Are you a Fat T marketer? Don’t be offended by the question. Its a compliment not an insult.
Modern marketing organizations are embracing Agile. The model that originated in the world of software development is now being used by teams running marketing campaigns and programs. They are applying agile techniques like sprints, daily stand-up meetings, and a test-and-iterate approach to get ahead — and stay ahead — of competitors, fickle consumers and the ever-shifting landscape of marketing in the digital age. For most, its a fairly new initiative. According to Gartner’s 2017 Marketing Organizational Survey, 55% of the marketing leaders who participated in our study said that they were just getting started or had done so within the last 6 months and less than a quarter use a fully use an agile approach.
We handled hundreds of inquiries in the last year from clients trying to get their arms around the implications of agile on marketing operations from project management processes to the impact on collaboration with agency partners. But the most common issue was skills — where to find them, how to evaluate them and which ones to prioritize. Smart firms always look to hire T-shaped marketing talent — marketers with broad knowledge and experience in all facets of marketing and deep expertise in one particular area. But as firms push on adopting agile methodology, what Christopher Ross calls a fat-T profile is beginning to take hold. Fat-T marketers have broader and deeper skills across the spectrum of marketing that complemented by several areas of deeper, more specialized expertise. You can read more about this in Chris’ note, 4 Steps for Building an Agile Marketing Organization (Gartner clients only) but here are a few pointers to help you find the right fat T talent for your firm:
- Start with strategy and MarTech. Fat-T marketers over index on marketing technology and strategy development as primary skills. These skills embody the spirit of the fat-T profile; marketing technology as an enabler of marketing innovation contrasted and complemented by the discipline and pragmatism of strategy development. The combination of these two skills are the common core elements of a diverse, expert marketer and provide clear anchors when recruiting the best fat T marketers for your team.
- Prioritize domain expertise. Skills gaps — the difference between the importance of and the capability to deliver — exist across the board for leaders in our study. The biggest gaps in domain expertise? Market and customer insight (17 points), data literacy (16 points), marketing technology (15 points), and data analytics (14 points). These high demand and hard to find skills will continue to dog marketing recruitment efforts so prioritize them and move quickly when you find the right candidate. They won’t be on the market long.
- Test their soft skills. Successful fat T marketers lean heavily on their soft skills but, once again, our survey respondents are struggling with the gap between importance and their capabilities. Key areas with the biggest gaps? Creativity (19 points), resourcefulness (18 points), and adaptability (17 points). You’ll need to come up with some pointed interview questions and clever tests to identify top candidates with these skills.
- Check the ego. In truly agile-oriented marketing organization, sometimes you’re the leader of a project team, sometimes you’re a player and other times you are left out altogether. Your fat T marketer needs to be comfortable with all three scenarios and be willing to take or give up control without complaint. Craft questions that put your candidate in each one of these scenarios either from their past experience or in a hypothetical situation that might occur if they come one board. Don’t ask the questions sequentially as it will give the game away. You need to know that the candidate has the stomach for one or all of these roles.
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