Dimitri Tsamados
Feb 14, 2012

OPINION: Profile of a killer mobile applicant

Dimitri Tsamados, partner at executive search firm CTPartners, discusses the dearth of truly qualified mobile-marketing experts, what organisations should look for in candidates for mobile-marketing roles, and where they might need to look to import talent to fill those empty seats.

Dimitri Tsamados
Dimitri Tsamados

As you read this, there is probably an innovative new app, a new mobile technology, or an enhanced mobile device function being introduced somewhere. And there is little doubt that many of us are chained to our smartphones and tablets. Mobile Internet is here to stay.

Companies, both large and small, are beginning to create engaging, interactive, touch-based content and delivery channels for smartphones and tablets, to reach their target customers. A report by Research and Markets says that mobile Internet users in Asia Pacific, including Japan, will rise by 21% CAGR between 2010 and 2015, to reach 1.36 billion in 2015. That’s roughly the population size of China.

Mobile marketing skills are somewhat removed from what you find in traditional deskbound online marketing. Unlike the desktop computer, mobile devices are always on and always connected, and mobile content and delivery channels must be mobile-friendly and extremely user-friendly. When well executed, mobile marketing provides companies the opportunity to unlock new revenue streams and new ways to connect and build brand loyalty with their consumers.

But what qualities should companies look for in their mobile marketing extraordinaire?

The killer mobile marketing job applicant who stands out from the (small) crowd will be someone who demonstrates that he or she has the experience or ability to:

  • Develop a comprehensive multi-channel strategy for in-store, online, and mobile website as well as apps
  • Research and interpret consumer insights for mobile acquisition, retention, and brand building
  • Create mobile-optimised websites and downloadable mobile apps
  • Optimise for mobile search, particularly local searches
  • Create engaging mobile user experiences and integrate touch-based interactivity with advertising messages
  • Incorporate location-based products and services
  • Make use of QR (Quick Response) codes where appropriate
  • Create mobile loyalty programs
  • Track usage and consumption patterns

Candidates must also be numerate and show that they are able to pick out the golden nuggets from data models to drive traffic, clickthrough rates, and revenue.

Mobile marketing jobs are all the rage now, but will eventually go the way of online marketing over the last 10 years and eventually fold into marketing as part of integrated marketing programs. But for now, the pool of experience is very limited in Asia, and simply cannot grow fast enough to meet demand. Those in the advertising industry know this all too well.

The best sources for mobile marketing talent today still lie in places with strong online marketing cultures: FMCG companies; digital retailers like those selling airline bookings, travel experiences, and books; search engines; social media sites; and, of course, digital agencies.

Though Japan and South Korea have strong mobile advertising and engagement traditions, they are not a viable source for mobile marketing talent in other parts of Asia because their markets are so unique. The best places in Asia to start looking would be Singapore, Hong Kong, and China.

In addition, agencies can also consider importing talent. In the last 12 months, we have witnessed a tenfold increase in the number of resumes from European candidates interested in working in Asia. These European executives are mostly middle management with specialist competencies in say, ecommerce, mobile, digital, or cloud computing. They are not jobless, but are placing their bets on finding more exciting roles in Asia than what they may have in Europe.
The majority don’t speak Asian languages. While this can work against them, since these candidates won't be immediately plug-and-play, they can help fill the gap in some technical and marketing competencies that are in short supply in Asia. What's more, most are willing to enter the job market here at more junior levels of seniority than what they would have left behind at home.

Dimitri Tsamados, is a Partner at CTPartners, an NYSE-listed executive search firm. He serves a broad spectrum of clients located throughout Asia Pacific and also works with European and North American companies looking to establish and strengthen their Asia-Pacific operations.

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