What does today’s marketing team need to look like? And where should you start in building yours out?

Let’s start off here by saying that there’s no silver bullet when it comes to building a marketing team (or any team for that matter). At the end of the day, you have to do what works for your company from a business objective, cultural and revenue standpoint.

That disclaimer aside, when you look from one company to the next, the key marketing players shouldn’t look all that different, especially if you’re looking at companies of similar sizes or in the same industry. So what do you need to know as you build out your team?

Do You Start With Generalists or Specialists?

The generalist vs. specialist debate is an interesting one: Do you hire a group of people who do a little bit of everything or do you hire people who are experts in specific areas? Most often, the best approach is actually a little bit of both.

Having a mix of generalists and specialists on your team provides both wide and deep knowledge, making it the end goal for most teams, but it’s tricky to accomplish if you’re just getting started or only have the budget for a small team. If that’s the case, you’re back to the starting point: With which one do you go first?

The answer to this question isn’t necessarily about which type of role you hire first, but who you hire first. If you’re building a team, you’ll be bringing on more than one person, giving you some leeway (albeit a little) for both. In looking at your specialist pick, the question becomes: Who should be your first specialist hire? Marketing technology is key.

Introducing the Marketing Technology Specialist

A lot of people take the approach that everyone on your team can handle marketing technology– and it’s true that as your team grows everyone will touch it one way or another — but you really do need that one dedicated person who can manage and coordinate everything your systems run.

So then, what should you look for in a marketing technologist? It’s common to think you need an IT admin or a database administrator (DBA) for this role, but that’s really only necessary if you’re running complex workflows, which is typically not the case.

The truth is, if you’re not bringing in over $200 million in revenue, you don’t need to hire someone with a resume full of marketing automation or operations experience. Beyond that, even if you do bring in someone who has worked in the space before, that experience will only be relevant if your company uses the same platform that person used before. Experience with one system doesn’t necessarily translate to any other system, meaning people more or less start from scratch any time they work in a new system.

Given that caveat, you can do just as well hiring someone who is early on in their career if they have the right qualities. In this case, you want someone who is organized, process-oriented, likes technology and wants to grow a career in marketing operations. If you can find someone who fits that bill, the experience will follow.

Again, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to building out your team, but if you focus your efforts in the right areas (for example by balancing generalists with some much-needed specialists and concentrating these specialists in the proper roles) and evaluate potential along with experience, you’ll be well on your way to a first class marketing organization.