There's a lot of contradicting advice out there. Some recommend only hiring people with lots of experience, while others swear you should hire only those who are green and willing to learn. Some suggest you hire a team of generalists who can do a little of everything, while others suggest a team of specialists is ideal.
So what do you do? Here are five tips to help you hire an all-star marketing team:
1. Realize there is no such thing as a perfect team.
One of the best bits of advice I received was to stop trying to staff the perfect team. It simply doesn't exist. What is perfect for one company won't be perfect for you. There is no formula that makes sense for every business model, and certainly no specific structure that guarantees marketing success.
Instead, focus on building the best team for your current goals. If finding customers is the top priority, you might want to invest more to hire performance or inbound marketers, who generally focus on marketing through through content such as blogs, video, e-newsletters and social media. If your aim is to rebrand the business, double down on people in marketing communications, design and PR.
You shouldn't feel you have to create a position just because every other marketing team has one. The structure of your marketing team should match your company's roadmap, no one else's.
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2. Invest in 'students.'
No, I'm not suggesting you scour the local high schools or colleges for budding marketing talent. What I mean is that you should hire people who are dedicated to learning.
The best marketers out there are called full-stack marketers, which means they have a working knowledge of all types of business marketing, not specializing in just social media or just search engine optimization (SEO). To get that breadth of talent and experience, you need to constantly seek and develop new skill sets. I'd always choose a less experienced marketer with an urge to learn over a marketer with decades of experience who is stuck in one channel.
It's also good to have a balance of marketers from inside and outside your industry. The most innovative marketing teams have some of both. You can hit a new level of creativity with the exchange of ideas that such a mix encourages.
3. Look for marketers who are strategic and tactical.
You need to find the balance between strategic marketers who plan for longer-range campaigns and tactile marketers who work on current ones, realizing that over time that balance will shift. When building a marketing team, you might want to find a tactical marketer who wants to be more strategic as well. You can hedge your bets with marketers who dance in both camps.
I don't put much weight in people who are just tactical with no urge to think about the future, or those who are just strategic with no ability to jump in the trenches. Marketers should be invested in both current campaigns and longer-range plans.
4. Always hire for culture fit over skill.
Time and again, this is the most challenging goal. You might be tempted to hire that hotshot with the cocky attitude. And on the flip side, you might want to hang on to the legacy hire who is no longer committed to the company's future. You have to let culture fit trump expertise. Always.
There is no candidate worth losing your culture over. Similarly, no marketing team can reach it's full potential if there's a culture mismatch. Culture clashes can lead to negativity, lack of respect for processes, turf wars, silos and friction about the current plan. All these things can tear a marketing team apart -- and stunt the company's success.
5. Plan for the next big challenge.
When staffing your marketing team, ask yourself, is there a competitive advantage you're seeking with a new product? How can you staff the team to help bring the product to market? Will you be acquiring companies? If so, what marketing skills will you need to hit the ground running?
Too often, marketing teams stay lean, waiting for the challenge to hit them before looking for the next team member. Then, it's often too late. You lose a month to interviews and another month to ramping up. By then, your momentum is stunted. So, look ahead. I'm not suggesting you hire a team of 100, but you should have one eye out for amazing new talent.
This advice might seem simple enough, but it can be difficult to follow consistently. You may become enamored by another company's approach or you may need to move fast and feel tempted to hire for skill over culture fit.
These tips are reminders that building an all-star marketing team takes a great deal of care and focus. But hiring the right players should be well worth the effort because, after all, they will be the face of your company.
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