By Marketers, For Marketers Ep. 6: Marketing at Lean Startups Part I

Mark Huber

Today’s guest is Marcel Santilli, the SVP of marketing at UpKeep. test

Upkeep digitizes work requests for maintenance, facilities, and operations teams. This will be a two-part episode, and today’s half will focus on prioritization and building out a team.

In this episode of By Marketers For Marketers Jason chats with Marcel Santilli, SVP of Marketing at Upkeep

How do you start to think about prioritization?

There are always too many things that need to get done in a startup. One mistake that many marketers make is to come with preconceived notions about how things should be, and look for things that conform to their playbook. A better approach is to start with a broad understanding of what needs to get done and focus on just a few things, but that’s easier said than done.

One thing to think about is being effective and efficient. Being effective means having direction and understanding your customers. Being efficient is about speed. Going very fast in the wrong direction can almost be worse than going very slow in the right direction. The things you say no to are by far more important than the things you say yes to.

To improve personal efficiency, it’s useful to be intentional about auditing your calendar on a fairly regular basis. What percentage of your time is uninterrupted deep work, versus meetings or checking communications? COVID made it a lot harder to strike a good balance because meeting frequency has increased, so blocking off your most productive times can keep you from being too busy on those days.

When it comes to teams, ask, “Is there an agenda for this?” “What are you trying to accomplish with this?” “Can we do 20-minute meetings instead of 30-minute meetings?” “Can you do 15-minute meetings instead?”

How do you start to build out a team?

If you’re earlier in your role, figure out how to leverage your time through people that are not full-time hires. If you’re fortunate enough to bring in a right-hand person that you’ve worked with before, there’s a level of trust and you know exactly how that person operates.

How you go about hiring and thinking about hiring is going to depend on the company. If you’re growing very fast, you need people that know things already. In other companies, you can’t afford to hire someone senior for every role. Hire more senior for roles that are less familiar to you, and hire freelancers for roles you’re familiar with.

The balance between new and seasoned talent is really important. Usually, product marketing will be one of the first roles to fill. Your next hire should be someone that bridges the gap between customer data technology and your go-to-market operations, and then a marketing ops person. Later on, if you’re hiring people and they’re smarter than you, you’re definitely doing it right.

There’s less risk hiring a generalist full-time. But if you need a specialist, you might want to go a little bit more towards freelancers and contractors, and specialists that can bring in-depth expertise. You’re doing more of the orchestration of everything.

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