One of the most common hires that business-to-business (B2B) companies are making now is a marketing manager. With changes in how buying decisions are made, B2B companies are starting to get serious about marketing. The problem for small and mid-sized companies is that there are a lot of marketers out there - but not a lot of great B2B marketers. There are 4 marketing manager types in particular that B2B companies should try to avoid.
This is the second part in a three-part series to help business-to-business (B2B) companies evaluate how to go about marketing.
Part One looked at whether hiring a full-time marketing manager is the way to go, or whether an outside marketing company might work better.
Part Two (this post) discusses four types of marketing manager that small and mid-sized B2B companies should avoid in order to improve their likelihood of marketing success, if they're hiring.
Part Three focuses on how to evaluate outside marketing companies.
The Impact Of Hiring A Bad Marketing Manager
Let's start with the downside. Why does it matter if we hire a bad marketing manager? Marketing isn't that important, and we don't spend much in marketing, so there isn't anything at risk - right?
Hiring the wrong marketing manager will hurt a B2B company far more than most executives realize.
The risks come in terms of money wasted, time wasted, and reputation risked.
Hiring a bad marketing manager will set a company back by the total cost of the hire. If you pay a marketing manager a $60,000 annual salary, it costs the company about $85,000 per year to employ them once you've accounted for the EI, CPP and benefits associated with the individual.
Then there's the marketing budget for the activities the manager is responsible for - perhaps they are in charge of getting a new website, collateral and trade show booth created. If they select poor vendors or manage the project badly, those dollars are wasted.
Add to that, there is the risk to the company's reputation. B2B companies have a lot at risk with the kinds of buyers they deal with. They have to convey a certain level of professionalism in order to succeed and convince buyers that working with them will not be a bad decision. A bad marketing manager can hurt that reputation by screwing up the company's online and external image.
And last but not least, there's the time wasted and the opportunity lost if you hire a bad marketing manager. It will probably take your company 3 - 6 months to figure out that they're bad, and then another 3 - 6 months to try and manage them to be better, and then another 3 - 6 months ultimately fire them. That's 9 - 18 months of wasted time. If you'd hired a good marketing manager, your business would have been out to market, successfully raising awareness, generating leads and building the sales pipeline far sooner.
So there is a lot on the line when hiring a marketing manager, even for companies who think marketing isn't important.
The Trap of Bad Marketing Managers
Sadly, it's alarmingly easy to make a mistake when hiring a marketing manager. There are lots of marketers out there who look fantastic on paper and can really rock a job interview, but end up being a bad fit.
Before you start interviewing candidates, take a look at the four biggest hiring mistakes that small and mid-sized B2B companies make when looking for a marketing manager—and questions you can ask during interviews to help you avoid them.
Not sure if you're a B2B company? Read this.
TYPE 1 TO AVOID: HIRING A BIG-ENTERPRISE PLAYER FOR A SMALL BUSINESS
Landing someone with marketing experience from a big company sounds like a smart move, right? Although it might work out in your favour, bringing on someone from a large enterprise can be a mistake if they can't adapt to the different role and structure they'll face in a smaller organization.
In most small and mid-sized companies, the marketing manager has to roll up his or her sleeves and do a lot of the work. They don't have agencies and underlings to do the work for them. Senior marketers from large companies tend to be strong on management skills, but weak on tactical marketing skills. They aren't the kind of hands-on marketer that small and mid-sized companies need. An effective B2B marketer has to know how to do things, and being willing to do them is just as important.
How do you figure out if that big-league catch will be a strong individual player? Ask them about the marketing budget they handled in their last role. It will help you understand what level they've been working at. Ask pointed questions about specific deliverables they were personally responsible for. Find out how many people reported to them, and who they reported to. Ask what they delegated and what they did themselves. And inquire about how they think the role with your company will differ from their previous position—and if they don't know, tell them.
TYPE 2. "SAVING MONEY" BY HIRING SOMEONE TOO JUNIOR
That hungry junior may be bright and enthusiastic and seem like a bargain. But a marketing manager should have the skills and knowledge to direct your company's marketing efforts.
Assess experience by asking about past marketing budgets, variety of experience and whether they've ever led a marketing effort.
If you want to hire a junior along with someone more senior, go for it. But many small B2B companies only have one person in the marketing role. And entrusting something as important as your marketing, along with the tens of thousands of dollars you'll spend to promote your company, to someone without proven skills is a mistake. Guaranteed.
TYPE 3. FOCUSING ON INDUSTRY EXPERIENCE INSTEAD OF ADAPTABILITY
In an ideal world, you'll find someone with the perfect mix of marketing skills and knowledge of your specific industry. But when you work in a niche industry, that combination is rare. A good marketer won't necessarily know everything about your sector coming in, but they will have the ability and desire to figure it out. Every B2B company is different, and has unique segments and target markets to deal with; a good marketing manager must be keen to learn.
How do you measure adaptability and interest? Ask them what they know about your industry. The good ones will have done their research. Find out if they have any ideas for marketing your particular products or services. It will show that they have enough interest to have done some thinking already, and indicate whether they can effectively adapt what they've learned in past roles to your needs.
What the candidate asks you is as important as what you ask them. Look for questions about the nature of your target market, and a genuine desire to speak to customers, go on sales calls and generally immerse themselves. Figuring out the market is the first step to a successful marketing strategy and tactical plan.
TYPE 4. HIRING A ONE-TRICK PONY
One of the bigger mistakes that companies make is to hire a marketing manager who has succeeded in the past using a particular tool set, and who continues to use that tool set even when it's no longer relevant. If a marketer uses only those tactics that have worked in the past, you're sacrificing your ability to effectively reach your audience.
You need to hire someone with the experience to recognize whether they should be doing webinars or trade shows, advertising or PR—or some other combination of tactics that will reach your audience and truly engage them.
Find out about the tools and tactics your candidate has used in the past year to see what they've been learning, what new skills they've acquired and what new technologies they've adopted. Marketing is changing dramatically. New tools are emerging, and the way your target market connects with you is always evolving.
A successful marketing manager must demonstrate an appetite to move with the times. They can't rely on stuff they did three years ago—they have to have their finger on the pulse of marketing innovation.
Hiring a marketing manager is a big investment. With the costs involved in recruitment, orientation and marketing planning, not to mention the budget the marketer is responsible for, bringing on the wrong person is a mistake most B2B companies can't afford to make.
If you go into the process armed with information and the right questions to ask, you'll be in a better position to avoid hiring the wrong kind of marketing manager.
And keep in mind that hiring a full time marketing manager isn't the only way for B2B companies to get good marketing. There are fractional and outsourced marketing options available. If you're considering whether to hire in-house or outsource your marketing, take the Quiz to help evaluate the options.