Thursday, October 8, 2009

Are marketing communications skills transferable?

I remember the good old days, when marketing and communications types frequently hopped from one industry sector to another - accumulating insights and experience that they could apply to the next sector on which they inflicted their ideas and practices.

But is it as easy today? When companies are recruiting marketing/communications people, are the professional skills and insights valued more highly than industry knowledge? The reason I ask is that you see all kinds of people promoted into so-called marketing roles. In the financial services sector, in which I am currently employed, I recently attended a meeting with the actuary made reponsible for marketing within a highly regarded international consulting firm.

The interesting aspect of this meeting was that it never proposed a call to action. After 30 minutes, I was prompted to ask "So what are we supposed to do with this information? What exactly are you offering us?" I suppose, as a potential client, I was feeling sorry for the geyser and gave him the opportunity to get to the point. Another prospect would have been more likely to shanghai him out the door.

The point is that, in this case, he wouldn't be able to close a sale to save himself. Even when asked the question, he was desperately searching for a relevant answer!

Now the face-to-face sales presentation is really the pointy end of marketing - the conversion point. But this experience did bring into sharp focus the question of whether companies are recognising that: a) marketing and communications are professions, similar to actuaries and lawyers, with fundamental skills and experience required; and b) that there is substantial value in introducing new perspectives and techniques from other sectors into organisations in order to provide them with a better client perspective.

Obviously, my comments relate primarily to corporate marketing and communications environments. Agency staff, by definition, usually work across multiple sectors, unless they service a massive international client.

What are your experiences of this?

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