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From the Trenches

Choosing Your Marketing Help in 2011: 5 Things You Should Stop Looking At

Mike Sweeney | June 29, 2011
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Inconsistent messaging. A sales and marketing team that barely speak to each other. A website optimized for everyone but visitors. A corporate Facebook page with unanswered comments from 6 months prior. A blog that claims 36 visitors…per month.

Welcome to the marketing cleanup job. Grab your latex gloves and mop, and let’s shine this company up!

We’ve run into a lot of these cleanup jobs lately, projects that require a good deal of tearing down before we can even attempt to build back up. It begs the question: Who created this mess in the first place?

The answer? Everyone is responsible. We have been through and are still recovering from the Great Recession. Every business principle, business model and career were challenged and altered during the past few years. People and companies panicked. Businesses were looking for anything and anyone that could turn $1 into $1.01. Marketing professionals were laid off by the thousands, and began pitching themselves to prospective employers as having experience they did not have. Marketing firms or agencies lost clients, and began shifting in any direction that resulted in collecting a big fee.

It’s now 2011. Although the tech bubble may seem to indicate otherwise, we’re still recovering. For the companies that made and in many cases continue to make poor decisions with regards to hiring marketing professionals, consultants and agencies, there is still hope. When vetting people or firms, here are 5 things you should stop looking at, or at least start deemphasizing.

1.  The Resume

When I search for “resume writing service” on Google, I get approximately 5.2 million search results, dozens of pay-per-clicks ads promising resumes for  $79 and up, and hundreds of organic listings from folks who want to write resumes for others.

Google Search - Resume Writing Service

Where people worked matters. What people did at those places matters. Those details should be included in the resume. Go ahead and appreciate the polished writing in candidates’ resumes, just don’t assume they were written by the candidates.

Instead: Rather than becoming enamored with what you see on a resume, use it as a starting point for the first discussion. And if writing is an important part of the job or project you’re hiring for, either ask for recent samples or ask the candidate to participate in a writing exercise during the interview process.

2. The LinkedIn Profile

The LinkedIn profile is a more public and dynamic version of the resume; therefore I treat it with a similar level of skepticism.

Click edit. Type. Click submit. I just changed my LinkedIn profile. No approvals necessary.

I’ve directly or indirectly managed 70 – 80 people during my career, and not once have I reviewed their LinkedIn profiles to ensure that the way they describe their role and accomplishments is accurate. In speaking to colleagues, I represent the majority in this case.

Instead: Pay attention to the thoroughness of the profile and the types of people (not the volume) the person is connected to. The former provides some measure of the person’s attention to detail, while the latter will give you some sense of the person’s circle of influence.



3. The Previous Titles

When I was leaving my last position prior to starting Right Source, a trusted colleague told me, “You should ask for the C-level title before you resign, or at least ask for an SVP type title. Once you get that, then go ahead and resign because you’ll carry that on your resume forever.”

Haven’t we all seen people with a C in front of their title that operate more like “Coordinators” instead of “Chiefs” of anything? Or vice versa – junior level folks that are more deserving of running a department than their big title supervisors?

Instead: Assuming you like what you see on paper, use an initial interview or meeting to find out what those big title roles actually looked like. Were they purely managerial roles, or more hands on? Does this person actually know how to execute, or will he or she require months of planning and a massive team just to put together a marketing program?

4. The Brand Name Experience

The good news for those that worked for or with companies like eToys, Kozmo.com or Webvan is that mega-funding and subsequent flameout means most people remember the story, and will want to hear more about your experience at those companies.

The bad news is that business was conducted very differently in the late 90s and early 2000s, and a candidate or firm’s experience there is no longer relevant, other than the lessons you learned from failure (which are sometimes the most effective lessons).

Instead: Focus on what the person or firm has done in the last 12 – 24 months. Given the pace of change in business and technology today, accomplishments from 5 years ago are likely not relevant, because the way something is executed now is likely going to look a lot different than the way it was executed 5 years ago.

5. The Buzz Words and Name Dropping

I’d like to create a taxonomy of geolocal apps that we can use to build a data-driven customer acquisition model. Oh, and let’s do all that in the cloud.

Who are you, and what planet did you come from?

Buzz Words

We all use buzz words and drop names of the people we know occasionally. It’s part of marketing ourselves to prospective clients, employers, recruits and business partners. Like anything else though, the buzz words and name dropping should be used in moderation.

Instead: Just cut through the crap. Overuse of buzzwords and excessive name-dropping usually indicates a lack of knowledge and/or confidence. If it comes to this, stop the person. Tell them you appreciate their use of industry jargon and the people they know, but that you want to chat in plain English. If he or she reverts right back into buzzwords and name-dropping, move on.

We’ve all made bad hiring decisions with employees, consultants and agencies. If you learn from those mistakes, you can almost always earn a do-over.  Just remember: your do-over may just come with a promotion to CMCO, Chief Marketing Cleanup Officer.

What other things are either underemphasized or overemphasized in choosing marketing help in 2011? Would love to hear from recruiters (both internal and external), candidates and firms/agencies on this one.

Related Resources

About Mike Sweeney:

As Right Source’s co-founder and CEO, Mike Sweeney creates, plans, and implements our vision, mission, culture, and strategic direction as well as serving as an advisor to our clients. Mike received a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a major in marketing from the University of Notre Dame and has more than 20 years of experience in B2B marketing strategy, including digital, content, and marketing technology. You can find Mike on LinkedIn.