I have been helping businesses hire senior marketing talent for 3+ years and advise early stage founders regularly on how to grow a marketing team. A lot of founders know they need a marketing function in their business to grow, however are not always clear on what this should look like and what level of experience is necessary.
When a client reaches out to me because they want to hire a marketer for the first time, my first question is always, “What do you want them to do?” For example, do they want someone to develop their brand strategy and manage budgets or someone to manage their social channels.
There is a lot a first marketing hire can take on; the role is actually very broad so it’s important to have a real understanding of what you want your marketer to do for your business.
The right time to hire your first marketer depends on what your key objectives are, and the current needs of your business.
For example, if your goal is to build a globally recognised consumer brand with a 100k Instagram followers in the next 12 months, then hiring a marketer straight away is essential, whether that is one internal marketer to liaise with a marketing agency, or one capable of growing a team in-house.
If you’re a sales driven enterprise in the early stages, getting your sales strategy in place first will likely take priority and then the next steps will be around how you can use marketing to tell your story and start using new channels to drive inbound leads. In my experience, my clients have decided to bring a marketer in-house when they are between 10-15 employees in this space.
If you are hiring a marketer, you not only need think about headcount costs, you need to think about the actual overall marketing budget, as the type of marketing professional you attract will depend on this.
If you want an experienced professional who may be used to working with a large team and a £10m marketing budget and you have just put aside £10k, the likelihood of you attracting them is very small. If you don’t have a huge budget then you may need to think about a hiring an ambitious junior marketer who will grow and develop with you.
If you only have a £10k marketing budget for paid advertising and you want to hire someone full-time to manage this, you will end up having to pay more in salary than the actual campaign budget. Having a small budget doesn’t however mean you can’t hire a marketer as long as you are utilising inbound tactics such as content writing.
Do you have the time to head-hunt the right person or do you need a recruiter with existing marketing connections and experience to do this for you? There are many benefits to hiring a good recruiter to do this for you:
Speed – they already have a database of talent to tap into so the turnaround is usually quicker
Advertising costs covered – job boards are very expensive
Shortlist of candidates – they will do the timely task of sifting through CV’s and LinkedIn profiles and send you a shortlist of the top 3-5 available candidates
Process management – a recruiter will liaise with the candidates on your behalf, book in their interviews, give feedback and send contracts
I would advise finding a recruiter who solely specialises in marketing as they will have access to the best pool of candidates and will be able to advise you on the level of experience you need, cultural fit, salary expectations, job specification etc.
It’s really important to think about the challenges you think marketing can help tackle. For example, is your sales team struggling to win business because your brand lacks credibility? Do your customers drop off the sales funnel when they land on your website because the user experience is poor? Are you struggling to drive any organic traffic to your website because you aren’t ranking on Google?
If you are currently facing all of the above challenges, then I would advise that you need full-time marketing support. If your only problem is the functionality of your website, it may make more sense to hire a freelancer or web agency to resolve this.
One thing to be aware of, is the time it takes to manage freelancers and external agencies. Do you have the time to worry about this or would you benefit from a marketing professional in-house to liaise with key stake holders? You also don’t want your marketing efforts to not be aligned because you are working with multiple agencies and freelancers who aren’t communicating.