9 min read

Marketing 0-1

Early marketing hurdles and how to jump through them
Marketing 0-1

Hello friends đź‘‹,

Welcome back to the Pallet Post. We're sorry for the wait. Today's post talks about how we built a marketing presence from scratch, and what we learned along the way.

Moving forwards, you can expect our essays on a bi-weekly basis (once every two weeks) from now on.

Humble Beginnings

When we launched our first creator partnership with Lenny Rachistky, we all sat around our small table, in our then apartment-turned office, counting the seconds until 11 AM— the time his inaugural tweet was going to drop.

We knew what this meant. Obviously, it was a moment that marked a huge evolution in our product, but for those of us on the yet-t0-be-created marketing team, it was the first time someone with a real audience was going to talk about us. It meant the possibility of receiving real awareness.

And when the tweet dropped, our Twitter account (with just 200 followers at the time) was getting notifications like it had never seen before.

Lenny understood that for the job board to work he had to create a big enough splash to attract the talent in his audience as well as the companies in his network. By creating a thorough thread and using language like:

He was able to generate the initial traction that would kickstart the marketplace.

One of the most important aspects of attaching a job board to your audience or community is converging seamlessly, allowing your people to easily flow in and out of postings through the normal lifecycle of their participation.

We immediately understood this need from a product standpoint— we had to build integrations so we could disseminate job posts easily into newsletters, slack communities, discords, facebook groups, etc. and we had to make sure as large a proportion of a community or audience was aware of the job board in the first place, hence the big launch announcements.

What we didn't pre-emptively realize was the impact this strategy would have on our marketing efforts. And how important Twitter would become to grow our platform.

On the day Lenny launched, we received 250 followers. More followers than we had in total. More importantly, we received countless DMs from communities and creators who wanted to start their own job board.

So I want you to repeat after me:

Align with your customers. Align with your customers. Align with your customers.

In some ways, we had already attempted to build a network moat with the partners we chose to work with. Many of them had invested in Pallet's seed round, our success was their success.

But the effects social launches had on our early growth was profound. After Lenny's launch we understood that it was actually in our partners' best interest to make as big a social splash as possible, the job board equivalent of yanking on a lawnmower chord to get the engine going.

Successfully running a job board is a process of trial and error; the more participants you attract, the better your feedback loop becomes. After a short period of trial and error, you'll obtain a deep understanding of what sort of jobs will resonate with your audience to attract businesses successfully — it's not always an immediate or obvious choice.

A symbiotic relationship was born between the success of each marketplace (success defined by GMV generated for our partners and liquidity between talent and businesses) and early social growth/brand building.

We embedded leveraging social channels into the launch strategies we gave each partner. Most had accrued their audience on Twitter, which was convenient for our brand account's awareness and utilizing DMs as an essential inbound channel.

Every time we acquired a partner, they would announce the launch the board on Twitter.

After the first three months, these are some of the results:

Ultimately we discovered two key things:

  • Public launches gave us more job board runners
  • We could piggyback on our creators/communities audience to build our own

Our partners have indirectly done a lot of selling for us, as well as building vital social proof. Both creators and communities operate in relatively tight-knit circles, and successful outcomes are naturally going to fall onto the ears of other potential partners, with or without our presence involved.

Job Search is Hard.

So is building a recruiting marketplace. The more we spoke with creators and communities, the more apparent it was that kickstarting a recruiting marketplace was a new venture for many of them. Additionally, the more calls we took with potential job board runners, the more we realized that the act of selling to businesses was a common point of friction for creators.

Generating the initial excitement of the launch of a job board was easy for them; it didn't take much communication from us to know that this was an immediate value-add for everyone in their audience– "follow me and you'll get cool jobs." It was a no-brainer.

But what about the other side of the marketplace? What about attracting and convincing businesses to post to your board? What kind of revenue could you generate as a creator using Pallet once your marketplace was in full swing?

We had the answers to all these questions, we had seen first-hand what it took to build and scale over 60 recruiting marketplaces. The issue was, most of our newer partners were unaware that we could help them do it. We weren't effectively utilizing our social platforms to push out our collective insights.

Twitter wasn't enough to support creators in this way; sure, the larger our following became after each launch was a tremendous top-of-funnel tool, but was it helping all our partners build their marketplace? The short answer was no.

We needed to better support creators with valuable selling points and informational infrastructure to support their marketplace. There was an educational gap, and we had to fill it.

Align with your customers. Align with your customers. Align with your customers.

As cliché as it was, we felt the need to start from the very beginning with this newsletter (the one you are reading right now.) Underneath all of our early marketing and product success was a bubbling undercurrent of distaste for the way things were.

The recruiting landscape desperately needed a change. Platforms like LinkedIn and Indeed weren’t working anymore. They hadn't adapted to the new era of the internet, to the Cambrian explosion of online communities. Suffocated by feeds of broetry and endless streams of useless job recommendations and unqualified applicants, something was amiss, and everyone knew it.

So we put our heads down and started writing.

Bolstered by higher than ever subscriptions and open rates, every new essay felt like fresh gusts of wind under our creative sails– we were breathing life into a tired space.

Each new essay was built on top of its predecessor. The more we interjected our personality and anecdotes from our building process, the more this newsletter evolved from capturing the interest of businesses and transitioned into a place to self-reflect and refine our business thesis.

The more we honed in on what we were building and how we were doing it, the clearer picture emerged of what was necessary for our marketing to be successful.

The "Party Problem" and the Marketing Funnel

Explaining what we did to people outside the tech community has always been a constant obstacle for us as a marketing team. Our product has been evolving rapidly, and consolidating everything you've learned into real-time content can often feel disjointed from the overall value of your business.

Ever since our initial launch with Lenny, we've seen Pallet scale to upwards of 60 live communities (and thousands of sign-ups) and have a much tighter understanding of what Pallet is and all its eventual possibilities.

Towards the end of July, we felt it was necessary to take a step back and deeply survey our social landscape and efforts thus far.

Our Twitter was growing steadily, piggybacking off the launch of each creator, and the occasional meme was accelerating our following. We had jumped from 400 followers to 3,000 over a few months.

This Newsletter saw generous weekly opens and additional subscriptions every time we dove into our learnings.

We had our first-ever viral piece of content come from our Tiktok account; it shot us from near obscurity into everyone's For You Page.

Our earliest efforts were working, people were aware of us, but we were still missing something.

The marketing team always used to joke about explaining what Pallet does to people at a party was always a Sisyphean act.

“Do you know what the creator economy is? How about Lenny Rachitsky? What about hiring that happens in niche online communities?” Only to be met with blank stores or empty head nods.

We started to view different characters that you'd meet at a party as stand-ins for social platforms. Who was the newsletter really speaking to? What about the Twitter? Could TikTok really attract businesses? How would you explain what we did to people you just met? Were we getting our message across to the right people?

How could we distill our core-value propositions to everyone inside of our ecosystem and conversely, outside it? It might sound absurd, but it helped us open up our marketing potential when we laid this foundation on top of a more traditional marketing funnel.

So what did we learn? This newsletter, our Twitter, and recent efforts on Tiktok weren't getting us any closer to driving curators or businesses to hit their target actions on our platform. They were all just driving awareness to our platform.

Educating users on what Pallet was and could do was a burden carried entirely by our sales team. Neither curators nor businesses had all the prerequisite information they needed, so that when they stumbled across Pallet, the decision to either launch a board or post a job would be a no-brainer. We hadn't accomplished our goal of making Pallet the obvious choice.

Where do we go from here?

We are unveiling a new blog.

This time will be hitting our explicit goal of educating curators and businesses on how Pallet can help them.

This new blog will address the value of a creator starting a job board for their audience, attracting businesses (so job board runners can make money), and finally, how Pallet can help companies to hire more quality candidates.  This new blog has been in the works for some time, and we're excited to share more about it here very soon.

Align with your customers. Align with your customers. Align with your customers.

We keep hammering that point home, but it's the only thing that matters when it comes to marketing.

Getting your marketing from stage 0 to 1 is candidly a cluster-fuck of activity and relies on overproduction of content. When we started this journey, we knew that we needed to make as much content as possible and move quickly when we saw something wasn't working.  

That’s why any marketing plan you create needs to be fluid, and quickly adaptable to business needs. Inevitably, 95% of your content will not move the business any closer to it's goals. However, understanding the 5% of things are working and going all-in will make a huge difference.

Don’t waste your time on things that aren't working, and if something starts to take shape differently than you anticipated, embrace it.

Align with your customer's needs and you'll move quicker than you think.

Five months after our initial launch with Lenny, and we feel like our objectives have never been clearer.

Look out for the Pallet blog in the coming weeks, it's coming.