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3 things every marketer should know

From the day-to-day activities to the quarterly projects, marketing staff have to call on a wide range of creative, analytical and organisational skills and a truly useful marketer will be a jack-of-all-trades, a quick learner with the confidence to turn her hand to anything.

Successful marketers have to know a little bit about a lot of things. Here are three essentials you need to know about in 2015.

How to use a CMS

The days of static, hand-coded websites are behind us.

Today, corporate websites are flexible, dynamic and agile, designed for on-the-fly changes and updates. For most of us, this means using a Content Management System (CMS), an infrastructure like Joomla! or Wordpress that enables non-technical types to change and update pages, add menu items, post blogs or change the look and feel of the site entirely.

In the past, the task of making web updates and changes typically fell with someone in the technical team, a jobbing engineer with an interest in HTML perhaps. That’s not the case any more. It’s a marketing task, so knowing your way around a web CMS is a must-have skill for a modern marketer.

There are many different CMS options available and the choice you make is likely to depend on the skill set you have and the functionality you need from your site. In our opinion there’s a simple trade off – the more a CMS is capable of doing, the more complex the back- end environment becomes and the steeper the learning curve is for the administrator.
As a guide, we think there’s a fairly simple continuum from the easy-to-use but relatively limited Wordpress, to the tricky but comprehensive environment of Drupal – with Joomla! sitting somewhere in between.

When you outsource the development of your new website, add a couple of days of administrator training to the brief – get the developer to run through basic admin tasks with you but also to teach you how to make changes to the structure of the site and the layout of pages.

Whichever CMS you decide to go with, make sure that you’re the go-to person for web updates and changes.

How to use DTP software

Unless you happen to have an eye for it, the design of collateral and promotional materials should really be left to the professionals but that’s not to say that you shouldn’t be competent with DTP (Desktop Publishing) software.

While it’s essential to get the input of a designer at the design stage, you really don’t want to be going back to your graphic designer every time a product specification changes or a new use case needs to be added.

A marketer needs to be able create a new brochure or update a product sheet at a moment’s notice and, despite what some may think, knocking up a word document and printing to PDF isn’t the slick, professional presentation that the boss is looking for.

A basic level of competence with an application like Adobe InDesign is an essential skill for the modern marketer. Accessing and paying for the Adobe Creative Suite has never been cheaper or easier and there are scores of free video tutorials to get you through the basics. No one is suggesting that you need to become a graphic design wizard overnight, but being able to edit some text and update an image in a professional print-ready document is an essential skill that will save you money and time.

Your company’s messaging hierarchy

Messaging development is one of the softer skills that a modern marketer needs to acquire in order to be of real value to the company. Messaging development sits alongside brand management as one of the major planks of your company’s marketing communications strategy and, as a marketing expert, you should be the oracle for all things ‘messaging’ – helping to ensure that all communications are consistent, ‘on-message’ and working to promote the overall brand strategy.

Asserting the brand values and promoting the key supporting messages is a major responsibility. You need to be able to promote a strong and consistent message to your audience and the best way to do that is to create a messaging hierarchy document that clarifies the brand position.

There are numerous, well established templates available that will guide you through the core components of a messaging hierarchy. We prefer to use a pyramid structure that takes us from a statement of context through key messages up to the brand promise. It helps us clarify what’s important for our customers to communicate and acts as a constant reference point when we’re helping them develop a messaging strategy or implement that strategy across their collateral.

As the marketing guy, you’ll be the guardian of the company’s most valuable assets – the messaging and brand - and knowing how to organise this is a key skill that every marketer needs to have.

For more information on how we can help you to develop your brand and messaging strategy or to get some training an advice on CMS websites or collateral creation – just get in touch, we’d be happy to help.