Hiring your first growth marketer? Here’s what you need to know

Scaling sales in a budding startup is a difficult task. After the first few sales are acquired, sustaining growth takes even more labor. Once you find your product-market fit, sales sustenance gets easier. The challenge, however, doesn’t end there.

After your product finds the right market, scaling and improving sales strategy becomes the next big task. Rigorously analyzing customer behavior and planning to tweak sales strategies becomes imperative for a startup’s survival.

Your startup, therefore, needs to have the capacity to do such intricate tasks of deriving insights and executing the changes consistently. You need a resource that is dedicated to growth and improvisation. And that is exactly where your growth marketer comes in.

Who is a growth marketer?

Imagine having someone who could look at every element of your sales strategy. From promotional campaigns to media buying, sales scripts to outreach metrics – someone who keeps a record of everything and evaluates data insights at every step. Once there are enough insights needed to refine the sales strategy, this person also comes up with a plan to implement the changes.

That is what a growth marketer does!

A growth marketer’s personalized marketing plan for a business has been shown to reduce acquisition costs by half, boost revenues by up to 15%, and improve the efficiency of marketing expenses by 30%.

In the initial stage, when the startup is scaling on founder-driven sales, it’s usually the founder who does the job of a growth marketer. However, after hiring sales executives, the sales start showing a steep graph with newer market segments. During this phase, it’s important to have a growth marketer who can thoroughly analyze every peg in the sales trajectory.

A growth marketer will also define the key metrics that determine the success of a sales strategy. He/she/they will also be responsible for optimizing these key metrics to improve conversion throughout the marketing funnel.

When to hire your first growth marketer?

The founders drive the sales process till the startup finds a firm product-market fit. In the inception stage, founders need to soak up as much customer feedback and behavior as possible. Once the product-market fit is established, the first few hires in the sales & marketing teams are the first to enter the startup.

This is the exact time when you need to hire a growth marketer.

While sales executives will be on-ground acquiring customers, your growth marketer will be focused on understanding your audience, their behavior, and determining the best ways to optimize the sales strategy. Growth marketers also often work with sales teams to address newer pain points and opportunities. They are responsible for continuously sculpting the sales funnel.

Who is the ideal fit for your first growth marketer?

The best fit for the first growth marketer in a startup is a young spirited & driven person who is ready to get down in the trenches and get their hands dirty. A growth marketer’s journey in a startup will be very different compared to a seasoned organization. A well-established organization will have loads of data about their customers, and hence, the work is more plan-oriented.

In a startup, the growth marketer has to be hyper-vigilant to spot any new opportunity or a hurdle. The data projections also keep changing as newer customers keep coming and going. There’s also a high possibility of marketing channels changing continuously. Growth marketing is a dynamic role in a startup.

Good first hire for a growth marketer’s role possesses the following attributes, and they are aligned to the characteristics of a founder.

Curiosity: A growth marketer in a startup needs to have stellar observational skills, in addition to a curious attitude. They need to ask the tough questions about the on-ground insights and get answers that will continuously allow them to test and try newer ideas and enhance the sales funnel.

Impact-driven: A growth marketer needs to focus on impact-driven efforts. In a startup, where several ideas and opportunities keep coming, growth marketers will have to prioritize high-impact experiments.

Understands your customer: Customers are the key to a startup’s scaling operation. Your growth marketer needs to have a knack for understanding the customers. This expertise must not be limited to data assessment but should also extend to face-to-face interactions. Hence, your growth marketer needs to have both analytics as well as good communication skills.

Relevant & challenging experience: The best fit for this profile is someone who has managed marketing channels and has experience in executing marketing tools & strategies. A growth marketer will also need to have a decent experience working with a product team to understand how the product shows up in every step of the funnel. It will ensure that no important insights are lost in translation.

We asked a growth marketer on his priorities & the challenges.

“I would say the most challenging part is understanding the buyer persona & knowing where they will go if they plan to purchase the product. And to come up with a reasonably optimised omnichannel strategy”, says Sree Ram a Marketing Strategy specialist & a Growth hacker.

He also said, “ While the role can be very subjective in terms of output, it is always prudent to be

Analytical & Data-driven. This role requires a lot of testing, experimentation, and analysis. We used to test everything right from the Text, Images, Colours & Speed. The more we conducted A/B testing, the more we analyzed, the better the decisions. And it’s a continuous journey.”  

 How to hire your first growth marketer?

Hiring is a tricky task, and hiring your first growth marketer is, in fact, very daunting. Here are a few tactics to include in your hiring process and onboard the best growth marketer.

Case study interviews 

Case studies are an excellent screening tool. The case study interview usually involves the interviewer giving a hypothetical problem scenario to the interviewee with all the relevant data points. The interviewee is supposed to develop an action plan to solve the problem and achieve the goals mentioned.

A true fit for a startup will actively dig into the problem and chart a plan that delivers business impact.

A good understanding of your industry

In a startup that has just delivered an innovative product/service, it might not be possible to find someone who knows your product inside out. But you can look for someone who has a deeper understanding of your industry. It will save you tons of time and energy that will be otherwise spent in acquainting the growth marketer with your industry.

Look for a startup fit 

As mentioned earlier, working in a startup is miles apart compared to working in a seasoned organization. A startup will require someone who thinks on their toes, is a self-starter, and can work in a fast-paced environment.

The role of a growth marketer is that of a support pillar for a scaling startup. You need someone who understands your vision and simultaneously works through every detail in the sales funnel.

At Cusp, we take a unique approach to casting the organization with the right talent. We invest our time not just in scouting the best talent but also offer a holistic system to drive growth for your startup.

If you are still figuring out the hiring process for your first few teammates, then head to our 4-part series – Playbook for Startup Founders after Raising Pre-Series Funding. In this series, you can learn more about how to hire your first salesperson and crucial mistakes to avoid in sales hiring.

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