Marketing has changed. And it’s still changing. Keeping up requires that you have a good team in place that’s committed to staying up to speed on the newest trends, and working to stay ahead of those trends. They need to be able to think expansively, and be willing to embrace and try new concepts.
That truth leads to a question: How important is experience?
When you hire a marketer, or hire an agency, you almost certainly spend a significant amount of time considering their experience. Do they know your industry? What have they done before? Can they demonstrate the ROI for campaigns they’ve executed?
It’s perfectly logical to consider someone’s track record when you’re thinking about hiring them. A track record shows that the person or agency has had some success, and that’s good, or at least it should be. It indicates they’ll have success again. Businesses often turn to an experienced pro from their industry, looking for someone that has a baseline of knowledge and knows what works.
But, on the other hand, another word for experience is baggage.
Too often, marketers find something that worked for them before and keep on doing the same thing. However, as the market changes and marketing evolves, what worked three years ago likely won’t work today.
By itself, experience is not enough.
To stay ahead of the marketing curve, businesses need to look for what Wharton professor Adam Grant calls “originals” – in fact, that’s the title of his new book. In it, Grant writes about the need for organizations to hire people who have an ability to look at situations in new ways – to look at things in an original way. The best organizations have people who “don’t accept default settings.”
The people you hire to run marketing have to be able to demonstrate an ability to overcome their experience, that understand that the “default settings” for marketing programs are not necessarily the best settings. That just because Company X had success one way a year ago, doesn’t mean that Company Y can replicate it a year later. Or, come to think of it, that Company X will continue to have success with it.
In our (biased) view at Scribewise, hiring people that come out of a journalism background is the right move for this emerging era of marketing, in which the ability to tell compelling stories is paramount. As Autodesk’s Dusty DiMercurio recently told Content Marketing Institute, “Journalists are more empathetic toward their audiences, and often have a better sense of how to get into their heads and tell engaging stories.”
Now, just because someone has experience doesn’t automatically disqualify her. It can obviously be a significant positive. However, experience by itself is very likely going to lead you down the wrong path. That means that when you’re hiring a person or an agency, don’t just look at their experience; look at the thinking that went into whatever success they’ve had, and try to determine whether they can think that way again, or whether they just got lucky.
If they’re too prescriptive, they likely won’t succeed.
If they have a hammer and therefore every problem is a nail, they likely won’t succeed.
If they have the ability to consider every situation with fresh eyes, then hire them. Fast.