Marketing is in a period of mutation, says Eurostar's Lionel Benbassat
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Marketing is in a period of mutation, says Eurostar's Lionel Benbassat

The marketing industry suffers in multiple ways from the lack of diversity among those who work within it. People's different perspectives, backgrounds, experience and understanding can help build stronger businesses and add depth to the creativity that brands can call upon. This month we asked, should the industry do more to attract a diverse talent pool?

Each month The Forum questions members of The Marketing Society on a hot topic. For more on membership, visit Marketing Society

YES

Guy North

Managing director, Freeview

But it is more about attracting better talent than simply a more diverse pool of talent.

Talent is the key word here, but attitude is just as important a differentiator in finding people who will shine in our industry. Marketing leaders need to be clear on the type of person they want to recruit and make sure they look in the right places to find them.

This may no longer be the obvious marketing graduates or trainees from blue-chip FMCG companies. Demonstrable experience and a get-up-and-go attitude may now be more important in such a fast-moving industry, where anyone can demonstrate initiative and creativity using their own technology.

Some of the most talented people I’ve come across don’t have traditional marketing backgrounds. You can teach skills and knowledge; creativity, instinct and enthusiasm are harder to find, but worth going the extra mile to attract.

YES

Lionel Benbassat

Head of marketing and brand, Eurostar

Marketing is in a period of mutation, using data analytics, digital media, content and mobile services to build seamless customer experiences. Organisations need to demonstrate their ability to embrace this change in order to attract a new pool of talent.

It’s time to bury the cliché that data analytics is for geeks and ideas are for marketers. Businesses need to find marketing professionals who excel in digital disciplines but who also have a strong emotional understanding of the customer experience so they can transform data into ideas.

To attract these new hybrid marketers, structures need to evolve to fill the gaps that exist between information systems and marketing. This means new roles and job titles that merge analytics, media and creative execution and welcome diverse experience.

YES

Sally Cowdry

Marketing and consumer director, Camelot

High-performing teams in marketing need very different skills and capabilities now than they did even a few years ago. They need to effectively use information from many sources and be able to turn it into insight that informs business strategies, the innovation agenda and targeted, relevant creative and media plans.

They need to appreciate the power of this data, and work with specialists to deliver highly personalised communications. They must understand what opportunities digital platforms offer for new propositions, as well as for campaigns, and keep up to date on emergent technologies and what they mean for consumers. They need to ask the right questions.

So marketing departments do need more diversity of backgrounds and experience. This is true for both specialist and generalist roles, to keep pace with changing consumer behaviour and ahead of the competition.

YES

Michael Sugden

Chief executive, VCCP

Our industry lives and dies by the originality of its thinking. We are more likely to deliver this by having a diverse collective of talent.

The UK being an international crossroads has helped. We have 17 mother tongues within VCCP, for example. The industry is also improving ethnic and gender diversity – albeit there is still much progress to be made.

Something less talked-about is creative diversity. The UK is one of the world’s creative centres. We have booming film, broadcast, fashion and gaming industries, yet the cross-over of talent is surprisingly low.

Marketing is guilty of fishing in the same pools. We recruit entry-level talent from the same colleges and existing talent from one another. To diversify further we need to recruit from outside marketing, talent that isn’t constrained or influenced by industry conventions and habits.

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