Technology Challenges Facing Today’s Marketing Workforce

My friend Steven Slater recently began working In his new capacity he places senior marketing executives at large companies.

Steven told me about the new position at CommCore‘s 30th Anniversary party (pictured above) last month in Washington, DC. While we chatted he mentioned how technology was providing some of the greatest challenges for companies seeking capable marketers, ad for potential marketing executives trying to find work. I followed up with Steven, and asked him some deeper questions about these difficulties. Here are his insightful answers.

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GL: What is the biggest challenge facing company’s trying to recruit able marketers?

SS: It would be hard for me to identify one challenge when there are multiple, which in every one of my cases, are directly or indirectly related to marketing technology. Senior marketing leaders are facing increasing pressure from leadership to make the most of technology investments – to achieve company-wide objectives that the technology was promised to deliver.

Coupled with this, senior marketers are uncertain of skills needed. And, believe it or not, some hiring managers are finding frustration hiring and retaining junior staff to perform in less technical marketing roles, because new entrants are rushing to acquire technology cred to their resumes.

GL: Why are marketers struggling so much to embrace technology tools?

SS: There are a combination of factors, most of which I believe are intimidation, complexity and cost. Given these, it’s often easier to ignore the issue, or take baby steps, as I’ve heard it said. As an aside, ‘baby steps’ creates difficulty scaling, because hard won added resources yield only incremental capabilities.

For the brave, here’s just a flavor of the issue:

A) The tens of numbers of competing vendors with tools–online applications, bolt-ons, stand-alones, with myriad capabilities for Customer Relationship Management, Marketing Automation, and Content Management Systems, among others, serve to create daunting decisions.

B) There are numerous capabilities within one system, which alone are rarely used to capacity. Then, some companies have multiple, integrated systems, connected to create seamless capabilities from demand generation to lead generation to funnel conversions and to close, and more. These have somewhat complex processes for data owners with hand offs and usage rules. Other companies have get even more sophisticated an integrated system, to systems of systems, often tied in some fashion with Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP platforms, spanning enterprise wide with integrated cross operational capabilities.

C) Marketers are often the front line of managing these systems, putting in place the controls for usage and figuring out ways to avoid corrupting data, so the output is remains of value.

D) Marketers are also responsible for the knowledge and resources that go into norms and best practices for social media. And they must ensure through metrics that resources expended for content generation achieve intended results, and that technology and processes are in place to capture the data, and the entire operation is continually improved.

E) Most often marketers also are responsible for data collection and analysis, including from their own systems collecting any and all data generated from inbound and outbound communications, with additional capabilities to mine market intelligence, competitive intelligence, discover market opportunities, and to test concepts and forecast results, along with other predictive measures leadership can use to reliably deciding how to invest for growth.

GL: How can companies find more capable marketers?

SS: The answer is not so straightforward, and in my opinion, the biggest conundrum. The technology has evolved more rapidly then available documentation (economic-based) that would help inform and advise HR professionals who in turn could advise hiring managers.

A recent statistic cited nearly 50% of marketing hires failing in six months due to mis-alignment of skills to business needs and requirements. This occurs on both sides of the hiring equation between a candidate and hiring managers. The dialogue goes something like this: A candidate says, “Yes, I can do that,” and hiring managers believe a ‘marketer’ is a ‘marketer,’ so he/she should be able to perform. But today, no two marketers are alike.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, which defines and categorizes the U.S. workforce by jobs, titles and wages, have yet to tackle today’s marketing roles. Meantime, academia continues to churn out marketing candidates that are the same as yesterday’s marketing candidates.

Based on a 6-month study that I conducted this year, I was able to determine based on hundreds of marketing job requisitions, that hiring marketers truly need candidates who have: sophisticated statistics in order to develop and test scenarios with volumes of collected data; economic understanding to identify internal and external market influences and pressures to anticipate buying patterns, to unwind business models, and to help anticipate market cycles; an analytical ability for ways of gathering and measuring useful data, and overall, develop order to data chaos; strategic thinking to help align capabilities from technology to organizational objectives; and not least, the ability to compile compelling presentations that leadership can easily digest for decision making.

In practicality, though, hiring managers should focus on those who think strategically, are comfortable with process, or learning process to help it evolve for efficiency without sacrificing quality, and who posses a “have-no-fear” approach to experimenting with technology, yet who starts their exploration with a mindset of a desire outcome.

GL: Is there an answer or a solution to the capability gap?

SS: Yes, I believe the solution wrests in the hands of academia. Their entry requirements, curriculums, and graduation requirements must better align with employers’ hiring needs – along the lines of marketing is now a much “harder-skill” discipline then it was taught.

GL: Do you see technology continuing to create this disparity or will the next generation of marketers be better at adapting to new technologies and methods?

SS: I have little doubt the next generation will be superior, primarily because far fewer systems will exist, and skills, therefore, will be better defined, categorized and quantified.

To me, the past is a very clear barometer of the future, and it has proven over time that technology tends to narrow to a few, manageable number of competitors. When that occurs in our case for existing marketing technology, then a near perfect alignment of skills will occur, and the gap will disappear.

Case in point, at the turn of the 20th century, there were dozens of U.S. automobile manufacturers, yet only three survived 100 years. The big three U.S. auto manufacturers compete with few other American companies due to the high barrier to entry.

The same will occur with the technology used by marketers. If anyone remains unsure, I challenge them to find a 2015 resume listing skills in Wordperfect, Dbase, or Lotus.

About Steven Slater

Steven Slater is a marketer and business developer who has staffed, built and run marketing departments for commercial and non-profit organizations ranging in size from $1M to $5 Billion.

As the field of marketing has evolved into a digital environment, he is focused on improving marketing performance by connecting hiring managers with those who have a unique set of skills and capabilities. A perpetual student and practitioner of marketing innovation, he has spent the past year studying the widening gap between skills and organizational needs, using the findings to chart a mix of required skills–the ingredients to marketing success in a digital age.

Steven is part of long-established Employment Enterprises, Inc. and works alongside people and services from Temporary Solutions. This helps him offer marketing people skills as contingent-consultative or permanent staff – or, in other words, the right skilled individuals, at the right time to solve digital challenges.

Video Killed the Video Star

Tenacity5 will release the second edition of its email newsletter, the Monthly Marketing Mashup this week. Here is the November edition, “Video Killed the Video Star.”

Everyone is talking about how important video is to online content and marketing. They’re also saying TV advertising is dying. But why do they say that? What does that mean?

This month we dig deep into the video market to give you a complete briefing on the Internet video trend.

TV Is Not Dying

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Many say TV ratings — and consequently advertising — are dying. Don’t believe it for a minute. The Internet is not killing video or TV. Video simply is moving from one distribution mechanism to another, from broadcast and cable to Internet downloads. And ad spends are following the eyeballs.

People love video content. Period! Younger people are just finding new ways to watch it. For example, The Walking Dead is the regular weekly best seller on iTunes. Call it cord cutting or just online video, Internet distributed programs are the immediate future. The distribution of video has caused both CBS and HBO to develop their own programs.

How Big Is Digital Video?

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By the end of 2014, 190 million people in the United States will have watched digital video across their various media devices. More than 100 million of those people watched a movie, which is certainly longer than the standard 30-second to two-minute YouTube schtick. We know Netflix made digital streaming a household experience. The brand remains at the top of its category.

Is Online Ad Growth Really Video Ad Growth?

Forrester declared that online ad spending would surpass TV in the next two years. One has to ask: Is that really true?

We think Forrester is thinking in pipes. In one pipe you have cable and broadcast television advertisements, and jn the other — the Internet — you have online ads. So Internet video ads are simply replacing the old traditional broadcast and cable video ads. For example, the Monty the Penguin ad for John Lewis took Facebook by storm in October.

Even AOL Wins with Original Online Video Content

We admit it; we were skeptical when AOL continued its original video content development en masse with 16 new programs this spring. Fast-forward to the autumn, and you can see that advertising on Internet TV programs now accounts for 38% of AOL’s non-search revenue. Even James Franco has joined the AOL line-up with his Verizon-sponsored series “Making a Scene with James Franco.”

Corporate Video More than a House of Cards?

Most technology-driven media giants are following Internet players AOL and Netflix with their own original Internet TV programs. Players include Microsoft, Yahoo! and Amazon.

They’re being joined by some Silicon Valley start-ups, like SlugBooks, a textbook purchasing site. SlugBooks uses its “Dorms” series to drive in-bound web traffic from college students. NASA offers its own TV programming for aerospace nerds.

Most Companies Only Use Video for Their Sites and Social Media

While video programs may be the hot online trend, a survey produced by video production company Flimp shows that most corporate video is created for corporate websites (80.8%) and social networks (69.2%). Some companies are using video for programs, customer service help, sales, training, etc. However, no other use topped 40% amongst corporate buyers.

Dollar Shave Club launched itself with an incredible two-minute YouTube video. The company’s YouTube ads are now making their way onto the traditional screen.

Producing Video Requires Budget

Video production is still one of the most expensive forms of content out there. A two-to-three minute video will cost you anywhere between $2500-$10,000. Original content programs are significant investments that can easily run over $100,000. Why so much? There are many reasons, but we like this list of 25 factors that weigh in on the cost of a video production.

Oh if you want a good laugh check out Dissolve’s Generic Brand Video. It may be the best marketing making fun of marketing video ever.

CMOs Plan to Deliver

CMOs and marketing executives know that video is a priority. Video production is tied as the top line item targeted for spend increases in 2015 at 71%, according to the CMO Council’s annual survey. Better get ready for moving pictures in 2015.

Adobe built an explainer ad to define CMO.com to CMOs. Now we need videos to explain websites.

Sign up for the Monthly Marketing Mashup today!

What CMOs Want: Better Social Integration & Analytics

The CMO Survey Reveals the Social Media Integration Gap

A few recent studies opened the CMO kimono, offering a glimpse into the top concerns on lead marketers’ minds. Not surprisingly, two primary issues are integrating social in a meaningful way into the larger marketing suite of tools (less than 10% in two studies think they’ve done it), and finding better analytics for measurement.
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The Customer Is Not Your CMO

Walmart's "It's Back" Tags Direct Customer to a Detergent Reintroduced to Store
Image by Walmart Stores

Wouldn’t it be great if customers ran marketing?

No, I don’t think it would be great. In fact, it would suck.

It flies in the face of the way business occurs. People within a company determine how to build products for, market to, and serve customers.

A customer centric business model is smart and often the mark of a successful company. Great companies exist to serve these customers. Today, the social business movement (an unfortunate term born to be clichéd from the get go) seeks to reinvigorate modern companies with a listening-based customer-centric model.

But let’s be clear here, customer centric does not make your CMO a customer. The customer has no interest in showing a company how to market. Honestly, the only time they tend to interact with a company after a sale is because of a customer service issue, or because they are ready for a next generation product.

Yes, there are die hard evangelists, and these are invaluable resources for a company. But the customer has no seat at the table, how can they be the CMO?

Nor would they be good at it because they have no professional training. While crowdsourcing advertisements have yielded some diamonds for products like Doritos, an overwhelming majority of the crowdsourced ads are crap. Really, they are. We just see the one good one out of the lot.

What About Customer Service?

Some say that customer service should be the linchpin in a customer marketing experience. Let’s be clear: Customer service is a touchpoint, not The Touchpoint.

It’s a feedback loop for product development and marketing, and the front line. When consistently excellent, customer service can create word of mouth and new sales.

Companies that don’t understand and listen to their customers experience problems because not only are the ignoring their customer, but also the flaws in their offering. That’s because customer service is usually activated when people are pissed, not when they are happy.

What about the vast majority of happy customers who never call? How can customer service represent them?

Just like the army doesn’t want GI Joe managing a supply line, international troop deployment, and war strategy, I don’t want customer service driving marketing. While feedback can lead to innovation, overall I think the effect would be stymied, reactive products that don’t advance anywhere nearly as quickly as they currently do.

Just my two cents on working with customers, crowdsourcing for a few years, and building programs to market for companies, including a turnaround campaign or two that involved negative customer perception. What do you think? Is the customer your CMO?