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The growth mindset: why growth marketers are hiring fresh talent based on attitude rather than experience

Does the rise of ‘growth marketing’ as a discipline demand new skills and new attitudes from marketing teams?

New Digital Age (NDA), in association with marketing transformation consultancy Control Vs Exposed (CvE) recently hosted a roundtable of senior professionals and subject experts on the subject of ‘growth marketing’ and the challenge of developing teams with the right mindset for growth activity.

NDA editor Justin Pearse chaired the discussion and was joined by: Paul Frampton Calero, President, and Aidan Mark, Global Director, Performance Strategy, CvE; Benazir Barlet-Batada, Marketing Director Confectionary UK&I, Mondelez; Seb Bardin, Head of Ecommerce Marketing, Unilever; Rory McEntee, Brand & Marketing Director, Gymbox; Adam Wright, Head of Digital, Beiersdrof; Gareth Turner,  Head of Marketing, Weetabix; and Tushar Kaul, Chief Marketing Officer, Bella and Duke.

This is the third article resulting from the event. The first is here and the second here.

CvE’s Frampton Calero believes that, as growth marketing becomes more of a discipline, it demands a shift in culture and a breaking down of the traditional marketing silos. The ‘test, learn, repeat’ ethos typical of growth marketing means that little wins can be identified and scaled more widely across the organisation, preventing the replication of similar projects in different departments.

He said: “For me, the real essence of modern marketing is adaptability over speed and, no matter the volume of testing you have going on, there needs to be a focus on the facts and the data. Marketers are very good at using data to confirm our own biases and resist change. Growth marketing is cross-functional, collaborative, not silo based. On one level, it’s about empowering the talent distributed across your organisation to connect, but we also need to recognise that agile as a methodology isn’t for everyone.”

Building a team for growth

Gymbox’s McEntee agreed that an inquisitive nature that will lead you beyond the strict parameters of your role is an important quality in a growth marketer. He said: “Talent is one of our biggest challenges in terms of trying to recruit and retain the right mindset. Sometimes you’re trying to find somebody who’s a master of all trades, who doesn’t always exist. We  try to recruit talent based on attitudes, relevant skills, people with curiosity who want to lift up the car bonnet and understand what is going on in different parts of the business.”

Wright spoke of his own challenges in creating a dedicated growth team within Beiersdorf: “When I was first trying to make the business case for a growth team, I had to borrow a lot of resource from agencies and try to overlay the various talents that I needed. In growth marketing, you need people who are able to deliver on promises over the course of a week; people who can cope with ‘uncomfortable’ deadlines. 

“For me, delivering hundreds of little wins beats a big home run every time, because you are discovering something repeatable; you’re drilling into a process and developing a scalable understanding of exactly how to get to an end goal. That means my people have to get their hands dirty on loads of different topics and learn quickly on the move. I think that keeps things interesting for my team and makes other people inside our organisation interested in joining us.”

The right attitude

Barlet-Batada agrees that the ‘growth mindset’ is a highly desirable attitude in a potential recruit. She said: “It’s about being hungry to drive things forward, wanting to experiment, being curious. Having that attitude is really going to help you as a marketer whether you join a big beast like us or a smaller digital first company. 

“When you come to a place like Mondelez, you’re going to learn how big brands operate, you’re gonna learn the big branding fundamentals. In general terms, we’re looking for people with a high IQ, a high EQ, and these days, another factor we look for is what we call high ‘DQ’ –  decency quotient. It’s important when working collaboratively that you treat your colleagues and contacts with care and respect.” 

Of course, since the pandemic and the lockdowns that accompanied it, many organisations have broadened their horizons significantly in terms of their recruitment activities, as Bella and Duke’s Kaul explained: “The COVID situation taught us that we can successfully engage talent from anywhere in the world, especially when it comes to tech resource, but mindset is hugely important. Skills can be trained – we have specialists and digital experts in-house – but the right attitude is something you either have or you don’t.”

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