I think one of the most frequent and difficult questions I’ve received this year from friends, colleagues, and acquaintances was, “How do I find an inbound marketer? And what should I be looking for?”
To be honest, my answer for a while was, “Good question.” After searching for our marketing coordinator this year and hearing stories from other companies, I’m finally prepared to share what I’ve learned.
The following are factors you should consider when filling an inbound marketing position and questions to ask candidates.
Characteristics of an Inbound Marketer
There are 3 major characteristics I think great Inbound Marketers all have in common.
1. We are curious and enjoy learning. Inbound Marketing is very different from the traditional marketing most marketers learn in school or have been practicing for years. The term Inbound Marketing wasn’t even coined until 2008, so for us to know and have successfully implemented Inbound Marketing, we had to do a whole lot of learning on our own.
Ask candidates: What blogs do you read? What is an interesting article you read recently?
2. We are passionate. We really love inbound marketing; I often say I nerd out about inbound marketing. We are often passionate about the company we work for, as well.
Ask candidates: What do you like most about marketing? What are you passionate about?
3. We like helping people. It’s in our DNA. We like to help you find answers, share our knowledge, and create positive experiences. We’re the best person to be sitting next to on an airplane with your marketing questions because chances are you’ll get 2 ½ hours of free advice, a reference for who can help you, and tips for what not to do.
Ask candidates: Give an example of how you’ve supported your team/company/client.
Skills and Experience of an Inbound Marketer
The skills required are dependent on what position you are trying to fill. The following skills are based on a position for a marketing manager or marketing director that oversees all your inbound marketing.
1. Great writing skills. Whether you are filling an internship or marketing director position, all your inbound marketing candidates need to have great writing skills. Writing is at the center of everything we do - from social media updates, email creation, blog writing, and even reports. It is important to make sure your marketing team members have not only grammatically correct writing but that it also sounds natural and human.
Ask candidates: Please provide 2 writing samples.
2. Experience creating and implementing a marketing plan. Having a plan is crucial to seeing success with inbound marketing. It’s necessary to have a strategy with your social media updates, blog articles, eBooks, and lead nurturing emails. Without that strategy, you’re just spamming people or shooting from the hip… which rarely produces positive results. It's also important that they've implemented a plan before.
Ask candidates: Give an example of a marketing plan you’ve created. What was included in that marketing plan?
3. Experience analyzing results. It’s not only important to create a plan, but to evaluate that plan by analyzing marketing and sales results. If you aren’t evaluating your marketing efforts, how can you improve and make sure what you’re doing is working?
Ask candidates: What was something that worked well in your marketing plan? What was something that didn’t work? Why didn’t it work?
4. Experience managing social media accounts. Social media for businesses is a different beast than other marketing channels. If your new hire is going to be managing your social media, it is important they have experience managing social media accounts for a business.
Ask candidates: Please provide an example(s) of a business’s social media account you’ve managed.
Note: at minimum your hire should have a well-rounded LinkedIn account themselves.
5. Bonus: experience with inbound marketing tools. An added bonus for an inbound marketing hire is if they have experience with an inbound marketing tool like HubSpot, Eloqua, Marketo, or Pardot. If they’ve used these tools before, the transition into their new role will often be quicker and more natural if your company is using one of those tools.
Ask candidates: Have you ever worked with any online marketing tools, such as HubSpot, Eloqua, Marketo or Pardot?
Other Things to Consider
Something else important you may want to consider is if they have experience in your type of business (B2C or B2B). B2C is much different than B2B and can also be a different mindset with marketing.
It may also be important to consider if your future hire fits into your company’s culture and embodies your company’s values. Are they a team player? Do they have integrity? Do they also like to have fun at work? Come up with questions that uncover some of their personal characteristics.
Asking these questions and really taking the time to understand and evaluate the skills of a candidate up front is crucial. It’s disappointing for both you and the candidate if you later discover this job is not a very good fit for their skills, experience, or values.
In short, be prepared; create your list of questions to ask ahead of time and include the required skills on the job description. And use the same questions for every candidate.
Depending on what you plan to pay and location of your company, your hire may not have all of the factors I mentioned but aim for having as many as possible. Good luck and happy hiring!