Episode 7: Samantha Anderl on building a marketing foundation for scale

I spoke to Samantha Anderl, Co-founder of Interimly, and we discussed the best marketing channels for new businesses, and why companies should focus on building a marketing foundation that can scale with their growth.

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Jon Henshaw: Welcome to the 7th episode of the Coywolf Digital Marketing Podcast. I’m your host, Jon Henshaw. In this episode, I’m sharing an excerpt from my interview with Samantha Anderl. Samantha is a co-founder of Interimly. Interimly provides go-to-market services, demand gen, and marketing operations for growth companies, like VC backed startups. Our conversation picks up where I was asking her about what marketing channels new businesses should focus on the most. That led into a much bigger discussion about building a marketing foundation for scale.

JH: I’m thinking about how it is very typical for, whether it be a new company or newish company, and they aren’t hiring yet, and they’re just getting on their feet. It’s very difficult to hit everything for a lot of people, and a lot of times that’s the advice they’re getting, or that’s where they end up, because everybody they ask says to do something different, so they end up just doing all the channels. They probably do all the channels poorly and don’t have a big budget for it. I’m curious to know your thoughts about, do you think that most companies, looking to grow rapidly, that are new, should do that? Should they hit all channels equally? Are there situations where they should, instead, just mainly focus on paid social, or partner marketing? I mean, what are your thoughts on that?

Samantha Anderl: I think it completely depends on the industry and the stage of growth that a company is at. Obviously, when you’re first starting out and you have zero resources, you really have to do just gorilla marketing. However, you can get in front of people and, however, you can take … Everyone that you have in your company, everyone has to get their hands dirty. But, really, it comes down to this target audience that you’re going after, and where they are. You might come in and say, “Okay, we’re going after, let’s say, finance professionals. We know that senior-level finance professionals, they’re probably not hanging out on Facebook during the day. They’re probably not on Twitter during the day. Maybe they’re on LinkedIn.” It really takes surveying your market and figuring out where they are, and focusing on those channels.

SA: That being said, I always, for every company that I work with, always talk about building a foundation for scale. Because you can start out, and you can invest in one channel or another, and that might drive growth at the beginning. Maybe it’s just word of mouth. Maybe it’s networking that you’re investing in; maybe it’s events; maybe it’s partnering, getting in front of one audience; maybe developing one channel that’s delivering a lot of your revenue. You can do that in the beginning and that might make sense, but if you don’t build a foundation for scale, as some point, that channel is going to plateau. Then if you haven’t a method in your foundation for your other channels, then you have to start from scratch again.

When I talk about building a foundation for scale, often times, let’s just think about AdWords as a channel. Sometimes people are so eager to get up and running, that they just toss a bunch of broad matched keywords in. They have two or three campaigns, but thousands of keywords. Their messaging is not super tight. Their landing pages are all over the place. Now, all of a sudden, they’re spending 20 or $30,000 a month, maybe 50,000, maybe 100,000, but they never actually built their foundation for scale. They went through something really quickly, launched their program, and then just let it grow without oversight. The same thing happens with lead gen. Often times a company releases their first eBook and they just plaster it everywhere. They don’t really look at their targeting. They’re just focused on volume. Then, after a while, you just don’t know what’s working anymore, because you didn’t build the scale to tell you what’s working, and to tell you how you’re actually getting customers. You just know that you’re getting customers.

Yeah, the same lessons apply. You have to build it out in the beginning and make sure that you’re implementing the feedback and the learnings that you’re getting over time, and don’t just put a marketing program out there, scale it, and see what it does.

JH: Right. It really comes down to, if I were to summarize a lot of the things you just said around this broad question is, you probably won’t want to do all the things. You will probably want to do your research and figure out where your customers actually are, which, of course, is just sound advice anyways. Then, as you do this, don’t do it blindly. Always be … Aside from, of course, evaluating the effectiveness of what you’re doing, but always be making sure that you’re learning from the people that you’re actually getting in touch with, whether that be a lead, or whatever it might be so that you can scale it over time. Does that make sense?

SA: Absolutely, and, I think, just to add one more thing to that, is just always come back to your strategy. Who are you going after and why? And how are they going to use your software? Software, or company, whatever it is. Just don’t lose touch with that, and when you launch a new program, be like, “Okay, is this really going after people I want to bring in? Is it the right content that I’m serving to them, that really identifies what we do?” Yeah, just always keeping your strategy top of mind as you’re doing that.

JH: What’s a strategy, or a tactic, you did for a client, this past year, that ended up just performing better than you ever expected? Something that you’re like, “Oh, we need to do this more, and we need to figure out new ways to do this, Whether it be with the same client or others.”

SA: The interesting thing about the clients that we’ve been working with for the past year is, we’ve come and we’ve built a lot of new programs from scratch. It’s hard to say a strategy or tactic has performed much better than you expected, because we’re coming into these companies, and we’re building their content program from scratch. We’re building all of their paid programs from scratch. We’re helping them figure out who to hire. We’re helping them figure out how much they should spend. So it’s hard to say that there’s one strategy or tactic, that we’re like, “Oh, this is an all-star tactic. We should apply it across everyone.”

JH: What I hear you saying is that the companies that you work for are, basically, starting at ground zero for them. I mean, they’re just … They’ve got nothing, and now they have something and you’re making sure that the things that you do for them, or have them do, are done correctly, and are the right things.

SA: Yeah, exactly. And it goes back to what I was talking about earlier, this foundation for scale. Sometimes we come into companies that do already have programs running, but maybe they weren’t set up the right way. So just course correcting, helping them build an actual strategy to play into, and to tie their programs into, to tie their revenue goals together. It’s just crazy how much having a working budget, having a pipeline model, and having your tops down approach to achieving that. Just having those three pieces for a marketing sales operations org, how much that brings the team together and gives them a clear focus.

JH: You can listen to the full interview with Samantha at coywolf.io/andrel, A-N-D-R-E-L. Thanks for listening.

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Jon Henshaw

Jon is the founder of Coywolf and the EIC and the primary author reporting for Coywolf News. He is an industry veteran with over 25 years of digital marketing and internet technologies experience. Follow @[email protected]