Annelle Barnett is a global executive with over 20 years of experience successfully leading company and marketing operations for multiple corporations and self-owned entities. After building a successful marketing consultancy, Annelle founded Marketing Mob in 2013. Marketing Mob connects growth-oriented marketing professionals with companies whose primary objective is exponential growth. In 2018, she expanded the company’s career offerings by launching The Marketing Mob Job Board & Community and The Mob Method, a Land Your Marketing Dream Job Masterclass. Annelle attempts to stay balanced with yoga and international travel.
Shantel: Hey, Annelle. Welcome to the Imagine More Podcast.
Annelle: Hi. How are you?
Shantel: Good. Thanks so much for carving out the time to connect.
Annelle: Of course. I'm excited.
| STRATEGY & LEADERSHIP |
Shantel: We are equally excited to learn more about your company and what makes you imagine more. I know this is sometimes a loaded question, so we'll try to make it a little bit more bite-size, but can you start things off with telling us a little bit more about Marketing Mob?
Annelle: Yeah. Marketing Mob is a recruiting and staffing firm for marketing professionals. We source and recruit growth-minded marketing professionals for small to medium-sized businesses whose primary objective is exponential growth. We also connect marketers with careers, education, and collaboration. And this year we added a marketing job board and community, as well as a learning platform that we named "The Mob Method", and The Mob Method helps marketing job-seekers land their marketing dream job in 90 days or less, and it's basically built on a three-step system that helps job-seekers eliminate the frustration and overwhelm around looking for a job.
Shantel: Wow. That's super exciting. How did you get started in the recruiting space, specifically around marketing?
Annelle: Well, interestingly, I kind of fell into it. I started Marketing Mob as a placement company for marketing consultants, and the economy and the market changed significantly just after I started it and my clients started demanding the full-time placements more so than placement of consultants and contractors. And so we just kind of shifted and grew into becoming marketing recruiters. And since then have placed quite a few marketing professionals in roles and it's been a fun journey, for sure.
Shantel: Do you anticipate, if the market ever shifts, shifting back to that original model? Or what do you envision for the company in the next few years?
Annelle: Yeah, well, the good thing is that we still do consultants and contractors, as well. We'll even build teams of marketing consultants for project-based work. It's still there, it's just the full-time placement has, I guess, demanded more of our time. But if the economy shifts, then we can easily shift back. I do ... Of course, that is something that will likely happen at some point in the future; when it does happen, we'll be prepared and ready to make that shift again.
Shantel: And did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Annelle: I guess, I've known ... I've had a little tinge of it my whole life. Interestingly, I started as an entrepreneur when I was 13. I was a competitive cheerleader back then, and I taught individuals and teams routines and choreographed their routines for them. As a 13-year-old, I was making sometimes up to $500 a routine, which was nice. I even choreographed some routines for people trying out for the University of Kentucky college cheerleading team through my coach, so that was the beginning of my entrepreneurial experience. It's definitely in my blood, without question.
Shantel: I had no idea about the cheerleading background. Just to get some context for our listeners, Annelle and I ... I guess we met, now it's almost been two or three years? Since we got initially connected?
Annelle: Yeah, a little over a year, I think.
Shantel: And we're both in the Entrepreneur's Organization and you recently took on a board seat, but I don't think we've ever talked on the cheerleading piece.
Annelle: Yeah, it's kinda ... I'm certainly not embarrassed about being a cheerleader, but it doesn't really align with who I am, 'cause it was more like ... I was more into the competitive side of the cheerleading rather than the "ra ra" cheerleading uniform kind of cheerleader. It was more about the gymnastics and the routines, and the strategy, and the creation than about the popularity contest, I guess. So when I talk about it, I'm not embarrassed, but it's also kinda like "This is not who I really am anymore." It's kinda funny.
Shantel: Well, that's fair. I'm sure some of you then, when you just mentioned the strategy or the coming up with the game plan, maybe has kind of translated into your company, too. Which are great skills to have regardless.
Annelle: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I mean, you have to plan everything out when you're building those routines. There is definitely similarities, and you also have to, of course, be a leader, too, so that aligns, as well.
Shantel: Certainly. Let's dive into more of this program that you've created with kind of this three-step process. How did that come about?
| THE MOB METHOD |
Annelle: Yeah, it's called "The Mob Method", and basically it is ... I get tons of requests and communication from people who are looking for marketing positions. Just the nature of being a recruiter, I think people, of course, know that recruiters know what's going on in the industry and they know that we know what jobs are available, and how to ... how to advise people to interview and things like that. So I get these requests and, at this point, I am a one-person company and have two virtual assistants that help me, but my time is limited and I can't help every single person that reaches out to me. So in this past year, actually, I've really been working on creating solutions that are one-to-many instead of one-to-one, so that I can help more people, and the Mob Method is part of that. Basically, the three steps are building your success platform. The second step is outreach and connection; and then the third step is mastering the interview. A lot of job-seekers don't realize that the first step is actually the most important of the three, and they often go straight to mastering the interview because that's where they're face-to-face with the employer and where they feel like they can shine. But if you do the work on the front end and build the success-platform base, then it feeds everything else and really makes for a successful interview in the long run. It was a lot of fun to create. I was inspired by it and started working on it and spent probably six straight weeks working eight to 12 hours a day on it 'cause there are about 27 different videos and frameworks and templates and fill-in-the-blank cheatsheets to go along with that. It was certainly very time consuming, but I'm very proud of it 'cause I feel like I can really help a lot of people through it.
Shantel: That's great. I mean, that's helping the ... not necessarily a company; it's helping the individual?
Shantel: Are you thinking of, down the line, ever helping some sort of programming for a company trying to find that perfect fit, or ... I mean, is there not one-size-fits-all model that you've been able to think of?
Annelle: Yeah. I mean, I definitely help the companies as I'm helping them find people. Through the Marketing Mob job board and community, the companies have the ability to post jobs on the job board. They also have the ability to search our database and then we have a personality assessment that they can use when they're trying to hire somebody. We do help the employers in that respect. Probably, the next phase is to provide learning resources for the employers as well as I'm working with someone right now to create a ... what we're calling right now a "Build a Marketing Team with Intent.” It's gonna be about taking an employer through the entire hiring process; where to find them; what to use besides job boards, because that's what a lot of people rely upon; how to find passive candidates; and then how to qualify them once you do find them. And then the last piece is how do they fit into your actual culture. So I'm partnering with somebody on that. I think that it's gonna be a good program for employers as well as marketing leaders who are building these teams out.
Shantel: I think that's great. I mean, I think both pieces of what you just mentioned sound very scalable. Like you won't be needed in a lot of those pieces if you could sell each component. Is that the goal? To really remove yourself from the day-to-day?
Annelle: It is certainly part of it, yes. I mean, I definitely still want to be involved in the hiring process and what we call the "Concierge" or the "White Glove" service, I guess, to make sure that if someone wants the full-service recruiting then we have that available to them. But, to your point, yes, it's ... one-to-one is very hard to scale. And so creating these resources that are primarily online makes it a lot more accessible to a lot more individuals and also allows us to scale our business, for sure.
| NAVIGATING THE JOB MARKET |
Shantel: Definitely. And I don't know if you feel this way, and it may just be something that I'm brain-dumping and there may be a solution that I don't know of yet, but do you sometimes feel like there could be something missing in the marketplace around hiring? And I say that because I feel like a lot of job descriptions cross my desk or perhaps your desk and friends' desks that own business to say, "Okay, do you know anyone that fits this?" And I sometimes feel like there's gotta be a way outside of the traditional job portals and job places that you would post your job that friends can share that in a common place so that you already trust that connection. I don't know, and I may just be rambling, but I do feel like I hear of a lot of things and then I just don't know how to help.
Annelle: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. You know, there are lots of things out there. I've gotten several requests from one; I can't remember the name, unfortunately, off the top of my head, where you can ... It is similar to that. You can share job postings and things like that. Of course, there are all the Facebook groups and the social aspect of that, as well. But I gotta tell you, I don't think anyone's come up with the perfect solution for it. It's a huge need, but it's really just communication with your network. As recruiters, we have, of course, lots of tools at our disposal that we use, and we primarily source passive candidates rather than the people who are applying online because they're already have positions and we don't have as much competition with other jobs that they're applying for or interviewing for if we find them. And then we know if they currently have a position, then they're being validated by their current employer, so we really ... We do target passive candidates. Now, that's not saying that we don't place candidates that apply; that's just the way that it typically turns out, is that we place passive candidates.
Shantel: Yeah. That's a good point. Let's talk about the VA piece. I just hired a VA and she's training right now so we really haven't gotten into the meat of day-to-day, but can you share your experience so far with working with two?
Annelle: Well, so far, I love it. They are both out of the Philippines so that has been a great experience so far. One actually referred the other. So that's nice that I didn't have to go out and find a second one. One of the individuals that I work with specifically works on finding candidates. So they are the person who sources candidates on LinkedIn for me. Basically, they're matching the job descriptions as closely as possible, and qualifying them as much as they can from a LinkedIn perspective. And then, they get shifted to me and I complete the recruiting process and the interviews, and everything. The second one is more of a true administrative assistant. She just started last week, so I have to say I haven't fully gotten into building the processes and things with her yet, but the idea is that she'll be helping me manage my email and my calendar. She's doing a lot of data research and collecting people for me to reach out to about business engagements and things like that, and building databases. I think that the potential of all of the things that I can use her for is huge, so I'm excited to have her but since she's so new I haven't gotten that far into it yet.
Shantel: Yeah. Well, I've heard, and I'm certainly experiencing this too, and I think it needs to be a patient process.
Shantel: And what I'm finding is because so much of what I do day-to-day lives in my brain, like how I respond to emails and how I even work through my email, incoming things, I'm starting to create a lot of training videos to try to just say how I process that.
Shantel: And I remember hearing from another guest that we've had on the show and that we're friends with, Brad Stevens said it just takes a ton of time upfront, and you just have to know that.
Annelle: Yeah. And it certainly makes sense. I recently gave her access to my calendars so that she can follow along my communication, and learn from there. Eventually, she's gonna start creating to-do lists that come from my email every day so that it's not in my inbox anymore; it becomes a to-do list or it goes away, or it gets added to the to-do list or it goes away. I'm excited to see where this goes. I would love it if anyone else has experiences that I can learn from, for sure. How has yours been so far?
Shantel: Yeah, I mean ... maybe people will comment and we can get some good experience shares after the show.
Shantel: It's been great. We did the full training of what any new full-time teammate goes through, so she's ... that's what she's working on for the ten hours each week that she has allocated to help me. And then I'm hoping she can help draft emails and I can read them over and press send, as opposed to working after-hours to get through the emails after all the meetings each day.
Shantel: I will keep you updated.
Annelle: Yeah. Yes, it's amazing how much the emails ... how much time emails take.
Shantel: Speaking of emails, how have you organized ... I just think the organization piece and trying to get into an entrepreneur's head of how they process constantly getting fed information and putting out fires, and all of this. Have you found a good system so far, with the exception of hiring someone to help, that you've been able to stay sane when your inbox gets really full?
Annelle: I definitely have not. It's ... I'm a huge ... I work a lot; we'll just say that. So I just keep working, basically, which is definitely not the smartest way to run a business. It would be better if I had the systems and processes set up, instead of plowing though it. I did just start a new tool called Omnifocus, which I like so far, to try to organize myself and the different projects that I have going on at any given time. 'Cause, you know, as a recruiter we also have all the candidates, as well, and that's in the thousands. And keeping up with all of the candidates and the communication with the candidates is a challenge in itself. We have what's called an applicant tracking system for that, so that certainly helps. But it is ... It can certainly be mind-boggling sometimes.
Shantel: Is the Omnifocus specialized for the recruiting industry? I've not heard of that.
Annelle: No. No, it's not. It kind of integrates your calendar and all of the projects that you're working on, and you can see a forecast of what's coming up and then what's today, and all these different views; but then everything still lives within its project. And you have ... You can also set up projects and sequences that are dependent upon each other, so you can't do this part of it until you finish this part. That kind of thing. I haven't fully gotten into it 'cause I got ... been using it for about ten days now, so I definitely think that there are still some processes that I can put in place to utilize it to its capacity.
Shantel: I'll have to check that out. It sounds similar to a Teamwork. So what's your top strength?
| RESOURCEFULNESS |
Annelle: My top strength? I would say resourcefulness. I feel like I can find a way to do anything or an answer to do anything, so if it's ... I'm so grateful for the World Wide Web and Google because it is just an amazing source of information. I had an intern this summer and was talking to her about how different the world was before the internet, because I am old enough to know what that experience was like, and she had never heard of a microfish that you go to the library to look at through the microscope. It was an interesting age ... realizing my age, experience. 'Cause she had never ... she didn't know that those existed. But anyway, the internet ... my ability to be resourceful using the internet is probably my best strength, of sure. I can find answers to anything that I need to find answers to, whether that's tapping into my network or researching it online.
Shantel: That's great. It reminded me of ... remember AIM? Instant messenger? Did you ever use that?
Annelle: Yeah. Yeah. I did. That was a while ago.
Shantel: I can vividly remember the dial-up sound of when the internet was connecting and the sound when it popped up and you could start chatting with friends.
Annelle: Yeah. Yes, exactly. Yeah. When I was in college, the internet had really just started, and you literally had to key in the entire website address with all of the slashes and the numbers, and the weird symbols and everything. There was no Google. There was no search engine, and so if you wanted to see a website, you had to find the address somewhere and then key it into the ... It wasn't even a browser back then. You'd just key it in and it would come up. That website would come up. It was interesting. I'm really dating myself on this call.
Shantel: That's okay. I think it's really fascinating to just stop and reflect of how quickly things changed.
Shantel: I mean, it's not that many years and lives are dramatically different. And so both of us being in the marketing space, I'm really eager to see how things continue to shift because I don't even think we would've been able to fathom then where we are now.
Annelle: Right? Yeah.
Shantel: The tools. So who knows?
Annelle: Absolutely. And the fact that you can track everything in marketing now is really just ... it's actually awesome to be in marketing right now because of that. It really helps to be able to validate and analyze the data so that you ... so that marketing has established their place in an organization. Where, as it used to be, you would place an ad in a magazine and you would just hope for the best. And people would call in, but you didn't know if they were calling in from the magazine or the radio ad or the TV ad. But now you can track every piece of that, which has really changed marketing completely. And then all of the technologies that really arise every day, at least a new one arrives every day. I think we're up to 8,000 different marketing technologies now, so it's ... Yeah, it's pretty cool, but it's also back to that mind-boggling thing. It does ... It's so much information and so many different ways to do things that it makes it challenging for people to get their arms around that.
Shantel: Certainly. Speaking of metrics, I noticed recently you added a video and you embedded a video in your email signature.
Shantel: Can you speak a little bit to that, and how that's been so far? What spread that idea? Has anyone commented on it? Do you feel like you're building strong relationships 'cause they can see you and hear you?
| DRIVING ATTRACTION |
Annelle: Yeah. Yeah, well, I just did it last week so I don't have that much data to go from. But I have definitely gotten four to five comments on it now, where people have said that it almost forces you to watch it 'cause it's right there in your face. I'm hoping that that's the way that it's working for people. But, you know, I think it's ... it gives people a good introduction to me and to Marketing Mob, and allows me to speak to them more personally than through just email. And texts.
Shantel: Yeah, no, I love that. I'm excited to catch up on how that progresses. When we added our pictures to our email signature, it was kind of a profound ... "Oh, duh. We should've done that years ago." But I do feel like then it gave a face to a name, and it made it a little bit more personal.
Shantel: And just about a month ago, I added a sentence which came ... the idea spurred from another podcast guest, Morgan, and I added to the bottom something along the lines of the importance of building relationships and in-person connections, and not being bogged down to email, so only checking once or twice per day. Just creating a different expectation around email, and the minute I added that, I got a ton of responses, too. Just people noticing and taking note, and either respecting that or digging into it more. I think it's kind of neat how even an email signature just, again think the marketing space as a whole, can really impact or start a conversation that otherwise may not have existed.
Annelle: Yeah, absolutely. And prior to having this video, I actually had a large banner encouraging people to join the Marketing Mob, which is the job board. So I've definitely got a lot of click-throughs from that, 'cause ... Often you're emailing people that you don't even realize things would be relevant to or that they would care about, and then the next thing you know, they're clicking on the banner ad and they're joining the Marketing Mob. I definitely think, especially, as we were just discussing, with how many emails go back and forth and the fact that it's hard to even manage them all in one day, having a marketing message that's truly right there on their computer every time you communicate with them, is certainly impactful to the business and driving attraction, or awareness.
Shantel: Yeah. I think it's neat to just talk to other entrepreneurs to see what they're doing and to gather ideas, and hear those experience shares. We'll definitely have to keep that conversation going as far as best practices there.
Shantel: I just have a couple questions to wrap things up, and the first being: Is there a ... been a mistake or challenge that, in the years of business, you've had to overcome or sometimes reflect on, like, "Thank goodness that happened because I learned x, y, z"? Is there an experience that comes to mind around that?
| QUIT FAST |
Annelle: I mean, geez, I think they happen every day. I really do. I've certainly pivoted my business several times because you'll try something and it doesn't work, and then you go in a different direction and then that doesn't work, but then you get some traction over here so you move in that direction. I can't think of anything massive that has changed my business. I think it's just always gotta be a fluid process and if you're target market is responding to it, stick with it and if they aren't then move on. I actually just reread, for the second time, "The Dip" by Seth Godin, and I think the message there is quit fast because there's a lot of things that you can do kind of mediocre and if you aren't ... if you can't be the best in the world, and his definition of the world is the best in your world, in your space, then you should quit that as fast as possible so that you can concentrate on the things that you can be the best in the world. I think the little things cause big shifts, as well.
Shantel: I'm gonna have to rediscover that book. I think that's a really good point; trying to be great at one thing, as opposed to mediocre at a lot of things.
Annelle: Right. And I really ... I have "shiny object syndrome", for sure, and I really ... I definitely struggle with getting really excited about something and then having to rein myself back in so that I don't go down too many paths and too many directions and spread myself too thin.
Shantel: Well, one thing I admire about you is that you may have "shiny object", but you execute on everything you put your mind to. I've never heard you mention an idea and then it not actually come to fruition, so I think that's amazing and something we could all learn from, for sure.
Annelle: Ah. Well, thank you. I really appreciate that.
Shantel: Of course!
Annelle: It's nice that somebody notices that.
Shantel: And then last but not least, how can people get in touch with you, learn more about your company, the Mob Method, Marketing Mob, et cetera?
Annelle: Yeah, it can really all be found on the Marketing Mob website which is Marketing-Mob, M O B, dot com; or you can reach out to me, my email address, 'cause I need more email, as we all do. But my email address is ABarnett@Marketing-Mob.com, so my email address is on my LinkedIn profile; I'm very open to cold outreach or anyone asking me questions and things like that. But I'd also love for people to connect with me on LinkedIn, too.
Shantel: Well thanks so much for carving out the time and sharing all that you have about Marketing Mob. We really appreciate it.
Annelle: Yeah, I appreciate it, too. Thanks for having me.