Social media collaboration and approval software startup Planable has been growing at a rate of 25% month over month, something the company's co-founder attributes to its marketing team structure.
This week on The Inbound Success Podcast, Planable co-founder Vlad Calus talks about how he built the company's marketing team from the ground up using a three-pronged approach focused on people, processes, and tools - and why that approach is key to the companies fast growth.
Vlad has written a book on building the marketing team of the future and in this interview, he summarizes in detail how Planable's team is structured; the processes they use on a daily, weekly, and quarterly basis; and the software tools they've chosen to implement.
This week's episode of The Inbound Success Podcast is brought to you by our sponsor, IMPACT Live, the most immersive and high energy learning experience for marketers and business leaders. IMPACT Live takes place August 6-7, 2019 in Hartford, Connecticut, and is headlined by Marcus Sheridan along with special guests including world-renowned Facebook marketing expert Mari Smith and Drift CEO and Co-Founder David Cancel.
Inbound Success Podcast listeners can save 10% off the price of tickets with the code "SUCCESS."
Some highlights from my conversation with Vlad include:
Planable is a content collaboration platform for marketing, freelancers, and agencies.
For the first two years of the company's history, the marketing team was trying to use growth hacks to achieve its objectives, but quickly realized that was neither sustainable nor scaleable.
When they hired a new marketing director, the team began a process of studying how high performing marketing teams operated, and from that research, decided to focus on content marketing as the core of their strategy going forward.
From their, Vlad identified that there were three main pillars of effective and efficient marketing teams - people, process and tools.
When it comes to people, Vlad says that marketing teams need to have individuals with clear roles and clear ownership, as well as a defined quarterly marketing plan.
The teams processes need to deliver transparency, consistency and alignment.
And the tools that the team uses need to be effective. Vlad's team uses Zoom, Slack, Dropbox, InvisionApp, Google Drive, Planable, and Frame.
Resources from this episode:
Save 10% off the price of tickets to IMPACT Live with promo code "SUCCESS"
I'm your host Kathleen Booth, and this week my guest is Vlad Calus, who is the co-founder of Planable. Welcome back, Vlad.
Vlad Calus (Guest): Thank you. Thank you Kathleen, and thanks for having me.
Vlad and Kathleen hamming it up while recording this episode together .
Kathleen: I am particularly appreciative that you joined me, and it is crazy late at night, your time, because you are based over in Europe.
Vlad: Yeah, exactly. I'm currently in Bucharest, and in Eastern Europe.
Kathleen: Well, I appreciate you staying up and burning the midnight oil to join me for this podcast. For those who are listening, can you talk a little bit about what Planable is, and your background?
About Planable and Vlad Calus
Vlad: Definitely, yeah. So, Planable is a content collaboration platform for marketing, freelancers, and agencies.
Basically it's a mock up of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, that helps you preview how the content would look like, like 100% pixel content, and then you can simply just ask for feedback or collaborate with any of the stakeholders in the team, including brand managers, or human resources, or legal, or anyone else just to make sure this is the right content that you want to publish on social media.
Then you can just simply ask for an approval, and then schedule the content directly to social media.
Kathleen: Great. And you personally have a really interesting background. You went through Techstars, you were on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list, you're a very active startup mentor.
Can you talk a little bit about your background and what led you to co-founding Planable?
Vlad: Yeah, I would love to. So, I would say that at the age of 16, I started participating in a lot of non-profit organizations and starting my own organizations, just because I was feeling and trying to fix the problems in my own community. Like starting from really small problems and then just trying to get some use time and good time for myself, and learning something from everyone.
And then at the age of 19, I found my first or second job, and I went to a startup competition called Startup Week in Moldova, in my home country. And I ended up meeting two of my current co-founders of Planable just by accident. I was just walking around them, looking for a team to join during the competition. And when I just started with Xenia, who is my current co-founder, we start chatting about the idea that we wanted to work on, and I just started talking to them, "Hey, may I join with your team? Would really love to participate. I really don't want to go home. I would really like to make it happen."
And then we started, on the second day, we started actually working on this idea and debating it more. We participated with something related to the social media, but it was like an initial concept before making everything happen at Planable.
And we ended up understanding that all of us shared the same passion and frustration for social media, and frustration in terms of the problems that marketing agencies and social media managers are fighting with. And couple of hours after that, we just won the competition, and we were invited to a pre-accelerated program in Romania.
And we just founded a company then, and everything started there, and just in couple of months after that, we ended up being part of Techstars London, which I really believe changed the way our company work and exists, because it gave us a big round of funding, over 120K, and lots of support.
We also started the company, we started monetizing the product and the company then, during the Techstars, and gave us the first support from actual people, like actual customers, and people that we understood that really, really believe in our vision, our company, our product, and everything that we are doing right now.
Kathleen: That's great. And I've always been impressed by the businesses that have come out of Techstars, and so it's fun to get to talk to someone whose gone through the program.
Now, one of the things that I thought was interesting about the experience you've had is, you started right from the very beginning, you're one of the founders, and you've been growing this company, and a lot of the people I talk to on this podcast, we talk about their marketing techniques and strategies, and how that fuels growth. And when you and I spoke, I thought something so interesting was that you have plenty of marketing techniques and strategies, but one of the things that you consider to have been a major contributor to your growth is the way you've structured and grown your marketing team in particular.
And so, I wanted to dig into that a little bit more with you, and explore how that has worked, and the results you've gotten.
How Planable's Marketing Team Is Structured
Vlad: Definitely, yeah. So, changing the way our marketing works, our marketing team works, actually was one of the most important things that happened to this company. Because the product side was always working and ticking, and the product was always developing.
We had and we still have a brilliant co-founder and CTO that came up with the product and division, and the way everything works. But we had to compensate this with the marketing and the business, and actually getting the first users and customers to the product.
So, the first two years of the company, we were trying really, really hard to do any growth hacks that you could ever read on the internet, and all the Facebook groups, and Slack communities, and Twitter, List, and everything else.
I would say that we really tried to bootstrap our way in the most possible way. But then we just understood that nothing is actually working, and nothing is actually scalable. Like really, really scalable that could generate us success in the long term, and that we could actually replicate all of this.
So, in I would say April last year, we ended up partnering with a brilliant new employee, who is called Miruna. She's our head of marketing at the moment at Planable, and we just started talking with her about the fact that we need to restructure our marketing team. We need to work on something from the ground up and start making some extreme, extreme changes.
And we started this by analyzing the whole industry and understanding what are the biggest issues of marketers, and what are our issues, and starting to understand how can we work on solving this problem from the very beginning.
So, right now, marketers are facing enormous challenges when it comes to content marketing, because content marketing was something that we wanted to focus on, completely. This would be the ground zero, the main, main focus of our marketing team.
And when we understood that there are couple of main problems, like an enormous amount of wasted time and effort results in productive ... loss of productive hours than creating the content. And lots of PR crisis are being created because there is no clear approval process, there is no feedback, there is no communication. And there are campaign that are launched, that should've been launched exactly because the content was not approved.
And then we also started to think more about the content marketing, and how can we actually scale it. So, we ended up thinking about many of the pillars, or many of the parts of content marketing, and how it should be structured.
And we ended up creating a system for our own team that we started with couple of colleagues and analyzing this within the team, and then we understood that many big companies actually have a very, very similar structure but we would never actually understood this. This was just the way we were.
So, we understood that there are three main parts of ... of an effective and efficient marketing team, and this is the people, the processes and tools. These are the three main pillars that we understood that we have to implement in our team.
"There are three main parts of an effective and efficient marketing team - the people, the processes and tools."
Vlad: So, I would say that the first when I was mentioning about the people. People are obviously the essence of any content marketing process. You have to have people in order to deliver everything that you want.
And then we understood that in order to have an efficient marketing team, all of us have to have very clear and understood roles in our team. And start working on the main skills and best skills that each of us have, in order to actually succeed.
So, we just looked at each other and started to think, "What's all of us do?" Because all of us, we were free marketers back then, and we were like full stack marketers. We were doing everything-
Kathleen: Everyone was doing everything?
Vlad: Exactly, yeah. Everyone was doing everything, no matter what. We just looked at the task and then was like, "Should I do this? You do this? Okay, let me do this today, and then we can next week ..." This is how we would do it.
And then we just understood, we looked at everyone and started discussing this. "Okay, what can I do?" I am not the most, in my case, it was I'm not the most creative person, but I can really deliver. I am an efficient person that can deliver lots of stuff, I can promote our content, I can work on twitching the content exactly the way it is from the technical perspective.
And then Miruna, my colleague, was the most creative brain of Planable, because she could really speak the way our brand would speak on social media and digital. This is something she just had this from the very first day, and I was amazed by this.
And then we also had the third colleague. She was Luciana, she was the most creative person on the social media. She likes engaging with people on social media.
So, we understood that we need to have clear roles. In my case, it was SEO, search engine optimization. I need to tweak all of the content that we are creating, and then I also need to write the content for Planable outside of Planable, like writing guest blogs, and also representing Planable outside the building.
Miruna was the one that was creating the content and also doing all the design part, and Luciana was doing the social media and the newsletters.
So, we had three main pillars of content marketing, divided by three persons, so we understood that we have clear roles established.
This was the first part to create clear roles. And also, the second part was to establish a clear ownership of everything.
So, if you, for example, Luciana was doing social media and newsletters. There might be chances when we have to help Luciana, she needs creative ideas or design materials on everything else, but this still means that Luciana has a complete ownership on this.
We even made ... and this was the second part, and the third part that in terms of the people, we had to do a clear plan for the next quarter. We are doing 12 weeks iterations on the marketing plans, because we think this is the most efficient. We are not trying to jump on the next six or 12 months, or even three years. We believe that this might be a waste of time, so this is why we try to stick close to three months iterations only.
So, just to sum up, this was, for us, having a clear ownership, having clear roles, and have a clear definitive marketing plan for the next three months on all of the marketing objectives that we do.
Kathleen: Yeah, we use quarterly planning as well, and I agree with you. You certainly could come up with a plan for a longer time horizon, but so much changes, and I've really found over time that quarterly is the most effective time interval for that kind of thing.
Vlad: Yeah, definitely. I also was speaking with lots of teams that they are also using that quarterly, but also six weeks iteration. This is definitely something that you can do.
Unfortunately, being a small team such as ours, it's hard to actually feel like you've implemented a lot during the six weeks, so we just give us lots of time during this 12 weeks, like three months that we do quarterly.
Kathleen: Yeah. So, that's how you approach the people element of your team-
Vlad: Exactly, yeah.
Vlad: And there is also something that we also related to the people, something that was super, super important for us. We understood that we cannot do everything, so this is why we need to get other stakeholders into the team. Meaning that we started using lots of video and audio production teams, like design and branding, website building, link building, data scrapping, people on the PR side, people on the page marketing, and so on.
Because we believe that everyone should do the best that they could, and if you don't have the time, but have the resources, you should definitely use. Because for example, we are also doing people of marketing, this is a video blog, and we just understood that we would waste a lot of time on video production.
We can film, or we can create a content, but editing and post producing the content is super, super hard for us.
Building a Marketing Team: The Processes
Vlad: Yeah, so moving on. The second part was about the processes, because in terms of the processes, we wanted to make sure that we don't have only a clear plan, but we can also implement all of this plan and we can deliver everything that we proposed ourselves.
Unfortunately, lots of teams are making critical mistakes in terms of this, because they are not having the clear workflow and the clear processes established within the team, and within the whole company.
And we understood that we have, and we need three main aspects of this. First, we put transparency at the top of our processes. And we put transparency at the core of our entire workflow, because we believe that transparency was the most important thing, and transparency in terms of what's everyone doing today, this week, this month? What are the main files that we should access, for example, I should have the access to all of the marketing files, and all of the marketing materials, even though I don't actually have a need of them, but I should have them in case I need to be involved in this process.
And transparency, because there is, for example, social media or email marketing teams, they have two departments and therefore two ways that they are not even communicating between them at the time that they most need, because we believe that collaboration empowers teams to not only create better content, but also be more efficient, and better at the way content marketing team works.
Then the second part was about consistency. We understood that we need clear consistency on everything we do. For example, when I just started content marketing and writing articles, this was one and a half years ago. I was literally staring at the blank Google Docs document for 20 or 30 minutes, and could not came up with any ideas at all.
So, because of that, I was just trying to get inspired all around the internet with any ideas that I could, and just writing random keywords, and starting to write something from those keywords, just to get this creative flow going somewhere.
And then I tried to make it consistent as I could, so I just had the task in my task management tool that each day I am writing at least one hour a day. No matter what, no matter if this is good, no matter how perfect this is, but I just wanted to write.
And then at the end of the week, I was starting to editing all of this content, and putting everything that I could. Because I was trying to throw all the raw idea that I had, and instead of editing and then being depressed because nothing really works, I was just trying to constantly came up, like throw ideas to this digital paper, and make sure that I move and I do something actually.
Kathleen: Yeah. It's a great goal to be able to write out an hour a day. I feel like so many people say they're going to do something like that, and then they never follow through, so kudos to you for actually doing it.
Vlad: Yeah, because I believe that a lot of marketers, and they really show this when I was speaking with marketers over the past year, a lot of marketers have exactly this struggle of writing content. They think that writing an article of 2000 words, or 3000, or even in my case writing a book of 30 000 words, this is super complicated.
But I think about this like a process that you have to complete, and something that you have to deliver if you are consistent, and I believe that writing, especially writing, this is a skill that you empower with consistency.
If you write more, you can create more and you write better.
Kathleen: Yeah, and we should mention that you are a published author. You did write an entire book called Marketing Teams of the Future, which is sort of what we're talking about here in terms of how you built your team, so this isn't just a couple blog posts that you're getting out. This was an entire book.
Vlad: Yeah, exactly. Because I focused the book exactly on this part, how to build your marketing teams by showing all of our examples of the team, and then speaking with some of the best marketing teams out there, from InVisionApp, Digital Crowd, Night Watch, and many more, and trying to understand what are the most efficient teams in the world, and how can we do this better with our help and anyone else.
And then the third part of processes was about alignment, like making sure that alignment starts with a clear strategy, and then with consistent daily variables. In our team, these are two parts that we did. The first part is that we have a marketing meeting at 10:00 AM each Monday. There is absolutely no chance that we skip this meeting, unless you are on vacation we give you the full freedom on your vacation.
But usually if you're traveling, if you're not in the office, we will connect you with a Skype call or Zoom call, or anything else, and we'll do this meeting at least for 10 or 15 minutes to make sure that everyone is aligned.
And then the second part, also something that lots of marketing teams give, I believe is super important to do it one to one's between the marketing managers and between the marketing teams themselves because there are lots of things that people usually want to speak, but we just miss speaking just because maybe this is not the right time, or maybe this is not the right environment. Or this is just not the conversation that you would have at the desk with other colleagues in there.
And this is why, if you at least plan one, one to one, at least once a month, or in our case once in two weeks, this will help you make sure that everyone is on the same page.
You have everyone is expecting the same thing from you and from the team, and from the deliverables and everything that you do.
Kathleen: Yeah. So, you've got your three points under people, you've got three points under process. Let's recap each of those again just so that everybody's following along.
Vlad: Definitely, yeah. So, in terms of the people, the three things that we did was about making a clear ownership, what's everyone doing, and then the second part was about establishing clear roles, and clear things that everyone is doing. And then the third part was about creating a marketing plan for the next quarter, because this is what we do at the quarter, and this is something that I would recommend.
And in terms of the processes, there were three parts of what we do, and I would suggest implementing in your team as well, this is first of all transparency. Everything has to be transparent across your marketing organization. The second part is consistency. Really embrace consistency from the very beginning. Try to do content marketing each day, try to write an article each day, do social media each day. Write at least one newsletter each day, and you will see that day by day, you will feel improvement in yourself, and your own marketing team as well.
And then the third part is about alignment by making sure that everyone is on the same page, and discussing and communicating all of the expectations and the variables clearly within your team.
Kathleen: I love it. Thank you for recapping that. And then you had ... so, in addition to people and processes, you had sort of your third overarching category of things. Could you talk a little bit about that?
Building a Marketing Team: The Tools
Vlad: Yeah, the third part was about the tools, and in terms of the tools, I would say that this is pretty straight forward, but I want to mention first of all that, do not rely on tools because no automation tool can or should replace the creative force of your team. Because when time consuming, repetitive tasks are automated, these billable hours can't be spent on creative work.
So, we should work only with the tools that we really understand that value for us, and that really feed for our team. And in my case, in the book I just presented a couple of tools that I can also send you the links after that in email, but in terms of the list that we are currently working with the tools, and something that we would suggest.
First of all, this is using Zoom for all of your video calls and everything else. We switched to Zoom. Before that we used Appear.in. I really loved Appear for connecting on the video calls directly for the browser, but that didn't work for us all the time. Sometimes we had issues, sometimes our customers couldn't connect, so we just switched everything to Zoom, and wow. Over the past four months, I never had a bug. Never had an issue.
Vlad: This product is just working-
Kathleen: It's pretty great. And people who are listening can't tell, but we are on a Zoom call right now. That's how I record the podcast, and I probably spend six hours of my day on Zoom, because we're a mostly remote company, and so all of our meetings, all of my conversations are on Zoom. It's fantastic.
Vlad: Exactly, yeah.
And in terms of the other tools that there are, I would obviously recommend to use Planable for all of your content management creation and social media, and then there is also InVisionApp, for all of the prototyping in terms of images and creative content that you are doing.
There is also Frame. I really love this company. If you even open the website that they have, it's a super beautiful website. When you are a creative person, or work in a marketing team, this really fulfills your heart when you see a beautiful website in a team.
Kathleen: And what's the URL of that website?
Vlad: Frame.io, I think. Yeah, Frame.io.
Kathleen: Yeah, I'm pulling it up now so I can look at it while we talk. I love looking at nice websites. Oh, okay. So, for video review and collaboration.
Vlad: Exactly. Yeah.
Vlad: This is something, so we are basically describing Planable as Frame IO, but for social media.
Kathleen: Got it.
Vlad: Because this is something very similar. And if you look at the list that I am presenting right now, you can actually see that all of the platforms are also collaboration, because I really believe that collaboration is the key of any marketing team right now.
Kathleen: Yeah, absolutely.
Vlad: And then there is obviously the Slack for building a transparent environment that we were speaking about because you can create all of those channels, and anyone can join those channels and you can simply collaborate on everything that you do.
Obviously also for assets management, you can use Dropbox, or Google Drive, or anything that fits you. We are personally using Dropbox, we are personally using Google Drive across the company. I am using Dropbox and Apple Cloud for some personal stuff that I am doing right now.
And then the last one that I highly recommend almost all the time, this is Airtable. This is spreadsheets on steroids. Anyway, this is the way I am ... the founders describe it, because you can almost do anything in Airtable, that is similar experience to spreadsheets but actually really different.
Kathleen: Well, you have a very similar list of tools to me, because we use all of those I think with the exception of Frame. We actually use Wipster, which is really similar, so very similar functionality. But yeah, if I'm not on Zoom, I'm usually on Slack.
Vlad: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Kathleen: And yeah, and we are using Airtable as well because we had some complex spread sheeting needs that we couldn't solve with Google Sheets and its been great.
Vlad: Yeah, exactly. And we use Airtable for almost anything that we do in terms of the list, and the databases in our team. For example, we have a specific list in Airtable for recruiting, we have another sheet for marketing list, like events, or podcasts that we are listening, or events that we want to be part of, or speaking engagements. And lots of other stuff that we do. And Airtable really, really helps us make sure that we are on point with our idea. Even though our marketing plan and ownership plan, and everything that I was saying is also part of Airtable.
Kathleen: Yeah. That's great. So, you've outlined really your overarching three kind of pillars, I would say. The people, the processes, and the technology. Talk to me about how that impacted your ability to grow the company, to deliver results through marketing.
How Planable's Team Structure Enabled It To Grow
Vlad: Yeah, definitely. So, we started implementing all of this processes, and then we obviously did not see any major results from the very first day. But when we started observing some of the patterns that are happening in all of our analytics, so first we started seeing a growth in our traffic.
So, it was like the first couple of weeks, it was an incremental traffic. Like 10%, and then 15%, and 20%, and then everything else. And we actually felt like wait a sec, it's growing. It's actually something is happening in here.
And when we started understanding where this is coming from, and we ended up analyzing all of the sources, and it's actually from the content that we were creating. And then we started speaking with the people that shared this content on social media, like Facebook, Twitter, and everything else, and we were saying that it's really exceptional content that we are creating, and we really feel like we answered the questions that we proposed from the very beginning of the piece.
And this was a clue for us that we are doing something the right way. We are actually creating the right content for the teams, and we understanding for us, this was exactly because we built this processes and workflows in mind, and we were building everything the right way.
And when we saw the growth in traffic, we saw the growth in the number of users, and this obviously reflected the number of our revenue. So, and then looking over the past 12 months of the growth from June last year to June this year, we can definitely say that we have month over month growth of between 20 to 30%. I would say that the median number is 23%, but it obviously varies from one month to another month. For example, for our surprise, December was one of the most spectacular months that we've ever had.
Kathleen: That is interesting, because I feel like almost every company I know that works in something related to marketing, December is a very slow month because-
Vlad: Oh wait, no. Sorry. Sorry about that. This is June. No, this is January. So, January was the most spectacular month, and then December was one of the ... oh my God, one of the most horrible months.
Kathleen: I was going to say, that sounds more like every other company...
Vlad: Yeah, sorry about that. Yeah. Yeah, this is because we felt ... and in January, we felt like is there anyone looking for a new subscription for their team.
Kathleen: Right. We have the same conversation every year. We have usually got tremendous traffic growth in the fourth quarter, and then after the first week in December, it's like it all falls off a cliff. Nobody's working, it seems.
Vlad: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. I never saw so sad Google analytics on our website like in December, especially the past two weeks. It was just dropping. We had probably minus 60% drop in all of the traffic and then it quickly came up-
Kathleen: Which, as long as it comes back is fine. Because if you know it's going to dip every December, you can plan for that. But yeah.
Vlad: Yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly. And the most funniest thing, I will never understand this, is that people were signing up for new subscription on January 1st. And I was like, "What the hell are you doing in a new subscription?"
Vlad: But then we start analyzing, and we understood that their trail had expired, and they had lots of content planned, and they did not want to give up on this, and then we just ended up publishing next. And we had to renew their subscription, which is a good sign, so we can put-
Kathleen: That is a good sign.
Vlad: Yeah. And we can prepare for more marketing campaigns or ideas at the end of December and beginning-
Kathleen: Yeah. What I like about this story is I've always personally had a belief that marketing is a little bit like weight loss, and health and fitness, you know? There's lots of people who kind of think they're going to get this magic solution, this diet that's going to miraculously have them lose all their weight, and it might in the short term. There's all kinds of fad diets that help you lose weight quickly. But does it last? And usually the answer is no.
And unfortunately, the real solution in health and fitness slash weight loss is consistency and good old fashioned calories in, calories out, right?
And in marketing, I honestly believe it's a lot like that. There are plenty of little fads and shiny objects that you can chase, and they might give you a short term boost, but as you said in the very beginning, those are not scalable things.
And with the tech changing so quickly, and algorithms changing so quickly on social and on Google, if you're just chasing the latest greatest fad, you're always ... it's like chasing your tail. You're always going to be chasing something.
So, it made me happy to hear that your great results came from consistency and good old fashioned, you know, content marketing.
Vlad: I love it. I love your comparison. I was actually thinking yes, this is totally true. I completely agree with that, yeah.
Kathleen: Yeah. It's great to see. So, the company is now how old?
Vlad: So, we are now ... so, we started the company in February 2016. I would say that we worked two years in order to get the product on the market and actually feel like people see the value of this product. We started monetizing the company after one year and a half, but then it took us two years in total to get to the product market feed when we understood that people actually see the value and we understand, and we are building something valuable for people.
Kathleen: Yeah. And in the meantime, you've been seeing this consistent growth and traffic, and leads and sales, and-
Vlad: Yeah, exactly. Because we just understood that if something is working, let's try to stick to it. And you can always stick with consistency. Try incremental, super, super small, super, super small steps. But just do this consistently, week over week, month over month, and make sure that you keep up the same pace.
Kathleen: I think that you had a lot of great tips, but I think the one for me personally that resonated the most and that I'm going to try to take to heart is blocking off an hour every day to write. Because really, we do live in a world where content is so central to getting found online, it's also so central to how you nurture your leads and convert them. Even once you have customers, content is central to that. Preventing churn, and developing loyalty, so I love that suggestion, and again it goes back to that exercise and eating right analogy. You got to do it every day, you got to stick with it and you will eventually see results. So, that is going to be my resolution. It's not the new year, but I'm going to make a resolution to write for an hour every day. I love that.
Vlad: Yeah, definitely. That's a good one.
Kathleen's Two Questions
Kathleen: Well, before we wrap up, two questions that I always ask all of my guests, I'm curious to hear your take. When it comes to inbound marketing, and content marketing, is there a company or a person that you think is really doing it well right now?
Vlad: Yeah, I actually have someone else in mind, but when you just asked the question, I immediately came up with Drift. I really think that oh my God, I'm following these guys over the past years. We are using [Intercom] personally, just because we went with Intercom, and it was a great decision back then. But we just can't really change from Intercom to Drift, but I just look at the Drift with what we do, and wow, these guys, what we do is completely amazing. There is the founder, and then there is ...
Kathleen: Dave Gerhardt.
Vlad: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Kathleen: Dave Cancel, and Dave Gerhardt, or as they like to call themselves, DC and DG.
Vlad: DC and DG. Yeah, exactly. DC and DG, and what they do on social media, this is completely nuts. They are super, super active what they do. They came up with new projects, new content, new ideas, new landing pages, new books, new everything. And then we do this all of this experience is so beautiful and so extraordinary that I feel like I am part of this company every single day. Every time, when I read something about the company where they are products, I really feel proud that we did this, that we are doing this. I feel part of this company. Even though I am not even a user, I am not even a customer of this. And they did this just by creating a culture of their company that this is like we are building something extraordinary.
Especially even their attitude that they do. DC, when they have a conference that we are organizing, probably a couple times a year, and they saw how DC is writing messages in Twitter that, "Let me know if you are coming to the conference. I am coming to personally pick you up at the airport and get you to the conference. From the airport, to the conference."
Vlad: This is the most amazing thing that a founder can do in the day of the conference. When you have so many things to focus on in the day of the conference, you are picking up people from the airport. Like, really? This is the commitment that I want to see from all the company that I am using.
Kathleen: That's great. You know, it's funny. So, I did have Dave Gerhardt, who's DG, on a as a guest on the podcast, and he was one of the earlier guests, and it was so fun to pick his brain specifically about what he is doing with LinkedIn Video, because he's really good with that. And but what I love about what you just did is I've had, since that time, I've had a lot of my guests actually mention Drift when I ask this question, but you're the first person who's gotten really specific about what it is you like about how they're doing their marketing and how it made you feel. And I think that's so interesting, and I love what you said about feeling like you're a part of the company even though you're not an employee, you're not a customer. That's a very fascinating take on it.
Vlad: Yeah, in case of my book, I interview 20 people, and DC was one of the people that I wanted to make an interview for 20 minutes, to get him in the book. But he actually didn't have time, and he forwarded the message to DG, and when DG also didn't have time. But when I asked for a quote, and he gave me at least a quote.
Kathleen: Oh, that's nice. Yeah, they have a lot going on.
Vlad: Yeah, exactly. I was like, "Okay, I totally get it. Please give me a quote at least. I would be super, super happy for a quote." And they did it.
Kathleen: That's good. Well, second question. The world of digital marketing is changing at a lightning fast pace, and the thing I hear from most marketers is that they don't have the time to keep up with it. So, how do you personally educate yourself and stay on top of everything that's changing so that you remain on the cutting edge?
Vlad: So, couple of things that I do, this is I have couple of people that I'm following on Twitter. This is obviously Matt Navarra, everyone knows about Matt Navarra in social media. There is no chance you don't know about Matt Navarra in social media, because he is writing all the latest updates in social media, and everything what's happening. And then there are also other people that I am following, like Geoff Desreumaux, from We Are Social Media. Also, I am also following We Are Social Media a lot. This is WeRSM-
Kathleen: WeRSM. Yeah, one of my other guests turned me onto their newsletter, which is great.
Vlad: Yeah, this is super awesome, I love their newsletters just because they add the GIF usually in the beginning of the newsletter, and it's usually fun. Yeah. And I'm also following, and I am part of lots of Facebook groups. Like SaaS marketers and founders, and product marketers with Josh Fechter, and B2B bloggers as well. And I believe that Facebook groups are helping me to stay in touch with the marketing industry, like from underneath. From the underground of it. Because you can read lots of updates and everything else what's happening in the industry with like on TechCrunch, and many other websites. But actually getting the true reaction and understanding what's truly happening in industry, you can only get from the people that are doing this every single day, consistently.
And then this was the first. There's Twitter, then second is Facebook, and the first part, this is Zest. I met the founder last year, and-
Kathleen: Yam? Yam Regev?
Vlad: Yeah, exactly. And they are doing an incredible job with building a platform that helps you put all of the best content right in front of you directly in your face, and they really put some of the best content. I am constantly ... if I'm looking for some marketing content, there is no chance I'm not looking this on Zest first of all, and if I don't find a good answers, I might Google it or as for someone else for more tips and tricks on this.
Kathleen: Yeah, that is a very good one. I know we use it a lot at Impact. And I actually just emailed Yam, who is the founder of Zest, saying I wanted to have him on the podcast, so Yam, if you're listening ... answer my email.
Vlad: That's awesome. Yeah, if you want I can just drop him a quick message-
Kathleen: Do it. Do it. Let's gang up on him and get him to come on. He's great.
Vlad: I will message him on Facebook after our call and make sure that he answers your message.
Vlad: Yeah, he's really cool. I invited him for a conference in Moldova, in my home country, and lots of people said that he was one of the best guests that they had. So, I really think he'll be a great addition to the podcast.
Kathleen: Yeah, yeah. And Zest, it's Zest.is, if you're listening. It's a great browser extension for Chrome, so when you open a new window, literally it's like a curated publication of top marketing articles. So, totally agree with you on that one. Great, great suggestions and insights, Vlad.
How To Connect With Vlad
Kathleen: If somebody wants to learn more about Planable, or get in touch with you, what's the best way for them to do that?
Vlad: So, if they want to get in touch with me, like really if you have absolutely any questions, hit me up on Twitter, or LinkedIn, or Vlad@Planable.io. I am more than happy to help and answer any questions. As Kathleen also said in the beginning, I am trying to be active in mentoring communities, so I am trying to ... I'm currently actually mentoring couple of people on building their own digital agencies, and also their startups. And if you really have any questions or need some advice in this, we'd be more than happy to chat or jump on a call. And then if you want to learn more about Planable, and see how we are changing the content marketing collaboration generation, just go on Planable.io.
Kathleen: Great. Well, I'll put all those links in the show notes, so if you want to check any of them out, head over there and you'll be able to get in touch with Vlad, or check out Planable. Thank you so much. This was really fun, and it's great to hear your story, and I'm so impressed by what a structured process and team you have for a company that really is still very young. So, there's kudos to you for figuring that out as quickly as you did.
Vlad: Thank you. I really appreciate that, and thanks a lot for having me today.
Kathleen: And if you know somebody else doing kick ass inbound marketing work, tweet me @WorkMommyWork, because they could be my next guest. That's it for this week. Thanks, Vlad.
Vlad: Thank you.
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