DM Employers Seek Broader Skills

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The integrated, multichannel world where the consumer is in control has affected more than just how customers interact with brands. It also has changed how companies hire direct marketing expertise.

Traditional direct marketing skills no longer are enough. Companies want more well-rounded, integrated experience covering a broader scope of channels. Even if the position doesn't require working in every channel, an understanding of "the whole pie" is now the benchmark, or starting point. When enough candidates with broad experience cannot be found, companies are starting with solid DM skills and are teaching staff members about the other channels.

Companies and candidates alike have grown less flexible about taking risks. Organizations are less willing to train from the bottom up, and candidates are less willing to take a job that requires relocating, leaving a position they're happy with and going somewhere where they may have to start over.

A robust understanding of metrics is also more important than it used to be. End-user companies and agencies more frequently seek someone who understands all the metrics in order to be able to cross-sell and upsell to achieve maximum return on investment.

Companies are not always realistic in their wish list. They often want someone from a specific vertical or industry. I encourage them to consider people from other industries because they bring a fresh approach and another view to the table. Having someone who does things a little differently is good. It pushes firms to test more theories and do more research.

Brands also look to bring in chief marketing officers who have broad experience in all communications vehicles, including advertising, PR, sales promotion and direct. Just a few years ago, each of those group heads would report directly to the CEO, and marketing would sit alongside them. Today, all those disciplines report to the CMO. Also, CMOs need more business-oriented skills today and are required to be high-level strategic thinkers at all levels.

Even telemarketing firms seek strong leaders who are more business oriented. Rather than someone who rose through the ranks of customer service, they want proven leaders who may have run a large operation or who turned around a weak service organization. These leaders also need the capability to run the department as it is, and the vision to know what it needs and how to grow it. As with CMOs, those who can speak the "whole pie" language bring more value to the firm.

Overall, trends show that marketers who can contribute on a broader level will provide more value to their careers and their companies.

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