What’s the ideal combination of online and offline skills for interactive marketing executives?

E-mails, affiliate marketing, video ads and paid search have each built on the strengths of the Internet. Now there’s a whole new thing called the mobile Web. All these media have spawned a new breed of marketing professionals: interactive professionals.

These professionals have, on average, clocked five to 10 years in the field, but online experience alone is not enough. Interactive veterans recognize that mas­tering the medium is not the same thing as mastering the consumer’s intentions. Doing so takes a combination of technical savvy, marketing knowledge and, most critically and often overlooked, cross-channel expertise.

A good interactive marketing executive should have experience working in channels besides the Internet to gain a 360-degree perspective of how the needs of today’s consumer are evolving. The few interactive executives with experi­ence across other media are in high demand. There is a shortage of qualified candidates even as Internet advertising gains a larger share each year of a marketing budget. In these circumstances, marketers can train talent within a company in all facets of the media mix. They can also search for talent that has experience in different marketing departments, as well as those who have executed successful multichannel campaigns.

It’s also important to hire people who are interested in learning how interac­tive marketing works with other channels. Finally, smash the boundaries within a marketing department. No more DM folks, no more branding guys, no more interactive team. All should stand under one umbrella: marketing. Sound radi­cal? Perhaps to some. However, it’s a step that must be taken… and soon.

Heather Baker is executive recruiter at Bennett Wheelless Group Ltd., Chicago.

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