Thursday, January 16, 2020

Marketing Training & Marketer Competency

I had the good fortune to learn about most aspects of marketing through a fifteen year stint at Hallmark Cards. While there, I learned product development, new product development, advertising, promotion, marketing research, brand management, brand licensing, trade marketing, merchandising, category management, pricing strategy, distribution strategy, corporate communications, crisis management and global marketing. This hands-on learning far exceeded anything I learned in undergrad and grad school marketing courses.

P&G, Unilever, General Mills and other "houses of brands" teach classical marketing to their marketing professionals. Many marketing agencies are good training grounds for marketing techniques and there are a multitude of conferences and seminars that share marketing case studies and best practices. CRM and marketing automation software companies and social media websites have their own training videos and webinars. You can even find marketing training videos on YouTube. My company, BrandForward, Inc., has been hired by many Fortune 500 companies and marketing agencies to train their marketing staffs on different aspects of brand management and marketing.

Despite all of this, most marketers are thrown into smaller companies and startups, in which they are supposed to be the marketing experts without any hands-on marketing training. They are expected to be experts on everything from copywriting, graphic design, website design and marketing automation to brand identity creation, brand management, social media marketing and trade show booth design. This is just not realistic. It frustrates the hiring company and creates a negative perception of marketers and marketing. This could partially account for the high turnover in the marketing profession.

Looking back on my career, there are many more aspects to marketing than one might imagine. And each aspect has its own tools, techniques, rules of thumb and body of knowledge. Everything is becoming increasingly specialized. There are SEO experts, WordPress experts, CRM experts, data analytics experts, marketing automation experts, media buying experts, event planning experts, and the list could go on and on. In fact, each software platform requires its own expertise.

Given this, companies either need to have extensive marketing budgets to hire experts in each area or they need to support their marketing employees with as much marketing training as possible as often as possible. Unfortunately, the marketing field is changing rapidly and the knowledge and expertise to stay current is formidable. And business schools sometimes have professors who have never actually worked in the field of marketing and may be drawing on syllabi that were developed years and even decades earlier.

In summary, post university marketing training is essential to ensure that marketing professionals remain current and effective in their roles. And no matter how much training a marketer receives, it is not realistic that he or she is an expert in every aspect of marketing. So startups and smaller companies that are hiring one marketer to "do it all," especially on limited budgets, are likely to be disappointed.


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