Startups start with a single marketer. They can get a lot done. These first marketers feel empowered to do anything to drive revenue, from email marketing to paid advertising to content marketing. What is the right second hire? Or third? Or fourth? Here is a list of nine suggestions for building your marketing organization.
#1) Hire a full-stack marketer to start.
A full stack marketer who can do it all, has excellent breadth and skills, and can generally get a startup going in the right direction.
#2) At the right time, divide the full stack marketing role into three core areas.
Demand generation, corporate marketing, and product marketing. Each discipline is unique enough to warrant a leader at some point.
#3) As time passes, demand generation, corporate marketing, and product marketing are further divided into narrower roles based on the company’s needs.
Demand generation divides into partner marketing, web roles, growth roles even operations while corporate marketing divides into AR/PR and customer marketing. Product marketing has the least amount of division.
#4) Develop a culture of responsibility for the entire “stack” of roles below a person, even if the positions aren’t filled.
If you have one full-stack marketer, they are responsible for all marketing. If you develop the culture right, they won’t say, “I can’t do that unless we hire someone.” Instead, they will say, help me prioritize my list because I can’t get it all done. If you create this mentality, marketing staffing becomes a prioritization issue and not a staffing discussion every time you want to do additional tasks.
#5) You can only hire deep experts when you have the roles above them filled.
Hiring specialists with deep expertise too soon in an organization’s evolution can dramatically impact a marketing organization functioning. If you hire an expert in email marketing, but they don’t know how to run the CRM system, you will also need to hire a sys admin. Consider hiring someone who can do both but might not be an expert in either until you can grow the organization to support deep experts in both.
#6) Don’t create new roles that cause role confusion.
People want to invent and create new positions based on the perceived uniqueness of a marketing organization. Most of the time, these roles are odd combinations of work or overly specialized tasks where a specialist is not needed. For example, your PR team wants to hire someone to do influencer marketing to reach out and establish relationships with key technical influencers. But the organization already has a developer/technical marketing team. Is this a PR role or another flavor/responsibility for the technical marketing team?
#7) Publish the role evolution chart so everyone knows the organization’s evolution.
Build your tree if needed. By publishing the role tree, you are also laying out what each organization is responsible for, regardless of whether they have the specialist role filled. This also reduces managers working territory grabs and petitioning to run areas outside their core operations.
#8) Don’t hire for non-core roles – give people collateral duty roles.
In the Navy, we ran a nuclear submarine with 12 officers doing everything from managing the engineering systems to providing legal counsel to protecting crypto keys. Each of us had a main day job, but we also carried a list of collateral jobs. By day, I might be the electrical officer responsible for operating the ship’s electrical system, but I was also the ship’s legal officer. It was a collateral duty. Apply the same for marketing. While hiring a program manager to manage new product rollouts might be nice, you could make this a collateral job of the product marketing team and empower them to purchase technology or tools to make this collateral job more effective. Or instead of hiring a program management specialist, hire another product marketer and add product rollouts to their collateral duty list. Program managers, liaisons, facilitators, and many other non-core roles are the first to go when organizations want to cut costs. Don’t hire these roles in the first place.
#9) Hire duplicate roles once you are at the bottom of the evolution tree.
If you need more demand generation capacity, don’t hire a second generic demand generation person; carve the role in half and add skill sets. At some point, you are at the bottom of the evolution chart. At this point, you can duplicate the role.
Given the diversity of skill sets, marketing organizations are a lot of fun to build. But making these organizations is tricky for this exact reason. Stay in balance by evolving your organization with a divide-and-grow process.