A person standing up for what they believe

Do you want to hire a specialist or a maverick? Why industry experience (for the most part) is bullsh*t

A maverick personality is one where they are wilfully independent all the time and in all circumstances. They are keen to make their mark and often blaze innovation and lateral thinking to the projects and problems that they are working on.


They can sell snow to Eskimos, or coal to Newcastle. You know the sort of person. They have huge charisma and they’re highly articulate. They can put together an argument so convincing that the thing you never, ever wanted, becomes the thing you absolutely must have at any cost.

That’s the sort of marketing god(dess) everyone wants to employ – the industry superheroes that command massive ‘price tags’ and so gravitate towards employers with deep pockets.

Otherwise, the tendency is to seek out ‘specialists’ and marketers who have a ‘strong track record’ for your sector.

The big question is, just how necessary is that? In fact, could your search for someone with ‘relevant’ experience actually stifle your marketing innovation and creativity?

Insider, or outsider looking in?

Let’s face it, someone who has ‘been around the block’ a few times in your business category, could be running on empty when it comes to fresh perspectives. They may have used all their best insights and ideas on their previous employers… your competitors!

Contrast that with bringing in a marketer from ‘outside.’ Someone with a completely new perspective, bristling with original concepts.

Marketing skills travel really well.

‘No!’ I hear you cry. “It would take too long to get them up to speed on our brand, industry, customer avatar, etc.” Pish Posh I say!

I shall let you in on a badly kept secret you need to keep in mind… marketing skills, insights and ideas are transferable.

Especially digital marketing prowess.

If your marketing candidate knows their stuff about SEO, UX, marketing funnels, lead conversion rates, analytics and all the rest of the digital toolbox, what they actually ‘sell’ is immaterial.

Don’t ask ‘what do they know about my area of industry and commerce.’ Instead, you should be asking them to show you proof they can make marketing measurably effective for any organisation.

Lane swimmers, or toe dippers?

As a hiring manager for medium-large sized marketing teams, I have come across a really useful tidbit when recruiting a top-notch marketing team. Don’t ‘jump away’ from job hoppers. Okay, so they’ve moved around a bit and dipped their toes in lots of different waters. Does that necessarily make them a bad bet?

The way to view it is that they’ve picked up a diverse set of skills and perspectives, and have an incredibly wide knowledge of business and buying behaviours. Someone who’s only swum in one pool their entire career has no idea of the views and experiences to be gained from lots of ‘toe-dipping’!

Who wants to copy competitors?

Here’s another thing about only recruiting marketers with ‘relevant’ sector experience.

It flies firmly in the face of one of the most pressing modern business imperatives – you need to differentiate yourself from competitors, and innovate to stand out.

Recruiting someone with a completely new perspective – and a skill set honed in different cultures and environments – could be the perfect solution. Or, you could settle for someone who has already worked for your competition.

There may be an instance that you definitely need someone with in-depth industry experience, who can appreciate your brand instantly. But before you make that decision, give some thought to bringing in a maverick, or at the very least an outsider with a fabulously general marketing ‘toolbox’.

Before you know it, those Eskimos and people in Newcastle will have their money ready!

So think about what you really want… a marketing specialist or a marketing maverick?