For any team that’s focused on long-term growth, having a well-defined marketing strategy is certainly important. However, what’s even more important is having the right team in place to execute that strategy. To quote LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman: “No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to a team.”
Remember: Marketing is a team sport, and everyone at your company who interacts with leads and customers plays a role. Members of the marketing team, however, are the standard-bearers of your brand. They set the tone for the rest of the company. As a result, hiring the right marketers, and creating a culture and environment in which the marketing team can flourish, are crucial.
In this section, our experts unveil the skills, qualities, and types of work experience hiring managers should look for in new marketing hires. They also explore the importance of shared team values and internal communication.
Experts quoted in this section:
When It Comes to Hiring, Stick To First Principles
Stick to first principles, because if your employees actually care about your mission and if your customers are going to buy your products regardless of whether or not their budget is big or small, you’re in a good spot.
We would actually encourage people in most cases to raise less money as opposed to more, to be very deliberate about the hiring and try to stay away from the people who respond to the line, ‘We’re a fast-growing company’ and go after the people who respond to the line, ‘We care about solving this problem. It’s hard but we think it’s worthwhile. If you agree, you should join us.’
The Two Must-Have Qualities of a Successful Marketing Team
First, when it comes to marketing, it’s hard to have long-term plans, and it’s difficult to map out all the moving parts ahead of time. It’s important to stay responsive to what’s going on in sales, the market, and the world as a whole for your strategies to succeed. For this reason, it’s critical to stay agile.
Second, I don’t favor the belief that smaller teams should be made up of one or two generalists, while bigger teams should be comprised of a lot of people who are specialists. Instead, I prefer to bring on folks with ‘t-shaped’ skills – or personalities comfortable with becoming both generalists and specialist. If you comprise your team of folks who excel at something broad as well as have deeper knowledge in specific categories, then collaboration flows better, projects need fewer people involved, teams move more quickly, and you ultimately get better results. For example, if someone has expertise in blogging, I would like for that person to also know something about analytics, email, and social media. So, in the process of growing your team, try not to make the mistake of bringing on (only) specialists.
Why Leadership, Problemsolving, and Communication Skills Are More Important Than Marketing Degrees
I don’t know that hiring somebody out of school with a marketing degree is super helpful, to be honest, at least for the way I think about marketing.
I think they’re still teaching a lot of the five P’s. And it’s not the professor’s fault. How would you know any better unless you’re doing the work?
But the thing is, [marketing] can be taught. I mean it really can be taught. And I think I’ve tried to prove that out in every role, but ExactTarget was really the case study.
On my team, there were teachers, people who were officers in the military, people who were creative, strategists, and stay-at-home moms coming back into the workforce. In some ways, it would seem like a ragtag bunch if you looked at the resumes. But I always say I recruited for leadership, problem-solving, and communication skills.
If you can find somebody who knows how to do all of those things, teaching marketing is not that hard. I mean it’s really strategy. And if you can understand those things, I can teach you the softer pieces.
3 Secrets for Hiring a Talented Team
One thing that has become abundantly clear to me as I’ve worked my way up the corporate ladder is that hiring a talented team is the key to success as a senior executive. Some of the most successful CEOs I know would argue this is their BEST skill. If a founder or CEO has an amazing vision but can’t hire a team to execute on that vision, he/she will fail.
If you aspire to the top executive ranks, or simply are looking for a promotion, it is critical to successfully put a talented team in place to support you. From my experience, here are a few suggestions for how to do that:
1. Hire team members with expertise you don’t have.
This will make your team stronger and your likelihood of success higher.
2. Hire people smarter than you.
It will challenge your thinking in critical areas. You will make better decisions and more importantly, it will up every team member’s game.
3. Hire a successor.
Succession planning is important. Try to hire one person (but preferably more) who you can envision taking your role – and doing a better job at it – in the next few years. Without a successor, you are going to find it hard to be promoted and grow in your career.
Once you hire this amazing, talented team, empower them. Give them the resources and support they need and get out of their way.
The Importance of Openness and Appreciation
Openness to me means being curious and listening to different perspectives and ideas. It’s about embracing not knowing, and seeking context whenever I join a meeting or a project to understand the different angles and inputs that can inform my decisions. I tend to be a pretty fast-paced thinker and decision maker, so I remind myself not to close out options too quickly.
Appreciation is about people and teams. I’m a big believer that you can’t do everything on your own. Appreciating individuals sincerely and frequently has helped me grow really successful teams. Today, that might mean simply thanking a team member in detail for giving her all as she launches a new program. Or it could be thanking my husband tonight for taking our son to baseball so I could work late.
Why You Should Pay Attention to Internal Communications Early in the Hiring Process
During the recruiting process, the internal comms team should already be involved in what that experience looks and feels like—everything from the emails you get from the hiring manager or the recruiter to what kind of paperwork you get before you come in. You want candidates to experience a consistent brand from the very beginning, whether you hire them or not.
It’s super important that employees have a great experience from week one and that includes everything, from making sure the laptop actually works to making sure they are invited to the right meetings. All the little things really do add up at this stage. Internal comms is playing a much bigger role in employee engagement and satisfaction than it ever has.
No offense to young male founders, but that special-touches thing is not something that is always their sweet spot. An experienced internal comms person will help make that a reality.