Change happens a lot in our industry. If you're not comfortable with it, you're probably not in the right place. Companies experiment with new roles and angles by which they can find an edge and better serve their clients. Some of these roles "take" and can explode into whole new industries themselves or can create new demand for the pioneers within the space.
Fifteen years ago, I look back on search engine optimization. Entrepreneurial spirits discovered that search engines drove sales, so they played around with their websites to find ways to make their sites rank better than competitors. After a while, there was incredible demand for people who'd figured out these tricks, and those people had command of their employment destiny. There is still today a fraternity among that small group that you see at conferences and on the speaking circuit; they fondly remember those days as they brush aside some now graying hair.
Social media took SEO's place with another group of early adopters who put their skills to work and now speak frequently on the topic. They built legions of believers and yielded a burst of activity across our industry. People jumped onto the bandwagon with fervor, and jobs for them exploded. Now that area of marketing has settled in, and we await what's next.
Across the board, companies and the employees within them are maturing -- some more than others, if you know what I mean -- and there are enough options for people in our industry to move around to find an environment that meets their needs. There are agencies, both broad and specialized, software companies, technology companies with consulting arms, and client-side, but on the other hand, there is also the option of taking specialized skills on the road as an independent consultant. However, the questions remain for employees, "Where is the opportunity now? What are the hottest skillsets required to relive the marketing gold rush?" And companies are asking, "Where should I expect the turnover within my ranks? How do I hang on to my good people? What aspect of marketing should I invest?"
Have you tried blending finance, statistics, and/or accounting with marketing? Advanced analytics is what you get, and this domain is hot. A lot of marketers left math behind in high school and therefore have to play catch-up now or watch some of the quants pass them by. Finding people with the right blend of skills and curiosity can be hard, so companies have to invest in training to develop the right skills on top of a strong educational foundation.
While I recognize that above I indicate that there might be a little cooling off inside social media, I also know that, for the very best, experienced people, there is still quite a bit of opportunity. Social media is far more sophisticated than it once was and has gotten well past the tweets and posts that the incoming class of entry-level candidates may expect. Everyone coming out of school still wants to be in social media, so the bar is high to get that first job. But as you build your experience, there continues to be opportunity.
If you don't challenge creatives, you risk losing them because the best people will always have a place they can go. That has always been the case. This has a lot to do with new business and new opportunities within existing business. Keep new things coming and you keep your creatives.
People who really know how to lead an e-commerce team are hard to come by. There are definitely people who've dabbled in it or have been part of a team, but actually being in charge of a large, successful e-commerce or direct channel endeavor is rare compared to the quantity of opportunities that are out there for this role. Companies need people who know how to cut through the clutter and drive results in a systematic and measured way.
This one is, unfortunately, not as much a result of the marketers hopping around themselves so much as companies changing course or, worse, laying blame. As much as the statistics say that top-ranking marketers are keeping their jobs longer than they have in the past, it still is a relatively short tenure compared to the garden-variety employee. There is always someone willing to take the role, and there is always some aspect of the marketing that can be improved or at least changed to illustrate improvement.
And, then...everyone else
Here's the thing. When I was asked to write this piece, I know that it was intended to be about the most likely job titles to move around from job to job. The fact is that I think that both risk and opportunity are everywhere; I am truly in awe of people who make the most of even old-line jobs. Opportunity is created by looking up from your day-to-day work and identifying a need. If you're able to solve problems for clients or your own company better than others, then you have opportunity both where you are and elsewhere if you develop the critical skills necessary to deliver.
The big difference between today and 15 or more years ago is that access to opportunity is more pervasive than ever, too. Social media has made you immediately marketable by virtue of what you tweet about, put on your LinkedIn profile, and what you blog about. If you're having success, people in your network can find out about it pretty quickly. In fact, the definition of your network has even changed to a measure of degrees. As in, "That person is a second degree connection of mine." What was once a couple hundred people is instantly thousands with whom you have a connection.
That leads to the employers. How do you ensure that these people stay?
How to limit turnover
First, it starts with culture and vision, because it isn't enough to just be "in our industry" anymore. That used to be OK when there were fewer options out there, but now you have to be an appealing, considerate employer for a variety of people who live to solve client's problems, explore new tactics, and are generally capable and driven. Then, you have to create space for innovation and opportunity.
We are now a multigenerational workplace dealing with seemingly foreign situations compared to when we were "up-and-coming." Boomers, Xers, Ys, and Millenials are commingling with different skillsets, tactics, and perspectives. It is a fun culture clash marked by discussions about strategy and insights that drive business nearly as much as debates about open offices, work-life balance, and work-from-home policies. It is time to confidently decide who are each going to be -- which is largely a no-right, no-wrong decision -- and then simply discover and solve clients' problems using every available tool at our disposal.
If you know who you are and authentically maintain those roots, you will attract like-minded people who feel at home. They will like and respect the other people they work with as long as they are all making progress toward a similar and honorable goal.
Resourceful people will make it happen for you and your clients as long as there is space and freedom to innovate. Offer training, share with one another, create a sense of community within your four walls as well as outside of it. Time sheets and budgets tend to be a barrier for many, but this can happen inside the work if it has to be that way. It is the expectation as well as is in the innovators' DNA. They will always find a better solution if there is one, and we all recognize and appreciate them for finding it.
There is a lot more to all of this, of course, and clearly there is no magic wand that will tie this all in a bow. The summary is that opportunity abounds and new ideas create new industries and roles all the time. It is a constant evolution. The best people and companies adapt to new environments by focusing on solving problems and working well with a variety of other people, personalities, and perspectives. In that case, turnover will happen, but if you do it right, you'll be on the winning side of it.
Image via KVIL.