I was having a conversation with my friend Marshall Sponder the other day about marketing jobs being cut from marketing groups in a lot of places. These functions are being consolidated and, in many cases, outsourced to agencies.
[data provided by SimplyHired, a search engine for jobs.]
Many companies think they can do more with less - resources (including budgets) and people (including those who really get your business). We've been over that in a couple of economic cycles already. Yet, I think this cycle is different for a variety of reasons.
Marketing Itself is Changing
It's not going away, how could it? Instead, thanks in part to the changing expectations and preferences (especially communications) of customers, it's evolving into something very different. You know, when you talk about data that is vital to your business, so that you stay in business and keep your customers, you talk about continuous data replication (disclosure: this is one of the many things my company does).
With marketing, we need to shift our thinking to continuous customer conversation (listening is a big part of conversation). A flow of constant awareness about where your customers are in their preference cycle, and where you stand in the permission spectrum. Do you have the keys to the cellar or only the foyer? That affects your ability to talk about what else you've got that they may need - and buy - from you.
The biggest question of course is, do you know your customers? I am amazed at the number of companies, even reputable ones, that do not know the answer to that question. If you're planning a flavor of social media involvement, start there.
How can you go to a stranger and introduce yourself with a straight face when you are a stranger to the people you've already gotten on board? Answer that question and you can begin to think about the community/forum/social network layer in your online presence - it could be your web site, transformed.
This is beyond going from mass push to personalized mass push. It's first class pull. For that you need to begin to understand (listen for) what people are looking for, what is sticky in your site, and learn to respond to their needs in real time. The biggest advantage a small business with a blog has over you with a big site, is that the marketer at the blog can adjust the content to the needs of the readers on a dime.
- Changing customer expectations lead to the need for continuous customer conversation.
- Customer conversations lead to better understanding of what they buy and why.
- Control in the hands of customers leads to a better view into what you have that is sticky.
Analytics is Marketing
We've been moving in that direction for a number of years. Analysts in the analytics groups are not being touched in this economic cycle. That's because they are being seen as those who hold the answers to the questions companies are asking - actionable analytics that are directly tied into the way a business is run.
That is great news for people who already possess those skills and interesting information for those who are looking into a career in marketing. With a caveat. You still need those people who understand your business, how you make money.
At the other end of the table sit marketers who have been producing lovely diagrams filled with information that is currently hard to measure, or unmeasurable. Then there is also a bit of shiny object syndrome - we tend to become enamored with new technologies and tools for the sake of it, and not necessarily as tied to a business strategy.
We need to link these two groups together to open the door into actionable information. A lot of what happens today is lost in translation between form and function. Part of it is due to the fact that we don't speak the same language. It's everyone's responsibility - and advantage - to begin to acquire that fluency. I see marketing jobs of the future migrating in the hybrid direction.
- Seeing what is sticky won't help you if you do not know what it means.
- Measuring starts with the right things - business-driven and concrete.
- Actionable intelligence is not a crystal ball, but a hybrid of marketing and analytics.
Where Do I Find the Right People?
The next logical question is how do I hire the right people? This is applicable across the board, with an emphasis on versatility towards using new technologies and tools to hold customer conversations. As well, you may look into those who are able to facilitate - communities, blogs, editorial calendars, internal processes - and have an understanding of SEO and SEM.
Job search engines are not very good both on the employer and the job seeker side. If you've been looking to hire through them, you know what I'm saying here. On the employer side, you have a lot of resumes from candidates that don't lead to hires for a variety of reasons. On the seeker side, you don't get enough information about companies and visibility into their culture.
Culture matters a great deal for what we call fit. If you are to be successful in retaining staff - and get your training time and cost worth on the employer side; your time, effort and talent/skill worth on the candidate side - fit is vital.
Social media has a way of cutting through a lot of that. Yet, none of the major job search engines is currently using social media intelligently. And we're back to the semantic search. Referrals now have the potential to go to a whole new level. From deliberate and requested to third party mentions and testimonials picked up in the greater online conversation.
- Data matters in relationship to intelligence - what you are looking to do.
- People who look good on their resume may not be the right fit for your company.
- Semantic job search may bridge the gap on fit/attitude for the candidate and culture/authority for the company.
I will reserve another post for the conversation around jobs migrating to agencies. You can look forward to a healthy debate on that one. In the here and now, this is what I'm seeing as a developing trend. With marketing shifting to the digital space, it will be more important to be fluent in the language of analytics. The fluency on business has always been a pre-requisite.
How are you hiring? Who are you partnering with? Do skill sets match this trend?
[Check out what Aaron Strout, VP of New Media at Mzinga says about hiring through social media]