What skills do you need to succeed in marketing?

what does it take to succeed in marketing

I have a new Twitter follower who has branded herself as an “authenticity coach.”

This puzzled me. Is that a real business?  Is “authenticity” a critical business skill so important it has become a cottage industry?

And perhaps the bigger question is, exactly what DO you need to learn to succeed in a marketing career today?

This is a complex question because marketing as a career discipline has evolved differently than other areas of business. If you are a finance professional or you work in accounting or economics, the fundamentals of your career success are not sliding under your feet.

But if you are trying to establish a career in marketing, not only are the tools of your trade changing, the rules of engagement are changing every day.

If you want to aim to land a marketing job, what should you study in college?  Do you even need to go college?

If you are an established marketing professional, how do you stay relevant?  Are you doomed to be in a constant state of catch-up?

This is a fascinating topic and that’s why I think you will particularly enjoy the latest edition of The Marketing Companion, a 30-minute podcast I create with the amazing Tom Webster. We cover a lot of ground in a short period of time, including:

  • The gap between marketing business needs and today’s marketing education
  • Real world experience versus a college education – Do you even need a degree any more?
  • Why marketing education is different than other disciplines in the business school
  • Is “social media” an entire degree program, one class, or an essential life skill?
  • Community manager – The hardest job in marketing?
  • Five critical marketing career skills you will never get in school

At this point, you probably can’t wait to wrap your ears around this podcast, so here it is!

Other helpful resources mentioned in this podcast:

Book by Tom Peters:  The Brand You

Book by Dr. Robert Kelly:  How to Be a Star at Work: 9 Breakthrough Strategies You Need to Succeed

Blog post by Mark Schaefer: The crisis in marketing education and what to do about it

Other Ways to Listen to this Podcast:

Illustration courtesy of BigStock.com


Book links are affiliate links

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  • The problem with higher education, I’m beginning to see, is that Professors teach from textbooks rather than journals. The information they convey, therefore, is necessarily dated. They should be reading journals every week and teaching the latest studies.

    If you look at the most recent issues of Journal of Marketing, Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Retailing, Journal of Consumer Research, and so on, you will see countless articles on social media. Research IS being done in academia–administrators are just not willing to put it into the curriculum. I can’t speak for other fields but, as for marketing, that is definitely the key issue in education.

  • Very enlightening discussion. IMHO, If ever there was a subject that is learned more by doing it than reading about it, it’s Social Media Marketing. Any course in the subject should include lots of lab time. This was the first Marketing Companion program I’ve heard. I was expecting a spot for Powdermilk Biscuits but they must’ve been outbid by the word “angular”.

  • I have bookmarked this “wealth of information” on the skills needed to grow as an essential ‘go-to on how-to’ resource on marketing!

    Thank you Mark for sharing your valuable knowledge…

  • Jeffrey Slater

    Mark, once again your topic is timely and I look forward to listening to the podcast. I think podcasting is my favorite form for marketing education today. I must listen to 8 or 10 per week.

    Although I am a successful entrepreneur, when I sold my company (Rachel’s Brownies) in 1989, I went to work for a big food business (GoodMark Foods and then ConAgra Foods) and worked in marketing. I remember telling my boss I had no clue what marketing was having studied art history and communications in college. Over the years I learned what marketing was all about but I am so glad I didn’t study business but explored things I had a passion for at the time. Today I work in a global marketing role in the wine industry and am so glad my marketing career started focused on non-business education.

    By the way, should your readers be interested, I have just published my first eBook called Unraveling the Mysteries of Marketing. I’m giving away downloads free on September 23 at Amazon. A percentage of all sales will go to Charity: Water.

    I share personal stories about my successes as I stumbled unto marketing. If this is to commercial to put in the comment section, I understand if it isn’t published and apologize. Just happy to share what I have learned and the eBook is a nice way to give away life lessons on marketing.

    Here is the link to the trailer about the book.


    Here is a link to get the book at Amazon free on 9/23. No code is required.


    Thanks for this post. As always, it made me think about marketing from a new point of view.

  • It is difficult to change. It is painful to update many years of an established curriculum. It’s scary to put yourself out there in front of a bunch of colleges students who may know about social media than you do. And so, it often doesn’t happen. Thanks for the comment sir.

  • Ha!!! We are aiming for that kind of style. And my, aren’t they tasty?

  • Thanks Dr. Rae. I hope you enjoy it!

  • Thanks Jeffery. Good luck with the book project!

  • Great podcast once again, Mark. I try not to think about being in sales, but I am. Sigh.

  • Mia Sherwood Landau

    Working in consultative sales every day, your posts and blogs are always a breath of fresh air, Mark. Thanks to both of you for reviving me yet again as I listen early this morning before many hours of marketing activities.

  • Kind of you to say Mia.

  • Really great podcast; I loved the fox & hedgehog illustration. Now, I wish that more HR professionals could hear this advice. Marketing, especially social media marketing requires professionals that are tech savvy and comfortable adopting new trends & technologies; but it also takes business know how and an understanding of how marketing effects the entire organization and customer life cycle. That the most important point that I gleaned from this post/podcast.

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