Marketers, it’s no secret to anyone in our industry that technology has become a core component of what we do every day. What you might not know is that the technology you’re familiar with–your marketing stack–could ideally position you for better jobs, more interest from marketing headhunters, and overall career growth.
Defining the Stack
The term “stack” is used to describe a set of tools and systems an entity uses to execute its day to day work and solve its most common problems. In terms of marketing technology, that means the selection of hardware, software, tech solutions, partnerships, channels and infrastructure used to achieve marketing goals.
A well-organized business will have a set technology stack that it will use to execute its marketing initiatives. That can include many things, for example:
- the servers that host its website;
- the email marketing provider;
- social marketing tools;
- sophisticated marketing analytics products;
- video and graphic editing software used by the creative team, and so much more.
Typically, a business will seek to choose a minimal amount of technologies, and strategically choose which it wants based on how well they integrate together and what they need to achieve their goals. The best, cutting edge tech can be expensive, so businesses will typically try to use a streamlined stack that covers their needs without a lot of excessive tools and capabilities that go unused.
Similarly, an individual can also have a marketing stack of their own. It’s the set of technologies that you, personally, have a strong proficiency with that are relevant to marketing. Any modern marketer, even one who works primarily with traditional channels and tactics, has a technology stack of their own. For instance, as a blog writer and content marketer, my technology stack includes basic things like Microsoft Word and GIMP, as well as some slightly more advanced things like WordPress CMS, Google Analytics, Hubspot marketing intelligence suite and more. Sometimes professionals (especially web and software developers) will advertise themselves as “full stack;” having all the technological and strategic aptitude necessary to carry out a marketing goal from beginning to end.
In a marketing environment that becomes more and more digital and tech-reliant every day, your own MarTech stack can heavily influence your potential for career advancement. Familiarity with the right combination of tools and systems can make you a highly sought after professional that has opportunities for quick professional growth and higher pay. On the other hand, lacking a key piece of tech in your personal stack that a potential employer relies heavily on could cost you an opportunity to work for them. Here are some things to consider as you gain new skills and augment your own tech stack as an ambitious, career-oriented marketer:
Finding the Right Specialty
There are nearly 4,000 marketing technology products and services available, and counting. No matter how well-rounded of a marketer you may be, you’re never going to be able to truly become and stay a master of a handful of them at any given time.
In most cases, you’ll find more success being quite proficient with a handful of tools and technologies than have a cursory knowledge of many. Find a niche that you’re comfortable with and like to work in–but also take care not to become so pigeonholed into one specialty that you don’t leave yourself room for horizontal job mobility.
Find Ways to Prove Your Stack to Marketing Headhunters
Any marketer can claim aptitude with any number of bleeding-edge marketing tools. But proving that experience and competence is another matter; how can a marketing recruiter or potential employer verify that you’re really a master of your stack?
For any technology that you claim expertise with on a resume, LinkedIn profile, job application or in an interview, you need to have a way to verify it. What that means exactly is up to you, and you can get creative with your options. Some examples:
- Get certified in the use of a given technology, either directly from the provider or from a respected third party that can evaluate aptitude;
- Take a behavioral approach and have examples of your past successes with the technology on the tip of your tongue, ready to share;
- Develop a portfolio of your work in marketing technology staffing using a given piece of software;
- Build a strong list of professional references who can attest to your expertise.
Regardless, when you’re asked to provide evidence on the stack you claim, you must be in a position to provide it quickly.
Understand Where Skills Overlap
Your personal marketing technology stack might be a little larger than you think, and it’s important to understand what you’d be able to quickly add to your list if the need arises. Though there are countless marketing tech providers offering myriad products and services, the reality is; a lot of them are very similar. That means that a smart marketer with a thorough understanding of one tool or system will likely be able to efficiently learn similar technology with minimal effort.
For instance, one automation platform like Hubspot probably translates well to other comparable providers like Marketo; if you’re great with one, then it probably won’t take long to reach the same level of accomplishment with the other. However, being able to develop apps for the Occulus Rift VR headset is considerably different from developing for the competing HTC Vive–there’s much less overlap in the skills and experience needed to be adept with either.
The ability to understand the MarTech environment and express to future employers and marketing headhunters how your skills could translate to a tool in their stack even without having direct experience with it could mean the difference between winning the job and getting overlooked.
Think about your ultimate marketing career goals and where you want to end up. Then consider what career stepping stones you’ll need to take to get there. Finally, think about what technology stack you would need to make it to those stepping stones. What’s missing from your current stack that you’ll need to make your next move?
As fast-moving as the MarTech landscape is, it’s hard to say for certain what tech experience you’ll need to be an ideal fit for your next stepping stone. After all, you don’t want to invest a huge amount of time and effort mastering a technology that will be obsolete next year. But it is wise to plan ahead a little–at least to the next step in your career, whether that be working in marketing technology staffing or moving on to an executive position. If you’re lacking in any key tools or systems, now is a great time to put yourself in a position to start acquiring them.