Practical Steps To Hiring Marketing Professionals

I have recently had 5 or 6 marketing executives ask my opinion about bringing their Internet advertising in-house, which prompted me to address the subject in an article. Below is a compilation of years of experience and hiring techniques, which I learned from Tom Foster of Foster Learning –

One of the most difficult and challenging responsibilities I have had as the CEO of an Interactive Marketing Agency has been building our Internet Advertising Division. Whether you are an advertising agency or work for a company that wants to build an in-house Internet advertising division, finding the right people and developing the right systems are critical to your success. Making the mistake of hiring the wrong people could have a significant impact on your bottom line.

Let’s talk about what it takes to hire and build the right team:

1.Defining the Work

We are actually on the tail-end of hiring another experienced search engine marketing specialist. We have reviewed almost a hundred resumes. Most of the applicants’ resumes claimed that they were expert Internet marketers. Many of the resumes boasted about the applicant’s extensive knowledge of Google AdWords and Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Many applicants also listed experience in writing blogs, managing social media campaigns, developing websites, and more—all necessary activities a company would need to be accomplished in order to run an effective Internet marketing program. All of these skills are virtually impossible to find in one individual. The problem that we ran into when we interviewed most of these candidates was that they knew the buzzwords, but were not proficient in the responsibilities that were required to effectively handle the position we needed to fill.

Internet advertising is complicated with many different skill-sets required to be successful. What one knows today will be out-of-date tomorrow, so it is virtually impossible for one person to keep up with every aspect required to develop a full-scale Internet marketing campaign. Therefore, the first exercise for any manager interested in hiring Internet marketing professionals is to define the work that your future employee is required to do in order to perform the job effectively.

2. Defining the Role and the Level of Work

One of the most important decisions you will be making is defining the role of the person you will be hiring. Each role is very important to the organization and will have a significant impact on your overall Internet marketing program’s effectiveness. Will the person you hire be managing a team? If the answer is yes, he or she will need to understand enough about the various aspects of Internet marketing, possess the vision (level of work) to create an effective plan, be great at math and problem analysis, have a passion to stay on top of the field and be technologically savvy enough to communicate with programmers, software companies, and industry professionals. The right candidate will need to be proficient in hiring, team development, sourcing external partnerships, and understanding the multiple software systems that are required to have an efficient and effective Internet marketing division.

Alternatively, will you be hiring a specialist, such as a PPC, SEO, Content Marketing or Social Network expert, focused on managing that area of your operation? Each of these roles require different kinds of individuals with different skill-sets—and they must have an up-to-date working knowledge of their particular areas of responsibility. Some of these roles require more math and analytic skills while others require a greater focus on communication and writing skills. In addition, all of these roles require employees who thoroughly understand all of the programs they work with and continually keep up with the trends affecting each channel of responsibility. It’s unrealistic to think that one person, no matter how talented they are, can do it all.

Once you have defined the role and the level of work, it is important to develop a Role Description document that includes key responsibility areas (KRAs). This is a breakdown of what the person in this position will be responsible for and how this contributor will be held accountable. An example of several of the KRAs that are included in the role description document for our Internet Marketing Manager would be:

  • Department strategy, structure and profitability – tasks include all activities involved in running a cutting edge, world-class Internet Marketing Department: developing processes, systems and incorporating technology to streamline department activities, while maintaining superb customer service, advertising results and profitability.
  • Hiring, management and team development – tasks include hiring smart, responsible, effective and proactive customer-centric team members capable of succeeding in their roles while maintaining the corporate values that have earned MDT an excellent nationwide reputation. Additionally, managing ongoing department training and education, individual counseling/ mentoring and administering annual performance reviews
  • Effectively executing client strategies, and campaign development – tasks include managing campaign research, strategy, analysis and client communications.
  • There is obviously much more, but for the purposes of this article, these are the key areas.

Hopefully, this gives you a better idea of what goes into a Role Description Document. This document serves as the foundation for your interviewing process as well as the document that the new hire’s manager can use to manage that individual’s activities.

3. Interview Process

Finding the right talent depends on how effectively you interview the candidate for the position. While this seems obvious and simple, it takes numerous interviews and a lot of work to find the right people to effectively fill open roles.

One of the biggest misconceptions in the hiring process is the foundation for the interview. The Role Description should be the document used to form the basis of your questions, not the person’s resume! Why do I say this? Because applicants have spent a significant amount of time crafting resumes that they believe will get them the job. Your focus needs to be whether applicants can handle the role and the resume will only get you distracted. Your focus should be on developing questions that will help you determine whether the interviewee can really do an effective job in the position open within your company.

Before the interview begins, develop a list of 50 or 60 questions that will dig down deep enough so you will know whether the person you are speaking with is right for this job. Those questions should be framed so the answers are based on the person’s past experiences. This way they are speaking from experience and not giving you a textbook answer that they might have read in an article the day before. Examples of several questions that you might ask if you were hiring a Paid Search Marketing Specialist might be:

  • Tell me about a specific Google AdWords campaign in your recent position that you set up and managed.
  • What was the goal of the campaign?
  • What was the overall strategy behind the campaign?
  • How did you know what to do—did you work on it with a team or did you develop this strategy on your own? If team, what was your specific role on the team, or what did you actually do?
  • Talk to me about that strategy and how it helped you achieve the campaign’s goal.
  • How many ad groups did you create and what was your strategy behind your thought process?
  • How did you chose your keywords—what tool(s) did you use?
  • What was your keyword bidding strategy when you began the campaign and how did it change over time?
  • Tell me about a time when the cost-per-click and cost-per-acquisition were too high. What strategy did you use to solve the problem?
  • Tell me about quality score issues that you have observed. What did you determine were the causes? What was the impact? What did you do to correct?

As I mentioned, these kinds of questions should be focused on the Role Description so when you are finished with your questions, you will truly understand whether the applicant has the capabilities and experience to effectively handle the job available at your company (Note: if these questions seem like a foreign language to you, read Step 4).

4. It Takes Expertise to Hire Experts

I remember when we first began developing our interactive marketing division, it took me and our team years to gain the knowledge and develop the skills required to create the infrastructure within and surrounding this fast-growing division. I personally have spent a significant portion of my life going to classes and conferences, reading trend reports, whitepapers and industry articles, consulting with industry experts and reading textbooks; all in an effort to learn enough before feeling qualified to develop and grow this area of our organization. This is an on-going process. Keeping up with the constant changes surrounding Internet marketing and the abundance of new opportunities takes a continual, concerted effort.

As you are thinking through these decisions, truly consider your capabilities and the time and effort you are able to commit. If you are uncomfortable with your personal knowledge, seek out a consultant or organization that can help you with these critical decisions. When it comes to finding the Internet marketing expertise you need to drive your business forward, there’s no substitute for the real thing and it is real work to stay on top of this ever-changing field. Believe me, I have made plenty of missteps along the way. Hopefully this article will help you avoid some of the pit-falls I stumbled into along the way.

Mitch Talenfeld, CEO, MDT Marketing ( 954-764-2630

If you want get more details about hiring, the foundation of this blog and my hiring method comes from the book, “Hiring Talent” by Tom Foster. Additionally, I personally want to thank Tom for his personal coaching and his blog that I regularly read, which can be found at