Episode 27: Self-Awareness and Startup Life with Nate Smoyer, Director of Marketing at Avail


On today's episode, I talke with Nate Smoyer of Avail, a software for landlords that helps manage properties and tenants. This should be a good one because Nate is not only a director of marketing, but also hosts his own podcast called Tech Nest. Our conversation focuses on how Nate has navigated startup life with a super detailed rundown of how he rebuilt a failing marketing team with insights into how to create a culture that helps a software company retain top talent. The theme through it all, self-awareness. Let's get into it. Nate Smoyer, welcome to the show.

Nate Smoyer:
Thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here.

Maia Wells:
Let's start off with a question that we like to ask all of our guests. What is your favorite part of your career and how did you figure that out?

Nate Smoyer:
I really like this question. My favorite part of my career is, it might sound like an exaggeration, I do what I want. How did I figure that out? As a kid, I had ideas and things I wanted to do. And I've always just did them. And that includes when I was a teenager and realized maybe before then I liked selling. I liked promoting things. I liked being a hype guy. And so I knew pretty early that, in general, I wanted to be in marketing and selling. So yeah, I've just pursued that and done what I've wanted along the way.

Maia Wells:
And what does that mean for you? Doing what you want? Does that mean that you don't need to clock in and out? That you don't have necessarily a boss? Tell me a little bit more about what that means.

Nate Smoyer:
Yeah. We don't clock in and out at Avail. Generally, we have a start time and every day our team meets 10:00 AM Central as a quote unquote standup. Now we are a remotely distributed team, so we're not actually all standing up and then turning on our camera. But doing what I want really, I'm literally doing the work that I'm interested in. In the industry that I'm interested in, the way that I'm interested in doing it. There's a long road here. It wasn't always like that. My first marketing venture right out of college was an abysmal failure.

I think it was a cool name. I started a little agency called Chatter Box Marketing. It was 2010, 2009 and social media, everyone was trying to figure out their angle and what it was going to look like. I was a beta user on everything that's cool now, but then it wasn't well known and so I went after it. I just didn't know how to get to where I wanted to be with it. I certainly had to cut my teeth and do a lot of stuff I didn't want to do. Manually cleaning spreadsheets to build out good email campaigns, and actually doing cold calling to figure out the customer so that I knew what to write. Spending longer than I would've liked to in a social media role.

But through that journey, I learned a lot about partnerships. I learned a lot about affiliate marketing, which then I got into paid media. And so it all unfolded to getting me to where I get to do what I want. Which now means, I'm in real estate. I'm in tech. We're doing something that's improving something for not just business customers, which is our landlords at Avail, but also for renters. There's 45 million Americans who live in a home that's rented or is owned by a mom and pop landlord. And so that's a pretty foundational thing to a lot of communities. And that's important to me. So being able to pursue that to be a part of that and to progress and grow that, that's awesome. And then I get paid to do it. I would probably do it for free.

Maia Wells:
That's really special.

Nate Smoyer:
Don't tell my boss.

Maia Wells:
Yeah, that's really special to be in that place in your career where you feel like you've found your calling. You're getting paid to do what you love. You have the flexibility to live life around that and all of those things. What's your advice for people who feel like they're maybe not living that dream quite yet? Is it stick to it, you'll get there buddy? What kind of things do people need to do to uncover that passion and to then go for it like you have?

Nate Smoyer:
So 2006 to 2008 I was working at a home builder, a privately held home builder on the East coast and very trying time to work at a home builder. I was brought on as building services coordinator, which really just meant I was kind of a janitor. And then they gave me security, which was cool too, because I got a truck that came with that. But I don't know anything about security and my second day on the job, on the job I mean, it was a weekend but I got called in was a fire marshal from a marina that we owned saying, the marina's on fire. We need someone here from your company. We need to knock down some of these buildings. You need to get here yesterday.

Sorry, mom. I've got to leave dinner because... It was interesting to say the least, but I remember talking with my manager and sharing ideas I had for my future. I didn't go to college out of high school. There was a four-year gap there and I felt really far behind. I didn't know how I was going to pay for it. Really didn't know where I was going. I remember just sharing with her and she just looked at me and said, what are you waiting for? It was a good kick in the teeth. I needed that. I respond to that. So to anyone else who's not really stoked on their spot, I don't know what you're waiting for. What are you waiting for to change? Ain't nobody going to do this for you.

No one cares about your career the way you care about it, generally. And if you don't care for it, it's going to be really tough to find someone who really wants to care for it more than you. For me, I've had multiple moments of having to pivot that. When my wife took a job that moved us from Washington State down to Tennessee, I was a realtor in Washington. We go to Tennessee and I'm like, I'm not going to be a realtor again. And then we move and I have to start my business all over again. I started trying to get a job and I couldn't get a job. I'm actually pretty terrible at getting a job. I don't really, I hate to process. I hate the resumes. People want to ask what college I went to and I think that's dumb.

I just suppose I'm going to start a business. And there was no one to hold my hand in that. I'd never run an actual agency other than my failed one right out of college so I had to learn that. I spent some money on a training course. But then it was like, where am I going to go after? What's my business going to go after? And I learned early small businesses just mean small budget, which means making little money. I wanted more. I wanted bigger business. And that's how I found PropTech. I was like look, I like real estate. I like technology. How do I pair those together? How do I build a business out of that? How do I get a slice of this?

When I'm seeing companies raise millions of dollars, I know they're allocating some of that towards paid media marketing. So I had to do that really well. How do I get a piece of that? And that's where I built my podcast was my way, my intro into the industry. So I didn't have any connections. I didn't have any contacts. I didn't come from any companies in that industry. I totally built my own way into it. Totally by force. By, I am a person who is the connector and industry insider. Just by saying so and then doing it. There was no waiting for permission. For anyone in that position, the question is, what are you waiting for? And figure out what that is truly. And if there's nothing to wait for, then get started.

Maia Wells:
I think what you're saying is to observe what you're doing in your career, figure out what you like about it and what you don't like about it, and try to do more of what you are passionate about.

Nate Smoyer:
Yeah. You are your own customer. For everyone who's a marketer, we always talk about like focus on the niche, and learn your personas, and dig into and have empathy for. Why wouldn't you do that for yourself? Why wouldn't you chart that funnel for yourself? You know what the conversion is going to be at the end of the day where you want it to get to. It's no different. It's the same thing. There's a funnel of actions that need to happen in order to get there. You do it for other people's businesses, why not do it for you or your career as a business? You should. And there's no reason if you can't do it in a business that you can't do it for yourself.

Maia Wells:
I love that idea of creating a buyer persona for yourself as yourself. That's great. I think just such an interesting transition from being a real estate agent to then a marketing agency, to then a tech startup. And I'd love to hear a little bit more detail about that story.

Nate Smoyer:
So I had spent a few years working at a software company previously in an ad tech before I became a realtor. So I actually had marketing chops. I cut my teeth on a lot of campaigns. It being a realtor, gave me a lot of unique experience. Most people will not go from salary to unsalaried sales position. That's a very scary place to go. But I also realize that what most people don't do, if I'm willing to do it gives me a unique competitive advantage. So once I realized that that was actually a really good selling tool for me to use. I had bought and sold property for other people. I had bought and sold property for myself. I was currently a landlord. So I have investment properties that I manage myself. And then being able to then apply a marketing lens to that, to companies space added a lot of credibility.

When I created my podcast, I used it as a sales funnel. So we get these emails all the time. If you've got 15 minutes this week, I'd love to show you how I can double your leads and help you reach your targeted customer. Right? And I ain't got time. Nobody's got time for answering those messages. But what we don't get on a regular basis. And I'm talking to business owners. We as business owners, we don't, what we don't get is an email. I've got a podcast that focuses on your niche industry and I'm looking to focus or to feature leaders like you. Would you be interested in being a featured guest? This is totally different. The difference between though that and a sales call, as far as the content is almost zero. I'm still running a needs analysis call.

The difference is they're not coming in defensive. You have a split second to convey information that someone else receives as not threatening to them or not going to be something they need to defense against. Sales situations almost immediately puts up defense barriers. But featuring you as a podcast guest, you open up. You tell me all the things, and then you email me afterwards saying, hey, I'm actually under NDA. Can we not? Can we edit that piece out? Which has happened more than once. And so that's how I was able to get in the door and build out of that. Now the podcast goes further. So I send them the visual assets, the recording, they share it. Now they're validating me in the industry. So what led to Avail was after 40 some episodes, they saw me in the industry and reached out with some news about their business and said this might be something that you want to cover.

I said, sure, why don't you have the CEO coming on the show? Now they didn't know this, but I put Avail, they were one of my top 10 prospects when I started outlining my agency almost a year prior to that happening. So they were in the cross hairs. I was targeting them with everything I was doing. They just didn't know it. And that's great. And I love telling them that story now, because it's like, guys, you didn't know this, but I was reeling you in. You weren't pulling me in. And so they come on the show and out of politeness almost every time at the end of the show, I tell them they did a great job interviewing. They say, Nate, thanks for so much having me on. By the way, what do you do full-time? Because that's just, it's just common courtesy.

If you understand conversations, you know how this goes. And then I could just say, I help early stage PropTech companies scale their growth through paid media. They had just raised money. They needed to deploy the capital. They needed a growth. I'm the guy. They've not, I've not talked out to anyone who specializes in that. So that's how I was able to earn clients out of the podcast. But with Avail, it really worked out because they actually fit one of the three criteria I had set for my exit strategy out of the agency business. First one was to get acquired, which I knew probably would never happen. The second one was to find a product and then leave agency customers behind and just go in all in on my product. And we came close to licensing a product.

It was a PropTech product out of India, but Shoe Dog millionaire told me that you should never license a product that you don't have exclusive rights to. And we couldn't get that. So we didn't do it. And then the last one was to join a client that wanted me to work with them. And that is the scenario with Avail. So that's actually how I got the job was I took the contract, I went far and above scope and I liked working with them. I saw the opportunity. I saw the vision. And they said, Nate, why don't you join us full time? I played a little hard to get, but then they made an offer I couldn't say no to.

Maia Wells:
That's wonderful. And then I noticed in some of my research that Avail was really kind of quickly sold to realtor.com. Is that right?

Nate Smoyer:
Yeah. So I joined the company June, 2019. And then we exited the business in December, 2020. So a very fast turnaround.

Maia Wells:
Yeah. Tell me more about that process and how you were involved in that? How early was Avail when you got in there and what was the process like taking it to the point where it was ready to be acquired? And just tell us a little bit more about that process from marketing standpoint?

Nate Smoyer:
Yeah. When I first joined Avail it was like 25 people. And then few missteps, we had a marketing team that was assembled when I joined. But I think that there was just not the right lens applied to some of the positions and the personalities that were brought in. And really in all seriousness you need to want to work at a startup. One of my screening questions was why do you want to work here? Like honestly, there's other jobs that are easier. They pay more. There's less risk of us running out of money. Why would you want to be in this? And you have to really have a good why. And so we actually went through a little bit of a deconstruction and lost quite a few people early on in that. And so six months into the job I was left with, I had one writer and I had another person who was previously in customer service with no marketing experience.

And that was my marketing team and me. That was it. That was all we had. It's 2020. March hits. It's pandemic shutdown. So the problem here was we were aiming to close our Series A end of 2019. We never closed the Series A until like mid, late summer 2020. So I had the early challenge of that year of how do I get our money to last? How do I still maintain growth that we're attractive to venture capital? How do I build a team around this and how do we actually execute? Because we're so short staffed. So we really devised a handful of really interesting strategies to be able to do that. We've maintained a focus on trying to get other landlords to want to talk about us. Influencers to want to talk about us.

And the more, the theory was, the more that people talked about us, the more the people would talk about us. And that would stretch our dollars. So we did a whole podcast tour, did a lot of organic PR leveraging data as content. And I have a whole philosophy that data is content, content is product. And if you treat your release of content like you would a product release, then you know that the quality goes up. And if you use unique data in your content, that makes it a unique product. And unique product gets attention. So that's really what we hammered on for hard. And so when we close at Series A, it was like accelerant. I was able to hire, put a lot of people in place, and we actually already had a lot of systems. We had worked and focused on systems and creating a base to be able to bring people in.

So when we went under contract to sell, that was a bit of a whirlwind because you have to operate your business as if the deal is going to fall through. You have to understand that it's hard to sell a business. And especially a venture backed one. So we operated like, hey, nothing changes. This steel will probably fall through. So we need to hustle and move and do all we can. At the same time, I have to maintain composure with my team because I know what's happening and we're keeping it on the low because that's how that stuff works. And I handle all the diligence, handle the questions. If you sell the vision, sell the future prospects. It was an interesting process. I got to be a part of a good portion of it and I think what it will do is for the next time something like that pops up, I know I'll be a little bit more prepared and thinking through how do we prepare a business for that day because it's freaking hard?

Maia Wells:
Yeah. It's a big deal. Even just what you just described is a lot to handle in 18 months. A lot.

Nate Smoyer:
Yeah.

Maia Wells:
I want to know a little bit more about building that marketing team back up. Of course, you know that this podcast is focused on SAS marketing. And so we've got a lot of SAS marketing listeners and a lot of people that work at startups. So people that may be in that position that you just talked about of, I've got a writer, I've got a guy that's kind of green and I'm trying to teach him what to do and me. And then what do I do from there? So I love that you highlighted systems. I think that's one of the most important and overlooked ideas in marketing is having a system, having a process, having a project management software, that kind of stuff. But once you have that foundation there, what were some of your next steps? Who did you bring in first? What kind of things were you looking for on that team? And how did you make sure that the personalities were going to be a good fit for what you were trying to achieve?

Nate Smoyer:
Yeah. So first, a hiring process. We have a pretty distinct hiring process. Application comes in, the hiring manager reviews the application. If it's good, hiring manager calls the applicant and goes through just a confirmation; what the position is, expectations, it's full time, whether it's remote, in-person, type of company, quick backgrounds, is this what you want to be doing? Yeah. Cool. Okay. Let's go ahead and schedule your screening. The screening's with the manager again. At one point we used to be able to do that in-person. Now it's all over the phone. And that's a 30 to 45-minute interview just with the hiring manager and the candidate. The second round is the technical. The technical brings another person in from the marketing team and we really hone in on skills. And so we go into some technical questions. I love throwing, not the curve ball what does UTM stand for?

And because UTMs is like, we all use UTMs. So we know what it is. What does it stand for? I don't freaking know. I always forget and have to Google it. It's Urchin tracking something. But the point of it is just to really understand where they technically sit because they both have to drink strategically, but also tactically execute. Following that there's a back to background, which is our cultural and behavioral. And this is where we include people from other teams as well as other people from marketing. So they get to interview with another four people frequently with co-founders as well. And then after that, then there is no conference, but everyone submits a form based on attributes that should come out of the questions that are already scripted for those interviews so that we can interview for cultural and behavior.

So we start with experience, we move into technical skills and then we try to match with behavior and culture. So that's having that hiring process really detailed and thorough, but also shared documents. Everyone knows how it operates. That's how we get a consistency. The developers get same cultural and behavioral questions as a copywriter does. So you get a lot of consistency across the company of the type of people that are there and you really need that because a small team needs to be close-knit. One detractors on 100 is lesser impact than one detractors on 10. And that can't be underscored enough, especially in a startup business. For those who are trying to build a team of knowing which roles, you've got to look at your funnel. At some point, a business might make more sense of making calls one-to-one. And then it makes more sense to maybe scale up some email outreach.

And then it may might make more sense to do some paid marketing to expand the funnel. And then it might make sense to expand your paid marketing to expand awareness. All those are different roles. And understanding your funnel and where you have the efficiencies at and inefficiencies at will kind of point to where you need to hire. Look, you don't have to hire four email marketers if you've got 100 people on your email list. And if your email marketing is so complicated that you need that many people, you may want to simplify your product offering. You're probably a little too far left field. So that that's really challenging. One role that a lot of people tend to want to offer is a generalist. Bringing someone who's kind of a jerk of all trades. That was kind of, that was me in many previous roles. And kind of still is. This is a very hard role to hire for.

They need to be comfortable in ambiguity, comfortable in ownership, comfortable in not knowing what the hell they're doing, and actually have a clue of how to do things. It's a very unsettling position. It feels very lonely. They need to follow direction, but also be a bit of a Maverick. But be open to hiring that because when you find someone who can operate in that capacity, it brings tremendous value. As long as they're really bought in on the vision and mission. So there's some general guidelines that I would think obviously every business is different. And if you have a true SaaS business where there's a sales model that's purely product led like we are, we don't have any SDRs, no AEs, no customer success, it's all product and marketing. So if you have a traditional sales model, of course, that will also dictate some positions that you really need to enable sales to do what they need to do.

Maia Wells:
That's a really excellent and detailed description. I would really love to know more about that culture fit. And how, what kind of questions do you ask? How do you determine the qualities or what answers you're looking for with that? Is it, what time do you get up in the morning? Are you a morning person or night person? What kind of things do you want people to say that would allow you to know that they are going to gel with your team?

Nate Smoyer:
Actually, asking do you work better in the morning or evenings? Do they even have self-awareness of when they do their best work? Someone's like, I don't really know. I never thought about that. Okay. We're asking. Do you have self-awareness where you can look back and when do you do your best work? Do you enjoy working fast pace? Do you enjoy always talking with other people? If you enjoy a collaborative role but the role is really not very collaborative, probably not a fit. If you need silo but your role as a product marketer or product manager, probably not a fit. These are, we look for those pieces that are attributes to the role specifically.

So while the answers may vary as far as like the right answer, quote unquote the right answer per role, questions are the same. We just we are able to apply those answers to and apply the context. I think there's also obviously like here is just how well do you like, can you bridge a gap? How well can you immediately show that you're interested and willing and wanting to be a part of this team? That's ultimately what it boils down to like, do you want to be here? Not do you want this job? Do you want to be here? Because there's lots of jobs. Who cares?

Go get a job. And for most people I think avoid startups if you want a job. Just go get a normal job. Go to P and G, go to... Follow that track. You'll learn all the proper terms. You'll know how to do forms. You'll run around circles on me on making decks. But if you want to build cool shit and you want to do a lot of fun things, then great, come into the chaos of a startup. And I don't know that there's a perfect way of screening for that, but that's what we're looking for. Who wants to be part of that? Who wants to be here doing what we are doing? And though, and then, and that job is part of that.

Maia Wells:
I hear a really interesting theme in what we've been talking about so far, which is self awareness. You talked about your own career and developing self-awareness with what you're passionate about and then going for that. And then I hear you talking about self-awareness with the people that work with you now. How important is self-awareness to you?

Nate Smoyer:
You know what? I will admit I've never actually asked that question, but apparently important because I've talked about it at different times here.

Maia Wells:
Yeah. Isn't it interesting how it just kind of comes out? It's makes sense that you need to be aware of yourself, what you want, what you want to go for, what types of jobs might be a good fit for you, what you would be good at, what you like doing. I think a lot of us will go for a job for the security of it and then allow ourselves to be miserable for years. And it's like having that self-awareness beforehand or even developing it during that experience can help us live a lot more of a passionate and fulfilled life. Right?

Nate Smoyer:
Yeah. I think there's a lot of false sense of security that people think is secure in their job. And it's a false sense. So being self aware is actually to everyone's benefit. Look, I know right off the bat, I sometimes entice, or short. And culturally for people in the Westcoast, when I left Philly and went to Washington, I learned very quickly that that really upset a lot of people. Hey, what do you think of this? I think it sucks. I'm not being rude. I'm not trying to hurt your feelings here, but if you want my genuine truth with which I believe is going to be most helpful, yeah. I think this sucks. I think this looks terrible. I could have done better than that in my sleep and I'm, I can't make things. But for some people they find that ultra insulting and it's... And that actually can get in the way of working well.

So you have to be aware of how you present you and what you do, because at times you need to adapt to others. You need to be willing to adapt to others ways or meet them where they're at. And I don't know that you can do that successfully without being self-aware. At times like that's where you may become a bull and just plow through people. And while at some companies that'll get, you'll get the job done, but there's collateral damage when you do that. And I can say after we went through that rebuild, our retention rate is ridiculous. We don't see departures on a regular basis. It's very far and few between. And I think a lot of that has to do with how selective up front we are and intentional. And really getting the buy-in from people like, do you want to be here in what you're doing? That really helps.

Maia Wells:
I find it so interesting what you're saying about retention. We're in the middle of this thing, everyone's calling the great resignation, right? Everybody's leaving positions. A huge amount of turnover at many of the SaaS companies that I've spoken with recently. And I want to point that out, that being careful about who you're hiring and having a culture, knowing what the culture is, and even on that aggregate level at the company level, being self-aware as a company, and being aware of your culture, that you're trying to build, what poignant thing to talk about in this era where everyone's leaving their jobs and switching places and all of that. Do you feel like there's a big impact on your growth and your bottom line as a company because you're able to retain talent?

Nate Smoyer:
Yeah.

Maia Wells:
How much does that matter to you as a company?

Nate Smoyer:
Hugely, because when I lose a role, we did recently lose a role and I'm not mad about it. Our affiliate marketer left after only a few months. And usually, I would've been like, man, what did I do wrong? Where did I miss this? I should have seen something. I should have seen this coming. The reality is actually eight, nine years ago, I recruited this guy to be an affiliate for a different company I was working at. And that come finally opened up remote options and that's been his dream company to work for. So he went to work for that company. So I was very happy for him because I used to work there. Now he gets to work there and it was a great fit. And the timing for him to join our team genuinely, I think it was perfect.

I knew it was right where he was at. He was looking for something that would be the right thing. I knew I needed someone who had his talents and he actually helped build out some systems. The problem is though, now I am the affiliate manager. I have a staff of nine. We have several agencies we work with and I'm now the affiliate manager while I hire that role. So if anyone's looking for an affiliate role there's a little bit of a plug there, Avails hiring. But it's a big setback. It's tough to keep moving when you lose those key people in those key positions. But not the hard point, but that's the point of systems because I've been out of it running our affiliate for our program myself for quite some time. But I have a deck and I have operations docs, so I know where everything's at. I know how to do it. And now I just have a time job in evenings and weekends

Maia Wells:
On top of your full-time job, yeah. That's wonderful.

Nate Smoyer:
Right. Until we fill.

Maia Wells:
So tell me a little bit more about, I love the systems, the documents that really helps a lot. I'm sure with anyone that comes newly to the team or people who are filling in for roles that leave. Can you tell us a little bit more about your onboarding process? What does it look like after you found that right fit person with the cultural questions, the technical skills, all of that? How do you onboard people and help them to get started in the right way on your team?

Nate Smoyer:
Yeah. So everyone gets about 80 hours of training. That's on the industry, the product, the competitor landscape. Anytime you talk with me, you're going to get a lot on the competitor landscape. I keep a sheet of like 100 of our competitors and it's then detailed down to the feature set of what do they do and what do we don't do and all that kind of stuff. So you can really see like why is it important that we make our argument convincingly because there's lots of options? And through that they also get a lot of... It's job specific training as well. So if we have stuff in place, as far as systems and documentation, they go through that. If it's a new role, we're going to be building this out and making sure that they're aware of that. In addition to that, everyone gets 100 day roadmap.

So you come alone and your second week, I'm going to walk through a detailed spreadsheet that has categories and deliverables for the next three months. And we're going to go through that. And we're going to enter it from the spreadsheet into air table. That'll be one of the first things you do is adding projects into our roadmap for marketing. And we chart that path forward. And there's some things that will change and it'll be adjustable and that kind of thing. And sometimes we get to month two and we've done half and sometimes we've done all of it. Obviously, some different paces and sometimes with new positions we're probably a little overaggressive in what we think is accomplishable within this first three months. But you have a roadmap of what should I be doing. It's really important in a remote environment that people feel part of a team and they have a clear direction.

They should really feel like, okay, I know what I'm doing. The first few weeks is really hard, but when you're remote, you have no one to mirror. You have no one to truly shadow. You can't just follow you. You don't hear things, overhearing at lunch. That's part of the intentionality that you have to put into building a good, solid remote team. As part of that, everyone gets an onboarding buddy that's from a different team. So we have criteria for what it means to be an onboarding buddy and from a different team, they are that onboarding buddy. And then they do like a few like virtual coffees, if you will with that person is like checking in. How are things going? Do you need help finding anything? They're also a go-to resource during the day of where do I find this? Do you know who does that?

So that you have a person as well as your direct manager. So that you kind of split the requests between the two kind of thing. But it also gives them a friend, and someone to work with. I think partly because of how we run the marketing team, every Monday in the afternoon, we do the weekly sprint. Tuesday through Fridays at 10:00 AM Central, we do standup and talk through what projects we're working on. Those first two weeks there's a lot of shadowing actually, of what everything is happening within the department that they get a good sense of what's happening. Once a month, we do what's called a marketing recap. It's an all-company call that I lead. We build out a deck, it's usually 50, 60 pages of content. And we start with high level KPIs on where we landed for the last month, how much money we spent, we go through the key projects, key projects coming up, challenges in our way.

And then we demo three or four projects in detail of what happened. And then that deck is shareable. Everyone has access to it. Anyone can comment on it. Anyone can call anything into question. And so again, that ultra visibility within the first month, they've gotten 80 hours of training on the product, the industry, our landscape, they've gotten on the job training on what they're doing. They've got a roadmap for the first three months. They've met with the team 10 times within the first two weeks, aside from just their introduction into our slack channel and all that jazz. And they have an onboarding buddy that they've had several opportunities to connect with. So after the first month, you're really ingrained in what we're doing.

Maia Wells:
Yeah. Sounds like you're in it. You're in the deep end right away. And that's a really detailed process for them. How do you maintain that connection and build that company culture long term with a remote team? I think there are a lot of people out there that want to know how others are doing that. It seems like company culture is a very important part of what you do there. How do you maintain that? Other than the stand-ups, the marketing check-ins, do you have like social hours or like volunteer days? Tell me a little bit more about how you build that company culture at Avail?

Nate Smoyer:
Let's go back to the beginning. I do what I want. So do what you want is kind of, it feels, it sounds selfish. But it's kind of based and rooted in fun. We're marketers because we didn't go into nursing. I remember all the nursing students in college sitting in the hallways with postcards and cramming and I'm just thinking like, guys, I've never pulled an all nighter. I went to a crappy school so there's that. But the point is like marketing should be fun. We should enjoy what we're doing. So one of the things I talk about is delivering delight to our customers. But part of delivering delight is actually joyful in of itself. So we have a banner for our monthly newsletter. It goes out twice a month. And I was like, guys, why don't we take a new direction with our banner?

It was the same thing all the time. I was like, why don't we do a Google Doodle? Let's do our own little Doodle. It's now it's seasonal. So we get to have, there is no metric tied to performance on this beta. There is no measurement of how it performs. And we have tested a few to confirm we're not hurting conversion rates or anything. But the last one we ran in December was an artistic depiction of the Christmas story with the kid, with his tongue stuck to a flag pole. And it's the same setting. We just changed what's happening. Groundhog's day coming up, we've done new year's 4th of July. We do something every single month. It's a new Doodle. So we have a graphic artist in our marketing collaborating to make something fun. We do, every once in a while, we'll just block out everything, tell everyone we're on vacation.

But the reality is we're just going to spend a day doing stuff. Whatever it is. And it might be ideation. It might be reading. It might be whatever. We're going to break a little bit. Mondays, how was your weekend? What would you do? We don't talk projects until we get through weekend. Fridays before we get through stand, what do you got going on? What's what's happening here? We have fun with birthdays. We have our own little inside means and chats. And part of that is just like intentionally pursuing that with every individual. I have one-on-ones with everyone on that reports directly to me every other week. And I have one other manager who then handles after the other half the team.

Maia Wells:
There you have it everybody. We've got Nate Smoyer talking about bringing the joy back to marketing and doing what he wants. That's a great message for you on this episode of the Marketing Hero. Hey Nate, thanks for coming on. We really appreciate your time.

Nate Smoyer:
Thank you.

Click me