While participating on a panel at a recent search marketing conference, we fielded numerous questions related to finding the right person to fill the ever-expanding role of in-house search marketer. The most asked questions were "What do we look for in a search marketer--and where do we find this elusive beast in the wilds of cyberspace?" That leads to the bigger question--"What defines a great in-house search marketer?"
I believe we need to start with a review of the tasks in-house folks must perform and identify applicable talents that will lead to success. Recent interviews with them revealed their actual job activities breaking down into the following categories:
75 percent--Evangelizing and selling to internal management;
15 percent--Performing search marketing related activities;
10 percent--Educating internal resources.
Taking into account these activities, the following are the skills that I believe a candidate must have to be considered for the role of in-house search marketer (in order of importance).
Communication Skills--Be able to convince the inconvincible that search marketing is important to the organization and that their participation, support and resources are critical to the overall success.
Program Management Skills--Be able to coordinate large numbers of diverse individuals, technologies and processes like a finely tuned machine. Previous "cat herding" experience a plus.
Diplomacy Skills--Must be skilled in the art of negotiation, diplomacy and intimidation and possess an intuitive sense of when each should be used to advance the cause. Also necessary is a keen sense of direction to navigate the political mine fields that lie among management, marketing and the information technology department.
Technical Skills--a fundamental understanding of content management, Web design, and analytics tools is extremely helpful with organic search activities.
Bartering Skills--Must understand the value of leveraging Red Bull and alcohol to garner favors from co-workers who do not have time for you, are against some company policy, or are out of their scope of work.
Analytical Skills--A keen ability to massage limited data and a gut feeling for a killer business case, one that justifies the need to cannibalize other marketing activities to fund search initiatives.
And of course, on the odd chance that you may actually get to perform your real job, a detailed knowledge of search engine optimization and paid placement are necessary for the overall success of the program.