Now, if you are specialized don’t freak out about what I’m writing. Larger companies, agencies, and self-employed marketing professionals are all excellent locations for someone that has specialized. I’m writing from the small business perspective and what I need in that role. Here are some of the major elements of experience for which I was looking:
- Content Writing: I wanted someone that had exhibited writing experience. That could be white papers, application notes, web content, ad copy, etc. Marketing starts with content!
- An Understanding of SEM/SEO: I was not looking for someone that had proven experience optimizing a website. What I did want is someone who understood the concept and why optimizing web pages and paid search campaigns for search engines was so important in today’s marketing mix. If they mentioned anything to do with keywords, they made it to the next round. Interesting note – one of the candidates was touting his Google Adwords experience so I turned my monitor around, handing him the keyboard and asked him to show my top performing ad group. He had no clue how to find that most basic element.
- Lead Generation: I was betting I wouldn’t get this experience, but I actually did. I was happy to have candidates in for interviews that had displayed experience in lead generation campaigns. The best candidates talked about “Qualified” leads.
- Exposure to Social Media: The candidates that displayed and articulated the importance of social media in the marketing mix proved to me they were current. I will say that each of my final round candidates did invite me to hook up on LinkedIn. Very nice touch.
- Sales Campaign Experience: It was important to me that the candidate had some experience in working with sales on sales campaigns.
- Market Research: Everyone seemed to have this. But, many could not spell out the steps they took in their research.
- Creativity: I needed some display of “out of the box” thinking. Something that would lead me to believe the candidate could lead us in new directions and challenge me in my thinking.
- Ability to Learn: I’m not crazy – I didn’t expect to find every characteristic I listed above. But, I wanted the candidate to have some of the experience and proven track record for learning “on-the-job” and quickly.
I found the whole process very interesting. I never took a step back before to really put down on paper the experience that I thought the small business marketing manager should have. It’s a fun and exciting juggling act that at times can be stressful and at times be immensely gratifying.