When Should Startups Hire Their First Marketing Employee?

By: Carli Evilsizer | May 31, 2018

For startups with limited budgets, founders need to be smart about every hire. Some startups have trouble justifying spending money on marketing until they have made traction while other startups decide to hire marketing help as soon as possible to grow quickly from the start. We chatted with several CEOs, founders and marketers to hear when they think startups should hire their first marketing employees.


1. Hire A Marketing Person Within The First Year

“Startups should hire their first marketing person in the first year or so of business. At Paved, I was the third member of the team, after the CEO and a sales person. While having a well-rounded and flexible marketer is crucial in the early days of the business, a focus on content and SEO is particularly helpful. Content marketers can help create effective copy for your social media, landing pages, sales pages, website, and blog. Plus, creating a content strategy and optimizing for relevant keywords will help your startup rank on Google, a crucial boost for your traffic that can help you find leads on autopilot.”

-Darcy Clark, Content Marketer at Paved


2. Hire A Marketer When You Can Afford Them + Ads

creatives by chelsey

Creatives by Chelsey


“Assuming you don't already know the technical side of digital marketing, you should hire a marketing manager as soon as you can afford to have one and still have a budget for running ads. As a startup owner, you need the quick wins with your marketing - you need money to come in ASAP. With that in mind, you'll want a person who specializes in running ads on Facebook, Instagram and Google. They also need to know how to make a sales page, opt in form, etc. so that your ads are actually effective.”

-Chelsey Heil, CEO of Creatives by Chelsey


3. Begin Marketing Once You’ve Built Up Customer Traction

Parker Dewey

Parker Dewey


“We made the decision not to do any “real” marketing until we already had meaningful customer traction. The benefits to this approach are twofold. First, without having a marketing resource our sales efforts forced us to have direct conversations with prospects which, in turn, created a great opportunity to understand their points of pain, potential objections, alternatives, etc. Not only did this help us better craft our messages, but it also ensured that we had product / market fit (and even found new use cases) and could communicate our value propositions effectively. Second, this approach prevented us from wasting significant dollars and time marketing in the wrong ways with the wrong messages. Specifically, when we hired our Vice President of Marketing (our first marketing hire), we had data to understand what skills were most valuable to our organization (eg email versus PR versus SEO etc.) as no marketer can have deep expertise across all areas. In addition, this allowed our new hire to hit the ground running, with data on which messages, audiences, methods, etc. would be most effective. The results have been outstanding. Having spent 20 years as a venture investor before launching Parker Dewey I have seen too many circumstance where companies talk alternative approaches and, in many cases, the results are company-ending.”

-Jeffrey Moss, Founder and CEO of Parker Dewey


4. Hire A Marketer on Day One

OnePitch Logo



“Hire a marketer on Day 1: Marketing is one of the most vital components in a startup. Successful startups will have hired a marketer on day 1 and, if not by then, then at least by month 2. The role of a marketer should focus on branding and market research. Develop the brand and learn whom your competitors are to determine your market fit.”

-Jered Martin, Founding Partner & COO of OnePitch

onepitch pr

5. Hire A Marketing Employee 6 Months Before Launch

flagsetters logo



“My name is Kayla and I am the social media marketing coordinator for FlagSetters. Myself and the CEO, Danica Medeiros, have been with FlagSetters long before the website launched. You want to hire your first marketing employee at least 6 months before your startup launches. This will allow your company build up a social media following and online presence. That way when you finally do launch your startup, you have a pre-existing audience (established by your marketing coordinator) ready to hear your message and your story!”

-Kayla Vieten, Social Media Marketing Coordinator at FlagSetters


If you are preparing to hire your first marketing employee here are a few final things from our chats with founders, CEOs and marketers to keep in mind: 

  • An emphasis on content and SEO is helpful
  • Hire someone who can help you with social media, landing pages, websites and blogging
  • Focus on making money by getting help with Facebook, Instagram and Google ads 
  • Make sure you don't waste time marketing using the wrong messaging 
  • Don't underestimate the power of strong branding and solid market research 
  • Begin marketing before you launch to build an existing customer base from day one