(Note: my blog posts always have typos. They are free and mostly open to the public for reference and learning.)
As companies build out and grow marketing becomes a more powerful component to user acquisition and branding. Just in the last week several startups have reached out to me about how to make their first marketing hire or how to come up with a marketing plan and ultimately the two main factors that come up the most are 1) how to hire the right person and 2) how to pick the right marketing plan. The most important influences are if a proper structure is in place and if the person or team that is executing it are a good fit. By “structure” I’m referring to an actual plan for press or marketing: do you want more users, more developers, more customers or more investors? What is your main story? What is it that you want to communicate to the world and what mediums should be used? For execution you need to know how you want to market: email or news or press or video. Knowing the channels and execution first can often help select the right person for execution versus the other way around. Picking a great marketer is key but great marketers often have specialties just as some engineers are better at building certain types of products.
When interviewing a potential PR or marketing person you should be able to answer these preliminary questions internally:
QUESTIONS TO ANSWER PRE-MARKETING
1) Why do you want marketing coverage and what do you plan to gain? (i.e users, traffic, brand)
2) How will you know when a marketing campaign is successful? (i.e how do you measure ROI or is online VS. offline more important?)
3) What is your budget? How much a year do you want to dedicate to marketing? (this will decide how many people or events or even if an outside agency or writing makes fiscal sense)
4) Is there someone that represents your brand that can be brought on as an Advisor? (Sometimes an Advisor and Equity situation can make more sense than a junior level PR manager and provide the structure needed)
WHILE FINDING THE RIGHT CANDIDATE
After answering the questions above you should be able to better understand if you are looking for someone junior, senior, outside (like an agency) or just a consultant for some tips for the existing marketing team. Here are some steps and questions when interviewing additional people to help with marketing to gauge an example of their skills:
1) What is your claim to fame? Meaning, what was one piece of media that you were most proud of coverage and why?
2) What’s the biggest PR disaster than you can think of?
3) What is the largest project or marketing budget that you have managed?
PICKING THE RIGHT MARKETING PLAN
Once you think you have the right candidate or couple candidates to help with marketing, try to find the plan and style that fits your company. Are you a SaaS company requiring coverage in technical outlets? Are you a consumer app and need the credibility of super-users? Are you trying to attract senior executives?
Here are some other things to think about:
- Company Roadmap and Content. Is there an existing schedule for content regarding blog and press in the works?
- TV / Video / News: What priority are outlets for the company and are there relevant materials to support them? (like headshots, new logo designs, existing footage)
- Conference lists and dates: what is the current schedule and activities already planned that will have a company presence? How does this tie into product launches and schedules?
- Social Media: what are the current efforts and who all has access to the mediums (like Twitter)
- How much support is there: Who can support content generation, design materials (like posters, fliers images)
- Are there any drop-dead deadlines: is there print coming out or a large conference that will be taking up a majority of resources and how does this affect the other items of
- What are the current items on file: templates, designs, assets, what can be re-used or repackaged? (new content and items pushed out don’t necessarily have to be “new”
- Is there a main document with all the previous press and mentions? If a journalist asks can you send other references and links quickly?
SETTING UP FOR MARKETING SUCCESS
Once the right candidate and marketing plan is in force or fully drafted figure out who the marketer knows and respects, this will often show you which media outlets will be easy to execute and other areas that might require consultants or more work. An example of this could be making sure the right “assets” or flyers are in place and if the website matches the branding which matches the type of marketing that needs to be done. If a marketer drives traffic to your website but it doesn’t explain the product in the right light or is incomplete then all marketing efforts are moot. Marketing is about taking logistics, product and sales efforts and getting them in harmony and on the same schedule. If product launches happen outside of marked dates or dates that marketing is aware about all other customer facing items can appear out of sync and affect the brand.
Some other items to consider:
- Information, FAQ and content: are there relevant links and materials that reflect the product and approved by marketing?
- What promotional items need to be ordered or created? Sunglasses, USBs, banners (likely not, but good to know) and what dates as to not spend on rush orders or overnight shipping
- What is the action item? A signup? A Facebook like? What is the ultimate goal
I hope this post was helping and if there’s something I missed or other questions I am more than happy to do a follow up post. After several similar requests in the same week and questions from founder friends I decided to map something out that could be printed and even help other start-ups find the right marketing situation and solution.
If you have any questions feel free to email me: e (dot) Cachette (at) gmail.com