What to look for when hiring a superstar marketer

Without a doubt, one of the most important jobs at any small business is that of the hiring manager. They’re responsible for overseeing who gets brought on to help ensure the organization’s future.

After that, you could argue that the next most important role is that of a marketer. The right marketing strategy can make the difference between a small business that dominates its competition and one that’s just buying time.

That’s why every hiring manager must be very careful about which marketers they bring on board. When it’s the first marketer to join the team, that person must be an absolute superstar.

3 qualities every small business hiring manager should look for in a marketer

Fortunately, even if the hiring manager has never interviewed candidates for marketing jobs before, the process doesn’t have to be difficult.

By looking for the three qualities below, a hiring manager will have no problem choosing the superstar marketer their small business needs.

1. Proven experience with online marketing

Having a digital marketing strategy has become essential for small businesses. It’s their only real option for competing against much larger companies with much bigger budgets. That’s why most marketing jobs now demand that a candidate show an understanding of this field.

However, there’s a big difference between “understanding” online marketing and actually having a resume that proves an individual has had success doing it.

Furthermore, qualified marketers will show proficiency in online marketing technology. As this year’s “2019 Small Business Marketing Trends Report” concluded, “As marketing technology advances, so does access to data. It’s becoming easier for business owners to gain insight into what’s working and what’s not working.”

Technology has become more of a force-multiplier than ever. So don’t just look for someone who’s put together a marketing strategy before. Find someone who has executed it successfully using the latest technology.

2. An idea for improving sales

At the end of the day, every marketing strategy is about increasing sales.

One way a small business’s hiring manager can make their job a lot easier is by mentioning in their job posting that the interview process will require candidates to share their best idea for improving sales through marketing.

That’s not to say candidates should have to create a full-blown marketing strategy. Asking for that much work without paying might scare off otherwise qualified marketers.

A quick, two-minute pitch will be sufficient and will achieve two things. First, it will show whether or not a candidate is able to think beyond what worked for their last employer and consider this new company’s unique needs. Second, it will show how much research they did. For example, if the candidate mentions Facebook ads for a B2B small business that uses account-based marketing, they probably didn’t put a whole lot of thought into their approach.

3. Examples of their favorite online marketers

Online marketing is a dynamic field. What worked last year often won’t work this year. What works this year may not in the future.

That’s why a good marketer is constantly educating themselves about the field. They know that their marketing strategy will suffer — maybe even dramatically — if they don’t keep an eye on the industry.

Fortunately, a hiring manager doesn’t need to be as educated in the field to assess whether a potential marketer is. During the interview, they just have to ask candidates to list their three to five favorite digital marketing experts.

If they really pay attention to online marketing, this will be no sweat. They should be reading posts by these marketers at least once a week, if not daily. They will most likely follow them on social media, too. They may have even taken a course from one or more of them.

Again, hiring managers don’t need to recognize the names. They can just write them down and look up the names later to confirm their status as experts.

3 red flags that should make hiring managers run in the opposite direction

Not every marketer is going to embody all of the qualities listed above — that’s OK. Some small businesses have to make do with the talent they can get.

That said, there are some red flags that should always signal it’s time to move on to another candidate. Any hiring manager who notices one of these in a candidate would do well to run the other way.

1. No marketing experience

All the degrees, courses, and certifications in the world are not enough to make up for lack of experience. A small business that hires a complete novice will find themselves at a deficit. In the most realistic best-case scenario, one marketing strategy after the next will fail until they finally settle on a successful one.

That’s a lot of wasted time and money.

In the worst-case scenario, the novice will simply waste that money without ever finding success. The hiring manager will have to terminate them and start the process all over again.

2. Poor communication skills

Every hiring manager knows communication is key, but it’s much more important in some roles than others.

For marketing jobs, it’s essential. This is especially true at a small business where the marketer may be the only one who understands vital concepts. Part of their job will be explaining their marketing strategy to the owner and anyone else who needs to understand it.

If they aren’t able to clearly address the three points covered above, they won’t be able to explain other vital topics when it really matters, either.

3. A jack-of-all-trades but a master of none

Ideally, every hiring manager would love to find a marketer who understands every facet of modern online marketing.

That’s incredibly unlikely, though.

Instead, they should look for a candidate who’s a superstar when it comes to the one aspect their company needs help with the most.

According to the aforementioned “2019 Small Business Marketing Trends Report,” here’s the breakdown of the types of marketing respondents said they were going to invest in this year:

  • Social media: 48 percent
  • Digital advertising: 23 percent
  • Email marketing: 23 percent
  • Search engine optimization: 18 percent
  • Print advertising and direct mail: 17 percent
  • Content marketing: 13 percent

That’s a pretty diverse assortment. A small business that wants to prioritize three of those should focus on finding a marketer who can prove they’ve been successful at one, maybe two. What’s left can be outsourced to a freelancer (give extra points to candidates with freelance experience).

Any candidate who claims to be proficient in more than two should raise a red flag. People spend years becoming proficient at just one.

At the very least, check candidates’ references to see if they corroborate these impressive claims.

Keep the search simple when posting marketing jobs

The sooner a small business is able to hire an expert marketer, the better. One way a hiring manager can speed things up is by including lots of details in the job posting. This means including many of the points above, so, for example, someone with no experience whatsoever doesn’t waste anyone’s time by trying to get an interview.
After that, there’s no substitute for cold, hard evidence. Hiring managers should only consider serious candidates who can prove they’re already a superstar.

Annabel is a former Director of Communications at Jotform. She's passionate about writing and has worked in communications roles domestically and internationally. When she's not blogging about SaaS or online forms, she enjoys international travel, loud concerts, and artisan coffee.

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