SaaS Breakthrough – Featuring Foti Panagiotakopoulos

demio saas breakthrough featuring foti panagiotakopoulos About Foti Panagiotakopoulos:

Foti Panagiotakopoulos has an extensive background in Growth Marketing having tripled EuroVPS’s MRR from €30k to €100k in a couple of years.

In 2018 Foti founded GrowthMentor, a curated community where founders and marketers can book 1:1 calls with vetted growth marketing and startup mentors for on-demand advice.

Since then over 4000 calls have been booked on the platform and Foti has created an incredible loyal following of the top 1% of GrowthMentors and hundreds of paying mentees.

meetdemio · How GrowthMentor Is Breaking the Mold With Ethical Growth Hacking

Show Notes:
02:55
VPS Hosting With High-touch And Custom Tailored Solutions
07:05
Using Personalization To Serve a Very Highly Diverse Group of Customers
08:50
Removing The Shopping Cart Process And Adding A Lead Form
10:55
Lots Of Tools For Personalization Are Overkill For Most People's Needs
"I see a lot of movement in personalization right now, and I think that many of these tools are overkill for most people's needs. Simple segmentation by just asking the right questions at the right time and then using, what we do is we use tools like Segment to then pass the, this enriched people attributes to Mixpanel. And then you do all your sort of analysis over there and discover which cohorts are the most profitable for you. So like my setup is, is pretty simple, just Segment, Mixpanel. I use Userpilot for personalization within the application. And then, you know, Drip is kind of like my steady for any sort of email personalization."
11:55
Get The Fundamentals Optimized Before Moving To Website Personalization
12:45
Buying Yourself Time For Other Projects By Implementing Automation
13:30
Making Posssible For Everyone To Get The Same Level Of High-Quality Advice
15:00
Growing a Human-powered Tool
19:30
Marketplaces Are Like Swimming Pools
"We're not really in it for crazy hyperscale growth because ultimately there's the balance. You need to have a really healthy, like, I think that marketplaces are like swimming pools, right? You need to have the pH in balance."
20:00
Ethical Growth Hacking And Growth Loops
21:30
Examples Of Ethical Growth Hacks
"Growth hacking but again, the ethical way, it's like, what can we do to give back to our users and members and add value to them which meanwhile creates a growth loop, right? So like, how can we add value in specific like the bright time points in the customer life cycle journey that adds value to them that gets them more engaged with your brand and builds a more deeper sense of community as well."
23:55
Growth Hacking Ideas For Content And SEO
"One of the things that we've done is we've basically used the user generated content from the mentor profile pages to create around a hundred or so, very long tail specific bottom of funnel landing pages."
28:40
Partnerships Opportunities From Relationship Building
29:40
Creating a More Sustainable Growth
"What we're trying to do is have a more sustainable growth from just incrementally and consistently try new things. And once you find out what doesn't work, like stop doing it completely. And just focus on what does, and by thinking like that, then all your efforts compounds over time and, and you know, before, you know a year can pass you've doubled. Which is, which is still a really good, like sometimes you don't need 10X growth, you just need a 50% boost."
32:30
You Can Compete With The Big Boys Now
35:05
Lightning Questions
Transcript:

DA (02:49):
Hi, Foti.Thanks so much for joining me today on the SaaS Breakthrough podcast. How are you doing today?

FP (02:54):
All good. All good. Thanks for having me.

DA (02:56):
Yeah. Excited to have you joining me from Athens, which is amazing, and excited to learn a little bit about GrowthMentor, what you're doing over there, but I want to start with a little bit of your background, learn a little bit about EuroVPS, when it was founded, who those customers were and what you were doing uniquely in the marketplace when you joined that team?

FP (03:16):
Sure. So I joined EuroVPS right out of university. So I started, I started finance and I graduated in 2007, never used that degree, but my brother around that time was growing EuroVPS. So he's the, he's the founder. And he's like, why don't you just join ship over here with me and manage the marketing and anything like non-engineering related sales and all that. I was like, all right, let's, let's do it. So I joined ship over there and the first sort of big wind that I, that I had in marketing by the way, like having to learn all these things as I go was with SEO, right? So like, that was one of the first things we did build out a bunch of different long-tail landing pages. Back then it was so easy to rank for things you could just like blow on itwith like a couple of WordPress comment backlinks, and it would rank. So creating out loads of different landing pages that was major. The ideal customer persona back then, first I guess I didn't even say what the product does.

FP (04:18):
So EuroVPS sells managed VPS hosting and manage dedicated servers, basically all sort of managed hosting, kind of like the Rackspace of Europe. And the product positioning was already firmly set and positioned back then. With an ideal customer of probably like an agency, or it could be a freelancer, e-commerce, anybody that needed hosting, needed to be online all the time, but didn't, wasn't very technical. So they need a lot of hands on support, right? So our core differentiator was our support team and that human element. And one of the things that I did early on, which I realized I had to, is I had to learn Linux. I took the Red Hat certified engineer course, which was probably like the hardest thing I've done in my career so far. But by doing that, I could do support as well.

FP (05:15):
And I did some data center work, set up servers, basically like full immersion. And I think that's really important when you're doing marketing for a tech company to be passionate about the tech and really understand how it works so that you could sell it to the right people and they can, they can understand that you're an authority in that as well. So fast forward a couple of years working at EuroVPS, 2012/13 comes and things just get a little bit more difficult in the market because a lot of disruptors were entering the marketplace, the cost to set up a hosting company fell dramatically. A lot of technology went open source, like virtual OZO and KVM actually started to get pretty good and you had like entrance, like Digital Ocean and really massive price cuts from Google cloud as well. It's like flooding the market with those.

FP (06:07):
I don't know if anyone remembers, but like the Google hosting and you got a $500 voucher to get services at Google cloud. It's pretty difficult to compete when, when you're fighting against behemoths like that from a product marketing perspective and you can't outbid them obviously on Google. I mean, it's, it's Google, they're your number one ad competitor. So we had to find a way to differentiate and keep a lower CPA that was sustainable and keep, keep growing at the rate that we were used to. And that required a bit of a product marketing shifts to more high touch and custom tailored solutions. So around that time, we were starting to attract the attention of larger clients who had bigger demands. One of those clients was cnn.gr that we host. We host some of the largest digital publishers in recent and some other European countries.

FP (07:05):
So we quickly realized it's the 80/20 rule, right? I mean, there's a handful of customers that are driving 40, 50% of revenue. So I had to restructure the site in such a way that it didn't alienate our at that, up until that point bread and butter retail client, like your $50 amount, you know, imagine your $50 a month a client, but still attract your larger leads worth in the four figures a month. So around that time, in 2016, there was this big change, I kinda want to talk about personalization.

DA (07:48):
Let's do it. I was going to ask how you built that website out. So that'd be really helpful to know about.

FP (07:53):
Yeah, for sure. So I don't know if, around like 2016, I started getting into marketing automation properly. Right. And that, I watched this, it all started when I watched this one video, from Brennan Dunn, a Drip mastery course. And it was, I was like, Holy shit. I mean, this is amazing how he's segmenting leads automatically using Zapier, Drip and Typeform and giving us sort of personalized segmented experience, sales experience. And one of the things that EuroVPS does, that's distinct about us and kind of a challenge as well is that we have a very highly diverse group of customers in terms of like their ideal, in terms of their persona. So we have agencies, e-commerce, bloggers, consultants, and it's very difficult to say, okay, that's our one type of customer we need to market towards that.

FP (08:50):
So that's why segmentation was really interesting for us. So how we built out the site is, I removed the self-service checkout, which most of our competitors had, you know, your typical (inaudible) where you go and you put your host name in, you add additional RAM and so on. Because what I realized from talking to customers is that many times they didn't know how much RAM they needed or this space or any of these things, which is why they were looking for managed hosting. So that was sort of like a white space that I kind of accidentally discovered that we could completely remove the shopping cart process and just put a lead form in the front, completely eradicating top of funnel friction, because they wouldn't have to put their credit card information or anything. And then there would be, and then we had set up this automatic qualification process with Drip, where if they didn't fill in the Typeform, which had questions that would enrich their profiles and pass all that information to custom fields, and then we could give them a more segmented nurture campaign. And if they didn't fill in the Typeform it would just remind them over and over again. We had, by doing that, removing the shopping cart and just going lead based, we increased customer acquisition rate by like 50% in six months. And the average revenue per user also increased, I think like 20, 30%.

DA (10:11):
Is that by increasing the deal volume primarily, or just because of the segmentation your sales team were able to talk to better customers more effectively?

FP (10:21):
Both, both. So increase the top of funnel volume. And what we had is we just broke it down to the components, right? So like, I made a Google sheet and on column A I had growth lever and that would be, you know, conversion rate top of funnel. And the second lever below would be completion of the Typeform number one. And then the next conversion rate would be what's the conversion rate from Typeform foling to actually selling and closing the deal. So if you break it down, you optimize on each segment of the funnel individually. Those compounding wins are insane.

DA (10:57):
Yeah. That makes a ton of sense. As you've kind of progressed with that over the years, have you seen personalization change, adapt? Are there tools that you've been utilizing lately to build these things out?

FP (11:10):
I see a lot of movement in personalization right now, and I think that many of these tools are overkill for most people's needs. Simple segmentation by just asking the right questions at the right time and then using, what we do is we use tools like Segment to then pass the, this enriched people attributes to Mixpanel. And then you do all your sort of analysis over there and discover which cohorts are the most profitable for you. So like my setup is, is pretty simple, just Segment, Mixpanel. I use Userpilot for personalization within the application. And then, you know, Drip is kind of like my steady for any sort of email personalization.

DA (11:56):
Ilove that, all great companies that have been on the podcast too. So that's a really good tool kit. Have you seen any major adaptations that are needed for personalization on the website? Like, should we be looking at things like you know, Proof experiences they've been on here talking about that, where it like changes the website? Or are you still primarily just saying do the form and then do the campaigns afterwards? Like the most important part of personalization?

FP (12:20):
Yeah, totally. Do the, do the little line through, because I think a lot of people don't do them right, correctly. Like there's so much more, you can optimize on that kind of stuff before you move on to like website personalization and try and personalize based on UTM parameters based on geography, based on like referring sites, like all that stuff is fine and dandy, but I feel like you need to have the fundamentals like down path, before you start moving to that.

DA (12:45):
Yeah. That makes a ton of sense. So you had gone through this big process at EuroVPS, you made the changes. What was the ultimate outcome there at EuroVPS?

FP (12:57):
Yeah, so the ultimate outcome is that I saved myself a lot of, a lot of time. And I automated a lot of things and I essentially made myself redundant there in a sense, right. So what that did is buy me time, which allowed me to work on GrowthMentor. And right now I have some other people running growth at EuroVPS on a kind of steady basis. I'm trying to add more as I, as I have, it is quite a bit of work to do two jobs at the same time. If you want to do both at a high level, like it's, it's basically impossible. You have to choose.

DA (13:32):
Yeah, absolutely. And I think the key point there is setting up those automations. You did everything yourself first and then built the team out for you. And so in 2018, as you mentioned, you created GrowthMentor. It's a curated community where founders and marketers can book one-on-one calls with vetted growth marketing and startup mentors for on-demand advice. And when you went to build this, what was your ultimate goal? When you went ahead with this community?

FP (13:56):
The ultimate goal was to solve my own pain point. So I didn't really have a lot of people to bounce ideas off of. Most of my team members were engineers. So talking to them about marketing and growth related stuff, they just didn't really want to hear it. So I would, I would book calls with people on Upwork to just talk to them. And that was sort of what inspired me to create GrowthMentor to make that process easier. So, yeah, basically like it was to scratch my own itch and to give people that didn't necessarily have a million dollars in VC funding sitting in the back account, the ability to get the same level of high-quality advice from operators in the fields as a, you know, their better, more well-funded counterparts because I think it's those earlier stage founders and marketers that need that advice the most. Cause like there are certain mistakes that you can early on, very critical ones that can completely throw you off path and, and waste, you know, years of develop of time.

DA (14:58):
Absolutely one being maybe not developing an ICP deep enough or understanding your brand positioning, stuff like that. And so, you know, I think we've had a lot of questions along the way. So resources like this are so helpful to just have that kind of expertise that you can fall back on. And I guess looking over the past two years since building this out, have you had any growth or marketing surprises, maybe either good or bad, since starting it? I mean, has the results been what you expected when you watched it?

FP (15:25):
Yeah. The first, well, when we launched it I'll be honest. I thought it was gonna go crazy and grow a lot quicker as most founders do. And then they're hit with that grim reality that things are a lot harder than you imagined they would be. And it just takes a lot of time and just persistence. Right. So in the, in the first week of launching, I didn't do any marketing, any, like pre-launch kind of stuff, because I kind of shadow launch it to work out any early kinks in the system. And yeah, so I did that and I made the first sort of like premiere on Facebook, on his Facebook group, SaaS Growth Hats. And I got really good response from there. And like 500 people signed up to, to join. At that point it was completely free to sign up and create an account.

FP (16:16):
But what I noticed is that people weren't actually booking calls on the platform and they were just a zombie accounts at the end. So a month in, I actually removed the top of, the ability to create an account for free on a self-service basis. And I kind of pulled one of the trick from EuroVPS and I put a Typeform in front and I made them fill that in first with a bunch of questions to figure out who these people are, what their challenges are, what do they want help with? And like probably some other things I'm forgetting. And then I would jump on calls with each one of them before giving them the link to sign up.

DA (16:53):
So a similar process that you built out prior, having more of that sales touch point and making sure that you're giving them the right solution to what they're looking for.

FP (17:01):
Exactly. Yeah, because it's a human powered tool. Right. And I had a lot of experience with human powered, like angle with EuroVPS. Cause it's very like high-touch and, you know, (inaudible) with people, it's consultative, right? Like we don't sell RAM because we want to sell a bigger plan. Like if you come and you say, you want to buy an 8 gigs VPS, but you actually only need 4 gigs if you install Varnish and Engine X web server to reduce your memory usage, we'll let you know, we can install that for you kind of thing. Right. So like, I was used to that and that's what I wanted to bring to GrowthMentor as well, like get on a call with them. And see all right, what are you suffering with right now? Like, what are your, what's your challenge?

FP (17:40):
Because a lot of people think that they need help with one thing, like Facebook ads, right. They come, you know, gung ho that I need to do Facebook ads because that's what my competitor's doing. But that's, that's really like maybe they need to work on their positioning better. Or like maybe their monetization is not suitable for PPC yet. So that's, that's sort of the thing that, that I think really helped in the beginning. Really understanding who the audience, who, our ideal customer persona isn't and also understanding who the mentors liked to have calls with. Right. Because it goes both ways like the mentors are doing this because they also want to, like, it's, there's a level of altruism, but at the end of the day, like, is there really a hundred percent altruism? Like they're helping people because they also feel good about doing that, but because they want to learn as well and be intrigued and intellectually stimulated by the conversations.

DA (18:28):
And of course there's the monetization factor in there as well. Right. So that's a big part of it too, but what have you seen since you switched that model?

FP (18:35):
So that model, we kept it for two months only, and then we reverted and then we reverted back to, to like self- service, but we put a paywall in front and we started the membership. Right. So that was like the beginning of monetization. And, and that's what we've had ever since minus this one, two months stint where we experimented with freemium, but that was like a tragic failure.

DA (18:59):
Yeah. No, that makes sense. So you get the paywall up, how's it been going since since the paywall start?

FP (19:06):
It's been going good. I mean, we started, we started really cheap, $99 a year. And then we steadily increased the price a little bit gradually then $120 a year, then 180 then now, now the price is $50 a month, but with a minimum quarterly commit, which kind of helps filter a little bit, the quality of the mentees. And yeah, it's just, it's, it's, it's going good. We're not really in it for crazy hyperscale growth because ultimately there's the balance. You need to have a really healthy, like, I think that marketplaces are like swimming pools, right? You need to have the pH in balance. You need to make sure there's calcium inside fluorine good amount. Like you can't rush into things and just go for this hyperscale, unless you're VC funded and you have 500 employees, right. It's like, sothat's not, you know, we're taking the more bootstrap path.

DA (20:00):
Yeah. I think that's a really good analogy. I think it's a, you know, communities are so critically important because you have growth at both sides or you have, you can't go too far one way without the other, or you're really hurt that community. So now being involved in this community, you know, looking at growth like this, you know I want to dive into some of those tactical marketing and growth ideas, and I would love to know about something that you've coined as ethical growth hacking. We'd love to know more about that concept. And maybe some examples you've seen from the community.

FP (20:31):
For sure, for sure. So growth hacking has a, I mean, I get it the term and everything, but I just personally don't, don't really like it because I think that it's just, it's not that, it's not that simple. And it misleads people into thinking that that there is an easy way out. Right. And, and I just don't believe that there's, there's such things. I think that's, things like time and there's, it's a dangerous, slippery slope to think that there's hacks out there. So ethical growth hacking the reason why I'm even using that hacking term is kind of like a play on ethical hackers. So in the hosting world, you want to test your, your, you wanna do a penetration test, you got a ethical hacker to kind of test to see if they can get in, in this sense over here, growth hacking but again, ethical way, it's like, what can we do to give back to the, to our users and members and add value to them which in the meanwhile creates a growth loop, right?

FP (21:28):
So like, how can we add value in specific, specific, like the bright time points in the customer life cycle journey that adds value to them that gets them more engaged with your brand and builds a more deeper sense of community as well. So some of the things that we do for that is we try and like give little surprises to the mentors here and there. So every time here's like a simple, a simple one, that's kind of an engagement loop. So when a mentee leaves a review for a mentor, they get an email notification, transactional email with the snippet of what their review was. Thanks for leaving the review. Here's review what it says, PS at the bottom click here to leave a, a LinkedIn recommendation with this review that you sent. And it has the hyperlink to the mentor's LinkedIn profile. So regularly, like on automated kind of way, the mentors are slowly getting just ransom LinkedIn recommendations from the people that they've mentored. Right? So like that I think is like one of my favorite ethical growth hacks.

DA (22:32):
So it's about finding the synergy or where you can kind of build in other areas of growth. How would you do that maybe for instance, in content marketing?

FP (22:41):
Sure. So in content, one of the, one of the things that we do is on the mentor onboarding application form, we ask a lot of questions. Some of them are like, what a growth mindset mean to you and tell us an out-of-the box idea that you thought of in growth. And that content that they, that they give over there is, is compiled and rounded up into a blog post every month called like the mentor batch series. And we use that to promote their profiles. And and then that in turn gets shares from them. So it's a little bit of a positive K factor kind of thing when people see it. Other things that we do is just, I think on the three days after somebody signs up as a mentee, they'll get an email saying, please share with us your social profiles, any company that you want us to promote on social media. And then we go out of our way to, whenever we get an opportunity to promote the mentees companies as well, and their personal pages and things like that. So just finding as many ways as possible to just add value to the community and just pay forward without really asking that much. So like, we don't really ask for, solicit reviews for Trustpilot or anything on an automated fashion. It's just mostly like, how can we add value?

DA (23:53):
I love that. And I love the approach that you guys are taking to build a community and really building in the trust factor. And then by building in that engagement with them early on you're really driving them to want to ethically you know, work hard back with the community, like put more value into the community. So that's really amazing. Any other growth hacking ideas that have stood out for you?

FP (24:17):
Growth hacking ideas that have stood out for me? One of the, one of the things that that's worked really well for us is the, is our SEO strategy. So one of the things that we've done is on the, we've basically used the user generated content from the mentor profile pages to create around a hundred or so, very long tail specific bottom of funnel landing pages. For example, there's 25 different skills that people can filter mentors by ranging from like content marketing to PPC. And each one of those is represented with a landing page showing the featured mentors that have that as their top expertise. And yeah, that's, that's been super effective for us because people generally, I mean, there are a lot of people that know what they're looking for and are like, I want to start up mentor, a business mentor, but most people, they don't come like that. They're looking for specific for help with specific parts of their growth strategy. Like SEO, content, Facebook ads or product-market fit or product launches. So if you have a wide net of different ways that your products can be a solution to that problem and kind of incorporate your product there, kind of frame it as a viable solution to someone that's solution unaware that works really well.

DA (25:41):
Talk to me about how that works from an SEO perspective. I'm always interested when I hear landing page and SEO used in the same sentence, because landing pages are notoriously known, you know, to have lack of content, lack of SEO you know, on the page itself, just natively, how are you guys building content onto a landing page that is searchable? It is something you can easily find when you're searching those keywords or topics. And then how are you not getting any type of penalty for having multiple landing pages that are similar?

FP (26:12):
That's a great question. And that's one of the things that really annoys me as well. When I see landing pages that are very thinly veiled, like there's nothing differentiated between them just kind of like boilerplate content. And that's one of the things we want to avoid. So the way that we avoid that thin nature to the content is by. So it would kind of make sense this explanation if you saw the Mentor profile pages, right? So like they can choose different skillsets and they have to write 150 to 500 characters of content saying why they're good at XYZ skill. So it's that piece of UGC content that we're extracting from each mentor profile page and and rounding them up into topical landing pages.

FP (26:57):
So the content is really rich and it's all unique across the all pages and the intent as well for those sort of searches, because the keywords that we're going for is insert here skill plus experts, right? Or plus consultants, if somebody, the intent behind it, like that is to find experts in whatever discipline they're in. Right? So if there's a list page with 15 suggested experts in that field, and then more contextual content below seeing use cases of talking to somebody about bouncing ideas in that particular topic like that, that's rich content, which can actually rank and add value as well. But the problem with doing it like this, the way that we did it, I guess not a problem, but a challenge is that it's not, we couldn't do it programmatically, meaning that our application didn't autogenerate these pages, we built every single one of these landing pages manually, and it took around an hour each one.

FP (27:57):
So this was a three week process to create all of these different landing pages and customize it, add unique content for each one. Cause my logic was okay, great. We'll front load the effort a little bit in the beginning and have two weeks of kind of suffering through and building (inaudible) of pages and having to customize even the FAQ. But it's unique content and it's content that can stand on its own right. And it's not just going to be like noone's gonna look at it and be like, Oh yeah, okay that was, that was made programmatically, which is something that, that most two sided marketplaces do like Task Rabbit and things like that. You know, how they make different pages for each city that they're in like a dry cleaner in New Jersey, dry cleaner in Port Saint Lucy. Right. Yeah. So that's really what we want to avoid.

DA (28:40):
Got it. Yeah. That was really smart. And it was a good way to do that manually. How have you pushed that even farther with your mentorees, have you done any partnerships with people to really continue to promote?

FP (28:55):
Yeah. The partnerships is it's more like relationship building. It's not a formal kind of thing. It just, through, through the nature of doing this job, you meet a lot of people and you make a lot of friends and then that has a natural way, natural way of, of getting having good things happen to you. Like, you know, randomly getting backlinks from a DR website, right. Or like getting featured on somebody's newsletter that has 30,000 subscribers, right? Because like you just got off a call with them three hours before and you know, and they were in a good mood. So I think that the more people that you meet and that you actually built real relationships with just luck swings in your favor and more awesome, awesome opportunities come.

DA (29:40):
Yeah. I think the key point from this entire call so far is that ethical growth hacking being, you know, it's value for value, just being you know, value driven, building real relationships. Sometimes it's just being in trenches, doing the hard work and you can really find some great ways to grow. And I guess looking back over the past two years of building a building this whole platform, building the community, are there hard lessons that you've learned or things that didn't work out as you expected something you wish you could do again?

FP (30:11):
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, the thing with, with us is like, we're very iterative in nature, which in with our marketing tactics which prevents a major failure from happening. But on the flip side, it falso prevents massive wins when you, when you swing big. Right. But those are really rare. Actually like the, the crazy growth hacks like Dropbox does and so on. So I think the, what we're trying to do is have a more sustainable growth from just incrementally and consistently try new things. And once you find out what doesn't work, like stop doing it completely. Right. And just focus on what does, and by thinking like that, then all your efforts compounds over time and, and you know, before, you know a year can pass you've doubled, right. Which is, which is still a really good, like sometimes you don't need 10X growth, you just need a 50% boost, you know, that's, that's good enough for you.

FP (31:07):
And it's really not that difficult to get those sort of gains if you're consistent and you're focusing on, and you have just basically that Pareto's principle in mind, right. Like for us, we knew really quick that PPC didn't work. I tried that in the beginning and I just didn't like it, you know, cause it was just too much effort for really a high-risk reward ratio. And I tried, I tried what you're doing like podcasts, but that was personally draining for me. It's not easy. So like mad respect for how consistent you are with releasing these podcasts.

DA (31:40):
It is true though. It is draining.

FP (31:42):
And then the pos-editing team and all that. So like what worked for us was just focusing on the community and just social media and contents. Like you said about a lesson from a big thing that, the biggest mistakes that we made were more like product and pricing related, to be honest with you, it's not really marketing.

DA (32:00):
Yeah. I mean, we kind of talk a little bit about those already, which I think were very valuable to understand, but you know, the big kind of takeaway from this answer is, you know, that consistency and also I think, you know, understanding your strengths and when you get in them, where can I, you know, maximize my effort and if this, you know, medium or, you know, thing is just not right for me, then it's either a delegation and another hire or it's, you know, let's find something that we can maximize. Cause there's so many opportunities. And then looking forward into this crazy time right now and you know, the rest of 2020 and beyond, are you seeing anything that's standing out right now, maybe for SaaS businesses to be aware of, or to think about as they're moving forward from like the growth perspective?

FP (32:45):
Yeah, totally. I mean, I, from, from GrowthMentor we have a pretty cool vantage point because a lot of SaaS founders are signing up and saying what their problems are so I can kind of see it. And a lot of the issues happen because with Corona, as we know, like everything's changed right now, people are very conservative where they're spending money and all like the nice to have SaaS tools, people are canceling them. So unfortunately a lot of businesses are probably going to go out, but this there's a lot of opportunity as well. And I think that we're going to have like a bit of a Renaissance in the, in the SaaS space with all of these super smart people that were recently furloughed. And now they're going to start either making their own startups or becoming (inaudible) much leaner challengers of more established players like today for example, I randomly one of the, one of the mentors shared on the Slack channel, like this company called customerlabs.co, which is like a Segment competitor turn out, and it's so much cheaper, right?

FP (33:50):
So you can now compete with the big boys if you, if you want it, but you have to really understand the, like who, what this pain point that you're solving is. And for people that already have startups in SaaS right now, and they feel like growth isn't plateaued, now's the time to start talking to your customers and seeing how they're, how they're using your product now, because probably their set of jobs-to-be-done is completely different from what it was before February, you know, and pre all this craziness. So there's, it's an entirely new set of requirements.

DA (34:33):
I love that. And, you know, I heard someone once say on the podcast that this was maybe a couple of months ago, but like the customers that are leaving right now is obviously very painful, but it does show the customers that are staying in utilizing your product, are great segment of active users and you definitely need to be in touch with them right now, learn as much as you can from them, because it's basically shaken out, you know the people in the company that are using your product on a daily basis that now say, Hey, your product is vital to my pipeline.

FP (35:03):
Yeah. Yeah, exactly.

DA (35:05):
Cool. And for the, you know, the GrowthMentor community, Demio is hiring, just throwing it out there. If anyone's listening. We are looking for a marketer. So if anyone is out there, you know, come check out Demio. But what I want to do now is I want to quickly jump into our lightning round questions, ask you five quick questions that you can answer with the first and best thought that comes to mind. You ready to get started?

FP (35:28):
Sure. Let's do it.

DA (35:30):
Alright, let's do this thing. I'm excited to hear your answers. What advice would you give for early-stage SaaS companies starting marketing today?

FP (35:39):
I'd say definitely invest in design and UX because the bar has raised now. And it, it can be a big differentiator as well your designing. So if, if you don't have the budget to hire like a really good designer, I mean, you could, there's Webflow is now super easy to make amazing designs and other no-code tools. So you can get there quick, but yeah, definitely design and UX, get somebody on the team that's got that down path.

DA (36:08):
I love that. What skill do you think is vital for marketing teams to improve and build on today?

FP (36:14):
Probably technical marketing. So like learning how to use APIs, product analytics, learning how to use tools like Segment and Mixpanel and the GTM, because like the soft stuff right now, branding this on, like, it's kind of a given that people know how to, how to run a survey and do customer segment interviews and things like that. So what's really going to set people apart is the person that can also write the copy who can also set up the experiment.

DA (36:43):
I like that. So having the ability to just have the technical know-how.

FP (36:47):
There's less context switching. If it's one person doing it, he doesn't have to communicate to the other copywriter for example, you can just set the whole thing up. It just save someone's time. It's more efficient.

DA (36:58):
I love that. What about a best educational resource you'd recommend for learning about marketing or growth?

FP (37:04):
For growth, I'd recommend a video course called Growth Minded by Craig Zinger line he's, he's one of the growth mentors in the platform, and it's really, really good course on growth. For contents my favorite is growandconvert.com, big fan of all their stuff. And yeah, if you want to talk to people in the field that are actively doing growth, growthmentor.com, check us out.

DA (37:31):
Definitely going to be heading over there and checking out that community. It looks and sounds amazing. What about a favorite tool you can't live without?

FP (37:38):
Typeform. It's the Swiss army knife. Like I been using it since ages for so many different things.

DA (37:48):
One of my favorite, favorite companies out there. I love their brand, love everything that they're doing. What about a brand business or team that you admire today?

FP (37:58):
I'd definitely say Ladder, ladder.io. So they're a growth marketing agency and yeah, the guys there are awesome, like we have quite a few of them that are on as mentors on the platform. So like shout out to Michael Taylor, Tomek, you guys are awesome, Brody John. They really understand growth and they've got some great, great content on their blog.

DA (38:20):
Who is their primary target market that they work with?

FP (38:23):
VC-funded startups. They have like booking.com, Monzo bank on their clients, but they've definitely moved upstream. So I think it's like a retainer start from like five grand or something. But yeah, I mean, they're really good. That's amazing.

DA (38:39):
Awesome. Well, I want to say thank you so much for jumping on and sharing so much today, being so transparent, talking about the journey and what you've learned so far. It's very exciting and was a great conversation. So thanks for jumping on.

FP (38:50):
My pleasure.

DA (38:51):
Thanks for that. Alright, thank you so much. And we'll talk to you soon.
(...)

Resources:
Learn More About GrowthMentor:
https://www.growthmentor.com/
Learn More about EuroVPS:
https://www.eurovps.com/
Connect With Foti:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/fotis-panagio/
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