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Building A Startup Marketing Team From Scratch

Digital marketing for a start-up requires faces. A lot of them. For a CEO, pitching, dozens of calls, and other operations make it easy to get sidetracked. The absence of a well-designed digital marketing strategy can sabotage most, if not all, of your efforts. Blogs and social media are a great place to get the show on the road: 247% of millennials are more likely to respond to these channels. Don’t know where to start? We got your back.

Before You Start Building

You may think that Step One is defining your perfect audience. Makes sense. It’s the reason why you do what you do. However, there’s a Step Zero: analyzing your business overall, marketing tools and activities, and other factors that impact team operations, including:

  • Marketing channels. As a start-up owner, it’s best to focus on a few you’re confident in. Every channel — from social media and blogs to email and PPC — involves different team members. You can engage more as you scale.
  • Marketing goals. There’s no use hiring a team if they don’t have a direction to follow. To gain your end, you need to have clear goals in mind. Depending on your company’s starting point, you may aim for more leads, a bigger ROI, and higher brand recognition and loyalty.

Founder of NP Digital Neil Patel built a marketing department from the ground up in his career. One of the lessons he shared was keeping it simple in the beginning. Choosing quality over quantity will prevent the waste of resources, and you’ll save yourself from disproportionate results.

Your marketing plan will also help your new employees. They’ll have realistic expectations of what’s required and which tasks must be prioritized. We help start-ups develop marketing strategies that work. You can learn more about the strategies we at Whales offer here.

Roles To Have On Your Marketing Team

A start-up marketing team depends on your company’s size, budget, operations, clients, how much they spend, and more. Getting your first hires right can be challenging, but you can still work around the pitfalls. Let’s see how.

Your Central Marketing Hires

Some roles are more important than others, sorry. Here are a few you should consider filling in the first place:

  • You may want to start by hiring a marketing generalist. Typically, generalists have experience with a wide range of marketing channels and activities. They’re also usually equipped with project management skills and know how to handle a mountain of tasks on time. We’ve compared marketing generalists to marketing specialists in this article; check it out for a more well-rounded perspective.
  • SEO/PPC specialist. For many start-ups, their landing page is the first touchpoint a client will have with them. An SEO/PPC specialist is critical in optimizing your website for a smooth user experience. They’ll also manage your website’s ranking on search engines, readjust keywords, and launch PPC ad campaigns. SEO is scalable, long-lasting, and delivers massive long-term ROI if you rank well. On the other hand, PPC works perfectly for precise targeting campaigns and gets results immediately.
  • Email marketing specialist. The average ROI for email marketing is pretty high – $44 for one dollar spent, so having a person in charge is a must. From carefully crafted business proposals to full-scale email campaigns, they’ll help you leverage the channel. How? By segmenting the audience, testing and injecting emails with personalization, and adding industry-specific insights to get the best results.
  • Content specialist. A content person on your team will deal with creating targeted messaging for every utilized channel. Whether it’s a landing page, a stack of emails, social media posts, or presentations for your start-up – engaging written content will stay at the audience’s top of mind.
  • Probably a growth marketer. We gave this position a reasonable breakdown you should take a look at. But overall, a growth marketer can expand your user base quickly by tending to the audience’s current needs and utilizing the right channels.

And Some Additional Marketing Folks To Recruit

Here are a few of the additional marketing roles that will help you scale your business faster once the foundation is established:

  • Project manager. After a while, both internal and client projects start to multiply. Having a project manager involved helps a great deal with handling client communication and keeping track of task progress. On top of that, a PM can help you manage outsourced specialists once you need additional resources to complete projects.
  • Design folks. A designer is your go-to for a consistent brand image and customer trust. You’ll be able to stick to current design trends, better communicate your services visually, and step forward with bold visual decisions to sweep clients off their feet. Plus, a UI/UX designer will help identify user needs and earn more loyal users than your competitors.
  • Acquisition specialist. These recruits connect your brand with larger audiences. With designated acquisition hires, it’ll be easier to locate, contact, and onboard customers while targeting their pain points.
  • Data analyst. By collecting, filtering, processing, and utilizing data, a data analyst will trigger better strategic decisions. With consumer stats, competitor analysis, and emerging market data, you’ll be able to derive precise tactics for recalibration.

The number of ways you can assemble your marketing team is countless. You can follow Gary Vaynerchuk’s formula and hire a math person (ads), an art person (design), a written word person (content), and a video person. You can also do it like Chris Walker: hire an architect (strategy), distributor (ads), creative (content), and subject matter expert (data). Or, you can shape your own structure. It depends on your goals & capabilities, your clients, and your priorities in hiring.

What’s Next

After the roles are set out, your next step is structuring the team for maximum effectiveness. Sometimes, it’s unproductive and costly to have everything done by in-house employees. You may not know where to involve some experts, need all roles at all times, or struggle with retaining them. Then, it makes sense to go demand-based and outsource part of the expertise. Outsourcing does more than save you money and time to train employees – we’ve assessed this.

Let’s think ahead, too. Small marketing teams usually rely on one leader for supervision – the CEO, VP, head of marketing, you name it. As your business ambitions expand, engaging team leads is reasonable. Then you, as a CEO, can focus on more complex tasks while maintaining a clear strategy and reporting system.

Summing Up

The dawn of start-up life is never easy, especially for the marketing department. You may even have to pitch in with emails, copy, or data research as a CEO. But if you choose your battles right, you can build a widely known brand with content people anticipate and services they choose over your competitors.


Aiming to build a marketing team that kickstarts your success?

Whales is here to back you up.