Commentary

The Human Element

Let's face it -- technology is sexy, exciting and alluring. However, the most essential gears that keep the digital marketing machine running are not the ad technologies, algorithms or data.

Your number-one asset and the driving force that makes digital marketing hum are the people who develop and bring ideas, products and services to market, manage and enforce processes, determine how technologies are to be applied to your business, and manage the day-to-day execution where the rubber meets the road.

A successful team includes visionaries, strategists, project managers, executioners, producers, planners, analysts, and coordinators, who are distributed among the client and their agencies, and who collaboratively make the magic happen every day.

Food For Thought for Marketers Hiring Digital Staff

Slowly but surely, we are seeing experienced digital talent trickle over to the client side, bringing with them the knowledge and expertise to effectively manage digital media and marketing programs, and/or oversee and interface with the agencies tasked with various facets of the job. However, digital experience on a resume does not a digital expert make. The wrong hires will hold back the progress of your digital investments -- or worse, they can present a significant opportunity cost that will allow your competition to gain market share. Before making your next hire, consider the following food for thought:

Can you see the difference between the perception and reality of someone's experience, knowledge and abilities? I'll save you the time on this one - if the people making decisions on a new hire haven't been fairly intimately involved in digital, then the answer is a definitive "No." Consider bringing a consultant on board to help you make your strategic senior hires.

Have you put much thought into your organizational structure? Often a company decides to make digital hires because existing staff members are too overloaded to continue coordinating digital tasks that may be outside their core expertise. Maybe you're past this point and already have digital staff. In either case, your marketing org structure should be reassessed so that your digital team (even if only one person) is not pigeonholed in an existing silo, but rather reporting to your head of marketing. Digital, with its evolving disciplines like social media and mobile, for example, transcends preexisting marketing org structures.

Are you leaving room for both of you to grow? Before hiring a director or VP of digital, ask yourself if this person really deserves a title that cannot be superseded. A common mistake marketers make is hiring a digital lead, only to learn at a later time that this individual doesn't truly posses the breadth of experience, vision, or leadership ability required. Be upfront about your intention for this person to grow into the actual lead role, but also that the role has to be earned in practice. You should also address the potential of reporting to a more senior director in the future. Sometimes the future arrives faster than expected, and faster than some people can grow. This offers both the company and the individual a fair opportunity to grow.

Are you contemplating bringing digital in-house and eliminating agencies? This is not a decision to take lightly - it has far-reaching ramifications. The task of managing digital marketing programs is becoming more complex -- and while agencies often get a bad rap, they are more relevant than ever. Building an internal team to plan, execute and manage your digital marketing programs requires a serious commitment, an ironclad QA process, and periodic audits to ensure that your team is performing optimally.

 

Many marketers are doing this -- some better than others.  However, generally, selecting the right agency partners, having the right person or people to interface with and provide guidance to the agencies, and cultivating productive relationships, is going to be the most effective strategy for most marketers.

Technology Does Fit In the People Picture

Of course we need technology. Your team should be utilizing the best tools to create operational efficiencies, help you better reach, engage, influence and convert consumers, and provide actionable measurement of the metrics that matter.

Having the best people means having the best technology. As clichéd as it sounds, people do make the world go 'round.

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