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Building a premier marketing team with Tara Robertson

ProfitWell Dec 6 2022

Water is going to fill the path that gravity takes it. It’s how we get rivers that flow downstream into oceans, it’s how we get ocean waves on our shores, and once water evaporates, gravity takes over again. One of the few things that is constant about water is that it is always changing.

Marketing is like water. Every SaaS B2B operator needs it, but oftentimes the best strategies and tactics can be fleeting. When someone discovers a new place for marketing to flow, the floodgates are open. It’s in this way that marketing can be frustrating. If you don’t stay on top of it, numbers won’t be met and eventually opportunities dry up.

We’ve chatted with a lot of marketing professionals on Protect the Hustle, but today we bring you a special case. Tara Robertson was nice enough to sit down with us not even a week into her role as CMO of Bitly. However, Tara is not new to the marketing world. With stops at Hotjar, Sprout Social, and Teamwork she is a seasoned pro whom we could learn fa lot rom. Listen on as we go into what it takes to start over with a brand new marketing team.


Listen now 🎧







Part of the job of being an executive… it's not necessarily doing the work. It's sometimes helping teach people how to do that. Serving them, rolling up your sleeves in a different way where you become more of a coach.”    


                                                                                          –Tara Roberston








What to do today: 

  • Follow Tara Roberston.
  • Schedule a time to meet with your marketing leadership team to evaluate or determine your strategy as well as the structure of the team.

What to do next quarter:

Start to build out your marketing strategy and team.

Every company is different. And marketing is not a one-size-fits-all. What may have worked for one company may not work for another. And building a premier marketing team begins with understanding the metrics, goals, and focus of the company, as well as leading with compassion. Tara explains, “I think for anyone that's listening, the most important thing is… don't walk in as a CMO and think that what you did before is what's gonna work this time around.”

Whether you’re a marketing executive starting at a new company, in the startup phase, wanting to optimize, or simply wanting to start anew with your marketing strategy and/or team, Tara went into detail about the first three steps you should take to build an effective and premier marketing team.

Step 1: Listen and gather feedback

  • As a marketing leader, regardless of the stage at which your company is at — whether it’s a startup, it’s in a growth stage, or it’s an enterprise — you have to listen and do internal research.
    • Get to know the people and current processes. Set up meetings with, not just marketing, but with the different departments that you’ll be working with (and affecting), including the entire executive team.
    • Ask questions relevant to each department to understand where the opportunities are, where the gaps are, and what the makeup of the machine should look like. 
      • What is the company focus — product-led, sales-led, demand-gen, etc.?
      • What are the company goals?
      • What are the company metrics?
      • What’s the company culture — how do people work toward these goals?
      • What’s working and what’s not?
      • Tara says that she asks everyone, “What are you hoping I'll accomplish?”
  • Take all of the answers to your questions, collate the feedback, and analyze it thoroughly. Identify patterns or most common concerns, etc. and use that data to balance it against the department goals to then figure out how to prioritize the roadmap — strategy, hiring, etc. 
  • Finally, provide a road show to walk people through your plan and once again, get their feedback. Transparency is important.

Step 2: Map out your organizational design

  • By truly understanding the company and department goals, as well as understanding the people and what they need, you can then start to map out your organizational design. 
  • Formulate a plan that's uniquely specific to the business that you're working in.
    • Look for the gaps and needs to then figure out what roles or partners you’re going to need in order to reach the desired outcome.
    • Understand where your marketing budget is and where your priorities are, as well as the operating plan for what you need to achieve. 

Step 3: Start to build out your team - hire people smarter than you.

“I am a big believer in hiring people smarter than you,” Tara says. She explains that in order to build a proper marketing organization and drive the right impact, you need to hire people that are strong in the areas where you and/or the team are weak.

Additionally, how you build your team depends on what the business and organization needs are. The important part of building your organization is to build a structure that is right for your business. 

  • Understand your goals and where your gaps (weaknesses) are.
    • You save time and money in the long run by hiring a strong VP, for example, over five practitioners.
    • The people you hire will be your partners. They’re the people you need in order to be successful.
    • Hire your leadership team first.
    • Hire experienced candidates.
  • Set clear responsibilities and expectations
    • Make sure your team clearly understands their responsibility and expected outcomes. 
  • Empower and connect with your team
    • Let your people know how they can crush it.
      • The things that they are solely responsible for and that they can control.
      • Let your people know that there will be things they’ll struggle with and that you’ll be there to help.


What to do within the next year? 

Begin the hiring process and the implementation of your marketing plan or strategy. As with anything outcome based, continuous evaluation is necessary to ensure the desired results. Keep in mind that business and processes evolve, so modifications are also part of the process.


Who should own this? 

Chief Marketing Officer and your marketing leadership.


Who's up next week?

Next week, Bob Butler, Chief Commercial Officer over at Worldpay for Platforms, gets into the benefits of anchor tenants and, more importantly, how to find your anchor tenants. 

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This is a Paddle production—the first media network dedicated entirely to the SaaS and subscription space.


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