Why Aren't We Talking About Marketing's Talent Gap?

Top marketing executives and experts are realizing what I’ve known for some time: “traditional media isn’t dead.” Even more digitally inclined shoppers (ahem, Millennials) are trusting print marketing more than email advertising. Yes, the pendulum has swung toward digital, and rightfully so, but has it swung a bit too far? I think we all know the real impact in today’s world is found in the mix of media. Marketing will forever more be about integration, the strategic blend of earned, owned and paid media, and marketing combined with the use of data and technology. 

But this isn’t news. Instead, we need to focus on the talent executing these hybrid strategies within marketing’s new normal. The fact is, CMOs are lacking teams with the right skill set and, in some cases, it’s starting to impact outcomes.

For years, marketing disciplines have been converging. We now operate in a multi-dimensional, multi-functional, multi-channel ecosystem. The role of CMOs has changed, and so have the responsibilities and requirements of their teams, part cause and part consequence of the convergence and growth of digital marketing, emergence of big data, and the rapid transformation of traditional marketing. Multiple, agile and analytical skill sets are needed to capitalize effectively. Easier said than found.



The silos need to come down. In a truly integrated marketing team, we shouldn’t see “digital people” only chasing “digital activities” or “media planners” who are only experts in one or two media channels. To understand and leverage the synergies, marketers must have a strong understanding of how to optimize the elements within the mix, the various platforms and the various disciplines. Traditionally, marketers have been segregated by specialization, which grew out of a history of brands working with agencies, first for advertising, and then for direct marketing and promotion, and then for digital, social media and other new tools the marketing department didn’t yet thoroughly understand. Each agency took a different piece of the disciplinary puzzle. But consumers aren’t siloed this way. And in this new cross-platform, cross-disciplinary marketing environment, marketers can’t be either.

It’s not that we don’t know there’s a problem. Marketers realize they need to reinvent themselves, but are not totally sure how to get it right. In fact, 91% in Adobe’s study, “Digital Roadblock: Marketers Struggle to Reinvent Themselves,” said they need to become skilled in more than one area. I came across a presentation that proclaimed the future of marketing belongs to the generalists, not the specialists. I completely agree: These people will possess the right combination of the right skills that will make them a force to be reckoned with.

So how do we find, train, nurture and retain more of the right talent? No one has it figured out just yet. Perhaps part of the solution lies in an important lesson we’ve already learned: for integrated marketing to succeed, it’s all about a cross-discipline, cross-channel, and “cross-the-line” approach. Maybe for talent to thrive we should take a cross-training approach. The rising generation of marketers has much to glean from marketers who have come before with years of strategic knowledge to share. Likewise, digitally native Millennials (and soon, their Gen Z counterparts) have a distinct perspective that should be embraced. Let’s dig a little deeper. And then take a step back and get clarity on the bigger picture. Let’s collaborate; cross-pollinate our experiences and ideas. We just might learn something that will progress the future of integrated marketing.

2 comments about "Why Aren't We Talking About Marketing's Talent Gap?".
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  1. Mindy Wasserman from m.indie solutions, July 16, 2015 at 3:04 p.m.

    Spot On. Thanks Karen for continuing to champion the integration conversation and the talent needed to execute hybrid strategies. 

  2. dorothy higgins from Mediabrands WW, July 16, 2015 at 3:16 p.m.

    Exacerbated by agency alignment to siloed client disciplines. 

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