Managing the Talent Shortage and Skills Gap of Demand Generation Marketers

You probably already know by the volume of recruiters contacting you on LinkedIn that there is a shortage of talented marketing professionals. It is expected this shortage will worsen as the demand increases for marketers spurred by global economic recovery. So finding, developing and holding on to your marketing talent should be a top priority. “Top performers are looking for growth, recognition, career opportunities, and learning.”1  Unfortunately, it can be something of an afterthought for a lot of organizations where training and professional development programs are often the first things cut when times get tough.

talent pipeline blog 5.6What I see is a real opportunity here – what if you could manage the marketing talent shortage and talent skills gaps while simultaneously providing better service to your customers?

No doubt that finding the right, qualified people is a challenging task. So is successfully on boarding and training your new hire. As the recent OMI State of Digital Marketing survey demonstrates, currently only 8% rated their marketing teams strong across all digital areas and 71% reported that while strong in some areas, they are mediocre or weak in others. We definitely see similar trends in Demand Generation as it encompasses several of these digital skills (e.g. analytics, social, content marketing) as part of a strong Demand Generation Strategy.

Most marketing organizations report the majority of training for a new hire is ‘on the job.’ And while there is certainly no substitution for real-world experience, a new team member’s time-to-value can be significantly enhanced by implementing an onboarding program or training the talent pipeline. This pipeline is modeled on having the trainee reach specific milestones within their first six months, with an assigned coach helping them along the way and quarterly training assessments in coordination with their supervisor. The model includes training from outside the organization too, such as conferences and certifications that are applicable to their role. Upon completion of the program, you have a marketing team member that is functioning at a much higher rate and contributing more substantive value as part of the team. At this time you may even have been able to identify someone qualified for a leadership track. Best of all, the employee didn’t have to struggle or do it all on their own, they are guided.

For example, the people we hire at ANNUITAS have definite core strengths and capabilities coupled with the experience their particular career path has given them. However, more than likely if they’ve become a sought after specialist in one area, we want to give them additional training as it pertains to their job role. For example, on the Demand Generation Strategy team, say we are looking for people with a strong content development background. We know that we’ll be training them on the ANNUITAS Demand Process when they join the team, regardless of their background, this is a concept we need to level set for the entire organization. So we build and structure the first six months of their training around the ANNUITAS Core Models and any other areas in which they need more exposure or experience such as Lead Management and Demand Process Integration. In the meantime, they are assigned to project teams where they are able to bring value by using their existing experience and work side-by-side with their coach on implementing the new skills are learning. Then once a quarter, we meet to review the training progress so far and make adjustments as necessary to achieve a certain level of competency and success.

Josh Bersin, Principal and Founder of Bersin by Deloitte, writes “Year after year, we find companies which outperform their competitors because they have deeper skills, a stronger learning culture, and a deep investment in leadership. These winning companies continuously invest in their team’s skills (e.g., technical, professional, and leadership)—and they do not slow down during recessions. This “continuous capability development” approach makes them more innovative, responsive, and agile as their markets change. By the way, people are usually more engaged and loyal at these companies, because these companies invest in them.”1

Like any employer, we want our team members to be successful and feel confident in what they know as this only better serves our clients. This contributes to overall job satisfaction. Do people learn in a ‘trial by fire’ scenario? Absolutely, but at what cost? Burning through your talent pool results in high employee turnover and a constant back-fill of positions via recruitment versus having a talent pipeline available to pull from to promote leaders from within.


1. Predictions for 2014: Building A Strong Talent Pipeline for The Global Economic Recovery, Bersin by Deloitte

Author: Erin Kelley @MsErinKelley Vice President, Professional Development & Enablement ANNUITAS


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