Get on the net and lay down a trail of tacos, because we just spotted a unicorn.

An interesting phenomenon occurs when you try to hire an expert in an evolving digital medium. I affectionately refer to it as “hunting the unicorn.” The job description is so full of wildly divergent responsibilities, unique requirements and unattainable goals, that no one on the planet could ever qualify. After spending more than 20 years in integrated marketing, I have seen this happen in the search for Web designers, SEO specialists, PPC campaign managers, and social media SMEs. For example:

This person should have (but not limited to) the following skills:

  • Author-level graphic design, web/mobile design, branding and UI/UX ability
  • Must have the ability to conceptualize enterprise campaigns, strategy, scheduling and deployment in under an hour
  • Must have a robust background in storytelling, videography, post-production and all bleeding-edge narrative directives
  • Required to provide pedigree of countless case studies with ongoing positive results utilizing progressive and modular deployment
  • Candidate should have between 5 and 382 years of experience in the field
  • Should be willing to lead teams of upwards of 50 people, or be directed to work endless hours by the parking security team

Of course let’s not forget this person should have a minimum of six graduate degrees, blindingly white teeth, and the skills to prepare perfect sushi – all for $25,000 a year.

Oh … and in the name of all things holy … please be a “motivated self-starter.”

Like it or not, our industry by its very nature is a journeyman’s territory. University degree programs don’t pop up immediately after the discipline emerges in the real world. There is lag time in academia. Otherwise, in the past five years we would have seen new graduates educated in the ways of big data, growth hacking, community management, social support, and content direction. Therefore, all of us have decided to ride a roller coaster that we presume has an endless growth track.

With that said, there is an emerging need for a content marketing expert in many if not most organizations. Not only is this need a byproduct of strategic disciplines such as UI/UX, SEO, and social media, but it is a requirement in order to serve the content expectations of your audience.

Let me repeat that, your audience (consumer, guest, sponsor, subscriber, follower etc.) mandates that you innovate. Otherwise you will lose them to a more aggressive competitor.

For those of you in smaller companies, this simply means developing a relationship with purveyors of these crafts. The interesting part about this growing need is that it creates a new demand for professionals that previously were deemed as more traditionalists. This includes photographers, videographers, post-production professionals, storytellers, graphic designers, and large-scale program managers. Many of these positions are thought of as short-term vendors that you will hire in a limited capacity. Nothing could be further from the truth. Because your audience is less interested in seeing your brand online, and more interested in what your brand provides to improve their life.

Advertisers learn at a snail’s pace – but they do learn. What they are discovering now more than ever is that the audience cares more about discovery than alignment. Therefore, innovators are rapidly deploying “real content” into their previous self-serving channels.

  • Brand impression content
  • Live streaming and podcasting
  • Content-based support initiatives
  • Aggressive documentation with photography
  • White papers, presentations and documentation
  • In-real-time events, messaging and engagement
  • Short-form video, interviews, behind-the-scenes, and interstitials
  • Storytelling, webisodic and progressive serialized content
  • Information and data visualization
  • Crisis content preparation
  • Community collectives
  • Engaging education
  • Content hacking

Now if you gave that list of objectives to any number of “new-school” designers, you will more than likely get a blank stare. If they’re good, they might ask for a creative brief. Nevertheless, to create innovative content, you need innovative thinkers. Innovation that is not bound by technology, process or marketing directive. The one step beyond that blue-sky thinker is someone who can work either independently or in a group environment to provide the essential nutrients your audience needs to satisfy their growing hunger.

“But Justice: We Tweet three times a day, Facebook twice, blog once a week and are spending $,1500 a month on SEO!” 

That’s nice. But what are you actually giving your audience? Is it simply lip service about how great your product is and how they cannot live without it? Or are you creating content that shows you are not simply a product in the industry, but a voice that shapes it? Think about it, because your competitor is.

Don’t be shocked the next time you fire up a job search and stare into a sea of requests for creative content professionals. This is not simply for companies and brands that provide consumer-based entertainment products and initiatives. For the foreseeable future, every major business objective will be supported by a robust content platform.

Until you track down that elusive unicorn, I can connect you with plenty of highly qualified content specialists. As always – this is best discussed over tacos, and “yes” I know about the hot sauce bar.