Today’s marketing and communications is more digitally-focused than ever, yet the industry is facing a severe skills shortage in this area. The third sector is no exception, as charities increasingly need candidates who have solid and up-to-date digital skills to help build their brands and cause awareness. If you have a traditional marketing or communications background, how do you up-skill?
1. Brush up on your basic computer literacy.
Before you do anything else, make sure your basic computer skills are up to scratch. As a marketing professional you will most likely be using computers all the time. However, you might be coasting along with outdated skills and there may be some basic tools you’ve overlooked that could help you do your job more effectively.
Here are eight questions to help you master this first step:
- Do you know how to use advanced search functions on search engines and distinguish the good results from the bad?
- How advanced are your word processing skills? Can you mail merge emails through Word, create tables, customise styles and work with headers?
- Can you use formulas and references and run macros in Excel? These can be a powerful way of turning raw data into valuable information.
- Do you have a basic understanding of photo editing and design software such as Photoshop and Indesign?
- Do you have a basic understanding of social media and how you can promote your campaigns using the different channels?
- Can you use content management systems (CMS)? These are computer applications that allow you to publish, edit and modify content, and organise, delete and maintain it from a central interface. Different companies use different CMS but when you have some experience using one, you should find others quite easy to use.
- Are you familiar with blogging tools such as Wordpress?
- Are you aware of basic email marketing tools such as Mailchimp and how they can be used in your campaigns?
2. Know which digital skills are in demand.
Make yourself aware of the most desired digital marketing skills and identify any gaps you have.
For the charity sector, these are some of the top digital skills you should brush up on:
- Social media: Explore different social media platforms on a personal level. Find out which networks your target audience uses to help prioritise the ones to start learning about. Research which organisations are doing social media well. The #nomakeupselfie and #icebucketchallenge campaigns are great examples of how charities have used social media to generate a huge amount of income in a short time period.
- SEO (search engine optimisation): is the process through which companies can improve their website’s visibility in Google search results. For marketing professionals in charities, it is a particularly important digital marketing discipline because it enables you to build brand and cause awareness. How does your charity rank for search terms that are relevant to what it does? Learn how to write optimised and shareable content and understand how PPC works.
- Analytics: This skill is important to master in order to measure the success of your marketing activities. Never has this been more important in the charity sector as donors and other stakeholders closely scrutinise where their donations and investment are paying off. Start using Google Analytics - it is free and does more or less everything an organisation needs. Get familiar with how Google Adwords work if you’re not already.
- Mobile marketing: There is a shortage of mobile marketing skills in the industry. Make sure you are familiar with best practice on how your campaigns can reach your audience through mobile devices to ensure you don’t miss out on any opportunities to communicate with them in this way.
- Web development: Many organisations are now creating their websites in-house so it helps to understand the front and back end CMS, how user journeys work and how buttons work, for example.
3. Get training to plug your skills gap.
Which digital skills are you hot on and which ones are you lacking in? For the areas you need to brush up on, seek good quality training. Look out for free or cheap networking events, courses or peer to peer learning opportunities. Here are a few places to start:
- The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM): Check out their digital events, workshops and qualifications relating to the specific topics you need to improve on.
- NFPtweetup: They run a series of events for people who work at or with charities and non-profit organisation and who are interested in harnessing the power of digital and social media, and other technologies, to achieve their strategic objectives. Check them out on Twitter #NFPtweetup.
- CharityComms: The have a knowledge hub on their website as well as a list of informative events that could help you stay up to date with the latest digital communications trends.
The most successful candidates really understand and get excited about digital. They do their research, keep up-to-date with the latest social media trends and look at different platforms and how to integrate them into their campaigns. By following the above three steps you will make yourself a highly employable and future proofed digital marketer.