Hiring/Training: What the CMO Wants
CMOs are looking for the best way to reach customers and increase ROI. To do that, they arm themselves with a multitude of marketing channels; many of which are growing and changing rapidly—particularly with the dawn of the digital age. At the heart of all these channels—with, as noted, digital media leading the pack—is direct marketing. Whether you call this approach "direct" or not, these are the principles that enable marketers to quantify ROI. So, how do CMOs decide, in this sea of marketing channels and direct marketing principles, what skill sets they need from their staff?
A Rose By Any
Let's all agree that there have been changes in the modern direct response and advertising landscape due to the emergence of new channels, as well as the economic downturn during the past two years. The advance of the digital age, with general advertising less relevant and response metrics now the mode of operation, has increased the demand for direct marketing skills.
However, the words "direct marketing" are not so easily identifiable these days, even though the guiding principles have remained the same.
Mention direct marketing to those Millennials (the segment of the population generally considered to be born between the mid-1970s and 2000, also referred to as Generation Y) working in the digital space, and they might say it only applies to direct mail—all the while they are testing and analyzing their latest SMS campaigns.
The Direct Marketing Association itself is thinking of dropping the words "direct marketing" from its name to keep the organization relevant to today's market, and yet the players (i.e., current and prospective members) are still the same.
The point is that it does not matter what you call the process of measurement, analysis and refinement of response-oriented marketing efforts. It's the essence of direct marketing that is important—measurable, accountable, data-driven, one-to-one marketing. Whether your campaign involves mobile, direct mail or any other new channel that comes along, you are still testing, measuring and creating relevancy to reach consumers. And these are the skills to look for in marketing teams so you can be successful in today's competitive multichannel market.
Now, About Those Channels
In addition to being agile and analytical, the marketing team of today also needs to market well across many channels. The digital age introduced new channels—from search engine marketing to mobile and social media. These channels evolve constantly, forcing marketers and customers to adapt quickly.
Due to this combination of rapid change and channel proliferation, deep expertise and hands-on knowledge is starting to be replaced by the ability to be flexible, quick and innovative. This new type of marketer, a generalist, certainly will not know the intricacies of all channels, but will understand the roles of each and how to adapt his marketing strategies to the ever-changing marketplace. Generalists also will make good decisions based on the business needs (like budgets, target audience, communication objective, etc.).
In this new marketing climate, specialists still have their roles on the marketing team; without them, companies wouldn't be able to execute, particularly as each channel has its deployment intricacies. However, a marketing generalist is agile and will be able to integrate and collaborate across all channels. And he will know how to work with these channel experts, whether they're employed internally or by an industry vendor. These skills are key to mastering today's web of multichannel marketing.
A Meeting of the Marketing Minds
Another key development sweeping the modern marketing department is the necessity of generalists to hire and train the next generation of response marketers. This is not much of a departure from the mentoring processes of years past; save that the more senior marketing professionals now don't need to pass along their specific channel expertise, so much as the art and science of channel integration and collaboration.
At the same time, these more well-rounded marketers will be learning from subsequent generations who comprehend and master the digital channel intricacies better than anyone. Sometimes called "digital natives," younger marketing professionals have grown up with the Internet and do not see online marketing as anything exotic or intimidating.
Marketing veterans, for whom the latest digital marketing media often seem foreign, can learn from the Millennial generation and its innate understanding of online channels and audiences. The new marketer needs to be one who can draw on all available channels; something which students are learning at the university level.
The digital age also calls for an environment of transparency and sharing. The Millennials are more than comfortable with this concept; whereas, offline marketers might not be quite at ease with it yet. On the other hand, these more "traditional" marketers are well-versed in building and managing brands. They also understand how to leverage multiple channels to create sales.
So there is room on both sides of the marketing skills spectrum for marketers to learn from one another. Smart marketing team leaders will embrace the technology of today, but also dedicate time to educate the next generation of marketers about the roles and benefits of the channels that preceded the Internet.
Strength in Diversification
Finally, as the economy starts to ramp up and the demand for talent increases, it's important not to be shortsighted about what this talent will look like or where it will come from. Remember, as the demand for future talent increases, the depth of the hiring pool will decrease.
It's critical that the next evolution of marketing teams be comprised of professionals with varying backgrounds. They could come from the services, sales or client side, as well as from an array of industries. To build a strong marketing team, it's important not to weed people out simply because they did not come up through the ranks of your industry. Rather, it's essential now to have people who can think differently from each other to fully leverage the multichannel landscape.
Heather Baker is managing partner of executive recruiting firm BennetBaker, Ltd. She can be reached at (312) 252-8884.