What Marketing Skills Does Your Building Materials Team Need? – Part 1: Hard Skills

Whether your building materials firm handles marketing in-house or hires an agency, there are essential skills that your marketing personnel need to have to be effective. These skills include hard, or technical, skills, as well as soft skills. This blog post is part one of a two-part series on the marketing skills you’ll need to look for.

There’s a common misperception that marketing isn’t that difficult or doesn’t require specialized skills. This can lead management to reassign an employee to marketing when they don’t know where else to put them or when they want to promote someone from an administrative position. Management may simplify the requirements for managing and creating successful marketing campaigns, not realizing what goes into these efforts. This can set employees up for failure and have long-term impacts on the business.

Just like you wouldn’t jump into an airplane and try to fly it without the proper training and skills, assigning employees to marketing without the necessary knowledge and skills can be potentially disastrous to the company’s public image and marketing efforts.

With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of the minimum hard skills that your personnel in a marketing role should have. We’ve also provided a list of more advanced skills that can help you take your marketing efforts to the next level.

If your employees don’t have these skills, you may want to hire additional staff, use external partners, or provide training to your current employees.

What are hard skills?

Hard skills are objective, quantifiable skills that are usually gained through training or work experience. They are something that can be taught or learned, and, in the case of marketing, may be specific to the software or systems used by a particular company.

Some examples of hard skills are photo editing, understanding how search engines work, and knowing how to use InDesign.

Hard skills for building materials marketing

Marketing staff working for building materials manufacturers and distributors should have a basic set of technical marketing skills. Some of these are specific to the building industry and some are applicable to any industry:

  • Product and audience knowledge. In many companies, the marketing staff isn’t able to explain what the company sells, who their target customers are, or what pain points the company’s products address.
  • Basic understanding of digital marketing as a concept. Sometimes marketing team members only have experience in print or direct mail. That isn’t the same as having digital marketing skills.
  • Understanding of the differences between paid, direct, referral, and organic traffic.
  • Ability to identify what data the firm needs to collect and ability to use analytics tools and data visualization software for collection. This includes Google Analytics along with other platforms.
  • Ability to perform data analysis.
  • Ability to create measurement milestones and report on them.
  • Understanding of how social media marketing works, which channels your firm should be active on, which audiences they target, and how to develop a strategy for their use.
  • Ability to create basic social media posts, respond to users, and report on social media metrics.
  • Understanding of content marketing and your firm’s content needs.
  • Understanding of how search engine optimization (SEO) works.
  • Ability to perform basic SEO research and report on website metrics.
  • Understanding of what a CRM (customer relationship manager) is and how to work it and maintain it for the firm’s use.
  • Ability to create content, including writing clearly and professionally for all of your audiences (internal and external).
  • Basic graphic design skills.
  • Basic HTML programming.
  • Ability to make website updates through a content management system (CMS).
  • Basic photo editing.
  • Software experience, including Adobe Creative Suite (PhotoShop, InDesign, Illustrator), and Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
  • Basic project management.
  • Ability to handle multiple projects at a time.

Next, there are additional marketing skills necessary to move beyond maintenance to being a force for business growth:

  • Understanding of industry trends
  • Ability to create a marketing strategy.
  • Ability to create a content strategy.
  • Ability to create an SEO strategy.
  • Ability to create lead generation funnels.
  • Ability to design and develop website landing pages.
  • Understanding of marketing automation and the ways in which it might be helpful to your organization.
  • Understanding of how email marketing works and the current regulations that apply to email marketing.
  • Ability to build and deploy email campaigns and report back on metrics.
  • Knowledge of local SEO practices.
  • Advanced search engine optimization knowledge, including awareness of and response to ongoing changes that can impact your website and how it shows up in search engine results.
  • Advanced implementation of SEO.
  • Advanced knowledge of social media channels.
  • Advanced social media management skills (creating social media posts and campaigns, and engaging with users).
  • Ability to plan, build, deploy, and report back on paid digital advertising, including PPC (pay-per-click) and display ads.
  • Photography and photo editing.
  • Videography and video editing.
  • Animation.
  • Advanced graphic design.
  • Advanced HTML and JavaScript.
  • Knowledge of other coding languages.
  • Ability to custom configure a CRM.

Internal staff vs. external resources

Marketing can support your business growth or hinder it, depending on whether you have the right people with the right marketing skills. Hard skills can be taught, but this requires a financial investment and a willingness to wait on results until the person gets up to speed.

If you’re not able to hire internal staff with essential marketing skills, or if your marketing staff needs additional training to develop new skills, it’s worth considering bringing in outside help who can support and improve your marketing. What matters is now whether the marketing is internal or external, but whether it’s helping your business grow.

Patience Jones