You want to embrace marketing but hiring a marketer is a huge challenge.

Come on, it’s not that hard. Marketers are a dime a dozen!

Marketers (including myself) are slick talkers. We’re skilled at convincing people to make decisions. To make that happen, we craft messages and stories that trigger emotions and highlight positive experiences.

As a result, marketers are difficult to resist because what we say sounds so doggone good!

Inspired by a recent video by Sujan Patel, here are my thoughts on how to hire a marketer.

Step 1

Start by taking a deep breath and get clear on why you want to hire a marketer. It’s a straightforward proposition but it sets the stage for a successful embrace of marketing.

Are you trying to solve a problem? Are you addressing organizational gaps? Are competitors doing better? Does marketing simply seem like the right thing to do?

Next, what are your goals? What are you looking to do? Is it improved brand awareness, higher sales, more downloads, Website traffic or media coverage? Again, be clear about how marketing will drive growth.

How much money will be allocated? Are there employees to do marketing or will freelancers, consultants or contractors be used?

This groundwork isn’t glamorous but it’s a necessity. While marketing is sexy, it involves a lot of grunt work.

Here’s a simple template to identify your marketing goals:









Another important step before hiring an agency or consultant is doing a marketing audit that assesses what you’re doing and how well it’s going.


 Step 2

Who’s going to lead marketing and/or be the marketing champion internally? If marketers are left to own devices, it’s a recipe for disaster. Okay, I’m being dramatic but a marketing needs structure and discipline.

How do you want to work with a marketer? Do you want them to work at the office or will they work remotely, other than occasional meetings?

If you have a marketing team, a crucial consideration is making sure they’re willing to work with an external marketer.

From personal experience, a marketing project has little chance of success unless your marketing people want external people to help them. I’ve had clients in which marketing people didn’t want my help because they believed marketing was working well.

Even if the decision to hire a marketer comes from the top, the marketing team must buy in and understand it’s about making them and the company more successful.

Step 3

Now, here’s the really hard part.

Identifying potential partners from hundreds of options.

First, go back and review the reasons why you need marketing help. If the focus is more leads and sales, hire people with expertise in customer acquisition. As important, consider the marketing channels used to target and attract prospects and customers.

Hiring someone who’s good at Facebook is irrelevant if your audience doesn’t use social media to make buying decisions. You also need to decide whether you want a marketing generalist (someone who knows something about everything) or a specialist.

Next, research your options. This includes:

    • Google searches for marketers with particular skills
    • Referrals from industry contacts, analysts, industry associations, and employees.
    • Recommendations from people on Twitter, LinkedIn, and other platforms
    • Word of mouth
    • Media coverage

Another important consideration is deciding whether you want to hire an agency or consultant. A large agency can offer one-stop-shopping, while a boutique agency or consultant delivers specific services and use partners to provide other services. Large agencies are more expensive, while boutique agencies and consultants are more affordable.

Armed with a short list of candidates, the research continues:

      • Visit a marketer’s Website to learn more about their expertise. services and clients. Read case studies to see if there are clients with the same problems or challenges. Look for testimonials from happy customers. Yeah, testimonials seem cheesy but they offer social proof.
      • Reach out to the marketers that seem to offer what you need. If a marketer is legitimate and hungry, they’ll get back to you quickly. If a marketer takes more than a couple of days to respond, that’s not a good sign.
      • Arrange telephone interviews to learn more about a marketer’s services and their approach. Telephone interviews also let you get a feel for someone’s personality.
      • After narrowing down your options, do in-person interviews. You’re looking for more insight into their experience, expertise and whether they use processes, templates, and framework for projects.
      • Ask your short-list for referrals and talk to some of their clients.

And you have to talk about money.

An important part of the selection process is being clear about your budget. If you have a Toyota Corolla budget, don’t do business with a marketer offering Cadillac prices. For a client, I hired an agency to build a Website that told us their pricing was 4X our budget…three weeks after the project started. That was a big fail for the agency and me.

Step 4

Then, ask for proposals. Be clear about the services that you’re expecting and the timeframe. Many marketing projects suddenly get out of control due to scope creep.

When it comes to a project’s cost, stick to your budget. It is easy to be seduced by the promises of a marketer, whose prices are more than what you can afford.

While cost is important, you also want to know who’ll actually be working for you. Is it the senior people who participated in the interviews, or junior people assigned to the project afterward?

After reviewing the proposals, select your marketing consultant or agency.

But wait, there’s more…

After making a decision, establish the rules of engagement. How will everyone work together? Will people work on-site, or will the work be done off-site? How long will the project last? What happens if there are delays or unexpected challenges? What happens if costs dramatically increase? How will these issues be communicated and addressed?

And there’s reporting. 

Both parties need to establish milestones and deadlines. Will there be regular meetings, updates and progress reports? Who needs to be involved  to make sure the project moves ahead.

Bottom line: Hiring a marketer isn’t easy. For many organizations, it’s a big decision to leverage marketing to accelerate growth. As a result, you don’t want to make a mistake. Be clear about your needs, do your homework, engage with potential partners, and make a decision based on expertise, experience, approach, and budget.

I make marketing work for fast-growing companies..and companies looking to grow faster.

Through strategic and tactical services, I create marketing that drives brand awareness, customer engagement and sales growth. My approach to marketing is underpinned by storytelling, creativity, and proven frameworks.

I also offer cost-effective coaching services for entrepreneurs looking for marketing strategy and tactical guidance.

But wait, there’s more. Do you want to have a better answer to “So, what do you do?”. Take Story Sparkmy free video course.