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Can't I Just Hire a Marketing Intern for That?

by Melanie, on 25 Feb 2020

One of the most frequent push-backs I've heard over the years from entrepreneurs wanting to do marketing on the cheap is that they can just hire an intern to do their marketing for them.

While I'm a big fan of interns, there are good responsibilities to give an intern and bad ones. When a company doesn't have a marketing strategy in place and I hear they want an intern to create one - or they "just want them to do social media" - I cringe.

To me, that's the equivalent of hiring an intern to be your CFO rather than someone who is qualified for the position. Sure, they can probably process some payments, but there's a lot more to heading up your financial initiatives than that!

Many people have the misconceptions that (a) marketing is easy and (b) since "the youth" are always on their phone, were raised in a digital age, and seem to be obsessed with social media, they can adeptly manage a company's social media presence.

They surely can help with that. But, marketing must always support the overall business at a strategic level.

Don't do marketing for marketing's sake or because someone told you to. Do it because it's crucial to the success of your business. Because it's necessary to hitting your goals and milestones. Because you believe in the value it will bring.

If you truly believe those three things, then surely you aren't willing to hand the reins of such a critical and public-facing function to an intern?

You should be deliberate and strategic and thoughtful about it. You are going to want it done right.

Here are some good things that a marketing intern can help with:

  • Executing a marketing campaign - whether it's on social, email, or somewhere else. Let them own a piece while being guided and mentored by someone who knows what they're doing.
  • Researching your target market, customers, competitors, and industry trends.
  • Performing audits on your marketing and sales assets.
  • Creating helpful reports that are needed, but nobody seems to have gotten around to creating.
  • Generating new ideas for marketing campaigns.
  • Creating graphics.
  • Reviewing your database and helping to clean up old contacts and dirty data.
  • Gathering intel and benchmarks for your industry and/or marketing channels.
  • Identifying new resources and freelancers for outsourcing things like graphic design and copy writing.
  • Updating your website.

What you can and can't delegate to an intern can vary widely. An intern who is completing an undergraduate program and who hasn't yet worked in marketing will have a different skill set than someone who has three-plus years of marketing experience and is in the middle of their MBA.

The most important thing here is to avoid turning over any decision-making authority to someone who is temporarily at your company and unqualified to take on that responsibility.

Afford marketing the strategic respect and importance it deserves. Invest in qualified resources to define and implement a marketing strategy that aligns with your overall corporate strategy and objectives.

Then, by all means, have your marketing leader give interns and less-experienced staff the opportunity to cut their teeth executing, monitoring, and evaluating the marketing efforts that follow.

For more on marketing, check out our Guide to The Customer Experience.

Topics:MarketingGetting StartedGrowing & ScalingHuman Resources

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