By Kim Palacios

The market is flooded with job openings for online marketers, with many companies requiring candidates to show a laundry list of skills.  Yet, is it realistic to expect a single staffer to be able to handle all aspects of online marketing, and to be able to handle them well?

Maybe not.  To effectively manage blogs, social media, SEM, SEO, multimedia channels, online reputation and brand defense requires proficiency in at least half a dozen skills.   Yet, too often, companies seek candidates with some experience across all of these areas, and fail to consider the cost of having a master of none.

Think about it:

  • Excellent writing skills are needed to write blog postings, SEM ad copy, online profile copy, and to create pithy Twitter messages in 160 characters or less.
  • Statistical inclination and quantitative rigor are required to understand and communicate the massive volume of ambiguous campaign performance data available to the modern-day online marketer.
  • Brand management concepts must be understood by the online marketer—not only an ability to emulate brand identity but also the business savvy to understand and address competitive dynamics.
  • Visual design must also be called upon—online marketers must direct designers to build pages and layouts that will yield the best campaign results.
  • Platform savvy is necessary to ensure that the latest and most relevant media are being introduced to support the business
  • The ability to connect and interact effectively is critical to establishing positive, productive conversations with prospective customers, existing customers, and other audiences

Yet, most candidates will have been trained in one applicable discipline, will be strong in some areas and weaker in others.

So, what should companies do?  First and foremost, rethink hiring a single person and consider hiring a digital marketing agency.  Hiring an agency eliminates the need to bring on multiple FTEs who have the necessary skills; a good one will far outperform the single FTE you have budget to hire, often at a lower annual cost.  Because agencies employ specialists, they can do better work more efficiently, in turn getting better results.

If there remains a compelling reason to hire a single person, measure claims of proficiency in relevant skill areas by the candidate’s ability to produce hard evidence.  A candidate educated in design should be asked to produce writing samples.  A candidate with finance or analytics training should be quizzed about topics any trained marketer would know.  An apt candidate will demonstrate creative, quantitative, and business savvy.  Be willing to pay a premium for these supremely qualified candidates.  Your business will thank you for the great results.