Are you looking for or interested in hiring an in-house marketing person for your agency for firm?

We talk a lot here about digital marketing, branding, SEO, and many other strategies and concepts that are crucial to the growth and stability of an independent insurance agency (or financial planning firm). In the digital age we live in today, maintaining a strong digital presence should not be an afterthought.

It’s absolutely critical to the long term health of your business.

With that said, there comes a point when juggling these strategies and tasks can become a challenge. In some cases depending on your time management capabilities, trying to do it all on your own can be flat out counter productive.

While some agents and advisors truly enjoy the process of digital outreach and being the voice of their brand(s), others simply aren’t willing or able to make the time to invest in that process. To each his own right?

Those who fall into that latter category though, need to seriously consider the consequences of not building their online brand. They should also consider getting some help if they aren’t willing to do it themselves, because it truly is that important.

So how does an agency or firm successfully onboard an in-house marketing person? Should that person even be in-house? Those questions and more are answered here in our complete guide to hiring your first in-house marketing person.

When hiring an in-house marketing person for your agency, there are many things to consider, and many questions that need to be answered.

Let’s dive right in:

Who is the right candidate?

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The right candidate for your role can take some work to find, but there are a couple starting points that should make your search easier.

Most peoples’ knee jerk reaction is to target a college student who is either looking for an internship or part time work in between semesters. The thought is, that college students are young and should understand the things (especially with social media) it takes to get your agency up and running online.

You’d be surprised though — youth does not equal success. Younger people are sometimes just as ignorant to the process as anyone else, and in many cases, do not yet have the work ethic you might be expecting. If you think teaching someone how to be the voice of your brand is hard, it’s even harder when they aren’t yet responsible and/or driven for success.

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That’s not to paint all college students with a broad brush, but assuming that any “young kid” will be suitable to manage your online reputation is naive. That said, college kids in their Junior or Senior year of college who are hungry for a career springboard could be the perfect fit, as they are closer to entering the work force, and are in need of experience for their resume(s).

We’ve seen agencies have great success with hiring college students, so that’s definitely a great place to look when hiring for this position. As with anyone though, you obviously want to do your due diligence.

Teachers who are looking for summer work are also great options as well.

Most teachers are already mature, have work ethic, and are typically already proficient with basic technology. They’re also used to working in both team and individual environments, so they won’t need as much coaching in that area.

In my opinion, any of the following people/personas would be a good place to start when looking for your in-house marketing person:

  • Junior or Senior in college looking for internship or work
  • Recent college graduate looking for work
  • Teacher looking for a summer job or part-time job
  • Qualified person previously employed at media
    or digital marketing companies
  • CSR in your agency who is efficient enough to handle
    both roles

But…

The one problem you could run into with college students and teachers is that they will most likely only be able to fulfill your role temporarily. When school is back in, they will need to either substantially reduce their hours with you, or stop working for you completely.

This is why considering a full time position, or an employee who is already working for you could be a better option. It truly depends on what you want their role to be though.

What traits and skills should your in-house marketing person possess?

Regardless of whether you start with the previous personas, whoever you consider for your agency’s in-house marketing person should possess certain characteristics and skills out of the gate.

Tech savvy

First and foremost, they should be highly proficient with basic technology. This might sound blatantly obvious, but after working with colleagues through the years who had trouble navigating websites, printing and faxing, and other simple tasks, I saw the countless hours of time literally wasted on very basic tasks.

Your candidate should be able to do these things in their sleep. If you come across someone who is easily flustered with basic things like navigating websites and dashboards, they are the wrong person for this role.

Social Media

Your candidate should also be more than familiar with mainstream social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Pinterest, and Instagram. Understanding Snapchat and/or Periscope is a bonus. They would also be using a SMM (social media management) tool like Buffer, Sprout Social and/or Hootsuite to manage your various social accounts and analytics.

Creative

Being creative is absolutely huge. This is someone who is in charge of making a very boring industry fun and exciting.

Tip: If you do end up hiring a college student or teacher, look for one with a background in either communications or education.

Outgoing

It’s also imperative that you find a candidate that is “high-motor”, and outgoing. There are certain jobs where introverted personalities excel, but this is not one of them. Your in-house marketing person should be cheerful, friendly, and up-beat, so that personality can bleed through to their outreach initiatives.

Quick Learner

Your candidate should also be a quick learner.

If you decide to bring someone in who doesn’t speak the language of insurance, they should be able to pick up the basics relatively quickly. They’ll need to understand exactly what you do, and how you bring value to your clients before they can accurately voice your brand.

So a quick recap of the characteristics they’ll need:

  • dominates basic technology & tasks like a boss
  • very familiar with social media platforms
  • must be creative (this is huge)
  • quick learner & coachable
  • socially outgoing and up-beat

What should their responsibilities be?

Your marketing person would have a wider role than you’re probably thinking. Most people envision their marketing person sitting around, posting stuff to social media all day. That’s not the case though — at least it shouldn’t be.

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There is a multitude of things they should be doing for your agency including:

  • posting updates to social media (Hootsuite or SproutSocial)
  • actively engaging in social conversations
  • creating unique images for social and website (Canva or PicMonkey)
  • copywriting for agency blog (huge for SEO)
  • creating downloadable resources (PDFs and guides)
  • tracking social and website analytics
  • organizing social contests and giveaways
  • organizing off-line meet-ups & networking gatherings
    and community activities
  • COI cultivation (lenders, realtors, etc..)

How many hours should they work?

This depends on a few things including the size of your agency and whether or not you want your in-house marketing person to brand individual producers and staff or just the main agency, however if this person is doing everything mentioned above consistently, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be on-site at least 25 hours per week.

Managing a brand, whether online or offline can be as complex or simple as you make it, but at the end of the day if you’re doing it right, there is definitely enough work to do for it to be a full-time job. There are larger agencies out there who actually have 2 or 3 people doing digital outreach in their agency, and they are flat out dominating.

A good starting point would be in the 20 hour per week range so your in-house marketing person has enough time to learn your processes and get a feel for how your agency should be represented online.

How much should your in-house marketing person be paid?

Again, this is a variable that depends on how expansive you want their role to be and how many different things they would be doing on a day to day basis, but for all of the tasks mentioned above, you could expect to pay in the neighborhood of $15/hour.

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If the person was consistently creating engaging content for your agency website (SEO copywriting) their worth is much higher.

Good copywriting is expensive, so if you find someone who is excellent at it, they are worth $20+/hr easily. SEO copywriting is important for many reasons, and worth $20/hr by itself. It lays the bedrock of your digital presence, and can drive tremendous ROI if done correctly and consistently.

(Remember— SEO is simply not possible without good content.)

In some cases it could cost much more than $15-20/hr to bring in an in-house marketing person, especially if the person has experience in this area already, and obviously if they would be working full time for you.

Also worth noting is a teacher would almost certainly garner a higher hourly rate/salary than a college student.

What does the on-boarding process look like?

In order to have success with your in-house marketing person, you must have an organized on-boarding workflow in place so you aren’t flying by the seat of your pants. This shows your new team member that you are serious about their role, and provides structure for them as they get acclimated to your agency, staff, and duties.

Here’s what a solid on-boarding system might look like for their first week on the job:

Day 1: Agency Orientation — hold a get-together introducing your staff to your in-house marketing person. Make it a fun gathering. Maybe consider taking everyone out for lunch, as to foster an up-beat, positive environment for their initial introduction.

It’s important for there to be some cohesion between your staff members anyway, but especially in this situation. Tell stories, and really try to get your staff comfortable with your new in-house marketing person.

Day 1a: Workspace Setup — get your new team member all setup with their computer, printer, etc., and show them around the office so they’re familiar with where everything is, and how it all works.

Day 2: Individual Sessions — have your in-house marketing person sit one-on-one with each member of your staff — producers, CSR’s, anyone and everyone. This will allow them to understand each person’s individual style and personality, and will further deepen the connection they have with your work family.

Day 3: Create an Editorial Calendar & Content game-plan — grab a calendar and literally map out what each week will look like for your in-house marketing person. Try to plan 3 months in advance, so there is a solid plan for them to follow. Maybe they’ll do some research for a blog post on Monday, and have the actual article published by the following Monday.

Each and every day doesn’t need to be set in stone, but the calendar will add some structure and accountability to the process.

A shared Google calendar is great because it’s free, easy to use, and can be shared amongst your staff, so when there is an idea for new content, anyone can make a recommendation or add something to the calendar.

Day 4: Account Setups — remember the tools I mentioned earlier? The Social Media Management (SMM), photo editing,  and analytics apps? Get those all setup with completed profiles. For social media, we strongly recommend and use both Buffer and Hootsuite. Programs like Hootsuite have social analytics built in as well.

It goes without saying that you’ll need your social media account logins to properly setup your SMM.

Google Analytics is great for tracking general website traffic and to see where it’s coming from. If you are an Advisor Evolved client, we have Google Analytics built right into the dashboard of your website for easy viewing.

For image creation and editing, bookmark both Canva and PicMonkey.

Day 5: Go time — your in-house marketing person should have a solid foundation now, and should be beginning the process of fulfilling what is on the editorial calendar for that week.

Should you hire inside our go outside?

We’ll be publishing a guide for hiring outside help as well, but as we sit here today, our belief is that you will have greater success by having someone who is closer to your agency, who knows your staff, and who can clearly articulate your brand online based on real life experiences and conversations with the members of your agency and customers.

It’s difficult at times to have those things when you hire outside, and that’s not to say you won’t be successful hiring outside, but more times than not, from both consulting and personal experience, I’ve seen more success with in-house marketing personnel.

With that being said, there are some outstanding marketing agencies out there who are proactive enough to learn your mission and who will do great by you. They’re not always easy to find, but they’re out there. Be prepared to spend a lot of money, because the good ones are expensive, and of course worth the money if they fulfill their end of the process.

How it will fail

This article is not born out of theory. I’ve personally overseen the hiring and training of an in-house marketing person, and I can tell you from experience, the number one thing that will sink your ship faster than anything is lack of communication between you, your staff, and your in-house marketing person.

You can’t hire someone and leave them on an island, and if there are too many cooks in the kitchen, it can be extremely difficult to give this person solid and consistent direction.

Yes, they are there to do this work so you don’t have to, but there needs to be some initial guidance and ongoing communication between your team, so your in-house marketing person is in tune with the pulse of your agency, and can be a solid voice for your brand online.

Conclusion

Regardless of whether you are a large agency or a small one, you must be building a digital footprint for your brand. If you’re unwilling or unable to do this yourself, hiring an in-house marketing person, or team, is an investment you should seriously consider making.

Would you run your agency without a CSR or Administrative Assistant? Probably not if you could help it right? The in-house marketing person is going to be the role of the future in the insurance industry in my opinion.

If you follow the steps and strategies above, the process of hiring for such a role should be much smoother.

Is there anything you’d like to add to the conversation? Leave us a comment below and let us know if you’ve personally had experience with this!

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