How To Hire A Marketer

  • Why hire a head of marketing? We’ve never done any traditional marketing. We just turned 20. I felt it was time to do a few different things. Let’s get more intentional about how people find us. I found that we were just crossing our fingers and hoping people found us. We shouldn’t leave that to chance anymore. We want someone to own this work. To focus on it all the time. [1:35] 

  • We got over 1,000 applications. The majority of people we talked to were professional marketing people. They all had a marketing title. [2:35]

  • As we were going through this process, certain things came into focus. We still wanted someone with marketing experience. When we got down to the four final candidates we gave them a project. Marketing is different than code or design. It is very hard to look at marketing. It is hard to connect the dots. [4:00]

  • So we did a marketing project exercise. We gave everyone the same project. What does your gut tell you we should do as a company? You have a week to do it and we paid them $1500. [5:30]

  • The work was interesting because it showed some contrast. I was attracted to the projects that were things we could do ourselves. That didn’t rely on a lot of outside help. [6:13] 

  • I wanted to see where their gut went. Most went to big, broad projects with a lot of complexity. I couldn’t wrap my head around how we are going to accomplish that. [7:34] 

  • We ended up with someone who is quite different than the other 3 finalists. The other 3 finalists were very good professional marketers. The person we ended up going with never held a marketing position. They were an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur has been doing marketing their whole life. That is what they do. He was practically minded. Scrappy, because he had to be. Had done a whole lot with a little. Had made a lot of sound from a small stage. Had put together some really interesting projects over the years. [8:40]

  • The person we went with —Andy—has been running The Detroit Bus Company. Detroit went bankrupt. Bus schedules were not running on time. They were not available. He thought that was crazy. He bought a bus, painted it fun, and started a bus line. If you buy a ride you are buying a ride for a kid to get to an after school program too. He did this because he cared about the problem. [11:20]

  • I was intrigued by his ability to go from nothing—just an idea. And then just figured out how to do it—with no experience in the thing itself. [12:20]

  • I thought his tactical ideas were interesting. He was the only person out of 1,000 to say this: It is not hard to get a list of new LLCs. They are small businesses. Let’s get to them before anyone else does. Let’s talk to them. We understand the struggles they are going through. Let’s get that list and work off of it. There was real specificity that he brought to every discussion. [14:05]

  • [As a company grows] There is a lot to lose. If we get a lot of things wrong we have a long way to fall. Companies tend to switch to a preservation mode. They take less risks. And smaller risks. It can lull you into this sense of being afraid. I think we have fallen into that in the last few years and now we are working our way out of that. [17:20]

  • Full podcast here: The Rework Podcast: In The Market for a Marketer