Most startups are bootstrap operations, pinching pennies wherever they can to help keep the doors open. Sadly, marketing is typically the area suffers when cash is tight. Marketing departments are expensive and don’t make widgets that will keep the doors open, but they do bring customers in and that is where the real paradox is.
One solution to the paradox of the marketing department is the hiring of a marketing intern. Typically, a marketing intern costs less than an experienced marketer and doesn't require a long term commitment. Another bonus of hiring a marketing intern is that it gives you a first-hand look at work habits, creativity and how well they will blend with your existing office staff.
While hiring an intern can be a wonderful experience, there are things to consider before you set out to find the ideal candidate. Before beginning the first interview you need to consider the following items:
1. Do you know exactly what you want them to do?
A marketing intern needs a lot of TLC to be successful. Remember, they are there to learn while performing a service and that means you will need to have someone available to provide direction and oversee the work. If you don’t have someone in your organization who has the patience of Yoda and a basic understanding of marketing, you may need to re-think hiring a marketing intern.
2. Do you have the resources available to help them do the job?
Besides needing a computer with an internet connection, marketing interns will need money to invest in useful services like hiring blog writers, graphic designers, videographers or even paying for books to help them along the learning curve.
3. Do you have meaningful measurements to be able to track and measure their work/success?
Without proper measurements it is difficult to tell if the marketing intern is making progress or not. Marketing isn’t like building a barn where tracking each day’s progress is easy, rather it involves the development of a plan and measuring accomplishments along the predetermined path.
Successful online marketing campaigns are made up of several key components: Bi-weekly blog posts, video content, social media content (Facebook pages, Tweets, LinkedIn postings and Pinterest Pins), proper web design and customer relationship management for email marketing and database mining.
If you are a company that has time to develop a marketing intern to handle all of those tasks, then an intern is a great way to go. A marketing intern is typically eager to learn and willing to work hard to prove themselves. Additionally, most marketing interns are from a younger crowd and are familiar with many of the tools and channels they will be operating in, which helps reduce the technology learning curve.
If you don’t have the six to eight months it takes to get a marketing intern up to speed, a great option to consider is outsourcing your marketing work. Most online marketing companies offer a variety of services and plans that will fit any budget. These companies are well versed in the latest trends in online marketing and have the resources in place to jumpstart your marketing campaigns.
Whether you choose to go with a marketing intern or outsource with a marketing company, do your homework. Make sure your goals are clear and well defined and that your expectations are reasonable. With proper planning, you can stretch your marketing dollars further than ever before and increase your sales faster than ever.