How to Hire the Right Marketer for Your Startup

In this guide, I will walk you through the key considerations and steps to hiring the right marketer for your startup. Whether you are a technical founder or a product-focused entrepreneur, this article will provide the insights and tools you need to build a successful marketing team.

The Shift in Marketing Mindset & Buyer’s Journey Evolution

In recent years, there has been a significant shift in the marketing mindset for B2B companies driven largely by buyers no longer responding to the MBA playbook. The days of spending large sums of money on advertising to generate a small return on investment are gone. Marketers must now focus on business fundamentals – understanding why someone will give their time and attention to a product or service and, ultimately, why they decide to purchase.

This shift has forced marketers to return to the basics and develop strategies that resonate with their target audience. As a startup founder, embracing this mindset is crucial, and looking for marketers who understand the importance of creating value for customers.

With abundant online information, buyers are now in complete control of their purchasing decisions. They can research products, read reviews, and compare options without engaging with a salesperson.

As a result, marketers must adapt their strategies to meet buyers where they are in their journey. This means creating content that educates and informs rather than simply promoting a product. It also means leveraging digital channels to reach buyers at the right time with the right message.

Assessing Your Startup’s Marketing Needs

Before embarking on the hiring process, assessing your startup’s current marketing needs is crucial. This will help you determine the type of marketer you need and the skills you should possess.

Start by defining your short-term and long-term marketing goals. These may include:

  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Generating leads
  • Improving conversion rates
  • Expanding into new markets and ecosystems

Having clear goals will help you identify the specific skills and experience your ideal candidate should have.

Next, evaluate the resources you have available for marketing. This includes your budget, existing marketing tools, and the size of your current team. Understanding your resources will help you determine the scope of the role you’re hiring for and the level of experience you can afford.

Identifying Key Marketing Channels – Consider the marketing channels that are most important for your startup. These may include:

  • Content marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Paid advertising
  • Events and trade shows
  • Community building (podcast, forum, user group)

Identifying your key channels will help you find a marketer with the relevant skills and experience to execute your strategy effectively.

Choosing the Right Type of Marketer

Once you’ve assessed your startup’s marketing needs, it’s time to decide on the type of marketer you want to hire. There are two main paths you can take:

The Generalist Path

The first option is to hire a marketing generalist. This person has a broad set of skills and can execute across various marketing channels. A generalist typically has 5-7 years of experience and is excited about the opportunity to take on more responsibility and make strategic decisions.

Pros of hiring a generalist:

– They can handle a wide range of marketing tasks

– They can help establish basic marketing processes and routines

– They are often more affordable than specialists

Cons of hiring a generalist:

– They may lack depth in specific areas

– Their broad skill set may result in “okay” but not outstanding performance

The Specialist Path

The second option is to hire a marketing specialist or a “conductor” who can recruit and build the needed team. This is someone with deep expertise in a specific area of marketing who can develop and execute comprehensive strategies. They often have a network of freelancers or consultants they can bring in as needed to support their efforts. A specialist may also bring experience in the market or ecosystem to the role. 

Pros of hiring a specialist:

– They bring a high level of expertise and strategic thinking to the company

– They can assemble a team of experts to execute the marketing plan effectively

– They can drive significant results in their area of specialization

Cons of hiring a specialist:

– They may require a more extended onboarding and ramp-up period

– They may come with a higher price tag due to their expertise and the need for additional resources

A viable option for earlier-stage companies, even those with a small marketing team, is to retain a virtual CMO with a team. A deficit of many solo executives is that they need help to get their hands dirty with day-to-day marketing tasks. Companies receive a playbook, but with an effective way to manage its execution, they can achieve the desired outcomes. 

Seeing this execution gap in company after company, I created the Marketing Pod, which I can bring to startups and companies needing assistance with strategy development and execution. Startup founders refer to the Marketing Pod as a modern B2B marketing engine in a box.

Evaluating Candidate Experience and Fit

When evaluating potential candidates, looking beyond just their job titles and previous employers is essential. Consider the following factors:

Scope of Previous Roles

Dig deep into the candidate’s previous roles and responsibilities. A VP of Marketing from a large corporation may have had a substantial support system and budget, which may translate differently than in a startup environment. Ensure you understand the scope of their previous roles and how they align with your startup’s needs.

Relevant Skills and Experience

Look for candidates who have the specific skills and experience your startup needs. For example, if you’re focusing on content marketing, look for someone with a proven track record of creating and executing successful content strategies.

Adaptability and Fit

Startups often require marketers to wear many hats and adapt quickly to changing circumstances. Look for candidates who are flexible, adaptable, and have a strong work ethic. They should also fit well with your company’s culture and values.

Example: When hiring for a head of marketing role, a fintech startup looked beyond just the candidate’s impressive resume. They focused on finding someone with experience working in a fast-paced, agile environment who was passionate about the company’s mission to reinvent financial services for SMBs. As a result, they hired a candidate who, on paper, was not an obvious hire but came in and hit the ground running with immediate impact.

Setting Your New Marketer Up for Success

Once you’ve hired your new marketer, setting them up for success is essential. Here are a few key steps to take:

It is crucial to ensure that your new marketer has a comprehensive understanding of their role, responsibilities, and expectations before they begin working. This can be achieved by providing them with a detailed job description that outlines their tasks and responsibilities, as well as the company’s goals and objectives. You should also define clear expectations and set measurable goals and metrics for success. 

This will enable your new marketer to understand what is expected of them and how their performance will be evaluated. Additionally, you should provide your new marketer with any necessary resources or training to help them succeed in their role. By doing so, you can help your new marketer hit the ground running and make a positive impact on your business.

When hiring a new marketer, it’s essential to provide them with adequate resources and support to ensure their success in the role. This involves providing access to necessary marketing tools such as analytics software, social media management platforms, and email marketing software. Additionally, it’s crucial to allocate a budget for freelancers or consultants who may be needed to assist with specific aspects of marketing campaigns. 

Team support is another critical aspect of ensuring your new marketer’s success. They should have access to other team members who can offer guidance, answer questions, and provide feedback. This can include regular one-on-one meetings to discuss progress and provide constructive feedback. 

Establishing a clear communication plan is important to foster open communication and collaboration between your newly hired marketer and the rest of the team. This can be done by scheduling regular check-ins, where both parties can discuss their progress and any issues that may have come up. These check-ins can be held weekly or bi-weekly, depending on the team’s workload and priorities.

In addition to regularly scheduled check-ins, it’s also important to create opportunities for feedback and idea-sharing. This can be done through team-wide brainstorming sessions, where everyone is encouraged to share their ideas and opinions. 

Finally, it’s important to encourage collaboration between team members. Encourage your team to share their expertise and skills to create a more well-rounded team. By fostering open communication and collaboration, you can create a strong and cohesive team that works together towards a common goal.


As a startup founder, finding the right marketer for your business is a crucial decision that can significantly impact your company’s growth and success. To ensure that you hire the right candidate, it’s important to follow a comprehensive process that involves understanding the current marketing landscape, assessing your startup’s specific needs, choosing the right type of marketer, evaluating candidates’ experience and fit, and setting your new hire up for success.

First and foremost, you should have a good understanding of the current market landscape, including the latest trends, best practices, and technologies. This will help you identify the specific skills and expertise that your ideal candidate should possess. You should also assess your startup’s marketing needs and goals, taking into account your target audience, budget, and resources.

There are many different types of marketers, such as generalists, specialists, and growth hackers, each with their strengths and weaknesses. You should choose the type of marketer that best aligns with your startup’s goals and needs.

Next, evaluate candidates’ experience and fit. This involves looking beyond their resumes and credentials to assess their soft skills, such as communication, teamwork, and creativity. Finally, setting your new hires up for success is crucial for ensuring they can hit the ground running and contribute to your startup’s growth. This involves providing them with the necessary tools and resources, setting clear goals and expectations, and giving them the support and guidance they need to succeed.

By following these steps, you can build a strong marketing function that drives results. 

I love to help founders win faster. If you would find it useful to talk with someone who has driven more than $500 million in revenue and enterprise value for tech startups, reach out. I have a no-obligation, no-pressure policy when it comes to talking with founders. You won’t get a sales pitch, but you will get my most current thinking based on what’s working today in B2B marketing and GTM.

It's time for legendary marketing.

I knew that Mark could help us based on his background and high standing in the video streaming ecosystem, but I was not prepared for the depth of his contribution. Working closely with our marketing and sales leadership, Mark expertly guided us in creating a new category called ‘Video Experience Automation Platform.’ This was a missing component to our previous efforts where we strived to clearly define how what we did was different and, better. As a scientist and technologist, it is rare to find a business and marketing leader with the command of a market and technology, which is why I can recommend Mark highly.

Abdul Rehman image
Abdul Rehman
CEO & Co-Founder, SSIMWAVE

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