Whether you have to build a marketing team from scratch or restructure an existing one, you should have one thing in mind before doing anything.

You should understand that "the need precedes the role".

In other words, you only hire when you know what you are hiring for.

A role must be created by an actual need in the day-to-day execution of your marketing.

Therefore, there is no one-size-fits-all marketing department.

There cannot be.

Every marketing department is different depending on the channels and the specific marketing projects developed.

And do not get fooled by titles. For example, a content manager could mean a completely different thing from one company to another.

Once you know that you cannot just copy/paste an org chart from another company, it opens up a clean slate for you to build your team.

In this process there are still best practices you should know about. This is what we will explore together.

Leadership roles

Advice #1: Hire the leader first to build your marketing team

If you are building a marketing team you should start with the leadership position:

  • A CMO (Chief-Marketing-Officer) or a Marketing Director if you are building the whole department.
  • A team leader if you are building a subset of the department.

Advice #2: Taking the time to have a solid plan before hiring

The leader, once in place, will hire the rest of the team.

And before doing so, the leader should have a very clear idea of the overall marketing plan for the coming year.

They need to know the projects they will develop.

Remember when I said that "the need precedes the role"?

This is what I meant.

The more clear the plan, the easier it is to know who to hire and what specific skills to look for.

So hire the leader first. Give the leader time to test & learn, and design an action plan.

Only then, should they hire more people.

Advice #3: Jack of all trades

The leader should know a lot about a lot of the key topics they will handle.

That doesn't they should handle it themselves. But, at least, they need to be able to follow their team's work and coach them regularly.

And on top of the technical knowledge, they should have excellent management skills (communication, delegation, planning, coaching, etc...).

Titles can include:

  • CMO
  • Marketing Director
  • Head of Growth
  • Acquisition Director
  • Content Director

The key traits to look for in a leadership role:

  • Can translate business objectives into marketing strategy
  • Has a growth mindset focused on metrics and experimentation.
  • Has management & leadership skills

Content Roles

Your marketing's department first objective is to develop brand awareness and lead generation.

But to do so, the department will have to be very good at developing content. This is why you will need to hire for content roles.

Advice #1: Hire Generalists

Hire content managers who are able to develop different types of content (text, audio, video, apps, templates, live...).

Avoid content specialists.

For example, do not hire someone who can just write for the blog.

You need someone who is a very good writer but can also, when needed, work a video project or launch a webinar.

If you are looking for specialized talent better hire freelancers.

Advice #2: Creative Autonomy

Your content managers should be able to come up with creative ideas on their own and handle almost all the aspects of the project on their own. Here is a great article about measuring creativity you should check out.

They should be able to handle 80% of the project by themselves: the planning, the production, and even some aspects of the distribution. If the project is too complex they have to be able to lead a small team for the project.

Advice #3: Design a team around projects not specialty.

You should structure your team based on projects not based on types of content, formats, or channels.

For example, if you want to develop your video content, you should not appoint one person responsible for developing video content.

Instead, one team member can for example come up with a series of videos for your YouTube channel, while another develops a series of short videos for Instagram.

What matters are the projects, not the format nor the channels.

Advice #4: Sector knowledge

How can a content manager be good at attracting an audience if they don't know what the audience wants?

This is why sector knowledge is very important when hiring for this type of role.

They need to know what kind of content is already out there, and what the target audience will appreciate.

This is how they can become innovative.

Of course, you can always teach them on the job but it will take time (6 months to a year) before they really know the sector.

Titles can include: Content manager, director, specialist, editor, writer, or producer

The key traits to look for in a content role:

  • The candidate can write really well. Copywriting is a really important skill even for a video specialist, so test their writing capacity.
  • Creativity. The candidate can be creative and come up with innovative ideas.
  • The candidate can summarize complex concepts and ideas into simple projects.
  • Empathy. The candidate can empathize with the audience's problems and aspirations.

Acquisition Roles

Not need to take an MBA to understand that marketing operations consist mainly of producing content then distributing that content.

That's it. It's fairly simple in principle.

Producing content is handled by the content team, as explained above.

However, when the content is produced it needs to be promoted, and this where acquisition roles are very important.

Acquisition specialists are essentially working on getting eyeballs to watch and interact with the content.

Advice #1: Hire Specialists

I mentioned earlier that your content marketers should be generalists.

On the other hand, acquisition marketers should be specialists.

There is no point in hiring an SEO manager or a marketing automation manager who is not an expert already.

Advice #2: Test their technical skills

Technical skills are at the core of most of these acquisition roles.

So they should be tested before hiring. There are many ways to test hard skills.

My favorite approached are case studies.

Most preferably, case studies done live with a limited time and followed by a discussion.

Advice #3: Data literacy is key

You acquisition team needs to be focused on making sense of the data.

Data is where they should learn about what to do next.

So diving into numbers should not scare your SEO, PPC, or email marketing manager.

Advice #4: Operational performance

Acquisition requires to be more on the operational side of marketing.

You need to stay organized and know how to present transparently complex results.

Invest early in dashboards, tools to track your results and metrics.

It is important to have all the experiments documented.

Titles can include:

  • PPC Manager
  • SEO Manager
  • Email Marketing Manager
  • Marketing Automation Manager
  • CRM Manager
  • Acquisition Manager
  • Social Media Manager
  • Partnerships Manager
  • Affiliate Marketing Manager

The key traits to look for when hiring for an acquisition role:

  • You need someone who is very operational, organized and likes to test new things.
  • Determination. In an acquisition role, you sometimes need to do things over and over until you master the recipe.
  • Technical mindset - always strengthening their expertise and understanding new trends.
  • Analytical mindset - needs to love diving into data and identifying patterns.