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Hiring your first B2B marketer in an SME is a big move. One that often has business owners and managers thinking that it will be a relief to get marketing off their plate by assigning proper responsibility to a specialist. But there’s one mistake I’ve seen happen too many times.

And that’s hiring too low.

You see, a lone B2B marketer is a very different beast from a team of B2C marketers. And it requires a broad skillset. It’s not just about marketing aptitude, and the ability to do what’s required across the business – from digital, to events, to copywriting, lead gen and more. It’s also the ability to operate independently. Without a high level specialist manager. Sometimes without a lot of guidance or coaching. Without a team.

If you hire someone too junior, it tends to fall down in two places.

1. Strategy
A junior marketer simply isn’t experienced enough to operate at the strategy level. This means operating without a proper marketing plan. Doing the same things as past years without in-depth analysis. Being tactical and reactive to the sales team. And ultimately, not delivering the value that marketing can.

2.Cultural fit
A junior marketer may not have the resilience to operate in this environment, particularly being the interface to the rest of the business, senior management in particular. Often this leads to high turnover or performance issues.

I say these things having been that junior marketer myself once. So if you’re weighing up a marketing hire, make sure you consider that hiring low can be a false economy. Especially if it’s going to tie up a lot of management time, bring lower than expected results, or be unsustainable.

I’ve had a couple of clients come up with a hybrid approach, where they have an internal junior, but bring in consulting advice when and where it’s needed – such as brand or marketing strategy or ongoing marketing coaching.

And lastly, one more marketing recruitment tip that I picked up from working in the IT industry. Test skills! Sometimes it’s surprising how someone who can talk the talk can’t walk the walk – and the earlier you find this out the better. The best way to think about testing is to decide the critical skill/s you can’t live without for your new hire. If it’s copywriting, get them to write a piece of copy about your company. If it’s strategy, get them to do a one-pager on a new initiative. You won’t regret it.

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