Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the most desirable marketer of them all?
The marketing industry is awash with rapid changes—from the rise of robots to clients demanding transparency and ultra-efficiency—and employers and employees alike need to keep up with the skills that marketing teams require today.
So, what does the most desirable talent in our industry look like now? What are the key traits to consider when thinking about the talent to hang on to… or when marketing yourself?
Keep an eye out for the following types of people.
1. The Innate Creative
I started my career at Rainey Kelly Campbell Roalfe/Y&R, which had a fizzing creative culture at that time. There were very few “bean counters.” If we didn’t show innate creative tendencies, we wouldn’t have been hired.
Everyone had a creative side hustle. One personal assistant was writing a book about virginity-loss stories. Another colleague was a DJ who had her own pirate radio station. The receptionist was a flamboyant actress. I was an account rep doing letter pressing on the side, and there were many more team members who pursued their creative passions.
Today, creativity seems to be dwarfed by the bean counters and their singular focus on growth… or the lack of it. We know creativity has immense power to create business growth, but it will take those who still practice its magic to lead the way.
Lorna Tilbian, a retired investment banker known as “the queen of media” and a keen predictor of our industry’s performance, said creativity is “the only way companies and businesses can grow.”
Thankfully, P&G Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard, in his speech at the ISBA conference, urged agencies to “strip away anything that doesn’t add to creative output.”
And he’s right to remind us. Without creative ideas, we have nothing.
We need the innately creative to redefine our industry.
2. Those With Consultative Skills
Marc Pritchard continued voicing his frustrations with agencies and suggested there could be far fewer account people involved: “The issue is there’s too many of them. They should be more focused, more senior, and fewer.”
Also True: those who consult and understand both commerce and creativity equally will reign supreme as more and more clients request them by name.
3. Those Who Think Fast and Feel Comfortable in Lean Organizations
Considering that many of our clients are experiencing slow growth, they are looking to us to drive efficiency. Let’s face it: Most agencies need to be put on a strict diet—a gastric band to prevent bloating. There are too many people tripping over each other worrying about being billable. And our clients see it.
Keith Weed, chief marketing and communications officer at Unilever, recently said, “We should get the best price for our consumers…. And if that means rooting out inefficiencies in someone else’s business, I will do it.”
So let’s just get on with it: With fewer people to worry about, we can get back to focusing on the creative.
4. Those Unfazed by Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity
One global agency CEO who was hiring asked me whether I knew anyone who was “messy.” What she meant was someone who is happy to operate in an environment that can be volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous.
Fast Company’s article “8 Reasons Why Creatives Will Rule the World” claims that “creatives can handle complexity, are comfortable with a higher level of ambiguity, and are willing to take more ‘risks’ than left-brainers.”
Those people are few and far between. Those who embrace the constant change and uncertainty enjoy longevity.
5. Those With Creative Interests Outside of Work
The title of this Time magazine article explains the concept well: “Being Creative Outside of Work Makes You Better at Your Job.” It cited researchers from San Francisco State University who surveyed 341 employees about their creative activities outside of work, and then looked at the impacts on their work.
“Even though what the participants defined as ‘creative’ was different for each person, the researchers said that whatever the activity was, it provided them with some form of self-expression,” explains the article. “This type of experience can have implications beyond just relaxation after a hard day, but can actually help people with their day-to-day duties, like problem-solving.”
So when you are next reviewing talent or being interviewed, don’t forget to talk about the creative side hustle. Whether it’s writing or playing guitar, we need more of it in the industry.
6. Those With Two X Chromosomes
Following all the recent coverage of women’s issues—International Women’s Day, the Golden Globes, the Oscars, and the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements—there has never been a better time to have women contributing their creativity and talents to your organization.
7. Those From Underrepresented Groups
We have yet to see the same mobilization campaigns around diversity-hiring as we have around hiring women, but they are coming.
McKinsey and many others have written papers on the topic, and the evidence is there: “Research finds that companies in the top quartile for gender or racial and ethnic diversity are more likely to have financial returns above their national industry medians.”
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