Hiring the right people for your brand can be tough, and that’s true for both eCommerce businesses and agencies. In this episode, Scott & Ray discuss one of the tricky aspects of scaling your business – hiring the right talent to help you scale to the moon!
This episode delves into how Right Hook attracts and finds high-performing talent, what the onboarding process looks like for those applying, and the filters and processes put in place to ensure that they are the right fit for our team.
Scott & Ray also discuss how the marketing funnel can also be adapted into talent acquisition – hint: it’s all about being involved and assessing every single step of your hiring process to field the strongest prospects. We hope you find your marketing team’s A-Players after listening to this episode!
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If you want to learn more about us and what we do at Right Hook, visit our website: Right Hook Digital
Full episode transcript & chapter markers for this episode are available on the Growth & Greatness eCommerce Podcast Buzzsprout page!
0:00 – 0:27 – G&G eCommerce Podcast Theme
This is the Growth & Greatness eCommerce Podcast, powered by Right Hook Digital, with your hosts Scott Seward & Raymond Johnston. If you’re an eCommerce brand founder, entrepreneur, or marketer looking to accelerate profitable growth for your business, then listen in ‘cause this is the podcast for you.
0:27 – 12:11 – Episode Introduction
Scott (0:27 – 0:36) – Okay, we are back with the Growth & Greatness eCommerce Podcast. Ray, good to see you again, man! How’s things? What’s happening? A lot happening in the eComm world!
Ray (0:35 – 1:14) – It’s good, man! It is, it’s an exciting world. I think, some of it, we’ll get into a little bit in this interview, but one thing I’m really excited about is, I actually think that, I’m seeing a lot of good trends in the industry about people and how they’re thinking about the crazy volatility that we’re seeing overall. I think, in our team, a lot of us are keeping the right heads on our shoulders. I think just across the industry, I’ve actually seen now, looking back, we talked about iOS14 like in Episode 1 or 2, and looking back, I think like, it’s actually been okay. It hasn’t been that bad. There’s been some dips and a lot of volatility that people are seeing, but everything’s good, man! I don’t know how you’re feeling about it. Everything’s actually pretty fine!
Scott (1:16 – 1:27) – I wouldn’t say I’m feeling fine, not bad. I think when we look at it from a performance standpoint from across the board, it seems like a lot of the issue is with tracking and attribution.
Ray (1:27 – 1:28) – Yeah, without a doubt.
Scott (1:28 – 1:39) – Like from a performance, from an end result, from an MER standpoint, looking at ad spend versus revenue, that’s still functioning pretty well with a lot of brands. It’s just really a lot of the reporting within platforms.
Ray (1:39 – 1:47) – Yeah, in platform-specific attribution, MER. For most of our brands, it’s actually still, at least, pretty close to KPIs. We still have the KPIs.
Scott (1:47 – 2:11) – Yeah. But, anyway, we’re not gonna talk about that today. We are gonna talk about something that I think is super important and relevant to both brands and agencies. That is the challenge of finding really, really good eCommerce marketing talent. You’re head-deep in this at the moment. We’re going through another burst where we’re getting pretty close to 100 people, we’re not far-off.
Ray (2:11 – 2:14) – In a couple of months, we’re gonna hit that for sure, yeah.
Scott (2:14 – 2:49) – That’s what it’s looking like on the forecast so that’s 4 years and we’ll be at a team of 100, globally. So that’s, we’ve got this pretty dialed in now, we’re getting there. There’s still some challenges, but I think we got a pretty good process, right? It can be really hard to find the right people. We know the difficulty between Australia and the US, particularly. Let’s start there. Let’s talk about, you know, there’s very big differences in geo location, right? You’ve had to deal with this a lot. What do you see between Australia and the US, specifically?
Ray (2:49 – 3:04) – There is, a lot. That’s a great question. Part of it, I think, is population size. Obviously, let’s just call it what it is, you know. The US has a bigger population than Australia. Without a doubt, that is a factor. I think, also, just where tech is situated to, that is also a factor.
Scott (3:04 – 3:06) – The internet’s a bit slow here.
Ray (3:07 – 3:11) – Well, your guys’ internet is progressing slowly but surely, so maybe that’s a factor right there.
Scott (3:11 – 3:12) – We just got dial-up.
Scott (3:12 – 4:14) – We could probably have a 30-minute rant just on the Australian internet, but on the US side, there’s a couple things. On the US side, it is easier to hire and to find people than it is on the Australian side. One thing also, what I’m bringing in, you’ve maybe seen the articles where, because of the post-COVID environment that we’re in, a lot of people got so used to, one, working remotely and, two, the fact that it kind of made them wake up and they wanna choose areas or careers that actually excites them. I’ve been seeing articles all over the place where, a survey that said, like, 40% of people are considering leaving their workplace. In addition to that, companies are trying to ramp up because they’re coming back into office, they’re ramping up production again, and there’s a massive shortage of talent everywhere – airlines, warehouses, everywhere, there’s shortage. So, one thing we’re finding is that, I actually think that one of the reasons why it’s hard in Australia, for example, to find talent is they have so many choices. There’s so much demand for it that a person, they can be nonchalant about it, ‘maybe, you’re a little attractive, but I kinda wanna taste this other thing over here.’
Scott (4:15 – 4:49) – Yeah, it is, Australia has an interesting dynamic. And I think, you’re right, the talent pool is definitely a lot smaller. We don’t have as many major centers, you know, a lot of the talent is in Sydney and Melbourne just because that’s where the biggest congregation of population and, I guess, corporate activity is as well. So, you’ve got to be a little bit more flexible in Australia, I think, with looking to hire remote. I’m in Adelaide and there’s very few people here to find and bring in-house. I prefer…
Ray (4:49 – 4:50) – Reach out to all of your talent in Adelaide.
Scott (4:52 – 5:12) – Pretty sure we spoke to every person in Adelaide and Brisbane. Our preference is to have people in-house, but sometimes it’s just not an option if you wanna have the right person. For us, let’s start there because it really starts with making sure that you’ve got the right person and not just settling. We’ve tried, recruitment agencies have been fired.
Ray (5:14 – 5:30) – We’ve made, I mean, gosh, 100 people, we’re gonna be. We made a lot of mistakes, which is how you learn as well. From recruiters to hiring the wrong talent, and I think, thankfully, our thesis really changed probably 2 years ago now, right? That’s when our thesis of hiring really changed.
Scott (5:30 – 5:31) – We pivoted.
Ray (5:31 – 6:10) – Yeah, I remember it was you and Dee that led that. It was after you guys were going through different books and just came to conclusion, like how important, like us almost looking at our roster and, is everyone on this team someone that, one, we would hire again, knowing what we know now about these people? And then, secondly, do we actually think that they’re the right fit for our bus? I remember, like, 2 years ago, we kind of cleaned house, almost got a whole new team, a new roster. Yeah, you and Dee led that charge. I remember, the first few people on those interviews, and you can jump in here, what a massive change that made instantly.
Scott (6:10 – 7:47) – Man, that was probably a big turning point and a shift in our culture in the company. It was massive. I remember, I think it would’ve been the first 6 months of 2019. I would say that’s probably our toughest period as an agency and it was really when we’re going from that 20-people to 40-people size. It was just an interesting transition. You got so many more communication points. You’ve got to restructure things. A lot of the roles within the company changed from what they originally were, less talk about media buyers, specifically. When we started, we had ‘media buyers,’ they were more in the background, we had an account manager that dealt with the front-facing, and then we realized, it was more discussions between you and I going, ‘how can we find more people like you & I who can handle relationships really well and are also really good marketers.’ We were almost a bit arrogant at the time thinking that we’re unicorns or something like that until we actually put it down on paper and that was really the starting point, right? Us getting clear on who were going after and we built out our seat scorecards. Okay, so what does this person need to look like culturally? What are the core soft skills that they need to have from a relationship standpoint, a personality standpoint, and in conjunction with their abilities as a Facebook media buyer and eCommerce marketer? They’re gonna have broad knowledge, but almost a bit T-shaped. I would say, I was reading a book on being a polymath recently, and not so much being T-shaped, but pie-shaped or cone-shaped. You gotta have….
Ray (7:47 – 8:14) – Yeah, like a generalist in some areas. You have to be, a generalist is what we’re looking for. Our thesis was they have to be really good at client relationships to the front-facing, which is a lot of times why we say relationships first and then ROAS, or relationships over ROAS. The second part is their strategic mind when it comes to the creative and the angles. That was, like, 2 years ago, Facebook was still very tactical, but we identified that. That was such an important shift that the industry was moving towards.
Scott (8:14 – 8:51) – Absolutely, absolutely. When we got clear on that, and then I sat down and started writing the job description, I think that was really the turning point because it started attracting a different type of person, right? We bought in, what, 4 or 5, 6 people with that, that hiring spree we went on at the end of 2019. I think we still got the bulk of those people, and they really built the nucleus of what the team has been built from now, and attracted more of those people. That was really the starting point and the shifting point, I think, in the cultural change within the company. It’s been, you know, just a massive improvement since then.
Ray (8:51 – 9:22) – Yeah, I would definitely agree. One thing to add to that is the dividends of what that’s done. Those people went on to train other people, and then those people went on to train other people, and then those same people had influence on other areas. That’s why like, talent, who you bring in, it’s not only gonna be the core backbone, the nervous system of your success, but all of the different areas that they’re gonna touch and they’re gonna influence, it’s incredible to see, but we’ve also seen the opposite side of where we have the wrong person or bring the wrong person in, and it’s like a poison.
Scott (9:24 – 9:25) – Absolutely.
Ray (9:24 – 9:27) – So, advice, get rid of those people as soon as possible if you identify them.
Scott (9:27 – 9:41) – Yeah, and the other thing you really realize quickly is when you have the wrong people, your feeling that you need to build systems, rigid systems and processes, to allow for the wrong people to get them to do what they’re meant to do.
Ray (9:41 – 9:56) – We were doing that! We were, like, changing, we’re changing structures and, like, trying to give certain people specific industries and we’re doing all these crazy stuff, and you guys woke up, you & Dee, wait a second, we’re going overboard. This is a people problem, not a process problem.
Scott (9:56 – 10:22) – Yeah, and then once we got the right people, you don’t feel like you need these rigid systems. All of our team pods now, our strategists have their own little teams, like their mini agency within the agency, and okay, the objective is the same, but they’ve all got slightly different ways in the way they operate and I think it was really probably… There’s a really good video from the Spotify CEO that breaks down how they operate internally and their tech environment.
Ray (10:22 – 10:25) – Is it guilds, is that what they call it?
Scott (10:25 – 11:09) – Yeah, they’ve got guilds and things, but it was more like within in their little teams, right? You’ve got, their objective is aligned with the business objective, and then you’ve got parameters where they can work, but the team can figure out how they want to execute themselves ‘cause everyone’s got different ways of working, right? Some people might like sprints, some people might like to be a little bit more free-flowing and less structured and whatnot, and every team’s got its own DNA. I think giving them that autonomy is motivating for them and themselves, and allows them to work in a way that they’re them, and the team figures out what works best for them. You know, when you don’t have the right people who just aren’t executing, that’s when you feel like you’ve got to have these strict, rigid processes and things in place to make up for it.
Ray (11:08 – 12:11) – You do. Having talked to so many people on interviews and the hiring process, it’s a recurring theme a lot of them say, either, one, that the process was so stifling, there wasn’t the availability for the person to, you know, stray away from it or to be a little different, put their own spice and flavor to it. Or, on the flip side, was just, in the structure, it didn’t even allow for the availability to begin with. So, I think, just to echo what you said that, if you find yourself having to overcompensate with systems, just look in the mirror. Is it a people problem because I’ve seen it so many times with us, is that, you get a high-performer in, you’ll be amazed at how little structure you need. I’m not saying you don’t need structure, we’re a very structured agency, very structured, but you’ll be amazed at how much freer because performers always perform. At the end of the day, you get a performer, they’re always gonna perform. You don’t have to worry about them, have to check up on them, don’t have to micromanage. They just perform ‘cause that’s the kind of person they are. Yeah, that’s the number 1 goal we have is find those high-performers and bring them in.
12:12 – 17:52 – How Right Hook Digital finds and attracts high-performing talent
Scott (12:12 – 13:06) – Totally, totally. Let’s start with, I think, something that’s sort of usually a bit overlooked and we did it in the early stages as well. I’d say this is probably more specific to agencies than eCommerce brands just in the way that they’re structured, but our marketing team, we are just as focused now on marketing towards talent as we are for clients. You have to be and it has to be an ongoing thing. It is just as important because, at the end of the day, the service that we deliver is based on the people that we hire and if you wanna have the best people, then you’ve got to attract them, right? So let’s start there. We’ve made some changes in the last few months in terms of what we’ve been putting out, content, and how we’re speaking to talent in terms of copy. What are few other things we’ve done in the last few months to change our marketing in that area?
Ray (13:06 – 15:19) – Yeah, that’s a great question. The first thing is, quiet voices don’t get fed, and I think a mistake, so please, everyone, listen from our mistakes. A mistake is that we kind of have this perception, or at least I did, being transparent, was that if you build it, they will come. Well, not necessarily. In the world we live in, come on, you’ve got to be someone, you’ve got to find a way to attract the talent and we have methods of doing that now. And so when we started really making this shift was we said, okay, first, what we did is we talked to all of our high-performers in the team. What is it that you love about here? What is it about the culture? What is it about how we’re structured, your opportunities? That was our first starting point, and they gave us amazing feedback. Okay, how can we just, we’re not going sales-y, we work here. How can we just tell our story, why they’re successful… Honestly, half of all our employees have success stories. Tell their story. Let people see their success and the environment that they’re in and how we care about their success. What we did was, we started just filming testimonials, reviews of our own employees, actually just doing interviews of them. That’s one way. Another way is, building a landing page. Another way is really changing how we promote what’s different about us. I remember, it was actually talking to those high-performers in our team when I really started to formulate, okay, who are the people we’re trying to attract? Just like marketing, and this is one of the things I’d recommend is. You’ve got to approach your hiring like you would a brand, or if you own a brand or work for a brand, with your own funnel, you’ve got to. Who are the people that are gonna be successful here? You have to identify that. Be really crystal clear. And then, what are the pains that they’re feeling? I honestly think the last 6 months, we’ve got that down pretty perfectly. We know exactly who we’re trying to attract. We know exactly the pains that they’re feeling right now, and how we’re different with our culture and our structure, how we’re gonna solve that pain. In addition, the opportunities and the growth they wanna have, we know exactly how we’re gonna do that as well. So I think that’s, without a doubt, the first starting point, and then craft your messaging, your applications, how you market and advertise applications. If you do work for recruiters, how you also make sure they know how to communicate that ‘cause that is, without a doubt, the first starting point.
Scott (15:19 – 15:31) – Yeah, I agree. That’s huge. For every role we have in the agency, we’ve got a seat scorecard, right? What are few of the things that we put in that seat scorecard to help us identify who we’re going after?
Ray (15:30 – 16:06) – First of all, it’s their native genius. For us, our strategist is, the first one is, to be a problem-solver and be a natural rapport builder. With what we do, marketing changes all the time. If you don’t have that native genius where you can’t solve problems or complex problems, or look at things in an analytical way, you’re not gonna survive here. You have to be native problem solver, be innately curious, and solve problems. The last thing, like I said, the natural rapport builder, it’s everything in what we do. That’s why brands come back ‘cause ‘I don’t have a good relationship with my other agency or other freelancers as I did with you guys.’
Scott (16:06 – 16:21) – Absolutely. A lot of those interviews was really what drove changes in our job copy, right? We learned a lot around why the guys that are here and love it here…
Ray (16:21 – 16:22) – Why they stay!
Scott (16:22 – 16:49) – Yeah, that’s it, and what they really value. And also interesting hearing how they came across us. I think it’s the same as anything, right? Customer research. If you want the answers to these things, you’ve got that direct source and I think that’s something that’s really underutilized, both with brands talking to customers, but I think also in businesses talking to their employees and trying to bring more of the right people in. That’s a critical thing.
Ray (16:49 – 17:14) – How do you know, how you know, if you figured it out, is when you’re talking to someone, and this has happened to me several times in the last 6 months, you’re talking to them, and whether it’s an interview, or even as a real customer, and they say, ‘I’ve read this’ and I felt like you were literally talking to me. That’s when you’re like, okay, we got it. I’d say, my recommendation is if people are listening to this is, until you get to that point, you haven’t gone far enough or deep enough. You have to get to that point.
Scott (17:14 – 17:22) – You just said, like, every other job ad out there. You go to a job site, and you read through 90% of them, they all sound the same.
Ray (17:22 – 17:23) – It’s boring as crap.
Scott (17:23 – 17:52) – Yeah, there’s nothing about the brand or the business that’s actually coming through. Their core values are just things that are written on the wall, or are they something that are actually lived and permeate the company? There’s a big difference there. I think, if you don’t have that there, that does make it difficult and I’d say that’s probably the place to start, ensuring that you’ve got a really strong culture. Yeah, that’s really what’s gonna come through in everything in your marketing and bringing the right people in, and clients on both sides.
17:54 – 25:13 – Looking at the talent acquisition funnel and hiring filters
Scott (17:54 – 18:18) – So, once we’ve got that, right? That seat scorecard, that’s also used throughout the hiring process and throughout the interviews, but let’s start looking at what this looks like in terms of the funnel, because it really is a funnel, same as the customer funnel, right? So, what does this funnel look like? What’s happening at the top? Where are we finding talent? That’s probably the place to start, and then what does it look like as we progress down there?
Ray (18:18 – 19:44) Yeah, great question. So, couple things is, when you’re starting this, and for us, we’ve hired so many people over the years is, being innately curious as a marketer. I’ve tasted every hiring platform out there. There are some I’ve adamantly cannot stand and there are some that have brought fruit to us, cool! Then you find those, just like any traffic channel, okay, I’m gonna dive deeper. I’m gonna keep testing. Over the years, the main ones that worked for us right now still is Indeed, LinkedIn, and Freelance Recruiters, and Direct Outreach. Those are the Top 4 that work best. I’ve tasted every other thing, I can tell you the pros and cons, we’re not gonna go into, but those are the biggest ones. Top-of-funnel, I would say, everything about budget allocation and our time allocation of what we really focus on is we do this. We mainly focus on LinkedIn direct outreach and Indeed. And then, what we do is then, the other percentages of the time, we have freelance recruiters working for us on the scene so it’s great because they’re not an agency, which I’m adamantly against, recruiting agencies for a lot of reasons. One, they tie you into exclusivity contracts. Two, they don’t work as fast for you. I think those are our biggest problems is that, for a long time, we didn’t have good enough control to where if we need to turn on the switch, ‘cause we need to do a sprint on hiring, we couldn’t do it. We’ve actually gotten to the point where we can do that now. So top-of-funnel, it’s all those things.
Scott (19:46 – 20:15) – I’ll just add to that as well because, on my side on the marketing team, we also run, I guess, almost like brand awareness video ads for talent, targeting talent as well. We’re always trying to build that awareness and highlighting our team, team members, talking about what it’s like to work at Right Hook, what they love about it, the clients that we get to work with, and the culture. So, that’s something that we do alongside this to help build that brand awareness for us as an agency as well.
Ray (20:15 – 21:03) – That’s correct, and it’s actually worked very well where people, we’ve had people come to us and say, ‘I saw that video that you guys ran.’ And so it works really well. The other thing, to piggyback off of what you said, is activate your team to help with this too. If you think about the funnel, the bigger the top of your funnel is, the more potential people that can come in and there’s filtering processes through there; also activate your team where we have our team. They will pose as well on their own organic channels. In addition to that, which is a little sneak peek, as part of the hiring process, when someone comes in here right now, into Right Hook, part of their onboarding is they have to post on LinkedIn that they just started this new job at Right Hook, how excited they are, what they’re learning. It’s all part of the funnel. Now, their friends are seeing it and their connections are seeing it so it’s part of that funnel so activate the team that you do have.
Scott (21:04 – 21:11) – I actually didn’t know that that bit was in there. I just saw the post go live, I love it, yeah! I get tagged so I always see that.
Ray (21:11 – 21:14) – I tell them, tag Scott, tag Ray, and say these things.
Scott (21:14 – 21:18) – I like that, it’s like an auto-influencer campaign. That’s perfect, I like that!
Ray (21:19 – 23:18) – Continuing with the funnel is, just like when you’re running your own ads and your funnels, track the different phases. Track which platform is actually giving you the most first interested applicants, which one is actually giving you the best quality. That’s important. You’ve got to track which one’s giving you the best quality. A lot of platforms are gonna give you an insane amount of applications, but then there’s no quality so you have to track that. We track initial applications, quality of those, and there’s even additional DNQs. So middle-of-funnel is actually what I would consider our DNQ process. So top-of-funnel, gets me as many applications as we can, and middle-of-funnel is actually our DNQ process, the application and the copy. People are going to self-diagnose for themselves whether they’re a fit for this culture or not, and that’s on purpose. We don’t want everyone. So that’s one filter. Second filter is the questions we ask them in the interviews. I’m sorry, in the application process, that’s another filter because what you wanna get to, especially if you feel like you’re wasting so much time interviewing people who aren’t good fit ‘cause you’re not doing a good enough job filtering them. You want, you only wanna hop on a call with someone that you’re confident is actually a potentially good fit, either skill-wise or culturally, and then keep filtering through there in the interview process. And then, bottom-of-funnel is strictly our skills assessments and, obviously, our interviews. By the time we hop on a call with someone for an interview, they’ve taken, they’ve gone through application, they’ve self-diagnosed if they’re a good fit, they’ve taken a light skills assessment to make sure they actually know what they’re talking about. They have to also submit a video introduction and/or reasons why they think they’re a good fit for Right Hook. If they do those things and they pass those things, which we have scorecards, we grade even those things, and they pass those things, then they hop on an interview. By that point, most of the time, we’re not hopping on people and, hate to say it, but wasting our time, they have no experience, or they’re just like people who are hoping for the lucky break, but they’ve never run ads before. By that time, it’s actually quality people so it’s kind of like our funnel right now in a nutshell.
Scott (23:19 – 24:05) – I think there’s a few things in there that, feedback we’ve had is we do a little bit backwards, and let’s go back to, once someone puts in an application, right? ‘Cause the first part of that application, we get people to go through a questionnaire. So when we’ve spoken to recruiters, they’ve actually pushed back on that a little bit to try and get us to do that after the interview, but from our standpoint, we’re trying to be as time-effective as possible. We don’t wanna be talking to people that just, which we can tell from answers to a few questions whether they’ve even been in the ballpark of having the skillset that we need, right? So we put that questionnaire there as first filter ‘cause we can open that and in 60 seconds know does this person know what they’re talking about in terms of technical, let’s just say, Facebook-specific.
Ray (24:04 – 24:05) – Absolutely.
Scott (24:05 – 24:29) – We always got push back for that, but there is a specific reason for that and that’s proven very effective for us. Again, if you’re talking about the filters, you know, and having, there’s two parts to it. Let’s look at the video. 2 reasons for that for us. One, we wanna see that people can actually follow directions, if they stepped out. If they can’t follow a simple direction…
Ray (24:30 – 24:33) – How serious they are! Like if you’re not serious, you’re not gonna do it.
Scott (24:32 – 25:13) – Absolutely, absolutely. Given that we are 95% remote, this is a very front-facing role, and again, I’m talking about a specific role as an example here. It’s important that, you know, you’re presentable on video, can speak on video, so that’s another filter for us to be able to go, okay, this person speaks well, communicates well, and can follow directions. There’s multiple filters in there for various reasons, and that then leads us to, great, this person looks good on paper. Like, they potentially could be a really good fit. Let’s spend the time to get to know them a little bit better through the hiring process, through the interview process.
25:14 – 30:30 – What does the interview process look like?
Scott (25:14 – 25:18) – So, let’s get in the interview process. What does this look like?
Ray (25:19 – 28:23) – That’s a great question. So, for the role of strategist, which I’m primarily involved in, that’s email strategist, Google PPC, paid social, and/or influencer, is I believe in hiring tough to manage easy. A lot of people say that, but that’s my personal belief because, again, the goal is to get high-performers. Our interview process, we have three interviews. Interview number 1 is for cultural fit and light skills assessment. What we do is, for the interview process, we have our, what we call our interview sheet, and it’s like we hand off the baton. We have a different person in the company that does each interview and the goal is they have certain questions that they ask, they take notes, but they also score that person based off of their responses. And then, there’s a score at the end of each interview, and that baton gets passed on to the next person, and that person passes that first interview, for example, and second and third and so forth. That’s 3 steps. The first interview, skills assessment verbally, just to get their background and also cultural fit, but more like role fit. Interview number 1, are they fit for the role, whether that’s client-facing, process management, leadership – all those different things that take up a good strategist. Then, if they pass that first interview, with a good score, that baton is then handed off to the next person. What we do is we give them access to an ad account and we give them either an audit. We wanna see their creative mind with angles or what they will do if this was their account, for example, which we can go into details later on. We have them do that. We have them sign an NDA, we give them access to an account, we give them a timeframe to complete that, and then once they do, they hop on a second interview. I wanna stop right there because some people don’t believe in skills assessments. I think that is completely wrong. You have to do that. One, it’s commonplace, I believe, but a lot of, not only agencies, but other companies, even high-level suite executives say it’s the wrong thing to do. I completely disagree. You got to do skills assessments because you wanna make sure, you’re investing in this person. You’re also gonna provide for them and their family as well. They do that, we have the second interview. The 2nd interview, that’s where it’s done by someone else or 2 people, and honestly, that person, we let that person lead the meeting. We’re assessing, one, their strategic mind, their actual skillset, what they would do if they’re running an ad account. We’re also assessing can they have a conversation, can they walk us through, because if they can’t walk us through it, they’re sure as heck not gonna walk a client through, and that’s such a critical function in the role that we’re really, really strict on them. Then, if that passes based off of we think it’s a good fit, we think the person actually knows what they’re doing, and they can actually be a high-performer in our company, then that baton gets handed off to the third interview, which is typically with me, where then I do a deeper cultural fit assessment. Any flags that the first 2 interviewers flagged gets passed on to me for me to address in that call. That’s our process, 3 interviews, it typically takes a week & a half or 2 weeks from the time we have first interview.
Scott (28:23 – 28:59) – Yeah, it’s not a quick process, and I don’t think it can’t be if you wanna find the right people. Look, it’s gotten to the point at times where it’s taken us 6 months plus to find the right person for the specific role, hasn’t it? I think this was, again, if we go back to our first 2 years and then our second 2 years as an agency where there was that shift, you know, you’re so desperate to get someone in so you can grow the business and I think the shift was, if we can’t find the right person, then we will wait. That was the big shift and we’ve done that several times, right?
Ray (29:00 – 29:16) – And you have to, and I’ve made this mistake where a body is not just a body. What I mean by that is, you have an open seat, you need this role filled. Just throwing a body in there, 9 times out of 10, it’s gonna be an epic failure. You’ve got to do your due diligence…
Scott (29:16 – 29:20) – And you’re paying for more problems down the road that you’re gonna have to deal with.
Ray (29:20 – 29:39) – Every person that I’ve made the mistake bringing in and, in the early days when it was too fast, it cost us way more money down the road. Every single time. You’re gonna save so much more money, you’re gonna make more money, but if you have to wait to find the right role… It’s better to be confident than to bring someone in that you’re not confident in.
Scott (29:40 – 30:30) – Yeah, and I think the thing I’ll add to that, and from a couple mistakes that I’ve made in the marketing department, is not having the resources and infrastructure in place for someone to come in and do their job effectively. I tried to hire too early with a couple roles, fixed that, and now things are really, really good, but had that same experience. Let’s talk a little bit about that because, you know, as much as it is important having the process to get the right people coming in that funnel and that process, exactly the same as the customer experience, right? Building brand, building retention, that first couple of months, especially, when someone’s being onboarded and indoctrinated with the company and getting, you know, immersing themselves in how you operate and how you run as an operation.
30:31 – 34:54 – The onboarding process – setting expectations for applicants
Scott (30:31 – 30:44) – Let’s look at that. What does our onboarding process, how has that shifted and been upgraded and improved and how important that is, really, to the experience? ‘Cause it has to be a WOW experience. It’s got to match what they were sold with, right, on the front.
Ray (30:44 – 33:04) – It is, and I actually think this is probably the hardest thing that any company has to solve, in my opinion. Because a person only has one first experience with the company, and that first experience is gonna be a recurring thread or theme throughout their entire career at your company. Maybe, if it’s a really bad experience, maybe you can overcome it, but it’s there, it’s gonna be ingrained in them. It’s critical. In the early days, I sprint-tested a crap ton of videos and I thought that was great, but the problem is, people went through it and they thought, ‘Dude, I felt like I just watched 40 hours of videos, I didn’t retain anything.’ Well, maybe that’s not the best way to do it. Now we’re on version 3 and what we’re doing right now is a mix of, you know, some formal training ‘cause at the end of the day, you have to teach someone how to do something. There’s only so much you can teach and you have to, you can’t teach 5 people at once the same thing, unless they’re all in the call. We have some formal training. We also do a lot of mentoring where we pair new hires with people who are already successful in their role. They work on specific projects with that team and that pod at certain times, as they’re also going through other training on how we do things, like how we run accounts, how we do creative. Also, how we do our CHASSM process and how we audit your business to make sure that you are, you know, ready to scale. There are these steps where it’s mentoring, but also think of it as just like a hiring process, in every funnel. Gosh, even the onboarding’s a funnel! We have milestones that we grade and assess them because once you identify the core milestones, you have to make sure that they, I’m gonna use the term pass, almost like you’re back in school. They have to pass those milestones, otherwise you don’t have the confidence of when they’re actually boots on the ground. We assess those milestones, and then if a milestone’s flagged, there wasn’t a pass, then cool. Now you know what the gaps are. You don’t wanna hire someone, and you’re like, these people are failing, I have no idea what their gaps are. You wanna know, going into the role, what their gaps are so you can have some intentionality behind of helping fill or train those gaps. So we have those milestones and it’s all leading up to them being strategy fundamentals-ready to being team-ready to being client-ready to being actually operationally-ready.
Scott (33:05 – 33:13) – It is such a balancing act, right? Because everyone that comes in is different. They’re all gonna have slightly different areas where they need to level up…
Ray (33:13 – 33:15) – Yeah, it’s dynamic. It’s not constant at all.
Scott (33:15 – 33:46) – But we’re trying to find that balance between giving them the important core information that they need, the training that they need, but also getting them operationally-ready and revenue-driving as soon as we can without it being at the detriment of quality or anything like that. It’s really a delicate balancing act that’s, and we’re always trying to improve the LND side of what we’re doing internally. That’s the most important part, right?
Ray (33:46 – 34:54) – It is, which is why you have to, when someone comes in, this is what we do right now. For example, if they’re a senior or they’re mid-level, maybe they’re a little bit greener but they have qualities that give us confidence in their performance here, is when they first come on board, we do take stock of what we think those strengths and weaknesses are so that we’re already aware of them, but we can also slightly pivot their experience. For example, like, we just hired a senior strategist and she’s a senior. She’s been running accounts for eComm for a long time. She knows what she’s doing, she knows what she’s doing with creative, angles, running the brands. We don’t need to beat that dead horse, she already has them. We just have to say, here’s how we do things here, there’s a few suggestions that’s gonna make you successful. Let’s move her on to the area that is different that she does have to learn herself up. That’s where we can shorten that experience, have it a little more tailored to her, where someone who’s coming in here, and they’re a little bit rough around the edges. You kind of need to soften them around a little bit. You know, we may prolong that experience just to make sure that we’re helping them to be really strong fundamentally.
34:55 – 42:39 – How can brands hire the right people for their business?
Scott (34:55 – 35:31) – This area here is, I think, probably the most challenging part for brands as well, especially if it’s the first time they’ve hired. For example, for us, you know, we’ve been through this process with 30, 40, 50 people in a specific role. We’ve been able to have a lot of that bats, improve it, streamline it, get it better, better, better, iterate! For brands trying to bring someone in, let’s pivot here and talk a little bit about brands. ‘Cause, you know, we often grow brands to the point where the founder needs to have a marketing manager….
Ray (35:31 – 35:32) – It becomes an obstacle to their growth.
Scott (35:32 – 36:10) – Yeah, because they have to deal with us or if there’s other agencies or other freelancers or whatever involved, there’s too many contact points. So a lot of the time, they need to bring in either someone in-house for whatever function, but if it’s a marketing manager role to become that person that liaises with us and manages the relationship with us, they’ve not had that person in place before. They don’t know exactly what they need, how to hire, how to find them. What would your recommendations be to brands looking to fill that marketing manager role, find that generalist that can come in and really help support them as a founder?
Ray (36:12 – 36:14) – Yeah, that’s a good question.
Scott (36:14 – 36:15) – It’s a tricky one.
Ray (36:15 – 38:39) – It is because we’ve seen so many times where, a lot actually, where the eComm brand, they’re in a pinch. They wanna keep growing. So first thing is, don’t bring the wrong person in just because you wanna grow. If you have to scale back a little bit, so you can take the time to find that right person, and you can continue to scale up when you find that right person, that’s what you wanna do. When you have the right person, you’re gonna scale to the moon, but if you don’t have the right person, you’re gonna blow up your business potentially. So, we’ve seen it so many times where a brand, they were too fast on the trigger and didn’t do their due diligence, hired that person. Within 2 weeks, everyone knew it wasn’t gonna work out. They drag it out for 3 months and then it’s an absolute fiasco, and their business suffered because the founder had to fire them, look for someone else. The first thing is, just take stock of that. Second thing is, you gotta be really clear of what you want that person to do. Write down, here’s everything I’m doing, here’s stuff I hate or I know I can’t do anymore because I need to focus on these things. That’s the first start of your job description and write something around that. And then, the second thing is, or the third thing is, set really clear expectations. You mentioned something, Scott, on like, for example, our onboarding experience, but what I’m gonna tell you here also relates to when an eComm brand hires and that is, listen, no one is perfect. No onboarding process may be perfect, but you can have their experience be better by setting really good expectations. For example, when we were hiring for a new department, when I was in hiring, eComm brands should do the same, listen, this is a brand new role. Let me tell you where we wanna go, let me set clear expectations of what you can expect. We don’t have training, or we have very light training. Here’s what the department is like, I want you to know what you’re getting into, but if you wanna go on a journey and create something amazing, this is why you should come here, but let me tell you what we have to do along the way. So, for an ecomm brand, set those expectations. You’re hiring a marketing manager, listen, this is what we need, this is where I wanna go. I’m gonna be honest with you, there’s not formal training here, you’re gonna have to be that kind of person. Just figure stuff out for yourself, or be innately curious and test, or be that kind of native genius. Because, if you set that expectation, then when they come in here, they’re not getting something they don’t expect. They’ve already expected it and what I’ll find is, those people actually perform better because, like, oh cool, this is what I expected rather than coming in, kinda like twiddling their thumbs, waiting for you to teach them and tell them everything.
Scott (38:40 – 38:54) – Yeah, and I think it’s, bringing someone into a role like that where you need them to help you build the infrastructure is a very different person to someone who’ll just plug and play…
Ray (38:53 – 39:23) – Gotta test for that. You’ve gotta interview for that. I think with experience doing it, let’s just be honest. I know, when you’re on the other side, and you don’t have experience, you want someone just to, just to give you a break. Come on, just let me prove myself. There’s a time and a place for that, not when it’s at a critical juncture when you’re hiring your first or second person to help you grow. You need someone that has an experience. Listen, let’s call it for what it is. It pays to get the right talent. It’s so worth it.
Scott (39:21 – 39:33) – Damn right! Yeah, yeah. If you, and we know, at various salary levels, you know, there’s a big difference in the quality of people.
Ray (39:33 – 39:34) – Massive, absolutely massive.
Scott (39:34 – 40:18) – If you’re not going to get someone who is exceptionally good at their role for 30, 40% less than what they can get elsewhere just because they like your brand. Whether they like your brand, at the end of the day, like, they still got self-interest, they still got a family to support, they still got, you know, their own personal goals, financially, and people know what they’re worth. So you really do have to pay for it and, again, if you try to skim and go at the lower end, it’s gonna cost you down the road. If you take that little bit of a hit and get the right person, pay a little bit more, our experience is that pays off in dividends down the road. It compounds, right? It’s the same as compounding.
Ray (40:18 – 41:02) – One thing I wanna add, real quick, is yes, a key function like a marketing manager, or person to head up your logistics or your operations, that is such a critical function. You don’t wanna skimp, hire the right person. When you’re going through this process, if you’re like a one-person show, or a two-person show, you gotta take the time to think through all of these things. You might find that some of these roles, you don’t have to hire a top-dollar person, you can hire an assistant or a VA (virtual assistant) to do some of those. We do that, our brands do that a lot, but be really clear. What are the core areas I need for growth, or the care areas that it’s just tasks that someone can do, they don’t have to be that high-level talent.
Scott (41:02 – 41:52) – Agree, agree. I think that’s a pretty good place to leave it. I think we’ve gone into a lot of depth here. One thing I will say is, look, if there’s anyone out there looking for work, we’re always hiring. Good talent, we’re always looking for it. And, if you’re actually interested on being client-side, we’ve got clients that are actively searching in Australia and the US, particularly in the fashion space, male and female, that are looking for really solid marketing managers. So if that’s of interest to you, feel free to reach out as well. We might be able to link you up ‘cause we do have people that we know that are looking and asking us for assistance with it so we’re always willing to help where we can. Ray, awesome chat, man! I think this is something that’s not talked about enough and it is really… I mean, we know, people are the core of your business, right?
Ray (41:52 – 41:56) – I have brands tell me, all the time, that this is their area they’re struggling in for growth.
Scott (41:56 – 42:35) – The most, yeah. It’s usually the financial side or the people side. If they’ve got a good brand, if they’ve got a good product, you can get your marketing right and everything around that, but building your team and managing your finances and your capital, I think, are probably the two areas that we see that businesses struggle with the most. So, I hope this has been immensely valuable. If you’ve got any additional questions, feel free to reach out to us in the Facebook group, Growth and Greatness eCommerce, or you can email Ray or I directly and we’d be more than happy to answer any questions. Ray, appreciate it, man! Some amazing insights there! Great chat, dude!
Ray (42:35 – 42:37) – Thanks, Scott!
Scott (42:37 – 42:39) – Thanks, guys! We’ll see you next episode!
42:39 – 43:36 – Episode outro
Scott (42:39 – 43:36) – Thanks again for tuning to this episode of the Growth & Greatness eCommerce Podcast. We hope you got a ton of value out of this episode and if you did, we’d love for you to leave us a review on your platform of choice and help us reach as many people as we can. Now, if you’re a brand founder, an eCommerce entrepreneur, or an in-house marketing manager looking to accelerate your growth this year, reach out to us at Right Hook Digital. We’re a performance branding agency and we specialize in partnering with eCommerce brands to help them hit their growth goals with maximum ROI. Now, if this sounds like a solution that you need, check us out at righthookdigital.com and schedule a call with our client partnerships team. They’d love to have a chat with you and see how we can help you grow in 2021.