How to Build an Inbound Marketing Team

By Martin Ray

How to Build an Inbound Marketing Team

organisation-chart-zoomaA while back we had the opportunity to sit down and listen to Mike Volpe, CMO at HubSpot, and hear his thoughts on how to build an inbound marketing team. This is a summary of the presentation he gave at the time.

According to Mike Volpe, when it comes to putting together a modern marketing team for the digital age, there are a few things that are of utmost importance.

Hire smart people

HubSpot always aims to hire A+ people. This seems like a no-brainer for anyone hiring marketing staff, but interestingly, HubSpot has studied the results of not hiring A+ people. They found that A people tend to look to hire people more innovative and more competent than themselves. That way, you build an organisation constantly in an upward spiral with ever-increasing capabilities. On the other hand, B people tend to hire C people; C people tend to hire D people, thereby creating a downward spiralling organisation with ever-diminishing capabilities. Thus not constantly looking to hire A+ people will inevitably lead to waning organisational capabilities.

Look for people with a high GSD factor

So what makes someone an A+ person? One of the most important things to look for is what HubSpot calls the GSD factor – people that Get Stuff Done. That is people that deliver what they set out to do. It’s one of the most essential characteristics in any team environment; without it, no training and coaching will make any difference.

Seek out online savvy people

We live in an online world, and the ability to manoeuvre smoothly in that environment is undeniably a core skill set for marketing professionals, particularly inbound marketing professionals. To assess people’s online savviness, HubSpot evaluate new hires according to the DARC acronym;

Digital – you want people who “speak digital fluently without accent,” meaning that you want people who are well accustomed to the online world and know how to navigate it. This typically means people who are well familiar with many of the online world's services, formats and functionality.

Analytical – you want people with an analytical mindset who get excited about metrics and measuring. In the online world, everything is measurable, and if you work according to an inbound marketing methodology, you must let metrics guide your decisions, e.g. where to focus your resources.

Reach – you want people with “gravitational attraction,” i.e., people with large personal networks online, e.g., people with 500+ connections on LinkedIn. If you have a lot of team members with large personal networks, you can benefit from “network effects” by spreading your content and communication in their networks.

Content – you want people who create content naturally. Content marketing is at the heart of inbound marketing, and you don’t want content creation to be a struggle. To have a team that excels at creating content and does it effortlessly as a natural way of working goes a long way when succeeding with inbound marketing.

Hire people according to the inbound funnel

If you are doing marketing according to the inbound marketing method, you should aim to have people in place to cover all the stages in the process, and that typically means people with slightly different skill sets or at least with different emphasis on the four core DARC characteristics above.


 Always be hiring

Since there are still quite a few people skilled in modern marketing and inbound marketing methodology, keeping track of the ones you come across makes sense. You may meet people you think are potential A+ marketers at conferences, networking events, referrals, connections on LinkedIn and so on. Try to keep a list of 20-30 potential A+ marketers that you keep in touch with and follow what they do, what they write or post about, who they connect with on LinkedIn and so on. That way, you will have a good place to start once it’s time for a new hire.

Screening and interviewing

Once it gets time to interview potential candidates, there are a few tell-tell signs to look out for. For example, people using old ISP email addresses, Hotmail addresses, or plain old paper CVs are unlikely to be clued into modern online marketing.

You want people with a track record of success, growth, inbound marketing experience, and expertise. When interviewing them, you should ask questions about the inbound marketing funnel (Attract, Convert, Close, Delight) to assess their familiarity with that line of thinking.

You should also ask questions to test their analytical skills and check if they understand strategy. The latter can easily be done by showing two completely different websites and asking what they think of them (hint – ideally, you want them to ask what each website's purpose, mission and objectives are before they start answering).

Transforming an existing team into inbound marketers

Quite often, it’s the case that you already have a marketing team that has been working with traditional marketing, and quite often, some or all of them might feel threatened by a new way of working. There are a few keys to helping this transition to go smoothly:

  • Show early results – once people see the results of an inbound marketing approach, they will likely buy into a new way of working.
  • Test if people are coachable – it’s ok if not everyone is up to speed with everything from day one as long as they are coachable and can develop and grow into their new role.
  • Help people transition – help, e.g. “the advertising guy” to become "the content storytelling guy" and make them understand that their unique skill sets are transferable to a new way of working.

Organisation by team size

The number of people in your team will decide how to organise a successful inbound marketing process best. If your team is small, you should have a generalist who can cover all parts of the inbound funnel. If you have a larger team, specialists can focus on just part of the funnel. Below is a recommendation of how to best organise your team based on four different team sizes.


Have you ever struggled to figure out how to put together an inbound marketing team? Feel free to get in touch with me.

Book an online meeting in my calendar

Martin Ray
Chief Analyst & Digital Strategist 2011-2022.
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