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HubSpot : How to Build and Scale a High-Performance Marketing Team, According to Leaders

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In 2020, I started using Headspace.

And, as it turns out, so did everyone else.

The meditation app, which was first launched back in 2012, initially generated roughly $30 million in revenue and, as of 2017, had 40,000 subscribers.

Today, the app has over 2 million users, and is valued at $320 million dollars. How’s that for growth?

But, when any company scales that quickly, it begs the question: Will the business survive, and even thrive under its newfound success? Or will it crumble?

Perhaps your company is experiencing similar growth, and your marketing team is feeling the growing pains. Or, maybe your business is brand new, and you’re focused on effectively building a strong marketing team for the first time.

Whichever the case, the challenges that come along with building or scaling a marketing team can be detrimental to an organization if handled poorly. Which is why I sat down with marketing leaders at Google, Microsoft, Wistia, Canva, and Typeform to learn their tips for successfully building or scaling a team – so that you’re ready when it’s your time to grow.

Let’s dive in.


Tips for Building an Effective Marketing Team


1. Hire with diversity, equity, and inclusion in mind.

There are countless benefits to diversity in the workplace – for instance, did you know organizations with a diverse leadership team have 19% higher revenue on average than companies with less diverse leaders?

Or, how about the fact that diverse teams can solve problems faster than cognitively similar people?

Suffice to say, diversity matters.

When building an effective marketing team, it’s critical to consider diversity, equity, and inclusion from the very beginning.

As Google’s Global Head of SMB Partnerships Marketing, Elana Chan, told me, ‘Hiring is the most important thing you’ll do as a leader – and that also means you need to think about DEI. It’s easy when we’re running fast to just ask people in our own networks to apply for open positions, but it’s worth it to diversify. Every study and even my own experience has proven that diversification and different points of view are important.’

Chan adds, ‘It takes longer to hire people who are outside of your natural network, but it’s worth it. You’ll get the right people for the job and also set the right tone across your organization. It’s important to walk the talk when it comes to DEI, not just when it’s convenient.’

When you’re first building out your team, you’ll want to ensure you incorporate DEI into your recruitment plans. To do this, consider writing inclusive job descriptions, advertise roles through diverse channels, and standardize your interview process.

You might also try using recruitment technology like Greenhouse Inclusion to reduce the risks of unconscious bias when interviewing.


2. Hire people who are hungry enough to try anything.

If you’re just starting out, you don’t have unlimited budget to hire a slew of marketers who specialize in various marketing activities. Instead, you likely only have the budget for a handful of marketers – or perhaps even just one.

So … how do you make that one hire count?

Above all else, Wistia co-founder and CEO Chris Savage believes it’s important to consider how driven your first marketing hire is.

He told me, ‘You want to find someone who is extremely hungry, and can make their own things – whether that is video, written content, or audio. Whichever assets your team needs, if you can find someone who can be both the creator and manager of those assets, then you unlock the ability to try things much more easily.’

‘At Wistia,’ he adds, ‘I hired a lot of misfits who were so hungry that they were willing to try anything. Maybe on paper it didn’t make sense, but in reality, it was incredible.’

For instance, perhaps your marketing team has identified YouTube as a viable opportunity to reach new audiences and convert those users into leads. If that’s the case, consider hiring someone with experience creating video – along with a strong desire to learn quickly, and try new things.


3. Hire a marketing customer experience (CX) leader.

When asked what the most crucial early hire on a marketing team is, John Cosley, Senior Director of Global Brand Marketing at Microsoft Advertising, told me: ‘Two years ago, I would have said a marketing data scientist – someone who can analyze datasets and help their organizations better understand their customers and identify future opportunities, as well as advise on marketing tactics and analysis methodologies.’

‘Fast forward to today,’ He adds, ‘And I would say that the marketing customer experience (CX) leader is the most crucial early hire in scaling a marketing team. Consumer journeys have increasingly become digital and multi-modal and expectations have increased around privacy and trust, personalization, and quality.’

If you’re interested in creating a customer experience strategy for your business, take a look at How to Define a Customer Experience (CX) Strategy.

Ultimately, a customer experience is about putting the customer first. As Cosley told me, ‘Consumers are more likely to value a brand that values them, so it has become critical for brands today to prioritize the customer experience all the way through the purchasing funnel.’


4. Hire early.

Hiring as you’re scaling can be a bit like trying to build a plane while you’re flying it.

It can be difficult and messy to get new hires up-to-speed at the same time you need them to perform optimally so your consumers don’t feel the friction. To minimize these challenges, consider hiring months ahead of when you’ll need certain roles filled.

As Francois Bondiguel, Canva’s Global Head of B2B Marketing & Growth, told me, ‘A big challenge that many face as they scale is getting the organizational structure and strategy right. This includes hiring the right people, and ensuring they have leaders in place to guide them through this transformative phase and help them remove roadblocks so they can move fast.’

‘On that note,’ Bondiguel adds, ‘it’s important for key hires to be brought in early to ensure they are properly onboarded prior to projects ramping up. This helps avoid placing unrealistic pressure on new team members as well as the broader group.’

To do this effectively, take a look at your team’s long-term vision, and brainstorm which role(s) will need to be filled to get your team to the next level.


5. Use one data set to guide your entire department.

When you’re first starting out, I’m willing to bet your lean startup team understands the importance of making data-based decisions … but they likely also work in silos.

Maybe you have two content strategists who focus on lead generation numbers. Then, perhaps you have another social media marketer who focuses on cost-per-acquisition.

The issue? ‘When you’re operating in silos, there are also data silos,’ Chan tells me. ‘Which means you can never pull the same number across teams. That’s a mistake. If you start off providing your team with a unified data set, then it’s easier to grow together. It’s much harder to merge data sets later, and then it becomes politics to determine the right numbers to use.’

To fix this, ensure you have a unified system for collecting and analyzing data even when your team is small. Consider using a CRM to store your data in one place, or creating a department dashboard in Google Analytics.

Whatever the case, it’s vital you provide your team with a centralized location so your data processes can grow with you as you scale.


6. Focus on customer retention in the beginning, rather than just customer acquisition.

When you start to see your list of customers growing, it can be tempting to want more, more, more.

But as a startup, you need to be careful. If you focus exclusively on acquiring new…

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