11 Tips on How to Build a High-Performance Marketing Team


Exceptional teams build exceptional companies. But building an outstanding team isn’t just about hiring A-players.

It’s about building the right process and managing many aspects of it. That includes recruitment, culture, goal setting and reporting.

Here’s are 11 tips to help you on your way to building your all-star marketing team.

1. Start With Finding the Right People

Easier said than done, right? Finding the best people isn’t a simple task, as you’re practically competing against everyone else.

What’s interesting is that about 99% of companies approach their recruitment in a similar way. Well, if you do what 99% does, you can’t expect results the top 1% get.

Reverse approach: This one I’ve got from Noah Kagan. Instead of interviewing people to identify qualities you seek, look for adverts, marketing tactics, and campaigns you admire and identify which marketer did them.

Hire from companies you respect: Identify companies you respect the most, then check out who works for them. LinkedIn is a good tool to start with.

Linkedin resumes are a fraud: LinkedIn is great for finding common connections for a referral or finding employees of a company you like. But skills, titles, references? I gave references to at least five friends I never worked with, and six people approved me for Scala development, a skill I don’t have.

Ask respected marketing experts for referral: Instead of hiring HR company, look up some of the most respected people in the community and ask them for referrals.

Hire for Culture Fit: Rand Fishkin makes a great point on culture fit being a better predictor of a good hire compared to skills. Obviously, in an ideal case the candidate has both.


Read their blog: Most talented marketing people do some form of blogging. Look for original ideas, data, deep analysis and creativity. They’re all a hallmark of a great marketer.

Look for metrics and objective driven people: Best marketers ask for objectives and can back their work with data. It’s surprising how many companies underestimate this.

For more tips on hiring, here’s an epic post from Aaron Ginn on how to hire a growth hacker.

2. Build a Culture of Grit


Plenty of self-proclaimed experts talk about ‘secrets to success.’ Let’s bring some science to it.

Psychologists carried out many experiments over the last 100 years to identify what’s the top predictor of professional or academic success.

It turns out that neither genetics, social background nor IQ can beat the single characteristic they call the grit.

According to Carol Dweck from Stanford Department of Psychology, the key to developing grit is embracing the right mindset. She identifies two different mindsets: growth mindset and fixed mindset.


Source: Stanford University

Fixed mindset people believe their talents are given and see obstacles as a confirmation of their inability. Growth mindset people don’t. And they’re right.

What’s more interesting is that environments that promote the growth mindset tend to perform much better. Building a growth mindset culture starts with the kind of language you use and the behavior you reward.

3. Lead by Example

You’ve heard this one before. The question is, does everyone understand the value of leadership? Apparently not. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be so many workplaces that suck.


This simple concept illustrates the importance of being a model of your ideal employee is the betari box. In other words, attitude affects behavior.

4. Set Quantifiable Goals

Top teams are data-driven. But being data driven isn’t just about collecting data about your results. It starts with the goals.

There’s a big difference between ‘improving website performance’ and ‘improving website performance by 25%.’

If you’re looking for such a system to implement in your team, you might want to consider using Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) methodology.

It was Intel who invented OKRs, but many top performing teams in Silicon Valley, such as Google, Palantir, Zynga or Square use it.

For example, a quantifiable objective is to improve your conversion rates by 30% or to increase engagement by 10%. At Google, OKRs are public, including those of Larry Page.

You measure the results on the scale of 0 to 1.0. In general, Google engineers are expected to hit 0.6 – 0.7. Hitting 1.0 consistently means your goals are not ambitious enough.


OKRs are straightforward and keep people accountable. They’re not necessarily popular, but most people admit they were delivering their top performance while using OKRs.

5. Measure the Progress Real-Time and React to Alerts

It’s not enough to set a goal and only wait for the outcome at the end of the month or a quarter. At the same time, you want to avoid micro-managing.

There’s a big difference between micro-management and providing support, mentorship and getting your hands dirty at the right time in the right place.


Mike Volpe, a CMO at Hubspot, who manages arguably one of the top inbound marketing teams, advises measuring the progress real time. I totally agree.

As marketers, we all track our campaigns real-time to react fast. It makes sense to take the same approach to your goals. This way your team can ensure there are no surprises at the end of the month.

6. Mentorship and Accountability

In a study on employee engagement, lack of mentorship was cited as one of the leading causes of employee disengagement.

Promoting a mentor relationships between new and experienced employees can not only boost performance, it can lead much higher satisfaction and retention of top talent.

In fact, it’s one of the main reasons why companies lose their A-players.

7. Drop the Meetings


Let’s be straightforward about it. Most meetings are a time wasters dressed up as work. According to a study conducted by Atlassian, employees in the tech industry spend over 30 hours a month on meetings. Over 50% of that time is unproductive.

Some meetings are necessary though. You want to have a system in place, to ensure you filter out the time-wasters. Here’s an interesting idea from HBR.


8. Team Building – it Can Work

In general, team-building activities are perceived as unpopular among employees. However, an analysis of data from 103 studies conducted between 1950 and 2007 provides strong scientific evidence that team-building activities can have measurable and positive effects on your team’s performance.

The key is to avoid forced situations such as going to woods and share feelings or other nonsense. What works is keeping them normal, relevant and social. Activities such as volunteering work, sports, trips, and shared meals seemed to give the best results.

9. Provide Autonomy

Multiple studies confirmed the link between autonomy in the workplace and higher team performance. In most cases, it correlated with better productivity and job satisfaction.

According to David Pink, you can provide your team members with autonomy over some of the four critical aspects of work.

  • How they do it (technique): Allow employees choice over how they accomplish their goals.
  • When they do it (time): For example, switching to an ROWE (results-only work environment).
  • Whom they do it with (team): Allow some choice over who your employees can work with.
  • What they do (task): A good example is 20% time at Google or Innovation Fridays at Mack Web.

10. Freedom to Fail

Fear of failure makes people less confident to try new, innovative approaches. It also makes them less creative.

Embracing that excellence can’t happen without several failures on the way is a hallmark of high-performance environments.


Rand Fishkin makes this great point in sharing his experience in building Moz.

11. No Asshole Rule

Building a great team isn’t just about hiring top people and development of high-performance culture. It’s also about letting the negative elements go.

Robert Sutton, a professor of Management Science at Stanford, had analyzed hundreds of companies before he came up with a “no-asshole rule.


It’s about a zero-tolerance to people who turn out to be dishonest, manipulative, belittling, or egocentric, no matter the value they bring.

His studies have shown learned that failing to implement the ‘No Asshole Rule’ can seriously decrease team’s productivity, increase employee turnover, stifle communication, and lower employee self-esteem and health.

So these are some of our tips to help your team enter the marketing beast mode.

Now it’s your turn. What are some of the recruitment/management tactics that gave you the best results?

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