On the list of things we discuss in this industry, talent is one of the most persistent. Our expectations for our businesses transcend financial objectives and translate to high and sometimes restless standards for the talent we seek.
In today’s performance marketing culture, the ideal talent profile is complicated and ever-changing. It’s not as straightforward as recruiting, hiring and training a straight line of talent across client services, marketing or media services, creative, production and analytics. Our performance planning culture can no longer afford to be linear. And, the silos must be unlocked.
It used to be that if you were a direct response marketer or in the business of providing performance marketing and media to clients, you were wise to invest in search marketing, in folks who knew their way around it, as well as in an email solution and some tracking. Those few things used to constitute a performance marketing operation, even if the parts were disjointed.
As the industry has gradually become more comfortable with its own data and technology underpinnings, and made a greater commitment to integrating media types and collaborating across groups, the ideal talent profile has changed. So, assuming our industry will keep changing, what might we remember and strive for, to identify the best talent for performance marketing?
No More Search Sycophants
Rational performance marketers no longer regard search marketing as a silver bullet. While we used to feverishly look for teams and hires who knew search inside and out, even if they knew almost nothing else, that is no longer sufficient.
Consider hiring strategists and practitioners who are well-versed on three or four of the consistently favored and effective media types for performance marketing: email, search — and, increasingly, audience buying and real-time bidding, as well as social.
When thoughtfully chosen according to objectives and expertly planned, executed and optimized — as well as cross-referenced for learnings — this suite of methods is a powerhouse. You want people in-house or on your team who either individually, or working as a team, possess this savvy.
Hiring For Suite Method Mastery
To focus on the concept of cross-referenced learning, your strongest talent will understand that integration is not simply aligning campaign thematics and synchronizing flights.
They will know how to configure buys, campaigns, programs and assets to share learning across the plan or even specific pairings of media types within it (search + display; search + social; search + email; social + display; and on and on).
If your team can set out to track, measure and tune messaging, titles, descriptions, visuals, formats, offers and more — and continue to apply and iterate — they are serving you well and showing a keen understanding of the tenets of performance. And they will understand the inseparable partnership between media and creative, especially when masterfully optimized to drive performance.
Data, Systems And Technology Are Our Bedrock. Got it?
Today’s smart marketing group or agency is situated and organized more than ever before around data and technology. In fact, it is the foundation of the modern agency.
While the situation is not perfect and the systems still must evolve to cooperate and more seamlessly address the entire workflow, you want people who are excited by this and who will step up to perform in this kind of environment.
More and more, everything we do is touched by systems and tools: search opportunity assessments, media research and RFPs; campaign management and trafficking; tracking and analysis; optimization; creative and assets storage and management; financial auditing and reconciliation.
As we embrace our own future, we will have fewer people doing legacy manual work, more people familiar with and supported by better systems, and more room to hire strategic firepower.
For so long, we had to focus on hiring trench-level talent that knew how to run keyword expands, concatenate Excel spreadsheets and hand-hold the trafficking process — not to mention concoct insights in a really ad hoc manner off cobbled data analysis. To some extent, systems are freeing up our talent to think bigger.
Socialized For Branding Objectives
Just as the smartest org builders do not hire only digital natives, with no understanding of traditional — or, as mentioned above, sole practitioners with limited scope on media types — so must we hire perfomance marketers who get the fundamentals of branding.
There is so much happening for brand marketers right now — with a display renaissance in play, new creative formats, a video heyday, and more. And, within any given initiative by a marketer, a team may be charged with tackling both branding and direct response or performance.
It’s a bit trite to say it, but we are all in this together. Your performance marketers must be able to sit at the table and participate in a joint conversation. They must be able to hold their own and not defer. Those days are over in a non-linear world.
Ultimately, today’s performance culture is about standing tall with open arms on our improved data and systems capability — and embracing the interrelation of media, both organizationally and in planning and optimization practice.
If we stand in a straight line and stick to our silos, we are keeping our own handcuffs. This is not about hiring generalists but about not being afraid to raise your standard for an integrated talent picture — and hire and train for it.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.