‘Duh…You don’t say Mark! Of course they are not the same thing!’
I mean it sounds ludicrous right? It makes sense, you want design work done then you go hire a graphic designer. You want to market your business or product to the masses then you go hire a marketer…so why are many companies insisting on rolling the two things into one?
Thats right, marketing is no longer enough, now we want you to be able to design elaborate graphics, posters, websites, infographics, video editing. Basically we want you to do it all. I got talking to a good online buddy this week, Leanne Ross on this very topic and we spoke about the expectations on marketers coming into the business, the skill sets they are now expected to have.
So lets break it down, I’m going to look at examples of job descriptions provided by Leanne, talk about where employers have it all wrong and finally what skills I believe marketers should focus on.
Starting with the examples of descriptions from employers which have been pulled from LinkedIn. I have highlighted the important points and covered details of the company and people advertising, we are not looking to slate people here, these are simply examples of where employers are getting it all wrong.
So here we have a marketing manager in the region of $80k – $90k (honestly I’m not sure if that is good or not, I’m not familiar with salary rates in this location) responsible for all digital marketing efforts of the company. It all seems okay at the start and has the usual stuff like manage SEO and SEM, drive traffic ect. Then we get down to “Improve the usability, design, content and conversion of the company website.”
What has that got to do with digital marketing? Content is the only point there that really applies. Improve the design? Get a graphic designer. Improve the conversion rate? Now I can get real picky here because the debate rages on this point. I would argue the marketers job is to find a way to get them in the funnel so they can convert and then the sales closes and improves that conversion rate. But you are not advertising for a member of your sales team, you are advertising for a digital marketer. Marketers can get more people moving into the funnel but if your sales team still can’t close then the conversion rate is on them. Marketers should be familiar with and have a basic understanding of conversion rates but the responsibility lies with the person who has to close the deal.
“4+ years experience in digital marketing…” Because 4 is the magic number? Most jobs we look at now is guilty of asking for 3-4 years + on the level of experience they want because they want someone to come in and hold them accountable right out of the gate to get it all done. Fine, but where are people going to get this experience? Some of the best marketers I know have entered the game playing at a high level on zero previous experience and they are outperforming those with years of experience. The reality in this game is that speed and execution will always outperform qualifications and experience.
Then we have the experience with Photoshop, InDesign and illustrator listed as a requirement too…because we will be fucked if we are going to hire a graphic designer too. Lets just get the marketing guy/gal to do it.
This one is short and sweet but I think they may have got the title for the job listing wrong. They want a digital marketing executive with no direct experience required. But you do need a good knowledge of Photoshop and a creative flair is also essential.
Basically we want to hire a designer and sure we can teach them the marketing stuff along the way. Seriously?
This one also really stood out for all the wrong reasons. Compare the salary for this one and the requirements for the job with example 1. This job is only paying $45k – $50k in comparison and is listed on the title as a “Digital Marketer” despite the responsibilities being that of a Digital Marketing Manager.
You need to have a “solid knowledge of Photoshop, Final Cut Pro, Premiere Pro, Audacity or other media editing software.” I was seriously laughing when I first read this line because it is just so ridiculous. What this company wants is a digital marketer, graphic designer and a video editor all rolled into one. They want one person doing three jobs on a shit salary.
You also need to be familiar with web design (graphic designer job) and need to have experience of at least 5 years in the field. Honestly it doesn’t matter how much experience you have here, if you try and get one person to do the job of digital marketer, designer and video editor then they are going to crack no matter how much experience they have.
The last one, I wanted to just overlay “WTF?” on this image in text but figured I may as well just break it down and treat it fairly like the other examples. This one is looking for a “stellar marketing manager” for a FinTech firm that has “big ambitions for the future.”
Again we have highlighted the same stuff as seen in the above examples such as Photoshop, InDesign and so on. Extensive experience implementing exciting and unusual marketing campaigns – no idea what they are really looking for here, kinda like the crazy shit we sometimes see Ryanair run on social media? Doesn’t seem in line with a highly ambitious and polished FinTech firm. We want you to be sophisticated, smart but with go a bit nuts from time to time too. Huh?
What I find interesting is “a commercial mind-set that is still creative and entrepreneurial”. What? So we want you to fall in line with the company mind-set but you still need to be creative while you are doing that oh and you need to think like an entrepreneur even though you won’t be one because you are working for us and thus goes agains the very definition of “what is an entrepreneur?”
Stakeholder management skills? For a digital marketing manager? What does that even mean?
So what should businesses be doing then?
I have pointed out the problems with these four examples above, these are just four of many. There are countless ads like these all over the place with the same problems. What you need to be doing is simple really.
You need to stop trying to roll several jobs into one and advertise responsibilities and roles that match the title of the job you are looking to fill. So if you want a digital marketer then don’t expect them to be solid in Photoshop, Final Cut or Premiere. Those things, they are a different skill set and they fall into a different job.
“We need you to have solid experience with Final Cut!” So go hire a video editor then! Don’t ask your marketing guys to do the graphic design and editing and don’t ask your designers to do your marketing. Companies who are doing this are trying to pull a fast one and get one person in to do the job of two or three.
I know businesses guilty over putting up ads like these will argue the point over and over but please, stick with me here. Don’t close that web page in anger just yet because we need to come to an understanding of how you can get better results from employees which ultimately benefit your business in the long term.
At the end of the day you are running a business right? So this is typically what I get confronted with on this topic…
‘This is a business, I can’t afford marketers, editors and designers!’
I hear this as an attempt to justify what you are doing and when I hear it I know that you know what you are doing is straight up wrong. I hear you though and I respect it, you can’t afford to hire for all these roles? Understandable, so prioritise what means the most to your business, what is the most important and hire for that.
Maybe you really need that graphic designer because you are working on a website and want it out asap. So hire the designer and forget the marketer or editor for now. Maybe you need to build your brand and scale it quick so get a marketer and forget the designer.
You can even hire a marketer and then give them the option – “Look I know you are not proficient in Photoshop right now because we both know it is not a part of a marketing skillset as such, but if you want to try and learn it over the course of 6-8 months we can re-negotiate your salary?”
Some people may be up for it and others may not. If they say yes then you have a gateway to it in 6-8 months time, if they say no then in 6-8 months time you look at hiring a designer. If the marketer has performed well in their role over that time and sales have been closing on the leads from the conversion funnel then you should be well placed to take on a designer if you want.
Don’t expect it all right out of the gate though, you need to invest if you want it all. Invest in staff, invest in the skills and stop expecting them to come through the door with a magic wand to wave over your digital strategy. It doesn’t work that way and it never will work that way.
What it simply boils down to is this – You want it all, you want all the skills and all the experience but you don’t want to pay for it. That approach is not good for the employees and guess what? It ain’t good for your business either.
You get the most out of people by keeping them in their lane
I’m good at what I do, I can say that with pride. You know why though? I stay in my lane. People ask me to work on photography for their business or to help them by creating content for their blog or manage their social media. No problem.
Ask me to create a video in Final Cut for you? Not going to do it. Want me to use Photoshop to make your shit graphics sexy? Nope. Those are not my skills, that is not what I do and the second I take a job that entails those skills which I am just not familiar with then I have lost and you end up with a shit product.
I stick to what I am good at and that is how you get the most out of people because when you take a marketer and drop them out of the comfort zone and ask them to get a video together in Final Cut with little to no experience of doing it at scale. The final result is not what you want and the employee ends up feeling like shit.
The best editors I know spent years editing video content every day for hours to learn how to get it down and edit to an insanely high quality. You think your marketer is going to have the same skills as them?
Here is the real dirty little secret
Pssst…here is the truth, straight up. You don’t need Photoshop anymore. I know the Photoshop purists will be going wild at the thought of this but from a business standpoint its the truth. The game is changing but you just haven’t realised it yet.
Ever heard of Canva? No? You should check it out because for a small monthly price for companies you get more than what you need for all your social media graphics and designs and anybody can do it, you, me…the kid in primary school.
Have a look for yourself:
So what skills should digital marketers have?
Getting down to the bare bones of it, what skills should your digital marketer have?
They don’t need to be scholars but they do need to be able to write clearly and persuasively. Clear communication and the ability to write blog posts and content for websites is key. The game is content creation and at the very basic level you need to fine tune your writing style and skills. How do you do that? Write a lot…for years…
Get familiar with WordPress on a basic level. WordPress currently powers 27% of the Internet, websites are now being made on WordPress for all kinds of niches from news to blogs and photography websites. Saying you know how to use WordPress will carry more weight than saying you know how to use MS Word.
I’m talking editing on a really basic level here, not mad Photoshop shit. Not overlaying things on top of photos and creating infographics and all that stuff. Learn how to tweak settings of a photo in an app like Apple Photos, Lightroom or VSCO to make images really pop and stand out. Learn how to enhance an image on a basic level with basic editing software.
Email marketing is huge, get to grips with how MailChimp works, how you get campaigns together and how you email those campaigns to subscribers. Learn how to pull more people in and get them signed up. Preparation is key and MailChimp is just another marketing component by now.
The most important social media ads that exist because they are still so undervalued at the moment. Learn how to run them, learn how to target them, learn how to set them up to convert. Learn what copy and images work on Facebook ads, play around with the settings and see what works well and what doesn’t work well.
Learn the basics of SEO, you don’t need to be an expert but get to grips with things like tags, meta descriptions, keyword density and how all these things affect your search engine rankings.
Finally conversion rate optimisation. Like I said earlier in this post, I would argue the guts of CRO is on your sales team, they have the responsibility of closing and making those conversion numbers look good. However you should have a basic understanding of CRO because you as a marketer have the responsibility of getting them into the funnel so that sales can actually convert.
Understand your customers and what their expectations are on the level of customer experience. Learn how to use on-site surveys to gain more knowledge as well as learning how to analyse the data you need to determine on how to direct marketing campaigns.
There are of course other skills too, this is by no means the entire skill set but just some of the more important things I have chosen to focus in on.
Quite simply put, digital marketing is not design, design is not editing and editing is neither of these things. The idea that marketers should try and pick up as many skills as they can to help them in an interview is insane but sadly that is the way things are going now.
Marketers should try pick up as many skills as they can which are applicable to the field of marketing to help them shine in an interview. Some students ask, how do I show a business I am good at writing or editing ect. Spend your “free time” in school or in university doing those things. Set up a blog on whatever topic you like and write consistently on that blog for the years you are in school (doesn’t matter if nobody reads it, keep writing anyway), edit video or work Photoshop in your “free time” so when it rolls down to an interview years down the line you have work you can show potential employers.
I don’t think marketing students should have to be learning these skills at all but sadly that is what the expectation of the employer is. The best advice I could give?
Learn by doing.