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Marketing skills: why there is no substitute for on-the-job experience and the right training

Written by Louise | 18-Jul-2016 15:39:00

What makes a good marketer?

Is it understanding the fundamental principles? Is it on-the-job training and experience? Is it about keeping one eye on the horizon for what new trends and technologies are on their way to disrupt brand communications?

In response to a post on 24 Marketers You Should Follow on Twitter, marketer and noted Marketing Week columnist Mark Ritson has taken umbrage at the lost art of learning marketing in an academic environment. He has written a typically gutsy column on why the new generation just aren’t up to scratch.

The article – which appears to trail an advert for Ritson’s own online marketing qualification, the Marking Week Mini MBA – has understandably caused heated debate online and on social, and it’s been interesting to see the response from marketers. 

Among other observations, Ritson states that:

The new breed of experts are big on tactics but light on market orientation, research, segmentation, positioning, brand equity, strategy and all the other rich substantive matter that makes up the remaining 90% of marketing once you take the promotional P out.

Learning marketing skills on-the-job, and training in real world situations, is absolutely essential. A marketing qualification alone does not mean you are a marketing expert. While it is true that becoming proficient in a very narrow tactical way can mean that the importance of properly effective audience segmentation and research can be lost, this is more down to poor industry standards and lack of practical training of staff.

Working in a busy agency (especially one of our size) gives our team exposure to multiple industries, on campaigns across B2B as well as B2C. We run real world campaigns, and this helps all of us – from our newest graduates to our senior team - hone our skills and add to our qualification as experts in marketing.

There is no substitute for variety. Would marketers with qualifications working client side for just one brand ever have as many transferable skills as marketers trained on the job in a busy agency? Certainly, their lack of varied experience would affect the development of their skills and approach.

Ritson has put his focus on up-front academic training, before a marketer even enters the real world. Supplementing on-the-job training with ongoing in-house and external training means that marketing theories can be explored, and brought to life through work with actual clients. The real world isn’t cut and dry, and it is just as important to explore the exceptions to the rules.

We are passionate about hiring smart, ambitious, dedicated graduates (students of humanities, science, maths, technology and arts) and then putting proper training and development in place to ensure that they can achieve great things and deliver outstanding work for our clients. We believe in getting our hands dirty, learning from each other and getting the right on-the-job training. It is how we equip our team to answer and exceed our client’s objectives and how we continue to deliver great results for our clients’ businesses.

We are always on the lookout for new talent. If you would like to get in touch about opportunities to join the team or our graduate programme, get in touch at