I’ll let you into a secret: whenever I meet someone who is about to enter our industry – usually some ambitious graduate or a disillusioned client – I ask them to think long and hard about whether this is the right industry for them. A strange approach for a prospective employer, you might think. Not really.
Many people are attracted to the ‘glamour’ of B2B and B2C marketing (myself included) only to be later frustrated by the hard work and lack of financial rewards in comparison to other industries. I often ask myself, if I had my time again would I choose the law or accountancy like many of my peers. Fortunately for me the answer is always no. I love my job and this career is one I had chosen when I was a little boy ( a long story for another day!).
Indeed, without that passion and commitment I really don’t think that this industry is for you.
Over the years I have seen many people make the move from client-side to agencies and, invariably, the motivations they cite are that they are looking for variety, stimulation and fun. Without over-generalising, the vast majority are subsequently knocked back by the relentless pace and intensity of the work. On the flip side I’ve seen so many colleagues move over to client-side roles, where they often become disillusioned with the slower pace and the narrow scope of engagement.
Of course there are exceptions, but I just wanted to illustrate a point. New research published this week by Harris Interactive concluded that a good salary is the main motivating factor in a job. Working as we do in a challenging, fast-paced industry, it made me wonder if us supposedly creative-types really are so shallow and avaricious that we only turn up with the monthly cheque (or BACS) in mind. Certainly, in the first instance, it would seem obvious that those of us who’ve chosen to walk this particular path have done so for reasons other than huge financial reward.
Fredrick Herzberg’s 1966 research into motivation at work is still held up as providing the definitive insight into what gets people out of bed in the morning. He found that certain factors in the workplace motivate people. These ‘motivators’ include achievement, recognition, the work itself, responsibility, advancement and personal growth. Other factors were found to prevent people from feeling dissatisfied – but they did not directly motivate them. He called these ‘hygiene factors’ and they include conditions, salary, company car, job security etc. His research showed that, while people will strive to achieve hygiene needs because they are unhappy without them, once they have them they are no more motivated than they were before.
In my experience of working through a couple of economic downturns now, there is usually a phenomena that occurs at the ‘leading edge’ of the recovery cycle and that’s a haemorrhaging of junior staff. These are the people who quickly get out of synch with the market, who find it easiest to disentangle themselves from existing contractual negotiations and I guess, being cynical, are most likely to think that the ‘grass is greener on the other side’. The result is a bizarre ‘merry go round’ of junior talent from which only the recruitment consultants really benefit.
The agencies that will be best placed to deal with this are those who have put in place initiatives which approach more broadly how they attract, retain and develop talent. Investment in training, personal development, mentoring and the creation of a workplace ‘community’ (including such initiatives as the GyroHSR Academy which we’ve just put in place to recognise and develop our future business leaders) all help keep people engaged, motivated – and (more importantly), in one place for longer.
Putting this to one side, B2B marketing has always been a tough industry – certainly on my watch. The gravy train was leaving the station just as I arrived. Its staffed by and large by people with a true passion and commitment for producing effective creative communications. This simple objective is at the heart of our industry’s purpose and is one which serves the interest of every single stakeholder group.
In conclusion, I’ll paraphrase my father: ‘find a job you love son and you will never have to work again’.
By Danny Turnbull, European B2B Practice Leader at Manchester marketing agency, gyro