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Attract the Unicorns: How to Win the War for the Best Marketing Talent

unicorn-imageThis post originally appeared on Inbound Insiders, a new section of Inbound Hub. To read more content like this, subscribe to the Inbound Insiders section.

A marketing talent war has begun. Organizations that have been slow to evolve don’t know it yet, but the battle is brewing among forward-thinking agencies, publishers, corporations, and media companies.

The prize?

Tech-savvy hybrid marketers who are capable of building and managing fully integrated campaigns that produce real business results. These next-generation professionals excel in digital marketing disciplines of analytics, automation, content, email, mobile, and social.

As the hybrids emerge, legacy corporate silos will crumble and traditional-minded marketers will become irrelevant.

But, these modern hybrid marketers are a rare breed.

Attract the Unicorns

In his blog post "50% of All New Marketing Hires Will be Technical," Scott Brinker, president and CTO of ion interactive, states, “There's a real scarcity of technical professionals, even more so for those with passion and aptitude for marketing.”

Brinker says, “There will be enormous competition for those unicorns, not just from other marketing departments, but from marketing software vendors, consulting firms, agencies, and a whole new bumper crop of start-ups, all of whom need this talent in pursuit of their missions.”

So what can your organization do to attract that talent? In short, think like modern marketers, and put inbound marketing strategies and technologies to work.

1) Map skills gaps.

Start by identifying the skills needed for a modern marketing team, and then rate your staff and agency partners at fulfilling these skill areas. Consider these core areas:

  • Coding/programming
  • Copywriting
  • Data analysis
  • Email marketing
  • Event planning/production
  • Graphic design
  • Lead management/nurturing
  • Mobile strategy
  • Paid search management
  • Public relations
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Social media
  • Strategic planning
  • Video production/editing
  • Website management

2) Define candidate personas.

Profile career candidates the same way you would buyer personas. Ask yourself:

  • What matters to them when researching career options?
  • Where do they go for information and resources?
  • What are their primary concerns and questions?
  • What is their educational background and career experience?
  • How do they evaluate companies?
  • What do they value, and how do they make career decisions?

3) Adjust brand positioning.

Think of your organization as a career destination, not a steppingstone. HubSpot’s Culture Code, which has nearly one million SlideShare views, is a great example of positioning a brand to attract talent.

Intrinsically motivated professionals, who are essential to your success, value companies and careers with purpose.

4) Create candidate-focused content.

Are you publishing blog posts, ebooks, photos, videos, and more -- targeted at career candidates? If not, you should be. These content assets are the ideal way to tell your company story and engage prospective employees to your brand.

5) Build landing pages with profiling questions.

Shift away from the standard online forms and job listings, and use landing pages with lead forms to capture candidates. The forms should be tied to a back-end contact management system, which maintains updated records for each candidate.

Here’s an example of the PR 20/20 career opportunities page. We’re still evolving the format and fields, but our goal was to gain greater insight into candidates, and connect their responses to contact records in HubSpot for scoring and nurturing.

Which leads us to the next step!

6) Score and segment candidates using behavior-based signals.

Once you gather profile information, you can activate a candidate scoring system (similar to how you would set up lead scoring), which gives preference, or greater weight, to specific skills, education and experience.

But don’t stop there.

By integrating marketing technology into your recruiting process, you can use behavior-based signals to impact candidates’ overall ratings. Did they view the “about” page? Did they click on the “careers” page's recommended reading links? Are they following the company on Twitter and Facebook?

Segment the most engaged candidates into priority lists, and move on to step seven.

7) Activate automated email workflows.

Nurture your career candidates. Use marketing technology to set up automated emails that provide them with valuable resources, and offer you additional touchpoints to monitor their engagement and interest.

The candidate-focused content you created in step four fuels the nurturing emails. Watch open and click rates, and be sure that you’ve accounted for these interactions in your candidate scoring formula.

Your best candidates are going to be the professionals who meet the obvious skill/education/experience requirements, but also demonstrate a desire to continually advance their knowledge and capabilities, and engage with your brand.

By applying inbound marketing strategies and technologies to your recruiting process, you will give your organization a distinct advantage when competing for top marketing talent.

Bonus Marketing Tech HR Tip:

Once you’ve landed your modern marketers, use marketing automation to efficiently move them through the onboarding and training process. Schedule regular emails to remind them of training milestones, and provide recommended resources to continually advance their knowledge and capabilities.

Paul Roetzer (@paulroetzer) is founder and CEO of PR 20/20, a Cleveland-based inbound marketing agency. He's also the author of The Marketing Agency Blueprint (Wiley), and the creator of Marketing Agency Insider -- the hub for a more open and collaborative agency ecosystem -- and Marketing Score -- a free assessment tool and marketing intelligence engine.