How to Find a Good Marketing Analyst

McKinsey Predicts Shortage of 1.5 Million With Analytical Know-How by 2018

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Marketing analytics jobs have been hard to fill for a long time, and the growing demand for analysts from digital-media players looking to staff up departments that can prove return on investment to marketers has only made things worse.

"There is a real dearth of people who have the required skills," said Sunny Garga, CEO of analytics firm (m)Phasize, a unit of Publicis Groupe's Sapient. "We've interviewed candidates who, in the past, we could easily have hired, but have ended up going to Google or Facebook or Twitter."

Sunil Garga
Sunil Garga

Very few schools have curricula designed to train marketing analysts, Mr. Garga said, noting he was at a summit earlier in the month with faculty from leading universities talking about the problem. Wharton, Northwestern and UCLA are designing such programs, he added, "but that will take a while to catch up."

Because of the demand, salaries have risen 10% to 30% in recent years, depending on the level, according to Mr. Garga, with salaries for more senior analysts rising faster. Mr. Garga said he's also turned to more aggressive offshore recruiting and has hired recent grads with analytical aptitude, then trained them on the marketing or analytic fine points.

The talent crunch is a subset of a broader issue driven by growth in all forms of big-data analytics, according to McKinsey & Co., which recently projected the U.S. alone could face a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with "deep analytical skills," as well as a broader shortage of 1.5 million managers and analysts "with the know-how to use the analysis" by 2018.

Marketing Evolution, an ROI management firm, is addressing the crunch by automating as many tasks as possible and emphasizing "quality over quantity of hires," which means providing more challenging roles than a standard industry "marketing-mix mill," said President John Matthews.

One key to that is making innovation "part of everyone's job in the company," said Jeff Kauflin, associate VP-talent management at Marketing Evolution, so that analysts aren't just spending all their time churning out client reports.