Do Your Agency Partners Offer These Hard & Soft Marketing Skills?

September 9, 2019 | Lorraine Stewart

As a coffee lover, I cringed at the invasion of crumbs from a biscotti floating in my cup. (Who knew one could have buyer’s remorse over a biscotti and ruin a perfectly good cup of joe?)

After some (tasty) trial and error, I learn that (a) all biscotti are hard, in fact twice-baked (literal definition) and (b) with some practice, dipping skills willsoften the baked biscuit into a most satisfying treat. 

Marketing success also requires a deft combination of hard and soft skills, refined with expert technique. CMOs seek top talent at trending creative and media agencies, and want to avoid any messy trial and error in the process.  After all, nobody wants to hire the cookie that’s going to crumble.

Take a Seat at the Counter

Today there are no less than 50K (!) defined professional skills across the world, according to a large-scale LinkedIn Learning study published this year. Most executive recruiters organize their search efforts to deliver qualified candidates with both desired hard skills and soft skills. They also appreciate that it’s the combination that makes each better together.

Targeted agency search starts with a similar, clear articulation. Our marketing consulting experiences with fastest growing companies like Planet FitnessSpirit Airlines and FirstLight Homecare illustrate the successful growth strategy of sourcing the best marketing and advertising agencies, then engaging them to build brand dominance and scale marketing operations – fast.

What’s the recipe?

Successful agency search starts with identifying what current skill sets, both hard and soft,will be additive to those of existing company personnel. CMOs often want to import skills and abilities that can be difficult to emulate internally. They gravitate to the agency with a proven combination of skills that they are confident will impact marketing performance the fastest (since many are on the clock to make a difference).

Headed into the new year with some marketing skill sets missing in your organization? Making the right choice of external creative and media agency partners will expand organizational capacity and accelerate every company’s rate of growth.

Top Trending Hard Skills for Agency Partners

Many marketing hard skills are predictably digital, data-oriented and technical in nature – yet these become ubiquitous and outdated as tech capability evolves. Here are some higher-level hard skill sets that promise to sustain and impact brand performance:

1. Strategic Story-building – easy to understand, harder to master. Capturing the perfect narrative and communicating it with others, on behalf of a brand, idea or a cause is the hallmark of valuable advertising agency skills. Master storytelling to elevate total team effort can build momentum, command attention and inspire support for marketing investment. (Quick tip: visual delivery of the full brand narrative is most potent!)

2. Reasoning – As companies are buried in more data generated from multiple platforms, clients want to work with agency partners that will harness it to design more targeted, agile and results-oriented plans together. Potential partners who move from data analysis to data integration and then decision-making are in demand. While fun, Mad Men-like creative skills and clever ideas are not driving new supplier selection. It’s data analysis plus reasoning skills that help guide today’s advertiser strategy, content and marketing/media investment.

3. Business Acumen – No doubt there are best practices inherent in every vertical industry; sourcing the agency talent that offers fresh yet familial subject matter expertise, with insights gained from parallel business models, ensures that the new agencies hired start well down the client’s learning curve. These partners will offer lessons learned and organically connect with others and establish credibility. 

Add the Flavor

The recipe for biscotti is charmingly simple; it calls for mixing flour, eggs, sugar, then adding a nut, the popular choice being almonds. The combination is enhanced by the direction to “add spice”.

Amy Edmondson, professor of leadership and management at Harvard Business School observes “The soft skills are the hard skills.” Soft skills often become the necessary flavor enhancer today.

Top Trending Soft Skills for Agency Partners

1. Persuasion – one of the skills “most worth learning“, according to LinkedIn employment data. We agree! The highly collaborative nature of marketing requires advertising agency partners apply soft skills in droves. Most CMOs want to hire the agency that can help to build the case for marketing investment. Keen communication skills will help winning agencies level-set stakeholders, create better understanding of modern media platforms and get buy-in to plans. They can apply their persuasion skills to widely influence outcomes from front-line customer service employees to C-Suite stakeholders.

2. Adaptability is needed to continuously flex to the ever-changing demands placed on marketing today; agency partners that enable the iterative process of testing and learning are better able to partner with clients as they continually refine marketing and sales strategies for growth.

Agencies that can…

  • Flexibly scale their operations for enterprise-wide learning for clients are valued
  • Demonstrate results from top-of-funnel to conversion are rewarded with more scope
  • Execute with hyper-local customization at the DMA, store unit and customer level are appreciated for their ability to quantify success

3. Creative problem solving – agency partners bring new solutions to client challenges from their external perspective and consumer orientation.

  • In larger companies, creative problem solving skills can impact growth by generating clear, testable solutions with proof points. As solutions become widely used and adopted, they stimulate change and are later viewed as innovation.
  •  Smaller, entrepreneurial companies know that it takes sharp, creative problem-solving skills to see and capitalize on unmet opportunity.

Reach for Extra

Marketing success requires an elegantly crafted combination of specific hard and soft skills, often perfected with practice. Companies on the fast track to growth can recruit skilled experts efficiently if they know what they are looking for.

Would you benefit from finding fresh skills sets from new advertising agency partners to realize greater marketing success?

As industry experts, ROJEK makes sure the search and selection for new advertising partners is satisfyingly smooth as a good Italian roast. Clients make confident hiring decisions as a result of our proprietary agency search process, and secure the right combination of skills, at the best costs, with ideal cultural fit. They appreciate that finding the right agency talent will bring fresh solutions about their business to the table. This means less mess; no more frustrating false starts, supplier churn, wasted money and lost time.

Want to learn more? Contact us!

ROJEK is the only leading advertising industry search consultant certified by the American Association of Advertising Agencies and the American Marketing Association.