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The Importance of Upskilling Creative and Marketing Teams

By Kristen Kling, Aston Carter Head of Marketing

Customer’s Interactions With Brands Are Increasingly Digital

With in-person meetings impossible during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, strategies for selling and communicating with customers were forced to pivot. While the prominence of digital media has increased consistently over the years, the pandemic accelerated our reliance on digital tools, platforms and services. Though content marketing campaigns were always a source of lead generation, they became increasingly important for a business’s success. A Harvard Business Review article even went so far as to say that the pandemic allowed marketing to become “a driver of digital transformation, a key leader of the customer journey and the voice of the consumer.”

This reliance on digital media and virtual interactions is not a fad, nor a pandemic necessity that will fade away. It is crucial that creative and marketing teams have the knowledge and skill sets to evolve with the changing industry landscape.

The Expanding Roles of Creative and Marketing Professionals

In the digital space, every piece of marketing content is interconnected: A blog post boosts a website’s search engine visibility, a social post promotes that blog and an email shares social content. Because every component must work together seamlessly, every member of the marketing team must understand how their work fits into the bigger picture.

Professionals are being challenged to expand their skill sets beyond their core functions. This has led to the rise of what Gartner terms the “Fat T Marketer.” Companies are looking for workers with a depth of experience in several areas, as opposed to deep knowledge of one skill set. Job postings are reflecting this: UX writing, a career path that combines user experience with copywriting, is a growing field, and many careers in content writing also require knowledge of search engine optimization.

Ensuring that creative and marketing employees can train and learn beyond their main skill set is more than a benefit; it’s a necessity in today’s market.

Reasons to Upskill Your Marketing Team

While reskilling trains employees for a new role, upskilling focuses on broadening skills that apply to an employee’s current position. Although both are forms of professional development, the distinction lies in the intended outcome of their desired career path. Upskilling helps professionals advance in their industry, and when combined with career pathing, this can play a major role in employee retention. A LinkedIn report found that companies that excel at internal mobility and engagement strategies retain employees for nearly twice as long as companies that don’t.

Employees across the industry spectrum know the importance of upskilling. In fact, nearly half of surveyed American workers would switch to a new job if offered skill training opportunities.

Creative and marketing professionals understand that adaptability is crucial to success. A 2020 market report showed that 57% of the marketers surveyed had undertaken some form of training or upskilling in the preceding 12 months. For creative and marketing professionals, upskilling is top of mind; it allows them to keep up with current trends and ensure their skill sets match what’s needed within the industry. Attracting and retaining top talent in this field hinges on a company’s ability to satisfy this desire for training.

Upskilling has major benefits for employers as well. A highly trained creative and marketing team means better creative output, which can have a big impact on your bottom line. A study by McKinsey found that companies with higher creativity scores outperform on financial metrics in comparison to those with lower scores.

Upskilling internally, rather than relying on outside vendors for expertise, helps preserve institutional knowledge and continuity of work. This will inevitably save time and lead to more consistent productivity.

How to Upskill Your Creative and Marketing Team

Rolling out a comprehensive upskilling program is well worth the effort. Creating a learning culture where your employees feel empowered to self-identify skill gaps shows that your company is invested in their future.

Your employees want to learn. According to one LinkedIn study, employees who spend time at work learning are 47% less likely to be stressed, 39% more likely to feel productive and successful, 23% more ready to take on additional responsibilities and 21% more likely to feel confident and happy.

Strategies for upskilling creative and marketing employees can include sending team members to conferences, signing them up for marketing courses, providing the resources for continuing education and encouraging them to attend webinars. You can also provide relevant training materials such as books, podcasts and articles. Offering options that fit different learning styles ensures that every employee has access to the tools they need to succeed. Taking the additional step to recognize and reward employee training can help employees feel encouraged to go above and beyond on the job.

When choosing training sessions, keep in mind that hard skills are only part of the equation. “Future-proof” skills include developing an analytical mindset, creative thinking and communication abilities. The more your creative and marketing team gains future-proof skills, the better prepared you’ll be to serve new and existing clients as their needs change.

Upskilling Is Ultimately an Investment in Your Business

Your creative and marketing employees play a large role in making your business successful. The more you can expose them to industry trends and prepare them for evolution, the better equipped you will be to serve your clients — old and new.

Working with a workforce solutions partner like Aston Carter can help you roll out comprehensive training programs and performance management techniques to help your creative and marketing team thrive. They can also help you reach top talent and find the right fit for expanding your team.

Contact Aston Carter to learn more about how our strategic solutions can help your company upskill and retain creative and marketing talent.

As the leader of Aston Carter's marketing team, Kristen Kling is responsible for the overall strategy in alignment with larger organizational goals. With a strong background in customer event marketing, she began her career at Aerotek in 2013 and transitioned to Aston Carter in 2020. Kristen has more than 12 years of experience in marketing and sales, leading relevant departments for the past 10 years.