A fair day's pay...?

A fair day's pay...?

Marketing is evolving into an ever-more complex, multi-channel discipline, but are the salaries enjoyed by its practitioners keeping pace?  

You will no doubt have your own responses to the question; covering ‘yes’, ‘no’ and all points in between, depending on your circumstances. However, according to some of the leading recruiters serving our industry, the answer seems to be a qualified ‘yes’ – the principal qualification being expertise in the newer disciplines powered by digital technology.

“We’ve seen a more fragmented recruitment market emerging, where some of the ‘traditional’ product or brand marketing roles are seeing their importance being scaled back, as organisations seek to re-equip their marketing departments with greater digital expertise,” says Paul Sykes, senior managing director at Michael Page Marketing.

“The challenge is going to be successfully managing the convergence of marketing with digital and technology. As such, it will become harder to be a successful operator in the next three to five years without having an understanding of the technologies behind building websites and apps, and an appreciation of the digital e-commerce world. It will also be important to grasp the ways content can be created and used, as well as how to get consumers to really engage with and evangelise the brand in the digital environment,” he adds.

For Oli Templeton, marketing recruitment manager at Robert Walters, the prolonged economic downturn that followed the global financial crisis of 2007-08 is also influencing current salary trends at certain levels. 

He explains: “Mid-level professionals have been highly sought-after in 2015, as companies have looked to expand their marketing activities to take advantage of the recovering economy. However, a lack of recruitment at graduate level during the downturn has led to a bottleneck in talent, allowing mid-level professionals with certain skill sets to command high salaries.”

Again, the skills Templeton refers to are predominantly in the digital space, particularly when they can be allied to a solid grounding in ‘traditional’ marketing skills. Both recruiters make the point that these marketing strengths remain important – it’s just the way they’ll be deployed that is evolving.

As Michael Page’s Paul Sykes notes: “It’s going to be increasingly about how the various functions interact with each other, as well as accommodating the growing need for data and insight to feed into the way products are priced and promoted. Marketers will have more interaction with other departments, so possessing a broader business interest and an ability to manage projects will become crucial.”

Because you’re worth it?

With the fragmented picture making it difficult to draw industry-wide conclusions, it would be inappropriate to make sweeping generalisations about the salaries marketers can expect to receive in 2016 and beyond.  Michael Page has, however, launched an online salary comparison tool that helps to crunch the data into a more personalised form. It is fed by regularly updated information aggregated from job placements, candidate earnings and corporate client pay scales (all sources anonymous, naturally), providing an average salary figure that can be used as a baseline guide.

“Professional services and consulting firms have been among those seeking digital marketers. The same is true of asset management companies, which also have high demand for investment content specialists capable of adding value to their client communications,” says Templeton. “We expect all these trends to continue into 2016, with steady, sustainable jobs growth and a continued shortage of candidates to fill mid-level roles.”

The big imponderable looking ahead – and also the element furthest from a marketer’s control – is the broader economic environment. The UK is forecast to see further economic growth in 2016, but the fragility of the recovery is exemplified by the continued reluctance of the Bank of England to raise interest rates. 

Business confidence – that notoriously unpredictable state of mind – is likely to play a key role in determining marketers’ future pay prospects. Michael Page’s Paul Sykes concludes: “The direction has pretty much been set for how businesses and their marketing functions are evolving; now it’s about having the confidence to commit to investing in these functions. Most organisations know they’re going to have to do this – it’s just a question of timing.”

Martin Green is a business journalist who has also tasted life in corporate comms and marketing.

Martin Green CPL Business Journalist
Back to all