Essential Skills for the New-Age Marketer

Marketer Skills

According to the 2015 CMO Survey sponsored by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, and McKinsey, Inc, marketers are optimistic about the business growth and economic outlook this year, and marketing budgets are expected to grow by ~8.7% in the next 1 year. However according to the 2015 IBM CMO Study, “4 out of 5 CMO’s anticipate a high level of complexity over the next 5 years, but only 50% feel ready to handle it

It is indeed an important, interesting and exciting time in the life of marketing professionals. Marketing is at the hot-seat, invited to the board-room meetings, is increasingly considered a key enabler / driver / catalyst for business growth and profitability and today’s CMO is being viewed as a potential contender for the next-CEO!

However when I look around me, I see a lot of marketers struggling to live up-to the expectations of what marketing should do? A root cause analysis of the big WHY throws up very many answers – from changes in the external world, lack of visionary leadership on how marketing should grow and evolve in today’s VUCA (Volatile Uncertain Complex Ambiguous) world, technology, innovations, explosive growth of digital / social media and distinct multi-generation (Gen X / Y /Z?!) demographics among the consumer base.

However, I also see that there is a “marketing skill-gap“. A lot of so called “new-age marketing professionals” don’t seem to have the required skills to get the job done.

In this post, I’m sharing my views on essential skills of the new-age marketer:

*) Be a Data Scientist / Analyst : Never before has there been so much consumer data generated and available for consumption and analytics. Marketing is no different. So the new age marketer needs to first define what data is to be captured and why?. Then invest in tools / technology to capture that data. Next is to analyze data and draw actionable insights. Lastly, to define the “What next in marketing and in business?” based on data.

*) Understanding human behaviors : The new-age marketer is increasingly being viewed as the owner / custodian of customer experience – for both B2B and B2C businesses. The thing about experiences is that they are always personal, subjective and unique to “you” as an individual / business. Hence, a basic understanding of human behaviors – in terms of motivators, emotions, decision making process, habit formation, determinants to action / inaction, purchase drivers / patterns is key.

*) Be a Storyteller : Nothing tells / sells better than a story. It is for good reason that storytelling has been the most popular communication format with even kids. Even to this day, a (personal) story is better received than a long boring speech. So it is important for any marketer to be able to narrate the brand story via (visual) storytelling

*) Be a Visual Designer : With the meteoric rise in content, we are all bombarded with hundreds of messages on a daily basis. So, how does any marketer capture the eye, mind and imagination of the consumer? Visual communication is possibly a powerful and effective way – Be it with videos, infographics, photos, images,etc. From personal experiences, I can say that “visual design” (or creating a visual piece of content) is a science, skill and art. Fundamental is your ability to visualize and design i.e., see what no one can see, see what does not ‘physically’ exist, and then design it so it appeals to masses. Visual designing is a skill which can be formally learned and also built over time by repeated practice and observation.

*) Understand that “Content is King” : As a marketing practitioner and blogger, I can confidently say that “content is king” in today’s era. Knowing how to craft, curate and convert content is key for any new age marketer. Appreciating the “How-To” create different content formats and hands-on experience in the same makes all the difference. I can vouch for the fact that my blogging journey has significantly enriched my understanding on the entire content life-cycle from strategy, planning, creation, editing, publishing and promotion. When it comes to content life-cycle, hands-on experience makes all the difference

*) Get Hands-on Social Media Experience : As an active social media user, there is one thing I observe – Not everyone understands how to use social media. Especially in the marketing context, the only way to understand the ‘ways of social media’ is to get your hands-dirty. You need to put yourself out there, and continuously experiment, innovate and evolve. No amount of learning or theory or advice helps! As for as social media is concerned, experience is KING!

*) Make the mobile your new best friend: Mobile marketing is undoubtedly the next BIG bet for most businesses / marketers. Understanding how to make mobile marketing work for your business is critical for any marketer

*) Learn to Embrace Marketing tools / technology: As a marketer, I have found that there is a tool / technology solution to make a marketer’s life faster, simpler, better and easy! Check this amazing supergraphic on the marketing technology solutions. The tough part is to be clear on what marketing needs to achieve, and then assess the right marketing tools / technology to aid in your journey. Key in any marketing tool / technology assessment is to have a well defined marketing ROI (Return on Investment) based on tool usage

*) Get Creative : The new age marketer has to be creative in ideation and execution. From marketing campaigns to lead generation to team management to stakeholder management to marketing spend – it is critical for the marketing team to find creative ways to address day-to-day challenges, as well as the bigger road-blocks which come your way!

*) Be a Collaborator : The new age marketing teams are the the overlay of strategy, finance, operations, technology, sales, SME (Subject matter expertise) and innovation. And so collaboration with external / internal teams will be key to survive and succeed.

*) Be an Effective Communicator : Key to success in marketing is communication. As a marketer, I can safely say that what you say is as important as what you don’t say! So effective communication skills – both oral and written, along with a command on language is critical to be able to effectively deliver marketing expectations

*) Invest in Continuous learning : Never before has the world of marketing been so dynamic and fast-paces. There are new buzzwords everyday, new tools every second day, new innovative ways of marketing every third day and new (increasing) consumer expectations which are driving what marketing can / should / need to do. To scale up, it becomes critical for any new age marketer to continuously watch the market trends, and be updated with the latest and greatest.! Investing in formal / informal learning go a long way in how successfully marketing teams can deliver against marketing / business objectives.

That ends my list. What do you think are the essential skills of the new-age marketer? Leave a comment to let me know

First published on LinkedIn

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Connect with me on Nischala’s Social World
Columnist / Byline in : Economic Times | Huffingtonpost | Wipro NewsCred | Marketo | Finextra | Inc42 Business2Community | ProBloggerFamous Bloggers | TheNextWomen | Nasscom | PaulWriter WomensWeb | Sheroes PeopleMattersYoWoTo | 12Most.com | Parentous | The Change Blog
Blog : Nischala’s Space, Thoughts, Expressions [Featured in Top Marketing Blogs in IndiaDirectory of Top Indian Blogs and Most Widely read Indian Bloggers,Directory of Best Indian BlogsAlltop]
Twitter : @nimu9 [Featured among Must Follow Indian Women on Twitter (2014) ,50 Indian Women to follow on Twitter (2012)]

Interviews and Media Mentions
Newspaper Interview | Twittering Heights (Deccan Chronicle, 2015)
Quoted in “Open Letter to Women looking for job
Quoted in “The Best Advice you’ll receive as young women starting your careers
Interview | My blogging journey – How it came to be?
Interview | A wise Blogger
Interview | Secrets to Successful Blogging
Quoted in “Are entrepreneurs born or made?”

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My 1st Economic Time article | The Women At Work Manifesto

According to the World Fact Book, the 2014 gender sex ratio is India was 892 females per 1000 males. So she is born, then what?

According to the latest Indian census, literacy rate among Indian women is 65.46%. According to the District Information System for Education (DISE) (2011-12) report, girl’s enrolment at the primary level (Class I-V) stands at 48.35%. At higher education level, 45% of female are enrolled in under graduate and post graduate courses. So she managed to study, then what?

According to ILO (International Labor Organization) 2015 World Economic Social Outlook Report (WESO), the female labor force participation rate in India was 31.2%. Also, India ranks among the bottom 20 countries in a list of 131 in female labour force participation (FLFP). So she got a job, then what? Did she keep the job? How long?

 According to 2014 Sheroes India Women At Work report , 5% of women are at senior/ leadership levels. That number speaks a lot

Bottom-line | From birth till the last breath – she struggles to survive, chooses to endure and strives to succeed.

While the numbers look dismal in an absolute sense, every day I come across real stories and narratives of real women at work who are trying and striving to make it all work – with grand dreams, grit, hard-work, passion, confidence, determination, perseverance, ecosystem support and divine grace. So there is hope and inspiration.

With about 15 years of corporate work experience during which I have experienced the highs and lows of a corporate career, and also experienced the 3M madness – Marriage and Motherhood twice – I can confidently say that it has been a mixed bag of experiences. On the positive side, it has been a truly enriching, evolving and exciting journey this far.

And so the topic of women at work is close to my heart. One, I am a woman. Two, I’m a working mother. Three, I honestly believe that gender diversity at the workplace is critical for balanced growth and continued success of an organization, the economy, the society and world at large.

Along the way, I have recognized that for women at work to have a fair chance at a long term career and a possibility to reach the top, some early investments are critical and make all the difference. And sooner they are made, the better for her career.

In this post I’m sharing the 9 investments I believe all women should make at the start of their careers.

ET - Women At Work

Knowledge Capital

We live in the knowledge era. Where knowledge is a source of competitive advantage, where knowledge is critical for you to get a job, keep your job, perform your work and also get paid for it. Education of the girl child is the first step to build a strong foundation of knowledge. But beyond that, a lot of knowledge is critical to stay relevant at the workplace. The good news is that in today’s era, knowledge is easily accessible and free – thanks to technology. In the long run, the knowledge which truly makes a difference is specialist knowledge (depth), applied knowledge (experience) or multi-disciplinary knowledge (combination of two / three knowledge areas).

Many women tend to stop learning consciously once they start their formal careers; and not investing in upgrading one’s knowledge can cost any professional dearly in the long run. Hence, it is important for women to consciously and continuously invest in building, enriching and enhancing their knowledge base.

Good-Health Capital

The number of health-related issues is only increasing by the day, and this impacts woman too. It is common knowledge that a vast majority of women tend to put their health and well-being as the last priority. Consequently, the number of women who give up on their careers simply because health does not permit them to work beyond an age or stage or phase of their life is increasing by the day. Physical heath, emotional heath and intellectual health all play a part in one’s overall good-health; and good health can sometimes be the only key factor which determines a woman’s career longevity.

So if you are a woman at work and serious about a long term career, make it a priority to invest in your overall health and well-being. In the long run, that will hold you in good stead.

 Work Performance Capital

There is no substitute for excellence in year-on-year work performance. This is true for everyone, and applies for women too. Hence it is important to ensure you deliver at work what you signed-up for.

Good-will Capital

Almost all women who had long careers will vouch that if there was one thing that helped them navigate through the lows / fluid-phases of their careers, it was purely good-will of the employers, managers and teams they were a part of.

As a case in point, marriage and motherhood are important milestones in the career journey of any women at work. And both almost always make her vulnerable, and compel her to make tough career choices. In such situations, the only grace which enables women to keep their careers afloat can be good-will.

The thing about good-will is that it has to be earned – With time, with your work performance and with your attitude. Good-will can be earned in many ways – By going the extra mile when a team needs it, or stepping up when there is a crisis, or making a difference when it truly matters. So as women at work, make it count when you can; and earn the good-will capital.

 Network / Social Capital

After a point in anyone’s career ‘professional networks’ play a key role in providing career opportunities, growth possibilities and new paradigms of work. This is true for anyone, but more important for women as they are not naturally wired to invest in building their professional networks – both in the real and virtual world. Especially in the context of women, personal networks and support systems also go a long way in providing the elusive work life resonance.

As women at work, it is important to take the time and effort to invest, nurture and build professional and personal networks and relationships beyond your immediate line of work. Agreed it takes time, effort and energy. But what if by that one social connection you invested in, you land your dream job? Or you get the next career break you’d always wanted? So make an effort to build your network / social capital. In the long run, it will see you in good stead.

Skill Capital

A long term career is about having the right skills to take and make the next step in the career ladder. There are some skills that you are born with. But in the long run, self-acquired and personality development skills make all the difference.

In the context of women at work, the following skills are key to survive and thrive – Career Planning, Business Communication (Oral / Written), (Salary) Negotiation, Creative Thinking, Political Savviness, Complex problem solving and Decision Making. It is important for women to understand lacunas in their current skill matrix and to consciously find ways to build and enhance these skills over time.

Technology Capital

You think it, technology can do it. There is a technology solution for almost everything that needs to be done on a daily basis. There is a mobile app for just about everything you’d want to do. You just need to search for it, install it and make it work in your context.

Especially for women at work, knowing and embracing technology and mobile apps for making everyday life simpler, faster and efficient is critical for long term career sustenance and growth. Be it grocery shopping, meal planning, bill-payouts, child safety, education or whatever your need is, ensure you invest in finding the technology solution relevant to your context and circumstance. And use it. The power of technology is in the application.

Financial Capital

This hardly needs any explanation as money does make the world go round. While the highs of financial earning and freedom tend to cloud one’s thoughts, emotions and spending patterns during the initial career years; it is important for women to understand that true long term financial freedom comes from making an effort to understand how personal finances work, to invest money wisely, spend judiciously and review your finances periodically. In the long run, it all adds up to building your financial capital.

Personal Brand Capital

Personal branding is really about you and your work shining through among the crowd. Key to this is to own up your work, speak up when it matters and ‘stand out’ where it counts – so you can positively influence and manage others perceptions of you.

A key pre-requisite for personal branding is to have clarity on what you’d like your personal brand to stand for, and to find compelling ways to make your work and brand stand-out. This is even more important in the context of women at work because very many women are naturally wired to shy away from the spotlight or find comfort, solace and satisfaction to play a supporting role. One effective medium which women can use effectively is the power of social media and (real / virtual) communities to make your views, voice and work sparkle.

“As you sow, so you shall reap” – This is true for money, for careers and for life. What career investments did you make today? What investments do you plan to make tomorrow?

Leave a comment to let us know.

First published on Economic Times

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Connect with me on Nischala’s Social World
Columnist / Byline in : Economic Times | Huffingtonpost | Business2Community | WomensWeb | Sheroes India | PeopleMatters | YoWoTo | 12Most.com | Parentous
Blog : Nischala’s Space, Thoughts, Expressions [Featured in Directory of Best Indian Blogs, Alltop]
Twitter : @nimu9 [Featured among Sheroes Must Follow Indian Women on Twitter (2014) , 50 Indian Women to follow on Twitter(2012)]

Interviews and Media Mentions
Newspaper Interview | Twittering Heights (Deccan Chronicle, 2015)
Quoted in “Open Letter to Women looking for job
Quoted in “The Best Advice you’ll receive as young women starting your careers
Interview | My blogging journey – How it came to be?
Interview | A wise Blogger
Interview | Secrets to Successful Blogging
Quoted in “Are entrepreneurs born or made?”

9 Must Have’s for a Senior Marketing Executive

Over the past decade, technology companies have realized the importance and difference the Marketing function plays in their external brand image.

The success of the Marketing function is directly linked to two important variables:
1) The organizational priority associated with Marketing
2) The individual / team that shoulder’s the Marketing responsibility

Many business leaders are often plagued with the question “What is the right profile for a Senior Marketing Executive in a Technology company?

The Top 9 Must-Haves for a Senior Marketing Executive in a Technology Company are listed below:
1) Techno – Marketing Knowledge and Experience: A good blend of technology and marketing knowledge and experience is a definite pre-requisite. Pure marketing knowledge & experience can help one plan and strategize great marketing initiatives, but many times fall short in execution as there is a complete dependency on the technology teams. Over a period of time, this will impose severe limitations in what one can achieve. On the other hand pure technology knowledge & experience will impose restrictions in what one can even strategize from a marketing perspective. Hence, a suitable profile could be either one who has worked in a technology role for a few years, then studied Marketing and followed it up with relevant marketing experience OR one who has studied Marketing and then worked in the Marketing function of a technology company & upgraded their technology knowledge along the way. Additionally, if one has worked with a successful Senior Marketing Executive in their careers, there is a great amount of learning that can be amassed.

2) Understanding of the Organization’s Marketing Philosophy: Every organization has a marketing philosophy which in unique to its overall vision, values and offerings. If one is new to an organization / the Marketing role, it is imperative that some time is invested to understand this. Clarity and comprehension on the organization’s marketing philosophy go a long way in ensuring that any marketing initiative is in line with the organization’s overall marketing philosophy.

3) Focused & Objective: While focus and objectivity are essential for any job function, it takes a different meaning for a marketing role. Simply because, many times the Marketing function gets limited time, support and recognition from internal stakeholders. And yet, the marketing outcome is non-negotiable. So it is important that the individual / team is focused and objective on what needs to be achieved by the Marketing Function; & continuously strive towards achieving the same.

4) Leverage New Marketing Platforms: Firstly, this requires awareness on what new / alternate marketing platforms exist & how they can be utilized to achieve the organization’s marketing objectives. Secondly, openness of mind and perspective to effectively leverage these platforms for marketing. For e.g.: Social media. Quiz many Marketing executives on why they embark on certain marketing initiatives, what marketing platforms they usually leverage & what marketing channels they typically operate on; and one will realize that the only reason some of these are being used today is because of legacy, i.e., simply because they were always being done this way for several years. Thirdly, to get the buy-in of internal stakeholders to pioneer these marketing initiatives. And lastly, to successfully roll-out these initiatives.

5) Creative : Creativity is one of the most important elements of marketing. One needs to be creative in thought, creative in expression and creative in resource mobilization. If one is creative, there is no limit to what can be achieved.

6) Networking Skills : To be successful in a marketing function, great networks and relationships are vital – Both inside and outside the organization. Inside the organization, marketing executives needs to build relationships with Internal Marketing Teams, Technology Teams that they are associated with, Business Leaders, Support Functions, etc. Outside the organization, relationships with Customers, Analysts, Third party agencies, Marketing professionals in other organizations, etc. go a long way in what and how much one can achieve. While building the relationships is one side of the coin, maintaining these relationships over a period of time is the other side of the coin. And this requires intent, time and conscious efforts. But definitely, well worth it in the long run.

7) Collaborative : The real world is full of constraints. Constraints in finances, Constraints in resources, Constraints in time, etc. And one of the time tested ways to work around constraints is to collaborate. A marketing executive should successfully collaborate with internal and external teams to achieve the desired marketing objectives.

8) Holistic View of Marketing : Senior marketing executives need to maintain a fine balance between macro and micro issues of marketing. Hence, a holistic view of marketing is essential. There are some aspects of marketing which are based on hard facts, data and numbers. They can be analyzed, critiqued and objectively evaluated. However, there are some aspects of marketing which cannot be measured and quantified. They are soft. They are subjective. They are based on perceptions. And yet they really exist and make a difference. One needs to be cognizant and sensitive to these aspects of marketing and work constructively to maintain a fine equilibrium between the hard and soft aspects.

9) Personal Brand : Last but not the least, marketing executives need to have a personal brand of their own. What this means is a mind of their own, a voice of their own, and a presence of their own – Both in the real world and in the virtual world.

Originally published here

What influences your “Writing Style”?

I’ve been actively writing (as a part of my post-graduate studies, through my blogs, at work, as a part of publications, etc etc etc ) for the past 5+ years. As I write more, I have also started to read more.. They both go somewhat hand-in-hand.. And as I read more, I am more aware and conscious about the writing styles of different authors; and also my own writing style…

In this post, I have listed down the key factors which may influence one’s writing style – This is purely based on my observations, analysis and inferences!

(1) Your self-confidence

(2) Your view of the world (in general) – Good, Bad, Ugly

(3) Your past – Experiences, Life

(4) Your future outlook of life – Optimistic, Pessimistic

(5) Why do you write? – For yourself or for others

(6) What does “Writing” mean to you?

(7) Your basic personality / nature

(8) Your view on “sharing” – Writing is one form of active sharing

(9) Your educational background

(10) Your language skills (Command on the language) – You can write in any language!

(11) Your age

(12) Your culture

(13) Your upbringing

(14) The writing habits of people you know (friends / family / others)

(15) Your reading habits

(16) The reading habits of people you know (friends / family / others)

(17) Your immediate living environment

(18) Your teachers / mentors – especially during impressionable / vulnerable years

(19) Your inner network – friends / family

(20) Your self-discipline

(21) Your creatvity

(22) Your observation skills

(23) Your imagination skills

(24) The times (era) you were born in

What’s your view? What do you think influences the “writing style” of an individual.. Leave a comment to let me know