Marketing is becoming competitive again.
The marketplace for hiring engineers and programmers has been highly competitive for some time now, but marketing is starting to catch up.
Companies both large and small are relying more and more on their marketing departments to drive growth. Growth implies speed and scalability. “Do more with less!” is the edict coming down from the C-Suite as growth marketing leaders scramble to build the plane as they fly it with limited resources.
Here are a few honest tips for building a growth marketing outfit that is well-positioned to handle more budget and more team members as your company grows.
1. Focus on your immediate needs
First things first: focus on your immediate needs when hiring. Forget about next year.
Marketing is a long-term game: generating awareness with incremental wins, building and nurturing an audience, filling your pipeline over time, methodically working inbound leads from one stage of the funnel to the next. Your mindset for hiring marketing talent must be different.
Should you think about building a team for the future? Yes. When should you think about it? Only after you’ve made your plans for the next six months.
Marketing has always had high industry turnover, but job-hopping overall is at an all-time high. Consider the opportunity to develop talent over multiple years as a luxury, not a certainty. Each new marketing hire must be able to ramp up quickly and contribute right off the bat.
2. Look for workhorses, not unicorns
Most resumes you peruse will list just about every marketing-related skill set under the sun: social media, blogging, event planning, graphic design, lead management, email marketing, mobile strategy, PR, copywriting, SEO, video editing, website management... the list goes on.
Quality marketers today are legitimately multi-functional. It’s true — you always want to look for full stacking marketing skills. However, well-rounded candidates are not necessarily an expert in everything on their resume.
Identify the two or three skill sets that are needed to make measurable gains for your department in the next two quarters; no longer. Frame your job listings around those skillsets.
While other companies are wasting time searching high and low for unicorns, you should look for reliable, tried-and-true workhorses.
3. Hire a journalist
Successful content marketing has to make a lasting impression and connect with customers on a meaningful level. When it comes to creating content, writing skills are more important than industry knowledge.
If you’re looking for someone to write long-form blog content, don’t post a job for “marketing specialist” and tack “writing skills” in the requirements sections. Make the job title “Writer.”
Industry knowledge is a plus, not a requirement. Journalism experience should be one of your preferred qualities. Candidates with journalism experience are skilled at finding the unexplored angle on a familiar subject, gathering information from high-quality sources, and distilling complex ideas to their main points.
Before you bring in a candidate for an interview, ask that they provide five writing samples.
4. Don’t waste time on interviews
Go ahead and interview, just don’t waste time.
Bringing in every other candidate who comes across your desk for on-site interviews can be costly. Time is of the essence when rapid growth is your endgame. Spending an extra couple hours on your job postings and phone screenings can spare you dozens of hours that your team can’t afford to throw away.
Say you’re hiring a Content Marketing Manager. You get your (somewhat generic) job description out there through the usual channels. 20 candidates inbound and you whittle that pool down to five people to bring in for on-site interviews. You and the other members of your team will spend at least five-to-ten hours with each of these candidates combined, perhaps more.
Take a step back and think about how much 50 hours of productivity costs your team.
Lean on your recruiter to be discerning with their selections. Have a checklist of must-have qualities ready for your phone screenings. Be picky with whom you bring in to interview.
5. “Operational” skills trump “engineering” skills
Your growth marketing strategy is like an engine. Your content is like the high-test fuel you dump into the tank — inbound marketing doesn’t run without it.
But, it’s also essential to have a mechanic handy to work on your engine — someone who can run diagnostics, replace parts, wrench on the different software in your stack, and fine tune for performance.
“Growth hacking” has become a bit of a buzzword in recent months, but the forces behind this term’s rise in popularity are rooted in real changes. Growth marketing teams need players with technical marketing experience. These skills include building out operational workflows, defining buyer personas using data, syncing databases, setting complex email drips, reporting on multiple platforms, and keeping your customer data clean. These are the basics.
Marketing workflows naturally move into your sales cycle, so this person should not only be programmatically literate. They should also have their finger on the pulse of your sales organization and the tools they use.
It’s been said that marketing technologists will rule modern marketing. This is true, but think mechanics, not programming.
6. Freelancers will save you time and money
Growth marketers are always trying to drive down costs and do more with less. Especially early on, hiring freelancers can be cost-effective. Freelancers enable you cover a more material than you and your team have time for and test out new channels quickly.
Paid channels are a good example of an area where freelancers can make an immediate impact.
Want to explore the effectiveness of Google AdWords? Hiring a freelancer who specializes in AdWords is less expensive than hiring a new full-time employee or engaging an agency. It’s also more time-effective than having someone on your team stop what they’re doing and build an AdWords strategy from scratch, even if they have the skills to do so. Remember, you don’t even know whether this channel will work for you at all.
Use freelancers as a means to execute quickly and explore what’s working, and what’s not.
7. Build value for the C-Suite at every step
Where are you seeing traction? Are you seeing traction?
The C-Suite is getting savvier about marketing, branding, and content, but in truth, they don’t care about your latest campaign or the clever creative you’ve been churning out. They want to know where the rubber hits the road: “What’s the ROI?”
You must have a plan in place to measure the return on every marketing hire, before you hire. This plan may change, but it needs to be there.
When you write your job description, your should also write out the 30-day, 90-day, and 6-month objectives and key results (OKRs) for that hire.
As a marketing leader, you should always be thinking about your next hire. Where will they fit in? How will I measure their performance? What will be their impact on my department’s bottom line?
Successful growth marketing leads always have the next piece of the puzzle in mind. When they can’t find the piece they need, they carve their own.