Filter by/
Region/  All
Type/  All
Sorted By/  Most Recent

GMA Snapshot: the skills most lacking in marketing today

By / / In Best practice /
In a new bi-monthly poll of our readers, the GMA asked what skill was most lacking in marketers today. After receiving more than 100 responses, we reveal the top 5 missing skills. Clues are in the word cloud!
data marketing skills survey

Do you agree with over 100 marketers on the key skill missing in most marketers?

This month’s GMA Quick Poll asked: “What skill do you think is most lacking in marketing people today?” We had over 100 replies across Twitter, LinkedIn and

GMA Snapshot
The GMA Snapshot is a bi-monthly poll of our readers on a single big issue in data driven marketing. No long surveys just one question answered across any of the GMA channels you use. To make sure you see the next one follow @gmainsight #gmashorts

The top 5 absent marketing skills

I doubt it comes as a surprise to many but the top 5 skills that respondents felt was missing in most marketers today were:

=①  Understanding data and its use (actionable insight)

=① Understanding the wider business context in which you operate

③ Understanding the customer/consumer

Being able to think strategically (Too many tactical marketers with knowledge of Adtech/Martech)

Being able to harness creativity to deliver value

Being a modern marketer is hard work

While the above summary may seem obvious to many, the answers we received had a very long tail with over 80 “marketing skills” captured. In simple terms a marketer today needs to know a lot about a lot of things.

This concept is not new, in fact we wrote about it often during my time at Econsultancy and coined the phrase Pi shaped marketer to describe the range of skills required and here at the GMA we wrote about the marketing skills framework almost 2 years ago , but I do think it has gathered momentum. One driver is the rise of Adtech and Martech which means we have more tools, more data but usually less time. (which is ironic given how so many vendors claim to save you time/effort/people)

Unfortunately the expression “a fool with a tool is still a fool” is now resonating across marketing. Because you CAN (fill in the your own example) doesn’t mean you SHOULD.

One obvious conclusion of this “skills gap” is that we need to rethink training. Tom Goodwin recently sparked an interesting debate on LinkedIn on the topic

“We seem to assume we live in an era where knowledge is somehow kept under lock and key, that some people know more, that skills come from top down. That we need to be told when and how to learn.

We think training is to make the same of people, when it should be to make the most. We now have access to every bit of knowledge in the world, immediately, for free, anytime, any place. We can teach ourselves pretty much any skill.

I learn more from my Twitter feed in a week than my University degree. The future of “training” isn’t training. It’s empowerment, it’s support, it’s about cultivating values. It’s fostering and aiding, but most of all hiring for curiosity.”

Interesting and worth thinking about when we want to build high functioning marketing teams.

Finally some direct responses from the poll worth pulling out include this one from Mariana Quiroga a Minneapolis based marketing consultant with 6 years of marketing experience at 3M to draw on.

“Companies are not investing on the future, just playing safe for the quarterly earnings. Thus most corporate growth is now coming from acquisition of entrepreneurs who did dare to take the time to understand the insights and emerging cultural trends.”

And from Paul Rouke, CEO of UK agency PRWD, on the importance of soft skills

“I immediately thought of my re-invented HIPPO characteristics when I read your question Craig – Humility, Integrity, Passion, Positivity, Open-mindedness”

We couldn’t agree more.

What does this mean for you as a marketer (Or your team)?

I would like to think that most senior marketers are already embracing these but I know from personal experience that many are not:

  1. Make sure you understand the wider business context under which your business operates in order to be able to deliver real value to the business
  2. Make sure you and your team really get data and how to use it to drive Insight
  3. Focus on your customers. Not focus room customers but real ones. If you don’t know what it’s really like to buy/sign up for your product or service you should be fired.
  4. Be creative in order to stand out. Understand the role of creativity, service design and UX in creating world-class products.
  5. Start with you because “you” is never done. Never stop learning. Be humble but courageous, empathize with your customers AND your team and be curious about everything. YOU need to be the driver of change

If you can’t put a tick against all of the above then you need to make changes and quickly. Marketing today, and therefore marketers, should be driving business growth by creating products/services/experiences that your customers love. This is not a solo activity, it requires collaboration with, and therefore an understanding of, all parts of the business and the vital roles your colleagues play in delivering value.

Never stop talking, never stop learning, never stop changing.

Next month’s GMA Snapshot question is “What will be the most important trend(s) for data driven marketers in 2019?”

To get your voice included tweet your thoughts with #gmasnapshot @gmainsight or email

Craig Hanna
Author: Craig Hanna
Managing Editor at GMA |

Craig Hanna is the managing editor of the GMA and also the founder of – the productivity toolkit for building and managing enterprise websites in Drupal 8. The innovative visual editing toolkit offers savings of 75% or more on conventional websites’ build time and budgets and is a world-first for agencies and their clients, offering unparalleled design, personalisation and flexibility for the enterprise market.

Leave your thoughts

Related reading

  • Keep up to date with global best practice in data driven marketing