The courageous CMO: recruits wisely

Read more about the issues CMOs encounter in their everyday working lives in this blog of BBN's Courageous CMO series. Written by Andreas Thue, founder and managing director, of our Norwegian partner Iteo about the urgency of recruiting the right marketing specialists.

A survey confirms that CMOs and marketers are now recognised for their increasingly important role in the company. This pushes forward a clear need for specialists in content and distribution. The international trade magazine Marketing Week released a survey in early 2022 confirming that the marketing department is increasingly recognized for its strategic role. In the 2022 Marketing Week Career and Salary Survey, six out of ten respondents say that the marketing department has gained a greater strategic role, has greater influence and/or is valued to a greater extent. According to the survey, the pandemic has contributed to this development because the need for strategic advice has increased during a time of great confusion and ambiguity.

It started before the pandemic

Markus Svenberg, CMO at the Norwegian technology company 24SevenOffice, recognises these observations but points out that this started a few years ago. It has long been a trend that companies have tried to find new and engaging ways to reach customers through digital channels or more traditional ones. Many have experienced that the opportunity to stand out on physical and digital products has become more difficult. Therefore, other competitive advantages have been sought through brand, customer journeys, or frictionless interactions that create greater customer value. This job has often been entrusted or landed in the marketing department.

The Marketing Week survey was answered by over 4463 marketers, and it also shows that six out of ten believe they are confident in their own abilities to influence change in their organization.

Great need for specialists in data and distribution

In recent years, the marketing department has to a greater extent, been restructured and merged with other departments. This has contributed to a significant need for even more experts in data-driven marketing, especially those who can work with insight and analysis. Svenberg himself has a background from one of the largest manufacturers in the building materials industry before he announced the transition to software. He believes the need for computer specialists is as great in large and traditional businesses as in the new fast-growing IT companies.

Today’s customer group looks different than before, just as tomorrow’s customer group will look different. Seamless interactions based on intention-based data will be the future. I recently read an article calling for the generalists and not just the specialists, and I think the intersection of these is precisely where the magic happens. You have to have the generalists set the direction and the vision, while the specialists are the ones who make the magic happen. All this should happen in the marketing department. It requires marketers to open their eyes and see what gold mine lies in the data right in front of their noses, and here there are huge financial upsides.

Everyone wants the same professionals

Marketing Week’s survey shows that marketing departments are most eager to hire professionals specialising in data and analytics. This is in line with Svenberg’s own plans. “I myself recruit expertise in insight and analysis. It’s critical for us to stay ahead of our competitors and create opportunities others don’t see,” he said. The UK survey reveals these three skills that are most lacking in marketing departments:

Data and analytics33.4 per cent
Content and text production17.6 per cent
Performance17,3 per cent

“I’m not surprised by these findings, it’s a core competency that every forward-thinking team should possess, and it’s a battle for the best minds. It’s about hitting with the right message at the right time, and then the three disciplines mentioned are interdependent,” says Svenberg.

A preference to hire rather than train

Interestingly, the survey shows that twice as many UK companies plan to cover the skills gap through hiring rather than those that will further train existing employees. “This is probably because many people have little time and great work pressure. They, therefore, need to know quickly that they have access to the expertise, either through internal resources or solid partners,” says Svenberg. He points out that the challenge with this strategy is that everyone is fighting for the same talents. It is about finding the right combination based on the marketing department’s experiences along the way and what is possible to obtain through hiring or with the agencies.

Recruitment company Teft’s recent industry study in Norway points out that those who work in the distribution sector are also the ones who are noticing the biggest upswing in wages right now. Ole Aleksander Janzso, an adviser at Teft, stated the following in this article in Kampanje: “Employees in the media agencies have experienced a tremendous demand in the labour market as advertisers have recruited eagerly during and in the wake of the crisis mood that characterized parts of 2020. This affects the salaries of those who have been in the media agencies for a while and the price they must pay to recruit new ones.”

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