You’ve decided to hire an in-house marketing team (or person), but how do you find the right talent and ensure that your marketing strategy is aligned with your business vision and road map? In this post, we help you outline key characteristics to look for in ideal candidates.
1. Look for more marketing experience than you personally have
As an entrepreneur, you might have started your career in sales or marketing. You probably have a pretty good understanding of direct marketing, digital marketing, advertising and events. You may even be familiar with some of the newer marketing trends and tools. Therefore, you might think that it’s easier (and more cost effective) for you to hire a junior level marketing person and manage him or her along the way. This is a big mistake, and here’s why:
- It will eat up way too much of your time.
- You will have to commit to evolving your own marketing skills.
- You will lose an opportunity to bring a fresh, creative vision and more sophisticated marketing skills to your business.
Hiring entry-level personnel or even interns will work well if you have at least one highly experienced manager to train and lead them as a marketing team.
2. Look for someone who can easily explain to you what you don’t know about marketing
Einstein once said, “If you can’t explain [something] to a six-year-old, then you don’t understand it yourself.” A huge marketing vocabulary may seem impressive, but it alone won’t give you a clear understanding of your marketing strategy and how it affects your business and your brand.
3. Look for collaborative enthusiasm
In my experience, and according to the American Marketing Association (AMA), the majority of marketing professionals are extroverts at work. They are excited to meet new people and be involved in social activities. By hiring an “extravert-at-work” kind of person, you ensure the following:
- There will be closer collaboration between the marketing team and other departments and leadership teams.
- New marketing personnel will learn your business and industry faster.
- A PR and media network will grow quickly around your brand.
That being said, I don’t advocate for hiring only extraverts. Introverts are more focused, more detail oriented, and better with research, analysis and planning. You may be surprised to hear they are better at public speaking too! According to the same AMA research, successful marketers show both characteristics.
4. Look for creative mind
A creative mind is flexible, and therefore more likely to think outside the box in various situations. When you hire a small marketing team or even one person, you need people who can accommodate different roles and be creative at solving problems. If they have a brilliant idea but lack the specific skills to execute it, then creative minds will outsource part of the work to get things done according to their vision.
Tips for recognizing a creative mind in the interview:
- Ask about personal life and hobbies. Look for things as far from work life as possible. For example: music, performing arts, creative arts, volunteer work for significant social cause, and unusual sports. You want to find people with varied interests.
- Ask about the biggest success and the biggest failure in their life. In this case success or failure don’t matter, you need to interpret the subject they bring up. For instance, if they talk about failing to jump off the plane with a parachute or successfully completing a kite surfing certification, then they’re talking about being exposed to various things.
- Don’t be afraid to find intrapreneurial characteristics in your candidates, like confidence and risk-taking. These are a very good sign of creative mind.
5. Look for challenge takers
Making marketing decisions is challenging, because the outcome is unknown until you try. Your marketing team should be responsible for their own ideas and execution rather than waiting for your input or command. This is always challenging in the small-business world, because you don’t have much to invest but you have a lot to lose.
Tips for recognizing a challenge taker in the interview:
- Ask questions about their ability to work under pressure. You want someone who can perform in high-stress environments. Try giving candidates specific scenarios to solve to illustrate this ability.
- Look for a background with a good track record in different industries. This is a good sign, as it means they took the challenge to re-qualify from one industry to another more than once.
6. Look for the fast learners
This tip might be redundant if the candidate shows all the above characteristics. But I still wanted to emphasize the importance of fast learning abilities for a marketing team. Even within one company, marketing reps sometimes must learn about new products, services and vertical markets. What’s more, they need to be constantly learning and evolving their own marketing expertise.
The ideal candidate for your marketing team should be a fast learning and creative explorer with various hobbies and an outgoing outlook. If you add extensive marketing experience and a background in different industries, you will have a perfect cocktail to roll on!