• One for the Grey Hairs

    Where did all the marketing talent go?

    The Wall Street Journal ran an interesting piece recently around the pending IPO of social media juggernaut Facebook and whether or not its 27-year-old CEO is up for the job of becoming the youngest CEO in history to lead a Fortune 1000 company. The same “youth vs. experience” debate seems to be playing out among the ranks of B2B marketing organizations – creating a serious challenge for CMOs and Senior Marketing execs.

    If you look at the ads being placed by technology organizations, it appears organizations are placing higher value on enthusiasm, passion and understanding of latest marketing trends than overall years of experience.  And they seem willing to trade a title for less experience –and the lower compensation demands that often accompany less experienced candidates.  For example, I came across a recruiting ad from a small technology company that is becoming all too common in recruiting circles. Looking for a Director of Marketing (a “second in command” type position from the description) to drive a large part of the company’s demand generation and web strategy efforts, the company outlined a long list of attributes including enthusiasm, passion for marketing, high energy, etc.  The experience required for this Director level job: just three years.

    While I’m willing to concede that youth brings fresh ideas, enthusiasm and a generational perspective that those of us in the grey-hair camp might struggle with from time to time, I can’t help wondering if this technology organization might be better served looking for a more seasoned executive to lead such an important part of their operation.  And if B2B marketing organizations overall wouldn’t be better off placing a higher value on seasoned staff.  Especially as marketers are being asked to do more with less and make every activity count in a measurable way, does it not make sense to seek out the “been there, done that” base?

    Consider the following recent research items:

    • From a UK-based Fournaise Group study — 73% of CEO’s stated that “marketers lack business credibility and are not the business growth generators they should be.”
    • From Sirius Decisions research — less than $1,000 is spent annually on training of marketing personnel
    • From the same study — only 1.1% of Marketing execs responded with a yes when asked if their marketing organization had the right skill set to succeed.

    There’s no doubt skill requirements have changed and ongoing training investment must increase if we expect to keep our seat at the executive table.  But maybe it makes sense to look for a few more seasoned marketing professionals and help them sharpen their skills with some of those training dollars rather than default to a younger candidate. It may cost a bit more up front and you may have to hear a few war stories about how it was “back in the day”, but you may find that creating bench strength by adding a few veterans that are willing to add to their skills portfolio leaves you better prepared for the challenges ahead.

    Micky Long is Vice President at Arketi Group, an integrated marketing consultancy that helps business-to-business organizations generate revenue and accelerate growth through intelligent strategy, branding, marketing and public relations. To view all company blogs go to Arketi Group blog site.

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