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Hiring your first Marketing Leader?

By Tom Frankham. Tom is a Senior Consultant within the Marketing team at Zeren.

We work a lot with early-stage start-ups helping shape their marketing practices. When starting, it’s essential you have a team that can cross multiple disciplines to ensure all is covered across commercial, ops and tech. But there is a common theme we get asked when discussing marketing talent and about their t-shaped specialist experience and which is the most important when scaling a new team, whether it’s demand generation, product marketing, or brand architecture. It’s more than likely all these will need to be covered but there is an evolution most start-ups go through.


Looking at the talent landscape in this area, according to LinkedIn there are 1,475 Heads of Marketing, Marketing Directors, or Marketing Leads in the B2B SaaS sector in the UK. Out of this talent pool, 430 individuals (29%) changed roles in the last 12 months with just a 1.8-year minimum tenure and just under half (710) are located in London. In terms of gender diversity, the data shows 52% are female and 48% are male.


Being a talent pool of varying marketing backgrounds, which areas of expertise and experience is most critical when focusing on hiring a marketing leader in an early-stage start-up?


To help answer this question I asked my network of B2B SaaS marketing professionals “If you were to choose one key Marketing discipline for an early-stage Marketing Leader, what would it be?” out of which 59 people responded:


• 47% Voted for Product Marketing (28 out of 59 who voted)
• 37% Voted for Demand Generation (22 out of 59 who voted)
• 12% Voted for Brand Architecture (7 out of 59 who voted)
• 3% Voted for Other (2 out of 59 who voted)


The results demonstrate that product marketing should be a key focus for early-stage businesses, this is something we would also usually recommend for businesses going through seed–series A funding to support achieving product market fit and positioning. Following a recent search, I wrote an article on the race to product market fit and the role of marketing featuring insights from Jake Jones, Founder of Legal OS, on why product marketing is so important in an early-stage SaaS business which backs up a lot of this reasoning.


Demand generation is a close second in the polls, with the need to scale revenues and the GTM motion this is clearly a core skill that’s needing careful consideration. Our question is always, to ensure the demand team have a product and market to clearly drive acquisition and accelerate growth. Set the department up for success before hiring.


Our Summary:
We have seen a significant rise in the need for product marketing in early-stage SaaS businesses. All our most recent searches have required this skill set. Find a specialist partner who can help navigate the challenges when building the function, It’s important to understand your needs by focusing on the challenges the company is going through and how marketing can support these needs and then work it back from there.


If you have any questions regarding product marketing opportunities or hires, please do not hesitate to get in touch with myself at