DeLoach Right now, I’m at a crossroads. Revelry does great word of
mouth, but one of my big struggles is getting business through
those e-commerce channels.
I recently hired a creative director,
who’s going to be reshooting and
doing videos of all of our gowns
this fall. But we’ve only recently
been diving deep into digital
marketing—and I’m not an expert
in it. I’m trying to figure out what
kind of person I need to run things
and what kind of team I need to
LaFleur Budgetwise, what do you
have apportioned for the job?
DeLoach We’ve been profitable for
a long time, so we have a healthy
budget for that hire.
LaFleur So, there’s no silver-bullet
answer. We’re doing a hybrid
model now—half the team is
in-house and half is outsourced.
Ultimately, our goal is to bring
it all in-house so it’s a true exper-
tise for us.
One way you can go about
it is to bring in someone with three
to five years of experience who has
done performance marketing
before, and is self-sufficient
and can get things started on
Facebook, Instagram, Google.
If they can find a channel or
strategy that works for you, it can
be incredibly lucrative.
But something that’s different
about digital performance
marketing compared with traditional marketing is that it’s an
experiment. The people who
tend to be best at it are analytical
and can run multiple tests at
For this, it’s actually not enough
to hire the performance marketer
alone. Unless there is a person
saying, “I want you to try these
10 ads with these 10 pitches,” you
don’t have a ton to experiment
with. So you have to be able
to provide relevant assets and
copy and turn around marketing
Whether people will see crazy
conversion differences depends
on how good the visuals are. Or
how good the copy is. Those things
matter a lot.
So, if you have a decent bud-
get, I might go the agency route.
They know all the latest things
happening on Facebook, Instagram, Google. It’s more expensive,
but they have deep expertise in
DeLoach So then the question is,
how do you pick the right one?
LaFleur I think, honestly, it’s
less about the agency and more
about whom you get at the
agency. We’ve gone through
several agencies, and some people
at an agency are amazing and
some are terrible. The amazing
thing about performance marketing is that the results are the
results. So if it’s not working, you
just say, “I’m not seeing the results
here” and move on. I’d probably
be very involved, especially at the
beginning, and I’d give any trial
DeLoach This makes me feel
better. I’ve been meeting with
people to find that hire and feeling
like I’m not getting anything done
on the company.
LaFleur Especially at this stage,
if you have the cash flow to
support it, building out your team
so you can scale is one of the
most important things you can be
doing—if not the most.
DeLoach That’s reassuring. I can
get analysis paralysis about where
I should be putting my time.
LaFleur I really get you. I do
this 10-minute exercise—not on
Monday morning, because Monday
morning has a way of making
me panic—and ask myself: What
three things do I want to get done
this week to move the needle
for the business?
With a small team, you’re
still involved with a lot of the day-to-day. But the idea is to scale
your company and to have experts
running the business for the
Right now, it sounds like your
number-one job is hiring a digital
marketer. Forty percent or more of
your time should be spent on
recruiting, whether that means
you’re going on LinkedIn, going on
recruiting appointments, talking to
[recruiting] agencies. I don’t tend
to use agencies, so a lot of my
best people have come through
my own contacts or stalking
LinkedIn. When an email comes
from a CEO, a lot of people are
willing to hear you out.
Do you have a CFO?
DeLoach My husband is our CFO.
LaFleur Wonderful. You can tell
him: Please run all the analyses in
the world, make sure all the checks
are going out, but, most important,
just always make sure I never run
out of cash. You do that for me,
so I can handle my biggest jobs,
which are to set a crystal-clear
vision for the company and hire
the right people—and fire the
DeLoach That’s one of the
hardest things about being CEO—
letting go of someone if they
aren’t working. But when you know,
LaFleur Totally. That’s a really
important part of the CEO’s role.
Too often, people keep people
around, hoping maybe it will work
out. But if you’re already spending
time on hiring, it shouldn’t feel
One week after this conversation,
Michelle DeLoach sent an update:
“I dedicated 40 percent of my
time to hiring, as Sarah suggested,
and we just hired an amazing
director of operations and
marketing. Things already feel
like they’re coming together,
thanks to her help.”
Revelry founder Michelle DeLoach
took a risk when she quit a secure
gig to sell dresses on the road. Her
Austin-based startup grew 1,423
percent in three years.