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Sometimes you just hire the wrong person. Despite your best efforts, bringing in someone new is always a gamble. Candidates may ace the interview process and give you all the answers you want to hear, but you can’t know if they’ll fulfil a job’s requirements until they’re actually doing it.

It’s a problem that exists at all levels of an organization, and in all departments. At The Mezzanine Group, we’ve had clients ask us for advice after hiring a marketing manager who just isn’t working out.

Not everyone who calls himself or herself a marketer is fit to hold a marketing manager role. With new digital tactics popping up every day and existing ones continually changing, it’s a lot to ask of any one person to be an expert at all things marketing.

When clients start this conversation, we challenge them to evaluate their marketing manager in five key areas. Here are some signs that you may have made a bad hire.

1. There is no strategy

Strategy is the backbone of all your entire marketing efforts. If there’s a proper strategy in place, your marketing tactics will build off on one another and you’ll see repetition.

If your tactics have a one-and-done approach or seem loosely connected, your strategy needs work. Ask your marketing manager how the tactics he or she is employing relate back to the overall strategy. If he or she is unable to provide you with an answer, that’s a red flag.

2. Deliverables lack key performance indicators or ROI

Marketing is exciting, but it’s also an investment. You want to ensure that you are getting the greatest-possible ROI on your marketing dollars, and in order to do that, you need to define benchmarks.

It seems more important to get the project completed than to quibble over metrics, but you need to make sure you’ve set goals for engagement before launching your marketing effort into the world. Marketing managers should be setting targets for various campaigns and tactics based on previous results or industry standards. This allows him or her to review the results and provide feedback and next steps on how to continue to improve the company’s marketing efforts. A lack of performance indicators and metrics is a bad sign.

3. Deliverable dates are rarely met

Managers often underestimate how long a task can take—new priorities come up, or there’s a delay in the printing process, or an approval is required but not obtained. Such complications are a reality for all marketers. But if your marketing manager consistently fails to meet the deliverable dates you’ve agreed on, her or she has a project-management problem.

Check that projects are getting started on time—if they aren’t, it could indicate that your manager doesn’t know how to start or exactly what to do. Alternatively, watch out for an endless list of problems that prevent execution—a good manager will seek solutions, instead of simply blaming non-performance on external factors.

4. Sales and marketing have never met

The reason you’ve invested in marketing is to be able to equip your sales team with additional resources and leads. So your marketing manager needs to be meeting with your sales staff to understand their needs from day one.

Contribution is important, as is attending meetings that may not directly related to his or her job. That’s how a marketing manager will learn about your products and internal politics, and build relationships. At a minimum, he or she needs to understand how the company makes money, what threats it’s facing, and where the opportunities are.

5. The complaints are piling up

If materials are been sent out with mistakes or you are hearing complaints from key stakeholders, it might be time to evaluate your manager. This isn’t about the finger pointing that can (sadly) occur between sales and marketing—make sure you differentiate sales complaints about low-quality leads from marketing complaints that leads are not being followed up on.

• • • • •

It is increasingly difficult to find a marketing manager—especially if you’re a small or mid-sized B2B company. Hiring a good one (here’s what to look for) will take time and patience, but it’s well worth the effort.

Lisa Shepherd is author of the new book The Radical Sales Shift: 20 Lessons from 20 Leaders on How to Use Marketing to Grow Sales in B2B Companies and president of The Mezzanine Group, a business-to-business strategy and marketing company based in Toronto. She has been the youngest female CEO on PROFIT’s Ranking of Canada’s Fastest Growing Companies and is a frequent public speaker on B2B marketing strategy and execution.


Have you ever had an under-performing marketing manager? How did you spot the problem, and what did you do to fix it? Let us know by commenting below.

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