Three skills millennial marketers need: advice from microsoft, pixlee, & mckinsey marketing leaders

4 MINS Team

Millennials are now increasingly seeking a career beyond the traditional ABC route, commonly known in business schools as accounting, banking, and consulting. The new career of choice? Marketing, especially in social media and data analytics. In 2015, Glassdoor ranked marketing as the top 25 Highest Paying Jobs in Demand and Best Jobs for Work-Life Balance.

To remain competitive in the age of constant marketing innovation, millennials must learn to adapt and develop new skill sets. Having a data driven mindset along with hard skills are now just table stakes in today’s competitive market. Recently, I have received many emails from millennials about advice to begin and sustain a successful career in marketing. To understand the skills needed to become successful marketers, I sat down with marketing thought leaders and executives from Microsoft, Pixlee, and McKinsey & Co. as they share their career advice to millennial marketers.

1. Social Empathy Trumps Hard Skills
Geoffrey Colon, Communications Designer at Microsoft and Author of Disruptive Marketing

This skill may catch many marketers off guard because it’s not one you can simply learn like video editing or statistics. It’s called social empathy. How can you put yourself in the shoes of others (usually your customers) and be truly human? Computer technology and automation is taking over a large part of marketing once done by people. But empathy isn’t something machines can learn. We want to speak to humans when it comes to ideas and project management. We want to entrust their vision more than programmatic software.

To put it another way: being a great performer in marketing is becoming less about what you know and more about what you’re like. That’s why the most well-rounded and curious personalities make for good marketers and not process-driven left brain analytical types. Start early by exposing yourself to new ideas you don’t feel comfortable with. Being agile and not rigid on your life outlook will help you immensely. Consider taking some behavioral psychology and sociology classes.

2. Thinking Like An Entrepreneur
Kyle Wong, Co-founder and CEO of the visual marketing company Pixlee

My advice to millennials entering marketing is to think like an entrepreneur and to always be learning. Like entrepreneurs, marketers in today’s environment need to be strategic, creative, analytical, and they need to be passionate about their work. Today’s marketing world is changing faster than ever. What you know today will have a large impact on getting your job, but what you learn while on the job will determine whether or not you excel at it.

In-house digital teams must act like startups because they are typically understaffed despite the rapidly growing industry and increasing expectation to perform. The best digital marketers emphasize testing and constant learning. Digital media today encompasses a myriad of different touch points, platforms, and forms of advertising. As a result, good marketers need to stay up to date with the newest technology and test to see if it’s effective for their respective business. [an excerpt from Forbes: Digital Marketer: The Most Entrepreneurial Job In Marketing]

3. Top of Mind Through Thought Leadership
Glenn Leibowitz, Head of Communications at McKinsey and LinkedIn Top Voice

If you want to get into marketing, you need to walk the talk—do something that makes you look like you’re already active in the space. For example, have at least two active social media accounts, with LinkedIn as your primary account, but one other like Twitter, and start sharing content about marketing topics.

Consider starting your own blog or start blogging on LinkedIn, Medium, or another platform like that. Write what you know best, don’t over-research pieces, keep them brief, but commit to once-a-month frequency if you can.

Learn everything you can that’s out there about marketing. There’s tons of free resources. But consider investing in paid online and offline courses as well so you can start building real skills that will transfer into a job quickly.

Parting Thoughts

Do you agree with the advice from these thought leaders and executives? How do you define marketing success? What advice would you give to millennial marketers?

Tai Tran is a regular contributor for Forbes and LinkedIn. He is named LinkedIn Top Voice and Forbes 30 Under 30 in Marketing & Advertising. Follow Tai on Forbes, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

This article was written by Tai Tran from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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