Today’s most competitive marketplace isn’t technology but talent. The challenge of attracting and retaining talent is particularly acute for marketers. Their function has been turned upside down and inside out as a result of digital technology, empowered employees, and connected customers.
In this new world, the best marketers exhibit five superpowers – each of which requires new types of talent. Our previous article describes each of these superpowers with examples from Intuit, Sephora and others. As a recap, they are: To hear what no one else can hear; to be part of the conversation, even when you’re not in the room; to leap tall piles of data in a single bound; to make silos disappear; and to bring out the superpowers in others.
How can you attract and retain the talent that can give you these superpowers? What will create the gravity that pulls top talent into your company’s orbit and keeps them there? As a provider of marketing talent to Silicon Valley’s top companies, one of our firms, The Sage Group, has seen a consistent pattern in the talent strategies of the most effective and innovative companies. These strategies address who you hire, how you hire, and what you do once they’re on board.
Who: Look for dual superpowers
It used to be that top talent was exceptional at a particular skill or function. But the demands of marketing today means that top talent is able to combine skills that don’t often go together, and might even seem to be opposites. The combinations we see in most demand are:
- Creative + analytical: These people use both the left and right sides of the brain to reach the head and the heart of customers. As the data gets bigger, you have to know what questions to ask to turn information into insight.
- Leadership + digital acumen: Many digital natives lack leadership experience and many seasoned leaders lack digital expertise. Truly top talent is skilled at both leading internal teams around a shared vision and building digital products and communities.
- Content creation + product expertise: Brand marketers are becoming more and more like publishers. There are content creators who can engage an audience but don’t know the product, and product experts who lack the ability to tell a good story. The result is an ability to connect and engage both colleagues and customers.
- Innovation + execution: Marketing teams can no longer be divided into those who come up with ideas and those who execute them. The best talent has an ability to envision what’s possible and make it happen.
How: Think of it as marketing, not HR
Ironically, many marketers don’t think of recruiting as a marketing challenge. Instead, they think of it as an HR issue. But acquiring and retaining talent is really no different than acquiring and retaining customers.
Most marketers would never think to execute a customer acquisition strategy without a clear value proposition, segmentation, pricing, collateral, sales enablement, metrics, and brand. Yet when it comes to talent acquisition, we forget these marketing basics.
Here are things to consider as you apply what you know (marketing) to get who you want (talent):
- Value proposition: What is the source of your differentiation? Do you have a compelling elevator pitch and consistent messaging throughout your communications?
- Market research: Where can you find the talent you want? What is important to them in a job, career, team and employer?
- Pricing: What are the key elements of compensation (salary, bonus, benefits, equity) and how do you compare with competitors?
- Sales: When you have found the right candidate, do you move quickly to close?
- Metrics: What are marketing’s KPIs for attracting top talent?
- Brand: Are you visible in the marketplace with a reputation for innovation and excellence? Are you known for creating “marketing that matters”?
What: Meaning over money
Keeping great talent is tough. We know one marketing executive of a top brand who has seen turnover of 30% on her team in the last year. It’s not enough to pay people well. In today’s talent market, you have to offer meaning as well as money.
The organizations we’ve seen do the best at retaining talent put effort into the following areas:
- Shared purpose: Create a vision that unites and inspires the team. At SAP, Jonathan Becher has aligned 1200 marketers in 50 countries around the idea of engaging with people (instead of companies or buyers) and rethinking marketing as a growth enabler.
- Stretch assignments: Empower people to go beyond their comfort zone. Visa is bringing in digital natives and giving them senior roles in brand marketing rather than digital marketing.
- Removing obstacles: Don’t let politics, bureaucracy, and roadblocks get in the way. Williams-Sonoma aligned e-commerce, marketing and brand leadership to gain rapid consensus and accelerate decision-making on key priorities.
- Great coaching: Recognize the vital role of employee’s relationships with their managers. Google has gone from reluctantly accepting the role of managers to embracing their pivotal role in employee engagement and productivity.
- Intrinsic rewards: Look for ways other than money to reward people. For its Great Manager award, Google replaced a cash bonus with a one-week retreat with other winners and senior leaders.
These strategies help to create what LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman calls an “ally” relationship between employers and employees.
In a broadcast world, marketers’ success depended more on hiring the right agency than hiring the right talent. But in today’s digital landscape, you need top talent to create content, build community, leverage data, and drive revenue. It’s time to take recruiting back from HR and turn it into a marketing mission. We know how to attract and retain customers with an exceptional customer experience. Let’s do the same for talent. What’s your talent experience?Go to Source