3 skills your team needs for 2021

Throughout 2020 and into 2021, there has been a lot of movement across the industry. People are reevaluating their roles and what they want from their career. If you’re leading a team, there's a huge opportunity to find amazing talent. But the question then becomes, what are the skills you should be looking for and how do you hire with the future in mind? 

We approached three of our leadership team — Head of Services, Garth Stirling; Performance and Growth Lead, Cam McMaster; and our Creative Lead, Kyle Vermeulen — to uncover the skills they believe are necessary to thrive in 2021. 

First to respond to the Slack ping was Garth and to be honest, even though he’s our boss, his response surprised us. 


“Storytelling! I look for strategists who can connect with the end user, and the best way to do that is through great storytelling. So if I had to pick one skill for 2021, that’d be what I would hone in on. Let me explain...

Thanks to COVID people have been stuck at home for months and they now crave new and novel experiences. Just look at how much online learning has exploded in 2020. People are looking for more than just what’s cheapest or most convenient and instead they want to be rewarded and feel connected. 

A good strategist needs to know how to tap into this. Especially within the not-for-profit and for-purpose space.  Not-for-profits don’t sell a “thing”, they sell radical change, life-saving medicine or the chance to be part of a community achieving great things. There’s an opportunity here to tap into those desires to help others and be part of something bigger.

That’s why whenever I’m interviewing a new candidate for a role, I’m trying to decide a few things:

  • Have they the skills to get a deep understanding of donors? 

  • Do they ask the right questions that help them see the donor perspective? 

  • Can they avoid getting stuck in the one-sided perspective of the organisation? 

  • And finally, can they take that understanding and figure out the story that needs to be told to connect with the audience?” 

While we’re on the topic of understanding your audience, a  great way to get started on thinking about your donors is by using a tool such as empathy mapping.


Now that we’d learned how to hire the perfect strategist we moved on to Cam McMaster, who heads up our implementation team.  For Cam it was all about finding those who understand the ever changing digital ecosystem. 

“First off, a good hire should be across the changing nature of the digital space. In 2021 it’s especially important to understand the privacy and tracking changes occurring through the digital ecosystem. 

For example Apple is releasing an iOS update this quarter that will make it harder to track and target their users through digital marketing. This will have huge ramifications for how campaigns are run into the future. 

A similar thing is happening with cookies. They’re the tech that allows us to track people’s website behaviour and Google is set to shelve them by 2022. I think everyone working in our industry should be fully across the ins and outs of these changes.


Last but not least we chatted to Kyle Vermulen, our creative lead here at ntegrity. Despite everything that happened in 2020 our creative team has been growing exponentially. With that in mind Kyle has been thinking quite a lot about what makes a great creative team. And for Kyle, an agile mindset is more important than one single skill. Here’s what he had to say:

“Last year was a fascinating year for creatives. Humans around the world had this enormous shared experience of uncertainty, change, and fear. One of the ways creatives teams had to respond was to do more with less: user-generated content, zoom-calls-on-location, and using stock footage and animations instead of shooting everything from scratch.

In the end, we learned a lot about being agile, and making things work within tight constraints.

In 2021, creative teams will need to continue the work of capturing attention, and evoke emotion with limited resources. To me, that means working tightly with our strategy teams to understand the psychological motives of our audiences, and the implementation team to understand all the ad and content placements we have available.

It’s an exciting time in NFP marketing, as we’re in the midst of this huge shift from the traditional ways of asking for support to more collaborative models. So even though budgets may be getting tighter, there’s still a huge opportunity to do effective, emotive work.”



Now of course hiring great talent is a vital means of ensuring you’re surrounded by the best. But, remember you and your current team are your biggest assets, and it’s so important to be constantly upskilling. A bird in the hand and all that…

That’s why we asked one more question of each of our three team leaders. We wanted to know what they’re doing to upskill in 2021. 


For Garth it was the podcast “Voices of Search”. Yes, yes while the rest of us are listening to Joe Rogan, My Favourite Murderer, or The Daily, Garth is hooked on SEO marketing. 

It may not sound like the most exciting podcast on the planet but it IS a super easy way to get your head around SEO and stay up to date with this ever changing technology. Each episode looks at the global leaders, trends and insights providing an array of useful tips and strategies. It may not climb to the top of the podcast charts any time soon, but it’s a great little secret weapon for those working in SEO. 


Cam’s go to resource was The Clikk. He recommends anyone interested in digital marketing to sign up to their daily email. Every day you get an update on everything important happening across the digital marketing space. And, as Cam puts it, “it incorporates Dad jokes, which is fun too.” 


Kyle had a bunch of great reading recommendations — books he’s been using to ensure he’s upskilling throughout 2021. This included The Advertising Concept Book, which as Kyle puts it,“is helping me refine my approach to concepting”. This refined approach to creativity can be super helpful as it allows our team to bring a number of thoughtful concepts to a client early in the campaign process — without getting too far into execution — thus keep our thinking clear and timelines tight.

Kyle also recommended Run Studio Run and Julie Zhou’s Making of a Manager as invaluable resources when it comes to ensuring your team excels as it continues to grow. 

There you have it, a range of advice on the skills needed for 2021, as well as a few tips to help you stay at the top of your game. 

And remember, ntegrity is always here to help. We can work with you to uncover where your team may have a gap in its knowledge and help you decide whether it makes more sense to upskill or hire someone new. Now, bring on the rest of the year.