How to Hire Your First Startup Marketer

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Alexis Clarfield-Henry talks about what it's like to be the first marketer at a startup.

After a career in advertising, Alexis joined Unata, which built an e-commerce platform for the grocery business. 

Clarfield-Henry says one of the keys to success when hiring your first marketer is a willingness to think about of the box rather than someone who has done it before. 

“In terms of who they need to look for, that person needs to be flexible, able to roll with punches, willing to learn new things, willing to test and learn, and pivot." 

For more details about Alexis and the podcast, check out the show notes.

I Mark Evans welcome to the marketingspark podcast, which features small doses of insight for marketers andentrepreneurs and the trenches now by small doses, it's fifteen minutes orless of stories, tools and tips about marketing success, failures and lessonslearned on today's Podcast, I'm talking with Electus Cope of Henry Alexis as aproduct, marketer and writer, who have small businesses carved out herposition with strategic cot leadership content in two thousand and fifteenAlexis was the first marketer at Anata. While she was there. I nata group fromone thousand nine hundred and to eighty five people before it was acquired byHans to car. You've been a started marketer for quite a while. I got greatexperience and one of the things that I'm curious about to get yourperspective on is, if you're a start up. What are the keys to hire in your firstmarketer? What do you need to look for? Who Do you need to look for? I think,first of all, I think, there's that that point in the journey of a start upwhere they realize okay, they need to invest in marketing and to bring onthat first marketer and I think for for...

...the company, in terms of who they needto look for that person is going to need to be very flexible, able to rollwith the punches willing to try a new thing willing to test and learn andpivot. So I think there might be the attitude of having to find someonewho's done this before. I think that companies should be willing to broadentheir their scope of what that person did look like and in terms of theirexact experience and just make sure their personality is personality traitsof being open to explore, to try new things and to work fast until work.SMART, a really important personality trace for that. First, marker you'restarted that we're going to do this, we're going to hire a marketer andyou've been that person. When you were a Ouata, you were the first marketeronce you arrive. Where do you start because in many respects, you're?Probably starting from scratch, there may not be a lot of marketing going onif any at all. This is a good question.

I think I think it's really exciting tobe the first marketer, and it certainly was for me and there's so muchopportunity that comes along that get to work alongside the exacting you guysto actually have input into the direction of the company and theproduct and there's an opportunity to build your own team department andthere's a there's going to be a lot of challenges is the first marketerchallenges that you know come along with. The team has probably beenwaiting for you for a while does take time for companies to make thatinvestment and make that higher and by the time they find you and you come onboard, there's going to be a long list of things they want to do and thelikely that list is comprised of things they've seen their competitors doingthings they seen their peers doing and not necessarily thought of part of awhole listic plan. I think, coming into that scenario of a lot of expectationof doing things fast and all these things that they have lined up is goingto be a challenge and, having you know,...

...a lot of different state holders tobalance who all have those ideas for you and are coming to. You directly isgoing to be a challenge, and I think working with probably a very smallbudget in most cases will be a challenge right. So if you're, let's,let's let's run with this dating versus marriage analogy. So when you first getinto a relationship, both sides are really excited. The expectations aresky high, which question is as the first market. How do you manageexpectations because, as you say, they probably want you to do a lot and theywant you to do it quickly. So what do you to sit in yourself up for success?I think it's really about a balance of taking the time up front to learn asmuch as you can and put together a plan o I'll talk about that plan in a second,but taking that time up front and resisting the urge to just run withwhat all the ideas of everyone that everyone has and reminding yourselfthat you know you are coming in as a marketing expert. So there is near itto putting that thought behind it and...

...looking at things holistic ally, but atthe same time, I really recommend that you start putting work out, becausepeople have been waiting for you and they want to see your work and theywant to see your value. So you could do things like start or pick up thecompany newsletter. That's you know going out to your prospects or yourcustomers every month, every every two weeks and start running with that startgetting some blog posts out. These are easy winds that you know you canquickly pick up the where things are at it: the product in the market and startgetting creative work out. There start getting the brand and be start gettingthe grand and the company out there while buying yourself enough time tothink strategically about the whole picture and what marketing can looklike over the next three six twelve months, given priorities of thebusiness, given the fact that you're probably going to be the only marketingresource for a while and given the fact that you're going to have to bestrapped, there's, probably very little budget, and so will everybody wants themoon and the stars and the universe are...

...going to have to prioritize. Giventhose constraints and you you want to have the time to understand the market,the customer, the product in and out so and the goal is of the company so thatyou can thoughtfully put that plan forward to the team. So what did you doyou? Not of so you get there you're the first marker like how did you prove orvalidate the fact that they made the right decision? And what did you doexactly to get some momental? So I think it was a it wasn't the smoothestof starts for me. I think that I came in with background at advertisingagency, so this was my first TEP Company and my first time moving fromthe agency side to the marketing side or what we like to call the client side.I did the sort of lessons I'm giving here are lessons. Definitely that Ilearned the hard way and an example of that is one of the things I walked into.Is Everybody warned social? They wanted to build their ship social channels up.They wanted to create, presents on social and coming from advertising. Inyou know, consumer facing world I was,...

I was on board. I left social I'd, seenquite a bit of impact that we've made on advertising side it social. So I ranwith that. I spent a lot of time, building upper channels and buildingcontent for channels to share and Turati content, and it was clear aftera few few months that well, this is you know, maybe good in some ways it wasn'tresulting in new leads. It wasn't resulting in the customers, and so whatwe realized together as a team, is that our customers weren't spending time onthese channels in relation to finding an e commerce platform in commerceprovider, and this isn't where they were going to be taking decisions onthat stuff and even sometimes they don't and some of the channels theydon't even want to see work related items in that way. So I think I hadfocused a lot of my plan on base basing on what some of the folks internallythought they wanted, rather than taking more of a bat holistic picture on thetime to plan and understand things. So...

...it was more in my like three to sixmonths mark where I had had more time to learn things that I could provemyself a little bit better yeah. I think those first three mens were alittle bit like I wouldn't have wanted them to go that way. If I could do itagain, but the team was super supportive and I think one thing thatkept them excited about me was the content that I was creating and asidefrom social, we had few thought leadership pieces and I you know I gotmy blow going, got their blow going. I think that really helped prove out myrole for the time being until until I learned the landscape a little bitbetter. Does that make sense? Yeah makes sense, I mean I mean the realityis is that they must have been just a mustee excited, but then to bedisappointed, and but you know when I think about it- that's pretty andpretty intimidating position to be in because you're, the new hirer they'reexcited about you pursuing a particular marketing activity and- and it's hardto say no- I mean it's hard to say to...

Ke stake holders. No, I think that'sthe wrong thing to do. We should do this. Instead, how would you've donethings differently if you have to do all over again? I think that if I coulddo it again, I probably wouldn't have said No. I think that there is. I couldhave balanced my time a bit better so trying that out and at the same time,trying to few other things out- and I did the there were a couple thingshappening at once, but I definitely over indexed on the social. I thinkthere's also a spirit in every start of a test and learn. I was lucky at youknow that I think exact team had that spirit and hit. You know they were likewe're all trying things here, we're all trying things. So that's, okay! If wedon't get it right, the first time and because they had that attitude itwasn't, it wasn't a huge disappointment. I think, were we really bonded as ateam was the fact that we could all look at that together and say: Let'sthis, I didn't work, you tried it. This is fine, let's trust something elseright, and so I don't regret trying it. I don't regret I something they reallywant going for it and coming to that...

...decision that isn't the right avenuefor our customer. However, if I could have spent a little less time on it, Ithink that would have been better for you know to kick off our marketingoverall. If I had more time for some other things, I mean it's a greatexample of the lesson learned and I think this is picar relevant or lessexperience marketers, who may not have the gravitized the confidence to toengage in a in a discussion where they may not agree with with their with ourboss. The other thing you mentioned is is the combination of strategy andtactics, because you're, a one man band or one woman band you got to you got todo both to how do you? How do you balance? How do you balance betweensort of setting the plan putting everything in motion and then actuallyhaving to tact a AR secure? It's not it's not that easy, but it's a mast,this balance and you can't over, extend in one area or the other for too long.So I think you know what I saidabout...

...especially the beginning, starting toget those small tactical pieces out of front. Well, you take time at thestrategy. So in that case you know you would you would want to lean moreheavily into the strategy area, a frent at the start of every quarter and justmake sure there's still wore going out at the same time, caste things justcan't pause right. That's that's! Not a pay Yo've got to keep getting a brandout there and keep doing activities that are going to bring leads to yoursales team and whatever your goals are, but there are times in the year thatyou are going to have to do more strategy and less execution at the verybeginning. I think it's those quick winds and then, when you come toquarterly an annual planning, you want to set yourself up to have some thingsgoing out that don't need a lot of work in you so that can be. You know anemail flow that you set up ahead of time. Pre write a bunch of your newletters, pre rite, a bunch of your blogs and get them set up to go out andon certain dates, and so that you can clar about that space. For thatstrategy work and then there's going to be times where you know you take abreak and you're really running with...

...your plan and just have to make surethat you're measuring things and how they're going and stop look and measureand steer the steer the ship. The other way, if you have to I just a constantbalance and you're going to lead to one or the other different times, just haveto make sure you don't forget about one or the other. Let's talk money, I keeppart of it. I mean relationship is money, and hopefully you don't disagreeover money, but when you're a start of marketer. Obviously money is a big fact.Your son stirups- and you know especially for venture back to you, gotyou got lots of money for marketing and many starves have no money formarketing. So so how do you do different, a budget and maybe top walkthrough? How you did that at you Matta how you figured out like here's, howmuch money I have. Here's where we need to spend it here is how I can provethem and spending my money in the right way. Budget is yeah, it's always atricky one and there are definitely going to be heart conversations aroundbudget. My approach with budget at you nat. I changed over over the years andI think that's natural. When I arrived,...

...there was budget ear marked for my roleand there were some ideas of where that money should go already before Istarted, even when you think you have a lot of budget when you actually figureout all the activities you want to do it, it tends to disappear very quickly.One of the things that was your marked for the budget that was given to mewere was conferences, attending and having a Bootham, so that budgetdisappears very quickly. It's very expensive, isn't it very expensive, butthis is one of those things that you know the team had been very eager totry. They had been walking the floors at conferences for years and they wereexcited to actually finally have a bus and have a present. So I was, I waskeen to make that happen for them. This is something over the years we actuallywe sort of stopped doing as much, because there it wasn't proving itsreturn on investment as much as the team had hoped you have to get becauseyou're expensive, you have to see a lot of return coming from them, whetherthat's in the form of leads new customers. Hopefully so that was onething you know we tried and over the...

...years we sort of brought that cast downto an attended, fewer and fewer conferences, yeah and listen they're.Not It's not it's still a good thing to be involved with what we did is soconferences for us. Let's just talk about Natis, for example, our salecycle is very long six to eighteen months, so we might have met a prospectat a conference that didn't turn into a customer for a year. So our conference,the way we would measure converses was really like at the start of the year.What happened last year, which ones old you go, did we go to and which eventsdid we get customers from? And so, if we went to six and we pin pointed weonly got customers for two the next year, we just went to those two comfits.We were really really leaning on the measurement of and for us, like, ourcustomers were you figure. Our annual contract values are bigger than say aregular SASS company, because we are enterprise focus, so we could justifyone customer from one event and we we would cover our cost there and more. Sowe were in a position that that was very like one to one measurement andyou can do that with cost proved and a...

...coster customers, because it justsometimes takes time to measure. Let's talk with the other other extreme. Yourstart of marketer, you arrive at your new job and you've got very littlenudge. Essentially you got to build a marketing engine from scratch, but youreally haven't got up a lot of cash to make that happen. What would you dolike? What kind of things would would you implement to actually get somemarketmen Um you're going to have to be strapper a bit, and so I mean Iremember you Noa. I was writing at e books and infor and then designing themwith pages, I'm not a designer, but we didn't have money yet for a designer.So there's there is an amount of blue dropping that has to go on, but Ihighly recommend you figure out as the first marketer. What can you do andwhat can you learn and what can you not do and will not be able to do so? Forme that was designing that that was okay. I could let's. I can figure thisout for the first view, but if we want to be a brand that looks bigger than weare, I can't be designing an to...

...graphics, so I re recommend for thefirst market. I figure what you can do, what you can learn to do in areasonable man of time and everything else. You really need to make the caseif that is, if that's hiring a flue answer, if that's marketing tech, thatyou need to use to get the job done, go to make the case and break it down foryour company, based on cospiracy on cost for customer thanks for Lisseninto another episode of Marketing Park. If you have questions feedback or liketo suggest a guest, send an email to mark at Mark Evans, Dadsie, see nexttime.

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