Government-funded training is offering numerous benefits to the marketing industry’s talent while reducing industry skills shortages, says Kate Burnett, General Manager of the DMA’s Talent division

Marketing is a unique career that people from many different degree or learning backgrounds can enter. That openness can also contribute to some feeling that they haven’t cultivated specialised marketing skills helping them to become “qualified”.

This can lead to marketing personnel becoming prone to impostor syndrome, But, as Mark Ritson has pointed out, robust, professional training can help to ensure these worries are unfounded.

Ritson reviewed more than 5,000 exit surveys from the marketers who take his Mini MBA in Marketing each year and impostor syndrome came up frequently. He suggested around 10% of the total sample describe suffering from it and credit training with helping to dispel it. He even went as far to estimate that 30% to 40% of marketers have struggled with impostor syndrome.

Even experienced marketers struggle to justify time away and find budget to upskill on training days or weeks, exacerbating feelings that they lack professional training so therefore can’t be qualified.

These could be key reasons why the government’s recent approach of funding Skills Bootcamps programmes, to reduce industry and business skills shortages, is having a positive impact on marketers’ confidence, as well as their performance.

Marketers gaining confidence

Brexit, followed by Covid, and now high inflation has left many businesses, particularly SMEs, with limited training resources and it’s a brave organisation that chooses to invest precious funds and employee resource in such times. That’s why it is so important to offer government-funded training to all organisation types, over an extended period using smaller training instalments.

Over the past year, the Data & Marketing Association (DMA UK) has hosted dozens of 12- 14-week Digital Marketing Skills Bootcamps upskilling hundreds of marketers across the UK.

Tim Hamill, lead tutor for the Bootcamps, highlighted some of the benefits previous students have reported to him in follow-up conversations, including that Skills Bootcamps are “empowering marketers” to go back to the office with new knowledge to do things differently, enabling them to “challenge and improve current practices rather than continuing” exhausted, previous approaches.

Tim cites an example of someone who had been out of the industry for ten years after maternity leave but recently rejoined and wanted to modernise her skillset. The training delivered twin benefits in that it reaffirmed the basics of marketing are still valid and her long-standing knowledge was correct, as well as offering new digital skills to boost and supplement previous job experience.

Beverly Barker, another key tutor for the DMA’s Skills Bootcamps, believes that they are helping people to become “T-shaped marketers”, where individuals with more “narrow channel roles are extending their skills” to different channels and tools.

The DMA’s tutors have all witnessed numerous students overcome their perceived impostor syndrome by investing their time in industry-accredited self-development, which led to the majority gaining greater autonomy and strategic oversight on projects, and some even gaining a promotion. And improved marketing performance has been experienced by all through expanded and modernised digital skillsets.

Acquiring digital skillsets

In an age where technology and businesses’ digital requirements are rapidly evolving, the future success of businesses will not just be dependent on investing in the latest technological advancements. It will require skilled personnel to interpret customer data, analyse trends and insights, enhance AI algorithms, and integrate the latest software into operations.

The government has recognised rising demand for digitally-enhanced marketers thanks to the ongoing lobbying of industry bodies like the DMA, and has just expanded the skills portfolio of Skills Bootcamps accordingly.

A new government-funded training programme is launching in London and online in November 2023 – the Data Strategy, Analytics and Measurement Skills Bootcamps, funded by the Department for Education (DfE) through its Skills for Life Programme.

Data-driven marketing insights are essential for developing more meaningful relationships with customers, which leads to sustainable business growth. This is a great opportunity for the community, as this type of government-funded training will help marketers to better understand, acquire and analyse their customers’ data insights, which is vital for enhanced customer engagement and retention.

Upskilling enhances performance

Impostor syndrome is often an unnecessary byproduct of marketing’s relentless, deadline-driven culture where upskilling often falls by the wayside. 

However, this is counter-intuitive for both marketers and their organisations, as they aren’t developing the confidence and enhanced skillsets necessary to thrive in the digital era – getting left behind is a very real prospect.

There is a vast amount of talent within organisations ready to advance their data-driven marketing and digital skillsets, but businesses and charities must act now to take advantage of government investment while it is available. Hundreds have already signed up to programmes which are making them more productive, confident, and effective.

A short-term investment of marketers’ precious time will lead to long-term results for the business.

Further information about Skills Bootcamps can be found here.