To attract talent, you need star CMOs [GALLERY]

It comes as no surprise that marketing and advertising have had a difficult time attracting and retaining talent. In the US alone, graduates who get jobs with Facebook and Google draw in three times the salary compared with those in advertising and marketing. Meanwhile, the salary figures for those in finance and law rake in even higher, said Shufen Goh, co-founder and principal of R3, and president of IAS, following a study the IAS did.

So does this mean marketers should simply scrape for talent at the bottom of the barrel? Or can more be done to attract the brightest minds into the industry?

Money aside, Goh, who was speaking at Marketing’s The Marketing Talent Forum panel discussion, said this phenomenon was also because the industry as a whole lacked dynamic star CMOs.

“CMOs are critical in shaping the industry because the industry responds to the leadership of the client. CMOs need to take accountability of business and not shy away from attributing results to the marketing teams, and taking clear measures to let marketing be responsible for driving business outcomes. Only then will you see marketing getting a say at the table on long-term strategic solutions and growing as a field,” Goh said.

Branding your brand

Goh added that attracting talent was easier if you were a known company. Otherwise more needs to be done to brand the company.

“Not enough is being done to attract graduates in the field of advertising. In fact, advertising is not even on the radar of those students graduating in the fields of marketing communications. Agencies that take care of their own brand do attract more talent because perception does matter.”

Fiona Gordon, group chairman of Ogilvy & Mather Singapore, added that especially in a tight-knit market such as Singapore, your talent and employees become the face of your brand.

“Everyone who has worked for your agency is now your brand ambassador. You need to make their work experience count to build your brand,” she said.

She added that today’s generation needed to see a purpose in every piece of work they do and a sense of culture needs to be created in the industry for individuals to thrive.

“Money follows culture, culture doesn’t follow money. In the end, the longevity of your staff is related to the success of your business.”

Letting the inner entrepreneur shine

Kristian Barnes, APAC CEO of Vizeum, seconded that notion adding the marketing industry as a whole needed to do a better job of branding itself to attract talent. However, he said it was crucial that when the right talent was attracted, a career path was carved out that allowed for entrepreneurial spirits to flourish.

Pete Mitchell, global media innovations director at Mondelēz International, also echoed similar sentiments in his session. He said that today’s millennial generation possessed a strong entrepreneurial spirit where they were more at ease with trying and failing.

When it comes to pushing boundaries and moving forward, this entrepreneurial spirit is vital in a large company because it changes the way people think in an organisation, Mitchell added.

The right fit

When it comes to retaining talent, a more structured approach is needed.

Sandeep Khanna, the APAC managing director of Brand Learning, explained that to retain talent, you needed to create a value proposition for employees in a structured way and not just hope for the best. Ultimately, it is the right fit that is necessary.

Across industries, employers today are more experimental in their hires’ skills and capabilities. Skill sets which are of value today to any company are diverse and capabilities can be nurtured over time. But what is integral for success is an individual with the right fit and mindset.

The age of digital

Aseem Puri, marketing director at Unilever Asia, added that attracting the right talent was especially necessary in the world of digital because marketing today can no longer get away with making claims. The consumer today is much savvier and, moreover, talking among themselves.

“Consumers trust anybody, even a stranger on the internet, more than the brand,” he said.

Hence, when forming a marketing team in the digital world, you need to look out for five key skills, he said.

No.1 Purpose: Your team must have the ability to convert a brand from a product in a box to a movement with a mission and goal that is larger than itself.

“All great brands began with a purpose. Purpose unlocks digital potential,” he said. He added that before embarking on creating your next “viral” video, your team needs to ask these four vital questions.

– Who do we serve?
– What is their issue that we want to own?
– What is our point of view?
– What is our purpose?

No.2 Media: Your team also needs the skills to craft and create content on demand across media as they evolve.

“The need to be able to use text, video, vines, posts and tweets, using a combination of original ideas, curating the best from others and integrating under the brand purpose.”

These seven points need to be asked when creating content for the future:

– What useful content can I publish?
– What info are consumers looking for?
– Where are they confused, unsure, worried?
– What makes them stressed about my category?
– What kind of interesting/funny stories do we get from customers ?
– How can we change the life of one real person in a dramatic way?
– What are their deepest fears and worries?

No.3 Growth hacking: This is a skill where marketers get customers by hustling, through creating hype, using technology and leveraging loopholes using minimal capital, but maximum intelligence.

No.4 Analytics insights: Your team needs to have the skill to analyse consumer behaviour online, buy traffic to target it to a destination and convert it into a specific action for consumers to take.

No.5 Lean start-up leadership: The skill to create successful business, innovation and start-up ventures based on real-world testing, learning and the ability to pivot in minimal time and often with no money.

The Marketing Talent Forum took place at Four Seasons Hotel Singapore on 12 November 2014.


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