B2B marketing leaders looking to grow their teams realize that they must adapt to meet the needs of their buyers — as well as exceed business goals. Research from the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) shows that roughly 80% of marketing executives say they need to restructure marketing to better support the business, while 29% believe the need for change is urgent.
To meet this need, B2B marketing teams are looking to hire employees with skill sets that help the team pivot and evolve as buyer demands change. Specifically, industry experts noted that companies are investing heavily in marketers that are highly skilled in data analysis, marketing operations from a technical and strategical level, as well as content and messaging strategy.
“Ego has left the building and now internal leaders are realizing they need to surround themselves with smarter people for better teamwork and collaboration,” said Michael Weiss, VP of Consulting Services and Solutions at Creative Circle, a digital and creative staffing agency. “The waterfall approach isn't going away, but agile [methodology] is finding its way into the marketing process. It’s now about creating a different atmosphere — building core teams that sit on site and scaling teams based on what they need.”
“SQL tends to be the basics for any analytics,” said Jennifer Haley, Regional Sales Manager at Mondo who specializes in B2B marketing placement. “So, if you’re doing any reporting and analytics, SQL tends to be what the company is using. Having experience with Adobe Analytics and Google Analytics are also common requirements for B2B marketing hires. When we're talking the hybrid of creative and technical marketing, those are what tend to come up more than others.”
Experts in the B2B recruitment space noted that this balance between data, strategy and operations is key to the ongoing strive towards digital transformation in the marketplace.
“What they're looking for is the strategist and the technician,” said Wes Lieser, Practice Director for Demand Generation and Marketing Technology at Versique. “It comes down to digital transformation. B2B companies are ripping out old systems and bringing in new systems. Leading that is someone who understands the strategy to get something done, the internal advocate that can speak the language across IT, sales, marketing and more to champion the cause. They must be the face of the project.”
Experts agreed that, compared to B2C counterparts, B2B marketers are expected to be much more technical in their daily activities, while also continuing to view projects from a strategic mindset. For example, its vital for marketers to understand brand messaging and content strategy in addition to knowing the technology driving their campaigns.
“We have a lot of companies looking for hybrid individuals with experience to bring analytics and reporting into the marketplace,” said Haley. “With the growth of social and everything needed now, you need to be able to pivot and create dialogue with businesses.”
Lieser added that, “whether it’s an SMB- or enterprise-level company, this whole idea of not only being strategic but having the skill set to formulate and execute a strategy is key — along with having the technological capability and a healthy balance of the two.”
B2B Orgs Moving Away From ‘Jack-Of-All-Trades’ To Seasoned Specialists
Industry experts also agreed that B2B organizations are moving away from hiring “jack-of-all-trades” types of employees to hiring specific specialists in two or three trades to maximize efficiency and position teams to scale based on work demand.
“It's interesting because we're moving from hiring marketing generalists to focusing on specialists, SMEs and people with specific skill sets,” said Weiss. “Looking at the big picture, they don't always have the right people to drive it.”
Ultimately, companies are looking into these data, strategic and operational skill sets to become more forward-thinking with their marketing efforts.
“The clients come with a significant amount of experience with their brand and customer,” said Weiss. “But they don't have time to be proactive and think into the future, and a lot of what they need is the production team behind it to help them do the work.”
From a production standpoint, Weiss highlighted three aspects of management that have been in high demand for companies looking to grow and strengthen their marketing team:
- Project Management: the person on the team watching the scope and guaranteeing that deliverables are being met.
- Resource Management: someone who is working with the client and project manager to forecast and demand plan. “This is where we are now. We have deliverables in this many weeks and what skill sets do we need to meet these deliverables?”
- Engagement Management: the high-level person that handles client relations and quality management to meet customer expectations.
“B2B marketing leaders want to go to bed at night knowing the work is getting done,” said Weiss. “They want to guarantee that the employees they are hiring have the skill set to manage that team and work efficiently.”
Specific Tech Certifications In High Demand
With technology being one of biggest — if not the biggest — investment made by B2B companies, a marketer’s expertise with a company’s MAP and CRM can make them prime hiring targets.
“We ask companies often about what technology they use, what tools they need [employees] to use and what would be nice for them to use,” said Haley. “Being expert-level certified in Adobe Marketing Cloud, Marketo or Oracle Eloqua are usually the technologies most in demand.”
Specific roles pertaining to technology, such as marketing automation, are growing more common in the B2B community, signaling that skills with specific types of technology are a big draw to companies.
“We’re seeing more managerial roles specific to technology, such as SEO, pay-per-click, marketing automation architects and more,” said Haley. “When they need to create the tech architecture, that’s when you see these types of specialist roles come up.”
Experts noted that marketers with certifications in specific marketing automation systems and other technology are in the greatest demand. Because there is a lack of talent in these specific spaces, there are larger salaries for marketers that have these certifications.
“The more technical folks get in their marketing automation knowledge, they are simply never going to be unemployed,” said Lieser. “There is at no point someone who is a Marketo Certified Expert that doesn't have a job. Any recommendation I give to marketers, first thing is to get certified. Take the tests, learn the tools yourself because there is a serious lack of talent. It’s difficult to recruit for those positions because they are harder to fill.”
SEO, Video Skills Continue To Grow In Value
When it comes to specific tactics with highly desired skill sets, experts pointed to SEO and video as the most requested skill sets of B2B marketers. In particular, experts noted that SEO expertise positions any messaging and content created to be seen by the correct audience.
“Understanding SEO is understanding content,” said Versique’s Lieser. “It’s truly what separates folks at the more tactical and granular positions.”
Video content has been a topic of discussion within the B2B marketplace due to its attractiveness compared to static content assets. Weiss noted that the skill set is expansive since there are many aspects to producing video content — from initial strategy to on-site recording and post-production.
“Most of my conversations [with clients] have all been about video content and the need for video teams,” said Weiss. “As you start talking to people about them, you need video production teams. You literally need talent. Video shoots for a day or two require a lot of different skill sets. Between Netflix, Hulu, etc., there are a lot of expectations for video content out there.”