Ever feel like you're always looking for marketing hires?

Nowadays, the average tenure for digital marketing professionals is 12 to 18 months. These short stints can fly by. To avoid marketing turnover -- or leaving empty holes for months -- you need to learn how to attract, hire, and retain the right talent for your startup's marketing team.

Unlike big, established companies, your benefits and perks may not be as competitive. In a small crew, you might not be able to provide the same networking opportunities. Or maybe your clients aren't quite as cool.

So when it comes to the recruitment process, what can you do to play to your strengths to minimize your weaknesses?

1. Having smart, fun, and engaging people at your company already.

In a startup, you're usually work with a small team. That means that each person has greater influence, which can be both a blessing and a curse. If you already have a great crew, interviews with them is a recruiting asset.

My content manager recalls thinking everyone she met in her interviews was "smart, down to earth, and genuine." Which was great, since that was the environment in which she wanted to work. To retain talent, you've got to hire for the right cultural fit so things stay smooth. Collaboration is key in a small group.

2. Tell an honest story about who your company is and where you're going.

Your mission is all about how you help customers. Our mission is to help small businesses brand and market themselves. It feels good to be helping the "little guy" in a world powered by big corporations. It should rally your team (and job candidates).

As far as where you're going, are you trying to get funding? Get acquired by an industry leader? Sell patented technology? Whatever your hopes and dreams are for your startup, they can be a real selling point.

It goes both ways -- if you find the right people who believe in your mission and can invest in your direction, you'll be on your way to building a winning team.

3. Emphasize the opportunity to own a strategic piece of the business.

With so much to do and few resources to do it, a startup is the perfect place to give true ownership. But that means no micromanaging and always encouraging all fresh ideas. If you can truly provide this opportunity at your startup, communicate it right off the bat to candidates.

For example, nearly every marketing department nowadays does email marketing. But my current company is the only startup in Boston sending 20 million emails a month in 10 languages, where each email is personalized with our customer's business names and logos. That's unique, and it's something I'm really proud of.

This was a big selling point when recruiting my current lifecycle marketing manager. Gaining full ownership of this program was a great opportunity for her.

On the flip side, finding employees who want this challenge -- and are excited to own it -- is critical to the success of your startup. You need folks who will roll up their sleeves and dive in.

4. Offer work that needs to be done on cool and challenging problems.

Identify which projects and goals are unique to your company. At LogoMix, our sweet spot is that we're a small team with a huge customer base all over the world. Hello, global marketing!

When hiring for a new content manager, I explained the role along these lines: You'll be building a content marketing program from the ground up. We want different content types with high editorial and creative standards. And then, we're going to launch our content on a global scale.

The candidate we hired had a background in content and translation. This opportunity to work on a cool and challenging project is the primary reason she made the move.

Again, this helps with employee retention. If you offer unique work, the people you hire will be uniquely interested in doing it. And it'll be harder for them to find a similar or better opportunity to do it elsewhere.

5. As a leader, be clear about the reasoning behind your decisions.

I stress to all my employees that we are data driven -- it's not just "my way or the highway."

That means that we don't just make decisions because it's how I want it. Sure, I always provide guidance. But if the data says one thing, that's how we do it.

Because marketing can be fairly subjective, my marketing team really appreciates that. In fact, my lifecycle marketing manager cites that as one of the top reasons she chose to work here.

Follow these tips and you'll be on your way to building and retaining a rockstar marketing team.

Published on: Sep 21, 2017