If you’ve seen my bio or LinkedIn profile, you’ll know I’ve served three stints as a CMO and roughly half of my professional career has been spent in a marketing role. But even with my admitted biases towards the marketing trade, I still must push on this one. I find a lot of startups that only want to initially load up on developers and maybe a couple of sales reps. But I contend that a marketing professional absolutely, positively should be one of your first 10 employees. You don’t need to start with a VP but you also shouldn’t cop out with a marketing intern or junior rookie with only 2 years of experience.
A marketing professional will provide leverage to everything else that’s going on in the company. Think of it as a multiplier or amplifier. They know how to get the word out and how to make common sense out of a bunch of technical gobbledygook. This has value for everything from your website to your investors pitch. They know how to leverage social media channels beyond the cool “fad stuff” to the point of actually building a community and bringing leads. They know how to boost the effectiveness of your website using search as a tool (both paid and organic), they will know if it’s more cost-effective to run a webinar series or attend some targeted shows, and they will find ways to nurture leads so that they are sent to the sales team at just the right time (thereby improving efficience and cost-of-sale).
Having a somewhat seasoned marketeer or better sitting around the table with the other functions in the early days of formation will dramatically balance the equation and in a direction that is both customer-centric and usually strategic. Give it some serious thought.
Check out this HubSpot blog post with information about the growing average % of employees in marketing and some of the new/adapted marketing roles. Also check out my other blog posts related to marketing here.