The digital marketing nomad: technology, compensation and shifting norms

The digital marketing nomad: technology, compensation and shifting norms

Let’s begin by saying this isn’t meant to sway or sell—it is meant to provoke thought, conversation and discussion on a trend that could eventually become common in many industries, including digital marketing.

The pandemic, through necessity, proved that current technologies, including online conferencing platforms and project management software, were capable of enabling consistent and quality work outside the office. People proved that, with the right tools and proper digital arsenal, they could contribute—sometimes more effectively—from the comfort of wherever they chose to work. 

Offices were empty, but the digital marketing world, among others, kept turning. Digital ad spend grew 12.2 percent over 2020, which is especially impressive considering its initial falloff and reactionary budget tightening.

Digital marketing teams were producing hopeful and community-driven content, even as they were untethered from their desks, conference rooms and the daily commute. We’re not saying that the office doesn’t have it’s benefits, because it can and does yield results, but removing the common workspace from the 2020 equation, work was still getting done. 

A digital and literal coastal exodus

When I reference the meccas of digital marketing, what do you see? The bustle and skyline of New York, New York, or perhaps the vibrant cityscape of Los Angeles, California? Traditionally, the who’s who of advertising agencies and marketing talent gravitate to and work within these areas because that’s what you did when the time and technology dictated one needed to be in close proximity to their employer to effectively contribute. 

It made sense. I couldn’t really capture or convey the full effect of a multifaceted marketing campaign to clients or coworkers over the phone or digitally till very recently. But now I can. Everyone can—almost. 

The era of geography defining the availability of creative and other intellectual resources is over. So where do we go from here?

Search parameters and restrictions. There aren’t any.

Where do we look for digital marketing talent and opportunities for operational expansion outside the traditional geographic regions of New York and LA? Literally anywhere in the United States. 

If you can connect, you can contribute. 

Whether we are talking about untapped pools of potential digital marketing talent or opening satellite offices, expanding into other geographical markets or creating resources to support centralized efforts, looking beyond the coasts can make a good deal of sense. 

Pulling individuals from varied backgrounds will automatically create a greater degree of diversity among your contributors, allowing your teams to consider previously unconsidered perspectives and approaches to your marketing challenges. 

One might even assemble remote teams based in general geographic areas, but not bound to a brick and mortar, so if they want to meet in the real world, those professionals can incorporate that into their dynamic. 

Embracing the expanding capabilities of technology, while ensuring your teams are supplied with digital tool sets that are adequate and complimentary to their work style, can allow for exceptional work from anywhere. It still requires leadership, direction, consistent and constructive feedback, and patience while you are troubleshooting expansion into new territories, but, honestly, that is to be expected during any period of growth.

Examining exchange rates

Perhaps the toughest element to consider when talking about hiring a digital marketing professional from Manhattan, New York, as opposed to Manhattan, Kansas, is whether their value is location dependent.

It is a hard question to answer, but as remote work shifts to being the norm, geographical pay scaling and pricing models will become largely irrelevant. 

If one of your best contributors—a smart, innovative professional who delivers exceptional work and results—moves from LA to Nashville, Tennessee, is it appropriate to adjust their compensation because they live somewhere else? Do you value them less? These are the questions we need to consider when taking on interior talent from beyond the coasts. 


Epic Search Partners is focused on helping digital marketing firms expand their reach by providing access to today’s best digital marketing talent. We help companies grow by offering new perspectives on the dynamics of the developing hiring markets. If you’re looking to grow and need a guiding hand for the next steps, reach out.

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