Business owners, particularly SME owners, cannot afford to get digital marketing wrong. Getting your company noticed online is something that all young companies need to address - you can be first to market with a nice shiny product, but if you don’t get your digital ducks in a row early doors, you won’t be troubling the market for too long.
If you haven’t got the budget to outsource to an all-singing-all-dancing digital marketing agency, then hiring a youthful, savvy digital marketing graduate is a cost-effective option to help you scale the slippery Google ranking.
But what can you realistically expect a greenhorn grad to do for your company?
Laying the Groundwork
Now being a digital native can take even the most competent grads only so far, so thinking that you can just hand over the keys of the marketing castle to a graduate will end up being a mistake 99.5 times out of 100.
Making sure you have a sound digital marketing strategy will be money very well spent, and for this you are better off hiring a senior marketing freelancer (or if you have deeper pockets, a digital marketing agency).
So without being too disparaging about graduates, they are more adept at the ‘legwork’, or implementing strategies than they are at hammering out the strategies themselves. This is really just down to life (and business) experience, and will come with time and exposure to the various digital marketing channels.
Where graduates can really pay dividends however, is with your social media offering. Practice makes perfect as they say, and having seemingly grown up with their face in a smartphone, young graduates will know a lot more about the dos and don’ts of posting than you possibly can, as well as the various tools available on the different platforms. Their ability to connect with your customers in the super-short form will do your business a world of good, but it’s still worth overseeing posts early on, until you are sure they have the right tone for your target audience.
Providing written content is another area where graduates will be able to make a valuable contribution to your business. They might not have the requisite life experience under their belts to be able to speak fluently on a wide variety of topics, but from their studies they should be well used to researching around a given topic, collating data and checking facts.
However, it’s worth bearing in mind that after years of academic writing, their tone can often be somewhat pompous and long-winded, so be prepared to ask them to unlearn everything they have learned about using long words, and to write in a more conversational manner. And remember that a university education is no guarantee for quality, so make sure they get used to using a spell/grammar check - a lower case ‘i’ for the first person singular is a more common sight than you would think!
The Right Attitude
Many young graduates (and indeed non-graduates) are digital marketers without knowing it nowadays. Rather than insisting on hiring a graduate in a marketing-related discipline, there are a number of other ways of finding the right candidates for your business.
It’s not an exact science, but graduates who have taken the trouble to create a blog often have the kind of skills and motivation that would serve a business well. They will know their way around WordPress, will be used to writing engaging copy and will often know what it takes to build a following. Depending on the complexity of the blog, they may also have experience in things like email marketing and video editing. Essentially, a good blog speaks a lot louder than a CV filled with part-time bar work jobs and university modules.
Similarly, there are countless digital marketing courses available (mostly paid, but some free), so looking for graduates with certification in practical disciplines like Adwords and Analytics can often be more relevant than the sort of theory grads learn at university.
Wet Behind the Ears
‘Graduate’ and ‘Millenial’ have a bit of a pejorative ring to them, but we should really be giving our future workforce the benefit of the doubt. Leaving everything up to your digital marketing graduate is unrealistic (in most cases), but investing in a grad with the right attitude and a will to learn is probably the best way to solving your digital needs over the long term.
A Quick Breakdown of What Your Digital Marketing Graduate Can and Can’t Do:
The following should give you an idea of how big an undertaking Digital Marketing can be, and who you will need to address each task:
Developing your value proposition
This is the very early stages of a marketing campaign, and is best undertaken by the Business Owner, a Senior Marketing Professional or a Marketing Agency. All strategy and planning is usually best performed by a senior marketing professional.
Search Engine Optimisation
Building traffic through search takes time, and is vital to a business. Setting up the strategy is again a more senior role, but performing keyword research, churning out the copy and editing articles to include your keywords can all be fulfilled by a digital marketing graduate.
Most graduates will pick up systems very quickly. With a small amount of training, or watching the help videos you’d expect a grad to be able to put together a basic email marketing campaign including creating the copy, sourcing the images and building the email in a drag and drop or HTML email builder.
Social media marketing
You set the strategy and your company’s social media policy and the grads will be adept at crafting messages, tagging the right people, and growing your following. In most cases, if a grad is au fait with the social media platform, you will start to see results pretty quickly.
Content Curation and Creation
Everybody thinks they can write, and grads are no exception. If your graduate role includes copywriting you should consider whether you want someone who can write promotional copy (i.e advertising and marketing text) or editorial copy. They are very different styles of writing and not everyone is good at both. It’s always a good idea to have a writing test as part of your interview process if the role includes a lot of writing.
Analytics and data
This is an area in which most grads will be pretty green. If you have a clear marketing strategy created by a senior marketer, and you know what you want to achieve and what metrics to measure then the grad should be able to monitor the campaign and report back to you on those metrics with no problem. It will require some explanation and some initial hand-holding, but then they should be good to go.
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