AnalyticsROI MarketingHelp Wanted! Our People Crisis

Help Wanted! Our People Crisis

Where can we find the people with the skills and aptitude necessary to fill the resource gap that exists in the marketplace?

Media channels are increasingly fragmented. Customers are becoming accustomed to a real-time, socially-connected, and mobile world. Marketing to customers who ignore marketing has exposed a significant challenge facing our industry’s future success: People.

Where to find the people with the skills and aptitude necessary to fill the resource gap that exists in the marketplace?

A query of open U.S.-based marketing jobs on Craigslist shows 68 percent require Internet marketing skills.

Simply Hired stats show that near the end of 2010, over 100,000 Web marketing jobs remain unfilled for lack of trained workers.

And according to Indeed, the end of 2010 saw the number one fastest growing term for job trends is “Facebook.” Social media ranked number four after “iPhone” and “virtualization,” while Twitter remained at number six and “Blogger” ranked number 10.

How many open positions does your company have for people with three to five years of Web marketing experience? How long have they been open? And what about those with even longer tenures? How long have they been open? Even Adobe’s demand marketing team is looking to hire 40 expert marketers.

Part of the challenge: college students, for the most part, aren’t getting the proper education for today’s fast-evolving, digital world. In fact, Matt McGowan, managing director for Incisive Media, Americas, (Incisive Media is the publisher of ClickZ and producer of the SES conference) was motivated by this cause and as part of SES Chicago this week, gave away one-day passes and provided a special session for over 50 business school graduate students. Several students commented that they were exposed to some marketing concepts for the first time at the conference. These are your future managers!

While I wish I could blame the professors, I know it really isn’t all their fault. Last week, I had the honor to keynote the Direct Marketing Educational Foundation (DMEF) Research Summit and had an interactive dialogue with nearly 100 marketing academics from around the country. They recognize the problems, but suffer from poor academic metabolisms, lack of resources, and university structures that are hard to change. As much as they try, you know how fast things change in our industry and how hard it is to keep up.

Only a few colleges, like Rasmussen, New York University, and The University of British Columbia (they offer a certificate program on Web analytics I helped start as part of the Web Analytics Association) have a structured and timely curriculum covering Web marketing. Regardless, there are too few preparing students for today’s market needs.

David Rauch, director of online education for Benedictine University, shared that his university “is in the process of launching an internet marketing concentration as part of our online MBA program. In order to best prepare students for the dynamic and changing business environment, Academe has to look closely at what the market is expecting/requiring from MBA graduates. Although we currently offer marketing courses, we see the next logical progression to be in-depth training in the strategy and tactics needed to effectively market online. We want our students to graduate not only with the business savvy expected of the degree, but also with the ability to seize the opportunities that internet marketing has created in today’s economy.”

Colleges and universities are finding that it is very hard to keep an up-to-date, structured curriculum in Web marketing.

Discussing these issues with my good friend and CEO of Market Motive, Michael Stebbins said “the dedicated, in-classroom instructor cannot possibly keep up with the best practices in each web marketing practice. Most e-marketing books are out of date before they are printed and those with the know-how are in the trenches learning next year’s best practice. The best solution we’ve seen is the marrying of the two – structured courses provided by an educator matched with constantly-updated material from the field.”

Michael claims that Market Motive figured this out some years ago and now has enough critical mass to be the leading curriculum provider in Web marketing, licensing its curriculum to universities in the U.S. and abroad. (Full disclosure: I am the faculty chair for the Conversion & Landing Page Optimization course at Market Motive.)

All is not doom and gloom. In fact, one professor at the DMEF luncheon shared how several venture capitalists worked directly with her university providing funding for a business plan challenge every year and how that brought together the different schools such as the school of engineering or medicine working with the school of business to produce real innovation and actual businesses out of this program.

What would our students and education program be like if we had greater cooperation between businesses and universities?

Could we get a professor and his class to assist with or analyze your social media efforts or your Web analytics data and provide insights back to the business? The students would get to work on real-world issues and gain skills, and businesses would have the additional lower-cost resources to get some of their efforts done and eventually have talent to hire with the required experience and knowledge. Students could learn things like how to get search rankings, what it takes to build a personal brand, how to manage a PPC account, how to set up a multivariate test, etc.

We are living in times where many boundaries are being crossed, where publishers are becoming retailers, where retailers are becoming technology companies; maybe it’s time for universities to become a bit more commercial and for businesses to open up to academia.

Wired magazine had an interesting take on the “7 Essential Skills You Didn’t Learn in College,” but I’m curious what skills do you wish students from colleges were educated in?

What other ideas do you have to overcome this challenge we face together? Your help is wanted.


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