Online marketing

My thanks this month to Vistage/TEC member Mike Harris of Harris Consulting LLC for some great insights on hiring online marketing managers. He’s right on.

Let’s start by saying the old rules are out when it comes to hiring a marketing person with an online skill set.

General marketing understanding

Other than the basics, a key question you should ask a candidate: what percent of a company’s total marketing budget should be allocated to Internet marketing, search engine optimization and Web site development?
We don’t have any hard data on this, but based on experiences with TEC members, we think the answer is at least 5 percent of revenues, maybe more.
Another question: Has Internet marketing gained sufficient stature to replace traditional marketing approaches? The answer is a resounding no.
But what about basic marketing stuff? Here are some oldie-but-goodie questions that will never change. Well, never say never.
  1. What distinguishes the role of a marketing manager from a sales manager? Answer: the marketing person focuses on gross margins for each product/service line. The sales person focuses, and rightfully so, on sales.
  2. Who needs to be the field trooper in the company – the marketing or sales person? Answer: The sales person.
  3. Who is more important in a strategic sense? Answer: The marketing person.
  4. Finally, who has the highest accountability for results? Answer: Actually, both do.

Let’s get back to our online marketing candidate. A few simple questions:

  1. What’s your Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter presence? Show us.
  2. Tell us about your SEO experience.
  3. What are search engines looking for when they rank pages?
  4. What’s the difference between Web 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0?
  5. What SEO tools do you use?
  6. What’s the best way to organically rank a site?
  7. Which META tags really matter in today’s world?
On a more strategic level:

  1. What do web analytics mean to you?
  2. How do you tell if an SEO campaign is working?
  3. How do you do an Internet competitive analysis?
  4. How many target keywords should a target site have?
  5. How do you decide how to divide your budget between organic SEO and pay-per-click marketing?
  6. How important is mobile marketing? Do you know how to do it and have you done any mobile marking campaigns? (There are more mobile phones on the planet than computers.)

Good people here are really hard to find. No one would dispute that. You’re trying to find someone who is technically proficient and who also has the right attitude for a very tedious job.

My personal belief, as I stated in last month’s column, is that a candidate who has a proven track record as a team player should go to the top of the class. These are not easy people to find. Our compensation consultants tell us that, depending upon experience, they are in the $60,000 to $100,000 compensation range.
But you know what? For the average company, online sales can add about 10 to 20 of total volume, at a much higher gross margin than overhead-burdened sales. That’s impressive.
The reality is that you need a very fast Internet connection and the computer graphics capability to let your online marketing person do his thing. This is, perhaps, easier said than done. That probably means, at a minimum, an investment in a new server and a few more dedicated laptops.
Here are some other observations:

  1. To my knowledge, very few small or mid-sized firms are on the quest for “online marketing managers.”
  2. This is new territory for most of us. However, I can tell you that in some cases TEC members are reporting sales increases of 5 to 12 percent due to their online marketing results.
  3. SEO draws people from places that aren’t conventional in terms of job searches. Therefore, it’s very important that your job specifications closely follow the advice that Mike Harris has suggested above. If you use a search firm, which I strongly recommend, they should be well versed in this techie terminology.
  4. How long should you wait for results? Using online marketing to make people aware of your company is the first step and could take six months or more. Getting value-added sales may take up to a year. Even so, an online marketing campaign isn’t for the short term.
There are many people in southeastern Wisconsin who can jumpstart your search. If you want some referrals, call Michele at the TEC office at (262) 821-3340. Until next month, I hope you jump on the bandwagon. This one isn’t going away soon.

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