Meet Host, Mary Grothe
Mary Grothe is a former #1 MidMarket B2B Sales Rep who after selling millions and breaking multiple records, formed House of Revenue®, a Denver-based firm of fractional Revenue Leaders who currently lead the marketing, sales, customer success, and RevOps departments for 10 companies nationwide. In the past year, they've helped multiple 2nd stage growth companies between $5M - $20M, on average, double their MRR within 10 months, resulting in an average ROI of 1,454% and an average annual revenue growth eclipsing $3.2 million.
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Mary Grothe: Hey, Revenue Radio®. I'm Mary Grothe, and today we have a new face. We have a new voice for those not watching on YouTube. This voice belongs to a man named Tymothe, and Tymothe joined us a couple of months ago. We are grateful. You'll find out why as soon as he opens his mouth. Tymothe, welcome to the show.
Tymothe Meskel: Thanks for having me, Mary.
Mary Grothe: All right. Well, okay, that's silly. Today, we will start digging into how you build a marketing department in 10 minutes or less. Let me give you a little background on why we wanted to record this topic on a second-stage scale. These are the companies we typically serve at House of Revenue®. They have plateaued. They've gone through a startup scale, and they've plateaued.
Then, they're trying to figure out, "Hey, what do we do from here to reach a new level? Often, it is because they've never really developed a marketing function. Very rarely have a company come to us and say, we cracked the code on marketing out of the gate, have the best marketing engine, and have a sales problem. That's usually not what they say.
Usually, they say, "Hey, the founder was super scrappy and figured out how to sell founder-led sales. Then, we had word-of-mouth. Then, we built a small sales team, but we've never really built on our marketing. Often, we're like," Okay, great. All we need to do is hire a CMO, or we could get a Marketing Manager."
The big challenge with that is, unfortunately, in marketing, in the second stage scale, the most overlooked realization is there are 10, 15, and 20 specialties in marketing. If you're going to build a marketing engine the right way, why would you not pay attention to all those when you first build it? What do you see in the second-stage scale?
Tymothe Meskel: That's a good point. Your point of hiring a leader, C-Suite, or VP is the silver bullet. That's usually the question of let's hire a VP of Marketing, CMO, and that person will come in, and revenue will fall from the sky. That is only sometimes the case because those people come in. They need support. As you're saying, there are 20 different specialties. Not everybody's a full-stack marketer, especially at that level.
Being able to leverage different assets in that core leader is key. But also think about the other skill sets and marketing engines you're trying to build.
One of the faults I see all too often in mid-stage scale is that they may have what you're saying. They might have a marketing program that's primarily brute strength. Mainly sales just going through and breaking through that client demeanor.
But on the flip side, they need to think about how we grow on that scale. What marketing strategy you have and how you are staffing around is essential. You can hire an ABM specialist to go to a DTC company, which will not work very well. So, ensuring you're aligning your skill set to the level and diversification is essential.
Mary Grothe: Yeah, well fit for the role. For any role we recruit at House of Revenue® for our clients, we follow the R-Pack Methodology, which is role-match proven achievement, acumen, and culture fit. Role match is critical. How often do you get, "Oh, but they were the CMO at Crux?" Sorry, whoever the CMO at Crux is. You're probably amazing, but you know what I'm saying. Then, you want to plug them in on a second-stage scaling startup. When did they enter Crux?
When did they enter that big company that you're so excited that they were part of that brand? Just because they worked for a cool brand name, how is that transferrable? When you look at the role match like the role of a marketer, we get to hire CMOs here. That's how you came to us. One of the first things I said like, "Yes, it's a CMO role. But it is entrepreneurial, and it is scrappy.
Tymothe Meskel: Right.
Mary Grothe: I know you're high-level. I know you're strategic. You've earned it. You've earned sitting in the CMO seat, but I told you, "You cannot be above the work. I need you to roll up your sleeves." These clients need a full-stack marketer who also happens to be a CMO like Hello Unicorn to be able to build the right infrastructure for the engine. Let's go to campaign architecture.
Let me fill in the blank here. When we talk about campaign architecture, this takes a CEO's understanding away from traditional marketing strategy. Traditional marketing strategies - SEO, paid media, social media, content marketing, email marketing. These are different strategies, but campaign architecture is putting all of it together to build a campaign for a specific type of buyer with a particular outcome that typically involves a sales funnel, so we can ensure that we're optimizing for conversion.
Let's talk about campaign architecture and where most marketers are missing the mark on campaign architecture when they're in this early stage, earlier stage, second-stage scale.
Tymothe Meskel: That's one of my favorite topics. It's one of the most over-underestimated aspects of marketing in general. What are you trying to do there, if we think about it from the House of Revenue®'s bowtie model on the front end? You're trying to gain new clients. Gain new clients, get new leads, get unknown-arm calls, and get the leads rolling in. That's always the critical part.
Secondly, many mid-stage startups start to head out in the adoption phase. That's the back half of that customer journey. They need to put more real effort and emphasis there and assume that sales or IMS will fill that gap for you. That is a major challenge because, again, back to the skillset. Those roles are not necessarily thinking about customer velocity from one end of the buyer journey to the end of advocacy.
I think that can be a deficiency. The idea of a campaign architecture is that it's the support bridge underneath your buying funnel. If you improperly weigh that you're going to have areas where you're going to have deficits in your marketing funnel, that might be adoption. You can get in a client in three months, and they're like, "This is not for me. I picked the wrong solution. I'm out." Because of your adoption process, your onboarding process might have had some errors.
If you think about the bow tie funnel and how it matches the campaign architecture, one is the model, and the other is a support structure. That support structure is key when you're walking into it and how those dovetails into the marketing strategy.
If you're thinking about your marketing strategy without the lens of a campaign architecture, you scattershot things quickly like, "Oh, this shiny picture, this pretty image, and not thinking about the customer journey holistically." That's where you really can fall out of the muscle perspective. Also the customer adoption and advocacy aspects of it as well.
Mary Grothe: Adoption can be troublesome if they have a botched implementation experience or lack of training. But what about the lack of articulation of what the product or service can do when they're in the buyer funnel? How much marketing should own the way we're going to market in communicating the pains and problems we solve, who our ideal customer is, how we make their life better, and what to expect? Have you seen scenarios where it wasn't implementation support or onboarding support? Did we correctly market those? Yeah, where have you seen that fall apart?
Tymothe Meskel: Yeah, much of that comes in the expectation setting, like you're just saying. Some of the goals initially set if sales and marketing are not aligned and easy misalignment there is sales is saying something that CS our operations cannot back up, or marketing cannot substantiate, or vice versa. That can create many problems in the organization, especially around adoption, but many marketing roles. Frankly, I've seen it that way as well.
The first part of that buyer funnel is setting expectations. Setting those expectations of what the client will see before they walk in and do a demo or visit with a BDR or any of that upstream client activity can be important in the process. Once you get to adoption, if they have a relatively good understanding of what the product can do, you've sold that not to just the buyer.
So, the economic buyer and of that client, but you've also touched down on the user level. That's where you get a bit more holistic adoption process. That can be used in a lot of different marketing messages. That could be an app pushing, or that could be front-end expectation setting. There are several different deploy deployment methods that you can use there.
Mary Grothe: When we look at common errors in building the marketing department very traditional marketing methods have been used in B2B marketing, specifically over the last decade.
Inbound marketing is one of the big ones. There's now innovation coming through that says maybe we shouldn't eat all our content. Maybe we need to. What was that big Airbnb article that said they'd ditched marketing, and now it's all in brand awareness?
Tymothe Meskel: The "Double Down on Brand" just pulled all the advertising aspects of it.
Mary Grothe: That is great for a massive brand that everyone knows what it is.
Tymothe Meskel: Yeah. When you're the £800 gorilla in the room, that's an easy strategy to play.
Mary Grothe: Yeah, I love the article. How many young, aspiring marketers are going to march into the tax office? Guess what? We're ditching everything on advertising and only going on three. Okay, hold on. Going back to my initial thought when we're looking at building a marketing department today, I think one of the issues is resting on what has worked in the past.
I think there's a lot of innovation coming out right now. I think that with Google's recent algorithm shift in prioritizing high-value content over transactional blog content. The big shift before got people away from keyword stuffing and put into more thought leadership in blogs.
We're in the next evolution because people started doing the exact same thing. Keyword stuffing, transactional blog content, and now we're like, "Okay, Google, enough is enough." There are how many millions of blogs out there? Yeah, let's go to high-value content and reward the domains where people get their questions answered versus having to go back to the results and pick a different one. We see some of these trends. We see some of these shifts.
I think one of the biggest mistakes a second-stage scaling CEO can make right now is building a marketing department the way they know.
Tymothe Meskel: Right.
Mary Grothe: Or the way they've seen it done in the past. I think now is the time for innovation, and a good hypothesis is going to come from great audits and research. You talked about what is the right stuff.
Do we hire a CMO? Do we hire a Marketing Manager? Well, sure, maybe that's fine. But then what? You can hire a marketing leader. I think that's a fine first step.
I would be cautious about hiring to the ivory tower at a high level. You need someone in that stage who is entrepreneurial and scrappy. If they do have a CMO-level accolade, they need to be able to do the work and not be above it.
So, fine. It could be a VP level, Director level Marketing Manager. I don't care. But somebody who's going to oversee the actual building of the department. We start with audits and research. Then, we develop the strategy. What have you seen as a supporting cast like when you're building a marketing department for a second-stage scale?
What are those full-time positions you see is good, like, "Hey, let's build around this rock?" Then, what do you see as variations and ways to fill out a full supporting cast without breaking the bank?
Tymothe Meskel: Yeah, that's a fair question. One of the biggest things I think about when you're building a marketing team goes back to the strategy.
If you're a product-led company and you go at Demand Gen, you're going to have some misalignment there from marketing and sales perspectives. But if you lead out with a product marketer, which you know, honestly, in my experience, aren't your classically trained marketers, they're maybe more on the product side or leaning to that perspective. Having the voice of a customer person in that role is key.
When you're looking at types of roles, I look at obvious leaders of the marketing strategy. I don't like to segment specialists where it's like Director of Marketing, PPC Specialist, Email Optimization Specialists, and all those ideas. That can be one strategy for an enterprise-level organization when you're getting to on the email marketer for HubSpot, and I have a million campaigns to manage. That might be a different story in terms of scale.
When you're downstream from that, you can get a lot of net effects and lay a lot of good foundations about finding more around of full stack marketer to command that marketing strategy. Instead of just being a PPC or Content Marketer, you look for a Product Marketer that has those skills and can command that tracked.
What that also helps with, as the organization scales, develops, and builds, that person in that role, assuming they've been there in their tenure, are starting to lay the foundations for the people that come after them. Those specialists that may go in there as Content Marketing Specialist, Email Marketers, or SEO of that value to the business are there.
That's where you get a little bit more oomph when you hire for the specialist role, and you get very down into that role of just hiring one individual. You can pigeonhole yourself and submarine your strategy by needing the right people to move that. In the worst-case scenario, you spend more money to execute the strategy because you have to hire external contractors and agencies to fill in the gaps for the people you hire that can't do the job.
That's an important piece. When you're also considering hiring that leader to come in, I look for current systems certifications in the resume. So yeah, that's great. You learned HubSpot ten years ago, five years ago, two years ago, six months ago? A lot's changed. Back to your point on PPC, when I started in PPC and SEO, it was easy to get ranked in the first-page position by just pointing a bunch of keywords and links at a website.
So, all too often, what I also see as a mistake is you hire a sophisticated ivory-level individual that says, "I know PPC from 2010." it would get, number one, you know, within a couple of weeks. I'm being bombastic, but you get the point that it was a lot easier and less sophisticated ten years ago than it is now. The systems have done that, too.
It is not the same thing. The systems have changed dramatically. Having that high-level person in that position helps coach the people and lay the foundation as it rolls down. You can think of it as a cascading solution or knowledge tree. That way, you can also fold that all up in tribal knowledge and keep that within the company, so it doesn't just keep leaving and retaining. Then, you must go back to the well constantly.
Mary Grothe: I love the concept of evaluating first from a strategy like we must know out of the gate what we are playing for or the outcome we're trying to achieve. The strategy will point from A to B, the current state, our future state, and then move through the middle.
Based on the strategy, we will determine who is hiring - bringing in that third person to keep it all together and manage it. Then, as we get into the specialist roles, the smaller the company, they can get away with contractors and freelancers for those real specialty roles and not hire full-time or consider working with an agency.
The biggest pause I have on an agency is that they're usually costly and take time to ramp. There can be many ways to reduce costs if they need to be more successful. One thing that I have found personally is working with freelancers and contractors. They're way less expensive. You have one-on-one attention with them. Granted, they're doing work for other people, but you still need to work through a full-service team.
All this noise and all the padded margin in there and covering their overhead like it's usually a very lean cost. You can do the interviewing on the front end to say, "Are you a specialist in this industry with this type of buyer for this type of campaign, with this specific specialty? This is what we're looking at doing for the campaign. This is the outcome we're looking to achieve. Can you agree to that or not?"
Then, we can plug in those contractors, freelancers, and specialists and build a powerful team. Now, the great news about a scaling company is what you put in today doesn't have to be the answer for a year from now, five years from now.
As much as you can build inside the company as possible as a retained asset, the better. It is brilliant if you can choose what needs to be a full-time position versus what can be a contractor part-time. It leans out the expense in the model. Then, you do get the opportunity to work with specialists, but you need to augment a bigger team. Now, let's say over time, great. It works, and the company scales. You have some people that you've worked with. If you love them and if they want full-time work, bring them on.
If you find a good Graphic Designer, bring her on, especially if she has a quality of work that matches the work product. You don't have to train that person like you're saying. From the agency perspective, you fast-track your velocity and onboarding much quicker. I agree with you. You're concentrating your assets and resources on a person rather than an entity. You get more umph around that when you're paying somebody, say, $80 to $180 an hour, depending on the skill set or job type. That means more to a person than it sometimes does to an individual or an organization. That way, you get a better work product, typically faster.
Mary Grothe: Oh, yeah. I've had the privilege of working with some agencies myself. Also, we've had the privilege of learning how to work with agencies being in the CRO and CMO seats. Sometimes we inherit them when we go on contract for our client. Sometimes we make the recommendation to hire them. It depends, but one of the commonalities I see with agencies is that you'll be stuck in their turnaround times. You're also going to be stuck dealing with their turnover,
Tymothe Meskel: SLAs and their SOPs.
Mary Grothe: Yeah. I mean, if they have turnover in a C and you just got somebody ramped on your content and like you just got that writer. Now, they're gone, you're like, "I got to ramp a new writer." I prefer, in some of those real key positions, in the strategy, if we determine content is going to be one of the top performing strategies for that client, I'm probably not excited about using an agency.
If it's that important of a strategy for the specific revenue engine, I would rather have a full-time writer and have that knowledge expert that can be so immersed in the tone, in the knowledge, and be technical and get the job done. Then, also work without worrying about holding up or be missing deadlines or waiting for revisions. It's a full-time employee.
Tymothe Meskel: Or having to backtrack to your board, investors, or anything else on why we're delayed on this because a contractor or agency couldn’t pull. Yeah, I do want to be fair to the agency's folks out there, though, and say that the contra on the agency side is you do get a breadth of skill sets in one.
What I would label you know affectionally is one throat, two chokes. You can reach out and grab some Account Director on the other end and say, "I need this done and shake a tree." Now, that is only as effective as your relationship with that agency and the SLAs you've agreed to, as you're saying before. Managing that agency can be as difficult or even more costly than managing a network of contractors.
Some of you might be thinking more contractors are hard. Where do I find them? Where do I go? All that stuff. My answer to that is always be networking. I know that's something that everybody always says, like constantly, and it's a little trait. However, I'm constantly looking for benches on my seat, whether for our next client or a project.
Or there might just be something that says, "I need this person that does this very specific thing. Do you have that person?" I can pull that person out of my Rolodex and provide it. Not from a recruiting standpoint but as a value prop to the organizations we're working with.
The other strong point to consider, especially from the CEO or CMO seat, is your ideal org 3 to 5 years out. I don't think about what I want this position to do but more about where I want this position to go. What that also does as a side effect is create upward mobility in a career track for the employee that you've just placed so much trust and value, and they feel trust and value because it's more like, "Well, I could be a Director. I could be a C-Suite. I could get there if I get these get checked."
When you hire is also as important as who you hire. That's another aspect of it that's also valuable. You also mentioned something earlier. It's also important to time out because we just had this conversation with the client about timing.
Mary Grothe: Yeah, tell me more.
Tymothe Meskel: The question was, where do we start? We have pitched three roles to this organization, a Content Demand Gen Marketer primarily responsible for buyer lifecycle. Then, a product marketer is mainly accountable for the customer lifecycle. The next thought was, "Well, which one do we hire first? I said," Neither. Let's go after the creative and brand person first." That's the biggest thing we have in front of us with this client.
They want to go to a rebrand and look at new websites and other things. That will come with a lot of brand work, like messaging, archetypes, and foundations. For a lot of your ICP research and foundations, having that brand leader on the team as a foundation from that was more important than getting somebody in from demand gen to work with a website that doesn't convert.
Hiring that demand gen person out of the gates would not have been the most productive or profitable path for this client. Hiring a brand leader is usually not something I would lead out with because you want to get the meat right, get the product and the marketing people in there and get some impulse going.
Having that brand foundation can inform your marketing strategies as it rolls out. Then, it can also be a massive support engine for the other two people you hire after that. That was kind of a different recommendation. Obviously, in very client-specific, but when you hire is essential in the lifecycle.
My biggest mistake in hiring has always been hiring the person too soon. I need the process in place. I don't have the foundations in place. There are only some of the elements for that person to work with. Like you said, just like the C-suite, if you're a CEO and you're thinking, I can hire a CMO to hire to fill that gap, guess what? The CMO is also thinking about that. I can hire this person to fill the gap when that's only sometimes the case.
Mary Grothe: Yeah, as we wrap today, one of the biggest lessons is you're not going to find the marketing unicorn. You will be so hard-pressed to find a full-stack marketer that can handle this from start to finish.
They're out there. I've worked with some of them. In the earlier stage, where they can be very scrappy and entrepreneurial, there's a shelf life for how long they will stay in that role. One, the engine will outgrow a single person to even the best of the best and favor certain specialties over others.
Getting as much of a full stack marketer as possible can think strategically as that initial hire, regardless of their title. I don't care if it's the Marketing Manager or CMO. Those people are out there, leverage them and trust them to do the audit and research. They're just going to have better strengths and things that they love doing more than others.
They can genuinely define a strategy that's going to be competitive. It speaks to differentiation. It's what the market wants. As they go to build it, listen to them. If they're going to say, "Hey, look, based on this strategy and where we are today, these are the three positions we need one full time, and we need to specialists like let them build, trust them on that."
As we look at it, it's not just who we're hiring but when we're hiring. Marketing is an unbelievable animal that is unknown in many corporations. Especially the smaller companies that make it through the startup scale, based on scrappy founders for great salespeople, word-of-mouth, referrals, and connections, that's awesome. But when you grow up as a company and must build an engine, please do not be surprised when you have this amazing Head of Marketing step in and say, "Hey, we're going to need five or six roles."
Don't let your head spin. It needs to happen. Otherwise, you'll have some generalists, and then you're paying people to do certain parts of a campaign.
If you think of an orchestra, you have people sitting in different seats to make beautiful music, right? But if you have mediocre talent or one person trying to play four different instruments, it's like that only lasts so long. You've got a staff, the orchestra, if you want the beautiful marketing engine to be singing. Does that even make any sense?
Tymothe Meskel: It does. I love the orchestra analogy because that's exactly how I think of it. You have your maestro. They're your conductor. They're playing music. They might have written the music, which is another thing. But your maestro can set it up.
Mary Grothe: Oh, that's a whole another episode. Yeah. So, don't dig us down that road. We have to wrap.
Tymothe Meskel: But I agree with you thinking about it from that perspective. For some of the other challenges, we could skip that piece of it and cut that out.
Mary Grothe: We're keeping that in.
Tymothe Meskel: We discussed many challenges around when and where to hire and what not to hire for. Some of the other pitfalls are also around tenure like you were saying don't just hire somebody because they worked at Apple. Don't just hire somebody because they worked at HubSpot or whatever the product. I'm not throwing shade at those companies.
Sometimes it's easier to get in a low-level position at those companies, and it is at a mid-level position at a smaller company because the inspection is different.
I'm not saying Google doesn't have a good inspection process with their employees, but what I'm saying is, at a mid-stage startup, you know, a little bit more about your business, and you're less contingent upon other departments. It makes you rely more on that full-stack person than groups of specialists.
Mary Grothe: Thank you so much for joining us today. I thought you were tremendous today. This is great to have more marketing knowledge on this. We've been heavy on the sales revenue side, and we had our CMO, Sabrina, come on to talk about the CMO - CRO relationship. I love the conversation. Now, we're diving deeper into the tactical, how we are building marketing departments. Thank you so much, Tymothe, for joining us.
Tymothe Meskel: Thank you.
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