Did you ever think you would build a career in marketing technology? Hands up 🙋♀️🙋🙌
I definitely didn’t – and I have a feeling that the majority of current marketers hadn’t thought about it either. Perhaps you worked in roles in completely different industries, and/or had unrelated degrees before you found yourself in the Salesforce ecosystem (mine is Human Geography!).
“Marketing automation is a relatively new industry. You won’t find lifelong marketers (retiring now) that have worked with marketing automation their whole careers.”– Holly Gage, Career Paths for Pardot Marketers – No Ninjas, Unicorns, or Rockstars
That summarizes the context, in a nutshell. Salesforce marketing didn’t even exist as a career when the majority of us were in ‘school’.
Marketing Champion “question of the week” never fails to be thought-provoking, and answered with (often entertaining) insights. One week, the question was: “Every once in a while you actually do use what you learned in school. What courses in school helped you with your career?”.
That stopped me in my tracks. As someone who didn’t think my higher education lent itself to Salesforce marketing automation/operations, I did some thinking. These answers, collated from others who responded, will make us all appreciate the transferable skills acquired along the way that we could use silently – even when we don’t see their value, every day.
1. Excel Skills
No matter how much of a Salesforce platform evangelist you are (including Account Engagement/Pardot and Marketing Cloud), there are times where you need to manipulate data in spreadsheet format.
Personally, I completely relate to this; in my time consulting, the amount of data I was asked to ‘fix’ required an alignment with Salesforce data, and ensuring all formatting was respected between both…yep, I’m glad I knew a few spreadsheet formulas (and then was able to Google the rest).
You only need to read Stacy’s highly popular article to understand how valuable excel skills can be to Salesforce professionals.
Why these skills? Quickly find duplicates in your database, concatenate (i.e. join two column values into one cell), paste special, and of course, the classic VLOOKUP. I’ve used some of these skills in one way or another:
One Marketing Champion backed up the initial Excel skills entry with: “I still use these tips religiously!”, and another added more color: “Basic excel skills learned at school helped me tremendously throughout my career. Gotta love macros and automating stuff now.”.
2. Programming and Coding Languages
You may be surprised – Salesforce had advocated ‘clicks not code’ as a mantra that lowered the entry bar for anyone wanting to learn how to configure Salesforce. Even with WYSIWYG* tools, like Account Engagement, opportunities to flex your coding skills crop up – designing marketing assets, such as emails and landing pages, and querying Marketing Cloud data, are prime examples. You’ll find other examples below:
- “I took a programming course in high school that helped. A grad school class about organization change. And, we can’t forget to thank Tom from MySpace for helping us with HTML”.
- “Believe it or not, old school computer programming (pre HTML). Logic and rules based thinking are very helpful in marketing automation.”
- “DBMS and sql, Cryptography and AI to some extent”.
- “Webmastering and yearbook! HTML and InDesign actually came in handy”.
*What you see is what you get.
3. Business/Communication Courses
Communication has always been a core ‘soft’ skill for Salesforce professionals to have. ‘Communication’ got a new spotlight in 2022, with the arrival of the Business Analyst certification and the “Salesforce Admin Skills Kit”. Verbal and written communication has always been important for marketers, who need to communicate their ideas to various stakeholders around the organization, and also their brand’s value to customers and prospects.
- “Global business/communication courses – honestly so helpful!”
- “My high school speech teacher taught me how to be confident and control a room. That comes in handy when facilitating executives or doing any type of automation workshop.”
- “Essay writing! Helps me to write clearly, bring the writer along, and be persuasive. Also small differences in the meaning of words – like the difference between accurate and reliable in the context of reporting!”
4. Graphic Design
Communicating with words is all well and good, but what’s communicated visually can make or break the perception of a brand. Graphic design already got a mention, but deserves a spotlight in this run-down. Having this collection of skills in your ‘back pocket’ can make you less reliant on others in order to make tweaks – keeping your campaigns on track.
Looping in both communication and design, is the topic of psychology. This is a sprawling discipline, but is also not one to ignore:
“I still use what I learned in my psychology classes in college – self fulfilling prophecy, control experiments, Pavlov, etc.”
Economics – love it or hate it, understanding economics can help us marketers forecast the way that the world is heading. There are influencing factors outside of our control – recessions, changes in spending behavior, supply chain impacts – and seeing these can help us to mitigate their effects on our marketing performance.
“In high school – Economics! Understanding macro and micro economics is useful.”
I thought these answers, collated from the Marketing Champions who responded, will make us all appreciate the transferable skills acquired along the way that we could use silently – even when we don’t see their value, every day.
One final mention that puts the ‘silent’ skills into perspective – a wine course! While we hope that client entertainment has moved on from the snobbery of picking an ‘excellent’ wine from a range of ‘good’ wines, it’s a nice skill to have when organizing executive dinners and events. I echo what this one person responded with – I was tasked with selecting wines very early on in my marketing career (luckily I had taken a wine course to qualify working in the hospitality boxes at a famous football club in the UK). It’s funny how life has its twists and turns, then often comes back full circle in unexpected ways.