Asking the right questions

We’re in the lucky position to be in a hiring phase, meaning our book of business is growing and so our staff needs to scale accordingly. In doing so, we’re faced with a number of philosophical questions about who makes a good fit for our firm, among them being what traits to emphasize, and whether experience trumps intelligence in our business. The reality of working in marketing is that good skills are learned but must be honed with practice; as the cliché goes, marketing is equal parts art and science.

Nevertheless, working in the social arena requires a specific mindset, and while it’s not one that directly derives from a marketing mindset, they have important similarities and differences. For one, social is young enough to still be an edgy area to work in, but it’s now “mature” enough (note the use of quotes, I’m being half-facetious here) to have reasonably high expectations placed on it. In other words, it’s now expected to pull its own weight within the canon of marketing activities, and no longer enjoys the position of being a speculative play.

So we’re faced with the question of, who makes a good candidate for helping us grow the business? Having come across an article by HBR on a related very topic, I’m at least a little encouraged to hear my own personal sentiments on the matter being echoed. I’ve always been of the mind that smarts are far more useful than experience, as every day in this business is Day 1 (to steal a line from Jeff Bezos), offering something new to learn. And it’ll humble you very quickly if you every start to believe your own hype.

What I mean by this is that we’re constantly faced with new situations, and while I’m a big believer that it’s useful to draw analogies from past experiences to help cope with new challenges, I also think it’s very easy to fall into patterns of automatically “doing what worked last time”, and thereby failing to ask whether the current situation sufficiently resembles the past — and most important, how it’s different in any critical way. Best practices have their place – in fact, they become a calling card for future business – but in equal measure, it’s worth periodically reassessing whether yesterday’s plan is still relevant in today’s world.

It’s a balance of sorts – much like the art vs science argument about marketing in general. Know what you do well, and push yourself to excel at it. Meantime, always ask yourself what’s changed since the time you faced the question at hand, and whether you might at risk of missing a crucial detail that marks today our from yesterday.

It’s only one trait to looks for, but it’s present in the sort of person we think makes for a good fit here.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.