Bubbling Out

[pod swap] Regan Oelze on: When to Make Your First Marketing Hire in Web3

January 10, 2024 Emily Rose Dallara- Leadership and Mindset Coach
Bubbling Out
[pod swap] Regan Oelze on: When to Make Your First Marketing Hire in Web3
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Embarking on the Web3 journey as an entrepreneur can be like navigating a new planet—exciting yet full of unknowns. 

That's why we've enlisted Regan from the Organized Chaos podcast [ Was Marketing on the Moon ] , a guru in demand generation, to guide startups through the labyrinth of making their first marketing hires. 

Her insights are invaluable, pinpointing the moment when a startup is truly ready to amplify its voice. 

With a well-timed hiring strategy, Regan leads us through the significance of having your MVP, funding, and teams aligned, ensuring your marketing hire isn't a shot in the dark but a strategic arrow aimed at success. 

 Regan debunks the myths surrounding the need for a full-time CMO or a costly agency from the get-go.

 Instead, she sheds light on the superpowers of a fractional head of marketing, particularly for those startups standing at the Series A or B funding crossroads. 

This approach isn't just about saving on the budget; it's about bringing in heavyweight expertise that scales with your company. 

With stories and strategies in tow, Regan helps us see that the right marketer isn't just a content machine but a visionary with execution prowess, someone who can grow with your startup and eventually help pass the torch to a full-time marketing leader when the time is ripe. 

So plug in, and let's decode the marketing matrix for startups in Web3 with the assistance of a true marketing queen.

🪩 don't forget to subscribe for a bi-weekly break and pick-me up from the chaos of leading a team.

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Speaker 1:

Hi everyone, welcome to the Web3 Thrive podcast. I'm your host, emily Rose Delara. This podcast was designed to give you the confidence, knowledge and clarity needed to succeed and lead in Web3. I teach proven strategies and tactics you can apply immediately to become confident and successful working in Web3. So take 20, plug in and learn how to really thrive in Web3. And if you'd like what you hear, leave me five stars and subscribe and Spotify or follow on Apple podcast so you never miss an episode. You can also sign up to my newsletter to get exclusive content, tips and strategies to help you thrive at work without the burnout and formal, direct to your inbox each week. Plus, you'll get full access to exclusive leadership and coaching, q&as, free workshops and all the Web3 Thrive podcast episodes in one place. So just head over to learnweb3thrivecom forward slash newsletter.

Speaker 1:

Let's get into today's show. Hey everyone, today we have got a change to the schedule. Instead of an episode for me, we have a super special episode from my BFF, regan, over at the Organize Chaos podcast. Organize Chaos is the only emerging tech marketing podcast that combines all of your favorite things career advice, marketing strategy and the things we get into outside of over nine to five. If you've seen her TikTok, you know what I mean. Regan has spent 10 years specializing in demand generation across tech, ai, web3 and hospitality, and she's worked with huge companies like Google and Web3, businesses like Chainalysis. Now she teaches marketers how to navigate their career without the chaos. In this episode, regan goes into how to find your first marketing hire in emerging tech. I think you're going to love it. Let's get into the show.

Speaker 2:

Hey, welcome to Marketing on the Moon, the only emerging tech marketing podcast, teaching you how to implement the right strategies that actually move the needle and how to navigate your marketing career from securing a promotion to reducing your customer acquisition costs, because gatekeeping is so last year. I'm your host, regan Olsey, and I've spent almost 10 years specializing in customer acquisition and demand generation across tech, ai, web3 and hospitality, but I am so much more than my marketing career, and so are you. So if you're ready to tackle the human side of marketing, stick around. I promise you won't want to miss this. All right, hello and welcome everybody to Marketing on the Moon. We are back today for another marketing bite. Happy Thursday. How's everyone doing?

Speaker 2:

If you are watching the video, you can see that I have, of course, already transitioned into fall. I have a couple of different like bats and pieces of decor behind me. I got some pumpkins. I have a little ghost drinking a pumpkin spice latte just to kind of spice things up a little bit no pun intended and make things a little bit more exciting for me when I walk into my office. So I wonder how many of you are actually switching around your space, especially because, as marketers, we are typically a little bit more creative, a little bit more fluid, a little bit more I don't know Like what is the word? Like bright and spicy and exciting, and so I wonder if any of your spaces match that, or if you're just kind of like, nah, I spend all day on my computer anyway, or if you're more of a co-working space person. Let me know. Reach out to me on LinkedIn, send me a message.

Speaker 2:

Today I have a couple of little guests with me. One of them is probably not going to want to stand up Again. If you're watching the video, you'll be able to see this. The other one now I will show you have a little Bunny friend who wants to say hello. She's going to be my recording partner for today. Say hello to Lollipop. Hi, lollipop, she's like. Please let me know now.

Speaker 2:

Okay, I talk about my bunnies very often. If you are interested in bunny content. Yes, I have two free roam bunnies. That free roam pretty much means that they run around. They don't sit in a cage all day. Their names are Lollipop and S'mores. If you don't already know, I talk about them a huge amount on my channels on LinkedIn, but then I also post a huge number of photos about them on Instagram. So if you're curious to see more bunny content, hop on over to Instagram under Reganolsey it's my full name, with a period in the middle of it, and you can go and check it out there, but I digress.

Speaker 2:

Today, we're going to talk about who should be your first marketing hire. This is going to be really applicable for both marketers, but then also founders, because, as marketers, I think it's important for us to be able to recognize a couple of different green and red flags when it comes to companies that we're potentially going to go and work with, especially in the Web3 space, which is still quite nascent and is growing. And so, marketers, I want you to keep an eye out, for have you worked for companies before that have tried to almost put the cart before the horse, tried and run before they can actually walk? And then, founders, I want you to take a second and think to yourself have you done the same exact thing? Are these mistakes that you've made in the past that you can go and rectify? And we're going to talk about, maybe, why some people try and put the cart in front of the horse in comparison to others, and why that slow and steady grows is actually going to be more important for you in the long run. Okay, let's get started.

Speaker 2:

The question here is who should be your first marketing hire as an early stage startup, and why? So let's outline the situation here. We'll set the scene as a founder or a startup. In this situation where you haven't hired someone yet for marketing, you are probably funded. You should be funded. You have started to bring together a sales team because you have an MVP and a product team to go along with it, and now you're thinking to yourself okay, we need to create a go-to-market strategy when it comes to marketing, and then we also need to make sure we start to get the word out. Now. The major misconception here I think one of the major pitfalls that a lot of founders fall into at this point is they think we just need to start to build demand, but they forget about all those marketing foundations that are going to be so important.

Speaker 2:

And so let's take a step back here and think about at the point where you have the MVP, you have the product and you have the investors and you're ready to start selling, what are you going to need in order to start selling? Because that will help you understand what person you actually need to bring on. You need some product marketing material, right? You're going to need messaging positioning. You're going to need some communications that you can use when you ultimately bring this product to market. You want to make sure all of that's really aligned. In order to do that, though, if we take another step back, you are going to need some outline of an ideal customer profile, and you need to know so much more about them than you probably even think. You need to know more than just their geographical location and their age group. You should know what channels they sit on, how long they sit on those channels, what content is important for them, what keywords are they searching online, how long are they spending on each of these individual channels? What competitors do they potentially use? What problems do they experience on a day-to-day basis? And all of this is going to be able to help you actually create the material necessary in order to bring the product to market, and so the right person for you is going to be somebody who has these different skills. They're going to be somebody who has the experience in building demand and driving revenue, but it's also going to be somebody who has the experience in bringing a product to market.

Speaker 2:

From the foundational standpoint, messaging is both an art and a science, and there are some really fun ways to do it. I talked to Samantha Mullet about this in one of my first episodes on this podcast, and I think that was a great one. That highlights so many founders don't dip their toes enough in the world of product marketing because they don't totally understand the world of product marketing or why it's so important, and so that's where I typically suggest we start. Let's bring on somebody who understands how to market a product and how to craft that messaging. Bring on somebody who's going to be excited about talking to your customers, because if your marketing person agency whoever you ultimately end up deciding to hire in this first go around doesn't actually go and talk to your customers, right, unfortunately? I hear so many founders tell me that's a big problem, and I think we all need to be honest about that.

Speaker 2:

A marketer needs to go and talk to the ecosystem. They need to go and talk to your customers, because your customers are going to be the ones who tell you what they like and what they don't like about the product. You take that information and then you go back and you ultimately create the messaging, you create the tagline, you create content, ideas from it. It all stems from both those conversations within the ecosystem itself and with your customers, so that's going to be a really important skill set that is necessary for anyone that you ultimately end up deciding to bring on A product marketer is also going to be able to work hand in hand with your sales, your product and your leadership team, because that relationship is going to be so important. You do not want to bring on a marketer that decides to put themselves in a silo, and oftentimes I find this A marketer comes on board or a founder brings somebody on board who maybe doesn't have the right experience level and doesn't know that they need to facilitate and create these relationships with the different teams in order to excel, and so they end up creating messaging that doesn't totally align to the product. They end up putting that material out there, sending emails that aren't necessarily converting because the sales team are using different talking points and all of their sales calls. So to have that revenue team and the product team really aligned is going to be important, and the right marketer will know how to get you there. And then another skill set that you're looking for is somebody who can be both strategic and focus on the execution in the early days.

Speaker 2:

Now here's a major mistake that I often see founders make, and it's not your fault at all. This is a larger issue. In the industry, people think that marketing is just social media posts, just content, and we're just content machines. And that's just not true. And so when they think about marketing again, they think about how are we going to build demand? And the first thought is often well, we need to run events, we need to run webinars, we need to publish blog posts and we need to put things on social media. Cool, let's go hire someone to create that content.

Speaker 2:

Now, a good content marketer is not going to come and ultimately join you until the messaging is created, but that doesn't always happen. You don't always find out until later on in the process that, hey, maybe this isn't the company that was ready for somebody like me, and so, as a founder, it's important for you to be able to recognize that. Otherwise, you will have been spinning your wheels for a couple of months and heading in the wrong direction before you ultimately had in the right one. So you have to remember that your first marketer should not just be a content machine. That person is going to be incredibly important, someone who can create content and create it well, but that doesn't necessarily need to be your first hire. Your first hire needs to have that strategic and that execution ability, so somebody who can actually sit down and say, from a bigger picture, where are we trying to go and what are our goals, how do we get there? And then… put pen to paper, so to speak, and actually start to set up those systems in those processes for you in run and so, having understood all of that, here's some misconceptions that I often hear from both founders and marketers when it comes to answering the question who should I bring on first as my number one marketing hire? The first one being you do not need to hire somebody full-time. You do not need to hire somebody full-time because it's going to put a significant strain on your budget if you do, in order to get the kind of experience that you ultimately need. And that kind of goes hand in hand with the second misconception, which is you do not need a CMO. A chief marketing officer is going to be somebody who comes on later on in the process If you bring a chief marketing officer on early on in your marketing process. One of two things are going to happen. You are either going to hire somebody that just doesn't have the right experience for you because you're getting priced out of the CMO level. Most early stage startups unless the CMO is a co-founder or a founder themselves of the company, isn't going to necessarily work for the budgets that startups have to put towards their salary. The second thing that might happen is you'll bring somebody on who's maybe willing to take that pay cut but very quickly recognizes that their level of CMO abilities is not what the company needs right now.

Speaker 2:

A big-time CMO. Their role is really not even strategy. It is to make sure that their team is moving cohesively in the right direction. So if they're big enough, they won't even be focusing on the day-to-day strategy. They definitely won't be focusing on the execution and instead are just going to be focusing on making sure the team is reaching their KPIs, making sure any roadblocks are removed, making sure they're growing the team appropriately, their staffed appropriately and that, like I said, those KPIs are ultimately pushing down to bottom line revenue. That's what a big-time CMO is going to be concerned with. So if you hire somebody like them, there's immediately going to be a misalignment in expectations.

Speaker 2:

So those are the first two misconceptions that I want to be really clear on. You do not need to hire a CMO, nor do you need to hire somebody full-time, because if you hire somebody on a part-time basis or a fractional basis, you will be able to afford them while your strategy gets built and things start to get executed, and that's what's going to be important here. So you get the best of both worlds you get the experience, but then you also fit it within your own budget. The third misconception here is you don't, and probably shouldn't, hire a full-blown agency. That just doesn't feel right to you.

Speaker 2:

A major complaint that I often get from founders is well, I went and hired this agency that had pitched me and they promised these huge lofty things and they just never met those. And my suspicion with this is you had an agency come in and promise those huge lofty things because maybe they had done it before, but with a company that was a little bit more established, and so oftentimes founders don't recognize the amount of time that it actually takes to build your marketing program, to start to build that demand generation program. All of that takes anywhere from six months to a year to really get it up and running. It takes time for you to build that brand awareness and even then, within that year span or within that six months span, you still won't have done it, because you're continuing to learn. That first year is so crucial, because you are just quite literally throwing spaghetti against a wall to see what sticks and you are continuing to test and iterate.

Speaker 2:

If you bring an agency on board, you're going to need to take a ton of time. Number one, actually onboarding that agency because it's going to be more people. But then, number two, they likely aren't going to be able to reach the goals that they promised because you're still trying to figure out which direction they should run in. So you're going to end up spending a huge amount of money because they have a lot of people behind them, which is totally fine. Agencies are great when it comes to a company that's a little bit further along in their size and scale. But early on you probably don't need to hire an agency. And if there's a little I don't know icky feeling in your stomach about should we, shouldn't we, bring this person On board or this team on board, definitely don't do it. You don't want to start the relationship off in that way.

Speaker 2:

The next point that I will go through for misconceptions is you don't need to jump right into demand generation. I think I explained this earlier on in the episode. You definitely shouldn't jump into demand generation. There's so much more when it comes to the foundations that actually need to be built out. And again, whenever I work with companies, I call it marketing as a service, the kind of system that I bring along with me to whatever company I ultimately end up working with, because the first thing that we do is we sit down and we review your marketing foundation. There are six steps to marketing as a service, and we don't even jump into demand generation until step number four, and so, before that, it's all about the foundation. It's about developing your wireframe for your website to make sure that digital sales person is so solid and already starts to convert people, and we make sure that all of those foundations are in place by talking to customers, because without it, we're not going to be able to build that demand generation program.

Speaker 2:

That is a misconception that I want to push people away from when they look to bring their first marketing hire on board. So, having said all that you may be thinking to yourself who the hell am I going to hire? If I can't hire somebody whose expectations are too high, or somebody who's just content oriented, or somebody who doesn't have experience in product marketing and also demand generation and somebody who's not willing to talk to my customers, well, you hire somebody who. All of those things just flip them around. Really, what you want to do here in the early days is hire somebody fractionally. That is why a fractional head of marketing or a fractional CMO exists. It's exactly what I do.

Speaker 2:

I'll typically join a company either in their Series A or their Series B round. The advisory capacity is really helpful for a Web3 team that has a couple marketers on the ground, but they're running in different directions and they need somebody to help align them and bring them to work towards a common goal together. The fractional role happens where more work actually needs to get done. So when you are an advisor, you're only there for a couple of hours a week, maybe even a couple of meetings. Fractional head of marketing is like advisory times 10, and they still aren't there full time. So I never work 40 hours a week for the companies that I work with. Instead, what I do is typically come in on a 15 hour basis, and I will often be the first marketer on the ground. Sometimes they will have hired someone to produce content. Sometimes they will have hired a designer, a social media person.

Speaker 2:

Again, don't necessarily recommend that. Instead, put that on your fractional head of marketing to go and outsource. But don't have them go and outsource that until the foundations are in place. And so that's my first step. I will come in and I will do a complete audit, because there's no way that you've done no marketing right. Like, even before you bring somebody in for marketing, your marketing has already started. Every time you show up at a conference, every time you sit on a call with an investor, every time you create your pitch deck, every time you pitch that pitch deck, that is what marketing is. It's telling your story in a way that is compelling and it draws people in.

Speaker 2:

And so, as a fractional head of marketer, I will step in and say all right, what have we done? What has worked, what hasn't worked, what does our ideal customer profile look like, and how do we start to smooth this out? How do we start to scale it in a way that is effective and efficient? And so a fractional head of marketing is going to be so helpful in that way, because we typically have experience wearing so many different hats. We're OK working alone, but we also love to work in teams.

Speaker 2:

So the ultimate step in the goal for myself as a fractional head of marketing is I step in when you're not ready to hire somebody full time, but you're ready to start marketing and you just don't know where to start. So I step in and say great, let's take a look at these foundations, let's clean up your messaging a little bit, let's make sure it's all set in stone so that as you grow, your team will have something to look back on and rely on. But then let's also start to identify which channels are going to be most appropriate. So it's real strategic work at the point of execution. That is where I start to bring on consultants or freelancers myself and I will actually manage those, or I will manage those in partnership with the leadership team at the company that I'm working with. So that's how your marketing team slowly starts to grow. Then you'll hire somebody to come on on a freelancer basis for social media or content Thank you. Then you'll hire somebody else, maybe as a designer, or you can hire someone else for events Totally depends on what channels are going to be most important for you.

Speaker 2:

That is the real crux here is you have to bring somebody on who can be that main point of contact and who has the marketing experience necessary and the strategic experience necessary in order to scale. When we start to look at the data points that you're even collecting, a founder is often going to know what an MQL versus an SQL is. Are you going to know how to scale the number of effective leads that you have in your system, flip those over to an effective conversation with your SDR team and then ultimately run those through a nurture stream? That is again I'll say it for the third time effective, and nurture stream is a set of emails that is oftentimes sent on to a prospect of yours. It could also be a gifting campaign. It could be a number of different things and it depends again on where you are as a company. But that is why you need to bring somebody on who has that experience. The final thing I will say here is a fractional head of marketing is really helpful, because they could turn into a full-time employee or they could help you hire somebody to come in in that leadership capacity once your team is ready.

Speaker 2:

Another reason why I don't recommend bringing on a full-time CMO so early is because you lock them into that job title and that does it to service to not only you but them. It means that at the point when you're ultimately ready to bring somebody else in, maybe who has experience managing a larger team scaling a team, managing larger budgets be a number of different things your CMO may not be ready to move into that next step along with the company. That means that you're going to need to bring somebody in on top of them. But who do you bring in on top of an existing CMO? You can't. We all want to develop really great talent. That person could be incredible. They just might not be ready to grow into that position or move into that position right now, but they can grow if they have the right person above them. But you've locked them into the CMO role. What happens often is they end up leaving. You lose this incredible talent and then it's really hard to fill it and it sets the team back. There are so many different ways that you could build this puzzle, but it just means that you're not locking your team in to something that is ultimately going to set them back and you're helping them grow in the long run.

Speaker 2:

Okay, we've talked about a lot in this episode, all of it really centering around who the heck are you supposed to bring on for your first marketing hire. The fractional head of marketing role is going to be so helpful as you scale, and this is for Series A and B companies or even seed stage companies. It depends on how a founder or how the founding team ultimately looks at marketing, but marketing is going to be so, so helpful in making sure that you're building demand and driving revenue, because that's our job. Our job is to make sure that the team is moving in the direction of meeting our business goals Business goals, equal revenue. A fractional head of marketing is going to help you go about that. They're also going to help manage the other ultimate team members that you're going to need. They're going to help you manage spend so that budgeting aspect. They're going to help you cut budget, but they're going to have that leadership experience necessary that oftentimes some of these other roles that you see in the industry just don't have the experience for it, and they are going to be able to help mentor those team members and grow them as they move along in their career. And there you have it.

Speaker 2:

Thanks for tuning into this week's episode of Marketing on the Moon. If you're feeling the marketing vibes, don't forget to subscribe and then share with all of your marketing friends. But if you're craving even more, I have you covered. Every month, I'm pulling together a rundown of my favorite campaigns from across emerging tech, my top marketing tips, career advice and a sprinkle of general life musings to give you something to talk about at brunch this weekend. Head over to my LinkedIn to get on the list or just click the link in the description. It's up to you. Okay, and don't forget to tune in next week as we dive deeper into the human side of marketing.

Speaker 1:

So that's all I've got for you today, as always, thank you for listening. Don't forget to drop me a review and subscribe wherever you get your podcast, and head on over to Instagram and TikTok at Emily and Web3 for daily content to help you thrive in Web3. Also, feel free to drop me a DM, a message or a question. I am here to serve you. See you next time.

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