12 questions to ask the CEO before building a Marketing Team

Jota , "dont dream it, be it"
3 min readFeb 9, 2021

Over the last few weeks, I have had several conversations with some company CEOs about what profiles they should have on a marketing team and never seem satisfied with “it depends”.

Pretty sure they won’t be happy either if I tell them that that is the wrong question, but for some reason, they all think about copying a structure rather than thinking about a journey,

Let me steal one phrase from “halt and catch fire” — they aren’t the thing, is what takes us to the thing —

A marketing team is a solution for a problem, not a goal itself, therefore is utterly important to think about what you really want to accomplish in the short term, what will make you profitable in the long term, what is the cultural context the company has, and finally, the technical capabilities.

Here, I want to share the questions that I normally do and why they are important to me.

Culture:
1.-
It is a new or existing role? Some marketing teams split when they want to become more professionalized and hire a Digital Marketing Lead. In those cases, frictions are quite common and should be addressed with co-creation initiatives.
2.-Who was in charge before? This is a tricky question, if the person has left, why does no one from his team lead the role? If the leader has moved up, you may face someone that micromanages, if that person left for another reason, probably their team members had some expectations.
3.-Why do not promote someone from the team?
4.-How does the company measure the performance today? If they do not and they expect you to build everything from scratches you may need an external agency for some “tactical reasons” you may want someone else to be the “bad guy” or to get access to technology such as ad servers, DMP, DSP, without having to invest time and money on them.
5.-How do they manage risk? And what is their time scope? Short term expectations normally ask for specific channels, long term revenue is different.

Goals:
6.-
How Objectives are set and how did they decide them? Mature companies forecast sales based on benchmark or market projections while startups have different metrics. It is really important to understand if their ambition is aligned with their budget or resources.
7.-What have they learned so far? Every channel has a different CAC and potential reach. IT is important to understand that the efficiency of a channel is inversely proportional to its stretch. The more you use it, the less efficient it gets.
8.-How the budget is allocated? Based on the forecast, based on CAC and objectives?

Capabilities:
9.-
Do they have an adserver? Are they thinking about getting one? Ad servers are necessary when you want to work on scale, try different attribution and keep account of the customer touchpoints. You may rent them and get the learnings or own them and own your data, but think about getting an agency if the company does not consider that.
10.- How is data being shared across the company? Building a Marketing team when you do not have Data analytics capabilities generates massive problems, not only when it comes to the delivery, but also when you want to communicate the impact of your actions.

Customer:
11.-
How is the customer Journey on the site? A High implication product normally has longer sales cycles and specific technologies associated (Hubspot, Salesforce). A high rotation product normally demands bidding managers or an activation product (such as discount shopping) requires a powerful CDP or DMP.
12.-Can we ask the customers about their feedback? This will provide you relevant insights about the company and its validation processes.

Most of the time, if the answers make sense I normally have one last question that is “what excites you most about the role” and this one is as important as any of the others. If they do not share a passion around it, they may not be the bosses you want.

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Jota , "dont dream it, be it"

Passionate Rock Climber, Avid Mountaineer, and clumsy surfer. I create safe spaces for team development. Hands-On Marketing Director