Hiring a digital marketer for your event planning business can be a daunting task. Just how do you know it’s a good fit? Let’s find out!
It’s no secret that event planners are a savvy, knowledgeable bunch. To make it in this industry, you need to have up-to-the-minute insight, a wealth of contacts, and the ability to be many things at one time.
And it’s also no surprise that even the most skilled multitaskers among us can get overwhelmed when hiring a digital marketer. A smart event planner isn’t afraid to try new things to make their business successful, but he or she also knows when it’s time to turn to the experts in other fields.
Meet Olya, of Tribe
Enter Olya Ryabinina, founder and CEO of Tribe. Tribe is a startup social enterprise that seeks to create “equal opportunity & diversity in the industry of digital marketing services by making those services more accessible.”
I was thrilled to talk to Olya about Tribe and the intersecting paths of event planning professionals and digital marketing professionals. She started off by telling me about how, after achieving her degree in PR, she quickly discovered a taste for marketing and shifted her career to reflect that.
A Desire To Be Mobile & Global
“I had to do something that I could just purely do online,” Olya remembers. “I was a self-taught digital marketer, like a lot of digital marketers, and I made a choice very consciously to switch to that field.”
It’s a move that Olya says she hasn’t once regretted making. “I’ve been doing it for almost ten years now – pretty much my entire career, and I love it. You can learn everything you need, and you can always deepen your skills on the go.”
Olya’s last role, before founding Tribe, was that of senior director of digital strategy and innovation at a management consulting company. “I actually grew the entire department there. That was a huge challenge because I basically started with five internal clients, and we grew the company to 30, going from a revenue of two pennies to a multimillion-dollar portfolio.”
Fresh off of that success, Olya was inspired to strike out and do something on her own. This timed will with a move to France she’d made for personal reasons. “My fiance was there, and I already did all my stuff remotely anyway, so I asked myself, why not just move to France? It was also closer to Russia, which is where I’m from originally. So I thought, okay, let’s move across the pond again!”
Hiring A Digital Marketer Is A Solvable Challenge
Once she’d settled down in France, the idea for Tribe came to Olya organically as she remembered some of the stumbling blocks she’d faced when hiring a digital marketer in her past roles. “The idea came to me purely from needing a platform like Tribe myself. I’d been hiring a lot of people back when I was working with the management consulting company, either for my team or sometimes the associations that I worked for. It was so hard to find qualified digital marketing people.”
The biggest struggle she faced was the multitude of platforms she’d have to be on just to find the right digital marketer. Recruiting happens in LinkedIn groups, Facebook groups, and even word-of-mouth. The next challenge, after finding candidates, was screening them properly.
What Makes A Digital Marketer Successful?
“And last but definitely not least, when it comes to any type of marketing, but especially a large digital one that moves very quickly, if somebody already has experience in the industry or the business they’re trying to work for, that cuts down the onboarding time tremendously. Statistically, they’ll be much more successful in their projects right from the get-go, because they already know what the industry is all about. All they have to do is apply their digital marketing knowledge.”
“On the other hand, if you take somebody who has no idea what they’re dealing with, somebody who’s been in marketing for makeup brands, for example, and suddenly they have to do event-business marketing, they try to learn about the industry very quickly. But the knowledge they end up with tends to be just surface knowledge. They don’t really understand the psychology of the people that they’re trying to market to.”
Olya says she thought it’d be wonderful to have a platform where you can create a profile based on your needs and the kind of skills you’re looking for. “That’s how the idea of Tribe came about,” she affirms. “With Tribe, you literally save a tremendous amount of time, and you get to pre-screen the digital marketers, too.”
The digital marketing candidates, according to Olya, must confirm their skills by taking smart tests. “This is a system that I wrote myself. I’ve been hiring for a while. I already knew all the questions that you’ve got to ask to make sure that the person you hire has the right experience.”
Who Is Tribe’s Ideal Client
Although practically anyone could benefit from hiring a digital marketer on Tribe, Olya says this is particularly true for small to medium-sized businesses. “Bigger businesses have money in their pockets to go out and hire a recruiter and spend their money that way. But the companies that can’t afford a recruiting fee on top of that should still be able to access talent in the same way that big companies can.”
One benefit for small to medium-sized business owners is that Tribe is currently free-of-charge, though it won’t stay that way. “For the moment, Tribe is totally free, because we’re just doing the beta version and trying to grow the community,” Olya explains. “Eventually, there’s going to be a commercial part to it, but it’s still going to be much more affordable than going out and hiring a recruiter.”
The Pitfalls When Hiring A Digital Marketer
Olya says it’s easy for business owners to get overwhelmed when trying to hire a digital marketer. “First of all, they usually don’t have enough time,” she acknowledges. “And then there’s that uncertainty. They think that a person might be a good fit and they just go with them. But imagine how much it could end up costing them emotionally and financially if the person is not a good fit.”
Another benefit of using Tribe is how easy it makes the entire hiring process. “Sometimes, business owners or other people in the companies besides marketers themselves just don’t know what questions to ask people. They end up hiring a marketer who turns out not to be a good fit on many levels. All because they didn’t know the right questions to ask,” Olya tells me. “We do that for you. We’ve already verified the candidate’s skills. We have made sure that they actually have the experience in what they’re claiming as a skill. That saves not only time but also stress that the business owner potentially has to go through later.”
Finding Truly Qualified Digital Marketers
I was curious to hear what benchmark Olya has for considering someone to be a qualified digital marketer. And how Tribe can help find such people. Her answer was refreshingly simple. Just as in any other industry, it comes down to experience.
“You can learn things, and you can have a theoretical understanding of how something works. But having a practical application is a different thing,” she explains, harkening back to the questions the candidates have to field in the smart test system on Tribe. “In my view, being qualified for a certain task means having executed it in the past, both successfully and probably, if we’re being honest, unsuccessfully, so that you can understand the difference between the two, and how the success levels can differ.”
A qualified digital marketer, Olya adds, has been achieved similar project goals in the past like the ones they’re facing in a new role with a new client. “That way, they already know the pathway. All they have to do is understand the industry that they would be working for – in your case, the event planning industry, which is not an easy nut to crack,” she confides.
The Event Industry Needs Specialized Understanding
“Someone who is marketing for an event planner has to have an understanding of all the different sets of target audiences in the event planning industry. You’ve got to be able to understand how all those different groups of people think and how you can present yourself to them; how you can pitch your event planner to those people.”
In talking to Olya, I had the impression that she understood just how busy event planners are. She had some interesting advice to share, not just about hiring a good digital marketer, but when to start looking for one.
“It all starts with understanding that nobody can be a jack-of-all-trades. If you’re a great event planner, you’re probably not excellent at marketing. It’s rare to excel in two areas.”
Olya recommends every event planner have some professional marketing help. Especially for smaller, newer businesses, but even companies that have been around for a while. “If you’re already an established business and you’ve been doing your thing for a while, you’re probably getting referrals. Once you understand that referrals aren’t doing the job anymore, you should try to hire at least a contractor to begin with. I know that getting somebody in-house is much more expensive, but a contractor might not be such a bad idea.”
The Perfect Candidate
The perfect candidate, Olya stressed, is someone who has a goal of actually getting you the results you want. “You shouldn’t hire someone to manage your social media. What’s that going to give you? Content on social media, sure, but then what does that actually do for you? If you don’t have a goal in the first place, probably nothing,” she advises.
“Instead, hire a digital marketer and tell them exactly what you want them to be able to bring you. For example, you want ten hot leads every month from your social media ads or content marketing. Suppose you don’t set up that specific goal in the first place. In that case, you’re probably wasting your money unless the marketer is this really amazing individual that’s going to set the goal for you. But you must establish that goal yourself. Don’t wait for a marketer to tell you how much they’re going to do, or what the goal will be. You’re the one who knows what you need. You know what bills you have to pay and what you need to accomplish to keep your event business running.”
It always goes back, Olya says, to how much money a business needs to make every month to be sustainable, and for a business owner to be able to invest in it and grow it. “From that, you should be able to calculate how many converted leads you want to be getting every month. And from there, it’s kind of like a reverse pyramid. You should be able to calculate how many hot leads you want, and from that, how many people you want to reach with your marketing efforts.”
A Perfect Combination of Skills
I was interested in hearing how Olya spoke about the role an event planner can play in working with a digital marketer and how the skills that each professional possesses can meld perfectly together to create a successful business.
She says it’s all about striking a delicate balance of providing the proper guidance and letting the expert do the job when hiring a digital marketer. “The business owner is the one who should set up that goal,” Olya stresses.
“Obviously, the refinement of that goal should be done together with the digital marketer. They will tell you if it’s reasonable or not, especially when it comes down to how much money you’re willing to invest. That means paying for the time of the marketer but calculating advertising into that as well. Basically, the event planner should be setting up overall goals. But the marketer should be the one telling them what it is they need to achieve that goal.”
Find The Right Balance With Your Digital Marketer
To find the perfect balance, the event planner should explain to the marketer where they want to be and where they are right now. The marketer can then tell them whether it’s realistic and what needs to be done to achieve the goal. “It should never be the business owner doing the marketer’s job,” Olya tells me. “Don’t hire smart people and then tell them what to do — that’s the worst thing you can do.”
Event planners can also help marketing professionals by being mindful of obtaining any media content they can while on the job.
“Videos are so big right now. It’s much better to get a thirty-second video than thirty pictures. Everyone’s going to look at a thirty-second video,” Olya notes. “Client testimonials are also important, which is true for any business, not just the event-planning industry. People trust much-liked, user-generated content. If they see somebody who had a similar event was successful with this event planner, they would be much more likely to reach out and do the event with them. But if there’s no track record to rely on, that’s usually much more difficult.”
Focus Your Marketing Efforts In A Niche
The over-saturation of the industry, Olya adds, means that event planners and digital marketers should also discuss finding a niche. “You need to have some really cool competitive advantage if you’re just starting out,” she explains.
“Let’s say that you want to focus on events that happen for a certain industry, maybe management consultants. You need to demonstrate to them that you have an understanding of their industry. If you haven’t done any events, you should at least be able to show what you can do by putting your ideas in writing and on your website so that people can see what you’re all about.”
When it comes to paying a digital marketer, Olya says the budget really depends on what you’re asking them to do for your business. “I’ve heard from colleagues in independent consulting that some businesses expect to pay around $300 a month. I don’t think that’s a figure that you should have in your mind. If you want to pay someone that much to manage your Instagram, save your money and put it somewhere else because that’s a waste,” Olya enthuses. “It all goes back to my main point: why do you have an Instagram in the first place? What is your goal? Are you just sharing pictures from your events and getting likes, but that’s all? What are you doing with that? You need to always be asking the same question. What are we doing with this advert?”
At the end of the day, Olya says you’ll know that the money you spent on marketing is truly money well spent when you’re meeting your goals. “If you’re hitting the goals you set up in the first place, it’s working.”
And if you’ve hit a bump in the road, Olya says it’s time to take a closer look at what the root cause is. “If you’re not hitting your goals, it’s not necessarily your marketing that’s not working. Maybe you’re focusing on the wrong people in the first place. It’s less of a problem for established businesses. For planners just starting out, their marketing might not be working due to targeting the wrong audience, or maybe you’re targeting the right audience but with the wrong message. It’s always good to check those three things: did you set up obtainable goals; are you targeting the right audience, and are you using the right message. If all three come together, there’s very little possibility that it’s not going to work.”
What Platforms Should Event Planners Look At?
Before we wrapped up the interview, Olya shared some platforms that she recommends event planners look into once they’ve hired a marketing professional.
“YouTube is a great platform to deal with educational content. Let’s say people are looking at how to find a good event planner. If you are a good event planner, you can make a video telling them how to find one. And if you end up teaching them something, they’ll end up thinking that they might as well just reach out to you,” she advises. “Pinterest is also great. It might not generate a whole lot of leads, but it might make some people convert. They’ll stumble upon your content, looking for some inspiration, and end up thinking that you really know what you’re doing.”
Good Advice When Hiring A Digital Marketer
After the interview, I was left feeling so inspired by all the ways for event planners to connect with digital marketing professionals who can truly bring their businesses to the next level. And having it all at your fingertips with a platform like Tribe felt like the icing on the cake. But it was all of Olya’s fantastic advice that I was most excited to pass on to all of you. I think we can all learn from Olya’s entrepreneurial, tenacious spirit and find some of that in ourselves, too.