Jennifer, thanks so much for joining me today on the SaaS breakthrough podcast. How are you doing today?
I'm good. Thanks so much for having me.
I'm super excited to have you here. Where are you joining me from?
St. Louis, Missouri.
Nice. How's the weather there this time of year?
You know, it's been beautiful. It is spring and all of our beautiful flowering plants are blooming.
That's amazing. That sounds great. It's already basically summertime here in Tampa, Florida. I believe it's like 85, almost 90 degrees and humid. So we just kind of skip seasons. We don't really have seasons here.
Yeah, we get all four and we bounce back and forth here in the Midwest.
Oh, that's nice. That's gorgeous, but perfect. Well, thanks again for joining me. A lot to go through today. I'm really excited to learn from you and from Capacity, but before we jump into those initiatives and the experiments that you guys have been running with, why don't you kick us off, tell us a little bit about Capacity. When it was founded, who your customers are and what you're doing uniquely in the marketplace?
So Capacity was founded in 2017 by David Karandish and Chris Sims. And we are a new kind of help desk powered by artificial intelligence that automates support for both customers and employees. So it's a really neat company. Our mission here at Capacity is to help teams do their best work. And as you know, teams are inundated with emails and phone calls and shoulder taps and tickets. And employees are really tired of feeling bogged down and they're tired of repetitive tasks. So Capacity provides level zero support so customers can get the information they need when they need it most and Capacity is able to answer more than 84% of all inquiries that get asked through an AI-powered chat bot. And Capacity can even kick off workflows and if Capacity does not know the answer, then the question gets seamlessly escalated through either a live chat or a ticket to the subject matter expert. So as you can imagine, team members are able to breathe a sigh of relief because they don't have to be bogged down with all these repetitive tasks anymore. And they just get in, get called in to handle the tough stuff, so they can focus in on tasks that require higher-level thinking. And customers love it because they can self-serve and customers can get instant answers at all hours of the day or night. Why Capacity is unique is because it can grow revenue with lower costs. It can increase employee engagement and improve customer satisfaction.
With a product like this, are you, are most of the team members going through and building these initial workflows or is the AI machine watching an initial kind of build out and then starting to build on top of it?
Yeah, kind of both ways. And we, since we're a small agile team, our engineers can really work closely with the client to figure out what their needs are and to help get those workflows started.
That's really exciting. I mean, coming from a team that, you know, I think like 60% of our team is support staff and we really try to focus on delivering a great customer support experience all the time, because that is part of the SaaS experience, right. That's the like experience you want your product to give. So it's amazing to have a tool that can be so intelligent deliver those great experiences, kind of mimic your voice and tone, but know the answers. Because we do use like an Intercom bot and there are a lot of times when it doesn't have the right answers right?
Yeah. Yeah. I totally know what you're talking about. And what's really neat about Capacity is you can brand it, you can white label it and it can really take on your persona. Anything you'd like it to be called. It doesn't have to be called Capacity obviously. So if you have a mascot or a special logo it can take on your company's image.
That's great. We have Mikey, the Mic.
Oh, that's fun.
Well, yeah, it's definitely fun. It's a cool character, but yeah, you can definitely do those fun things. All right. So to give us a little bit of backstory, when did you actually join the team, it's only been around for about four years, right?
Yes. So I joined September, 2019.
Okay. So came in before COVID, you saw the landscape change, you know, product-market fit obviously it sounds like, you know, there was already kind of a fit for coming into the support industry, but did product-market fit change or did your ICP have to shift at all over the past year and half?
As you know, Capacity benefits really any company with support teams because of course those teams are inundated with emails, phone calls, shoulder taps, and tickets. So typically our customers are companies that have over 500 employees. Smaller companies don't have that same internal need because you can just, you know, talk to your coworker and they're typically in one spot, but when you end up with multiple offices and satellite locations, it's really nice to have that centralized knowledge base and store all that information in a tool rather than in a person. So again, over 500 employees, some of course of our clients are much, much larger. And our ideal customer is the, you know, a VP of customer success or customer support, a chief experience officer, anybody in an HR role, a CIO, CTO. And what's unique about our platform is that it can be used to support the internal team members as well as external customers.
So you don't need to have two different tools. It's just one tool and you can use it for either or both.
What does that internal mean?
So an internal customer would be like an HR department gets pretty bogged down because people are coming to them asking, how do I change my payroll deductions? Or I just got married now what? Or I need to go on maternity leave. What's our policy? Or how many vacation days do I have? All those questions sound like nothing, when you're the one asking one question, but to an HR team, they really can get bogged down quickly, depending on the amount of employees you have.
Yeah. We we just finished a merger acquisition and our HR person is going through that right now. So I definitely feel for her. And that makes a lot of sense. So I appreciate that. And I cut you off in the middle of what you were talking about with the ICP?
Yeah, no problem. So regarding evolution, right now about half of our customers are mortgage companies. And during this pandemic, it has been you know, a time of growth for mortgage companies. An average loan has hundreds of pages of documents changing hands and comes from a variety of sources like loan, origination, software documents, and handouts that live in a cloud drive or email threads. So what's unique about Capacity is that it can connect to every source of information that's needed to be able to close these loans quickly. And since mortgage companies are so busy, we've pivoted to create a quick start package, which helps them get up and running in 30-days or less. And our customer success team is really doing the heavy lifting. So the mortgage teams do not have to shift their attention away from closing loans because that is what they're getting paid for. So we don't want to take time away from somebody else's day job to implement because, you know, with technology sometimes implementation is the hardest part of the tool. So we try to do the heavy lifting. And that's one thing that we have really been conscious of, especially during COVID when resources are limited.
That is an exceptional opportunity to be in that kind of alone space. I think that probably exploded with what is happening in the US market right now for housing. But yeah, I can see how that could be so powerful with a great customer success team behind it, onboarding adoption, really building that stuff out, more operational behind the scenes. So that's fantastic. Great for you guys to be in the right place. I mean, your product sounds amazing by the way, and I'm sure everyone who listens to it understands the value and expansion that you guys have in these different companies. So I would love to learn more about, you know, the marketing strategy that's been used to get this out there, get this product out there. Really just kind of introduce the product, which I'm sure starts the curiosity standpoint. And I know you've done a lot of content marketing, and content syndication more specifically last year in 2020. So we'd love to learn about how you came up with this experiment, what the goals were, the approach you took with content syndication, and then finally, any results you saw while you were building this out.
Sure. So this is all pre-pandemic. So think back to first quarter 2020, it's very, it feels like it's been a hundred years, but we decided we wanted, we had tons and tons of content that was produced internally. Just really great stuff that we wanted to get out there to the right audience. So we decided, you know, now that we have a product that's built and we have a marketing team in place, let's test syndication as a way to grow a steady pipeline for our sales team. So marketing at our company and most companies, marketing and sales work very closely. So we thought this would just help kind of fill the top of the funnel. So while the sales team was doing their thing, they would also have a steady influx of leads. So we had a lofty goal of getting thousands of leads that fit our ideal customer profile.
And we didn't just start small because in a startup, when you, when you go, you go big. So we decided we were going to meet with just tons of vendors to figure out, you know, what their ICP was, what their cost per lead was. And we were going to test a bunch of vendors against each other to see how how the results looked. So I negotiated contracts with about 10 different companies, and we wanted to test different publications to determine which one would lead to the most meetings and opportunities. And most importantly, closed deals. So everything was in place. All systems were go, and the leads did not trickle in. They actually flew in fast and furious. So as you can imagine, we were looking for thousands of leads and we were the new kid on the block. So we were the new piece of content floating around the universe and people were clicking on it.
So the sales team did not have the bandwidth to follow-up with our influx and leads that we were creating. And our marketing team at the time did not have lead scoring in place to determine what leads were sales ready and what leads needed to be nurtured. So we were just pushing all the leads over to sales saying, just do the low touch sequence. You don't have to call them, just send them emails. And they were so bombarded that we had to push the pause button on all the campaigns and we had to recalibrate. And it happens. We just needed to take some time to get organized. So we were able to, and when I say we, our marketing operations team, was able to get lead scoring up and running very quickly. And then we adjusted the cadence of the lead delivery so that the sales team would know what to expect.
So instead of just opening up the flood gates, we could say, we only want to get 200 leads per month. And we switched kind of the lead schedule, the deliverable schedule. And the sales team was then able to follow up with all the sales ready leads very easily. So it was, it was something that we certainly learned a lot from that test and syndication has, you know, has been great for a great way to get top of funnel leads, but we just weren't quite ready for everything that we purchased.
It's a great problem to have. And first of all, congratulations, that, that experiment just exploded the way it did. I have a lot of questions. We talk about content marketing, a ton on the podcast. And I often talk about or ask about distribution methods. What are you doing once it's out there. There's a lot of focus on SEO you know, email and social and that kind of stuff. You guys went after straight syndication vendors, which quite honestly I haven't even heard of before. So I would love to have, or, you know, give us any insight that you have on, you know, what type of syndication vendors you were looking at, how you chose the ones you went with, were they specific verticals? Like what did that process look like?
Yeah. So when I said we tried out a ton of them, I really meant a ton. So again, we have a big focus in mortgage. So we of course did syndication through Housing Wire and National Mortgage Professional and National Mortgage News, which are the big ones. And then we also wanted to get out there with Knowledge Management, World, hr.com, Pure B2B, Tech Target, CCW, Demand Works, Netline. I mean, we pretty much tried them all.
Was this more like a big PR push into those networks you would say? And then what kind of content were you using? Was it putting an article up? Was this creating eBooks? Was it case studies? Was it a combination of everything? I'm trying to wrap my head around it.
It's a lot to wrap your head around. So I totally understand. And I appreciate the questions. We have buyer's guides. So we had a mortgage buyer's guide, a help desk buyer's guide, a chat bot buyer's, guide knowledge management buyer's guide, just to get the concept out there for people that were in the early exploration of a project. So if you were tasked to find a knowledge management tool or a chat bot on your site, probably take yourself to Google and start, you know, researching. And this was more of a top of funnel, so yes, it had a call to action, but it certainly wasn't all about Capacity. It was just about these topics in general. And then we also pushed out some case studies and we also had some eBooks. So we've done a little bit of everything.
And then you're testing each individual syndication vendor, or were you sending the same thing to each syndication vendor and then just doing multiple pushes on each one?
So it was more of a multivariate test. We tested different publications with, in these vendor ecosystems. So with mortgage, we would test the same ebook and the same buyer's guide with a few different vendors. Then we would test the same knowledge management buyer's guide over a few different vendors. And we would be able to see how that particular piece of content performed, I guess, with the networks that we were working with.
That makes sense.
They have different audiences. So we just wanted to see which audience would be best for us.
Yeah, totally. And that's, that's kinda, my question is I feel like there's so many variables to test and it could be daunting with going after so many at the same time. And so I'm just trying to figure out.
Yeah. It certainly turned into a big project. We use Marketo and we certainly had a lot of campaigns built out.
Wow. That's awesome though, that you guys had that ability to execute this. And you know, when you were going to those vendors themselves, did you have any tips for negotiating or chatting with them, making sure that you're getting the right sequences, in the right publications?
Yeah, so it's kind of funny. My team thinks I'm a master negotiator, but I really don't have any secrets. So what I, what I would do is I would get pricing from all the vendors that I was looking to work with. And if any of the pricing seemed out of line, I would just be honest and tell the salesperson that, Hey, I'm talking to a lot of others in this space and your price per lead is a lot more than so-and-so. And we would be able to typically get the price to, you know, a favorable price for most of these. I typically negotiate for a bigger package because our intention is we want to get a certain amount of leads. Like we have a goal to get a certain amount of leads. And then we know through calculations that a certain amount will convert and we kind of have to reverse engineer to figure out how many leads you need. So I typically like to negotiate the larger package in hopes that everything will go really well. But I add a close in that if things are not going as planned, that we can discontinue the contract. So we typically get the bulk pricing. And then we go from there.
That's really smart. Yeah, no, that was a really great idea to do it that way. And yeah, it's always nice to have multiple offers like that and then be able to kind of make sure you're getting the best pricing across the board. So congratulations on that awesome experiment. We'll definitely have to, you know, think about how we can do that in the B2B space for events as well here at Demio. That's a fantastic idea. Now speaking about events, I know, you know, maybe after this experiment happened, you said it was pre-COVID, COVID hits, you guys are doing in-person events. Like a lot of SaaS companies are. And you had to make this quick pivot into virtual events for the first time. Like a lot of businesses did last year in 2020. I know that those trade shows were a big part of your marketing. How did you choose to pivot? Why did you go into virtual events? How did you do it? Let's talk about that journey.
Yeah. So a lot of the shows that we were planning to attend, we had already paid for, we were ready to go. And then as you know, the world kind of stopped. So we were able to channel some funding towards the virtual events because we had in our plan for the year that we were going to get specifically from these different verticals and these different events. So as great as written content can be. And that's kind of what you get with syndication is people are reading your content. Our platform is mind blowing when you actually see Capacity in action. So seeing our CEO walk you through the features, it's really just quite impressive. So trade shows go extremely well for us. So pre-COVID, we were doing a lot of trade shows. That was one of our, the biggest pieces to the marketing puzzle, but of course we had to pivot.
So we found a lot of success demoing our platform at virtual solution showcases. And a good example is housing wire. So they have an audience of people that are, it's like the exact audience that we're looking for mortgage originators. And whether you're in-person or virtual, the most important thing is to get in front of the right audience. So we were able to find the right audiences and identify exactly who we wanted to get in front of. And if the audience is committed to giving up an hour or two, or sometimes even a whole day for a virtual event, then chances are that they are very interested in your topic. And in our case, that would be AI and automation. So if they are looking for a solution, it might be easier for them to just sit through demos from six different vendors that are quite similar than to actually dig through the internet and talk to friends and figure out which six vendors should I try to connect with and put the meeting on the calendar. Like that sometimes feels a little stressful. So by sitting through the solution showcase, we make it easy. We make it easy for somebody that's in the market to actually see the differences and to feel the wow factor. So the virtual events, I don't think they're going anywhere. I think it will certainly be a hybrid in the future.
Yeah. It's definitely interesting to hear everyone's kind of perspective and where they're going. I kind of have a hypothesis that virtual events themselves won't exist much longer, but like you said, hybrid events will be the future. Kind of being able to do both. So you'll have to have like a field marketing team and the virtual team doing the showcase. Is that kinda how you feel?
Yeah, I do. I feel very similar about that and I think the transition from all virtual to a little bit of both and then eventually possibly in-person only, is going to be an interesting journey to live through.
Definitely. It would be interesting to see and kind of adopt in marketing. I'm really curious to see if we'll ever go back to just in-person events, but you know, that's definitely a possibility for sure. So with this kind of great pivot to virtual events working through those different you know showcases and walking through that, I know, you know, one of the things that we hear often is just especially here at Demio doing virtual and hybrid events, I should say with webinars and automated events and stuff like that is just how personable they can be in telling customer stories, in being able to build relationships, build that interaction. I know you have this amazing system, but you've also been able to tie this into customer testimonials, into customer stories. How have you been able to kind of really build out this, this part of your marketing, I guess. It's basically, customer advocacy in a lot of ways to your marketing platform.
So customer testimonials are definitely a big part of our marketing strategy. And when we think about storytelling and customer stories, we really want to make sure that our customer comes across as the hero that they are. So we want to focus on their needs and their wants, and we want to make sure that their entire journey is captured and documented. So that other companies that are experiencing similar pain points that might be in the same industry, can understand how Capacity has helped somebody else get through it and how we can help them grow as well. So we added a handful of customer stories to our website in 2020, kind of spanning different verticals. And while reading the story is very helpful and insightful. It's also very impactful to hear the story from the customer themselves. So we just want to make sure potential customers can easily see that they are not alone with the issues they are facing and that there is a solution to help them with their struggles and to kind of help them achieve their goals. So this year we're going to be adding video testimonials to our website. And I just did some editing to our very first one, which should be launching soon. So we're really looking forward to getting those out there and live and in the hands of our sales team and measuring the performance.
I love that. We did something similar with the past few years, as were trying to do one a year of like an actual produce video testimonial. We had a lot of great success hiring, going on Thumbtack, finding like a really great video team to go out to the different cities, because a lot of our customers are all over the United States and actually filming them. And we have to put a lot of trust in that video team to be able to capture that story. For you, when you were putting this together, do you have a similar kind of format that you, or questions that you have them go through to kind of capture that story in the right format?
Yeah, we are working with a wonderful partner and they send over some questions and we can, of course tweak the questions to our liking, but the questions are really about the background of the company, what they were experiencing that led them down the journey and the path of, Hey, I need to find a technology partner that can help me, how they landed with Capacity, what the benefits were that they were experiencing and the results, and the advocacy of course is a big part of the video. But it's kind of, that's kind of the formula that we go with.
No, that's super helpful. So outlining the pain where they were when they found the platform, where it's being used in the company, the benefits that they're getting and if they would recommend this out to other people and why they recommend it.
Love that, super valuable. And what about hard lessons? We talked about, you know, some experiments here and some different initiatives that have all been great successes. You guys smashed them. I mean, listening to marketing, there's always the failed experiments too. And we learn a lot from them. Any opportunities missed or things learned that, you know, didn't go as well as expected?
Well, I totally agree with you. Marketing is all about testing and if you're not trying new things, competitors will certainly pass you by. So this past year we did have to pivot quickly like everybody did. We tested new ideas constantly just to find out what would work best in this uncertain time. And I wouldn't say that there were any missed opportunities because you know, you can't do a live event if there isn't a live event. But I do think we learned a lot about how to adapt our business to face the needs and challenges of our customers as their needs change. So I think it was just a big year of growth and learning.
That's awesome. You know, a big word that I keep hearing is agility, right? Everyone had to be agile and it kept marketers on their toes. Right. Really forcing the fundamentals again. Listening to the customers, being able to speak the language, communicating the right way. It took away a lot of that, you know, just focusing on tooling and stuff like that I think a lot of us got used to.
I totally agree.
And then looking forward here, as you know, there's a lot of unknowns in 2021, where's the world going and we kind of talked about that with events, you know, what's going to change in marketing again, what do we have to be agile for this year, but you know, what are some challenges or opportunities that you're looking forward to from the company or just from the industry in general?
So one challenge will be getting in front of the right audience as we transitioned from virtual to possibly hybrid to in-person events. I mean, you definitely would want to be at the trade show live if, if there's that opportunity. But what if, what if companies aren't sending their delegates. So I think it's just going to be important to get a feel for how everything's going. And that will be a challenge. As far as opportunities Capacity is changing the future of work. And we just want companies to know the importance of automating your help desk, automating your processes and automating your decisions in order to grow exponentially and just meet the needs of your customers.
That's awesome. Yeah. It's going to be, it's going to be exciting, especially as you guys continue to grow and build out, you know, the product it's only going to get better and better. So it's very exciting for the industry and what you guys are doing. But what I want to do now for the sake of time is jump over to our lightning round questions. Just five quick questions that you can answer with the first best thought that comes to mind. You ready to get started?
All right, you got this thing, you've been killing it. What advice would you give for early stage SaaS companies starting marketing today?
Yeah, so some advice I would give is to build relationships with members of your team and other teams in your org, because it's just incredibly important. These relationships build trust and respect and admiration and really form the foundation of a high performing organization. And just getting everyone rowing in the same direction is crucial.
Totally. I love that. That's such a good answer. What skill do you think is vital for marketing teams to improve and build on today?
I am a huge proponent of agile marketing and it's important to plan ahead, prioritize what needs to be done and just be ready to pivot on a moment's notice. And that's what we experienced last year.
Is that also a lot of like crawl, walk, run too?
I love that. I always say that phrase around, so I have to like say it super slowly. And what about your best educational resource you'd recommend for learning about marketing or growth?
Connecting with other marketing leaders is extremely helpful and it's important to find your trusted marketers who you are not directly competing with, but just a group that you can share ideas with.
Any groups that you recommend that you're in?
So we've met a lot of great marketers and marketing leaders through some of the trade shows that we go to. So other other leaders that are kind of in adjacent areas, so they're not competing with us, but we have the same target customer base, that is like the prime marketing team to buddy up with.
Oh, I love that. That's great. There's like a lot of synergy there just to learn from each other, but not compete. That's great. What about a favorite tool you can't live without?
I would have to say Jira. So it's the project management tool that we use at Capacity. It's really powerful and mostly for engineers, but again, our team is heavy on the engineering side, but it really helps us stay organized. And my favorite thing is watching my team's tickets go from to-do to done.
That's interesting. You're the first person to say Jira on this podcast and I love that (inaudible) that's a, it's a pretty enterprise system. So that's cool that from a marketing side that you'd like to like to see that. What about a brand business or a team that you admire today?
It's actually another tool, but I do admire Slack and I had never used Slack before coming to Capacity and I admire how seamless the communication can be internally and externally and how email has really taken a back seat in my life. So I'm a big fan.
Slack from a company, from a brand, from a product perspective, A plus plus, and it definitely like changes workflow and changes their life. I think we've talked on this podcast before too, like sometimes you have to be careful because you can get bombarded in Slack too. Right. And like, you kind of lose async communication for these urgent messages, but it is game changer. So as far as a brand and business, it's fantastic. So great answer there. And I just want to say Jennifer, thank you so much for jumping on spending some time with us talking about Capacity. You're really doing some exciting, exciting amazing things over there. So it'll be wonderful to watch you all grow this year and continue to just kick butt in the industry over the next few years, I thank you again for your time.
Of course. Thanks for having me. This was fun.
It was. Thanks, Jennifer. We'll talk to you soon.
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