Modern Marketer Guide: Building the B2B Marketing Dream Team

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Abdallah Al-Hakim

Marketing teams are like snowflakes.

Study ten marketing teams from seemingly identical companies, and their structures will vary. Guaranteed.

But despite the differences, marketing teams are (or at least should be) marching down the same path—a path leading them to a structure that looks different than team structures of the past.

Deep breaths, fellow marketers.

We’re not here to turn your world upside down, although we’re all used to our annual dose of “What just happened, and how does this impact my strategy?” Optimizing your team structure is worth it. You just have to overcome some growing pains first.

The challenges of building a marketing team today

Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) are always facing challenges, with one of the most recent being how to run effective campaigns without third-party cookies.

They’re also weaving through obstacles caused by an uncertain economy, competitive (and expensive) talent pools, and the inherent ambiguity of marketing, all of which can thwart their quest to build their version of the Marketing Avengers. Zoom in with me on these three challenges.

1. Budget

The past two years have been marred by marketing budget cuts. In fact, earlier this year, 71% of CMOs predicted they wouldn’t have enough budget to execute their strategies in 2023. These strategies come with their own challenges, such as catering to younger B2B buyers and wrapping their heads around increasingly complex tech stacks.

With bottom lines under pressure, it’s no surprise that one of the biggest obstacles between you and hiring your dream team is budget (or the lack thereof). Although leading indicators suggest budgets may rebound in 2024—global ad spending is expected to increase by 8.2% next year and surpass $1 trillion—you likely won’t have a blank check to hire whoever you want. For better or worse, the “do more with less” marching orders aren’t going away anytime soon.

2. Finding the right talent

Talk of budget cuts isn’t meant to put a damper on your day. The marketing world is under pressure, but it’s not falling from the sky. It doesn’t matter how crappy the economy gets; B2B companies still need marketing teams, and there’s plenty of evidence suggesting marketing during tough times is a savvy move, even if it’s hard for some executive teams to stomach.

If you do get the green light to hire, you’ll be fishing from a smaller talent pool. This isn’t to say there aren’t solid marketers looking for work; there are. But the best marketing teams in 2024 and beyond won’t be made up of average marketers; they’ll be made up of unicorns—and those are hard to find.

Here’s why: Premier marketing talent isn’t looking for jobs. They’re happily employed, killing it in their roles, and likely paid a hefty sum to stick around. The challenge isn’t just finding marketing unicorns; it’s convincing them that your grass is greener and more lucrative.

3. The ambiguity and fluidity of marketing

There’s no such thing as the perfect marketing team because there isn’t a concrete definition of a marketing team to begin with. There never has been. Unlike sales teams, which have defined roles and structures—SDRs, BDRs, and AEs—the structure of marketing teams is shrouded in ambiguity.

Scroll on LinkedIn, and you’ll see job listings with the same description but different titles.

Think about how many titles you can give a Growth Marketer without fundamentally changing their role:

  • Acquisition Marketer
  • Retention Marketer
  • Performance Marketer
  • Lifecycle Marketer
  • Inbound Marketer
  • Digital Marketer

Is there an overlap between these roles? Of course, but it’s hard to argue that these roles aren’t very, very, very similar. That ambiguity makes building a solid team tough.

Compounding that challenge is marketing’s fluidity. Companies are always on the hunt for people to fill the “hot” new roles, like email marketers, paid social specialists, and TikTok creators, as the latter starts to show its commerce potential. In fact, TikTok influence on buying behavior is higher than other social channels, with 15% of TikTok users willing to take action after seeing an ad on the platform.

Marketing is always in flux, which has historically made a rigid team structure a fleeting concept—until now.

The modern marketing dream team

The modern marketing dream team looks different than those of the past. Kiss your “specialists” goodbye. Moving forward, marketing teams will consist of a handful of unicorns who can do it all. Jacks and Jills of all trades, if you will.

How did we get here? The economy didn’t help—hip hip hooray for “do more with less”—but marketing is inherently scalable, so why overcomplicate things?

Think about how many personalized emails someone can send via HubSpot with just a click—thousands upon thousands.

Now, think about how many paid social campaigns and experiments someone can launch with Metadata—a frick ton.

Our intention isn’t to oversimplify marketing or diminish their work, but the reality is that you don’t need ten paid specialists when one person can do it all in Metadata—and get better results.

This is why new-look marketing teams will be lean, mean ROI-generating machines. We’re talking about teams of 4-5 unicorns led by a VP who can block and tackle like an NFL Hall of Famer.

Our friend, Clark Barron, Head of Demand Gen at Rezilion, says that in magical Christmas land, these are the only roles you’ll probably need:

  1. Product: Someone who works closely with the Product team and can help you make marketing decisions based on product usage and the roadmap.
  2. Creatives: A few people who can design ads—without AI and Canva—for new and emerging channels, including social, display, search, and podcasts. It’s even better if they can help with distribution, too.
  3. CRM admin: One person to manage your CRM (HubSpot, Salesforce, etc.). Just one. This person owns your CRM, works with Sales to build email sequences, creates workflows, perfects your lead scoring systems, and manages the website. Perhaps throw in SEO, too. Think of this person as your Marketing Ops unicorn.
  4. Paid specialist: Someone who can execute your paid strategy across Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, display networks, and other channels you add to your media mix. You should look at this person and say, “Yes, they are the Harry Potter of paid advertising. An absolute wizard.” (And their job is much easier with a multi-channel tool like Metadata!)

Assembling a team with these kinds of Marketing Avengers is a tall task. Not only are you hunting unicorns, but you’re also on the prowl for ones who obsess over your audience and data.

Sure, your unicorns need to do it all, but they also need to know everything about your audience, including what they eat for breakfast, where they hang out online, and what they say behind your back. They need to know your audience better than their family and childhood BFF.

And the only thing they should love more than your audience is data—and obsessing over it to make data-informed decisions. No Random Acts of Marketing (RAMs) here.

That’s it. This is your marketing team, and while assembling it may seem simple and straightforward, it’s assuredly not easy. Remember this: You’re assembling the Avengers. Ocean’s Eleven. The A Team.

It’ll take time.

How to *actually* assemble the Marketing Avengers

The first step is sitting down with the C-suite and covering a few things:

  • Why the traditional marketing team structure won’t work (it’s expensive and inefficient)
  • Your goal and how you’ll scale the team over time
  • The hiring process is going to take time, so sit back and relax

Spend extra time on that last point. Clark said, “You’re going to have to buy yourself time with leadership. Remember: You’re going after the SEAL Team Six of marketers. That’s a long recruiting process.”

You’re not swiping right and left for marketers. You’re looking only for the best of the best—the unicorns. And you’ll find them, but everyone on the leadership team needs to understand that it’ll take a second.

At the end of the conversation, everyone should nod and chant, “Avengers, assemble.”

Pro Tip: Embrace the Rolodex approach. When you hear “marketing unicorns,” you probably think of a handful of people from previous teams you’ve worked on. Slide into their DMs and bring the band back together.

What should you do, marketer, if you’re looking for a gig?

We don’t intend for this article to instill fear into leadership teams or freak out fellow marketers looking for their next gig.

Our intention is to illustrate the changes coming and how you can prepare, both from the hiring and candidate side of the conversation. But for marketers weary about the future, here’s some advice from Clark to position yourself in the most favorable light:

“In a marketing world often measured as a whole, it’s up to you to show how good you are (or are not) individually.” As harsh as that sounds, smaller marketing teams mean fewer job openings. Only the best will get offers. You have to prove that you’re the best they’re interviewing.

You’ll need an in-depth portfolio to do that, but there’s a good chance you’ll also need to do some soul-searching and self-reflection. Ask your network and source feedback. What do you do well? Where do you fall short? Proactively seeking constructive criticism will be a huge selling point, especially if you take it to heart.

If you do, you’ll become a unicorn coveted by the world’s best marketing teams.

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