After a summer full of sun, fun and maybe summer work for some students, it's now time to head back to the classroom and hit the books. There's little I personally like more than back-to-school, with warm sweaters, new books, changing leaves and new learning at my fingertips–despite me not being a student anymore.
So this year, I would like to share some of my knowledge and wisdom for business and marketing students beginning their degree or returning for another year. You may learn lots of information and skills in university, but if you don't master these 5 basic skills, you will have a hard time succeeding in today's fast-paced marketing world.
Writing is the most essential and most useful skill you will ever develop as a professional. An excellent ability to communicate by writing has many, many purposes beyond having your email understood by your boss.
According to research, those who write well have a better change of getting promoted in their chosen profession. Writing well isn't just about getting an A in that business report; it's also about producing clear, well-written documents for your superiors, colleagues, clients and audience.
In marketing, writing well is especially essential since you will probably be called to write blog posts, prepare presentations and build proposals or reports. Poor customer-facing communication reflects badly on your employer… and you.
2. Basic web design
Being able to manage a website is another essential skill for future marketers. Also people in the marketing team are seldom asked to build websites from scratch, it's useful if you know how to format and update content, how to correct small errors and how to manage plugins in your CMS.
A little ability with HTML and CSS can give you that little extra boost you need to get hired, too, so take that web design course if it fits in your schedule.
3. Social media management
Because it's so recent, social media is not yet taught in most business schools. But it ought to be. The ability to manage a social media stream and use it as a communications/PR/marketing/customer service tool is increasingly important.
And don't think that your personal Twitter account counts as "social media management"; showing you can maintain a consistent brand voice and produce content that engages followers is what matters for employers.
Tomorrow's marketer is as much at ease with data manipulation as he or she with creating visuals for a campaign. Marketing initiatives are now so tied to analytics data that it's hard to do one without the other.
I know, I know, not everyone's a numbers person (I'm the first one to admit that), but being able to manage both the creative and the qualitative sides of a marketing campaign is going to be essential as everything moves towards the digital space–even TV ads.
It can be a little depressing to be a student today looking at job numbers: fewer and fewer students end up with full-time, permanent jobs when they graduate.
But those who do usually have something special: they spent some time learning how to network effectively and used these skills to make their way into a job. Networking is one of the most fundamental soft skills you need to learn for success in the business world, and the earlier you do so the better.
Networking can be done in person, of course, but there's also plenty of ways to do it online too.
Ready for the new school year?
With a focus on these soft skills (as well as your grades, of course), you have a better chance at succeeding in the marketing world.
Budding marketers should also know how to improve a website for marketing success. North Studio's free ebook, 25 Effective Ways To Improve Your Website, covers the basics of optimization for more traffic, leads and sales.
Are there other skills that marketers should have to succeed? What's your advice for marketing students hoping to make it big?