How to Build a Rockstar Marketing Team: Practical Advice From a 20+ Year Marketing Veteran

We’ve entered a new age of modern marketing where the trifecta of content, context, and the customer experience reigns supreme. Marketers must embrace the mindset of creating more value for more people – more often. The ones who not only embrace this but also know how to execute on it are in high demand by tech companies - and competition for these rockstar marketers is fierce.

I tapped in to a true marketing leader in the technology sector, John McAuliffe, to uncover the secrets to building a team of elite team of technology marketers. John is the President of Leonardo Worldwide Corporation, a cutting-edge technology company in Toronto serving the global hospitality industry.

Since joining the company as Chief Marketing Officer in 2008, he and his team of highly skilled marketers have completely transformed the company from an outbound sales model to an inbound marketing strategy. Today, the company’s sales originate exclusively from inbound leads.

Here’s some of the invaluable advice he shared.

Consider skill and will

Ideally, you want a candidate that has a high level of skill that has been acquired from a combination of learning (education, mentorship) and experience (time, wins, failures) and a high level of motivation (ambition, drive, inquisitiveness). Keep in mind though that you can teach skill but not will.

Know what makes a good marketer

A good marketer knows how to answer the question: ‘what miracle do we (our product) solve that someone would pay money for?’ This is true regardless of the industry.

Demand modern marketing skills

Basic marketing skills (defining audiences, segmentations, messages, buying cycles, etc.) are required, but it’s paramount for today’s (and tomorrow’s) tech marketers to understand:

  • Revenue, costs and the ROI they’re bringing to the company, including but not limited to costs to acquire a customer and the payback over the lifecycle of a customer.
  • How technology can improve effectiveness of marketing dollars spent and which marketing software solutions deliver the best ROI for the company. I read somewhere that the marketer’s best friend should be the CIO and I believe this. 

Hire good writers

I tell everyone that works for me (and my children) that they must learn how to write. Having marketers on your team who have the ability to write their thoughts, arguments and plans in a compelling and succinct manner will bring you (and them) exponential returns.

Place value on personality traits

I like hiring people who are naturally curious. The most important word to come from the mouth of a marketer is “why?” Nothing makes me happier than when a Demand Generation Manager says, “what can I do to squeeze another percent conversion out of this program?”

I also look for people who have focus. They know what the goal is, how to measure it and execute programs to achieve it. I don’t want marketers who bounce from idea to idea.

It isn’t about having a million ideas, it’s about the right ideas, closely monitored and executed for achievement.

Ensure candidates share your company principles

Every company has a set of principles that that they expect all employees to share and base their everyday actions and decisions on. Spend time during the interview process to ensure you have a candidate that shares your company’s principles.

Get others’ opinions
I like to hear what others think of a candidate I am considering. I ask them to have a conversation with the candidate and then I have a conversation with them to get their take.

Converse, don’t interview

I hate interviews (or at least the formality of an interview). I like to have a conversation with a candidate to determine where they are skilled, where they need improvement and what motivates them to perform above average. I often do this by taking them out of the office for a coffee or having multiple meetings to allow us to relax around each other.

Trust your team

When I’m not directly responsible for a marketing hire, I provide counsel and ensure the hiring manager’s decision is well researched, well thought through, and consistent with the principles and values of the company but I won’t override their decision.

Create opportunities for great people

Hire great people when you find them. Don’t wait for a job to open up.

Recruit your rockstars
Recruiters are in the market constantly – they know who the rockstars are and can introduce you to them when the timing is right. If you don’t have the resources in-house to recruit top candidates, I wouldn’t try.

The marketing landscape has evolved in complexity compared to what it looked like 25 years ago – which is why hybrid marketers are an increasingly rare breed. John’s holistic approach will equip you to better identify your marketing rockstars, and how these building blocks will take your product to new heights under a high performing marketing team.

Ready to build a rockstar marketing team? Marketing recruitment agencies can help you to identify, attract, and retain the talent you need.