8 Recommendations Before Hiring New Digital Direct Marketing Talent

If you’re an employer that recognizes you need new digital direct marketing approaches, you may be apprehensive about hiring new talent. Here is an eight-step plan to install the right digital marketing groundwork before hiring that new employee to make sure you are both successful.

If you’re an employer that recognizes you need new digital direct marketing approaches, you may be apprehensive about hiring new talent. When you hire new people, you risk a cultural misfit between the style and approach of a traditional direct marketer and a digital direct marketer. If it doesn’t work out between the employer and employee after a few months, there is a lot of lose-lose for all parties concerned.

The employer has made a costly mistake with the hire. The employee has possibly given up a good position and relocated. The employer gives up on digital direct marketing, declaring that it’s conceptually not a fit with traditional direct marketing, when it may actually have only been company cultural barriers, skills of the employee, or a lack of commitment to fund digital initiatives by the employer.

Consider, too, that there is the high demand these days for digital talent. Target Marketing’s recent article, 5 Trends in Direct Marketing Job-Hunting and Hiring, by Executive Recruiter Jerry Bernhart, raised excellent points about the state of human resource recruitment for direct marketing companies.

It’s clear, based on Bernhart’s experience, that candidates are getting multiple offers, suggesting that those individuals who are trained in digital marketing, or those who have reinvented themselves, are the folks getting not only offers, but competitive offers with higher pay.

But what if you’re among those “… tens of thousands of companies out there that have little more than a rudimentary Web presence,” referenced in the article? How do you, if you’re faced with the need to reinvent your marketing approaches, recognize the right talent for a new digital direct marketing position and process that’s unproven inside your organization?

Here are eight recommendations, with complete acknowledgement this is a biased perspective coming from my personal experience of having started new departments to lay the groundwork before hiring a new employee.

  1. Retain a Consultant First
    Bring on an independent consultant to work with your organization a few hours or days a week to create your new department, or your new digital direct marketing infrastructure. This individual should be expected to work with you for several months and be made responsible for several initiatives outlined in the following points.
  2. Create a Digital Direct Marketing Plan
    Your consultant should be versed in more than basic websites and email marketing. The plan probably includes development of a content marketing strategy, using multiple cross-channel media, that is designed to bring in leads. Perhaps the role includes the introduction of customer relationship management (CRM) software. The plan might also include acquisition of a marketing automation system that enables sophisticated nurture marketing programs to integrate direct mail, email, personalized microsites, social, mobile, content marketing and more.
  3. Fund It
    You must be ready to invest the money it will require to see results. Be prepared for this transition to take anywhere from six to 12 months of refinement before it’s clear how this can work for you. This can be challenging if your company is seeing slowly declining sales, but the alternative isn’t so rosy. If you wait too long, you won’t need to worry about funding it as your company slowly disappears into non-existence.
  4. Empower
    As a business owner or senior manager, obviously you’re going to want to have input in the digital marketing plan and how your company’s money is invested. But you must accept that to be successful you’ll need to empower people to make decisions on your behalf. Of course, with empowerment comes accountability on the part of the consultant and your staff.
  5. Your Company Culture May Be Stressed
    Chances are that if you’ve brought on a consultant (or fulltime new hire) to make change, your staff will feel threatened. Budget dollars that went to fund existing traditional direct marketing initiatives are likely diverted to new initiatives. That will create anxiety and stress from current long-time staff. And it’s human nature for people to become hostile, passive-aggressive, and even work to discreetly sabotage new efforts.
  6. The Org Chart May Change
    The consultant you contract with should be able to objectively evaluate individual staff’s strengths so they are placed in a role where your current employees come out winners. The organizational chart will probably evolve during this process.
  7. Be Flexible and Agile
    The future belongs to companies that are flexible and agile. If your culture is slow and overly methodical, ask yourself if you’re willing to leave your comfort zone. If not, reread the last sentence in No. 3 above.
  8. Your Plan to Transition From Consultant to Full-Time Staff
    The consultant’s responsibility will be to create a transition plan to hand off the keys to new initiatives and processes that have been created (and proven) for your new fulltime hire. Often, the consultant works with an executive recruiter to identify a replacement, and stays on for a few weeks after the new hire starts to ensure a smooth transition. Sometimes, a consultant is asked to stay on fulltime, but consider that a consultant is most likely energized by “the chase,” so to speak, and will want to move on to help reinvent the next company.

Following these eight steps will set up better odds for a win-win for employer and employee. By the time a new-hire is on board, the organization has had time to absorb and accept cultural change. Assuming the outcome is successful, this process gives confidence to not only the employer, but the new hire and the entire staff. Most importantly, you have broadened your approaches to reach your market through digital channels that are capturing more of their time and attention

The 4 Pillars of Mobile Strategy

Your brand must have a well-thought-out plan that captures data from all interactions it has with each and every customer so that every customer interaction is contextually relevant. If this element is missing from a brand’s marketing plan, it will be severely limited — customer engagement and profitability will be hampered.

I recently spoke with the team over at Merkle in order to better understand what it takes to successfully embrace mobile marketing. According to Bruce J. Hershey II, mobile marketing strategist at Merkle, brand marketers must identify where their brand stands within the mobile ecosystem before moving on to specific mobile tactics and campaigns. Bruce emphasized that in order to achieve results with mobile marketing, it’s imperative that brand marketers develop and execute against a comprehensive marketing strategy that includes mobile rather than simply focusing on mobile capabilities in isolation. Doing so will allow your brand to stay focused on its overarching marketing strategy as you weave mobile or any other digital channel into the mix.

I asked Bruce what it takes to build a mobile-enabled marketing strategy. “Without a reliable and proven framework to use as a guide, developing and successfully executing a marketing strategy that includes mobile and achieves its desired and expected results can be a difficult thing to achieve,” he replied. According to Bruce, an effective mobile-enabled marketing strategy must account for everything, literally. You must understand the following:

  • your customers, the environment they live in and what they need;
  • your brand, including its objectives, resources, technical capabilities (both with traditional and mobile marketing), experience, and commitment to marketing and mobile at every level within the organization;
  • your existing strategy to meet your brand’s goals and objectives;
  • the technology that will enable your brand to implement that strategy; and
  • the media channels (e.g., print, email, television, radio, social networks, etc.) at your disposal that can be leveraged to reach and engage consumers.

I also spoke with Chris Wayman, vice president and general manager of mobile practice at Merkle. Chris emphasized that in today’s digital age another element to a successful mobile strategy is needed, namely connecting mobile data to your customer database. A CRM strategy helps businesses derive valuable customer insights by looking at all offline and online touchpoints throughout the customer journey.

In other words, your brand must have a well-thought-out plan that captures data from all interactions it has with each and every customer so that every customer interaction is contextually relevant. Chris noted that if this element is missing from a brand’s marketing plan, it will be severely limited — customer engagement and profitability will be hampered.

Merkle has developed a framework to help organizations build out their mobile plan. The framework steps through a process that helps organizations build out their plan along four key pillars:

  1. mobile audit and strategic road map;
  2. media integration of mobile tactics;
  3. mobile marketing tactics; and
  4. customer database integration.

By leveraging these four pillars and a proven approach to developing mobile-enabled marketing strategies, Merkle has found that its clients are able to properly integrate mobile marketing into their digital marketing plan, produce impressive list growth results, reduce uncertainty in the development and execution phases of their marketing plans, and generate predictable results for long-term, sustainable company success.

To learn more about what it takes to develop a mobile-enabled marketing strategy, join us for the following webinar on May 25: How Mobile Coupons Drive Revenue and Build a Mobile Database for Men’s Wearhouse’s K&G Superstore.