Digital boosts marketing & sales staff

For being towards the bottom, it's easy to miss the traditional skills of Sales and Marketing on a comprehensive list of creative specialisms being shaken up by digital.

At the least, sales and marketing freelancers might have thought that their skills must lack clout on a digitally-induced list that ranks 'multi-platform' nous in first place.

Digital archiving, IP, 'multi-skilling' and 'content monetisation' also feature higher than Sales and Marketing on the list, which charts the 10 top changing skills needs.

Yet when FreelanceUK handed the list to creative recruiters, sales and marketing was the skill that returned the most interest - and backing as a vital area to watch.

"Sales and marketing are fundamental to all consumer-facing businesses," said Nick O'Connor, a divisional director of Xchangeteam. "We also live in a marketing-led culture."

Demographic studies show some consumers interact with digital media more than traditional media, he said, so sales and marketing teams must take this into account.

Moreover, because such platforms offer new, exciting and low-cost ways to engage users, the expectation is that sales/marketing awareness is created and nurtured online.

"[That's why] in this world an unsigned band can outsell a global star, and a fledgling firm can drive huge growth. Getting the communication and engagement right is key."

O'Conner, who places digital staff across the UK, is not the only recruitment captain who sees a resurgence in sales and marketing skills thanks to the maturing of digital.

Duncan Taylor, of People4Business, says the digital space is now attracting established brands that want to maintain, then boost their market share as the economy grows.

He said: "We are seeing an increase in demand for freelancers across the entire range of skills - from IT, to Media & Creative [to digital] designers.

"Worthy of particular mention however [is] Sales & Marketing, from established businesses".

But Mr Taylor pointed out that the necessary e-sales and e-marketing skills are also the target of new, fledgling companies, determined to bring their own products and services to the internet to compete.

It is this type of small, potentially one-person business that is driving demand for the other specialism that is turning heads at People4 - Consulting.

"Entrepreneurs [are] seeking advice from seasoned business professionals in how to create or manage their start-up", the website said, indicating further openings for sales/marketing experts.

The compilers of the Top 10 skills list, the Council for Industry and Higher Education, agree, describing demand for a "hybrid skill-set" that combines leadership, management and creativity.

However if they want a digital role, these buoyant conditions for people with a variety of tangible skills is at odds with another trend in the sector - being a specialist in a single area.

Sam Michel, of Chinwag explained: "As various aspects of the digital industry scale and become mature, the skills demands are becoming broader, but applied in increasingly specialist ways."

He pointed to social media management - in itself proof that digital has matured - as requiring the freelance candidate to possess almost half a dozen skills, complemented by a niche or core offering.

"Typically, you'll need to combine marketing, analytics, copywriting skills with an understanding of numerous technical platforms and techniques."

This is a tall order, the digital agency CEO hinted, because "just keeping on top of the opportunities created by new development on Twitter and Facebook is tricky enough."

More positively for would-be candidates, People4 believes such speaking up about skills in short supply will, for some, make their eventual entry into the market more lucrative.

"Scarcity causes increased demand," the site said, reflecting on the skills market. "Followed by increased pay rates, which are then followed by a rapidly responding freelance" workforce.

But Mr Taylor hopes that the pinpointing of the skills employers and businesses need, now and in the future, will do more than just boost the income of candidates who train in those areas.

"Anything that can be identify where future skill demands will lie, and to encourage training in these skills, is valuable and can save the economy from temporary skills shortages, which in turn raise costs and reduce productivity. Visit our partners' website - . Very interesting and exclusive content.

"If [we] fail to identify a skills need, or fail to influence ministers, industry or universities to invest in training in these areas, there will be temporary inconvenience and increased costs until the market identifies the need and catches up."

He added this would pose "a threat to business [but] an opportunity for freelancers who have these skills, or quickly identify the need for them."


7th October 2010

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