Updated: Aug 22
Many businesses have a period of rapid growth and success that leads them to plateau. The founders go through a series of heroic acts to get the business to a stable base of revenue and customers. Of course, everyone wants growth and more revenue and profit. The founders are typically swamped doing sales, operations, finance and various duties as assigned. There is no time to scale the business and build a team around the owners. After countless 80-hour work weeks and numerous working weekends it becomes clear that it’s time to bring in additional resources. The critical question is how to start a marketing team.
Who should we hire first? How do we know we are ready?
Outlined below is a list of key considerations to get you ready to start a marketing team.
Consideration #1 – Understanding your buyers and market
To be effective at starting your marketing team you need a good sense of who your ideal client or prospect is and what they care about. There must be enough customer traction to get a sense of what industries, the size of companies, roles, titles and business problems reflect an ideal buyer. Having a great sense of why customers buy from you and what the major patterns of demand are will position the marketing resources for success. With this knowledge, it is much easier to complete buyer journeys, buyer personas and content that will resonate with buyers.
Consideration #2 – Clear measurement plan in place
Knowing what success looks like is also a key ingredient to making sure you are ready for a marketing team. Marketing exists for one primary reason, to generate revenue! The metrics need to be in place to measure the marketing contribution to pipeline and revenue. It is key to have supporting systems and measurements in place such as a CRM system, website analytics and demand generation metrics. These components will help guide the marketing team and focus on the activities that drive revenue.
Consideration #3 – Process and capacity
Taking the time to develop a marketing team requires having the reciprocal sales capacity to follow up on the leads and opportunities. Often marketing and sales are out of sync on how to follow up on leads. Buyers move fast these days and leads that are left unattended for even a few hours can be lost to the competition. Developing effective processes for sales and marketing will also help with alignment. New marketing teams need to have a clear understanding of lead qualification, lead assignment, lead follow up and conversion metrics that are shared with the sales team.
Consideration #4 – Available time to coach the team
A new marketing team requires a significant amount of coaching and direction. The founders often have a wealth of institutional knowledge about customers, markets, sales cycles, and partners. It is critical to pass this knowledge along to the marketing team in an effective way. A significant amount of time is needed to coach and mentor new team members as come on board. Without this critical development, the marketing team will never get the required knowledge for success.
Consideration #5 – Avoid shiny new marketing toys
Regardless of who you talk to about marketing you will hear a variety of advice. Social media works best in this market. Cold calling is dead. Inbound marketing is the only way to develop leads as buyers are doing more of their own research. The reality is there is no silver bullet for generating demand. A mix of all of the above is generally a good approach. I would avoid sinking all of the time and energy of the new team into the next new thing. Find out what works best with your buyers and stick with it. There is nothing wrong with a little experimentation but in moderation.
If you feel confident that you have a good plan in place for all of these considerations you are ready for a marketing team. The question often is should we hire a senior resource or junior resource. There is a lot of hands on work – creating marketing lists, creating content, buyer personas, infographics etc. in the early days of a marketing department. If you are looking at a senior person make sure they are comfortable doing this type of work. The other strategy is to hire a junior resource to start, such as new university graduate, and coach and mentor them through the process. Either strategy can work but remember the volume of hands on work is enormous in the early days.