Just like marketing in general, it’s good to have a strategy when it comes to building your marketing team. You need to be purposeful when deciding who to hire—if your team is unbalanced you’ll have a difficult time getting all tasks completed. Even if you decide to outsource some or all of your marketing activities, this guide should help you identify the best partner.
Determining the Structure of Your Marketing Team
The exact structure of your team will depend on your business goals. For example, if you’re primarily focused on lead generation, you’ll want more resources devoted to content creation. This includes blogs, video content, ebooks, checklists, etc). You also need to maintain your digital presence, including your website and regular posting on your social media accounts. Another content focus should be developing lead magnet activities like email marketing sequences and value-driven webinars.
On the other hand, if your main goal is branding (aka getting your name out there), youll have different priorities. You still want to maintain your online presence but you’ll also want to have resources focused on tactics that engage the community. This could include event sponsorship (local or virtual), public relations, and thought leadership. Thought leadership is particularly effective if you want to build your brand’s reputation as a leading expert.
It’s easy to imagine that each priority will have a different person responsible. Yet for most small and even midsized businesses this just isn’t possible. Not only for the obvious financial reasons, but also because each responsibility isn’t typically a full 40 hour per week job. A better way to structure the team is by grouping tasks based on the skills needed to complete them – like graphic design or analysis. Most people are skilled in multiple areas, so your designer might also be tech-savvy and lead your webinars. Or a writer might also be adept at creating and managing campaign schedules.
The Types of People You Need On Your Marketing Team
Someone who makes decisions. If you’re building the team, this is likely one of your roles. Having one person in charge of the department is important to operations. Someone needs to be the final say on what needs to be done and who is going to do it. It’s also helpful for others in the organization to have a single point of contact for all department communications. In a small business, the decision maker for marketing might even be the President or CEO! Just remember that unless your background is in marketing, you should hire well so that you can listen to and trust your team’s recommendations.
Someone who loves planning and organization. This trait is extremely important in marketing because we’re responsible for so many tasks and have a lot of balls in the air. There’s no point in developing well thought-out campaigns if you blow the deadlines. This person is a great candidate to learn all about your tech stack – the software and programs that assist your marketing activities. Maybe you use a social media scheduler and build campaign schedules in Airtable. Whatever way you track all your marketing tasks, someone needs to be aware of the daily to-do list and keep things running smoothly.
Someone who writes well. Writing is a critical skill that applies to every single touchpoint of your marketing. It’s hard enough to write clear copy that engages your audience, but throwing SEO optimization into the mix challenges even the most seasoned cooywriter. Even if creating long form content isnt a priority, you shouldnt ignore the power of communication. It’s just as challenging (if not more so) to craft short yet compelling copy for an ad as it is to draft a 1,500 word blog post. Being able to write well is my top most desired skill when interviewing marketing staff because its not something thats easy to teach on the fly.
Someone with design skills. I’m a believer that you either have an eye for design or you don’t. I’m not talking about classically trained skills – some people just know what looks good and what doesn’t. Specific programs like the Adobe Creative Suite can be taught (and there’s always Canva). But without someone who has a basic eye for design, you’ll struggle a LOT when creating pleasing social posts or presentations for clients. As a side note, if you’re just starting out and need a brand identity suite (including a logo), you should consider hiring a professional. That’s usually not a task for an entry-level designer.
Someone who is tech-savvy. This person doesn’t necessarily have to be on your marketing team if you have an IT department. But as previously mentioned, there are so many martech tools available and someone should be able to figure out which ones to use and how best to use them. Not to mention navigating all the different social media platforms and the backend of your website, which can be a beast all on its own! Again, unless you’re building the most basic website, I recommend engaging with a professional web design company to develop your site and get it done right. Your staff can then make updates and maintain the site once the structure is built.
Someone who is analytical. Not all marketers are right-brained creative types! It takes a logical mind to analyze the myriad data available from marketing activities and determine what it all means. Each social media platform will give you analytics on your posts, the audience you’re reaching, your engagement, and more. You’ll have similar analytics from your website and email marketing platforms. And then there are more manual activities, like tracking exposure from event sponsorship or media mentions. The best analysts will be able to draw conclusions from all this data and use that information to direct your future activities.
General Traits All Marketers Should Have
To me, the top desired traits in a marketing team member are innovation and creativity. Both are indicators of someone who is able to think outside the box and come up with unique solutions. Along this path of thinking, you should look for someone who has initiative and is willing to take risks. Once they’re trained and have an understanding of how the department and company operate, they will be able to suggest new ideas and implement those ideas (with your approval). If they are a naturally risk-averse person, they might not be open-minded enough to truly innovate. You need someone who is willing to suggest big moves that lead to big payoffs.
Other helpful traits I’ve identified over the years include an interest in watching industry trends, good research skills, and a commitment to learning more and improving their skills. And of course the traits that apply to all positions – organization, attention to detail, time management, punctuality, and a generally good attitude – are valued in marketing as well!
Even if you’re hiring for an entry level position, you should look for candidates with work experience. Before you get up in arms about that statement, I don’t mean required industry experience! Entry level should mean exactly that. But candidates who have prior experience in retail, food service, and other customer service positions will already have some of the skills necessary to be great in marketing. If a candidate has a marketing internship on their resume, definitely snatch them up! This is golden experience that built on their education and opened their eyes to real-world marketing operations.
What If I Can’t Afford a Marketing Team?
If your business is very small or you’re just starting out, you might not be able to hire multiple people for marketing activities. I’m sure it’s tempting to try to do it yourself, but again, unless your background is in marketing, don’t fall into this trap! Marketing is more than just posting on Instagram and calling it a day. You need a strategy that is aligned with your business goals and tactics that bring the strategy to fruition. And even if your background IS in marketing, you have many other business tasks that only you, as the owner, can take care of. It’s best to invest in staff that are solely devoted to marketing.
If you can’t afford an entire team, you can start with just one full-time marketing hire. Look for someone with the organizational skills and initiative necessary to keep everything on task. Content creation, like writing and design, can be outsourced easily. You can even outsource your marketing strategy by partnering with a fractional CMO—an expert whose time you pay for only as much as you need it. This person should work to learn as much about your business and your goals as possible. Then they can craft a strategic marketing plan and work as an extension of your business to guide your marketing efforts.
If you’re tempted to skip marketing altogether to save money, I’ll simply wish you luck on your venture. You’re gonna need it!