From talking to organisations looking to get into the inbound marketing or content marketing game, it seems clear to me that many are considering what appears to be the easy option – hiring a recent graduate to manage their entire program, and kick-start this step change.
The reason for doing so is usually related to the low cost involved, and the hope that a social media savvy young upstart will be all they need to inject a bit of ingenuity into their new marketing venture to see if content marketing really works. This is rarely effective, and after attempting it, most organisations come to the conclusion that they need a more experienced team.
There are a number of problems with hiring a recent graduate to implement your inbound marketing strategy:
1. Limited business knowledge
Whilst they may use social media a lot, and "get it", they will not likely have used social media from a business perspective, or understand how to manage a business' social presence. While it’s fine to have a more informal approach to the language you use on social media, and the kind of imagery you employ, it’s important to strive for consistency, be reactive, and retain a professional air. You will also want your social team to respond appropriately to the majority of your social interactions, and a junior marketer will be less equipped to do so than someone experienced.
2. Broader skillset needed
They will have no inbound marketing experience. Let's be honest, even seasoned marketers are still trying to implement inbound marketing in their companies and working through the hurdles it brings. Universities aren't teaching graduates how to implement and develop inbound marketing strategies (they are still teaching the four P's of marketing for goodness sake) – and expecting a graduate to have this ability is a very optimistic. The only way to develop these kinds of skills is to practice, read, and learn. This usually takes years, and while it certainly makes sense to have bright and enthusiastic graduates as part of your wider team, it’s not a great idea to have them leading your inbound marketing efforts. By all means give your marketing executives the tools to become a senior marketer, and allow them to learn on the job, but don’t rely on them to take up such a pivotal role.
3. One is never enough
It's impossible to combine all the necessary skills into one person. Your inbound marketing strategy should consist of content creation, design, web development, and even a certain amount of business development. Finding an experienced marketer who embodies all of these facets would be tricky enough, but sourcing a graduate with the same CV is just plain old wishful thinking. If they’re fresh out of university they will undoubtedly be well versed in their chosen subject matter, whether that’s a content based, creative or analytical specialisation, but that sadly doesn’t immediately translate into the skills needed to drive an inbound marketing campaign. Your ideal marketing team will be made up of several experienced, multi-faceted marketing professionals, rather than one single novice who is just getting used to an office environment.
4. Time required to adapt
At a very basic level, a graduate may not yet be in possession of the organisational and time management skills needed to manage an inbound marketing campaign. There is a big difference between academic time management capabilities, and those needed in the workplace. Inbound marketing is all about constantly evolving your strategy; producing more content, making improvements to your website and being agile in your approach. It’s a must to be able to create content quickly, publish it in a timely manner, and then go about amplifying it. These are capabilities one develops with experience, having learned the importance of properly prioritising tasks. A recent graduate will not typically have had to juggle several distinct, though related, tasks, and it’s unrealistic to hope that they will instantly adapt.
The graduate can leave at any time, leaving your company without an inbound marketing program, and destroying your lead generation efforts. This can be for an extended period too, as it takes time to find someone new, and appropriately train them. When hiring someone with a little more experience, you can be confident that they are aware of what is required to implement and drive an inbound marketing program, and that they may even be able to use learnings from previous campaigns to build on your initiatives.
Who to hire?
It may seem like the quickest, easiest, and most cost effective route, but hiring a clever graduate to drive your inbound marketing strategy may actually end up costing you in the long run. Not only will you spend a significant amount of time training them, but there’s no guarantee that they will remain with your organisation and continue to steer your strategy once it’s in place.
An organisation that is seriously considering embarking on the inbound marketing journey is far better recruiting an experienced team, ensuring the skills needed are in place before your campaign kicks off. If time is of the essence (and in the B2B marketing world it usually is), it may be more effective to seek the services of a specialist inbound marketing agency in place of several hires. This will not only save time if you’re looking to ramp up your inbound marketing program pretty swiftly, but you can be certain you’ll be dealing with experienced, intuitive and proactive marketers and it will likely cost you much less.