As part of the American Marketing Association’s (AMA) 2022 Virtual Conference, “The Year Ahead in Marketing,” Salesforce sponsored a session on taking control of your marketing career. The perennially popular topic took on new relevance this year in light of the Great Resignation, where many marketers are reskilling, upskilling or newly entering the field.
“As of this morning LinkedIn has 1.3 million job openings posted,” said Matt Gleim, Senior Director at Salesforce and the moderator of the discussion on January 25. “New technology, customer expectations and the global economy are also dramatically changing the role of the marketer.”
Gleim cited Salesforce’s annual State of Marketing report (released in August 2021), to demonstrate just how much change the industry has been undergoing in recent years. It’s survey of 8,200 marketing leaders across the globe found:
- Half of marketing leaders changed their marketing strategy in the last year
- 44% had completely changed their tactics and their marketing mix to reach customers
- 85% stated that KPIs were dramatically changing in importance or completely changed
Yet despite this massive transition, very few marketers felt they had the training and skills they need to perform under rapidly changing dynamics.
- Only 36% agreed that the training they were receiving was helping them achieve success
- Only 39% were offered data analytics training
These statistics demonstrate a trend in marketing to rethink and tackle new challenges, but also a necessity for marketers to get to the heart of what will move the needle for them and their teams in reskilling. Marketing leaders clearly need to change their approach to training along with their approach to tactics to be more successful.
Gleim, as well as his two speakers, Irene Engels, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Copado, and Vicki Moritz-Henry, an independent Solutions Consultant and Instructor, all had winding career paths that lead into marketing. Much of their knowledge was self-taught or researched, and Gleim posed the question to them: How important have you found a formal education to be in your career or in working with other marketers?
Moritz-Henry began the discussion by joking that as a current instructor and a former teacher under a formal education model, she’s still seen a fair mix of experience.
“A lot of people in my courses come in from the technical side, as Salesforce administrators trying to pick up marketing tools. But then the other side is marketers trying to pick up marketing automations tools,” she said. “I believe they have an equal chance of going out and getting their jobs because they’re curious and trying to find new skills. A traditional marketing degree isn’t always necessary.”
Engels, who came to marketing form the technical side and is currently pursuing an MBA, emphasized the value of formal education but also its limitations. “Formal education provides a great foundation for critical thinking, communication and collaboration,” she said. “When there isn’t a way to build those skills in a real-world setting, formal education is a great way to build them. But formal education is a bit slower than the real world in certain areas like technology.”
Gleim asked both speakers to draw on their own experience of learning marketing through hands-on training to reveal what skills take the longest to learn along the self-taught route. Engels and Moritz-Henry agreed, storytelling and audience targeting take time to develop. Both continue to read blogs and other media to find the best, newest ways to reach the perfect audience.
Salesforce’s research bears their experience out. Two of the skills marketers most want more education in are creativity and communication. “Creativity was the number one thing,” Gleim said. He then asked, Where do you think marketers should go and can go for reskilling and upskilling? Where can someone new to marketing go?
“I’m a big fan of blogs and following social media to see what people are writing about,” Moritz-Henry said. “These are people in the field getting hands-on experience that they can pass on. I’m also an avid reader of marketing books.” Moritz-Henry recommended Seth Godin’s website and books and Salesforce’s Trailhead courses as well as the book “Don’t’ Make Me Think.”
Engels agreed that the internet provides ample training and information on marketing topics, but also recommended that marketers use it to familiarize themselves with their clients’ industries. “My company just started working with a client in the DevOps space, and as part of onboarding I had to do my own due diligence and learn more about the industry,” she said, noting that she used several modules on Trailhead.
Gleim similarly reads blogs to keep abreast of best practices, but he wondered how much of the blogs he chooses and the knowledge he gleans comes from his marketing community. He posed the same question to his speakers: How have marketing networking groups played a role in your success, either online or in your local community?
Moritz-Henry laughed, “I could open up my Slack and give you a list of 10 different channels,” she said. “Being in France and being on a different time zone, that’s one of the ways I like to have asynchronous communication. The Salesforce ecosystem is also great for user groups, and Irene and I are both part of the Marketing Champions group. Having those network events is a great way to meet people you can rely on that you wouldn’t normally come across.”
“Slack and Salesforce have been amazing,” Engels agreed. “Talking among my peers has really been great for my career as well as my personal life.”
“It’s all about having that place to go if you have a question and get stuck,” Moritz-Henry said. “You know there are people that have been in the same place as you, and they’re willing to help.”
Gleim also agreed on this particular value of networking. “I feel embarrassed talking to my peers within the organization when I’m stuck,” he said. “It’s much more comfortable going outside, and great that marketers have that at their disposal.” He said that tackling new technologies among peers is particularly helpful, especially with the pace of change in sectors like digital marketing, digital strategy and social media. Then he asked: What do you think are some of the biggest growth opportunities for marketers right now?
“The way the world is going, I see tremendous growth in digital strategy,” Engels said. “That’s not slowing down any time soon.”
Moritz-Henry said that she was seeing the largest shift in these areas among her non-profit clients. “The traditional ways of fundraising like events and door-to-door are not surefire anymore,” she said. “They’re looking for creative ways to engage people online. I’ve seen a lot of great articles on gamification and how to get people involved and engaged rather than throwing marketing at them all the time. It’s about letting people know that you’re listening.”
Gleim is seeing the same trend among his non-profit clients. “Not-for-profits and B2Bs are shifting into a lot of the relationship building tactics that you would normally see in B2C,” he said. “It is brand building but also building an experience between the organization and the end user. I used to be responsible for generating a lead for a salesperson, but now there’s a change fundamentally in how those organizations are approaching relationships.”
“People are more open to digital experiences now because of what has happened in the world,” Engels interjected. “I just don’t see that going back. As much as we’re craving the old days and getting out and about, we won’t go back any time soon.”
Shifting gears a bit, Gleim asked the speakers to think about marketing leaders and how they can start rethinking their approach to training people. “Building the strongest team possible as a marketer is probably even more important in the context of the Great Resignation,” he said, asking: How does training relate to retention? How important is it that your company provides you with opportunities to learn?
“It’s extremely important to me. The most important thing,” Engels said. “If my employer isn’t invested in my learning, it probably isn’t the place for me. Luckily my employer is, including LinkedIn Learning and Trailhead and reimbursement for the courses that I’m interested in.”
As a freelancer, Moritz-Henry has experience across several companies, but little opportunity for formal sponsorship. However, she said that each opportunity in her career has been educational. “All of the opportunities that I’ve been drawn to have given an opportunity to learn and be challenged,” she said. “It’s not only important to have the time to go and learn and take classes which are great, but also to be challenged and be able to use what you learn to keep growing. I think that opportunity for growth is a big part of employee retention.”
Gleim asked if Moritz-Henry had seen training methods that were more or less successful across the companies she works with.
“I think it’s about finding out what the person is interesting in learning,” she said. “You need to cater to the individual and where their interests lie.” She also emphasized the importance of mentors. “Having someone who’s more experienced sharing their stories about clients that you might not hear about if you were just following a learning path can really make a difference.”
Gleim dug into Salesforce’s data to reveal that almost every marketing team will likely go through some onboarding over the next year or two, citing the Great Resignation as well as tremendous growth in the field. “Some of the marketers we talked to were thinking they might see revenue increases of up to 63% this year,” he said. “We all hope that means more budget and headcount for our teams.” He asked the speakers: What are some areas companies often overlook when teaching specifically about their way of working?
“I think sometimes people are thrown into things too quickly,” Moritz-Henry said. “Organizations don’t understand how long it takes to understand exactly how a company works and functions. Setting aside the time they need to ramp up, upskill, learn and really understand the functioning of the company is a big gap, especially with remote work being the norm. You have to put yourself forward to be invited into Zoom calls. It’s not like walking down to the conference room to listen in.”
Moritz-Henry also emphasized the importance of documenting. “When that falls off the back end of the project and it never gets done, you aren’t prepared with the resources for someone new to be able to go find the answer themselves,” she said.
Engels agreed with the need for better company culture training. “As a new employee I might have a ton of experience, but you don’t know what you don’t know when you start at a company,” she said. “It’s up to the employer to set you up for success to have a couple of quick wins when you walk in the door so you can better understand the company and your roles and responsibilities. I think because of the Great Resignation we’re all moving a little too fast. Perhaps it time to slow down a bit and have better documentation and better onboarding.”
Gleim noted that often, new hires learn company methods from the tribal knowledge of coworkers. But in the new reality of remote working many new hires are joining teams where they might not meet people in person. He asked the speakers: How does it change learning when you’re not necessarily sitting next to someone you can easily ask a question?
Moritz-Henry, who has worked remotely for over a decade said that even she is experiencing a change in this dynamic since so many people are shifting to remote or hybrid models. “In my virtual instruction, I bring a lot of theory with me from my background in language teaching,” she said. “One specific theory is the methodology around different styles of learning. I try having a little bit of everything and consider every learning style in my courses.”
Engels, who works for a fully remote company agreed about the importance of understanding employees’ needs in virtual learning. Gleim pointed out that those learning styles can also shift over time or depending on the current work situation.
“I’ve always been more of a visual learner,” he said. “I always got more from a presentation or a video than reading through content. But since I now spend my entire day on video conferences, I find I am much more into reading.”
Gleim then asked: What should people who are thinking about a career change to move into marketing do to understand marketing roles and whether they might be interested in them?
Both speakers pointed to Salesforce’s Marketer’s Career Path as a great place to start. “It does a nice job of going through the different roles,” Moritz-Henry said. “It may be that you’re attracted to the data side and the analytical side. It may be that you’re more attracted to the creative side and you like email design. Just understanding what those roles are in the first place helps you align your learning and development to roles you’re targeting.”
Engels again emphasized not to forget about the importance of understanding your market. “After the Marketer’s Career Path, I would ask the person to research the industries they’re really interested in. Learn about them and find peers within the marketing space that you can have open and honest conversations with. I know if it wasn’t’ for my peers I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Gleim ended the session by asking the speakers: If you had two minutes to meet your younger self before you started your career, what insight would you share?
“I would say to stay curious and not grow up so fast, because before you know it there’s someone younger who knows that social media or that new technology better than you,” Engels said.
“Don’t get fixated on a career path,” said Moritz-Henry. “I started university as a bio major and then went into languages. There are so many shifts and transitions you can make. If you’re thinking about going into marketing, it might not be the last transition of your career. Keep an open mind to all the opportunities that might open up along the way.”
“I would tell my younger self to take the leap into marketing early,” Gleim said. “I was very impressed but very intimidated by marketers when I was in sales. It took me a number of years to get up the courage to apply for a marketing job.” Register for the AMA’s 2022 Virtual Conference for free to watch the session in its entirety.