As anyone in marketing will tell you, the industry has become increasingly tech-oriented over the past few years.
You need an extensive skillset to make the most of every marketing opportunity, and you’ll have to develop many of them on your own because they’re not offered in high school classes or college marketing programs.
But what are those skills, exactly?
We’ll take a look at the 10 most important skills you’ll need as a marketer in 2016 below.
Whether you want to start having a more hands-on role with the technical side of your company’s site, or you just want a better understanding of what’s going on behind the scenes, here’s what you should know.
1. Coding & FTP
Coding is essential for marketers today.
At the very least, you need to know how to make changes to your website if you see a misspelling or broken link.
This means you should have basic knowledge of both HTML and CSS.
If you’ve never worked with them before, you can start learning interactively with tools like Codecademy.
You’ll also need to know how to change the HTML files themselves.
Along those same lines, you should know how to work with file transfer protocol (FTP) so you can immediately change something that’s hard-coded into your website.
If you don’t yet have one installed on your computer, it’s a good idea to do that as soon as possible so you can change or updated your website at a moment’s notice.
With that simple knowledge, you have a good start on your marketing technical skills.
Along with coding and FTP, you should also have some experience with content management systems (CMS).
A CMS is any program that offers a sleek, streamlined interface for updating a website.
CMS experience means you should know your way around at least one CMS like the back of your hand.
While a CMS owner might update it once in a while, that familiarity lets you change elements on your website without fumbling around in settings to find the one option you need.
In general, a CMS is much easier to learn than FTP — that’s why they were invented in the first place.
Fortunately, that means it’s a skill that you can pick up quickly and at any time.
Because so much of marketing is now digital, every marketer should have a working knowledge of information technology.
These skills don’t have to be extensive — most companies have their own IT departments, after all — but knowing how to troubleshoot basic issues can save your company lots of time in the long run.
It makes you a more self-sufficient employee overall, and it ensures you’re not constantly at the mercy of your IT department to get your tech up and running again so you can work.
In general, some basic IT skills can really help you become a more effective marketer by taking care of surprise problems on your own.
Compared to the other items on this list, photography sounds like it’s pretty easy.
But even with a high-end DSLR camera, there’s more to photography than just pointing and shooting.
Photography also includes knowledge of lighting, shutter speeds, color saturation, image balance, and much, much more.
Having at least one decent photographer on your team ensures you’ll constantly have fresh, engaging content for your website.
Whether you want a team picture for a holiday card or a new background for a page that uses parallax scrolling, a marketer with photography experience can get it done.
Beyond that, photography also comes in handy for blogging, articles, and other content updates on your site.
Photos are an excellent way to engage your audience, after all — you need originals to show to your potential customers.
5. Photo editing
As long as you’re teaching yourself photography, you should also learn photo editing.
Photo editing is essential for marketing because you’ll eventually want to change something about a photo.
Whether it’s resizing or changing it to grayscale or creating your own ad media, you need to know some degree of editing.
That’s not to say you have to be a Photoshop wizard — that’s niche professional software preferred by established designers.
But you can still spend some time on lower-level photo editing software, like GIMP.
Ignoring the odd name, it’s free photo manipulation software that lets you do 99% of what Photoshop does with a much easier learning curve.
There are plenty of tutorials on YouTube as well, if you want to learn more.
Like photography, audio recording sounds easier than it actually is.
It requires a decent amount of equipment, the right software, and individuals who can maintain their composure when speaking into a microphone.
Unlike photography where you can photograph anything, you’ll always need people on your audio recordings.
That means scheduling coordination, room bookings, and equipment transportation.
In some cases, that can be a single microphone+recorder combo piece like the Zoom H1.
In other cases, it can require microphones, mixing boards, cables, and computers.
It all depends on what you want and how you want to record.
Combination pieces like the Zoom H1 will record every person on one audio track.
That makes it easier to set up and record, but it makes it much harder to edit (which we’ll talk about next).
On the other hand, individual microphones, mixing boards, and computers will allow you to record every person on their own audio track so you can customize your final product however you’d like.
Regardless of which style you prefer, your goal with audio recordings is to get the clearest, crispest sound possible.
To do that, you have to record in a place that doesn’t echo, like a room with heavy carpeting that absorbs sound.
That could also mean turning off office noisemakers, like air conditioning or white noise.
In that case, the whole company is impacted by your recording time.
While there’s not much you can do about that — you can’t have white noise on your recording — you can at least schedule a recording in advance and let coworkers know your plans.
7. Audio editing
Once you have something recorded, you need to edit it.
We’ve touched on audio editing several times in the past, including how it’s an essential skill for podcasting and other marketing initiatives.
Audio editing is important for the same reason as photo editing — you don’t want to post an unfinished product to the public.
Audio editing gives you the chance to change volume levels, remove background noise, and even remove whole chunks of the raw recording.
It takes a lot of time, and it’s a process that demands constant attention.
But once you cut an audio file that sounds fluid and natural, it’s ready for your site.
On the downside, audio editing software can get expensive, and it doesn’t always have the functionality that you need.
That’s why so many people — including professionals — use Audacity to record and edit.
Audacity is free and open-source, so if you can think of any functionality you want to add, you can probably find it in the Audacity forums.
Videography is basically shooting videos.
While that sounds simple, it’s surprisingly complicated.
That’s because videography includes principles of photography and audiography in one concept (plus a little extra).
Video has recently become massively important to marketing as a whole. It helps pages rank, and it can even increase conversions.
If you’re not incorporating video into your marketing strategy, you’re behind the curve.
That’s why videography is such an important skill for a marketer.
Knowing how to operate a video camera — like a photo / video DSLR — can help give your company the extra digital resources it needs to succeed online.
You can use videos as a way to publish blog posts, demonstrate the effectiveness of your products, introduce members of your service team, and more.
Video is also a great way for your company to demonstrate transparency by showing viewers what it’s like to work at your company while giving them glimpses into your culture and personality.
That kind of advantage can’t be measured in dollars and cents — but it goes a long way in establishing and improving customer relationships.
When working with videography, you should incorporate concepts like lighting, color balance, audio volume, image consistency, and framerate into your work.
That requires keeping a watchful eye on your video as it’s recording to make sure everything works according to your specifications.
But you’ll do more than watch — you’ll also listen.
It’s essential that you hook up a pair of headphones to your video camera so you can make sure the audio is recording correctly.
If you don’t use headphones, you can’t tell whether your camera or microphone is properly working.
You can gamble with that idea if you want — but if the audio doesn’t work, you’ll have to reshoot everything you just recorded.
But shooting is just the tip of the iceberg. Working in videography is mostly about editing.
9. Video editing
Video editing is the process of refining a raw video file and turning it into a presentable final product.
Editing takes a long time, and for beginners, you could spend as long as 180 minutes of editing time for every one minute of video.
At that rate, a five-minute video would take 15 hours of editing work.
That sounds like a lot of time — and it is — but the payoff of video is worthwhile.
As long as the information in the video is correct, informative, and helpful, you can use your video for years to come. Eventually, it’ll pay off in terms of search rankings, conversions, and other digital marketing metrics.
When it comes to software, video editing gets a little expensive.
There’s not any free, high-end video editing software (unless you count free trials) because video editing is so demanding that it requires powerful tools.
Adobe Premiere is arguably the best software on the market.
It’s pricey, and you only buy licenses as opposed to buying the full product, but it’s second to none in terms of capabilities.
Learning the ins and outs of Premiere takes time, but it gets easier with practice.
There are thousands of YouTube tutorials on how to do virtually anything you’d ever want with your video.
All you have to do is pony up the cost and practice.
10. Graphic design
Graphic design may not seem like it’s that important for a marketer — after all, most companies have design departments.
But like IT skills, graphic design skills are helpful so you can design on your own.
By this point in marketing history, everyone knows the incredible value in visual content.
It makes the difference between a flopped product and a runaway hit.
If you don’t have design skills, you have to communicate your vision to a graphic design professional who can interpret your ideas in a million different ways.
But when you know how to design yourself, you can control all means of production from beginning to end.
That means implementing your vision right from your mind onto the design document.
You can also tweak and fine-tune your finished product according to your standards instead of going back and forth with edits to the design team.
In general, design skills save time for you and money for your company.
If you’re not interested in graphic design at all, you can at least learn baseline image manipulation skills — like we mentioned above with photo editing.
That won’t give you the same level of control over your final product, but it’ll let you edit a piece to your satisfaction.
On the other hand, if graphic design sounds like it’s right up your alley, you can start with free options like Canva.
Canva is an in-browser design solution that makes it easy to make your own graphics.
You can also pull out the big guns and jump to Adobe InDesign, which is arguably the best graphic design software in the world.
It’s also super complex, so get ready to practice!
What skills do you use for marketing?
Do you use these 10 skills in marketing? Are there any others that you know you need?
Let me know in the comments!
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