As a follow-on to my last question What is the ideal mix of founders for a SaaS startup? it seems that a Marketeer is important to a SaaS startup. I think it's fairly easy to find and evaluate developers and designers (developers tend to hang out at places like StackOverflow, designers like to publish their portfolios).
Marketeers seem harder to find (at least to me) - where would be a good place to find a potential marketing co-founder?
And then, once found, what is the best way to evaluate them? In the past, I've noticed that they tend to dramatically overstate their previous contributions to projects. Is there a litmus test for a good Marketeer?
I don't think there's a litmus test in the same sense as interviewing software development candidates.
However I agree with you that people overstate their own importance, either as a member of a team or in how much their own actions influenced what happened with the company.
So I would be looking for their attitude towards business in general. For example:
Marketing is a fickle profession. You have to be part techie, part oracle, part sales and part cheerleader. I am not really sure where they hang out, so I can't help you there.
The best marketeers, at least in my mind, have the following characteristics:
Like any employee you hire (or found a company with), cultural fit is by far the most important. I always hire for culture first.
Here's a quick excerpt from my recent book (Inbound Marketing ) which has a chapter on what to look for in marketing people:
1) Digital Citizen: Look for someone that is comfortable with the web and "lives it".
2) Analytical: They need to really be able to dig deep into the data. Marketing is becoming increasingly data driven.
3) Reach: Find someone that already has some reach online (via blogging, social media, etc.). This will come in very handy in terms of being able to get initial momentum.
4) Content Creator: You want someone that will be able to produce content that your target market will find useful and interesting.
Resist the temptation to hire for their resume (i.e. "Was VP of Marketing for IBM). You can't afford someone that's going to need a budget just to get going. You need someone scrappy that can do a lot with very little.
I think a marketeer should be laser focused on building a scalable customer acquisition model. That could mean leveraging social media, building out advertising campaigns, or combining both approaches. Whichever way you're growing the business, the marketeer should want to keep a close watch on the funnel, conversion rates, and ultimately the customer acquisition cost. If you're talking to someone who doesn't live and breathe measurement, run the other direction.
If you're going to care about what's on their resume look for someone who has had success building a marketing engine for a company at a similar stage to you. It takes VERY different skills sets to build a company from $0 to $500K in revenue and to grow from $1MM to $50MM.
With respect to everyone out here who have presented their views, my experience has been
1. If you are a startup with no funding and decent business plan or product, you will have to sell it to a marketing person to join your team.
2. If you have a small funding, the big shots like VP of big name company will not come to you.
I believe in all start ups the founder has to do some amount of marketing. I guess the first major paid customer has to come from your own efforts.
In the initial stages I think a company should have a person who is wearing the marketing hat, content creator and analytics as Dharmesh has pointed out.
The person should evolve with the company.
There is an excellent post of Mark Suster
Journeymen, Mavericks & Superstars: Understanding Salespeople at Startups