How to Build an All-Star B2B Marketing Team


What are the keys to building a successful marketing team?


Do you hire the best talent or put together a cohesive team that features people with different talents?


"Of course, all-stars," says Mitch Solway, a fractional CMO for startups, who I interviewed for the Marketing Spark podcast. "But all-star doesn't necessarily mean the top talent."


Mitch says one of the keys to success is hiring people focused on the right goals and, as important, people who can fit into the corporate culture.

My name is Mark Evans and I'd like to welcome you to marketing spark, the podcast that delivers small doses of insight, tools and tips from marketers and entrepreneurs in the trenches. By small doses, it's conversations that are fifteen minutes or less. On today's show I'm talking with Mitch so alway. Like Myself, Mitch is a fractional CMO. He has led scale ups at Canadian startups such as level life, fresh books and vigared. Mitch works with startups looking to build their marketing teams to succeed and deliver on results. Welcome to marketing spark. Match. Hey, mark could be here. So, Mitch, you and I discussed a number of topics that we could cover on this episode and I'm curious about why you want to talk about building marketing teams. It's a few reasons. One is there's just there's a lot of content and a lot of conversations today by boat sort of tactical marketing and marketing practices, and that's really good. But one of the questions I get most often the people don't have a lot of context around is when it's time to scale up, is how do you actually build a team that is going to be able to deliver on the results. So I'm hoping it's going to be offer some some freshon sites and some new thinking for people that are sort of struggling with those questions. Is Interesting that there is a fascination right now with tactical execution because I think a lot of companies, particularly be tob companies, are scrambling for leads. They believe that if that's going to happen, they have to do some things. So it's one of the reasons why you see a lot of content, marketing, webinars, ebooks, social media activity. But do you think that companies are making mistake by not taking a step back and looking at what's our strategic focus and how should we structure our marketing team so that we can see succeed now? Yeah, I don't know if it's a it's hard to say it's a mistake, because building a good marketing organization, like any good team, it's heart and it's you know, it's not something everyone's had an opportunity to do and there's always pressure and demands on delivering short term result.

You know what I want to talk to day in terms of courts of building a team will help some people take that step back and it's hard. People are stuck in the day to day. But if you really want to succeed and and so to get out of that day to day grind, you do need to be able to take a step back and think strategically about, you know, your long term growth plan and how you're going to systematically achieve that. So, before I get into how you actually help start us, maybe you can provide a little bit of context about the kind of companies that you work for. How bigger they, where are they in terms of their growth and why do they call you in? So I'm hearing from companies that really different stages of growth. You know, if when I choose, when I tell people what I do, as I say, you know, I really want to come in post product market fit, and you're now maybe you've got a small marketing organization, but the CEO and the marketing team together agree that they're not really sure about how they're going to need each that next level of growth. So you've got product market fits. It's not like we don't even know what we're doing yet. Probably not the best time to bring me in as a fractional CMO, but we're like, you know, we think we've got something here, but we need to bring in someone that can help us sort of do the heavy lifting that needs to get done to break through to that next level of growth. So is there a secret formula that you use when you're building a marketing team? Have you built the same kind of teams at every company that you work with? Well, there is a secret formula and I can't. I can't hear that today. Come on, I'm it. Yeah, so I've so it's true. There there is an approach that I've taken. Obviously, I've just been a fractual, seem open last three and a half years. For like twenty five years before that I was actually a VP and actual operating BP marketing at a number startups. In built a lot of teams in that capacity. You know, I really learned what it took from from a team standpoint to be able to sort of relentlessly deliver more and more and more, which is what marketing needs to do every year...

...within an organization. Know, those some of the things I want them to share today. Do you have methodology or an approach that you use to build teams for example, when you're working with an entrepreneur, do you say to them, okay, here is step one, step two and step three? Let's say you know your your mandate is, you're leading a marketing team and you need to scale up growth and I'm assuming your good. You've got money in dollars to invest and building a marketing team. I think doesn't always go that way. Sometimes you're hiring like one person here than another person the next year. But I want to talk in the context. A lot of the many time I've had is let's come in, we want invest in marketing, we need to put a team together, we need to be forward, we want to scale up, and there's definitely something that I do on a repeated basis is very, very deliberate in terms of making sure that I get the right team in place, and that is start with a plan. I know it sounds like, yeah, yeah, start with the plan, but it's a three year plan. There's there's like three major components of that plan. One is there's alignment with the CEO in terms of where we know, where we today, and what do you want marketing to do? What do our outputs need to be? How will we know of marketing and successful. And I want to map that out over three years because if I don't have an aligned understanding with the CEO of their expectations, then I may build the wrong organization that that me under achieve our targets or maybe it's way too aggressive for what we need and I've spent way too much money. So it's both in terms of the size and scale of the growth that we want and then what's the metric, or one or two metrics we need to move? Is it is it revenue? Is it leads as a customers? What are the two or three things that we need to manage it? And then so that's phase number one is getting that alignment. Once I've got that alignment, phase number two is actually building the spreadsheet and the budget in terms of understanding, month by month for the next three years, how are those two or, you...

...know, one or two metrics going to grow every single month? And obviously then I got to go okay, well, what am I what's the plan? What am I actually going to be delivering as a marketing organization over those next three years and what do I need to do to make sure that all my numbers will up to those high level numbers. Now I've got align it with CEO. On targets, I've built a sort of spreadsheet and a plan that sort of systematically maps where, you know what how I need to grow and where those what are those growth engines going to be, whether it's content, a CEO, social or whatever? And then the third thing that you need to do is you need to understand what I call are these little clusters, because in terms of scaling app you kind of want to hire people in little groups and clusters in and I'll give you an example when I was at big yard. You know, we're very early into into growing this business and we just recently established ourselves as a video marketing platform and we knew for nobody even knew what the hell that was. Nobody knew what a video marketing platform there wasn't a lot of search. Was a new product in the category. People didn't know what to look for. It in what we do. We were going to do. So we really said over the next three years the two key priorities that we wanted to do were to develop reach and education. First all, we wanted to drive customers. We knew with customers the revenue with come. So Wander, focus on new customer acquisitions. are going to camp customers and not leads, but paying customers. And the strategies to do that, as you said, were reach and educate. We had to tell people, you know, what is it that we do and we had to execate them on how to use video contents. We map that out in terms of on a budget, month by month, how that was going to play out and what each you know what we're going to do. From reach, which is a lot of that was PR in integrations. And then terms of educate, from a marketing standpoint, that was really key point. We said,... know, we're going to build the world's best blog to learn how to do video market to do that we needed three things. We needed content and we needed social and we needed to have search. You know, one of the first things I would do then is, if I know this is what the key elements to grow my my volume and my reach and my education is, I would then go and hire like those three people that would manage those three things together. They advantage someone to manage like to write content, someone to do social promotion of that content and someone to manage some of the SEO. And, you know, getting a content placed on different sites and then to optimize that content for search over time, because we knew at some point people going to start searching for our content. So that's a sort of an end and discussion of how how we sort of went to bout things that did yark. So you put your plan together, you're aligned with the CEO, which is always important, and then you look at building a team. Now here's an interesting question. What's the balance between building a team and hiring the best talent? Can you have a team of all stars, and should you? Now I'm a hockey fan, my hockey player and when I look at the Toronto my beliefs one of their problems is they have for really, really good players who they pay a lot of money to and the rest of the team suffers because there's not a lot of the talent isn't spread out, it's all at the very top. So my question is, what approach should a company take when it comes to building a team? All Stars or a group of really good players all around? Well, all stars, of course, but an all star doesn't necessarily mean the top talent. I'll give you examples. When I was at fresh books, yeah, we were actually looking to hire someone to make a care of whole affiliate program I had candidate. It was unbelievable. They were so they were but the strongest cannedy. I didn't review but I was hesitating because they didn't really align with the values and...

...the culture of the company. They were very, you know, results at all cost driven, right. They would basically do anything to deliver us. Also's part of their make up, their DNA to need them so strong with what they're doing. But it fresh books we had. There are certain areas where we were willing to not be, as it aggressive, or it wasn't at all costs. We had a brand in a reputation and image we wanted to convey and we didn't want to just flick trick somebody into converting. There's an example of where there was a top talent, someone was really the best of the best. But you know, I remember a holding Mike with Dermot's hand. Is it because hold my hand as we tell this candidate that we can't hire them? But we also do is you know? We you know, we reached out some other companies and partners that we knew they were looking for someone that talented. So it's not always the talent. So one area is they may have a talent but they might not be the fit. And the other part that's really important to remember in terms of top talent or the the a team is remember the first thing I talked about in my plan is onlining to certain metrics and outcomes, is you want to make sure part of getting top talent is that people, the people that you are hiring, the employees you're airing, not only are super passionate, I think, the role you're going to give them, but they totally are motivated by the outcomes that the marketing team needs to deliver. So there's nothing more frustrating than to have somebody you know, maybe it really loves their content, you know, and they're getting a lot of people to read it, but it's not convert there. They're not really incentivized or not really motivated by that conversion metric, versus somebody that loves to write content and every time they see somebody converting there like, Oh my God, that was amazing, I want to be more like that it sometimes you want performers, sometimes you want the ladder. There's really tricky things. But but knowing what those metrics and those outcomes need to be when you hire and build your marketing team. It's paramount that the people you hire are naturally motivated and incentivized by the kinds of outcomes that you need your... to deliver. Otherwise you're just going to struggle and struggle working with someone that's really good at what they do but the end of the day, they just can't get behind the kind of metrics and results and outcomes and even to deliver. On the flip side, what are some of the pitfalls that companies should avoid when they're building a marketing team? So what are some of the things that they shouldn't do or the people that they shouldn't hire? For that matter? Hiring is a huge conversation. I would say some of the pitfalls and the hardest thing in marketing is when you know you've got it againning company, when you know you've got a rule to fill and you just not seeing the right candidates and you're you're like, I'm just going to hire this person because maybe maybe they're good, and that maybe almost the biggest mistake is just hiring somebody that isn't gives going to play the same level of the rest of your team. Everybody you bring on your team needs to feel like everyone else on the team is not going to bring results down. It's going to play at their level or even raise the bar. And if you bring somebody in that is just not going to perform a contributed that level, it's got so much negative energy, not just for the rest of your team and for your results, you really never going to get there, but also for that person. It's really not fair because you kind of know they're not going to deliver. They're you know eventually it's not going to work out, you're going to have to let them go and you will have invested so much time and so much negative energy away that that it's just really not fair that candidate when maybe there's another scenario that they could step into where they could really do a much better job. Being really patient and being really committed to building you know that that high performing team that if you get your plan right, you know the exact roles you need to tire for, you know your outcomes. You hire people their motivated, that that comes and then third things, obviously, if they're what's the culture that you're building your company, making sure that people share those values and they have that culture, whether it's collaboration, team work, whatever, that the team's going to work well together and feed off each other. One final question. A lot of companies are looking to outsource some of...

...their marketing. How do freelancers, consultants and contractors fit into marketing teams and how do you make sure that your team sees the value of tapping into external expertise? That's a great question and in a lot of companies lost sort of similar question is, you know, what should I in source and what should I outsource? I think part of your plan. Again, we'll go back to that three year plan it. You've got these anchor and these tenant capabilities that you're going to need to deliver. So I think the first thing you need to do is you need to hire the right leaders to manage those tenant properties. Like, what is it? We're going to own content, you know, and content is a big part of what we do. You need someone internally that's going to one content and then you need to empower them with a bike in a mandate and they need to figure out. Well, like, I probably can't hire three people in order to deliver what I need to do now. I need to go and outsource and basically allow your team to go and deliver their results the way to thea see fit within their bike, kids constraints and a lot of the Times, a lot of times, the fastest way to execute and go to market is to use freelance resources because they're available today and they can deliver today. If you want to build a team, you know you could be out there looking for five, six, seven months to find the great person if you're trying to build that that amusing team. So using freelance resources that way is probably one of the smartest ways to scale up in the short term and then even discover what you no longer want freelance and bringing in house because you've realized that's become another tenant, tenant property. Thanks for listening to another episode of marketing spark. If you enjoyed the conversation, leave a review, as well as subscribe via itunes or your favorite podcast APP. If you like what you'R heard, please rate it. For show notes of today's conversation and Information About Mitch, visit Mark Evans dot see a slash blog. If you have questions, feedback or would like to suggest a guest, send an email to mark at Mark Evans Dot Sea to learn more about how I help Feb companies as a CMO for hire, consultant and coach. Visit Mark Evans Dot Sea. TALKING NEXT TIME.

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