Having worked in-house and been a former job hopper and now having an outside (consulting) perspective, I have some ideas on how this whole marketing thing can work better for professional services firms. Here’s a great start – Before hiring a marketing professional, I would recommend that you have these:
• A Strategic Marketing Plan: Unless you are a larger firm and have an ongoing need for a Chief Marketing Officer with the capability to think “big picture”, hire a marketing strategist to put together a marketing road map for your professional services firm. Any new marketing hire will need direction on the firm’s marketing budget, plans for accomplishing each initiative and a timeline for execution. The reason why it is important to have this in place prior to hiring your next marketing professional is to ensure that he/she has the knowledge, skills and interpersonal skills to execute the plan. Is your plan relatively simply with a large social media component? If so, you might be able to hire a new college graduate. If it, however, involves sector-based marketing and requires initiative and autonomous thinking, you will be better served paying extra for a person with more practical experience.
• A Marketing Partner-in Charge: In larger professional services firms, marketing professionals are often asked to take direction from multiple shareholders, which creates confusion about priorities and deadlines. Oftentimes, these shareholders have different expectations of marketing – some may think that the marketing professional’s duty is to keep the promotional item cabinet stocked while others may want the employee out on a sales pitch. While the sales pitch would seem more important, you would be surprised how upset an owner can get if he / she doesn’t have their favorite tchotchke. Empower one or two shareholders to work with the marketing professional on an ongoing basis to discuss and make decisions on various assignments and priorities.
• A Marketing Administrator: More than not, professional services firms look to hire a college educated professional, preferably with a degree in marketing / communications, and at least a few years of experience. You have an expectation that this person will help your firm to grow and reach its goals. Likely, you are paying them $50,000 – $100,000, plus benefits, depending on his/her experience. Like any other professional, including a lawyer, accountant, engineer or consultant, your marketing professional will need administrative support. It’s easy to think of a marketing professional as “overhead” and tack ordering food for the next seminar or doing days of data entry to his/her job description. But, you hired them to do marketing not administrative work! Find an administrative assistant with some enthusiasm for marketing to partner with your marketing professional. It will better leverage your marketing professional’s time, enable them to learn and grow as well as move your firm towards their goals.
Quality marketing professionals can be invaluable resources. It takes time for them to learn about your business model, firm culture and the various personalities within your organization. Set them up for success before bringing them on board. Stop and ensure you have the necessary infrastructure to maximize your marketing professional’s potential prior to making the offer.