I'm often asked by aspiring marketers: “What's the most important marketing skill to learn? Is it social media? SEO? PPC? Analytics? Copywriting? Video?”
Surprisingly, it's none of those things.
The topmost marketing skill to learn is resourcefulness.
Of all the successful people in the world I've learned from or followed, one common denominator stands out the most: they are all incredibly resourceful.
Some call it creativity, ingenuity, or initiative. But it's all the same. Creativity may be the most common term, but most people associate it with art or talent. Instead, I prefer to use the term resourcefulness because it's not something you're born with.
Resourcefulness a learned skill.
More and more schools are starting to teach and assess students on creative thinking and creative problem-solving skills. R. Keith Sawyer, a professor of educational innovations at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, noted:
“You're absolutely not born being more or less creative. It's ways of acting and thinking that anyone can learn. That's an empowering message, especially for those people who have always thought, ‘I'm not a creative person'.”
What does this have to do with marketing?
Marketing is a form of creative problem-solving, and solving marketing problems requires resourcefulness, whether it's:
- A problem a market is experiencing that needs to be solved,
- A problem in creating the best possible solution to that problem,
- A problem in reaching, serving, and retaining that market,
- Or a problem in outperforming competitive or alternative solutions.
There are more, but they all seem to revolve around those four.
Whether you're a marketer or an entrepreneurial professional, your goal is to solve these problems. Sometimes, it's an easy process. Other times, it takes a little outside-the-box thinking.
You don't need to create something out of thin air that's 100% new. More often than not, you're just pulling from a vast pool of knowledge, experiences, situations, industries, contacts, and so forth to come up with a solution where none existed before.
In fact, the biggest breakthroughs often come from looking at distantly different fields where you can mine marketing ideas from.
So how do you become resourceful, then?
One way to is to keep feeding your mind, trying new things, meeting new people, taking new courses, and so on so that you arm yourself with a growing bank of knowledge and experiences to pull from and use when needed.
Some people say that I can easily troubleshoot and “sherlock” things. But I think it stems from being resourceful because I know a little about a lot of things.
I'm a jack of all trades, and a master at being a jack of all trades.
(Now that I know I have ADHD, it explains why I seem to jump from topic to topic to stay motivated, and why people with ADHD are said to be highly creative.)
Resourceful marketers also share something else in common. They all seem to have a critical side and a creative one. The creative side comes up with new ideas, angles, and marketing approaches. But the logical side loves data, numbers, and evidence.
One side comes up with an idea, the other side wants to test it.
In my case, I'm part artist, part analyst. Each side complements each other — or fights with each other like rivalrous siblings. (Welcome to my world.)
The point is this: resourcefulness is also about testing, experimenting, and constantly gathering feedback. Doing so allows you to try different things to find that one missing puzzle piece, that sweet spot or “secret sauce” that can create phenomenal results.
Everything you try creates a result. Every result, win or lose, is a lesson to learn from. And every lesson adds to your growing pool of resources.