Marketing’s human resource

CPRI, the firm that provides interim marketing and creative insourcing professionals to FORTUNE 500 clients, today announced the results of a study it conducted.  The subject:  the communications gap between the corporate HR and marketing functions. 

Some highlights.  45 percent of the marketing execs believe that their biggest challenge is having HR unearth qualified candidates.  50 percent of the marketing execs are planning to hire this year.  And 52 percent of the marketing execs believe that HR does not understand the skill sets Marketing needs on its team.

Scary.  So I want to help close the communication gap. 

First, HR functionaries must become more open to what CPRI calls contingent players — getting advice and support on an as-needed basis without staffing-up unnecessarily.  And second, whatever the nature of the hire — permanent or contingent — I believe there are five qualities, above and beyond industry and project experience, that HR should seek when filling a marketing position.

A sense of urgency.  As soon as marketing types act as if their work is mission-critical, the rest of the organization will start paying attention.  Look for people who think their work is too important to lolly gag over.

A dedication to selling.  Marketing is only as good as the support it offers to the sales force.  The reason marketing exists in an organization is to help sell product and inspire all stakeholders — that means customers and employees — to appreciate what the literature and talking points say is so different about the company’s product or service.

Writing ability.  If the organization can’t decide between two equally qualified candidates, and the only difference is writing ability, pick the one with writing ability.  It means he or she can think — and thinking means they have the ability to strategize as well as execute.

Work ethic.  A business school professor once said that the hardest working business majors went into the accounting and finance programs, not marketing.  That was one professor’s experience, and I’ve seen many hardworking marketers, but this should be enough to make anyone double-check.

An aversion to waste.  Years ago, I happened upon a staffer, MBA in marketing, clearing out his files.  The papers were held together with tons of expensive binder clips.  He was not removing them.  The papers were in expensive file and hanging folders.  He was tossing them, too.  I often wonder whether this individual can read an agency invoice or evaluate work product or tell the difference between powerful copy and superfluous verbiage.  Because at that time, he wasn’t thinking about the cost of anything.  When you’re not worried about the waste, you’re not worried about the cost.

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