Marketing is under constant reinvention.
But marketers like me aren’t the ones driving this change. When it comes to defining what marketing is and does, customers are in the driver’s seat. Meaning if today’s customers are digitally-savvy, channel-agnostic, and plugged in – then your marketing team better be too.
Hi, I’m Tricia, the Chief Marketing Officer here at Drift.
As a three-time CMO, I’ve seen the marketing field undergo significant changes in my two-decade career. Currently, one of the major shake-ups happening in the world of marketing is the demand for diverse talent.
In a recent report from The Economist and Digital Marketing Institute, 70% of marketing leaders said securing the right talent was one of the greatest challenges facing their company. Driven by a more technically-savvy customer and the need for constant innovation to stay competitive, marketing leaders are investing in skills and talent not previously associated with the field.
Modern marketing departments are now home to creatives, data analysts, system specialists, writers, and so much more. While there will always be specializations, bringing together the right- and left-sided brains of marketing is incredibly important for teams to remain agile and customer-centric. Companies like Dell have seen this shift and created an environment to suit their changing marketing team:
The demand for talent offers a lot of opportunities for those in marketing, where career branches are growing more diverse. However, this demand also introduces challenges for executives like myself trying to build out modern marketing organizations.
As the marketing leader here at Drift, I know that nowhere do these opportunities and challenges present themselves more than in companies undergoing hypergrowth – where the only teams that succeed are agile and highly streamlined.
To help other marketing executives at hypergrowth or rapidly growing companies, the Drift Marketing team partnered with the experts in talent optimization, The Predictive Index® and Erica Seidel of The Connective Good, to create a guide for high-performing marketing teams in hypergrowth environments.
As a CMO, it’s no longer enough to just focus on the customer experience.
Today’s marketing leaders must also be intimately involved in the employee experience. The insights in this book touch on my most important learnings as a marketing executive – from budgeting to team-building to employee experience best practices.
I hope you find it invaluable in creating your next great marketing team!
Tricia Gellman, Chief Marketing Officer, Drift
The Talent Optimization Framework For Hypergrowth Marketing
Building a team while undergoing hypergrowth can feel like a constant game of catch-up. But, it doesn’t have to be. Aligning your talent strategy with your larger marketing initiatives and business goals is the best way to bring on top talent and reduce employee churn in the long term.
In this chapter, we’ll walk through the dilemmas facing marketing organizations during hypergrowth, introduce a model for team building, and discuss how to align marketing strategies with your hypergrowth goals.
The Hypergrowth Dilemma
First appearing in 2008 in the Harvard Business Review, the term hypergrowth is defined as “the steep part of the S-curve that most young markets and industries experience at some point, where the winners get sorted from the losers.”
This definition does a good job of visualizing a company’s growth during this time – and its ideal trajectory. The “S-curve” is the wave that companies must climb in order to be seen as undergoing a form of hypergrowth.
The World Economic Forum categorizes hypergrowth businesses as those companies with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) greater than 40%.
Hypergrowth is a critical junction in a company’s growth story. Bringing in the right people at the right time is pivotal to achieving long-term goals that align with a company’s vision. Marketing’s role is especially critical during hypergrowth for building brand visibility and differentiation within the market.
While there are different paths companies take on this hypergrowth journey, there are a few milestones that remain constant.
CEO David Cancel, in trying to understand Drift’s own place in the hypergrowth narrative, broke these milestones into three stages:
- Edison Stage: The Edison stage is very much the “eureka moment” for a hypergrowth company and is defined by moments of invention. Specifically, founders and companies at this stage are asking themselves “Is this actually possible?” and “Can I patent this idea?”
- Model T Stage: The Model T stage is all about scaling. Companies at this stage are either looking to take something that already exists, or create something new, and bring it to scale.
- P&G Stage: At Drift, we consider ourselves in the midst of the P&G stage. This third stage is about building differentiation within the marketplace and creating a brand that people will recognize and automatically associate with your industry.
There’s a lot of information out there on best practices for hiring and retaining talent. However, there’s little focus on what this process looks like in a hypergrowth environment, where, especially for marketing teams, getting the right people couldn’t be more crucial.
Working in partnership with The Predictive Index (PI) and The Connective Good, we’ve developed a framework to guide leaders at hypergrowth companies in building and scaling high-performance marketing teams.
The Hypergrowth Talent Optimization Model
The Talent Optimization Framework for Hypergrowth Marketing from Drift, The Predictive Index and The Connective Good has three stages to guide you in the team-building process – taking into consideration the speed and growth of your business.
The Talent Optimization Framework For Hypergrowth Marketing
Source: The Predictive Index, Talent Optimization
As shown in the illustration above, your marketing strategy should dictate your talent strategy and your talent strategy should benefit your larger business goals.
The bulk of this book will dive into each of the three stages shown in this graphic, as well as diagnose the needs of the marketing organization:
- Design: In this stage, leaders define the current structure of their team and identify any skills gaps. They also prioritize which marketing functions align with their current strategy and goals, and what tools they’ll need to support those functions.
- Hire: Leaders then work with their senior team to create different roles and identify the skills and behaviors they need to add to the department.
- Inspire: Finding talent is just one piece of the puzzle. Keeping that talent is what defines a great leader. The final stage of the talent optimization framework will guide you in developing best practices around employee experience and retention.
Before we discuss each of these stages, let’s talk about the two things that should ultimately guide your talent strategy decisions moving forward: your business goals and the marketing strategy you’ll use to achieve them.
Setting Goals That Define Marketing’s Value
Most likely you have a lofty set of goals for your hypergrowth marketing team. But are they SMART?
SMART goals are a business management practice used by leadership to set more achievable and realistic benchmarks. These goals are defined as being:
Using the SMART goal strategy means you can tie hard numbers, performance metrics, and timelines to your marketing goals.
Any goals without performance metrics and deadlines fail to demonstrate your team’s value to the rest of the organization. Demonstrating value through goal setting will:
- Show how your department contributes to larger company goals
- Give your team clear targets to go after collectively and individually
- Identify current gaps blocking your team from reaching these goals
- Build a case for increasing the budget, resources, and personnel further down the line for your department
To start developing your own talent framework, you’ll need to identify your top three business goals for the next 12 to 18 months. Next, determine what your marketing department’s goals will be in the next 12 to 18 months to align with your business’ goals. Once you’ve defined those goals, you can start building a clear strategy around what initiatives (and skills) are needed to achieve them.
Building Your Marketing Strategy – Download The Workbook
The Predictive Index, Erica Seidel of The Connective Good, and Drift offer a downloadable workbook you can follow along with.
Creating Your Hypergrowth Marketing Strategy
Having an unclear business strategy is a recipe for disaster, no matter how great your team is or how amazing a leader you are. Your strategic initiatives should all work towards your larger company and marketing goals.
Your marketing strategies should indicate:
- The marketing unit involved
- The “why” behind the strategy (i.e., the connection to your larger goal)
As mentioned, hypergrowth means maintaining a 40%+ average annual growth rate for longer than a year. We’re the first to admit, this is no easy feat.
So how do you create a team environment where this number is even possible?
In his book, Hypergrowth, Drift CEO David Cancel laid out the five ingredients of a hypergrowth company and what it takes to get to that magic number:
- Customer-Driven: Talk to your customers, find out what they need, and make promises you can deliver. Don’t simply reserve this for your middle management either. As a marketing leader, you have to pick up the phone and get in the trenches with your customers.
- Accountability: Autonomy only works if people are held accountable. This doesn’t mean yelling at employees when things don’t go according to plan. This means giving your team the resources or support they need to reach their objectives.
- Transparency: To improve collaboration and visibility across the team, marketing posts their “big rocks” for the week on Slack every Monday. They do this to give a rundown of any large projects they’re tackling, as well as tag anyone whose help they might need to get the job done.
In order to be effective, marketers need to have credibility. Because they have to do a lot of leading by influence, they have to do a lot of aligning and engaging and evangelizing, and that only works when people trust you. They only trust you if you deliver the goods and are accountable; you do what you say and you say what you mean.”
- Iterative Approach: Ship, ship, ship. Drift is a company of shippers, and we’re a high-performance culture because of it. Marketers are often trained to “get our ducks in a row” before shipping a larger piece of content: the perfect collateral, the perfect campaign, the perfect follow-up messaging. Forget perfect. Focus on quality, at scale. And, of course, don’t be afraid to show your work.
- Ownership: Knowing who owns what project at any given time isn’t the same as accountability. Your Director of Demand Generation may be responsible for generating 1,500 MQCs per month, but the Email Marketing Manager owns the nurture flow and the Social Media Manager owns the weekly cadence across social platforms.
Following DC’s rules, you shouldn’t be developing your marketing hypergrowth strategy in isolation. Instead, follow the methodology above. Then embed this process into your own work culture:
- Talk to your customers to understand what is and isn’t working. Communicate what you found with other department leaders and come up with action steps for how to deliver on that feedback.
- Gather your marketing managers and brainstorm how they can help deliver on the goals through each function. Make these managers accountable for their team’s delivery.
- Build a culture of transparency among your team and encourage the same in other departments. You’ll be shocked at how much this approach increases collaboration and speeds up delivery.
- Quality matters, but there’s no such thing as perfect. Give your team expectations around daily ships and remind them to use the same SMART goal approach to their everyday to-dos where possible.
- Give people a sense of ownership over their projects. Have your department track ownership and be responsible for their projects – even when they’re in someone else’s hands.
With a better understanding of how to adapt your goals for hypergrowth, you can now begin drafting your team’s marketing strategy for the next 12 to 18 months. This period accounts for any new talent you’ll need to hire and/or time you’ll need to train your current employees.
Design: Find Your Superpowers & Develop A Game Plan
Building a high-performance marketing team doesn’t happen by cobbling together employees without considering team dynamics and long-term planning. You have a much better chance of reaching your goals and executing your strategy if your team-building is done intentionally.
In this chapter, we’ll walk through how to create a guide for planning future headcount.
Identifying Your Team’s Superpowers
How you organize your team and prioritize the different marketing functions will depend on a number of factors:
- Company maturity
- Team maturity
- Your company org structure
- The maturity of your product category
- Whether your organization is B2B vs. B2C vs. B2B2C
- Seniority/span of control/authority of existing team members
- Marketing budget
- Product distribution – sales team, eCommerce, retail, distribution network, etc.
No two marketing departments look alike. That being said, there are still best practices you can follow to create an organizational structure tailored to your business’ goals, but fluid enough to account for rapid growth.
In this section, we’ll look at the steps for designing and streamlining a hypergrowth marketing team, including:
- Identifying your marketing functions and your current team structure
- Recognizing senior management superpowers and how they align with the marketing strategy
- Defining your team’s hypergrowth principles
Marketing Functions & Team Structure
If you’re reading this book, we’re assuming you hold some type of leadership position on your marketing team. You may not be the Chief Marketing Officer. You may be, for example, the VP of Demand Generation.
The important thing is that you:
- Understand your role in the marketing department and who you report to (e.g., the C-Suite or board)
- Understand the role of other people in your department and who they report to
- Understand how each person in marketing works towards your common marketing strategy
Atlassian’s VP of Product On The 4 Expectations That Drive His Managers & Hiring Process
Joff Redfern knows a thing or two about building teams undergoing hypergrowth. While the VP of Product at LinkedIn, he grew a department of 12 into a team of 650. After leaving LinkedIn, Joff became the VP of Product at Atlassian. One of the first questions he asked his new team was: “What does it mean to be a product manager at Atlassian?”
Together, they created four expectations around what it means to be a great product manager:
- Lead and inspire
- Product mastery
- Drive outcomes
- Great communicator
Joff compared these expectations against his organizational chart and current staff and created a guide for his management team at Atlassian:
Joff and the team also began using these four guiding expectations during the hiring process. After all, they want to hire people who have the potential to grow with the company.
As for how marketers and other departments at hypergrowth companies should approach their training and hiring process, Joff stresses the importance of getting the framework right:
The right organizational structure should align with your business strategies and growth trajectory. The Ultimate Guide to Talent Optimization provides two examples to help you put this into perspective:
- Small environment (1-100 employees): A small startup environment is focused on three things: building intimate customer relationships, proving competitive value quickly, and operating at a fast pace. This kind of environment doesn’t benefit from a rigid hierarchical structure. It requires a relatively flat structure with few, if any, middle managers, so decisions can be made quickly.
- Large environment (500+ employees): The more personnel you have, the more important structure becomes to ensuring everyone understands and works towards a common goal. A large organization, especially during hypergrowth, requires a more rigid hierarchical structure, with multiple layers of management. Why? Because one leader “to rule them all” simply does not work the larger your company becomes. You need to delegate.
You might be asking, what about a middle ground? That’s easy: just look at Drift in 2020. If you’re reading this right after publishing, Drift has more than 300 employees across the U.S. We’ve experienced a massive hiring jump over the last year. And the marketing team has seen a lot of new faces because of it.
Below is an example of what our marketing structure looks like at Drift.
As you can see, our structure is segmented into marketing functions. Currently, this includes:
- Demand Generation
- Content Marketing
- Community Management
- Customer Marketing
- Product Marketing
- Event Marketing
- PR/Brand Marketing
The Demand Generation function is often the first talent onboarded to a company’s marketing department. At Drift, we started with Brand Marketing. Why? Because, at the time, we were introducing conversational marketing to the marketplace, which was a brand exercise.
Today, we’ve grown into a multi-discipline marketing organization to account for new strategies and initiatives. As part of our growth, we’re slowly building out our organizational structure to better delegate tasks. Specifically, we’re adding more middle managers to help senior management deliver strategy at scale.
Delegation is essential to managers looking to make it in a hypergrowth environment. After all, it isn’t reasonable to expect anyone to hold the torch forever. As the leader of your marketing organization, it’s important that you impress upon your senior managers the importance delegating has in meeting hypergrowth goals. (Ego is a big part of this exercise. More on that in Chapter 3. )
To begin visualizing your own organizational structure, start with the following:
- Identify your current in-house marketing functions. Under each of the marketing functions, identify the responsibilities and metrics driving each team.
- Then, start converting this chart into a digestible organizational hierarchy. Start with yourself at the top, then work your way up and down according to who reports to you and who you report to. Identify the marketing functions within the chart and who heads their success. Note: We recommend removing names from this process. The reason being that many people build roles around individuals as opposed to around strategy. This means you end up with people doing a variety of things they’re good at, but they don’t necessarily fit well into the larger marketing plan.
Designing Your Marketing Org – Download the Workbook
The Predictive Index, Erica Seidel of The Connective Good, and Drift offer a downloadable workbook you can follow along with for these steps.
Look at the hierarchy in front of you. Look at the personnel who make up that hierarchy – from senior managers to marketing specialists – and start answering the following questions:
- Does this team currently align with your marketing strategy?
- Do you have the right people in place to enable that marketing strategy?
- Is this structure optimal for delivering on your company’s goals?
Depending on your growth velocity, you’ll need to revisit this structure on a quarterly basis. Those companies that don’t revisit this structure are in danger of stunting their growth.
Once you’ve answered these questions, it may be tempting to immediately start optimizing these teams and restructuring the organization around goals. Before anything like this can happen you need to consider the human element. Who are the leaders that make up your current marketing organization – and what do they bring to the table? How can they help make the hiring process more seamless?
Management Skills & Dynamics
Senior management plays a key role in not just executing your marketing team’s strategy, but also setting the cultural tone for the team and larger organization.
A talent audit is a good exercise for both C-Suite marketing leaders and senior managers to keep a pulse on the talent in their ranks.
At a hypergrowth company, poor team dynamics at the senior management level can quickly derail a company. It can lead to team splintering, where different leaders are ruled by different marketing goals. For these reasons, talent audits should never be reserved for just lower-level employees in a hypergrowth company, but for senior leadership as well.
To conduct this type of audit, choose a rubric that maps the leadership competencies needed to achieve your team’s marketing strategy:
- List your current marketing strategies.
- Map the leadership skills necessary to execute the activities needed to achieve these strategies.
- Answer the following questions:
- Do you currently have the right leadership in place to execute on these strategies?
- Who are those people and are they currently being utilized to meet these objectives?
- What leadership gaps exist that cannot be filled by current personnel?
Looking at the following example, we see how this exercise would work in practice:
You might find that senior managers who hold certain competencies are not leading the initiatives that would benefit from their skill set. This may present conflicts within your marketing structure – but it can also create opportunities.
People often have a difficult time understanding how their superpowers can be used cross-functionally. Work with your management team to understand the value they bring to your hypergrowth organization. Then, encourage them to use a similar process among their own teams to do the same.
As your department’s head, you’re responsible for teaching senior leaders to lead in a way that improves culture and works towards the larger strategic vision. Instill self-awareness as a key competency in their training and help managers develop skills to build a better culture across the marketing team.
Planning & Budgeting For Team Expansion & Technology Needs
Earlier in this chapter, we asked you to list out the marketing functions that make up your organization. Now, you’ll look at prioritizing each marketing function and allocating the necessary budget and headcount to achieve your goals. We’ll also discuss the importance of technology in scaling your marketing efforts.
Marketing Headcount Planning
As part of its talent optimization methodology and workshops, The Predictive Index asks leaders to force rank each marketing function from most important to least important. They then have leaders notate how the marketing budget and marketing headcount are allocated among these different functions.
Prioritizing Your Marketing Functions – Download The Workbook
The Predictive Index, Erica Seidel of The Connective Good, and Drift offer a downloadable workbook you can follow along with.
However, as part of your hypergrowth model, you also need to consider and design for scale. Meaning, prioritizing marketing functions for budget and headcount alone isn’t enough. Hypergrowth companies must also consider the tools that can accelerate a team’s output.
To address this need, we’ve introduced a fourth column to the mix: tools. Tools refer to the technology and resources supporting these different marketing functions.
The modern marketer’s toolkit has expanded rapidly. In a recent survey from The Economist Group, 86% of marketing leaders said that digital transformation and globalization were going to fundamentally change the way marketing operates in order to remain relevant to consumers.
Having a solid MarTech stack is invaluable to hypergrowth marketing teams because it allows them to scale efficiently and deliver results at a greater speed. In many marketing departments, technology has taken on tasks that once required additional headcount. For example:
- Using account-based marketing platforms allows marketing teams to align better with sales and deliver targeted messaging that would take an entirely new role to cover.
- Using AI-powered chat turns SDRs and marketing into 24/7 teams, scaling follow up, reducing touchpoints for customers, and improving experiences across digital channels. Head of Consulting & Services at Microsoft, Fabio Moioli, notes that “successfully deploying conversational artificial intelligence (AI) is like no other digital business-process upgrade.”
Having the right MarTech stack to scale your team’s efforts is essential to meeting the demands of your hypergrowth goals. One of the most effective ways today’s marketers are scaling marketing efforts? Deploying conversational marketing.
For many companies, a complicated web of touchpoints and CRM routing has made it harder, not easier, to start a conversation with potential customers. Conversational marketing removes the communication barriers with buyers by reducing the number of touchpoints in the marketing funnel.
For example, instead of making buyers fill out forms and waiting for sales follow-up to occur, conversational marketing uses targeted messages and intelligent chatbots to engage with buyers in real-time.
The Ipswitch Hypergrowth Story
Ipswitch is a Massachusetts-based IT software company that helps IT teams monitor their networks and securely manage file sharing. To help scale their marketing efforts and the output of their SDR team, Ipswitch CMO Jeanne Hopkins onboarded an account-based conversational marketing platform: Drift.
While the team had used chat in the past, they wanted to couple their SDR and account-based strategy with a conversational marketing platform. The result? Ipswitch generated over $3.6 million in pipeline in just eight months using conversational marketing and saw a 5.5x return on investment.
Tools are an important factor in your talent and team-building equation – meaning it’s difficult to talk about one without the other. When you onboard new talent, you should have a plan in place to get the tools they need to excel at their jobs. Now, let’s take a look at bringing these pieces together.
Bringing It All Together
After assessing your headcount and technology needs, you should once again look at the current marketing strategies you listed for the next 12 to 18 months (like we did previously). Looking at these strategies, how would you reprioritize your marketing functions, budget, headcount, and technical resources to meet and achieve these marketing strategies?
Now, compare how your priorities shifted the current structure of your team. List out these changes, and then try to answer the following:
- How will implementing these changes impact your current organizational structure?
- What gaps exist in your current structure in order to meet your marketing strategy needs?
Answering these questions is important for a few reasons:
- It will create a to-do list for when you’re looking to expand your team.
- It will indicate budgetary needs moving forward.
- It will provide insight into technical gaps.
We recommend doing this type of exercise at least once a quarter and sharing your findings with senior management.
Defining Your Team’s Hypergrowth Principles
To conclude this chapter, we’ll talk briefly about having a clear vision for the culture of your marketing team prior to onboarding new talent or technology.
When describing what it takes to build a hypergrowth company, David Cancel focuses a lot of his teachings around values and principles. Words like “ownership,” “transparency,” and “accountability” hold weight in Drift’s hypergrowth culture.
Having a good cultural foundation is important for hypergrowth because it means even when leadership isn’t there, the machine keeps running because everyone is working with the same guiding principles.
In an ideal world, the values you build in marketing would reflect the larger culture at your hypergrowth company – but this might not be the case. While we don’t recommend fostering a culture that directly conflicts with the goals of the larger business, using the five ingredients of hypergrowth that we mentioned earlier in this book is a great place to get started building your team principles.
However, having this plan in your head – or even written down – isn’t enough. You need to communicate, reward, and enforce those principles.
Here’s how to do it:
- Communicate your principles openly with senior leadership and at every level of your staff. This message is best heard coming straight from marketing leadership.
- Be transparent about the challenges your leadership principles might introduce. Be ready and non-defensive if questions arise.
- Anticipate any conflicts with current culture and norms that may not mesh with your changes.
- Use your principles to guide your hiring strategy. For example, The Predictive Index dedicates part of their interview process solely to assessing candidates based on their value system, known as THREADS.
- Promote or reward employees who live up to the leadership principles your organization abides by. For example, Drift’s management team uses leadership principles as part of the promotion process.
Netflix Former Chief Talent Officer on Hiring for Principles, Not Beer Buddies
We’ve all read the headlines about the dangers of toxic work culture. So why are these environments often found in startup and hypergrowth companies?
In the early years of a business, companies are just starting to define culture. This happens through the principles espoused, the example of leadership, and the people who are hired.
One of the biggest dangers that can happen when building out a team is thinking that “cultural fit” means hiring personalities similar to your own.
In reality, you should be hiring for “team fit” and finding the people who are excited about your mission and what your company is doing, and who bring something new to the table.
As Patty McCord, Netflix’s Former Chief Talent Officer explained, cultural fit is often misconstrued:
According to McCord, the success of Netflix’s hiring strategy is based on finding the right match as opposed to the right cultural fit. This means not focusing on building a department of similar personalities, but looking at the team you have and asking, “What’s missing here?”
Hire: Choose The Right Marketing Talent To Support Your Strategy
Hiring is a difficult and cumbersome process if driven blindly. In this chapter, we’ll walk through why it’s important to take egos out of the hiring process, walk through the steps for developing a fool-proof marketing role, and take a look at how behavioral science can create a more cohesive and productive marketing team.
Letting Go Of Ego
It’s easy to see how hypergrowth and rapid expansion might introduce growing pains in a marketing organization. Drift’s marketing team came up with a few playbooks for overcoming these hypergrowth growing pains. Here’s the two we feel make the biggest impact:
- We make marketing everyone’s job.
- We avoid tripping over our own egos.
While the second gets to the heart of this section, number one also plays into a similar sentiment: You cannot do it all, and your marketing team can’t either.
Everyone at Drift plays a part in getting their content and message to the right audience. Making this happen means building a culture that’s excited to grow that messaging.
But…involving more people in marketing also means relinquishing a bit of control on how that message spreads – which brings us to our next point: Ego is a career killer.
So, how do you solve something like this? A few ways:
- You foster a culture of self-improvement and learning.
- You make people responsible for their own career growth.
- You remind employees, specifically managers, that delegation is necessary for scale.
Former Facebook Executive Molly Graham on What Managers Should Know About Scaling Teams
When Molly Graham started at Facebook in employment branding, the social platform only had about 80 million users. When she left, that number had grown to 1.5 billion. With over a decade of experience at companies like Facebook, Google, and Quip, Molly Graham has unparalleled insight into scaling teams during hypergrowth.
Here are her three tips:
- Your first reaction to everything is usually wrong. During hypergrowth, things can be unpredictable. Your role can start as one thing and quickly transform into something else. This can make people somewhat territorial over their positions and be quick to derail hiring decisions. Molly suggests giving yourself two weeks before making any big decision to remove the chance for emotional bias.
- Your only job is to learn as fast as you can. You must be willing to grow as fast as your company. Part of this is taking risks in areas you’re unfamiliar with or inexperienced in. This is the only way you’ll “get the opportunities no one should reasonably give to you…if you’re willing to take these enormous leaps…”
- You can learn anything as long as you’re willing to sound like a complete moron. Asking questions can make you seem vulnerable, but it’s also a big power move. Asking the types of clarifying questions that many others aren’t willing to ask is a quick way to become the in-house expert.
Check out the full interview with Molly Graham on the Seeking Wisdom podcast.
Hiring Best Practices
In most cases, your senior leadership will approach you with the desire to add a new team member. Though, if you’re part of a smaller organization, this might be an activity you’re still spearheading. Whatever the case, hiring and designing a job role is never an activity done in isolation.
While we can’t give pro tips for hiring every type of marketer under the sun, we’ll walk through what it takes to do this yourself.
Identifying Directly Responsible Individuals
How many times have we witnessed bad hires in our careers?
Like many issues facing the workplace, a bad hire is often the result of poor communication or ownership around a role. In fact, according to CareerBuilder, the average cost of a bad hire can equal around $15,000. That same study found that many employees have identified themselves as bad hires! Two out of three employees told CareerBuilder that they accepted a job and quit within six months after realizing it was a poor fit.
It’s a lose-lose situation: Not only are you costing your hypergrowth company valuable time and money when not approaching the hiring process carefully, but you’re also impacting the lives of candidates.
One of the first things you should do, or require your senior leadership to do, is to identify the hiring manager responsible for a new hire’s performance.
You should then task the hiring manager with bringing 2 to 3 more voices into the fold before determining the job requirements of the position. These people should include:
- Leadership or other managers who will interact with this hire on a regular basis
- If the position is similar to another position that currently exists in the company, have that person be involved as well
The hiring manager should then pose a number of questions to the team around the activities this person will perform, the type of behavioral style you’d expect from someone in this position, and the level of expertise this person requires.
Getting a number of stakeholder perspectives about the position can mitigate confusion when onboarding a person and set the right expectations, both internally and externally, for new employees.
How Nissan Improved Hiring Standards, Built An Amazing Sales Team, And Saved $90 Million in Revenue
To remain competitive in North America, Nissan hired Joan Jones to reevaluate the performance of the North American field sales teams. As part of this process, she created The Field Sales Academy and began using The Predictive Index for data insight into job performance for top and low performers.
But, Joan didn’t do this in isolation. Working with Nissan sales leaders, she created Job Targets for three sales positions: Dealer Operations Manager, Fixed Operations Manager, and Financial Services Manager. During this process, they:
- Determined the behavioral similarities between top performers and created behavioral benchmarks
- Used this data to craft job targets for each role
- Looked at the data of current employees in these positions and compared those to job targets
The stakeholders found that top sales performers were often selling 106% to 116% over quota, while low-performing employees were selling at just 70% to 80% against goals. She found that this 12% difference in top and low performers equated to $90 million in lost revenue.
Joan and Nissan’s key stakeholders generated additional revenue through improved talent optimization. With this data and stakeholder insight, Joan was able to identify which employees required more training and use the Job Target information to build a stronger hiring strategy moving forward for these positions.
You can learn more about how The Predictive Index helped Nissan optimize their sales talent here.
Designing A Marketing Role 101
As part of this book, we’ve included a link to a workbook to guide you and your senior managers in building out your talent framework. One specific template walks through a number of important questions to flesh out a new marketing hire. Answering these questions will help you define how a new position fits into your wider marketing team and strategy, tackles business problems, and more.
Download The Job Roles Template
The Predictive Index, Erica Seidel of The Connective Good, and Drift offer a downloadable workbook you can follow along with. It can be reused for any number of job roles you’re looking to create.
Let’s look at the questions from the template and dig into their purpose.
- How does this job align with your business and marketing strategies?
There’s a reason this is the first question in the job role template. Every job created on your marketing team needs to be linked to the larger marketing strategies you’re looking to execute on in the next 12 to 18 months.
- What business problem(s) will this role address?
Let’s say you want to develop more middle-of-funnel content for a particular persona you’re targeting. The content should be more product-focused. This would be a good pain point for a Product Marketing Manager role to solve.
- What are the three key responsibilities this role will address?
Answering this question will show that you have a plan of how this new role will solve the business problem mentioned above. If you’re unsure how to answer this question, you could be transparent and make it part of the interview process: “What are the three things you would do to tackle XYZ in the first six months?”
- What are the three top accomplishments this role should achieve in year 1?
You’ll probably notice that many of the questions are building upon each other. Having a measure of success, or at least an understanding of what’s achievable in the next year for someone in this position, is important – and the hiring manager is responsible for defining these accomplishments. However, if you’re hiring for a skill you’re unfamiliar with, it helps to talk to someone with a background similar to the role you’re hoping to hire.
- For each responsibility, what does good look like?
Here, you’re setting expectations for what ideal performance looks like for the key responsibilities listed in question three.
- What resources will this person manage?
Depending on the level of this particular role, someone could have ownership over a budget (e.g., Events Director), be a power user of a particular software (e.g., Marketing Ops), or manage other team members. This type of responsibility should be communicated well ahead of time to other team members to avoid redundancies and/or conflicts.
- What level of authority does this person have to make changes (e.g., hiring/firing, implementing new technologies, etc.)?
You never want to leave authority up to interpretation. Be very clear to the team and the new hire about the limits of the position.
- Level 1: Full authority – Inform manager
- Level 2: Medium authority – Partner with/consult manager
- Level 3: Low authority – Recommend to manager
- What are three exciting/unique/compelling things about this job?
The answer here will be part of your external-facing job description. It tells people about the tone and culture of your company. Getting this language right can be the difference between finding the best talent and best team fit for your position, so give this a good amount of attention.
- What are the three behaviors that will make a person successful in this role?
Behavior isn’t just how a person acts, but how a person works. What types of behaviors are you looking to add to your team? How should this person’s behavior complement your team?
Assessing The Skills & Behaviors Of New Talent
As part of Drift’s hiring process, interviewees take The Predictive Index (PI) Behavioral Assessment™. This assessment not only lets management know if a candidate is a good team fit, but if they have the behavioral aptitude to tackle the challenges of their position.
The assessment measures four workplace behavioral factors:
- Dominance: Drive to influence people or events. Individuals on the lower end of this scale tend to be driven by collaboration, team harmony, and agreeability. Those on the higher-end are more comfortable with conflict and tend to be more assertive, independent, and direct.
- Extraversion: Drive for social interaction. Those on the lower-end of the scale tend to be more reflective, analytical, reserved, and prefer to think things through, while those with a higher extraversion drive are generally more talkative, persuasive, enthusiastic, and prefer to work with and through others.
- Patience: Drive for stability and consistency. Individuals on the lower-end of this scale have a natural tendency to be fast-paced, intense, and variety-seeking, while those on the higher-end are more methodical, calm, and consistency-seeking.
- Formality: Drive to conform to rules and structure. Those on the lower-end of the scale have a tendency toward informality and spontaneity, and are comfortable with ambiguity. Those on the higher-end tend to be more process- and precision-oriented, and are disciplined when it comes to following rules and expectations.
After completing the assessment, each individual is given a “Reference Profile” based on the interaction between each of the drives. Within The Predictive Index schema, there are 17 Reference Profiles. This breeds greater self-awareness among teammates and better guidance for managers during and post-hiring. PI’s suite of tools incorporates behavioral profiles and various scientifically-based reports to empower leaders, managers, and individual contributors to communicate more efficiently and drive business results.
The Predictive Index also gives a breakdown of how assessment-takers rank based on the four workforce behaviors mentioned above. Below, we see an example of a workforce behavior breakdown for a Promoter profile. The Promoter is generally an informal, highly social, and collaborative person.
Key: Dominance (A), Extraversion (B), Patience (C), Formality (D)
Promoter is just one of the 17 different Reference Profiles used by The Predictive Index.
So what does a winning combination of personalities look like in a hypergrowth marketing team? We’ve provided a snapshot of what the Drift marketing team PI profiles look like.
Looking at Drift’s own data, it’s easy to imagine why people with these profiles would excel in their positions. But, your marketing department probably looks different than this – and that’s okay. An exercise like this isn’t meant to show what a “perfect marketing department” looks like. Mapping out behaviors and skill data like this is helpful for a number of reasons:
- First, it can help explain how to interact with different teammates.
- It can reveal what types of behavioral drivers aren’t present on your team that marketing could benefit from. For example, the current Drift marketing team consists of 14 of the 17 PI Reference Profiles. Remember, you aren’t looking for carbon copies of your current team, you’re looking for the “right fit.” The right fit most often won’t be a perfect copy of someone else on your team.
- It can provide insight into manager/employee relationships.
As a final example of how behavioral science can be used to build a team, let’s look at the PI Reference Profiles of Drift’s marketing leadership.
Our content and creative leaders are both Mavericks. Their jobs require the type of creativity and visionary nature associated with the Maverick. They are the type of people who aren’t afraid of trying new things that haven’t been done before.
The one outlier? Our VP of Demand Generation: The Venturer. To anyone in the business of demand generation, this makes a ton of sense. Demand generation needs an analytical and decisive leader. Demand gen without someone like this at its head can’t prove the ROI and numbers behind what they do. (Coincidentally, PI’s head of demand generation is also a Venturer.)
So, does this mean that other profiles aren’t best suited for leadership positions? Absolutely not. Every single one of the PI Reference Profiles can provide their own unique spin on leadership. According to The Predictive Index, what makes a truly great manager or leader is a single trait: self-awareness.
Now that you understand how to assess the types of behavior and skills of your new hires, let’s put all the pieces together.
Developing A Foolproof Hiring Strategy
As you get better at designing roles, building out marketing functions, and optimizing your talent, take note of what you’ve learned along the way.
Dave Gerhardt was the first marketing hire at Drift. He began as a Senior Marketing Manager and eventually became the VP of Marketing. Within three years, Dave turned his marketing team of one into 20+ hires.
A lot of Dave’s marketing process was “developed by doing” – meaning he learned on his feet and adjusted to challenges as they came. But there are a lot of ways to build a process that makes sense for your hiring strategy.
Pluralsight’s CMO Gives 3 Best Practices for Building a Talented Team
No matter your background or area of expertise, what makes a great senior executive is their ability to build talented teams from the ground up. That’s according to the CMO of Pluralsight, Heather Zynczak, who has held numerous leadership positions in marketing throughout her career.
Based on her experience, Heather shared three best practices to help other marketing leaders when building their own teams:
- Hire people with the expertise you don’t have.
- Hire people smarter than you.
- Hire a successor.
You can discover more hard-hitting strategies from Heather and other marketing executives in The Modern Marketer’s Playbook.
We asked Erica Seidel of The Connective Good, a boutique executive search shop, to weigh in here. Erica lives, breathes, and sleeps marketing hiring. Working with The Predictive Index, she created a hiring strategy maturity model. Here, she shows how a better hiring process can have a large impact on (10x vs. 1x) long-term success.
Source: The Connective Good, Erica Seidel
As a leader of an organization, hiring is a major responsibility. To help, here are Erica’s best practices to elevate your hiring strategy:
- Philosophy: Just as three marketers in a company of 50 will amplify their effect by turning the remaining 47 employees into marketers themselves, the same is true when it comes to recruiting. To land 10x hires, hiring has to be everyone’s job – not just HR’s. 10x hiring organizations hold everyone accountable for hiring outcomes. They look at not just the speed or cost of hiring, but the quality of the hiring metrics.
- Define: Harvard Business Review reported that CMOs don’t burn out due to a lack of effort or ability, but rather a lack of clear role design. This is true not just for CMOs, but for any role on the marketing team. Instead of jumping right into posting a job, define it first. Defining what “good” looks like by interviewing people currently in the role will enable you to learn first and recruit second. Then, be familiar with – and clear about – the tradeoffs you’re willing to make (if any). For instance, a marketer might be great analytically, but needs to partner with someone to translate math into the written word. While 1x hiring organizations will sit back and say, “I’ll know it when I see it”, 10x hiring companies define the “it” first so that they don’t waste anyone’s time.
- Promote: Typical job specifications in 1x hiring organizations focus only on what the company needs: “The selected candidate will have 10 years of experience in XYZ.” 10x hiring companies think about hiring from the outside-in and really market their roles. They think about what makes a job cool. After all, a job is a product that a talented person will “buy” and then continue to pay for with their time and effort. If it’s a product, it should be marketed as such
- Scout: 1x hiring organizations “source” talent. But 10x hiring is about scouting the talent. It’s about identifying people who are a good fit and approaching them specifically, rather than waiting for them to come to you. 1x companies post and pray, while 10x organizations scout and sell.
- Evaluate: 1x organizations will put candidates through a couple of interviews and look for a cultural fit. 10x companies and hiring leaders take a different approach. They don’t think of the “interview sequence”; they craft a candidate experience. They realize that the candidate experience is just as important as the customer experience. They use behavioral assessments and talent optimization tools to continually improve their hiring process.
- Sell: 1x hiring is all about getting the candidate to sell you. 10x hiring takes into account that the best candidates have options and may need to be sold to. Note that selling happens throughout the hiring lifecycle, not just at the end.
- Audit: In 1x hiring, companies follow the same routine and don’t revisit, optimize, or improve the hiring process based on learnings. In 10x hiring, companies test and learn from the hiring process and use this information to improve hiring moving forward.
Now that you have your marketing and hiring strategy planned out for the next 12 to 18 months, it’s important to consider how you can keep that talent.
Inspire: How to Keep & Grow Talent
After interviewing more than 5,000 managers, Gartner found that contemporary leaders are no longer defined by just the skills they offer, but by “becoming the type of manager that the best people want to work for.”
Employees are no longer satisfied with a regular 9 to 5 job. They want professional development and to feel they’re bringing real value to an organization. And they expect managers to help them excel.
The Employee Experience Evolution
Employee retention has become a hot topic of late. That’s because employees no longer hold the same views around company loyalty and careers that shaped previous workforces. As a result, employee experience has become a top priority for those in leadership looking to attract and retain top talent.
Researchers at MIT CISR found that not only does having a good employee experience improve retention, but a business’ customer retention and bottom line as well. They also discovered that companies with a better employee experience have a higher Net Promoter Score and 25% greater profitability than those with poor employee experiences.
It’s no longer just HR driving what a company’s employee experience looks like. Management plays a more crucial role in improving and monitoring the employee experience. According to Deloitte, there are five elements of a positive employee experience:
- Support: We’ve all heard the saying: “People don’t quit jobs, they quit managers.” Knowing that you’re supported by your manager is instrumental to employee happiness. But what does this support actually look like? First, offering clear goals that employees can track and measure themselves against is essential. Depending on the size of your marketing team and your position on the team, your direct influence on staff goals and communicating those goals will be different. Make sure you communicate the importance of this to your senior leaders.
Coaching and showing interest in an employee’s professional development is also a driving factor behind employees feeling supported in the workplace.
- Meaningfulness: Finding meaning in work is the difference between calling a position a “job” or a “career.” However, the further you are from a leadership position, the more difficult it is to see the impact of your contribution. Great leaders will go further than simply setting and communicating clear goals. They help employees see how these goals feed into the larger strategic vision of the marketing department and company.
- Positivity: Everyone wants to work in a fair and inclusive environment. But fostering a positive workspace should go beyond the bare minimum. A healthy work-life balance and workplace recognition are two areas that can dramatically improve employee satisfaction and happiness. A hypergrowth work environment will, if left unchecked, introduce unhealthy habits. The truth is, you need to lead by example. Set healthy boundaries for working hours among your marketers.
- Opportunity: The benefits of investing in your employees’ professional development are no longer up for debate. Research shows companies that provide training and upward mobility for employees retain them for longer and increase workplace productivity.
- Trust: Trust is a hard thing to get back once it’s gone. Building trust between yourself and your employees is important for a healthy work environment. One of the traps management gets into is over-promising. When setting an expectation or promise with your employees, be sure you can live up to that promise. Additionally, encourage an environment of trust among your staff as well. When David Cancel described the ingredients of a successful hypergrowth company, he emphasized two important elements of trust: transparency and accountability. Make these a cornerstone of your leadership.
Engaging Employees, Empowering Managers & Defining Culture Through Ritual
To close out this book, we’ll look at how Drift approaches the employee experience through employee engagement, manager empowerment, and weekly rituals.
Developing An Employee Engagement Cadence
It isn’t enough to just assume you’re doing the right thing for your employees. If you want to know how your employees feel, you have to ask. At Drift, we do this on a weekly and quarterly basis.
Here’s a breakdown of how we keep a pulse on employee sentiment at Drift:
- Employee Net Promoter (eNPS): Similar to Net Promoter Score, eNPS asks the following question: On a scale from 0-10, how likely are you to recommend <company name> as a place to work? Many companies ask this question on a quarterly or yearly basis. At Drift, we do so every quarter. That way, we can discuss the findings during quarterly company meetings.
- Weekly employee pulse survey: Sometimes a simple check-in question each week is a great way to capture a snapshot of morale in the office. At Drift, we use a tool that sends a question to employees every week via Slack and email. (Our People team has found this to be especially critical during the onboarding process, when setting the tone with new employees is most important for long-term retention.)
- Weekly employee priority survey: Having employees set their priorities each week can happen on a to-do list, sure. But, to give a bit more transparency to our teams, Drift uses a tool that allows managers to respond to and comment on employee priorities for the week. This same tool allows Drifters to “give props” to their teammates to thank them for help on a project or for simply being an awesome desk buddy. At a bare minimum, your hypergrowth company and senior leadership should use eNPS surveys to set priorities for employee initiatives and keep a handle on workplace sentiment. Make sure to use anonymous options (with the ability to follow up, if need be), so people feel comfortable providing candid feedback.
Empowering & Educating Managers
We mentioned this earlier, but we’ll say it again: Your managers set the tone for your team. Empowering and educating them on how to excel in their leadership roles is your job as the department head.
As part of the onboarding process, managers at Drift are given a list of criteria they need to complete for every new hire. This list walks through the steps employees go through and explains to managers the “why” behind each approach:
- Set clear expectations for your new hire. You can’t have too much clarity on what work your new hire should be doing and at what level of independence. Use tools like a 1/7/30 plan and weekly 1-on-1s to set these expectations for each hire.
- Give your team members the resources they need to do their job. This includes training, connecting them to key teammates, and making sure new hires have everything they need to get the job done. Don’t put the full burden on new hires to find resources – whether that’s people or information. Remember what it’s like to be new!
- Connect them to the team. At Drift, all new hires are given a cross-team buddy, but managers need to make sure to connect them to their immediate teammates. Grab lunch together, help new hires get to know their teammates, and foster conversations amongst the team.
- Connect their work to company goals. As quickly as you can, connect a new team member’s priorities to the bigger picture. This helps them see the impact they’re having on the organization.
- Give specific feedback. Give specific feedback on areas where new hires are doing well and where they need to improve.
As a leader, you’re in a unique position to train not just your company, but your industry’s future marketing leaders. But remember, you don’t have to do all of this alone. Work with HR to understand best practices for onboarding and developing new talent in the workplace.
Why We Have Rituals At Drift & Why You Should Too
Drift co-founders Elias Torres and David Cancel needed a way to remind employees of the “why” behind what they do and better foster the type of transparency they preach in Drift’s
To do this, they came up with four rituals that we live by here at Drift: 2 weekly, 1 quarterly, and 1 yearly.
- Two Weekly Rituals: Monday Metrics And Show & Tell
Every Monday and Friday at Drift, all employees get together in our “Backyard” to do two things: 1) Walkthrough how we’re tracking against company KPIs and 2) End the week with presentations on some of the great “ships” of the week.
- One Quarterly Ritual: Company Meeting
This ritual isn’t particularly special to Drift, but given our size, it’s become more of an event. Every quarter the company goes off-site to talk about how we performed during the quarter, celebrate milestones, and give employees the opportunity to ask questions directly to senior leadership. Afterward, we have a cocktail hour to mingle and celebrate what’s to come.
- One Yearly Ritual: Camp Drift
Modern marketers are constantly plugged in, so this activity is particularly important for your team. For a couple of days every summer, Drifters unplug to bond at an actual summer retreat. For a tech company as large as Drift, this might seem unusual. But we find that a little R&R during this time of year really helps the team get to know one another. A lot of companies do this through “summer outings.” While we do leave support staff on-call at this time, we let our customers know we’ll be out of the office for the most par Come up with some of your own marketing department activities to keep staff connected and engaged.
As the Drift team continues to scale, so too does our need to adapt our rituals. Where we once held quarterly meetings in-house, we now need to head off-site. Be sure to scale your rituals to the size and needs of your team!
Leadership isn’t for everyone. Having the experience to lead a critical department through hypergrowth is an exciting, but stressful job. Getting the right team in place to support your strategic vision makes all the difference.
We’d like to thank our friends at The Predictive Index and Erica Seidel of The Connective Good for helping us onboard and build a better workforce here at Drift.
We hope the content here offers best practices for expanding your own hypergrowth marketing team. Best of luck, and see you on the other side of the S-curve.
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