There’s no one right way to build a marketing team, but there’s a shortcut to doing it well: learn from someone who’s been there, done that.
Below, we rounded up advice from marketing thought leaders Gary Vee, Rand Fishkin, Dave Gerhadt, Chris Walker, and Jeffrey Mack on how they get new marketing teams off the ground. Learn from the best and decide for yourself which marketer you might be missing.
Refine Labs CEO Chris Walker on His First Marketing Hire
Chris Walker, CEO of Refine Labs, laid out his bootstrapped marketing org strategy and tech stack on LinkedIn, including costs.
On Walker's podcast, State of Demand Gen, he dove deeper into the why. He argued you need two main things for marketing: content and distribution.
While he believes marketing teams should leverage in-house subject matter experts to create content, he found early success in outsourcing video production.
Rather than hire an SDR, his first hire was a freelance videographer.
“You don’t need to scale by sales headcount anymore,” he reasoned. “You can scale by marketing efficiency.”
“You don’t need to scale by sales headcount anymore. You can scale by marketing efficiency.”
It’s certainly working for Walker. His marketing agency hit $1MM ARR in 10 months without paid ads, cold calling, cold emails, or a sales team.
Here are the four core marketing roles Walker says departments need to fill:
- The architect — Whether a CMO or growth marketer, this role handles marketing strategy.
- The distributor — This role ensures content gets seen (via paid or unpaid reach).
- The creative — This role handles video, design and written content.
- The subject-matter expert — This role provides deep insights that inform all content.
Chris Walker’s formula for building a marketing team
iCIMS Senior Director of Marketing Jeffrey Mack on Scaling Marketing in a Startup
Jeffrey Mack, senior director of marketing and demand generation at recruiting platform iCIMS, recently shared what he’s learned about building a marketing organization for a startup:
Mack’s marketing hiring recommendations:
- Hire a content marketer who’s an SEO expert.
- Set up marketing operations ASAP.
- Work closely with a designer.
- Get someone to do product marketing (even if the someone is you).
CEO of VaynerMedia Gary “Vee” Vaynerchuk’s Four Marketers Every Startup Needs
While Vaynerchuk now has a team of 30+ marketers helping him create and distribute content across social media, he believes you only need three or four marketers to start scaling your content marketing and, through that, revenue.
- The math person — This person knows how to run and manage ads.
- The art person — This designer knows how to stand out in the feed.
- The video person — This videographer can film and post-produce.
The “written word” person — This person can handle short-form copywriting and long-form content.
Gary Vee’s formula for building a marketing team
“This is all media, it will always be media,” says Vaynerchuk. “There is no reason to do anything other than act like a media company in today’s digital age.”
“There is no reason to do anything other than act like a media company in today’s digital age.”
Privy CMO Dave Gerhardt on the Three Marketers He Would Hire First
If Privy CMO Dave Gerhardt was the GM of a marketing team, here’s who he’d draft first:
- The promoter — You could also call this person a content marketer. This is someone who can write and distribute content.
- The designer — This is a cross-channel creator who can help you move fast.
- The math person — This is someone who can set up funnels and optimize for conversions.
Dave Gerhardt’s formula for building a marketing team
Rand Fishkin on Building and Scaling a Business
“My goal with SparkToro [his latest venture] was to reach profitability as quickly as possible, then settle into the process of scaling. We don’t have unlimited funds, but we do have enough of an initial investment to make consultants and agencies the perfect way to make progress with low fixed costs, high productivity, and minimal emotional/managerial bandwidth.”