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5 Tips for Hiring Your First Marketing Exec

By Jamie Davidson · March 3, 2020

If you’re a “solopreneur” or the leader of a small team or business, hiring your first marketer can feel overwhelming. Adding any new member to your team takes a lot of consideration, but hiring a marketer who can bring new ideas, execute strategy and show results is a big ask.

Marketing is so much more than promoting a product to consumers. It entails research, audience analysis, and knowledge of numerous advertising channels both online and offline. Does your company need someone who can execute digital marketing programs, SEO, PPC, affiliate marketing or email campaigns? Or are you looking for someone with more “old school” traditional strategy experience? Do you need a marketer who has prior experience in your industry, or can you train someone from the ground up?

Answers to these and other questions will vary from company to company and industry to industry. But, these tips will provide a framework for deciding whether it’s time to hire your first marketer, as well as how to move forward once you’ve made the decision.

Signs Your Business Needs Marketing Help

Few companies decide to hire their first marketer out of the blue. After all, adding any kind of headcount, marketing or otherwise, represents a major commitment. Given that, it’s best to wait to bring on a marketer until you have sustained demand for in-house marketing talent. Keep an eye out for any of the following signs:

#1: Marketing tasks keep getting pushed off your To-Do list. Falling behind on your campaigns creates “marketing debt.” Even if the impact isn’t immediately obvious, you’ll begin to notice as the number of qualified leads entering your marketing and sales funnels declines.

#2: Your existing marketing campaigns are producing diminishing returns because your insight has become outdated. Imagine you did a big SEO push a few years back. Although you may have benefited from sustained organic search performance since then, your rankings will eventually diminish without ongoing effort. And when you finally do find time in your busy schedule to update your optimization, you’ll need to invest extra time to familiarize yourself with current best practices.

#3: You need to expand into a marketing channel that no one on your team has expertise in. Take the use of chatbots, which Salesforce’s State of Service report estimates will increase by 136% in service organizations through 2020. If you decide to take advantage of this trend by adding a chatbot but don’t have any in-house experience in this area you may need to bring on additional talent. 

#4: Your competitors are beating you at marketing channels that are important to your target audience. On a related note, keeping a close eye on your competitors will reveal which channels they’re utilizing, and where they’re seeing a stronger performance. If you want to beat them, but you don’t have the capabilities internally, it may be time to bring on a marketer.

#5: You aren’t supporting your customers on every channel where they engage with you. Today’s customers expect brands to support them on everything from phone, to email, to social media – and they expect you to respond quickly when they have questions or problems. If you aren’t fully engaged on every platform where your customers expect to see you, a marketer may be able to help.

When Is Hiring the Right Choice?

Seeing any or all of the signs above suggests you may need marketing support – but that doesn’t necessarily mean that hiring is the right choice. After all, hiring is a big decision, with significant cost implications.

As an example, the median salary for a Digital Marketing Manager in Miami, Floria is nearly $100,000. And you can expect to tack on another 25% to that for benefits and other expenses. The cost of making the wrong choice can be astronomical. Hiring the wrong individual can lead to internal disruption to staff morale and performance. You may incur financial losses around recruitment and training fees, as well as any budget put toward newly implemented marketing campaigns. Or worse, ineffective or negative marketing campaigns can lead to lost customers.

So if you aren’t ready to take on all of that commitment – but you still need marketing support – what other options do you have? The most common alternatives include hiring an outside agency, working with a freelancer, or bringing on an intern. You could also get creative about partnering with local colleges to tap into student labor or bartering to share marketing services with non-competitive businesses in your area. Ask yourself:

  • Is this marketing position needed long-term? If so, investing in hiring a full-time marketer may make sense. But if your need is project-based, or if you aren’t sure your need is part of a channel you’ll invest in in the future, consider a more flexible alternative.
  • Do we need a marketing generalist or a specialist in a specific marketing channel? List out your specific goals to understand if you need a market with cross-disciplinary competence or a deep understanding of one skill or channel.
  • What level do we need to hire? Do we need an expert in a specific channel, or would someone who can learn on the job be a better fit for our budget or requirements?

These aren’t the only questions you should be asking, but they should help you get started. If you still aren’t certain what the right approach to bringing marketing talent into your organization should be, talk to others in your network. Consulting with those who have gone through a similar process may reveal additional issues you’ll want to consider.

How to Hire the Right Marketer

This five-step process below is based on the assumption that you’ve decided to hire a regular part-time or full-time marketing employee; however, some of these steps may still apply if your next step is to seek out an agency, freelancer, or intern.

Step #1 Understand your Marketing Needs

Don’t move forward in your hiring process until you know what your specific needs are. What do you expect your marketing hire to do within your organization? Where can they have the greatest impact? What specific skills will successful candidates need to have to produce results? As an example, if you know content marketing is going to be a big priority for your agency, don’t be swayed by the excellent candidate who specializes in PPC.

Step #2 Develop a Working Job Description

From your needs assessment, develop a working job description that’ll ensure the right candidates see themselves in your role. Make sure you include:

  • The core responsibilities of the job with a title that’s appropriate
  • A description of who your company is and what a candidate needs to be successful
  • Details on compensation and benefits

Step #3 Search for Candidates

When it comes to getting your job description in front of candidates, there are both reactive and proactive approaches you can take. On the reactive side, you can post your listing to job boards or to LinkedIn. These approaches might help you identify a few worthwhile candidates, but often, the most talented marketers aren’t looking for jobs. As a result, you may need to be more proactive in your search.

A few opportunities to up the ante in your search process include:

  • Attending networking events
  • Asking your business network for referrals
  • Asking your team for referrals
  • Searching LinkedIn for possible candidates and reach out to them
  • Looking for talented marketers on your competitors’ teams
  • Seeking out experience within your organization

Step #4 Develop and Interview Qualification Process

A multi-stage hiring process includes:

Step #5 Initiate an Onboarding Plan

Finally, help your new hire start off on the right foot by establishing an onboarding process before you make an offer. That way, once it’s accepted, your new marketing employee will be able to learn your company processes, the role responsibilities and begin producing the desired impact for your team as quickly as possible.


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