CPG vs. Service Marketers: skill-sets and executive hiring decisions


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Recently, I posted a question on LinkedIn in a effort to get some outside opinion on marketing skill-sets and how that is driving hiring decisions. While I was underwhelmed by the number of answers I received — three in total — I was intrigued by two responses.

My Question: What are the pros and cons of hiring a traditional CPG marketer vs. a Service Marketer? More specifically, what is the rationale you are using to make this decision.

I further referenced the following examples: CPG – P&G, Unilever, Kraft;  Services – iTunes, Scottrade, Netflix. Primary basis in these examples was a consumer-to-consumer apples to apples comparison.

The Responses:

Tough question – The necessity to qualify past performances and the other integral parts of the hiring process can’t be overlooked, but on a macro level this is [my humble opinion].
The traditional service marketer is able to move left to right brain more fluidly, based on the career choice to associate themselves with something that is fundamentally “untouchable”. The career progression of being successful in any one of your service company examples shows a high level of measurement as well as creativity. In my experience, the ability to think on both sides of the brain has become integral to any top performing marketing exec.
Matt Gill, Senior Vice President, Pile and Company– Executive Recruiter for Marketing Talent

Your service examples are really consumer products in that they are tangible goods. However, to answer your question: a traditional CPG marketer is usually working with a tangible product of defined value and generally a defined brand image. He/she is used to dealing with measureable goals and defining strategies against share of market objectives. Tactical tools are known and also quantifiable, such as promotions, packaging, collateral support. A good CPG marketer knows how to use these tools to best effect. On the other hand, a service marketer is selling something that is usually very intangible and tough to measure in terms of cost and value to its intended users. As Matt says, there is more need for both the left and right side of brain to come up with strategies and programs that will be of relevance to the user. In my experience, successful marketers of intangible services can more easily and effectively cross over to traditional product marketing. It is much harder for a traditional CPG marketer to cross over to selling intangible services. — John Fricks, CEO at Frix Group – Marketing/Strategists

The Bottom Line:

Flexibility, versatility are the highlights in favor of service marketers provided by Matt and John. Matt’s point that top marketing executives need the “ability to think on both sides of the brain” is more associated with service marketers. CPG marketers need to demonstrate they can sell what you can not see — a great analogy to selling the value you can create for an organization.

At CMG Partners, we have been conducting qualitative research with a number of top marketing executives across a number of industries and find that those with a “seat” at the executive table are best at working across the enterprise to drive transformation or change that enables growth.

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