HomeBlog The Top Five Marketing Skill Sets for 2017

The Top Five Marketing Skill Sets for 2017

March 06, 2017 | By Marcia Trask

  • Marketing skills have become an increasingly urgent topic for b-to-b CMOs.
  • Marketing leaders are faced with a growing skills gap fueled by sweeping organizational and technological changes affecting the marketing function.
  • The data from SiriusDecisions’ 2016 global CMO study is clear – an overwhelming majority of CMOs plan to acquire, revise or enhance the skill sets within their marketing function over the next two years.

Marketing skills have become an increasingly urgent topic for b-to-b CMOs. Marketing leaders are faced with a growing skills gap fueled by sweeping organizational and technological changes affecting the marketing function. In SiriusDecisions’ 2016 global CMO study, 81 percent of respondents indicated that they plan to increase the use of external providers to acquire specialized skills, while 77 percent of respondents stated they plan to revise or enhance the skill set of existing marketing staff. These responses aren’t mutually exclusive, as 96 percent of respondents indicated that they plan to do both. The data is clear – an overwhelming majority of CMOs plan to acquire, revise or enhance the skill sets within their marketing function over the next two years.

When CMOs were asked to select the skills that are most critical to revise or enhance for their organization over the next two years, these were the top five responses, in order of priority:

  1. Marketing strategy. Many marketing organizations have staff who are skilled in tactic execution but lack competency in strategic planning. CMOs are seeking to upskill marketers with the ability to interpret corporate growth strategies and define appropriate marketing strategies that support business objectives and marketing goals. They want marketers who can support the shift from product-centric to audience-centric marketing, develop and implement integrated campaigns, and determine effective and scalable digital strategies.
  2. Analytics. In the current age of big data, CMOs are interested in marketers who are skilled at applying analytics concepts, tools and models to marketing challenges; deriving actionable insight from data; and leveraging these insights to guide marketing decisions. They want to enhance the skill sets of marketers who – while not data scientists themselves – can partner with and provide business requirements to internal or external analytics specialists, manage analytics projects, and effectively socialize their findings to influence decisions ranging from strategic investment approaches to marketing mix allocations.
  3. Channel partner management and sales enablement. Tied for third place were channel partner management and sales enablement skill sets, reflecting the increased need for marketing to support direct and partner sales organizations in sourcing demand and converting opportunities. CMOs are looking to develop channel marketers skilled in establishing strategy and ensuring execution for one or more partner types, finding new partners, creating demand for or in conjunction with partners, and enabling partners to sell more successfully. Desired sales enablement skills for marketers include content and tool creation to support audience-centric marketing campaigns and programs; tailoring of enablement programs to meet seller needs; and ensuring that sales has the required knowledge, skills, processes and tools to optimize every interaction with buyers and customers.
  4. Social media. Social media expertise, capabilities and activity levels are maturing in most marketing organizations, and CMOs are finding that siloing social operations in a singular function no longer makes sense. CMOs want marketers who can leverage social media creatively and cross-functionally, regardless of their role in marketing. This requires training marketers in the development and execution of the company’s social media strategy, understanding of the social media landscape (including laws and regulations), and knowledge of social monitoring and management techniques.
  5. Marketing measurement. Rounding out the list is the perennial favorite skill set of marketing measurement. CMOs are interested in upskilling their staff to be able to demonstrate their performance impact against marketing goals. Core competencies include establishing program or tactic metrics that align with business objectives, accessing available data sources to create reports, asking relevant business questions (e.g. why are certain outcomes happening?) and leveraging data to gain answers, and translating data insights into recommended actions.

Unfortunately, the skills gap issue facing marketing leaders isn’t going to spontaneously fix itself. CMOs must use a combination of new hires (when talent and funding is available), specialized external providers, and formalized marketing training programs to gain the skill sets needed for their organization. Given the priority of improving marketing skills, SiriusDecisions recommends that CMOs establish a dedicated marketing enablement role or team within their organization to provide focus around internal marketing professional development.

Interested in learning more about improving key marketing skills through enablement? Join us at SiriusDecisions 2017 Summit in Las Vegas in May to learn more about “Marketing Enablement: The Most Critical Function You Don’t Have.”

Marcia Trask

Marcia Trask is a research director for SiriusDecisions' Marketing Executive Services. She is a passionate marketer with over 20 years of marketing experience in the technology industry. Her areas of expertise include strategic marketing planning and investment, campaign development, marketing technology, business transformation, process engineering, and marketing and sales alignment/enablement. Follow Marcia on Twitter @marciatrask.

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