Hi Pia thank you so much for joining me today on the SaaS breakthrough podcast. It's an absolute privilege to have you here, to have you on the show. How are you doing today?
I'm doing really good. Thank you for having me.
Yeah, absolutely. Excited to go through a lot of our topics today, but for our listeners who don't know about Talkpush, why don't you give us a brief background on Talkpush when it was founded, who the customers are and a little bit more about what you guys are doing uniquely in the marketplace.
Yeah, sure. Well, David, I assume you've had to recruit a few people in your lifetime, right? For Demio?
Yeah, definitely. Definitely.
Recruitment as you know, can be very time consuming. reviewing application, screening resumes, calling candidates to schedule interviews and just generally prescreening candidates. Right? Well, like imagine if that's such time. So time can, presuming for small companies it's really, really time consuming and really expensive for companies who hire hundreds or maybe thousands of people each month. Right? So we, we, these are the companies that we focus on. the high volume hiring space. And so what we tried to do with Talkpush is, automate this part, like this top of the funnel, the prescreening part, which is, which we do with AI powered chatbots and we've gathered that data and all that information from the candidates and we put all these conversations that, that the chatbot has with them in the CRM, where human recruiters can access them and take control of those conversations and move candidates through all the applications stages in a really easy and really efficient matter. So Talkpush was founded in 2014 by our CEO Max who is, living in Hong Kong right now. And there are a lot of recruitment chat bot companies around, right? And a few recommend CRMs, but there aren't many companies that do both in a really seamlessly and integrated matter. What we focus on is basically candidate experience. We integrate with Facebook messenger and WHATSAPP, which are the biggest instant messaging platforms in the countries we operate in so that candidates can easily apply through their phones and feel like they're just messaging and having a conversation when in fact they're actually applying to jobs.
That is completely impressive. That's really, really cool, and listen, as someone who goes through, when we put a job post up, 300 to 400 applications, I can't even imagine what that looks like at a large scale. When you're hiring a hundred positions or scaling out the company in, you know, some national way. So it sounds really, really valuable. You mentioned that you're going after the bigger volume customers. Was that how or was that where you originally found product market fit or how have you guys kind of evolved over time?
Yeah, so yes, for sure. I mean Max, our CEO, is like a serial entrepreneur and before Talkpush, he built an ATS, which is an applicant tracking system, right? Like Teleo and Workforce and all those. So, he sold that. And so he, he's always, he's been in the recruitment space and he understood what was missing. So he wanted to focus on high volume, because he knew that this was, these companies were the ones who are really looking for, for tools that could help them really be productive in their processes. So for Talkpush first clients were staffing companies in the Philippines. they were, the way our target market has evolved, this is really interesting because we were basically solely focused on bpos and again, staffing agencies like Adecco or Manpower. And quite organically we've been expanding to retail and banking. So these are also really high volume hiring companies and they have similar characteristics, right? So it was, it's been evolving in a really natural and organic way.
That's great. That's awesome. And kind of expanding in those different marketplaces, but based on the same kind of criteria, that large volume, now you are the head of global marketing. When did you actually join the team? When you, when you jump on board and what are your first initiatives coming in as a head of global marketing?
Yeah, so as you said, head of global marketing. It's because I'm based in Mexico City, right? We are, really truly remote and global company. We have offices in over five countries. So, being a head of global marketing is quite a challenge, right? Where you have to, you have to, to work in different time zones and, and you really have to focus on all these countries and not just the one you're based on, so I joined Talkpush around nine months ago, in late September of 2018 and at the beginning I really focused on branding and messaging. First of all, because I'm a big believer in the power of a brand and what it represents or where you can do for a company long term. And second, because since we're fully remodeled global company, again, it's hard to get to keep the brand message unified, right? So I conducted a series of interviews to both managers and (inaudible) to understand the way that, we were selling our value proposition, the way that they were describing Talkpush, what we do and so on. And so, so what I did was create a message platform so that all those messages can live under one umbrella and from our mission and our why and our manifesto to unique different differentiators and our brand promises. And yeah, it wasn't important, I believe, to have this solid groundwork that could unify it all this different messages into one. And if you don't do it consciously, those messages will be crafted and will be created and, and there'll be, there'll be, you know, they'll, they'll born organically, but not with the branding input or perspective that you want to highlight. So, that's basically what I focused on when I, when I first joined Talkpush around nine months ago.
That's super important I think. That's very interesting. Did you hear feedback from those questions that took you by surprise? Did you feel like maybe there was a disconnected message inside? Do you feel like once you went through that kind of organized it and re pushed it back into the company it changed, maybe productivity or outlook, or just the ability to, convey the brand better?
Yeah, for sure. I mean, I think that, it really helped in, in getting everyone to understand our vision and where we want to go and how we're going to get there. It really got everyone excited because I mean, you always have to have this, this, space for creativity for everyone, right? Especially when you're in different countries. You have to have space for cultural differences and all this, that cultural, concepts that might make sense in Mexico but might not make sense in the Philippines or in India. Right? So you always have to have that. But I do think it, it really created, it really created a sense of belonging in the company more internally than, than maybe, as an external output. So, for me that was great and it's something that we use right now to build our, you know, our sales deck and all our presentations and all that. So it's really been helpful.
I love that. So while you guys sell to enterprise customers, the brand outbound strategy makes sense, especially when you're talking about internally, but how do you actually craft that brand position? How do you look at the enterprise market? How do you look at your target market and say, this is who we need to be and this is why we need to be that.
Sure. So, yeah, for sure. Brand positioning is essential. Really. We are not a free trial or (inaudible) or modal . So we have to build relationships and we have to build trust. We have to position ourselves as experiencing what we do and we have to do everything we can to reinforce that in each interaction we have with prospects and customers, no matter how big or small, right? So, you create that basically by walking the talk. You have to prove yourself as a brand because words are really nice, but you have to deliver value. You have to deliver ROI to everyone who spends time interacting with your brand. We have an amazing sales team, our growth team led by an amazing VP of Sales Rash who is based in India and they've been doing this since before I joined the company, right? So I just wanted to make sure marketing is collaborating very closely with sales so that we're designing together the direction we're headed and how we want to position ourselves and why we want to do it that way. So, for me, that communication, that constant communication with sales is key.
Is there a specific audit or questions that you ask a sales team to help you understand better? Maybe the prospects they need, the education they need before they get to sales? Like how does that actual interaction between you two go?
Yeah, so we have different things. Obviously marketing is part of like a lead gen initiative. But aside from that we have calls, constant calls where we are constantly evaluating like for example, new pain points of our prospects and how they're, how they change throughout time and how they change from industry to industry or from vertical to vertical. Different questions as for example in new objections that we're getting and how we can work to, to minimize that. So yeah, I don't know if that answers the question.
No, no it does. I'm going to try to get more ideas of like how you actually fine tune that and I guess in that, in that sales process, as you fine tune that, it then becomes attraction for what you guys want to do for your ABM acquisition model. Right? You guys do ABM. So what are the challenges you guys face when you come from sales? You have the brand position, you know who you want to go after, but you have to now go after these bigger enterprise clients. Do you guys have big things you have to overcome in marketing?
Yeah. Well especially, in the first part, as you said, it's all about research, right? We have to really understand these companies. We have to understand their challenges, their processes, where they're coming from. One of the biggest challenges for us in marketing is that every company has different recruitment processes. Every single one. There's, you know, there's a general standard obviously, but we have to really understand and take, take time to understand their processes and how our products can fit into their HR ecosystem that they have right now. Because as I said, we're not, you know, just self served. We have to integrate with other systems. We have to, we have to understand the way that they're working so that we can actually add value to their, to their process.
Does that mean more time in the sales process, learning about their business, having a customer success person in their office? What does that process actually look like? Is it just a, a long drawn out education between both companies?
Yeah. In the beginning it's a all sales, right? So they are, our sales cycle are, are a little long. I mean typical process enterprise I guess. But yeah, it's, it's really high touch. It's a really high touch sales cycles. So yeah, for sure it's, it's a lot of meetings, a lot of calls, a lot of understanding what they're doing and what, and what they want to change. And it's also making sure that customer success, comes in in an appropriate time so that they can also understand what's going on and also understand how we can bring value to their, to their recruitment experience. Right? Because it's all about the experience. It's not just about the numbers for these companies, it's also about the, the experience that they want to give to their candidates. So for sure it's, it's a lot in the sales side, in the, in the sales cycle. But it's, on the onboarding of the, of the customer too, it takes, it takes to understand them. And to, and to really fully integrate with them.
Any key lessons or things you've learned along the way? I've never worked with enterprise myself. So very interesting to me at the sales cycle is so different, right? Where the freemium model with a free trial and then pace, you know, lower pin monthly accounts. But any major things you've learned along the way going through this process?
Yeah, I mean, first of all, you have to really be, really be empathetic to their needs and really be patient about their processes because obviously they have to, sometimes they have to get, we have to get so many approvals, right? So you have to be patient on that. And, and also you have to be really proactive because things can stall really quickly if you're not, if you're not, you know, if you're not being proactive, if you're not ready for the next stage and if you're not really trying to add value to every single, to every single decision maker in the room because, it's not just talent acquisition who's going to buy your product, you know, id has to approve it and human resources has to approve it. So you have to make sure that you understand the pain points of each of those, people or areas so that you can make sure that you do add value to, to all of them also.
Makes a lot of sense. Absolutely. No, you keep talking about how this unique experience for each customer, which makes total sense. Everyone has a different recruitment process, different systems, tools, everything. But when you guys are doing specifically marketing acquisitions, stuff like that, I know you guys do a lot in content marketing. How do you create strong content and a strong content strategy when everyone has kind of their own unique process or maybe their own unique pain points, what has worked to actually bring in the right people in that, in that area?
Yeah, yeah, for sure. I mean, for us, what's really worked is creating content that's really trying to tell a story, right? For us, all of our, for example, our case studies, we're trying to show their results, the numbers we achieved because these are universal. This is something that, I mean, some KPIs can, can slightly be changed in from, from company to company, but we all talk numbers, right? And at the same time, we want to tell the story behind those numbers and how we got to them. So, when we talk about our product, we don't want to just focus on our features and how recruiters use those. We want to also share how those features, can integrate to each company's processes and how we can help them, you know, achieve their (inaudible) faster or in a simpler way or in a, a more effective manner.
Do you use then those stories as part of your ABM process? Is that kind of the content campaigns that go out to them before salesperson or how do they actually see those stories?
Yeah, yeah, for sure. We use them and we tried to create a lot of, you know, unique content, maybe infographics and stuff like that. Things that will give them information that will give them, you know, value as to good practices in, in recruitment and all that. And yes, for sure we use those case studies for content for email marketing companies.
Got It. Makes Sense. Another thing that you guys are doing that I find so interesting is you do local live events, the recruitment hackers series. What are you guys specifically trying to achieve with this initiative and who are you targeting?
Sure. Well, the recruitment hackers series was created to kind of give back and keep the talent acquisition community growing, right. These, our events that we organize locally in each city we're in so five different cities. The talent acquisition community is actually very small and is a community that just recently started to get more attention. Well because technology is slowly making its way in and innovating processes that hadn't been innovated in many, many years. And because with the word for talent that we have right now in general and in the word market, talent acquisition is starting to become an even more important area in companies, right? So the idea behind these events was to create a space where people from the community could get together, they could share experiences, network, learn together. For us, it's been really great. It's been a great way to not only meet new people and obviously generate leads, but to get prospects and clients, clients together and really nurture our current leads. We don't really demo our product at these events, but putting them together and having clients give their own conferences has been absolutely a great way to build trust and position ourselves in our local markets.
Goes back to that brand positioning thing we were talking about before. That's fantastic. Do you guys do this all over the world?
Yes, we do. Yeah. Yeah, we tried to do it. We try to do at least three, each maybe a couple of months.
Pretty systemized already? Kind of just, you just have one system that people run with it across the world or do you actually have to go to each of these events?
Well that's a great question. So as you said, it's a series of events, right? So what we've done is create an event manual basically. And in this event manual, got everything about how the events started, why we do them, why don't we do them, who's our target audience and everything. So, what type of venues? We want to look for the budget that we hope that we have a whole task list. Right? So with the, with this, because we're so spread out, right? So I can't go to the Philippines every month to organize these events. So this manual is shared with our local business managers and what we do is marketing obviously helps coordinate the events, but the actual event owner is the local team of business managers because the events are really helpful for them to, you know, to meet their sales targets. Plus I find that, they actually love taking ownership of these sort of things. It's, it's a lot of work, but it's worth it. And marketing is right there every step of the way. I mean digitally, but we help them, you know, make, make the event a success. So, yeah, I mean it's, it's funny because when we have an event, for example, in Manila, that's 13 hours ahead of Mexico City where I'm based. So, you know going to bed, I'm like, oh my God, thinking of the event and I actually dream about it and you know, and then I wake up and I can see like all these great pictures of the whole team going out for drinks, celebrating the success of the event or whatever. So it's like, okay, I can relax now and I can start my day now.
Yeah, no, definitely. I can see how that'd be very stressful to like just be going to bed while it's starting and not being able to help at all. Any major lessons or tips you've learned from running these events that you would share? I know we've at Demio specifically thought about, you know, maybe doing small masterminds or small brand specific or you know, thought leadership specific events and you know, we'd love to break into, anything in particular you can think of that you want to share that was the lesson you learned along the way?
Yeah, sure. For sure. I mean for us it's really, it's been great to invite obviously customers to, to give a talk or to give a small conference. But we really enjoy having an open topic and having them choose what they want to talk about. And more often then not, they'll talk about your product and they'll talk about how great they're doing with it. So really it's a, they don't have to, but, but more often than not, that'll come up. Right. So it's really, it's, it's great promotion for us and it's great to, to also always try to have like a 50/50 ratio on prospects and clients because then all your clients can talk to your prospects and they can say like, you know, they can share their experiences working with their product. So, it's something that we always tried to achieve that 50/50 ratio. So that's one of the key things that I, that I would tell, that I would share as a, as a learning experience.
I love that. Do you guys also record these events? How are you actually documenting like product feedback or roadmap items, stuff like that, like from fresh prospects or from your customers at this time?
Well actually for product feedback and roadmap and all that, we have a different type of event, like a more of a advisory board with current customers. And that runs like completely separate to the event. And that runs like maybe once a month. And those are really great also, right? Because we get feedback from our actual users and customers. But the further recruitment hackers series, it's more like a get together for the community. Make sure people can network and making sure that everyone, you know, has, has at least a drink and has fun and, and just, you know, share experiences and, and know how.
I love it and I hope I get an invite to the next one cause that sounds fine.
Yeah, for sure.
Awesome. One thing we don't talk a lot about, we haven't really talked about on this podcast before is PR. I know you guys with a very high touch enterprise sales cycle, utilize PR a lot in the marketing toolbox. You know, someone recently told me that you guys got some press because of a McDonald's Philippines client, that you have out there. How are you using PR to create relationships? How does it work for you?
Right. Yeah, we did. We did get some press on that. Obviously. I mean McDonald's is a big logo, right? And one that draws attention. So yeah, for sure. We do try to add some form of PR to our marketing initiatives because it's also a way to strengthen our brand perception. It plays into building up competence in our brand and name and as you said, our sales cycle are extremely high touch. So we have, to be able to build relationships along the way and the PR does work as some kind of support content for the business manager and as well as playing a part in our, in positioning in our company. What I really like about PR is that it allows us to really collaborate and to get to know other business areas of our clients. So it opens up a lot of opportunities. I mean, for example, thanks for that, thanks to that press release, our marketing department now has a really strong relationship with McDonald, Philippines Marketing Department and you know, because getting that out there requires a lot of back and forth and constant communication. So I like that it opens up doors for collaborations between us and our partners or clients.
That makes sense. Now, when you're going through this process, are you actively reaching out to, the different press that you want to go to? Is it often an organic process? How do you actually get that ball rolling for this?
Right. Well, so it depends. Mostly what we do is like when we're, you know, when we're about to kick up, kick off an account, I try to, I try to reach out and we try to really start communicating with their marketing team because it's the marketing team actually, for our customers works quite, quite closely to the talent acquisition area. So it's not that hard to really reach out and start, you know, open up that communication channel and then, you know, they, they're also excited to, to be working with a really innovative platform, right. With Talkpush. So, and it's been really great for us because sometimes you do need a lot of approvals specially with big brands that have, you know, that have to get approved by global or whatever. But, yeah, and maybe I think, I think it's because they, they are also excited to use this new platform and this new way of connecting with candidates. So, they're, they're really open to us having this, this type of relationship and this type of collaborations, not just our press releases, but we like to, you know, maybe look into other, other PR opportunities with them. Not just press releases, but maybe something a little more dynamic and a little more, a little bigger. Right. So yeah, that's, that's always... I mean, for example, maybe a, an intro video like to introduce maybe the chatbot that they're going to use or, or things like that. I mean it depends on the company, but yeah, I think it's, I think it's, if you try to make it a win win situation, it's, it's, it's always better, right? And we'll also, progress a lot faster.
Makes a ton of sense. Absolutely. Now we've talked about different initiatives and things you've done all really, really interesting, really powerful. But you're a bootstrap company just like we are here at Demio, coming in as head of global marketing how does being bootstrapped affects your ability to create new initiatives or create the decisions or go after the things you want to do? Have you seen or have you changed your mindset because of that? I don't know if you, if you worked in a company that was a bootstrap before this, but how has that kind of affected your ability to, to, to go after the things you want?
Well, I mean, first of all, we have had a few small rounds of funding over the, over the years. Right. But yeah, we really, we really take pride in the way that we've been able to scale, bootstrap largely on our customer base. what this means for our growth initiatives is we need to make decisions that have to be very data oriented. so for example, regarding to audiences, we tried to go to where the data takes us and we also tried to be as ROI conscious as possible because we're not, like, as you said, we're not like a, a big funded startup. And so we, we, we really tried to be like as ROI as conscious as possible and, really focused on the verticals that are working for us. And then, you know, as, as I said in the, in the beginning, if naturally, organically, we have a few other (inaudible) opening up will definitely pursue them. But yeah, you have to be, you have to be careful in how you scale and at the same time you have to, you have to take risks, right. That, that comes with the job and that's what makes it so exciting. But, we are definitely really data driven and data driven company and yeah, we tried to make, we try to make the decisions as, as consciously as possible.
Are there ever times that you want to make a risky decision that you feel like you have to push it back? Just because of budgets? I know I have. I mean at Demio we do that all the time.
Of course. Yeah. I budget is always the thing, right. But honestly, our CEO is always like pushing us to, to really, you know, get out there and be, and be risky and take chances because I mean, we understand that this is a hot space and, we're getting like new, new, new startups by the minute, right? Who wants, who wants to go into this space? So we do have to take, we do have to take risks and, I mean you do have to be conscious of budget, but it's just like a, you know, you have to find a balance between that.
That's it. Yeah. You gotta find the balance and sometimes the risks are worth it. And you know, like you said, being data driven is probably the best way because at least you can measure, you know, those risks, all of it better be more calculated, understand, you know, what you're expecting from ROI and all that kind of good stuff. So that's fantastic. Now with that being said, and looking back over the past nine months since being here at Talkpush, has there been initiatives, experiments that you've thought we're going to be great. Maybe you thought were less risky but didn't quite work out the way you expected it, any opportunities you felt you missed?
I mean, not any major opportunities because as I said, like we started with the messaging, right? So we've, we've been, we've been trying to do like this at the same time, this really long term approach, but also focusing on the small, like the really fast initiatives to get to get the results that we're trying to get, like each period. Right. So, it's been, it's been really interesting for us to do this because, we, we don't want to take our side of the, you know, of their long term vision. So for example, we're doing a rebranding right now, which was, you know, budget wise, maybe not in the, not in the budget at the beginning of the year, but we, but we made sure we had, we made space for it because we believe that we needed, to get to where we want to be. So it's this, it's this balance, it's this, taking chances and then maybe pulling back on other things. And then it also depends on how we're doing on results, right? each month, each period, we try to, we try to get better and we're getting better, well, we can take more risks.
Understood. I love that. Looking forward, I guess what's crazy its we're halfway through 2019. I feel like I was just saying it's January, so I don't know where half the year went already. But what are the challenges and opportunities that you see looking forward? You said month to month, you're growing, you're looking at budgets month to month, but what are you excited for? What do you think's coming up that's what's going to be great for you guys from a marketing point of view here in 2019?
Well for us, I think that what's great in, and I don't mean just SaaS, right? I mean tech like (inaudible) acquisition tech, we have a really, we have, we're in, we're in a hot space, right? So we really need to focus in all the, the features that are really important, not just for the recruiters, but for the candidate. So for me, what's exciting is that we are definitely, improving the candidate's experience. I mean, I know we've all been in, in the look for a job at, at some point and it's absolutely horrible. You know, the experiences that you get with the ATS is sometimes, and then you never hear back from the, from the company and all that. And what we're trying to do is really make, make applications, more accessible for everyone. I mean, with our software, people can apply to jobs from their phones, like they're maybe in the public transport and they'll apply to a job and they'll send their voice notes and their answer to prescreening questions and all that. For me it's exciting because it's really, pushing, I'm pushing the technology to where to where we, to where we wanted to be in terms of have, having all this recruitment be more conversational and be easier for everyone and be smoother for everyone. And, yeah, that's, that's what gets me really excited,
Innovating in a space that hasn't really been touched in a long time. I mean, it's, it is, some of, absolutely needs to be done. I think it's a fantastic, and I think every single online you look at Drift in their conversational marketing style, right? You're doing the same thing but conversational recruitment and I love it. I think you guys are doing a great job and it sounds like you're, you're growing and you're doing well, so congratulations to all of you for the hard work you've put in.
Thank you. Thank you so much. Yeah, for sure. I mean, Drip, as you said, is one of the companies that I personally really admire and the, yeah, it's, it's what we're trying to do with recruitment for sure.
That's fantastic. Awesome. Well, what I want to do now is I want to flip over to our lightning round questions. Just five quick questions I'll ask you. You can answer with the first best thought that comes to your mind. You ready to get started?
Yes. Ready? All right, let's do it.
All right. What advice would you give for early stage SaaS companies starting marketing today?
Okay. Well, I would say don't be afraid to move faster than you feel ready to. There's a saying that my CEO likes that's done is better than perfect and it doesn't mean you won't aim towards perfect, but if you make it part of your requirements, you'll never move. Right. So yeah, just just keep trying, trying, trying and worry about perfection later.
Yeah. It's so easy to get caught in that cycle of just not releasing for fear of it not being perfect and then you get no results. And so that's a great answer. What skill do you think is vital for marketing teams to improve and build on today?
Easily. Adaptability .For me, I mean things always go down the way you imagined them and you'll always need to adapt to what the numbers are saying and how, you know, you have to know how to solve problems and people in your if needed. So yeah, adaptability for sure.
I love that. A lot of people in that question answer with like a tactical thing. I think that is spot on, really, really correct. Just being able to roll with the punches. But make the smart next decision. That's fantastic. What about a best educational resource you'd recommend for learning about marketing or growth?
Well maybe not specifically for marketing per se, but I really like taking online curses and diplomas on, on behavioral economics and that, which is like this economic theory that applies like psychological insights into human behavior to explain their, their economic decision making. And this goes for both individuals and companies. So I find it incredibly fascinating and actually very useful.
I would love if you could share some links. That sounds so interesting. I would absolutely love to look at that or read about that or watching videos. That sounds really, really cool. What about a favorite tool you can't live without?
Honestly, it's like the smallest app called Tada. It's like t e s d, u, e x, and it's really a basic to do list. I love it because it's so simple. Like it's not trying to be something, it's not, it's very forward and I use it every single day, like viewed on desktop or mobile.
Is that for both work and personal?
Yes. Yes, for sure.
Nice. I have to check it out. What about a brand business or a team that you admire today and you mentioned Drift already, so maybe it's that.
Yeah, I mean for sure. Drip, I obviously admire Salesforce also. I mean what they've done for the SaaS industry, but I actually really like the Basecamp team. I mean I love them. Yeah, they're lovely. They're fully remodeled. They've got this like no bullshit approach. I love the founder's book Rework and yeah, I'm, I'm really rooting for those guys.
Absolutely. Me Too. And we've definitely tried to incorporate some of that same mindset and style. It doesn't have to be crazy at work was their most recent book. And so read one really, really great for another remote based team just like you guys. Lots to learn there for the remote culture for the future. But, but yeah, with that, I guess we're wrapped up, I just want to say thank you so much for your time today was absolutely fantastic to get to ask you some of these questions to learn more about Talkpush, and all the great things you're doing over there. So thank you.
Thank you, David. Thanks so much. It was a lot of fun.
It was. Thank you again and we'll talk to you soon.
Thanks so much for listening to episode number 67 today. It was fantastic to have to Talkpush and Pia on big shout out and thank you to her and the entire global team over at Talkpush, fantastic job that they're doing, innovating in a great, great space. I love the recruitment industry. (…)