This is article #15 out of 50 in The Startup Marketing Playbook.
With the right structure in place, interns can be tremendously impactful in an early stage B2B marketing team. A few prerequisites are needed for success when hiring an intern. Specifically, prior to an intern starting, you should:
Have the infrastructure (automation, CRM) in place
The lead in a B2B startup marketing team should be building the basic infrastructure prior to making any core marketing hires. This ensures the lead has an intimate understanding of the machinery that powers an inbound marketing engine. An intern will be most impactful once that machinery is built and humming.
Understand your fundamental messaging and positioning story
In order to create content and launch regular marketing campaigns, your story (messaging and positioning) needs to be outlined and easily digestible by people other than the marketing lead and founders/CEO. If you bring on an intern to write content, you need to provide clear guidelines on what story the content should revolve around. Otherwise, the intern will be confused and ineffective.
Have a cadence of campaigns and documentation
The marketing lead should build the initial infrastructure and get the team started with a regular weekly cadence of campaigns (i.e. the marketing lead should write the first several pieces of content and design the first few email blasts). Leveraging an intern to help with these tasks will work best once the lead is well familiar with how it works.
Once you’ve confirmed that each of the items above is ready, it’s time to hire the intern. When you’re recruiting an intern, look for the following:
Strong writing skills
One of the best ways for an intern to make an impact is through writing. It’s critical that your intern has strong writing skills. Consider having them write a blog post on a topic of their choice as an interview project.
In the early days of a B2B marketing team, an intern can be particularly helpful in organizing chaos, such as project managing the content calendar and creating campaigns. Look for someone that is highly organized and detail oriented.
Digests feedback and learns quickly
Don’t expect to hire an intern who has any real expertise in marketing. Instead, seek a fast learner who can quickly internalize marketing acronyms (TOFU, anyone?) and learn the rhythm of growing an inbound marketing organization. The right intern will ramp up rapidly.
Comfortable working with Excel and data
Your team is likely dealing with a lot of data and probably lacks the budget to have a full-time data analyst. Interns who can help work with large datasets for contact database imports and MQL conversion analysis will be beneficial for your team.
Once you find the right intern and make the hire, consider breaking down the workload into the following areas:
A productive intern should churn out 1 blog post per day. This is critical because the lead and demand generation manager often don’t have time to do that themselves. With the right guidance, interns can power the production of a content machine.
Building a campaign in your marketing automation system has quite a few steps. From creating the landing page to CTA buttons to multiple A/B versions of an email, there is a lot of setup to do for each campaign. Documenting that process and enabling an intern to own campaign building can be a great way to let your lead and demand generation manager focus elsewhere.
From contact list imports to weekly KPI reporting, let your intern own some of your Excel tasks and mining through dashboards for leadership team summaries.
There is never a shortage of research projects, from competitor analysis to content topics. With the right guidance, an intern can do that research successfully and even make solid recommendations for action.
Depending on the stage of your team, letting an intern manage social media can be a great way to kick start that channel. As your social media landscape gets more sophisticated, this becomes more challenging since each social property has its own distinct voice that needs to remain consistent. On my team, our first marketing intern, Andrea Tiutan, wrote the playbook that became the foundation for our social media strategy.
Managing a channel (advanced)
If you bring on a more experienced intern, and have the right documentation in place, it may make sense to let them manage the day-to-day of one of your lead acquisition channels (e.g. Adwords). Diversifying channel management with interns can be an effective way of slowly growing the team.