Spark Interview: Bootstrapping Your Social Team to Success.

Taylor Ryan — CEO of ArchitectureQuote and the founder of Klint Marketing — discusses how he uses the principles of bootstrapping to build a lean, mean, marketing team.
Rachel Kador
November 21, 2019 - 4 min. read

What does your ideal marketing team look like? Do you want to hire someone with 15 years of experience? Or are you recruiting Gen Z’ers who live and breathe social media?

Taylor Ryan — CEO of ArchitectureQuote and the founder of Klint Marketing — knows what it takes to build a team in a competitive landscape. Every marketer faces the same problems: declining organic reach, decreased engagement rates, increasing competition. For Taylor, the best way to address these challenges is with a team built for purpose.

Taylor spoke at Spark about how to build and manage a social media team for maximum results. We had a chance to dig a bit deeper with him on what it means to bootstrap a marketing team — and when you can’t cut corners.

Q: Let’s start with bootstrapping. That’s not a term I often hear applied to hiring and team building. What do you mean when you talking about sourcing a bootstrapped team? What skills or abilities do you want to see in a team member before you hire them, and which do you think are best learned on the job?

Bootstrapping is plain and simple doing things on a budget. When there isn’t any money around to spend on expensive, vertically integrated tools, paid campaigns, or large salaries… you’ve got to make do with what you’ve got. At its core if you’ve ever had to build something with no budget, you need to understand it’s going to be more challenging, take longer, and that mistakes are part of the process.

I genuinely believe that I can teach anyone with passion how to pick up and run with processes and a few tools in a short amount of time, so long as they take an interest and ownership in the work they’re doing. Part of this simply comes down to finding people that want to learn and being the patient teacher or mentor that they’re seeking. Explaining WHY we do something a certain way and giving them time to experience the entire process of any project is the difference.

Q: Conversely, is there a time when bootstrapping it doesn’t cut it? Are there roles or responsibilities where you need a ringer? How do you decide when to hire someone with the experience versus outsourcing to an agency?

You need “ringers” in leadership positions. There is no replacement for competency at the top. You can’t throw early swimmers in the deep end and expect them to tread water like they’ve been doing it for years. There is always going to be a need for someone to help people get “un-stuck,” especially when the projects get more technical. It works great in marketing, design, and product for the most part.

All web, product development, sales (closing deals), and accounting related tasked can’t take the same bootstrapping route. There’s always an opportunity to mix with agencies that offer consultants to help guide you towards your goals. This is why I started Klint Marketing.

Q: Within your social team, who sets the goals? Where does the strategy come from? I think a lot of us get stuck in execution mode, and it can be easy to ignore the forest for the trees. How do you ensure your team is working toward a common goal — and that that goal is attainable?

Goals are moving targets. The goals and KPIs of just a year ago aren’t going to be the same for today. The organic reach isn’t what it used to be and the potential outcomes for social medias are not the same. Getting stuck in execution mode is great for a while but losing sight of “why” we do anything is byproduct. Allowing people to shift in and out of projects and experimentation should be part of “execution mode.” If we don’t look around at the benefits of a particular hack, process, or playbook from time to time then we’re just doing the work for the sake of doing the work.

Q: What is your number one tip for hiring young talent? When someone doesn’t have those 7 years of hands on experience, how can you tell they’ll be a positive addition to your team?

I keep it simple. I ask why they’re taking an internship, what they want to work on, and what they want to get out of it. If the answers gravitate towards someone that wants to focus more on “strategy” and “branding” intangibles, I’ll explain that we focus on more doing the work and execution rather than the theoretical stuff. I set expectations early and make sure it’s clear that they get real projects, with real goals, and if they want to work then my team is the right place to be.

Q: Looking ahead, what new skills do you think will be essential to the success of social teams? How can managers focus their current team’s efforts to fill those gaps, or where should they look to hire?

I build my core team with competent people that do the following roles: design, content, social media, growth hacking, front-end development, back-end development, and a videographer.

I measure three things: speed, quality, and getting along with the rest of the team.

The boss is the same guy doing the work right beside them and while not every project is the most groundbreaking work… everything is part of a system and we’re all in it together. I don’t shoot down ideas. If you can make a case for why a new concept, project, or piece of content would work, then let’s talk about it.