Dave Green

Marketing Management: What is your company doing to increase knowledge and effectiveness?

March 22nd, 2012

Do these facts about training for marketers surprise you?

  • Training is the most important factor in retaining marketers under 30
  • Three out of four marketers are not receiving the training and development they need for competence and success
  • Only about a third of marketers describe their department as “highly skilled and competent”

These are just three pieces of information in the brand-new 2012 MarketingSherpa Executive Guide to Marketing Personnel.


But read a little further, and things get curiouser and curiouser (to paraphrase Alice in Wonderland). You see that turnover in the marketing department is a problem, especially in large organizations:




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If turnover is a problem now, in an unsure economy, what is it going to be like when the economy starts picking up stream and marketers have more job options? It gets worse; the vast majority of companies have no career path for marketers. And it doesn’t matter if you are in a small company or a large one:


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Finally, when we asked these 1,646 marketers about their key challenges, a lack of funding/resources was cited by the vast majority of the audience:



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Could it be that better training of marketers would result in more funding?

These findings have two additional implications that are worth considering.


Tools and practices are evolving rapidly and so, therefore, is the need for knowledge

MarketingSherpa surveyed 12,525 marketers to complete its current collection of benchmark studies. Our analysts and reporters spend thousands of hours interviewing thought leaders and reviewing secondary research and opinion. And even we can’t keep up with all the innovation that are happening.

New tools, new insights, new practices, new, new, new. And many of these tools are complicated. I hear something like this about once every other week, often in a confidential voice, often from a marketer in a Fortune 500 company: “We’re only scratching the surface of the functionality of [insert the name of your favorite marketing tool].”

You’d think that if knowledge is expanding rapidly, offering CMOs the opportunity to gain competitive advantage, they would make sure their teams had outstanding training. Such training would create loyalty in younger staff, which is the lifeblood of any marketing organization, and better results!


The best marketers are generalists

To be most effective, marketers, even in very large organizations that have the economies of scale to invest in high levels of marketing specialization, must wear many hats and possess a significant breadth of knowledge.

For example, let’s say you’re an email specialist. You can’t just know the nuances of email: hard bounces versus soft bounces, opens, preview panes, permissions, opt-outs, conversion benchmarks, and all of that.

You also need to know something about lists, segmentation, buyer personas, data capture, sampling, personalization and contact strategy.

You also need to understand landing pages (with streaming video), value propositions, calls-to-action, copywriting, and the buying cycle and buying behavior in general, not to mention integrating email into a webinar or trade show, a teleprospecting operation, a direct mail program, or any of a number of other campaign vehicles.


Two ideas for improving the marketing results and creating team loyalty

So what can you as a marketing leader do? Plenty.

–  Set up a structured learning environment

  1. Assess the level of competence/skills of everyone in marketing and of any new recruits, including using industry benchmarks
  2. Find the best sources of internal and external marketing knowledge on every aspect of marketing, and develop a curriculum
  3. Test the progress of your team regularly in various areas of knowledge
  4. Tailor the program to each individual
  5. Allow marketers to pursue areas of knowledge that they are passionate about
  6. Develop a formal mentoring system (teaching others improves the knowledge of the teacher)
  7. Recognize and reward competence
  8. Constantly re-evaluate your curriculum, including getting widespread feedback


–  Create a logical career path

The best sales organizations do a marvelous job of creating a logical career path. Often, new representatives start by teleprospecting on behalf of other salespeople. Then, if they are “keepers,” they move into inside sales and learn about closing smaller, more transactional deals. Next, they move into field sales positions, and then major accounts.

Of course, there are management stepping stone possibilities at each juncture. This career progression makes it possible for new employees to learn a smaller amount of information and yet still make a financial contribution to the company.

Marketing organizations can do the same thing: start new marketers on a foundational area and then move them step by step into other areas of focus.


Categories: Marketing Careers Tags: ,

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