Are you trying to sell a product or service? If so, then you need to develop some marketing skills.
In this article, I’ll go over several marketing skills and explain why they’re an essential part of a successful business strategy.
Marketing is just like anything else: it’s a learned discipline. You need to study it, practice it and fine-tune it.
But marketing is also multi-faceted. It’s not just a single skill. It’s a whole universe of talents that all work together to maximize your profit.
Marketing Skill #1: Copywriting
You’ll promote your brand with words. Full stop.
It doesn’t matter if you’re running print ads, TV ads, radio ads, or digital ads. You’ll always communicate with people in your target market using words.
That’s why you need to understand copywriting.
Copywriting, strictly defined, is the process of creating text that will ultimately persuade folks to buy whatever it is you’re selling. It might be the most potent weapon in your arsenal of marketing tools.
Keep in mind: the art of producing great copy isn’t just about mastering the English language. In fact, you can earn a fortune and not even use proper grammar.
Years ago, Apple ran a promotion with just two words: “Think Different.”
That slogan would get low marks in Mrs. Smith’s Fifth Grade English class. It should be “Think Differently.”
It was good enough for marketing purposes, though. Today, Apple is worth $941 billion.
Also, you don’t need to write prose that competes with the likes of John Donne or Herman Melville to create a great ad. In fact, it would probably best if you didn’t imitate literary geniuses.
Why? Because you’re not competing for a prize in composition. You’re trying to convince people to make a purchase.
You can do that with plain words and straight talk.
In his great book Ogilvy on Advertising, legendary copywriter David Ogilvy begins Chapter 1 with a story about two famous orators from ancient Greece: Aeschines and Demosthenes.
When Aeschines spoke, people commented about how well he speaks. When Demosthenes spoke, people said: “Let us march against Philip.”
In other words, Aeschines delivered beautiful speeches, but Demosthenes was persuasive.
When it comes to copywriting, be Demosthenes, not Aeschines.
It’s pretty genius, and fortunately, there are plenty of great resources available if you’re interested in learning how to master the art of writing seductive copy.
Words That Sell will fill your vocabulary with power words that move people to take action. If you don’t already own it, add it to your library.
You should also pick up a copy of Drew Eric Whitman’s Cashvertising. That book will help you leverage consumer psychology to generate sales.
Marketing Skill #2: Storytelling
Storytelling is often a part of copywriting but it deserves its own section.
Sometimes, you’ll tell stories in your ads. That’s especially the case when you’re writing long form copy.
You’ve probably read more than a few pieces of direct mail that began with something like this: “I was living from paycheck to paycheck until a friend told me about this money-making secret..”
That’s a story.
There’s quite a bit more to storytelling in marketing than just giving a personal testimony, though. You need to associate a narrative with your brand.
Ask yourself this question: what do people think about when they see your logo or hear your company name?
If you can’t answer that, then it’s time to get busy. Create a story that will attract people to your business.
Some of the most popular companies in the world rely on stories.
For example, you might not know much about Men’s Wearhouse, but you probably know this: if you shop there, you’re going to like the way you look.
How do you know that? Because that’s the story associated with the brand.
Back in the 1980s, fast food chain Wendy’s ran a commercial featuring a sweet old lady. She examined the miniscule meat patty on a hamburger purchased at a competing restaurant and asked: “Where’s the beef?”
What was Wendy’s doing in that commercial? Telling a story.
Wendy’s wanted people to know that its hamburgers have generous portions of meat in them, unlike the puny burgers they sell at McDonald’s.
If you’re fortunate enough to live near a Krispy Kreme Donuts franchise, you might have driven past the store on some mornings and noticed two words lit up in neon red in the front window: “HOT NOW.”
Krispy Kreme uses that sign to tell you a story.
What comes to mind when you see those words? Do you think about the last time you watched those freshly baked donuts get doused with liquid glaze?
Or maybe you dream about the sticky sweetness that hangs on your fingers after you bite into the soft texture of a warm Krispy Kreme donut.
Perhaps your stomach growls as you envision a box of a half-dozen delicious breakfast treats sitting on your office desk.
And then you remember: they have chocolate donuts, too!
If that’s how you respond, you’re not the only one. Those two words helped transform Krispy Kreme into a $14 billion company.
Now it’s your turn. What story do you want to tell about your business?
Here are a couple of books to help you develop that narrative:
Marketing Skill #3: Content Marketing
One of the best ways to draw a crowd online is through content marketing.
If you’re unfamiliar with content marketing, it’s the practice of writing blog posts and optimizing them so they rank well in the search results.
The key, of course, is to produce content that will interest people in your target market. That’s how they’ll learn about your business.
Content marketing is especially useful if you’re trying to demonstrate expertise in your niche.
Digital marketing guru Seth Godin runs a few blogs. He uses them to give people advice on how to promote their products and services online.
Of course, he indirectly uses those blogs to promote himself. He’s making it clear to the whole world that he’s an expert in online marketing.
In fact, the article you’re reading right now is an example of content marketing. I’m using it to establish myself as an authority in this space.
If you’re struggling to draw people to your website, it might be because you don’t populate your blog with any relevant content. If that’s the case, then start content marketing this week.
We offer an ultimate guide to content marketing on the Ignite Visibility website. That’s a great place to get started.
Marketing Skill #4: Networking
You can try to “go it alone” in your marketing adventure, but if you do that you’re likely to fall flat.
Even the best marketers need help. That’s why it’s important to build a healthy network.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to do that.
You can start online. Obviously, that means joining LinkedIn and getting active on the platform.
Be sure that you complete your profile. Then, work to build your network every week.
You should also engage with other LinkedIn users in your feed. Like and comment on articles that you find interesting. Share them as well.
Your networking efforts shouldn’t stop in the digital sphere, though. You need to get out in the real world and shake some hands.
Join your local Chamber of Commerce. Check out Meetup and find some groups that appeal to you professionally or personally.
Remember, though: when you join meetups, don’t get too aggressive about pushing your business. Stick to the mission of the group and let the word about your brand get out organically.
Marketing Skill #5: Teaching
Once you’ve mastered your marketing skills, you probably won’t have time to practice all of them. That’s because you’ll be too busy trying to grow your business.
In other words, you’ll need to delegate some marketing tasks to other people.
Sometimes, those folks will need guidance. They’ll require a mentor to hold their hand for a little while before they can handle marketing on their own.
That’s where you come in. You’ll need to teach folks what you know.
Effectively, you’ll need to clone yourself.
If you don’t know how to mentor other people, you’re going to have a lot of trouble assembling a marketing team that will put cash in the bank. You’ll also likely get frustrated as you’re doing all of the heavy lifting while partners and employees are sitting idle.
On the other hand, if you can transfer your knowledge to others, you can build a competitive brand in almost any space.
There are plenty of books you can turn to for advice on teaching others. One of the best is Telling Ain’t Training by Erica Keeps.
In fact, Amazon has a whole section on mentoring and coaching that you should check out.
Marketing Skill #6: Negotiating
You might think that you don’t need to know how to negotiate because you’re a marketer. Nothing could be further from the truth.
For starters, everybody needs to know how to negotiate.
If you’re an active marketer, that means you’re likely cutting deals with agencies, business partners, and freelancers. You need to know how to negotiate with those people.
Why? Because when you make great deals, you’ll save money. That’s cash you can use to invest in your business.
There are plenty of great books to help you become a top-notch negotiator. One of my favorites is Never Split the Difference. It’s written by a former FBI hostage negotiator, so it’s an enjoyable as well as informative read.
Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher is another great option.
Marketing Skill #7: SEO
You also need to have advanced knowledge in search engine optimization.
That’s because people are searching for terms related to your niche online. You want them to find your website and not a competitor’s website.
How do you make that happen? There are several ways.
Then, optimize pages on your site for those keywords. Make sure that your title tags, meta description tags, and content include those words or phrases.
Next, optimize your site so that it loads quickly. Google is using page speed as a ranking factor these days.
You can check your page load time over at Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. If your site is too slow, hire a development team to make it faster.
While you’re in the habit of visiting tools, you should also drop by Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool to make sure that mobile users can easily navigate around your site. If not, get some developers to create a responsive site for you.
You can also improve your rank with backlinks. Those are hyperlinks on other websites that point to your own site.
One way to get them is with guest-posting. Just make sure the backlink looks natural within your content.
If you’ve followed the networking advice from Point #4, you might have some friends who own websites. Why not ask them for a backlink? In return, you can put links to their sites on your own website.
Those are just the basics, though. If you’d like a more in-depth overview of SEO, check out our starter guide.
One final note: this is one marketing skill you probably want to develop without the aid of books.
Why? Because SEO is always changing. By the time a book on the subject gets published, it’s out of date.
Instead, bookmark sites like Search Engine Journal and Search Engine Land. Read them regularly to get all the latest news about SEO best-practices.
Marketing Skill #8: Public Relations
Yes, you’re going to need to know something about public relations as well.
That’s because PR is essentially free advertising.
And who doesn’t want free advertising?
Has your brand been mentioned in the press lately? If not, then it’s time to brush up on your PR skills.
Start by finding something newsworthy about your business. If you’re running a new business, then that in and of itself is newsworthy.
Next, pitch the story to various reporters. Before you can do that, though, you’ll have to gather the email addresses of various journalists who might be interested in writing about your business.
Browse relevant news sites and blogs online. Often, the reporters will list their email addresses near their by-lines. That’s a great way to reach them.
You can also tag them on social media. Again, look for their Twitter usernames next to their bylines.
Finally, create a pitch that highlights the interesting points of your story. Blast that out to relevant reporters and see if anyone bites.
You should also sign up for HARO (Help A Reporter Out). Volunteer yourself as a source and identify your expertise.
Maybe someday a journalist will reach out to you asking for your input on a story. When you’re quoted, that reporter will almost certainly identify you and your business in the article. That’s free press.
Amazon offers many outstanding books on PR if you’re brand new to it. Pick up a couple of the best-sellers before you get started.
A word of caution, though: PR can be fairly time-consuming. Once you become great at it, you might find that it’s best to outsource the whole thing to a professional PR firm.
Marketing Skill #9: CMS Administration
You should know how to navigate around the back end of your content management system.
If you’re like the vast majority of webmasters, you’re probably using WordPress as your CMS of choice. Get familiar with the admin console if you haven’t used it a whole lot.
Specifically, you should know how to create a post, import an image, update your headers and footers, change the widgets in your sidebar, control the look and feel of your site, and add new menu items.
Those are just the basics, though.
You should also familiarize yourself with the plugins that you’re using. For example, if you’ve installed WP Super Cache to speed up your site, you should know how to configure it. If you’ve installed Yoast SEO to improve your site’s search visibility, you should know how to fine-tune the settings.
Sometimes, you might even need to get into the PHP code to make some changes. Fair warning: don’t do that unless you’ve made a backup of your site!
Even if you do know a thing or two about PHP, limit your coding to simple changes. Let professional developers handle the more comprehensive updates.
There are plenty of great resources to learn about WordPress. Most of them are online and free.
Visit WP Beginner and the WPMU Dev blog to get started. If you can’t find the answer you’re looking for between those two sites, then Google is your best friend.
Marketing Skill #10: CRO
Finally, you need master the art and science of conversion rate optimization (CRO). That’s the process of maximizing the click-through rate (CTR) on your landing pages.
It’s an art because you’ll often use aesthetics to attract more clicks. It’s a science because you’ll always use analytics to determine what’s working and what’s not.
When you optimize your landing page for conversions, you reduce your cost-per-acquisition. That’s money that goes straight to the bottom line.
Consider this example: let’s say that your landing page has a conversion rate of 5% with 5000 visitors every month. That’s 250 conversions per month.
If you optimize the page so that the conversion rate jumps up to 10%, then you’ve just doubled your monthly conversions to 500.
And you did that without spending one additional dime on advertising.
As a marketer, you need to do more than get people to your website. You also need folks to take action once they arrive.
Do that with CRO.
At Ignite Visibility, we’ve just published a blog post with 16 proven ways to increase your conversions. Be sure to check it out.
Wrapping Up New Marketing Skills
Now it’s time to take inventory. Which of the marketing skills listed above do you need to work on?
If you find that you’ve got some room to grow in one area, visit the sources listed in the appropriate section. Educate yourself.
Then, practice. It’s not good enough to be an academic. Apply the principles you learned so that you generate more revenue for your business.
Once you’ve mastered that skill, start working on another one so your business can become even more profitable.