How to Hire a Digital Marketing Expert
It’s not the best business that wins. It’s the one with the best marketing.
Which means that marketing — digital marketing specifically during this lousy pandemic — has become the single most important way to survive and thrive.
After all, it’s marketing’s job to communicate value, generate leads, bring in, and win new clients.
Without clients, you don’t have a business, you just have a really expensive hobby.
To be truly successful at B2B marketing, you may want to enlist the help of a dedicated digital marketing specialist.
But finding and hiring someone for your business can be a challenge.
To help startups, change-ups, and scale-ups find and hire the right freelancer or agency, I spoke with Adam Erhart, a YouTube marketing specialist, course creator, and educator.
Adam has also amassed over 45,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel, The Marketing Show, where he shares marketing strategies and best practices.
I asked him, “how does a company hire a digital marketing specialist?” And here’s what he said.
Learn the marketing basics before hiring
Before you even begin your search for help with digital marketing, you need to get the basics down yourself.
Here’s the deal: if you need an expert strategist, you’re going to be paying top dollar.
And you get what you pay for.
So until you can afford the big digital marketing guns, the onus is on you to know how to write a basic headline, know a bit about email marketing, to understand sales copy, and know when to deploy owned, earned, shared, and paid media channels.
You have to buy the books, hire the coaches, and do the courses….to be the strategist yourself.
Don’t rely on a digital marketer as a crutch because you don’t want to learn something. Think of it like this:
- Startup, no budget >> You become that person. You don’t have money, so you have to spend time becoming your own digital marketing specialist.
- Change-up, small budget >> In search of a product-market fit, you are in pivot mode trying to light a fire that can catch wind and take off.
- Scale-up, medium budget >> You follow the steps laid out here to find the right person with the digital marketing specialty skills you need, so you can spend money, not time, trying to figure it out.
- Grown-up, big budget >> You have a team on in-house marketers and outside agencies maintaining and growing market share.
Follow that logic and, when it is time for you to hire an individual or agency, you will also be equipped with enough know-how to effectively manage the relationship.
How to become your own digital marketing expert
The world of digital marketing is broad. You have content marketing experts, paid advertising pros, SEO consultants, PPC…it can all be overwhelming.
Adam assures us that anyone can do marketing, but they DO need to dedicate the time, energy, and money toward studying it.
Even after 10 years of being a professional digital marketing consultant, he spends a minimum of one hour each day dedicated to learning.
Top tips for keeping your marketing skills current:
- Learn how to establish a target market
- Know what market research looks like — and how to do it
- Experiment with Google Ads and Facebook Ads
- Read some books on marketing such as Alchemy, 80/20 Sales and Marketing, and everything by Seth Godin
- Learn the basics of copywriting and email marketing
- Dabble in social media
- Understand your business, your offer, your market, and the unique value you provide
- Create a YouTube channel and invest in other video marketing efforts
Yes, you read that last one right!
According to Adam, one of the best platforms for generating leads, even for B2Bs, is YouTube.
If it’s not from a direct referral, almost all his leads come from his channel.
But he has taken the time to figure out where his audience was hanging out. Turns out, even top CEOs turn to YouTube to learn how to do things.
Then, he invested even more time into learning video marketing tactics and growing his channel.
“You’ve got to eat an elephant one bite at a time.”
The takeaway here is that it takes more than just books or putting some videos on YouTube to see marketing success. You have to be willing to play the long game. You can get a strong handle on basic marketing principles in a few months.
Then, as your revenue grows, you can start looking for a digital marketing expert.
How to hire a digital marketing specialist
As I mentioned, anyone can do marketing. But when you are seeking out a digital marketing expert you aren’t just looking for competency, you want mastery.
1. Look for a deep level of marketing experience
The only way to gain digital marketing mastery is through years of seeing and executing many different marketing tactics. Seeing that someone has spent time in different industries, using multiple media channels is usually a good sign that they’ve been able to test their expertise in many different scenarios.
To find this person, start asking your network for referrals and look for digital marketing specialists other companies have used with success — and who practice what they preach.
2. Get specific, niche down on a target segment
Though you want someone with a wide breadth of experience in the past, you should pick a specialist over a generalist every day.
Let’s face it. No one knows more about your business than you. So if you’re at a start-up or change-up, possibly even scale-up, you’re your own best generalist.
Specificity is always important in marketing. There might be something specific to your industry that a general digital marketing consultant just wouldn’t know or understand.
3. Decide between growth or profit
Know what your objective is. And remember: growth sucks up your profit.
There are many different approaches to marketing — and that’s okay. But you simply need to make sure it’s something that aligns with you.
If you are focusing on growth marketing, you may lose profit due to extra media and advertising spend. But, if you are very aggressive with your content and media strategy, you can double your yearly profits.
You’re simply going to have to prioritize one over the other when initially looking for a digital marketing specialist.
4. Have a working funnel before hiring
A digital marketing specialist is not a magic bullet. They know exactly how to create a winning formula for your business, but you need to make sure you have a proven system when they start filling that funnel.
Traffic is easy. You can buy it for pennies. It’s EVERYWHERE.
That is never the issue. The offer and the quality of that traffic is.
You need to make sure you have a high-converting offer that resonates with your client.
“We don’t need to throw gas on wet logs. We need the fire running first so that we can amplify it with the ads, with the content…otherwise you’re just flushing your money down the toilet.”
A digital marketing specialist doesn’t have the authority to tell you what the market wants. We need to put together a strategy and put it out in the world and then look at the numbers.
5. Look for someone who is platform agnostic
SEO doesn’t work for everyone. Neither do Facebook ads.
It’s important to find a digital marketing specialist that is willing to go wherever you get results, not necessarily where you or they WANT to go.
Breaking into a new channel? Understand and appreciate that you have to hang out and spend time on the channel first.
Remember that B2B marketers and business owners are just people. They ARE using Instagram, Facebook, YouTube. People in B2B marketing tend to overlook that.
And what about off-shoring your marketing efforts?
Well, not surprisingly, it depends on the person.
The trick is that you hire for very specific tasks. Because as I already mentioned, a digital marketing specialist who is an expert strategist is going to be top dollar.
They are putting together your approach, your hook, your messaging, figuring out your strategy, and your ideal buyer persona.
The tactical executors can then easily be outsourced, often for pennies on the dollar.
But you need to be very specific about the task you are looking for. And, as a business owner, you need to be responsible for the overall strategy.
Where to find a digital marketing specialist or agency
Where can this elusive digital marketing specialist be found?
As I mentioned, it’s time to tap your network and try to see if there is anyone your friends or colleagues recommend. Read forums, read online reviews, dig through websites.
Then, when you find a digital marketing specialist, look at their YouTube channels, Instagram accounts, and Facebook accounts. See if they are posting anything at all, and whether or not the content they have resonates with you.
You want someone you connect with on the deepest level and you want to make sure your digital marketing specialist will make your business their business.
If you want to leverage YouTube for B2B marketing, Adam Erhart is a pro.
If you’re a startup, tech or SaaS company, I’m a full-stack, digital marketing consultant myself, and certainly open to discussing your business needs.
I have a cluster of digital marketing consulting services that are good for companies ramping their online efforts or searching for a product-market fit.
Digital marketing is not one-size-fits-all. The way you choose to Market your products and services online depends on where you are in your evolution. use these guidelines to determine whether or not you should hire a digital marketing consultant or do it yourself.
Once you’ve aligned your digital marketing efforts with your growth stage, you can decide whether or not to retain a marketing generalist or specialist. you can also use that decision to guide how and where you go about finding the right digital marketing specialist for you.