Marketing Intern – A Secret Weapon to Increase Bandwidth (Similar to the article I wrote for March 2007 issue of SoftLetter)
A secret weapon I have used since 1992 to increase my bandwidth (at large companies and start-ups) is a marketing intern (paid – so they can afford to treat it as a 20 hour college job).
I will often hire several marketing interns (I had 7 reporting to me at one of my companies) to help with all the new initiatives. They are inexpensive (I pay $8.00/hour ($10 now with the new min wage), plus bonuses in the US (more else ware)), easy to recruit (college campus job postings (I hire out of universities) and Craig’s list (avg 15 or so resumes)–both cost nothing to post in many areas ($25 in others–cheap)), can usually be recruited within 1-2 weeks, they are highly motivated (want a good recommendation, lots of energy) and they are great at completing “assignments.”
I have to use a highly directive management style with a marketing intern (which is what they want–since they’ve seldom done anything I am asking previously), and I must provide detailed plan of actions (I have every single step I ever ask of them outlined as a repeatable process). It’s great for you since you are able to start new initiatives (like building a reseller program, creating alliances, setting up an affiliate program), or with ongoing tasks (I’ve had some do graphics design, others help with events, competitive research, do the leg work to test our business model, etc.).
In addition, Interns absolutely love doing “real” marketing, get to learn advertising (doing the media research), product management (helping to compile and prioritize features), or even the specialized field of Channel Marketing, and I get the resources I need on the cheap.
Plus, I’ve hired several of my marketing interns full-time in the past (a two-way try-before-you-buy approach), and companies I’ve helped have often hired their marketing intern. Of the 8 companies I am currently consulting with–5 now have marketing interns that I helped them get to execute our plans.
I average 1-2 hours of my time for every 10 hours of theirs (I provide initial direction, allow them to execute, then review and redirect if needed). It works great when there is a lot of real leg work that must be done (I use them to setup the reseller, the affiliate and the alliance programs, plus the activity of sending responses and following up, and the database research, etc.).
I have the marketing intern compile my list of targeted resellers, send my 3 initial e-mails, follow up with a phone call, send the 2 follow-up e-mails, do the subsequent phone follow-up and the reseller orientation (review of the portal and overview of the product). I already have all the templates for everything–they just have to personalize them and execute.
For systems, I set them up with Goldmine or ACT! with fields and templates already defined from previous campaigns, and Vonage (cost $29 w/tax per month). I only require they have their own PC (typical for college student), and a high speed internet connection–then they can work from home if they wish (like school work).
Works great, we are able to get a LOT of activity done, and it helps you to execute with a vengeance on the new initiatives (like building a channel)–even if you’ve already got a full-time job.
Following is a typical job description I use for a marketing intern, followed by a link to a sample ad I use, along with additional recruiting resources.
Marketing Intern Job Description
Reports to: Company for all company related items – time worked, orientation, resources, etc.). To Chanimal (for direction, mentoring, follow-up). Works closely with small start-up team to help build the channel, affiliates and alliances.
The marketing Intern will help to a) define and build the reseller and affiliate program, b) setup and manage the alliance program (including the alliance relationships and affiliate program), and help with PR, ads, copywriting, the company database, customer follow-up and events.
- Help setup the reseller program including assisting with PowerPoints, competitive matrix, price list, collateral and other materials needed.
- Help with the reseller partner recruiting efforts. Build database, send and respond to e-mails, manage direct response, phone follow-up.
- Follow up with existing resellers with agreements, schedule partner training and question follow-up, help prepare needed materials.
- Setup regional promotions and help drive success.
- Execute partner program detailed plan of action.
- Help define affiliate program (search and replace, setup kit)
- Affiliate recruiting (post with top 50 affiliate boards, create affiliate profile, find applicable affiliates (existing QuickBooks, MYOB and PeachTree affiliates, accounting/bookkeepers, trainers, authors, etc.).
- Enable affiliates (monthly update letter, schedule product training, Q&A, etc.).
- Online ombudsman activities (identify top 25 forums, post questions and responses, monitor for viral marketing)
- Re-purpose alliance kit
- Identify top prospects
- Create business case/prospect type
- Compile contact information and setup initial key alliance meetings
- Follow-up with alliance partners to execute respective plan of actions
- Prepare a weekly status report for the weekly meetings. This report would consist of an update from the channel and alliance program master checklist with dates, the status and follow-up results from each category.
- Maintain time spent on activities.
- Help create and track a modest budget.
Knowledge & Skills
Candidate should be capable of initiating and maintaining strong personal relationships. In addition, he/she should be able to coordinate with all the departments involved to ensure the completion of the associated marketing programs. A high degree of organization and self-motivation is required. This person must quickly learn the product and the market. He/She must also stay aware of the upcoming company opportunities to ensure participation with the reseller partners whenever it makes sense.
Prefer a responsible Junior-Senior in college working on a business degree (marketing preferred since this will be applicable experience) with technical aptitude.
Marketing Intern Pay
- Minimum Wage plus bonus based on growth and deliverables (to be defined within first two weeks)
- Intern Job Description (Word) (includes sample ad copy used for Craig’s List)
- Register and get the ENTIRE Intern Kit (job descriptions, ad copy, orientation checklist, agreement, time sheet, Generic NDA, plus sample weekly coordination report).
Intern Hiring Resources
Local University. Local colleges and universities have physical and online job boards. If you are local, you can post a physical job posting for a marketing intern, or you can log-in and then post (usually there is a pre -approval where the university validates you are a legitimate company–no 100% commission jobs are typically permitted.
- Craigslist (www.craigslist.com). I’ve had VERY good results posting on Craig’s list for my specific region–plus, it doesn’t cost anything.
- College Recruiter (www.collegerecruiter.com). Accepts and posts a lot of intern positions nationwide. Lots of high-tech positions listed.
- High Tech Intern (www.hightechintern.com). Run by Southern Arizona tech companies. May find similar programs in your area.
- InternshipPrograms (www.intershipprograms.com). Search engine dedicated to both posting and searching for interns. Subsiderary of Career Search.
- Barefootstudent.com (www.barefootstudent.com). I’ve used them a few times, but only got a few respondents (vs Craigslist where I may have gotten 20 during the same time). I never hired anyone from them (they also seemed to have responded later than Craigslist).
You can also post with your local newspaper, but the cost is high and the response is similar to Craigs List (which is free or $25 (depending on your area)).
Once I post, I usually get 5-20 resumes within the following 3 days.
Intern Hiring Criteria
I’m often asked what kinds of questions I should ask, what should I look for and what are the steps:
1. Place the ad. I always use Craigslist (better than even the school, Barefoot, student, etc.)
2. Here is a sample of the copy I use: http://austin.craigslist.org/mar/5821654631.html
(this one is not very techy, but the others are similar). The only part we need to modify is the first paragraph or two. The BEST interns have lots of opportunities and they are looking for the greatest growth–we provide that and that’s how we compete against the bigger companies. They also get to do real work–not just make coffee runs.
I would just modify the first section then leave it like it is.
3. Once the resumes come in (I usually wait a few days so I have enough to review), then I sort and rate on a 1-5 scale (5 is high). 1-2 are not fits. 3’s look good. 4’s I call and I only rate someone a 5 after they prove themselves in the job. I do not care as much about experience as capability (some very good workers may have just waited tables–these are utility jobs to survive school and show initiative, but not relevant skills). I look for these items:
a) Marketing, Journalism, Economics, English, Business and sometimes some engineering (so long as they want to do marketing–like I did) major.
b) Any prior internships (shows they are trying to get ahead, trying to decide what they want to do (not just sitting around playing games)
c) Anything that shows stability (years at any job–even MacDonalds)
d) 3.0 or higher GPA (4.0 sometimes don’t work–follow instructions, but don’t always use initiative–not critical). Anything lower they may not be responsible or have too many jobs.
e) Involvement. Clubs, bands, associations–shows engagement and passion.
f) Sports or Band. Both require guts to stay with them and if they do–they become good at it. Shows character. In sales, when we would interview over 300 students a year, success is sports was the single most common denominator of our top people.
g) Leadership. Did they start and then excel or were they happy to be one of the masses. Did they have ambition that made them work harder. Sports is good, Captain of the team is even better–others saw things in them that we may not see in a 30 minute interview.
h) English skills. 1-5. 3 or higher–have to know how to write.
I) Passion. Were they an Eagle Scout (only 6% of scouts ever achieve it). Did they get scholarships. Have a hobby they LOVE. I interview for passion–if they can get excited about our product they can do well.
j) Relevant experience. Helpful, but not critical. Most of what they have done may be basic level anyway, so I don’t care–I care more that they are interested in marketing (or whatever they plan to do forever).
These are the main things I interview for. BTW, many resumes won’t have these–I look for signs within their resume (they coach football–they probably played, how many years, lettered, leadership?).