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Does the unicorn marketer really exist?

Unicorn Marketers

Unicorn Marketer has become one of those terms that shot from relative obscurity to being a bit of an oft-coined term.

The recruitment industry is relatively late to come to terms with the importance of marketing to their success, but now they have, there has been a boom in recruitment leaders looking to marketers to propel their business forward. But they can be unsure of what that’s supposed to look like. So for many recruitment companies who are just dipping their toe into the water of what marketing can do for them, small budgets and small teams have become the norm, meaning everyone is after a unicorn marketer - someone who can handle the full marketing mix, basically on their own.

What does a Unicorn Marketer do?

Well, the term has really become a way of describing a high-performance generalist, which means that a unicorn marketer does a bit of everything.

  • They’ll be able to pull together a content strategy that’s optimised for SEO, and they’ll know how to amplify that content for exposure and link-building.

  • They’ll be social media savvy, and able to use data to make business decisions on how different platforms are used, how much money is spent on them, and how to influence audience engagement.

  • They’ll be able to design eye-catching and engaging content.

  • They’ll also be analytical, able to interpret large amounts of data to understand audience preferences and behaviours, as well as evaluating campaign performance and ROI.

  • They might also need knowledge of e-commerce strategies for web and mobile, understanding the tried and tested channels for sales whilst also looking for new opportunities.

Alongside this, the unicorn marketer is expected to have a number of soft skills – they’re creative, bringing new ideas to the table and able to spot an opportunity for a campaign.

They’re resourceful and adaptable, able to use all those tools in their toolbox to create winning campaigns and pivot when needed. They’re collaborative and motivational, bringing other teams on board with their plans and working with specialists to gain the best results.

And of course, they’re leaders – able to direct and inspire others towards a common goal through their experience and insight.

So, unicorn marketers possess a huge number of skills. But are they a pipedream? A best-case scenario created by business leaders who want the benefits of marketing but don’t want to invest in a marketing team?

Well, in our experience, unicorn marketers do exist, but they’re rare.

They’re often found working as solo marketers, running the full 360 marketing mix for a SME. They possess a wide range of skills, but because they handle everything, they only really have time to go into any of them to a certain depth.

Unicorn marketers can fall victim to burnout if they don’t put in place careful boundaries, or if they don’t receive the support they need to keep all the plates spinning.

Are you a Unicorn Marketer?

Any of this sound familiar? Do you find yourself spinning a dozen plates, a jack of all trades and slowly becoming master of them all? Here’s some advice from us to help you make the most of your skill set.

1.     You’re used to handling a lot, but don’t be afraid to ask for help. You don’t always have to do everything alone, and if there’s an area you’re really feeling unsure about, if you’ve got too much on your plate, or if you could just do with a second opinion, it’s always worth asking if you can get some extra support – either from a freelancer or a mentor.

2.     Create a work stack with SLAs (service level agreements) attached. You’ve got a lot on. All the time. And people are always asking you for more. Use a project management or task management system to help you to prioritise and get things done in an order that makes sense and is most useful to the business. Be transparent with your stakeholders about how long tasks take and when they can expect work to be complete, rather than asking for it immediately.

3.     Protect yourself from burn out. It’s too easy to work nonstop without taking breaks to get everything done, but by doing this, you’ll burn out and struggle to keep up the pace. Take regular breaks and try not to work at weekends. Remember – marketing isn’t life or death, so it’s never the end of the world if something has to wait a day or two.

What do you do if you have a Unicorn Marketer on your team?

If you happen to have one of these incredible, but rare marketing talents in your team here’s our advice: 

  1. Appreciate them. It’s important to make sure they know you see how much they do and the value they add to the team.

  2. Make sure you’re paying them what they’re worth. These marketers are often doing the work of 3 people. Compensate them well for their skills.

  3. Give them a support network. Whether it’s agency support to lighten to the load, a mentor, or a marketing network to tap into, make sure they’re not doing it all alone.

  4. Give them a seat at the table. These sorts of marketers are brilliant at strategic thinking. Let them input into your board or strategy meetings and you’ll get even more value from them and help them feel valued.

How do you get a Unicorn Marketer?

When we come across these talented individuals, there are a number of things we've noticed they have in common. They tend to like autonomy and they prefer a degree of flexibility. As they're high performers, they would rather be measured by their outputs, rather than the hours they are in the office.

They also tend to get snapped up quickly, so if you find one, move fast – if your interview process is several stages long and takes weeks, there’s a good chance you’ll miss out.

Lastly, unicorn marketers are waking up to their own value, so if you get the chance to hire one, please don’t lowball them. It won’t help you to get a better deal, and not only will you lose them, lots of marketers belong to the same networks, so you might end up tainting your reputation amongst other marketing professionals too.

What's your next step?

Are you a unicorn marketer looking to make your mark in a recruitment company? We'd love to chat with you - we have so many opportunities for you to turbo-charge your career, and whether you have a background in the recruitment sector or not, now is a great time to be part of the industry!