So, you’ve done it. You’ve started your business. You’ve got a fantastic product or solution. You’ve done the research and you know there’s an ideal product-market fit.
You’ve found some backers, or you know, maybe you just sold your car, but you’re ready and you’re looking for the marketer of your dreams to help you spread the good word.
And suddenly you’re hit with a conundrum.
Who should your first marketing hire be? Or as Ray Parker Jr. so aptly put it all the way back in 1984 – who you gonna call?
The first marketing hire
Want the good news? If you’re in the unenviable position of trying to figure out who your first marketing hire should be, you’re not alone.
Here at Vehicle Media, we run into this problem all the time. You’re a slim organization, and you know you need to invest in marketing, but even the biggest rockstar in the world, simply can’t do everything that you need.
The field is just too big and too diverse, and to be quite honest, if you come across someone who says they know it all, you’ve found your first red flag just there.
So how to narrow things down, to at least start to get a sense of what you need? In most cases, rather than looking outwards, the answer you’re looking for can be found from within (we went there).
What is the core element of marketing that will help your business grow your revenue stream(s) most efficiently in the quickest way possible?
Find the answer to that question – and you’re suddenly on much firmer grounds for making your first marketing hire.
Why does marketing exist? (what you need to think about before you think about the first marketing hire)
When you start to break it down, the amount of functions that are grouped under the term marketing is really quite mind-boggling. Former CMO of Drift, Dave Gerhardt, provides a comprehensive breakdown of some of the fields that modern marketing teams are tasked with ownership of today:
- Creative: Design a brand and assets that reflect the business.
- PR/Corporate Comms: Generate positive word-of-mouth in the marketplace and build thought leadership.
- Social Media: Manage social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn TikTok, and Twitter.
- Content Marketing: Create written, visual, or audio educational content across your website and other channels.
- Email/SMS Marketing: Build relationships or drive sales with an opted-in audience on email or via text.
- Product Marketing: Responsible for P&L of a given product, working closely with product development.
- Demand Generation: Drive demand for products and services (sometimes 100% focused on lead generation).
- Event/Field Marketing: Build virtual and in-person experiences that solidify thought leadership and facilitate sales conversations.
- Growth Marketing: Facilitating flywheel-style loops and eliminating friction through detailed experiments.
- Account-Based Marketing: Red-carpet treatment and personalized marketing campaigns for a specific subset of target accounts.
- Sales Enablement: Produce materials, training, and assets for the sales team.
- SEO/Web Development/User Experience: Curate the website experience, including optimizing for SEO.
Dave Gerhardt’s ‘How to Structure and Manage a Marketing Team’
While it would clearly be impossible for a single individual to hold expertise in every single one of these functions, the list here gives you some idea of the breadth of fields that many marketers are expected to at least know of if not be chapter and verse voices of authority.
So rather than trying to look for someone who can do everything listed above, for those considering the first marketing hire, the onus should be on which area of marketing do you need to deliver on first, to help your business, in many instances, just survive.
We all get carried away and dream of $$$ signs in the future, but as the old saying goes, before you can run, you’ve gotta learn to walk.
The three types of marketer (narrowing the search for the first marketing hire)
For Gerhardt – there are three types of marketers you can broadly bucket folks into when considering the core competencies of marketing.
- The Promoter – someone who’s going to make the world know you exist – this kind of marketer is a hustler – they’ll use any channel they can get their hands on to make sure your audience knows who you are. Sure they might not be Shakespeare when it comes to copy, but they’re stubborn enough to keep on pushing your messages out there, even in the face of a world that doesn’t always want to listen.
- The Designer – your classic creative type – the right-brain thinker who can help bring your vision to life. Branded assets, the website, logos, social – you name it, they can build it, and they can bring a beautiful consistency to everything you push out there. This marketer will make you look pretty – and if you’ve ever worked without one – you know it’s tough.
- The ‘Math Person’ – the analytic mind – the number cruncher, the marketer who geeks out on conversion metrics, analyzing your funnel and building out the operational side of your business. This marketer is driven to create and implement repeatable processes, obsessing over-optimization techniques and ultimately how to deliver predictable and repeatable growth.
Now you might be thinking to yourself – hang on, I need someone who can do all of these things, but once again, we’d suggest you turn that wandering eye inwards. Which of these functions is most important to your needs right now. Which of the dark arts of marketing, will help you pay the bills, so you can – hopefully – start to see those revenue numbers incrementally begin to stack up.
The first marketing hire – finding someone who can grow into their own shoes…
When new parents shop for clothes for a kid, there’s often a tendency to buy a few sizes up, to accommodate for the little angels’ growth spurts. In some ways, looking for your starter marketer requires a similar mindset.
While identifying a core skill set, and the type of marketer, who will help you achieve your most immediate goals from Day 1 is vital. When considering the first marketing hire, it’s critically important, and often overlooked, to keep an eye out for someone who can grow and develop with your business
You need to be thinking a few steps ahead. Perhaps the person you’re looking for is not yet a fully-fledged content machine, but do they have the willingness to learn and flexibility of mindset, to one day grow into and help own that business requirement?
“You need someone with deep intellectual curiosity, incredible work ethic, the ability to think from first principles, loves problem-solving, and thrives in a fast-paced/changing work environment” – wrote one commentator in a forum on this topic.
While skills can be learned, attitude is something that tends to be much more inherent in an individual from the start – are you cultivating the kind of environment that will attract this kind of individual? Have you built an organization that is exciting enough to attract the dream first marketing hire?
Bringing it all back home to the first marketing hire
So, there you have it – if not a completely definitive answer to your problems hopefully in the above we’ve at least given you some good cud for the chewin’.
And to bring it back to our original point – the question at hand here is not an easy one. Businesses of all sizes – from the leanest of start-ups to multinational giants – are, more often than not, in a constant dialogue with themselves around how to most efficiently structure their marketing operations.
We’re not here to tell you that there is a definitive way to do things – but we are here to offer a helping hand, and if needed a sympathetic ear. At Vehicle Media, we’re lucky enough to have access to a pool of talent with expertise across the various fields of marketing and business strategy. United we stand, and well, together we deliver some good shit.
Perhaps a quick conversation with us can help you get a little bit closer to understanding what your marketing needs might be. Who knows, perhaps we can even help you deliver on them?