What we learned from 8 CMOs about winning marketing teams

When I started my career in marketing about 20 years ago, it was all much easier. About 5 channels, standard campaign planning, and after a few months a report. Remember Mad Men? 🙂

Marketing in 2021 is an always-on customer journey across 50+ channels that changes all the time. Today’s world features multiple marketing options such as: search, social, programmatic,  and tons of different content types. All need expert  know-how and rapid iterations to be effective. Channels, technology and customer expectations have changed faster than marketing organizations.

Is your marketing team in danger? 

Let’s do a quick check-in. Is your marketing team…….

  1. …struggling to document ROI?
  2. ….siloed from revenue generation functions of the company?
  3. ….lacking tech integration and capabilities?
  4. ….working like this flow below?

If you answer even one question with YES, your marketing team is at risk for:

  1. First in line for budget cuts
  2. Headcount optimization
  3. Missing out on growth

Let’s get you out of the danger zone in 4 steps!

Step 1: understand the different marketing team models

Outsourced Marketing Team

Remember the TV series Mad Men? This classic model, in which companies work with one large or a roster of agencies seems outdated. 

Marketing is now always-on, fast moving and two-way with continuous customer insights. The outsource to agencies model with long feedback lines, fixed scopes and expensive retainers don’t always work well in today’s marketing world. In our podcast HelloMasters we talk to marketing leaders and most have moved away from this model. 

You need rapid iteration, ongoing content creation, and two way engagement to stay relevant and grow. With so much specialization you probably need to work with a social, content, campaign, search and brand agency, each will be smallish and specialized with mostly less than 20 employees. Managing that many agencies at the same time requires a lot of time and coordination of your in-house marketing team.

In the end the agency is as good as its people

Agencies have a high employee turnover rate. So when you finally landed on an agency after a long pitch process, you might not get the dream team you wish and pay for. When your budget or brand isn’t big enough, you might end up with the agency B-team. On top of that about 20-30% of your agency bill is overhead.

We’re not saying that agencies are irrelevant. A close knit group of creatives is great for big ideas and through the line campaigns. Yet most marketing operations are now always-on, not big campaigns, and require rapid iteration. So an in-house or hybrid team with a more focused role for agencies is the way to go.

In-House Marketing Team

Most large brands invested in building full service in-house marketing teams. It’s often part of a digital transformation strategy. It creates stability and control, yet it can also result in rigidity.

About 70% of CMO’s I talk to in our podcast HelloMasters built in-house marketing teams. A few examples: Boukje Taphoorn, CMO, Mark Appel, Marketing Director Exact (now CMO at, Simon Aurik, CCO/CMO Virtuagym.  Albert Heijn, largest Dutch retailer, even built an entire in-house content studio of 75 people. These are all large organizations where marketing is a strategic function and ample budget is allocated. 

Agile, multi-disciplinary in-house teams operate fast and reduce dependency on external marketing agencies. But in-housing your marketing team is a highly strategic transformation that takes time, big budgets and a multi year effort to get it right. 

Finding and hiring top marketing talent takes time and can be expensive. Employee contracts are fixed. Attracting and retaining top marketing professionals at lesser known brands is not always easy. Over time you run the risk that your team’s capabilities are no longer a match with your needs. So when you’re not Albert heijn, or Exact what to do?    

Hybrid Marketing Team

In today’s marketing world, core competencies such as strategy, customer journey and data/analytics are best handled in-house. 

Yet, the rise of marketing technology (MarTech), rich customer data and many always-on marketing channels has resulted in a wide range of marketing options.  But do you need an influencer marketing manager, CRO specialist or a podcast producer in-house? 

Most companies simply can’t afford or don’t need a full fledged in-house team. Creating and distributing content or experimenting with new marketing channels can be handled by specialists that have deep know-how and are intrinsically motivated to work with you. 

Many former agency marketers are now working freelance so they can decide where, how and for whom to work. The result? Motivated people with an entrepreneurial mindset that can work directly with you in a flex team without the overhead or complexity. But finding the right freelancers is time-consuming. You are limited to your own network and their availability. And hiring a recruiter is expensive and often a long process. Let’s see if we can close that gap.

FTE  is now often a dirty word

Covid-19 accelerated remote working and the freelance economy. Companies need to operate more nimble in volatile times. With the advent of platforms with talent pools, It’s easier than ever before to set up and run your own hybrid marketing team. It allows you to adjust your budget, experiments and capabilities, while keeping brand and budget control in-house.  

Step 2: Maximize for speed and budget

Once you’ve defined your marketing budget, strategy and way of working you’re ready to create your ideal marketing team model. You can decide much easier what you need in-house and which skills can be flexible.

The HelloMaaS flex team tool is a turn-key hybrid marketing team model based on:

  • Insights from 30 HelloMasters podcasts with CMOs
  • McKinsey research on “Modern Marketing” and “Building Marketing Organizations that drives growth today”
  • Validation sessions with 40+ Dutch B2B and B2C marketers

A hybrid team keeps the core of your brand, strategy, data and tech in-house. Add a flexible layer of trusted, engaged and enthusiastic marketers for brain and execution power on demand. This flexible layer is set up to be a long term part of your team. 

Step 3: Create your hybrid marketing team

Let’s dive a bit deeper into the in-house marketing capabilities when working with a hybrid team. At the core is your in-house team and on average about 50% of the entire marketing work that needs to be done will be done in-house. See below what we recommend to keep in-house. 

The future of work in marketing is here

We’ve seen many great agency marketers or entrepreneurial corporate marketers moving to working freelance. Why? They want to decide when, where and how to work. They are creative people that want to build a brand for themselves, share their expertise with different clients and get rewarded for the quality of their work. 

We know what it takes to be a great freelance marketer. Our “human” BS detector, and our AI matching tools bring the best people that fit your industry, brand and culture when you need it. 

Many have distinct skills and deep marketing tools know-how since they know this is what companies need. The circles in the image below show the various marketing skills that are great to add to your flex layer: from A/B testing, podcast production, newsletter creation to sales via Instagram. The marketing world is so rich and diverse and many freelancers have deep experience and passion you can tap for an experiment or ongoing part-time collaboration.

Faster, cheaper, smarter

A hybrid team helps execute faster, increases the know-how of your in-house team and lowers the cost and risk of new marketing experiments!

You can work with passionate marketers that want to show their best work and build a longer term relationship with brands. No need for agency pitches or alignment between agencies. Cross functional capabilities at your fingertips without account and project management middlemen. Saves time, budget and reduces complexity.

No need to talk to tens of freelancers or hire expensive recruiters

We build on-demand teams so that your marketing goals can be achieved more easily. Unlike recruiters or agencies, HelloMaaS works very flexible, transparent and even for a fixed price.

HelloMaaS developed a turn-key platform tool for a hybrid marketing team. Tap skills you need, get know-how and experience on demand. With a community of 250+ trusted freelancers, you gain access to talent that otherwise wouldn’t be available the traditional way. 
We introduce you to your flex team in 1-2 weeks. Our team collaboration tools such as Happiness Tracker give ongoing insight in how your in-house and flex team work best together.  Watch this video on how it works and looks.

Step 4: What’s next for you and your team? 

Hope you got inspired to rethink your marketing team and organization. Before founding HelloMaaS, I built in-house marketing capabilities at JPMorganChase in New York City, worked for the global CMO of Samsung and Philips to build in-house and hybrid social media teams across 50 countries. 

These experiences combined with my recent work as a startup founder and angel investor led to HelloMaaS Flex team. Our team is excited to bring a deep understanding and a fresh perspective on how marketing teams can operate best in today’s world. We’re trusted by global corporates, fast growing startups and budget conscious SMB’s. 

It’s now much easier to keep up with the fast pace in marketing. Get started right away with over 30 marketing skills: Customer Journey Mapping, Analytics & Optimization, Content Marketing, Social Media, Lead Generation, Podcast, E-book production and more. 

Discover HelloMaaS Flex team or set up a meeting to discuss your hybrid team

Not yet ready but curious? 

Listen to our HelloMasters CMO Podcast. Read our e-book on high performing marketing teams

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