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To Hunt Unicorns, You Need a Plan


Welcome to my marketing blog. Here is where you'll find everything from daily musings to blog posts I have written for previous jobs.

To Hunt Unicorns, You Need a Plan

Brandon Burkman

My Monday morning this week started out like any other. Between reading and answering any work emails that came in overnight, I perused through any number of marketing blogs and share a link or two to my social media networks. This past Monday however, I came across a post that really resonated with me.

On a really cool site called Grow and Convert, I read a post entitled "Why Marketing Has Become The Hardest Position to Hire For," written by Benji Hyam. Hyam explained how hiring qualified marketers has surpassed hiring good engineers on the difficulty scale and how we, as the business community, can help ourselves by rethinking the whole process.

FYI, Buzzwords = Bullshit

FYI, Buzzwords = Bullshit

Hyam delved into the facts that we trained marketers are EXTREMELY good bullshitters, and many people looking to hire marketers--especially in startups--may not have enough of a marketing background to see through the fog of buzzwords and high-level concepts we candidates may put forth in an interview.

You may or may not know that I found myself without a job this past October. Don't worry, I'm with a GREAT agency here in Houston now, but in the past year I've been on at least four interviews with companies ranging in size from 2 people to over 250, and they all had one thing in common: they didn't know what they wanted. One of these companies even included a digital marketing agency!

In all of these instances, I was interviewing for what I believed to be a digital/inbound/email marketing-type role, but during the interview process, it became clear to me that this is not all these companies were looking for.

In the post-2008, boot-strap economy, I've found more and more companies want more skills for less money (go figure, amiright?). The four interviews I went on were advertised as more execution-type roles with some strategy mixed in, which would be right up my alley. However, after speaking with these companies, it became apparent they were looking for more of a marketing director. Someone who would own the budget, strategy, management AND execution of everything that has to do with marketing, all at a non-managerial salary.

A good friend of mine, who happens to be an experienced marketing director, is seeing a similar pattern in his current job search. He is highly experienced in content marketing strategy and management, but many who aim to hire him would rather he be the one to execute the campaigns instead of having a team under him to carry it out, though he has little experience with programs they'd have him use, such as Pardot and HubSpot.

Companies need to realize that while these "unicorns" of job candidates exist, they are few and far between, and do not come cheaply. Even an independent marketing recruiter here in the Houston area admitted to me that if she were hiring for a job I had recently interviewed for, she would've recommended the salary be doubled.

If only, right?

If only, right?

My advice to companies looking to hire marketers is to first decide EXACTLY what you want that role to do. Want someone to lead your marketing efforts? Perfect! Hire a director. Just need someone to man your inbound marketing operations? Great. Hire a specialist (like me!). Just don't expect people to do both without conceding that you're going to have to pay for it.

Trust me. It will make for a more prosperous relationship between you and your newly hired marketer, every time.