I’d like to share my thoughts on how this plays out for software startups. How do you address the “hire or 1099” question? And how do these methods together replace the role of the traditional recruiting process and resumes in some situations?
You’re a Software Startup? Then the first step is easy. Don’t hire an agency. They have no idea what a great personnel fit on your team looks like, nor do they care. And don't hire business majors either. Business education is quickly becoming a commodity that teaches students to be conforming as opposed to the original.
Instead, hire artists.
Let go of the belief that only managers can manage data.
Hire poets, artists, writers, SEO specialists, coders, musicians, and photographers. Pay by the hour and measure their productivity against their KPIs (Key Performance Indicator). We now have software that measures everything. Everyone has equal access to it, so you don’t need “managers” or owners of agencies to manage great resources. You can tell an artist how his or her piece of content is performing, how many people look at it, how many people share it. The same is true for written and visual content, as well as pages optimized by an SEO consultant.
Spend money reserved for agencies on artists.
Hire creative people with great talent to do great work. Share with them your customer knowledge. Tell them how the content they produce performs. Pay them well. You can do it now — you're no longer spending money on agencies. Use such services as Craigslist, Elance, or oDesk. They all provide ample sources to find great contributors. Remember this: You can no longer outsource your strategy. It's your job to know your customers and your job to have a vision around your content.
Evaluate marketers based on their content.
When hiring a marketer, don't look at the data they're showing you. Anyone can produce any numbers they want. Instead, evaluate marketers by having them interview a customer, then write a copy or a poem, draw an illustration or take a picture. Is it beautiful, compelling? Would you want to share it? Does it make for a great story? A marketer who can't tell a story is not a marketer you want. Is there more great creative content in their portfolio? If yes, then hire them. If not, keep looking.
Build your team from interesting people.
Think about the people you knew in school... Who were the most straightforward or the most rigid and tensely determined students? I bet it was those who studied business, accounting, math or science. And who were the crazy, eccentric characters who everyone shook their heads at, yet admired? Who produced the most outlandish, wackiest, at times groundbreaking ideas? I bet it was the artists. Art teaches people to understand others. Instead of simply listening to you and doing what they're told, they will quickly grasp what you mean and go beyond it, for the sheer enjoyment of discovering how this thing you're trying to do sits in the larger context. You need a mix of both types on your team-- people with minds that are adaptive in addition to the well educated.
Your to-do list:
Determine a list of Creatives you need, based on the content marketing calendar we discussed in the previous blog post.
Browse sites like Craigslist, set up interviews, and be ready to ask for creative content to be produced on the spot.
Allocate a good chunk of money to pay to your artists. Pay them well. They will create masterpieces for you.