Whether you’ve been in the game for a while or you’re just starting out, building the best possible marketing team is always a challenge. It’s hard to find that right mix of experience, ability, strategy, and innovation – especially if you’re interested in bringing in young, but not-necessarily-highly-trained marketers. Your team needs to be focused on producing results, generating ROI, and (perhaps most importantly) growing in their roles.
So it’s important to understand what those roles are. There are a number of areas you have to make sure you’re filling if you want to work effectively, and you need to know what to look for in order to fill them.
The Marketing Manager is responsible for handing out tasks, keeping people in the loop, coordinating the release of finished work – and making sure everything is working toward your goals.
That means you need someone who can stay on top of how everything is actually working. Your marketing manager needs to know what metrics matter and how to interpret them, delivering actionable data-centric reports that drive the most effective marketing campaigns out there.
Analytics people are hard to train, so if you are hiring an entry level person, make sure you can find someone with either a natural aptitude (hard to test for) or a solid background in or enthusiasm for data and statistics, right alongside experience in real-life marketing. Make sure they’ve run a project or two along the way.
Your Marketing Manager might be the one making sure that everyone has what they need, but your Project Manager is the one who makes sure that everything that needs to get put together is actually getting put together. They work with your web developer, content creators, and designers to ensure the technical pieces are put into place right when they need to be.
They’re also often responsible for coordinating internal activities with outside resources and contractors, and sourcing those when necessary. This role should be filled by someone with strong organizational skills and a high tolerance for stress, as managing workflows and deadlines are a vital part of their work.
Content is the centerpiece of modern digital marketing efforts, and that means you need someone who knows how to string words together in a way that’s interesting enough to keep people reading. You may not be looking for Tolstoy, but at the very least you want someone who can adapt to different voices, knows how to work with an editor, and is enough of a results-driven realist to be willing to cut their favorite lines. And, if this person is the only writer on your team, a strong ability to self-edit is a major asset.
You’re going to want to look for people who love to write, and who are flexible in what they write. Literature majors, people with journalism backgrounds, or even published professionals looking for a steady day job can all make for stellar content writers.
The Internet might be content-centric, but it’s image-oriented. That means you need a great designer who can both pretty up your content offerings and who can get a firm grasp on the principles of UX and modern web design. Print design offers up it's own challenges and what works in print, doesn't necessarily work on the web. In short, you need someone who can double-dip as both a graphic designer and a web designer, with a firm focus on clarity and usability.
Good graphic and web designers are not as easy to find as you may think, so scout instead of waiting for applicants. Reaching out to people with fantastic portfolios and working via your own existing referral networks can net positive results. Just make sure any inbound applicants come in with strong and diverse samples.
Someone’s got to handle the web development side of things, and that means you need someone with real chops and a good deal of experience in multiple platforms, from bare HTML and CSS to content management tools like Wordpress and HubSpot. The web developer is a major support role who makes sure the engine that all your marketing work is running on is humming along nicely instead of grinding to a halt. They’re responsible for putting everyone else’s hard work in place, on a technically sound, functional website or platform. Don’t skimp; make sure you’ve got a dev with up-to-date certifications, excellent referrals, and a great ground game. It can be hard for non-technical types to analyze their work, so if you don’t have a development background, find someone who does to assist with the hiring process.
SEO is a constantly evolving animal. It morphs and fluctuates with every new update Google releases, and keeping on top of it can be a constant effort of self-education and practical experience. You need a thorough, detail-oriented person who’s willing to do the hard work of combing through web content to make sure it’s optimized without being over-optimized – and someone who’s willing to take the lead on making sure that you’re properly prioritizing your SEO strategies. An involved role, your SEO Hawk needs to be able to clearly define, describe, and quantify what they’re doing and why.
Experienced SEO people can be very costly while simultaneously being out of date. People with background in detail-oriented fields as diverse as editorial and hard sciences can prove to be exactly the right kind of people for this difficult, vital role. SEO needs to be infused into all aspects of content creation, which means that this key player is responsible for ensuring that an optimization strategy is both broad-based and consistently applied. Additionally, your SEO hawk is responsible for keeping an eye on ongoing performance metrics and continual adjustment, so that your strategy is always working.
…and if you're team keeps growing, you’ll need to fill a couple of new roles, too.
Once you’ve reached a certain size, your marketing manager can’t hold everything together herself. You’ll need someone providing top-level coordination.
The fact is that a group of marketers without firm direction is just a bunch of people doing stuff to get it done. Someone needs to make sure that what’s getting done is in service to a larger strategic goal. Someone who can make sure everyone knows the why to the what, or even just someone who can keep that in mind for themselves. That means you need someone capable of seeing both the big picture and how the details all fit together.
As far as experience goes, this is the role you’ll want to make sure is filled by someone who has been around the block before. They need to know how marketing as a discipline operates and how every piece fits together. That means marketing experience, managerial experience, and a passion for the work.
This person provides direction for all your creative efforts, working with the entire team and offering their expertise to help drive strategic decisions; a plan is not finished until the creative director has had their say, and they should always be involved from the start. The creative director keeps their eyes on ongoing trends and best practices to make sure the team is always equipped with the best tools, the best ideas, and the best design possible. The creative director guides creative efforts, helping to strategize everything from look and feel to user experience to information architecture, and works closely with both content creators, junior designers, and web developers to ensure everything is implemented as intended – as well as making any pivots necessitated by changing circumstances.
The fact is that building a marketing team is a time-consuming and expensive proposition that’s difficult to pull off right out of the gate. For most businesses, it’s a much more cost-effective decision to hire outside help, such as working with an agency like Hudson Fusion, where you get all the benefits of an in-house team at a fraction of the expense. That includes every one of the above roles, backed by tons of experience. While there are definite benefits to an in-house team, the initial process (and ongoing expense) can make it an unwise choice.
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