I seem to hear the same question, a lot, lately… Do you know a senior (or director, or manager level) marketing person that I could hire that is any good? And of course, I also answer they can hire me part time – but that’s not what they want.
These are mid-sized to larger companies that want to hire good marketing staff for leadership and execution and they are struggling to find the right person. I even heard of a recruitment firm that specializes in placing marketing people that is not taking any new clients for 45 days because they have too many open req’s and not enough candidates.
What the heck is going on?
Here’s my take on it. Google (and Bing, and Yahoo, and Yelp, and Facebook) have turned the world of marketing inside out in just 8 short years. And like the buggy-builder that was put out of business by the automobile, the traditional marketer – even those with decades of experiences – is quickly being overcome by the current market forces.
It's not just technology. Email marketing metrics and tracking, pay per click, conversions, click-through rates, streaming video, tagging, etc., etc., etc. are all new terms and concepts in the last decade. But marketers have always had to adapt and adopt new technology. From print to radio to TV to cable to web.
It's not just changing behavior. As marketers, we've always had to adjust to shifting consumer sentiment and habits – both major and minor (have you watched any of the videos for Billy Joel’s “We didn’t Start the Fire”?).
It is the collision of the technology and the shift in behavior. What's astounding and confounding many marketers is the speed at which it's happening and the complete and absolute manner that the consumer (B2B or B2C) has taken to using technology to reject, hide, and ignore traditional marketing methods.
For many years, we as consumers have been fed up with being sold to, lied to, over-promised, and under-delivered.
With social networks, we can easily solicit the real world experience of a few we know or hundreds we don’t. Sometimes within seconds.
With the search engines, we can find that one specific piece of information we need to make a decision on a product or service, and we can easily see the alternatives and the prices. We also see alternatives, hidden tricks to your company’s practices, and information from every third customer who felt they got a poor deal from you. Ever.
As consumers, we have wrested control of our commercial lives back from the corporation. And many, many, traditional marketers – those sitting behind desks or in cubicles, doing it the old way – haven’t figured out how to react and work with the change they embrace in their private life as part of their corporate role.
As marketers, we have to meet the consumer for our product or service at their point of choosing. We need to give them the information they want, the way they want it at the place of their choosing (web, email, direct to door, Facebook). And to do that, we need to really, really, understand our product and the problems it solves or desires it fulfills.
Marketers used to have to dream up the image and messaging of where they wanted to go, and then create the experience or messaging to get there. No more. Now you have to actually understand the true value you bring, and you need to make sure the entire company delivers on it consistently.
The smartest companies are spending millions of dollars gaining consumer insight and acting on it – for product development; for messaging; for education; for everything. Being market-driven, when your consumer can hide until they want you, takes on new urgency and critical path importance.
So if you’ve read this far, and you want to hire a marketing person, make sure they get the technology, the behavioral change, AND the impact of both on your ideal customer. And if you are a marketer, decide to be accountable to the marketplace and to be out in the marketplace with your customers and potential customers.
The days of marketing from behind a desk are dead and buried.