Why Hires Must Be Experts in Multiple Areas

As Marketers Look to Manage Their Brands Across Multiple Media, so too Must They Handle Their Teams

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A recent study by McKinsey & Co. posited that "the most important corporate resource over the next 20 years will be talent." As we are painfully aware, in no industry is the war for talent more evident than in advertising, promotions and marketing. Spurred by the creation of the "360-degree agency," which demands that employees be able to work across media, a tight talent pool is even shallower as few creatives yet sport this cross-dimensional expertise.

This growing convergence of marketing, promotions and advertising is largely being driven by marketers' desire to streamline messaging and ensure all aspects of brand are managed consistently. Also fueling this change is the continuous development of online media and interactive advertising, which blur the communication lines. Nicole Blake, senior VP-marketing for Classic Media, an entertainment-rights company, says she works with both her internal team and agency partners to create solutions that play across all media and deliver a consistent voice for brand classics such as "Where's Waldo," "Casper" and "Lassie."

But practical as it may seem, 360-degree agencies can be more difficult to manage because the company infrastructure must be able to handle intersecting disciplines. At a minimum, companies should establish a regular, integrated meeting to ensure creative synergy and make certain no one area is dictating a campaign. Yet beyond that, the true key to success, as McKinsey points out, is having the best talent, or "innovation drivers" -- people who understand how all aspects of promotions, advertising and marketing work together.

In the midst of the talent war, finding the rare innovation driver is one more battle to be fought. Candidates with the ability to fill multiple roles using expanded and diverse skill sets are extremely scarce, and many companies are "cross pollinating," looking across industries to find people with unique backgrounds. Marketing companies are looking to the promotions people that are in turn looking to advertising people and vice versa. Charlie Tarzian, president-CEO of Co-Active, an integrated 360-degree marketing firm based in New York, says he is looking for great athletes. He says the 360-degree agency requires the navigation of smart people of all stripes.

And when one global client, which specializes in experiential marketing, asked us to search for a VP-account manager, it asked us not to look in "the usual places." The company wanted a person with skills that included promotional, marketing and advertising with the ability to create client deliverables outside of experiential.

The reinvention of the traditionally siloed agency is not just about keeping up with the times; companies also are finding that the incorporation of creative services under one roof may attract the best talent. Top candidates are certainly looking for more than financial compensation. Many are seeking room for advancement, a challenging environment and an inspiring mission.

Companies fortunate enough to have these rare innovation drivers on their payrolls have been increasing their compensation at a rapid pace to keep them onboard. In fact, it's becoming more commonplace to pay 5%-10% higher salaries than even five years previously. Other, more cost-effective incentives that work to attract and keep the best people, especially the millennials, include added vacation days or perks such as sports tickets. Employee-training programs for employees also can be a great way to merge skill sets. And capable executives crave new challenges no matter what level.

Bottom line: Traditional agencies looking to please both clients and employees need to reinvent themselves, not only to help ensure business success, but also to attract and retain the innovation drivers and to enable their current employees to fill multiple roles.
Erika Weinstein is president and co-founder, Stephen-Bradford Search.
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