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Breaking down your marketing activity to focus on channels

Author's avatar By Gabrielle Wright 30 Mar, 2020
Essential Essential topic

With the channels skills-gap currently estimated at 13%, whether you are looking to change company/function or keep progressing in the career you already have, building up your channel-specific skills will help you bring the right skills to the table

While we're adjusting to taking everything online (yes, it really does seem like there is a place for everything in this new physically distant world), as a digital marketer I am finding myself paying particular interest to the roles of different marketing channels in today's internet of things:

"Q) How many engineers does it take to change a light bulb?

A) Depends on whether or not that lightbulb is connected to WiFi

- Arielle Pardes, wired.com"

Although lightbulb marketing isn't something we specialize in at Smart Insights (yet?), I do recommend having a mental run-through of your marketing channels, and whether there's anything you've seen in the last few weeks that you could apply. MarTech is fast-paced and customer-obsessed - so make sure you're using your channels in the smartest, most effective way, and adding value for your customers.

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The skills gap

In their latest Business Skills Census, the Data and Marketing Association (DMA) found that marketers reported an average skills gap of 13% when rating marketing skills needed for the future success of their organization.

What does that mean for you? Whether you are looking to change company/function or keep progressing in the career you already have, building up your channel-specific skills will help you bring the right skills to the table.

DMA: To what extent do you think the following skills are important for the current and future success of your organisation? (Grouped categories)

Channels skills gap

Naturally, ways that teams/roles are structured can change from organization to organization. At Smart Insights, we group channels into 7 different 'toolkits'. All these toolkits are available to members on Individual Membership and Business Membership:

That's not to say that only one person would work within one channel, since after all, integration is key to success.  But as you identify your businesses' channels, and your own personal strengths within them, this categorization might help you identify ways to improve how you reach your customers.

Channels Marketer


The Data and Marketing Association also found that external learning providers were seen as the most effective for marketing training (74%). This may be because of the nature of the training, since marketing tactics are constantly evolving, so it's vital that the training body is keeping on top of the latest trends. Interestingly, internal training (the 3rd most popular provider), ranked higher for its longer-term relevance in the future rather than in the present day.

Thinking about the training provided by your organisation, how would you rate its relevance to the success of your business today? & Thinking about the training provided by your organisation, how would you rate its relevance to the success of your business in the future?


Internal training

Clearly there is a place for both internal and external training for marketers, with marketers looking externally for cutting edge tools and tactics to smash their short term goals. Enter Smart Insights quick wins - 30-60 min resources broken down to walk you through exactly what you want to achieve and get you up and running, fast.

With over 50 quick wins, it's hard to know where to start. I'm highlighting one from each of the 7 channel toolkits, so you can look through and ask yourself - which quick win would be helpful for my job?

Applying what you learn

The education sector has certainly come on leaps and bounds, and thankfully rote learning is now recognized as a thing of the past. The Open University's Learning Cycle advocates applying learning to your assignments to improve your capacity to learn.

I recommend exactly the same process for marketing professionals - your "assignment" is your daily marketing tasks, and each cycle represents your progress in upskilling a particular channel.

Learning Cycle

The Content Distribution Matrix is a perfect example of ready-to-use theory that all marketers can apply to their paid, owned and earned media planning. This matrix was devised by Dr. Dave Chaffey, as part of the content marketing toolkit. The full resource, including expert advice and planning spreadsheets, is available for both Individual and Business members.

Content distribution matrix

Final thoughts

Eagle-eyed blog readers will spot that I'm still quite new to the Smart Insights team. One of the perks of the job is unlimited free access to all Smart Insights training resources, and this is something I'm looking forward to getting stuck into.

Having previously worked at a Business School, I opted to complete a theory-heavy CIM qualification. So I am finding this agile and fast-paced approach very exciting. Perhaps when I've completed by RACE training I could do a comparison to help other marketers like me?

All the resources I've mentioned are part of the Individual Membership package (March 2020), if you are reading this blog at a later date and deciding if Individual Membership is for you it's worth double-checking nothing has changed/merged eg if there is one resource you were particularly relying on. Equally, with new resources coming out all the time there may be something even better available in a few month's time so it's definitely worth checking back.

Author's avatar

By Gabrielle Wright

Gabrielle Wright is the Smart Insights blog editor, managing the company's SEO and social media strategies. With specialisms in marketing for the pharmaceutical/healthcare industry, financial services, manufacturing, IT/high tech, brands and e-commerce, Gabrielle can generally be found in her second-floor Bingley terrace home office, with a cup of tea, reading and writing about marketing theory and its practical application in the global economy! You can connect with Gabrielle on LinkedIn.

This blog post has been tagged with:

ChannelChannelsDigital channel popularity

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