Mar 25, 2024
Startup Growth
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 min read

Startups should outsource these growth tasks

I’m here to share the biggest growth hack I’ve made in my entire career. Ready?

Virtual growth assistants to assist with - you guessed it - growth tasks. Marketing talent lives globally, so why limit the pool to the U.S. only?

I’ve already written about hiring virtual staff at startups, but I wanted to delve more into how they can specifically help growth teams. 

When resources are lean at a new seed-stage startup, or if budget cuts are hurting mature growth teams, look no further than a virtual growth assistant. I’ve successfully scaled various startups with virtual growth assistants, and I’m still surprised at how few startups know about this method. 

Instead of hiding this secret any longer, I’m here to share how you can scale your growth program on a very lean basis. I’ll be walking through the types of tasks that can be outsourced, hourly wages you should expect to pay, and some tips on finding your very own virtual growth assistant. 

Let me ask again: are you ready?

Types of growth tasks

If you’re still manually doing outreach as a founder, or filling out daily Excel sheets, your time would and should be better spent elsewhere. 

Back in 2008, when I was a YouTube creator, I hired a virtual growth assistant to help with outreach to app-based companies who could make great sponsors. This proved to be highly successful with a huge ROI that I was able to employ my virtual growth assistant for more than two years, full-time. 

A few other example tasks that a virtual growth assistant can do are below: 

  • LinkedIn outreach,
  • Marketing research,
  • Creative operations,
  • Influencer outreach,
  • Partnership outreach,
  • Influencer coordination,
  • Scheduling social posts,
  • Social media management,
  • Updating marketing reports,
  • Toggling campaigns based on criteria.

You should typically expect to pay around $5-8/hr for this role. Yes, you read that right. If you’re worried about underpaying, please know that the average pay in the Philippines is sitting around $5/hr today (via Salary Explorer). 

Even if you’re not a founder and part of a marketing team, a virtual growth assistant can take many of your tasks off your plate, so that your time can be spent strategically coming up with new campaign ideas and other projects. 

I’ve personally seen outsourced growth talent be the most successful at their work, when they have a defined list of tasks on a daily basis. This isn’t to say that they should be boxed up in a cycle of work, but more that you should have a set list of responsibilities to take off your plate, before making the hire. This is different from hiring a Director of Marketing, who will typically come in and take all the reins and know exactly what needs to be done for your next marketing program. 

In contrast, your growth assistant will need a list to work through. I should also note that Marketing Directors do live globally, but that isn’t my focus today. Instead I’m focused on teaching you how to find and leverage growth assistants. 

Specific task example 

To get into the weeds on a real-world task that I had a virtual growth assistant complete in the past, here are the instructions that were given: 

  1. Search LinkedIn for the keywords “performance creative agency”,
  2. Add each agency with > 5 employees to Gsheet,
  3. Find the CEO/Founder and also add their info the Gsheet.

Below was a sliver of the output: 

GSheet with performance creative agencies.

I understand that AI and various tools can do some of this now, but this task was also from years ago. There are tasks that can now be augmented with a virtual growth assistant toggling and using AI tools to increase efficiency even further. 

Hear from a Philippines-based marketer

Rather than hear it all from me, I wanted to bring in my good friend Anna Macapinlac, from lovely Manila, Philippines, who was my secret weapon while scaling my last startup. I poached her from IMAX – more on this later - where she was a Regional Marketing Manager. From the first days of having her at the startup, I felt a huge weight lifted off my shoulders, when I no longer had to run every marketing task as the jack-of-all-trades-wear-a-ton-of-hats founder that I was. 

Here’s what Anna had to say about her career in marketing thus far: 

How did you get into marketing?

I believe marketing has always been my calling. Even in high school, I found joy in writing, creating graphics, and learning creative and marketing tools by myself. I have always been a creative person who enjoys socializing and meeting new people — the reason I decided to take Marketing as my major in college. Years of studying marketing has deepened my passion for helping people identify their brand through different mediums, may it be out-of-home, TV or radio - and these were all prior to the rise of digital marketing. 

What’s been your experience working with U.S.-based companies in the last few years?

I admit that it was challenging, since I was working on the other side of the globe. However, having to work with colleagues from our L.A. head office, [and] adapting to the domestic market was surprisingly manageable. I was able to learn global marketing trends and best practices. I had the chance to work with diverse teams and clients, which helped me tailor my strategies to different markets and audiences, which have helped me professionally. 

If Anna seems like a good fit, she’s currently available for work, and I’d highly recommend her for any startup who needs marketing help.

Finding your outsourced marketer

I believe that in 2024 and beyond, we’ll see more of the startup ecosystem leaning into hiring virtual growth assistants to their teams. We’ve already seen big corporations do this for call centers and customer service centers. That was just the beginning, and I’m confident that this trend for hiring other types of talent globally, will continue to multiply. 

Instead of listing out all the methods to find your outsourced marketer, I’m going to show you two ways that I’ve personally had success when looking for my own marketer. 

First, is how I found Anna. This wasn’t anything more than a LinkedIn Recruiter account and some dialed-in filters. It’s been years since I poached Anna from IMAX, but I believe some of the general filters I used, included: 

Location: Philippines

Job title: Marketing Manager

Education: De La Salle University (top five university in the Philippines)

It was as simple as a couple of filters and then running through various Marketing Managers to see who would best fit the bill. 

My message to Anna, was to simply let her know of an exciting new opportunity at a fast-growing startup ($1M ARR in less than a year) with more responsibilities than she had at her current big-name company role. We hopped on a call, and the rest was history. 

Another great avenue for finding global marketing talent is through Upwork, because of the validity you get from freelancer’s profiles. You’re able to see a few metrics that are real and important, including: 

  • Job Success Rate
  • Total Jobs
  • Total Hours
  • Reviews

With these metrics, you can assess whether a marketer has been vetted enough by other projects they’ve taken on in the past. I highly suggest you don’t work with a new freelancer profile, as that’ll lead to tons of wasted time (ask me more about this). 

Few other tip nuggets 

If you’re still on the fence about hiring a virtual growth assistant, you can always ask if your selected individual is open to ‘moonlighting’. This means that they’d work nights/weekends at 10hrs/wk., so you can get a taste of their work.  

What’s really important is making sure that you’re treating this individual like someone you would hire locally, or as a part of your in-house team. If you want the best work output, keep them involved and ask them about their career aspirations, so that you can give them work that keeps them engaged and learning. I’m a big advocate for this, and often aim to even find out what their interests are in marketing during the initial interview. 

My last big tip is to make sure that your hire has strong English writing skills. While this may seem obvious, great English speaking does not translate to great English writing. I’ve made the mistake of hiring great English speakers, only to learn weeks later that their writing was not up to par. I recommend having your hire take a live English writing test, so that you can be sure that a tool like ChatGPT wasn’t used.

As you look to either start your marketing program from the ground up, or scale an existing team, your secret edge is waiting in another country. I will personally never start a company without global talent, and I hope that you will see the power and take the leap of faith like I did. 

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