job roles will have changed significantly enough to require skills development due to automation or DX. And, she warned, “we can’t hire our way out of this”.
Joining her to discuss what makes for a modern marketer was Conor McKechnie, VP of marketing at Cytiva, formerly known as GE Healthcare Life Sciences. He acknowledged that the traditional marketer is still very much in existence, as is their new counterpart, the digital marketer. But he cautioned against drawing too binary a distinction between the two: “They’ll be different in many of their core skills and capabilities, but in their foundational understanding of marketing, [today’s marketer] will be very similar to the good marketers of yesterday.
“I don’t want people to come away thinking there are two kinds of marketers – traditional and contemporary – and never the twain shall meet,” he continued. “You need both. The best marketers are marketers who have evolved because they’re building a contemporary skillset on really solid marketing. And that hasn’t changed.”
“Our job is to find the stories that connect with audiences and engage customers.”
Emily Latham, Channel 4
Educate to accumulate
Both speakers agreed that learning is at the heart of the future marketing organisation, particularly given the rate of digital transformation, which is only expected to continue accelerating and evolving. “The implementation of a new technology without aligned training and development or any vision of what you want to achieve means it’ll just sit in the garage,” McKechnie warned.
Pettifer noted that we may be anticipating a future none of us can predict just yet, but that preparation is key and this is as much true of training as it is any other marketing challenge. “It’s about a plan. What are we optimising for, what needs to be dialled up? That’s where we have to see if we have the necessary skills.” But, she admitted, she’s looking even further into the future, rather than trying to look for skills gaps today, noting that the new hybrid way of working, whatever shape that takes, will undoubtedly influence the marketer of the future.
Success in building a strong marketing organisation comes down to accountability. Both Pettifer and McKechnie agreed that it is a leadership imperative – whether from the very top or at a line manager level – to develop staff and open the doors to learning. “It’s our number one priority as managers, Pettifer insisted. “We have to help our individuals in this new way of working.”
McKechnie added that it’s also down to the leaders to learn too – not just in terms of setting an example but by being better marketers and leaders themselves. “I really enjoy being wrong. I find marketers to challenge my assumptions [in case I] have the wrong picture of the world. Because if I’m wrong on Monday, it means I’ll be a little less wrong on Tuesday.”
He concluded that while it was the manager’s job to put learning and evolutionary opportunities in front of their marketers, ultimately great marketers are the ones who take control of their own destinies. “Marketers are in the best possible place to manage their own careers. You have the toolkit, apply rigorous marketing thinking to yourself as a value proposition and you’ll go a long way.”■
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Salesforce's Jo Pettifer on aligning marketing with business outcomes
Source: IDC InfoBrief, sponsored by Salesforce, Jobs and Skills Creation in the United Kingdom and Ireland: Unlocking the Potential, doc #EUR147594821, May 2021