A member of your tight-knit marketing team just put in his two weeks’ notice, and now you’re faced with the daunting task of talent management. You bring up the news in a weekly meeting with your C-suite colleagues, and suddenly, the conference room becomes a boxing ring:
In this corner, weighing in at 210 servers, with a wicked left jab of memory capacity and data dependencies, our CIO! In the other corner, weighing 190 analytics programs, with a crushing right hook of lead-generating earned media, our CMO! Which one of these worthy bruisers will win the attention (and the purse strings) of their CEO, as our CMO tries to justify a bust-out budget to replenish a depleted marketing department?
Okay, maybe this sounds a tad dramatic (though perhaps you haven’t been in enough boardroom brawls), but when you’re working at the enterprise level, the hiring process is a rumble for skills and the dollars to pay for them. That doesn’t mean that if one department wins, another loses, but it sometimes happens.
The heads of tech and marketing have been known to disagree now and then, but they do share one common goal: a better customer experience. Their approaches, one providing customer value by ensuring all technologies and the user experience work together, and the other providing an appealing, personal, and empathetic customer experience, are different—but they’re not mutually exclusive. In fact, today, they’ve become more deeply intertwined than ever before.
Indeed, according to A Customer-Obsessed Operating Model Demands a Close Partnership with Your CIO, Forrester Research, Inc., April 12, 2016 (Updated: May 20, 2016), tech management can be too slow to embrace change, and they often remain too “inside-out focused.” The report made it clear that IT departments need to become as customer-obsessed and “build the systems, processes, and technology that help your company win, serve, and retain customers . . . CIOs must let go of their tech-savvy mind-sets and focus on customer outcomes.” At the same time, it specified that “CMOs need to think beyond customer experience and understand how they can help support the end-to-end product value proposition.”
So, how do they play nice together? According to Forrester, by establishing new skills spanning both marketing and tech management. A few high-level suggestions from the report:
- Focus tech investments on value creation throughout the customer life cycle.
- Build strong analytics and machine-learning capabilities.
- Establish a shared vision with your CIO.
- Focus dynamic, cross-role teams on customer outcomes.
- Explore what each department can bring to the table.
Hire for the Future
We’re getting the sense that forward-thinking CMOs and CIOs won’t be throwing punches, but perhaps toasting each other with (spiked) punch. If our hero CMO has buy-in from both the CEO and the CIO on filling out needed marketing hires in ways that complement both the technology- and customer-centric angles of company needs, how can he use talent management as a content strategy? What attributes should marketing personnel, spread across roles, have for modern digital marketing success?
Let’s begin with the knowledge that numbers have more meaning than ever, for marketers and tech-heads alike. And the software systems to extract that meaning are becoming more sophisticated and highly tuned. Thus, a fair percentage of your new-age marketers have to have analytics savvy. According to HubSpot, there’s going to be a shortage of 1.5 million “data-savvy managers” by 2018. Hire ’em if you got ’em in your sights. And that HubSpot graphic tells it loud: new marketing hires will require technical skills.
Quick Sprout is quick to tell us SEO is still a thing—and given the way it’s continually evolving, your new hire needs to have the tech chops to be on top of its changing algorithms and the best practices in the SEO trade. (Oh, it looks like it’s good to have a PPC specialist in the mix, too.)
And this might sound like another order off the specials menu, but Mashable is persuading us that new digital hires with social media advertising skills can boost a marketing department’s bang. Whether it’s Facebook or some similar media heavyweight, hires that can handle ad creation, testing, and analytics in those platforms will put companies high up on those platform heels.
Account for Soft Skills
Yes, the evidence is compelling that tying tech into marketing makes for bigger marketing muscles, but when you are looking to strengthen your marketing team, you’ve got to be holistic, too: “soft” skills count. Numbers are nothing unless human beings are cooperatively discussing them, and implementing their impacts in approachable and accessible customer-facing programs. Talent management on the “approachable” side encompasses the so-called soft skills of communication, empathy, patience, and adaptability. Data doesn’t tell stories: people do.
Speaking of storytelling, your marketing engine will stall out altogether if you don’t have skillful storytellers on your staff. It should go without saying, yet it seems to bear repeating: a good content strategy is a must. In fact, no less a titan than Forbes listed content marketing at the top of its list of must-have marketing skills for 2016 and beyond. And you can’t have content marketing without talented content copywriters you can trust to tell your brand’s story.
This TOPO post emphasizes the sway of storytelling, as well, and puts in a big vote for marketers who can create remarkable customer experiences on every corner (and in every cranny) of the channel. As Captain Picard used to say, “Engage!”
Seek Out Multipurpose Marketers
As great as it is to have a laser-focused specialist, like someone who can run personalization programs like Hera on Mount Olympus, it’s important that you seek hires with multipurpose marketing moxie—people who have great communications skills melded with strong analytic abilities. Dip deeply with your dowsing wands to find them. (As an aside, when hiring, don’t feel like you have to bring someone in at the C level: as this MarketingProfs piece spells it out, you don’t need a chief content officer, just good content marketing.)
And let’s underscore what we began with here: cooperation. Without it, brands are sure to wind up with an incomplete customer (and user) experience—one that perhaps is technically sound, but lacks the finesse of a comprehensive, immersive story. Or, on the other hand, one that is beautiful and appealing, but does little to ensure technological cooperation or information security. When CIOs and CMOs work together to highlight their needs, learn each other’s language, and mind their shared priorities, their brand’s experience inevitably flourishes. That means peace in the valley, better sunsets, and happier customers.
Featured image attribution: WoCinTech Chat
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