As marketing becomes increasingly digital, marketers are adopting an ever-expanding list of responsibilities. At any given moment, marketers might be tasked with building websites, developing mobile apps, or producing HTML emails tailored to individual customer segments. Not all businesses can hire teams of marketers focused on particular tasks, so they seek candidates with broad experience to make the most of their marketing programs.
Hiring a well-rounded marketer can prove to be challenging, especially if you're not up to speed on the latest technologies. As you evaluate your potential candidates and their diverse skills, you will need to have a list of priorities that will help you determine which marketer will best help you accomplish your business goals. Asking the right questions can make all the difference. Here are five crucial questions to ask:
What percentage of your current team's creative/marketing work is developed for an online outlet?
Marketing has become an all-encompassing term, so it is worth asking how much experience your candidate actually has in the realm of digital media. Marketers can be highly specialized -- some focus entirely on print advertising, some crunch data to determine target markets, while others work in the digital space. If your candidate is coming from a larger organization with siloed teams, s/he might not have had exposure to the online part of the business. Be sure to ask.
Tell me about a fully integrated campaign you initiated and how you created a cohesive message across all deliverables.
This question provides a non-threatening way for you to inventory the candidate's skills. You are looking for a candidate who can provide a detailed description of the entire life cycle of a campaign from the initial brainstorm session to collecting data about ROI. The candidate should be able to discuss the broad marketing strategy as well as the gritty details. In a small business, a marketer is often tasked with all of these responsibilities. If the candidate hasn't fleshed out enough detail, be sure to ask follow-up questions that will elicit more insight, such as "Describe your social media strategy" or "What was the biggest challenge with the online aspects of your campaign?"
Outline the roles of the digital team members on your marketing team and their key responsibilities.
You want to know that a potential digital marketer understands the wide array of tasks that go into the digital delivery of a marketing campaign. Even if your candidate hasn't actively handled all of these responsibilities, a second hand understanding of each of the skills required is still an asset. When that person takes on a project for your company, s/he will have the context to understand what is required and how to acquire the necessary skills. S/he should also be able to help you bring on the right digital resources to get projects done right the first time.
Describe a time you worked with or hired a team member who was unable to deliver great digital work.
A question like this provides valuable insight into the candidate's analytical thinking. How does s/he assess what goes into high quality digital work? When describing a team member's error, can the candidate isolate what went wrong? We all learn from mistakes. You want to know that your candidate is thoughtful and able to reflect on negative experiences in order to make things work better the second time around.
What resources do you use to stay on top of digital trends in marketing?
In the fast-paced digital landscape, technology is constantly being updated or disrupted. Digital marketing is becoming more technically complex, as web standards and platform requirements are constantly in flux. The skills that a marketer has today may not be the skills that will be required tomorrow. You need to find a resourceful digital marketer who knows where to find the information s/he needs for the next big project -- and bring that information to your team. More than finding a knowledgeable candidate, you want to find an employee who is excited about the work, curious about the latest trends in the field, and keen to keep evolving his/her skill set.
While you want to find a competent, skilled digital marketer, don't forget that personality and cultural fit matter just as much as lists on a resume. Listen to your gut. It is a smart risk to hire someone with strong skills who is enthusiastic about your business and willing to learn, over someone who is highly skilled but has an unpleasant disposition. In fact, bad hires can cost your organization plenty.
Susie Hall is president at Vitamin T.
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