6 Things You Should Do Before Hiring the Right Marketer

A step-by-step plan for identifying a savvy marketing expert for your business

A step-by-step plan for identifying a savvy marketing expert for your business

By Tanisha A. Sykes

There’s no question that hiring the right marketing pro can mean a major boost in business. Whether it’s identifying marketing opportunities, rebranding, or developing a corporate identity, an experienced marketer can get results.

Taking your company to the next level means hiring the right person or team for the job. We asked small business owners and experts how they prepared to hire a marketing pro. Before you hire, follow these action steps.

Step 1. Integrate the new role into your business structure. Assess your current marketing tactics to see how well or how poorly they are working. “Do you want your new marketer to drive more leads, broaden your brand awareness, or generate new sales?” says Jeff Kear, founder and chief marketing officer for Planning Pod, a software company in Denver. Once you discern the answers, identify how the new marketing efforts will feed into your budget and improve your sales funnel.

Step 2. Scout various types of marketers. Whether you’re hiring a freelancer or a consulting company, understand what each brings to the table. “Talk to at least one creative agency, a digital marketing firm, and a PR firm to help identify the gaps in each approach and which of the options is most targeted for your brand,” says Landon Ledford, founder and fractional CMO of marketing firm Double L Brands in Dallas.

Step 3. Look for candidates with knowledge of the current marketing environment. “Ask how they would mount a social media campaign, listening for specifics on [pay-per-click], content marketing, and platforms like Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram,” says Jeff Carterson, project manager at branding company SevenCube in Norwalk, Connecticut . Also, look for people who understand how to provide a good experience to the user.

Step 4. Conduct a three-step interview. Screen candidates by phone or Skype to assess if they are a good fit for your company. “Once you’ve narrowed down the pool, conduct in-person interviews focusing your questions on past campaigns, their role, and the results,” says Kear. Finally, ask finalists to design a 1-2 page marketing plan for a specific product or campaign.

Step 5. Ask about their process. A professional marketer will have a clear plan about how they will approach marketing your business. “If that’s pay-per-click, they should conduct thorough keyword and competitor research; if that’s social media marketing, there should be a clear content schedule put in place,” says Dmytro Spilka, director at Solvid, a digital marketing firm in London.

Step 6. Don’t just get references, call them. The average cost of a bad hire is 2-3 times a person’s salary, according to recent research from Gary Kustis, principal of Lakewood, Ohio-based human resources firm Talent Development Advisors. Companies ask for references, but many fail to actually follow up. Talk to current and former clients about the candidate’s work performance, accountability, communication skills, and personality.

A lot of people think that marketing skills apply universally, but they don’t. “There are real differences between retail versus wholesale, B2B, and B2C, so hire someone who understands your type of business and can deploy the best strategies to meet your needs,” says Deidre Woollard, co-founder of public relations firm Lion & Orb in Los Angeles.

Tanisha A. Sykes is a personal finance and career development expert with 20 years’ experience as a journalist. Follow her on Twitter: @tanishastips.

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