There are soft skills that are essential to succeed in a marketing career.

Soft skills are the skills that define how you work.

On the other hand, hard skills are about the "what", the technical.

Marketing is a discipline that requires exceptional ability in both soft and hard skills.

Marketing has rapidly evolved over the past few years and soft skills are as important if not more important than hard skills.

Soft skills are evergreen, they don't expire, whereas hard skills can quickly become obsolete with new technologies, new platforms, etc.

In the usual list of soft skills you can find:

  • Creativity
  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Critical Thinking
  • Leadership
  • ...

If you are hiring or training, you can look at this list and have a hard time translating this list into measurable, observable skills.

For example, what does creativity mean for marketers? How do you observe it, improve it, and evaluate it if you are hiring?

I will try to translate this soft skills list into something actionable, measurable, and applicable to marketers.

#1 Soft Skill for Marketers: Creativity Means Welcoming Failure With Open Arms

We can all have ideas.

Ideas are not a rare thing in most marketing departments.

There is usually a whole spreadsheet of creative ideas sitting somewhere.

The real constraint is not in the idea generation but in the execution of those ideas.

This is where creativity takes all its meaning in today's marketing.

And if you have done any marketing before you know that for every creative idea that will work 9 others will fail.

I found that the most creative marketers I have met, are usually good with generating ideas but especially good with producing and shipping projects.

They are good at producing marketing projects with confidence even though they are facing a high chance of failure.

It's about managing to beat the odds by experimenting a lot and moving past failure.

They learn from the experiment and move to the next thing fast.

So if you are looking for creative marketers ask them how they handle projects failing.  

#2 Soft skill for Marketers: Communication Means Selling

Selling something to another human being is a difficult endeavor.

If you have never done it before it can be a daunting task.

I am often amazed at how many marketers lack sales skills.

It's a shame because it's at the heart of their job and it can limit their horizons.

What I mean by selling is the capacity to ask someone to visualize something.

This requires a mix of sub-skills: catching someone's attention, building trust, using words to vividly describe something, being insightful and perceptive...

Instead of looking at marketers who can communicate look for marketers who can sell.

They will always have to sell "internally" by convincing stakeholders to approve projects, motivating their team, etc.

And they will always have to sell "externally" when copywriting ads, emails, landing pages, etc.

#3 Soft skill for Marketers: Teamwork Means Managing Freedom

Marketers can never work alone and they can never master 100% of the techniques out there. So teamwork is an absolute necessity.

But teamwork can be a blessing or it can be a burden.

One of the pitfalls of teamwork in marketing departments is creating too much process and having too much oversight.

The most creative and growth-minded marketers will appreciate an environment where they have (almost) total freedom to try new things.

So you should be looking for people who can manage freedom in the workplace and put it to good use.

You should be looking for marketers who are not afraid of freedom but would thrive under it and come up with amazing projects on their own within your department.

And if the position requires managing other people, you also need managers who are comfortable with giving their own team freedom.

#4 Soft skill For Marketers: Critical Thinking Means Coming Up With Quick Innovative Systems

"Critical thinking refers to the ability to analyze information objectively and make a reasoned judgment" (source).

In the marketing world, it means dealing with problems quickly.

Dealing with problems meaning things that don't go your way, things that need to be fixed quickly.

This is a huge part of a marketer's job.

When dealing with problems you are going to have to pick your battles.

You can't solve everything.

The tricky thing is you will still have to invest a minimum effort into problems you don't have the resources for fixing anyway.

Let me give you an example. You could for example have enough resources to invest into content marketing but not enough to invest into content marketing + email marketing.

That doesn't mean you should completely drop email marketing. Instead, you should come up with an automated system that will handle the bare minimum for your email marketing efforts.

So for example, instead of copywriting and sending a newsletter every week, you can instead send an automation of evergreen emails. You could work on it once and let it run.

What you are looking for here are marketers who can come up with quick innovative systems to deal with problems. Quick is a keyword here. You can't over-engineer a quick fix, that would defeat the purpose obviously.

Look for marketers who know how to build systems with almost no resources and know how to choose their battles.

#5 Soft skill for Marketers: Leadership Means Being Emotionally Invested

Leadership is the overall ability to make decisions and drive a team towards a common vision. Employers look for leadership skills in new hires, especially when hiring for a marketing team.

Marketers need to work with a lot of freedom, make quick decisions on their own, and interact with different stakeholders inside and outside the company - so being able to captain a project is key.

When we talk about leadership applied to marketing I think the best indicator for it is an emotional investment.

Projects that require true leadership also require a lot of dedication, passion, and care.

True leadership emerges when there is passion and when you care deeply about the project and team.

Caring will bring a team closer.

Look for marketers who will deeply care about their team and about the vision of the company.  

Thanks for having a read!

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