I always enjoy those dystopian movies about remnants of humanity persisting in a bleak future where some natural disaster or other catastrophe has dramatically altered the state of the planet.
Particularly, I like when we as viewers are dropped into these worlds, and able to see how their inhabitants have learned to acclimate and even thrive under extraordinary circumstances.
In the book and film I Am Legend, for example, Dr. Robert Neville is already a self-sufficient “omega man” by the time we meet him, living a lonely life in New York City where everyone else has died or transformed into a nocturnal mutant zombie.
He hunts for food by day in the barren wasteland of Manhattan. He swings by the video rental store and interacts with manikins to simulate social contact. At night, when the hostile monsters come out from hiding, he barricades himself and his dog inside an immaculately fortified home.
I realize this seems like an incredibly dire way to introduce the topic of remote work in a post-pandemic world, but I promise the ultimate point I’m driving toward is an optimistic one: humans are amazingly adaptable and resilient.
In real life, those qualities have come to the forefront over the past two years. While professionals across many sectors are adjusting to completely different work dynamics, in marketing this shift has been especially pronounced. TopRank Marketing is one of many agencies and departments around the world that have now gone fully remote.
How are B2B marketers embracing this challenge and optimizing around this new style of work as its permanence sets in? Let’s dive into some trends and insights.
B2B Marketers Are Making Moves
Our clients at LinkedIn Marketing Solutions recently shared research around the marketing jobs market, which is experiencing tremendous change and churn amidst the so-called Great Reshuffle. LinkedIn found a 31% increase in marketers switching jobs year-over-year from 2020 to 2021, while tracking around 618,000 job departures in the industry last year alone.
(Source: LinkedIn Marketing Solutions)
The market is primed for these job-seekers. LinkedIn also saw 374% growth in marketing jobs last year, with more than 1.3 million positions posted. The remote paradigm breaks down geographic barriers and creates vastly larger pools of opportunity for both candidates and the companies looking to hire them.
At TopRank Marketing, we now have remote employees in 10 different states. (And we’re hiring, by the way.)
New B2B Marketing Skills Are Being Prioritized
The traditional mainstays are still valuable. LinkedIn’s data shows that Social Media Advertising, Instagram, Presentation Skills, and Content Marketing were among the top-growing skills in marketing last year. But there are also some emerging areas where B2B marketers are wise to focus as work evolves.
One of those is understanding and activating technology. As more collaboration and communication takes place digitally, it’s all the more essential to be able to get the most out of purpose-built tools that can support these efforts.
“As more collaboration and communication takes place digitally, it’s all the more essential to be able to understand and activate marketing technology.” — Nick Nelson @NickNelsonMN Click To Tweet
A recent survey by Clevertouch Marketing found that “40% of technology is still going unused as three-quarters of marketers admit to not having the technical ability to achieve their digital ambitions.”
This speaks to a clear opportunity, both for organizations and individual marketers.
- Organizations: Reevaluate your marketing tech stack. Figure out what’s getting used, what’s not, and why. Be sure to invite input from your teams – what actually helps them succeed in this setting? Which existing tools do they find needless or cumbersome?
- Individuals: Strengthen your skills around key marketing technologies. It’s particularly valuable, in my humble opinion, to brush up on data analytics tools, because data-informed marketers will rule the future of the industry. This is an ongoing focus of mine.
There’s another skill category that is perhaps more abstract than the sorts of hard skills referenced above but arguably more essential than any. And it brings us back to our initial remarks about the resilience of people.
Adaptability Is Emerging as THE Standout Skill
Harvard Business School professor Linda Hill recently shared findings from a survey of executives asking which qualities they are prioritizing in business leadership going forward. “First was adaptability,” she said. “Second was curiosity, next creativity, and then, comfort with ambiguity. Number five was digital literacy.”
This makes all the sense in the world, given what we’re facing now and in the years ahead. Those who are able to handle all of the chaotic change and fast-tracked advancement taking place in stride, while continuing to elevate the B2B profession amidst it all, will become the vanguard of innovation.
“Adaptive marketers who can handle change in stride and #ElevateB2B through the chaos will become the vanguard of innovation.” — Nick Nelson @NickNelsonMN Click To Tweet
Adaptive skills can absolutely be built and strengthened. Part of it is leveling up those digital and technical competencies – when you’re proficient with what’s now, you’re more ready for what’s next. Another part is challenging yourself and exercising different creative muscles. Try new things and get out of your comfort zone.
Finally, commit to setting yourself up for success. I think I speak for many marketers in saying it’s easy to get so caught up in your clients, your campaigns, and your creative processes that you lose sight of your own needs.
Personally, I spent way too long cooped up in a very small apartment, which became increasingly confining and constricting with each day spent there. Earlier this month, my wife and I finally moved into a much bigger space with a dedicated office, way more natural light, and better fresh air flow. It’s been life-changing, no joke.
I’m grateful to say that TopRank Marketing goes above and beyond in supporting us as employees, providing the equipment and tools we need to optimize our work in a remote environment, as well as the flexibility and benefits necessary for a healthy work-life balance (which, by the way, has emerged as THE biggest priority for job-seekers, beating out even compensation).
I am beyond proud of the work our team has done, and the way we’ve continued to grow through all the challenges brought by these past two years. Like I said earlier: humans are amazingly adaptable and resilient. B2B marketers embody these traits as well as anyone, and we’re seeing it proven before our very eyes.
“How quickly one accepts the incredible if only one sees it enough.” ? Richard Matheson, I Am Legend