Notes from SAAS NORTH: Founder Led Marketing
It’s been one week since we had the pleasure of seeing so many of you in-person at SAAS NORTH 2021 in Ottawa. We’re still dreaming about the amazing IRL conversations and connections we made. While the networking was a highlight for all of us last week, we can’t forget the amazing content that SAAS NORTH is so well known for! They did not disappoint this year.
We took notes to summarize a few of the amazing breakout sessions that were happening last week, for those who may have missed them. Enjoy our summary of the Founder Led Marketing breakout session, we hope it’s helpful + that it highlights some of the key takeaways from this amazing panel.
Meet the panelists:
- Stefanie Grieser, Director, SAAS NORTH
- Manuela Bárcenas, Marketing Manager, Fellow.app
- Ria Riaz Head of Marketing, MESH/Diversity
- Alex Shipillo, Director of Growth Marketing, Clio
Before we dive in..are you a founder who’s looking to bring on your first marketing hire? Here’s a little founder pro tip from these marketing experts: as a founder, the more comfortable you are with marketing the more junior you can go with your first marketing hire.
According to the panel, the biggest risk is to over hire early rather than finding the right junior marketing enthusiast. If you look to hire someone too experienced/set in their ways, they might be used to having a team of people lead marketing initiatives and strategies, and might not be prepared to lead and execute that all on their own.
You need this new hire to grab the role by the reins and lead it all from start to finish. Which leads us to the panels next tip..
Hire someone scrappy.
This came up and the entire panel agreed – the best way to describe that first marketing hire is “scrappy”. They are willing to get their hands dirty and do a lot with very little resources. They are leading and executing all the marketing initiatives and seeing things through from start to finish. They don’t have a bias already built in, or the need to operate with a big supply of resources (which early on, most startups don’t have!).
Look for someone with a growth mindset, a generalist.
That early marketing hire should be curious about your business and become obsessed with telling that story through their marketing. Don’t forget, though, that you’re there to support this hire in any way that you can. This can mean finding them expert marketing mentorship, if that’s not something you can offer yourself, and being realistic about your expectations for this person who’s going to be operating solo.
Most importantly though, it means being VERY clear on what your goals are and what you hope to achieve through marketing. Having a clear vision will make your marketing hire’s goals easier to identify, understand, and reach.
If you’re not a marketing savvy founder, be open to learning from the marketing hire – whether they are junior or not. They could have a lot to teach you and can open your eyes to the possibilities that marketing can unleash for your business.
Don’t forget to make sure they feel supported. This will benefit your company in the long run. Sometimes this is as simple as asking “What can I do to remove barriers for you?”. There is so much communication going on beyond the words themselves, and the more you express your support to your team the more they will feel it and be more willing to take risks and think big.
Don’t just talk the talk, though. Find your hires the support they need to succeed. Maybe this is a connection to a mentor as mentioned earlier, or support from an agency if that’s within your budget. Maybe it’s simply facilitating connections for your hire to get their name out there in the industry. Lead the way for them to be successful in this role, and it will pay off for your company.
Be the brand
As the founder of the company, offer yourself as a subject matter expert for your marketing hire or team to utilize. Be prepared to become the brand and face of your company, in a very public way.
Podcasts, blogs, interviews – there are so many ways in which your marketing hire can leverage your expertise and expand your reach as a company. You have to believe in marketing for this to work. Maybe you dread public speaking or being interviewed, but knowing the value this has for your company is huge.
A few resources that were mentioned during the panel:
- Book: April Dunford: Obviously Awesome – How to Nail Product Positioning so Customers Love it
- Book: Traction: A Startup Guide to Getting Customers
- Article: So You Think You’re Ready to Hire a Marketer? Read this first.
- Podcast: Fellow APP Super Managers Podcast
What a panel! We hope this summary identifies some of the key take-aways that you might be able to utilize and put to work in your own company. Follow the panelists to continue reaping the benefits of their marketing expertise!