This is the Top Marketing Skill for 2019 (Hint: It’s Not AI)

Hey marketers, what was the last new skill or idea you learned to become better at what you do? In episode 24 of Marketing Is Broken, we look at the top marketing skill to invest in for 2019. And it’s not artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, or account-based marketing. Stick around to find out...
01/25/2019

This week’s top story comes to us from Fast Company in the form of a piece by Judith Humphrey, a regular contributor and the founder of The Humphrey Group.

In a month where marketers have been offering up all sorts of advice on what strategies and tactics to use in the year ahead, Humphrey’s voice stood out because her article was about the most important professional ability to hone in 2019.

Just what is the top skill for marketing, sales, and business professionals as a whole? According to Humphrey, it’s quite simply the ability to handle Q&A.

She says, “Studies show that those who think on their feet and respond without hesitation come across as leaders who project a certain charisma.”


“Studies show that those who think on their feet and respond without hesitation come across as leaders who project a certain charisma.”

Judith Humphrey  -  Founder, The Humphrey Group

Not only does it make you more likeable, but it also makes you look smarter.

Humphrey goes on to say, “In fact, the same research indicates that this quickness of mind is rated as being even more important as a barometer of your mental smarts than IQ is.”

Obviously, it isn’t possible to know everything, so how can we just “handle Q&A” better? That brings us to this week’s topic.

How To Become a Better Question Answerer

Being able to answer questions is incredibly important. As a marketer, it can be the difference between the C-Suite increasing or pulling budgets altogether.

In sales, questions are often synonymous with objections or complaints and can sink your deal if you’re not ready for them.

Even in our relationships, it’s important to get the answer right to questions like, “How does this make me look?” or “Do you want to take the garbage out?”

So if answering questions is so important, how do we get better at it? This isn’t exactly Jeopardy where we can try to learn all the answers in advance.

Well, In her Fast Company article, Humphrey provided three tips for how to hone this top marketing skill:

  1. Prepare, prepare, prepare to give yourself a better foundation of knowledge
  2. Don’t rush to answer because the answer sounds smarter if you take your time
  3. Structure your response to make sure it comes across intelligently
  4. Ask questions because it shows that you’re engaged and actively listening

These are all fantastic tips. But it got me to thinking about my own experiences and what I’ve seen work for myself and others.

So here are three of our most effective strategies for getting better at answering just about any question.

1) Take An Improv Class

First, take an improv class. Seriously. If you’ve ever watched TV shows like Whose Line Is It, Anyway?, it might not be immediately clear how creating a comedy scene out of thin air would help you in a business setting.

But if you think about it… how much different is a business meeting from an improv skit, really? In both cases, you’re given a starting point, a set of characters, and no script. And in both cases, they can go either unbelievably well or leaving you cringing with awkwardness.

Learning basic improv skills like replying with “yes, and…” will help you know what to say in any situation, no matter how much pressure there is.

2) Give Yourself More Credit

Second, give yourself more credit. Seriously. You’re a lot more brilliant than what you think.

In a famous study by Hewlett Packard, researchers found that, “Men apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, but women apply only if they meet 100% of them.”

When asked why they didn’t apply for the job, men reported not wanting to waste their time and energy while women were more likely to report not applying because they didn’t want to put themselves out there if they were likely to fail.

While I can empathize with both positions, most times it’s not about whether or not you’re 100% qualified. It’s about putting yourself out there and offering up that plan or idea for how things could be different or better.

It’s about being willing to make decisions about uncertain things when no one else will.

In fact, studies show that the more decisive you are, the more likely you’ll be perceived as having high leadership potential.

So give yourself more credit on what you know and be surprised by what happens when you speak up.

3) Be Positive

And finally, be positive.

According to The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor, being positive simply leads to more success.

His extensive research into how happiness and success are linked shows that, “75% of job success is predicted by optimism, social support, and your ability to see stress as a challenge rather than a threat.”

The more positive we are in any situation, the more likely we’ll be able to respond positively, quickly, and with that certain charisma that your leaders love so much.

Now it’s your turn. What do you think the top marketing skill is today? Is it as simple as being able to answer any question that’s thrown at you or is there something else that you’ve been investing in with greater success? I positively want to know.

Leave a comment with a recent experience or your advice for marketers in the comments wherever you’re watching this and you may just may win some free swag.

Author: Josh Braaten

CEO - Brandish Insights

Get Free Brand Measurement Resources

Subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to get these freebies.