Published: 05 August 2016

I love the Olympics because it’s a joyous, colourful and creative celebration of all that people can achieve across a huge variety of disciplines. From the excitement of the 100m (or my personal favourite, the 200m) to the cycling, sailing and beach volleyball the range of skills and variety of events is always fabulously impressive.

One event that always makes me double take is the not-often publicised modern pentathlon, a fascinating mixed discipline event comprising shooting, horse riding (show jumping), fencing, cross country running and freestyle swimming. Now, seemingly the origin of this event is that it was invented by the father of the modern Olympics and it was designed to include all the skills that a lady or gentleman of the time should have - to me it also reads as the recipe for being a top-notch Musketeer.

So, if the X-Men has taught us nothing, it's never question an original story and so if we take this origin story as read, what might a newly updated digital marketers modern pentathlon be? What are the five key skills that any modern digital marketer needs?

As someone who is often involved in developing training programs, structuring teams and working on digital strategy I thought I would have a go at putting down my top 5 skills that a digital marketer needs which probably needs a pretty big caveat that this is biased towards those on the dark, sorry,  agency side.

So, in no particular order, here goes…

Data Insightfulness (Fencing - precise, intelligent and practiced)

Being data aware and being able to understand data is very much a key skill for the digital marketer of today. Finding insights in data is a key strategy for any account manager/producer/UX designer who wants to be able to demonstrate and support their ideas for a client.

This is not to say you need to have a head for numbers, but the ability to spot a trend or pattern is a good first step to being Data Insightful. Like fencing, it's a finely honed discipline that gets better with practice.

Client and their Customer Intelligence (Cross Country Running - prepared, adaptable and in it for the long haul)

Digital marketing, at its very core, is about producing a result, and in the case of the team at Sagittarius, this is almost always for a client. Consequently, doing your homework on the client themselves, their customers and their audience is a must.

Like cross country running it’s a long game that takes preparation, adaptability and constant and consistent energy.

Hitting Targets (Shooting - hitting targets)

Ok, so an obvious shooting analogy here but being able to define and hit a goal or target is a must. I can often be heard quoting Happy Talk from South Pacific because, quite simply, ‘if you don’t have a dream, then how you gonna’ make a dream come true’. Goals and targets are important as, in today’s data driven environment, you need to be able to explain what you set out to do, how it panned out and what you achieved (particularly if you’re on the agency side of the fence).

Channel Agnostic and Channel Aware (Swimming - honed, co-ordinated and effective)

In digital marketing terms the end always justifies the means and never the other way round (unless you’re in an R&D state of play). Today’s digital marketer needs to understand the channels and the tactics available to them and then be able to objectively co-ordinate these to work best to achieve the overall goal.

Creative and Justified (Show Jumping - brave, bold and committed)

As a digital marketing musketeer your client is looking to you for your knowledge, expertise, creativity and experience. Consequently, you must be brave and bold in your strategic thinking and planning and be able to justify your thinking. Once you’ve had sign off from your client you then need to be committed to your plan much in the same way that a horse and rider commit to a jump a long way before they get close to it.

So that’s my five, but really it could have been a decathlon or whatever comes after that, as the modern digital musketeer needs a whole range of skills and these must include the classics too - effective communicator, able to present (and presented well) and organised.

I would love to hear other people’s thoughts on this too - tweet your top 5 to @nick_towers using #digitalmusketeer and let me know what you think the modern lady or gentleman involved in digital marketing needs today.

Nick Towers

Managing Director


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