For anyone that doesn’t know Alon Braun, he is what we call a “Company Coach”, specialising in tweaking the performance of companies across the industry. With a track record of working with some of the leaders in the field to enhance their overall abilities, Alon currently works with performance marketing group Talkingads as interim CEO, optimising the marketing spend, technology systems and the team itself.
Alon, firstly, tell us about your background in performance marketing?
Alon Braun: I started my career as a programmer, quickly became an entrepreneur, and then landed my first startup Webstare funded by Apple Israel. Since I was seriously interested in science and nature, however, despite having a great job as a network consultant for the government and a successful startup - I decided that I must follow my passion for natural sciences, and I studied this for five years.
While building a startup, and having finished an MSc in earth sciences, I developed a love of finding shortcuts, tricks and hacks to achieve my targets faster, and I was soon mastering email marketing, Adwords, or any tool that would help me to reach my marketing goals quickly. I remember reading about affiliate marketing and deciding to see how I could perform with it. I was always highly competitive and I thought this would be a real challenge - driving click by click.
From then on I lead quite a few performance-marketing teams, either as an interim CEO to lead a company or as an external consultant with the job of optimising the marketing budgets spent or simply enhancing the overall company performance.
Tell us about some of the challenges you faced while managing teams...
AB: The traditional ways of working and building a project within a 9-5 job simply haven’t worked for us in the past. Performance marketing involves a fast response to market and needs daily adaptations, so it required a very dynamic surrounding.
Many times my teams were required to find a resolution by being super creative in an environment that was very far from the 9-5 job that I was used to in my previous roles - it required a special approach to maintain such a dynamic environment for long periods of time. Managing a performance marketing team has two sides; one when the team is doing the actual work of mailing, PPC, CRM - which means it is like managing a team of execution scientists that do rapid experiments - and the other side is business and account management, which means managing the negotiation and business.
Are there core values that are critical for a performance marketing team member?
AB: I require the following values from every person in the team; Reality and measurement, with a scientific approach; Responsibility, or understanding that time is limited and priorities need to be made; Respect for others; and finally, Execution, as in bringing everything into action…
Are there any special requirements for selecting managers?
AB: I follow some rules which are important to managing a team; choose those who understand the difference between goals and tasks to run things, meanwhile, conceptual thinking and common sense are required in order to assign someone the responsibility for achieving goals - as distinct from tasks.
When it comes to hiring your performance marketing staff, what do you recommend?
AB: Don’t hire people just to fit the first job they will do at the company, but also listen for ‘the click’ between the current role and the person. Don’t hire closed-minded or inexperienced personnel, hire the people you want to share your life with; people who have lots of great questions; people that are willing to look at themselves objectively and have character.
Recognise that no matter how good you are at hiring, there is a high probability that the person you hire will not be the ideal person you need for the job. Select the appropriate people and tests for assessing each of these qualities and compare the results of those assessments to what you’ve decided is needed for the job.
And when it comes to job interviews themselves, what’s most important?
AB: Remember that people tend to pick people like themselves, so pick interviewers who can identify what you are looking for. Understand how to use and interpret personality assessments and pay attention to people's’ track records - dig deep to discover why people did what they did.
You should also recognise that performance in school - while of some value in making assessments - doesn’t tell you much about whether the person has the values and abilities you are looking for. Ask for past reviews, check references and lastly, share your values with the team.