Posts Tagged ‘questions’

How to Hire a Marketing Person Part 2 – Interviews Begin

February 28, 2017 Leave a comment

Finding a great marketing person is difficult and a key responsibility for a hiring manager.    A previous post was on what to do before the interviews begin while this post will describe the process to hire a great marketing person, once the interviews begin.


Here is a typical timeline for hiring a new marketing person once top candidates have been selected:

  • Hold phone call interviews (1 week)
  • Select top candidates (up to 5) (1 day)
  • Set up face to face interviews (1 week)
  • Hold face to face interviews (1 week)
  • Make determination (1 day)
  • Make offer and send paperwork (3 days)
  • Possible new employee gives notice to previous company (2 weeks)
  • Start date of new employee and onboarding begins

Here is a suggested process to find a great marketing individual when interviews begin:

  1. Set up the phone interviews with the selected candidates.  This is done by the hiring manager who will rank the candidates against each other.    Suggest about 30 minutes for each phone interview.  But could last up to an hour so allocate an hour time slot.
  2. The interviewer should prepare a pitch about the position and the company that will start off the call.
  3. The interviewer should look up the candidate on LinkedIn.    Especially their connections to see if you know anyone in common.  Look at how complete their profile is.  A marketing person should know how to promote themselves and have a complete profile, that is written well.  Look at the groups that they are a member of.
  4. The interviewer will need to come up with a list of questions to ask each candidate (some will be the the same for all candidates while other questions will be specific to the candidate).  Here are a few items to consider when creating questions:
    • A great marketing person needs to be an excellent writer.  Ask them questions about their writing capability.
    • A great marketing person is organized.  One of your questions you ask them is to find out how they stay organized.
    • A great marketing person needs to be a good project manager.  Ask them questions on the projects they have managed and how they managed them.
  5. Hold the phone call interviews.  Take good notes on the candidates.  If it is obvious that the candidate is not a fit during the call, be considerate but cut the call short as soon as possible.
  6. Create the blank feedback form for the position to be filled out by the panelists.
  7. Create a written exercise for the candidates.  A great marketing person needs to be an excellent writer so create an exercise that job candidates must complete before the interview.  Keep it simple, maybe an email response to a situation or website content on a particular subject.  Look for the organization and grammar in the writing examples.
  8. If the position entails public speaking then determine a short presentation that the candidates can do during their interview.
  9. Select the face to face panel members who should include the hiring manager and peers in the same department, as well as others outside the department that would interface with this position.
  10. Select the candidates (up to 5) to continue on and set up the face to face interviews.  Send the written exercise to the candidates.  If speaking is part of the job, then have each candidate do a short presentation on something at the face to face interview. Notify them in advance on what is expected of them.  Notify the other candidates that were not selected and that they will no longer be considered for the position.
  11. Communicate to interview panel.  Send candidate’s resume, written exercise by candidate and blank feedback form in the interview meeting request.  Ask the panelists to be prepared with questions for the candidate.
  12. Check references of the candidates (either before interviews or right after interviews)
  13. Hold face to face interviews and have interviewers fill out feedback form.  During the interviews you are looking for expertise, energy, stamina, culture fit, personality and getting along with all members of the team (not just the hiring manager).  You probably want someone that has a specialty but you are looking for a marketing generalist as well.  And someone that can handle change and pressure.  Do a group session first with each candidate and then have them do individual sessions with each of the hiring panelists.
  14. Have a meeting with all the panelists and discuss the candidates.  This meeting should occur as soon as possible after the final interview.
  15. Make determination and send offer.  If two candidates are too close to make a definite decision then discuss other ways to decide (an interview with the President of the company, a personality test, additional reference checking, an additional written exercise, etc.).   Or if no good candidate, repeat cycle.  Notify the candidates not selected once an offer has been accepted.

Hiring is one of the most critical responsibilities of a manager.  It is not easy.  It takes time and energy.  And a bad hire is stressful for a manager and can be disastrous for an organization.  Be organized and do what is necessary to hire a great marketing person.  Also, if you haven’t done so already check out the post on what to do before the interviews begin.  Please let me know your thoughts on hiring.

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How to Hire a Marketing Person Part 1 – Before Interviews

February 27, 2017 Leave a comment

I wrote a post on onboarding a new marketing person, but realized that I haven’t posted about how to find that great new marketing person.  Finding a great person is difficult and a key responsibility for a hiring manager.  You want the hiring process (the paperwork, the job description, interviews, etc.) to be done as efficiently and accurately as possible.  This post will focus on what to do before the interviews start.


Follow this process when hiring someone for your marketing team:

  1. Write up new hire request and get approval from the necessary individuals. This includes figuring out salary range and adding this cost to the budget (including the overhead).
  2. Create the hiring plan including the time line for the hiring.  Share the plan with others in the company.  The hiring process could be 10 weeks or longer from approval to new employee start.  Make sure you take consideration of company events, trade shows, vacations and holidays when creating the time line.  The time line could be something like this:
    • Get approval and create plan
    • Do the posting of the job opening to the job boards & update website (1 day)
    • Gather resumes (2 weeks)
    • Review resumes (1 week)
    • Select top candidates (up to 15) (1 day)
    • Set up phone call interviews (1 week)
    • Hold phone call interviews (1 week)
    • Select top candidates (up to 5) (1 day)
    • Set up face to face interviews (1 week)
    • Hold face to face interviews (1 week)
    • Make determination (1 day)
    • Make offer and send paperwork (3 days)
    • Possible new employee gives notice to previous company (2 weeks)
    • Start date of new employee and onboarding start
  3. Finalize the job description.   Take your time on this important task for attracting great candidates.  Watch out for corporate-speak or terminology that is only known by those in your organization or a specific industry.  Watch out for acronyms.  Candidates might get confused if they don’t understand the terminology and therefore might not apply for the position.  Look at the description from the eyes of a job candidate.  Multiple folks should review the job description before posting.  A job description contains 4 parts: title, responsibilities, requirements and company information/benefits.
    • Make sure the job title clearly states what the job is all about.  Title is the 1st thing that attracts a candidate to a job opening.
    • Determine the job responsibilities for the position.
    • Determine the skill requirements for the position.  Mark which skills are necessary and which ones are added bonus.  Include what technologies they need to know.  Mention the level of education and experience you require for the role.
    • Firm up company information and benefits such as if relocation would be paid for.  Benefits should be beneficial to all genders, races and ages.
  4. Look at your job description before you post, answer the following questions and make adjustments:
    • Will the job description turn off qualified job candidates?
    • Are there too many skills required listed and are they too stringent?
    • Is there any  company specific terminology that will confuse job candidates?
    • Are the mentioned benefits unspectacular?
  5. If new position, update your organization chart.  Be clear on who the position reports to and who reports to the new hire.
  6. Determine where to find your next employee.  Consider posting on Glassdoor, LinkedIn, Indeed and ZipRecruiter sites.  Determine if you want to use outside recruiters or not.  If you have an internal recruiter, discuss with them the hiring plan.
  7. Post on the selected job boards and contact the selected recruiters.  Put the job description on the organization’s website. Make sure your career page on your website is accurate, interesting and showing your organization’s culture.  Send out an internal announcements to staff about the opening.
  8. Determine resume submission close date.  Depends on how many resumes you have received.  When you get around 100 resumes you should consider closing down the resume submissions.  Update the job boards by removing the position.
  9. Get resumes into one place.  I suggest numbering the resumes and putting them into a spreadsheet to keep organized.  You need to select the reviewers.  Have two individuals review the resumes.  Make sure the reviewers know the due date for review completion.
  10. Review resumes and select top candidates (up to 15) for phone interviews.  I would score each candidate on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being high.  Select the top ones by combining the scores but give each of the reviewers 1 to 2 candidates that they can select for the phone interview no matter what the other person thought of them.  Notify the candidates that were not selected.  And then notify the selected ones and schedule the interview call.

Feel free to read the second part of this hiring series on hiring process once the interviews start.  Hiring is one of the most critical responsibilities of a manager.  It is not easy.  It takes time and energy.  A bad hire can be stressful for a manager and possibly disastrous for an organization.  Be organized and do what is necessary to hire a great marketing person.  Please let me know your thoughts on hiring.

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Investment for Inbound Marketing

July 26, 2016 Leave a comment


You know that Inbound Marketing is the right way to go for your organization, no matter if you are a law firm, a B2B tech company or a non-profit.  What do you need to implement Inbound Marketing?  Every organization does marketing differently and every implementation of Inbound Marketing will be different.  It requires content.  And it is preferable that a marketing automation system be in place to maintain the Inbound Marketing process.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What’s the condition of your website?
    Your website is the place where much of your Inbound Marketing will point to and be the place where prospects will come to for more information.  It will be the hub.  If you have a well-designed website that says what you do and clearly differentiates yourself from your competitors then you are in good shape.  If not, you will need to allocate budget to redo your website.  Is your branding and messaging up to date?  If not you will need to spend time and money to correct this.  Are your product and service offering pages up to date?  Do you have the key words on the pages so that the search engines can find your pages?  Get your website up to speed so your Inbound Marketing efforts will benefit.
  2. How much current content do you have and can it be used for Inbound Marketing?
    Review what content you have currently and see if any is useful for Inbound Marketing.  Is your content (blog posts, videos, eBooks and Infographics) educational?  And case studies are great content for campaigns as well.  Evaluate what is missing from your content library and add it to the task list.  Fill in your content gaps.  Gather your internal content creators (your thought leaders) and make sure they are available to do blog posts.  Gather your outside content creators (outside writers) and make sure they are ready to contribute.  Make sure you have the necessary vendor paperwork (tax and non-disclosure) all submitted and filed away.  Make sure you know the costs for these writers so that they can be factored into the budget.
  3. How aggressive is your competition from a marketing perspective?
    If you are losing deals to the competition more than usual then find out why.  Check out their website.  Review their messaging.  Make adjustments in your marketing efforts which could mean more money is necessary in the budget.
  4. What is the status of your current contact database?
    You will need to look at the number of contacts you currently have in your CRM system, your financial system and your marketing automation system.  Review if you need to spend money to increase the number of contacts (get outside lists) or if you need to spend money to clean up the database.  Is your database easy to segment (do you have the buyer personas in place and the job titles accurate)?  Segmentation is key  for Inbound Marketing.
  5. What tool do you have in place to manage the Inbound Marketing process?
    Inbound Marketing is not easy to manage especially with all the various campaigns going on and the automatic delivery of emails.  There are great solutions available such as HubSpot, Marketo and ACT-ON to do the job.  The marketing automation solution will be the tool for landing pages, newsletters and targeted email blasts.  And maybe your blog posts and web pages.  The marketing automation solution will drive your Inbound Marketing.  They are well worth the money and if you don’t have a marketing automation solution get the budget approval for purchase and gather a team who can select the right solution for you.
  6. How much do you need to increase the activity for the various stages of the sales/marketing funnel (TOF, MOF, BOF)?
    Do an analysis of what content you have for each stage of the funnel.  Review if you have a shortage of content for in any particular stage of the funnel.  If so, factor in additional money in the budget for content creation.
  7. How fast do you need to move the needle and increase revenue?
    Hopefully, the organization did not wait too long to implement Inbound Marketing.  But if the organization needs increased revenue very quickly, then factor in additional money and resources to speed up the Inbound Marketing efforts.  You need to pay more for fast.

The answers to the above questions will affect the budget you will need for implementation of Inbound Marketing. The answers to the above questions will also affect how fast you can implement Inbound Marketing and get returns from it.  Align the budget with the expectations of your marketing efforts.  If you budget $75,000 a year for the tools and writing resources to do Inbound Marketing and the goal (or actual amount) of additional profit is $50,000 then rethink the investment. Inbound Marketing is an investment in time and money.  Make sure you know what you need before you start the journey.

Let me know your experiences with the investment necessary for Inbound Marketing.

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Buyer Personas for Inbound Marketing Part 1 – Creation

July 24, 2016 Leave a comment


Knowing what motivates your target buyers is essential for building a successful inbound marketing effort as well as for increasing sales or getting clients for your legal services or getting additional donors for your non-profit.  This two part blog series will discuss what is a buyer persona, why you need to create personas and how to create them.  The next blog post will discuss what to do with the personas once you have them.

Always remember that your buyers are human beings.

What Is?

A buyer persona is a key part of the buyer’s journey to purchase your product or service.  A persona reveals insights in their attitudes, concerns, pain points and buying reasons.  A persona is educational, is short and sweet, and should accurately depict a normal buyer.


  • You need to know their story so that you can tell your story so that they will want to purchase from you.
  • For a sales person, when you know your buyer, you can speak their language, you can understand their needs and therefore you become a trusted advisor.
  • For a marketing person, when you know your buyer, you can speak their language in your marketing efforts so that they will want to buy from your organization.  Your content is tailored for them so that it is more effective.
  • For a product manager, when you know your buyer, you can have better discussions with them on the products and services your organizations needs to provide to them.

How to Create?

  • First, create the framework you are going to use for all the personas –
    • Determine the owner of the buyer persona – Is it Product Management? Marketing? Sales?  It probably doesn’t matter as all three should be involved but you need one group and one person to run with each individual persona creation project.
    • Create a template – All the personas should look the same and follow the same general outline.  The persona should include demographic information.  Provide this persona with a name, an estimated age and the normal education background.  The template should also include priority initiatives, success factors, perceived barriers and decision criteria.  A good resource for this is Adele Revella’s website at
    • Create questions that would work for all personas – These should be demographic questions but also questions on why they buy.  The questions should be open ended so that are most likely to produce usable results. I am a big fan of SPIN questions as they lead to discussions.
    • Determine where the personas will reside – Personas need to be easily accessible by anyone in the organization.  An intranet is the usual place.
  • Determine personas to do – Sales and Marketing should sit down and discuss which personas are needed and then put them in priority order for completion.  It is OK to select an easy one as the 1st one to create.
  • Interview internal resources – Find out who in your organization is the most knowledgeable on that buyer.  It could be a sales person, it could be a Product Owner or it can even be the President of the company.  Once you know who it is, interview them with the questions you created.
  • Create a persona draft, review and edit – The persona owner should take the framework, do internet research, take the information provided by the internal resources and create a draft of the persona.  Have the internal resources review the draft and suggest changes.  Your goal is to come up with a draft that is usable and that can be validated by actual buyers.
  • Validate with actual buyers and create the final persona – I have found that this is the most difficult creation step as it is not easy to find buyers who have the time or desire to be interviewed.  Hopefully the sales team can provide customers that can be interviewed for the persona.  My suggestion is that 3 interviews would be enough to validate the buyer persona.
    Here are some tips on the interviews:

    • Respect their time (they are busy and doing you a favor), schedule the interview in advance (2 weeks), be clear on what you are doing and be clear on how long it will take (I would say 45 minutes maximum).
    • Use the questions that you have already created but be prepared to stray from them depending on the answers given.
    • Record the interviews and do not try to take notes.  It is difficult to listen when writing.  At the beginning of the interview, let the interviewee know that they are being recorded for internal use only.
    • Make sure that you thank the interviewee for their help and ask for permission to send them follow up questions.
    • Recirculate the final persona to the internal staff contributors to get their final comments before showing it to the rest of the sales and marketing teams.

I hope that this helps in the creation of your personas.  They are not easy to create but will prove beneficial to your inbound marketing efforts and increasing sales.  The next blog will focus on what to do with the personas once created.  Let me know what you do to create excellent personas to aid your marketing and sales efforts.