Best Practices for Hiring Your First Marketing Resource

Your business is growing steadily to the point that you can finally hire a fulltime marketing person. Congratulations, it’s a big step and not one to take lightly – especially considering the average cost of acquiring a new employee is just over $4000.00 and takes 42-days on average. [1]

Unless you have strong marketing acumen, knowing what type of marketing candidate is most likely to succeed is tricky. Of course, placing the ad is easy, but it’s the knowing what to look for and vetting potential candidates that matters.

Read on to learn four things to look for when hiring your first marketing resource:

  1. Don’t ask for too many skills.
    It’s tempting to hope someone with expertise in SEO can tweak your website and create graphics, or that an engaging social media post writer will also be skilled at copy or blog writing. Be careful what you ask for. Most small businesses hiring their first marketing person don’t have the budget to afford the type of marketer who spans the entire integrated marketing landscape, especially at an expert level. More importantly, good, solid marketing candidates will most likely shy away from job descriptions that have too many requirements for skills they haven’t yet mastered.

    Tip: Ask interviewees to name a time they developed a marketing plan from scratch, how they knew where to begin, which tactics were chosen and how they measured success.

  1. Know what type of marketing you need.
    Understanding which phase of the sales funnel you want this new hire to focus on is key. If your brand is not well established or you want to break into new verticals, you look for a demand generator. If your business is well known, has a strong social media presence and you’re ready to focus on driving leads, you need a lead generator and/or growth hacker. Demand generators and lead generators typically have different skills.

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    Awareness phase marketers: Driving demand requires an ability to drive traffic to your website through social media engagement and post writing that entices click-through. So, you need someone familiar with blogging, keyword strategy, how to secure guest blogs, SEO, and scoring backlinks. All of which are important for building awareness and driving demand.

    Consideration phase marketers: Driving leads requires a well-versed content creator who can craft compelling e-books that sit behind a form in order to collect visitor contact information. They should also be solid email copywriters with experience executing email-nurturing campaigns, and ideally have some experience with video production, graphics, and newsletters.   

  1. Think about how you’ve been marketing.
    Before a marketing person is hired, owners typically bootstrap marketing and sales with a heavy focus on tactics that drive ROI – quickly. Paid advertising and a website fall into this category. It’s also common for owner-marketers to avoid complicated marketing tactics such as creating personas, content development, marketing automation and social selling, which require strategy, a long waiting period, and technical expertise, before seeing results.

    Tip: If this is your situation, look for candidates that complement what you already know instead of those who duplicate it. Ask them what they know and also how they measure results.

  1. Find an excellent content writer and strategist.
    Content is still king in the marketing world but it must be relevant, educational and speak to the needs of your buyers. Writing content for the sake of writing doesn’t make it easier to be found in search results or impress buyers who are researching solutions on your website, but haven’t yet made contact. Unfortunately, with the prevalence of ghostwriting as a marketing tactic, it’s relatively easy to pass off content published online as your own to prospective employers.

    The ability to write in the voice and tone your buyers resonate with is critical for both demand and lead generation marketing. In addition, a skilled editor can make anyone look like an amazing writer and when a blog is published online, you don’t see the raw version. Both scenarios can easily lead to frustration and disappointment but they’re avoidable.

    Tip: While there is no 100% foolproof method for addressing this concern, you can come close by requiring a custom writing sample. Capable writers will understand why and comply as long as you’re not asking for a free blog. Choose a topic that’s personal to them such as, tell us in 200 – 300 words your favorite vacation spot and why. Making it personal and custom for your application process will hopefully encourage them to put their best foot forward.

Hiring your first marketing resource is an exciting undertaking! If you haven’t already, please join our partner-only LinkedIn group, we’d love to meet your new team member!

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  1. Darrell Amy October 16, 2017 -

    Great advice! Finding someone to write high-value content can be a challenge in a highly technical space. One way to tackle this challenge is with a hybrid approach of hiring a marketing person for local marketing/PR/social and hiring a partner like to create content and manage search placement.

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