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My latest thoughts on sales & marketing

The Biggest Challenges in Modern Marketing: Talent Part 2

Published on March 23, 2019

Dream Job

Marketing leaders are faced with a dynamic, constantly changing landscape. Much of the change over the past decade has been driven by the rise of MarTech. 5000 technologies created to make marketing turnkey, 5000 silver bullets, easy buttons all presented to the marketing leader to make marketing “easy.” It’s created a new marketing norm, one that comes with a new set of challenges.

I am super fortunate in that every week for the past 5 years I’ve spoken with anywhere from 3-6 marketing leaders. This has provided me with a front row seat to a unique set of challenges in front of a leader who knows their tenure is by far the shortest of their peers in the C-Suite. The average tenure of a CMO is 4 years, compared to their next closest peer, the CEO, who is double that at 8.

Most recently the trend has been these 3 big things…

1.    Talent

2.    Go to Market Strategy not aligned with marketing tactics (there is a lot to unpack in this one)

3.    Operations

This article is focused on talent, the rise of MarTech has created a need for a set of skills in the marketing department that did not exist 10 years ago. Take a look at this infographic which outlines the cost of running a Marketing Automation team. That’s just one small piece of the overall puzzle and you are looking at 11 roles with some big salaries attached to them. Granted some of those roles are cross functional skill sets, but it a good example of a single (albeit large) piece of MarTech which has created a huge need and talent gap in a lot of organizations.

Let’s quickly run down some of the other critical skills needed to make up a modern marketing organization. Messaging and positioning, planning, creative, field/sales enablement, data science and business intelligence, target marketing and audience research, product marketing, strategy and technologists. That’s a huge and extremely diverse set of skills on one team, there is no other profession that encompasses such a diverse set of skills, therein lies the challenge.

If you are marketing leader who came up in a “traditional” marketing world, where do you find and how to you manage these skill sets? If you are a new graduate how do you find your way in a world that looks nothing like was described to you in school?

The talent gap is big and widening, building a plan to close the gap is critical. Part 1 of this series looked through the lens of the CMO, now we shift to the college grad, or anyone for that matter looking to break into marketing.

As noted above, the great thing about marketing there is a variety of talent needs to round out a modern marketing department. The great thing about marketing is there is no “right path.” Marketing as a whole is staved for talent, which is good for you looking to break into the profession, but where do you start?

I like to break it out into two very broad buckets.

1.    More traditional Marketing roles – messaging, positioning, content, creative, etc.

2.    Data and technology marketing roles – the stuff that did not exit 20 years ago.

Both are vitally important to the health of a marketing organization and both need great talent. If you fall into the first camp I’d personally start with content and writing. Every, and I mean EVERY, organization I speak with needs more content. The rise of Marketing Technology has made the need for content grow exponentially. It’s the fuel that feeds the beast. So, if you can write and have a voice that is your in, use it. There are platforms, like the one you are reading this article on, which give the ability to create an always open for business digital portfolio and audience. Write, create a voice, every marketing team needs more compelling content.

My last thought in this is to put some thought into the type of company you’d like to work for. Smaller companies tend to take more risks with their content, have more fun and will allow more freedom. The bigger the company the more stringent it becomes. I spoke with a customer recently who told me their presentation for an upcoming event has been modified by legal 6 times in the last 2 weeks. That’s the life of a highly regulated Fortune 100. Neither is right or wrong, it’s about fit, and the best fit for you.

The other broad stroke category is Tech and Data. If you love data and systems, there has never been a better time to break into marketing. This is a super tactical thing, but some of the best marketers I’ve ever met are excel wizards. They can leverage excel for everything from persona and segmentation analysis to simple data uploads into marketing systems. If you find yourself on the analytical side and love systems, process and data, there is a HUGE market for your talents.

I had an executive tell me once his high school aged daughter wanted to get a summer job waiting tables at a restaurant. That’s what I did, sounds great! He told her instead he’d pay her to manage and upload attendee lists from trade shows. She now works as an analyst for a Fortune 500 company.

Companies need data and technology minded folks now more than ever, one way to break in and get some “cred” is to score a free student pass to one of the major tech conferences, Adobe Summit as an example. Get into one of the education tracks for their certification and start building some platform expertise. There are hundreds of job posts every day on forums for companies looking for system administrators for Marketo, Pardot, Eloqua, etc.

What did you do to break into marketing?