COLUMBUS, GA – is the leading contingency-based executive search firm serving the, Ad:Tech, and IR-500 communities. To subscribe to the “Ecommerce Job of the Day,” click here. To connect with Harry Joiner on Linkedin, visit and use Harry.Joiner [at]

We are working with AFLAC in its search for a Sr. Manager, Digital Marketing to be based in Columbus, GA. Certainly, the company’s fine-feathered mascot needs no introducktion:

HARRY’S COMMENTS: If you’ve ever seen the HBO original series Entourage, you know that in Hollywood, the success of a movie actor is largely dependent on the quality of the scripts s/he receives. Great scripts mean great stories, and it’s a lot easier to look like a star when you’re telling a great story.

It’s like that in recruiting: Great searches allow the recruiter to tell great stories, and often enough, great candidates can be engaged because of it. In fact, I only have two requirements for any potential search assignment that comes my way:

  1. I must able to close the search on the back of a single, interesting story.
  2. The client must be willing to allow me to tell that story in a clear, unvarnished way.

If the search doesn’t satisfy these two conditions, I can’t take the project. Now then. This role with AFLAC has everything an established digital marketing manager could want:

  • A high-visibility opportunity to work with a world-class company
  • A chance to bring to life online one of the world’s greatest brands.
  • The ability to do strategically important work for a highly-respected boss who is as funny as he is smart. Indeed, his Linkedin recommendations include some of the smartest, most accomplished execs in One of them appeared on the cover of “Internet Retailer” magazine last year. So basically, the stars think this guy’s a star. (Which he is.)
  • Great money in an inexpensive town.

What’s the backstory on this position?

AFLAC seeks someone who can not only be developed into an officer level candidate, but also can offer the company the same level of expertise that hiring manager James Wisdom did prior to his arrival. In other words, you have to be really good right now – primarily because of the major initiatives that AFLAC has in the pipeline.

AFLAC has been a leader in marketing insurance ever since the days of the introduction of the AFLAC duck in 2000. Television, in particular, has been very good to the company. But AFLAC’s leaders have come to realize that digital marketing can be a highly effective channel in its own right, and AFLAC intends to be on the cutting edge for millennials as they mature into AFLAC’s target market.

AFLAC’s digital budget has quintupled in the last 3 years, and the digital marketing department has exploded from 3 to 18 people. It’s a good thing too, because James’ team is managing a large variety of projects across all of its business lanes and juggling the interests of AFLAC’s brokers, managers, and most importantly, its customers.

In this role, you will lead the development of AFLAC’s digital strategy, especially its long-term strategy across all of the platforms that support the company: mobile, web, mobile applications, social media, display advertising, partnerships with other properties, and more. According to James, “There is a really broad swath of projects that we would like to attack, and we’re spread fairly thinly in terms of our digital leadership capability. And these are really great projects, too!”

What does this mean for YOU?

It means that to succeed in this role, you must be strategically literate; Not in “fake strategy,” as James calls it — but in real strategy: We want someone who can say “Here’s a business challenge or a problem that I was handed, and here’s how I solved it in an elegant, resource- and brand-friendly way … short, medium, and long term. Moreover, here’s how I generated buy-in for the solution across multiple company functions, both up and down the organization.”

And remember that AFLAC is not a pure play. It is not Amazon. It has all sorts of intermediaries involved in the marketing of its products, and they all have a vested interest in what AFLAC does online. The key question is: How can all of these channels work together in such a way that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts? Like James, you will need to be a disarming digital evangelist, promoting digital’s pie-enlarging benefits in everyone else’s language.

Here’s your chance to make a difference.

If you are a smart, empathic, articulate, business-oriented digital marketer, this is your chance to matter. As James says, “This role is open because we can’t take advantage of all of the opportunities that we are presented with. We’re one of the biggest brands in the space, and one of the most aggressively marketed brands, too. It’s a shame to see any of these great opportunities go unrealized.”

Principal Duties and Responsibilities

  1. Leads the initiative to maximize Aflac’s sales in online channels by utilizing a balanced mix of marketing creativity, ecommerce industry knowledge, IT and agency collaboration; directive of this position is to convert potential Aflac customers through leadership in ecommerce best practices, project leadership, measurement tools and analysis, strategic understanding and tactical know-how; ensures that every opportunity is maximized to the fullest and business objectives are met
  2. Partners with outside agencies and internal stakeholders to effectively translate Aflac’s online vision; monitors work to ensure consistency and quality with respect to the Aflac brand and ensures alignment with the strategic goals of the organization; works closely on the development of innovative and relevant content to drive KPIs; works with various levels of management (including executive management) in the planning, development, and implementation of Aflac’s cross-channel digital interaction points
  3. Partners with Aflac stakeholders and Information Technology in matters including, but not limited to, web site content, user experience, optimization, measurement and functionality, ongoing and upcoming projects to ensure established goals are met
  4. Exceeds expectations of initiatives and projects; ensures the success of projects by coordinating system and process enhancements and effectively communicating them to the business units or other affected departments; coordinates the scheduling of multiple projects simultaneously
  5. Through the study of Aflac analytics, external research, industry best practices, and application of experience, synthesize insight to guide Aflac’s Digital Marketing capability into a new era, disseminate this vision to peers, stakeholders, and Aflac management
  6. Coordinates the evaluation and selection of agencies as well as provides input into the negotiation of purchase contracts or service level agreements and scopes of work
  7. Participates in peer reviews and other related meetings to support the corporate business strategy
  8. Performs other duties as assigned

Education & Experience

  • Bachelor’s degree in marketing, advertising, communications, business administration, software, digital media or a related field and ten years of progressively responsible related work experience in digital marketing or an equivalent combination of education and experience
  • Four years’ experience successfully managing a team of people in a complex business environment involving multiple business issues and systems and requiring the ability to collaborate with a variety of stakeholders
  • Mix of experience in digital marketing communications and e-commerce is preferred; knowledge of tools/methods to monitor and assess effectiveness and efficiency of digital marketing and e-commerce projects
  • Minimum of three years of strategic consulting and project management experience in a complex business environment
  • Experience managing a significant budget
  • Successful experience leading and influencing a wide variety of colleagues and stakeholders
  • Experience in the insurance industry, including at least two years with Aflac in a service-related department preferred

Job Knowledge & Skills

  • Knowledge of the marketing communications concepts, practices, and processes
  • Demonstrated ability to apply operations management and business process re-engineering tools and techniques to a wide variety of business techniques
  • Excellent presentation, oral, written, and interpersonal communications skills
  • Strong personal computer skills with knowledge of applicable software applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, and Photoshop
  • Broad knowledge of Aflac products/services and systems (preferred)

Other software knowledge:

  • Ecommerce: Advanced
  • Digital Marketing: Advanced
  • Knowledge of Internet usability and standards: Advanced
  • Project Management: Intermediate
  • Web Analytics: Intermediate
  • Knowledge of Web architecture: Intermediate
  • Search Engine Marketing/Search Engine Optimization: Intermediate
  • Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint: Intermediate
  • HTML: Intermediate
  • Adobe Photoshop and photo imaging: Intermediate
  • Video Editing, Online Streaming and Compression: Intermediate

Core Organizational Competencies

  • Action Oriented: Enjoys working hard; is action oriented and full of energy for the things he/she sees as challenging; is not fearful of acting with a minimum of planning; seizes more opportunity than others.
  • Customer Focus: Is dedicated to meeting the expectations and requirements of internal and external customers; drives to resolution of customer issues; gets first-hand customer information and uses it for improvements in products and services; acts with customers in mind; establishes and maintains effective relationships with customers and gains their trust and respect.
  • Adaptability: Can effectively cope with change; can shift gears comfortably; can decide and act without having the total picture; isn’t upset when things are up in the air; can multi-task, handle multiple objectives; can comfortably handle risk and uncertainty.
  • Listening: Practices attentive and active listening with colleagues and customers; has the patience to hear people out; can accurately restate the opinions of others even when he/she disagrees.
  • Ethics and Values: Adheres to an appropriate (for the setting) and effective set of core values and beliefs during both good and bad times; acts in line with those values; rewards the right values and disapproves of others; practices what he/she preaches.
  • Integrity and Trust: Is widely trusted; is seen as a direct, truthful individual; can present the unvarnished truth in an appropriate and helpful manner; keeps confidences; admits mistakes; doesn’t misrepresent him/herself for personal gain.

Core Manager Competencies

  • Drive for Results: Can be counted on to achieve goals successfully; is constantly and consistently one of the top performers; very bottom-line oriented; steadfastly pushes self and others for results
  • Informing: Provides the information people need to know to do their jobs and to feel good about being a member of the team, unit, and/or the organization; provides individuals information so that they can make accurate decisions; is timely with information
  • Building Effective Teams: Blends people into teams when needed; creates strong morale and spirit in his/her team; shares wins and successes; fosters open dialogue; lets people finish and be responsible for their work; defines success in terms of the whole team; creates a feeling of belonging in the team
  • Developing Direct Reports: Provides challenging and stretching tasks and assignments; holds frequent development discussions; is aware of each direct report’s career goals; constructs compelling development plans and executes them; pushes direct reports to accept developmental moves is a people builder
  • Hiring & Staffing: Recognizes talent; hires the best people available from inside or outside; is not afraid of selecting strong people; assembles talented staffs
  • Motivating Others: Creates a climate in which people want to do their best; can motivate many kinds of direct reports and team or project members; can assess each person’s talents and use them to maximize productivity; pushes tasks and decisions down; empowers others; invites input from each person and shares ownership and visibility; makes each individual feel his/her work is important; is someone people like working for and with

Functional Competencies

  • Business and Financial Acumen: Knows how businesses work; is knowledgeable in current and possible future policies, practices, trends, and information affecting his/her business and organization; knows the competition; is aware of how strategies and tactics work in the marketplace; knows how the organization makes money; understands the organization’s business model; is aware of key factors influencing profitability.
  • Collaboration: Can partner effectively with colleagues within Marketing and channels as well as other stakeholders across the company to provide to the marketplace world-class products, services and marketing that incorporates the best expertise in the company.
  • Innovation Management: Is good at bringing the creative ideas of others to market; has good judgment about which creative ideas and suggestions will work; has a sense about managing the creative process of others; can facilitate effective brainstorming; can project how potential ideas may play out in the marketplace.
  • Managing Vision and Purpose: Communicates a compelling and inspired vision or sense of core purpose; talks beyond today; talks about possibilities; is optimistic; creates mileposts and symbols to rally support behind the vision; makes the vision sharable by everyone; can inspire and motivate entire units or organizations.
  • Organizing: Can marshal resources (people, funding, material, and support) to get things done; can orchestrate multiple activities at once to accomplish a goal; uses resources effectively and efficiently; arranges information and files in a useful manner.
  • Perseverance: Pursues everything with energy, drive, and a need to finish; seldom gives up before finishing, especially in the face of resistance or setbacks.
  • Problem Solving:Uses rigorous logic and methods to solve difficult problems with effective solutions; probes all fruitful sources for answers; can see hidden problems; is excellent at honest analysis; looks beyond the obvious and doesn’t stop at the first answers.

UPDATE: This search is closed.

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