Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
I am Hailey Brooke McFadden and I was a 4 season starter on the volleyball team at Wake Forest University, captain, and libero my senior year. I was a 4x Academic All-ACC honoree and 3x Dean’s list honoree and graduated from Wake Forest in 3.5 years with a BA in communication with a minor in film studies.
I then went on to get my master of science in management from the Wake Forest School of Business, which is the number 3 business management program in the country! While still in school, I started Power Move Marketing, an innovative digital marketing company which is the one-stop-shop for e-commerce businesses! I finally got my official LLC in May and have already hired my first full-time employee! We make $22,075/month and are projected to make almost $300,000 in our first year.
Before grad school, I had a short stint as a sideline reporter for ACCN/ESPN and a few other random pros or semi-pro teams. Working with the ACCN/ESPN team was wonderful, but I quickly realized that not all organizations are as welcoming to women in sports.
Not only did I face a lot of disrespect and uncomfortable situations with fans, players, and coaches, but the staff of these teams was not much better. I have always loved sports and it was a really tough decision to step out of sports, but I felt like it was the best choice for me.
Starting PMM has given me a chance to not only utilize my talents but has helped me empower and teach other women to use theirs too. 85% of purchasing decisions are made by women, yet women are still the vast minority in entrepreneurship or marketing… I remember thinking, “how can these all-male companies sell to women if they have no female representation on their teams?”
I wanted to make a company that knew how to market to women and also cultivated a culture internally that respects women and give them a chance to thrive. Ironically, PMM now works with several companies whose target audience is male and we have still been able to crush it!
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I have a pretty decently sized personal following on IG from being a college volleyball player and a short stint as a sideline reporter for ACCN/ ESPN. Companies began reaching out to me asking me to post and I told one company no because their IG and website weren’t very professional and it would do him a disservice because even if I got the traffic there I knew it wouldn’t convert.
Give people recognition and praise for a job well done, even if your co-founder or employee is a friend or spouse… don’t forget they need a little love too!
So he said, “why don’t you run it then?”. I ended up running his socials, doing all his emails, working with suppliers to make new products, creating an ambassador program, editing the website, customer service, and more! Once I posted about my success with this company, more and more companies began reaching out for help! Most companies already had several marketing teams on when I would come on and my ads and other work always outperformed theirs. I realized I brought something the other companies couldn’t- cohesiveness with email, socials, ads, etc.
There was no other “one-stop” shop! I was a lot to balance while being a full-time student, so I was excited to go full-time once I graduated. I knew I wanted to get into marketing over broadcasting once I graduated. Honestly, the treatment of women in sports broadcasting as a whole is not super great and so when I started PMM it was really important to me to empower women. I have hired one other full-time female employee, a few part-time female employees, and a few female interns already!
Describe the process of launching the business.
Thankfully, the marketing business has small overhead costs so I just submitted my LLC and got to work! I taught myself a bunch of coding to make my website custom and was able to hire my first employee pretty quickly! I had begun talking to Connie (my first full-time hire) about coming on to the team, so she gave her two weeks’ notice and soon after joined the team!
The most difficult part was just trying to set all of this up during COVID-19! I had to be patient with everything even though all I wanted to do was run full-steam ahead!
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Doing great work for clients. Most of my new clients have been through word of mouth through current clients so we need to do great work. I hate how most marketing companies just want to lock companies in an extensive contract knowing they’ll cancel and get paid to do 30 days of nothing.
I want to keep each of my clients as long as possible and most of my clients seem to be “life-long” clients so far! Customer service is key even in B2B- the client is always right. At the end of the day, their vision is the one that matters and we have to be ready to pivot on a dime, as that vision can change rapidly.
Being a great employee (even if you’re the boss) and creating an awesome culture. Treating all employees the same, whether it's an unpaid intern or a manager. People always talk about the customers, the products, the sales, and neglect their employees. Your business will be much more fruitful and productive with happy employees/ interns!
No job is beneath me and I am not too good for any job.
Some things I do:
I don’t make people do jobs that I would not do myself.
Hold myself to a higher standard than anyone else. I always come to meetings dressed nicely to show that I care (yes, I mean look nice for Zoom!), I always get my work done early, and if I tell someone I am going to do something- I do it. You have to set the standard for your employees.
I send out a survey to all interns and employees every single month to see if they are happy with their workload, happy with the culture, find out what they like and don’t like, etc. You can be a 3 person company and still garner feedback- don’t be afraid to make your business even better!
I have weekly meetings with the entire staff where we go over tasks and open the floor for discussion (most medium/ large businesses do this but I notice most companies with 10 or fewer employees negate this).
Prioritize their mental health and wellness and do not get upset with them over their work. If someone is not getting their work done I reach out and see what I can do to help- contrary to popular belief, there is typically a reason for subpar work and getting to the root of that is more productive than whipping out punishments.
Give people recognition and praise for a job well done- even if your co-founder or employee is a friend or spouse… don’t forget they need a little love too!
Give criticism in private. Do not embarrass an employee for making a mistake. Mistakes are natural and you want to empower your employees to take risks, so expect some of those risks to miss the mark now and then.
We don’t have screenshots for our results since it’s a little different but here are some of the companies we help manage the socials, emails, ads, etc for!
My biggest advice is to identify your weaknesses, don’t just ignore them as many small businesses do. Also, if you end up outsourcing for help in a department, the biggest thing is you need to know your stuff. Know what the goal ROAS is, goal followers, goal conversion rates, etc. If you have clear goals you can measure progress and make sense of the data. If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
We are currently very profitable (see the first paragraph)! I, of course, would love to grow as quickly as possible, but it all comes down to how many businesses need us. We have been so successful with our current clients that we have never lost a client!
Therefore, I know if we can get the word out about PMM, we can help more businesses. I would love to grow into a marketing powerhouse and have 100+ employees working full time with brands of all sizes! At our current size, we could certainly handle more clients.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Treat your employees well. I mean, well. Constantly praise them for their achievements, appreciate them when they help you out and criticize them constructively in private.
You may not be able to afford to give them a raise, but you can always afford a handwritten note in the mail for a job well done (maybe that’s a bit old school, but I know it means a lot). I don’t make employees or interns do a job that I would not do myself. No job is beneath me and I am not too good for any job. Showing your employees that you’re willing to roll up your sleeves will make them inclined to do the same.
Make an effort to care about them as human beings. That doesn’t mean jumping into their personal life. That means not jumping to conclusions when a project is late, or simply giving them the day off without them asking so they can do something with their family. Happy employees are productive employees. An employee will work 100x harder for you if you respect them and try to not overwhelm them.
Go above and beyond. For your clients, customers, employees, etc. If you are in retail and you make a mistake on an order, throw something in for free in the replacement order.
Under-promise and over-deliver always. If a client wants to take a call after 5 pm now and then, let them. People know when you give them premium service and that is hard to find these days. We always go way above and beyond at PMM and it goes a long way to our clients. They are always complimentary of how fast we respond to emails, or how our quality was fair for the price! Keeping a customer is much easier than acquiring one!
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
- Adobe Creative Cloud: The original design tool
- Canva: Easy, quick, and professional graphics
- Hootsuite: Schedule IG and FB posts and they post automatically
- Lightroom: We create a preset for each client, using it for a cohesive photo experience
- Klaviyo: Best email marketing tool in my opinion
- Todoist: Easy employee management app
- Google Drive: Keep everyone organized
- SEM Rush: Get the best data, SEO, etc
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
I love the Robinhood Snacks podcast, it’s super informative, not as inspirational, but they do have great business tips!
The book Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Daniel Goldman. Learning how to work with other people and use “feel”.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Don’t get discouraged. It is easy to get down on yourself after receiving a lot of feedback- use it to make you and your business better. Remember, feedback is about the company, not you personally. Get feedback from customers, employees, etc, and take it seriously! Don’t write off a complaint because they expressed it to you with a lot of emotion.
Also, do not be afraid to use your resources! Check the alumni resources from your college, even if you graduated 30 years ago, get active on LinkedIn, let people know on social media what you’re doing. Most people are going to want to help you if you let them! It can’t hurt to get the word out there no matter what kind of business you’re running.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We are! We are interested in unpaid marketing and blogging interns for class credit and we have a paid sales/marketing position open for people who can help us gather new clients and who are savvy enough to work with clients too!
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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