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To Solve the Digital Talent Gap, Companies May Need to Look Outside the Marketing Department

Posted @ 8:01 pm by The SolutionSetter | Category: Copy & Content, Digital Marketing | 0 Comments

Earlier this month, Adweek published an article citing data from the Online Marketing Institute that said there’s a “digital talent gap” in today’s marketing, and that there’s a wide chasm between the expertise needed and that which is available in the job market. The data came from a report called “The State of Digital Marketing Talent,” which looked at information from nearly 750 advertising and Fortune 500 company executives.
Those executives believe that they just aren’t spending enough time and energy on cultivating talent in digital marketing, and they’re not doing too well with on-the-job training or skill-assessment, either. What’s more, they’re concerned about the general “entitlement” they see amongst their more junior staff.
The takeaway: Companies are now looking for new employees with at least a few years’ experience. They get most of their new employees through personal referrals, and they believe that too much subjectivity is the problem that has led to this talent gap.
That latter bit is just about right, except not the way the executives may think. Part of the problem–heck, maybe all of it–lies in the subjective (mis)understanding of digital marketing in the first place. In believing that the “digital” part just means transferring the same marketing system that has always existed onto new distribution channels, marketing executives will look for hires with experience managing social media accounts or developing mobile apps, rather than talent–new or old, it doesn’t matter–with great communications skills and an innovative approach to storytelling, irrespective of the medium.
The Online Marketing Institute report  fails to acknowledge the fact that companies don’t just lack talent in digital marketing; they simply don’t know what digital marketing talent looks like, much less where or how to look for it, and they certainly don’t know how to grow it within their walls. Marketing is a fake word when it’s thought of as a discipline one can learn, and it’s practiced best by people, young and old, who have social, journalistic instincts to find and tell stories through a variety of ways. To be sure, young people who simply do this sort of thing on their own rarely go into “digital marketing” as a profession. But that’s simply because the term has become a catch-all for B.S.-ing (and that doesn’t mean Bachelor of Science-ing).
To solve this problem one has to go to the source, and that’s the young hires. Marketing must be de-stigmatized among those with liberal arts educations. In turn, companies need to stop thinking that such applicants aren’t experienced enough or are “too smart” or “not the right fit” simply because they can’t recite word-for-word the real Wolf of Wall Street’s motivational sales script.
There will always be a place for salespersonship in marketing, digital and otherwise. But when it comes to presenting one’s company digitally and thinking outside the box in order to make a marketing department successful, companies should focus less on complaining about a lack of talent and start learning where they can find it. Simply put, they should not be waiting for applicants, or interviewing referrals only. They should recruit in journalism and humanities departments just like tech companies recruit in computer science programs. Marketing is about being smart, and it’s intelligence and education, not job-specific training, a lack of “entitlement,” or who your father is, that’s most important in the trade.

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