It seems like a lot of people have been talking about the marketing talent gap for some time. There is a general agreement that the disparity typically revolves around digital and data. There is one question that always comes up when I’m talking to CMOs and senior marketing leaders:
“What talents and skills do I look for in building a modern marketing organization?”
My top recommendation is always “intellectual curiosity,” based on research I did with the Association of National Advertisers and consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton* which concluded that was the #1 trait to seek in a marketer. Even though this research is close to 10 years old, I believe its conclusions still hold true today. Why? Many of the skills needed to be a modern marketer did not really exist just a few years back. Adaptability and the ability to learn new skills are crucial capabilities for the modern marketer.
That’s why the Demand Factory™ framework DemandGen builds out for clients focuses on a set of skills and capabilities we’ve dubbed ACME, for the four core disciplines of high performance marketing: Acquire, Convert, Measure, Expand.
- Driven by customer insights
- Ability to translate data analytics into action
- Working knowledge of existing and emerging digital channels & technologies
- Ability to translate branding guidelines into consistent messaging across platforms and channels
- Proficiency with marketing technologies and CRM systems
- Programs, channel and offer expertise with a focus on conversion optimization
- Content creation and curation with multiple variables:
- Thought leadership
- User experience design
- Asset creation
- Lead management expertise with an understanding of funnel conversion rates, velocity and volume.
- Persona creation and maintenance
- Ability to deliver insight to multiple levels and functions of an organization through aggregating, analyzing, and interpreting data to measure success (“data storytelling”)
- Analytically driven, and able to filter big data and focus on the KPIs/metrics that matter
- Data cleansing, integration and governance foundational know-how
- Revenue goals aligned to strategic initiatives with measureable progress assessed monthly, quarterly, yearly
- Customer-centric with the ability to translate customer big data into insights.
- Subject matter expertise on the company’s market (industry- or even account-specific) and offerings
- Utilization of essential customer KPIs, for example: engagement, retention/churn rates, support volume and product/service utilization
- Preference center and privacy settings know-how
- Role-based, account-specific marketing capabilities
When our CEO, David Lewis, came up with the Demand Factory metaphor and framework, he introduced the Accountability Chart as an efficient way to identify needs and assign responsibilities, rather than a massive reorganization. (You can learn more about this in the white paper Make Marketing Matter.) Here’s an example:
Most experts on this topic will tell you that there is a glaring talent gap in the marketplace – and that is true.
A couple of takeaways for building skilled teams:
- Focus on those individuals who have a driving passion and are intellectually curious.
- Perform an assessment on yourself as an individual, or if you are a manager, as a member of your own team. Use an accountability chart as your guide. Some experts say all marketers should be programmers; I don’t personally believe that, but maybe it works for your business.
- Identify and empower those with digital and data chops – Innovation should not just be a buzz word in your organization. Identify those marketers who are adaptable and willing to work in “grey area.” When I was at SAS, an Innovation Lab was built to test new capabilities, products and services. The group consisted of these type of marketers and was empowered by executives to think, react, implement and scale or fail.
- Cultivate your ACME skills – These are foundational skills for the next generation of marketing: don’t let them pass you by.
I do believe that the next generation of marketing technologists, data analysts, demand generation experts and content curators will evolve with the market. The best modern marketing professionals will be intellectually curious – focused on what customer insights tell them (through data!) and on how to get ahead of the next wave of disruption.
Are there other specific skills out there that you think are crucial for a next generation marketer? Please tell me what you think.
Will Waugh is a consultant for DemandGen focused on helping clients with demand generation, lead management and leveraging marketing technology. He genuinely believes that data can change the world. Follow him on on Twitter. Other articles by Will Waugh: Demand Generation: The Data