By Jeanisha Wan
“I am looking to hire a marketing manager. Do you know anyone?” It was an email I received from a contact in an IT company. “Ideally, the person should be familiar with digital marketing and social media marketing. At the same time, he or she should also be versed with traditional marketing channels such as lead generation campaigns and corporate presentations”.
I stared at the email for several minutes while I scanned my memory to see if I know of anyone who could fit the bill. It was tough. Yes, I do know of some young people who seemed to take to social media marketing like fish to water. But they are not familiar with the deeper, more strategic types of marketing planning needed for an IT company – especially if it is B2B.
Then, there are those I know who have worked for years in IT companies, climbing the ranks from executives to managerial roles in the marketing department. They know the ropes, the protocols and how to work with the industry leaders. But when it comes to social media or digital media, I know some of them do not even have a Facebook account. And we shall not mention Twitter, Pinterest and the likes.
If my own marketing consultancy company, I have interviewed scores of both young and not so young marketers who were looking to work in my organization. Some are currently holding marketing roles in their company, but when I asked them to tell me more about their role as a marketer, many of them were merely listing out marketing tasks and functions, as if that defines marketing. Others who were fresh graduates armed with a marketing or mass communications degree, looked at me with bright enthusiastic eyes and told me they wanted to join a marketing company (like mine) because they like to do events! Yes, just events and nothing else.
So perhaps I am a sceptic. Either I just do not have the fortune of meeting with the ‘right’ marketing talent or probably no one understands what a marketer is supposed to do anymore. Is it organizing events, running PR campaigns, placing advertisements, sending out e-newsletters? Should we look for someone who is creative – people who are good in designing and visuals? Or with the myriad of events we need to do, should the marketing person have good project management skills and if possible, know how to look a diva in the events we run? One marketing executive who was organizing a corporate seminar I attended left a huge impression on me. Her long waist-length messy hair and her pale face with absolutely no make-up made me felt like I was in some Korean horror movie.
What about writing skills or communication skills? Many of those from the younger generation these days are weak in English. Even some with 1A for their English in their Form Five exams surprised me. I met one who could not spell the word ‘writing’ (of all words!) – she spelled it with a double ‘t’. But the young ones are admittedly very good with smartphones and digital stuff. Share, tweet, tags, post – these are terms they use or encounter every day. But can all of them be entrusted to handle your company’s Facebook page and post intelligent and meaningful posts and comments? That may be another story and I am not just talking about the young people here.
So it is tough to be a marketer these days. They are expected to not just know what is below-the-line, above-the-line and god-knows-what-line marketing, they are also expected to be technology savvy, know how to look good and be a ‘jack of all trades’. Unless they work for a big corporation which has people carrying specialised marketing roles and they can just focus on being good in one thing.
I responded to my contact with a list of names of people I know. This person can do this but she can’t do that. And this other one can do that but I am not sure if he can handle this. It is tough to find someone who can do it all and know it all. And even if you do, they might not join your company, I pointed out to him. Apparently, he has been looking for one whole year for someone to fill this marketing position without much success. I dare not point out to him that he might as well look for a Pterodactyl, the only dinosaur that could fly.