Found co-creator shares his checklist for startup marketing

Co-founder of the mobile-oriented workforce recruitment and jobs app shares the digital marketing strategy that's been fuelling its rapid take-up

If there’s one thing Andrew Joyce has learnt being co-founder of Australian mobile-oriented jobs startup, Found, it’s that he is hopeless at predicting what millennials and Gen Z consumers are going to like in an advertisement. 

“My ability to predict what will work is approximately zero,” he tells CMO. “So it’s all about scientifically testing it. And as long as it’s relative to our broad brand effort, we could try anything.”  

Found has been labelled the ‘tinder for jobs’ and prides itself on taking a next-generation approach to workforce recruitment. The idea for Found came as Joyce and his co-founder, Peter Marchiori, were working on building another startup business called Rifirb, which sold refurbished iPhones. Faced with hiring 10 staff in three months and hitting $25 million in turnover in one year, the pair experienced great difficulty filling roles through the existing and traditional jobs and recruitment channels.  

The problem, the pair believed, was that everything was still PDF and CV-based, leaving potential employers with the challenge of sifting through digital files and limiting engagement between prospect and employer.  

“Our research also suggested the experience doesn’t get any better for big corporates,” Joyce says.  

In addition, given the fact most consumers are now performing the majority of tasks via a mobile device, the duo also saw the opportunity to drive recruitment through a mobile app-based experience.  

“The way we hire people traditionally has been to post an ad to create demand. But then committing to an opportunity requires a PDF, CV or filling in forms, and most of these don’t work or aren’t conducive to mobile interaction. The idea of people writing a CV over the phone doesn’t make sense,” Joyce says. “The entire youth market is shifting to mobile, and every company has to hire staff. No one else was coming close to crafting a response to that. We see the move to mobile as a bigger shift than going from offline to online.”  

Three years since inception, Found is now adding between 25,000 – 30,000 candidates to its platform a month, has chalked up 50 million ‘swipes’ – where candidates swipe right or left to accept or reject a job, respectively – and is now processing about 300,000 job applications per month. It’s also secured $2.5 million in fundraising to support its ambition.    

Here, Joyce shares the marketing strategy driving Found’s growth and engagement.  

Identifying segments  

As a dual-sided marketplace, Joyce notes there are very different markets and needs within the collective group.  

“Just in B2B, you have small business through to enterprise corporates, and those require very distinct strategies to target different segments,” he says. “Then dealing with small business is more like consumer, while as a consumer, mobile is very different. Business-to-enterprise (B2E) is different again.”    

To achieve this, Found has a three-pronged approach to cover the job seeker (B2C), small business (B2B with a consumer edge), and big business (B2E). It started, however, with an emphasis on the small business part of the market, offering a free product to encourage interaction.    

“Small businesses are more willing to give anything a go and we built success that way,” he says.    

In the last 12 months, Found has been striving to build its presence in the higher end of town, and now boasts of customers including Aussie Home Loans, Hudson, Flight Centre, the Federal Government and Vodafone.  

Outbound-based immediacy  

Joyce describes Found’s marketing efforts, meanwhile, as direct and digitally fuelled. As a small startup, every marketing piece has had to have a direct ROI immediately, he says.  

“The concern for a small business is that brand marketing is prohibitively expensive. It requires a big investment and has a longer payback period. Our focus has been on achieving an outcome on day one,” he explains.  

In addition, the emphasis is largely on outbound marketing and achieving app sign-ups.

On the job seeker side, for instance, call to actions are all designed to get people to download the Found app. That’s where the journey starts, Joyce says.  

For SMBs, the priority has been on capturing information through a Web form and again, signing up on the small business app. In both instances, Found is using advertising via social, digital and search channels as a way of driving engagement.  

Where Found has garnered the most marketing experience – and success – to date has been in its approach to job seekers. According to Joyce, the marketing approach is highly driven by test-and-learn and optimisation, with the team producing rapid iterations of ad copy and optimises quickly using data insights.

To help, Found has an in-house designer as well as former engineer and financial analyst on its marketing team.  

“We create loads of visual ads for YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, and reams of content, and we test it via these platforms. We could have 40-50 new ads per week, and three might be good, so we optimise accordingly,” he says.    

With enterprises, Joyce admits the business has yet to crack the formula, but Found is investing in direct sales as a key part of the puzzle. He agrees producing thought leadership and whitepaper content that suits this part of the market is a massive challenge given the amount of noise in the market as well as the investment required into content itself.  

Branching out of pure-play digital marketing and investing in offline media is on the cards as a way of building awareness, although Joyce points to the cost and limitations of collateral as hurdles.  

“In terms of building trust in B2B, traditional  media still has weight. So if we can plug into that, we would like to,” he says.  

Finding your differentiator  

Found’s main focus is on delivering people for front-line and back-off execution roles, making it more relevant to the retail and hospitality sectors. Joyce says it therefore doesn’t see LinkedIn as a competitor because it’s more concentrated on ‘white collar’, managerial roles.  

As a result, Found’s job seeker sweet spot is mainly 16-35 year-olds, and Joyce adds it’s those under 25 years of age who are in the higher percentage of those looking for work. Of the 500,000 downloads of the app to date, 90 per cent of users are aged 30 years or under.  

What’s also apparent is younger audiences are markedly more visual, particularly in social platforms, Joyce said. He estimated 80-90 per cent of the outcome is driven by the imagery used by Found in its advertising.  

“If you don’t get them to slow down scrolling in that half a second, you’ve missed the opportunity. Step one is getting them to stop scrolling, then look,” he says. “To achieve this, you have to constantly test and be willing to pull content that’s not working.  

“Taking a Mad Men into the digital marketing area is not a good strategy. The old model of having one concept you push to the nth degree with heavy media buying doesn’t work here. You also don’t need to do that with digital. It’s about iteration and the volume of ideas.

There is no silver bullet – our approach has been to not overinvest into one thing or idea, but optimise through platforms and be brutal on analytics.”  

Being flexible about brand  

Joyce also believes too many companies view their brand differently to the consumer – to their detriment. Taking a flexible brand approach and having the scope to go where customers want to take the brand is key.  

“Our aim is to be relevant, useful and helpful. We’re happy to have them have their own view on how we do that,” he says. “There is a hygiene factor of being clear in our content about what we are trying to do. But too many get caught up in their tagline or concept.”  

Be data-driven  

Another priority in coming weeks is the release of Found’s new back-end platform, which will see the service offered to Android phone users for the first time. This opens up a new market for the business, Joyce says, noting Android users make up about 40 per cent of Australian consumers.  

Through all of this fast-paced growth and startup building, Joyce’s advice for other executives working in similar organisations is to be incredibly data-driven.  

“I can point to many cases where you think you know something and it’s wrong,” he says. “When you have executives managing a product they’re not in the target market for, you also have to be humble, and look at the data. You have to appreciate that you can’t know what your customers want.”  

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