A strong marketing team is vital to every B2B business, but how do you ensure your team is built for success?
In this edition of the FINITE FinTech Interview Series, we are joined by Mark Cousins, Head of Marketing, Europe at Marqeta. Mark has a wealth of experience in building and leading marketing teams at a variety of FinTechs.
The interview covers:
- The fundamentals of a world-class B2B marketing team:
- Strong vision
- The proposition is validated
- Passion for excellence
- Team constantly learning and fails fast
- Suppliers are partners
- Leading from the front
- Value is proven to the company through evidence
- Where to start in building a world-class B2B marketing team:
- Set the vision
- Get buy in
- Create strong stakeholder relationships
- Scrutinise your budget
- Calculate channel effectiveness
- Recruit within your network
- The biggest challenge in building a B2B marketing team:
- Building upon the existing team structure
- How the structure of B2B marketing teams has changed:
- New sub-disciplines
- A need for reactiveness
- Closer alignment with sales
- Availability of freelance talent
FINITE: Hi Mark, thanks for joining us for an interview! Firstly, could you tell us about your background in FinTech marketing and your current role as Head of Marketing, Europe at Marqeta?
Mark: I fell into the world of payments and finance twenty years back; Barclays were looking for someone with agency experience and I fitted the bill. That journey has continued and I’ve been fortunate to have built and launched credit card propositions, provided consultancy on leading card loyalty schemes, and led marketing functions for leading payment organisations such as Wordline and Cashflows.
My role at Marqeta has been to build out the European marketing function. We’re two years into our European journey and it’s been a fantastic opportunity so far.
FINITE: Sounds like an exciting journey! Tell us, what are the fundamentals of a world-class marketing team?
o Having a vision is fundamental – where does your company sit in the market? How can you cement and elevate that position through your marketing strategy?
o To achieve the former point you need to truly understand your proposition. Too many marketers in technology don’t grasp the finer points of their solutions and how these really make the difference to the customer. Spend time with customers and with your product teams to truly educate yourself.
o Validate your proposition – Thought leadership is crucial but too much of it sits in the generic camp and doesn’t have a unique viewpoint. The more important aspect is how you can work with your customers so they can help tell your story with you.
o Build a great team that has a passion for excellence – You win and lose together. Recruit well and do so on attitude and cultural fit. Want more for your team than you do for yourself. Always be honest and don’t shy away from tough feedback. Give your team guidance but give them the freedom and opportunity to both learn and grow.
o Be constantly learning and fail fast – Turn off tactics that don’t work or that you can’t prove are working for you. I see it all the time with PPC where it’s costing thousands a month and organisations just run with it.
o Your suppliers are partners – Set up these relationships on firm foundations and with the best of intentions. Give them the best opportunity to make a difference and pay them respectful market rates for their services.
o Lead from the front – Set the tempo. Get your hands dirty. Inspire. Foster an honest environment where everyone has the opportunity to make a difference.
o Ensure the rest of the organisation understands the value that marketing is creating – Be transparent with metrics, results and update the company frequently. Ask for input and help.
FINITE: You’ve been asked to build a marketing team from scratch, where do you start?
- Set the vision: where do you want to be in 6, 12 and 18 months’ time? What are the KPIs attached to the vision and the deliverables for achieving each milestone?
- Get buy in to that vision from your peers and the company leadership team. Ensure that you report back at regular intervals on progress.
- Forge brilliant stakeholder relationships across the organisation. Marketing needs to be closely allied with Sales, Customer Service and Product if you are to build great collateral and campaigns that resonate with end audiences.
- Scrutinise your budget and spend it as if it were your own hard-earned money. Do you need job roles to be permanent or can you use freelance resources? What tooling do you need to provide insight? What automation software is going to make your job easier?
- Be methodical in working through channel effectiveness – you want to arrive at the optimised marketing strategy where you understand value of customer by channel delivered. This takes time.
- Recruit from within your network if you can – recommendations from peers who share your values are likely to yield better results than solely recruiting via the interview and presentation route.
FINITE: What challenges have you come across when building a marketing team?
Mark: Most of the challenges I’ve had when building teams, besides negotiating for budget and headcount, is to build the team to relate to people – getting the right mix of personalities, building on the existing team structure by bringing in people who will give added dimensions, compliment what you have but also challenge in the right way – it’s a fine balance.
People make or break a team – recruit wisely and not just because you have the resource signed off. If there is a smidgeon of doubt from either side then it’s not the right decision to make.
- If you are part of a global marketing team work with honesty and transparency and forge great relationships with HQ colleagues.
- Ensure the communication channels amongst your team are always open and frequent.
- Ensure the expectations of your team in terms of metrics and deliverables are absolutely clear to them.
FINITE: How has the structure of marketing teams changed over your career?
- Marketing has grown to have so many sub-disciplines. When I started, lead generation and content management weren’t as focused and structured disciplines as they are now.
- Teams need to be much more reactive these days. Marketing is a tough gig as you need to retain an overall strategy and plan, but you need to be adaptive in order to take advantage of opportunities or changing market conditions – Covid being a key example of this.
- Marketing is now so closely aligned with Sales and in many cases is responsible for opening the door. In previous years this would have been the role of junior sales team or meeting bookers.
- There has been a proliferation of marketing channels but often the same resource and budget to service those channels. This brings about challenges in prioritisation of tactics and team structures.
- The growth of technology and data. Great marketers are now a balance between ultra-analytic yet super creative. This is not a natural combination to possess.
- The availability of great freelance talent which provides options on how you structure your team.
FINITE: Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us Mark!
To read the last edition of the FINITE FinTech Interview Series and to learn about brand building in a new category, click here!