Marketing roles least likely to succeed, 2017 edition

We love talking about the hottest and most exciting opportunities in marketing. But for some occupations, the window is closing. The sun is setting. The clock is ticking. The worm is turning—you get the idea.

For every sunrise, there must be a sunset. For every breathless prediction of great things for the year ahead, we owe it to ourselves to look at the downside. Here’s a look at a few of the jobs in our dark arts and sciences which may not be long for this world.


Conventional media sales (and buyers)

The rise of programmatic means the fall of the old-guard media trade. Marketers and agency reps have greater direct control than ever over budgets. They can also access countless media outlets without needing to cultivate relationships with old-guard gatekeepers. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has advertising sales agents set for a long-term decline of 4,500 jobs lost by 2024. That’s a 10-year projection published in 2014, so it doesn’t even reflect the rate at which programmatic is picking up speed.

Alternatives: People who understand how to match brands and media will still be valuable; they just won’t be doing as much of it by hand. They will be the ones guiding policies at private and public exchanges, and bringing more advertisers and publishers into the market. But like most industries disrupted by automation, these jobs aren’t going to be as plentiful as their forerunners were.


Niche jobs that sit solely on the “marketing” or the “tech” side of “martech”

The Internet era has transformed marketing in countless ways, most of which have involved heavy doses of technology. The overlap between marketing and technological responsibilities has been growing steadily since the early 2000s, but now it’s becoming more pronounced. A marketing role without serious, daily immersion in technology will be increasingly difficult to find. And the pure tech support roles will similarly start to fade in favor of hybrid marketing/IT positions.

Alternatives: Earlier this year, Subway’s digital transformation efforts led the sandwich chain to hire 150 people with blended marketing and IT responsibilities. Watch for similar arrangements to be the new normal.


Simple lead-generation marketing roles

Social networking and digital advertising don’t completely replace the skills of front line lead-gen marketer. But they do put a huge amount of pressure on their jobs, and many companies will shift more resources to sales support instead of marketing salary.

“Advances in traditional, digital, as well as social will mean more of the stand-alone marketing roles that supported sales will be eliminated,” says Puneet Gupta, CTO at digital transformation consultancy Brillio. “Sales teams enabled by marketing tech will become the primary model” for conventional lead-gen growth.

Alternatives: Marketing operations and data analysis are the natural upward escape path for the front line lead-gen marketer—but they come with heavier demands and a more particular skillset.


CMOs without a strong revenue plan

Consulting firm Spencer Stuart’s CMO tenure report found that CMOs are being shown the door more frequently. The median CMO tenure in 2015 was just 26.5 months, down from 35.5 months the year before. Average tenure fell to 44 months, the lowest since 2011.

Debbie Qaqish, chief strategy officer at consultancy The Pedowitz Group, says the old guard is being replaced with a new breed of CMO who sees the position as having broader implications for the overall business. [tweet_dis]”Companies are looking for CMOs who can build economic engines, not just run messaging and brand.”[/tweet_dis]

Alternatives: Mastering marketing operations and voice-of-the-customer programs gives the survival-minded CMO more tools for tangible revenue-generating performance. Helping navigate the cultural changes that come with a heavier tech and data focus is also vital in a marketing chief.

“There’s a power play right now in marketing—he who has the toys makes the rules,” Qaqish says. “Some are happy to see a more scientific approach, while others in the organization are not going to easily change their roles.”

Post by Jason Compton

Jason Compton is a writer with over 15 years of experience covering marketing, sales, and service. Based in Madison, WI, he is a regular contributor to Direct Marketing News, previously served as executive editor of CRM Magazine, and has been published in over 50 outlets.