The first marketing hire of a company sits at a unique and exciting position: They guide the development of the brand and business, set up processes, and, eventually, hire a team and establish the culture. At the start though, it’s a lot of work with little help available.
In this article, I’ll cover the roles and responsibilities of a first marketing hire. Drawing on my experience as a first marketer, I’ll also show you an easy way to prioritize your strategies and tasks and how to track your progress in your early days.
Roles and responsibilities of the first marketer
Really, everything under the sun is your responsibility, but here are the most important tasks to oversee.
1) Build a strong foundation
The first step is to create a reliable foundation for your marketing efforts. That in itself entails several elements, which I’ve broken down below.
Understanding your audience is critical, as it helps you launch personalized marketing and connect with your target market. Conducting surveys and interviews is one effective method for gathering deeper insight into customer needs and preferences.
Positioning and messaging
Properly positioning your product or service also lets you deliver messaging that resonates with your audience. It’s important you understand the problem you’re solving and why it matters to your consumer base. To start, ask yourself some key questions like:
- What does my company stand for?
- Who are my competitors?
- What makes my offering valuable?
- What makes my brand stand out?
Consider adopting the Jobs to Be Done (JTBD) framework as well, since it lets you take a customer-first approach to your product positioning.
Create an ICP and personas
Once you understand your audience and have established your brand’s positioning, you should create an ideal customer profile (ICP) and personas to help you craft targeted messaging. Although they may seem similar, these templates feature key differences you need to be aware of:
- An ICP is someone who seamlessly fits your offering and possesses all the characteristics that allow them to benefit from your business. It’s a fictitious representation of your customers that helps you reach the right ones.
- Buyer personas represent people you want to attract and convert into customers. They let you comprehend how consumers behave and make decisions.
- User personas, meanwhile, help you empathize with existing customers who utilize your products or services.
Run a competitive analysis
Since you identified your company’s contenders during the product positioning step, be sure to take advantage of competitive analysis.
Study your competition to better grasp their strengths and weaknesses. You’ll learn what does and doesn’t work for them, which, in turn, will reveal how your brand can stand out.
Understand your business model
Another key component of your marketing foundation is having a solid grasp of your company’s blueprint, namely, how it works, makes money, and serves its customers.
Understanding how it operates, generates revenue, and creates value for consumers helps you build effective marketing strategies and tactics that align with and support its structure.
Go-to-market (GTM) function
Lastly, determine how you can most effectively get your product or service in front of your target audience. You could take a sales-led or product-led approach, or implement one of the following two sales models:
- Top-down sales model – You speak directly to decision-makers through personalized and highly targeted outreach.
- Bottom-up approach – This involves gathering as many leads as possible and using your brand’s product experience to turn them into advocates.
2) Set up tracking and attribution
With the foundation laid, turn your attention to KPIs. Determining the right ones to track straightaway might be difficult, but you should prepare something that lets you reliably gauge your efforts. That way, you’ll discover if your initiatives help you trend upwards or downwards.
Let’s say you want to monitor important eCommerce metrics such as:
- Awareness, including impressions and engagement
- Conversion metrics, like Average Order Value (AOV) and Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)
- Retention indicators, such as customer retention and churn rates
3) Determine your key marketing channels
Finding your strongest marketing channels involves some trial and error. For instance, you’ll need to:
- Test your different acquisition channels
- A/B test them and gauge each variant’s performance
- Monitor your ROI
- Decide which channels to push
Then, based on your findings, you can formulate appropriate acquisition tactics.
For example, inbound marketing and account-based marketing (ABM) are great approaches for larger enterprises. If you’re a marketer for a smaller business though, cost-effective strategies such as search engine optimization (SEO) and social media marketing would be better.
To give you a deeper look, I’ve listed some useful channels and accompanying strategies below.
Your website is your virtual business card. All of your inbound traffic passes your website as an introduction to your brand and offerings, so your goal is to create content that drives traffic and captivates your target audience. Your website and online content serve as the foundation for your strategies.
Enhance your website with:
- SEO – Use keyword research to target the right queries, then craft top-notch content and optimize your website’s structure and metadata.
- Blog – Establish authority by creating posts your visitors find useful and interesting. Make them informative, with credible sources, and relevant to customer interests.
- Resources – Resources such as ebooks, white papers, and guides provide additional value to your audience and generate leads.
- Web updates – Regularly update your website’s content and features to keep people engaged and encourage repeat visits.
Email marketing is a traditional but powerful channel. Your main objective with it will be to nurture relationships, build trust, and drive conversions. To accomplish this:
- Include personalized messaging in newsletters – This regularly keeps your audience informed about new products, services, or promotions they’re interested in.
- Dedicated customer emails – Targeted emails for existing customers encourage repeat purchases and strengthen loyalty.
- Dedicated prospect emails – Tailored campaigns for prospects foster relationships with them and guide them further down your sales funnel.
- Product announcements or updates – These ensure users remain up to date about new features, which compels them to engage more with your product.
- Enrich nurture emails – Nurture emails allow you to develop relationships with potential customers, and personalized marketing guides them along their journey with your company.
Social media lets you reach and engage with millions of people to build brand awareness. The specific strategies you use will vary based on the chosen platform:
- Twitter threads – These can deliver valuable information in easy-to-digest chunks. Twitter encourages conversation as well, producing more engaging threads.
- Twitter posts – Meanwhile, posts on Twitter are great for providing regular updates about your company.
- LinkedIn posts – LinkedIn posts present your company to professionals in the same industry and helps establish its authority.
- Investors/Insiders sharing – Encouraging investors or insiders to share your content on social media can cement your company’s credibility.
- Founder social – Having your founders engage on social platforms humanizes them and makes them more accessible, which builds trust with your audience.
- Partner/Co-marketer social share – Partnering with other brands or co-marketers lets you access their audiences.
Paid marketing channels such as social media or search engine ads are excellent for targeted campaigns. Your goal with this channel is to drive traffic and conversions. Options in these categories include:
- LinkedIn ads – These help you reach your target professional audience.
- Twitter ads – These present your company to targeted Twitter users.
- SEM – Search engine marketing (SEM) involves running paid ads that let you appear at the top of SERPs and reach users who search for your keywords.
- Email sponsorships – Similar to co-marketer social sharing, partnering with other brands on sponsored email campaigns lets you access their audiences to extend your reach.
Whether face-to-face or online, events provide opportunities to interact personally with potential customers. Top event types to focus on are:
- Owned webinars – Hosting your own webinars lets your company showcase its expertise on specific topics, provide value to your audience, and gather leads.
- Third-party webinars – Participating in third-party webinars helps you reach new audiences and foster relationships with other thought leaders in your industry.
- In-person events – Workshops, trade fairs, and conferences allow potential customers to experience your product firsthand and provide networking opportunities.
Press coverage builds your credibility and brand awareness, especially when featured on well-known outlets or those specific to your industry. When capitalizing on press exposure, focus on:
- Pitch to press – Ask journalists, media outlets, and bloggers to cover your brand. Tools like Help a Reporter Out (HARO) or Muck Rack help you find press reps for your industry.
- Bylines – Bylines are articles written by someone in your company but published through third-party publications. Having one published through relevant publications or PR agencies can position your brand as a thought leader.
Third-party sites and communities
Leveraging third-party sites and communities can expand your audience, especially if their interests align with your offering. Look to:
- Existing Slack communities – Existing Slack communities in your industry allow you to participate in relevant discussions. Invite your audience to join yours to connect with them directly.
- Product Hunt – On this platform, you can promote your product to potential early adopters. You can also gather feedback from them and attract new users through Product Hunt.
- Reddit – Create a subreddit for your brand to engage with members and promote your product. Industry-related subreddits also let you join niche discussions.
- Hacker News – This website focuses on computer science and entrepreneurship. You can share content, gather feedback, and interact with people whose interests align.
- Partner blog – Guest or joint blog posts with other brands or industry thought leaders let you extend your reach to their audiences and boost your credibility.
- Other existing communities – Facebook or LinkedIn groups and other online forums serve to cultivate interest in your company.
- Podcasts – This audio format is an excellent space for sharing your knowledge on specific subjects. You can create your own podcast or guest on existing ones that are renowned in your niche or that have diverse listeners.
4) Establish your processes
Messy processes may work in the short term, but they’ll collapse as your business grows. Refine them so they’ll scale easily and seamlessly by taking the following steps.
Define your marketing strategy
Before you set up any marketing process, it’s important to have a clear understanding of your:
- Target audience
- Marketing channels
These will guide your process creation and ensure it aligns with your overall goals.
Find the right tools
Given the multitude of eCommerce marketing tools available, you can easily automate and streamline your marketing processes. They serve various purposes, including:
Incorporating these tools simplifies the optimization of your online store, as well as the promotion and selling of your products. Additionally, AI-powered tools exist that can supercharge your copywriting, video editing, and customer relationship management.
Create content processes
Content is essential to any marketing strategy, so establish a clear process for creating, publishing, promoting, and repurposing content to ensure quality and save time. Developing and using content templates, for instance, can guarantee consistency and streamline your workflows.
Incorporate your ICPs and personas
I already discussed how ICPs and buyer/user personas are a key part of your marketing foundation. This is where they come into play, as you integrate them into your processes.
Set up Asana templates
Effective project management is another part of your workload as a first marketing hire, so it’s crucial to utilize software for managing virtual teams.
One tool I like is Asana, which offers a wide range of features. It’s relatively easy to use and helps me manage freelance writing teams. I can display information however I want, whether through a list, Kanban board, timeline, or calendar.
On their end, my team members can clearly see assigned tasks alongside their respective deadlines. I’m even able to provide feedback and set up automation rules to improve quality and efficiency.
Embrace people ops and webinar tools
These tools streamline the onboarding of new hires for your future marketing team, among other processes. Besides webinars, you can also host virtual events and meetings that allow you to connect personally with potential customers and collaborate with colleagues.
5) Launch your website
Make your company’s website the source of truth for all shareholders. Visiting and navigating it should be easy, with people be able to:
- Find your brand’s latest updates
- Become familiar with its voice, tone, and brand positioning
- Understand the key benefits of your offering
- Learn who your audience is
- See your features, pricing, and policies
Then, once you’ve expanded your team, you can hire a website marketing manager to take care of it.
6) Assemble your team
When building your marketing team, determine your ideal members based on what you want to prioritize and the direction you want them to take.
Define your marketing priorities
First, determine what your marketing efforts will focus on. Let’s say you want the company to be perceived as an industry authority; inbound, content, and social media marketing will need the most manpower to accomplish that objective.
Identify the roles you need
With your priorities set, it’s time to decide the specific roles you need to meet them. For example, a writer, editor, and strategist will be necessary for content marketing. A social media manager and community manager, meanwhile, are required for activities on social platforms.
Set your budget
As the first marketing hire, you may have to contend with a limited budget. Know how much you can spend, as that dictates the number of people you can hire and their roles and responsibilities. In some cases, you’ll need to use a mix of direct hires, freelancers, and outsourced staff.
Depending on your budget and possible team size, content outsourcing can be a cost-effective way to fill in any gaps. It helps pump fuel into your marketing while relieving some of your burden. Just remember to ask questions beforehand. When hiring freelance writers, for instance, I ask for the following:
- How many articles/words can you produce per month?
- What are your favorite topics?
- Do you prefer long-form or short-form content?
- Anything else I should know, like possible challenges
Craft a hiring plan
With the above steps done, you can start to produce a hiring plan. This could include crafting job descriptions, developing interview processes, and the like. Make sure you pinpoint specific characteristics an ideal candidate should have, including:
- A willingness to learn
- Multi-disciplinary skills
7) Prioritize your workload
The first marketing hire does everything. In my experience as one, I’ve done everything from sales lead assignments to product testing and automation. But you only have so many hours in the day, so you need to prioritize strategically.
To do so, create a matrix similar to the one above. It’ll help you organize tasks with:
- High impact, low effort
- High impact, high effort
- Low impact, low effort
- Low impact, high effort
File all the things you want to do in that matrix, then plot out actions based on:
- What to prioritize
- Where your low hanging fruit is
- What to shelve
- What to scrap
Let’s say that, even with simple content, your audience engages most with social media advertising. Because it achieved the best results, you’d place social media advertising under High Impact, Low Effort and prioritize it over initiatives that consume more time and resources.
Tip: When prioritizing content, make sure you have enough to serve every stage of the funnel.
How to track success as a first marketer
With all your bases covered, you should be able to monitor your performance as the company’s first marketing hire. List out your 30-, 60-, and 90-day goals, then compare them to your actual results.
At 30 days
Your first 30 days are the most critical; this is when you build your marketing foundation. Most of your time is spent:
- Understanding your audience
- Grasping your company’s business dynamics
- Formulating high-level content creation strategies that fuel your growth engine.
Some of your 30-day goals may look like this:
- Finish auditing and analyzing your company’s website, content, and social profiles to identify what needs improvement
- Develop ICPs, as well as buyer and user personas
- Prepare a content calendar that ensures a consistent flow of content for your blog and social platforms
- Identify potential referral sources, partners, or thought leaders to build relationships with and expand your company’s reach
By day 30, you should have laid the groundwork for your future marketing efforts, even if you haven’t accomplished every goal you set for yourself. Moving forward, aim for two to three quick wins (meaning ship at least two things!).
At 60 days
By day 60, you should have your goals and roadmaps established and be executing the top items in your plan. You should also be making progress towards your long-term targets.
Here are some examples of 60-day goals for more clarity:
- Increase website traffic through SEO and paid advertising
- Launch an email marketing campaign to nurture leads and boost engagement
- Develop a social ad campaign to expand brand awareness and reach
- Conduct A/B tests to optimize website conversions
At 90 days
When you reach the end of your first 90 days, you should observe concrete results from the actions taken at the beginning of your journey and mark your progress towards your long-term objectives.
As such, 90-day goals are more quantified:
- Increase website traffic by 25%
- Increase lead generation by 10%
- Launch a successful social campaign with high engagement rates
- Establish relationships with at least three partners or thought leaders
- Increase email click-through rates (CTRs) by 15%
Let me remind you though, that 90 days is a short time frame, so don’t expect to see massive growth during this period.
Nevertheless, at the end of this time, you should have a good idea of what does and doesn’t work and what needs improvement. From there, you can develop a solid plan for your next steps.
Wrapping up — Being a first marketing hire is both challenging and rewarding
Although it may seem daunting at first, being a company’s first marketing hire is a thrilling opportunity. The role comes with its fair share of hurdles, but the rewards far outweigh them.
Focus on building a solid foundation and setting clear goals, then work your way from there. Remember, what you do could steer your company towards a brighter future. So, take on the challenge, gather the right people to help you, and enjoy this new journey!