There are 3 main challenges associated with hiring a marketing consultant:

  • Understanding exactly what your company needs
  • Developing a job description to the right level of detail
  • Finding and selecting the right person for the job.

How do you know what type of person, skills, experience is best suited to meeting your business objectives, especially if you are not a marketing consultant yourself?!
Even if you are not new to the process and have had someone in the same marketing role previously doesn’t mean you were maximizing the use of your most precious human resources. Many small medium enterprises severely compromise results when searching for a Marketing Manager. The main reason for this is that the nature of small and medium enterprise means that you are looking for a marketing manager who has the ability to:

Handle all the complex Strategic issues of the company:

  • Market Research
  • Product Development
  • Market Feasibility Studies
  • Brand Positioning
  • Creative Strategy
  • Marketing Plans
  • Marketing Audits
  • Communication Audits
  • Media Planning

Be able to develop all of the Creative (Copywriting and Design):

  • Corporate Identity Development from Collateral to Packaging and POS
  • Direct Marketing: Brochures, Postcards, Letters,
  • Online Marketing: Websites, Blogs, Email Marketing, Search
    Marketing, Online Advertising
  • Advertising in all the different mass and niche media channels

and who is also prepared to be “hands-on” and perform all the day-to- day implementation Project Management and Administrative Tasks, such as:

  • Database data entry
  • List generation for email, direct mail and telemarketing
  • Above or below the line campaign management
  • Event management and co-ordination
  • Updating all of the marketing collateral and assets (website, sales brochures, etc)
  • Organising and co-ordinating events
  • Dealing with suppliers (e.g.: Media sellers, printers, etc)

This is just not realistic, especially as this mythical creature doesn’t exist! Undoubtedly, you will get plenty of resumes that say otherwise and applicants who try to convince you that they are perfect for your company. But let’s look at the facts and examine why this is not the case at least in 99 times out of a 100.

To find true strategic, creative and administrative skills in one person with an adequate level of expertise, you will be looking for someone with at least 10 years of experience AND:

  • Throughout the career of this hypothetical individual, they would have had to experience and learn marketing disciplines, that is work in the marketing departments of big multinational brands or in advertising agencies that handle those brands
  • The chances of someone today being exposed to and truly experienced in marketing strategy and creative, which were always separated in any case are very slim. Furthermore the age of the “generalist” has long disappeared, circa Y2K bug and marketing is becoming more and more segmented on a daily basis into specific and narrow disciplines and it’s simply not possible to be an expert in every one of them.
  • Finally, not only is it hard to recruit such a person, because let’s face it, assuming this illusive intelligent creature, most likely a woman of course, decides to go back to work after having children, either out of boredom or for economic necessity, she will be tempted by the pace, variety, much higher pay and prestige of a “blue chip” corporate than your small business. She will not only be difficult to find and recruit but to also to retain, because as an experienced Marketing Manager she will quickly become bored with the routine administrative work which is likely to be part and parcel of your small enterprise.

Any Marketing Manager who accepts that type of role is at risk of being both under-utilised and under-stimulated. It doesn’t make sense for the company either. Retention and productivity issues aside, the company is at risk of paying more in salaries than they need to.

Another common approach is to hire the required Marketing Manager full-time and employ junior marketing or clerical staff to assist them. But employing the senior, more costly staff-member on a full-time basis is not the most cost-effective solution.

What these companies really need is a top calibre strategic Marketing Manager supported by someone less senior to handle their day-to- day marketing tasks. An increasingly popular solution is to engage the Marketing Manager part-time to provide the strategic direction
and employ a junior marketer to undertake the daily “clerical tasks”. Both the strategic and administrative needs of the company are then undertaken by the appropriate level of staff and the company saves money! In addition, the more experienced Marketing Manager provides mentoring and training to the junior marketer – a real benefit in a small organisation.

Remember the old adage “if you keep doing what you have always done, you will keep getting what you have always got”. How do you know whether the person was the ideal person for the job? For example, what were their key performance indicators?

  • Did they improve your company’s lead generation by lowering your Cost per Lead?
  • Did they improve your company’s Sales Conversion Rate?

Producing a new brochure, advertisement or website may be deliverables; however it is their effect on your bottom line that is most important. There are also a number of principles by which you can scientifically assess the future effectiveness or quality of these marketing tools, before they begin to be used and hence allow you to measure their true effectiveness.

Consider whether your business could benefit from a part-time Marketing Manager or outsourcing your strategic and creative marketing and acquiring the appropriate marketing support staff. This could ensure that you have the right level of expertise and that you keep costs to a minimum.

The above principle also works with more junior staff. 2 companies (now clients) were looking for a Part Time Marketing Assistant. Luckily for them they were open to trialling a different approach to their challenge. After the strategic marketing planning work was completed (in less than 4 weeks and under $10,000!) and a Marketing Action Plan developed, both companies ended up using their existing administrative staff to handle all of the mundane and routine tasks. Instead of hiring a marketing assistant, one company employed a person on the production side of their business and the other employed a sales person, both resources that they badly needed.

The best marketing assistant would not have been able to deliver the strategic marketing advice, would have been bored by the mundane administrative work and was likely to have lodged a stress claim if they had to do some serious business development – sales!

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