At Rival IQ, we focus on data-driven decisions, comparing things from multiple perspectives and using team collaboration to establish our direction. When we set out to find a marketing leader, we took these themes and developed a methodical approach to hiring. In the end, we learned a great deal through this process and ended up with a great hire. And since our mission is to help marketers “save time, know more and be excellent”, I wanted to share our process to help others their own leader(s).
Our process followed six key steps:
- Developed a job description
- Created a landing page using Unbounce
- Promoted the role via multiple channels
- Used a Google Form to gather candidate info
- Included the broader team in final interviews
- Used a decision matrix to make our final decision
Below is more detail on each of the steps in the process.
1. Write a job description that includes your personality
First, we wrote a job description. Pretty standard, but we tried to add a bit more personality and creativity to the description. We included a sense of the company, our culture, the role, and some background on the product (a link to a product video and sample market landscape). With this detail, the page could stand alone, which was important as we expected it to be shared.
Here’s some of the job description to give you an idea:We are kicking ass, and we need your help to scale! This role is a mix of leadership, strategy, and DOING. You will be responsible for crafting the marketing strategy with a heavy emphasis on inbound and content marketing techniques to build awareness, engagement, and paid user growth with Rival IQ as a provider of competitive analytics tools for active online marketing professionals. It is all about growth! You will also represent the internal “voice of the customer,” providing ongoing product input as an engaged user and helping to ensure we achieve our goal of helping active online marketers “Save time. Know more. Be excellent.” (or revising this tagline if you think there’s a better one). We need you to drive product innovations, and if our product is awesome, your job gets easier.
2. Create a landing page to collect responses
Next, we created a landing page using Unbounce, which allowed us design freedom and the ability to include a real “call to action”. Also by using a landing page, we could easily track visitors and conversion. We actually created 2 variants (A/B testing with different headlines), since Unbounce makes this easy, and we wanted to test a few versions – like a good marketer should. In the end, both performed about the same in terms of conversion, but seeing the results was useful.
3. Promote everywhere you can
With the pages posted, we leveraged our social networks and direct connections (e.g. friends, customers, investors, marketing influences, etc.) to drive awareness. We also sent specific people we met in the physical world to this page, putting everyone through the same process. We posted the page on April 30, and over the next 3 weeks, about 950 people viewed the page, resulting in 17 direct applications. We had about another five people that applied via word of mouth or other connections. With about 22 candidates, we triaged the list, narrowing it down to about 10 initially that we thought had the right skills or background.
4. Gather more data via a Google Form
We knew the areas we really cared about for this role, and we wanted to learn more from each candidate across these criteria. We made a Google Form and asked each candidate to fill it out. This included everything from “scoring” themselves on various skills to providing sample content.
Here’s the form if you’d like to make a copy and use yourself: Candidate Scoring Form
Many of the candidates said this approach felt innovative and was a good way to help them understand us better, while giving us concrete data about their backgrounds. Using this form also helped us more efficiently compare the candidates, as well as make sure we were comparing them across consistent benchmarks. With this data, we narrowed the field down to seven people who I interviewed personally, maintaining detailed notes in a Google Doc to be shared later. After these meetings, I narrowed the field to four candidates.
5. Get the rest of the team engaged
With our top four candidates, I could now efficiently include the larger group, using my notes and the survey responses as background for my decision making. In our case, the extended group included the three other founders and one of our investors, content marketing genius, Jay Baer. We focused on having all four candidates interview with the team over a short period of time, so candidate comparison was fresh in everyone’s mind.
While the founders had perspectives on how and who we wanted to work with, it was Jay’s expertise that helped frame our decision on the strongest marketing leader for the company and who best represented our target customer.
6. Use a final decision matrix
In the end, we were left with two excellent candidates, each with a unique but very different blend of strategic and tactical experiences. We created a small rubric and scored each from 1 to 10 on the following attributes:
- Acquisition focus
- Content creation
- Tools and tech
- Branding and positioning
- Resume (for future/external)
- Professional network
- Personal brand/following
- Team fit
In addition, we knew we needed someone who really represented our customer and who would push us hard to create a truly great product for active online marketers and marketing leaders.
It was a difficult decision, and in the end, we selected someone who brought a combination of startup and enterprise expertise, big data instincts, recent cloud momentum, and deep industry connections, which takes time to develop.
So, we welcome Margaret Dawson as our new CMO and, as one of our founders said it best, our “kick ass marketer”!