As the recession shows signs of recovery, and President Obama and Congress take up a jobs-creation bill, one that could include incentives to hire new workers, it’s the perfect time to look at staffing needs. If your company does not yet have a dedicated marketing person, perhaps the first question to ask yourself is whether you need one.
Skilled marketers can mean the difference between having a great product that falls flat and having a great product that flies. Not only can the right marketer help with lead generation and traditional media outreach (press releases, articles) but he or she can boost brand awareness using the myriad of new media strategies at your disposal, strategies that are changing at a breathtaking pace. Here are some reasons you should consider hiring someone in-house to oversee your marketing plans:
- Image is important: Of course, the quality of a product or service is your priority. But people do more than buy the brand; they buy the idea of the brand. They consider how a brand or service makes them feel, for instance, or how others will perceive them for buying it. In this way they formulate the brand’s value to them. A skilled marketer can help you create this sense of value in the marketplace.
- It’s a big job: As you probably well know, companies without a marketing division or dedicated slot often find themselves scrambling to get the job done. The results? Splintered job responsibilities and a watered-down strategy.
- A focused strategy equals a streamlined budget: A good marketing plan can help a company clarify its needs (e.g., who are your customers? how best can you reach them?), thereby allocating money in targeted, efficient ways.
- You’ve been ignoring the media: Without a marketer on board, one familiar with your industry and its players, it’s difficult to do media relations. And traditional publicity, from press releases to being interviewed for articles to being asked to speak at conferences, is a great way to get buzz around your brand.
- New campaign models are on the rise: Most ad executions now need to take place on myriad platforms. Your participation depends on what’s right for your brand (you can take as big a jump into this world as you feel comfortable), but in general, with quarterly campaigns being displaced by ongoing executions, including blogs and videos, it’s crucial that someone with at least a basic understanding of these platforms be on board. (See below for more on social media.)
- You need a strong Web site: A marketer can oversee Web site design and maintenance, from updating content to the writing of staff bios and company success stories. A Web site does not need to be flashy, but it needs to be articulate about the company’s mission and the value its brand brings to the marketplace.
- You want your product to be found: Three words: “search engine optimization.” Most companies need someone with at least basic understanding of SEO to drive potential customers to their Web sites. Someone with minimal SEO experience can help you improve keyword usage in Web site copy, for instance.
- You need to take advantage of social media: In today’s digital (read: social and viral) world, brand experiences that keep people talking are more important than ever. With social media, even small businesses can make a big impact. But social media is more complicated than being on Facebook. You need to determine which channels best fit your goals, how many you want to use (Twitter? MySpace? blog?), and in what ways you want to use them. A marketer can help you decide which metrics are important and how to measure the value of social media for you and your brand. Next, he or she can create the specific social media strategy: where it fits in your overall plan and how you can best use it for consumer interaction and feedback.
Given the consumer push for transparency, brands are exposing themselves more than ever. Marketing is now the engine of this conversation-driven world, and to make the best of it, you need a skilled driver.