If you’re hoping to hire a young, future version of James Cameron to create your next interactive advertising project, you could be sorely disappointed to find out that he’s not interested. And worse, the next two creatives in line are three times as expensive and half as available. At least that’s the picture being painted by many marketing agency leaders and company executives, which I’m not entirely convinced is accurate.
A recent report in Digiday attributes the creative talent shortfall — those with skill sets in content marketing, social media, digital design, 3D motion graphics, etc. — to the merging of entertainment and advertising, stating that creatives aren’t as keen to switch over to the business side of things because they’re chasing after more interesting projects. It also cites a Creative Group survey of 400 marketing execs, 47% of whom said they cannot find the talent they need.
I don’t doubt that talent is hard to find, especially with the rise in spending on branded content overall. In the U.S. alone, companies spent $10 billion on content marketing across the board in 2016 and about $40 billion globally, according to Forrester. Looking at last year, there was also a push for more advertising projects that require an engagement component, which could have an effect on recruiting top talent. However, I would argue that today’s marketing execs might need to rethink their approach beyond hiring in-house positions or tapping a big box creative agency.
I’ve been in the business of helping clients with marketing, communications, and public relations for years, and when these sorts of projects requiring content creation arise it’s not uncommon to get asked for advice or direction. Of course, this becomes much easier because I understand what a client’s content strategy entails. It’s also easier because my personal network extends to very talented creatives that typically don’t find in-house positions or agency work appealing.
Having a real relationship with both sides (the creative talent and the marketer) is extremely valuable, which is hard to do within a creative agency model that is built for scale. Creatives I work with don’t find agency work as appealing because it’s difficult to verify clients have reasonable expectations and can communicate what they want clearly. This isn’t exclusive to me, and the value of “it’s who you know” is hardly a new revelation, but content marketing is evolving in a way that firms like my own are better suited to navigate when it comes to companies that typically tap agencies for content talent or contract work.