100 Marketing Skills That Build Great Marketing and Sales Careers
A comprehensive list of essential marketing skills — and how to gain them.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
Marketing has become incredibly complicated: Different methods, different outlets, different ways to accomplish goals... most marketing professionals must be Jacks and Jills of many trades.
Why skills do you need to add to your marketing toolkit? Good question -- so let's ask someone who knows for the answer.
The following is from Jake Kurtz, a media professional, digital expert, and writer from Tampa who helps businesses create and distribute helpful, shareable content.
Things have changed for marketers. They're a lot more complex than they were a long time ago. More trackable. More technical. More options. More ways to succeed. More ways to fail.
Although I don't have a full career of experience to back this all up, I've only been in the marketing field during the time when digital was already important, so it's all I know.
I think that does put me at a unique advantage. This stuff is all I know, so these 100 skills are what I've observed since I started working. I know from experience that these are the important ones.
I've divided this into a few different categories. All categories that relate to different areas of marketing. Some are more specific while a few are more generic and strategic. Some are actual tools to check out and use.
Either way, these are all modern day marketing essentials for your marketing resume and optimizing your LinkedIn profile.
Content & PR
The ability to create a useful, shareable, informative blog posts that improves SEO. Companies know the importance of blogging and will invest in people who have those skills. This can also be a profitable skill for a side business for someone who can write well.
- Content Creation
The ability to create all kinds of content - blog posts, social posts, infographics, website content, landing page content, and anything else under the sun. Companies are hungry for people who can make awesome content, so definitely highlight this on your marketing resume.
- Content Marketing (High-Level)
Content marketing is different depending on who you ask. But to boil it down and make it simple - it's the ability to use content to slowly move people down the marketing funnel. It's conversion by investing time in content, versus investing money on advertising. Companies typically either hire an in-house content marketer, an agency, or a freelancer. All are great options.
- Copywriting - Digital and Social
Writing effective copy is half the battle in terms of digital and social ads. It can be beautifully designed, but if it says nothing, it will not resonate. Companies need good digital and social copywriters.
- Copywriting - Traditional
Traditional copywriting isn't dead. This is still in-demand. Companies will always need people who can write effectively for marketing purposes, across all mediums.
- Crisis Management
Preparation for when something big goes down, and your company needs to either respond to something, or get involved in a conversation. Having crisis management experience is incredibly useful. It's also helpful to have somebody who understands which conversations to get involved in, or how a brand should take a stand on an issue.
- Guest Posting
This is essential to content marketing and blogging. If you are a small company, entrepreneur, or aspiring writer, guest posting on larger websites and publications can help boost you to the next level.
- Link Building
The ability to get links from external sources is a massive SEO factor. If you know how to do this, companies will be all over it.
- Outreach (Bloggers, Influencers, Editors)
Having an existing network of bloggers, influencers, or editors. Especially in a niche space. This can be extremely valuable and can be used as a bargaining tool in terms of getting hired, negotiating contracts, or getting higher salaries.
- Podcasts & Other Audio Mediums
Audio is going to be a huge thing in the future, according to experts like Gary Vaynerchuk. With things like Alexa, Google Home, and Podcasts exploding in popularity, you should start thinking ahead and getting familiar now. That way, when the time comes, you will have a leg up on the competition.
- PR Strategy
A lot of companies don't know the first thing about a wholistic Public Relations strategy. The ability to think big picture, and understand the entire high-level process of a successful PR initiative is huge.
- Reputation Management
Consumers look at Google, Yelp, and even social media for reviews on companies. Have a solid grasp on how to improve a company's reputation and you will have leverage in the digital era.
Being able to spot a trend faster than somebody else. Being able to produce something viral quicker than a competitor. Sometimes, speed is all it takes. Being first.
- Viral Content Creation/Marketing
Know what it takes to go viral. Understand the psychology of sharing content - what gets shared by people, why it gets shared, and why certain trends take off.
- Writing (Across All Mediums)
Some companies need copywriters. Some need technical writers. Some need blog writers. Some need social media content writers. The bottom line is: writing skills are timeless and will never fade out. This will always be valuable in marketing.
- Adobe Creative Suite
Know how to use PhotoShop, InDesign, Illustrator, and the whole Adobe Creative Suite. This is how most companies produce their awesome assets that can be used anywhere without losing resolution or quality.
- Calligraphy, Hand Lettering, Typography
Standing out from the crowd is huge, so companies are investing in custom fonts and custom typography. This can be a really cool way for an agency to sell themselves to a client - saying they have somebody in-house who can make custom lettering. Big skill to have if you want to start your career at an agency.
- Digital Ad Design (Understanding of Sizes & Specs)
Companies need people who know exactly what to do when they say "Hey, we need a Facebook Web Traffic ad by 3:00". You need to know the recommended file size, image size, platform requirements, etc.
- Drone Content
Still something not every photographer and videographer knows how to do. Some industries, like real estate and travel - can benefit greatly from solid drone content to use on digital and websites.
- Graphic Design
Graphic design is always going to be an important marketing skill, especially for advertising agency careers. Make sure you are somebody who is able to produce assets out of thin air, or according to a defined strategy for a campaign.
As content becomes incredibly more important, so will photography. A lot of companies just use stock photos, but it's more real, authentic, and personal when everything is custom and done by a photographer.
- Video Content
Same story as photography. Video advertising, video content on social, video everywhere is so important these days. It's a major way people are consuming content.
- Digital Campaign Optimization
Knowing the ways to optimize a campaign to make it more profitable, drive more clicks, get more impressions, etc. at the lowest cost possible. You really need to know the budgets, placements, timing, and platforms.
- Digital Targeting (Behavioral, Contextual, etc.)
The ability to take a target audience, and figure out the best way to pinpoint them via digital channels. You have to know the slight differences between different types of ad targeting.
- Display Marketing
Running a banner ad campaign - whether through the Google Display Network, through an external vendor, through an in-house trading desk, or through an ad network.
- Email Marketing Platforms
Proficient knowledge of an email platform such as MailChimp is highly respected in marketing job interviews.
After setting realistic social media goals, digital marketers need to know how social advertising fits into the mix. Facebook Ads are tried and true. Companies know their importance, and therefore you should know their platform inside and out. Know all of the nitty gritty - custom audiences, pixels, lookalikes, placement types, etc.
Running an AdWords campaign efficiently can be one of the best media channels for a company. It's capturing existing volume versus trying to convert people who might not be interested. Get an AdWords certification for an extra boost.
- Influencer Marketing
Paying people, celebrities, and niche influencers to promote your brand. Knowing how to coordinate an influencer marketing program is something most companies and marketing departments know is important.
- Instagram Ads
If you know Facebook ads, you will learn Instagram ads too. They are bought through the same platform. Instagram ads are becoming increasingly popular as Instagram's monthly user base continues to grow.
- Marketing Automation
Figuring out ways to automate marketing tasks, where it makes sense. This can save companies valuable time and money. Big win for your marketing resume if you have this ability.
- Media Buying
The knowledge of the entire process of purchasing media - from negotiation, to execution, to reporting.
- Media Planning
The ability to research, strategize, and effectively plan media in a way that hits goals and sells through.
- Mobile Marketing
Mobile marketing is massively important and effective. There is so much involved in mobile marketing too. If you have this skill or knowledge, put it on your resume and LinkedIn profile because companies are looking for this, and will be in the coming years.
- Organic Search
The ability to understand how people are reaching a company's website organically is just as important as paid traffic, if not more important. Knowing how to improve organic rankings is incredibly valuable because it shows companies you can save them money.
- Pinterest Ads
Pinterest ads are highly effective for sharing and distributing content that could potentially go viral and get shared often. It's a great medium for many successful companies. Knowing that you have this skill could put you ahead of other candidates, especially for companies who run a lot of social.
Hitting people multiple times with an ad, after they've already interacted with you in some way. Knowing how to implement retargeting strategies gives you a leg up because it shows recruiters and managers that you really know the digital landscape.
- SEM (Search Engine Marketing)
SEM is the overall knowledge of search engines, and how to use them for marketing purposes. It encompasses both paid and organic search.
Search engine optimization is one particular aspect of SEM. Both have to do with increasing search engine visibility, but SEO focuses heavily on organic rank, and optimizing your website - whereas SEM goes beyond that.
- Snapchat Advertising
Snapchat will continue to be a big play for advertisers in 2017 and beyond. Having this prior experience/skill will show recruiters you are relevant and understand modern media. Not everyone has tested Snapchat ads yet, so be able to bring that knowledge and it will set you apart.
- Social Community Growth
Taking a social account (or multiple) and growing their follower-base. This has been an essential skill since social media started being used for business, and will continue to be.
- Social Community Management
In today's digitized world, people appreciate when companies engage with the general public via social media. A very important skill to have on your marketing resume for social, PR, and digital jobs.
- Twitter Ads
Twitter is still a staple for many businesses. Know how to run tweet engagement ads, website traffic ads, and more.
Buffer is an essential social media management tool. You can schedule social posts, get analytics, and more. It's been huge for me and is for many businesses.
BuzzSumo is such a great content marketing tool. It allows you to easily search different topics and see exactly what types of content is the most popular out in the market right now. Huge to have this in your back pocket for any content marketing job.
Canva allows even beginners to create beautiful and professional social media ads, blog headers, email graphics, and more. I use it constantly for my LLC and people love the images I create and share. It's incredibly simple and produces awesome results.
Evernote is great for PR pros, content marketers, and more. It allows people to save online content, take notes, and organize their files. Essential tool for writers and content marketing pros.
Awesome tool from Google, allowing you to see visualizations on trends going on near you. This will be a heavily utilized marketing tool for years to come.
Hootsuite is the bread & butter of managing multiple paid social accounts under one roof. It is considered the leading social media dashboard tool for businesses from all sizes. Having this on your marketing resume, especially for a social media job, can boost you ahead of other applicants.
Kissmetrics is a behavioral analytics and engagement platform, and is perfect for individual marketers or product teams. It helps you understand and act on customers more effectively.
This is a really helpful tool for growing your social accounts. It helps you find new people to follow, and has many filtering options including "Spam Score" which helps you avoid connecting with accounts that are known to blast out spam and BS.
Great tool for scheduling social posts. Saving time and increasing web traffic are made so much easier. Take this skill to a company and show the marketing team how to save time.
One of the most comprehensive SEO tools out there. It allows you to research, monitor, and analyze your website's SEO efforts. I've used this in the past and it helped me rank for several important key terms.
- Sizmek (and other ad servers)
Sizmek is one of the biggest third-party ad serving platforms on the market. Within Sizmek, you can track, build, and monitor thousands of ad placements from one place. You can also manage campaign invoicing and finances.
Sprout is a great new platform for social media management - build your community, start and join social conversations, monitor customer service, and execute marketing plans. Huge time saver and smart solution for social media teams.
Even if you screw up, be willing to admit it. Take responsibility for everything you work on.
- Attention to Detail
One click can spend $50,000 if you aren't careful. One click can mess up the analytics for a whole campaign. Attention to detail is basically a requirement for any digital marketing resume.
- Budget Management
Huge in marketing. Companies want somebody who can help them get the most out of their budgets. When they are requesting money from the company or board of directors, they want to know it's being managed the best way possible.
- Emotional Intelligence (Clients, Internal Teams)
EQ or Emotional Intelligence is the ability to be aware of your emotions and act on them in a smart no matter what setting you are in. It's also a predictor of job performance. This is essential in marketing because of how much collaboration is involved.
- Giving and Getting Feedback
In marketing, you need to be willing and able to bounce ideas off of internal teams and clients.
- Local Marketing
Knowledge of local marketing is big for small and medium-sized businesses. Companies will hire people with an awareness of local marketing, and the ability to execute on it.
- Marketing Funnels
You have to understand the whole marketing funnel - from the top to bottom. People who are not yet aware, people who just became aware, people who are considering, and people who are about to buy.
- Project Management
This skill will never die out. Project management is essential to any organization. To go along all of the data, metrics, optimizations, campaigns, and budgets - you need somebody to help coordinate everything and keep it on schedule. Companies will always value this.
- Affiliate Marketing
If you understand how to generate traffic or sales for a company through external sources (usually in exchange for some sort of commission), that can be a really valuable skill. It has become increasingly popular as people look for ways to monetize their online presence.
- Cold Calling
Being able to just pick up the phone, be confident, and feel comfortable talking to just about anybody.
- Cold Emailing
Knowing the right approach, frequency, length, and things to say in cold emails. The ability to write a cold email that converts can be a gold mine for companies if they have people to do it right.
- Conversion Optimization
Figuring out what is getting in the way of people converting, removing those issues, testing new things, etc. Just being able to effectively improve conversion rates. Have case studies ready for that marketing resume.
- Direct Response
The ability to run effective campaigns that are solely for lead generation. Some companies operate on this business model. If you're applying at one, make sure you have experience with these types of campaigns.
- Pricing, Profitability, and ROI
Have a grasp of how every marketing channel is contributing to profitability and ROI. Know which products have the best margins, the best conversion rates, and the best lifetime value.
- Product Marketing
The ability to position, market, and pitch a product that doesn't exist yet. Huge skill needed for startups and companies introducing new products.
- Proposal or Presentation Creation
Have experience supporting teams by creating effective proposals or presentations? This is an important marketing skill to have, especially for agencies who are looking to win clients.
Know who to go after, when, and how. Know the right mediums. Know how to get the right contact person and their information.
- Public Speaking & Presenting
Another timeless marketing skill. You need to be able to comfortably speak in front of groups. In some digital marketing jobs, you can be introverted and hate the spotlight and get away with it. However, having this skill on top of the technical skills is a winning recipe.
Can you take data and numbers and turn them into actual stories and learnings of what's going on with a business? Put this on your resume and LinkedIn and have examples ready to describe. So important in marketing jobs.
- Big Picture Marketing Strategy
Knowing what the goals, tone, brand voice, and strategies are for your particular business. Making sure all marketing ties back to the company's values and mission.
- Brand Positioning
Experience rebranding a company, or helping position a brand in a way that resonates with consumers. Knowing how to write a brand positioning statement. This is important for getting jobs with brand agencies, or being a brand manager.
- Channel Mix
There are so many media channels, but only limited budget. This skill is essential to marketers because it helps guide companies in a direction that makes sense for them.
- Communications Planning
The high-level strategic vision and tactics for communicating a message to a target audience. This encompasses media channels, content strategy, and timing.
- Competitor Analysis
Another strategic skill for your marketing resume is being able to understand the competition and what they're doing. This can help you tweak or adjust a company's product, offering, or marketing tactics.
- Consumer Behavior (Understanding and Prediction)
Do you have a knack for seeing new trends before they happen? Did you see Snapchat blowing up before it did? Did you see Instagram taking off as an ad platform before it actually happened? Being first-to-market in advertising is huge because you can get underpriced media buys that are highly effective.
- Content and Marketing Calendars/Timelines
A solid marketing and content calendar is a staple for any organized marketing department. It helps keep content distribution on theme, and helps put a "method to the madness" as they say.
- Inbound Marketing
Finding ways to bring people into your space, rather than outbound advertising. The ability to strategize and come up with ways to use content, marketing funnels, and automation to organically draw people in.
- Keyword Research & Planning
Digital marketers need to know how to do keyword research. It's a clear indicator of existing consumer search behavior.
- Market Research
Understanding different markets within a geographic region. Make sure you know the go-to resources and what data points to look for. It can be tough to get started with this if you just don't know where to start. Very valuable for companies.
Technical Marketing Skills
- A/B Testing (All Mediums)
This has been a marketing buzzword for years now, and continues to be. High-level executives loves to know things are being tested and improved upon. Have this skill and you will flourish in a marketing role.
- Ad Networks (High-Level Understanding)
There are so many data sources online, and so much ad inventory available. This skill involves being able to understand how it works, explain it in plain English to colleagues, and know which ones are legitimate and which ones are just wasted ad spend.
- Ad Serving
Have a high-level understanding of ad serving, third party tracking, and DoubleClick on Google. Companies use this as a way to track all of their campaigns and attribute success (and failure) on a very granular level.
- Advertising Operations
Ad ops is the process of trafficking creative for very technical digital marketing campaigns. It's very difficult, and companies know that. You can make a lot of money and give a lot of value by having this skill.
- CMS (WordPress, Drupal, etc.)
Know how to use at least one major content management system (CMS). I would recommend WordPress. In my experiences, it has been the most popular. Drupal is another one I've encountered a few times. Having a basic, working knowledge can make things a lot easier.
- Data Analysis
It's easy to set up an analytics account, but it's way harder to actually digest and understand the data. This is one of the single most important skills any marketer in the digital day & age should have. It will help any marketer move up more quickly in their career.
If you can't use Excel properly, you will have a way harder time in any marketing job. You can always expect to be exporting things to Excel, manipulating data, creating pivot tables, writing formulas, etc. If you're still in school reading this, make sure you ace your Excel class.
- Google Analytics
Google Analytics is something any marketer should get an official certification in. Google has a great training program that shows you how to set up an account, connect it to AdWords, understand it, and create reports with it. Crucial technical skill for modern day marketers. Also crucial for any business, small or large.
- HTML/CSS (Basic Knowledge)
Being able to understand the structure of the code (layout and stylistically) of a website. This can make things a lot easier if a company needs somebody to make basic updates frequently, but can't afford a web developer.
- Quality Assurance
Having a QA team should be a requirement for any company that spends a significant amount of money on digital marketing campaigns. Like I said before, money can be wasted with one setting wrong, or one wrong box checked. Having QA skills is a big asset.
- Site Maps
Look up what a sitemap is and make sure you're proficient in understanding one, creating one, and submitting one. It's a search engine's way of understanding a website's structure and information hierarchy.
Sometimes, there are data points that seem impossible to get. However, somebody with SQL skills who have access to a database will tell you differently. Knowing SQL gives you a significant advantage in any marketing analytics role. There's an online course at Udacity that will help introduce you. That's where I learned the basics.
- Tracking and Attribution
This technical skill is key on any marketing resume because it allows you to prove success. When you put up a billboard or ad in the mall, it's like "alright, that did well...I guess?" - but with proper tracking and attribution, campaigns can prove directly whether something worked or not.
- User Experience Design
UX Design is becoming more and more important. It's the ability to take any product (app, website, mobile experience, etc.) and make sure it is user friendly. This requires technical skill, strategy, and creativity.
- WordPress Customization
Instead of building a website from scratch, it's still impressive to be able to choose the right theme, know the right ways to customize the look and feel, and brand it accordingly.
- WordPress Plugin Integration
WordPress plugins basically allow you to take existing themes in WordPress, and add cool bells & whistles that basically take it to the next level. There are social sharing plugins, email signup plugins, image galleries, SEO plugins, and more. Having knowledge of the best WordPress plugins will only increase your website building skills.
Fun fact: I had to shorten this list to 100.
True story. Once I actually had it written out, it blew my mind how many different skills exist these days that you can have on marketing resumes.
I said at the beginning it was comprehensive. I lied. It's not entirely comprehensive. I forgot to include "knowing acronyms" somewhere.
Either way, it should give aspiring and current marketing professionals an idea of where they can build their skills and add value. It's a great start to what reality is like out in the market.
We are operating in a time where simply "marketing" as a skill is becoming a commodity, and isn't taken very seriously. Everybody who runs their own Instagram account can say they're a marketer, even if they have nothing to back it up. People can stuff keywords in a terribly written article and call themselves an SEO expert.
However, those types of people won't last in the long run.
The skills above will help you add depth, true skill, and value to your marketing career. Regardless of the category you fall into above, I hope this provided some guidance as to what skills are relevant for your marketing resume and LinkedIn. Increase your value. Deliver awesome results. Give people what they want, and what they don't even know they want yet.
That's the key to winning in the long term as a marketer.
If you're interested in getting Jake's help with digital marketing, he can provide assistance in a few key areas.
Jake also offers digital marketing (social & content) for organizations and job coaching services for marketing pros with zero to two years of experience. You can learn more about those here.