First, what does the position entail? “Marketing”, after all, means different things in different companies. To some firms the Marketing done entails identifying new markets, driving new product development, fielding market communication campaigns, then directing and motivating the sales force. Clearly, they envision a senior executive who would be very near the top of the organization..
At the other extreme, to other companies a “Marketing” person is someone who turns out ads, catalogs, brochures, flyers and so on and do it in-house. That’s what “Marketing Manager” means to these companies.
For most companies the “marketing person” needed is less than senior executive and more than a graphics designer. If your company is in this middle category then you need to consider these questions:
1. Is the marketing need long term and ongoing? Is there a regular monthly workload and will it continue at least two years? Too many companies hire someone to tackle a “huge” volume of work only to see it completed within a year. Then they have to find more for the new hire to do or let them go. Here are a couple of hints;
A. Plot all past marketing projects. When were they completed? If you don’t see an ongoing, steady output of marketing projects, chances are that you don’t need that marketing person.
B. Don’t hire someone just to save on agency or graphic designer costs. When outsiders aren’t working for you, they don’t cost you a thing. Salaries, on the other hand, are a fixed expense.
2. How will you recognize and avoid B- or C grade marketing? You want marketing that will boost sales and rock the competition but what if the new marketing person’s proposals don’t “wow” you? Do you run with them anyhow and hope for the best? Consider this:
A. “Creativity” isn’t all there is marketing. Successful marketing is always based on an insightful marketing strategy. The marketing manager must have both the education and real-world marketing experience to not only understand the strategy but to contribute to its development.. And those credentials don’t come cheap.
B. Creativity is required to implement the strategy but it must not only be attention-getting but must also reflect well on the product and on the company. Mediocre or “cute” creative can blunt the impact of the strategy. That’s why marketers want to see three or more distinct creative approaches.Will you be able to recruit —and afford—that creative a marketing manager?
C. Even creativity should be judged in a business-like manner. Younger, novice marketing managers may not take criticism, let alone rejection, of their pet ideas well. How to spot them? Go through a candidate’s samples and quiz them on why they chose a particular direction. Look for answers that refer to results not design theories. If they seem defensive, you can look forward to hurt feelings and sulking.
3. What if you hire the wrong candidate? In companies that haven’t a good-sized marketing department, there is no one to take up the slack when the marketing person is out, on vacation, or let go. Moreover, marketing people usually interact with only one or two others who are in a position to judge how well they’re doing. That’s why when that marketing person is let go, the reasons are usually not obvious to their co-workers. This uncertainty can affect employee morale. Hints? There aren’t any. Just don’t hire the wrong person.
At the start I wrote ” the bad news is that there are other reasons why adding to your staff may not be best for your company.” Well, the good news is that you can get the marketing you need without a marketing manager.
I’m not proposing that you simply go back to the ad agencies or designers you relied on before you considered hiring a marketing managers. Apply the same business acumen that you employ in the rest of your operations. While marketing services are far from being a commodity, shopping around for the right one… or ones… is easy in these internet days. And, yes, I did write “ones.” Let me explain.
A lot of companies do the same things they did all along because they thought that there were no choices. They’d hire one ad agency. They’d sign a contract. And, believe it or not, some paid a monthly retainer! Wake up, pal! You’re the Customer! You get to call the shots!
Why not hire the marketing expertise you need when you need it? Need a product launch plan? Hire someone who’s done it over and over again. Pay them then say “adios.”
Need a corporate identity campaign? Hire someone to get you that recognition then recognize that, once the mission is accomplished, you no longer need that someone.
Consider this radical idea in terms of the three questions we covered before.
1. Is the marketing need long term and ongoing? It doesn’t matter. Once you’ve settled on the price you can “employ” an outside consultant or agency for a month or a year. Let them go and re-hire them for the next project. What about the cost? Trust me, it’ll always be far cheaper than paying a salary, benefits, and for endless hours of web-surfing.
2. How will you recognize and avoid B- or C grade marketing? Simple. If you don’t like what they bring you, you don’t pay. You send them “back to the drawing board.” No more worrying about hurting someone’s feelings. No more putting up with missed deadlines. You’re the Customer not the Boss. And everyone in sales knows that customers are more demanding than any boss.
3. What if you hire the wrong candidate? Fire a consultant or an agency and not one of your people will care. Best of all, you can hire a replacement before the original is out the door. In fact, you can have more than one agency or marketing mercenary working for you at the same time. The secret? You don’t give anyone your account. You give them a project.
So before you fill that Marketing Manager position, ask yourself ” Why not hire a “temp” first?”
Richard Koranda has driven creative strategies for American Express, Bank of America, CitiCard, Visa, Dreyfus, and Diners Club. His work earned over 60 industry awards for response and creativity. He was also responsible for the highly successful repositioning of Visa “Visa. Its everywhere you want to be”, which led to the brand dominating the bankcard market.