Experience Versus Skill: Where’s the Value?

by John Cloonan | Mar 30, 2022 | Behind the scenes, Blog, Innovations, Marketing & Branding

In the past, I’ve sought out consulting gigs while looking for my next permanent opportunity. It’s helpful both to keep my skills fresh and, of course, to keep income coming into the household. I made my personal network aware of this, and many of them came through with opportunities, which was pretty cool (apparently networking works–who knew?).  

But there was a question that kept coming up that I wanted to explore. This similar question even came up in my permanent job search, too. It was the question of experience. 

Do you have experience in the fitness industry? The powersports industry? With a luxury brand?  

What I found interesting is that they rarely asked about skill. I have marketing skills that bear across industries. (As do many other marketing professionals who’ve had to wear many hats at a time.) No, I’ve never worked directly in the fitness industry, but I understand many of the marketing challenges that come to bear with a multi-site membership organization through my skill as a marketer. I’ve never worked directly with the powersports industry, but I understand many of the marketing challenges that come to bear with higher-priced retail recreational products because of my skill as a marketer. I’ve never worked for a luxury brand, but I understand focused differentiation and what that entails.  

Don’t get me wrong: there is value to experience. My experiences in business-to-business marketing are invaluable in that setting. But frequently, when I’m looking for an innovative approach, I look outside that sector for other ideas that can be adapted to the setting in which I’m working. For example, I created a loyalty program based on the retail model for my last employer — not common in the B2B services space, but very successful in that implementation.  

The Bottom Line: Skill Creates Innovation

What I’m trying to get to here is the importance of skill to creating innovations in a space. Experience can be valuable, but if you’re trapped in your own experience and not looking outside of it, it can also be a hindrance. And experience without skill is valueless.

Find both.  

Marketing Guy & Strategic Polymath | Website | + posts

John’s the founder of Audacity Marketing. When he’s not racing motorcycles, he’s building marketing strategies for Audacity clients and anyone else who’ll listen.

John’s worn all the marketing hats, from consultant to agency owner to executive to university professor. He’s held leadership roles in industries from staffing to behavioral health to capital-C consulting. He’s branded or rebranded over 100 companies.

John buttresses 25+ years in marketing with an MBA from Georgia State University.

John lives with his girlfriend Suzanne, his dog Seamus, and his daughter Annie when she shows up from college.