Guest Posts, Social Business, Social Media Strategy, Social Business

The Hybrids are Coming: Evolution of the Prototype Marketer

Paul Roetzer (@paulroetzer) is founder and CEO of PR 20/20, a Cleveland-based inbound marketing agency, and author of The Marketing Agency Blueprint (Wiley).

Digital marketing has revolutionized the industry, and the job market. Corporate marketing departments and marketing agencies struggle to recruit and retain qualified professionals for career paths that did not exist three years ago, while academic institutions are faced with the need to adapt curriculums to the real-time nature of business.

The most valued talent in the emerging marketing agency ecosystem will be hybrids. Although specialists, connectors, and soloists can still excel with focused competencies and service offerings, disruptors are built on the versatility of social-media and tech-savvy professionals. They possess exceptional copywriting skills, along with dynamic personalities that enable them to build strong personal brands.

Hybrid professionals are trained to deliver services across search, mobile, social, content, analytics, web, PR, and email marketing. They provide integrated solutions that used to require multiple agencies and consultants. — The Marketing Agency Blueprint (Wiley), pp. 68.

Forward-thinking organizations seek hybrid professionals who are highly proficient writers, analytical and tech savvy, with a strong grasp on business, IT and human behavior. These next-generation professionals excel in the emerging core-marketing disciplines of mobile, analytics, social, web, search and content. They envision on a strategic level, building fully integrated campaigns, and they have the capabilities to execute on the tactical level, conducting activities that drive real business results.

But, there is a talent gap. Your organization can bemoan the lack of qualified professionals in the market, or it can take the initiative to create dynamic internal education programs, find candidates with A-player potential from diverse educational backgrounds, and develop employees into the hybrid professionals who will become the future leaders of our industry.

Catalysts for Evolution

In The Marketing Agency Blueprint, I outline three forces fueling transformation of the marketing-services industry: change velocity, selective consumption and success factors. These same catalysts have a direct affect on the type of talent organizations must recruit, train and retain:

1) Change Velocity

The rate of change, continually accelerated by technology innovations, has created growing demand for tech-savvy marketing professionals. Specifically, trends and shifts in consumer behavior, business processes, software, data analysis, communications and marketing philosophies have impacted the essential competencies and traits of prototype marketers.

2) Selective Consumption

Selective consumption is the basic principle behind inbound marketing, the philosophy made popular by HubSpot. In essence, consumers are tuning out traditional, interruption-based marketing methods, and choosing when and where to interact with brands.

As a result, organizations in every industry are shifting budgets away from print advertising, trade shows, cold calling and direct mail toward more measureable and effective inbound marketing strategies—fueled by content and social—that cater to consumer needs. Thus, marketers must be trained to plan and execute inbound marketing campaigns, integrated across traditionally siloed disciplines.

3) Success Factors

Marketing campaigns are not about winning awards for creative, building the flashiest websites, gaming Google for higher rankings, generating mounds of media coverage, or negotiating the lowest cost per thousand (CPM) as means to interrupt the largest audience. The job of a marketer is to produce results that impact the bottom line.

Marketers have the ability to consistently produce more meaningful outcomes—inbound links, click-through rates, website traffic, landing page conversions, content downloads, blog subscribers and leads—that can be tracked in real time and directly correlated to sales.

Rise of the Generalists

As Jay and Amber detail in The NOW Revolution, organizations should, “Search for well-rounded professionals with core business skills that can translate across roles and enable them to excel in an ever-changing environment.”

The future of marketing belongs to the generalists, the hybrids. These marketers are the key to increasing efficiency and productivity, building an insurmountable competitive advantage and fueling your organization’s growth.

So, the question becomes, is your business prepared to compete in the age of the hybrids?

Facebook Comments


  1. CutlerDave says

    Excellent post, Paul. I found this encouraging as a job seeking marketer. I wish more employers were heeding Jay & Amber’s advice (“Search for well-rounded professionals with core business skills that can translate across roles and enable them to excel in an ever-changing environment.”). I like to think that being well-rounded with a diverse background is an asset, but too many prospective employers seem to be limiting their searches to candidates with linear, specialized career paths. 

    • paulroetzer says

       @CutlerDave I truly believe the general mindset is evolving, and we’ll see it begin to affect hiring practices for both corporations and agencies. 

    • says

       @CutlerDave The most valuable takeaway we can learn as marketers is to DO. 
      It’s a challenge to remain objective when you’re looking to simultaneously land a job and breathe life into pioneering the landscape. Often during my job search, I resorted to frustration and anger, not understanding the “scope” or “scale” that Paul and others have referred to.
      Bottom line? I learned to circumvent the anxiety, uncertainty by committing to blogging, networking on and offline and trusting “best practice” recommendations of peers/colleagues — while remaining true to who I am, the story I had to tell and the dichotomy of both self-culture and industry culture.
      I realized that it’s about a match, a fit — and at the end of the day, strictly business. It was about *Their* value and needs in the right place, in the right channel, for the right person and at the right Time.
      At the end of the day, it really is never about You. It’s about your audience of clients, consumers/customers, partners and vendors — and the value they bring to the market. We’re just the plug-in for a purpose/result far greater than what we could accomplish alone. 
      Thanks for sharing your insights Dave.   

      • CutlerDave says

         @Byron Fernandez I agree that maintaining objectivity & a healthy perspective can be challenging while on the job hunt. As you describe, I’ve chosen to focus on producing content, network and seeking professional development wherever possible. As for the the fit, I also agree there. This process has been as helpful in eliminating prospective employers for that reason as it has in identifying places where I’d like to work. I invite you to check out some of what I’ve been up to (if you’re inclined) at

  2. says

    So these “hybrids” sound like something from Star Trek :-)
    But all kidding aside — thanks for panting this picture of a new kind of marketing professional. It sounds like new media — specifically social media — has given birth to a new type of professional.
    What companies are are hiring this person? Or is there still a lack of understanding on how to hire them?

    • paulroetzer says

       @ramonbnuezjr Our experience of late is that many corporations know they need a different type of marketing professional, but aren’t sure how to define the positions, and then where to find the talent. I think it will take years for universities to adapt, which leaves organizations lacking qualified professionals. However, this presents an opportunity for more dynamic companies to create advanced internal training programs and develop more valuable talent themselves. I tend to think of it like the NFL draft. Find the highest potential talent you can, with all the necessary traits, and then bring them up in your own systems. 

    • rebeccacaroe says

       @ramonbnuezjr The companies we see hiring either this person or a freelancer or an agency to fill this gap are mostly mid-sized brands who are getting frustrated by their agencies failing to a) collaborate b) advise them on new trends and c) willing to divert from the tried and tested path they’ve trodden for years.
      TRUE STORY: my client’s agency asked why they wanted and RSS feed on their website!  I was asked to write (for my client) a paragraph explaining why and also a paper setting out the features they should be asking for on the site.
      FFS a GLOBAL top creative agency didn’t know this would be a good idea for the brand?  
      I dispair!

  3. nateriggs says

    Great work, Paul. Really dig the perspective on this. What will be interesting is to see how colleges and universities begin to alter curriculum to teach to this new shift towards the “hybrid” web communications professional (if thats even what they should be called).  
    For instance, how much of this type of training can be built into a circular model, versus more experiential learning in the field?  Most of the professionals I know who would fit the classification of hybrid have learned their trade in the trenches, usually driven by necessity of launching a business or having to fend for themselves after a more structured job disappeared.  It sounds like @CutlerDave has experienced something like this, and he’s absolutely spot on with his comment towards hiring practices around more linear candidates. 
    Any thoughts?

    • paulroetzer says

       @nateriggs I completely agree. To date, the hybrids have evolved more through experience and opportunity than structured education. However, I think the organizations that develop systems to identify and nurture this type of talent will have a significant competitive advantage moving forward.

  4. clintonbon says

    Nice writing here Paul. This plays neatly into some of the thoughts on an earlier C&C guest blog post I had the good fortune of contributing on the evolved role of marketing in IT & Digital asset creation – 
    Taking it one step further – the rise of the generalists will also canvass those who understand how to access hyperspecialists through outcomes-based knowledge platforms. So the generalist may not need to be so well rounded (though that can never hurt someone’s acceleration to exceptional), but instead can master how to access and derive value from the platforms that exist.
    The major advantage here is the ability for the one individual to essentially force-multiply their efforts through platforms and create value on a scale that is not yet widely seen. In a traditional setting, the generalist can tackle many things, but there is always some point of saturation, a point where there next bit of work they take on begins to weigh on the outcomes of all the work they are involved in. 
    We’re seeing this unfold in real ways within Global 1000 enterprises as they attempt to unleash their best employees to simply get more done … 
    Your writing and thoughts – IMHO – are spot on and I’d invite you to parlay them into the ideas of platforms to super-charge these neo-generalists – we’re seeing amazing productivity, in very real world, corporate settings.
    Thx for the great article.

    • paulroetzer says

       @clintonbon Thanks for the comment! I recall reading your post, and just went back for a refresher. Good stuff!
      I completely agree on the convergence of marketing and IT. Be interested to chat offline sometime about your views on platforms and the opportunities that exist.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *