How to Hire a Digital Business Professional

How many of you caught or are aware of what happened with Oreo cookies at Superbowl XLVII?  The reaction to the Super Bowl blackout by the Nabisco marketing team was outstanding in many respects. If you don’t know what happened, Rachel Sanders of Buzzfeed summarized Oreo’s brilliant move very well.

The part that resonated with me was the fact that the marketers that where working for Nabisco during the Super Bowl actually knew what they were doing!!! oreo social mediaI know that sounds weird to say, as of course they knew what they were doing, as they are paid professionals……………..welllll way easier assumed than you might think.

The Super Bowl moment and how well it was handled contrasts against a disturbing trend that I have noticed in Digital or Inbound marketing and it will be the subject of today’s post:

Does your marketing team REALLY know how to do digital or inbound marketing?

I’m sure that after the Nabisco’s team performance there were marketing professionals being grilled as to why they have not come up with viral, free and effective messages that draw leads to their companies. The answer to this question is very simple in many cases……..THEY DON’T KNOW HOW TO DO IT.

It’s amazing to me how many companies that I engage with, have been taken for substantial amounts of money from traditional marketers that convince companies that they know how to do modern digital or Inbound marketing. I am constantly cleaning up the devastation left by old school marketers, that did not know that inbound marketing requires FAR more than just creating Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and Instagram profiles. Then they make things worse by following the old intrusive messaging playbook that just upsets people now. The social channels of these victim companies then just become a forum for people to vent about the annoying and intrusive product offerings etc. or worse become abandoned “zombie” sites that not only are no longer valuable but actually do massive harm.

These “professionals” do a huge disservice to their clients/employers and are giving proper inbound marketing a very bad reputation. Clients/employers don’t know any better and they just label web marketing a failure and go back to intrusive cold calling methods with 0-3% conversion (and these are dropping) and very high COS rates.

If you are a business owner and this has been your experience, please understand that you did not get your money’s worth, your competition just may get a competent marketer that will proceed to take your company’s market share in an astoundingly quick way. Understand, digital marketing is now the norm and if you are not using it you ARE losing to your competition.

If Oreo would have had marketing support from the old way of thinking, that amazing viral event would not have happened. There were many reasons that were catalysts for the success of that extremely effective product message and most of them are not even considered by most of these “expert inbound marketers”.  I will cover them as we go forward.

How to hire REAL digital business professionals

Just because somebody seems like they should be a good digital businessman does not make them one. Having a young MBA approach you with a well tailored suit and telling you that he has 20,000 followers on Twitter and has been doing social media for 10 years does NOT make him a digital business manager!

All his followers just mean that he has spent most of his time collecting followers and that is an incredibly small part of the digital inbound process. I would argue that people with that many followers mean that they have not spent any time working on the other 90% of the inbound process and instead have spent many hours just getting people to follow them. Also a long list of followers does not mean that they are qualified leads for your products.

So what to look for when looking to hire somebody to help you transition to this new and EFFECTIVE marketing paradigm?

First lets get the smoke out of the way or outline things that DON’T matter when vetting a hire.

  • School: Does not matter!, yes that’s right. Most of the latest and most effective strategies and tactics are so new that they are not in curriculum yet, as a matter of fact community colleges that are tied to technology centers are the ones reacting the fastest as their professors are usually working professionals in the field. So don’t look down your nose at candidates because they don’t have an Ivy League background.
  • Age: Does not matter! Just because you are a young person that has grown up texting and has a long Facebook history does NOT mean you can market products using the web and inbound techniques. Most of the thought leaders in inbound marketing that I personally know, are well established experienced professionals that realized years ago that the business world had changed and decided to not only change with it but lead the movement. That does not mean that all experienced marketers know what they are doing, because they don’t, many have missed the boat entirely and are scrambling to catch up.

Now lets discuss some of the things the inbound or digital business expert you are hoping to hire HAS to know (beyond being well versed in business and marketing fundamentals). You should ask them to explain the following:

(Disclaimer alert – I will not explain every single thing here as this post would become a book.)

First the easy and common stuff that most everybody should now:


  • SEM and SEO and have them explain the difference and the problems keeping SEO working (the answer which is that SEO is a dynamic problem, Google just last year made over 500 changes to the search algorithms that do page ranking and things that used to work don’t anymore)
  • PPC, AdWords and Keywords how they relate and the how to measure and report ROI (hint: a lot of this data is qualitative).
  • Internal and external references/links to your content and how Google rates them and are there bad links that could lower your ranking scores.
  • Ask them to explain Google’s quality standards.
  • What are blackhat techniques and should they be used.
  • Do they know what website metadata to optimize for SEO? (clue, different heading tags are weighted differently by Google crawlers  <h1>heading gets a higher rating than words in the <h2>heading for example)
  • Do they know where all this valuable information is outlined? (

Inbound Marketing

What is involved in building a proper inbound marketing platform or campaign?

  • Explain a CTA (call to action) and an LP (Landing Page)
  • How does content (blogs, video channels, ebooks, webinars) figure in the platform and how do you promote your content (social media, email, paid etc)
  • How do you track what is working and what isn’t (analytics and have them explain how analytics work, how they are interpreted and how you establish baselines)
  • Have them explain the conversion funnel and how you determine or qualify where your leads are at within the funnel. (getting eyes on your website, conversion and measurement)
  • How do you track your leads over time and gain intel on where they are at at any given time in the process of getting them to purchase.
  • Describe the iterative inbound marketing cycle (content, promote, offer, CTA& LP, Email and analysis)

Now please understand that these questions and topics do not fully capture everything an inbound marketer needs to know in order to do their job well, but if your candidate or employee can answer all that is above in a satisfactory way, then chances are they are at least competent. Unfortunately the main reasons for somebody being a superstar are purely qualitative in nature and hard to measure. Things like creativity, innovation and intuition are extremely important in this position and you can only hope to get a feeling about those qualities.

Back to the Oreo cookies story……the most important thing Nabisco did was empower 360i with the authority to make an almost instant call on a Tweet to their followers and other Twitter #groups that had formed and that were tracking the Super Bowl. Nabisco was forward looking enough to not only have that robust Inbound Marketing initiative in place, but to have high level branding executives on hand to make the strategic call to release that Tweet. I invite you to visit the Nabisco page for Oreo marketing and take a look at what a proper Inbound Marketing effort looks like.

Look, Inbound Marketing is a complex new way of doing business and the solutions are not a one size fits all proposition. It takes knowledge, experience, creativity, intuition and most of all dogged determination and patience to succeed but if 80% conversion rates are attractive then its all worth it. Though Nabisco reaped the benefits from something that only took minutes to create (thus the power of social media) the fact is that Nabisco had invested and worked hard at adopting an inbound strategy and putting the systems in place to act on their initiatives and hired the right people to carry them out. Is THIS what your Inbound Marketing efforts look like?

In closing as always if you found any value in this post please Like, Favorite, Link to it or just plain tell somebody about it especially if they are in business as you could save them from a VERY costly mistake that could ruin their business.


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