Sian Burton, Marketing Strategist

What should you be looking out for when interviewing your next marketing manager if you want to create a marketing function that is able to contribute significantly to revenue growth and overall profitability?

Because the concept of marketing is vague, it’s important to ask questions that reveal how a candidate perceives the role of marketing and that demonstrate their experience and skill in areas fundamental to supporting revenue growth. To do this, I recommend asking the following three questions:

Question 1. Explain to me your understanding of the difference between brand marketing and direct response marketing, and share an example of when you have used each in the past?
Marketers that know how to create brand marketing are 10-a-penny and will almost certainly make up the majority of the people you interview. Look beyond this skillset though, and seek out the candidates that understand Direct Response Marketing. In this form of marketing, every aspect of a campaign is tested, measured and optimised, therefore, providing visibility of the actual ROI of each campaign and allowing you to see what you are getting for your marketing spend.

Question 2. Could you give me an example of a marketing campaign you have implemented that has increased the lifetime customer value?

Increasing lifetime customer value is one of the most important objectives you can outline for your marketing team. If your customers stay with you longer and spend more money with you in 2018 than they did in 2017 your business will generate significantly more revenue. That revenue will be generated without having to spend a cent on customer acquisition too.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t seek to acquire new customers, but when it is widely understood that it is much more expensive to acquire a new customer than retain an old one, having a marketing team that are able to use data to make your existing customer relationships more lucrative is fundamental to profitability and success long-term.

Question 3. Can you share with me a time where you have worked closely with a product development team and a sales team to create a customer-centric offering that met the changing needs of the target audience?
This is a tough question and, to be honest, if someone can answer this in an interview, you may just have found your successful candidate!

That said having a solid understanding of this concept shows strategic thinking on the part of the candidate. It also shows they understand the true function of marketing – to work in partnership with other business teams to design a product or service that meets the needs of a company’s target audience. Not having had the opportunity to apply that knowledge it may well be situational and not a reflection of the candidate’s ability to do so. Anyone that can talk to this question, even if without an example of their own, is still worth having in for a second interview.

To conclude, when marketing is seen as the ‘make things look pretty’ department, businesses truly sell themselves short of achieving their potential. The right marketing team will drive revenue growth and profitability, provide you with genuine ROI data and will ultimately position your brand as the only brand in the eyes of your customer.

Ultimately, it is up to you to find and employ those people. When you get it right though, and have a team in place who understand lifetime customer value, direct response marketing and how to truly be customer-centric, that’s when the business will really start to move forward and you will truly understand the value of marketing. Hopefully these interview questions will help you to achieve that outcome.
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