Thinkific has risen to become the top searched course platform since their CEO Greg Smith last appeared on the show and today he joins us again to share some amazing updates. Our conversation with Greg covers the story of Thinkific’s evolution, and the company’s best practices for marketing, hiring, subscriptions, and corporate culture. We dive right in hearing Greg’s story about his college how-to blog for passing the LSAT that he morphed into an online course with the help of his software developer brother. Next up, Greg gives us a bunch of metrics about the company’s gross revenue currently, how much the average course creator would pay and earn using Thinkific, and which types of courses tend to scale. He also touches on some of the company’s strategies around getting course creators prepared to put their best foot forward and create packageable content that adds meaning to consumers for growing their own businesses. Our interview then moves onto the topic of hiring and staff, and we hear Greg’s thoughts on delegation, headhunting, keeping vision aligned, and how to involve late cofounders from an ownership perspective. Thinkific stands as a great example of a company that scaled fast through a great team and business model so make sure you don’t miss this one.
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In a world that seems almost fully-focussed on online and digital marketing, it may come as a surprise to some that physical means are still used to grow companies and for them to become known. PostcardMania is a very successful company in this line of work, using direct mail marketing to help their clients get the word out on their offers. They are a really great example of how older techniques and styles of marketing can still work in a contemporary context. The company was founded 21 years ago by Joy Gendusa, who we are so happy to welcome to the show today. They mostly serve small businesses and are up to about 60 million in revenue this year! Their pricing model is competitive but not comparatively cheap, and Joy explains how she pegs this. We talk about the history of the company and the organic growth that Joy has experienced over the last decades. She opens up about her target audience and the ways that have provided her with the biggest opportunities to scale and grow her team. Joy credits a lot of her success to her team, believing she leads a group of superheroes! We discuss their company culture, important practices and some of the perks and facilities at the office. So for all of this great stuff and to learn about a slightly different model for marketing, be sure to listen in!
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HubSpot has grown into one of the most credible names in the marketing and sales game in the last few years and we are lucky enough to have Kieran Flanagan, their VP of Marketing on the show today! If you listen to this podcast it is more than likely you know a lot about HubSpot already as we often refer to them, as happy customers of the company and having had a few of their team on the show already. The focus of today’s conversation is Kieran’s work on the freemium project at HubSpot and the impact that this initiative had on the company and their progress going forward. We speak about freemium and who it might work for; Kieran believes it is not a surefire way to success for every kind of company and links its usefulness to HubSpot to their product-led model. We also get some great insight into the company and how they approach tasks and challenges and Kieran breaks down their pod method for creating teams. Tune in to get it all!
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Sometimes you may find yourself doing so many things in one day that you actually lose track of what’s important and what isn’t.
That’s why I use a task prioritization chart that I take a look at every quarter or so. I want to keep track of what I’m actually working on every single day to see what I need to cut out, what I need to delegate, and where only I can make an impact.
Personally, I divide all of my tasks by expected ROI.
For example, I have a category for $10 per hour tasks, another for $100 per hour tasks, another for $1,000 per hour tasks, and finally one for $10,000 per hour tasks. These categorizations tell me how much I would have to pay someone else to get a specific task done right.
So if you find yourself doing $10 tasks when you’re running a six- or seven-figure business, you probably need to rethink your priorities. On the flip side, you probably don’t want to be delegating the $10,000 per hour tasks out to anyone—that’s where you could be making the biggest impact yourself.
Related Content: The Power of Blocking Out Your Time for Business Growth
Things like cold calling, talking to unqualified prospects, doing expense reports, or scheduling social media probably shouldn’t be done by you. I know you see guys like Gary Vaynerchuk engaging on social media all the time, but that makes sense for Gary because he has branded himself as a social influencer.
Think about the tasks that you do every single day. Whether you’re using a calendar or Evernote, look at what you’re doing every single day and then look at the last couple weeks. I have a daily to-do list and I’ll look back at last month or last quarter and realize, “Wow, I shouldn’t be working on this.”
As time goes on and your company grows, it’s your job to take more things off your plate and delegate it to other people. This is why companies hire other people. Your managers get stacked up with work, too. They need to hire people as well.
Hiring is one of the most important things you can do because you’re focusing on assigning each person in your company to their proper task category in order to maximize the ROI of human effort.
Learn More: Ultimate Guide to Building a World Class Team
Let’s look at $100 an hour tasks, like talking to qualified prospects, doing social media, managing pay-per-click campaigns, doing customer follow ups, and so on. Customer follow ups, for example, are super important, so you probably don’t want to categorize it as a $10 an hour task and delegate it out to someone who doesn’t do it right. You could, but your business might suffer as a result.
Now let’s look at $1,000 per hour tasks, like building your marketing or sales funnel. If you want to have a marketing automation sequence that is perfectly optimized, that’s a big undertaking and a big time commitment. But you know it’s worth it for you because it’s going to pay dividends down the road.
This is a task that you could do yourself if your company is smaller. Not only can you probably not afford to hire someone to do this, you definitely do not want to hire a $10 per hour or $100 per hour person to do a $1,000 per hour job.
Finally, there are the $10,000 an hour tasks. If you’re making seven figures per year, these are the tasks that you and your partners, if you have any, should absolutely be focusing on.
Related Content: The Entrepreneur’s Dilemma: How to Juggle Multiple Projects and Have a Life, Too
A lot of these high-priority tasks are things that sometimes only you can do. For me, it could be throwing an event or a dinner, or interviewing people on my Growth Everywhere podcast.
Same thing with Marketing School—it has to be me personally doing this each time with Neil. Public speaking or podcasting requires me to actually be there in person to make the biggest impact.
But what I can probably start to offload are the live webinars that I do. Maybe somebody else can take that on. Maybe that becomes a $100 per hour task.
Once you’ve identified the $1,000 or $10,000 per hour tasks that you should be doing yourself, you want to make a game plan for how you’re going to tackle those tasks both on a daily basis and over time. If you need to have somebody else do that for you, like a project manager, then you’re basically out of control. You may no longer see the bigger picture.
On the other hand, the tasks that you’ve identified as able to be delegated, whether it’s a web development project or a new marketing campaign, you should absolutely not take on yourself, even if it is tempting. You need to find the right talent, give very specific instructions, and then take a big step back.
So try this out if you haven’t before. Create a task prioritization chart or matrix with $10, $100, $1,000, and $10,000 per hour categories. Prioritize your tasks and then share the document with your team as well so they know where you’re at and they know what you should be working on.
Remember, if you ever start to slip back into $10 per hour tasks such as project management and things like that, you need to get them off your plate immediately.
This post was adapted from Eric’s Facebook Live videos: Growth 90 – DAILY live broadcasts with Eric Siu on marketing and entrepreneurship. Watch the video version of this post:
This post originally appeared on Single Grain, a growth marketing agency focused on scaling customer acquisition.
Take a look at some of the biggest, most valuable companies in the world — companies like Google, Microsoft, Apple, or Facebook.
Most people say their success is due to luck, and that “not everyone can be like Mark Zuckerberg.”
The truth is, one of the biggest reasons why they all became massively successful is because they hired the right people early on.
For example, take Larry Schwimmer, one of Google’s early software engineers. He built an internal tool called “Google Snippets” to keep operations efficient during their period of explosive growth.
Mark Zuckerberg hired rockstars like Chris Hughes, who served as Facebook’s spokesman and eventually went on to run social networking components for the Obama campaign.
If you have the right process for sourcing, interviewing, hiring, and onboarding world-class team members, you’ll vastly increase the chances that your business will be a massive success.
But if you don’t, the consequences could be pretty severe.
A bad hire could cost your company over $50,000.
And in the time it takes to look for someone new, you’ll have to deal with lost productivity, the cost to train a new employee, the cost to recruit a new employee, negative impact on the morale of other top-performing employees, and a whole host of other issues.
In this post, we’ll show you how to build a world class team — from sourcing high-quality candidates to seamless onboarding.
Before you can start recruiting the best people who can help your company grow to the next level, you have to get clear on what you can offer them.
After all, you’ll most likely be competing with big companies in your space for top talent. In the tech industry, this is definitely the case: A-players will have offers on the table from brands like Google or Facebook.
How do you stack up against them?
There are a few things to keep in mind when attracting the right talent:
If you’re a smaller company trying to compete against bigger brands for top talent, then chances are you’re not going to beat them when it comes to salary, benefits, or other “tangible” perks.
You’ll have to focus more on the intangibles. And one of the biggest intangibles is your company mission — i.e. why you do what you do.
It’s important to nail down what your business does, why you’re different, and why anybody should care. It’s the same thing you’d need to close any deal and hiring is no different.
For example, at Single Grain, we have a statement on what differentiates us right on our home page:
Once you’ve got that down, you can move on to constructing the foundation of your entire hiring process — your hiring funnel.
You probably have some sort of marketing funnel when selling products for your business. Through that funnel, you have ways of measuring your conversion rate, your drop-off at each step, and more.
You can apply the same concept to your hiring process.
By creating a hiring funnel, you can systematize your process for getting new hires on board and turn it into a repeatable, scalable model instead of a random process that feels very scattered.
For example, this is the hiring funnel we use at Single Grain:
At the first step, we’re focused on finding the right candidates. This means tapping our network for referrals and putting up job ads to get a wide range of qualified applicants.
The next step is to screen applicants. This way, you can eliminate “résumé blasters” and other unqualified applicants from your hiring funnel, and push the more serious candidates forward. When you post a job ad, you can expect to get a large number of candidates who are unqualified or aren’t actually serious about working for you.
A simple way to do this is by making candidates follow some sort of direction when submitting their application. For example, when hiring for an SEO position, we might ask candidates to write “SEO is cool” in the subject line of their cover letter. Those who don’t will get disqualified. This is a quick way to eliminate the vast majority of applications you get, and focus on the serious candidates.
From there, we’ll interview candidates, make an offer, and go through with onboarding.
Here’s how you can run through some of the major parts of this process on your own to build a team of world-class employees.
Your core values set the foundation for your entire hiring process. It helps inform the type of candidates you want to hire, your company culture, the type of interview questions you ask them, and what you expect from them after they come on board.
Some entrepreneurs think “culture” means having a cool office, bean bags, and a casual dress code. In reality, culture is much deeper than that. Culture is made up of the personality traits that everyone in your company has that drive your company forward.
Read More: The Statistical Case for Company Culture [infographic]
Image source: Growth Everywhere
For example, at Single Grain, we value the following traits:
These values determine who to hire, fire, and what to prioritize within the company.
Having strong core values is much more important when you’re hiring remote workers. Because you can’t see them working throughout the day to make sure they’re engaged, it’s important that they have the right core values so you can trust that they’re doing good work and contributing to your business.
Here are Twilio’s core values as another example:
They value things like:
Those are just some examples of team qualities that might fit well with companies that are looking to grow quickly. You should never copy another company’s core values, but checking out others’ values can be a great source of inspiration for your own business.
Here are a couple of key things to think about when creating your core values:
Here’s a video where we talk more about how to create core values for your business:
When looking for new candidates to hire, one of the biggest things business owners look for are credibility markers.
That can mean respectable companies that a candidate has worked for in the past, results they got for a previous employer, and so on. One of the best ways to “shortcut” your way to finding credible candidates is by tapping other trusted people in your network.
By using tools like LinkedIn, you can quickly search the connections of other people you respect in your network to see if they’d be willing to make a referral.
For example, let’s take Tony Conrad — a pretty credible figure in the world of startups / venture capital.
Let’s say I wanted to tap his network to find a new content marketer. I could scroll down on his LinkedIn profile and search a key phrase that represents what I’m looking for. These results are what I got after searching for “content marketing strategist”:
If I wanted to, I could click through to each profile that seemed appealing, and make a note of the people who have the appropriate level of experience.
From there, you can reach out to your “credible” connection to see if they’d be willing to refer you to the list you narrowed down. Here are a couple of templates we recommend using:
If your connection is a friend of yours, here’s an e-mail template you can use:
I hope all is well. We’re looking for a Paid Advertising Manager and it looks like you have a few good connections on LinkedIn.
Who do you think is exceptional in this list?
[LIST OF NAMES]
If your connection is an acquaintance or someone you don’t know that well, you can use an e-mail template like the following:
I hope all is well! I wanted to reach out because I’m looking for a [JOB TITLE] to help with [RESPONSIBILITIES]. This would mainly involve [TASKS]. Do you know of anyone who might be interested?
Thanks in advance!
Learn More: Forced Hiring: An Amazingly Effective Way To Find The Best Hires
Writing a good job description is like writing good marketing copy.
If you write bad copy for, say, your website’s landing page, you might not get any opt-ins. Or worse, the opt-ins you get might be from customers who won’t buy. By writing an effective job description, you’ll boost the chances that you’ll get the right applicants for your business.
If you write a poor job description, you might be left with a flood of low-quality applicants that will just waste your and your team’s time.
Here’s an example of a job description we wrote at Single Grain for a junior marketing manager position:
Notice the key elements we included in this job description:
Job descriptions like these help you narrow down serious, qualified candidates who might be a good fit for your business.
One of the simplest things you can do to get high-quality candidates directly from your own audience is publish a blog post about it.
Buffer does this really well — check out this blog post they wrote that outlines how they hire. In the post, they outline the key characteristics that make a candidate a great fit for the company:
At the end of the post, they include a link to their “careers” page to anyone who’s interested.
While this post helps inform other entrepreneurs and business owners how Buffer hires, the post also helps Buffer attract higher quality, more targeted candidates.
At Single Grain, we did something similar — when we were hiring, we wrote a blog post with all the roles and corresponding job descriptions and optimized it as we would with a regular blog post in order to reach a wider audience.
Once you have a pool of candidates to choose from, you can start narrowing them down even further by creating more “hoops” to jump through.
You might decide to give your candidates a test. For example, if you’re hiring for a marketing position, you might ask them to analyze your site or a competitor’s site, and ask them what they’d do to improve it.
Tasks like these:
Giving candidates a “trial project” might be especially helpful in hiring remote workers. By watching how they work on the trial task (including the work quality, how they communicate with you, etc.) you can get a sense of how they work on their own.
After you’ve narrowed down your pool of applicants, you can start pushing candidates to the interview stage to further assess whether they’d be a good fit.
Many companies prioritize technical skill when looking at what candidates to hire for a given position. But here’s what the data shows:
In other words, the qualities that companies screen for the most in their hiring process are usually the least important when it comes to employee success.
That’s why it’s important to hire for attitude, in addition to skill. Interviews are the perfect place to gauge whether a candidate has the right attitude to excel at your company.
Here are some questions you might ask to get a feel for their attitude and motivations:
You should also make sure that you get an adequate understanding of their strengths and weaknesses.
Steli Efti from Close.io uses a tactic of his own to get to the core of an employee’s honest weaknesses, while also giving them an honest understanding of his company’s weaknesses.
At a certain point in the interview process, he asks candidates to discourage him from wanting to work with them, while he tries to discourage candidates from wanting to work with his company.
By going back and forth this way, both sides are able to get an “insider’s look” into each other’s weaknesses, so that there aren’t any surprises six months down the line. He talks about it more in this 20-minute video:
If you’re looking to grow your company quickly, it’s important that you assemble a team of self starters who are obsessive about personal and professional growth. Here are some questions you could ask to get a feel for whether your candidates are growth-oriented:
Here’s a more comprehensive list of questions you could ask in interviews that can give you insight into a candidate’s priorities, leadership abilities, how they work in a team, how they solve problems, and more.
Learn More: 150 Sample Interview Questions for Every Startup
Just like any software product, effective onboarding is one of the biggest keys to retaining employees for the long term.
This is more important now than ever before. In fact, 21% of millennials have switched jobs in the last year. And over 50% of them did so in their first year of employment with a company. In an age where A-players have multiple options to choose from, proper onboarding is crucial.
Many companies have an informal onboarding process. In other words, employees are left to figure out the ropes of their new role on their own. But without proper onboarding, employees can often feel undervalued and overwhelmed.
According to Wagepoint, your onboarding program should address a few key areas:
Only 20% of businesses hit all four of these requirements in their onboarding process.
Effective employee onboarding is one of the most crucial elements to generating high levels of retention, yet most businesses don’t give it adequate attention.
But if you put a priority on making sure that your employees feel properly onboarded, you can increase the likelihood that your business can be one of the few that keeps employees around for the long term.
Building a world class team that sticks with you for the long term is a combination of a variety of things — like starting with a proper hiring funnel, sourcing quality candidates, conducting interviews and screening employees in the right way, and ultimately giving them a high-quality onboarding experience.
What will you do differently the next time you need to hire someone new? Leave your response in the comments below.