SaaS Breakthrough – Featuring Amir Jirbandey

demio saas breakthrough featuring amir jirbandeyAbout Amir Jirbandey:

Amir Jirbandey is the Head of Growth Marketing at Paddle, a hassle-free SaaS subscription management for growing businesses.

He has been working in tech for the last 10 years and more recently implementing scaling Inbound Marketing strategies at fast-growing SaaS companies.


Show Notes:
02:35
Joining to Expedite Marketing Execution
03:40
The Middle Layer Between the Software Sellers and their Buyers
06:30
Understanding Customers, Solid Organic Traffic and Productivity
07:55
Productivity and Assessments
10:10
Outbound: The Frankenstack, Optimization and Customer Profiling
12:00
Multitouch Approaches and Direct Mail
12:25
Building Their Own Stack
14:05
Understanding Customer Attribution
15:55
Showing Right Message at Right Time to Right Person
17:30
Creating a Content Plan
18:45
Winning at Distribution With a SEO Mindframe
19:50
Creating a Community that Has Snowball Effect to Backlinks
20:35
Doing Internal Workshops
21:35
Using the Pixar Story Telling Method
25:20
The Value of a Talented Sales and Marketing Team
28:00
Challenge Ahead: Brand Awareness and Breaking Through the Noise
28:50
Dealing With a Dynamic Persona
29:30
Challenges Becoming Opportunities
30:25
Being Driven and Stress Management
32:50
Lightning Questions
Transcript:

DA: 02:38
Hey Amir, thanks so much for joining me today. Really excited to have you here on the SaaS Breakthrough podcast, means a lot that you take some time out of your busy day to join us and to share some of your awesome knowledge. Why don't you say hello and, give us a quick explanation of what you're doing over at Paddle.

AJ: 02:54
Hey David, thanks for having me. Really excited to be here. My name is Amir. I'm the head of growth marketing at Paddle.

DA: 03:02
Awesome. And how long have you been there? When did, when did you join and what are you guys doing at Paddle right now?

AJ: 03:09
So I'm relatively new. I joined just end up last year in November time and I was initially brought onboard to kind of help us expedite some of the execution we're doing around marketing, specifically inbound for me at the moment. And for the time being, we're kind of trying to tackle challenges when it comes to market fit as our customers are evolving. So that's probably the majority of the things that we'll be talking about today.

DA: 03:37
Yeah, that's going to be a great discussion. I guess we can just jump right into it. How did Paddle actually gets started finding that product market fit? That may be a little bit of backstory and then how was that starting to evolve now? I know you guys just did some new hiring, you just came in. Why is that evolving right now?

AJ: 03:53
Yeah. Cool. I'll start from the top just to give you a bit of a background. So initially Paddle was founded by Christian Owens in his, his bedroom in a small town called Colby in the UK. He was actually 18 at the time and this was his third business. As a software developer and APP developer he have encountered a lot of frustrations when it comes to selling software globally and decided to do something about it so quickly after he convinced one of his good friends, Harrison, to abandon his UNI plans and joined the company as a cofounder. Fast forward into 2013, they got their first seed round and at the moment, kind of staying true to the nature of the company, we solely focused on enabling software and SaaS companies sell better and more intelligently by taking care of the kind of payment layer. As a merchant of record, we take care of the sales taxes globally, the payment gateways, subscription and reporting, chargeback, fraud detection, and so many other kinds of different moving parts that people use trying to piece together like we call them piecemeals. And at the moment, being in that kind of middle layer between the software sellers and their buyers, we're serving about thousand sellers who serve millions of customers on the end of it. I'd say that puts us in a kind of a key position to understand what kind of payments subscriptions set up works best in what industry on what region. So a lot of the kind of value add that we're providing to our customers at the moment is helping them, to onboard through kind of our account managers and consulting to make sure that they can optimize selling. Touching on the top challenges that, that, that you mentioned earlier, obviously it's always a very dynamic industry, the software industry and with the natural trend of, the last, five to 10 years where desktop softwares from PC, windows, Mac or those kind of good stuff moving towards a subscription basis, we've kind of evolved with them. And that's how we tried to kind of keep on top of our market fit at the moment.

DA: 05:49
So you're talking about mostly downloadable software like Mac software that you downloaded from like an app store?

AJ: 05:55
Historically? Yes. Obviously this is an alternative to the APP store which takes about 30%. So for the people that wanted to do it for themselves, this is where we came in historically and as they evolve towards a SaaS or cross platform, basically subscription based software, that's kind of how we evolved with them over time. And now we're serving a plethora of customers across all different types of software from desktop to SaaS.

DA: 06:19
I love it. That's amazing. You can definitely see how that would slowly start to evolve over time. Like you said, as the marketplace shifts and you guys are able to, to grow and evolve with the marketplace itself. So you're coming in November, you guys are shifting and growing. Your target market's starting to evolve, you're coming in as the head of growth marketing. What are some of the first initiatives that you have to take a look at when you're coming in?

AJ: 06:42
It's a good question. So initially instead of going all guns blazing, I try to do some internal analysis of our com strategy and really try to understand what makes us customers tick. Trying to learn those lessons from our outbound processes over the years and basically trying to see how the customers are potentially evolving in the future so that way we can make sure anything that we put in place at the moment is scalable. The second part of it was, basically a massive believer of building a solid foundation on organic traffic. So rather than quick fixes as people do quote unquote growth hacking, we got kind of stuck into making sure we overhaul our social SEO content and email strategy just to build that kind of core foundation. And then lastly, it was kind of an internal challenge that I was, as I was trying to tackle where we looked inwards to see how a team is performing the best they can. Improving productivity is usually agreed that is the best way to achieve faster, faster growth. So instead of starting with new marketing initiatives straight away, we tried to see how we can improve the good work that we're doing already and trying to build on top of that.

DA: 07:53
I love that idea. Yeah, that's absolutely amazing. What kinds of things do you do to track productivity and look at that to make good assessments?

AJ: 08:02
It's a, it's a good question. So obviously we have a series of KPIs which we try to tie into with our sales efforts. We're trying to immobilize the whole marketing team to have that kind of growth mindset. So when it comes to all the tangible outputs that they're providing, we try to make sure that there is very good internal education done and good visibility across the board in terms of how their work is tied into some of those core KPIs, which is usually money driven or revenue driven. There's been a lot of manual work to begin with just because some of the initiatives, as I mentioned, we will kind of overhauling, so good old spreadsheets and, kind of a typical tracking software that we use for our marketing metrics, like the Hubspot and Salesforce and all the atoms that goes with them. And now for the first time, we're getting a more ground alert using a lot more business intelligence tools with which I can touch on later on, which we're using and kind of upscalling everyone to be able to use whatever data that they have available to them to gain actionable insights and make sure they're tracking their own productivity,

DA: 09:11
Where there baselines that you were trying to hit before, before they came through. Like how, how do you judge that productivity if it's low or high or are you just setting benchmarks to start?

AJ: 09:22
It's a good question. So it's a bit of both. For the last maybe five, six years, we've been having about, times three growth year on year. So there's been some really, really strong benchmarks in terms of the top line, data and information that we looked into front of a tier two, but with the new initiatives, especially when we came to overhaul some of the different channels, the key attributes we start to look at is working backwards to see what do we need to do to achieve x or for instance, what does it take to generate an SQL that usually converts to an average size opportunity. If that makes sense.

DA: 10:00
Definitely makes sense. No, that's awesome. I just like to ask those questions, but I think it's so helpful to hear how different people you know, make those assessments at those times, which is really exciting. But you mentioned some channels and marketing initiatives that you guys are doing. Specifically let's start with outbound. I know that the company kind of got started using mostly outbound. What has been getting the best results over there?

AJ: 10:22
Initially just making sure that we really understand our customers. So when it comes to our personas for instance, and the, and the targeting that we do through our internal analysis and a lot of them are, but all of them are revolved around specific triggers, specific pain points that we're looking to solve. So, kind of, it kind of helps and we've been really fortunate that because of Christian's past and how he came to found the company, we were always very customer focused and very kind of market oriented. So some of the outbound activities that have worked, are literally on a consulting basis where we try to educate and enable certain software providers around how they can solve that piecemeal jumbo, which I mentioned earlier, trying to create that Frankenstack as we call it internally where you have stacks and stacks of different tools. And just try to make them understand how we can help them optimize the growth when it comes to going up market. As I touched on going into new territories, be at new international territories or new verticals or selling to bigger companies. That's been the main key kind of driver behind the outbound. And some of the initiatives that we're working on now at the moment is just making sure we improved our understanding of a lot of the anonymous visitors we will be getting on the websites before they give us any information, see if we can segment them and do kind of proactive outreaching and automating a lot of prequalification processes. So before we actually do any kind of outbound, we try to profile the customer as much as possible to see how they marry with that kind of trigger and the pain points that we talked about. And we've recently started playing around with a lot of multitouch approaches, such as, for example, bringing in direct mail as part of the outreach at the right time with the right kind of messaging to go out to the prospects to kind of break through the noise. And this has been really fun for us. It's been a bit of a playground which is providing some really good returns and it's kind of setting the benchmark for us to move into that, beautiful ABM world.

DA: 12:24
I love the idea of doing that outbound with some direct mail. Now this is kind of perfect timing. We're just starting to play with some outbound slush ABM methods here internally. And we started playing with some of the tools. So kind of setting up in the similar processes you were looking at a tool like Albatross or LeadFeeders. That way you guys are doing to capture more leads on the site itself like kind of using a tool like that to, to classify the leads that are coming in and then making more like ICP understandings of what those customers are looking at and the stack they're using something.

AJ: 12:53
Very similar. So we've looked at those and a lot of us have had experience with a lot of similar similar tools. What we've done instead is we've, we've kind of used a stack of different solutions and we built our own, just because where our data sets at the moment is within a platform called HLL [inaudible] which kind of marries our HubSpot and Salesforce data together, better than any kind of integration that they provide out of the box themselves. So that way we can match lots of different fields that don't natively speak with each other. And then from that use other third party tools like Clearbit revealed and a bunch of other ones try to match some of that, use the data to our own database because that's the lowest hanging fruits. There's lots of information that we have already. So if we can marry them, then we're winning at that. And then from that reverse IP look up to functionality, try to bring in prospects and show us, who's doing what on some of those, key intent, pages on the website.

DA: 13:56
That is pretty impressive. That's, that sounds like something that we would absolutely love to use. Obviously we have to start with the beginning of tools, but it sounds like you guys definitely found out a great system there. Did, have you found that using a system or a layer like that has helped you to understand a customer attribution and you know, your traffic sources, your ICP is better. Is kind of given you that deeper perspective by just seeing the real data?

AJ: 14:20
Most definitely. I don't want to say we've, we've finished them. We're 100% there yet. It's, it's, it's, it's a moving beast should we say. It's, it's ever evolving and the more we delve into it, the more challenges we identified that were looking to fix. So I wouldn't say that we getting, the holy grail of insights right now. We're just getting nuggets of it, but we know the challenge ahead of us. So we're tackling that as, as one of our key initiatives at the moment.

DA: 14:46
Are you seeing real wins come through, maybe them into specific, marketing initiatives by just knowing who those leads are? I guess I'm trying to ask from our perspective to what we can learn from this process along the way.

AJ: 15:01
No, that's a good question. So just going back to your previous question in terms of understanding the attribution, one thing that has really helped us is understanding that user flow and behavior on the website before they actually show very clear intent such as book in a demo or signing up for our platform or whichever it may be. It really helped us to understand that journey, so by understanding journey that way we are able to use other tools. Like I think you touched on it last time we spoke on right message or just manually reaching out at the right time with the right communication, making sure that we're hitting on those specific triggers and pain points which they've shown certain interest on. And at the same time, by understanding their flow, it allows us to provide much better proactive communications through, be it a display ads or automated emails or wherever it may be, just to make sure that we let them know we're there, we providing them the right information. And the right lessons at the right time.

DA: 15:54
That's fantastic. I actually, the last episode we just did of this show, we spoke with Proof who is a company that is basically doing a new product development all around personalization, exact same thing that you're talking about. And we went on a deep dive and talk about how you know, different, whether you're using ABM or outbound or whatever, having different pages set up in different call to actions dependent on those users. So, one idea I guess would be like having exactly what you're talking about, having some some data and enrichment on the leads on your site. Then showing them specific call to action specific headlines that would fit who they are, the marketing stack that they have. And be where they are with a level of awareness, how many times they've been to your website or if they've been to your blogs, stuff like that.

AJ: 16:37
That's definitely the future. I'll definitely need to listen to that. But this has been some internal conversations we've been having recently to start creating very, very niche individual pages based on those pain points where we start to kind of highlight it for them based on the behavior that we learnt. Again, just going back to that, showing the right message at the right time to the right person, but just taking it one step further and making sure that whatever they are looking at on a website is optimized to their needs so that way they don't have to go around browsing for hours or minutes or however long it takes them to find what they're looking for.

DA: 17:12
Yeah, for sure. I think the hardest part obviously is creating those paths. Thinking through all the different journeys, building them out, having the right messaging to the right market feel like it's actually a lot of work, but it's, it's, it's really powerful when you can actually make, make it work. And I think in my head it all makes sense, but we're kind of going through this process now and trying to figure it out ourselves. So it is a big process. You also mentioned another marketing initiative that you guys working on being content, you guys put out a ton of customer centric content. It's part of that funnel flow that you just talked about. How are you guys creating your content plan to consistently give great content without being overly salesy but, but still get them through your funnel flow?

AJ: 17:54
Yeah, that's a good question. I think that's a, that's a very key challenge that any B2B marketer faces at one point, if not constantly every day. Just break it down, making sure that you have market orientation and you're really understanding the customers through research, qualitative and quantitative. And then developing a framework where this translates into customer pains, which translates into actionable content. And then once it's released, I think that's just half the battle. The other half is really analyzing the impact on the different life cycles and then taking those lessons and rinse and repeating this process. So it's never kind of a one size fits all. Once you've done it per year, it's not like you can run it for the rest of the year until you have a new product feature or wherever it may be. Is something you need to do probably just on a quarterly. If not, half yearly basis.

DA: 18:44
Are you guys doing any specific distribution channels or do you guys pretty much just post under the blog, email it out to the newsletter and then utilize the SEO value of it?

AJ: 18:53
We played around a lot with different, different distribution channels. However, we found it quite challenging to get any decent kind of returns in comparison to the benchmarks we had for organic or kind of in house paid distribution that we did ourselves. I'm a bit of an SEO geek myself, so I like to get quite hands on. So when it comes to actually overseeing our marketing calendar or market a content marketing calendar, I've been trying to instill kind of a SEO mindframe with, with, with everyone that contributes to content internally. Just make sure that we run regular workshops for them to understand, number one, how it works. Number two, how they can do their own research so they can become self sufficient. And then when it comes to the implementation part of it to make sure that we're tackling it from all four fronts, from the unpaid stuff to the backend stuff, the technical optimization and, and creating a community which organically starts to have that snowball effect in regards to backlinks.

AJ: 19:51
So I think that the main area, which we've had a lot of success on recently is, is the latter, which I mentioned at the moment. We're spending a lot of time first identifying and then trying to engage with certain communities and start to build our own communities online and offline where it's kind of a long tail process, but it does yield dividends where people will start writing about you and start sharing your content and citing you, especially when you have data led insights within your content. It makes it even more shareable. And, in our space, evergreen, evergreen probably is a year old, but as things move, move on a daily basis, I think being able to create that evergreen pieces and having that community that engages with it is absolutely key.

DA: 20:35
I love it. Any key wins or tactics that you share on those internal workshops that you can share today?

AJ: 20:41
To be honest, there isn't a silver bullet. The self sufficiency part of it has been one of the biggest kind of a Eureka moments for me at Paddle. Historically, I've always been, as I mentioned, quite hands on and I may have had one or two people from the team to become those SEO experts, within the organization that kind of oversees all the, all our work. And you have a separate team who is usually involved with the community aspect of it. However, just having a very flat structure where everyone is upskilled and everyone understands everyone's role, so they're able to kind of roll up their sleeves and give a hand and do the work for themselves and see the results on the back of it. That's been that, that's been the key for us, I think.

DA: 21:22
Well, I love that it's all about kind of flattening the hierarchy, more knowledge sharing, more leveling up of just the entire process, knowing what to do and where and why, why being the biggest one.

AJ: 21:34
Most definitely.

DA: 21:34
That's awesome. So you guys, you talked about looking at the analytics, looking at the insights, learning from that inbound marketing process, the inbound content marketing. How has this process also helped you guys create a bottom of the funnel onboarding engine with those analytics?

AJ: 21:54
Yeah, it's a very good question. So when it comes to creating bottom funnel content, we tried to amalgamate multiple different signals. So finding the right balance of things we want to shout about versus the challenges our existing customers face those triggers I touched on, keeping a kind of eye out for new industry challenges and trends that we're learning through the research that we're doing ourselves and then taken on board some of the softer marketing signals like, what we learned through social listening, what we learned through the SEO research we do. And finding gaps when we do competitor analysis. this is kind of phones the elements which we then put through our internal framework, kind of like the Pixar story telling method. I'm not sure if you're familiar with that, but it's a very simple framework. I recommend anyone just googling it. Is basically five questions that you look to answer and that forms the basis of your story. it gives that kind of authenticity and it highlights your values and basically tries to marry what you're saying to the reader. it's really clever and then making sure we staying true to our values whilst we tell that story and to make sure it really resonates with our customers and we're speaking their language. So again, no massive silver bullets, but, just a, a systematic, iterative process to make sure it goes through a certain level of quality control. We push it out and make sure it has purpose.

DA: 23:16
I'm really interested in the Pixar story. How are you guys doing this? Is this through video? Is this through individual emails? When someone signs up, how do you actually tell that story over time, but also drive them to the specific actions you want them to take.

AJ: 23:28
That's a good point. The storytelling is what forms our narrative. It's, it's how we tell the story. It basically, if you, if you look at Nemo for instance, if you take it through the Pixar storytelling framework, which I don't have in front of me, I don't remember exact questions, but it's basically trying to say one day there was Nemo who was very eager and curious. Second day he actually goes out and finds a new playground. And then something else happens. And then from that he learns a lesson and then from the lesson there is these actionable insights. That's how it was kind of translated into our wording. And just making sure that we have that core narrative behind any content that we write . Then we can easily segmented based on the customer challenges. So that's how we decide if it's top of funnel, middle of funnel, or bottom of funnel and when it comes to the last aspect of it, which I mentioned, which was analyzing the impact is just using a set of tools to make sure we gauge the attribution of those pieces of content based on the lifecycle stage of the prospects that is being distributed, distributed towards. So making sure that, our top of funnel content is not the only thing that prospects look at just before signing up for our dashboard just because that indicates they're not necessarily familiar with some of that nitty gritty technical stuff which we wanted them to see. So that way that's how we gauge if our content resonates and also if we're pushing it to them at the right time during the life cycle.

DA: 25:05
That makes a ton of sense. Yeah, that's really, really valuable. I can see that helps so much, but I could also see how it can be really overwhelming to look at so much data. But it sounds like you guys already have the goals and the KPI's mapped out and that's what you've been kind of doing as you come in. Looking back, I guess since your time in November, are there any things that haven't worked out, like you thought or things that you learned that you were taken back from, missed opportunities that you feel like you could go back and redo?

AJ: 25:32
I, yeah, it's, it's hard to pinpoint one specific moment, which is probably a good thing because the missed opportunities or the things that didn't work, is nothing too dramatic. We've been iteratively trying to improve how we handle inbound for instance, and just make sure that we're plugging all those leaks in the pipeline from when we generate the leads and how it's kind of, amalgamated and pushed in front of the salespeople and the follow up that they have is systematic and goes hand in hand with the story that we were telling to begin with at the beginning of the funnel. That's been a bit of a challenge and there always will be because it's such a dynamic, a dynamic force, especially as the company has been growing so rapidly and making sure that we are upscaling people, at all times. For instance, just end of last year, I think it was around December, about 50% of Paddle were still within the first three months of their tenure with, with, with the organization. So just making sure that we have tackled some of those leaky pipes in the, in the, inbound to outbound processes where they amalgamate has been a challenge. So I'm sure there's been loads of missed opportunities within that. So I'm sure we've dropped the ball a handful of times and, this is something that we're looking to address on a, on a continuous basis. And I think I'm very fortunate to be working with a very talented, sales and marketing operations team. We have a dedicated team just for this kind of stuff, where I'm able to kind of bounce ideas and we're able to actually dictate or take deep into data and see where we have those leaks and how we can patch them up, or if we need to do a massive overhaul of the whole system. So I think the way it's kind of leading us at the moment is making us think, in a much more clever manner. Trying to automate lots of the processes while kind of keeping that essential human touch where it's needed. So that's been kind of the challenge where we probably dropped the ball in between a few times.

DA: 27:28
It sounds, first of all, if you have an awesome big team with a lot of help, so congratulations on that. But I think you, you said a couple of times, and I love you said there's no silver bullet. It's, it's going through taking it step by step. You're finding something, you're fixing it, you're finding something, you're fixing it continually improving. It's a slow, steady process, but I think that's really the right way to look at it. And there's always going to be missed opportunities. It's just looking back and figuring out where the big ones are that you can really clean up and work with the best. But that's a great answer. But you know, looking forward this year as you guys get everything organized with your data, as you get your inbound processes all a little bit more dialed in, what challenges or maybe what opportunities are you most excited for moving forward?

AJ: 28:13
Sure I'll touch on the challenges then we can go into the opportunities because I think they go hand in hand. So, I think the initial challenge for us is probably around brand, brand awareness and breaking through the noise. We've been very fortunate to have a rapid growth, especially in our home markets, and expanded very, very quickly. But just because we have expanded very quickly at the moment we haven't concentrated our efforts in specific demographics. So now as we tried to become the adults in comparison to some of our competitors in the industry, breaking through that noise and making sure that we're instilling our brand reputation is, is definitely a big challenge for us. And then the second one was probably where we started our conversation from, that kind of dynamic persona challenge where our customers are constantly evolving and us trying to make sure that we're still relevant and providing exactly what they need as they become bigger or as they expand or as they kind of maybe even go downstream as we have found some clients to do. So just making sure that our, we evolve with our demographic and breeze succinct as we do it is definitely something that we're going to have as a challenge for the new future. And as the opportunity for that is, it's kind of hand in hand. The opportunities are kind of software providers, they're growing and becoming mature software providers and, going into the enterprise space eventually. So just making sure, that we have the right fits. We're also able to reap the rewards from them growing. That's the kind of beauty of Paddle. I'm not, I'm not just saying it because of Paddle but the main thing that really attracted me to it was the more we help our customers grow, the more we grow because of the way we kind of have a revenue model. And that makes it kind of a real partnership. So with our account management, and some of the consultants we have on board, they're, they're ridiculous invested into the success of our clients, which is not exactly, 100% true in other places I've been before, not because of who they are, but just because of the nature of the industry.

DA: 30:20
I loved how you framed that challenges becoming the opportunities for the year. Are you nervous at all going into, I guess a bigger, newer marketplace? It's not really a new marketplace, but going after, you know, more specific SaaS companies outside of like the Mac users, and having new competitors, is that going to be a new challenge for you guys to step up? Or do you feel like you have kind of a really good, you know, segment of marketing that you're gonna be able to bring to the table as can be unique against them?

AJ: 30:48
No, I think I'd be lying if I didn't have sleepless nights. Me and especially our product marketing team who are heavily involved in our evolution at the moment and kind of making sure we are tackling this head on from that customer first approach, which I mentioned, talk about this quite often. Potentially, once a month or once they've ever, ever, ever couple of months, maybe twice a month have those sleepless nights where I just go to sleep thinking that we have no idea what we're doing and you know, I feel terrified. But then I'll wake up and go to work. We have a couple of conversations and I realize that, okay, we actually a lot more clever than I give ourselves credit for the night before. And I still feeling calm and cool and collected. But, I think, I think, I think I'd be lying if, if, if I said we feel 100% comfortable where we are. But I don't think I would ever want to be in a comfortable position. I was having this conversation with Christian actually yesterday where we were talking about the right level of stress and the right level of pressure, is, is a very fine line. And we always made sure that we put ourselves in situations where we tried to have that right. Nevertheless, stress which motivates us and give us the drive to kind of go further and kind of solve new problems and new challenges. But making sure you have that right balance where if you thrive on stress, you don't give stress and pressure on other people. So just that kind of a pressure management to make sure that we're always driven is, is something at the moment I'm realizing about myself, which I never had before.

DA: 32:18
Well, amen to that. That sounds like a really awesome conversation. Wish I could've heard it. I think it is such a fine balance and it's so hard to, to keep that stress inside. And I think talking about it is the right way to do it. And I would, I have the same sleepless nights as you, you know what's going to happen next, how we're going to do that. I mean that's just part of the game, part of the process, but it is finding that balance, it's so hard to do. So thank you for being transparent and sharing that. I think that's, that's absolutely awesome to hear. I love hearing those stories because this is the real game. This is what it's like. But awesome. So what I want to do now is I want to switch gears and head over to our lightning round questions. Just five quick questions that I'll ask and you can answer with the first best thought that comes to mind. Do you want to get started?

AJ: 33:02
Cool let's do it.

DA: 33:04
All right, let's do this thing. Okay. What advice would you give for early stage SaaS companies starting marketing today?

AJ: 33:12
I would say number one for me would be to be authentic. It's, it's, it's so easy to become distracted by competitors, other people that you look up to, brands that are becoming unicorns overnight. And trying to think that, number one, that's the norm because it's not, it's just like how you see social media influencers. But just making sure you stay true to your core values and you stay authentic. And you do things organically is, is absolutely paramount. And just touching that organic aspects of it, I think we spoke about this slightly earlier, building a solid foundation on organic traffic, be it online or offline is I think absolutely key just because if you don't have that foundation together, then, then it's potentially really, really hard to succeed. It's kinda cheesy, but don't know if you read Art of War by Sun Tzu has this little one line on it, which stuck with me that says strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory, tactics before the strategy is noise before defeat. So just getting that strategy and that, that kind of authentic, organic foundation right at the beginning, I think it's really, really key. And hand in hand with that goes with, is being market oriented. So just making sure you have a customer first approach. Is is something that could be overlooked sometimes when people, especially at an early stage when they're developing products and developing new solutions, sometimes you lose sight of that.

DA: 34:40
That was a fantastic answer and I'm absolutely going to take that, since you quote and put that into our Slack chat cause that was fantastic. I love that. All right. Next question. What skill do you think is vital for marketing teams to improve and build on today?

AJ: 34:57
Kind of goes hand in hand with the previous question. So not being sucked into those again, quote unquote growth hacking and guerilla marketing tactics, but remembering that they're just tactics. So as marketers, we're strategists, so the foundation work that goes behind understanding customers becoming market oriented, segmenting and figuring out how we're targeting these segments with the right position is completely in paramount. So when it comes to the tactics, I think they should take a backseat and become secondary kind of a skill sets for anyone to kind of tackle. But if you get those right than, than I think you're winning. But just touching on tactics, I think again, being very focused, on organic traffic to begin with. So understanding SEO, understanding the power of content, understanding, how they marry the strategy that you put in place is definitely something vital for marketing teams to improve on, to build on today.

DA: 35:52
Couldn't agree more. I love it. What about the best educational resource you'd recommend for learning about marketing or growth?

AJ: 36:00
Is probably two fold I think. Just because when it comes to marketing, again, hitting on the strategy stuff, I've, I've personally been reading a lot around positioning. So recent one that really stuck with me was a book called Story Driven by Bernadette Jiwa. She's created a very simple but powerful framework to help you become market oriented and how to position yourself based on your findings while staying true to your authentic values. Basically just take that Pixar, a storytelling framework that was talking about earlier. She's written a book about it and provide a tons of really good case studies on how it could be applied to everyday storytelling, which should drive you whole kind of company positioning, not just marketing. And then when it comes to, some of the other fundamentals. I'm a big believer of, understanding the psyche of human interaction. So reading some psychology books, the one that set me off a few years ago to go down the rabbit hole and read further was a book called Games People Play by Eric Burn, which is the basis behind normal human states and how we interact with others, which I think has a lot of value when it comes to marketing just because that's what we do. And in essence we're trying to understand other humans and interact with them, in, in a way that matters to them. And then when it comes to tactics, I think, I'm sure you've heard this a million times over your, over your podcast, but Intercom, HubSpot, Litmus, all of them have really, really good blogs and loads of resources when it comes to the tactics in terms of how to implement best practices and they've really helped me, in the years where I was stuck for ideas or I was looking to delve into a new channel, which I hadn't kind of utilized before.

DA: 37:43
I'm going to grab both of those books after this podcast. That sounds awesome. I definitely want to dig into those and agree on those blogs. Fantastic tactical training there. What about a favorite tool you can't live without?

AJ: 37:55
There is a couple of old favorites and there's a, there's a, there's a new one I think for me. So internally we use Periscope, it's a (inaudible) not the Twitter one, which is business intelligence. And at the moment we're pulling data from all of our different channels, from (inaudible) which I mentioned that connects Salesforce and HubSpot together. And it gives us much more granular information to our customer dashboard so we can actually marry a lot of the different work we're doing together on the one dashboard. And when it came to upscaling our team to kind of become more data driven, this is really helped us just making sure that we provide them the right access to see how their work is actually effecting the, the, the bottom line numbers has been, has been very, very crucial. And this is something y I use on a daily basis, but there are a couple of old favorites. I still love Gsuite. I still use it for more things than I should probably. And yeah, I just can't do without it. And Canva has been a really, really, kind of old time companion. I remember since they were kind of at the inception stage when they went live with it. I've been a massive user. Initially it was because I was in very, very kind of early stage startups where I was the only marketer few years ago and you need, we didn't have a designer. So some of those early kind of social content or blog content or wherever. That's what helped me out. And nowadays I use it for sketching. So when it comes to actually telling our design team what we want created and what my ideas are, it really helps me out to translate what's in my head onto paper in a language that kind of suits them.

DA: 39:34
Great tools, really good tools. Canva is definitely my favorites tool, too I should say. What about a brand business or team that you admire today?

AJ: 39:44
That's a difficult one. I think the best way I can choose a brand or a business is probably something that I'll use on my phone on a daily basis is a Fintech company in the UK called Moneybox. They're basically revolution, revolutionizing saving. So just how Revolute and Monzo and Transferwise have been revolutionizing sending money or spending money. Moneybox has done it for savings. Were I know there is a few features they have that some of these guys that are just mentioned adopted data. But I just love what they're doing in terms of the customer messaging, how they educate their customers and kind of really, really, really try to understand who the core users are and how they are going to grow to bring out new features and products on the, on their platform.

DA: 40:37
Always so great to hear that answer. I think you learn a lot about new products and tools, but more so through the lens of marketing, how they're telling their stories, how they're attracting and acquiring new users. But that sounds great. I'll have to look up Moneybox and I just want to say, you know, thank you so much for taking some time today. Coming on here. Sharing. You were transparent, honest, were awesome. So I really appreciate you just giving us so much knowledge. I actually learned a ton and I really appreciate your time.

AJ: 41:02
Thanks so much. I really really had fun today. And definitely be going back to those couple of previous podcasts sessions, which you mentioned earlier as well.

DA: 41:11
Definitely, definitely do it and really appreciate your time. We'll talk to you soon.

AJ: 41:14
Fantastic. Thank you very much, David. Have a good day.

DA: 41:19
Awesome. Thank you so much for taking some time today to listen to episode number 65 with Amir Jirbandey and I want to say a big shout out. Thank you to Amir for jumping on this podcast and being so open, being so transparent. Thank you so much to Paddle. Also allowing us to learn more about the initiatives and the hard work that they're doing in the SaaS industry itself. We're excited for you to continue breaking your way into our amazing SaaS industry. (…)

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