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Onboarding a new marketer: 10 ways to set them up for success


Onboarding a new marketer

Onboarding a new marketer can be fraught with pitfalls.  In most tech SMBs, CEOs and commercial leads are time poor, the honeymoon period races by and the business can be left feeling frustrated as the new person struggles to deliver the steady stream of anticipated leads.  To avoid disappointment, start by acknowledging the following

  • The new person won’t know much about your business
  • They may not know much about your market
  • If they are stepping up from a more junior role, this may be their first time creating the marketing plan from scratch
  • They may not have had much to do with customers, and they might not be able to write.

If this sounds negative, it isn’t meant to, it’s just being realistic. As they grow in experience and get to know the business they will get comfortable owning the plan, finding creative routes to market and refining the commercial propositions. Whatever their experience these ‘dos and don’ts’ for the first couple of weeks will give a new marketing person the right foundations to start delivering results the business needs, fast.

How to onboard a new marketer and set them up for success: 10 Dos and Don’ts

1. Do explain your business model to the new marketer

As part of the onboarding process, help the new marketing manager understand the main revenue streams and the margins each one generates.  Get a salesperson to do this (it may surprise you).  Don’t expect the new marketing manager to figure it out for themselves on the first day.

Within the first four weeks a new marketing manager should be familiar with, and comfortable explaining the business

2. Do share your three year revenue generation and growth strategy

If your three year plan fits on one page, that is great. If it doesn’t, now might be the time to think about creating a ‘Strategy on a Page’ (SOAP).  Don’t forget that lots of strategic discussions happen in board level meetings or ad hoc sessions with senior managers. If the new marketing manager isn’t privy to these conversations, they won’t know what you’re thinking.

Sharing the strategic goal and key strategic themes will help the new marketer with planning and prioritising in the first three months

3. Do give an overview of the key products or solutions you sell

Make sure you give the new marketing manager a good introduction to each of your core business lines, the value each one creates and how this varies for different parts of your market.  These may be crystal clear in the heads of the commercial leads, but don’t expect a new marketer to do much with this on day one if isn’t documented.

By end of a structured probation period they should be able to take ownership of the messaging for your key go to market propositions

4. Do explain your target markets

As part of the onboarding process give the new marketing manager a comprehensive a profile of your perfect target customers .  Help them understand how many you need from each sector so they have a clear target to go after.  This should of course be apparent from the SOAP but it doesn’t hurt to make this a separate point.  Don’t tell them your solutions and services can work for anyone.  That leaves them floundering with no clear sense of who you are for.

Over time, the onus will fall to them to build a deep understanding of the primary target sectors and how your propositions create value

5.  Do share your goal in numbers (GIN)

Be explicit about how many new deals you need to hit your target for the new financial year. If you have accurate conversion metrics, set clear KPIs for the marketing manager to hit.  Don’t get too complicated with the KPIs, and base them on the levers not the results.

If you haven’t got a picture of what this could look like, get help for the first six months from an experienced mentor

6. Do create feedback loops with key sales people from the outset

Encourage and facilitate a regular rhythm of weekly or monthly one to ones with key sales people in specific sectors.  This is a two way discussion in which sales share insights and feedback from the frontline, and marketing shares creative content ideas and sector plans.  This creates a mutually supportive relationship and builds a cohesive team.  Don’t treat marketing as a separate discrete function.  They cannot generate and nurture quality leads in isolation.

In time, the new marketing manager should be proactively building relationships with customers and partners and feeding their own insights back to the business

7. Do give your new marketing manager a summary of the existing plan

If you have them, share results of previous campaigns and activity and explanations for why you are doing certain things. Don’t just give them a blank sheet of paper.  An experienced marketing manager will be able to create a comprehensive marketing plan if all of the above is in place, but on day one they will need a structure to follow.

If you need support in the first six months to create the marketing plan and get the infrastructure in place, bring in a temporary or fractional marketing director

8. Do introduce the new marketing manager to some friendly customers

A great way to build confidence and gather first hand market insights is to set the new marketing manager up with some meetings with existing customers.  This will give them a chance to get the customer views on the business and ask questions about the way the solutions or services are deployed in different markets.   Don’t expect the new marketing manager to understand the target market without speaking to customers.

In time they should be speaking to a customer at least once a month to gather fresh market insights

9. Do recognise that creative content is critical

A new marketing manager will only be able to generate great content when they understand the audience and how the technology creates value for them. Don’t assume that because a person has a marketing qualification they can write.  You may need to outsource some writing or digital content creation to specialists.

A good marketing manager will be able to write a brilliant brief and edit well

10. Do recognise that if the new marketer comes from a larger organisation or vendor they may be missing some skills

If the new marketing manager has been supported in a previous role by a strong manager, a product team, or a digital agency, they may not have all the skills needed to tackle everything that needs doing in a tech SMB. Don’t expect them to be able to do everything on day one.

A commercially savvy bright marketer with the right attitude should be taking ownership, being proactive, asking questions and learning fast

Extra support to get started

It is in everyone’s best interest for a new person to be successful so helping them out with some of the dos and don’ts above will give them a good start.  If the new person is joining a team where there isn’t an experienced manager or the leadership team is time poor, you may consider bringing a mentor or fractional marketing director to help them put together and execute plans for the first six months.

Warning signs to watch for when onboarding a new marketing manager

If the new person isn’t proactively trying to get to know more about the markets, starting to find engaging content, putting together commercially viable campaigns, and building influential relationships in and outside the business you should hear warning bells.

A good onboarding plan should include enough opportunity for the new marketer to demonstrate these attributes early on. If they aren’t, they may need extra support or they just might not be right for your business.    An objective competency framework can help structure the appraisal process, their performance review and their personal development plans.  If you need help developing the right onboarding programme or competency framework for your customer acquisition team. Get in touch.

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