If you feel that your marketing team may be slightly behind the curve in terms of emerging inbound marketing trends, you're not alone. The world of marketing is a very different place compared to what it was five years ago. Just think about your own experience. You didn't hear of Twitter in 2009. You probably weren't advertising on Facebook. And it's safe to say your marketing staff wasn't trained in social media management in undergrad or business school.
Yet here we are, in this brave new inbound marketing world where things seem to change every six months. Marketing managers are left with two choices. One, rely heavily on third-party marketing firms to pick up the slack or two, commit your team to continuing education and adapting to an increasingly inbound-oriented marketing world. Most firms will opt for the latter and with that in mind, we'd like to look at why it's so important to the success of your team, regardless of your industry.
Inbound Marketing Won't Eliminate Classic Skills...
Inbound marketing practices continue to revolutionize the marketing landscape. However, it's important to note that many classic marketing techniques remain universal. We're talking about things like creating marketing plans, employing quantitative and qualitative research methods, building buyer personas and understanding areas of competitive differentiation. These ideas will always be with us and will remain critical to your team's success. Fortunately, any marketer with a business degree is already well-versed in these concepts.
…But Marketers Need to Expand Their Skill Set in an "Inbound" World
If we were living in 1950, 1990, or even 2000, these aforementioned skills would be enough for any marketer to succeed. However, we're living in a world that's increasingly defined by inbound-marketing techniques and this shift is profoundly altering the marketer's skill set. Inbound marketing is predicated on the idea that rather than directly selling to prospects, prospects will instead find you, lured by compelling content, an effective social media presence and a brand that exudes expertise and professionalism. This requires marketing teams to create unique content, master social media channels and display advertising and embrace mobile computing.
The Inbound-Marketing Skill Set
We now come to the fundamental question that will drive your team's ongoing education efforts: what skills should my marketing team excel at in this inbound-driven world? From a sales perspective, many of the skills remain familiar — but with a twist. Team members should continue to generate leads but instead of cold calls or flipping through business directories, embrace the power of social media. Your team should also roll out customized landing pages tied to customized content and embrace SEO to attract Web visitors.
Your team should understand the power of measuring value and communicate this imperative to prospects, showing them how they'll save money or how your service will generate value. After all, inbound marketing is less about making a fast, immediate sell and more about building trust and developing relationships. This is a subtle difference but an important one.
Now we'd like to ask you for your input. Has your team embraced continuing education to help marketers keep up with marketing trends? What inbound-oriented skill sets are most critical to your team's success?