Your browser does not support JavaScript!

How to Hire Your Growth Marketing Team

“Growth hacker” might be overrated as a professional designation, but many businesses are becoming increasingly aware that traditional marketing alone isn’t enough to stay competitive in today’s changing business landscape. As a result, the terms “growth marketing” and “growth team” are being thrown around more and more frequently as business goals – even though many […]

“Growth hacker” might be overrated as a professional designation, but many businesses are becoming increasingly aware that traditional marketing alone isn’t enough to stay competitive in today’s changing business landscape.

As a result, the terms “growth marketing” and “growth team” are being thrown around more and more frequently as business goals – even though many of the people using them have no idea what a growth team is or how to build one.

In this article, I’ll break down the difference between growth and marketing, as well as describe what growth teams look like and how to plan for one based on your company’s unique needs.

Growth vs. Marketing

Before we get too far into this discussion, it’s important that we define what the difference between growth and marketing is:

  • Marketing is top-of-the-funnel, and typically involves looking at the impact individual promotional channels have on performance metrics like leads, traffic, email opt-ins and sales.
  • Growth involves a broader scope, encompassing the product or service itself. Sometimes that means changing the offering to better align with what’s needed for effective marketing. It might also involve adjusting the positioning, onboarding or activation workflows, or business structure at a high level to increase the odds of success.

Basically, growth is company-wide and encompasses the full funnel. Marketing is more tactical.  As Alex Birkett notes on the ConversionXL blog:

“In the past, marketing teams focused primarily on the very top-of-the-funnel, measuring impressions, mind share, leads, etc. A growth team, however, is largely overlapped with product, engineering, and design as well. A growth team is made up of many different skill sets and can more easily push through ideas and experimentation that crosses traditional silos and boundaries.”

Who’s Who on a Growth Team

Knowing that a growth team should be more cross-departmental in nature than a marketing team gives you some insight into the kinds of roles you’ll find on each. I’ve written about this on the Web Profits blog, but a few of the roles that may be involved in growth teams include:

  1. Growth Lead
  2. Data Analyst
  3. Content Marketer
  4. Social Media & Community Manager
  5. Growth Hacker
  6. Project Manager
  7. Full Stack Developer

Each of these seven roles is discussed in more detail in the original article, but beyond them, your growth team might also involve those in business intelligence, sales, customer service, customer success, design, engineering and UX/UI. Having said that, not all of these roles need to be filled at once – and they don’t necessarily need to be filled by full-time, traditional hires.

One of the things I like to do is work with contractors first. Not only can you let go of contractors more easily if they aren’t working out for you, but there are plenty of situations where contractors can get you faster results (or where long-term employees aren’t really needed).

For example, suppose you’re a Fortune 500 company, and you realize that you need to double-down on your SEO to facilitate growth. You’re going to be doing things like optimizing pages, writing new content and building links. Working with multiple contractors lets you tap into specialized skillsets much faster than you could with traditional employees. And, if you get the channel working eventually, you can always move it in-house.

Another thing I like to do is borrow team members from other departments. If I’m just starting the process of shifting from tactical marketing to broader growth, I might go to my product manager and say, “Hey, can I grab eight hours from you this month?” Or maybe it’s, “Hey designer, I need 10 hours of your time.” This creates a growth mentality internally and gets people to understand and buy into their role in supporting growth (all without adding extra unnecessary cost up front).

One thing you’ll need in all situations is a growth champion. This might be a VP of Growth, a VP of Marketing or even the CEO at a small startup. Regardless of the title, you need someone to lead the team who has more product experience, and who – ideally – has worked with designers and engineers before. You need someone who can explain the intricacies of growth, as well as get ideas actioned.

Once you understand the different roles you may want to consider, as well as your options for filling them, you can plan your specific growth team based on highest impact or biggest bottlenecks.

Finding Your Bottlenecks and Highest Priorities

When it comes to building a team, a lot of people focus on where they want to be. They don’t look at where they are right now, where they want to go, and what kind of people they actually need to get there.

Pierre Lechelle notes that looking at growth may not even be appropriate until you’ve proved that your company has reached product-market fit:

“Being in business is all about focusing on the right thing at the right moment. Before Growth, you should be focusing on understanding the needs of your customers. If you don’t know (yet) if you reached Product / Market Fit, chances are that you need to work a little more on your product before experimenting on Growth.”

So when I’m building a growth team, the first thing I try to understand are the bottlenecks in a business and its funnels. That tells me which growth roles I need to fill first, as well as what it’ll take to create an effective team.

Let me give you an example. At my company, our goal this year is to double growth. Knowing where we want to go, we have a lot of levers we can play with. We have churn, our traffic numbers, our conversion rate, our activation rate and more. Those are all things we’ve been monitoring monthly year after year.

Looking at this data, we realized we don’t really have a conversion problem. Because we don’t offer a free trial and people have to pay to access our tool, our conversion rates have always been pretty high. But what we did discover was that, if new subscribers failed to set up our system correctly within the first 90 days, they were going to churn. And since word of mouth is such a big channel for us, any churn also means a corresponding decrease in referrals.

To figure out where we could make changes, our team started looking at support logs and talking to customers. We offered to look at hundreds of their campaigns for free, which took us about 20 minutes each. But we quickly found a few weaknesses, like a toggle button subscribers were missing or mistakes in the way they were entering search criteria. Changing our onboarding and activation workflows had an immediate impact on churn and referrals.

But let’s say you don’t have this kind of data. Let’s say you’re just starting out, and you need more traffic before you can do anything else. Maybe, where we needed to focus on filling more of a customer success role at, you need to hire a traditional marketing team. You might want to hire a PPC person, an SEO specialist, a social media manager or a marketing generalist.

Once you get more traffic, you’ll discover the other problems you need to solve with new members of your growth team.

Using Experimental Frameworks to Prioritize Your Bottlenecks

In a perfect world, your company’s bottlenecks – as well as their solutions – would be obvious. You’d crunch some numbers, spot the challenges immediately, and either pull internal resources or hire out to resolve them.

Actually prioritizing your bottlenecks and taking action on them is rarely that straightforward in the real world. Instead, you’re likely to face:

  • Multiple bottlenecks, without a clear understanding of what should be resolved first
  • Limited resources to put into product development or new hires
  • Internal team members who are already overburdened and unable to take on new growth responsibilities

Deciding how to move forward can be made easier with an experimental framework like “ICE” (which stands for impact, confidence, ease). I generally focus on achieving the highest impact with the least amount of work, which often means making non-technical changes.

In the case of, after listening to feedback from our customers, we asked ourselves, “What’s the minimal engineering involved?” If customers are stuck in activation, for example, we could have solved it by either reworking the UX to be clearer or investing in better process documentation and support. But one of those options was a lot less expensive and required less time, resources and specialized knowledge to achieve – so we went with better training.

Crunch the numbers to the extent you’re able to. Estimate what the impact on your business metrics will be for each proposed solution to your bottlenecks, as well as what the full costs will be to implement each. Your estimates won’t always be right, but as you gather performance data, you’ll be able to iterate continually by revisiting your experimental framework.

Putting It All Together

Ultimately, building a growth team comes down to understanding where your company is strong, where it’s weak, and which of these disconnects must be overcome in order to facilitate sustained growth.

It’s not about doing as many experiments as you can or filling spots on a team because some guy on the internet said you should. It’s about talking to customers, figuring out your bottlenecks, and understanding what it’ll take to fix them. It’s about making the biggest impact possible with the fewest resources possible, tapping into internal or external talent as needed to achieve your goals.

Once you begin operating from that mindset, the ideal structure for your growth team will become obvious.

Have you built a growth team before? If so, what other tips would you add to mine? Leave me a comment below with your thoughts:

Hiring and Managing a Remote Team: 3 SaaS Success Stories

Ever considered hiring a remote team for your SaaS company? The fact is, more and more companies are choosing to hire remote workers in 2018. Not only does it help to cut expenses while hiring top talent all over the world, it also encourages company growth. It may sound surprising, but remote workers can really […]

Ever considered hiring a remote team for your SaaS company?

The fact is, more and more companies are choosing to hire remote workers in 2018.

Not only does it help to cut expenses while hiring top talent all over the world, it also encourages company growth.

It may sound surprising, but remote workers can really help your company grow and glow.

Are you interested in learning how a remote team can help you scale your SaaS company?

Let’s take a look at some examples of successful SaaS businesses that have used remote teams to grow.

But first, what are the benefits of hiring remote?


Benefits of Hiring a Remote Team

Remote Team Management Challenges

Access to the best employees

Top talent doesn’t always just come knocking on your door…

Significant effort is always required to build a world-class team.

Of course, you have to carefully consider candidates during the hiring process. This often involves creating a team member persona, or in the case of a remote hire, a “remote persona” (just like you create buyer personas for your customers).

You should look for people who meet your criteria in the following areas:

  • Company values,
  • Discipline,
  • Focus,
  • Work/life balance,
  • Decision-making skills, etc.

One of the benefits of hiring remotely is that it gives you more options than limiting yourself to local employees. When distance isn’t an issue, this allows you to cherry pick the most relevant people who will help drive the business towards success.  

How many great employees have companies missed out on because of “no remote work” policy?

If you choose to broaden your horizons and decide to hire remote workers, you will be able to find excellent team members anywhere in the world. The A-players that you hire around the globe will surely help your company grow.


Employees with flexible hours are happier

The fact is, employees who are allowed to set flexible schedules are happier than those who have to live under the rule of the clock.

They tend to have fewer family conflicts than their colleagues who work at the office.

Moreover, employees who work from home say managing balance between work and family is much easier for them.

Not surprisingly, the happier your employees are, the more productive you can expect them to be, which leads to faster company growth and good company moral.


Low employee turnover

According to 2017 research, 32% of people would quit their job as they are not allowed to work remotely.

Many companies take this fact into account as losing an employee and hiring a new one involves significant expenses.

As a result, smart companies embrace the remote work policy to keep their employees turnover rate low.


Low overhead

Having a team of remote workers allows you to lower your overhead by cutting office expenses.

Recent calculations show that companies would save more than $500 billion a year on office rent, utilities and turnover if they chose remote work schedule.

Instead of spending money on maintaining your office, you will be able to invest it in your business.  


Challenges of Going Full Remote

Remote Team Management Challenges

Apart from the benefits, there is also a handful of inevitable challenges.

What do employers fear the most?

  • They are afraid workers will decline in productivity
  • They worry that employees will not be able to separate work from home and vice versa
  • They fear teamwork and communication will suffer

And even when companies decide to give remote work a shot and offer employees flexible working hours, they still rack their brains trying to find answers to:    

  • How to manage time zone differences?
  • How to make remote workers feel a part of the team?
  • How to promote company values among the distributed team?
  • How to track productivity?
  • How to build and promote a unified company culture?

Fortunately, our team at Chanty has interviewed three well-known SaaS companies to find out their secret ingredients for effective remote team management.

These real-life examples will answer the above questions and give you some insight into how hiring a remote team can help you scale your SaaS business. 

Let’s dive in.


3 Examples of SaaS Companies Who Effectively Utilize Remote Teams

Remote Team Management Challenges


Interview with Nicholas Heim, Director of Marketing at Hotjar

Q: What is your greatest challenge with hiring and managing a remote team?

A: The easy cop-out answer here would be managing time zone differences when we have team members situated all over the globe. But I would say that one of the biggest challenges is nurturing team camaraderie and culture in a fully remote atmosphere.

Q: How do you deal with it?

A: We do this from many angles.

Recruitment: We’ve worked tirelessly to build and refine Hotjar’s recruitment process to ensure that we’re bringing on board the most talented individuals who also share in our company vision and values.

A culture of trust: When you give someone the level of freedom we do at Hotjar, it’s empowering, especially when you couple it with an extreme level of transparency.

Our monthly leadership calls are open for any team member to join, the company financials are accessible to everyone in the team and on monthly company calls, everyone is encouraged to ask anything they’d like to be answered openly with the entire team.

Special projects and prizes: When we hit important company milestones we give everyone a budget to get out of their home offices and do something special. You’d be surprised how much initiatives like these bring people together. As one team member remarked: ‘I learned more about my co-workers in 2 months at Hotjar than I’ve learned spending 2 years at other companies.’

Meeting in person: We meet twice a year as an entire company in some fun and pretty remarkable locations; places like Malta (where Hotjar is headquartered), Park City, Utah, and Marbella, Spain. We also meet twice a year in remote locations at the department or team level. This allows us to collaborate on big-picture team goals and tighten up on team dynamics.

Q: What would be your advice to SaaS companies who plan to go remote?

A: Process, commitment, and culture.

Build simple right-sized processes as early as possible. It’s never too early to begin creating processes, even if you’re a small team. Having basic processes for things like recruitment, company financial reporting, metrics and KPIs, internal communications and individual performance reviews gets you thinking about these things early. Start with simple processes, stick to them, and improve as you go.

Go all the way or don’t do it at all. We’ve seen some companies take a hybrid approach to remote work, keeping a portion of the company in a physical office and allowing another portion to work remotely. Although this approach can work, it can also create divides. If you’re looking to take this approach, be open and communicative with the entire company on your goals and intentions for remote work.

Set your core values to drive your company culture. Remote alone isn’t enough to build a special company culture. Allowing your team to work from anywhere is a perk but it’s not an identity. Challenge yourself early in identifying the core values that you want to stand for. These values should be the bedrock for your company beliefs and character, and will serve you well in developing the type of culture you and your future co-workers believe in.



Interview with Matt Handford, SVP of People at Hootsuite

Q: What is your greatest challenge with hiring and managing a remote team?

A: While there are certainly a number of logistical challenges associated with multiple teams spread across continents, what we’ve been most concerned with is ensuring all of our employees feel valued as a Hootsuite employee. We want everyone to feel a part of the Hootsuite Team, not just those working out of our headquarters.

Q: How do you deal with it?

A: We developed a simple hashtag called #hootsuitelife which empowers our employees to take the ideals and values of Hootsuite beyond our office walls and incorporate them into their personal lives. While #hootsuitelife may have been born out of a corporate setting, it’s almost exclusively fueled by our staff and how they choose to express that hashtag in their own instagram worthy moments. It’s a rallying point for staff, and connects our entire global team by showcasing moments where our team members champion the brand and values we represent.

Q: What would be your advice SaaS companies who plan to go remote?

A: Have a clear plan of attack with how to not only communicate with remote staff, but keep them engaged and feeling a part of the team. Try to limit the channels of communication as well, burdening teams with multiple channels of communication can bog down the process and it’s likely to confuse and frustrate team members.

While the last piece of advice may sound easy, engaging remote employees can be a real challenge.

I made a list of a few tips that make engaging and managing remote workers easier:

  • Communication
  • Avoiding Isolation
  • Regular Feedback

Constant communication. Miscommunication is one of the biggest issues when it comes to remote schedule. Therefore, it’s very important to keep employees updated and on the same page. It’s hard to overestimate the power of team communication tools like Slack, Chanty or Stride when sharing the updates and latest news in your distributed team.

Avoiding isolation. Quite often remote workers feel isolated due to a lack of social interaction. As a manager, try to make sure all your employees have an opportunity to join a standup meeting. Let them know how much you appreciate their work and how they contribute to the project. Show them that you are always open to conversation and ready to help when needed.

Giving regular feedback. It’s impossible to keep an employee engaged in what they are doing if you have no idea about their feelings, ideas and fears. Keep in touch with your mobile workers and comment on their job. This doesn’t need to be only appraisal. Be sure, grounded feedback with detailed comments will be appreciated.



Interview with Kevan Lee – Director of Marketing at Buffer

Q: What is your greatest challenge with hiring and managing a remote team?

A: A couple things come to mind. The first challenge is how to get in the habit of giving constructive feedback to teammates when you may not interact with your team in the same way or as often as you would in an office environment. The second challenge I’ve felt is that I’m not able to see how other people manage and so I have to work a lot harder to improve my skills and find sources of inspiration.

Q: How do you deal with it?

A: With the feedback challenge, we have a few different methods that have helped get me in a better habit. We have checkpoints where managers and teammates get together 1:1 to discuss results of the past quarter, growth opportunities, career next steps, etc. And on a smaller level, I feel empowered to share feedback on day-to-day activity in a quick medium like Slack.

With the challenge of seeing how other managers manage their teams, we have a couple built-in ways to share knowledge peer-to-peer. We have a dedicated Slack channel for leadership. We are encouraged to connect with peers 1:1 to share challenges and learn from one another: I’ve been chatting with a peer leader for three years now.

Q: What would be your advice SaaS companies who plan to go remote?

A: If you’re hiring for a remote position, we’ve found that it’s important to find people who are comfortable and effective working remotely: they are self-starters, highly motivated, clear communicators, and accountable for getting work done on time and at a high quality. Employees with these characteristics are quite easy to manage remotely!


Building and Managing a Remote Business: Key Takeaways

Remote Team Management Challenges

There is no universal solution for building and managing a remote business.

However, learning stories of other well-known tech companies and following their recommendations can help you develop your own policy if you plan to go remote.

Start by hiring highly motivated people who are comfortable and effective working remotely, people who share company visions and values.

Make everyone feel a part of the family by having annual offline meetings, encouraging employees with special projects and prizes or even developing a company hashtag to promote company values beyond the office.

Schedule short daily standups for each team to update them and discuss agenda for the day. Additionally, you can run one general weekly meeting for all teams to discuss past week progress and make plans for the next one. To make your meetings more effective and productive we suggest you follow 6 simple rules to make the most of your meetings that will definitely result in improved workflow.

At least twice a year conduct a one-on-one interview with each employee to find out if they have any issues, concerns, ideas or something they would like to bring to your attention.

Make sure to find a convenient and easy-to-use messaging app for communication and collaboration with your remote team.  

Remember that having a transparent company culture helps build trust with employees.

Think of using a time tracking software (like TimeDoctor or Harvest) that will give you insights on how productive your employees are.

Use a task manager so that everyone could see their co-workers’ agenda for today, this week or even month. Our marketing team likes Trello while developers depend heavily on JIRA boards.

Remote team management is impossible without team communication and collaboration software. Make sure to invest in those tools, but limit the number of communication channels not to frustrate your remote employees.

Employees who work remotely tend to be happier and more satisfied with their job than those who spend their hours at the office. Remote workers are usually more creative and productive, therefore, they can definitely invest into your company’s growth.

Despite the fact that creating and managing a remote team is not easy, it’s definitely worth trying if you have the tools to be successful. 

What kind of issues have you experienced while managing your remote team? Feel free to share in the comments.

Should I hire a marketing agency or build a growth team?

“Should I hire a marketing agency or build a growth team?” If you’re a founder, CEO, or marketing executive, you’ve probably asked yourself this question several times. Growth agencies often get a bad rap due to a general lack of transparency in the industry. Meanwhile, putting together a growth team is a difficult, arduous, hiring-intensive […]


“Should I hire a marketing agency or build a growth team?”

If you’re a founder, CEO, or marketing executive, you’ve probably asked yourself this question several times. Growth agencies often get a bad rap due to a general lack of transparency in the industry. Meanwhile, putting together a growth team is a difficult, arduous, hiring-intensive process.

So how do you answer this question? After all, growth doesn’t wait for you to make slow decisions. You need marketing to impact your bottom line, but you need to figure out how to go about it.

You can (and should) stand on the shoulders of giants and take advice where you can get it on how to grow a business. But sometimes you need to focus elsewhere, and marketing can’t be your primary priority in-house. So the agency vs. growth team question gets even more muddied.

Luckily, there’s a set of questions you can ask yourself to determine whether you need a growth agency or whether you should start building your growth team.

These are those questions:

  • Are you struggling to hire the right people?
  • Do you know much about marketing yourself?
  • Can you afford a senior person + staff?
  • Is marketing the biggest risk in your model?
  • Have you found a channel that works yet?
  • Does your marketing require a wide range of skills?

Below we’ll go through each question and how your answers can lead you down either the path of hiring an agency or building your growth team.

Let’s get started, first with…


Question #1: Hiring the Right People

If you’re a founder, you’re probably thinking about who your first marketing hire should be. Someone senior who’s worked on building startups from the ground up in the past and has both the strategic and execution chops you need. Chances are, you won’t be able to hire more than one or two people in this case, so you need someone who’s eager to both drive strategy and get in the weeds to create and execute campaigns.

As a marketing executive, you’re thinking more about going all-in on strategy and staffing up talented people who can execute that strategy. You’ve done all you can by yourself, and now you need to delegate tasks so you can get more creative about strategy.

Hiring and Agency VS In-House | Growth Marketing Conf

But actually finding and hiring the right people for these roles is the major obstacle you’re facing. Usually, for these situations, it’s best to go with someone you trust or know can perform. Going for junior level marketers leaves you without the expertise and years of prior marketing performance that can help your new hire understand your business and start running campaigns immediately.

If your answer is that you can’t find the right people, then the question becomes whether agencies are any different.

Hiring is still hard, right?

Yeah, except agencies are built on their ability to hire the right people — talented marketers who can understand different businesses and industries, identify the right strategies, and create campaigns that drive ROI based on the needs of their clients.

An agency that can’t hire those kinds of marketers fails, so if an agency has been around, has measurable success, and has a good vision for your growth, then they’ve most likely gotten the hiring part of the equation right. They’ve created a repeatable, scalable hiring system that lets them service multiple clients across industries and verticals.

So if your answer here is that you’re not able to hire the right people, an agency is a strong alternative. Especially because a hiring mistake can cost tens of thousands of dollars, while an agency contract might have a trial period that lets you back out at any time before a ramp-up.

But if you have someone you know can perform in mind, get them on your team immediately. Either way, don’t waste time kickstarting your hiring or agency review process.


Question #2: Marketing Knowledge

If you know how to do marketing yourself and you don’t need manpower — i.e. it’s the early stages of your marketing and all you need to do is set up analytics, event tracking, AdWords, Facebook Ads, etc… — then you can and should be doing your marketing yourself. At least to start off.

But if you have no clue how to do marketing, then you should absolutely hire someone or hire an agency, right?

Sure. Except there’s a huge caveat, and it’s one that guides how we do hiring at Ladder. We don’t hire for the things we’re bad at unless we make a conscious effort to learn the basics. UX/UI? We’re not experts, but we know the most important tenets of good design. Development? We’re not coders, but we know basic HTML/CSS and understand how websites and apps are built.

But if we don’t have the basics down, we don’t hire individuals for things we’re not yet familiar with, and we don’t hire agencies for things that we have no idea how to judge.

Think of it this way:

If you know nothing about marketing, you know nothing about how to measure the value, worth, and prior accomplishments of a marketer you want to hire. Along the same vein, you also know nothing about how to judge and hire an agency.

So if you have the marketing knowledge and don’t yet need the manpower, do it yourself. If you have the knowledge but need to ramp up, go back to question #1 and start thinking about the hiring process, whether it’s for an individual marketer or an agency.

But if you don’t have ANY marketing knowledge whatsoever, diving into making a hire without either getting an adviser who has marketing knowledge to suggest an agency or marketer, OR without sitting down and teaching yourself some marketing, will only result in poor hires, misaligned incentives, and damage to your bottom line.


Question #3: Affording Seniority

Hiring and Agency VS In-House

Let’s face it — if you’re a founding team with very few other hires, you’ll need to hire a senior marketer. This is especially true if you don’t have any marketing background in your founding team.

That’ll cost you a pretty penny.

But let’s say for the sake of example that you can find a Director of Marketing for $100,000 a year without having to give away any equity. That base salary immediately costs you over $8,300 a month. And that doesn’t account for cost of healthcare and other benefits, which could run you another $500-$1,000 at a minimum. And with that, you’re already paying almost $10,000 a month for a senior marketer.

Oh, but that’s not where it ends…

Let’s not forget that you’re not factoring in ad spend, cost of SaaS tools, and other costs into your marketer’s salary. And if you’re not budgeting at least $3,500 a month media spend, you shouldn’t be hiring a senior marketer OR an agency in the first place, because you’re not playing with enough money to have marketing make a real difference.

So your MINIMUM cost of doing business with a senior marketer is $13,500 a month. And that’s the ideal situation. Usually, you’ll want to attract a highly talented marketing director and you’ll be driven to pay more to poach them or convince them to come on board.

Usually, you’ll want to attract a highly talented marketing director and you’ll be driven to pay more to poach them or convince them to come on board.

If you can afford that, power to you.

If you have the right combination of the right person, the appropriate marketing budget, and the right salary, then you should make that hire, as it can be transformative for your business.

But if you can’t budget that much, an agency can be ideal. Mind that you should still spend at least $3,500 on a media budget, but you’ll be a lot more flexible about choosing between agencies bidding for your business, enabling you to drive costs down to or below $10,000 a month.


Question #4: Marketing Risk


Every startup has growth risks.

If your biggest risk in your business model is marketing, you HAVE to get it right.

That means you need to spend the money now to get your growth marketing team set up and have them build a repeatable, scalable growth machine.

But if it isn’t and you need to focus on business development, partnerships, sales, or product, then you can afford to and probably should outsource it. Giving your marketing over to the hands of an agency frees up time and focus for you to dedicate to your most important business objectives.

Obviously, with an agency, you’ll still want to set goals, review performance, and make sure that you’re getting the proper return on your investment. But not having to focus on hiring marketers, making the hard strategic decisions, and executing tests frees up a ton of time for you to get your product, sales, etc… on track.


Question #5: Channel Discovery

Part of the problem for startups when they attempt in-house marketing is figuring out which channels to tackle. If you haven’t yet, then using agency experts who know how to move the dial with test-driven methodology can be the fastest way to find out exactly which channels work best for your business.

Face it — if you don’t know which channels to target, chances are, you’ll overinvest in areas where you think you’re seeing performance.

Agencies that are given the task of channel discovery will instead spend small amounts of money to run tests and figure out where to double down and invest, using tactics like A/B testing to optimize your marketing approach for conversion.


Question #6: Marketing Skills

Full Stack marketers are rare

Full-stack marketers are still rare these days.

And if your marketing needs require you to go beyond just advertising, email marketing, CRM marketing, or any single channel, then you’ll likely need to hire someone who is good at one of those and hope they can learn quickly, OR you’ll need to hire multiple marketers to cover all the bases.

That can add up to big-time overhead on salary and benefits, not to mention the time required to staff up a team and onboard them properly.

But the one place where you’ll tend to find a plethora full-stack marketers or full-stack growth teams is at agencies. They’ve already built the hiring model to bring on people who can handle all channels or created teams that work well on a multi-channel marketing approach.

So if your marketing is complex enough that you need to work across multiple channels and you can’t afford to build out a growth team, an agency can be a quick, cost-effective way to get around those requirements and immediately drive performance.



As you’re evaluating whether to build your own in-house growth team or hire an agency to do the work for you, keep the above questions in mind. Answering the question is never a simple yes or no statement. Instead, it takes a full analysis of your budget, hiring capacity, business objectives, and growth goals to figure out which of the two is best for your current situation.

As your company and product offering evolves, your needs will change and you might need to switch from an agency to an in-house growth team, or to augment your growth team with specialized agency help. In either case, the questions listed above can help you make that decision quickly so you can get back to what matters most – growing your business.

Virtual Assistants: How Startups Can Get More Done for Less

Time is not your friend in the beginning phases of a startup. You’re working hard and fast and juggling more tasks than you can handle, which is why only 10% of startups actually make it, and most fail within a year. In order to be successful, you need to spending your time being productive instead […]

Time is not your friend in the beginning phases of a startup.

You’re working hard and fast and juggling more tasks than you can handle, which is why only 10% of startups actually make it, and most fail within a year.

In order to be successful, you need to spending your time being productive instead of busy, which is sometimes hard to decipher when you’re in the early startup phases.

There are many phases in the startup lifecycle, from what problem you’re solving to the maturity of the business. One of the biggest secrets about highly productive people is that they don’t try to do everything themselves. Extreme multi-tasking is one of the most common causes of burnout and a component in startups failing.


Thoreau Quote

Another reason startups fail is because they run out of money.

You can’t do everything yourself, yet hiring employees and having the space and equipment for them can get very expensive. You need a versatile team in order to be in the 10% of startups that succeed, and it makes sense to hire people who possess more than one skill or talent.

So, who are you going to delegate tasks to?

In comes the virtual assistant

VAs work from their home offices so you’re not providing them space or equipment. They can work for you a few hours each month, a few hours each week or full-time. They are relatively less expensive than an employee when you consider the following:

  • A VA will already have a home office in place which will save you and your startup money from having to purchase any additional equipment.
  • You won’t have to worry about conflicting work schedules. You can assign your tasks or projects with a deadline and your work will be ready. Sometimes, having someone in a different time zone allows a VA to either be working before you’re out of bed, or past the time you’ve already left.
  • A VA only charges for the time they’ve spent working for you, not for the time spent with in-office distractions.
  • VAs are proficient with the latest technology and can typically jump into a project with little direction needed.
  • A VA is typically an independent contractor whether they’re working through an agency or freelancing. They take pride in their work because it’s their reputation on the line as well as yours.
  • There are no commuting issues with a VA. Your work will always be done regardless of snow storms or traffic delays.
  • With a VA there is no paid leave, sick time or vacation time. Virtual Assistants are only paid for the time they work.
  • VAs have a very low turnover rate. One of the main reasons people are leaving the 9-5 workday is due to obligations at home. A VA can still work efficiently from their home office and be available when necessary.

Many founders wait until they are falling behind before getting help…

Waiting until you’re buried often leads to being desperate which leads to rash decisions that may not be good for you or your startup. One of the reasons you’re hiring a VA is to help so you DON’T get to that point.

help is on the way

How do you know a virtual assistant is the right choice for your company?

  1. You can’t afford and utilize a full-time employee.
  2. The work you need help with doesn’t require someone to be in your office.
  3. You are spending more time organizing rather than executing.

Anything worthwhile takes time and effort.

Although time is what you’re lacking as a startup, it is important to sit down and think through what areas you need help with and what you want your VA to do for you. Before you start out on your search, take time to sit down and:

  1. Make a list. Take at least 1 week and start writing down the things that come up on a regular basis that you need help with or can’t find the time to do. If you are working with another party or employees, ask them to do the same. Virtual Assistants can not only be an asset to your startup but also in aiding your team in project assistance or other responsibilities they can’t find the time to do.
  2. From the list, decide which areas are teachable. If you can teach someone to do a task then you can outsource it and move on to bigger things.
  3. From what is teachable, find which is the most time consuming. There are many things we do on a daily basis that although they are important in the support of your business, may not be worth your time doing if it’s not directly related to generating income.
  4. Pick the tasks that you enjoy least. Why would you keep doing things you don’t like doing? If it falls into the category of being teachable then it’s a responsibility a VA can do for you.

Many startups want to use a VA and know they can be a worthwhile investment but are unsure of how they can be utilized.

Virtual Assistants can be personal assistants, executive assistants, project managers or assist on team projects. They can also run social media and digital marketing campaigns at a much lower cost than an agency.

Most have left the corporate world for a more flexible work schedule, but experience in their related fields makes them a tremendous resource for startups. Some areas that are easy to outsource to a VA are:


  1. Sort through emails/mark what’s important/sort through spam
  2. Reply to customer/client inquiries
  3. Chat Support
  4. Calendar management/appointment reminders
  5. Schedule appointments


Although the administrative tasks are never-ending, some general administrative tasks are:

  1. Travel Planning
  2. Internet Research
  3. Client Gifts (purchasing & sending)
  4. Personal Errands
  5. Data Entry
  6. Database Management
  7. Task Management
  8. Event Planning
  9. Reporting
  10. Expense Reporting
  11. Bookkeeping
  12. Organize Meetings/Conference Calls
  13. PowerPoint  Presentations


The world of digital marketing is big, and only getting bigger.

Just when you think you’ve mastered one social channel, there’s another one that is proving to be better. Trying to stay on top of learning the ins & outs of digital marketing, whether it’s the latest email programs, hosting platforms or the hottest social channel to advertise on, can be overwhelming.

Some areas you can outsource to a Virtual Assistant that will help promote you and your business are:

  1. Create & schedule email campaigns
  2. Create & send newsletters
  3. Social Media Management (create campaigns for each channel/schedule posts)
  4. Moderate & reply to comments on different channels
  5. Help with blog postings (finding images, editing, posting)
  6. General Website management (html coding/manage subscribers)
  7. Testing different channels to see what will work for your startup.

Every startup will have its own list of outsourcing needs, but these areas are interchangeable regardless of your industry or company size.

Once you’ve decided on using a Virtual Assistant, then you need to find one.

Finding a VA for your startupdecision

There are pros and cons to both freelance VAs and utilizing an agency. Much depends on what you’re looking for, how much time you have to invest in the process, and how much money your budget allows.

Research the agencies wisely.

Some will assign you one dedicated VA while others will use a “team” of multiple virtual assistants. Agencies that tend to rotate VAs often have higher turnover rates and the project can lend itself to more confusion. Some agencies work with only US based assistants while others work with VAs from overseas.

When deciding between choosing a virtual assistant who’s located in the United States versus hiring a VA from abroad, consider how important is it for the person to be available while you work, how aware of American culture you need the person to be, and if the language barrier will be a problem.

Whether you decide to use a US based Virtual Assistant Agency or overseas, there are several benefits an agency provides, such as:

  1. Consulting. Most agencies will provide an initial consultation to help them place you with the right VA, help decide what types of tasks the VA can handle for maximum efficiency, and how many hours you need on a monthly basis.
  2. Experienced Virtual Assistants. Having experience working as a VA is important in understanding how a virtual relationship works and the different programs and apps to use for virtual success.
  3. Back-Up. Life is not perfect, and neither is every virtual relationship. There are times that the relationship between a client and virtual assistant may not work out for whatever reason, or maybe they move on at some point to do other things. Instead of having to start from square one, agencies will have other experienced VAs that will be able to jump in as soon as the next day and get started.
  4. Training. Many times the agency offers training for their VAs to keep up-to-date with the latest apps and programs.
  5. Hiring & Screening Process is done for you. Conducting a search alone for a virtual assistant can be overwhelming. With an Agency they will do the hiring, screening and contracting process for you and either choose a VA that matches your needs based on their skills or allow you the opportunity to interview a couple for you to make the decision yourself.
  6. Contracts. You can come up with your own contract for your virtual relationship, but an agency will have a contract that is in place with both the VA and the client. This is not only to protect the VA, but to protect the agency as well. Also, this contract will protect the client’s information and maintain confidentiality.

If you decide to use a freelance Virtual Assistant, there are many places they can post their information whether you use a service like Upwork or search through LinkedIn.

Keep in mind when going the freelance route, you are  responsible for the interviewing, reference checking, hiring and paying of the VA.

Once you’re up and running with your virtual assistant, you enter the next phase of managing and delegating to your Virtual Assistant.

Managing your virtual employees

Although most VAs have years of experience in their respected fields, you still need to take some time to teach them what you want accomplished, how you like things done and be clear on your expectations.

Virtual assistants are human and make the same mistakes we all do. The #1 failure of all virtual relationships (actually any relationship) is lack of communication. From Day 1, it’s best to decide on what form of communication will work best for both of you, how often you will communicate or give updates and that you take the time to review the updates that are given to you.

When collaborating with a virtual assistant and depending on the tasks they’re doing for you, you’ll need to be able to share your files, company information, etc. There are more tools than you can imagine that allow you to work with a VA.

Some of my favorite tools for VA management are:

  • GSuite: Formerly Google Apps for Work, this offer professional email, online storage, shared calendars, video meetings and more. The apps are designed for business and teams to share and collaborate securely, making it a great tool to use with your virtual assistant.


  • Dropbox: Easily and securely store all of your documents which you have access to on your desktop and mobile devices and is great for sharing large files.
  • World Time Buddy: Being a startup can mean that you’re at one end of the world at times while your VA is at the other. World Time Buddy is great to effortlessly compare multiple time zones, plan conference call, webinars, international phone calls and web meeting.
  • Streak: This is a great CRM right inside of Gmail. You and your VA can manage your clients effectively and efficiently.
  • Hellosign for Gmail: With this you can sign documents in 30 seconds or less and do it all within Gmail as well as send, retrieve and save without having to print.
  • Google Voice: Google voice is a great tool to use with your virtual assistant. They can use it to make free calls and as an after-hours voicemail.

For Digital Marketing Needs:

Digital marketing virtual assistant

  • MailChimp: Design and schedule great looking emails or newsletters. Mailchimp is free until you hit 2,000 subscribers and offer great analytics to gauge your campaigns.
  • Hootsuite: You can schedule up to 3 channels free on Hootsuite, save drafts you can repurpose later and view multiple feeds. You can create posts or save links you find online in Hootsuite and save them as drafts for your VA to use at a later date.
  • Canva: Create stunning graphics is easy and free with Canva (unless you use Canva for Work). You can find photos you would like to use for posts and upload them in Canva for your VA.
  • Pixabay: A great site for free online photo’s to use for your blogs or social media campaigns.

Management Help:

  • Myhours: Myhours is a time tracking software that is great not only for you to see where your virtual assistant’s time is spent, but for them too. Your VA is able to log the tasks and projects so you can see how much time is spent on each area.

Password Managers:

There are many Password Manager programs that allow virtual assistants to login into all of your accounts without seeing your passwords. The usernames and passwords are encrypted in the program itself, keeping all of your information in one place. Your Virtual Assistant can log into the program and navigate to the websites you have put in place.

A few to try are:

Building a relationship with your VA


Depending on how you choose to use your virtual assistant, whether it’s to take over a few tasks or they become your right hand, encourage them to offer you feedback, lending more warmth to the remote-work arrangement.

Assistants might not provide feedback unless you ask not wanting to overstep any bounds, yet their ideas are often spot-on given their proximity to the work.

Ultimately, a virtual assistant is not just another cog in your business machine, but a representative of your business and even a direct extension of you.

Like anything, the more clear and concise you are on your expectations with your VA from the start will lend to a long and worthwhile relationship. Communicate effectively and often to get the most out of your virtual assistant experience.

5 Keys to Hiring Growth Marketers

…And Why It’s So Hard to Do It Right The need for growth marketers has exploded over the past several years… Born out of the concepts around Growth Hacking popularized by Sean Ellis and others, Growth Marketing has emerged as the biggest trend for startups trying to ramp up their revenue quickly. The new wave […]

And Why It’s So Hard to Do It Right

The need for growth marketers has exploded over the past several years…

Born out of the concepts around Growth Hacking popularized by Sean Ellis and others, Growth Marketing has emerged as the biggest trend for startups trying to ramp up their revenue quickly.

The new wave of marketing talent has to be analytically focused, be able to iterate and quickly improve what they are doing, and master an array of technologies to get their jobs done.

Many others have written about the difference between marketing and growth hacking, and more recently, the difference between Growth Marketing and Growth Hacking.

My personal take is that Growth Marketing is a better term for the mix of skills that companies need to scale up and out (and happens to be my title at New Relic).

I feel that using the term ‘Hacking’ is limiting in a way – almost as if growth is something to magically unlock via tactical tweaks and tests rather than through a programmatic, highly scalable growth strategy.

Understanding growth strategy and demand generation tactics aren’t enough, either. A hugely important part of being a successful Growth Marketer is understanding how to use and manage a huge array of technologies.

Hockey stick growth in Marketo jobs, courtesy of job trends

Hockey stick growth in Marketo jobs, courtesy of job trends

The importance of this will continue to increase dramatically and there’s no reason to think marketers who can marry the creative and technical won’t also continue to be highly sought after.

Because of the need for this unique skill set that isn’t a part of academic marketing degrees, supply isn’t matching demand when it comes to hiring growth marketers. Thus it’s increasingly difficult to fill these roles.

As a direct result of the difficulty I’ve found in hiring the right set of talent to drive growth, I’ve evolved my personal philosophy in hiring. I’ve found success in focusing on looking for certain traits that can result in quality hires rather than focus primarily on experience.

I’ve created a framework that originally was targeted at hiring technical roles within marketing, but as I’ve employed it (and gotten feedback from other marketing leaders) I’ve found it’s an effective construct for hiring roles of all types to support highly successful growth marketing teams.

Hiring Growth Marketers

I first shared this framework at the Sirius Decisions Technology Exchange in San Francisco, and the response so far has been very positive.

Hiring Growth Marketers

PHACE Talent Framework

One of big questions I’ve gotten when using a Framework like this is, “How does it actually help with hiring challenges?”

The core difference of this idea is to move away from making hiring decisions primarily based on experiences and qualifications. Any organization or hiring manager can use the framework (or even a customized version) to identify qualified candidates that you might not have otherwise considered if you were only looking for people who met a specific profile or worked for certain companies.

Sometimes folks with an unexpected path have a great combination of skills and experience to fill those roles you need in a modern marketing organization.

In other words, you build your own unicorns.

For example, for marketing analyst positions, people who have been performing roles outside marketing can be great potential fits.

I’ve found a lot of value in hiring people from different backgrounds like consulting, business operations, financial services or even actuarial jobs. You want to look for areas where people have been applying similiar skills – just to different problems. It gives you a whole new pool to swim in to get the right talent for your team.

This is similar to the ‘Moneyball’ concept pioneered by the Oakland Athletics and Billy Beane.

Michael Lewis has a great line in that book: “when you rule out an entire class of people from doing a job simply by their appearance, you are less likely to find the best person for the job.”

Well, I think many recruiters, executives, and hiring managers are consistently ruling out entire classes of people by their ‘appearance’ – aka where have they worked, and for how long?

The Oakland A’s in the early 2000’s famously found that On-Base Percentage (OBP) was a better predictor of scoring than more traditional metrics like batting average, and thus players that had this particular skill of getting on base were undervalued relative to their peers. If you can look for the right set of talent characteristics, you are able to play moneyball in your own recruitment efforts.

I also get asked consistently about those particular set of characteristics: how I chose them, and why they are the most impactful? Well besides forming an easy to remember acronym (PHACE), they each have a particular value in Marketing:

1. Proactive

I love people who are proactive!

Of all things, a moment from Curb Your Enthusiasm best demonstrates the kinds of folks you want to avoid, who are passive and not proactive.

In this dinner scene, the elderly survivor becomes so agitated that he knocks his glass of wine all over Larry David. A dinner companion says, “Somebody get a sponge.” Larry, ever the pragmatist, blurts back, “I don’t understand. Why don’t you get a sponge?”

Missed Opportunity to Be Proactive

You want to find and support the kinds of folks who would immediately jump up and get the sponge, and not sit there wondering why others aren’t doing anything. You want to find people that don’t start sentences with “We should…” but with “I’m going to…”

2. Hacky

As I mentioned, I’m not a huge fan of the “Growth Hacking” term, as I think it belittles the role that marketing (and marketers) play in driving Growth.

But I do like the concept of having folks who think in “Hacky” ways.

What I mean by this is folks that are always willing to try new things, to experiment, to think differently and aren’t afraid to break things as a result.

While it’s cliche now, the concept of encouraging thinking outside the box and constant testing and experimentation against a set of hypotheses is crucially important for growth marketers.

Much as many of the most important inventions in history came unexpectedly, you never know where you will uncover some untapped potential for growth within your own organization. The best marketing leaders know this and actively encourage it for everyone on their team.

3. Analytical

Out of all the talent characteristics in the PHACE framework, this is probably the most obvious.

Simply put, in our current data-dense state as marketers, it’s table stakes to have folks that have an analytical mindset. This is one area where you really cannot have enough brainpower devoted – with the amount of data we have to work with and building value for customers and potential customers, the real key is figuring out how to make the most of it.

And it’s not just about pivot tables in Excel or creating reports in Salesforce – it’s about knowing what kind of data you need, where to get it, and how to present it to enable effective decision making.

4. Connected

Being connected in marketing is hugely important. People often confuse this concept with being extroverted.

There are introverts who are connected, and extroverts who aren’t. I look for a willingness and desire to connect with others; certainly folks need to connect with colleagues within your marketing team, and also elsewhere within your organization (Sales, Finance, IT, etc).

The value in connectedness is just social. Being connected provides an amplifying effect for your employees and by extension the entire marketing team. I’ve found that the Metcalfe’s Law, originally developed to describe telecom networks, applies to personal networks as well. By being able to establish and maintain connections and build deep, mutually beneficial relationships, each employee is adding significant horsepower to their own abilities.

5. Empathetic

I strongly believe every modern marketer has to get closer to the business side of things to be successful – at a minimum they have to know how their work drives Sales, and strive to make as big an impact as possible in revenue.

But as Marketers, we’re also working with Product teams, and are probably working with some combination of Legal, Finance, and IT as well.

That’s why I believe empathy in marketing is so important. But far too often I see Marketing teams that aren’t adding as much value as they could be to the business, because of strained working relationships they have not only with folks outside their department, but even the colleagues they sit next to and work with every day in Marketing.

You really need to look for folks who are willing to put themselves in others’ shoes, and use that empathy to improve the overall state of your business and drive growth.

Evaluating Marketing Talent

If you’ve bought into the PHACE framework (or something similar), you’ll need to be able to evaluate talent as you source and recruit growth marketers. I’m not a fan of the ‘standard’ set of interview questions in general, and they’re especially poor at evaluating growth talent.

If you are asking ‘where do you see yourself in 5 years?’ or ‘what are your greatest strengths/weaknesses?’ you’re doing it wrong. Because we’re looking for specific talent characteristics, we don’t need to drill-in as much on work experience.

One of my favorite questions to ask is, “What metric do you wish you could track (and how would you do it)?” It’s very interesting to see how candidates take this one – they could talk about work, or personal metrics, but this allows you to see how analytical they are as well as proactive.

Bad interview questions

Bad interview questions

After a virtual or in-person interview session, best practice is to do a follow-up exercise (I call them homework assignments). After all, very little work consists of answering questions 1 on 1 in a small office.

Depending on the position, you’ll want to customize the homework assignment. For instance if it’s an analyst position, you’ll want to focus the exercise on using data to provide some sort of insight and present the findings.

If it’s a digital demand position, you might have them make recommendations on improving your landing pages and website. Regardless of how you choose to do it, it’s important to use this as a primary method of evaluating potential talent against the characteristics you are looking for.

In order to evaluate candidates against each other, I like to use a simple visualization.

After gathering feedback from the other folks on your interviewing committee, you can map out how they rank on each of the talent characteristics in PHACE. Creating a radar diagram for each candidate is helpful and can take a little bit of the emotion out of hiring.

If you don’t take the time to evaluate folks quantitatively you often end up relying on your gut, which may or may not work out. Now you aren’t trying to be an android ——. This is also helpful if your first choice doesn’t work out for whatever reason – you can head back to your evaluations of the candidate pool and decide if you want to pursue other candidates or keep looking.

Radar diagram for evaluating talent

Radar diagram for evaluating talent

Final Thoughts

When it comes to applying this framework within your own organization, you don’t have to use this exact set of talent characteristics, rather the key is to look for strengths outside of experience alone in order to broaden the base of possible candidates for your team.

What happens in most organizations is hiring managers put really high requirements in their job descriptions, and they don’t realize that by doing that, they’re excluding a large group of potentially valuable candidates. Everyone is looking for the same  ultra-rare “unicorns” with very specific skill sets, thus everyone winds up fighting over the same people, which drives up the price for talent. Which in turn leads to an arms race that I don’t want to engage in.

Bottom line: experience is a lagging indicator, and a winning philosophy is hiring for the upside and potential rather than focus on deep experience (not that that’s a bad thing of course!).

Baxter Denney

Baxter Denney

Baxter is a true marketing geek, having led marketing operations and demand creation teams at Citrix and Couchbase. Prior to that, he was a marketing consultant, specializing in politics and sports marketing. Currently he leads the Growth Marketing function at New Relic, where he is responsible for all digital marketing and customer experience. When not geeking out on funnels and budget spreadsheets, Baxter “enjoys” participating in endurance athletics and watching the Washington Redskins lose football games.

Want to read more about marketing and personal productivity? Check out Baxter Denney’s website or connect with him via Twitter.

Don’t Hire A Growth Hacker Until You Read This

Have you ever said any of the following? “We have a great product. We just need someone to market it.” “If we hire a growth hacker, they’ll shake up this place!” “We don’t want a traditional marketer. They just don’t get it.”   The explosive hype around growth hacking could lead any human to believe […]

Have you ever said any of the following?

“We have a great product. We just need someone to market it.”

“If we hire a growth hacker, they’ll shake up this place!”

“We don’t want a traditional marketer. They just don’t get it.”


The explosive hype around growth hacking could lead any human to believe that one magical unicorn marketer could provide everything your company needs to be successful. What you don’t hear in the news are the stories of hires gone wrong.


Hiring the wrong marketer can set your company back months, and in a startup can cost you precious runway that is the difference between surviving and bankruptcy.


On top of that, on LinkedIn alone there are at least 7 open positions for every self-identified growth hacker. You’ll see lots of people putting that title on their resume without knowing what it means. There’s no certifying body for growth hacking, no diploma or test one must pass to use the term.

I’ve been one of those bad hires, and as a result I’m passionate about helping founders learn how to hire and work with people like me.

Based on my thirteen plus years’ experience as a growth hacker and marketing executive in technology companies of all sizes, I’ve put together a 6 step process to help every company to find-and retain-great marketers. No matter your size or growth prospects, you can benefit from the skill sets of Silicon Valley marketers, who are often called growth hackers.

Here’s a summary. I’ll share more details in this free webinar on Friday November 6, 2015


Step 1: Who are you?

Hiring a great growth hacker starts with YOU. The more you understand your working style and your company’s needs, the more specific your job description will be; and the less time you’ll spend weeding through candidates who aren’t a fit.

Ask yourself these questions:

What must happen in the first 90 days after hire for me to believe this person is going to be successful?

Consider business objectives, tests run, channels explored as options for evaluating success. Where possible, put metrics on this. Good growth hackers like to see metrics, and in the beginning you’ll be a better judge of what’s realistic and what isn’t.

Tip: If you don’t know what needs to be done, consider working with a temporary CMO or your advisors to craft a marketing strategy first.

What must happen in the next six months?

By this point your new hire should be starting to add real value. What happens then? Are they hiring more people? Finished installing a critical tool like Optimizely or KissMetrics or Sprinklr?

Tip: can’t see 6-12 months ahead? Consider temporary tactical help while you test channels and determine the exact skill set you need to hire. Prove the ROI of a marketer to yourself. If you are not at product market fit, be extra careful in committing to a full time marketing hire, especially if you don’t anticipate allowing them to work on the product. A marketer cannot save a bad product and you cannot growth-hack your way into product-market fit.

What kind of person am I?

For example, if you’re a linear thinker, you have to consider the pros and cons of working with people like you and not like you. Who is going to drive you mad? What are your must haves in your marketer? Detail orientation? creative ideas? A writer? A numbers maven? Focus on your MUST Haves.

Tip: Ask your colleagues to help you understand what you’re like to work with and their opinions of the type of person you work best with. Their answers may surprise you!

If I’m part of an established company, what is my culture like?

Are you linear, fact based, methodical? Take care when hiring too far outside your company’s culture. One person can’t change that, and may be frustrated within it. Acknowledge to yourself what your company’s challenges are.


Step 2: Who are They?

You wouldn’t hire an engineer without knowing whether they code in Java or Python, would you? So it goes with marketers and growth hackers. They aren’t interchangeable any more than a front end engineer is with a back end engineer, even though they’re both called engineers.

When it comes to growth hacking, there are at least two types based on mindset. Of course not everyone fits neatly into boxes, but it can be useful to think of them in two buckets to start.


Often with a sales background or mindset, prospectors have a “hustler” quality to them. You’ll find them relentless, unstoppable, able to deal with failure and hearing no, trying again, and again and again to find exactly the right channels. They’ll remind you of a shark, always on the move, hungry, and eager to try a thousand things. They love to solve problems like “What’s a cheap way to get people to buy our product?” They prefer to try 10 things and see which works, instead of planning-usually because there is little data at this stage to go on.

Prospectors are best for companies still in early stages, or who have the culture to support the marketer’s desire to try new things. In these early stages where the marketing channels are still being tested, the prospector excels at finding exactly where the gold is, based on data and results. Within large companies prospectors can become frustrated with politics and risk aversion unless shielded by their managers.


Often with a mathematics or professorial quality to them, miners extract growth, and tons of it, from the areas of opportunity defined, especially on top of fast moving, large companies. They can identify those opportunities within giant data sets, but are less effective when it comes to an open field and no data.

Prospectors like to solve problems that are clearly defined, for example: improve conversion rates by 100%. They prefer to analyze, then act, measure, and act again. They will bring discipline, focus, and rigorous execution to your growth operations, and love to be in cultures where the data makes the decision, not the highest paid person in the room. They tend to be more patient and better suited to complex cultures that move a bit slower than the average startup.

What happens when you put the wrong person into the wrong job? Here’s an example:

Melinda image


Step 3: Crafting a Job Description

By now it should be clear that just copying and pasting someone else’s job description isn’t the best way to find the right growth hacker for your company. Make this job description uniquely yours. Tip: Ask questions that candidates must answer in their cover letter so they aren’t tempted to reply with a form letter.



Looking for a growth hacker or growth marketer? Click on the logo and start hiring.


Step 4: Begin Search

In addition to posting on linkedin, and your own website, you should post on,, and watch the hashtag #growthhacker #socialmedia, #CRM, etc. for candidates who might be good fits.

Tip: If you are in need of someone to manage social media, observe the person’s feeds to discover who they are. Marketers can’t hide their personalities, so if you see someone isn’t on social media, you’ll want to dig deeper in an interview before assuming they can handle it.


Step 5: Screening Resumes and Doing Interviews

If you’ve done your homework and written a specific, intriguing job description, you’ll find that you have fewer, but more interesting candidates. People who do not answer your questions or address your specific needs are likely not serious candidates. But you can also start to look at resumes to see exactly what type of results the person is proud of. Are they good at overcoming adversity? Specific in the numbers they hit? Show a sense of humor or culture awareness? Focus on those folks, and ignore anyone who doesn’t make you excited to meet them. After all, if a marketer can’t market themselves, how well can they market your company?

Everyone is on their best behavior in interviews. The key is to be able to cut past that into who the person really is. In this webinar we will talk about this more deeply, but it starts with you being vulnerable about yourself, which encourages candidates to do the same. The smarter the candidate, the more polished they’ll come across in interviews, and cracking that facade is a key way to find the right person for you.


Step 6: Enabling Success

Congratulations! You’ve hired someone amazing. How do you keep them around? Hopefully you’ve done your homework in the interview process to understand what makes this person tick. But if not, especially if your company is growing fast, you’ll need to stay connected to your new hire.

Because of the demand for quality growth marketing professionals, if you aren’t nurturing this person’s career, they have options to go elsewhere. This doesn’t mean bowing to their every whim, but making sure you’ve done your best to remove obstacles to their career growth and to get their job done. Help your growth marketer navigate inter-departmental politics, smooth the road with senior managers; and acknowledging their successes while encouraging risk taking; all contribute to a growth hacker being happy for a long time.


Have you hired a growth hacker? How did it work out? What did you learn? Let’s discuss in the comments.