I can’t remember who it was that originally said that marketing is more of an art than a science – my rule is, whenever unsure, always attribute to either Mark Twain or Homer Simpson. In this case either may be a stretch, but regardless, whoever it was they need to get with the program.

Gartner’s Marketing Organizational Design and Strategy Survey 2016 (subscription required) is the latest in a number of pieces of our research that shows there’s been a shift in the responsibilities of the marketing team. At the very top of marketers leaders’ strategic priorities are the dual requirements to deliver revenue through digital commerce, and to measure and attribute value for marketing programs via analytics. So, in reality, marketing is now both an art AND a science. Using data to inform creativity to generate demand, converting demand to sale, and measuring and attributing value across channels and media.

You’re likely not be surprised by this. Shifting priorities in marketing affects us all . But, perhaps you’re less aware of a worrying dynamic – marketing leaders are accountable for digital commerce and marketing analytics, but many organizations are struggling recruit and retain people who have these vital capabilities.

Why this is the case? It’s not as if we’re talking about totally new capabilities that have fallen out of the clear blue sky. Marketing has been dabbling in these capabilities for some years. What’s changed is, rather than being interesting adjuncts to more mainstream marketing activities, digital commerce and marketing analytics are now seen as being central to the success of almost all organizations, be they B2B or B2C. For example, Gartner’s latest Data Driven Marketing Survey (subscription required) attested that 69% of marketing decisions will be quantitatively driven by 2017 – that’s pretty much all business, now.

So, it’s time to shift gears – from interested hobbyists to seasoned professionals. Trouble is that many of the seasoned professionals in digital commerce and marketing analytics are not currently hanging out in the general vicinity of your business. Typically you’re going to find big hitters with these capabilities in digital agencies, online retailers, or newer tech-centric businesses. To borrow a U.S. sporting analogy (excuse my Britishness), they’re in the major leagues of digital commerce and marketing analytics organizations. And whilst you may not perceive your organization to be in the lower leagues, chances are that you currently aren’t as attractive to talented digital commerce or marketing analytics professionals as you may think.

Consider the following:

  • Where are you in your digital commerce and marketing analytics maturity? If you’re still in the early stages of capability development, you’re asking professionals to be a part of the team to build and develop these capabilities (use the Gartner Marketing Maturity Model to define your maturity, subscription required). This may be appealing to some, but for others more interested in delivering results rather than digital transformation programs, this will be a challenge.
  • At what speed do you operate? If you’re a large organization with an established hierarchy, consider the speed of decision making and change within your business. How does this stack-up against an agency, or an online retailer or agile tech business. You may not realize, but what feels like the right pace for some can feel painfully slow to others. The culture shock of moving from an agile organization that acts quickly, to one that acts slowly can be profound.
  • What’s the culture in your organization? Even if you’re a passionate proponent of digital commerce and data driven marketing, what’s the prevailing culture within your business? Are you still in the process of selling the benefits into the wider organization? The best talent wants to flourish in a setting that understands the contribution they deliver, not that questions their value.

Just like marketing, recruiting is both an art and science. Spend your time researching your current marketing organizational environment and the environment of your target recruitment audience. Based on your research ascertain the packages, structures and ways of working that can attract and retain the best possible analytics and digital commerce talent. You don’t have to fix your org design and cultural challenges in one fell swoop, but you do need to be mindful of them. Consider how you can build remuneration, progression and onboarding plans that lessen potential obstacles in the short term.

Over the longer term, if the corporate goal is to build a data driven, digital commerce-centric organization, your research can serve as the starting point to determine how you shift the prevailing culture from where it is now, to where it needs to be.

2 Comments
  1. July 5, 2016 at 5:48 pm
    David H Deans says:

    Ewan, perhaps the greater challenge is talent retention. Marketing leaders that have let their skills lapse and have little in common with the digital-savvy talent that they hire have a huge issue to overcome. My point: progressive people want to work with others that can appreciate their forward-looking perspective. If they can get the manager or co-worker stimulation they crave, they’ll just move on.

    • July 6, 2016 at 8:28 am
      Ewan Mcintyre says:

      Great point David. Often it’s possible to build packages that can get talent through the door, but as per Maslow, this will only get you so far. Talent wants to achieve and flourish in an environment that allows their self actualization. Creating nurturing environments that appreciate their perspective is key. It may be beyond the scope of the marketing leader to fix this for the wider organization, but it’s incumbent on them to ensure that they build the right nurturing environment in their immediate team. And that includes making sure that they have the right level of knowledge and the right receiving mechanisms for new capabilities.

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