Ask Keith Weed: Lessons in hiring the best marketing talent

Each week, revered marketer and president of the Advertising Association Keith Weed, who will be one of the delegates at The Drum's Can-Do Festival, will take questions from marketers around the world, using his experience to help solve their problems.

Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing officer, Mastercard: What lessons would you offer marketers thinking about talent, now that you are out of Unilever and able to look back?

Keith: Having great talent is important for success, whether you’re a football team or a marketing team. However, the type of talent we now need to address the new challenges of modern marketing has changed significantly.

Marketing has always been a combination of magic and logic. In recent years there has been greater emphasis on logic and leveraging data, as well as how to build brands across multiple new channels from mobile to e-commerce. All this has added greater complexity and the need for more diverse talent and specialists.

The idea of a generalist brand manager as the ‘chief executive of her or his brand’, having the ability to cover all the brand needs, is no longer relevant. Many key parts of traditional great marketing remain critical, such as the need for marketers who are curious about people and the world and who are consumer-focused.

Creativity has always been vital, but in an increasingly cluttered world the importance of high quality creative and content that breaks through and gets noticed has never been so crucial. Yet it has been the new areas of digital marketing, such as data and e-commerce, that have caught people’s attention – and understandably. New capabilities have needed to be built to remain competitive and engage consumers in a connected world.

So much emphasis has been put on recruiting data and social media experts that there has been a loss of focus on talent for creativity and traditional marketing expertise.

Going forward, the diversity of roles needs to be more clearly recognized and planned for with greater diversity of talent. To build brands, you need to recruit a squad of specialists – from programmatic media to content creators. The talent strategy management implications are profound. Not only does a company need to identify its new talent needs, it needs to recruit, manage and retain a more diverse group of skills.

Artificial intelligence in the workplace is also going to have increasing impact; marketers will become AI co-workers, with huge implications for ways of working and career paths. It will also mean conflict between brands, tech, digital companies and ad agencies for marketing talent. Leaders need to ask: ‘Why should young people and mid-career recruits join my marketing team? What do we have to offer?’ Active talent management will become an even more critical factor for a marketing team’s success.

Weed will be one of a number of speakers at The Drum's forthcoming Can-Do Festival. Details on the event can be found here.

If you want to ask Keith Weed a marketing question to consider in a future installment, email stephen.lepitak@thedrum.com

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