Where to find the best marketing talent in the world? | M&M Global

Where to find the best marketing talent in the world?

A new approach to talent recruitment is needed for brands, writes Flock Associates chief executive Simon Francis.

Needle haystack 2

For the sake of stating the obvious, great marketing requires great marketing talent. So where should a chief marketer or chief executive searching for a new CMO look for their next hire?

In the past, the lazy CMO or CEO hired a ‘named’ recruitment consultant and specified a loose job description for the marketing roles (it didn’t matter too much as they were all similar, right?) and suggested the head-hunter searched in companies that “farmed” great talent in their local market: P&G, Unilever, Kraft, Kellogg’s, Mars and the leading local brands.

It was relatively easy.

Now, relatively-speaking, it’s a nightmare. To follow the ‘old’ approach is to almost certainly guarantee failure and here is why.

1 – The skills that are required are massively different than previously and key senior roles have morphed and overlapped. For example, sales and marketing have merged with the growth of ecommerce and retail consolidation. Insight, analytics and research, social media and customer care are merged and real-time. Globalisation has stripped some aspects of category planning, packaging and pricing away from local marketers. And, of course digital has disrupted everything. The skills a modern marketer needs are very different from even a decade ago.

2 – Growth is now coming from different markets, via niche brands and digital channels. The old thinking of taking marketers from London and New York and exporting them to ‘emerging’ markets is looking increasingly wrong-headed. Looking at ‘big brand experience’ also is increasingly irrelevant, whereas those people that have grown businesses and brands on a shoe-string using agile marketing techniques, are much in demand.

3 – Born digital, born with data in their veins, born tech-savvy. Some of the CPG giants have been slow to adapt to a new age, and their cohorts of senior marketers are bereft of practical digital marketing experience. Some would say you can’t find good digital marketers there, you need to go to the companies ‘born digital’ to find the CMO’s of the future.

Needle haystackSo, if it is a now a nightmare, how and where do you find the best marketing talent in the world? Here are some of our top tips:

Don’t specify roles, do specify ‘squads and systems’

Modern marketing requires far better organisation, far more thought about structures and roles and responsibilities than it ever did before. The organisational design matters – a lot. Putting great talent in a poor structure will set the marketer up for failure, not success. Spend some time with a marketing organisational design expert, it is time well spent.

Identify skills, capabilities, behaviours and attitudes carefully

The ‘How of Marketing’ is growing in importance and those that have the skills and attitudes to “make the how happen” are much in demand. A great CV does not guarantee success and the old adage ‘Hire for attitude, train for skill’ has never been truer. Only if you specify in great detail exactly the make-up of your talent requirements, will you be able to judge it when they come for interview.

Search where the talent is

Much of the great marketing talent of today is not in marketing. They may be in ‘strategy’ or ‘ecommerce’ or ‘digital’ or ‘customer experience’ or ‘sales’. They may in an agency, or a consultancy. They may not be in your country. Celebrate ‘flip-floppers’ and ‘T-shapes’ – those who have worked in different functions, industries, markets and/or in agencies/media owners/consultancies. Conventional searches and head hunting techniques will not find them.

Be talent centric and flexible

If you find great talent you’ll need to work hard to attract them. This is not about salary and bonus. It is about your vision, strategy, culture, their accountabilities, the support and development opportunities you provide, and your ability to be flexible to the talent’s requirements. Marketing folk may be “different” from other departments and may require a different sort of approach and you may need to help HR understand that!

We can 100% guarantee that there is not one company, one country, or one approach that is a ‘go to’ for all marketing talent. But, we hope that by avoiding the ‘old’ marketing recruitment approach and adopting the ‘new’ recruitment approach shown above, you’ll surprise yourself with the talent you find, and the results they bring.


Simon Francis

Chief executive, Flock Associates

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply