As a small business owner, marketing is your most important task.
Whether it’s selling products or services, you need to have the marketing skills required to get people interested in what you have to offer.
Now more than ever before, these marketing skills are changing rapidly and evolving with the times.
In 2021, here are seven marketing skills that will be crucial for success.
1 – Storytelling
Humans are hardwired to tell and absorb stories.
Our evolutionary success can be attributed in part to this cognitive ability to create and believe in stories.
We tell stories to make abstract concepts real and simplify otherwise complex messages.
You can use stories in your marketing to bring your brand to life, motivate your team, or create an emotional engagement.
A good story should be entertaining, educational and memorable.
All good stories have three core components; characters, conflict and resolution.
From a marketing perspective, storytelling is a valuable skill to learn to bring your target audience together and inspire action.
2 – Graphic design
As a teenager, I spent a couple of days at the University of Surrey at ‘Yearbook Camp’, an intensive course for us kids to design a professional looking yearbook.
Since those days in the mid-90s, I’ve spent a lot more time sharpening my graphic design skills, but I will never forget being taught the importance of white space.
Several basic graphic design skills can take your creatives from looking shoddy to looking smart.
Leaving appropriate amounts of white space on a page is an excellent place to start. The white space in a design is just as important as the graphics or copy.
Elements should be balanced and correctly aligned. The use of colour should be carefully considered based on its emotional impact.
The typography we use is surprisingly vital in conveying the message.
One way to sharpen this marketing skill is to start with professionally designed templates, such as those offered by Canva.
Also, search for inspiration in the wider world. Take a look at how magazine pages are laid out and how websites are arranged.
3 – Creativity
Unless you’re an artist, musician or writer, you might not have a dedicated creativity practice.
I would argue that exercising your creativity muscle is an essential marketing skill.
For me, creativity is all about curiosity. I’ve been described in the past as a polymath by my interest in multiple areas.
Whereas historically, we were rewarded for a laser-like focus on one thing, the future professional is likely to be an engaged generalist.
Developing your creativity then requires dedicated practice and giving yourself the space to explore a variety of interests.
Set aside time each day to delve into a new subject, whether reading, watching or listening.
Even a little random clicking of Wikipedia articles can send you off down a fascinating rabbit hole, ultimately developing your creativity for a later reward.
4 – Public speaking
Did you know that the fear of public speaking is called glossophobia?
It’s ubiquitous to be terrified of getting up on stage and speaking to an audience.
Some surveys estimate that as many as three-quarters of us are scared of public speaking, ranging from mild anxiety to full-blown fear.
The ability to speak confidently to an audience is an essential marketing skill for any small business owner.
I used to be terrified of public speaking. My legs would turn to jelly, my heart would race, and I would break out in a cold sweat.
It turns out that the more you do, the easier it gets.
I honed my public speaking skills and confidence by presenting a podcast, delivering the pre-run briefing at parkrun on multiple occasions, recording YouTube videos, being a guest on live radio, and standing on stage.
Yes, it can be scary, and anyone who speaks on stage with zero fear is exceptional.
But the rewards from the ability and willingness to carry out public speaking engagements are disproportionate to any fear involved.
5 – Copywriting
If you can speak, you can write.
Writing copy is a high-level marketing skill, but one that can be acquired and improved over time.
A great place to start is to speak, recording your words into transcription software before editing to tidy things up.
When I wrote my first book, after three months and 40,000 words, I was slightly horrified to discover from my publisher that I had the same amount of work to do again during the editing process.
Mark Twain is often (incorrectly) attributed as saying: “I didn’t have time to write you a short letter, so I wrote you a long one.”
Writing copy isn’t necessarily the hard part; editing it well is.
There are some fantastic tools available to help you write great copy, including Jarvis (an AI tool that generates marketing copy) and Grammarly (another AI tool, that has become an invaluable part of our workflow, catching typos and grammatical errors).
6 – Networking
Do you remember the good old days when we would attend networking meetings, shake hands, and drink coffee as we met other business owners?
Those days of face-to-face networking may be absent for a while longer as we come to terms with the Delta-variant.
But networking remains a valuable marketing skill to hone and one that can lead to many business opportunities.
Despite the absence of formal networking events, there are still multiple opportunities to meet other people and discover what they need – which, in my view, is the ultimate approach to successful networking.
Each time I leave the house, I treat it as a potential networking opportunity. You never know who you might meet when walking the dog, visiting the supermarket, or volunteering at a local event.
Enjoy conversations and see where they take you!
My colleague Kathryn wrote this blog about post-pandemic networking, well worth the read to learn more.
7 – Using data and analytics
Today is the first working day of the month, so I’m diving into Google Analytics to understand what is happening with each of our websites.
Google Analytics offers a goldmine of data, which correctly interpreted can provide valuable insights and help to improve your marketing results.
While I passionately believe that intuition should play a role in developing a marketing strategy, using the data will undoubtedly give you some important clues about what is and is not working well.
From a marketing perspective, learning your way around Google Analytics is a great place to start and then tweak your content to see the impact on the data.
Which marketing skills will you be working on this year to ensure business success?
If you fancy a chat to find out how the Bear Content team can supplement your marketing skills, you can book a time in my calendar for a Zoom call.