How Oli Gardner & Ryan Deiss Changed Digital Marketing Forever | AWeurope 2018

We’re gonna do a live podcast now
with two industry titans. First of all we got Ryan Deiss from DigitalMarketer
and he’s a pioneer of the industry. And then also Oli Gardner,
who’s the CEO of a company called Unbounce. So come on up, guys I wanted to come out but she wouldn’t let me. Awesome. Oh! You just sit all the way down.
I needed a booster seat. Can you guys even see me? Sit on the edge. So let’s kick this off I guess. Oli, how did you get your job? Can you share with everyone just the 30 seconds, minute version. What do you do? How’d you start doing the work? How did I get my job? First of all I’m not a CEO. Co-founder. We got six of them. We started back in 2009. We worked on and off with each other, different jobs, then just prior to Unbounce, we were working for a really
sketchy online casino in Costa Rica and decided, “Let’s do something a little nicer.” No more kneecapping people who don’t pay. So yeah, we just decided. Our CEO had an idea. He had two ideas.
The first one was garbage. We picked the second and I became a
marketer the day we started. Awesome. Hey, Ryan? How’d you get your job? How far back can I go?
So in 1999 I needed to make some extra money and I decided I was gonna be a web designer even though I didn’t know how
to do web design but I figured I could learn in a week and if I got a client the only person that would hire me was a lactation consultant. Anybody know what that is? So let’s just say when you’re 19 and you’re building a website for a lactation consultant, your friends think you’re into some weird stuff. I now have 4 kids so I’m hip!
But at the time it was less cool. But that was where I got my start.
She actually wasn’t able to pay me but I was working with her to produce
this book on how to make your own baby food. She was really smart! She said, “I know
at some point my clients aren’t going to need me so I wanna have this thing that
I can offer them when they’re done nursing.” And so she wanted to then sell them this book. So we worked together on the book. She said,
“Look, I want you to keep the book as payment.” What am I going to do with a book
on how to make your own baby food? But I needed to make some extra money
so I built a simple website, optimised it for, no joke, Alta Vista and Dogpile,
back in the day before Google and that was my first entree into selling online and that one website became 50, became 100. I began talking about stuff,
teaching these things as well and here we are today. Yeah, wow. That’s crazy. So that brings me to my first question. One thing I think both of you guys
have done tremendously well, with Unbounce you were leading the marketing and then also Ryan with your
40-plus companies, even just DigitalMarketer, is you guys are very, very strong
at creating really great brands, which is something that I think especially in this world, a lot of affiliate marketers, they might be dropshipping.
They might be transitioning to building a brand. Would you like to start, Ryan? What are some things that you think people should be doing when it comes to creating a great brand? Yeah so first of all, we think about the difference between branding and selling. To me, and there’s a lot of definitions, but any time you’re selling
and making an offer, what you’re doing is essentially making a withdrawal of relational equity. so we think about all of our companies,
we have a certain amount of relational equity packed within these customers
and when we sell them something we’re trading some of that equity for some dollars. When we’re branding,
we’re making deposits of relational equity. Now if you’re a good enough marketer,
you can, in the context of sales copy. Content marketing is all about making deposits. That’s what I consider
really great content marketing to be. Unbounce is one of the best in the
world and I know I learned a ton from watching them. Like, “Oh, we should be doing that.” But that’s making deposits. So to me, that’s branding. That is branding. “I am making a strategic business decision that we’re gonna make deposits of relational equity.” Now once you have adequate deposits
on file, it’s appropriate to make a withdrawal. That’s how it works and so
that’s the way that I see branding. Then take it to the next level, it’s about infusing those values within the company itself. So that’s kind of at that next level. It’s not about the product, it’s not about the offer. It’s really about, “This is what we value.
This is the value that we deliver. and this is why you want to do business with us.” Yeah. Oli? Yeah, for us being a single company, software company, it’s all about our customer success team. One of our first hires, Ryan Engley, led that for years. That’s why we’re perceived
as being a strong, powerful, good brand because our customer success team are incredible. They just treat people so well that our
competitors can’t compete with that. We have people leaving. We do the exit interview and people go to the competition. And then they come right back
and they tell us why they came back and it’s because of the support.
It’s because of the community. You were talking about values? It’s our values. We have our core value system. Six core values. And people actually really live by them.
It just makes a big difference. Hiring wonderful people, that’s how
we started it and as soon as you hire, you get one bozo
who can poison things and things change but as long as you make your employees happy, you look after the employees, they’ll look after the customers
and the customers will look after the investors. It goes around like that. So, “Employee first” is how we’ve always succeeded that way. So you guys talk about values.
Is this something that you guys think the audience should kind of focus on
before they even start to develop a brand? So if marketing is the articulation of your value, I think branding is the articulation of your values. So I absolutely think that you should, and there was a time when, if you’d asked me the question, I’d have said, “That’s horse crap.” You know? It’s some hippie-dippie, kumbaya whatever. Big companies can afford to do that.
Maybe they have to do it. I never saw a business case for it. My thing was, “I like to eat food and I like shelter and those things cost money. So I need to go and make money so I can have food and shelter.” And that’s the only thing that I was focused on
for probably the first decade of my career. And I remember the very first time a
really valuable member of our team came to me like, “Why are we doing this?” I knew at the time that saying, “Well, we’re doing this so that I can make money” was not a good answer. I at least had enough empathy to be like, “That’s not a good answer.” And I said to her, “Honestly, I don’t know and I know that’s bad so let me think about that.” And we really had to think long and hard about what do we value, what is our mission, why are we here, why do we serve this group. And I saw the biggest surge in our business.
That was when DigitalMarketer became a thing. It wasn’t just a website. It wasn’t just me
selling products. It became a thing, it became a brand when we planted a flag and said, “This is what we’re about.” I think doing it pre-revenue,
before you really know anything, is a bit par for the course?
You don’t really know until you start working, right? I think if you do it too soon, you kinda play business. Like look at how organised my file drawer is, and I got like all the labels and they’re colour-coded. That’s playing business. But I think if you don’t do it, I think if you got ten customers, it’s time to start thinking about it. Yeah, we waited a few years and actually we’re good friends with Moz, with Rand. SparkToro! He’s not with Moz anymore. So we learned from them.
They’re in Seattle. We’re in Vancouver. We’ve done a lot of exchange between we’ve learned, what they they’ve learned. We learned from them their core values. When we actually came up with them,
we went to Seattle and spent the day just traveling through the city, trying to figure this stuff out, a group of people from the company. You do feel like that a little bit. You see all these words, these stickies on the wall and you’re like,
“That’s pretentious bullshit.” Yeah. Okay, let’s take that one away, and that one away. I started this company
so I wouldn’t have to put up with that crap. But then you become that thing. We become the man. Yeah but when you finally figure it out,
it becomes really strong and you do get people aligning and people who don’t really fit into that,
they’ll self-select their way out of the company which is a good thing. And you have cause to fire someone. If they don’t live up to your core values,
that’s a reason for doing it. You’re not firing them because “I don’t like you”
or “I think you did a shitty job.” It’s “You’re not living by the rules that we live by so you have to change or leave” kind of thing. That’s an extreme example but there are lots of cases where you can use them as a barometer or a way for just guiding how you operate. Yeah no. It’s a really interesting thing
because I’m the exact same as you guys. It was only a couple years ago. I started to really push and
come up with our core values and one thing that I was taught is it’s kind of a
reflection of the way you see the world and the things that are important to you and I highly doubt that a lot of people in the audience will probably be thinking
this is a thing they have to worry about One thing that I’ve found as well from my experience is once you really get your mission down pat and you really work out what
your company is trying to achieve, you can really use that as a powerful tool to attract great talent and also retain great talent and it becomes less around the salary and the benefits and actually around what you’re building. So I’m curious. What are your guys take on that, around the mission
and using that as a tool, and then also developing that? I know a lot of people in the audience, they might not have a mission like you said, Ryan.
They might just wanna get paid. Right. It’s a hard thing to do and we’ve had
ours now for six years or so and we just went for an exercise a few months ago to update them or change them and as soon as employees started to hear
that were going to maybe change the values they were like, “No, no, no! Leave them as they are!
They’re great. They work.” So we went through a complete
exercise to rediscover what they should be. We ended up with four of the six being exactly the same. We wanted to take the other two out and everyone said no. So we just ended up where we were because the truth was that that’s who we are. One thing that I believe is we have six values but we have an unofficial seventh one which is GAS
which stands for “Giving A Shit” because if you give a shit about things,
it underpins all of your other values, right? It’s just an accelerant to make everything else better and that’s the main thing I look for in people. I can tell by looking at someone. Like, “He’s got GAS.” “She’s got GAS.” Not in that way. That’s the thing, I mean, you can learn skills.
People have said this before, you can learn skills but you can’t learn how to be a good
person or, you know, that kind of thing. So it’s just a deeper level and if you get it right it’s really cool. I’m gonna recommend a book, “The Advantage” by Patrick Lencioni. Has a really great framework for coming up with values and he distinguishes between core values, which encompass the essence of who you are. They’re there, whether you like it or not. Aspirational values. Because a lot of times you’re coming up with this and you feel like a hypocrite when you’re doing it. Like, we’re not that but I wanna be. And then just Permission to Play values. The Permission to Play ones are the ones like honesty, integrity. The ones you feel like you have to put on there because if you don’t you’re not that? So I would recommend that book,
but the big thing I would tell you when it comes to values, and same with mission. Set times to reevaluate and let your team know that these do represent who we are but we’re gonna change. Just like a child is gonna grow into an
adolescent and eventually into an adult. There’s gonna be phases of the company where changes occur and that’s not a bad thing. It’s not a bad thing for a child to grow up and leave the home. It might be sad, as a parent.
I mean, I have four kids. That that will make me sad but it’s not a bad thing that that’s happening, it’s just the evolution. So you need to have those conversations early. The biggest benefit I will tell you of having clear, coherent, written-down, documented values and mission is it gives you a mechanism to say no because I’ll tell you, I have yet to have a business
that has suffered from a lack of opportunity. I have had more businesses come close to failure because of too much opportunity. I forget who said it, I think it’s a VC, but companies tend to die, good companies tend to die more often from indigestion than from starvation. So when you have a mission, that gives you a mechanism to say “No” which most of us founders, entrepreneurs especially, we hate the word “No” so having that that mechanism is very, very helpful. Yeah, I love that. So let’s switch gears and talk about trends and opportunities in the marketplace right now. I guess on marketing and growth. Would you, whoever wants to go first, share some trends or any blue oceans that you guys are seeing out there to grow your companies? I focus a lot on interaction and design trends,
mainly because they come around every year. There’s new visual design techniques. There’s new interaction models for websites. The biggest problem with that is that nobody validates it. They just go, “This is cool!” you know? “I’m gonna ruin 20 years of interaction design and I’m gonna try and use some JavaScript to change how the scrollbar works just because I can!” And it’s called scroll-jacking, that particular thing. It is the worst thing that’s ever happened. You’ll know when you’re on a scroll-jack site because you try and scroll and it just runs away from me. You try and catch it and just,
you’re up and down and you can’t stop in the right place. It’s the worst thing that’s ever happened. I was judging a landing page design competition. Excuse me. We were working with ThemeForest
to come up with new landing page templates There were 200 submissions and I went through them and 75 of them had scroll-jacking on it. I just delete them immediately. They weren’t part of the conversation because it is that bad. It’s theme designers. They’re to blame in many ways. It’s not their fault. They have good intentions but they’re sales people, so they put every single possible feature into their themes because they have this big long list
and they wanna get the $19. But then the person, the new entrepreneur who wants a wordpress site theme, they don’t know any better so they put it up
and it’s got all this stuff that destroys the experience, bad for conversion, and they don’t know. You can turn off some of that in the backend, usually, but people don’t know, so that’s a problem. But there are better trends. A lot of conversational UI was coming out last year. There’s a great experiment I was running at a company called SPACE10 in Denmark and they have this script where,
you just dump it on your page and it will turn form, lead gen form, into a conversational chat element. And it’s really cool. It either humanises it or bot-ised it. I don’t know. It’s hard to tell, so I did a lot of experimentation to see what would happen, whether it would convert as well and conversion-wise, it was kind of similar. But you have to look deeper than that.
What I noticed, and it’s probably because people don’t know what’s on the other
side this thing, the quality of email addresses and fake information was way up because people didn’t trust it. “Oh, what’s your email address?” “I don’t know what’s gonna happen so I’ll just put junk in” and things like that and you don’t know
how long the conversation’s gonna last. Is this a person? In form, you can see the four fields. With this it’s a little different. So without validating trends like that, it’s really dangerous. You put it in people’s hands who don’t know any better and you can kill their conversion rates. It wasn’t their fault, it was someone else’s fault. So validating trends is the most important thing, I think, when it comes to conversion. From a conversion design perspective, what cracks me up is I remember the very first website I built
was a single column website that I created in a pirated version of Microsoft Front Page.
Anybody else remember Front Page? Yeah, so that was all I knew how to do. I didn’t know how to do all the swirly flash stuff that
real designers are doing at the time and that’s where everything’s come back to. Right? So simple is still the name of the game. I don’t see that changing anytime soon. From getting on the brand thing as well, I think community is the new brand. The biggest blue ocean for most people that I see
is truly investing in community. You still have to be great at Facebook. You still have to be great at Google. You have to have great content. That’s now just table stakes. You just have to be great at all that stuff. You don’t have to have a lot of great content. You have to have a handful of really amazingly great pieces of content that you need to build awareness to those pieces through advertising but it used to be, okay, “We’re gonna advertise. That’s gonna come into content. I’m gonna get them on my email list and we’re gonna follow up.” And the
conversation is gonna kind of take place via commenting on the blog and email. Well, nobody really comments on blogs anymore. Email engagement overall is down the numbers. I mean it’s kind of flattened out a little bit but generally down. That conversation though still needs to
happen and where we’re seeing it happen now is in Facebook groups. I think if you can create the de-facto Facebook group in your audience, DigitalMarketer did that on accident with a paid group. Had we not done that I don’t think, again, it would be here today. And I didn’t want to. That was something the team wanted to do. But that engage group is the reason that the brand is there.
It’s the reason that people stick around. So community is big, whether it’s in Facebook, and conversation. And there are different bots like Drift and other bots that have this ability to converse. I agree to putting it on the front, and just deleting all of the forms. We haven’t seen much success with that but having it on the page immediately after somebody would opt-in. It gives people the chance to accelerate through the funnel because there’s always those people who are ready to buy now but it’s like,
“No, no, no, you got to buy this low price and then I’m gonna sell you something after that,
and then you’re gonna get an email and I’m gonna begin our follow up series
and, really, I’m not gonna make this offer for 7 days because we tested it and 7 days was about how long the average person needed to be in” but we’re always forgetting about the outliers! What about those handful of people that are ready to buy right now? Give them a mechanism to raise their hand and to skip the line. “I’m happy to pay. How do I do it?” That’s what chat is for. And I truly believe that the companies who win in the future are the companies who are willing to invest in one-to-one conversations. Those are gonna be the ones that win and,
yeah, it’s tough. The investment that they’ve made in customer success? That’s what it’s gonna be about. Customer success is going to be the new marketing.
You’re going to win because you have the most successful people. Markets are consolidating. Every software category is consolidating. You’re seeing brand consolidation like crazy. Amazon’s eating retail and we’re seeing
all of this happening. When consolidation occurs, the rich get richer. You want to
make sure that you’re the rich or you’re gonna be the poor. There’s not going to
be a middle and that’s a return and I believe that the ones that get the
edge are the ones that invest in those conversations. Now when you talk about community and fostering the community obviously there’s a great
community here that I see. The guys are doing really, really well. What are the things that you guys are doing to foster that community in both of your companies. I know you have many different companies, Ryan. E-commerce companies. Do you have groups for each one of those? Yes, we have Facebook groups for our major consumer brands. In the B2B space, it’s making sure that we always have a presence at the major events. So, you don’t have to put on your own event to build community. You can have a presence at an event like this. If your market is there, if your people are there, be a vendor.
Pay for a booth. Throw a party. Begin to build that community. I saw a shoe store. There’s a shoe store in Austin,Texas.
They sell kids shoes. Children’s shoes is primarily what they do. Shoe stores all over the place are going bye-bye because of Zappos and any number of companies that are selling shoes online. This shoe store is crushing
it because during a week, they have authors,
they have children’s book authors come in and read books in the shoe store. What do books have to do with the shoe store? Nothing, except for the fact that it’s perfectly aligned to the market in the audience. so build communities around the market,
around the audience. The medium doesn’t matter as much. It could be a Facebook group, it could be a forum, it could be live, it could be meetups. Just having some commitment towards that is, I think, gonna be essential.
Those are gonna be the ones that win. Yeah, the way we do it, what we
usually talk about for the community, we have Unbounce experts. So they’re customers, they run agencies and they’ve been with us a long time and they’re very active
in our forums and they’re very supportive to the rest of the people. So we reward them by giving them that position of leadership. They’re an immense expert. Not many people are considered that, so we have conversations
with them, group conversations every week. And they feel part of it. They
give us product feedback and things they think could be done differently and we
listen to that and they champion us everywhere they go. If people are commenting about features or problems or things that they try to do, they’ll come in
with JavaScript hacks, different ways of changing the behavior of the tool. They lead the community because they’re so invested in the success of us. We’ve got a lot of agencies whose entire
business is supporting our customers so we invest heavily in them by giving them
our time and our attention and our ears. Not like we cut them off and put them in a a bucket and give them to people. Very Van Gogh-y. But that’s huge for us. It makes a big difference. Can I give you another? Because I know we’ve got a lot of e-commerce people in the room.
Let me give you an e-commerce example of that. A friend of mine, he had a golf site and he started off selling golf training. And then they shifted to having golf products. And then they shifted to doing deals with
manufacturers in the golf space to give their members the best possible deals.
What he essentially created was a verticalised Amazon Prime.
He created an Amazon Prime just for the golf space. I firmly believe that in the e-commerce,
that is the biggest opportunity. Is this Revolution Golf? Yeah. Revolution Golf. He wouldn’t tell me the number but when
I asked him, he was acquired by NBCUniversal Golf Channel. When I asked him a number he just giggled, so I’m guessing it was a pretty good number but I’m seeing this done. We’re working on it in the sewing space and in some other markets. That is the biggest opportunity, where you combine products that you sell but also just giving people the best possible deal for the things in their market and building a
community around it so they can recommend you. “Yeah, this is a great product. I love this.” You go to the manufacturer. Forget the margins. Look, the margins in
dropshipping oftentimes are terrible anyway. Give up the margins, take the
money, the membership fees, and pass the margins along. There’s a big company in the States called Costco. That was their entire thing to begin with. They made almost all their money off of membership fees and then
only later down the road do they negotiate margins back into the thing. Priceline, same way. Priceline, the travel site. When they first launched they made
no margins, they passed all of them on. Be willing to give up some of those margins
that frankly are terrible anyway. Flip the model. Have a membership model,
Build the community. And then you can bring it back in later, or maybe you just get
bought out by NBCUniversal for a lot of money. That’s not a bad exit either. Yeah there you go. So you guys talked around content and also community. For the guys in the audience sometimes they might be thinking,
and I was actually asked this question today because with Foundr, our whole business is content and we pump out so much stuff. How do you measure the return?
What are you guys doing? How do you measure and justify the investment in staff, the investment in time, when there’s so many
other things that you can do? Content marketing is a complete waste of time and money. I’ll be talking about that tomorrow. Discussing that question because it’s a common question. You know what, it’s very different than it was when we started. We were in the early stage. The content marketing 9 years ago was a new thing, and it was easy, if you were good at it, to get noticed. But now because everybody
does it. People don’t comment on blogs. Nobody shows up at webinars. It’s very different. And it’s not just about, “Oh we need a new
channel.” No. You have to rethink how we create content. Two things we’re doing, what I’m going to talk about tomorrow, is more of an
interactive content model. I will save that for tomorrow but one of the things that we’re doing at Unbounce is we’re just going right back to basics because you tend to forget, and I’ve written 300 blog posts about landing pages, that there’s a new person born every day. There’s new idiots born every day who don’t have the first clue about what you do or the
thing you are always teaching people. You tend to forget that so we’re trying
to do new content or something more advanced or this or that but you
can’t forget the reason you exist is because of this fundamental, simple
explanation of this basic marketing theory. So we’re refocusing on just bringing back some of that content and focusing
on what actually really matters to a new customer. Or a new potential customer
who doesn’t know the way it should be done. Yeah, I think you have to be clear on what type of business you’re in as well. So you’re with Foundr. You’re a publishing company Like you said, content is your product. And so in the same way that a software company would have a lot of developers or engineers as a
function of their product, you need people who are
writers and editors and designers. Whereas if you’re an e-commerce company,
you maybe don’t need that much. We found the same thing to be true, by the way. We kept cranking out more and more
and more and more and more and we really found there was
tremendous diminishing returns. Oh really? Things are shifting back to a quality over quantity and I firmly believe, for most businesses?
10 amazing pieces of content. If you can put out 10 truly, astoundingly amazing pieces of content that ideally answer the 10 most frequently asked questions that your people are asking, if you don’t know what that is, there’s a website, You can go in there. You could type in your market. It’ll say, “Here’s all the questions” on this beautiful wheel, that people are asking. Pick the ten that seem like they make
sense, because a lot of them won’t and then Quora. Go to Quora and
look at what people are asking. Jason Lemkin, who’s behind the SaaStr. Their entire business is just answering questions. He got started just answering
questions on Quora and then he posted them as blog posts. Now he’s reading them as videos. But everybody asked the same question. I saw a guy, he sold above-ground pools and that was his whole model, “I’m just gonna
answer the top ten questions about above-ground pools” crushing the
above-ground pool business. It’s a pool that’s above the ground. You don’t dig a hole. You need more rednecks, where you are. Where I come from, there’s no rednecks here.
We need more rednecks. You least need redneck friends ’cause they’ll tell you when you’ve gone in a bad direction. They have rednecks in Europe? There’s rednecks. Yeah. But I truly believe I think it’s 10 amazing pieces of content and we get so much more bang for
our buck when we go back and update a legacy piece of content. We’ll change out the images, we’ll swap out some of the examples, we’ll extend it
and we’ll just put it at the top, “This is an update to this original post on here.”
The date gets changed. Google just eats that up. Our highest ranked stuff that still gets the most traffic is four and five-years-old. We just can’t beat it and so I think if you commit to producing 10 amazing pieces
of content, do some print, do some video. If it works in print, do a video version
of it. Our best webinar is also our best blog post so you’re recycling the same
kind of stuff, but I truly believe for most companies, what you need is one managing editor. One. I think your entire content team could be one managing editor who is leveraging outside experts, outside thought leaders, bringing that content under your roof because at the end, nobody cares who
wrote it. Nobody cares. Nobody even looks at it. They don’t care that I wrote it,
that Oli wrote something. “What site’s it in? Okay, thank you.” That’s what matters. We’ve invested heavily,
and I’m not saying it isn’t worth it. I just don’t think you need to and I think,
especially if you’re e-comm, if you’re not a publishing company,
you can absolutely over-invest and see dramatic diminishing returns. And when it comes to producing next-level content, how do you define
that? What is good? How do you know what is good? It’s always in the context of what else is out there. We’re never marketing in a vacuum.
There’s this idea going around right now, which is, “I don’t worry about my competition. I
don’t care about my competition.” I care about my competition ’cause my customers care about my competition. That’s called a relationship. There’s lots of crap that I don’t care about but my wife cares about it so
guess what, I care about it. And in business it’s the same way. We are being evaluated against everything else in the space, so I think when you think about
next level of content, next level content in one market is going to be very
different from next level content in another. If you are marketing to marketers about marketing stuff, next level content is I honestly have no idea. Because it is so overdone, you almost have to fly to their house and scribble something on their own whiteboard, and give it to him and sign it. It’s hard. In the survival and preparedness space, pretty easy. In the sewing and knitting space, different animal. In some of the B2B software spaces that aren’t marketing-related that we’re in, it’s different, so I think you have to be honest about what’s out there and just make
sure that if somebody goes to look, they find you and it’s amazing. But amazing is relative. Yeah, Brian Dean, he talks about the skyscraper strategy. So you find the best piece and just make it 10 times better and really expand on it. How about you, Oli? You guys are basic content marketing. How do you evaluate what is good and what you should ship? I think you know when you’re writing, if
it’s any good or not. For me I tend to just try and be absurd? I tell people I’m gonna do some big, grand experiment or just be over the top. I remember when we were starting out, the Moz blog was awesome because they had two. You had Moz blog and the you Moz blog. When you were guest-posting,
you have to go through editorial in most places, and it’s a big pain.
But there, anyone could write a post. And if it was good enough, they got put on the
main blog and then it would blow up because the community was so big back
then. It’s not as big now. So I wrote a post on there called “The New Guide to
Online Marketing” which was a self-referential kind of story about my journey because I just started being a marketer, and it was
15,000 words. It had a 15 million pixel infographic. That took me months, part-time. Had other things to do in my job. And then I put it on their blog and before they published it, Rand said, “What are you doing? Why are you giving that to us?” I’m like, “Because our blog’s tiny right now. We just started and if I put it, nobody will see it.” And it blew up and it broke every record
on their blog for years. It comes to some of our core values.
Generosity is one. Courage is one. It’s scary and hard to put that much time and effort into something and give it someone else. That was one of the two reasons we gained exposure early on as a brand. One was our technical integration with MailChimp and the other one was that post. It was translated into 12 languages, downloaded hundreds of thousands of times. It was just being a little bit extra ridiculous, I find. Ridiculously generous. Yeah. It’s what I heard from that. Not just like, ridiculous, it’s me in a gorilla suit. Talking about marketing. So we talked about, as well, kind of creating values and attracting the right people to your company. Some of the people in the room right now would be going through a scaling phase
where they’re looking to hire great talent. I’d love to hear your guys’ strategies because really,
the level of success your company has fundamentally comes back to the people
on the team. So what are the some things that you guys are both doing to hire and
retain and attract great talent? We’ve heard one way of doing it since we
started the company. It was Carter, our president now, his idea. Basically, if you want to apply for it, if you send us your CV, your resume, we will delete it. If you give it to us, we’ll tear it up. We won’t look at it. You have to go to Unbounce, sign up for a free account and build a landing page to tell
us why we should hire you and why you want to work for us because that will
take out 99% of the people who aren’t good enough or aren’t willing to
go through that friction. A lot of people will just email the same thing to every tech company in town or every whatever
thing you’re in and this gets rid of all the people who aren’t actually serious so that is like a self-filtering mechanism that we don’t have to work at and we only get amazing people coming through that. I got one, and one of the last things we ask people to do, we say, “Do all this” and then we say,
“And tell us your rockstar name.” So people go, “Oh.”
And they Google “what’s my rockstar name” and it’s one of those generator things. So I got this landing page.
There was this lady applying for a job. And I saw her landing page and it
said, at the top, this whole thing about, “I love zombies and bacon.” Oh, alright. I’m terrible at interviewing people. I’m too nice. I can’t ask hard questions. So we sit down in this coffee shop and I’m like,
“I’ve got my opening line, this is gonna be great!” I’m like, “Okay, so tell me about zombies and bacon.” She just went blank. And I was like, “Oh God, I asked the hard question again.” And she’s like, “What do you mean?” I’m like, “Zombies and bacon. That was
the opening paragraph of your landing page.” “Oh, I found the rockstar name generator but I also found a resume generator.
I just put in a few things and it just spat that out. None of that is real.” She didn’t get the job. Generally speaking, it works very well. Aside from that one time? So I’m good at selling stuff. I’ve gotten better at hiring. I will tell you that’s the single most difficult thing that we do and because of the structure of our company we have a holding group
and then most of the companies are run by either GM’s or presidents and I tell all of them, “You have two main jobs. Hire, train and retain great talent. Don’t run out of money. Those are the biggies. Hire, train and retain great talent.
Don’t run out of money. Accounting’s gonna help you with #2, honestly. Good luck on #1 because that’s really, really tough. Again I’ll give a book recommendation. Again, Patrick Lencioni. “The Ideal Team Player” is a very, very helpful book, and the methodology and some of the questions that are in
there. It’s not very long. What I will simply suggest is, if you’re
hiring somebody to do a particular task, have them do that task in some way, shape,
or form, even if you need to pay them. So we’ll tell people as part of the interview,
if we’re hiring somebody for a marketing role or copywriting role, we’re gonna ask
them to do the work and we pay them to do it. Here’s $250 to go and do this. You learn a lot there and then at the end, the last phase of the interview that’s
done with an executive, if they make it through, if they show they have the basic
core competencies to do it, then what we’re looking for is, “Are they humble?” “Are they hungry?” and “Are they smart?” And smart means emotional intelligence.
“Can they work with the group?” So humble, hungry, smart comes from the Ideal Team Player and there are good questions in that book to ask
to kind of suss that out. And we found that to be a phenomenal final filter. That has prevented a number of bad hires. Yeah, test projects. Very, very key and paying that person for their time. Test projects and Patrick Lencioni’s model
for humble, hungry, smart. The things that I’ve done that have made me suck less. Awesome. Well look, we have to work towards wrapping up. A final question for you both. You’ve both had tremendous amounts of success with your businesses. I’d just love to know from each of you, what have you had to sacrifice to get where you are today? What have you had to give up? Sacrificing, necessarily? I mean it’s easier now but at the beginning, it’s very hard. But that’s okay. You work in 16-hour days. You don’t make any money. I had to declare, not bankruptcy but something similar,
so my credit was ruined for 7 years. We ran out of money. We’ve raised very
little money, but at one point we ran out of money and we came to the conclusion that
one of the founders would have to step aside because we couldn’t pay ourselves. And it was decided collectively that it would have to be marketing, which was me. So we came really close to me leaving the company. It was funny, I blanked this out of my memory for years. It came back to me like a year ago and someone was interviewing me. I’d forgotten about it because it was really horrible but I went home and I did some math and I did some creative accounting. I’m not sure
what I did actually ’cause I don’t remember. I came back and I explained to the team, “Hey, what if we do it this way?
What if we changed this? What if we do that?” and they said, “Oh. Yeah. Actually that’ll work.” So I stayed on because you couldn’t stop building the product there was no way we could do that. But if that had happened, we would not be around today. If marketing had not been a thing,
we’d be nowhere. That wasn’t a sacrifice. It was just scary as shit. I think, thinking back on it, yeah. There were sports games and some recitals that I missed. My oldest daughter? I don’t really remember the first couple of years of her life ’cause I was working so hard and I regret that. Anybody who’s like, “I have no regrets.” That’s horse crap. You got revisionist history going. You can do some stuff, you can screw some things up. You’re gonna make some mistakes.
You’re gonna have some regrets. So there’s definitely that. I think I’ve had to sacrifice large chunks of my dignity more than once. Just when stuff that was supposed to work, and that you were banking on working, didn’t work out. And it was public. I don’t know if anybody else has had to do this but I’ve had to walk in a room of a couple dozen people and tell them that, unfortunately, they can’t work here anymore, not because they aren’t great people, not because I don’t like them, not because they didn’t do a good job, but because I failed and the company was failing and we had to lay them all off and shut it down. That sucks and those are the kind of things when you decide that you’re gonna start
a company, that’s what people don’t talk about? That’s a very real reality
and you need to kind of be emotionally aware that that can happen. But you’ll never really be emotionally prepared for it, there’s no way of preparing yourself for that moment when it comes right down. I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone
but its more common than it isn’t, even for the people that ultimately
achieve some degree of success. And so I think you got to go into this being very, very, very clear on your identity and who you really are and
please, for the love of God, you guys. Do not base any aspect of your identity
around your business because boy howdy that’s a losing deal. Awesome. Thank you so much guys, this was an incredible conversation. Let’s give these guys a round of applause. Ryan Deiss and Oli Gardner.

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