Content Marketing's Talent Gap: More Jobs Than Qualified People

By | December 12, 2017
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John HallThis is a guest post from John Hall, CEO of Influence & Co., keynote speaker, and author of “Top of Mind.” You can book John to speak here.

Line up 100 managers, and all but six will tell you that content marketing is critical to their business strategy. At the same time, they’ll probably agree that landing an exceptional content marketing candidate is more difficult than training a cat to use the toilet.

So, what’s the problem?

Colleges, universities, and other educational institutions are prepping students for a host of positions, but few include the heavy-duty, highly evolved content marketing roles that modern companies and agencies are looking for. Instead, their curricula tend to focus on business marketing and professional writing — great skills, sure, but only part of today’s content marketing ecosystem.

As a result, top content marketers are being wooed and snatched up before most employers can even post their Indeed advertisements. Despite these hiring challenges, agencies need to press forward to discover a way to bridge the content marketing talent gap — or risk missing major opportunities to grow their businesses.

Content Marketing: Your Agency’s Strongest Tool for Growth

Over the past few years, content has become the core of modern marketing. Not only is content marketing used by nine in 10 marketers, but it can be leveraged by agencies across departments for countless goals, including lead generation, sales enablement, branding, account service, recruitment, and more.

The thing is, I’ve seen too many agency leaders prioritize the needs of their clients over their own internal marketing needs. Despite all the benefits that effective content marketing can deliver, it tends to take a back seat to the work teams are already doing to keep clients happy.

To make matters more complicated, Indeed’s internal data suggests there are more than three job postings for every single content marketing applicant. Even if a focus on internal marketing needs is a priority for your team, the talent war is going full force.

Is it time to throw in the towel and just do your best with less-qualified folks — or go without content marketing altogether? Neither. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get creative. Solutions abound; you just need to overcome the challenge with the right recruitment tactics:

1. Set your sights on a content unicorn.

Think big when seeking content marketers, and set up your agency’s content marketing for long-term success by hiring content marketers with skills in areas like strategy development, content creation, and data analysis. Seven years ago, the guy who wrote 500-word blog posts all day might have made the cut. Now, his skills are as bland as they come, and hiring him probably won’t give your brand any real advantage.

Rather than cast a wide net with modest standards, audit your current marketing efforts to look for holes. Then, maximize your job description by being almost irritatingly specific, and develop brief test assignments for those roles to help you gauge the abilities of candidates in practice.

Ideally, you want to land a content marketer whose right brain-left brain connections work seamlessly. Using these tests, compare how applicants balance the creativity and details of their specific roles with their impact on the bigger picture of your team’s strategy and goals.

Is finding this type of wordsmith who’s as good at crafting meaningful, strategic messages as she is at leveraging data and technology going to be simple? No. Will it be worth it? Absolutely. You’ll have a gifted storyteller who understands the power of analytics and optimization, and that’s a powerful combination that can help your team unlock opportunities for growth.

2. Don’t neglect your current content production.

The thing about hiring content unicorns is that you probably won’t win them over until you position yourself as the best place for content marketers to work. It all goes back to the idea that success breeds success: Masterful content is a magnet for content masters.

As your content initiative continues growing and drawing interest from your audience, you’ll start to attract better applicants for all your positions, including more content managers, designers, strategists, and other critical members of your content team. They’ll see you as a true leader in your space — one they want to work for. My agency, Influence & Co., did this, and in 12 months, we hired 30 content marketers with some of the most creative, strategic minds in the industry.I know what you’re thinking: “How can I build my brand with content if we don’t have a dedicated content marketer on board?” I get it; that’s a tough position to be in. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s doable. Everyone starts somewhere.

I know what you’re thinking: “How can I build my brand with content if we don’t have a dedicated content marketer on board?” I get it; that’s a tough position to be in. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s doable. Everyone starts somewhere.

With a content marketing strategy checklist that gives your agency’s current marketing team (or marketing director, copywriter, or other individual currently responsible for communication) a simple and effective framework, you can begin executing a strategy that builds your brand and keeps content moving forward while you’re hiring the rest of your staff. And if all else fails, well, that leads me to my next point.

3. Partner with another agency to fill in the gaps.

If you’re having trouble keeping up with the demands of managing your content efforts and assembling a team over time, player by player, then work with an outside content marketing agency to help.

In my experience, marketing agency partnerships can be extremely beneficial. A lot of agencies, for lack of a better term, just get one another. Expectations, industry knowledge, long-term goal setting, and tactical details can be easier to discuss and understand when you’re naturally on the same page. Plus, agencies often bring complementary skills to the table, which can make the content you create together even more impactful.

When you work with an outside partner in areas where you don’t have time, money, or human resources to invest internally, you can keep focusing on the things your team does do well and let an outside expert take care of the rest. Not only does that keep your internal team focused on client service and retention, but it also means your content production never stops.

That content can then be used to attract, hire, and train more internal team members if you choose to expand, making collaboration between your own agency and your agency partner even more robust.

Content will continue to evolve, and so will content marketing. But it will never, ever go away. As Millennials get older and Generation Z workers take to the professional world en masse, brands and consumers will crave advanced content that goes far beyond the keyword-dense products that used to produce rewards. Stay ahead of the curve; become a place where stellar content marketers practically beg to showcase their superior skills on behalf of your business.