Welcome to the e-commerce marketing podcast. Everyone, I am your host, Arlen Robinson. And today we have a very special guest, Chris Toy, who is the CEO and co-founder of MarketerHire, a talent marketplace used by thousands of companies including Netflix, HP, AngelList, Allbirds and HelloFresh to find expert, pre-vetted marketers.  Chris has been in the industry for 20 years, previously working at global ad agencies as well as operating his own. He was an early digital entrepreneur within the sports industry, launching a leading sports website in the early 2000s that was eventually acquired and a marketing agency that developed early digital strategies with Nike, Umbro, Pele and more. Welcome to the podcast this week.

Yes, thank you for joining me. I’m really super excited to talk to you today because we’re going to be kind of diving deep into a subject I think we covered before we talk about usually a lot of different individual marketing strategies, but I’ve never really talked about how to hire a marketing person, which, of course, is your bread and butter. So we’re going to be digging deep into hiring the right marketing person based on really the stage that your business is.

And that’s really where it all comes down to. There’s no one size fits all when it comes to getting the right market or it really just depends on where you’re at with your business. So you’re definitely going to enlighten us on that. But before we do get into all of that, why don’t you tell us a little bit more about your background and how you did get into what you do today?

Yeah, I think you covered all the key parts of it, a space for 20 years. I think you have to size what you mentioned. A key thing as I started in the response marketing database, marketing CRM, I figure agencies in New York and direct response marketing as what became digital marketing. All the digital quality principles are essentially data driven marketing and response marketing. And so that was a great foundation for me and my different businesses, always with some kind of marketing angle, some kind of progressive marketing angle applied to different industries over the last four years really set me up with, I think, a very good viewpoint of startups.

I’ve worked with big brands. I’ve run my own agency. I’ve worked in-house just having those different viewpoints to then getting into, you know, early twenty nineteen where we going to hire as a new platform, a disruptive product to say, hey, you know what, I’ve been doing this for 20 years. Every single way we have this product that we think is going to change how people have ideas. And I think the variety of experience over really the entire lifetime of the emergence of digital marketing set me up very well to kind of be able to think that through and design a product that that worked and it’s having little success.

That’s something I definitely can tell from your background and the experiences you’ve had working in so many businesses at various phases, you really kind of know what’s needed at various points. And that’s really key when it comes to hiring you, specifically marketing. And that’s really kind of what I want to start off. As far as you know, let’s say you’re an e-commerce startup business. You just kind of fresh out of the gate. You’re getting things going. You could be self finance maybe, or you could be you have gotten some finance in either case.

What do you think is the most crucial marketing role that you need to fill if you’re a business in that stage?

Yeah, I think you need someone that you can talk to that has a breadth of marketing experience, obviously related to e-commerce that you can trust and that you can trust more than you would trust your own instincts. I think digital marketing as main marketing has made certain kinds of marketing more accessible. Right. Anyone can run ads now, go back twenty years. Anyone can run a TV spot. Anyone can even run that by anyone can run a Facebook app.

Right. To fire it up. So that makes it more accessible. But also, as can often lead to first time entrepreneurs thinking that that makes it easy for themselves. You’re very distracting, right? I mean, if you’re running an e-commerce business, there’s a lot of stuff that you need to figuring out that’s not that good at running Facebook. And that’s not. How do I set up an automated. Welcome series for People list, and so I would start with someone and we call it either could be a CMO, it could be what’s called a growth market, or someone who knows the playbook and knows a strategy, especially what you call Max, is a very standard playbook.

I mean, a lot of nuance to I want you to start executing at a scale. But the initial playbook is fairly standard. No one who can help you roll that playbook out and more importantly, you touched on it, understand what resources your company has and take that and say, well, bootstrapped or maybe you have some investment. Those pieces are really important because that’s going to define which version of a playbook you can actually do is totally different.

To say I have five thousand dollars or five hundred thousand dollars, what should I do? Totally different. So so you really want someone who understands that playbook that you can rely on to answer questions that are going to come up, you know, weekly around how’s my marketing going? What should we be doing differently? How to be, I don’t think, in my budget. So start that. That’s sort of an anchor marketer. Usually I’m not going to hire for CMO or it’s a gotcha.

Gotcha. You touch on a couple of key things there. First off, definitely I agree with you, the trust is a huge thing, especially for a startup, because at that point, with a startup, depending on how you got going, whether you’re a solo printer or you’re with a business partner, you may have a few other people with you there. You’re you don’t have a lot of people in your organization at that point. And so it’s very crucial that have you bring in is somebody that you can trust because you’re really at the ground level and you want to make sure that they lead you in the right direction, the chance that you roll your first bit of marketing.

It’s a rocket ship. I mean, that’s really all right.

It’s going to be fine for a while.

It’s going to be defined challenges for a while to find my family for a while.

And if you don’t have someone that you can look at, you can credibly talk to you about, well, this is a work. Here’s why we should try next year. Oh, that’s OK. We’re still going to run that campaign. Or, you know, let’s focus more on our email marketing. You have to have someone that that has been there before that you trust more than trust yourself just to run that function function. And I think for marketing it can often because it’s something that all of us have a lot of intuition around.

Right. If you’re not a marketer, I you think you know what I’m good at, but we think, you know what messages we will be customers on them was. You were talking about your legal contracts or you had a financial advisor for your business or someone a specialist in and center. You’re probably not like asking that question or doubting it, right? You’re just like, OK, this is the next bar comments that are set to do X, Y and Z.

We’re going to explain to them some questions. That’s what you’re looking for from your market as well, right? You want the one that follows you such confidence and has such credibility that you can just take 80, 90 percent of what you say at face value. And of course, you want to add a very important 10, 20 percent of your own opinions and variables to the mix, but don’t really want to let them do their job.

Yeah, you have definitely a good credibility is a key thing. But you also mention one other thing is we’re kind of in a space right now where anyone can kind of go out there, set up a Facebook ad campaign, set up Google ads. All of these tools are out there. And, you know, they make it super easy. The bottom line is, of course, these companies, they want to make money. So they got to make the barrier to entry pretty easy.

But I think that fools a lot of people because they think, OK, just because it’s so easy, it means you don’t need the expertize like you are going here. I can reach it myself. I heard an interesting analogy by somebody else that was on the podcast and they mentioned you can liken it to like flying a 747. You wouldn’t ask a flight attendant to take over the controls, the 747, even though would you get into the cockpit these days?

Everything is computerized. It doesn’t really look as complicated as it did back in the day because there’s not only switches and things, you still wouldn’t ask a flight attendant to take over because there’s a lot more to it involved in flying aircraft. And same thing goes with the marketing.

And that’s what I use. I have a lot of analogies for the stuff because you always that again, part of it was I put it in the framework of something else because people do kind of have this opinion about marketing one. I’ll use it as I like the response. I always use a rational analogy from opening a restaurant. It’s not that well, you know, I like I don’t cook, but like, why don’t I just teach myself to cook for the first six months of opening the business?

But I open the business when I have customers come in and I almost kind of cook for a bit. I think I can watch some YouTube videos and figure it out. I can get on Instagram and look at people and I’m going to do it like, does that sound like a good idea for your business? Like it sounds while I cook at home, but your business on the line and you’re like, I’m just going to hope that I’m really good at this thing like that.

Sounds like a really bad idea. Right. And then people do apply it to marketing a lot because like you said, these tools accessible. You just want to write your own new contracts like you would never think about that. I was going to write it so I could go around a little bit and write my own contract like that. But for whatever reason, not for whatever reason. We know why marketing has sense of being accessible. The tools accessible by those platforms want to make you think that you can write.

They want to write, the algorithm will figure it out and that’s true to us, said. But what often happens for the early stage companies, the entrepreneurs that we speak to is they’ll come to us or they’ll come to me six months later and say, well, I just wasted six months because we were trying to figure it out ourselves. The hard part is you won’t even know if you don’t have an expert around you. You won’t even know if you were good at those ads.

You’ll just know you failed. And the worst thing that could happen if you’re a startup is that you burn time and money without learning anything. Right. So at the end of six months, if you were running your Facebook ads and you come to me and say, well, my Facebook ads on working. I’m not going to say, oh, they’re not working, I’ll say, well, you were running them, so I don’t know if that doesn’t work because I need you to tell me that an expert ran them and they didn’t work.

Then you draw a conclusion. But I can’t do what you’re doing because you’re not an expert. So do I know that’s a really common end product to people trying to teach themselves so that they don’t actually even know anything. And then again, in ways that happened so many times. That’s a definitely a great point. So if we let’s say we fast forward a little bit past the startup phase, we’re dealing with companies that, you know, they’ve got a little bit of revenue, they got some traction.

And they are looking to maybe they had somebody that really had dual roles. Maybe they played the role of the marketer. It was kind of doing some things. They had some experience before, but now they’re at a stage where they’ve got enough resources to hire somebody so low for the the marketing role. So somebody that’s already getting revenue. What would be the most crucial type of marketing tool that you need to fill at that point?

Yeah, I think it was still shifting from, like. You’re saying it’s not that their leaders, they they’re still hiring more people? I think it’s also important to say, because you still want someone to come in who’s had that magic wall to audit and assess function and say, OK, look, here’s what’s really happening. If I look at your marketing channels, that advertising brand, look at all of it. And here’s my assessment and here’s what I think.

That still has to be.

Someone who had that management will be able to look cross-channel, functional, even down to instrumentation or the data attribution model. There’s a lot of stuff there that you’re stepping into marketing, hiring for the first time unless you are a marketer or maybe you have an advisor somewhere. You always want to start with that manager.

Well, that’s a good market for us. And has that experience look across you just jump right into the higher and higher fees and that will still get you results. But that’s not the right first step, is just that kitchen analogy. Hey, I’ve hired the vegetable chef before.

My executive chef, my mom and I did it right then they could be at the table for hiring the rest of the world. You hire folks before. But alas, my plan is that I’m right. So unless you yourself as a founder can lead, the marketing and the marketing team leader should compose, especially after the latest thing especially. But it’s as important in a different way.

So when you approach the questions and just kind of figure out probably how to spend your first dollar, it’s very early stage. A lot of it is just kind of shepherd you and hold your hand through it. Just generally very scary time. I want your listeners want your later stage. They’re ready. Got revenue. It’s a little bit less about that. It’s more about, OK, I can go sign of life and revenue now really making some smart decisions around the business of marketing it.

And then again, bring someone who’s in charge of the rest of it, then the higher executional resources and inspiration for you. Exactly.

I’m not sure if we’re looking at let’s say we’re looking a little bit beyond this type of company. Would it be any different for, let’s say, a company where they’re a little bit more established? Their focus is not necessarily on bringing in new customers, but more retaining existing ones and then maybe converting those existing customers into other more customers because maybe they have a different product line, that type of thing. Does that take a different type of marketing expertize if we’re looking at more of a retention role?

Yeah, sure. I think broadly, if it’s an overarching strategy, again, it this old growth market or if it’s like maybe one customers now classically buy China for e-commerce company. You’re talking about mostly talking about email marketing estimates and database marketing. But retention is a lot of advertising to be targeting. Right. Attention to part of it can be a part of any channel if you want it to be. So I think from a channel perspective, we’ll make sure that you are going to have customer database.

And marketing is always inspirational for forefront, but it’s just another business and you have a business wide mandate and problem with not retaining customers. That’s not just about blasting emails.

So that can and should be a holistic approach to say, OK, why? Like something about our funnel advertising targeting one type business that’s as much about random, the discounts, the other things that influence that first purchase that affect retention. Right. Or we bring in the kinds of customers that might buy more than once. That’s a question. That’s not a and it’s a good question. But you’re asking because a lot of brands do don’t think about it that way.

This will require a customer anyway.

They can discount it, whatever it is. And then kind of like the gap in the lifecycle. And then again, I will. Now, how do I get divided by age seventy five percent off to everybody? How do I get the big full price. Well, kind of have set yourself up for a little bit of a tricky transition.

So you really want to work on that for real, for fun or lifecycle question. The short term easy answer is that I is that right thing.

But is.

Step back and evaluate and all of that go into a customer that is buying a product over and over again. That’s the question. That’s what they know all the way up to customer segmentation.

Yeah, definitely. Definitely. All that has to really be considered for sure is we ready to wrap things up, if you don’t mind, kind of sharing maybe some examples of companies that you guys have worked with or just some that you’re familiar with in general that have really been successful. So the role of a marketer and what specifically they do, who do they go after? How do they choose their business?

We had one company called Altor, which is outdoor furniture startup. So there will be positive cash flow out of our and they they were doing well and they came to us. In the market, higher and higher, the Facebook market are stable, that channel, and it was like right before it hit last year. And so they want to count on this really good introductory and then covid hits. And obviously that forces everybody outside and forces everybody at home.

And so they just got this like tidal wave of potential SEO traffic, potential Facebook. And just everything was just like fire line. Everything was free. And the marketers that we hired from us really were able to help them capture that demand instantly. And the markets about a our platform. And that’s actually one of the case studies on our website sales. They were, I believe, one of, if not the fastest growing Disney brand last year. I mean I mean, that number, it’s like unbelievable growth going into seven figures a month.

And then I believe that’s huge.

And it’s really kind of you know, a lot of it was the timing, like you said, with the covid and in the fact that they did leverage people, everybody being at home, so many more people being on social media and then hitting it really hard with the Facebook right there. I mean, think of how sudden that is if you don’t have the right to say, OK, like. I know how to ride this wave, it’s happening, but there are other companies that’s happening and you don’t tap into it, right?

So you have the right team in place and you have had a great head of marketing as well. They get a really strong marketing team on the social. Didn’t really have anyone that they liked. So that was something we’re watching in real time to see a company. Like basically fully tap into circumstance that was presented to them instantly and then scale it, that was really exciting and very rare. Right, right. You don’t really see a company just like absolutely own major events like a year, just this the event, and just watch them tap into that sort of marketing and just set up business on fire.

What’s crazy watching a year long Black Friday?

Yeah, definitely. That’s that’s probably like it is how it could have been or how it was. That’s that’s awesome. And thank you for sharing that. I really appreciate that. I definitely have learned a lot. Appreciate having you on, Chris. And lastly, before we let you go, I always like to close out with a kind of final fun fact. If you don’t mind sharing something that you think our audience would be interested to know about is fun fact.

While the website you mentioned was there was a time where I had one of the biggest soccer website, a big soccer fan, I don’t know any other websites on the Internet and what’s getting thrown around. All these different games growing as one of the early when when bloggers were like, you know, to these influencers like bloggers. So that was up. Part of my life was fun and that was cool. Yeah.

OK, well, that’s awesome. I know that was an exciting time for you. So it seems like you’ve definitely done a lot. Well, thank you for sharing that as well. Chris, lastly, before we let you go, if you don’t mind letting our listeners know what’s the best way for them to contact you if they want to pick your brain any more about hiring, marketing people, digital marketing in general.

So follow me on Twitter at Chris Toye and also pay me on email. They want my email out, but bet you get a market dot com and will as well. Otherwise, Twitter is probably the best way to tweet at me or should be at the end. I’m always happy to talk shop.

OK, that’s awesome. And thank you for sharing. And also wanted to mention that you guys have a special promo, your response for this episode and you guys have a promo where you’re going to be covering the first five hours of any new customer that comes to you guys, as long as they mention that they heard about you guys from the e-commerce e-commerce marketing podcast. So they need to do and you guys will cover the first five hours of the new customers.

So we appreciate your offering that, Chris, to any of our listeners and definitely encourage people to take advantage of that. All right. Thank you, Chris, for joining us today. The E Commerce Market podcast.

All right, thanks. I appreciate it.

Thank you for listening to e-commerce marketing podcast.

Podcast Guest Info

Chris Toy
CEO and Co-Founder of MarketerHire