Reflecting on our Digital Talent And Knowledge Gap study (which I'm happy to share, BTW), there is clearly high demand for great digital talent and execution. Sadly, there is a dearth of people qualified to perform at a high level. The lack of quality practitioners can be seen across the industry in particular for B2B Marketing teams, small businesses and the agency. It's clear that we have some issues as an industry but let's focus on how we can address this gap. Luckily, there are solutions to this problem. With the onset of eLearning we can address all the traditional challenges of scale, prohibitive cost and staying power. The solution is NOT a one-day workshop or event, it is NOT reading a research report, and it is definitely NOT a one-off webinar. These solutions don't cut it if you want to properly institute a culture of continuous learning and improvement. So allow me to answer the most common question I receive these days: "How do we build a quality digital talent pool?" 1) SWOT Analysis to Assess the Team's Digital IQ Before you can build great talent pool and help improve your team's skill set, identify the strengths and weaknesses of your current team. I have found most digital or marketing team leads have no idea how relatively strong their team or individuals are in the major categories of digital, like social, mobile, email, or search. If you are planning on implementing a "Digital IQ Assessment" it's critical to build the case and construct a plan to address the needs of your team with proper learning objectives. An assessment is a great way to see where you are in relation to your competitors, as you get a relevant score to other comparable teams and even job functions. This means the score for an account manager will differ from that of a subject matter expert on social media based on the baseline set by their peers. 2) Level Set Knowledge This is the baseline. It's a place where all team members can sing from the same song sheet and at least get a nice foundation on the cross-discipline approach to all things digital and a proper vantage point to talk about "integrated marketing." We call it a Digital Essentials Certificate program and it's a quick and easy way to let team members brush up in areas identified as weak in the Digital IQ Assessment and then test their knowledge base to ensure productive conversation internally and with clients (for the agency). This is also a great way to establish an onboarding program for new employees and interns. Just level set, have a foundation, then build. 3) Build on Best Practices (Don't Pay to Learn) Now that you have a baseline, you should build on best practices in topics that are important to you. So for the B2B team, content marketing best practices would be a valuable set of courses to focus on. For the agency, digital advertising and integrated strategy would be a nice best practice area. And every team should have social media best practices down to a science. Having these best practices in place will prevent you and your staff from getting paid to learn and wasting valuable time on information you already know. Instead, you can simply learn, institute these changes and continue to build on those best practices. 4) Incremental Improvement and Optimization Plans With the right level setting and best practice areas addressed, we can then build a culture of constant optimization by offering areas of expertise to be utilized. Simply learning more about the advanced areas of a topic will drive real job satisfaction for those engaged in constant learning. Tying that back into marketing execution plans will help identify the winners and losers. At OMI, we have an eLearning library that consists of over 300 on-demand video tutorials on the "how-to's," tactics and baseline best practices. 5) Keeping Pace With Trends Finally, it goes without saying that this industry is constantly evolving. So it's imperative to be aware of the changes that are happening and focus on the right opportunities to gain new market share and sales. Google's SEO updates, Facebook's constant platform releases and areas like retargeting, marketing automation and analytics breakthroughs need attention on a weekly basis. So having folks on your team responsible for keeping an eye on these trends and sharing them when they're impactful is key. If you follow these steps, you will be well on your way to building a great digital team and gaining the executional ROI we all seek. There's no bigger competitive differentiator for recruiting and retaining talent than this...a real education program. Overall, it's up to both the individual to take initiative and the company to invest in it's people to really embrace the gap filling needs we have here in Digital.