A bootstrapped startup’s guide to hiring a digital marketing pro

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A bootstrapped startup’s guide to hiring a digital marketing pro

Over the years, I’ve had to the opportunity to work within a few digital marketing teams and also grow them internally

Caveat: I’m not from a professional HR or recruitment background. However, over the years, I’ve had to the opportunity to work within a few digital marketing teams and also grow them internally.

A few years ago, I even spearheaded a digital marketing academy, which trains hundreds of students every year. Quickly, I became known as the “go-to” guy whenever someone wants to hire a digital marketer in Malaysia (at least among the startups that know me).

Today I was asked again by one of my friends: “Where do I hire a good digital marketer?” And as much as I’d like to shoot recommendations, I wish it were that straightforward.

Here are my two cents on finding the right marketer, given the limited time and resources a bootstrapping startup has.

1. Product-Market-Channel-Fit

If you’ve been running a startup for some time, you’ve probably had a handful of early customers and an inkling of a marketing channel that works well for you.

As a founder, it’s your job to find that “low hanging fruit” acquisition channel which brings you leads most affordably.

If you’ve not figured it out, you should pick one or two channels, which are most likely to work, and invest some time to get some early data or leads. Usually, one channel will outperform the other, and that is where you should put your focus on.

2. Hire a Specialist or a Generalist?

Once you’ve identified a winning channel and brought in some early results, you can then consider hiring someone to help you to grow that specific channel.

For example, if Facebook Ads are performing well, get someone to launch more campaigns and split-test or optimise existing campaigns. A specialist would be your best bet for this purpose and will help you to scale more quickly without breaking the bank.

If it is difficult to find a specialist, then hiring a generalist is fine, too. Make sure the person is a fast learner and can go deep into channels fast without too much supervision.

Your job is to make sure he/she has concrete KPIs and is working every day to improve the numbers. This process will take time, and in a few weeks or months, you will see the numbers start to improve.

3. Hiring Mistakes

The biggest mistake I see people make in job ads is listing everything under the sun. Yes, while it is great that a marketer knows everything from ad copywriting and Javascript to Snapchat marketing, it isn’t necessary.

Also read: Smart outsourcing means hiring partners without losing your core brand identity

In fact, the time it takes to find this “unicorn marketer” might even slow you down from running your business. Also, don’t make the mistake of blindly copying the job description of other ads. Every business has different needs, and it is your job to figure that out.

4. Hiring A Senior Marketer

While it might be tempting to hire someone senior and is capable of handling everything for you, I would still advice at least one founder to be hands-on with the day-to-day marketing. This way, you can better sync the company goals with the marketing goals.

You senior marketer should be data-driven, have an experimental mindset, is open to trying new channels and constantly stays updated with knowledge of your best-performing channels. He/she should also have an eye for identifying opportunities for growth.

In conclusion, it is better to be specific with the type of marketer/skillsets you are looking for than trying to hire someone who can do everything. Hope this helps you find a great marketer!

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