How To Run A Virtual Marketing Team | Ep. #599

In episode #599, Eric and Neil discuss how you can run a virtual marketing team. Tune in for tips on how to manage remote workers.


  • [00:27] Today’s Topic: How To Run A Virtual Marketing Team
  • [00:33] Neil was listening to Masters of Scale and the CEO of Zoom was talking about how 50% of their talent are remote workers.
  • [01:05] Eric hires people from all over and they work remotely.
  • [01:17] He does it not because remote workers are cheaper (they aren’t), but because they are talented.
  • [01:45] Eric and Neil have been tapping into the virtual market for 10-15 years.
  • [02:07] When running a virtual team, people have to specialize.
  • [02:31] Neil finds that communication is better when everyone is on site.
  • [03:10] 1:1 meetings are key for direct reports.
  • [04:17] When you want people to perform their best, give them KPIs and other marks to hit; goal-setting is key.
  • [05:40] Eric’s team uses Bonusly, which allows you to award points to people, which then translate to online dollars. It becomes a recognition tool that encourages a bit of competition.
  • [06:15] On the agency side, they use HubStaff, which tracks the time of your employees.
  • [06:36] It’s important to have a record of the time your virtual employees are working.
  • [06:54] This doesn’t mean you should be a micromanaging snoop!
  • [07:25] If you have to do this, they are probably not the right employee.
  • [07:40] Virtual employees need to have a lot of discipline.
  • [07:55] Eric and Neil operate their businesses using the Traction model.
  • [08:24] Eric read The Coaching Habit and thinks it contained useful information for running a business.
  • [08:52] That’s all for today!
  • [08:54] Go to for a special marketing tool giveaway!

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The post How To Run A Virtual Marketing Team | Ep. #599 appeared first on Marketing School Podcast.

Full Transcript of The Episode

Speaker 1: Get ready for your daily dose of marketing strategies and tactics from entrepreneurs with the guile and experience to help you find success in any marketing capacity. You're listening to Marketing School with your instructors, Neil Patel and Eric Siu.

Eric Siu: Welcome to another episode of Marketing School. I'm Eric Siu.

Neil Patel: And I'm Neil Patel.

Eric Siu: And today we are going to talk about how to run a virtual marketing team. It's interesting, I was just driving here from work, and I was listening to a podcast with Reid Hoffman, Masters of Scale, and the CEO of Zoom was talking about how 50% of their talent ... So Zoom is a webinar or video conferencing service that I use, and it's really well done, but 50% of their talent is not in Silicon Valley, so they're always hiring outside, and this is no secret. Remote talent, tapping into other areas is a really smart thing to do.

Neil Patel: And it's cheaper in many cases as well.

Eric Siu: Yeah. Where do you have people?

Neil Patel: All over the world. From places like Denmark and India and Sao Paulo, Brazil to San Diego and Los Angeles and Seattle, pretty much anywhere, and it's not because places like India are cheaper. For example, we have one of the people on our marketing team, [Big Nash 00:01:22], and he goes back and forth between India and Denmark. He's one of the most expensive people on the team, but he's amazing. So we don't really look for, "Hey, we want them located in this region because they're cheaper," more so, we're looking for people who are really talented.

Eric Siu: Yeah, and so I have people in Lithuania, freaking Estonia, Oregon, just all over the place, so this really no secret, but Neil and I, we've been doing this for ... I think tapping into the virtual markets for, I think you've probably been doing it for over 10, 15 years, right?

Neil Patel: Yeah, I've been doing it for roughly 16 years now, and it's how I've grown most of my businesses. I know you do some virtual stuff, but most of your talent is in-house?

Eric Siu: Half of the team is in LA, the other half is all over the place.

Neil Patel: Yeah, and the model works out really well. The key thing, when you're running a virtual marketing team, people have to specialize. The moment you have people who are doing a bit of everything, you don't get great results. And that's not just because you want people to specialize, but it's because the distance makes it harder to manage, and everyone being super creative, and flowing, and communicating well with each other. I know there's tools like Slack and Skype, but when there's an internal team and they're all together, we found that the communication's better. There's nothing wrong with virtual, but when you're using virtual, we found that the most efficient way is having them all specialize on a specific task, such as content production, SEO, whatever it may be.

Eric Siu: Yeah, so Neil's completely right. If you're going to hire a team in-house, it's a little more okay to have people doing little different things, but Neil's completely right. If you're going to work someone remote, they better be specialized. An example of, I guess, diving into what you should be doing, if we look at the ... One of the key things that we do every single week is the one on ones. I have one on one meetings with my developers, for example, and then we basically go through their agenda, and the one on ones are really for your direct reports. They should be coming to the meeting with an agenda, and then, if they don't have an agenda, hopefully you have an agenda to go with, and then that way, at least you have a pulse on what's going on, and then you're kind of keeping them on the right track. That's really important.
And then to build on the one on ones, we also have a tool we use called 15Five. That's the number 15, and then you spell the word Five. That asks them very specific questions related to culture, how they're feeling every week, and then what they got done, and then, also, you're able to really read between the lines in terms of how they are really feeling, because if they're writing really short answers and they're filling out that they're a five out five, well, you know something's wrong and you can get to the crux of the problem, and that saves you a lot of money in terms of retaining and hiring talent.

Neil Patel: Yeah, and when you [inaudible 00:03:59] your team, right, no matter where they are, you'll find when they're virtual they're going to work on their own time, they're going to do what they want. It's really hard to micromanage them, and that's fine, you shouldn't be hiring people who are virtual who need micromanaging, but if you want them to really perform at their peak performance, what you have to do is give them KPIs and numbers that they need to hit. And we put them in little teams, so that way it's efficient, there's not too many communication issues, and let's say the content team will be like, "Okay, we need to generate X higher rankings, and we need to generate X, Y and Z more visitors within this vertical over the next 30, 60, 90 days."
The conversion team may be focusing on, "All right, you're converting 5% of our visitors into leads," or 2%, whatever the number is, "We need another percent by two, three, four months, and we need to see results every week, and we need you to run at least one experiment a week, and write down if it was a success, failure, how much by, what did you learn from it?" And by document all of this in a wiki, other people learn as they come in and out, because when you're doing virtual teams, you'll find that as you replace people or as you lose people and new ones come in, you want to make sure that they're good to go, and they can just go into a wiki and learn everything. But by placing people into small little teams and having them focus on specific goals and making them run experiments on a weekly basis, you'll find that the team is much more efficient, they're more likely to hit it.
And then what we like doing is a lot of times we'll put bounties, so whatever team performs the best will get stipend for that week, or that month, or whatever it may be, so it keeps them really aggressive and hungry.

Eric Siu: Yeah, and to build on the aggressiveness and then keeping people hungry and also motivated too, we use Slack, and then there's also a plugin we have called Bonusly. Bonusly basically allows you to award points to people. Let's say Neil does a really good job, I could award 100 points to Neil, which is basically worth $10, and Neil can go get an Amazon gift card, or go buy Pizza Hut, or buy a gym membership, or something like that, but the idea is that people can win championships, there's top winners, and then it basically becomes a recognition tool, but at the same time, people are able to also compete with each other. So that's fun.
And then we also use a tool called ... On the agency side, we have a tool called Hubstaff, which basically, yes, it tracks time, it does take a screenshot of what you're doing every five minutes or so, and that basically allows us to ... Every now and then we might need to audit. I've personally never looked at it myself, but people from my team do. So you don't have to use something like Hubstaff, but it's important that, if you're running some kind of services business, that you're tracking your time, just so you can back out, like, are you unprofitable on a certain client, and you can go from there.

Neil Patel: Yeah, and with virtual teams, definitely want to make sure things are cashflow positive, and the [inaudible 00:06:50] at least are going in the right direction, but be careful, as Eric mentioned, he's not going and snooping on people's screens all the time and trying to figure out what they're doing. We don't like that concept as well. You're hiring people, you're giving them KPIs, trust in them that they can end up hitting them. If they can't, then help them out, have talks with them, figure out what issues they're running into, and maybe they need to do a brainstorming session with the rest of their group, or you need to send them to some conferences so they can get a fresh set of creative ideas, but you don't want to be micromanaging, because the moment you micromanage, then people just feel that you don't trust them, and they're probably going to end up leaving and going to another place.
And if you have to micromanage and continually check their screen, they're probably not the right person to be working for you virtually. That type of person is better suited for a nine to five in an office, because you know they're going to work, versus someone who's virtual needs to have that self discipline where they're like, "All right, I need to hit these numbers, I'm motivated, I'm going to do whatever it takes," versus being like, "Oh, my boss isn't here, so I'm going to do whatever I want."

Eric Siu: Yeah, and the final two things I'll add from my end, both Neil's agency and mine, we operate off a ... There's a book called Traction, which I've mentioned before. It's not the growth hacking book, it's Traction, entrepreneur's operating system. It's by Gino Wickman, and it's basically a system that you can use every single week, that you're having these meetings with your lead team, you're talking through scores, you're settling issues, and you're constantly running through this, and then every single quarter you have a offsite and you basically operate off this too, where you can just set your goals for the next quarter. That's one thing.
And the second one is a book I read when I was in Japan in December. I read it cover to cover, and I can genuinely say this is one of the books ... This is probably the only book where I've done that. I just don't believe people when they say they read things cover to cover, but I actually did that this time. This one is called The Coaching Habit, and it's by Michael Bungay Stanier. I'm pronouncing it wrong, but it's basically the idea, kind of what Neil's talking about in terms of not trying to micromanage people, but actually coaching them up and not feeding them the answers all the time, so they become too reliant on you. So that's a huge book. Anything else, Neil?

Neil Patel: That's it from my end.

Eric Siu: Great. So, before we go, just go to to check out goodies, marketing goodies, and we'll see you tomorrow.

Speaker 1: This session of Marketing School has come to a close. Be sure to subscribe for more daily marketing strategies and tactics to help you find the success you've always dreamed of. And don't forget to rate and review, so we can continue to bring you the best daily content possible. We'll see you in class tomorrow right here on Marketing School.

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