How to build and manage a marketing team by Tracey Wallace
Tracey Wallace On Hiring and Building Teams
I sat down with MarketerHire’s Tracey Wallace to discuss what it takes to build a team from scratch. We also talked about how to set goals and plan for the future and what to look for when hiring a marketer.
Tracey has a journalism background and worked as a content and SEO marketer. She is the former Editor-in-Chief at BigCommerce and also was the head of marketing at memorial diamond company Eterneva.
Today, Tracey is the director of marketing at MarketerHire where she helps match brands to the marketers they need.
Tracey shared her experience with hiring marketers, explains why startups often want to hire growth marketers first, and talks about how structure sets people up for success.
How Tracey built a team from scratch
When she started working at Eterneva, Tracey realized the first person she needed to hire was someone to manage both social media and brand.
The reason: Tracey recognized social wasn’t her area of expertise, nor something that she felt particularly good at. She needed someone she could trust who could manage the brand’s Facebook and Instagram as well as launch their TikTok strategy.
She knew the person she hired had to be good at both managing and engaging communities. They also needed to be exceptional with branding, which she considers crucial in the realm of DTC.
When launching the search for candidates, Tracey started by using Twitter and LinkedIn and emailing people she knows. Leveraging her personal connections and network helped her find candidates without sifting through endless applications that weren’t a good fit.
The freelance-first approach
One of the biggest challenges Tracey faced when hiring a social media manager was that she’s not a social media expert. This put her in a tough position since she couldn’t accurately spot where the BS was (and where it wasn’t.)
“It’s hard to hire people when something isn’t your expertise and you can’t spot where the BS is. That’s why I like to start with freelance work.”
Tracey found that hiring someone as a freelancer at first allowed her to test what they can do before bringing them on full-time. She prefers to understand how well the individual can explain what they do and justify his or her decisions, such as why they choose to measure a specific metric over another one.
This approach is also helpful because planning within the world of startups, things change all the time...and it's something you have to keep in mind when hiring people.
So how’d she find her first freelance marketing hire?
There were a few candidates that looked promising for the social media role, but one in particular stood because of her expertise, portfolio, and proactivity. Tracey appreciated the candidate’s passion for the brand and its mission. She loved how she immediately asked for their brand book and returned it with notes, thoughts, and ideas that could be acted on right away.
This made her a clear choice.
How to successfully hire a full-time marketer
I asked Tracey about the trends she’s seeing when it comes to the kind of marketer companies are looking for right now. In her experience, the number one person that companies are looking for are growth marketers.
Tracey defines a growth marketer as modern marketing managers that understand conversion rate optimization, although there doesn’t seem to be a one-size fits all approach.
Why is there such demand for growth marketers?
Tracey thinks it’s because companies are hiring growth marketers to do everything.
Brands know they need “some kind of marketer”, and many growth marketers can do bits and pieces of many different types of marketing...even when they’re not experts in every channel.
Growth marketers also often can dive into code and the tech-side of marketing, although each one of them is different. That's why Tracey says it's crucial to be specific about what you are looking for them to do. If you fail to tell candidates exactly what you need within the role, you might be setting them up for failure.
“If you’re going to hire a growth marketer, you need to be really specific about what it is you’re looking for them to do.”
While some growth marketers can be a Swiss Army knife of sorts, this approach to hiring marketers who can seemingly “do it all” can come with drawbacks. Having one person do all kinds of marketing activities (like writing and sending emails, posting on social media, and managing paid social) is often a fast track to burnout.
And many modern marketers are not having it.
Tracey shared that she’s finding that these days, more marketers would rather work as freelancers than being held to impossible standards in-house.
“Fun fact for brands: companies have really burned out marketers, and that’s why so many of them don’t want to work for big brands.”
This is one of the reasons Tracey joined MarketerHire. Their process helps companies understand what kind of marketer they need (that’s within their budget) and then provides a roadmap to help brands find an ideal candidate to hire. This holistic approach helps companies grow without making freelance marketers wear every hat.
Setting goals and planning for the future
Tracey is all about structure and organization. She found the value in setting goals while working at BigCommerce (even though she hated everything about it at first.)
Today, she’s a big believer in establishing objectives in a way that’s clear to the CEO and other leadership team members, as it helps everyone see the big picture they’re collectively working toward.
When setting quarterly goals and KPIs, Tracey makes sure she has no more than two to three big goals. She explained that this limited goal approach is even more important in startups because every quarter, new ideas seem to come up.
When this happens, it’s important to explain to the CEO or leadership team how taking on new projects or goals will impact the department's current objectives.
“I’m a big believer in setting goals that are clear to the CEO and others, making sure you have no more than two or three big goals.”
Tracey also mentioned the importance of reprioritizing goals to best manage the team’s bandwidth. She works hard to maintain open conversations about how much her team members have on their plates and whether or not they can get tasks done at the expected level and on time.
Overall, she shared that in order for marketers and the companies they work for to be successful, clear, honest communication is critical. Without it, things can get messy.
If you want to learn more about MarketerHire, subscribe to Raisin Bread, their online publication. Stay tuned for our next episode of the DTC Growth Show.
About the podcast
On the DTC Growth Podcast, we talk with founders and leaders of the most exciting DTC brands. We discuss their visions, how they launched, and how they are growing their brands.