Digital Talent Optimization: The Development Of The Hybrid Marketer
How do you help close the talent gap? Columnist Jim Yu explains the role of the hybrid marketer in tackling the current skills shortage.
For years, digital marketing disciplines have been converging — that’s not news. But what is notable is the evolution of distinct multi-channel skill sets that marketers have developed. These skills sets are composed of knowledge in groups of channels that commonly interact with one another.
This evolution has led to the development of marketers with highly desirable skills sets and knowledge, and has also caused gaps in talent acquisition as well as skill sets that haven’t quite developed (most notably, analytics skills) but are still much needed. So how do you close the talent gap?
The Digital Talent Gap Today
Consider the ideal mix of proficiencies for any given primary skill set in digital marketing. How much more efficient would your teams be if …
- Your content staff had knowledge of SEO, social and email marketing?
- Your social staff knew the value of good content, analytics and even public relations?
- Your SEOs understood mobile, social and content?
There are countless combinations in which any one specialist could expand his or her skill set to become the hybrid marketer that brands need today. Yet, the talent gap is real.
In 2013, the “Digital Talent Gap” report by Capgemini Consulting declared the shortage of digital marketing skills in the current workplace as unprecedented, citing that even Millennials lacked crucial analytical skills.
In that report, it touched on the new war for talent:
Unlike in the past, the hunt for the best talent is no more limited to localized skills in certain departments. In this case, the talent war is manifest across the entire organization.
Eighty percent of companies assessed in the Digital Talent Gap report faced a talent shortage in mobile, and more than 50 percent lacked crucial social media skills.
Echoing the sentiment was the Online Marketing Institute’s “State of Digital Marketing Talent” study that showed a talent gap of 29 percent in mobile marketing. Even larger, a 37 percent talent gap existed in analytics, according to the report.
And that’s on the in-house side. Agencies seems to be facing a talent gap even bigger for mobile marketing skills at 43 percent.
Marketers know they need to reinvent themselves, but the majority isn’t sure how to go about it. In fact, 91 percent in Adobe’s study “Digital Roadblock: Marketers Struggle to Reinvent Themselves” said they needed to become skilled in more than one area.
Taking the hybrid marketer role a step further, when asked which skills would be most important in 2015, marketers cited social and mobile:
And of course, analytics skills were important to these marketers, too; even though 76 percent in the Adobe study said marketers need to be more data focused to succeed, only 39 percent were using consumer data and behavior to shape marketing strategies.
The Rise Of The Hybrid And Full-Stack Marketer
These hybrids will possess the right combination of the right skills (understanding where the overlap in their core marketing channels exists) that will make them a force to be reckoned with.
And that includes evolving tech skills. In his post on hybrid marketers, Jason Miller of LinkedIn points out that basic coding skills are not far behind on the list of must-have abilities for the hybrid marketer.
HubSpot suggests the modern marketer in his or her most basic form is one who knows how to get things found on search engines, social media and mobile platforms. Period.
To get to that place, we can learn from Gartner analyst Jake Sorofman’s post on the “full-stack marketer.” The concept is this: In the past, marketers were bound to their own channels without much overlap — or freedom to overlap. “This had a tendency to slow things down and distance marketers from actual customers and business problems,” he wrote.
But today, marketers’ abilities are transformed:
The full-stack marketer is a self-sufficient utility player who can contribute value at each layer of the stack. Rather than seeing the world through the provincial lens of a specialized domain, the full-stack marketer focuses on customers and outcomes and finding the fastest, most efficient paths to moving the needle for the business.
Moving beyond just channels overlapping, the hybrid/full-stack marketer — no matter what role — needs to understand data and have a certain level of analytics skills. This is a must as Web analytics evolve to deal with big data; machines can’t work in tip-top shape without the human touch.
Solutions For Closing The Talent Gap
The need for training and cultivating skills sets is obvious, but how to get there is sometimes less so. Referring back to the Digital Talent Gap report, we get a sense of the obstacles companies and marketers face when it comes to cultivating important skills. (Only 46 percent of companies are investing in developing crucial digital talents.)
But training is not the only thing that can help close the talent gap. Creative recruiting, strategic partnerships and even acquisitions can be ways to up the level of skills.
In the Digital Talent Gap report, one case study showed Nike nurturing niche startups to gain new perspective on products:
Nike has partnered with Techstars — a startup accelerator — for their Nike+ Accelerator program, to provide select startups with the opportunity to build products on top of the Nike+ and NikeFuel platforms. The program aims to leverage the Nike+ platform to support digital innovation.
Other case studies in that report showed how L’Oréal revamped its recruiting efforts to connect with the right talent in ways that were more relevant and how Procter & Gamble cross-trained with Google.
In closing, there is a certain level of responsibility both companies and marketers who work for them have to advance their skills sets. Companies need to foster an environment of learning, cross-training and continuing education while marketers need to show interest in learning channels that overlap with their core skills.