How to Build a Marketing Team for Growth
What your growth team looks like depends on your goals and the methods you’ll use to achieve growth. At Lean Labs, we’re all about having a lean, cross-functional team (it’s in the name). We use data and experimentation to eliminate friction from the buyer’s journey and make customer acquisition profitable.
How? Through sprints that tackle incremental goals and execute campaigns to help businesses achieve ambitious targets.
That was a mouthful. In a nutshell, you have a business; we help you grow.
The benefits of building a lean marketing team revolve around effectiveness and efficiency. Because of the cross-functional nature of growth teams, marketing, sales, design, and developer departments align to work towards the same goals.
In more siloed work environments, miscommunication and double work often occur because of a lack of alignment, so the structure is just as important as building a team. Without structure, that house you built on sand will also have the only bathroom in the basement.
Hiring the right people and using the right tools will also impact your team’s success. And we’re here to help.
What a Growth Marketing Team Does
Marketing teams work to pull the six levers of growth. From awareness right through to reputation, the idea is to create a funnel that turns leads into customers and customers into brand advocates, making your customers your best marketers.
In growth marketing teams:
- Marketers generate brand awareness and attract qualified leads
- Sales pick up the leads and sell the right deals to the right people
- Designers and developers create a great experience for customers on your website and with your product
With fewer silos, you have a team that can identify the friction in the buyer journey and test methods to reduce friction, creating a seamless customer experience.
But that’s not all. Growth marketing teams:
- Align the company on your vision
- Create go-to-market strategies designed to attract and retain your ideal customers
- Work on customer development and analyzing the competitive landscape
- Help you build a high-converting website and create your unique positioning
Lastly, marketing teams create relevant and helpful content and assets that nudge customers along the buyer journey.
What Are Your Priorities?
As you build your team and develop a structure, consider your priorities. The main one should be to drive return on investment (ROI) from marketing efforts. Before you can reliably scale growth, you must have marketing that pays for itself.
Next, decide on the roles you need to fill. Is it different for different businesses? Certainly. For example, startups might need a different structure than enterprise companies due to fewer resources and a smaller team.
For more on growth team structures, here’s an article that will interest you: 3 Examples of How To Structure A Growth Team For Rapid Growth in 2023.
If you want to see success with your team, you’ll need to track and optimize performance. That means regular meetings, data-driven campaigns, and a mindset of continuous improvement.
What Skills Does a Marketer Need to Have?
A marketer needs to be creative and possess an inquiring mind. But in the B2B SaaS market, they also need technical and analytical skills.
- Digital marketing: Although team members will have different strengths, all marketers should understand search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, social media marketing, email marketing, and content marketing.
- Data analysis: Data is a marketer’s best friend. Marketers should know how to gather, analyze, and evaluate data for better marketing decisions. For example, they should be able to develop a hypothesis, create an A/B test to test that hypothesis, and use the results to develop better marketing assets.
- Branding: Marketers must understand how to develop, maintain, and promote a brand . It’s crucial to create a consistent brand identity across multiple channels and work to ensure the brand resonates with ideal customers.
- Content creation: Writing compelling content and copy, designing eye-catching graphics, and producing engaging videos should be skills a marketer strives to learn or at least understand.
- Marketing strategy: Marketers must analyze market trends, identify gaps and opportunities, and develop and execute a marketing plan that aligns with business objectives.
- Communication: When marketers communicate effectively verbally, and in writing, they can create productive relationships with customers and colleagues. Lack of communication often leads to missing things or avoidable misunderstandings.
- Project management: Meeting deadlines, prioritizing tasks, and managing multiple projects are things marketers will learn, especially in a growth marketing environment where they need to execute campaigns effectively.
- Creativity: An ability to think outside the box and develop new and innovative ideas for marketing campaigns is essential. It’s not enough to perform tasks without thought just to finish them. Marketers must also switch on their creativity and find ways to help the brand stand out.
- Adaptability: The capacity to adapt, embrace new technology and trends, and learn and evolve continuously are all traits a marketer needs. Marketing leaders need to foster these skills.
- Customer-focused mindset: Understanding customer needs, behaviors, and preferences and utilizing this information to inform marketing strategies will help marketers create better marketing assets and inform their understanding of the buyer’s journey.
5 Things to Consider Before Building Your Team
1. Establish Your Baselines
What stage is your business in? If you’re starting out, maybe you’ll have a team of generalists who wear multiple hats and perform various marketing tasks. As you scale, start to hire specialists who have deep expertise in one domain.
For example, one team member might specialize in content creation. Other team members will still create content, but it will all pass through the head of content creation.
You’ll want to establish baseline key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the success of your marketing efforts. For example, do you have an awareness target? You might set a quarterly organic traffic goal and scale that goal as you grow.
Pro tip: We have just the tool to help you establish baselines and track progress as you grow. And it’s free! It’s called the Growth Grader. Our clients use it to discover friction in the buyer journey and ensure their team aligns on the same goals.
2. Align Your Team
Speaking of goals, your team needs to know which goals are most important. They must be clear, measurable, and aligned with your business goals. Communication of these goals is critical, and regular updates ensure you hit your goals.
Think overall vs. incremental. With higher-level goals, you know your direction as a team, and you have purpose. With incremental goals, you’re breaking down the larger goal into smaller chunks. Small victories provide momentum and help motivate your team.
You’ll need to ensure buy-in from stakeholders before creating strategies or setting lofty goals. Do you have the resources? Is your team confident they can execute effectively? Get input and feedback before barrelling ahead.
3. Determine Your Budget
Starting with a small budget is fine. It just means you’ll have to be smart with your resources. For example, you could level up your content writing chops. Talk to sales and customer success teams and learn your prospects’ challenges and questions.
Be realistic with your budget and hire for the roles you absolutely need.
For example, don’t hire two marketers at the expense of a sales professional if you’re starting out and need sales. At the same time, you need to focus on customer retention just as much as customer acquisition, so make sure you have a robust onboarding process and customer success team in place.
4. Figure Out Your Strategy
Knowing the strategy you want to implement will determine how you structure your team. Will you focus on organic traffic and converting qualified leads? If so, consider the campaigns and tasks you’ll need to execute efficiently.
Ask the right questions. For example, which market are you trying to enter? Do you need a full-time design and creative team? Is it better to outsource your marketing efforts? Or shoot for a hybrid model? There are various avenues you can take.
5. Develop a Hiring Process
Be proactive and deliberate when looking for talent. And ensure you have a robust hiring process. It should be thorough and include job postings, candidate screening, and structured interviews. How will you source talent?
Maybe you’ll start with a wide net using job boards and networking sites like LinkedIn or ask peers for recommendations.
Also, consider the qualities you’re looking for in new hires. Skills and experience are essential, but so are qualities and values. In a marketing hire, a growth mindset, teamwork, communication skills, and cultural fit are important qualities to look for.
What Roles Will You Need to Fill?
The specific roles you need to fill depend on your industry, sales process, growth strategy, and budget. Remember, having a bigger budget doesn’t mean you should hire a bigger team. But you can get more granular with more budget to play with.
For example, along with generalist marketers with knowledge of SEO, you might invest in an SEO specialist.
Be strategic and consider hiring in phases:
- Phase 1: Hire a head of growth.
- Phase 2: Build your core team (growth marketer, designer, developer)
- Phase 3: Invest in your extended team, and hire roles like video specialist, CRO (conversion rate optimization) specialist, social media manager, data analyst, PR/partnership management, and performance marketer.
As your business scales, so does your team. In the early days, team members can fill more than one role. Instead of hiring a team member for each seat, encourage your team to develop their skill set.
Here’s an example of what a growth marketing team looks like.
Every team needs a leader. The leader knows that the buck stops with them. They might not always be in the weeds, but they’re not afraid to get their hands dirty.
Think of a growth leader as the captain of a ship. They steer campaigns on the right course, and their experience of the seas helps them recognize when the team needs to change direction or steam ahead. They have their finger on the team’s pulse and look to galvanize their crew in choppy waters.
OK, that’s enough of the ship talk.
The head of growth should be a visionary and have a track record of delivering results for companies like yours.
I mentioned the skills a marketer needs earlier, but more important than skills is an understanding of full-funnel marketing and how to pull all six levers of growth. Growth marketers build and implement strategies to help meet goals.
They will use tactics that have been successful in past campaigns but aren’t afraid to pivot if necessary.
Their only concern is driving growth. They’re well-versed in creative disciplines like copywriting and content creation and use data and analytics to write, distribute, measure, and optimize campaign assets.
Video Content Specialist
I won’t bore you with statistics about how video is “really big this year,” because it’s been that way for at least a decade now. But it’s a wise investment to hire a video content specialist. They’ll handle the visual storytelling aspect of campaigns and post-production editing.
More importantly, a video content specialist focuses on how your audience engages with video content. Anyone can post videos today, so you need someone to help you create content that will sift through the noise.
As our own video content specialist, Eric, puts it:
“I love the concept of Seth Godin’s purple cow. If you don’t know about it, he says if you’re from the city when you first see a cow, you’ll stop and be amazed at it, but after a while of driving and continuously seeing cows, you’ll kind of get used to it and it’ll fall in the background and the amazement will go away. And it wouldn’t be until you saw something unusual again, like a purple cow, that would make you stop and pay attention. I think the role of a video content specialist is to create “Purple Cow Content” in a world where anybody can throw up a video.”
Designers bring your ideas to life. They’re skilled in the following:
- Creating visually appealing websites, landing pages, CTAs, and other marketing assets
- Creating an innovative, memorable, and consistent brand experience
- Own the visual storytelling for the brand
Beyond creative and technical skills, designers must work with marketing teams to avoid silos. Otherwise, you might end up with low-quality designs that negatively affect campaign progress or high-quality designs that don’t align with marketing objectives.
Beyond coding and development skills, developers are adept at problem-solving and critical thinking.
Using growth-driven design methodology – a cyclic process of prototyping, testing, analyzing, and refining a product or process – developers create and run experiments to continuously improve your website.
Because growth marketing teams are data-driven, developers can lean on data to drive continuous improvements. Getting feedback from users about design, messaging, and overall user experience gives developers the tools they need to make changes.
A Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) Specialist
A CRO specialist might feel like a luxury. Surely all marketers need to have the skills to drive conversions? You’re right. But marketers are often in the thick of it. And have a lot of balls to juggle.
CRO specialists can look at a page from a fresh perspective. Their priority is asking what stops users from converting, and how can they optimize the design, flow, and copy of your website and landing pages for easy conversions.
They’re adept at analyzing data and user behavior and rely on A/B tests to collect the data they need. They can also offer recommendations and work closely with designers and developers to continuously improve conversion rates.
The Tools You’ll Need to Build a Marketing Team
Growth marketing relies on data. You need to track, analyze, and optimize performance. Does it seem like there’s a tool for everything? That’s because there probably is. What’s more helpful is a tool that brings other tools together.
You could look at tools like Zapier (and if you’re starting out, it’s a solid option to create workflows), but HubSpot is a tool that helps you manage your entire customer journey on one platform.
We use HubSpot, and so do our clients. It’s a comprehensive marketing, sales, and customer service platform that offers a wide range of features any marketing team can use to drive ROI. Features include
- Marketing automation
- Website management
- Email marketing
- Social media management
- Lead management
- Analytics and reporting
- Customer service and support
You might think HubSpot is expensive. And it can be. But you can start for free. There’s a free CRM option and CMS tools to build an incredible website. HubSpot grows with you. As you begin to scale, scale HubSpot, too.
What other tools are there?
- Marketing automation tools: HubSpot, Marketo, and Pardot.
- Analytics and reporting tools: Google Analytics, Mixpanel, and Heap.
- Project management tools: Asana, Trello, and ClickUp.
- Collaboration tools: Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Google Workspace.
- Design tools: Figma, Adobe Creative Cloud, and Canva.
- Content management systems: WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla.
- Conversion optimization tools: Lucky Orange, Hotjar, Wynter
Note: Tools don’t deliver results; people do. Ensure your team uses tools effectively, and every quarter, see which tools you’re not getting use out of; you might cut some unnecessary costs!
Tips for Hiring
Clearly Define Each Role
Make sure each role on your marketing team has clear responsibilities and expectations before you begin the hiring process.
In addition to helping you determine what skills and experience each position requires, you will also be able to evaluate candidates more effectively during the interview process.
You might expect marketers to take on various responsibilities and learn new skills. That’s OK. As long as you articulate that, have a robust onboarding process in place, and foster a culture of collaboration and teamwork.
Find a Mix of Technical and Creative Talent
A successful marketing team needs both technical and creative skills. Look for candidates with both technical skills, such as data analysis and project management, and creative skills, such as design and copywriting.
As I mentioned earlier, team members can fill more than one role; over time, they might gravitate towards a more technical or creative position.
Values Fit is Paramount
Whether in-person or remotely, your marketing team will work closely together. New hires might disrupt the atmosphere if they don’t share company values. You need people who demonstrate teamwork skills and have a positive attitude.
Any hire is a representation of your values. Rather than a ‘culture’ fit, which is hard to define, values are specific principles, explicitly stated and easy to give feedback on.
Diversity is Important
Diversity isn’t a buzzword. With a diverse marketing team, you’ll get
- A broader range of perspectives
- Different lived experiences
- More ideas brought to the table
Diverse teams lead to more innovative and effective marketing strategies. When hiring, consider diversity in terms of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and background.
Consider Remote Work
The significant upside of the leap forward in remote work is you can hire talented marketers, designers, and developers from anywhere in the world. The tools at your disposal allow for easy collaboration in real-time, and you have people who appreciate the flexibility of working from home ready to join your team.
This one might feel a bit 101, but without solid references, you won’t understand a candidate’s work history and experience comprehensively. This is even more important in the world of remote work. You have no physical oversight, so knowing that your candidates have performed well elsewhere is a good sign.
How to Build a Marketing Team for Growth: Start With What You Have
Building a marketing team for growth is critical for any company looking to achieve its business goals. By clearly defining each role, hiring the right people, and using the right tools, you can create a strong foundation for growth and success.
With the right combination of technical and creative skills, a focus on values fit, and a commitment to diversity, your marketing team will be poised to drive results and help your company reach new heights. Don’t be afraid to seek out new talent.
Depending on the position your company is in, does building an in-house team make sense for your business? It’s a significant investment, and it’s easy to get it wrong.
Instead, a hybrid or outsourced growth team may be able to fill your in-house gaps if you don’t have all the players you need in-house or aren’t ready to hire for full-time roles.
As an outsourced Growth team, Lean Labs has helped deserving brands achieve more than $100 million in revenue growth. Want to know how we do it? You have a couple of options.
Book a Growth Mapping Session, where we’ll tell you what we’d do if we were in your shoes based on the information you give us.
Alternatively, take a sneak peek and unlock our secrets in our free Growth Playbook! (Sshhh, don’t tell anyone else.)