How to Hire Marketing Help

The good, the bad, the ugly (and the contracts!)

When it comes to hiring marketing help, there are two ways to go about it: you can hire a third-party company or consultant to do contract work, or you can hire an in-house person in a part-time or full-time position.  Hopefully, I’ll give you some great pointers for both scenarios, as I’ve done it both ways several times.  If you’re curious how to hire marketing help, this should at least get you on the right track!

Hiring a third-party company or marketing consultant

If you’re going to hire someone on a contract-basis, meaning they are hired on for a specific period of time to complete specific tasks, there’s a lot of things to be aware of.  For starters, you may not even understand the terminology that they are using, which means that your end result and theirs could be two totally different things.  I know that sounds crazy, but it has happened to me.  Let me tell you a short story:

When my business, RE/MAX Exclusive Collection, opened up our new location recently, we hired a sign company to do signage for the exterior of our building.  We had discussed what we wanted, and we knew that we wanted there to be lighting inside each of the letters, like the signage at Regions Bank or Barnes & Noble.  When discussing what we wanted with the sign company, we called it “back-lit” lettering because we thought that’s what it was called.  The sign company did a mock-up for us, but it was a black-and-white proof document and didn’t thoroughly explain the lighting source.  We assumed that we were all on the same page.  We were wrong!  What was installed was lettering with light coming out from around and behind the letters, having a glowing effect.  We were upset until we learned that this mix up was a simple terminology error: what we wanted is actually called “face-lit” lettering, but when we told the sign company “back-lit”, that’s exactly what they did.  It wasn’t explained to us, so everybody assumed that we were all on the same page.  Long story short, they had to remove and remake the sign.

So the first thing to do when hiring a company or consultant for marketing help is to ensure that you are both on the same page as far as what you are looking for and what work needs to be performed.  You can’t be too clear!  If you hear a term that you’re unfamiliar with, ask them to define it, or Google it.

Next, and equally important, try to speak to someone (or at least read reviews) that has worked with the company or person you’re thinking of hiring.  Word of mouth is the best way to work with someone, because you want someone that you trust with your account passwords and other private business details.  Ask questions that are pertinent to your business and the project at hand.

Lastly, the contract!  We all sign a lot of contracts these days; every time you sign into a new online account, you sign a contract agreeing to something you’re not even aware of, because seriously, who reads all of that?  Well, this is one contract that you really need to slow down and READ, especially if you’ve never worked with this company before.

There are some things I’ve seen in marketing company contracts that should be a red flag.  For starters, any SEO or PPC company that “guarantees” a traffic increase to your site makes me nervous.  Why?  Well, because unless they own one of the top 5 search engines, they have no way of knowing the exact search engine algorithms that will come into play with your website in your market.  It makes me think that they are either gaming the system with black-hat SEO (which can get your website completely removed from Google) or that they are simply paying a 3rd party overseas click-factory to generate false traffic on your site.

Now, slightly different guarantee verbiage is fine; it would be fair to say that I guarantee that your site’s ad will have more impressions.  That is something that I have more measurable and defined control over.  But an ad impression and an actual click/visit are two very different things.  I am 99% sure that an increase in impressions will result in an increase in website traffic, but I would never guarantee something unless I have very specific control over it.

Another red flag that I see in marketing company contracts is being entirely too technical.  I always feel like this is a ploy to appeal to our laziness; instead of trying to understand all the jargon and lingo, it’s easier just to sign the contract.  After all, if they put all these technical details in their contract, they must know what they’re talking about!  Wrong.  As Albert Einstein famously said: “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”  Having technical details in your contract is fine as long as it’s also explained in terms that you understand.

Hiring an in-house marketing manager

First, it’s worth mentioning that I wrote a blog about the desirable traits of a digital marketer; you should definitely give that a read before you interview anybody.  It’s especially informative if you’ve never hired a marketer before.

Next is my favorite advice to give when someone asks me about how to hire marketing help.  I have said this before, I’ll say it again, and I’ll probably keep saying it to everyone who is hiring anybody from now until the end of time: do personality tests on people you are thinking of hiring.  Please understand, the personality tests are not meant to rule anybody out or place them on a pass/fail basis.  It’s meant to interview them more holistically; understand their work habits, how to give them feedback, how they give feedback, play up their strengths and build up their weaknesses.

Personally, when we are hiring, I almost always try to narrow my selection down to 3 candidates for the last choice.  I will have already interviewed these 3 people, maybe more than once, and sometimes I have a favorite in mind but sometimes I’m torn.  I have all 3 of them take a personality test (I use the Tony Robbins DISC Profile because it’s free to use, very informative, and yes it puts them on a Tony Robbins email list but who wouldn’t want a little Tony Robbins in their life from time to time?) and I use their results to formulate the questions that I ask them on their final interview with me.  It’s fantastic, because it gives me a chance to hit on their strengths and weaknesses, let them explain their preferred workflow, and more.  It’s the single most important thing that I do when hiring someone.  OH I almost forgot: it works best if you take the test first, and study your own results for a few days before using the data to critique anyone else.

Once you hire marketing help in-house, it all goes back to my recommendations of having a plan in place.  You might already have a plan, and you need your new hire to help you run it, or maybe you want the new hire to help you make the plan.  Either way, having a marketing plan, laid out in steps and checklists, is your first step.  If you’re stumped, try just having your business goals written out before you hire marketing help, and let the person that you have hired help you fill in the gaps with their knowledge and experience.

My last point of advice for how to hire marketing help in-house is don’t be afraid to give that person the reigns and let them drive the carriage.  You can’t control every aspect of your business, that is the reason that you hired this person.  If you are on the same page with your goals and have a plan laid out, there should be nothing to fear!

Brittany Gilbert

Oh, by the way, if this post was useful to you at all, please say “thanks” by liking my Facebook page!  It means a lot to me!  🙂