Dear ETR: “I need to find a superstar marketer”

“Michael, just as you predicted in Ready, Fire, Aim, as soon as my business passed the $10 million mark, things began to get a little crazy here. We couldn’t keep up with the growth. And everybody was expecting me to handle all the problems and still come up with new marketing ideas.

“I need to find a superstar marketer. Someone who can run my marketing program. But I don’t know how to go about it.”

– Randy Watts

Miami, FL

Dear Randy,

Finding a person to head up your marketing is tough in any industry. The good ones are usually working for your competitors. But although it’s a tough job, it’s the most important hiring job you have. Hire the right person – a MaryEllen Tribby or a MaryEllen Tribby-to-Be – and the marketing side of your business will be 80 percent easier. She/he will do the heavy lifting in terms of scheduling, negotiating, testing, tracking, mailing, etc. You will be free to do the strategic planning and product development.

“How do I find a marketing superstar?” is the most commonly asked question posed by CEOs and business owners. Because after their businesses get going (like yours has), they realize how much work is involved in keeping things together and how little time they have to spend on growth. At some point, they recognize that if they could just find “the right person,” growth would be much easier to accomplish. So you are not alone.

Most entrepreneurs will struggle for years before “getting lucky” by finding their superstar marketer. Why? Because hiring good people takes time. Hiring superstars takes more time.

It won’t be easy to find the many hours it will take to interview and select the right person – and a fall-back person (just in case). But you have to do it.

Here are some tips:

In screening applicants, look for intelligence and experience but also enthusiasm and a strong work ethic. And when interviewing candidates, be positive but don’t diminish the challenge of the job. Be frank about how much responsibility they will have. Emphasize that you intend to be a fast-growth business and that will result in a certain amount of chaos. Tell the candidates that their job will be to create that chaos… but also to make order out of it.

Be honest about your expectations. You want to weed out anyone who wants an easy ride.

Ask the candidate to tell you about previous jobs and/or bosses that he/she didn’t like. And listen well to the answers. That will help you detect chemistry problems.

Don’t hire on the spot. I’m guilty of doing this, and, at best, it’s a 50/50 proposition. Better to have the candidate return and be interviewed by someone else too – someone you trust.

When you find the right person, make them an offer that incentivizes them heavily for profitable growth. If possible, structure a three-month release clause if things don’t work out.

For more recommendations on how to hire superstars, read MaryEllen’s article “You Have to Kiss a Lot of Frogs.”

editor’s note.

[Ed. Note: Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]