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What’s The Single, Greatest Marketing Skill?

When I was young, I used to rollerskate a lot. Not inline skates or rollerblades, but the four-wheel kind you see at roller derbies.

And I was actually quite good at it, too.

You wouldn't be able to tell today, but I was born with a birth defect. As a hefty baby (born at almost 12 pounds) growing inside my mother's tiny womb and short four-foot frame, my legs had little room to grow. So they ended up misshapen. I  had to wear prosthetics until the age of three to help straighten my legs.

Ice skating was always a challenge. (As a French Canadian, that was disappointing!) I struggled to keep my balance. But rollerskates came along, which provided an opportunity to learn how to skate since four wheels provided more stability than single blades.

At first, I fell. I fell more times than I care to remember. Keep in mind, there was no such thing as protective gear or training in the mid-70s. Eventually, I became quite good at it.

40-some years later, I decided to take up inline skating for the first time. I thought that maybe it would be easy to learn, given my past experience with rollerskates. But inline skates were new to me. After all, they only came out in the early 90s.

It was a challenge. At times, I felt like a frustrated, stumbling kid, again. But this time, however, I had tools to help me. I bought elbow pads, knee pads, wrist guards, and of course, a helmet. And there was also a skate park nearby.

Eventually, I became acceptably good, which surprised me.

Fast-forward to yesterday.

I did an SEO audit for an agency client. It was on a French medical website. It allowed me to revisit and practice my maternal language, which was fun. However, much like jumping from my childhood rollerskates to inline skates for the first time at 45, this audit was a tad more daunting.

I'm quite fluent in French, including writing and translating business communications. But since this audit included a technical SEO and UX analysis, I had to use complex marketing and technical terms in French — lingo I've never used before.

I often have a tendency to use English terms whenever I speak with francophone clients, as most French Canadians are bilingual and understand. But this was a written report for a professional, medical client in Quebec. So it was important to use proper terminology.

Luckily, just as I did with inline skates, I used tools to help me.

Google Translate was not one of them. Sure, Google does a good job translating in a broad sense. But it doesn't take into account technical jargon, regional dialects, or contextual meanings. Instead, I used other tools that are far more effective.

The one I've used for many years is Linguee.com. It's a search engine that culls passages from the Internet containing the text you're looking for, and displays, side-by-side, its bilingual equivalent.

It doesn't translate it. Rather, it pulls from that site's own multilingual version or translation, which gives you proper context, usage, and even regional dialect, too.

Here's my point to all this.

If you were to ask me, “Michel, what's the most important marketing skill you recommend for me to learn? Is it social media? Content marketing? SEO? PPC? Analytics?” Most people would think this is more of a soft skill, but my answer would be:

Resourcefulness.

In today's trying times, they say you must adapt or die. Or you must pivot or die. But being able to adapt or pivot requires resourcefulness.

And resourcefulness is a skill in itself.

It's not some talent, aptitude, or gift, but a learned skill.

But you must also have the humility, courage, and desire to keep learning. Keep feeding your mind and trying new things so that you arm yourself with a bank of knowledge and experiences to pull from and use when needed.

Adapting or pivoting is not what helps you to thrive, even in some of the worst economic climates. And it's not being creative, too, for pure creativity doesn't exist. It's being resourceful.

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Strategic marketing consultant Michel Fortin