Stage 2 Capital LP Ashley Kramer brings 15+ years of marketing and product leadership experience, having scaled hyper-growth companies like GitLab, Alteryx, Tableau, and Amazon.
In an interview with Stage 2 Capital Partner Liz Christo, Ashley shares key tips for founders that are building their first marketing team.
When establishing an early-stage marketing team, what types of skills, qualities, etc. should founders look for in hires?
“In the marketing world, there's different types of personas — those with deep product knowledge [product marketers], the 'scientists' [demand generation specialists], and the 'artists' [brand marketers]. Early hires should be able to toe the line between all of these functions,” Ashley says.
She adds, “There’s also a stage appropriateness to marketing hires. If you bring in someone from a bigger company, they might not be as willing to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty, compared to someone who has seen success at a smaller company."
How do you ensure early hires will stick around?
When interviewing candidates, Ashley often asks, “what drives you?” to get a sense of what will keep them on her team.
When answering that question herself, Ashley says drive comes down to three things: “[The company I’m working at] has to have a great product or product idea, I have to be passionate about the space, and I have to really like the people I am working with.” She goes on to say that she will leave a role if “one of those things are off.”
How do you advise founders that are managing their first marketing team?
“Many senior leaders don't have marketing backgrounds,” Ashley says. She suggests founders should “build a trusted relationship with their marketer, and really understand what it takes to execute their great ideas.”
She adds, “If you have a marketing leader reporting to you, I would get a trusted advisor for yourself, so you can gut check and give that marketer what they need — especially if you don't know the marketing domain.”
Should founders hire an industry leader or influencer as their first marketer?
“It depends,” Ashley says. If you're in an industry where brand awareness is the top priority, and that thought leader can give you a boost, it might make sense. However, “early-stage companies should prioritize finding someone that can execute.” She suggests looking for someone that can be a thought leader, but can also help with messaging and executing awareness-generating initiatives.