As all aspects of digital marketing continue to explode and become part of the DNA of business, the requisite skills for marketers are also evolving and expanding. Unfortunately, the digital marketing skills gap is growing, and more than two-thirds of all marketers feel their digital skill set is deficient. Any CMO will tell you finding and keeping talent is their No. 1 issue, closely followed by keeping skills current.

This is beyond a simple training problem. We live in a digital economy, and whether you work in a B-to-C or B-to-B company, having an effective digital engagement strategy is paramount to being competitive. So where does this leave us when marketing does not have the skills needed, a plan to get the skills or a budget to get the skills? In a losing position.

Throwing Out a Challenge to HR

I recently spoke with a 25-year veteran of learning and development, Larry Mohl. Larry has been a chief learning officer for companies such as American Express, Motorola and Children’s Hospitals and is now the co-founder of Jubi, a modern learning platform. My question for Larry: Who is training marketing, and why isn’t more of it happening?

His answer, from an HR perspective, was insightful. According to Larry, any training for marketing is not considered an HR issue but an issue handled within the group. I think this is incredibly short-sighted, and I would challenge HR to step up and recognize the importance of this training to the performance of the company.

Stepping Up

In 2015 Microsoft launched its Modern Marketing University, and it serves thousands of marketers around the globe. It provides education and knowledge required to be a successful digital marketer. I talked with field CMOs, field leaders and other parts of the Microsoft organization, and they all rated the Modern Marketing University as one of their best elements of their journey to date.

I am also beginning to see investment in digital skills training on a smaller scale. I was recently working with a 12-person marketing team just assembled with a new VP of marketing. The VP brought in basic digital marketing skills training and created a common language and baseline across the team as well as a holistic engagement approach to creating a vibrant customer experience.

Three Key Action Items

So, what’s a marketer to do? Here are three key action items:

  1. Assess your current skills gap. You need to fully understand what you have and what you need.
  2. Create a business case for investing in training. Estimate the cost of not having the skills and estimate that cost beyond the walls of marketing to include competitive position of the company.
  3. Work with HR to get funding and help and institutionalize a curriculum.

The digital skills gap is growing as the need for these skills is exploding. Marketing executives who understand how to effectively source, train and keep talented digital marketers are the leaders of both today and tomorrow.