Every business today that wishes to expand its product and service offering beyond its local area must delve into a realm of business where they likely have very little knowledge, i.e. conducting business in the virtual world. Unlike most markets, the online space is changing quickly every year. Each day the major players online like Google, Amazon, and EBay are tweaking their settings and algorithms to be a bit more relevant to searchers online. If someone is considering entry into the virtual business world, the task of keeping up with online giants is daunting.
The logical step is to hire someone to plan and execute online strategy so that business managers can do what they do best. Yet, what characteristics do marketing managers posses who truly understand the Web? How does one know, when one is not an expert themselves?
Here are five characteristics to seek out when hiring an online marketing guru:
Passion for change
Jack Welch in his book Winning, states that only 10% of the population that are truly change agents, people who embrace and welcome change. Everyone else, to some degree, resists it because change is scary and challenging.
Paul Chaney in his insightful book The Digital Handshake states that “Seventy percent of all information in our global society has been created since the start of the Internet and is currently doubling every three years.” For this reason alone a person who claims to be an expert in online marketing must also be amenable to change if not a change agent per se. It would be wise to get a gauge of how resistant a consultant or marketing manger job candidate is to change.
Questions everything – even the numbers
Analytics everywhere, but particularly in the virtual world, are aggregate formulations based upon assumed associations. This means when Google reports ten million people searched for Rocky Mountain Tours in Colorado, the “Rocky Mountain” part of the queries may or may not include queries about geology or Coors beer. It is also wise to assume at least some of the millions of people typing a query into a search engine misspelled one or some of the words. These plus other factors make online traffic reporting and other data both suspect and open to interpretation.
Search engines are improving their algorithms for relevant searches all of the time, so improvement is inevitable. As of today though, data and analytics must be scrutinized by a person willing to think out of the box. If one is considering a person to place in the very important role of building business growth online, a ‘question everything’ attitude is an absolute necessity.
Understands the power of the internet
The internet has truly made the world a smaller place and anyone, anywhere with a good idea and the desire to make it happen can change the world. An online marketing expert will understand this and will exude this passion. Has the person being considered as an online marketing leader ever attempted such a task?
Even if he or she failed, it does not matter. Only those who truly understand the power of the internet would ever try such a challenge by way of the virtual world. Find a man or woman who has put forth an effort of this sort and this person is likely the one for the job.
Focuses on methods not the application
First it was BBSes (bulletin board systems) where people could chat from just about anywhere in one centralized virtual location. Then it was newsgroups, Friendster, MySpace, and today it is Facebook. Tomorrow? Who knows? One only knows that it will change.
To an expert in online publicity and marketing, it is the process that is important not the knowledge of each application we happen to be using today.
Assumes nothing about their client’s business and markets
Marketing is a fantastic discipline because no matter the industry, the skills and knowledge of a marketer applies. Yet most marketers know far more about marketing than they do about any specific industry. A marketing consultant looking to build a long term and profitable relationship with a customer will ask detailed questions about a client’s industry, competition, and market before ever recommending a go-to-market strategy.
Find a consultant who fits these characteristics and a profitable relationship for everyone is very likely in the future.