Getting titles right when building a marketing team –> The one mental leap you should make

This article from Chief Marketer (What Makes Up the Ideal Marketing Team?) had me thinking:

“OMG… I so have an opinion here!”

By way of background, before I started InterestedIn, I had the awesome opportunity to build out a marketing team pretty much from scratch. The team of 9 was able to quickly get some awesome results in terms of driving new customer acquisition, improving retention, etc, but out of everything I did there, I’m most proud of the team I was able to build. So many great people!

How did I do this?

I think one of the keys was figuring out the right title for each role, which also meant figuring out the story behind each role that would attract the right people.

But before I give my big, beautiful insight that guided how I hire and recruit, I should say that the article that Patty Odell quotes gets one thing right:

“job titles breeds one united voice, a lack of variety and leads to less diversity of thought.”

However, the solution they provide has me scratching my head. The article recommends creating titles that explain the role people are to play on the team, such as:

  1. The Visionary
  2. The Taskmaster
  3. The Creative Thinker
  4. The Problem Solver
  5. The Devil’s Advocate
  6. The Culture Creator


I’m pretty sure that if I was building out a marketing team and tried to recruit someone to be “The Culture Creator” or “The Problem Solver” (and especially “The Devil’s Advocate”), I’d end up with a lackluster group because it would likely only be able to recruit people who aren’t particularly worried about their long-term job prospects.

Instead my goal was to recruit entrepreneurial people who are ready to go out and kick some butt!

So what did I do? 

I made one big mental leap when defining roles and titles:

  • Create roles and titles that are results-based and not functional-based

I think the biggest problem with most marketing titles is that the employers want their recruits to “own” results, but title them with “functional” roles.

In other words, when you want to recruit someone for a paid media position, you need to think:

“At the end of the week, month, quarter, year: What results do I want this person to get?”

In my case, I wanted someone who would be laser-like focused on acquiring new clients because I new that was going to make a massive impact on the business. Rather than give that person a functional title (Director, Paid Media), I made sure to give them a results-based title (Director, New Customer Acquisition).

The same logic can go for just about any marketing role.

Want someone awesome to manages social media or content creation?

Rather than focus on the function you want out of that person (social media manager), think of the results you want them to get: maybe: “engagement manager” or “community builder.”

Now, I realize not all roles fit into this easy “results-based” titles. Especially for junior-level people who often expect to be told what to do (functional title/role) and just don’t have the experience to be responsible for results.

However, in my experience, motivated people, even junior ones, are almost always hungry to show they can get results, so you might as well set up their title and role for success.

Great candidates want to be challenged and judged by the results they can get. That’s how they “win.”

Put another way, when you’re trying to recruit a top-notch paid media person, it can be super hard to compete on salary and benefits… but giving them a clear understanding of what part of the marketing results they own can be a HUGE differentiating factor.

Just as important, it’s important to make it clear to these recruits that they’ll have a ton of room for creativity in how they get their results.  Of course there will be oversight and a big-picture marketing strategy that they could tap into, but a trick to recruiting awesome people is to let them know they’ll be in charge of how they get their results.  For example, if you want someone to be responsible for “prospect engagement”,  do you care whether they get their results from Instagram Stories or Twitter Chats?  Most important is that they go where they’re getting results.

Ditto for the new customer acquisition team. You shouldn’t care whether they are bringing on new clients from Google Adwords, AdRoll retargeting or Facebook social posts. What matters is that they are driving quality new clients to the business in an appropriately cost-effective way.

And that’s probably the biggest mental leap of all. If you want this result-based titles to work, you not only need to get the title and role right, but you also need to give these awesome employees the freedom to get those results…. and make the occasional mistake along the way.

Hopefully you’ll find, like I have, that there’s almost no marketing roles that need to be functional-based… but maybe I’m wrong. Think you can stump me? 

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