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The Demands That Innovation Places On The Modern Marketer

Posted over 8 years ago by Rebecca Thomas
41873901 S

As a specialist recruiter in the marketing and digital space we have a window into the market that gives us real insight into how things are evolving and the impact innovation and technology is having. So when we were invited to speak at the On the Edge Digital conference recently, we thought we’d look in to this from a talent, team and cultural perspective.

Over the past few years what’s clearly evident is that there’s been a huge amount of change within the sector; job titles have changed, traditional roles have changed, departments have changed, culture has changed and access to data has changed.

All this leads to a shift so we wanted to unpack that shift and what it means for the modern marketing team.

Specifically we looked at the impact digital and innovation has on three layers of organisations:

  • Talent
  • Team
  • Culture

In the first of three articles, we’ll be looking at its impact on talent, so a good starting point is to quickly look at the availability of talent. A statistic quoted at a recent seminar we attended suggested global talent availability is at it’s lowest in 30 years, the result being that the best people are in short supply and high demand.

With market conditions steadily improving a range of factors appear to be fuelling this talent shortage, including:

  • more people are being promoted/receiving pay rises/seeing progression opportunities internally
  • less people entered the market during the downturn, meaning fewer people have progressed through the ranks
  • demand for talent is increasing at all levels

What we’re seeing is that good people, regardless of discipline, are in demand and in most cases have a number of options.

In his presentation ‘How Google Works’ Eric Schmidt (Executive Chairman, Google) argues “Technology is transforming virtually every business sector”.  

Like most in the marketing community, we’ve witnessed this first hand. It’s perhaps a slight exaggeration, but half the roles we recruit for in 2015 didn’t exist 5 years ago and in all likelihood the key jobs in the industry in 5 years time don’t yet exist.

So the reality is we’re evolving together and training the next generation for jobs using a predictive lens. For the marketer (regardless of your discipline), technology has been the single biggest disrupter on role profiles and responsibilities over the past few years. As marketers you’ll also know that it’s not just the technology itself, but its influence on customer behavior; consumers are now more demanding than ever and want problems solved in real-time, which builds added pressure & requirements on marketing teams. As a recruiter we see examples of this daily.

Suddenly, marketers were faced with an array of new platforms and technologies to master to remain visible in their market place. We conduct an annual salary and market trends survey (request a copy) and looking back just a few years, there was no mention of social media or content roles. Specialist SEO & PPC roles weren’t nearly as commonplace either, but we now have more demand for these ‘specialist roles’ than we do for traditional marketing roles.

This in itself is shifting. Digital stopped being ‘new media’ years ago (we used to get roles for new media designers and marketing execs to work on ‘new media’).

Content and social are no longer then new kids in the marketing team.

Analytics & data now underpin everything.

Back in the old days of 2009, ROI was hard to measure, sentiment was almost impossible to track. But that’s all changed too.

So should we all forget about traditional marketing skills and throw ourselves headfirst in to all things digital & tech?

One person arguing vehemently for the contrary is Jerry Daykin, Global Digital Director at Dentsu Aegis, who’s been running a campaign for #digitalsense

Jerry argues that “a new generation of marketers will come through and, blinded by the promise of digital, they will not learn enough of the old craft of marketing.”

It’s a strong and valid argument, the point being that while we obsess over fixing the digital skills gap, there’s a risk that young marketers don’t know enough about traditional marketing.

Jerry summarises this by saying “whilst established marketers need to make a real effort to learn the essential points of digital marketing, it’s equally important that they go out of their way to pass on their huge wealth of knowledge to the next generation. Far from being rendered useless by new technology, old-fashioned marketing and storytelling principles are more important than ever.”

The key point from this, which we entirely agree with, is innovation doesn’t override the fundamentals of the marketing skill set. So how does this all affect the ‘traditional marketer’ and the traditional marketing team?

Enter the age of the hybrid marketer.

Fundamentally - and this is what we see in job specs every day - marketers (and creatives) can no longer be one dimensional - DM, email, advertising, PR etc…

Just as effective campaigns have to work across all channels to engage consumers, today marketers must understand and embrace the different tools, tactics and strategies to help them continue to stay current.

This has lead in recent years to the concept of ‘T-shaped’ people: those who are specialist in one area, who think broad and collaborate with other teams/departments. Google take this a step further and look for what some describe as ‘pi-shaped’ (π) people; those marketers/creatives who have that same breadth of knowledge, who also marry left brain and right brain thinking, i.e. they can be both data-oriented/analytical, along with understanding brand, campaign and creativity/storytelling.

We’re not arguing that all marketers should suddenly become a jack of all trades. Nor are we suggesting you suddenly have to become ‘technical’. However, now more than ever, it’s essential that you are curious and adaptable.

Not enough people are constantly looking to up skill – read, learn, listen, think. The best do this instinctively and are always looking to challenge their own thinking and behaviour. And in a time scarce environment, they’re making time to do it.

To give this context let’s quickly look at how this is manifesting in so called traditional roles:

Taking PR as an example, not so long ago when we were recruiting for PR roles we’d want to know the candidate knew how to spot a story, find a hook, write a release and sell this in to a journalist.

The shift is that whilst PRs still have to have these core skills, they also need to understand all social channels, outreach, engagement, measurement, metrics and how you demonstrate ROI beyond the outdated AVE metrics.

They have to understand how this all knits together with broader marketing campaigns that are running. And they have to be always on and able to respond to threats and opportunities at any time… their world is now more than their rolodex.

It’s a big subject area and we’re just scratching the surface to fuel debate so we’d love to hear your thoughts on the impact technology, digital and innovation has had on role profiles in your teams.

In the next piece in this series will be shifting the focus to the impact technology and innovation has had on teams, in terms of structure, skills mix and dynamics.