It’s hiring season. One role that’s on the radar for a lot of manufacturers (and other business-to-business companies) is a marketing manager. It isn't an easy position to fill for a few reasons. And, as more companies are learning, hiring a full-time in house marketer isn't always the best way to get good marketing.
Finding a great marketer for an industrial or technical company - as most manufacturers and B2B companies are - is challenging for a few reasons:
- Strategy Gap. Most companies can’t swing a six figure salary for marketing, but they want someone with six-figure strategic-marketing know-how. In the inevitable trade-off between someone who will do the work day-to-day and someone who can put a marketing strategy in place, the doer will win. That means the marketing direction and activities are likely to be less strategic - which can call the whole function into question.
- Lack of Experience. Few manufacturers have deep experience in marketing, so they aren't entirely sure which skills to hire for. They are likely to postpone, delay and stall the hiring because of the uncertainty and risk of failure in hiring a successful marketer.
- Turnover. A great marketer wants the opportunity to accomplish big things and to learn and develop in their career. Those circumstances are less likely to exist in a manufacturer - which leaves manufacturers dealing with frequent turnover as they replace marketers every time a good person moves on.
- Rapid Change. Marketing is evolving quickly. It's very difficult for one person to stay up to speed on all the technologies involved in modern marketing. Which means it's unlikely that a one-person marketing team is going to be able to achieve strong results.
First Ask: Do you Really Need a Full Time In-House Marketer?
Not sure which model makes sense for your company? Take an assessment at Should You Outsource Your Marketing or Do It In-House?
4 Telling Question To Ask Marketing Managers
But if you know that hiring your own dedicated in-house marketer is the best way for your company to go, here are 4 questions that will help you find the best candidate.
Question #1: How will you develop the marketing plan for our company?
You want your marketing manager to have some kind of structured framework that shows they understand how to develop a focused marketing strategy and translate it into action over the course of a year, rather than just jumping from one marketing project to another.
When you ask this question, if it elicits a deer-in-the-headlights look or the candidate jumps right into a discussion of marketing activities, that’s a yellow flag. Strategic marketers focus on understanding your target market, your positioning in reference to competitors, and meeting your business objectives. Their answer should start here. Once they have a handle on this, then it's fine for them to discuss the marketing methods that will accomplish the marketing goals.
Question #2: What marketing methods would you consider using for our company?
The right answer is: ‘it depends on the strategy’ (especially the target market). In general, however, you want to see that your candidate understands who you are as a business, and the kinds of marketing methods or tactics that will connect the company with your target customers.
For example, if your audience is a traditional, low-tech group, suggesting social media as the primary means of raising awareness is a bad idea. Conversely, if you deal with young, connected decision makers, talking about ads in print newspapers is a non-starter. It’s all about knowing how to connect in a meaningful way with prospects.
Question #3: How did you measure marketing results in previous companies?
You’re looking for a solid combination of theoretical and practical here. Yes, you want your marketing manager to be able to talk knowledgeably about scorecards, KPIs and ROI. But that’s the easy part. You want to hear candidates talk honestly about the challenges of measuring marketing success. Measuring is tough, and the majority of B2Bs don’t have the systems in place to do it effectively. If a company doesn't have a CRM or marketing automation in place, there's no way to determine marketing ROI. All of that means that a good B2B marketer has to be innovative with tracking and reporting, and prove they understand the challenges and have taken the initiative to bridge those gaps.
Question #4: What results did you achieve in previous roles?
Good B2B marketing delivers awareness, credibility leads and profits. So the right answer here is all about quantifiable results. It’s not really about making brochures and organizing events; a good candidate will talk about those things, but then they'll continue on to the numbers and about the pipeline growth the business achieved.
Recruiting is a tough process – no matter what the role. But the deeper you dig in the interview and the more smart questions you ask, the better the results will be, especially when it comes to finding a marketer who can grow your company’s brand and revenues. Keep these four questions at the ready to help you. But don’t forget about your other options, since hiring a full-time marketer doesn’t work well for many small B2B companies. Here’s a list to help you evaluate if an alternative to in-house marketing is best for your business.