Although my undergraduate education was not in marketing, I’ve spent my entire career in the field, and have learned that my liberal arts education and the soft skills it helped me acquire really equipped me for success in my marketing journey.

There are many hard skills you need in this day and age to be an effective marketer—basic knowledge of coding, SEO, SEM, social media tools, Google Analytics, survey design and analysis, the list goes on and on. But what will really set you apart from the crowd, and what will make you truly excel at your job are these five soft skills.

Listening: You have two ears and one month for a reason. Listen to your customers, your clients, your staff, your vendors. The best marketers are constantly seeking feedback and take the time to really understand it to make their products or services better. Today, the neat thing is listening isn’t just about hearing, it’s also about seeing and monitoring what’s being said about your brand online.

Subjectivity: As a marketer, you have to be open to hearing everyone’s perspective without bias. Oftentimes, the sales team may say one thing, customers may say another and your leadership will say something else. You need to be able to understand the situation holistically and consider all points of view to make the best decision for your organization.

Proactive: The best marketers are one step ahead. They anticipate the needs of the business and of their consumer or client. They stay up to date on trends and new technology and are some of the earliest adopters of new products or services.

Present: Great marketers are constantly looking at the world around them, observing how people do things, why they do what they do and looking at how other companies are marketing their brands, both in their industry and outside of it. They are copycats, looking for ideas and concepts they can apply to their business. I recently heard Norm Brodsky speak and he said: “I’ve never had a novel idea. You don’t have to invent anything new. Just look at what people are doing around you and do it better.” The best marketers are constantly copying and improving on what they see.

Flexible: To create a sticky idea or product, you have to be iterative. You have to be open to trying multiple ways of doing something to find the one that resonates with your audience. This could mean completely changing something you put a lot of work in to. Additionally, priorities can shift frequently and fast. You have to be willing to put aside one project in favor of another that will benefit the business more. The best marketers can pivot on a dime without being discouraged.

If you don’t have these five soft skills, work on developing them each day. Being present can include taking notes during meetings of simply putting away your devices. Being proactive can mean allotting time in your schedule each week to research new products or to try new services. Small, simple changes can make a huge difference.

This article originally appeared in the June 2017 issue of Direct Marketing.

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Jessica Schaeffer

Jessica Schaeffer is director of marketing & communications at LaSalle Network, a staffing, recruiting culture firm honored with more than 70 culture and revenue-based awards. Schaeffer has been at LaSalle Network for six years and is on the board of directors for the American Marketing Association.

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