How to close the Talent Gap in the Digital Era

How to close the talent gapThe digital transformation of organisations is forcing senior executives to rethink leadership and all key aspects that come with it. The subject is high on business leaders’ agendas according to McKinsey & Co: “As businesses continue to embrace digital tools and technologies, C level executives say they are stepping up their own involvement in shaping and driving digital strategies. This is vital to the success of digital programs, as survey respondents most often cite a lack of senior-management interest as the reason for an initiative’s failure.“

So how should senior managers change their approach to leadership of marketing teams? And how can they support their marketing teams in regards to the shift of skills needed in today's digitally driven world?

An unavoidable change 

Buyers are now empowered with easy online access to almost all the information they need to make informed decisions, they need less and lees guidance from vendors. Research data from several reputable studies shows around 60-70% of the process is complete before buyers contact a vendor. This has meant marketing must wield influence and build trust much deeper into the process than ever before. The traditional skill sets marketers posses and tactics they rely on are less and less effective. Their world is undergoing a once in a lifetime shake-up and business leaders have to respond and ensure that their marketing teams have the right skills, the right technology and the right strategic approach to succeed. Paul Roetzer, CEO of PR 20/20 in his excellent book, the Marketing Performance Blueprint calls this the Marketing Performance Gap.

The task of today’s business leaders is to lead the change and close the performance gap. In this blog we focus on closing the skills gap.

How To Build A Modern Marketing Team

There is a shortage of talent who are skilled in the new world of marketing. Demand for tech savvy marketers with a hybrid range of skills who are capable of building, managing and executing fully integrated campaigns that produce measurable results, is sky high.

 Here’s a list of some of the essential skills all firms, large or small must have (or have access to via their partners):

  • Website design
  • Search Engine Optimisation
  • Social media
  • Copywriting
  • Content creation
  • Video production
  • Data analysis
  • Coding
  • Email marketing
  • Events
  • Lead management
  • Paid media
  • Public Relations
  • And last but no means least – strategy development skills – that respond to this brave new world and bring together the tactics in a plan that delivers the right quantity and quality of leads to meet your revenue goals.

The Rise Of The Hybrids

With this long laundry list of skills it's no wonder that hybrid marketers who understand and can operate across the majority of these requirements can accelerate digital transformation and drive success in the business. But Capgemini consulting’s “Digital Talent Gap” study reports that 90% of firms lack the necessary digital skills.

Needless to say winning the competition for these candidates is the first key leadership challenge. 

  • Attracting those high performers already in the workforce means offering more than a competitive salary. Leaders must develop a convincing brand story to tell over the longer term, built on a combination of factors, the latest resources, creative freedom, the work environment, the opportunity to work on high profile projects and particularly the ability to grow and learn new skills to challenge themselves in new ways.
  • Attracting the best and the brightest from university is increasingly challenging as the courses being taught are manifestly inadequate in providing those entering the workforce with relevant skills. So leaders will be hiring on aptitude and attitude and not skills. Nonetheless leaders should look for candidates who are:
o   Digital natives. Those who are socially savvy. Perhaps they write their own blog, or are active on social media, with a long list of followers to prove it. They are natural content creators.
o   Tech savvy. They stay informed on the latest developments in technology, they rely heavily on applications to improve their personal and professional efficiency.
o   Analytical. This is a big one and not traditionally on the list of marketers skill sets. But the access to rich seams of information on buyer and customer data is one of the core values of digital transformation.
o   Creative thinkers. Happy to try new and different approaches to solve old problems.
o   Attentive and voracious learners, inquisitive, always listening carefully and absorbing and processing information readily.
o   Strategic. At the outset are capable of seeing the big picture, can see patterns and tie together disparate elements into the whole.

 The Role Of Continual Learning

With the speed of change showing no signs of letting up, maintaining your teams’ education is key.

  • Utilise specialist holistic digital training providers like g2m Solutions. These firms strive to deliver hybrid courses that mirror the needs of hybrid marketers and their managers. Having a common “digital language”, allows the organisation to kick start the transformation.
  • Online education offers from Codeacademy, MarketingProfs, Content Marketing Institute, Hubspot, Google and others are excellent and affordable options for closing specific skill gaps.

Developing an ongoing learning initiative such as an internal “university” works well if it's integrated with the HR processes of the firm and is truly embedded in the firm’s culture. Here are the steps to consider when building an internal “university”:

  • Allocate clear responsibility to an individual
  • Define clear goals
  • Perform a current skills audit
  • Build a curriculum based on goals and current skill gaps
  • Map the curriculum to the career paths in your firm
  • Build into each person’s performance plans. It’s key that staff members accept responsibility for their own development as much as it is the firm’s responsibility to provide the money and time for taking courses
  • Take feedback from the team and add to the curriculum

Digital transformation of the marketing function will go a long way to delivering some of the undoubted business benefits of the online age in which we operate. Lower cost-of-customer acquisition is a primary driver with businesses reporting 40-60% savings. But these benefits will prove elusive without a team that understands how to operate effective campaigns.

With marketing taking responsibility for a larger and larger share of the revenue generation responsibility a failure to execute successfully has serious consequences. Failure to attract the right staff, and staff departures at critical junctures can impact revenue significantly.

 Business leaders are underwriting this risk by:

To find out more about the transformation of the marketing function download our free eBook.


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Topics: strategy digital marketing b2b digital marketing Digital Transformation