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Proper Care and Feeding of Your Marketer

by: Kasey Riley

Published on
Monday, September 19, 2016

Proper Care and Feeding of Your Marketer

Please don’t roll your eyes and assume this is a whiny piece about how much control we marketers feel we should have over one aspect of business or another. It is also not a Millennial complaining about being misunderstood (I am not a Millennial and frankly my age is my business–deduce what you like from thatstatement).  This is about who we marketers tend to be as people, what we thrive on and how, when we thrive, we can sell units and generate buzz like there’s no tomorrow.  Those are the good points.

Marketers also have their not-so-good points.  Sure, we may get a little frustrated sometimes that people don’t work as hard to understand us as we work to understand them but working to understand others is just what we do.  It’s second nature to us the same way life-long learning and keeping up with emerging tools is.

According to folks at CloudPeeps, there are six types of marketers.  This is a really great article and covers all of the aspects of marketing extremely well.  I am a combo Content-Community focused marketer.  I would argue that most marketers, regardless of type are pretty social people.  They are also likely competitive–perhaps not with others but with themselves.  Setting and attaining goals is what marketers are all about and most of them are going to need to establish benchmarks and KPIs or they feel they aren’t doing their job.  In my career, in non-profits, I have always set my own benchmarks and KPIs and it has been a useful means of tracking my own progress and ensuring that my efforts are well spent.

Careful consideration of  the following applies to both the organization hiring a marketer:

  1. Prioritize where you need help: find someone to complement your skills and take over tasks you don’t like doing or that are taking up heaps of your time
  2. Ask specific questions: what they did, how they specifically moved the meter — dig deep into their experience
  3. Pay attention to your candidates question: an experienced marketer should really drill down to your goals
  4. Create clear expectations in advance: set budget, time frame and commitment
  5. Ask what tools they use: the best marketers use the same tools
  6. Look at culture fit: when hiring a remote freelancer, specifically, look for people who are self-starters, entrepreneurial spirits, prioritizers, excellent communicators, trustworthy

Flip to the marketers perspective and these are the questions she will want to ask before making her next bold move:

  1. Why a marketer and why now?  Did the previous hire leave?  How come?  How long was she in the position?  What kind of support and integration into the organization was she afforded?
  2. How does the organization want to move the meter–if they are not able to articulate specific goals then a deeper conversation is required to determine how those goals will be established and in collaboration with whom.
  3. What is the marketing budget?  If the answer is, “we don’t really have one yet”(as is common in non-profits) this is a red flag.  It is not a deal breaker but it does give the marketer an opportunity to underscore the need for marketing dollars and to manage expectations regarding what those dollars can actually accomplish.
  4. Is this a job that should ideally be a contract position or freelance job?  I have often found in non-profits that the organization may not be ready for an “in-house” marketer who is going to make demands for funding and seek to implement new tools at a pace that is likely faster than the organization usually moves.

Finally, I humbly submit this food for thought for those hiring and supervising a marketer:

  1. Take some time to understand the complexity of the marketing cycle in the digital age and know that marketers understand every, single aspect of that cycle and study it constantly.
  2. Allow the marketer time to develop a solid strategy and plan before you hold them accountable for results (I am not talking months or years here–just a few weeks while the marketer studies the business and purchase cycle and develops a strategy and appropriate voice).
  3. Trust the marketer to make creative decisions (yes, that includes an update to your logo if it is outdated or tired looking).  It is likely her decisions are part of a larger strategy.
  4. Know that your marketer is likely going to be moving faster than you and thinking three steps ahead–this is a good thing!  Don’t be threatened by it and don’t ask her to slow down.  Moving quickly and thinking three steps ahead why she is good at her job.

Finally, know and understand yourself as a marketer and/or as a manager.  Are there areas in which you are not so strong and could use some help?  If so, is that an area that should your new marketing hire take that on for you?  If she does, will you be happy (and not threatened or hyper-critical) about her expertise in that area?

As a marketer are you territorial?  If so, about what and why?  Is this information you should share during the interview process?  e.g. I am very territorial about social media and need to be the sole staff person managing social media until I can share the strategy, voice with my colleagues and perhaps even provide them with a crash-course in writing good, social, copy.

This article by Lisa Schneider for The Hired Guns is a another list of skills sets to examine and contemplate thoroughly before making a marketing hire.  My key takeaways from Lisa’s article are that managing a marketer effectively means you must understand that marketers possess:

  • Initiative - Meaning they not only do what their supervisors tell them to do but also spot issues and propose solutions on their own.
  • Creativity - Meaning that they come up with fresh ideas and approaches at the same time they keep up to date on the latest technologies, platforms, and trends. As Lisa Schneider notes, too many people continue to re-purpose something that’s worked before. And while there are times when “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and “no point in reinventing the wheel” are true, make sure you’re not stuck in a rut.

So if you, as a manager, are ready for these skill sets (amongst the many other skill sets marketers possess) then by all means, find yourself a spitfire!  If not, consider developing a priority list of projects you need completed and hiring a freelance/contract marketer to help you achieve those goals until it is time to go “all-in”.

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