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The marketing skills gap

By LARA CAINE Published 16th Jun 2014
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Recent rapid advances in the field of marketing have left behind a skills gap that needs to be filled if these new opportunities for reaching out to customers are to be fulfilled. Among the changes that marketers will need new skills to adapt to are the availability of big data, the increasing use of native advertising, and the many possibilities opened up by mobile and internet technology.

IBM's ‘C-Suite’ survey suggests that most CMOs identify technology as the most important force in marketing today, but few people in marketing are fully capable of meeting the new technical demands posed by the opportunities it presents. 

Relationships between marketing and IT departments are becoming closer, with IBM reporting that when this relationship is close, revenues and profits are likely to increase. However, technical skills within the marketing departments themselves are lacking. The dearth of technical skills in the US is predicted to leave a gap of about 1.5 million appropriately knowledgeable managers in the US by 2018, and the UK is in a similar position, the Guardian reports. Marketing was one of the business service areas that the National Careers Service's Employer Skills Survey revealed to be suffering from a significant skills gap.

According to B2B Marketing's 2014 survey, technical skills are not the only abilities lacking in marketing. The most common problem, identified by 62% of respondents, was a lack of legal knowledge, with core skills such as reporting and measuring being difficult to find for 31%. Other essential skills that were lacking were product knowledge, customer profiling and the ability to integrate sales and marketing, which were all noted as part of the marketing skills gap by more than 20% of respondents. Companies are clearly struggling to find talented marketers, particularly since the same survey found that many of these missing abilities were listed as among the most important skills in marketing.

The impact of this skills gap is severe. In the Eloqua 2012 Marketing Skills Gap survey, 75% of respondents said that it had had a negative impact on their revenue. However, while many people appear to be aware of the skills gap and the damage it is doing, much more needs to be done to address the problem. According to the survey, 46% of organisations were spending less than $500 a year on skills training and 63% of respondents reported that they were not offered a formal training program by their employer, despite the clear need for better skills development in marketing. Over 50% relied on marketing books, online content, and their experiences at work to teach themselves the skills they needed. 

Better long term training programs are needed to address the skills gap in marketing, providing a mix of transferable soft and technical skills and instilling marketers with the desire to adapt and learn throughout their working lives, developing new skills and specialties as they are needed.

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