This week learn how to build an effective marketing team from the performance marketing experts at MuteSix who were ranked one of 2017's "Best Workplaces" by Inc. Magazine. In this episode you'll learn who to hire first, if and when to use an agency, what other hires can fill out your team, and more.
Episode Transcript — How to Build an Effective Marketing Team
00:01 Announcer: You're listening to The Spend $10K a Day podcast. Brought to you by the performance marketing experts at MuteSix. This is your source for cutting edge insight into the world of online advertising. From the team with more Facebook case studies than any other agency on the planet. Here are your hosts, Steve Weiss and Stewart Anderson.
00:25 Stewart Anderson: Welcome back to The Spend $10K a Day podcast. I'm Stewart Anderson here with Steve Weiss. Today, we have a very exciting topic, we are talking about how to build an effective marketing team. Something you would know a little bit about, right Steve?
00:36 Steve Weiss: I think so. This is a topic that I get asked probably twice a week. What goes into building a marketing team from up top to down low, from the leadership side, from the C level or the D level, all the way down to the executioners, your day-to-day executioners, the person managing Facebook, the person managing Google. And also, when do you hire an agency? What is the role of an agency in the grand scheme of things?
01:02 SA: Yeah, very true. We have been fortunate to build a great team here at MuteSix. We just had a wonderful Black Friday, Cyber Monday, lots of money being spent by our talented campaign managers.
01:13 SW: Yeah. And I think that's something that I think is really important, is you wanna be able to find people that fit into the mold of a team that really get excited... The number one thing is you wanna find people who really get excited by the work that they do. But managing Facebook is hard. It's really hard. And when you have success on a platform, there's a lot of excitement and a lot of camaraderie that can be bred from that success. And what I always say is that when you hire someone, there's three very important things when you build your marketing team.
01:47 SW: There's three very important elements of how to keep someone happy. In four years, we've only lost two employees in the whole company which is one of the most... Or should I say in the marketing team, we've only lost two campaign people, and that's something that I'm super proud of. We also got named by Inc. Magazine as one of the best places to work. But when I was saying three most important elements that I think is... That I always say is the most important during the hiring process is number one, money. Number two, they have to love what they do, the work they do. And number three, they have to love the people that they are around on a daily basis. 'Cause remember, they're spending a lot of time with these people, and I think if you can build two of those three, either the money, the work, or the people on the work, then you're gonna have a long term team.
02:34 SA: Yeah. I think one of the things that I would talk about, especially if somebody is the CMO here at MuteSix, what I look for in people when I hire marketers as well is I think that marketing is just one of those jobs, and especially in our type of marketing, it has to be a person who's proactive, not reactive. They have to be somebody who's creative and thinking of ideas before they're even needed, they're not just reacting to data coming in, they're already thinking about what they're doing next, they're planning out what they wanna do. If you ask me, if he's just reacting to things, I don't think that person will be extremely effective. You want a planner, you want somebody who's thinking three steps ahead, somebody who's doing work ahead of when it's needed.
03:14 SW: And the hardest thing... That's an amazing point. The hardest thing in finding good talent is finding someone that's both can do the execution work and go into a Facebook campaign and really make magic, but can also think strategically about long term. Do we really want a discount right now? How is this gonna impact us in Q1? How do you find that one person both strategic as well as can execute? And I think that's very important. So on this specific podcast, I really want to have everyone to take two to three action I enjoy from this of what they need to do to build a marketing team and how to understand when to hire an agency and when not to hire an agency.
03:57 SA: Yeah. I think when you're building a team from base to the foundation up, a lot of what's gonna depend on is, obviously, you're gonna have the founders, you're gonna have your strategic place. If one of the founders has a marketing background, that's gonna affect significantly your first marketing hire, 'cause you have to know where the marketing background, somebody who is going to be able to handle the marketing stuff. In the early part, maybe that first hire is somebody more junior, that's somebody who can work with them, do... It could be a social media manager, it could be a marketing analyst, it could be somebody who is going to be more in the execution side, less on the strategic side. Because the founder, the senior level person is already there, they're in the founding team, they can take on that strategic, that marketing leadership role. If you don't have a marketer among those founders, you're probably gonna want a more experienced person coming in as that first marketing hire, somebody who's gonna come and be a head of marketing and build a team beneath them.
04:56 SW: Yup. And the question I always get is, "How as a not a marketing person, how could you really recruit a person and really understand and qualify them to fit within your team?" And I always say, "This is where you have to get your hands dirty. If you really wanna find an A level marketing hire, you really have to start understanding the dynamics of what it goes into running a Facebook ad. What goes into actually managing people? What goes into every single area of what the job is? What goes into KPIs? How to understand your data? You have to have the basis of level knowledge to really... And maybe you go on a Clarry.fm or you go on one of these sites that really start talking to experts, this doesn't mean you actually have to go do the work, but this is something that... This is where you really have to put the time in and really find the right hire. We've had a lot of success just hiring people in the community. We don't really use a ton of job boards. Most of the people that we hire at MuteSix have came recommended from other Facebook marketers.
06:00 SW: We have a very close knit community of Facebook marketers. Where to find good marketing people? Number one, community, very important. If there is a Facebook ads event, if there is a customer acquisition event, just going there and just having conversations with people and you'll be surprised. Maybe one person you meet doesn't know an exact person to hire for your job, but they're gonna recommend people to you, they're gonna... So, just getting integrated into the events.
06:31 SA: Yeah. No, I think that's a really, really good point. It's such a sensitive area of business. Marketing, it's telling the story, it's putting up all the stuff that customers are gonna wanna see, whatever it is, whether it's online, offline. And having somebody that you trust that can recommend somebody is huge. You're not always able to do that. Sometimes you have to go outside of your own network to find somebody and you might have to hire using a job posting ad, people apply. But ideally, yeah, you always wanna go through with your own network and luckily as marketers, we've been able to tap into our network of marketers. It's great. 'Cause if they don't wanna work for us, they have friends that wanna work for us, it works out.
07:12 SA: I think talking a little bit more about the kinds of people that I want to hire, especially earlier on and I really think this goes for the lifecycle of the company. Now with the changes that you're seeing in marketing, I think having somebody creative it's great, but really you always need somebody who's very analytical and data driven. I think the days of not being data driven in marketing are completely over. The days of brand advertisers basically being able to say, "Oh, I think this looks good," or "I think this is on brand." You have to have people who really are backing that stuff up with concrete numbers, sales, data. You can't have somebody who's just there to come up with what you think is cool.
07:56 SW: Totally agree, and I think this goes back to the earlier conversations of what being... Finding a marketing person, who's very strategic and understands what the growth of the business means. Obviously, how do you motivate someone to care about the business and not care about delivering numbers that satisfy senior management. I think that's a huge issue in the marketing world is how do you build a business that's not around politics? I always train our team to really work with our partners, with our clients in that... I don't care what the Facebook stats looks like in a way. I want them to... I want the Facebook to be a growth driver of their business. I want their tell-tale sign to be, what impact does this Facebook ad have on the business? How do you quantify that beyond the data that you're seeing from Facebook? Going into Shopify, going into whatever e-commerce platform they have and I think that's what I always train our team to do is to really understand the main growth drivers of the business 'cause those are the variables that really affect growth.
09:01 SA: Yeah. I mean, let's cut through and say... Let's say there's a marketer in the founding team. What is that first hire if you're an e-commerce company? Is it an acquisition person?
09:11 SW: I think that if you're a brand new marketing company, I think you need to hire leadership, in the way a fine leadership there, 'cause at the end of the day, every single company we work with, there's one thing that's consistent, when they have a consistent marketing team. And that's a consistent leader at the top. I look at all of the successful companies we worked with and they have great marketing leadership up top.
09:36 SA: Especially at MuteSix, right?
09:38 SW: There you go, on point today, Stew. And I think the way you find this person is, you go through other people's networks. I think you find the best marketing people in town and you go to VCs and you say, "Hello." Or if you're in New York or San Francisco or LA, you go through some of the... You know, they have an investor and you say, "Hey, do you guys know any amazing marketing people?" And then you tap their network. You try and really go through the networks to find people that are recommended. I think that a lot of people aren't qualified to go through job resumes. You wanna find people who come recommended from places of trust. And I think hunting down people who have those marketing networks is gonna be the nine tenths of the game. We're talking a lot about marketing hires, and then I feel like there's also the other side, which is when do you hire an agency?
10:30 SA: Yeah. I think that's... It's a tough question to answer. It really depends on who those really hires are. If somebody's first hire is an acquisition person and if that acquisition person works out, then they might be hiring an agency later. They gotta grow the business a little bit, they gotta justify the cost of using an agency, they need a certain amount of skill. But if there's a company where they're hiring a marketing leader, the founding team doesn't have a marketing background, they're doing what you said, they're hiring leadership and they need somebody to really do a lot of the execution, it's oftentimes more than one person can handle and that's when you see, as commonly happens with a lot of venture backed e-commerce companies, they'll hire like a head of marketing or head of growth, head of growth marketing, whatever they call it. And one of the first things they do after that is, they're just like, "We need to find an agency who's gonna be driving the ship on customer acquisition, potentially even the retention side of things."
11:27 SA: You might find agencies early on in a company's lifecycle doing the Facebook ads, the AdWords, the email marketing. Those are the situations we like to find ourselves in a lot of times, but again, it goes back to... I think people underestimate just how important the background of a founding team is in an e-commerce, 'cause you have somebody who's got a product background, maybe they were working at a big clothing manufacturing company, like a name brand company, maybe Nike or they were at Levi's. Their background is product and product design and that that person is gonna need to build a team that is gonna be different than somebody whose background is on the agency side or somebody who was the VP of marketing in a big clothing company or a big restaurant company, whatever it might be. So that founding team is really gonna drive the ship for quite a while until the team is fairly large and they're just starting to fill out the team anyway.
12:26 SW: And I hate to keep going back of the background of the marketing team... The background of the founding team, should I say. But I really think that there needs to be leadership on the marketing team to make decisions like when you find that leader, they're gonna be responsible for the whole marketing channel. And they do require obviously to be well paid, to be well compensated, but the same time they're gonna understand how to set KPIs for the whole marketing team, key performance indicators. And they're also gonna understand how to manage an agency, I think that just because... Some of the best clients that we work with, the best partners should I say, are people who have amazing marketing teams already set up, or have great leadership 'cause they understand how to manage an agency and how to work within a team 'cause MuteSix is an extension of so many companies. I'd say one of the most important things is to really figure out how do you build and structure that team, how do you build leadership because it's not feasible just to hire an agency and expect it to magically get what you want out of that relationship. You really need to have someone who understands the marketing ecosystem to manage that relationship.
13:42 SA: Yeah, I think the other thing too, when you hire a marketing leader is obviously this is gonna take some of the pressure off of you as a founder. If you are a marketing leader also, they are not just gonna set KPIs but they're gonna set the agenda in terms of the types of people they are gonna hire, then you'll able to attract a certain type of talent. Having a dedicated marketing leadership on the team allows you to more quickly grow that team, because if you are a founder who is doing marketing part time, because a founder's job is, it's wearing many hats. If marketing is only a part of your daily job you're gonna grow that marketing team more slowly 'cause you're not gonna be able to devote as much attention to it. Bringing marketing leadership early on if you could do it, potentially even if you have a marketing background now that I think about it, it makes sense. It is such an important part of any modern company especially an e-commerce company.
14:34 SW: I'm gonna say something rather controversial out here, but I think some of the best organizations have started off without having any marketing people on board. Don't be deterred if no one has marketing background or capability to run a company, to run a startup to raise capital. And let me tell you why, I started MuteSix not... I wasn't a business person, I wasn't a finance person. I only came from the restaurant history, I came from the marketing industry. I'm a marketer first and foremost and sometimes that desire, that love for just getting into campaigns and making changes and playing around has deterred the growth of MuteSix as a company because I legitimately love doing this stuff and I still am consistently curious about new features that Facebook has, and I obviously talk about our podcast, but getting back to the point, sometimes I think in a lot of ways that it's a great thing if the people at the top aren't marketers 'cause they could easily delegate that role to someone even an advisor initially, the advisor is interviewing specific marketing candidates. You wanna build a team and you really gotta remember that besides being able to do the job, can this person fit into the framework of the organization that you're building, you're not building a marketing team you're building an organization. It's so important for them to fit within to the framework of the organization.
16:02 SA: Yeah, a good takeaway for people is, again, don't be deterred if you don't have a marketing background or one of your other founders. But even if you do have someone on your team, if no one can dedicate at least, I would say, 60% to 70% of their time to marketing, you need to hire a marketing person right away.
16:22 SW: This is one of the more difficult podcast episodes for me at least 'cause so many different places we can go with this discussion. And I think that from looking at the type of talent, the type of person, the type of skills, the leadership at the top, when do you hire an agency, when do you keep this in-house, how long do you keep an agency? Transparently speaking, not from Steve who runs an agency but from Steve who's seen so many, hundreds of companies come through here over the years, and therefore I definitely have a deep insight into this one specific area of hiring, staffing, building marketing teams and scaling. I would say that if there is something that we haven't covered on this specific podcast episode, feel free to reach out to me directly with your questions 'cause I know this topic is gonna open up a lot of different rabbit holes and if there's something that, there's a specific area that we haven't covered, I'd love to really do another episode to really cover it because I think we can even get other e-commerce friends who I work with to talk about what went into hiring for their brand. But what I really understand is that you shouldn't have the expectation that you're gonna get this right the first time.
17:35 SW: There is a lot of pressure from, if you have raised capital, there's a lot of pressure from the top to grow, and whether that's just growing efficiently, just grow, whether it's hiring, so I gotta grow, I gotta hire this agency. Really start being sensitive about number one, your team and number two, how will you grow? 'Cause those are the two things that are really gonna dictate the long term future of your company.
17:57 SA: Yeah. Those are really good points. I agree, it's a really tough conversation to have 'cause there's a lot of self analysis involved in this. 'Cause we hire... Almost every single person we hire here is a marketer in way one way or another. It's our entire campaign team, obviously all marketers. We have our marketing department that we've hired for. And...
18:19 SW: Email marketing team, SEM team. We have our affiliate team, now our influencer team, our creative team who is also deep into marketing. We have six different marketing teams all within one organization. Definitely figuring out how to staff and how those, all those different teams work together has been a massive, massive learning experience for me being just a marketer and not being at the forefront of leadership and kinda I used to being one of the smartest people in the room. And now when I go in the room with, say, our email team, our affiliate team, our search team, I don't know half as much information about all of these individuals as they do. I'll leave it at this, there's some really good advice that I got before I started MuteSix and I continuously believe through and through is that if I'm the most intelligent human being in the room on anything related to marketing, then the company and the organization will never grow.
19:21 SW: So I always focus on trying never to be the most important. And not even have the ego that I am gonna be, that is important to me to be the smartest person in the room. And I think you have to surround yourself with people that complement you in a way, that they get the best out of you and you get the best out of them. And I think that's the key to this whole world of online marketing is figuring out finding talented people who might not be the best right now but under your leadership you could help them grow and you could get them to be the best.
19:52 SA: I completely agree. It really highlights. I think, actually the most important point marketers need to think about when they're hiring. And recently I did. When I was hiring for our marketing department, one of things that you touch on there is you never wanna be the smartest person in the room. I think the way I usually phrase that is, you wanna hire people that are better than you at either certain things or everything, having to do with whatever is your function is. In our marketing department here we're doing a lot of different things. I'm good at a lot of areas of marketing. There are certain areas, things like event marketing, I'm not as experienced at it and I'm not good at.
20:32 SA: When we were looking for our first marketing hire, after actually having me as our CMO, I was really nervous about bringing somebody in. This is gonna be a very very important job and you're gonna be touching a lot of things, the podcast, our blog content. All the stuff we do with partners, it's a really really important part of the job. So we were very very careful to hire the right person. And luckily we hired somebody who is absolutely amazing, who is probably going to hate me after this episode goes live because she's, this is gonna probably embarrass her. But when we hired Sarah, yes I'm gonna name her in the episode, sorry Sarah. What really attracted me to her background was how much better she was at certain things than I was. It was clear looking at her resume and talking to her references how talented she was across the board but how in certain areas, areas that I consider weaknesses, she was just that much stronger. As a marketer, you're always... It's a looking over your shoulder kind of job, you're always nervous because it's all about numbers.
21:30 SW: For all you football fans who are listening on this beautiful night, it's the Monday morning quarterback. Every decision... When you're a marketer, every decision is being questioned. Everything you do, you're always being critiqued. Maybe you could have gotten that first down. Maybe you should've thrown them third down. [chuckle]
21:49 SA: But if you wanna build the best marketing department what you need to do is not be afraid to hire people that are going to be better than you at those things. And I'm saying this confidently right now on the podcast, again, Sarah you are better than me at a lot of things in marketing and it's made MuteSix a better organization.
22:05 SW: Yep. And I remember, this reminds me of the first time that... Now we're an organization, but when I first started hiring campaign managers I was scared to death of letting people take over my Facebook ads. I couldn't sleep at night, I had panic attack. And I'm being serious because I ran all my campaign... I was such a moron, I ran everything in a certain way and I was so organized, it was... I was, I guess obsessive compulsive in a way that I just loved being in the weeds. Probably one of the biggest growth areas of my business ever was just not touching the campaigns and allowing people, other people to really grow in to this position. I think, as a CEO of a company, whatever type of company you have, whether it's a B2B company, a marketing company, maybe you run another agency, you're listening to this podcast or maybe you run an e-commerce brand and you originally star in the Facebook ads, the business won't grow if you're CEO and you're running Facebook ads. The business won't grow if you're the CEO and you're doing email marketing and influencer marketing. The only way the business grows is if you take yourself out and run the business.
23:16 SA: It's true. Completely true. I think we've probably given people a lot of information. A lot to digest here. [chuckle]
23:24 SW: There's gonna be more episodes around hiring a marketing team. This will probably be the first episode on this topic. As we dig deeper into this topic and get some feedback from our listeners we're gonna talk more about it. But we're gonna wind it down right here. Once again, I'm Steve Weiss, I'm the CEO of MuteSix. Spend $10K a Day podcast, if you have specific questions for me at least of what it takes to grow a marketing team, please send me an email directly, that's email@example.com. If you're listening in your car, don't write that down right now. I don't want you to get into a car accident. [chuckle] But if you're listening to in another place, feel free to email me.
24:10 SA: Yeah. And you can email me too, firstname.lastname@example.org. It's Stewart with an E-W, not a U. I think this is probably been a great long episode of the Spend $10K a Day podcast. So again, feel free to email us with any questions. We'd love to hear from you. Let us know the concrete feedback. What do you wanna hear about? We'd love to talk about the topics that you guys wanna hear about. So feel free. Again, this has been another episode. We will see you again soon. Have a great week.