451846939As a business owner hiring the right people for your organization is essential. Building a team of highly motivated, competent individuals with a unified vision can lead to exponential growth in even the toughest market segments.

However, it can be difficult to know which skill sets need to be added first, and which can be added sometime in the future. In this blog post we’ll look at who should be your first marketing hire. This individual's skill set will maximize your impact and grow your reach more than any other. So let’s get started!

Hiring for Impact

As you evaluate the different talents that you need to create an effective marketing team you quickly come to the realization that you need individuals across a multitude of disciplines. Things like: design, database management, website development, and content creation just to name a few.

These functions are all necessary to adequately promote your products and services in the marketplace. However, as you look to bring on your first marketing hire, you need to hone in on the skill set that will have the greatest impact on your business.

As the marketing landscape shifts to inbound, the content creation skill set becomes the linchpin for every marketing department. Content more than anything else helps you elevate your search rank, grow your social media footprint, and generate leads. Let’s dive into each one of these items a bit more below:

Search Engine Rank

Creating a high search rank for your organization is essential if you want to drive traffic and new leads for your business. Content creators who are blogging about valuable and original content are going to be continually attracting inbound links to your website. These inbound links are the single greatest factor in determining your search rank for relevant keywords.

Skills to look for

As you pore over the content creator candidate pool, look for the following skills and experience. Does the person blog? If so where are they blogging? What type of social engagement are they getting on their posts.

Can the individual write a “keyword rich” post? Are the posts generating inbound links? How many people subscribe to the blog that this applicant writes? These are some questions that will help you get to the heart of whether this candidate can help you elevate your search rank, generate inbound leads, and expand your readership & subscriber base.

Social Reach

Writers and content creators are also skilled at helping you to grow your fans, followers and subscribers. By being active in the social networks where your prospects are spending their time you exponentially grow your network of potential customers.

Skills to look for

When looking for a content creator skilled in social media you need someone with the following capabilities. First you want someone that is well versed in the major social network platforms, at a minimum the big four: Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Google+.

The candidate should know the different “cultures” of each network, and should understand the types of content that should be posted to each network. The applicant should skilled in building a following on social network platforms. Additionally, they should be capable in consistently moving casual visitors from social networks to company sponsored websites and landing pages.

Finally, they should be articulate enough to put out insightful thoughts, statements and ideas in 140 characters. While this list of skills is definitely not comprehensive it will give you a starting point from which to evaluate your potential hires.

Lead Generation

Finally, a good writer is a lead generation machine. Good content creators spend a significant amount of their time creating premium content for the organization. Things like ebooks, white-papers and customer case studies. Once this content is developed it can be gated and used to effectively grow your opt-in list of prospects for months and years to come.

Skills to look for

Writers who are skilled at lead generation are individuals who can consistently create valuable and original content for your buyer personas. So look for an articulate content creator who can quickly self-educate on a new topics and industry trends.

Additionally, look for writers that can simplify complex subjects down into actionable and manageable tasks for your readers. Candidates with these skills will make an immediate impact on your ability to generate leads.

Who Not to Hire

When contemplating the first marketing hire, it might be tempting to hire the “marketing generalist”. This is the person who has done some social media management, dabbled in website design, and written some blog posts.

This candidate is a jack of all trades, master of none. Often times resource-constrained business owners opt to hire these candidates because they correctly realized that they need these marketing activities completed.

My recommendation would be to stay away from these marketing generalist types. The outcome will be mediocrity in strategic and tactical areas where you need excellence. If prospects see you putting out “ho-hum” content they probably won’t download it. If your website isn’t beautifully designed and optimized around their concerns they probably won’t visit it.

And if your social media promotion isn’t compelling prospects probably won’t engage with it. So stay away from the marketing generalist and look to hire competent individuals within their specific marketing niche.

Maximize Your Investment

Finally, as a business owner you’re always running a cost/benefit analysis on every decision that you make, and hiring is no exception. When it comes to bringing on a new hire you must think about the salary, benefits, and bonus requirements associated with each candidate.

The great news is that there are great writers out there that can be recruited and hired without breaking the bank. Smart business owners are finding young talented writers, and then training them in their industry, and in the tactical components of inbound marketing.

This has become easier with organizations like HubSpot putting out a continual stream of content in their inbound marketing library. So find an English major, or a creative writer that has solid grasp on writing fundamentals and desire to learn. Invest in their education-- the return on investment will pay dividends for years to come.

Conclusion

Every position in the marketing department is essential and helps with posturing the organization within the marketplace. The designers, writers, technologists, project managers, and website developers all make significant contributions toward the company’s success.

However, as a small business owner with limited resources you must hire an individual who can help you make an impact in the most basic arenas of marketing (search engine marketing, social media, and lead generation). It’s writers and content creators who have this capability.

Competent content creators can immediately impact your inbound links, you subscribers and your monthly lead flow. So look to recruit and hire a young talented writer who has a desire to learn your industry, your business, and the discipline of inbound marketing. You will be amazed at the measurable impact that this person has on your business.

Originally published Jun 16, 2014 10:00:00 AM, updated October 20 2016