B2B Marketing Blog

Written by Lisa Shepherd
on October 14, 2014

What to look for, and prioritize, when choosing someone to lead your B2B firm's campaigns

This is the second part of a three-part series meant to help owners of business-to-business (B2B) companies decide whether they need to hire a marketing manager—and how they can go about doing so. Part one probed how to determine whether your company actually needs a marketing manager. This installation will detail what you should look for in the manager. And part three will reveal the essential questions you must ask to find the right fit.

If you’ve decided to hire a marketing manager, you’ll quickly learn that there are lots of them out there. Determining who has the skills to actually deliver can be a difficult and overwhelming process.

There are three types of experience you’ll see on a B2B marketer’s resume: industry experience, target market experience and tactical experience. But these three elements are not created equal; some can help your business more than others. That’s why it’s smart to keep these points in mind when you’re going through that mountain of CVs looking for your perfect marketer:

1. Industry experience

Most companies want to hire a marketer who has experience in their industry. But in B2B, that’s difficult; there are so many niches and relatively few experienced B2B marketers within each. Finding someone with the right level of experience in your specific industry can be an exercise in futility.

Yes, a marketer who has worked in your specific industry will get up the learning curve faster, and will be able to apply their experience immediately to your business. However, if you can’t find someone who has worked in your exact line of work , don’t despair. Look for someone with B2B experience in related or similar fields. So much of B2B involves work that is technical and complex; chances are, if they’ve learned the ins and outs of one tricky technical environment, they’ll be able to do it again.

2. Target market experience

Someone who has sold something to your target audience is a great asset; they’ll know how that type of customer thinks, what their pain points are, where they hang out, what publications they read, what websites they use and what industry associations they belong to.

While these marketers might not know your company’s specific products, technology or services, they’ll be able to learn them quickly. The core competencies of great B2B marketers are aptitude and intellectual horsepower. Since B2B companies tend to provide complex offerings, they tend to attract marketers who can navigate complex environments.

3. Tactical experience

This is the area that interviewers tend to look at the most, but in my experience it’s the least relevant. In fact, it can even end up being a liability. You won’t necessarily know ahead of time which tactics your company should be using in its marketing. But if you hire someone with specific tactical experience, they may steer you to do what they know, even if it isn’t necessarily the right thing for the company.

Ever heard the phrase “When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail?” The same thing applies to marketing tactics. If you hire a marketer who’s good at direct mail, that’s exactly the solution they’ll propose for your marketing, when what you really need might be a better website or a video or some great PR.

Marketers come in all shapes, sizes, experience levels and abilities. When you’re looking for one that’s right for your company, these three area can help you figure out exactly what kind of marketing experience will help your marketing be a success.

Looking for more help to when hiring a marketing firm or internal leader for your B2B business?  Download our eBook to learn the 5 key questions to ask.

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