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Comment | The Search for Marketing Technology Talent

Hans Smans


Marketing Technology

Hans Smans, Founder & Lead Consultant at Edinburgh-based Smans Marketing Consultancy, explores how organisations can seek out and utilise the best tech talent.

The marketing technology (MarTech) space continues to grow at an increasingly rapid pace, with new solutions and providers coming onto the scene on a daily basis.

Startups, established SME’s and large companies provide us with technology and innovative solutions to problems we did not know we had. But, as everyone else has jumped on the MarTech bandwagon, we feel obliged to review, invest and install a tech stack that will start or accelerate our own version of digital transformation.

However, who will be implementing, executing and optimising all of the purchased technology and how will this drive revenue and customer growth?

The recruitment and training of the right set of people skills and capabilities to maximise the outcome (however defined) of the company’s tech stack is proving to be a challenge for most organisations.

In the short-term, the focus is placed firmly on defining the required knowledge and experience, usually scrambled together as a mix of IT and marketing skills. Trying to explain this to senior management and Human Resources is a second hurdle.

C-suite executives want to understand the anticipated return on investment, which will be intensified if asked for additional headcount to get the best out of the purchased tech stack components.

It is worth making this part of your conversation with the preferred vendor before purchasing the MarTech component. Most providers will offer detailed insight into the implementation and running of the license or hardware you intend to buy.

Vendors will offer to run it on your behalf, which can be a suitable solution for small companies in order to avoid additional capital investment.

If you decide to run and manage the MarTech stack yourself, however, then make sure you complete the following exercise:

  • Document the desired state of your MarTech stack in 12 months and 24 months (from implementation) and the expected business outcomes, as well as people management for running and optimising the stack. It is important this document is shared and understood by senior management and is not tied to 1 or 2 individuals as they might move on during these time frames.
  • Complete a skills matrix or gap analysis on your current employees and align people to MarTech components. Prioritise the ROI by component and identify people who will run the tool vs. the ones that will evaluate its performance and utilisation. Engage your HR to discuss gaps in your matrix.

The recruitment of new employees in the MarTech space is a big challenge. Most HR teams and/ or recruiters struggle with the blurred lines between IT and Marketing skills and experiences. Depending on the recruiter’s understanding, the focus tends to be solely on IT skills or exclusively on marketing experiences on the candidate’s resume.

A review of current recruitment practices linked to marketing technology confirms that MarTech is not a recognised category in itself. The best approach is to move away from standard IT and/or marketing skills.

To get the best out of your MarTech, start with the business goals and desired outcomes of using the MarTech components. Your gatekeeper, or MarTech owner, needs to be able to link the goals to the usage of the applications.

In a lot of cases, this simply requires an in-depth understanding of business processes, provided an IT support team is in place as well as key marketing talent. If the latter two are not in place, then recruiting junior staff in the areas of IT and Marketing is sufficient, provided the MarTech leader is well versed in the alignment of processes and tools.

The detailed implementation tactics can be executed by subject matter experts.

The long-term approach to defining the skills and experiences that are relevant to successfully manage a company’s MarTech stack, lie with our education system, as well as the industry leaders. MarTech’s influence and impact on the health and prosperity of most companies will continue to grow.

Segregating IT and Marketing personnel will no longer work. For those who want to maximise their investments, the company structures will need to shift from vertical functional columns to horizontal alignment across tools and systems.

We are seeing many examples of this already. Utilising a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool will not be the sole responsibility of Marketing; Sales, IT, Product Management, Finance and HR will have an equally big interest in the application and will need to be consulted on utilisation and improvements.

The same applies to project management software, data analysis and social media software, to name just a few.

Given the desire and flexibility of millennials, generation Z and future generations coming into the work environment, there is a big opportunity for higher education organisations to align their courses towards the MarTech category. It already spans across advertising & promotion, content & experience, social & relationships, commerce & sales, data and management with a growing number of providers and solutions.

Most of jobs within MarTech have not yet been defined, but are expected to formalise within the next 3-5 years.

It is our task to provide insights to our colleagues, share information and avoid being restricted to simply IT and Marketing skills.

About the Author

Hans Smans is the Founder and Lead Consultant of Smans Marketing Consultancy and specialises in strategic marketing advice.

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Hans Smans

Marketing Director, Smans Marketing Consultancy

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