SaaS Breakthrough – Featuring Rob Patterson

demio saas breakthrough featuring rob pattersonAbout Rob Patterson:

Rob Patterson is the Chief Marketing & Growth Officer at AWeber, where he drives AWeber’s overall marketing operations, vision and strategy, and oversees core growth disciplines, including business development, social media, PR and content marketing.

With extensive marketing and product experience working in a variety of environments from start-ups to large, multi-billion dollar companies, Rob has a proven ability to both implement strategies and develop teams to consistently execute programs that drive growth.

Prior to joining AWeber, Rob led strategic marketing for the industrial internet of things and augmented reality groups at PTC, a $1 billion industry leader in how products are designed, manufactured, operated and serviced. He also played pivotal roles at ColdLight, which was acquired by PTC in 2015, Revitas (now Model N), Qlik and Microsoft.

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Show Notes:
Helping Startups, Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs Connect With Their Audiences
Keeping Leadership in a Market With Over 7000 Vendors
The First 90 Days: Unifying the Messaging
A Basic Messaging Exercise
Customer Marketing VS Net New Lead Marketing
Internal Rollout of the Updated Messaging
External Communications of the Updated Messaging
Messaging Is Never Done, It Continuously Evolves
Look at Churn Rate to Decide on Customer Marketing vs Net New Acquisition
The Deliverability Rate of Emails
Leveraging Affiliate Network and Partners to Get New Leads
Improving Product Usability
Building Culture and Momentum by Marketing Internally for Customer Support
The Aweber Academy and Onboarding New Team Members
Culture and Hiring as a Company Becomes Bigger
An Abundance of Data and a Data Analyst
New Features Coming In the Second Half of 2019
Lightning Questions

DA: 03:27
Hey Rob, thanks so much for joining me today on the SaaS Breakthrough podcast. We're really excited to have you here. I am so pumped to bring on Aweber. Finally, have you guys on, been tracking you down for a year now to get on the podcast. So thanks for jumping on with me, Rob.

RP: 03:42
No problem, David. really looking forward to the conversation today and, talking to everybody a little bit about Aweber and about some funs and stuff we're doing in the marketing side.

DA: 03:51
Yeah, that's awesome. That's what it's all about just some of the good conversations around marketing. but listen, you guys have been a player in the SaaS industry for many, many years now, but for the listeners that don't know what you guys are doing, why don't we just start off simple, explain a little bit about Aweber, when the company was founded, who your ideal customers are at this moment. And I guess what you guys are trying to do uniquely in email marketing.

RP: 04:16
Yeah, no problem. That's, that's a lot of stuff that I'll try to make my way through it. Yeah. So, you know, let's start at the beginning. Aweber was founded a little over 20 years ago back in 1998 by Tom Kulzer. And we've really been since then, you know, finding ways to help organizations connect with their audiences. And we really are an email service provider that's truly focused on startup businesses, small businesses, and the entrepreneurs out there. Tom ,Tom really laid the foundation for the company back in 1998 when he, was working for a hardware company, really a modem provider out of, Ohio. And he created an autoresponder, a piece of software because he was having so many inbound requests. He needed a way to follow up with clients and not lose clients because he was so busy following up, up with others. So, you know, that really set the foundation for who we are as a company in terms of, email technology. But when you fast forward to today, we're really still concentrating on many of the things that Tom laid the foundation for back in 1998. And it's really around providing a powerfully simple email marketing platform so that entrepreneurs and small businesses can, can get up and running quickly and engage with their market. And we've been a market leader for, well over 20 years now and we've helped, well over a million users actually connect with their audiences using our tools and our technology as well as our award winning customer support. So, you know, we're, we're continuing to grow, we're continuing to add more clients every day and we're really excited about where we're heading as a company.

DA: 05:52
That's fantastic. You did a great job answering all of those different pieces. You mentioned how, you know, the product got started. Was there ever a struggle to find that product market fit? I know now maybe the product market fit may have changed as the product evolves and also your marketplace went from pretty much a blue ocean 20 years ago when you're first starting to now there are so many different choices. What is product market fit look like these days?

DA: 06:20
Yeah. So it has evolved as any small business in any startup in the technology space always evolves. Technology where it starts and where it eventually ends up is, is typically two different things. And we're, no, we're no different we're not different or immune to that. Yeah, so I mean, as, as the market has changed, you know, for instance, the advent of mobile computing and, you know, the really pushed towards, you know, people wanting to do things on phones and iPads and our, our, our, evolution of our technology that has enabled people to really have a mobile first experience with things like our curated product or things like our Admin product and our analytics products that are available on mobile devices. So really the evolution of that market has, has allowed us to create and get better from a technology perspective in our offerings, and enabling people to work where they want to work with their, with their email service providers. So, you know, I think, when you look at, the market overall, yeah. The market has become very, very crowded. We're, we're proud that we're a, you know, top five vendor within a very crowded space. I think if you look out at the overall market from an email marketing or email service provider technology companies that consider themselves in that space are well over 7,000 names at this point. So being a leader for a certain segment of that market is something that we're very proud of. And I think when you look at what other companies are doing from a technology perspective, everybody's trying to climb up market ever so slightly. So even those companies that are out there that talk about being email marketing providers, email service providers for small businesses are slowly beginning to creep up market. And that's for a variety of different reasons, which, which I won't go into here, but you know, we're continuing to be rock solid, really focused on very small companies, startups, entrepreneurs that need ways to connect with their markets very, very rapidly and at a very affordable way. And we're continuing to develop our technologies in a way that allow them to do it through different channels, whether it be through their web browser on their laptop or through an iPad or through an iPhone or through an android device. We're working through multiple channels. from a technical perspective,

DA: 08:32
It makes sense. Definitely crowded with you said 7,000, that's, that's insane. But you know, I think today's podcast is really going to go through a lot of that, which is how do you stay as a, a leader in a crowded space and it's done, I believe through your efforts, through product understanding, looking out and being innovative in a marketplace, continuing to be innovative, but how you do marketing across the board, which is all the subjects we're going to talk about today and I'm really excited for, but just quickly so everyone understands. Also, you just recently joined the Aweber team, I believe. and I, and I would just love to learn more. I'm always interested when people are joining a fast moving or already established company, what those kind of first initiatives are when you're coming in. So what does it look like for you as coming in as a CMO?

RP: 09:17
Yeah, so I've been, I've been on board as the chief marketing officer for about 90 days now. I came from completely outside of the email service providers space. I, I have a deep background in analytics and business intelligence as well as, some newer technologies, things around Internet of things and augmented reality technologies. But you know, the thing that really caught my eye about the email market is actually how competitive it is. And I think for a marketer, you know, some, some people may shy away from that. But for me, I think it's, if there's, there's a world of opportunity out there and you know, taking a step back to, you know, really looking at the overall market. I think where, where a lot of companies are looking at slowly moving up market. I think really the value is found in focus. And, and one of the things that I really looked at, my, my first in my first 90 days here at Aweber is really looking at, you know, how we were describing ourselves in the marketplace and how we were trying to position amongst the competition in the marketplace. And, you know, I think there was a lot of goodness that everybody was saying here. However, people were saying things slightly differently, which, which from a marketing perspective is, creates a lot of challenges. So one of the first things that I looked at was how do we unify our messaging and really carve out a place in market for us to be able to, you know, stake our claim as the market leader and a market leader and overall, within the small business space and within the, email service provider market for entrepreneurs and small businesses. So, you know, one of the ways I executed that was I looked around the company, I did interviews with our management team and our leadership team as well as just random interviews and had a lot of hallway conversations to be quite frank with people here internally as well as reaching out to many of our customers and affiliates and really getting, you know, the basic questions you would look at in a messaging exercise.

RP: 11:10
What's the value you're receiving? How do you perceive us, how do you perceive Aweber in the marketplace? And really coming back and what we did was a very basic messaging exercise where, you know, everybody came into a room, wrote descriptors or value drivers on a sticky and put them up on the board. And we organized them. And, and you know, the good thing was everybody was kind of in the same ballpark, but we needed to unify the message. So after that exercise, we had four or five different columns of, value drivers that everybody was saying, but not in the same way. So we unified the message across, across Aweber, using some pretty basic exercises from a messaging perspective.

DA: 11:50
Now the next thing that I really looked at was, the overall strategic direction of marketing here at Aweber and who we were really engaging from a, customer versus net new lead perspective. And you know, for any organization that's in, in a somewhat commoditized market, like the small business email service provider market, really understanding the balance of, especially in a, in a SaaS business, understanding how to keep customers and keep churn in check while leveraging marketing exercises and marketing activity to bring people into the top of the funnel, recalibrating our efforts in terms of the amount of customer marketing versus net new lead marketing we were doing, with something that, that, that I did within actually the first 30 days that I was here. So we historically as a company have done a lot of marketing towards our existing install base, which isn't a bad thing. and, kind of the, the results of that speak for themselves. We're well below the industry average in terms of churn on a monthly basis with our client base. But the challenge with that is you don't get new leads in the front door. So one of the things that I did was I flipped the balance on its head in terms of, you know, maybe dialing back the amount of activity we're doing to the existing install base and really focusing on how do we get our, our new positioning, our new unified message out in the market in front of more people through more lead generation and net new lead activity. So that's, that's really over the first 90 days. My two big areas of focus and may sound pretty simple, but they're actually very, very, Gargantuan tasks in a company that's 20 years old.

DA: 13:28
Great word and a really good kind of segment there for two things. I want to kind of break it up for the first section on the brand positioning and differentiation. I was gonna ask how you went through those conversations, but you kind of elaborate on that already. Those hallway conversations, love that you did those different exercises. Once you're able to see the different kind of segments that people are talking about, about you know, your marketing positioning and then you say, okay, we need to unify this. How do you actually then go through that process of finding the right differentiators or finding the right language you want to do , fine tuning that, making sure it's solid and then how are you redistributing that into the company and make sure that everyone does digest that properly?

RP: 14:12
Yeah, yeah, that's, that's kind of the secret sauce to, you know, how I go about this process. And maybe it's not a secret sauce. Maybe it's a, it's a challenge, right? Because I always, I always feel that writing, you know, writing a 10 page documents easier than writing, you know, a 50 word value proposition where you have to really peel everything back and, really convey your value within a small statement. So, you know, there, there was a lot of headphone wearing and writing. Be quite honest with you. A lot of, you know, after the kids are in bed at night, sitting down with my laptop and really trying to scale backwards and, really refine sentences. But you know, it, it's really about understanding the value that you provide on a very simplistic level. And, and, and really, I talked about focus earlier on in the podcast, really understanding your market and where you want to focus and crafting that value proposition and crafting the value that you deliver customers through the different value drivers that they'll receive, very, very eloquently. So we've gone through many different exercises and, and it's usually not something that I do in a silo or my product marketing team does in a silo. We involve many different people to take a look at that messaging. both the leadership here at Aweber, as well as some of the different marketing folks and product folks, to take a look at the overall messaging. Because typically when you're working in a silo and writing, you lose track of really, what's important and what you're trying to capture within that message. And getting more sets of eyes on it are very important, is very important within, within the process of developing a very strong message.

DA: 15:44
And, you know, the rollout, the rollout of what we've created, you know, is there's, there's two different, aspects of the rollout, there's an internal rollout to get people on board with the new messaging. So I'll speak to that first. So what we're doing from an internal perspective is we're really running almost what we would run externally, a campaign internally. So doing things like getting posters printed up, getting shirts printed up with some new messaging and new positioning and really getting people excited internally with different, different swag, if you will. And that conveys our new message. But also it involves myself and, our other members of our marketing team going around to each of the individual departments. So here at Aweber, every department meets on a daily basis. We all run on an agile methodology, everybody from marketing through to customer service, run on an agile methodology. And, you know, on a daily basis everybody's getting together and meeting and we're inserting ourselves in all of those agile meetings to make sure that everybody's aware of the messaging, is able to convey it. Whether to a customer support person that's talking to a customer or a sales rep that's on the phone with a potential prospect, everybody needs to be singing the same song. That's the reason we went through this unification exercise on the overall messaging. And, you know, we're, we're continuing to work through that. It's, it's a, the good thing is since it is a net new messaging project, it's a unification project. A lot of people are already familiar with a lot of the terms we're using. It's just getting everybody to say it in the same way. So we're going through that process now internally.

DA: 17:21
Now, the second stage of the messaging exercise is the external communication. So, we're currently working on redoing all of our external communications, whether it be our website, our Google ads that we've run, the way that we position at conferences, the way that we position on podcasts such as this, all the different channels we use to market to that net new audience as well as our customer audience. We're slowly starting to turn the dial and get all the messaging up to date there as well. So, if you've noticed over the past couple of weeks, the webpage, our homepage has changed. We're starting to change pages internally on our website. You're going to start seeing actually within our product, more things changing as well from a messaging standpoint and really cranking up, the ease of use and simplicity within the product that we're trying to convey within our new unified messaging. So, yeah, it's a two phased approach. It's one getting everybody on board from a, from a team perspective here at Aweber, but also making sure that, we're, we're turning the dial at the correct velocity in terms of rolling it out to the market as a whole.

DA: 18:24
I love that from like a leadership position, you guys are so hands on in those different standups, part of that agile process with the team, which is fantastic. Kind of reaffirming the new positioning. Are you going to be doing testing? Like how do you continue to make sure that that is being spoken the right way? Do you go, do you plan that quarterly? Having everyone then come back and like talk to you again. Do those conversations again? Is it a constant iteration going through?

RP: 18:52
Yeah, I think, you know, my opinion is messaging has never done it continuously evolves and there's always going to be changes to it. Whether it be a new feature affecting the product or whether it be, you know, a competitor coming out with something new that we need to change our overall position in the market. So there's going to be continuous updates from an internal perspective of, of, of us educating our team in terms of how to speak about our technology and our offerings, over the, over the long term.

DA: 19:20
Got It. Makes Sense. All right. So moving to that second piece that you talked about, which was kind of changing your focus to I guess at some level acquisition, the net new marketing, and the balance from I guess the customer marketing looking more at onboarding and retention. All right. Is there ever a dangerous turn of that balance? If you can go too far into net new and you don't do enough of the customer marketing and you tip and you and you start getting more churn, where do you kind of have to stay balanced for that? And is there a right time to put more time in one or the other?

RP: 19:58
Well, yeah, I mean fundamentally you need to look at your data and you needed to figure out what your customer data looks like and how to make those decisions. And you have, you always have a finite number of resources or budget that you need to allocate. And in order to allocate it properly data is a very heavy driver of that. So you know, the first thing you want to look at to me from a SaaS company perspective is what your churn rate. And you know, if your churn rate industry average is typically 90, 10, 90% retention, 10% churn. like I said, we're, we're well above that rate here at Aweber, but if you're trending above that 10% mark on churn, you may want to do more customer marketing versus net new acquisition. At the same time if your growth trajectory is not where you want it, you need to be putting more money within the, within the top of the funnel is to, to get more leads and to, the top of the funnel and how you make things easier to get a customer from a net new lead perspective or from a trial perspective or freemium perspective into an actual paid engaged customer with your platform.

DA: 21:01
Yeah, great answer. It is so dependent. I mean there's not one size fits all answer there. But that's fantastic. And I guess for the net new marketing, all this stuff that you guys are doing, you talked about advertising, looking at some of those different channels. What about email marketing? Are there any specific strategies or things that you're doing as an email marketing platform itself? Is there anything unique or, or stand out they want to talk about?

DA: 21:26
Yeah, so you know, one of the things we take really seriously here at Aweber is the deliverability of our emails for our customers. And when I talk about deliverability, a lot of people may not know what that actually is, but you know, when, when a customer acquires an email service provider, they load a list and they actually send an email out to that list. iI's up to the email service provider to really determine whether or not that email gets sent to the person's inbox or their junk folder. And there's a lot of factors that go into that. It's not just determinant on, you know, domains and those types of things. It's, it's, there's a ton of different factors that go into whether or not a message is received within the spam folder or within a person's actual inbox. So, you know, one of the things we do here is we eat our own dog food. We use Aweber as our email marketing platform from a, from a marketing perspective. And you know, one of the key factors that goes into the deliverability of email is quality of list and quality of lists tend to degrade when you do list acquisition through purchases or through non optin activities. And you know, you're really sending Webinar invites out to people that don't know they're going to receive them or haven't asked for them or opted in for them. And that can hurt a deliverability, not only for us as a, as a company doing email marketing, but our customers potentially as well because we're sending them through our domain, the same domain that, that they leverage on a daily basis. So we want to keep deliverability intact. And that's one of those things that we keep an eye on and we're, we're very proud of that we have, one of the best deliverability rates in the industry.

DA: 22:57
So one of the things we look at is how do we get to new people cause that can be challenging from a marketing perspective. And it's one of the things I scratch my head about in the first 90 days here is, you know, I'm typically used to the typical enterprise type marketing procedure, demand generation procedure. You go out, you procure list, you put on event, you get leads and follow up. There's certain percentages that are within that process that are going to flow through to customers or to responses and then ultimately to customers. so here we needed to look at how do we do that without actually going out and acquiring names of lists. And you know, one of the ways we get to new people with our technology is through our affiliate network and through partners that we, talked to and leverage and do podcasts with or do webinars with and get in front of more people as well as through our Google advertising channels. So lot of Google ads we run in different areas across different verticals that we've been successful in pushing people to our trial our trial is our biggest call to action and we're really looking at ways to optimize our trial to get people comfortable with our platform and to the point where they're willing to purchase and pull the trigger and put a credit card into ultimately purchase our technology.

DA: 24:10
For you, is that possibly elongating the trial length or is it giving certain features? I guess it's all based on data itself as well?

RP: 24:18
Yeah, it's based on data but, but for me, you know, I have, I have a gut feeling that it's, a lot of it has to do with how easy that trial is to actually use and how, how rewarding the experience or amazing the experience for the actual user. So we're, we're taking a lot of steps internally right now and a lot of stuff that, that, that, that I've helped drive over the last 90 days, which is around the usability of our product in terms of, you know, really making it super, super simple for a customer to get in the trial from point a to point z and point a is uploading a list and point z is sending an email and analyzing the results of that email. And you know, making that simple in a way that it doesn't sacrifice the power capabilities of a market leading platform is something that we're, we're, we're really striving towards right now. We feel it's going to have a huge advantage for us going forward from a, from a net new lead generation perspective.

DA: 25:15
How are you guys actually doing that through your product department? Or are you just coming up with new ideas for how the trial should work through that, rolling it out on a test or Beta program, to test it out? Or do you just do new updates? See how everyone does a trial, you have to wait a certain amount of time to see the trial data and then you go back and you update it publicly to everyone or kind of, how does that work? How does product marketing kind of work there?

RP: 25:37
Yeah, so, no, we, we test everything here at Aweber. We don't, we don't roll anything out full board until we know it's not gonna break anything. So, some of the new updates that are coming from a product perspective are only going to certain percentage of trials and then we're seeing how it operates versus a, another sample set, that may have an existing kind of control set of data. So, you know, we're, we're looking at all of the different ways to do it within our product. Using things like, guided tours or cues within the product for new users or even wizard driven processes where, you know, you could, you could do simple things like having a progress bar towards sending an email for new users. So it's highly interactive and you've got a person on board very, very quickly uploading their data, creating, creating an email and then ultimately sending it out and analyzing the results. So, you know, we're looking at many different ways to do it. we've, we've been rolling them out slowly but surely. But I think when you looked at the second half of this year from a product perspective, we're going to really be looking at ways to enable users to get to the point of sending an email without sacrificing any of the power of our platform very, very rapidly.

DA: 26:48
Love that. That's super exciting. Just kind of switching this conversation to more internal marketing. We've been talking a lot about like the external approaches, I guess besides that, the brand differentiation, but I know that, you know your customer support and your customer success messaging outside of just onboarding is a big part of the Aweber message. How are you guys building that culture and building momentum I guess with marketing internally for customer support?

RP: 27:16
Yeah, so, customer support is something that we are very proud of here at Aweber. When you look at the amount of awards that we've won, our customer satisfaction rate being north of 95%, continuously, the fact that we don't offshore any of our support, we offer it to every customer, whether you be in a trial or whether you be our most, our highest paying customer. Everybody gets the same level of support here at Aweber and it's done 24/7 through chat, phone, email from our Pennsylvania headquarters. So, you know, we have, we have three shifts of people here. It's kind of like an old school factory where you have people coming in and out. But we have customer service reps that are manning the phones 24 hours a day here in our Pennsylvania office. So...

DA: 27:59
That's pretty impressive.

RP: 28:02
Yeah, it's pretty cool. And, and, and that's, you know, when we start talking about that, especially for things like trial users, people, people, it raises some eyebrows and you don't normally get that with a, with a SaaS company, you know, you might get 24/7 support, but they might be off shoring it from off hours and, and that type of thing. And that can be frustrating to some users. And, you know, we feel that offering it here is, is, you know, a huge advantage and a huge differentiator for us. And it's not just that we're offering support, it's, it's amazing support. You know, I'm blown away. You know, just, you know, a little story when I first onboarded here at Aweber, everybody goes through Aweber Academy, which is a, you know, a training course here as part of Aweber Academy you sit with our customer service reps and you actually listened to them on the phone, engage with our customers for everything from billing, billing issues to technical issues with the product, to, you know, all the way to, you know, I don't, I'm new to this, I don't know how to do it, can you walk me through it? And it's absolutely amazing to hear them on the phone and engage with customers and how quickly they can think on the fly and get things done. so, you know, I think when you look at externally, it's definitely a key differentiator for us. But internally, you know, it's really a badge of honor and a badge that everybody takes here very, very seriously. And it's not something that, it's an afterthought, you know, customer service and customer support is, is at the forefront of our minds in terms of, you know, every time we have a product update, the first thing that we think of is not, you know, how do we message this to the market? t's, you know, how do we get customer support up to date on the technologies that they're able to communicate it to people they're talking to on the phone? so you know, I think all of goes into, you know, the fact that they've, they've won many awards over the years. that customer satisfaction rate is north of 95% consistently. We have big monitors here that monitor that based on survey feedback post call, or post interaction on the web. So it, it really is something that we take seriously here internally, but we also see as a key differentiator for us.

DA: 30:04
Absolutely. And congratulations to that amazing team. And first of all, that that tidbit about having onboarding new staff members through that process, first of all through the academy, but also sitting with the support team, that is incredible. Such a good idea to kind of hear not only the questions that are being raised, but how people are using the product, how you answer them, like just straight from the source on, you know, how users are actually utilizing the product you're getting into. So that's fantastic. I know you're also using or, or looking at marketing as well internally as part of almost your hiring funnel as well. How are you using marketing internally in Aweber to attract great (inaudible) from across the world?

RP: 30:46
Yeah. So, you know, attracting, you know, really awesome team members and adding them to our family here and to our team. Here is something that we work on quite frequently. I actually just sat down with our chief people officer last weekend and went through kind of how do we adapt the unified messaging that I talked about earlier on the podcast to our HR efforts from a, from a, a hiring perspective, but also how we describe ourselves to potential job candidates and job applicants. So we're working through all of that right now. But you know, I think that when you look at, you know, our culture that we've built here, the culture is something that we take very, very seriously and we're very proud of. You know, I think when companies get to a certain size and a certain point that Aweber is at right now, they lose a lot of the fundamentals that they built from a cultural perspective, for a variety of reasons. It can be operationally, it can be, you know, new team members coming in that you know, have a very deep past experience that bring those past experiences to, to the company, which sometimes isn't always a bad thing, but from a cultural perspective, you know, Aweber held true to things that they've, they've done from a, from a very early perspective, in terms of, building the company over time. And I don't see that changing. You know, the Aweber Academy I talked about the culture aspect of that is very important to us within the hiring process, you know, not only is there a skill set evaluation, there's cultural evaluation as to whether this person will be a fit, will this person help us grow as a company or, or, or the contrary. so, you know, I think that there is a, a deep, love for the culture that has been built here at Aweber. And I don't see that changing over the, over the long term. I see it possibly adapting over the term, but I don't see it changing fundamentally.

DA: 32:42
Yeah, that's fantastic. That's a really strong, strong foundation built in. So what surprises over the past 90 days, I mean 90 days isn't too long obviously, you've done a lot in 90 days, already talked about most of them, but what surprises have you kind of gotten just being at the company? Anything that really stands out?

RP: 33:00
Yeah. So two things. One being outside, outside of the space. So let me take a step back. So the, the space that I came from, was a very large company, you know, multibillion dollar company, you know, tens or six or 7,000 employees I forget the exact number. So pretty large company where essentially you're just a number inside of a database. So, the cultural aspects of the company was, was very much surprising. You know, I've been, I've been involved with startups before. I've been fortunate enough to do three, three really good exits within my career thus far. And, you know, I think that the culture aspect of the company surprised me that it just wasn't, it just wasn't fluff during the interview process or during the time that I met with the leadership team before I was hired and those types of things. It really is something that holds true from top to bottom at this company, which I think is awesome. And, you know, like I said, you see that, you see that in very, very early stage companies and that ultimately fizzles out. But getting to the size Aweber is and keeping that culture intact I think is, you know, kudos to people like Tom Kulzer and Sean Cohen that had been here a really long time, that have helped keep that culture intact So, you know, one of the other things that I think was really surprising to me was the abundance of data that we had as a company. And, the availability of that data for analysis and really determining what we do, not only from a product perspective but from a, from a business perspective as well. I mean we have, we have terabytes and terabytes of data. I mean the fact that we host our product for a lot of our customers gives us access to insights that some companies would only dream of in terms of being able to analyze what users are doing inside the product, what their tendencies are, where we can help them, how we can make them more efficient within our technology. But also from a business perspective where we've been successful in the past, you know, where we should really focus. I talked about focus earlier in the podcast and all of those things. I think that the availability of the data and the ability to translate that data into actionable intelligence, we've done very, very well and we're going to continue to evolve as a company.

DA: 35:07
Do you guys have a data analyst that kind of helps you pull those different queries?

RP: 35:10
We do, yeah. he's actually part of the marketing organization. And, he does a fantastic job. You know, in a company of our size where you don't have many, many data analysts, there's a lot of people that, moonlight as data analysts, which can cause some problems, which we're trying to rectify right now. But, you know, I think that, you know, the challenge here isn't, you know, getting the data, the challenge here, asking the questions of the data and being able to answer them effectively and efficiently. And we're working towards new ways to do that right now. Not that it hasn't been done in the past, in that way. But I think that there's, there's new technologies on the market from a, from a data analytics and from a business intelligence perspective that allow us to get really one version of the truth in terms of the overall health of the product and business across the company versus everybody working in silos of operational data.

DA: 36:02
Yeah, no, absolutely. I would totally agree with that. I think data can be such a blessing, but it can also be a little bit of a curse sometimes because you can overanalyze, look at things. I don't help you make those actionable decisions and it can also be overwhelming to the different departments if they're not looking at the right thing. So, that sounds awesome. It sounds like you guys are on the right path and you talked before about how you guys are really working right now to get the positioning perfect on both the internal and external approaches. But I guess after that kind of rolls out, are there any new challenges or opportunities that you're truly excited for kind of going past this 90 days, getting into the rest of the year?

RP: 36:40
Yeah, I think we have some, some very interesting new features coming out in the product, in the second half of the year. And you know, I think product marketing is going to be very busy here in terms of translating the technical mumbo jumbo coming out of product management and R&D into something that's consumable by you know, entrepreneurs and small business owners that may not, may not have the deep technical chops. So I'm really excited for some of those new features. I can't dive into what they are here today, but they are very exciting and they very much support our mission of being, you know, delivering powerfully simple software to, to those entrepreneurs and small business owners. So very much looking forward to that. And I'm really looking forward to continuing to build out the, the, the marketing organization here at Aweber. adding new team members, you know, keeping the culture intact like I talked about and really, really continuing to grow us at the top end of our, at the top end of our funnel as well as I'm looking at ways to better educate those that are engaged with us and getting them to pay customers.

DA: 37:44
Love it. Absolutely love it. All right. Based on time, what I want to do here Rob, is I want to switch over to our lightning round questions, just five quick questions I have for you. Super easy. You're a very impressive marketer so this would be easy for you. But just answer with the first best thought that comes to mind. Ready to get started.

RP: 38:03

DA: 38:03
All right, let's do it. What advice would you give for early stage SaaS companies starting marketing today?

RP: 38:10

DA: 38:11
Easy. That's a great word. What does focus actually mean for marketing?

RP: 38:15
Yeah, so I think it's really, instead of trying to be all things to all people, really focus on a core demographic or core market and market your product specifically towards that. And I think you're going to get more bang for your buck. You're going to get better return on investment and you're ultimately going to grow your business faster when you try to be all things to everyone, you lose a lot of within that, within that positioning. But if you focus down to a specific market where you've had success or that you're building your product towards and you market to that, those individuals very effectively, You're going to get efficient growth within your business.

DA: 38:49
I love it. And the dangerous part of, being, being new, being an early stage SaaS companies that you want to market to everyone because it's like, we're growing, we're growing, but that puts you in a dangerous position to actually grow effectively. What skill do you think is vital for marketing teams to improve and build on?

RP: 39:08
Well, probably the standard answer here is, is know your data and analytics, which is a correct answer, but I'm going to take a different path on this one if you, if you don't mind. I think it's really understanding the outside in view of your organization. So it's not, it's not getting enthralled with new products and new features and everything that you're coming out with, but it's really understanding your, how you're perceived in the overall market and understand what your position is in that market without the kool aid goggles or without drinking the Kool . And I find that that is not only a challenge for marketing teams, but many leadership teams, especially in small companies. And if you're able to do that, you're better able to put together messaging and positioning and really get that focus that we've talked about throughout today and really understand what markets to go after.

DA: 39:58
I love that. What about a best educational resource you'd recommend for learning about marketing or growth?

RP: 40:05
Yeah, so, you know, one of the things I continuously look at is Pragmatic Marketing, I think that they do a really good job in terms of, you know, understanding where marketing lies in the organization. I'm a true believer in, there's two strong interlocks for, for the marketing department and a SaaS company in a technology company. It's the interlock between marketing and product management and marketing and sales. So understanding who does what from a, from a functional and operational perspective is key. And I think pragmatic marketing does a very good job in laying out roles and responsibility across those different interlocks and across the organization so that you can effectively get a product to market.

DA: 40:47
Awesome. That's a great answer. And we'll have to link to that in the show notes as well. Just more information on that. What about a favorite tool you can't live without?

RP: 40:56
Well I guess this day and age it's your cell phone, right? I forget how many times people, people check your cell phone and, you know, even cell phones are activating cars now. Like you don't even need keys for cars at this point. So it's pretty interesting stuff that's going on. So, that's probably an answer a lot of people have, but you know, I don't think I could do without my cell phone at this point.

DA: 41:18
Honestly, the first person to say that on this podcast. But it's a really good tool. It really is. Yeah. What about a brand business or a team that you admire today?

RP: 41:28
Yeah, so you know, there's a lot of traditional answers out there. You could say, you know, Apple, Tesla or one of those companies that I think are, are all valid answers. But you know, one, one of the companies that I admire that I think does the best job that I've seen of marketing and sales and people might laugh at this, but it's actually QVC. When you look at the way that they have less than two to three minutes to convince you to buy a product and get you to actually call up or log in and put your credit card information and purchase a product, there's no more, there's no other company out there that has people that can communicate the value, communicate the differentiation, convince you to buy and actually get you to buy within the course of two to three minutes other than QVC.

RP: 42:21
So would you say they do that a lot through story? Like, do I use,

DA: 42:24
Yeah, I think we do. But they also do it a lot through demonstration and through actually showing alternatives to using the product. So I always say, people always, always joke with me, you know, Apple has the best product marketing in the world. I'd say I'd say no they don't. QVC has the best product marketing in the world because they can come, they can communicate the value and differentiation of a product within the course of two to three minutes. You know, it takes much longer for you to understand what the new iMac is doing compared to the old one. Right. Or the new iPhone compared to the old one. And you know, I think that might be a non traditional answers. Some people might argue with me about it, but if you, if you turn it on for, you know, five to 10 minutes and you watch a couple of segments, you'll be blown away of how efficient they are in terms of explaining differentiation and getting people to buy their products.

DA: 43:11
No, I love that answer. That's fantastic. These are just really good kind of questions to drive new knowledge. People can watch QVC and really try to understand exactly what you're talking about. How are they creating differentiation and why? How are they connecting to the audience? How are they demonstrating products? So fantastic answer and Rob with that we'll wrap up today, but I just want to say thank you so much for coming on sharing so much from your first 90 days here at Aweber. I'd love to have you back sometime next year once you get some of these initiatives underway, see how things are going again. But thank you so much Rob.

RP: 43:42
Yeah, no problem David. I really enjoyed it and I'm more than happy to stop back and chat with you next year.

DA: 43:47
Yeah, that'd be fantastic. So thanks for joining us and have a great day Rob.

RP: 43:50
You got it. You too. Take care.

DA: 43:53
That was such an incredible marketing conversation. You can tell Rob, even though it's only been 90 days at Aweber has really understood their culture, their values. Has been able to bring big new initiatives into a amazing, amazing market leader like Aweber. As a company I remember seeing when I first started in the SaaS space, literally about eight years ago, a company that I was using Aweber was product I was using, so just so amazing to see what their marketing has shifted to has become, to stay as a top five leader in a very, very, very large market. Kudos to that whole company. Thank you, Rob, for jumping on and sharing so much with us, so being so honest, open and knowledgeable throughout this whole process.

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