How to Hire the Right Marketing Team for Your Startup

One of the biggest challenges that the startup founders face during the initial stage is the lack of a well-proficient, professional marketing team. A well-rounded marketing team can make or break a startup and that’s why it is essential to hire the very best.

“Choose the first 10 employees very carefully, as they determine the next 100.”

- Yevgeniy Brikman, Gruntwork

Hiring the right team for any startup is an art. Either you can outsource the task to recruiting firms as they have the best talent available or you can do it yourself. Of course, it will take time, but after a few years, you will become an expert yourself.

But before choosing either of the two, it is important to understand how you can make the best possible choice.

“A good idea without a great team is likely to negatively affect your start-up’s potential to attract investment"

 GrowthEnabler, Quora.

Almost all businesses are digital and their marketing efforts are completely different from the way traditional marketers used to market. That’s why while crafting the job descriptions of your marketing hires, make sure you add digital elements that the recruits need to have, and on that basis, you can shortlist them for further process.

In order to ease the process, here are a few guidelines that all startup founders need to understand before they start hiring a marketing team for startup.

Identify Your Marketing Channels.

This may sound obvious but it is actually the crux of the whole hiring process. Even in the online world, marketing is of many types: Content, Paid, Performance, Influencer, Social, Community, and Lead Management.

Most recruits are specialized in any one form of these marketing channels. To identify which of these marketing channels you will use for marketing your startup, and then start hiring for that particular channel.

For example, if your startup is an ecommerce store, you will require both performance marketers and content strategists. However, if you are a design agency, your time will be spent hiring business developers and performance marketers for the startup.

Therefore, identify the right marketing channels before you start the hiring process.

Key Points:

  • Select channels that provide the most ROI and shortlist candidates well-versed in them

  • Prepare effective job descriptions based on selected channels to target the right candidates

Create Targets for Next Six Months.

Six months is all it takes to go from zero level to medium level in anything you pursue: whether a broken relationship, a college course, a music class, or even a health or fitness regime. You will see a significant difference in muscle memory in the next six months if you start now.

The same rule applies to hire the startup marketing team. Where your new hires will decide the future tone, your targets for the next six months will decide the future path.

It is better to keep smart, attainable targets so you can easily track and change them when needed. The VP of Crowdriff, Amrita Gurney, focuses on monthly targets while hiring teams and deciding targets for them.

She says, it seems lucrative to just jump to marketing but understanding the customers and finding the right channels to market is the best way to hire a marketing team. Because with this approach you will be able to hire teams that are already well versed with that marketing channel.

And, when you keep monthly targets, you automatically know the progress of each new recruit. For early age startups, this is the best way to measure progress.

Key points:

  • Make smart, attainable, and measurable goals

  • Be flexible and praise for efforts

  • Educate and empower your marketing team

“When 10 percent to 20 percent of salespeople miss goals, the problem might be the salespeople. But when most salespeople miss, the problem is their goals.”

The Harvard Business Review

Understand the Structure of a Modern Marketing Team.

Tons of guides are available on understanding the structure of a modern marketing team. But for a digital startup, we can bring it down to content creation and promotion, performance tracking and lead generation, and lead management and support.

These are the three main sub-departments of a marketing section within a digital startup. So, hiring recruits specific to any one of these departments will be a good starting point.

While recruiting for your startup, find out which type of marketing people have the skills that you require for your marketing.

One thing to keep in mind is that a marketing structure is made of a combination of different structures. So, review your current team structure and look for departments that you can merge together.

Key points:

  • Aim for an integrated marketing team

  • Keep the team agile and flexible to target changes

“Well-organized teams are better positioned to succeed than ones that aren't.”

Ben Sailer, CoSchedule

What to Look For in the Candidate.

You must have heard of people who have no relevant background to a specific job landing high-level positions in startups just on the basis of their potential and grit.

So, what exactly are startups looking for when hiring candidates?

  • Passion

There are two ways to find out if a person is passionate about your company and the industry it relates to especially if you are looking for junior executives. Find out what type of projects they have worked on, on an individual level. Check if they have started a group, community, or even just a blog. It shows they are interested in working in your industry.

  • Drive

Are they growth-driven? The people you hire need to be interested in your project. They should have a desire to help the company grow while growing themselves. The best way to find this out is to provide the recruits with a problem.

Founder of says that once they were hiring a data analyst for their company. During the initial interview, the analyst told them that they had a problem with their analysis. He went home and worked on the analysis himself and provided the solution with a detailed report on the very next day. The founder of Staff hired that candidate on the spot.

  • Humility

Does he own his mistakes?

The problem with all startups is that people will make mistakes. Now, there is no problem in making them, it is the part, where the person who made the mistake doesn’t accept it, becomes the problem. Startup recruits need to be humble and should accept if they are wrong because that is the only way the startup culture can thrive and grow.

  • Dedicated

Startups should also check whether the person is actually dedicated towards their organization or only interested in his own learning.

One startup founder quotes the example of a candidate who was so eager to learn about the work that he continued to show up even after his internship had ended, and that no permanent position was available with the firm. But after a few months, the team was so impressed by his dedication and hard work that they were able to create a permanent position for him.

Importance of Training and Development.

Once you have hired the right people for your startup, train them on a regular basis so they can provide even more value. By training the employees you are upgrading their skill set. Training also increases their eagerness to stay at the company because they will understand that they are at least learning something new. At the same time, when you offer training to employees, more people are going to join your startup because the news spread with the word of mouth of your current employees.

By training, you also help the employees overcome their weaknesses. This increases their satisfaction to stay at the firm.

Key points:

  • Consistent training ensures all employees are at the same level

  • Increases learning the satisfaction of employees as they are learning something new every day

  • Builds their confidence and provides them with the better understanding of the nature of work

All these points directly translate to more value for your startup.

Keep a Long-term Plan in Mind.

Finally, while hiring marketers for your startup, focus on your long-term marketing plan. You need to have a checklist of things you want to achieve before you start the hiring process so that the team can work accordingly. Remember, there is no such thing as a bad hire. In the end, the responsibility lies on your shoulders to take the team forward.

Here are the key takeaways of this article:

  • Sketch out job descriptions of each position you want to be filled

  • Assess recruits through various job-related tests

  • Create SMART targets

  • Provide guidance and training