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What’s the DNA of a marketing director in NZ?

Digital specialists vs. marketing generalists. Or both?

The need for digital specialists and marketing generalists has heightened in New Zealand, as marketing directors seek to recruit both skill-sets.

A total of 78 per cent of marketing leaders require both attributes in their team, according to findings from Hays in New Zealand.

The report - based on a survey of over 400 current marketing heads - found just 13 per cent said the lateral or broad-based skills of generalists are more valuable than the combination of generalist and specialist skills.

Meanwhile, the final nine per cent said that specialist expertise is more important to lead and guide on new trends.

As for their own skills, 77 per cent of marketing directors have developed their digital skills to complement their traditional marketing skills.

To do this, 80 per cent read publications, blogs or news articles, 66 per cent attend industry events, conferences and or meet-ups and 40 per cent undertake formal courses or training paid for by their employer.

“Many generalist marketers have focused on becoming digital specialists out of fear their career would suffer if they failed to do so,” said Adam Shapley, managing director of Hays in New Zealand.

“But despite the focus on digital, it seems that marketing directors still value generalists as much as specialists.

“For aspiring marketing directors, the message here is to acquire broad-based generalist skills so you can understand the end-to-end marketing function, but at the same time, find your niche and develop specialist skills that could put you in the driver’s seat.”

To access digital expertise, marketing directors also work with an external digital agency (83 per cent), train up existing staff as needed (73 per cent) and have employed a permanent digital expert in the past year (51 per cent).

In addition, 40 per cent have employed a temporary or contract digital worker.

“With digital transformations occurring at a rapid pace, in turn widening the technological skills gap, contractors are seen as an ideal solution,” Shapley added.

In terms of how they up-skill staff, the most popular options are training run by digital agencies, ADMA training, internal workshops and bringing digital agency talent in-house.

According to the survey respondents, the digital skills that are hardest to find are data analytics (51 per cent), marketing automation (41 per cent), digital lead conversion (32 per cent), SEO and SEM (25 per cent) and digital content production (24 per cent).