Posted by Williams Helde Staff

Next Generation Advertisers

Next Generation AdvertisersFrom the printing press to the radio to the TV to the Internet, technology has always played a vital role in advertising. Now, in the midst of a technological revolution of sorts, the skills required to succeed in marketing are expanding. The development of digital advertising is requiring an entirely new skill set from marketers today. It’s decreasingly about splash pages, catchy creative and maximizing impressions and clicks and increasingly about database infrastructure, content management, JavaScript tracking tags, and second screens. It’s our job, as marketers, to understand this technology so that we can inform our clients about how to best spend their money, as well as to communicate proficiently with development and BI teams about how to best execute and analyze our efforts.

I often have graduating college seniors ask me, “Is there anything I can do to help me in the work world?” “Yes.” For young (and old) marketers, I consider this list of skills prerequisites for employment (it’s crazy that more marketing programs at universities don’t push these skills, but that’s a whole other topic in itself). If you don’t know how to do these things, learn them…fast:

      • Microsoft Office: If you don’t know Microsoft Office software, especially Excel, inside and out, learn it. And I don’t mean, “I know how to add cells together in Excel,” I mean you should be able to do light VBA coding, understand macros, and know how to build advanced formulas referencing pivot tables. If you think I’m joking, I’m not. This might be the single most important thing to take from this article for success in your first job. Like it or not, the reality is that there are a lot of spreadsheets in the business world. PowerPoint is also a good tool to know inside and out.
      • Coding (HTML5, CSS3, PHP): Another place where “I’m not joking.” Students who graduate from business schools today need to know basic coding. I’m not saying that you need to know how to build the next Facebook, but you should, at minimum, be able to build a basic HTML site and make modifications to an existing CSS or PHP document. As marketing and business become increasingly integrated with technology, even if you aren’t the person coding, you need to be able to speak/translate to developers in their language. If they misinterpret your instructions, that’s on you. It’s easier to learn than you probably think.
      • WordPress: WordPress is a phenomenal tool to master. You can build incredibly dynamic and professional websites with minimal coding necessary (this is the type of coding I’d expect you to be able to know). Leveraging existing plugins and code frameworks, you can build monitoring tools, email systems, surveys, CRM tools, project management tools, and more for free (or cheap) in WordPress.
      • Mobile apps: You should know how to develop a mobile app. Again, not that it needs to be super complex, but you should understand the structure and how to build it. Once you can code in one language, learning others becomes much simpler. 
      • Various operating systems: You should understand and be fluent with all major operating systems, namely Windows (desktop and mobile), OS X (Apple), Android (mobile), and iOS (Apple mobile). If your customers and clients are using them, you should know them too.
      • Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator: Similar to coding, you should know how to use the major design suites (Adobe’s being the largest. There are a few alternatives). Adobe’s new Creative Cloud has some great tools for relatively low cost.  
      • Finances/Taxes: Finances and taxes are incredibly important to understand, especially if you’re looking to start your company soon (and honestly, even if you’re not). Inevitably, at some point in every career, you’re going to do two things: manage people and manage money. Learn now. 
      • Professional marketing tools: If you want to go into digital advertising, learning a media tool like Atlas or DART (Google) will give you a great head start. Whatever agency you go work for will teach you how to use these tools, but it’s helpful if you come in with some background. The pain is that these tools are difficult to get your hands onto without a business license for them. There are some online tutorials. More than understanding how to use the tools themselves, understanding how the tracking works from a holistic level will get you 90% of the way there. 
      • SEM/SEO: It’s worthwhile learning how to use Google Adwords and Bing Ads. There’s a lot of information on them online and getting certified is easy. Beyond that, understanding how SEO works is important as well. Understanding how meta tags work, different types of redirects (i.e., what’s the difference between a 302 and 301 redirect), and how linking effects site rankings is important in today’s digital world.
      • The consumer “why” and “how:” Not a tool, but a way of thinking. A huge advantage for next generation advertisers is that you will have been brought up using many of the tools that your seniors have had to learn. You’ll never have to sell a client on the value of embracing social media (you’re welcome 😉 But while you can use this deep knowledge to your advantage, realize that the power comes not from understanding what these platforms do but in understanding why consumers use them and how they use them. A mom of three probably uses Pinterest differently than an 18-year-old male. Don’t believe for a second that just because you’ve used Facebook since it was “The Facebook” that you are a “social media guru.” Uncovering the motivations and behaviors of consumers is a key step in becoming a successful marketer.

As people continue to change the way they receive and review information, we need to change the way we look at marketing right along with them. That’s why Williams Helde is always looking at how we market our messages, the channels we use, and even the ways we plan a strategy. This helps us stay nimble and flexible right along with the ever-changing environment.

Williams Helde Staff
About the Author

Williams Helde Staff

Seattle-based Williams Helde helps build active, healthy brands through marketing communications, PR, advertising and design.