Years ago I did some consulting work for a company which needed some best-practices for marketing strategy and technology designed. The project went very well and the company's management, as well as marketing employees, were very excited about the success they'd already seen under the changes.
Toward the end of the engagement, the company president took me to lunch to discuss the future of his company, and he expressed concern that my departure from the department would create a vacuum difficult to fill. His concern stemmed from the fact that he was struggling to find a new Marketing Manager who had a great marketing mind but also possessed strategic prowess in technology and operations.
Since then, I've seen this problem over and over and over again. As the line between marketing and technology becomes more and more blurry, and as more and more organizations are driven by marketing, the need for marketing employees with technology and operational savvy is staggering—and the solution low in supply.
The need for "T-shaped" employees has never been greater
So what is T-shaped? Well, most marketing people are "l" shaped. Their skillset is narrow but often deep. "T" shaped people have that deep knowledge of their specific discipline, but also possess some savvy in tech and ops, giving them arms like a letter T.
T-shaped people are easy to spot in a meeting. They understand complex problems faster than the rest of the group. They solve problems outside their purview. They come up with solutions when the tech/dev team say there's no possible way.
And while they may be easy to spot, they are hard to acquire. The problem is they are immediately recognized as valuable resources within their companies who promote and pay them rapidly and lucratively.
So while you're looking for a mid-level Marketing Manager who can lead development of a marketing datamart or implement automated communications, the qualified applicants are already on a fast-track for senior leadership within their current company—and naming their price to do so.
So you have to find lightening in a bottle, snagging that rare talent who can grow into the role. Or, you can try to lure one away from another company, but you'd better be willing to pay for it.