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Most traditional marketers don’t know how to beef up their digital skills, a recent Adobe study found. But marketing is becoming more and more digital, which means that finding the right people to manage marketing automation, multivariate campaigns, or digital attribution campaigns isn’t always easy.

Especially when hiring managers are looking for dual-expertise unicorns.

erica seidel“Ideally, marketing technologists have exposure to both marketing and development,” says Erica Seidel, who runs The Connective Good, an agency specializing in marketing tech hires, and recently wrote a study on the mar-tech talent land grab. “Many of them have started in software development roles and have migrated into marketing. Others have more of a marketing heritage but have always been drawn to the latest technologies.”

It’s those two disparate skills that makes hiring hard … as well as the fact that there too few candidates out there.

“We do seem to have a shortage,” Seidel told me via email. “I like to talk about BATS talent – people who have skills across Business, Analytics, Technology, and Storytelling. It is rare to find someone who hits it out of the park in all these areas.” While the demand just keeps going up, Seidel says, there are also more and more marketing technologies being “minted” as well.

Seidel’s report, The Talent Land Grab In Marketing Technology: How To Win,
is available on VB Insight.

Seidel encourages executives to think in terms of hiring teams. So if you can’t find the unicorn who is both a marketer and a technologist, ensure that your marketing department hires several people instead, ones who have multiple sets of skills in marketing, analytics, databases, integrations, customer journey, and more.

Of course, there’s a downside to that tactic.

GrowthBeat“Some orgs are hiring more people than they otherwise would, even though it can feel and be bloated and expensive,” Seidel says. “The benefit is it introduces extra capacity.”

In fact, one organization she worked with even hired accountants — yes, plural — into junior marketing roles, with the logic that anyone who could track dollars through financial systems could also track spend, ROI, click-through, and all the other metric minutiae that have become so critically important in data-driven marketing.

Getting the marketing technologist unicorn who possesses all or most of the needed skills in one body can be so challenging that some organizations, such as SapientNitro, have created their own marketing technology “universities.”

Others look for social science grads who also have something of a background in coding, Seidel says.

Perhaps the biggest need, however, is not current skill set. Rather, it’s future focused:

“Apart from skills, the biggest wish list item for marketing technologists was not an aptitude but rather an attitude characteristic: the ability to learn.”

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