The marketing discipline is, if not in crisis, in need of an overhaul if it is to attract the sort of talent it needs in the years ahead, according to the CMO Growth Council – both industry bodies and brands have to tell a new story about marketing as a career.

“All of a sudden, marketing is falling behind,” Alicia Hatch, chief marketing officer at Deloitte Digital told an audience at last month’s Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

And it’s not just behind the obvious alternatives like consulting, start-ups and the tech giants. “Marketing is far behind even core business processes as choice of career path,” she said. (For more, read WARC’s report: CMO of the future: Confronting the talent crunch.)

It’s time for an entirely new story about what a career in marketing looks like, she argued: that being “right on the front lines” with customers makes marketing “an absolute sandbox for innovation” and a worthy career choice.

At Deloitte Digital, in-house training programmes are helping the company’s marketers to develop more rounded skillsets which the whole organisation is benefiting from. Being able to approach a challenge from different directions, Hatch said, has been particularly useful in the innovation space.

“We’re cross-training across every competency, so that everyone gets exposed to all types of work,” she explained.

“We’ve created internal rotation programs: for three weeks you sit in on meetings related to a competency and learn for the purpose of being able to work in an integrated team.”

This approach has had some unexpected side-effects, she added, in terms of increased empathy across the organisation. “People are understanding one another and working much more fluidly together, which in turn is driving innovation,” she revealed.

And, crucially, it is attracting talent. “As we’ve started these programs, the types of resumes that we’re getting are better – it's a place people want to work.”

Progressive brands are following a similar path. Unilever CEO Alan Jope recently highlighted how brand teams are moving away from being generalists to become specialists.

“That’s to say the roles will be specialised,” he told The Drum last week. “A person will move around in their marketing career to prepare them for the bigger jobs where you have to pull all of that together.”

Sourced from WARC, The Drum