CMO’s Corner: How to Attract and Retain the Best Marketing Talent

January 22, 2018

Marketing Talent

Editor’s Note: This is the first post in a video interview series exploring topics that chief marketers should be thinking about, including talent in marketing, employee advocacy and more.

As we kick off 2018, many marketers (myself included) are bolstering campaign plans, building out strategy documents, setting benchmarks and redesigning workflows in hopes of making a splash in the New Year.

“Our marketing efforts will be bigger and better than ever!” we say, minds filled with the endless possibilities of what we’ll do to take our organizations to new heights.

But in our hours, days and sometimes weeks of planning, we often forget to address what’s perhaps the most important factor in getting a message to market: Our people. They produce our best ideas and keep our organizations charging ahead at full speed. 

And as brands are tasked to communicate authentically (vs. the “9 to 5” corporate brand speak of days past), it’s top talent that will help bring life to the indispensable customer experiences we all strive to create.

That’s why identifying, hiring and developing marketing talent should be at the top of every marketing executive’s to-do list. Yes, it’s expensive. And yes, building out a team or changing a company culture aren’t easy to do. But having the right team in place can be one of the best ways to differentiate your brand from competitors.

So, what are today’s marketing innovators doing to fill their company’s ranks with the best and brightest?

To find out, we’ve teamed up with the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) to poll brilliant marketers from corporations and agencies alike. We asked each executive the following:

How do you make sure that you’re hiring and developing the best marketing talent? What are the challenges you see?

Here’s what they had to say:

Jim Lesser, President and CEO, BBDO San Francisco

“As an agency, we don't have some secret sauce that makes us better other than our talent, our talent is what makes us better.”

Lesser asserts that it’s crucial to understand the two-way nature of talent: In order for sparks to fly, both an employer and an employee must be getting a value-add from their relationship. That’s why he makes sure to meet with every potential hire at his agency, in hopes that he can inspire and level-set with candidates before they choose to sign.

Alisa Maclin, Head of Marketing for Mobile Enterprise and Cloud Application Innovation, IBM

“[We bring] in early career professionals. We have a number of universities that we work with and we have a great internship program to bring in the skills and also to introduce employees to IBM.”

Maclin acknowledges that, in our industry’s rapidly changing landscape, finding a professional who has a comprehensive understanding of the space is difficult. As a solve, she and her team like to train and educate from within to ensure that every IBM marketer is well-equipped to be nimble and trend-savvy.

David McSpadden, Chief Marketing Officer, Franklin Templeton Investments

“[It’s important to find] the right combination and blend of capabilities that you want to bring into your organization.”

Echoing Maclin, McSpadden suggests that it’s unlikely you’ll find a ‘triple-threat’ caliber marketer for every role. As such, it’s crucial to understand the needs of your organization before you seek out new talent. What skills are you looking for most in a hire? Once you’ve answered this question, you can better prioritize those skills (and candidates).

Andrew O'Dell, CEO and Co-Founder, Pereira and O'Dell

“[Talent has] a lot of opportunity, so [when] you find the right person for your organization, [determine] what they are going to do and how you [are going to] keep them motivated.”

O’Dell stresses the importance of having a plan in place when you bring on ambitious talent. How will you help them realize their full potential? Because it’s quite likely that they will have chosen to join your firm over several others. 

Mac Tillman, VP, Brand Marketing, Sutter Health

“We [need] to take these amazing people who are highly specialized and rally them around a common vision, a common mission”

Tillman sees a challenge in marketing’s increasing complexity. With marketers now focused exclusively on creative, brand, demand generation, events, social and other niche disciplines, executives must determine a way to bring together these specialists in a way that ensures they’re all working toward the same goal.  

Talent Is the Key to Marketing’s Success

As members of the ANA Masters Circle, Lesser, Maclin, McSpadden, O’Dell and Tillman have all committed to supercharging the conversation around talent in marketing. If you’d like to join them in discussing how to find, train and retain top talent, The ANA invites you to join or support its three fundamental platforms for talent growth:

  • ANA’s CMO Talent Challenge (#TalentFWD)
  • ANA’s Educational Foundation (AEF)
  • ANA’s School of Marketing

Its recent research and playbooks tailored to CMOs can be downloaded via the ANA Masters Circle Website.

And to keep pace with the latest talent trends that matter to marketers, subscribe to the LinkedIn Marketing Solutions blog