When to Hire a Good Marketer
Once upon a time, I was recommended for a marketing job with a prominent Nashville company. This firm is healthcare-related, as so many big companies in town are, but I'll withhold the name to protect the innocent.
To prepare for the first interview, I read up on the hiring manager's credentials, and they were impressive. He had been VP of Marketing for other big names before, and had a track record of implementing healthy changes and restructuring brands. I wanted to pick his brain. This had all the makings of a great interview, where both people learn a lot from each other in a short time, and the applicant gets a behind-the-scenes glimpse of a brilliant marketing machine...
...or so I thought.
A few minutes into the meeting, I began to ask questions about the position: What challenges does your marketing division face? What problems do you hope this new position will solve? What skills and competencies are you looking for in this marketing hire?
The VP gave me a puzzled look, stood up from the little table, and headed for the file cabinets under his desk. After a few seconds of shuffling through papers, he produced a document and held it up as if it held the secrets of the universe.
"This," he said proudly, "is what we created at my last company." He displayed what looked like...well, a company newsletter.
"It's a company newsletter," he announced. "This is the kind of thing you could do to help the company. It helps the employees get to know each other better. For instance, here is an article about Shetland ponies. Someone in HR wrote an article about how she had this hobby of raising Shetland ponies, and lo and behold, it turns out there were several other people in the company who were also into Shetland ponies! They would never have known this had it not been for the newsletter."
You must be kidding, I thought. He was so beside himself with enthusiasm it almost broke my heart. I was looking for the door. After an extended conversation about the marvels of desktop publishing and the morale-boosting benefits of internal communications, I politely explained that this job was probably not for me, or for anyone with a track record in marketing, for that matter. "But have you considered hiring a graphic designer, or someone with magazine publishing or editing experience? Is this something that your HR department could take on?"
Needless to say, this marketing superstar was not looking for a marketer. He needed someone with good communication skills and polished grammar and experience in Quark.
So when might it actually come in handy to hire someone with marketing expertise? Here are some random instances:
- You need marketing strategy for the business or division you're about to launch.
- You want someone who understands the big-picture business implications of a marketing program or initiative (including the financial implications).
- You need to make fundamental decisions about how to brand or rebrand one of your products or services, or your company as a whole.
- You want to determine how to get the best return on your marketing dollars.
- You know you need more facts (market research) to support a business decision.
- You are launching a new product or service.
- Your branding is tired, losing steam, or outdated.
- You need to gain or recoup market share, or create a stronger competitive position.
- You want to know how to connect with your customers on a deeper level.
Don't hire a marketer to do a graphic designer's or a communications specialist's job. Hire only the best marketers to produce real results for your business. And don't expect your marketer to write about Shetland ponies unless they are somehow relevant to your bottom line. ;)