Ryan's experience ranges from higher education to SMBs and tech startups. When not doing digital marketing, he's sure to be enjoying some kind of nerdy pastime.
Hiring a full-time inbound marketer can be expensive and, if you get the wrong fit, can set your company back on reaching critical goals. It's a crucial hire that has lasting impacts either for the good or bad of your business.
As an inbound marketing agency, we do business with a lot of businesses, many who want to eventually bring their marketing in-house. But there's one question we get very often during this transition from agency to in-house employee: what should I look for in a potential inbound marketing hire?
Due to the impact that decision will have on your company, we understand the concern. For some companies, sticking with an agency over hiring employees makes sense. For others, they need that in-house talent to take their marketing to the next level.
In this article, I will share with you what I look for when evaluating inbound marketing talent. That way, you can take this information, adapt it for your company, and be more comfortable making an inbound marketing hire in the future.
11 Interview Questions for Hiring Inbound Marketing Talent
Every potential hire might not have all of these traits. But they should be willing and able to learn them over time to increase their impact and abilities.
1. Are You a Great Writer?
Being a great writer is not the same as being an essayist. Neither is it utilizing a vocabulary that requires a dictionary to decipher.
A great writer is someone who writes so that that people can understand very quickly. Writing for an internet audience is much different than any other form of writing. It requires compelling copy that gets to the point, quickly.
2. Do You like to Teach Others?
Inbound marketers are teachers by nature. Inbound content is about educating the customer to make the best choices, educating them on how the product or services works, and teaching how the product or service will improve the lives of their customers.
If a marketer doesn't like to teach, they'll be asking for larger paid advertising budgets and less leeway on creating useful content.
3. Do Metrics and Growth Statistics Excite You?
Look for a person who is competitive and watching metrics like a hawk. They should love seeing the graphs moving up and to the right, and if something isn't working, it should drive them to make adjustments.
I look at our traffic and lead metrics about ten times a day. While that may be a character flaw or time distraction for me, I want to see things moving forward. All inbound marketers should share that drive.
The positive movement should thrill them as much as stagnation should depress them.
4. Will You Take Base Hits Over Home Runs?
The problem with out-dated marketing is it was always swinging for the fence. Everything was geared toward the sales pitch. Marketers were prospectors, building ever growing quotas of prospects in order to hit a home run with an ever shrinking percentage.
Inbound marketers know the value of a great base hit. They know that generating a lead, no matter how far that lead may be from a buying decision, is a valuable step.
A true inbound marketer will go to bat knowing that it may take multiple hits to get someone to home, but if there are enough base hits, they'll start rolling in consistently.
5. Do You Love Christmas Trees?
Okay, it's time for a metaphor. Our CEO loves metaphors, so I have to stick them in every once in a while.
Inbound marketers like creating things that last. In the marketing world, this is called creating "evergreen content." You invest in creating a piece of content once and then reap the benefits of that content for years to come.
Inbound marketing is less about short-lived campaigns, and more about building a huge, ever growing engine. As an inbound marketer, they must have that desire to create things that will be useful over the long-term. Less focus should be on what can drive instant results, and more focus should be on what can drive consistent, compounding growth.
5. Do You Overpromise Results?
As an agency, we see this all the time. We charge $5,000 per month for "x" and another company says they can deliver 10X the results for only $500. Surprisingly, a lot of businesses take the bait and waste more time than money realizing that over-promising never delivers.
Don't have unrealistic expectations from your new hire. Everything they try is not going to explode your company's growth. Trust me, it's not that easy. If it were that easy, everyone would do it.
Instead, trust the guy who is honest enough to project realistic results.
6. Do You Fully Understand the Buyer's Journey?
This goes along with the baseball analogy. An inbound marketing hire should have a firm grasp over the buyers' journey, the problems and obstacles along that path, and how to create the content to help people through it quickly.
They need to understand the stages of the funnel, and how to create content that compliments the natural progression of customers from the introduction to a customer.
7. Do You Have Side Project Blogs?
This is a personal opinion of mine. Inbound marketers are natural content creators. They do inbound marketing even when no one is paying them to do inbound marketing.
Check your prospects to see if any of them keep a personal side blog or business blog of their own. Look at those web properties to see how they perform, and the quality of content that lives there.
This is probably a good indication of what you're getting from them if you hire them.
8. Are you Comfortable Creating Content for Any Medium?
An inbound marketer really has to be the total package. Are they comfortable creating videos, making podcasts, broadcasting on Scope, or any other medium?
If they are camera shy or have problems speaking on a webinar, they may not be the best person for the job. Seek out someone who is knowledgeable and capable of creating content across mediums. Even if they end up outsourcing some of that work, having someone who can do it themselves gives them a leg up in managing outsourced talent as well.
9. Can You Show Me Asset Designs You Like?
An inbound marketer should have a list of things they like:
- Landing pages designs
- Email templates
- Website designs
- Blog layouts
They may not have an actual list, but they should have some examples they can come up with very quickly. And they should always be pushing, even if there's no budget for it, to improve the website in some way. It's because they understand the minor edits that can make huge differences in marketing success.
10. Do you Detest Dead-Ends?
Inbound marketing is about taking leads on a journey from stranger to friend, and customer to brand promotor. To do this, the inbound marketer acts as a sort of air traffic controller. They should detest marketing dead-ends.
Ask them how they would design a thank you page. If they don't mention adding a secondary offer or additional resource on the thank you page, they may not be ready to run your marketing department.
11. Can You Articulate Why?
I had a friend growing up who could play the guitar. The kid didn't have an ear for music at all, and he couldn't carry a tune. But he took guitar lessons and could learn the fingering and chords. Therefore, he called himself a guitar player.
He could play the guitar, but he wasn't a musician.
As much as a great musician takes a written chord progression and naturally knows how to "let it breath," an inbound marketer must understand what makes marketing an art form. They need to be able to explain why, not just what.
Why do we need an e-mail that doesn't pitch a product? Why do we want to talk positively about our competitors in blog posts? Why are we talking about productivity instead of our service?
They need to connect with the why. And they need to do so at such a level that everyone understands that they understand what the reasoning behind their methods are.
How to Get the Best Marketing Talent For Your Company
Hiring a full-time employee is expensive, and expenses go beyond their annual salary. For a lot of people, going with an agency to fill their marketing gaps makes more sense. It's less expensive, and you get access to more than one person's skill set. For everyone else, hopefully this list of factors will help you choose the best talent available for your business.
Just do your homework, and grade their deliverables. Ask them key questions, and even scenarios on what they would do to market your company. It's not unreasonable to send them a homework assignment as part of the interview process. Have them write a blog article, and tell you why they wrote it the way they did. Have them plan a lead nurturing e-mail series, and explain the reasoning behind what they chose to do.
The most important sign of a talented inbound marketer is one that can explain, in easy-to-understand language, what they are doing and why it will work.
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