So you want to hire a content marketer.

You’ve made yourself a product, and now you need a spin that will both explain what you’re doing and why your customers should care.

In theory, this sounds so simple that you might wonder why you even need someone with a fancy title. However, in practice, you’re dealing with a saturated market where everyone and their aunts are promoting something.

There’s total attention congestion, and you need to sell. That’s the real reason you need a content marketer. And since the rules change every year, here’s how to hire a content marketer in 2018.

(No, not everyone’s good enough.)

What to look for when hiring a content marketer?

All kinds of marketers have suddenly decided that they’re good at marketing content. Laundry machines or SaaS, it’s all the same to them.

And while that (or lack of experience) doesn’t have to be a hindrance, there are a few rules of thumb you should remember.

1: Content is a product

To you, content can be a by-product, and a great way of drawing attention to your original product.

Your marketer should approach your content as a separate product, and find the right market for it.

This is much easier if you’ve got a defined target audience. If you don’t, read on, because we’ll tackle how your content marketer can help you on that end, too.

2: Content is suitable

Let’s say you’re selling socks for baseball fans. Great sport, quality socks.

The only question is: what kind of content should you use?

A great content marketer will know, and won’t turn away as soon as they hear ‘socks.’ There are no difficult (or trivial) products – not everything is as sexy as a Tesla, but the right marketer can make it more appealing than launching a car into outer space.

Content marketers should know where your audience is, what kind of content they consume, and adjust your content strategy accordingly.

For example, Facebook posts about daily events in the world of baseball can work for your audience. So can blogs with baseball commentary.

It all depends on what your audience loves, and getting a piece of that cake.

3: Content is creative

While the very idea of content creation is creative, a lot of content marketers cut corners and go for the easiest things.

Generally, when content marketers research audiences, they take a look at keywords. Especially with blogs. Then they respond to the most common questions (e.g. Why is baseball so frustrating, but I still love it?) with posts, generating organic traffic from Google.

While you want your content marketer to be familiar with keywords, SEO, and Google’s magical box of wonders, you want them to go the extra mile.

You want your content marketer to be creative.

You want great ideas that people will love. And you want a strategy that will combine the best of both worlds: traditional approach, and an unusual one, too.

The content marketer you want takes a look at your socks, says: “Fantastic,” and gets the users to take photos of themselves standing in the middle of the field, wearing nothing but your socks.

Because your socks are awesome.

And your content marketer can use that to push their content marketing strategy.

4: Content defines the audience

Or better yet, content marketers should help you define your audience – especially if you haven’t narrowed it down.

Since content is a product itself, you’ll see that some audiences just naturally gravitate towards it better.

For example, let’s say your content marketer is using a social media + blog posts approach. Maybe you set out with target audience comprised of people who are 20 – 30 years old, and reside in the United States.

With time, and with enough work on content strategy, your marketer should be able to narrow down your audience further, or even include people from other audience segments. For example, people who are 60 years old just don’t care. They’ll wear cool socks.

The role of your content marketer isn’t just to work with the audience you gave them. They have to actively co-define the audience with you.

And that brings us to our next point.

5: Content explains why your customers need your products

One of the wittiest ways that content marketers promote products is with referrals.

For example, you sell your socks on one website. Your content marketer makes a separate site (let’s say a blog) where they post about different things related to baseball, and mention your socks as the ones every fan needs.

They effectively explain why potential customers need your socks, why they’re the best socks out there, and put that into context.

Content marketing is 90% a good spin that makes products appealing. And good content marketers know how to effectively execute it.

Your product can be the ripest peach in the orchard, and still it doesn’t matter unless your customers know why they should want it. The first step to selling is creating the need.

And that’s exactly what great content does.

6: Content is all about ideas, and execution

If you want to hire a content marketer in 2018, you should be careful. There are great content marketers out there, and those who’ll approach you with a myriad of awesome ideas, but won’t know how to follow through.

The trick is in finding content marketers who are just as good at ideas and execution.

We have so many channels these days that it’s easy to get lost. If you’re writing a blog, you have to cross-promote it. You can shout into the Google void all day, and it won’t matter unless your post is:

  • cross-promoted
  • SEO-optimized
  • readable and interesting
  • blessed by the algorithms (or the X factor)

There’s a lot to think about, so content marketers aren’t just there to tell you to write a blog post and give you five keywords.

Instead, they have to promote your content in different ways – just like they’d promote your socks.

And content marketers need to have ideas, and effective ways of executing them.

7: Content is analysis

A content marketer who tells you they’re 100% sure about the one and only way to promote your product with content marketing is a liar.

2018 is a strange year, but so were all the others that came before. There’s no formula for success, although some gurus certainly like to say so.

Good content marketers know that they know nothing. Or, to put it in a less philosophical way: good content marketers are willing to experiment, test and analyze.

The easiest way to fail at content marketing is by hiring a content marketer who thinks there’s only one way to succeed.

In your socks’ case, don’t hire a marketer who thinks posting on Twitter ten times a day will do the trick. Hire a marketer who frowns at your explanation, and asks you to give them a second to think about it.

Abundance of confidence is great if you’re posing for Vogue, but you want someone who comes up with three different strategies to test before deciding on one.

Content marketing in 2018 is a mix of algorithms and audience. Hire a content marketer who knows how to navigate both.

8: Stay up to date

Even though it can be annoying to report to clients every two days, find a content marketer who’ll stay in touch with you, and keep you updated on the progress.

Depending on your arrangement (and the marketer’s professional policy), they may update you once a week, once a month, or according to custom schedule that suits both parties.

In any case, keep in touch with your content marketer. They do more than just marketing your content.

9: Stop, drop and assess

Content marketing is not a short-term strategy. You can’t expect results within a week. Asking for your content to go viral is a no-go, too.

Unlike PPC campaigns, content marketing is a long-term investment. If you’re getting stocks, you’d want a quality broker. Same goes for content marketing: you want a marketer who’ll be able to make the best decisions for your future.

Sometimes you can only see results of content marketing after months, but there are some good indicators of success:

  • Statistical growth (store traffic, organic searches, engagement rate)
  • Alignment with your business strategy
  • That feeling (you know the feeling)

A good content marketer knows how to align their strategy with your business strategy.

When interviewing them, make sure you tell them where you plan to be by the end of the year, and within five years’ time. A content marketer who doesn’t know what to do with that information is not your person.

And when it comes to that gut feeling, it’s a matter of trust and intuition.

Sometimes it’s good to risk it, but if you’ve got an overly-confident content marketer who promises that promoting your socks with blog posts about cotton quality is the ticket to success, think about it.

Your content marketer can take your product places, but only if they know how to find the road.