“Marketing” – is one of the essential aspects of business that founders often overlook at the beginning of their journey. But if you look closely, you’ll see that most successful ventures today are historically good at marketing.
Take Apple as an example, from their revolutionary 1984 “Apple II” campaign, “Why every kid should have an Apple after school,” to Airpod’s “thousand songs in your pocket,” to the new MacBook Air, “Don’t take it lightly,” this tech giant consistently excel at marketing. And behind all their legendary marketing campaigns, there are efforts of an exceptionally talented marketing team.
Yes, Apple is a master marketer. You won’t get to their level in one day. But if you want to follow in their footstep, then you must take marketing seriously from day one and set up a marketing team from the very beginning of your startup. This article gives you a basic guideline on the ideal startup marketing team structure at a different stage of your venture.
A startup journey involves several phases, and each step’s ideal marketing team structure differs.
In the Pre-seed phase, a startup should only have employees responsible for setting up marketing strategies, such as CMO.
In the seed phase, startups should focus more on their marketing efforts. Hence, their marketing team needs people who can also execute strategies, such as marketing managers, analysts, marketing executives, etc.
In the growth phase, startups should already have a full-phase marketing team and focus on rapid expansion.
In all phases, startups can outsource partners to maximize the result with fewer resources.
Different stages of a startup marketing team
The primary marketing team structure is subjected to continuous change, which corresponds to your startup evolution. The marketing team has tasks and responsibilities connected with the relevant startup stage. We are going to discuss three main phases of your marketing team structure.
Stage 1: Pre-seed phase
This is the first phase of your startup’s development. As I previously said, most founders overlook marketing at this stage. But the reality is the opposite. It would be best if you started planning your marketing from this stage so that your tech startup can become successful in the future.
In the Pre-seed stage of your startup, you need to make the most crucial hirings for your marketing team – CMO. You can also hire a senior employee -your chief marketing strategist. or outsourced team, or both, etc., depending on your resource or preference in the pre-seed stage.
Marketing goal at the pre-seed phase
As you are a tech founder, marketing might be wildly out of your comfort zone. But if you want your startup to be successful as a founder, your need to have a marketing goal. This early stage mainly involves setting up a solid strategy for future marketing to convince your investors and conduct market research about your product.
Recommended marketing team structure
CMO: Chief marketing officer
In this early stage, CMO manages the whole marketing side of your startup. CMO’s responsibilities mainly involve developing innovative marketing ideas and strategies that will attract your startup investors and correctly convey your mission and vision to people and investors.
Stage 2: Seed Phase
This is the stage where your startup evolves over the years with the effort of different departments combined. This phase is typically a years-long process; founders divide them into two parts based on their startup’s resources.
Your marketing team goals and structures differ depending on how many employees you have in the seed phase.
When you have 1-10 Employees
When you have 1-10 employees, it’s very early in the seed phase. Generally, by this time, you and your team are trying to gather investors and build products. It would be best if you had an apparent marketing goal at this stage based on the resources you have.
Marketing Goal at the early stage of the seed phase
In the early seed stage, your main goal should be creating awareness about your product and startup. You are still building your product and need investors to keep going.
Recommended Marketing Channels
To create awareness, you can use Marketing channels like
SEO & content marketing
Social media marketing
Recommended Marketing Team Structure
Usually, the marketing team includes a CMO and a marketing manager under the CMO. It would be wise if you partner up with an outsourcing agency. They can help you with digital marketing, like content, social media, email, etc.
Your marketing manager works with your CMO and directly supervises your outsourcing partner.
In this phase, the marketing manager is responsible for developing and submitting a marketing plan and budget for approval by the CMO. As part of the networking marketing strategy, He/ she must attend events. He/she needs to take the necessary steps to find, convince and manage influencers as a part of influencer marketing of your startup. Managers should also create a strategy for promoting their work through content marketing. For this, collaboration with the outsourcing team is one of the manager’s most significant responsibilities.
Early-stage startups often overlook content marketing primarily because of resource issues. But this should not be the scenario. Content marketing promotes brand awareness. So from the very early stage, you should be concerned about content marketing. As for resource issues, outsourcing is absolutely budget-friendly. Aside from SEO & content, you can also outsource or take consultation about social media marketing & email marketing from your outsourcing team.
Example: Zeit Medical, a startup building devices and software to provide brain health monitoring for neurology injury patients, raised 2M in seed funding in 2021. The company, which is based in San Francisco, currently has only 1 to 10 employees. Right now, their marketing team looks like this:
When you have 11-100 employees
When you have 11-100 employees, your product has proven itself, and your startup has started growing, you need more people on your team and more seed phase investors. Marketing is most important in this stage of your startup.
Marketing Goal when you have 11-100 employees
In this stage, your main goal is expanding your user base. The valuation of your startup raises based on the user base. For funded startups, valuation is very influential while receiving funding. From awareness to conversion, every step needs to be included in the marketing goal of this phase.
Recommended Marketing Channels
You can use all sorts of marketing channels for marketing in this phase:
Digital Marketing – Seo & content marketing, Email Marketing, and Social Media Marketing to your target audience.
Paid Advertising to drive customers.
Public relations (PR) marketing to reach a broader audience and create buzz.
Influencer Marketing promotes your brand.
Cross-promoting both parties can increase awareness of their respective offerings.
Industry-specific magazines, papers, and journals to reach potential clients.
Print media & advertising both are great ways.
Networking events are a great way to generate leads.
Good old-fashioned word-of-mouth marketing is still effective.
Recommended Marketing Team Structure
Now that your startup is scaling, your marketing team will make some essential hirings along the way.
Growth marketing manager
A growth marketing manager oversees all activities that increase profits for your company. He also creates strategies for expansion with the help of upper management, then puts them into action. Your growth marketing manager will be in charge of your digital marketer.
Your digital marketer is responsible for designing and executing strategies that promote your brand’s products and also manage various channels like social media networks, Google Ads, etc., to deliver a clear marketing message to your audience.
Product marketing manager
Product marketing managers are responsible for all product promotion, marketing and sales aspects. Also, educate sales staff, design promotional materials, and launch promotional campaigns to reach new audiences. He also supervises your affiliate manager.
In most cases, they are responsible for finding new affiliates, negotiating partnerships, overseeing ad creation, and ensuring affiliates get paid. Networks can also perform these actions.
Brand marketing manager
The primary responsibility of your brand marketing manager is building – an easily recognizable, fresh, and engaging brand image for your brand. He/She also sets all strategies and manages all campaigns so that the brand remains consistent across advertising and campaigns. Your PR & outreach manager directly works with him.
PR & outreach manager
Generating a buzz for your clients with unique and creative PR and outreach ideas is the main focal point of your PR & outreach manager. And also lead and support the execution of PR and outreach campaigns.
Marketing operations managers
Your marketing operations manager ensures productivity and seamless operations, controls the entire marketing department and ensures staff meets targets. Your data analyst and marketing strategist work directly under his/her supervision.
Your data analyst collects and analyzes data with competitive research.He/She also analyzes the data in the sales funnel to provide the report, visualization, and recommendations.
Your marketing strategist plans and executes various sales-boosting strategies. He/She also manages budgets, analyzes KPIs, and estimates ROI on marketing investments like advertising.
Content marketing manager
The content marketing manager collaborates and manages the outsourcing team and ensures all the digital marketing properly represents your startup brand. As I stated, you can keep an outsourcing team based on your requirement throughout the entire seed stage.
Cast AI is a Florida-based company that provides an AI-driven cloud optimization platform. The platform is designed to slash cloud costs, optimize DevOps, and automate disaster prevention. The company recently raised $18M in series A funding and has around 50 employees. The marketing team is seven people strong, and the team structure looks like this: there is a VP of marketing, one person to look after web marketing, one responsible for outreach and growth, and one content creator.
Stage 3: Growth Phase
In this stage, you will have enough resources, and your marketing strategy will be set. You, like many other major corporations, probably prefer to keep your most important marketing strategies under wraps. Therefore, we recommend you have a full in-house marketing team under your direct supervision.
Example: DBT labs (data build tool) is a command line interface tool that enables data analysts and engineers to transform, test, and document data in the cloud data warehouse. It is used to manage the lifecycle of data transformation jobs and also provides developers with a way to work with data more effectively. They have a full fledge marketing team Janessa Lantz, VP of marketing. The 23-people-strong team has multiple sub-categories, but the leadership team looks like this:
Till now, I have discussed the marketing team structure in different stages of your startup. Now for the next part, I want to discuss some essential early-stage hiring and the best ways.
Essential early-stage hirings
Here are some important hirings for you in the early stage of your startup –
While choosing your CMO, try to look at the following qualities in him/her.
What qualities CMO should have
Have a vision of the company’s needs from a marketing perspective
Ability to build a whole team structure.
Must have a good understanding of the market and how external market changes directly affect buyer requirements.
Knows how to align project goals and deliverables with Technical Teams.
Evolve with the change of market conditions.
Highly analytical and creative is a must.
Can craft memorable stories to connect your product to customers.
How to hire a CMO
Hiring a capable CMO is often challenging when you have limited resources, like most startups in the pre-seed phase. But having a competent CMO is one of the few things that can put you ahead of the game. But how can you hire an experienced person at such an early stage? Here are some tips.
Look for those who want to make a difference.
Money isn’t the only driving factor for everyone. Some people seek to be a part of meaningful ideas and make some difference in the world. They are motivated to share their knowledge and help others improve. Try to find someone who is motivated in such ways and reach out.
Make an impression with your company’s vision and values.
Grab the attention of CMO candidates by highlighting your company’s goals and values. The best talents are interested when the work environment is pleasant.
Let them know how much control they will have over designing the marketing team and strategy. Authority provides a sense of power, and that often drives talents.
Make generous equity or partnership offers
Last but not least, you can offer substantial equity or partnership. You may explain how collaborating with them will enhance the amount of information, experience, and resources accessible to you, allowing you to produce better goods and reach a broader audience.
Your marketing manager is the 2nd most crucial hiring after your CMO to build a marketing team. There are many qualities a Marketing manager needs to have.
What qualities does a Marketing manager should have
Ability to understand your investors’ and buyers’ needs
Understanding of how to communicate confidently with diverse audiences.
Adapting to changing industry standards like customer behavior, market etc.
Handles all kinds of resources, so budgeting skill is a must.
Ability to lead a great team.
Courageous – to take risks
Visionary – in spotting chances.
How to hire a marketing manager
There are no right ways to hire a marketing manager. For different startups, it works in different ways. Here is a suggestion that can
Start from the research.
You and your CMO can research the suitable candidate for the post. After researching, you have a candidate persona.
Search & Shortlist
With that persona in mind, you can start searching. You can search in your own network, and you can also search on LinkedIn and other platforms. Shortlisted the candidates who fit the persona.
Offer them what they want but haven’t tried:
This stage is tricky. As a startup founder, you don’t have much to offer them, but you can find out what they are interested in and have yet to have an opportunity to try. For example: Developing a marketing team within a budget and having full responsibility for it.
Or it’s no secret that marketers love to market what people love. If you have an excellent product, that can also help you onboard your marketing manager.
Your outsourcing partner can be a freelancer or a team, or an agency. We recommend going for agencies as a partner.
Why agencies are better outsourcing partners
Provides a strong sense of trust and dependability.
Have proven work processes to ensure product quality and security.
Work as a consultant for your professional problems.
Provides all solutions from digital marketing to development in one place.
Easy hiring options: you can hire an employee for an entire team based on your need.
Take Technext as an example hundreds of businesses chose to establish their digital solutions with the technext team.
How to hire an outsourcing partner
An outsourcing partner can be beneficial in different stages throughout the entire seed stage. If you carefully choose one in the early stage, this would save you resources like time, money, hassle etc. Hiring steps can differ from startup to startup.
You can start by researching, or you can post on outsourcing platforms. Then shortlist candidates based on their work portfolio and rating. Interview them carefully. Select your desired candidate.
Hopefully, this helped you with your early stage crucial hirings. Last but not least extra tips always help.
Tips for building a perfect startup marketing team
The marketing strategy should be the foundation of your marketing team
All of your marketing projects should be documented and reviewed
Follow the successful strategies
Ensure that everyone on the team is practical and adaptable
Verify your advertising software and use business tools
Building a strong marketing team takes time and planning, so take your time
Concentrate on those works that provide more outcomes with less effort.
I hope you liked our guide on startup marketing team structure. Remember, the ideal team structure can differ, so I suggest you consult an expert before defining the structure for your marketing team. Another important thing you need to finger out is your tech team structure. Read this article if you need some heads-up regarding that topic.
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