So you think it’s time to bring in marketing support for your business? If you’re finding yourself strapped for time or simply pushing your marketing to the back burner, you’re probably right. But who you hire and how you structure the position in your business is going to have a big impact in your (and your new marketing pro’s) success.
It’s not about finding the biggest name or the biggest agency in marketing; it’s about finding a good fit for your needs.
This week on the podcast, I’m sharing some of the most important things to consider when you’re talking to marketing professionals about their services and determining if they’re a good fit for you (and vice versa).
Mentioned in This Episode Podcast
Welcome to episode 232 of The Content Experiment Podcast, a podcast for service-driven business owners who know that content is important but there’s so much more to marketing and business growth.
Here we talk about showing up for your audience that they want to hear, in a way that’s sustainable for you. This might mean publishing a weekly podcast or blog, but it also means paying attention to your email list, leveraging other people’s audiences, building relationships, and getting over the limiting mindsets that often hit when we’re reaching for the next level in our business.
I’m Abby Herman, fractional marketing officer, content strategist and podcast manager for business owners who want to make their marketing feel easier and more streamlined so they can get back to serving their clients and making those sales. I’ll show you how OR do it for you, while you do business in a way that works for you–I can help by supporting you through building and implementing a content and marketing strategy, taking care of the podcast management for you, or giving you the tools and resources to take this on yourself.
I was recently on a discovery call with someone who was looking for marketing support for their good-sized small business. They had talked to a number of marketing professionals and had even worked with a few over the years. And they had had limited success.
Why? From what I was told, the marketing professionals they worked with offered a lot of strategy and not much else. So they knew what needed to be done but offered no support in actually doing that work. On the other hand, they had also hired some marketing support in the form of implementors, but the strategists didn’t manage or guide the implementors, leaving the client, the one needing support, to do all the go-between work.
I think that’s common these days. Either you have an implementor or a strategist or consultant but no one to help with what you really need: figuring out how to get things done and then actually getting things done.
And that leaves you not hiring anyone for marketing support at all, because…why bother. You need to both have the strategy in place so you know you’re doing the right marketing activities and someone to actually make it happen. If you’re hiring for either piece, my guess is that you need support with the other. That’s certainly what I’ve found with my clients.
To help you with this, let’s talk about some of the things that you should look for when hiring marketing support.
First of all, you don’t need to find someone who is at the same level as you are in business or where you aspire to be. Not everyone wants to be a 7-figure business. Not everyone wants to scale or have a big team or create a business to sell in the next five years. Some, like me, are happy with their small team and want to build something that allows them to live a certain lifestyle. Which doesn’t mean they’re looking to “work 4 hours a week from the beach.”
So you’re not necessarily looking for a big agency. Sometimes a small business with a small team is just the thing. You get more personalized service, usually have direct contact with the CEO, and to be totally honest, they have more skin in the game. They want to perform for you.
The next thing to consider is that the person you hire to help with your marketing doesn’t necessarily need a degree in marketing, they need experience. I don’t know anyone who has a degree in running a business online but yet we’re all doing it. There’s so much to be said for experience, drive, and learning on the job.
If you know anything about my own story, I went from working in public relations to teaching for 13 years before starting a side gig in copywriting and content development. I learned to write for the online space by doing it. I learned how to use WordPress through trial and error, and I learned podcast management by supporting clients in launching their own podcasts and paying attention to how others were doing it.
You don’t need someone with a degree. You need someone who has done it and is willing to continue learning.
Next, you need someone who has the time to dedicate to you and your business. Someone who is offering high-touch services needs to have space in their client roster to help you. That means that they won’t be the cheapest service provider out there. If they’re incredibly inexpensive, chances are they have too many clients and are working too many hours. That’s a recipe for burnout and that’s not good for your business.
If you’re interviewing someone for your fractional marketing role, I would ask how many clients they have and what their capacity is. This likely depends on how deep they’re going with each client, but it’s something to consider. For example, I currently have six retainer clients and two clients who I’m working with on special projects. Two of those retainers are fairly high-touch and some of the others are seasonal or we’re able to get the work done through batching. This means we have the capacity for more, depending on the future clients.
Strategy know-how is also important if you’re hiring for marketing support. One of the best things about having someone else strategize for you vs doing it yourself is some fresh ideas and different perspectives. One of the clients I work with as a fractional marketing director is a bookkeeper. I don’t have any knowledge of bookkeeping, aside from what I’ve learned from working with her team for the last few years. On team calls, I’m able to offer a perspective about their prospecting and communication with clients that they hadn’t considered before. They have the vocabulary and background that their clients don’t have and with my perspective, they’re able to recognize when they’re talking over their clients’ heads or making assumptions about their clients’ mindsets. It’s an invaluable perspective.
As you look for marketing support, it’s also important to look for someone who is a partner. You’re hopefully not hiring an hourly employee or contractor; you’re hiring someone on retainer who is committed to the success of your business. They will be open and honest with you, have their own opinions about how to strategize and implement your marketing strategy, and actually share those thoughts with you. Maybe they’ll even push back on what you’ve been doing or some of your ideas. And that’s okay because they’re the pro.
Which leads me to the last thing you should consider: soft skills. A fractional marketing director isn’t going to work in a silo…or they shouldn’t. They need to have soft skills like teamwork, adaptability, communication, empathy, problem solving and more. They need to be able to work with your other team members, especially if some of those team members are helping to support the marketing activities. And hopefully they can do this without you present. Because the whole point of hiring marketing support is to get you out of the weeds so you can do what you do best, which is run your business.
Now, that prospective client I talked about at the beginning of this episode, they’re no longer a prospect and are a client. They needed full service support and that’s exactly what I offer. It might look a little different for different clients but it includes both strategy and implementation because I know that businesses hiring for marketing strategy also need implementation and that implementation doesn’t work without a strategy on the front end.
If that’s something that you’ve been looking for in your business, I have a little bit of space left to take on another fractional marketing director client. But because I value each of my clients and want to make sure I have space for everyone, I’m not going to be the least expensive team member because I also don’t want to work 60 hours a week and burn myself out. (Trust me, I’ve done that. I’m sure you have too. It’s not fun.)
If you’re interested in having a conversation about it, let’s chat. You can book a quick chat with me at thecontentexperiment.com/chat
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