Help! Why are all my marketers leaving?!

Have you or your business had to ask this question recently? Or perhaps you’re repeatedly struggling to fill a role that just keeps becoming empty?

Is it the nature of the marketing industry that employees hop round, or are employers missing something in terms of how to keep marketers happy?

Missing something, you could be.

why marketers leave

First, why are human beings motivated to work on a day-to-day basis?

Money, unfortunately, is a factor which is more important to some individuals than others, but it is still a factor nonetheless. How much money can we earn/make, how fast, and how does this fit in with my needs and lifestyle?  Although it is weighed up against many other driving factors too, such as location, the company, industry, and of course the role itself – if the money just isn’t viable, your marketers may be enticed elsewhere.

However, just paying people more money is not the solution to retaining staff on a long-term basis, especially not in a creative sector such as marketing, where people’s driving force to work is so much more than just that.

Now, it would be so much easier if we were all lazy cats who just lived for food and toy mice, as our needs would be far simpler to predict. To work out why your retention rate is low, first and foremost put yourself in this equation – walk 1000 miles in your staff’s shoes and think, if I were them would I be happy?

I would generally like to think that as a marketing recruiter I’m in a pretty well-educated position to be able to discuss why marketers can be unhappy in their roles, as it’s one of the first questions we ask between 50 and 100 people daily, and they have no reason to lie to us (well, most of the time!).

I would therefore say with some conviction that, for marketing professionals, the reasons they tend to want to move are a far cry from the pulls for recruiters – for us, some people are in it just for the money (and that’s easy to solve), others (like me) for the satisfaction of helping individuals to get their dream roles. Most marketers are in it for the creativity, the reach of their work, and to make a real difference to organisations they work within, and to be able to do this they need a lot of support.

So, if you are offering the going rate for the area and role (our annual Marketing Recruitment Review & Salary Survey can help with checking this), then think about whether you’re falling short in the areas outlined below…


Marketing is a highly creative, fast-paced sector, and this means offering training for your employees is essential for two reasons:

  1. To keep them updated with modern marketing techniques that have a bearing on their role, for them to fulfil their duties effectively. For example, with the increase in specialist digital roles and a result of the rise of social media and Google’s influence, there has been an increase in the overall emphasis on inbound marketing, specifically on the content side such as website blogging, videos, influencers, and how this can improve traffic and leads.
  2. To ensure they do not feel left behind on what is important for them and essential for them to continue up their career ladder or chosen path. If they are not being given the opportunity to learn the new things happening in the industry, this can have a serious effect on their careers moving forwards. For example, a lot of print-focused project managers that did not embrace digital, are now struggling for opportunities as so many roles are now integrated as a minimum.

Training is an influential factor that has a bearing on overall work satisfaction for marketers, as it provides opportunity to progress their knowledge, and stay relevant. Improving what you offer in this area could be as simple as giving staff paid time off to go to a marketing exhibition, meets ups, or encourage them to be involved in out-of-the-office groups where they can talk about their experiences within your business! Think of it as investing in training and investing in your valuable employees, and ultimately, in your business.

The bonus with this that your staff will not only stay motivated, but they will also have the knowledge needed to take on extra responsibilities, which believe me – they are craving and you will benefit from. Remember, giving time is as important as funding for training, and if you do fund it, you can tie this in to getting more job security from them i.e. you fund their CIM, but they may have to pay it back if they leave within a year, it’s a win/win.

Career development

Tying in nicely to the above point – career development is a huge issue when it comes to sticking around in a role or staying within a company. Imagine you are back in your school years, but there is only one year, year 11.

You go through the exams, you work hard, stress perhaps, and meet those deadlines. But, then the year goes around again and you’re still doing the same, so those fantastic accomplishments are soon replaced by new targets and stresses, and could then be forgotten about. In this way you are stuck in time!

Does that sound desirable?! Didn’t think so!

From my recruiting experience, it is highly unlikely that your marketing employees are happy and satisfied to remain at assistant-level for more than two years. Once they have a great few years under their belt, they will want to start taking the step-up to executive-level, or branch out to specialise into digital marketing for example, or a new role with more responsibility.

By this I do not mean just in terms of strictly job title or salary, but if they are with you a long time then in their eyes it’s a catch 22 situation. You (or both parties) might view it as loyalty and commitment, but others could view it as a lack of ambition – a lack of hunger and willing to progress up into more senior roles or specialisms, of which they may be completely capable and ready to move into. Without these opportunities to develop, they may feel their skills are quashed, not utilised properly, or are under appreciated.

So, think about that change in title, that salary increase, and the added responsibilities that show you recognise and appreciate their hard work and achievements. If your marketer feels stuck, then like workers from other industries, they will start looking for that button to get the treadmill moving.

Using the fact that ‘there isn’t a role for them’ to not progress them when it’s due, and expecting them to stay put is not acceptable in this day and age; employers need to be flexible, and recognise when they need to offer something, and how to do it. And make sure they’re doing it before the employee hands in their notice, and it’s too late!

Appreciate = motivate

Finally, it is highly important as employers that you appreciate your marketers! This is essential to drive passion, keep motivation high, and keep the new fresh ideas rolling in. You must also really understand the marketers’ role within your business, and encourage collaboration with other departments.

For example, get your sales team involved so they’re working in tandem, to send out campaigns they’re both completely happy with, for that all-important drive for lead generation and profits. This is more than just a temporary bonus – collaboration like this motivates outside-the-box thinking, and the more heads on a task could be better than the one.

Appreciation also relates to a marketers’ personal goals and beliefs about oneself and their abilities. Bear with me…and think about it like this for a moment:

Like a beautiful river, if you keep taking away the water again and again, and putting nothing back in, the water will dry up and you’ll be left with a muddy puddle at best. The more you stifle the creative flow of a marketer the more they’ll be thinking “Well, why am I here then?”.

If you let it flow and are positively critical, while providing support and praise, it’ll get stronger and stronger and there you have it – a marketer who not only feels their ideas are appreciated, but also feels they are making a difference to the business and driving it in the right direction.

So, to summarise, whether you’re an employer with a marketing team, or you work within the marketing sector, let us know your thoughts? Maybe you agree and at times feel frustrated in your role, or maybe you disagree and are happy exactly where you are, or maybe you’re an employer that doesn’t feel it’s necessary to appreciate staff. Whoever you are, please do comment, and share your thoughts on this post!


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