Agility, integrity and the race for marketing talent

May 19, 2022
Thought Leadership Trends

Five takeaways from CMA thought leaders

Several dozen CMA thought leaders recently gathered to explore key topics and trends, including the perils of “short term-ism”, the need for agility and the impact of the Great Resignation. 

While many pandemic rules and restrictions have been lifted, we continue to face uncertainty on multiple fronts. Organizations that are be flexible and nimble will achieve the most success.

Here are five key takeaways from the discussion:

The pandemic intensified “short-termism”

The shift toward short-term planning and reporting that was underway before COVID-19 has intensified greatly. It is challenging to plan and to maintain momentum amid constant starting and stopping, supply challenges that delay production and delivery, and the loss of institutional memory in the face of employee turnover. 

To maximize flexibility and resilience, leaders should strive towards having fewer silos and more cross-functional support.

Trust is key to survival 

Organizations need to regain the ability to be customer centric. This is crucial not just from a financial perspective, but also to drive brand strategy.

Several companies took proactive steps during the pandemic to make a positive impact on their customers. For example, some auto insurance companies decreased premiums, recognizing that people were driving significantly less due to the shift to remote work. Financial services companies communicated with customers and clients about the reasons for increased fees and policy changes, providing full transparency about heightened economic pressures.

Demonstrating a commitment to protect consumers’ privacy is an important way to build trust. Consumers’ expectations in this regard will likely be permanent, given the acceleration and traction of digital.

DEI matters 

There has been an increased focus on diversity, equity, inclusivity and allyship, and this is reflected in the expectations of employees and consumers. As immigration accelerates over the next 10 years, new Canadians will be an increasingly important market and a valuable source of talent.

Organizations are amplifying their efforts to create more inclusive advertising. Marketing departments are seeking diverse talent not only in front of the camera, but behind it. Many brands are setting internal DEI targets for agency partners.

Hiring processes need to adapt

Organizations need to strengthen and accelerate their hiring processes to secure candidates before they accept other offers. Employers need to figure out how to sell on values and purpose rather than on compensation alone. Ensuring employee experiences are positive will have an immense impact and a ripple effect that will lead to higher engagement and retention.

Leaders need mechanisms and pathways to nurture their employees’ interest in development and add value to the organization through reskilling and upskilling. Those in people management roles need to continually strengthen their own technical skills and encourage their team members to do the same. Organizations should offer opportunities for career progression that are not centered on people management responsibilities. 

Currently, there is a disconnect between the skills that organizations need and those that many prospective employees have to offer. The profession needs to articulate the capabilities that marketers need to build towards, and these skills gaps must be filled. Organizations need to be strategic when it comes to onboarding and mentoring new talent. 

Hybrid work is here to stay

Hybrid work models offer opportunities to attract individuals from across the country. However, planned and spontaneous opportunities to build working relationships and foster creativity have been impacted in a world where it’s tough to replicate face-to-face interactions. As organizations build their hybrid strategies, it will be vital to look at the funnel differently and gain insight into how to best connect with clients/agency colleagues, work creatively, and bring the digital and physical experience together.

Thank you to all who attended our Thought Leaders Connected session. It was great to see strong representation from all nine CMA Councils (B2B, Brand, Creativity, Customer Experience, Insights, Martech, Media, Not-for-Profit and Sponsorship), and from the CMA Leaders Network.

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Sara Clodman

Vice-President, Public Affairs and Thought Leadership Canadian Marketing Association




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