Common early hires for SaaS marketing teams

As you grow your software as a service business, you’ll need to build your marketing team. As SaaS marketing specialists, we’ve seen plenty of different combinations of marketing teams, and can tell you that hiring the right ‘mix’ of marketing talent will enable you to build a sustainable marketing program from an acquisition and brand perspective. While I’m not a recruiter, nor do I specialise in hiring, I think I have a unique perspective to share. I’ve written this article as a summary of this perspective to add to your considerations as you build a marketing team.
Ryan McMillan

Before you hire

Firstly, understand why you’re hiring. 

What is the bottleneck you’re trying to overcome? And can you fix it with a better process or system? This will help ensure that you’re not hiring for the sake of it and that there is ongoing work for your new hire, not just a one-off project.

Then, spend the appropriate amount of time making sure you hire the right person for the job. It may feel like you want to quickly fill an immediate need, but exercising patience here will contribute to your medium-term marketing success.

Also, consider different salary requirements. In general, aim for a balance of salaries at different levels of seniority.

As an alternative, also consider, can I use a contractor for shorter-term pieces of work? This, of course, comes with another set of pros and cons too.

Common Early Hires

I’ve come up with a list of marketing roles people typically play within an early stage SaaS company. Here they are:

Chief Marketing Officer

Often a first hire, at an early stage of the business, the CMO needs to understand your product and take full ownership of the brand. 

They need to be able to translate your business and product objectives into a practical marketing strategy. 

This person will be able to own the marketing side of the business, outsource the right tasks and ensure your launch is a success. If they’re not a founder, they will typically bring significant marketing experience and business acumen to the marketing team. You don’t want to skimp on the cost of this person as they will be essential in your business.

The investment here will help smooth out the rest of your marketing journey, as they’ll be able to plan strategically, rather than ‘administrate’ marketing tasks. 

They’ll be able to understand which areas you need to invest in, which you can outsource and which you can leave until later. This will help maximise your marketing ROI.

‘Marketing Designer’

A hybrid role, marketing designers are people with marketing experience, as well as the skills to make changes to your website and build advertising and brand collateral.

Brand story is an important part of growing your early stage SaaS company, and therefore having someone that can create solid marketing assets to go alongside your marketing activity is a big help.

Often, this type of work can fall down the list of priorities. Hiring a ‘marketing designer’ to work under the direction of your marketing strategist will ensure that these assets don’t get forgotten.

Content Marketer

A content marketer’s role is to connect with your audience. This could be through written, video or social media content. 

This position can be used across both product (e.g. onboarding content) and marketing content (e.g. SEO articles) at the early stages of the businesses growth.

This content will help your audience understand what you’re creating and the problem that your product will solve for them.

They will have a responsibility to also understand your audience. This is to help work out what is resonating and leading to purchase. Then they can create more of this content and drive more sales. 

One important consideration here is that content can be quite resource intensive to produce, so outsourcing this work early on will likely lead to higher costs. That’s why I think it’s worthwhile bringing this role in-house early on.

As you scale, their role can shift towards managing content and working with outsourced writers to produce higher volumes of content with quality assurance.

Product Marketer

A fairly strategic role at the product level, product marketers will most importantly be able to identify and solve customer problems.

This is an important task, especially while figuring out your product market fit and Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).

Their primary goal is to increase lifetime value (LTV). They do this by representing the voice of the customer, highlighting the value of the product and driving adoption. 

Specific tasks would include the onboarding process, marketing and customer feedback.

Graduate Generalist

This person is ready to roll up their sleeves and get involved. They might have a bit of experience or they might be a fresh graduate. They will take on many tasks across the marketing spectrum. This could include PPC, SEO, analytics, marketing automation and more. 

Two of the most important attributes for this person are their attitude and willingness to learn. They might not have undertaken all of the tasks before, but they're willing to apply what they know to new fields, upskill and learn on the job.

Community Manager

As you build an audience for your product, you will get to the point where you need a manager to nurture them. This role works across social media channels, email communications, CRM platforms and subscriber lists. Their focus is to ensure the customer experience is enjoyable. This can mean answering questions or adding value by providing information.

Common Marketing Team Combos

One of the most efficient structures that I’ve seen is to have a strong CMO role driving strategy, and then engaging both a public relations (PR) and acquisition agency. 

This supports you from two very different fields without the risk of overlap. 

Your PR agency can work to gain awareness through media exposure, product placement and connection with the right people. 

Your acquisition agency can help capture people further down the funnel across channels like pay-per-click advertising, organic traffic and conversions.

Additional Marketing Roles

As you continue to build out your team, here are some of the other roles that you may consider hiring.

Marketing Analytics Expert

The more marketing you do, the more data you’ll get back. All of this can be helpful to know who your customers are, what they like and what your next move should be. A marketing analytics expert can look at data across all of your channels. This will show where there are opportunities and where you are getting good ROI. 

Search Marketing Specialist

Many potential customers will first come across your business using search engines. And if they’re not, you want to make sure they do. Hiring a specialist in search engine marketing (SEM) allows you to capitalize on search engines for marketing and advertising purposes. Their industry knowledge will help develop a website that is tailored to your customers. This means you’ll be attracting and converting more leads. Some of the tactics they’ll commonly use are marketing campaigns, pay per click (PPC) advertising, copywriting and keyword research.

Marketing administrator

As your team grows, you’ll often need to hire a marketing administrator to ensure the whole process is running smoothly. This role will coordinate all the internal and agency work. They will often be recent graduates or marketing generalists, that are looking to learn and grow with your business as they support the whole marketing team.

Ideally overtime, you’ll help to upskill this person so that they can grow into more strategic work.

Final Note

Are you looking to grow your SaaS company but not quite sure where to start? Have a chat with our team to see how Atlas can support you in the next stage of your growth. 

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