For many startups, it can seem difficult to justify spending already limited funds on things that don’t seem absolutely necessary, like marketing. For others, it’s something they commit to from the get-go. But which makes more sense? And how do you know when it’s time for your startup to make its first marketing hire?
Why Marketing Matters
To begin, let’s go over the main functions of marketing and how they are applied in the startup world. On a very broad scale, marketing is the creation, communication, and delivery of offerings that have value to a select audience or society in general. Basically, marketing is what drives leads to the sales funnel.
What Marketing Can Offer
So, we know in a general sense what marketing does, but it’s helpful to consider what a marketer can offer your startup on a more granular level:
- Overall Strategy: Pinpointing target audiences, market research, launch planning, lead generation
- General Communications: External communications, content creation, brand messaging, advertising, and more
- Management: Creative management and production, management of third-party vendors, PR liaison, SEO, etc.
Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive, but it should give a good idea of what day-to-day activities can look like for a marketer. For a startup that is headed to market, marketing plays a crucial role in drumming up interest.
When to Hire
When you launch a startup, a lot of the things founders must do are technically marketing activities. Naturally, your primary focus should be your product, but basic things like coming up with a name, a logo, designing your website, figuring out your market, must also be done. At this point, a bootstrapping approach makes sense. You likely don’t have a concrete brand identity yet, and these necessary early-stage steps can help set a direction for more mature marketing strategies later down the road. At this point, if you have the funding to hire a senior-level marketing director, that’s great. But if you don’t, that’s okay too.
So, when do you hire? Boiled down, you really need to hire a marketer when you and your current team can no longer tackle the marketing challenges coming your way. For some, that may be as early as day one, for others, that could be within the first year.
A surefire way to go nowhere fast is to bring on a marketer with no idea what to do with them. Before making a hire, it’s important to understand what areas you need help with and what results you’d like to see.
At this stage in your startup’s lifecycle, there are many different directions you can take your marketing, which is why you should think about what your main business goals are right now and what you need help with. Marketing covers many different things, and most marketers have a specialty. In order to know what kind of marketer you need; you must first pinpoint the challenges that are currently the most pressing. If you’re looking to increase sales, a marketer who has a demonstrated track record in demand generation can help to boost growth. If you’re looking to upgrade your online presence, a content marketing or SEO expert can help make you shine.
In addition to someone who has the skills and track record you’re looking for, as a young startup, you need someone who is ready to hit the ground running and get their hands dirty.
Planning for the Long-Term
While you may just hire one marketer to start, you should have a hiring plan for the long term. Right now, having a growth hacker on board may be all you need, but you’ll need more down the line to fill out a well-rounded team that is capable of scaling. And always, always think about how your marketing objectives tie back to your overall goals for the business.
As with most things, there really is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to building out your marketing team. Every startup is different and has different needs – the best rule of thumb we can offer is to know your limits and know when you need help.