I was recently asked my thoughts on what to look for when building a Marketing team. While there are countless attributes that should be considered when deciding on a hiring strategy (role objectives, person specification, needs gap, organizational hierarchy, company trajectory, et al), my personal tip would be to focus on two aspects of your talent acquisition: thinking digital-first and hiring outside the norm.
As a discipline, Marketing has evolved phenomenally over the last decade. The prominence of digital practices and the innovations made possible through the application of martech means we can no longer rely on conventional thinking. Never before have we had so much access to information, which in itself presents some significant challenges. While data has become a huge ally in the race to help us figure out what buyers want, deciphering the vast oceans of data we’re now producing has created the need for a whole new breed of Marketer.
From speaking with my peers, I’ve discovered how many of us are being tested by this data-driven universe we’ve created, with the majority of Marketers I know managing to achieve new world dexterity to varying degrees of success. Feeling equally as comfortable with a digital-native skill-set as one is with some of the more conventional aspects of brand or campaign management isn’t a knowledge gap that gets plugged overnight. Yet digital fluency is a necessity to maintain relevance in a world where marketing=digital. Applying a digital-first hiring strategy will ensure you onboard people who can bridge that skills divide.
But what happens when a skill-set alone also begins to fall short? Looking to the future of the organization, what qualities do we need in our approach to problem solving and critical thinking? And furthermore, how do we best equip our teams to be prepared for what’s still yet to come?
Traditionally, marketing has relied on creativity to capture mindshare and delivering tried and tested tactics to maintain loyalty and repeat purchase. It’s my belief that the modern marketer must also be equipped to understand history and context, in order to predict what comes next. We must be able to make connections between how consumer societies are evolving, and use this knowledge when interpreting these very large data sets we’re analyzing. Learning how to identify consumer behavioral trends will draw from references of all sorts, and as the saying goes, it’ll take a village to derive meaningful insights from this complex data. But ultimately it’s a worthy endeavor, as the ability to predict future trends by looking at the present will be hugely valuable and important to how brands prepare for the future.
The beauty of Marketing lies in having numerous ways to get to an outcome. So bringing the conversation back to hiring practices, why take a one-dimensional approach to how we hire? I’m a big believer in recruiting outside the norm, if for no other reason than to avoid creating a team that consists of personalities who are all cut from the same cloth. Surrounding yourself with individuals who have a different frame of reference will undoubtedly encourage a collective of ideas that are unique and well positioned to move your marketing agenda forward.
So hire linguists, pop culture enthusiasts, socio-anthropologists, industrial psychologists or those who’ve studied history, political science or the arts. As long as the individual can demonstrate some marketing proficiency, has an aptitude to learn and shares the values central to your company, the diversity of thinking will inject that little extra something into how you approach what lies ahead. And that my esteemed Marketing colleagues, is when you open the door to allow truly special things to happen.