How To Win The Talent Land Grab For Technical Marketers
With the proliferation of technologies to support marketing, the application of growth hacking and agile methods by CMOs, the measurability of digital media, the general explosion of data, and the drive for greater ROI in marketing, a new breed of marketer has emerged: the marketing technologist.
Editor’s note: Erica will be a featured speaker next month at our MarTech: The Marketing Technology Conference in Boston. This column is based upon an interview that was published originally in Scott Brinker’s Chief Marketing Technologist blog.
Marketing technologists apply smarts across technology, marketing, analytics, and organizational alignment to get great marketing results in a scalable way. The demand for this hybrid marketing/tech talent is outstripping the supply.
At my company, the Connective Good, we focus on placing this type of hybrid marketing/tech talent. Also, we have recently been conducting research with marketing tech leaders on “The Talent Land Grab In Marketing Tech: How To Win.” I’ll share tips here from this research and from our recruiting experiences.
For starters, it may sound obvious, but to land the best talent in this area, a recruiter — whether internal or external — needs:
- Fluency in marketing transformation in general, and marketing tech in particular.
- The freedom and time and interest to proactively and personally scout talent, such as through personal outreach, social media, and attending conferences.
- A more agile approach to talent acquisition, to respond to the tight talent market
Just as marketing has become more agile, recruiting hard-to-find talent is evolving similarly:
What Characteristics Do “Great Marketing Tech Hires” Share?
The best marketing technology hires will have capabilities across what I call the three A’s: Aptitude, Attitude, and Altitude. Specifically, the picture that is emerging of the ideal marketing technologist looks like this:
- Stay on top of technology trends and tools
- Develop a nuanced understanding of the customer journey and add value to it across multiple channels
- Convince others what a technology investment will do for the organization
- Translate between technical and less-technical people
- Embrace data continuously
- Be able to walk into a meeting with either the CMO or the CIO and add value
- Scale and optimize efforts to be successful across the organization
- Go beyond simply buying technology for its own sake — build integrated platforms that link to overall strategic goals
- Be hands-on, doing the dirty work when necessary
- Be comfortable working autonomously, since many companies only have one marketing technologist
- Be, in the words of one person I spoke with, “precise without being a perfectionist”
- Be able and ready and willing to learn
Of all of these, the #1 wish list item is the last one: the ability to learn. Hiring managers are valuing people with the curiosity and resourcefulness and flexibility to find an answer in a rapidly-changing world. And this is not surprising, given how quickly technology shifts.
How Should Hiring Managers Think About Talent Acquisition?
The main talent acquisition challenges facing hiring managers are:
- Sourcing talent
- Evaluating talent
- Selling talent
The higher you reach when sourcing talent, the more you have to focus on selling that talent — creating a compelling value proposition for them to join your team.
The most successful hiring managers realize that selling doesn’t just happen at the end of the process, where you flip like a pancake from evaluating a candidate to pitching her. They realize that an uninspired outreach to a candidate is easily ignored, shrinking the available talent pool event more. They seek to understand what matters to a candidate from the very first interaction, and build their pitch to respond to that. They treat the candidate experience with the same diligence they apply to their customer experience, since they know that every single touchpoint with a candidate is a selling moment. They skillfully weave engaging evaluation and savvy selling like a DNA double helix.
On the evaluation side, I have written previously on this:
- Is This Analytical Marketing Person Any Good? Interviewing With The BATS Framework
- Five Steps To A More Predictive Recruiting Process: Going Beyond Interviews…To Assessments
Identifying Possible Candidates Outside The Usual Suspects
A common refrain I’ve been hearing in my research is, “If I could just get more people into my hiring funnel, I can close them.” The challenges with the limited supply may reflect:
- An Over-Reliance On “Post And Pray” Recruiting. Often, organizations will post their job openings on LinkedIn and other job boards, and pray that qualified candidates will come out of the woodwork. They are often disappointed when candidates fail to materialize. It’s a bit like fishing in the Hudson River — you may find an interesting fish this way, but you will also reel in many fish that you end up returning to the water.
- Semantics. Job titles in this space are all over the map: Marketing Technologist, Information Management and Analytics, Business Intelligence, Performance Marketing, Marketing Operations. And more! Someone may have a title very different from “marketing technologist” but still be very well-suited to the job. This lack of standardization may make it harder for talent and hiring managers to find each other.
Yet smart hiring managers are getting around the supply problem with creative and proactive approaches. For instance, I talked to one who tapped into the marketing technology vendor landscape for hiring: he looked at Marketo’s user group and found someone who was active in that community, frequently helping others. This was clearly someone who gave back, was a strong problem-solver, and knew things well enough to teach them.
One interviewee built a large and successful marketing analytics practice at a large consultancy by hiring financial quants — people with zero marketing experience — out of imploding investment banks.
The lesson here: be comfortable looking outside of your industry — and outside of marketing. If the most important thing is the ability to learn, relax your expectation that a candidate needs to check every single box on day one.
And I read once about a company that identified a “Most Wanted” list of candidates and sent cookies to them on their birthdays to stoke a dialogue, with great effect.
What Characteristics Should We Look For In A Senior Marketing Technology Leader?
Senior-most marketing technologists need to scale their architecture – comprising technology, people, and process — across the organization.
For that, you will need people who enjoy not just coming up with a new solution, but also making that solution repeatable and standardized. Look for evidence that a candidate embraces simplicity, since it is in reducing ambiguity that their solutions can be broadly applied.
At the same time, an effective chief marketing technologist will focus on cross-training the team, to develop their altitude and provide fresh challenges. This cross-training builds organizational nimbleness, which is essential to responding to changes in technology and markets. For instance, training your social media experts to widen their skillset to include content marketing could be more efficient than hiring a whole new content marketing team.
Editor’s note: Erica will be a featured speaker next month at MarTech: The Marketing Technology Conference in Boston. This column is based upon an interview that was published originally in Scott Brinker’s Chief Marketing Technologist blog.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.