The skills start-up marketers really need

A lot of friends shared the Techvibes post titled The Rise Of The Technical Marketer yesterday. It’s a good post. It talks about how modern marketers need technical skills to be successful. Practicing measurable marketing and doing it with modern tools such as marketing automation, CRM and analytics is where marketing has been heading for years. If you’re a technology marketer you should also have a good foundation of the how the technology works that you’re marketing. I agree 100% but I think there’s more.

In the 15 years that I’ve been in marketing at start-ups or fast growing large technology companies, here’s what I’ve learned that matters:

Speed: It’s not enough to be a quick thinker; you also need to be a fast creator. When a business is moving fast, marketing needs to be at or ahead of sales and product. Long term projects with far off deliverables will lead to marketing failures.

Flexibility: When you’re in a new business or market, you really don’t know what will work every time. Marketers need to quickly analyze and adapt activity. And they need to move on when something isn’t working.

Collaboration: There is no marketing ivory tower in start-up land. Company and product positioning lives in the heads of founders, engineers, sales, etc. The role of marketing in these businesses is to facilitate the development of messaging.

Humility: You’ll get things wrong. Your idea will get shot down. Some sales guy will nail the positioning better than you. Get over it. The best marketers aren’t precious about their ideas or work.

Delivery: This one matters most. Just like dev needs to ship every day, week and month, so does marketing. If you’re not planning your work and getting stuff out the door you won’t be successful in a start-up.

I’m sure there are more but these are the ones that have served me best over the last 15 years. Yes I get hired (and hire) for digital, product marketing and content skills, but I think these are the skills that really matter. If you nail these you’ll be successful.

Comments (1)

Agreed! Just like our counterparts in R&D, marketers need to be agile, producing good content quickly and not trying to make it perfect. Finish good content quickly and iterate often. Some of the best marketing is fleshed out and created via fire-drills!

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