The Marketing Talent Gap—And How To Overcome It

The Marketing Talent Gap—And How To Overcome It

Feature Friday: The Marketing Talent Gap—And How To Overcome It

Guest Post by Jessica Donlon

Are you a marketer feeling pressure to learn new technologies; integrate with sales, service and management teams; or continually tie activities to “up-and-to-the-right” impact on the bottom line? Are you feeling the pressures of the marketing talent gap?
You’re not alone:

75% of marketers surveyed by Demand Gen said their lack of skills is impacting revenue. (Source: 2012 Demand Generation Skills Gap Survey)

74% said this gap contributes to misaligned marketing and sales teams. (Source: 2012 Demand Generation Skills Gap Survey)

The U.S. could face a shortage of 140,000-190,000 people with deep data analysis skills by 2018. (Source: 2011 McKinsey Global Institute Research)

“There are some traditional marketers that are lacking some newly defined skills. It’s out in the open now that it takes a combination of marketing savvy, a solid understanding of data and a bit of technical know-how to produce a really effective ‘power user’ [of marketing automation]. These people aren’t a dime a dozen.”

— Chris Parisi, Vice President of Technology, Bulldog Solutions (Source)

So, how do we overcome the talent gap? This post provides 5 steps to advance your skills.

1. Benchmark your strengths and weaknesses.

When did you last dedicate 15 minutes to an honest assessment of your strengths and weaknesses, or those of your team?

Benchmark competencies across the full spectrum of marketing skill sets. Consider copywriting, coding, data analysis, design, mobile, PR, SEO and more. In the blog post 15 Skills of the Modern Marketing Team, Dia Dalsky (@diadalsky) dives into core factors essential to overcoming the marketing talent gap.

Then, go a step further to align benchmarks with your overall marketing goals, skills needed to rock your next campaign, and holes a potential hire or training could fill.

2. Make smart hires.

With a clear view of where your existing talent stands, it’s easier to know if a new hire is needed, and the specific skills to look for in that person. Whether a specialist in web and user experience, or a generalist with skills that span the gamut—all new hires require the desire to continually learn how the latest technologies work with existing processes. Other intangible skills that will go a long way: strong listeners, storytellers, and strategic and analytical thinkers.

Want to know what other marketers look for in new hires? HubSpot lays out what it takes to land a job. Compare your own processes:

3. Establish training programs.

Build on your existing foundation. Keep a library of the best books and resources available for your team, and commit to the continual learning process. Look into an onboarding sequence to establish a strong start for newer professionals, and quarterly professional development opportunities for the entire team—whether it’s a book, new skill or certification.

We keep a library of webinars, training videos and books around the agency. Consider training from Google, Bing, your marketing software (HubSpot, Marketo, etc.), and more. A few marketing books on our must-read list:

4. Create a culture of continual knowledge share.

I’m pretty confident that I learn something new from a colleague every day. There’s a lot to learn, so make the most of your entire team’s development with channels to share that knowledge.

  • Company Network: Consider an internal network (such as Yammer or Jive). We use Yammer, and it’s great for reducing inbox noise, giving everyone on the team a voice, and keeping organized record of resourceful posts or conversations.
  • Social Media: Track articles your colleagues are reading with a team Twitter list.
  • Top Resources: Dedicate a shared folder for best practice templates to share great work across teams.

5. Learn by doing—jump in!

Especially when it comes to something new, sometimes the best way to grow talent is by doing. Often, the tone is set from the top, so encourage a proactive culture that has support to try something new. Take risks, run beta programs, document the process and benchmark results for next time.

How are you improving your own skills, and those of your team, to advance during a period of accelerated marketing growth? We would love to hear additional practices or resources in the comments below.

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