The Right Time for the Millennial Marketer
A few years ago I was invited to speak to a global B2B marketing team on the topic of Revenue Marketing, i.e. how marketing is transforming from being a cost center to revenue center. The average age of this 40-person team was under 30 and many were only a few years out of college. At the end of my talk, I asked for questions. One person raised her hand and timidly asked…”I’m not sure I understand…isn’t marketing all about driving revenue?” I was momentarily stunned into silence and then thought– FINALLY we now have a generation of B2B marketers who see the role of B2B marketing in revenue. Long Live Millennials! Since that pivotal moment, I have been casually documenting the rise, the role and the revenue impact of the millennial marketer on Revenue Marketing.
The Rise – The Right Mindset at the Right Time
According to PWC, millennials will make up 50 percent of the workforce by 2020 and many are going into the marketing profession. This generation of marketer has been oft maligned, but I have found them to be a highly diverse population, valuing family, community, and having passion for what they do. Millennials are characterized as well educated, civic oriented, conscious capitalists, global citizens, entrepreneurial, open to diversity, confident and results-oriented. This generation of marketer has a different mindset towards technology, accountability, and career-building, which is well-suited for our fast-changing technology environment.
It is the mindset of seeing technology as a useful and practical tool versus technology being scary and overwhelming that is making such a big difference on teams today. I remember when I bought my first marketing automation system in 2004. At that time, there was a stark contrast between two marketers on my team. The older one was having a difficult time adjusting to both the use of the technology and the changes it was driving in marketing. The much younger one, who had a degree in marketing, welcomed the technology with relish and has since gone on to have a wonderful career as a Revenue Marketer®.
In the story I told at the beginning of this article, the hiring manager for the global marketing team had given up on finding deep technology skills – they were just too scarce at the time. Instead, his hiring philosophy was to hire based on cultural fit and aptitude to be part of a digital transformation team. He hired mostly millennials or digital natives who were excited and passionate about their blossoming careers and had huge appetites for learning. In other words, he hired the right mindset.
As the number of marketing technologies continues to explode, it’s not knowledge of a particular piece of software that will be important. What will be key to marketing’s success is the ability of marketers to quickly learn and optimize the use of any technology across a MarTech stack.
The Role – The Right Skill Set at the Right Time
Earlier this year, I conducted a series of interviews on skills required in today’s B2B marketing organization. One common theme was the need to hire generalists and especially millennial generalists. Common descriptions from hiring managers included:
- “They are more flexible.”
- “They are more tech savvy – they are true native technologists.”
- “They provide a good balance on a team.”
- “They are not mired down in past models.”
- “They look for solutions that use technology.”
- “They look for a career opportunity, not just a job.”
- “They motivate others to new ways of seeing things – they are like the energy charger for our team.”
Embedded in this description is both a soft and hard skill set. The soft skills include the ability to collaborate, be flexible and innovative in an ever-changing environment. Not being tied to the old way of doing things is largely a plus. The hard skills are the left-brain attributes of logic, analysis, and solving puzzles. This combination of skills is the right skill set at the right time.
The Revenue – The Right Metric at the Right Time
OK, nothing excites me more than to see a marketing team with revenue responsibility and variable compensation tied to a number. CMOs are facing unprecedented pressure to show ROI and make a business impact, yet, this is still a challenge for many CMOs to achieve. I noticed a big difference between millennial marketers and older marketers a few years ago in terms of how they view and accept accountability. Millennial marketers are more apt to see financial accountability as just another day at the office and nothing special. They are not mired down from legacy metrics because they are so new to the game. In addition, their arrival in the job market coordinates with the rise of technology use in marketing that for the first time in history, allows for the true measurement of marketing contribution in financial terms.
The Impact – The Right Actions to Take
The impact of this dynamic new employee has been timely for marketing managers needing to change but also challenging. Managing millennials takes a bit of a different approach. Consider these three actions:
Adding millennials to a non-millennial team can be tricky, especially if you would like to keep the non-millennial team members. Millennials are career-focused and want clarity on upward mobility. By having clear roles and responsibilities and clear guidelines for advancement, you’ll give the millennial a blueprint they can follow. This ensures their success and how they fit into the team.
Millennials are highly motivated by their social and capital consciousness and will look to work for a company with similar beliefs. In hiring millennials, find out their passions and if they align with your company’s goals. Also, millennials are as money motivated as any group, but the money motivation is often moderated by social consciousness.
Retaining millennials can be tricky as they have less loyalty and more goals for career building than the prior generation. Millennials are life-long learners and want to learn at their own pace and in a way that is 100% applicable to their job. Training, mentoring and career building are very attractive to millennials and represent great retention strategies.
Millennials are a key part of the current workforce and are growing. Understanding the general millennial persona will help a marketing manager hire and retain the necessary talent required in today’s environment. Looking for the right mindset, the right skill set and the right kind of financial accountability can be found in this engaging and energetic generation. The age of the millennial marketer is right now and into the foreseeable future.
Debbie Qaqish is the Chief Strategy Officer of the Pedowitz Group