In Gartner’s 2022 Annual CMO Spend and Strategy Survey (of 400+ Marketing leaders), respondents reported they allocated more than half of their budget to online marketing initiatives.

Digital marketing is booming. But its meteoric rise doesn’t mean that digital marketers enjoy immunity from the pressures of this year and beyond. Even through inflation uncertainties, global conflicts and the Great Resignation, Marketing is still expected to continue growing the company. And while the normal strain of keeping and finding the best people to meet that objective is now more difficult than ever, competitive forces dictate that digital marketing and digital talent should be huge components of an overall marketing strategy. Regardless of the company’s revenue, or the size of its marketing team.

Easier said than done? We know. Just a quick glance at the Hot Jobs list in Cella’s 2023 Creative, Marketing and Digital Salary Guide will tell you there’s no shortage of competitive digital positions to fill.

As you head into 2023 and evaluate where to add digital resources, you’ll no doubt have many tough decisions to make. Do you choose one talent’s skill sets versus another’s? Resolve a challenge in “this” digital channel, or address the issue in “that” one? This blog presents some suggestions and considerations to keep in mind as you shape your team.

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Balancing Generalists and Specialists

No matter how large or small, every company fights the generalists versus specialists battle. Daily work demands may require the skills of generalists who can wear several hats. At the same time, a new program or initiative may reveal needs for specialized expertise. In both cases, timing and budgetary constraints remain critical. The key is determining whether three multi-skilled generalists can outperform five specialists. Here are a few suggestions to help you decide.  

  • Start by evaluating your skills stack. Review the skills you already have, then prioritize where you should first add specialists. Your decisions should depend on the specialist role that can add the most value and growth. For example, the divide between a Copywriter and a Digital Content Writer grows wider every day.

  • Consider engaging specialists on a contract (short-term) basis. You won’t have the extra expense of finding, onboarding and training permanent employees, plus you can fill urgent needs more quickly. 

  • Reap the benefits of continuity. If contract specialists can create the jolt you need, have a plan for continuing their work and knowledge after they depart. This way, existing generalists who learn valuable new skills from the specialists can keep the momentum going. Plus the advances achieved by hiring expert contractors may support the business case for FTEs later on.  

  • Don’t forget your MarTech stacks. Digital Video and UI/UX specialists are often brought in for a limited time to consult on marketing department operations. The consultants’ proficiency with a broad array of technology and programs can help your marketing team quickly understand the pros and cons of your current stack, so that cost-effective decisions can be made either to renew or replace expensive programs that help determine your marketing success.

Navigating the Knowns and Unknowns

New trends are always emerging with regards to digital marketing strategy. It’s tough to clear the hurdles lying ahead at the same time you’re deploying resources to address the ones (some still in their infancy) picking up steam right behind you. In situations like these, many digital marketers can confirm that betting on the knowns is preferable to gambling on the unknowns. In other words, it’s best to make what you know your first priority. Here are some scenarios you may want to consider.   

KNOWN – The Absence of 3rd Party Cookies 

In 2023, when Google removes 3rd party cookies from Chrome, hopefully digital marketing teams will have already pivoted and shored up their capacity for capturing 1st party data—adding roles such as Content Marketers, Copywriters, UI/UX designers, Web Developers, etc. in preparation for the “cookiepocalypse.” This is a prudent move that will help businesses maintain customer relationships and healthy pipelines as their reliance on 3rd party data completely evaporates. 

KNOWN – Low Code/No Code Tools

Low code/no code (LC/NC) tools such as interactive calculators and online quizzes are a great way to engage with customers and prospects as part of your overall digital marketing. The popularity and growth of these tools continue to proliferate—if they aren’t already additions to your marketing efforts, they likely will be soon. Having a plan for including LC/NC tools in your current content strategy is key for 2023. Keep in mind, though, that too many marketing departments that invest in LC/NC leave a lot of functionality and impact on the table. Getting the most bang for your buck requires more than merely paying for usage of the tools. Only with the right team in place can you ensure that adding LC/NC tools will amplify your content, generate leads and engage prospects in innovative new ways. 

UNKNOWN – The Metaverse 

The metaverse is teetering on the verge of becoming tech’s next supernova. Experts predict its market value will explode from a mere $40B now to $1,607B by 2030. But before then, people are expected to be spending an hour a day actively immersed in 3D virtual worlds as their avatars interact in environments without real-world physical limitations.2

Certain skill sets will be highly desirable for companies entering the metaverse, including UI/UX design, 3D modeling and, of course artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) development. Additional roles are predicted to evolve as the metaverse expands, such as virtual stewards, virtual real estate agents, virtual tour guides, metaverse stylists (who doesn’t want a good-looking avatar) and more. From a Marketing standpoint, it would be foolish not to explore how the metaverse might affect your customer base, which skill sets you may need to compete, and what to prioritize when hiring talent with technical expertise. 

UNKNOWN – Podcast Marketing ROI

While podcasts aren’t new, they continue to increase in popularity. However, their efficacy as a reliable “digital marketing add-on” is debatable. U.S. market research company eMarketer predicts that podcast ad spending will surpass $2B in 2023 and grow to more than $3B by 2026.3 For companies contributing to these totals, a key factor to consider is access to Digital Video and Dynamic Content Production talent as part of the podcast strategy. Whether you prefer hosting your own podcast or guesting on other popular productions, Video and Content talent can help enhance your company’s message via engaging, well-crafted clips (video and audio) that draw in listeners and new prospects. Podcasts can also be a great example of evergreen content that promises lasting impact, regardless of when it was created.  

In Summary

Among the plethora of advances, changes, opportunities and quandaries faced by marketers in the rapidly evolving digital space, “Can we/should we?” (or vice versa) may well be their most crucial question to answer. Just because you can (i.e., “get by” with generalists, “do” AI, crypto, AR . . . ) doesn’t always mean that you should. Getting it right is more important than getting there first when it comes to your digital marketing strategy. 

When considering generalists and specialists, prioritize your most urgent needs first, choose the ones that provide immediate return, and then staff accordingly. Have a continuity or knowledge transfer plan in place if your decision leans toward more specialists. If you’re deciding between managing the known or unknown, resolve the known first. It’s tempting to make bets on shiny new developments that are gaining traction, but your executive team will never fault you for actively focusing on the challenges you know how to address—and then validating the returns on your achievements.

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