September is Professional Development Month at The Muse! Check in all month for ways to boost your skills, get ahead at work, and be the best professional you can possibly be.
I hate Facebook braggers as much as anyone, but I’ve got to admit that the world looks a lot more like a marketplace than it used to. A certain amount of branding and curation goes into our online personas, which inform others on our opinions, ideas, careers, and how we see the world. Given that reality, we’re all unofficially marketers.
But that’s not the only reason that having a few marketing skills in your professional toolkit isn’t a bad thing. In fact, learning how to think and operate like a marketer is increasingly important, no matter what your personality or your career path. Here’s why.
1. You’ll Learn to Listen
Marketers are constantly listening, looking for ways to maximize opportunities, leverage relationships, and connect to people. And while anyone can be a good listener, doing so as a marketer requires a fair amount of analysis—it’s an active process, not a passive one. By being trained in customer analysis, focus groups, and audience alignment, you’ll start to learn how to really listen to what your stakeholders want—and that’s a good thing no matter what you do.
2. You’ll Make Better Decisions
Thanks to technical developments like Google Analytics, marketing professionals have unprecedented levels of audience insight. But that’s not what’s really important—a huge part of marketing means interpreting that data to understand and target the right segments of an audience.
Whether you’re a customer service guru or an artist, knowing how to find and interpret data about your stakeholders means that you’ll better understand your business—and how to make the most of it. Not to mention, you’ll also get in the habit of cutting through a lot of extraneous noise and honing in on the numbers and insights that are most important.
3. You’ll Gain Tact
Since marketing is all about figuring out how to reach and communicate with various audiences, good marketers are constantly dealing with different types of people. The best marketers learn how to gain insight into different personality types and take different approaches for engaging with them, based on what makes them tick. In other words, they learn how to be tactful.
Every job requires a certain amount of shape-shifting. Think: While some managers like to communicate via email, others prefer to be updated informally throughout the week via ad hoc meetings. While some employees like to have clear parameters of their weekly tasks, others prefer to work autonomously. And knowing how to read people and understand those needs and wants will help you communicate effectively with managers, team members, and direct reports alike.
4. You’ll Get Scrappy
Today’s marketers are on a budget. Especially for the average startup or small business that doesn’t have the budget for advertisements, there is no other choice but to hack growth—to reach the maximum number of people with the minimum amount of resources. From implementing tried-and-true Twitter hacks to co-promoting with well-aligned audiences, marketers come up with targeted digital strategies that help them do this in really scrappy, forward-thinking ways.
Frankly, gaining this scrappiness mindset will help you no matter what industry you work in—ruthless prioritization of resources is a must for businesses small and large. Being creative about who you target, how you reach them, and how to do more with less will ultimately help you turn into an efficiency machine.
5. You’ll Become More Aware
Marketers have to be aware of what’s going on in their industries. This means they read, go to parties, try to figure out what’s going on in pop culture, and generally pay attention to the zeitgeist.
No matter what industry you operate in, learning to check in with your surroundings can only help you. While it’s tempting to get bogged down in the details of your specific position, training yourself to focus on the bigger picture will ultimately help you do better in that role. Not to mention, you’ll probably end up getting interested in a lot that’s going on around you, which makes you a more interesting person all around.
The good news? You don’t have to take MBA-level courses to channel your inner marketer. Here are my top three choices for taking the next step in formalizing your marketing chops.
1. Growth Hackers: All you have to do is sign up to take part in this free online community for “agile, growth-obsessed marketers and developers to connect, share, and get inspired.”
2. Meetups: Whether you are interested in social media or online marketing, find the nearest digital marketing meetup group near you to learn skills, talk shop, and meet others in the field.
3. Digital Marketing Course at General Assembly: This new 10-week course teaches the core skills of multi-channel optimization, audience development, and the creation of high-impact content to people of all backgrounds. (I’m biased because I work for GA, but I’m a huge fan of the digital marketing course!)