Wednesday Aug 24, 2011 by Jay Neely - Boston Entrepreneur and Marketing Consultant
It’s the question I hear second-most often, right after “How do I hire a good developer?”. Marketing is one of those skills a startup can’t do without, and realistically, probably shouldn’t be started without. Most founders have at least some marketing skills, and that works for a while. But they reach a point where they want to focus on what they’re great at, and don’t know how to determine if someone else is as good at marketing as the founder is at coding, business, etc. If you’re in that spot, or just in the unenviable position of trying to attract customers / users to an idling completed product, here’s your guide to choosing someone who can help turn up the heat.
Good marketing exists at the intersection of awareness, analysis, and creativity.
Every marketer must have a well-honed talent for effective communication. Someone with average communication skills can take information and restate it in way they’re better able to understand it. Someone with above-average communication skills can take information and restate it in a way that others will be better able to understand it. Above-average communicators can take the same content and frame it many different ways (“in need of repairs” becomes “fixer-upper”). Most importantly for applications, above-average communicators can translate features into benefits.
For web-based businesses, a marketer also needs to be skilled at the following:
The best marketers combine passion with the ability to communicate it. A good marketer for your startup is going to be one that understands your target audience, preferably by being a member of it… unless your target market is people who are bad at marketing.
One of the best ways to find candidates is to identify the marketing people at related, but not competing, services targeting a similar demographic, and ask them to recommend someone.
The best evidence is always just that: evidence. If they can show the results they specifically generated for projects (“I increased…”, not “My company increased…”), that’s excellent.
Some questions you may want to ask in an interview are:
A good marketer can only help you if you let them, and that may mean changing that front-page description that you think is just fine, or targeting search terms that seem counter-intuitive. But remember that there’s a reason you’re looking for marketing help: they’ve learned lessons you haven’t yet!
Work with a new marketing team member to create clear, measurable goals. Provide clear priorities for how you want different resources (their time, development time, money) used. Pursue new marketing efforts with set expectations for when and how they’ll be measured, and let the results speak for themselves.
Jay Neely is a Boston entrepreneur and marketing consultant. You can find this post, as well as additional content on his blog located here. You can also follow Jay (@JayNeely) on Twitter by clicking here.