Many of our clients eventually grow out of our outsourced services and it now makes sense for them to hire their own full-time B2B marketer. And then they run into 3 issues that were solved during when they worked with a marketing agency that had a ready-made team in place for them.
Issue #1 – The War for Talent
Canada’s unemployment rate is currently at a very low 5.8% and Ontario’s unemployment rate follows the rest of Canada except when it hit 5.6% in December 2018. This translates into fewer people actively seeking employment. If you have posted a job recently you probably noticed that you didn’t get the same quality of applicants and perhaps you had to post it again, perhaps delaying the business plans you had for another few weeks after spending many hours reviewing resumes and conducting interviews.
At this point, employers usually begin to re-evaluate their wish list in a candidate and start to classify that list into must-haves and nice-to-have skills. Here was the wish list:
- thinks strategically and can align the marketing plan with the company's business goals
- has the tactical skills to execute an integrated marketing plan
- wants to work in a small or mid-sized B2B company and won't get bored once the initial challenge wears off
- can work with a limited budget
- truly understands how sales works in B2B and can effectively support the sales team
- has both creative and analytical skills in order to implement marketing initiatives, measure their results and report on the ROI of marketing investment
- has salary expectations less than $75,000 per year
- is a self-starter, emotionally independent and doesn't need any coaching or support
Here is often the new wish list:
- has some tactical skills but requires coaching or education
- has salary expectations of $85,000 per year
- can work with a limited budget
- can align to the company’s business goals with direction from senior team
The best solution here is to keep your salary expectations and find someone who can work independently but be prepared to hire freelancers or former agency partners to back-fill some of the missing skills.
Issue #2 – Finding the Right Mix of Strategic and Tactical Skills
One of the most difficult assessments to make when hiring a b2b marketer, especially if the hiring team doesn’t have marketing experience, is how to find the perfect candidate who knows exactly what to do without being told but doesn’t mind doing the work. A lot of marketing feels administrative in nature such as setting up emails, keeping email lists clean and making the arrangements to attend a tradeshow or two.
It would be helpful for you to know which are your most important marketing tactics and ask questions around the approach the candidate would take. You will know if that approach fits in with your organization and approach to work. Now ask about timelines. Some candidates have the ability to turn work around quickly while others need more time to think things over. Again, hopefully you have an idea of what will work for your organization.
But strategic thinking is also required. In addition to filling out the administrative paperwork required to attend a tradeshow, the candidate must make important decisions to determine the right budget to set up for a campaign or how to best position the company’s new product offering. Or the perfect cadence for content marketing to balance effectiveness and budget.
In this case, tactical know-how trumps strategy. Many marketing agencies will prepare a strategy for a client that can then be turned over to the b2b marketer to execute. The strategy should also include a calendar and budget and be organized to meet the competing needs of the organization such as brand awareness vs lead generation.
Issue #3 – Looking for a Self-Starter vs Those Needing Direction
Another difficult assessment is how to ferret out the candidate that knows what to do without being told. Of course there needs to be an initial learning curve but that should be around your products and solutions, not how to go about marketing them. Asking questions during the interview process is one way to investigate but another option is asking the candidate to complete a homework assignment around your most important tactic(s).
If you go with the first option, asking questions such as “How do you get started on a task that you have never done before?” or “How do you remain motivated when you have received a set-back?” should give you some insight. Or, you can ask tactical questions such as “How would you go about producing a webinar/whitepaper for us?”
There is nothing worse than a candidate that takes up your time and the time of your colleagues for work that they should be able to complete themselves. We know hiring an experienced B2B marketer is one of the most difficult roles to fill in your organization. We hire many of them ourselves every year.
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