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Avoid the marketing skills gap


Digital disruption and the rapid pace of change mean no marketer can be an expert in every channel.

Writing for Marketing Week, Jonathan Bacon takes a look at how the rise of personalised marketing and digital channels has left employers facing an increasingly wide skills gap, as they struggle to identify exactly which skills they should be recruiting for.

Hays recruitment company carried out a survey of 300 executives and marketing managers in the UK. They discovered that companies working in today’s rapidly changing digital environment are experiencing a significant skills gap. The tendency has been to recruit staff who possess specific technical knowledge that will enable them to meet the latest technological challenges, but these new staff often lack the core marketing skills that they also need to succeed.


Skills found to be in demand among marketers:

  • Analytical ability – 27%
  • Copywriting – 16%
  • Creativity – 12%
  • Ability to think in customer concentric way – 12%

The challenge for employers is to find ways to recruit the staff they need to meet all the demands of the role, both in terms of traditional core marketing essentials and the latest technological developments.

Steps employers are taking to plug the gap:

  • 65% put the focus on internal training to improve their organisation’s skills levels.
  • 83% would hire a candidate who demonstrated core marketing skills but lacked specific role experience.
  • 71% put ‘team fit’ above experience.
  • Some employers use external agencies to boost skills levels.
  • Some companies provide funding for staff to take recognised marketing skills.

As the Hays report says, “the core skills of yesterday are still the most sought after skills today”.


The CEO at Britvic, Matthew Barwell, explains that Britvic has developed its own marketing philosophy. They look for people with great brand-building skills who share Britvic’s values. Rather than putting the emphasis on specific technical skills, they recruit staff who “stay curious and knowledgeable about how digital is changing the world our consumers and our customers live in”.

Britvic encourages all its marketers to develop technical skills and to think about how digital can help them gain insights, plan better, and adapt as required. However, he argues that core marketing skills are still key, and “it is only the application of those skills that has changed”.


John Rudaizky, global brand and marketing leader at professional services firm EY, agrees with Barwell: “Our business environment might be changing rapidly,” Rudaizky says, “but the fundamentals of good marketing remain.”

While he acknowledges there is a need to bring core marketing skills and specialised technical skills together, Rudaizky asserts that “creativity is still king”. Marketers still have to do what they have always done, which is to find ways of making their brand stand out from the crowd. The catch is, they now “have to do this in a more complex environment”.

When it comes to marketing, it seems that the landscape we travel through might have changed, but the purpose of the journey remains the same.

Source Article: How Brands Can Close The Marketing Skills Gap
Author(s): Jonathan Bacon
Publisher: Marketing Week