Seems like once a week a recruiter finds me on LinkedIn and calls me up asking if I’d be interested in a VP/Director/Whatever of Digital Media Strategy position at <insert big brand or interactive agency here>. My response:
“I’m flattered but I’m happy where I’m at now. By the way, I don’t think your client needs to hire someone to be in charge of Digital Media strategy, they just need to pick the brain of someone who lives and breathes this stuff. By the time they find someone everything has probably changed anyway. Can you give me their name and number and I’ll call them to chat?”
They’re undoubtedly a little caught off guard, give a nervous laugh, and ask “what do you mean?”
I’ve been through the conversation enough times that it’s time I write this post to answer the recruiter’s question and give a little help to companies wondering payroll should take a Digital Media Strategist hit.
Full disclosure: I make my living helping great companies be digital stars, but more-so I’d love it if every company got value from their digital efforts and not simply wasted money on double-talking gurus or half-baked efforts because it would mean more amazing web/mobile stuff for us all to enjoy.
So, here’s the list of the top 5 things to consider before putting a Digital Media Executive on your payroll…
- Top Dog Commitment: Are the people that call the shots ready to put money and resources towards digital innovation or are they just thinking that they should get in the game? Having dedicated willingness to get innovative is paramount and the difference between success and an endless cycle of chatter.
- Bang For Your Buck: If you want great teeth you go to the dentist. If you want an amazing garden you get a gardener. You trust their knowledge because that’s what they do best. You don’t invite a dentist and gardener to live with you and give them new things to do. Digital Media Strategy executives usually have another part of their portfolio like Development or Marketing because you can’t just have someone thinking of strategies all day! If you really expect your strategist to have all the digital answers you better be ready to pay him/her to read a lot, test technology, think about what it all means, and let you know what’s valuable vs. hype…and that’s it. If not you end up with bad teeth and crappy flowers.
- Product Development Guru: Have a VP/Director of Product Development? Didn’t you hire him/her to come up with great ideas and products? Care to bet how long it takes before VP Products and VP Digital Media get in a fight? Product development people understand your business and what the competition is up to. They don’t need someone forcing the latest and greatest trend down their throat, they need a digital media confidant to weigh in and contribute on ideas, trends, and opportunities.
- Tech Guy Overlord: Is the company ready to embrace new technology or stuck in a legacy mindset? Sometimes the technology you use doesn’t really matter but sometimes it does. If your company is all Microsoft all the time and that reality isn’t about to change (because the tech guy calls the shots and only knows .NET) then why are you even talking about getting on the iPad? Online and mobile innovation moves insanely fast so recognize your company’s tech culture and decide if it needs to change, and if it can.
- Can You Date? Is your company tied to vendors like Romeo to Juliet or free to date? Some companies look to existing vendors because it simply takes a lot of effort to constantly know what’s out there. Winning in today’s digital world means constantly understanding what’s happening; from the big players to the little team in the garage. Armed with knowledge you can make sure your existing vendors are the best bet or if someone else is leaving them in the dust.
By definition a Digital Media Strategist is someone that should be able to tell you what’s going on in digital media and what it could mean to your business close to anytime you ask. They read tech and media blogs at night because they love it. If something major happens and they’re not one of the first to know they get really pissed off. They take being on top of the digital world personal.
You don’t need to hire a VP Digital Media Strategy. You need a Digital Media Guru On-Demand:
- Someone who knows what’s happening across the digital world and keeps you up on matters important to your business; challenges, opportunities you should be all over, and what’s coming, because they take the time to understand your business (not feed you fluff they tell everyone).
- A wealth of knowledge, connections, and practical understanding because they’re digitally obsessed. They have connections to the big guys and the start-up community.
- Work with your Product Development, Strategy, and Development groups; providing insight, ideas, and learning from their insight to make sure any digital effort delivers value.
- Thinks value first and ‘cool’ second; delivers value not hype and double-talk. They’re worth the money because if they’re not you won’t call them again!
So there you have it. There are lots of fast talkers out there because it’s cool to be a digital media dude these days, but test them out and challenge their knowledge (if all they talk about is Twitter and Facebook they’re not who you’re looking for!). Follow these guidelines to be on the right track to digital success with the right digital media strategist helping your team get there.