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Is This the End of the Marketing Generalist?

Marjorie Clayman is VP of Client Services at her family’s full service marketing firm,Clayman Marketing Communications.

There was an interesting article in AdAge this week that talked about how many large companies (Proctor & Gamble and Unilever specifically) are downsizing their marketing departments while also hiring some “new blood.”

Marketing Generalist

If the current hiring trend continues, marketers won’t have to wear as many hats.

Why would these large companies be hiring and downsizing at the same time? Well, the article notes that large companies are looking less for marketing generalists and more for marketers with specific skills to offer:

Former P&G Chairman-CEO Ed Artzt did the same thing two decades ago, said former P&G Global Marketing Officer Jim Stengel, now a consultant. But he said companies now are hiring for specific skills they believe will promote growth—such as content development or marketing analytics. Recruiters and marketers say they’re seeking specialists, and in some cases generalists, who can handle digital and social-media, e-commerce, direct and customer-relationship marketing, market research and analytics and shopper marketing.

If you’re a generalist and you know it, clap your hands

This might be good news for brand managers and content marketing specialists. Marketing directors, though, might be breaking out in a cold sweat right now.

According to AdAge, the number of job postings requesting a person with that title decreased by 30 percent over the last year. What can you do? Here are some ideas.

1. Promote an area of expertise: It is understood that as a marketer you need to have an understanding of everything that you would touch within a company. That is no longer news.

What special expertise can you offer a company now? Do you excel at social media marketing? Perhaps you are strong in branding or in content development. Emphasize those skills while indicating that you are also conversant in other areas of marketing. That is what companies are seeking today.

2. Offer actionable advice: For a couple of years now, marketers have gotten away with writing blogging posts advising readers to “Write epic stuff” or “Engage with your community.” Big companies especially now look for solid advice and guidance, and these types of soundbytes don’t qualify.

Mark my words, 2014 will be the year of actionable tips for marketers. Companies want to know how to develop all of this content you’ve been talking about, and more than anything else, they want to know how to increase sales.

3. Take hugging off your resume: In addition to fluffy advice, the online world has been rife with tidbits about relationships and how relationships are everything.

Relationships are important – they always have been the core of any business. However, marketers who want to get hired need to jump back into the real world.

The services companies need now are, according to the AdAge article, more along the lines of data management, e-commerce, business development (cross-channel) and more. If you have been floating around titles on your LinkedIn profile like “Chief Hug Officer” or “Marketing War Chief,” it’s probably time to make some updates.

Marketing has been in a weird kind of purgatory since the “Great Recession” began in 2008. A lot of marketers who had been in middle management positions lost their jobs and turned to the online world where they found success.

Along those same lines, people who had never been in marketing before found success online and decided they were marketers later.

I think 2014 is going to be a wake-up call for the marketing world. It’s time to roll up the sleeves and apply noses to grindstones. Companies are ready for people with specific skillsets, real-life experience and true advice to offer.

If you are worried about finding a marketing job in 2014, concentrate on the areas we have talked about here instead of on trying to be a marketing “twelebrity.” It will be a win-win for everybody.

For more marketing advice from Margie, click here.

Image: fotopedia (Creative Commons)

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