You've heard the term structural unemployment before--the type that exists when available skill sets don't match open jobs. Once mostly bandied about with regard to industries like agriculture, manufacturing and health care, increasingly the term applies to a range of other vocations as well. One of these is advertising and marketing.
Interactive media agency Razorfish, for instance, says it has about 200 positions open in the U.S. because it can't find the right people to fill them. Given how quickly technology is changing, digital agencies nowadays are increasingly looking for user experience specialists, data analysts and coders.
The types of skills applicants from communications or creative backgrounds are expected to have are also changing, as agencies emphasize customer engagement, social media, quick response times, and a passion for using new tools and adopting a variety of approaches.
To get a handle how the socialization and digitization of content and consumption is affecting the advertising and marketing professions, as well as what sorts of skill sets agencies are looking for, FINS talked to John Bell, head of Ogilvy & Mather's digital effort Social@Ogilvy, and Pete Stein, who manages Razorfish's New York and Boston operations.
Pay attention to consumer psychology: The marketing or advertising professional of today needs to be an active student of psychology and behavioral economics. There's a new customer out there defined by the increasing impact personal networks have on purchasing decisions. Consumers trust families, friends and social connections over and above other sources. In order to earn people's attention, their advocacy and ultimately their business, marketing and ad professionals need to look beyond demographics to what causes people to make decisions.
Create content strategy not just ad strategy: The brands we work with are looking to shift resources into building lasting relationships with customers through a steady delivery of valuable content across many platforms, not just through advertising. Marketers need to practice a type of engagement that is valuable to the community--it's not about what I want to sell, but about what the consumer wants to know.
Try an iterative approach: Marketing professionals are trained in the old school style of campaign development--build an ocean liner, launch it and hope it sails where it's intended to go. That's not how the consumer behaves anymore and that's not how we can behave. We live in an iterative world where we try ideas and refine them. The marketing professional of tomorrow needs to have an enhanced ability to run quick pilot programs.
Create integrated multi-platform strategies: The traditional advertising campaign is not as meaningful as it once was. We need an integrated program that encompasses the launch of a new product: introduces this product to the public, uses advertising to scale its reach, secures the authority and endorsement of third parties that have credibility, and restimulates people for advocacy or further purchase.
Understand data: Ad and marketing professionals need to have a hunger for understanding data, since ultimately this is what indicates how their content is being consumed by the people they made it for. Better data and analytics is a worthy investment for marketers since companies are wrestling with a flood of choices about what to pay attention to. They also need to understand a vast array of different content types and their value, from the million-dollar commercial to the iPhone-captured video to the simple infographic.
Craft compelling stories: There has always been a need for storytellers in this profession, but now we need people who are comfortable telling stories in a more non linear fashion. The biggest difference over the last couple of years has been this shift from campaign based or episodic communication to more 'always on' communication. This requires changing skill sets. It means you need to be someone who can be extremely nimble, ready to engage at any time with the consumer and ready to adapt the story based on the consumer's input.
Be adventurous: It's really hard to know what the next big new thing in the digital space will be. We look for people who have a real passion for playing around and trying new things. It's hard to just be a strategist these days, you need to be a practitioner, too. While it's difficult to know what's next, it's easier to find the people who do--you have the ability through Pinterest or Twitter to follow the people who will help you stay ahead.
Be collaborative: We tend to hire people who have very different skill sets--whether it's math majors, data freaks, specialists in tech or people focused on the customer experience--and bring them into a room to work together to solve a problem from their different points of view. Being collaborative is very much at the core of working in this new era.
Write to Saabira Chaudhuri at email@example.com