CMQ Weekly 01: Who will fill the talent gap?

A follow up to “Paystack’s media threat”.

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My first job out of school was in 2014 as a content marketing associate for an accounting tech startup. At the time, I wasn’t entirely sure what content marketing was or how it would evolve. But I did the job long enough to understand the importance of carefully crafted content to the digital economy.

Since then, this has been a recurring theme in all my roles -- witnessing the impact of content on user behaviour. Content marketing is not a new concept (we’ll talk more about this in the coming weeks). But there is a renewed appreciation for its role in shaping marketing strategy, especially within the technology industry.

Since I published “Paystack’s media threat” three months ago, I’ve had several conversations that make it more apparent how tech entrepreneurs are thinking about content as an effective brand building and customer acquisition tool.

In that essay, I wrote:

“Globally, more companies are waking up to the potency of content marketing. Attention is a zero-sum game, and you have to capture it to sell your products and services. In the past, companies went through the media to get to their customers within an audience because they didn’t have options. Now, they do. Now, they can go directly via the Internet and build their own vehicles of influence driven by editorially savvy hands and minds.”

For these execs and their companies, content is an efficient way to show potential users the problems their products or services can solve. But beyond that, it’s also a way to create affinity and set themselves apart from the crowd.

In recent months, Paystack poached Ope Adedeji, Zikoko’s former managing editor. PiggyVest snapped up Daniel Orubo, Zikoko’s former editor-in-chief. Brass put out a vacancy for an Editor-in-Chief. And many other startups are gearing to fill this role. 

You may be asking, why two top talents from Zikoko? I wrote about that here.

Several other conversations are happening in the background that indicate the increased appreciation for content marketing and its long-term impact.

In all this, one thing is clear to me. Beyond poaching top-level talent from established media outlets, these companies are also looking for a particular set of skills that are sadly not in abundance.

Instead, companies are looking for candidates with a thorough understanding of:

  • The content creation process

  • The role of content within a business ecosystem and how content directly impacts business objectives 

  • The skills required to solve customer problems 

This role requires a high-level understanding of the relationship between content and business objectives and the dexterity to build an internal content engine that drives the company towards those objectives. This is beyond knowing how to write, shoot videos, or record podcasts. All of those are important, but they are more readily available skills than those I mentioned before.

This scarcity of high-level content marketing talent poses a challenge and presents an opportunity. But there are no easy ways around it. No straight-and-narrow solutions. However, the mere identification of this talent gap is a good first step. Who will step in to fill the void?

Additional resources

What is new media, and why should you care?

Buzzfeed’s Jonah Peretti goes long

Digital media: What really went wrong in 2018

How I built my career in content and communications

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World

How to create and write a content marketing strategy (with template)