How to close the skills gap

How do you identify a marketing skills gap in your company? And what can you do to close one?

The role of marketing is growing all the time, especially as it enlists the help of new technologies such as artificial intelligence data automation tools. A little more budget and a little more time to learn new skills are on many a marketing manager’s wishlist – an upskilled marketing department can surely help to deliver increased growth for your organisation. But what should those skills be? Digital? Analytical? A beginner’s guide to virtual reality?

In fact, the findings of CIM’s report The Challenges and Opportunities facing Marketers in 2017, reveals that for many marketers the concern is not the latest tech, it’s something that’s always been a building block of successful marketing: strategy.

The report found that while marketers are excited about getting more involved in the strategic vision for the company (63%) and driving change within the organisation (61%), nearly all (93%) think that the marketing skills gap at a strategic level is one of the biggest challenges facing businesses today.

If this rings bells, then it’s time to take action.

Training is key, and as well as helping marketers further their personal careers, continuing professional development (CPD) can be instrumental in closing any strategic skills gap across an organisation. Recruitment, of course, can also bring in new skills – with its own costs attached.

And yet both routes present a conundrum: how can you determine the precise steps forward if you’re unsure how your marketing and wider business strategies are allied and what your current competencies are?

Take an audit of your marketing skills

To begin to close any skills gap, it helps to take a step back, in order to:

Gain a clear unbiased view of a marketing department’s skills and ability to apply those skills;

  • Produce a skills audit of your team to identify skills gaps;
  • Ensure the audit allows you to make comparisons at a detailed level, and within specific areas of marketing; and
  • Allow the findings of the audit to be reviewed in different ways, either at a top level or to a more targeted degree.

Of course, an unbiased, objective self-assessment of your own team’s capabilities is difficult to achieve. To help marketers review their own organisation’s skills gaps, and provide insight into competitors’ capabilities, CIM has created a Developing Needs Analysis (DNA) positioning guide. This ‘DNA tool’ is based on CIM’s Professional Marketing Competencies – a framework that gives a guide to the skills and behaviours expected of professional marketers at varying levels of proficiency.

Assessing marketing capability, skills and behaviour

This framework connects the core capabilities that sit at the heart of marketing (insight, strategy, and championing the customer) with the technical skills needed to achieve them across areas such as brand, measurement, product innovation, and digital integration. The framework also builds in the behavioural capabilities required of marketers to do their jobs efficiently and effectively (for example, collaborative, creative, entrepreneurial) and to contribute towards business goals.

Only through objective analysis of the connections between all of these competencies can marketers assess their department’s skills, and ability to apply those skills, or benchmark their performance against other organisations. And only then can an organisation’s training or recruitment requirements be defined. Before you attempt to close the skills gap, it’s time to check your department’s DNA.

marketing skills gap


With a CIM qualification in Professional Marketing, you can grasp the strategic marketing planning process and learn how to successfully implement it. For information, visit:

If you find you need to recruit in order to fill your department’s marketing skills gap, contact Brand to see how we can help.

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