Ep 46: Serious Social – Starting at zero

In this episode of Serious Social, Katie Patterson, Senior Account Manager at IF, is joined by Lois Engstrand, Senior Global Marketing Manager at ClauseMatch, to discuss the challenges that start-ups face when getting their marketing off the ground.


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Full Transcript

Welcome to the Serious Social podcast, created by the straight-talking social media experts at immediate future.

– Hi guys, my name is Katie Patterson, and I am a senior account manager here at IF. Welcome to my very first Serious Social Live. Apologies if you joined me last week. We weren’t there, there were connection issues. And when I say there were connection issues, I mean I had connection issues. So, today we’re gonna be redoing it. I am joined by my friend and former client Lois Engstrand. She is the senior global marketing manager at Clausematch, which is a fast growing fintech based here in the UK. So Lois and I are gonna sit down to talk about starting a marketing department from scratch. So everything from brand, to budget, to stakeholder involvement, to working with agencies, and essentially, everything we can fit into a 30 minute time slot. So, let me add Lois to the stream. Lois, welcome. How are you?

– Thank you. Thank you so much. I’m good, thank you. I’m almost losing my voice over here. Thank you so much for having me on.

– Thanks for joining me, and thank you for rescheduling to this week.

– No worries. I’m glad to see that you have everything connected now.

– Yes, we are connected. Let’s kick things off with just a quick introduction from you. So tell us about your role, about Clausematch, and about kind of top level, the changes that you’ve seen since joining the team in 2016.

– Yes, sure. So I lead the marketing at Clausematch. And rightly, as you said, Clausemuch is a fast growing fintech regtech company. We offer software as a service platform for compliance teams that currently do their policy management in a combination of Word, SharePoint, and Excel. So our platform gives you one place where you can edit the policies, collaborate, track any changes, and let those who need to approve it, do that, while keeping all the policies gathered in one portal for employees to read and attest to. So I started working with Clausematch back in 2016. And back then, we were about 30 people. Marketing was a couple of brochures, and social media accounts. So it wasn’t much, but it was enough for us to get going, and improve those. And so my background is actually in design. And one of the main things that you learn when doing design is the importance of being consistent, and have clear branding when you start out. And that’s literally what we started out doing. Working closely with the design team, making sure that if it was a presentation, or you saw a presentation at an event, or a social media banner, or brochure, you would recognize it was the Clausematch colors, it was the Clausematch font. The whole look and feel had the Clausematch style to it. So that’s where we literally started out, before we went into working on our brand awareness by attending industry events, speaking, having a booth there. And then eventually, we started doing our own events, which I know you attended as well. You met a lovely magician.

– I have no business being at a regtech event, but I went to yours.

– Yeah. So everything was pretty much ad hoc in the beginning, which I think is quite normal, until you figure out your ground, and what you wanna be doing. Today, as a team, or as a company, we have doubled in size. So there’s many, many more of us. And we’re expecting to grow even more by the end of this year. We already got over 170,000 users of our platform globally, across different regulated industries. So it’s in a very exciting time to be working with Clausematch. And our marketing, which is what I like to call a marketing machine is properly set up and running. We run lead gen campaigns, we do outbound, and account-based marketing. Now, we’re at the stage where, which I quite enjoy, is where we’re actually analyzing more the buyer’s behavior. So when they’re at the research stage, or consideration stage, are we sure that we’re giving them enough content, enough activities, for them to be sure that they’re now ready to get a solution, and talk further with sales. And I want to believe that every touch point that you guys might have with Clausematch now, whether it’s an email, or it’s a call with sales, or if you visit our website, you instantly recognize that it is Clausematch, and it’s clearer the value that we bring to you.

– Yeah, when you and I worked together, at my former agency, we kinda worked together at that developing the brand phase. So something that interests me about startups is the fact that you’re kinda starting with a blank canvas. And you can kinda go in any direction. That said, your product and offering is quite technical, and quite specific. So how did you develop your consistent brand and feel while also explaining the product? Layman’s terms.

– Yeah. I like the way that you explain it with having a blank canvas. I think going again, back to the design phase, you always want to have a brief and some boundaries, or restrictions, in order to be creative, in order to make something. So my short answer to this would be trying to understand your buyer and their journey, understanding the problems that they have, and where they’re at. So we are a startup, we are innovative, in terms of the new technology that we bring in. And we are changing the way policy managers are managing the policies at the moment. And with this comes companies that are early adopters, they want to get into the new tech. They’re not that hard to message to, and they’ll probably read up on the tech and product. They’ll be ready for that information earlier. Whereas the majority of companies in finance, which we all know, adapt to tech quite slow, they’ll need much more messaging and information that meets them before you start talking about the product. So more about the problem that they’re facing every single day. So I think the importance of us understanding the industry, and understanding the problems that they’re facing at the moment, I think that that’s vital. So for me, for instance, the reason that I wanted to join Clausematch and work with them is because of the product, ’cause I believed in it. And I had an issue with working similar to the compliance officers have working on documents. So I believed in the vision of the compliance, not compliance officer, but our CEO and founder. And the issue that I had was that I worked in financial PR, worked with a large FTSE 350 companies, and companies that were going uphill. And to work on press releases with them, it’s tens of people trying to get this press release together. And I was the person gathering all the different comments and changes. And you can imagine, you’re working on version number seven, and then Sarah comes back to you, she wants a change on version number two, and then Bob comes back and makes a change on version number five. It’s literally a bit of a mess to get that all together. And once you get the final version, you then send it off to the three people that are gonna approve it. And then Tom comes back and says, hold on, why did we change paragraph three, and who did that? Then I have to go through the whole email trail, trying to figure out who said what and when and how. It’s quite mundane task, and quite stressful in many ways. And if I had a tool as Clausematch, I would have one place, all the comments would be on the right hand side, we would all be working on one version, and the people that had to approve it could do that in one single document. I understood the pain on a small scale, this is a press release-

– I understand the pain.

– Yeah.

– We can just move on from that.

– Exactly! So imagine that pain for regulated industries. If you do something wrong there, it has a much greater impact than if you have something written wrong in a press release. So I think coming from that angle, and again, understanding the audience that you’re trying to offer this solution to, I think it’s vital to understand their pain, and then create a message and a story that they can relate to, and they can follow on the journey. And again, being with that, when you have that sorted, you also need to be consistent. We had an issue early on where sales would be calling the prospects, talking with them, and they would of course ask, can we look at the website? And they of course send them the link to the website. They go and look at the website. Sales then either didn’t hear from them, so they contacted them later, or they would get an email saying, I’m confused, ’cause I just spoke to you, I got really excited, I went on the website, and I don’t really understand-

– I don’t know what your product is, yeah.

– Or what it does. So it didn’t matter how many leads we got in, at some point of that stage, people would lose out almost, ’cause the message wasn’t consistent. So I think understanding your audience the whole way, ’cause that changes as you grow and understand more, and making sure that you keep consistency across any channel that you use. So for us, besides moving from ad hoc to more a strategic approach, we have proper frameworks in place, understanding the journey, as I said, having a clear message, be consistent. It’s had loads of impact on our brand awareness, but also our lead gen.

– Yeah, I definitely have seen your guys’ consistent come out in your marketing material. Obviously you and I worked together at the beginning, and now, I understand the product, but I also, it’s very much a well-oiled machine. And I understand the different kind of pockets that the technology addresses. I would imagine at the beginning, however, you were working with quite a small group of people, and of that group of people, you know, it was the founder, and a lot of people that started the product. So I would imagine they’d be very invested in how you communicate the product with your audiences. So how did you take their buy-in, but then also push along your marketing activities, and create that succinct, one kinda message and consistency across the website like you you mentioned?

– Yeah, I think, out of everything, I think that’s probably one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced, and probably the steepest and longest growth curve I’ve been on for the past few years. It’s a good one, though. And definitely, when’s someone’s a founder of the product, and I advise different founders on marketing, and the same thing I see over and over again, because the product, it’s their baby, it’s their vision. And they can see more than usually I can, ’cause they know it all, they know how they want it to be. So the challenges that can be with both working with people that are that close to the product, and also working in startups. As I said, when we were only 30 people, startups hire clever people, that are smart in the department that they work in, right? They the experts on that. But they’re also quite opinionated, usually. And especially on the product and the marketing, Which I think is not a negative thing. It’s a good thing. If you can manage it, it has to be managed well. So one thing is having all the different opinions. And then you have the other side, which I’m sure you know, as well, from your experience, is sales and marketing, they don’t necessarily work very well together. Logically, they should, ’cause we’re trying to achieve the same. But for some reason, in practice, we tend to not. And you need sales with you on the journey, ’cause sales are gonna be using the content at the end, right? You need their buy-in. And the same with the CEO, or founder. It’s building that trust with them, and learning their strengths, and when to have their input on that journey, when you create the content, or you do the activity, or even working on the messaging, which we worked with with you on, all the way back then. It’s definitely a challenging element, but I think if you can learn to manage it, and definitely include them, ’cause they have loads of insights, they know the market. And finding a way to understand how to use that best way. I think it could be gold.

– Yeah, definitely like that. A lot of what you’re saying rings true in the agency world. You know, we’re brought on a project, or a retainer for it, but we aren’t the ones that are living and breathing the product every day, and trying to sell the product. So it’s our job to know when to bring those stakeholders in, ’cause they’re the ones that know the messages, and it’s our job to just kind of facilitate them. But it’s an art, because you have to bring them along, but then also understand the bigger picture, and what your objectives are, and kind of keep the ship moving, so.

– Exactly.

– Yeah. When you and I worked together at Clausematch, it was figuring out what that machine looked like, so.

– Yeah. And I think it’s a nice thing, once you figure it out, ’cause we can use it in many different settings. It’s learning to be open minded, take in other people’s ideas, but also, understanding that at the end of the day, for my case, I need to stand for what marketing does, and if it goes wrong, I need to be able to stand by that. And if it’s successful, I’ll share it with everyone else. But you need to trust that you know what’s best for marketing. And then you take on their ideas, and try to feed that input in. Which I think is what makes our activities different from others. ‘Cause you get input from people that our competitors don’t have those people, or those ideas. So I think it’s very valuable to bring them in on the journey, but also manage it as you go.

– Yeah, use your experts. Something else that I wanted to ask about was budget. I would imagine your budget has fluctuated, probably gone up some years, gone down some years, and you likely didn’t start with much at the beginning. Of your team. Marketing kind of is known to not always get the biggest piece of the budget. So what work arounds did you do when budget an issue, and where have you seen kind of your biggest successes of doing more with less?

– Yeah, so budget is always an interesting one. And as you say, marketing is also, when it’s tough times, marketing is the budget that gets cut first. And one good element of that is actually, when you have less, I find that you can be a bit more creative with what you do, which is a nice challenge. But also in the beginning, yeah, we didn’t have much at all. And what we did is that we leverage our in-house experts as most as possible. ‘Cause everyone that works in the team, they know the industry, there’s a lot of knowledge there, we have some great speakers. So involving them on the content, but also some of the execution, will allow us to do a lot of activities for free, because we were able to do that in-house. We have in-house designers. And our website, we run ourselves. A lot of those elements would normally, or could many times be outsourced, but we manage to do a lot of it in-house, which I think has saved us some of the costs. But also in terms of when we’re doing industry events, I learn the art of negotiating. Which I can’t say was my strongest skill in the beginning, but you learn as you go, and then it does help. And also building relations. It’s interesting how much you ask for help from people, how much they will actually help you for free. I think again, building relations internally, but also externally, can help you get a long way. And in terms of activities, it’s very easy to think and to want, ’cause I’ve done it myself, that you need to do everything. People are doing paid advertisement, they’re doing lead gen, they’re doing account based, they’re doing all these different activities, and you don’t necessarily have to do that to get in leads, so to get your brand awareness in. So what we did in the beginning was that we focused on our events. Of course, that was our main thing. And we built the majority of our activities around that. So that would be blog posts leading up to it, blog posts following it, creating key takeaway presentations, or social media banners with quotes. Leverage one activity as much as you can. So I would recommend do less, but perfect them as you go, and improve them. And you can reach quite far by not having to spend everywhere, not knowing what’s working and what’s not. And once you do more, you will learn what works, and then you can spend the money wisely where it works, but also in the different gaps where you see that you need help. So for instance, we had great content, but then we saw it was the same people looking at it, for instance. Then you could spend money, or it will be worth spending money on the reach. So work with an organization that has an audience that is your target audience. They have the credibility. I would work on maybe a ebook or something with them, or project with them. And then you would get the audience into the good content that you’ve already created. And I think, of course, we haven’t done it perfectly, but if you look at our website traffic, that’s doubled every year. So organically, we’ve grown really well. So parts of what we’ve done has clearly worked. In terms of success stories, as I said again, we used to do the events. So we had 2020 lined up with our event calendar, it was all looking bright, and cheery, and magician was coming, and everything was good.

– The magician, I remember him.

– The magician of course was coming. And then the pandemic hit. And lockdown hit. And we couldn’t do them anymore. And we had never done webinars for Clausematch before. Like we hadn’t tried that out. We’d attended some, but we hadn’t done our own. So we had to quickly make a turn around, and then in a couple of weeks, we had a series of webinars going. And that turned out to be a massive return on investment. It’s not that much money that goes into doing them. But the leads that we’ve generated from it is very good. And I think there, again, it goes back to what I said about perfecting what you’re doing. For a webinar, make sure that the topic is a topic that the industry is interested in, and it’s something that they can’t necessarily get the information from everywhere. And make sure that you get speakers in that might not have the same opinion on something, so you get a good discussion. So the value that someone attends the webinar, they do get value out from it, and they feel they’re walking away having learned something, or thinking about something that’s more valuable for them. Yeah.

– Do you think you’ll go back to events? ‘Cause I know, like you said, and like I remember, that’s kind of how you built your reputation, and brand awareness, was on the fact that you guys were the event people in the regtech industry. But seeing as you guys have had the same success with moving online, do you think you’ll go back to being kinda that position in the industry?

– That’s a very good question. I think a lot of people would want to go back to events, because we just want to see each other again, and network, however way we can do that. But then you also have, as you said, you have the return on investment, it’s much cheaper to do a webinar. So I think on that one, again, going back to what I’ve kept on saying today, is we have to look at how the audience is behaving. If we’re gonna meet them at our live events, or our offline events, then that’s where we have to be. If they prefer to be at home, in the kitchen, watching us there, then we have to be there. So I don’t think it’s a either or, I would just need to see what happens.

– Yeah, I kind of just personally think that there’ll be like a surge in events, and everybody wanting to go to every event they’re invited to, just to see people.

– Yeah, I can’t wait. I’m ready to go.

– Yeah, I know, I’m coming to your regtech event. But then we’ll kinda slip back into efficiency and being like, I can get the same value from home, and I don’t have to go across town. So kind of the novelty will wear off. So it’ll be interesting to see what happens in that space. One thing I love that you said, that’s very similar to social, is that taking one piece of content and really spreading it across, and really milking the value of it. So taking a brand video and repurposing it in a different way, writing a blog post explaining why you made that brand video. And that’s definitely what I’ve seen you guys do with your events.

– And we learned, so when we, sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt you.

– No, no, no.

– I was just thinking, when we worked with you, we learned a lot of that from working with you guys, and the framework that you guys put up. And I think that’s one of the nice things when you invest in working with an agency, is that one thing is you get the help on board, but it’s also, you learn from working together, and you can apply that forward forever.

– Yeah. Well that leads me into my last kind of section, is working with agencies. And you can be honest. I know we used to know each other from an agency client relationship, but what benefits and pitfalls do you see as a brand working with an agency? You already mentioned one of the benefits. And when is it time to bring one on board? So, from the client perspective.

– Yeah, so agencies, I worked at quite a few different agencies and freelancers. And I’ve always heard quite love and hate for agencies, which I always found interesting. I definitely don’t hate working with agencies.

– Me neither.

– I think it’s very, very helpful. But again, it needs to be managed right, and I think that’s with any project you work on, or any people you work with, it’s having clear goals on what you want to achieve, and then making sure that you set up how you wanna achieve that, and you check in, communicate, and measure where you’re at, if you’re getting there or not. I think that’s one of the main pitfalls that I’ve heard from others, or that I seem to hear over and over again is that they didn’t, from the beginning, set out clear goals, and they were aligned on, this is the outcome that we want to try and reach. And it’s very hard to go back in and try to measure what went wrong and not if you hadn’t put any points to measure towards. But I think bringing in agencies like we did, after we did our first branding session, that was visually. Then we realized, okay, we actually have to do something with our messaging, ’cause people were landing on our website, and they were like, what on earth are you guys doing? I don’t understand. So there, we figured, okay, we have to bring in expertise on that. And the good thing working with agencies is that you don’t just get one mind on board, you get several minds on board. And you guys work with different companies that are across different industries. The frameworks might be the same, in the large company or small company, in terms of marketing activities, but the ideas and knowledge you guys have comes from different ways of doing it, and then you can apply it to different industries. I think it’s a great hub of knowledge, and a great way to learn. And then also, ’cause I remember one of the first meetings we had, ’cause I was only one person working in marketing, right? And the others don’t have that education or that experience, they don’t understand how that whole journey works. And I remember I was doing the brainstorm, and I was like, oh, this is amazing, they get it. Like, we can talk about this, and then we can be thinking, okay, we can do this topic, oh, we could do that for blog posts, or we could do, later on doing, cut it down to these pieces. And it’s just nice to have people that understand what you’re trying to reach to, and they understand that whole journey, and getting that help on board. And as I said again, that can go with you forever in the future. I’ve learned pieces from you guys that I still use.

– Yeah, I think having someone else looking through that marketing lens, and especially in B2B, I think sometimes people are so close to the product that you kinda need an outside person just to kind of see, oh, this point of the product is sticking with me, this message is sticking with me. And you coming from a background of marketing, and relating it to your pain points that you experienced, and then applying that to what the tool does, and then also having the marketing lens through it. You need to have kind of both views of that. You won’t be successful with not having the broader scope, but then also not having the people that are in the details, really understanding kinda what the technology does. So yeah.

– Exactly. I think that that’s a very good point, ’cause you do get quite, I was gonna say like, tunnel-visioned, ’cause you’re in the same every single day, and then you get someone from the outside, they’ll be like, oh, have you thought about this? And you go, wow, no.

– And as a marketer, it’s so important to listen to the people that are in the tunnel vision, ’cause they’re clearly so passionate about that piece of the product. So it’s your job to kind of see the bigger picture, and fit it into place, into the whole kind of marketing journey. So yeah, it’s a very cohesive relationship.

– Yeah. So how have you found that, working with different startups and companies, in terms of, I mean, I’m used to it, ’cause I’ve worked in a startup for a long time, but we can have talk about something today, and then we go and have a creative sleep, and then we wake up, and we’re like, oh, we should be doing this instead!

– It’s kind of like what you said about having stakeholder involvement. The hardest part of working with a startup is the beginning. Just understanding how people work. You and I worked really well together, because we both value deadlines, and structure, and putting things in place, and looking at the big picture. So it’s not always as easy as when you and I worked together. But really appreciating those creative sleeps, and knowing that it’s a part of the process to get the best marketing campaign you can. Being from a client services role, you know, the motto obviously is the client is always right. And while it can be frustrating at times, it really is the truth. Because like I said, they are passionate about their product, and they know what their audience wants. They might just not know how to get that message to their audience. And we’re kind of that middleman of getting what they want from point A to point B. So yeah, it’s definitely not a clear path, and it’s definitely not always the easiest, but people at startups are, as you said, very intelligent, very passionate. So they’re the most exciting to work with, I find.

– Yeah, it’s nice, ’cause people always have some good ideas coming at you.

– Yeah. And they’ve been living and breathing this product for so long. It’s just really interesting. Okay, we actually have a couple questions. We have one, priorities-wise, which do you prefer, live slash digital event? This may have some sort of dilemma where startups begin to learn and adapt to new norms, balancing both challenges for some. Not sure, so which, what are the benefits and pitfalls, we kinda touched on that. What are the benefits and pitfalls of a live versus a digital event, and as we kinda enter out of this new normal, and go back to a bit more of a normal way of business, how will you prioritize?

– Yeah, so I think with benefits and pitfalls, the benefits of having an offline event is that you meet people face to face. And we have a whole sales team there, like all of us are there. We all get to connect. And I think that’s the majority to why we were successful with our events, is because people enjoyed coming to them. One thing is to learn something, but then we had networking, we were hanging out with them, we had a magician that was making sure that they got to disappear and see something that they hadn’t seen before. Like, they would walk away having a good time, and associate that with us. And I think that element, I don’t think I can really be able to do that online. I think that’s really, really tricky, ’cause that’s human connection, right, face to face. The good thing about doing the webinars is that if you mess it up, you could always edit it, and fix it.

– Yeah, you better believe this is gonna get cut up. A lot of my parts are gonna get taken out.

– And yeah, in terms of pitfalls, well, webinars are cheaper. They’re much cheaper than an offline event. So then you have to value, okay, well what are you getting out of it at the end, in terms of the leads, but also the quality of them, and the connection that you get? Which I think can be a hard one to measure, but I don’t know, we’ll have to see as we go. I can give you a better answer in a year, or maybe two.

– Yeah, we’ll do another session in a year. Okay, we are actually just hit time. So let’s wrap up. Thank you so much for joining me.

– Thank you.

– If anyone watching has the questions, just pop it in the comments, or reach out to us over social media, and we will answer them for you. Okay, great, well happy Friday, and have a good afternoon.

– Thank you, Katie!

 

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