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In today’s complex digital marketing landscape, it takes a broad set of skills in multiple areas to successfully execute a campaign. Effective digital marketing campaigns are based upon many things--strong content, authentic engagement, targeted messages, and real-time responsiveness, to just name a few. These days, marketers need to know a lot more than they did 10 years ago in order to survive 

Organizations are looking to accomplish more and more with less budget. So when it comes to hiring, many companies are looking for someone who can do it all. How can you possibly find someone who will excel in this type of environment?  

You hire a marketing unicorn.  

How do you spot a Marketing Unicorn?

You’re probably asking, “What the heck is a Marketing Unicorn?!” It’s a marketer that is equally adept at marketing strategy, execution, and technology. They’re generalists, often junior members of the team referred to as full stack marketers, who harness the full stack of marketing tools and techniques available to them to execute a campaign. Unicorns possess an extremely unique and broad skill set. They have the experience to create a strategic marketing plan and possess the applied technical skills required to execute it.

Marketing unicorns are great writers and capable artists who aren’t shy about letting their creative flag fly. They’re much more flexible than traditional marketers when it comes to developing and expressing their big ideas in a visual or written format. They’re also adept at executing those big ideas by understanding and embracing technology. With marketing automation playing a larger role in campaign execution, Unicorns have the technological edge. Many of them have started their careers in software development roles and have migrated to marketing. Others have a more traditional heritage but have found themselves drawn to the latest technologies. To top it off, Unicorns have a firm grasp on the fundamentals of marketing. They’re proficient with target marketing, creating buyer personas, working on a unique value proposition, and other principles crucial to the success of a modern marketing campaign.

Clare Tidby, Time + Space's VP Client Strategy, has some strong feelings about Marketing Unicorns. “Let’s face it, unicorns don’t exist. But people with really diverse backgrounds do. It’s not out of the realm of possibility to find people who have an eye for creative, aptitude in analytics, a head for business, and the skills to tie it all together. People who’ve tried their hand at many things tend to be curious and open-minded. They tend to be hard workers who jump into whatever task is thrown their way. They’re adaptable as the environment changes. And people with that attitude are invaluable to any organization.”

Unicorns are so highly sought-after because they can simultaneously meet an array of marketing needs, particularly in smaller organizations. Instead of hiring a team of marketers, you can hire a Unicorn who possesses a wide range of skills. The right Marketing Unicorn can create great value for your business. But here’s the catch—they’re called Unicorns because they are so rare and can be difficult to find.

How do you catch a Marketing Unicorn?

How do you attract one of these highly-skilled hybrid marketers? The first step is to identify your current unicorn employees, pinpoint the specific skills that elevate them to unicorn status, then try to snag more employees with these attributes. Next, evaluate your team’s strengths and weaknesses. This will help you identify additional capabilities and characteristics you’d like your Unicorn to have.   

Hiring top talent isn’t just about identifying the needs of your company. It’s also about creating a company with purpose that people want to join. Job seekers are increasingly interested in company culture and whether it’s a fit for them. Take proactive steps to strengthen your employer brand—portray your company’s shared beliefs, values, and practices. Ask current employees to review working at your company on popular career sites. Just like customers are attracted to a great product, talented people are attracted to a great company culture.

Connect and engage with potential candidates on social media. These channels are the perfect way to tell your company story, showcase your culture, and engage candidates with your brand. Your Marketing Unicorn will no doubt have a strong social media presence and so should you!

When advertising for a position, pen an accurate and detailed job description. Highlight the reasons a candidate would be interested in both the position and working with your company. Be creative! Employ words that are descriptive and interesting to attract high-performing candidates. The same goes for the interview process. Ask insightful questions and keep it conversational. The best interview questions are the ones that flow naturally from the conversation.

Unicorns are hard to find, but once hired, they offer up enormous benefits in the workplace and can help take your company to the next level. Unicorns are continuously learning and adapting. Their adaptability is for more important than their combination of skills, and it’s this ability to evolve that can help push your company forward. A Unicorn’s versatility gives them the edge required to understand and communicate as a go-between with people from a range of backgrounds (for example, a software developer), increasing your company’s chances of coming up with creative solutions to tough problems through combined expertise.

Studies have shown that top performers have an incredibly high ROI because they produce four times more than their average counterparts. At the end of the day, employees can be multi-talented, detail-oriented, and a big thinker but if they don’t produce tangible results, those traits are wasted. Employees must be able to execute and move the needle. And that’s where Unicorns excel.

It's important to keep in mind that, while they can perform a wide range of tasks, enlisting outside support for your Unicorn can be worth the effort and expense. Just because someone can do it all doesn't mean they should all the time. This sort of environment can lead to stress and a poor working environment, making staff retention difficult, so don't hesitate to reach out to an agency or a freelance marketer to help ease the burden on your Unicorn. 

 

Finding a candidate who possesses all or most of the skills that make up a Unicorn can be challenging. Whether you choose to hire one or help create one, it’s important to nurture your Unicorn so they will spread their magic to your marketing team.