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Companies need to invest for digital growth

26/03/2014

FTSE-listed businesses in London are increasingly picking from a broad selection of digital marketers when attempting to improve and modernise their advertising strategies, with plenty of talented professionals based in the capital and looking for new roles.

With hubs such as Tech City gaining traction and attracting international firms, the digital sector is booming in London, making it easier for companies to elaborate on this part of their marketing strategy - particularly if they are a well-known brand with plenty of clout and financial backing behind them.

However, small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and businesses headquartered outside the capital could find it more difficult to invest in the right kind of talent - many of the best and most experienced workers are drawn to London for a variety of factors.

This does not mean that companies in the regions should not attempt to develop their digital strategy - indeed, it is particularly important they do so in order not to be left behind by the shifts taking place in the capital, as this would make it difficult for them to compete.

However, they do need to be aware that many of the best candidates will be drawn to the digital epicentre of London, meaning they may need to go the extra mile to bring their chosen hires on board.

Wages are not necessarily the solution - top companies in the capital and beyond tend to have strong retention levels for their digital team, because of their awareness of how important this aspect of their operation has become.

In the past, prospective candidates have turned down wage increases of around 15 per cent in order to stay with their current employer, enjoying the stability and bonuses offered through this kind of loyalty.

So what can regional businesses and SMEs do to develop their digital strategy? Utilising recruiters is crucial when it comes to external hires - an organisation with a wide-ranging contacts book will find it far easier to source the right worker than a business attempting to do so with no specialist knowledge of the market.

This may not solve the issue completely, though - companies should also take a grass roots approach to digital development, offering as much training as possible within the marketing, product and sales functions of their organisations.

A number of benefits are associated with this approach - it will ensure firms have a broad-based understanding of the digital market, increase the possibilities for innovation and entrepreneurial thinking.

While businesses may be chary of over-spending on processes such as this, which can be time-consuming, the reality is that the short-term expense will be more than countered by the long-term benefits they offer.

With concerns rising over a possible skills gap in the digital marketing sector, particularly outside of the capital, creating a strong internal talent pipeline can ensure firms do not get left behind by their rivals.

Furthermore, any spend on technology will be greatly enhanced by having sufficiently talented workers to take advantage of new processes.

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