Last fall, Forrester issued a set of predictions for 2017 in its report, “Dynamics That Will Shape The Future In The Age Of The Customer.” Among other things, the research organization predicted that 2017 would be a year of widespread digital marketing transformation and restructuring. Check that box: Fully half of my searches this year have been flat out confidential replacements. Minor tweeks, it seems, aren’t going far enough. Boards and CEO’s are trying to come to grips with the changes required to become more customer-led and digitally-focused, and accomplish it without fragmenting the business or destroying margins.
It starts at the top. Forrester predicted that CEO’s will replace at least 30% of their Chief Marketing Officers this year because they lack the blended skill sets of technology, analytics and designing customer experiences. Judging by the calls and emails I’m receiving I’m not quite sure we’re tracking at 30%, but it’s probably close. Based on post-mortem analysis of my recruiting efforts on executive level searches conducted so far this year, about 1 in 4 potential candidates contacted, at the VP level and up, were interested in learning more about the opportunity being presented. Digital marketing transformation is everywhere!
When new marketing leaders come in, inevitably there will be staffing changes. Forrester also singled out the following positions that will be in most demand, and I have to say, so far this year they have been spot on:
-Data scientists. The demand/supply paradigm is already well known for this group. I’ve received calls from companies that have been looking for more than six months. They’re scarce, and getting scarcer.
-CX professionals. It can be argued that everyone in marketing is responsible for creating a good customer experience, but here, we’re talking specifically about Managers and Directors of Customer Experience. Let’s just say that I know very, very few who are unemployed.
-Experience Designers. What makes Experience Designers so valuable is that they cover customer interactions with every facet of the brand. In other words, they understand the holistic picture, and I don’t know any employer who doesn’t want an online expert who has that perspective.
-Software Developers. Nothing needs to be said here!
-Analysts skilled at statistical and predictive analytics. Ditto.
-Consultant sellers. Owning my own business, I get a lot of calls from businesses that are trying to sell me stuff. They all start with the same thing: “I want to tell you how our exciting product will help your business.” If this is how service and technology providers are approaching their prospects, no wonder many clients tell me they’re not satisfied with the job their vendors are doing. Digital marketing transformation is providing enormous opportunities for agencies, technology providers and independent consultants.
-Content professionals skilled at story telling. Employers want digital marketers who can create a brand experience that will resonate with their audience. Nothing captivates people more than a good story. Good story tellers who can rise above the clutter are golden in this age of digital marketing transformation.
-Digital Business Leaders. It’s not easy being a digital marketer in 2017. You need to know technology, you need to be very data-driven and analytically savvy, you need to know business, and you need a ton of other skills and attributes that I write about often. Those who have the total package are receiving multiple offers.
Forrester didn’t mention it specifically, but I would also add User Experience (UX) to the mix. I should also state that freelancers, in all of these areas, are commanding significant fees, and many report they are turning away work.