Not a typo.
I’m an 18-year digital marketing veteran and I am saying you should NOT hire me.
Hmmm. Your LinkedIn profile looks the part. Where are you going with this?
Well first, let’s take a trip back in time, shall we? You see, I wasn’t always the (sometimes) tie-wearing professional you see before you. A decade ago — before digital marketing was even a “thing” — I was an internet know-it-all; a self-proclaimed hot shot online sales expert who wore hoodies or a Ryan Callahan jersey to meetings.
You’re right. I would not hire that guy. You’re saying someone did?
Questionable fashion choices/ego aside (#mcm Marky Mark), I did have some digital marketing chops back then. Google streamlined the self-management of AdWords back in 2005, and combined with my years already spent germinating in still-muddy SEO waters, I felt like I had a jump on this whole internet marketing thing.
I landed a solid, all-encompassing “Web Guy” role that was popular at the time, working for a small tech e-tailer. There I had the slack to play latest-and-greatest-platform-roulette with a modest ad budget. This was critical — it allowed me to test, fail, learn, and grow.
Fast-forward 8+ years and somehow a kid from an extremely modest past with no undergrad degree (that’s me) was named Digital Marketing Director for a half-a-billion-dollar franchise company.
Sounds pretty good on paper, what’s the problem?
18 months into that big break Director role, I was promoted to Senior Director of Marketing, eCommerce, doubling my responsibilities and evolving into a broad-stroke marketer.
Now, Callahan-jersey wearing Drew still lurking somewhere deep inside likes to think that was because I was an all-star with limitless potential. The reality: I *had* to evolve because it wasn’t practical — even for a $500M enterprise — to have a senior level Jack-of-all-trades digital guy managing an entire suite of tactics from ideation to execution in today’s digital marketing ecosystem.
Ok, I think I follow you… you’re saying the all-encompassing Web Guy role just doesn’t translate to 2018.
Exactly — and that’s why you should NOT hire a 2005 Drew today.
In standard history-repeats-itself irony, my first hire in my new role was then an SEO Specialist we’ll call “Karl,” who was promptly promoted to Digital Marketing Manager for similar reasons. Karl was an *actual* all-star and if we wanted to keep him, we eventually had to promote him. But, a highly paid niche specialist? Time to evolve. So, Karl became the old… errr, new… Drew, managing the execution of our full breadth of digital tactics. Soon, *he* was the overwhelmed Web Guy which opened the door for more specialty hires to manage the specific tactical areas. All of a sudden, we employed (full-time) a Digital Marketing Manager, Email Marketing Manager, Email Marketing Assistant, Web Analyst, Product Merchandiser and a Paid Social Media Coordinator… with 2018 Drew pulling the strings.
This hiring cycle is not unique to this field, this brand, or this industry.
Companies identify hyper-specific marketing needs, hire to fill the void, ultimately have to expand their job composition (and salaries) and end up hiring more specialists. And so the cycle continues.
Looks familiar! How do I break the cycle?
After managing relationships with some of the most high-powered big box agencies in the country myself, I realized it was the agencies that were onto something. For what this company was paying me, Karl, and the rest of my team, they could potentially get the same or better output from a large digital agency.
So then, you’re saying I should hire an agency?
Maybe. First, there is the (predictable) caveat that every company, every industry is different.
That said, no matter what business you are in — and despite what they tell you — no agency will ever be as invested in your company as internal stakeholders. What’s more, due to typical agency turnover, contacts shifting to different groups, and the often thinly-spread portfolios of those who actually do the work, they simply can’t understand your product, service or brand as well either.
So, if you can actually find and afford a Karl, you should probably hire him. Immediately.
But what if you’re a $5M dog ice cream retailer, or a scrappy startup, or a bakery on Main Street? Hiring a Karl, and certainly a 2018 Drew, is probably not an economical option for you. In most cases, unless you’re a $25M+ company (whether you’re selling ice cream for dogs or something else) with a heavy dependency on digital acquisition, you probably shouldn’t have a Karl or a Drew on your payroll.
You may be able to get both by hiring an agency.
Waaaait a minute… I DO sell dog ice cream and I got a big-box agency quote that was as much as Drew and Karl’s salaries combined! Shouldn’t the retainer be 1/10th that, assuming the team’s time is split between 10 clients?
Not exactly. Because you don’t just get Drew and Karl at a big agency — you also get account managers, execution teams specialized by tactic, analytics nerds (I can say that because I am one), market research capabilities, and a bevy of the latest/greatest tools and platforms they get to play with on your behalf.
You lost me.
Here’s what I’m getting at: this internet thing is pretty big and most companies – maybe yours, too — feel like they’re missing out on the seemingly infinite revenue potential that Google or Amazon can provide. The anxiety from the largely misunderstood digital opportunity compels them to hire someone who knows more about it than they do — whether that’s Karl, or Drew ’05, or Drew ’18.
You shouldn’t do that.
Before throwing another minnow in shark-infested job board waters… and before either signing on with or writing off an agency completely… consider partnering with an *appropriately sized* agency to take care of your broader marketing needs.
Your dog ice cream business may be able to pick up a small, local digital agency at a fraction of a full-time salary.
I guess this makes sense, but before you said I should hire Karl immediately. Now you’re saying I should work with a right-sized agency instead?
Karl is a rare shark… a Megalodon. If you can actually find a Digital Marketing Megalodon with deep multi-tactic experience, grounded in analytics, who can quickly be groomed into a product or service expert with a sincere passion for the brand, at an affordable salary, and who will remain focused and satisfied in that role for an extended period of time… hire him or her.
But if your hunt isn’t going as planned, consider giving a digital agency a shot. *Ahem* I know a good digital agency. 😉
You may end up with a Karl after all. And a Drew. Maybe even 2 Karls and 3 Drews (every one of my prior supervisors reading this just fainted in unison). And for less money.
Nice, but you started out by saying *not* to hire you. You just started a digital agency! Liar, liar pants on fire!
I really don’t want you to “hire” me. If it makes sense for your business, I want to be your partner.
And, I’m the kind of partner who will tell you, based on my many years of digital marketing experience, what I am seeing that you might not — like where your ad budget will be best spent based on your business goals and metrics, which tactical potholes to avoid or maybe even when it’s time to bring on a Karl in-house. Partner stuff.
That’s why, technically, you shouldn’t hire me.
NOTE: I was also once the owner of a dog ice cream company (2003 Drew). But that’s a story for another day.