The term digital marketing is a slight misnomer – let’s face it, any kind of marketing is just marketing. But make no mistake about it, it’s an important part of your armory these days, whether it’s to grow your business into new areas or just to keep up with the competition.
That said, the online marketing field can be a bewildering one for those looking in from the outside. If you struggle to get to grips with how social media can benefit your business, or don’t know your SEO from your CRO, how can you possibly hope to find the right talent to help you achieve your overall marketing goals?
As a consultant, I see this a lot – particularly in startups and small businesses. But, if you can get the online marketing right, it can help you compete against the major players in your industry, with a lot more resources. So it’s important to be able to attract – and retain – the best people your money can buy.
Let’s take a look at how small business and startup owners can source that talent, put it to good use, and get a good return on their marketing investment. Read on to find out more!
Understand the reality
First and foremost, you might think that every marketer out there would love to work for your company. After all, given that marketing is essentially about growth, what more could a marketer – online or otherwise – want more than to take a small company to enterprise size? The reality is those good online marketers have a huge range of opportunities open to them. You should also be suspicious of anyone knocking down your door to work for you if you haven’t got much to offer – going down that particular route will often lead to a lot more damage than success. The solution is to make sure you have a unique value proposition to offer potential candidates that help you stand out from everyone else. And that’s where this guide should – I hope – come in handy.
The short-term fix
Of course, you don’t have to start hiring full-time marketing employees. If you are in your nascent stages as a business, you will often be better off outsourcing rather than employing full-timers. This way, you only have to pay per project, and you won’t be paying wages, taxes, National Insurance, and benefits to people who have no work to do when your business goes through quiet phases. You can also expect to learn a little more about the online marketing world this way, so make sure you find a reputable consultant who is willing to talk things through with you – any freelance marketer or consultant worth their salt will do this for you as part of their package.
Before you start reaching out to potential online marketing employees, there are a few rules you need to abide by. Firstly, throwing vast sums of money in an attempt to compete with other employers isn’t going to work. You won’t be able to match what an enterprise-level company can offer in financial terms – even if you outgun them on wages, they will beat you on benefits. And anyway, money and perks are only part of the equation. As a startup, you should be looking at bringing to the fore all those intangible benefits that you get from working with a startup. We’re talking about things like giving candidates the opportunity to work in an exciting and flexible environment that you just can’t have in the corporate world.
It’s also important to have a few things in place before you start hiring people. As you become a bigger company, you should be ensuring you have a safe workplace. There is no room for cutting corners, here – it’s the law. Managing larger teams will have it’s own inherent problems, too, so there are a few things to consider. You’ll need help with the human resources side of things for issues like drawing up contracts and employee absence management. It’s also worth trying to find someone to head up your marketing team – someone who has an understanding of the online marketing world and can help you with your hiring decisions. Finally, it’s a good idea to establish your company culture – what are you about, how can you sell your team and vision to a candidate, and what is exciting about your product or service?
OK, so now all the basics are in place, you should have a better understanding of how you might attract people – in theory. But when it comes to actual practice, how does this work? Well, firstly, you need to have a good idea of the opportunity on offer at your company, in real, quantifiable terms. Marketers – good ones, at any rate – are the type of people that want to see figures, and imagine how they can improve them. So, make sure you know everything possible about your current market to grab their attention from the outset. Who is your current market, and how are you addressing them? What problems are you finding, and what is the total market opportunity that can be tapped into? The idea here is to challenge the marketing candidates, get their brains working, and start thinking about how they can help you straight away. If you can offer them an awesome opportunity and progression (more on which in a moment), money may not even come into it if their bright ideas can guarantee you results.
Ultimately, if you want to attract and retain talent, you’ll need to show how you invest in your employees. Progression is important to candidates, as they will want to climb up the ladder and become successful in their own right. And as a small business, that passion to self-grow is something you want to see in every employee – you can’t afford to take on coasters. You’ll need to have a rough idea of what that progression looks like, too, so be prepared to discuss their role in three months, six months, or even a year in advance. Finally, it’s important to understand that interviews are not the one-way process you might think they are – your online marketing candidates will be interviewing you as much as you are them. Good luck on your search!