Startup’s Guide to Hiring First Marketing Staff

Hiring your first marketing team can be tricky, as you need to know which skillsets and criteria are ideal for the roles at hand. Here we provide you with our advice on what to look for in potential marketing staff hires.

1. Drive

Many marketers have experience in huge marketing departments which have been operating for decades – there are already systems and design codes in place which limit their control and creativity.

In a startup, however, your marketers have a lot more free reign and a lot more responsibility on their hands.

Image result for startup vs corporation

This requires you to work with people who are driven and motivated – they must create, execute, and iterate plans without constant supervision and reinforcement.

Instead of planning things to death, they must be self-starter types who get to work and make changes as campaigns evolve and take shape. Some people will naturally have this mindset, whereas others will be too used to working under a strict corporate structure.

2. Accountability

The marketing team helps to grow your company, albeit somewhat indirectly. As a result, you must look for hires who take accountability for growth rates and revenue or sales volumes, not being afraid to give you the metrics and the figures you crave.

However, do bear in mind that the business model of their previous employers could affect the way in which they quote these figures to you.

For example, in sales-centric enterprises, marketers may primarily measure their performance by the number of materials they produce such as case studies and whitepapers – this kind of thinking won’t necessarily work in a startup scenario.

Whatever metrics you’re using, marketers must demonstrate accountability for the success or failure of your company.

3. Industry experience

You could hire the best B2B marketer in the world, but if you’re a small Excel training business, you’ve probably wasted your time. You must find marketing staff with experience in your industry or domain, whether its online media, B2B, B2C, SaaS etc.

Different audiences make purchasing decisions based on different appealing factors and criteria, and it is essential to work with marketers who understand your audience (example) and their needs.

They don’t need to be an absolute expert in your sector, but they should demonstrate the ability to identify your target audience and develop innovate means of growing it.

It should also go without saying that marketers with experience in your field will find it easier to create comprehensive marketing materials for you – your business’s domain comes naturally to them and their efforts are thereby less contrived.

How to handle a rejection after an interview

You are as skilled as anybody else but not in terms of qualifications. Be prepared to compete with many talented and experienced people. You should be confident enough to adjust your expectations and modify your skills as necessary.


Rejection no matter where it’s coming from or who is doing it is like a punch to the face. For each job offer you receive from an employer, you are likely to receive several rejection notices from other employers. Nonetheless, it can sting! 

It shows you what you are made of. It shines a light on the things in your life that you need to let go off. It empties you out and leaves you with your true essence. It sets revelations in motion.

You are as skilled as anybody else but not in terms of qualifications. Be prepared to compete with many talented and experienced people. You should be confident enough to adjust your expectations and modify your skills as necessary.

Move out of your comfort zone and improve to be a better fit. Revise yourself to achieve greater commercial value. Accept necessary steps on the way to a better tomorrow.

Following are some of the ways to deal with it:

·Follow up with your other job applications. If not selected for a position, ask the employer for feedback about how you can make yourself a stronger candidate.

·Try to analyze your job search efforts. Try to adjust your approach, revise your material or try new strategies.

·Use career center resources to enhance your resume, cover letter and interviewing skills.

·Use positive self-talk and find a mantra that gives you strength.

·Make sure you take a healthy diet, talk to your friends and family and engage in enjoyable activities that build your confidence.

·If you are tired of the process, take a break and come back with more enthusiasm. Life does not get easier, you get stronger.

So here is how you should think of your rejection. Not as denials but gentle nudges and pushes in the right direction that changes your course in the right direction. You will learn that it will almost always turn out OK. After all, there’s an old saying “Like everything, this too shall pass…..

First steps to working with a VA

Virtual Assistants can help with anything from marketing to accounts; social media or blog writing; diary management to website design. Virtual Assistants can ease some of your business worries and take care of all those time-wasting jobs for you.

If you’ve heard the term Virtual Assistant but are not quite sure what that actually means, then read on!

Virtual Assistants can help with anything from marketing to accounts; social media or blog writing; diary management to website design. Virtual Assistants can ease some of your business worries and take care of all those time-wasting jobs for you.

What is a VA?

A virtual assistant (VA) works on a casual or freelance basis. They usually work from home, but might work from an office, and might charge per hour or per project. Each VA will have their own skill set and will specialise in certain tasks.

A simple way to think of it is it’s like having a personal assistant/marketing manager/accountant/designer/administration manager… except we don’t need to be in the same office as you!

We usually have qualifications plus extensive training in our specialised area. For example, I offer writing, proofreading and general admin services, and I have a degree in Journalism and Marketing plus experience working as Personal Assistant, so you can see where my skills have grown and developed. Other VAs might have worked for years as an accountant and now they offer freelance account services.

How to work with a VA

First, identify what it is that you want to outsource. It might be one specific task, such as “you want them to write blogs for you” or “manage your email account”. Or it might be that you want someone to manage your whole business, and this often needs a VA that has a team of other VAs to call on.

Next, spend time thinking about the investment. Yes, it will cost you on average $50p/h for an Australian VA, but think about all the time you’ll free up to go and make money doing what you are good at. If you’re a plumber, you are better off paying someone for 10 hours a week to manage all your appointments and coordinate your social media, then spending those same 10 hours a week actually working for whatever your rate is.

Plus, the VA rate is covering everything: you don’t need to pay superannuation, ongoing training, computer/desk, or insurances on top of that rate.

Also, identify how you will communicate with the VA. Do you prefer to email, or will you be wanting to have a skype meeting once a week? Good communication is crucial. When delegating any task, ensure you let the VA know the deadline you have in your mind, what outcome you expect, what systems you use and any other relevant information.

Where to find a good VA

There are freelancer sites with mostly offshore VAs who are considerably cheaper than a local, Aussie VA. But you get what you pay for in this world. For very repetitive or basic tasks then an offshore VA could certainly be a good option. If you are looking for a higher level of support and expertise then you will need to recognise that need, and be willing to pay Australian rates. For example, an offshore VA might be really good at data entry, but not so good at managing your events or social media accounts, as they just do not understand the local market.

I am part of an Australian VA network called Virtually Yours, where you can put a call out for a VA, you simply state the task or tasks you would like help with.

We are all self-employed, business owners running our own VA businesses. So, we understand how to run a business and also the local regulations, business opportunities and so on.

Building the relationship

Working with a VA is slightly different to working with an employee. Yes, we often complete the exact same work as someone in your office might do, but we love working virtually and it’s a win-win because you only pay for the work agreed. So rather than paying a wage, and superannuation and providing a computer, your VA will complete all tasks and then invoice you for the time or perhaps agree on a package rate beforehand.

VAs work with multiple clients and this means we are constantly practicing our skills and learning something new. I do more training and up-skilling as a VA than I ever did as an employee. Each VA has a different way of charging – I usually charge by an hourly rate but some may charge a package fee or outcomes-based fee. As an independent contractor, I cover all my own taxes, superannuation, equipment upkeep and training, so when I quote my price, you know the value you are getting.

If you would like to chat more about what a VA does, then feel free to contact me at


The “SALARY QUESTION” During Interviews…

[WARNING]: Consider this advice only if you are in a position to choose an employer. If not, please PM me, I have an alternative approach.

I feel strongly about this part of the interview process and I personally think interviewers or other people, apart from our spouses or parents or tax bureau, have no right or justifiable grounds to demand this from a candidate.

Having said that, never be afraid to walk away from a seemingly good opportunity if they make the salary question a big deal; except if, the employer wants to know whether they can afford you. But even in this case, your salary expectations should suffice, unless you want to work for them for a lower rate than what you are already getting. In that case, share it and proceed.

Before we start, here are some of the reasons why I believe employers would want to know your current salary (if you have others, please by all means, share them in the comment box):

  1. The employer wants to ensure they don’t overpay the candidate by giving him or her more than 40% of current salary (regardless if their budget for the position is double the current salary).
  2. The employer wants leverage during the negotiation. If they like the candidate and they know the current salary, they can work within that range and eventually provide a seemingly attractive offer based on their current rate. Anchoring the first offer from that perspective.

Think about it, if the organization treats you like this while you’re not yet in their payroll, how do you think will they treat you when you already are?

Below is a sample conversation that might happen when an interviewer asks you about your current salary.

[DISCLAIMER] You may find the discussion below too familiar…it’s purely coincidental.

INTERVIEWER: What is your current salary?

CANDIDATE: Based on the role, expectations, and industry standard, I would expect a base salary package of X.

INTERVIEWER: Yes, but that’s not what I asked for. I need to know your current salary. We can only move to the next level of interview once we have this. We ask this from all the candidates.

CANDIDATE: I fully understand that some companies require this information. However, I consider my salary, highly confidential. And I don’t openly share it apart from my spouse/parents/dogs. The last one is a joke (smile).

INTERVIEWER: All our applicants have to submit this information and there are no exemptions. If you can’t give us this, then I guess we can’t accept your application.

CANDIDATE: I would really love to explore a role in your organization and I am sorry to hear that the salary expectations I just shared would not suffice. I really hope you would re-consider even if I don’t divulge what I believe is confidential.

INTERVIEWER: I am sorry but we can’t.

CANDIDATE: I respect and understand your position on this. Thank you for being candid and up front about it. I really appreciate it. Please do let me know if your policy on this has changed.

End of discussion. You both shake hands and stay connected in LinkedIn.

However, in certain cases, the discussion doesn’t end. And it may go something like this:

INTERVIEWER: Look, we really like you to join us. But this decision of yours is making it really difficult for me to get you to the next level. I hope it’s you who would re-consider.

CANDIDATE: I am really sorry to hear that and I don’t mean to make it more difficult for you than it should be or for anyone else for that matter. That’s not how I operate.

INTERVIEWER: I am glad to hear that. Now, regarding your current salary, we assure you that we’ll treat it confidential. We take confidentiality here really seriously.

CANDIDATE: I have no doubt about that. Seriously, it’s not you, it’s me (smiling). Just kidding. I’ll tell you what, maybe we can arrive at a compromise, could you by any chance share with me the salary of the person who previously held this position?

INTERVIEWER: Unfortunately, I can’t. Those things are confidential.

CANDIDATE: Don’t worry, I can keep a secret. I am very good at it (smiling again). I have another question, what would you do if you found out one of your current employee is sharing with other recruiters his salary?

INTERVIEWER: That’s a major policy violation. Because it potentially exposes our salary structure to our competitors.

CANDIDATE: If I divulge my salary to you now, would you still trust that I won’t do it again in the future? How would that work for us if I join?

INTERVIEWER: I see where you’re getting at here. It’s the first time I heard such a compelling and respectful argument to this policy. You’re exactly the type of person we need in our organization. I would love to see you progress and eventually join us, I’ll talk to my superior about your request. I don’t know if this will do anything, but heck, it’s worth a try. I’ll get back to you on this.

CANDIDATE: Thank you. I am more than willing to wait for your advice.

End of discussion. Both of you shake hands and stay connected in LinkedIn.

Please share your thoughts, below.


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