If you or the company you work for has ever said “We can get an Apprentice/Intern/Junior to do the marketing” then this article is for you.
Now before I upset all the talented, junior marketing employees who might be reading this – let me say that there are some circumstances where a junior is absolutely the right path. If you already have a great marketing department who can teach and nurture them, then a junior can be a valuable addition to your team and a great deal less costly than outsourcing the simpler tasks to a third party.
Junior marketing apprentices and interns are usually tech savvy, have been brought up with the world wide web at their fingertips for as long as they can remember and are tuned in to the latest trends. They can bring energy and innovation that might sometimes get lost in the drudgery of endless brochure design and corporate brand packs.
But more often than not, in my experience with business owners this is not normally the motivating factor for hiring a junior marketer. But rather, because the perceived value of the marketing function within the business is low. It’s that ‘fluffy thing’ that we think is easy, because all it consists of is posting on Facebook and putting together a newsletter and young people are really good at doing that, right?
Marketing is the process designed to prompt people to take actions that are meaningful to your business. It’s the step before the sale. This might be making an enquiry, downloading your brochure or visiting your exhibition stand – the marketing should be driving incoming leads to your business that you can then convert and close into cash sales, and it should be closely measured and analysed to assess which areas of your marketing efforts are generating the best return for your business.
Knowing how to do this, requires a fairly advanced level of commercial awareness that junior staff have not yet had the chance to acquire. They need to understand your margins and whether the cost of acquiring a sale stacks up for you commercially before you let them loose with a budget. Generating a marketing strategy and delivering a workable plan is a skill that takes many years to develop, you cannot expect someone fresh out of high school to take on ownership of this without any experience or guidance. The end result? An employer who is getting miffed that they are spending £600+ a month on wages but not seeing any uplift in sales, and a demoralised Junior who is well out of their depth with nobody to ask for help.
What can you do to support your Junior?
If you already have an apprentice looking after your marketing, invest in their skills. Send them to workshops, events and seminars or bring an expert in for half a day to show them how to commercialise their thinking.
Encourage them to sit on free webinars for a couple of hours a week to learn new skills.
What if you are thinking of hiring a Junior?
While it might seem like a ‘cheap’ option at £600-ish a month, the number of productive hours in the week will be significantly less than from someone with proven experience. For example I can set up an effective Facebook ad campaign in a couple of hours, which would take a junior two days, and I can be certain that the campaign will deliver results from day one. A junior would more than likely be experimenting with your budget for a month before they figure out what works.
If you don’t have the infrastructure in place to nurture an apprentice, I would recommend considering a freelancer instead for what it likely to be close to the same cost as a junior, but instead you’re getting someone whose experience level is worth £50-60k a year.
Okay, the freelancer might not be able to brew up and answer the phone, but what would you rather have? Dozens of qualified leads rolling into your inbox or someone on hand to pop the kettle on?