When and how to hire your startup’s first growth marketer

Pro tip: Ask them what they’ll do in the first 90 days

In 2021, more than $329.5 billion was invested in startups across all stages, per Crunchbase. And a significant majority of that funding was spent on only one aspect: Growth.

I have worked in a wide spectrum of growth roles, ranging from a startup with Series A funding to the 30,000-employee Uber. I’ve witnessed every growth role imaginable, as well as their daily functions, expertise areas and scope.

These experiences have provided me with a solid understanding of how and when startups should hire in their early days.

Common growth roles

Let’s start by outlining the growth verticals most commonly found today.

Growth role verticals.

Common growth verticals. Image Credits: Jonathan Martinez

Nearly every startup will eventually need helping hands with each of the growth verticals above.

Paid acquisition employees are responsible for managing and optimizing paid social channels (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat) and search channels (Google, ASA).

Lifecycle requires the conversion of recipients of email, push and text communications into users. Organic refers to the overall management of non-paid mediums, such as social media and SEO.

Affiliate marketers form incentive-driven relationships with entities that have large or niche audiences. OOH covers offline media activities, such as direct mail and billboard advertisements.

Finally, influencer marketers are specialists in forming relationships and leveraging content creators to scale a business.

These are the most common growth roles, but you’ll find other growth specialties too, including for products, operations, streaming TV and podcasts.

How to hire

Once you’ve nailed down the type of growth hire you need, you must ensure that their resume doesn’t do all the talking. A few key principles that any growth specialist should know and be questioned on in interviews include:

  • How LTV (lifetime value) and ROI (return on investment) work.
  • Proper hypothesis testing frameworks.
  • Incrementality testing.
  • Steps on scaling a growth medium from zero to one.

It’s also a good idea to ask them questions outside of their specialty to understand how they think about growth. Do they have a broad understanding of growth marketing and how to scale a startup? It’s critical to ensure they posses a deep and broad understanding of some of the topics, such as incrementality and how testing will impact the allocation of efforts. The list above isn’t exhaustive by any means; merely one you can draw inspiration from.