My most sincere gratitude to those who have played roles in my career to date

September 29th, 2015

As it’s my birthday, I just wanted to make a brief but heartfelt statement – really has nothing to do with marketing.

Today I just wanted to express my incredible gratitude to all those who (as this is my business website, assume I mean career-wise although it certainly applies to all facets of my life…) have played roles, big and small, in shaping my career. It’s a cliche – but you are too numerous to name. But all of you have given me opportunities, taken chances on me, and helped me learn a tremendous amount along the way through the time you spent investing in and teaching me.  I thank you with all my heart for your generosity of spirit.

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ServiceTitan – The most amazing SaaS startup you probably haven’t heard of (yet)

January 10th, 2015

For the last 3 months I’ve had the immense pleasure of leading the marketing charge at ServiceTitan, a bootstrapped, profitable, fast-growing, SaaS startup in Glendale CA.

ServiceTitan is unique in many ways – from the founders and their story, to the (“unsexy”) vertical the company is seeking to own, and on a personal level it’s been incredibly eye opening to see how how one operates in a bootstrapped, profitable and hypergrowth environment versus a venture-capital backed, unprofitable and hypergrowth environment. We have a LONG way to go on the marketing/branding front to achieve our near-term goals – but it’s a wonderful challenge. I also love applying the principles of B2C growth-hacking and customer acquisition/retention that I’ve developed over the past couple of decades to the B2B marketplace – and the team is absolutely stellar.

To briefly describe the company, ServiceTitan is the premier provider of Mobile Cloud-Based Management Software solutions for a specific vertical of businesses known as “Home Services” — encompassing local plumbing, HVAC, and electrical service companies nationwide. ServiceTitan provides an end-to-end solution including robust Customer CRM, Intelligent Dispatch, comprehensive Analysis tools, Internet and Offline Marketing Management, Mobile Upsell via Field Techs, and Accounting Integration with Quickbooks.

ServiceTitan has been the the first startup that I’ve been involved with that was the brainchild (and the blood sweat and tears for the past 6 years) of two TECHNICAL co-founders; and I have to say I LOVE working with Ara and Vahe – it’s just amazing to find two founders who are humble, smart, and if they need to, can (themselves!) pull an all nighter and change on a dime the code of the core product, the website, anything – versus having to rely on a “dev team” or “an agency” to make something happen. These guys know business, are not “brogrammers,” but man they can code and so they know the product inside and out.

I’m not going to write too much more about ServiceTitan here – but I encourage you to check out the company – like most startups the company is in full-on hiring mode – but unlike many it is already profitable, has a product that is fully developed and deployed in the marketplace (versus seeking product/market fit) and is truly GREAT and well received by customers (which makes marketing a LOT more fun!), has incredibly high barriers to entry due some nuances of the market niche it has staked out, and despite massive growth in the number of customers coming onboard in the past two years since formal launch has experienced practically zero churn.

I can’t wait to see how this story continues to unfold!

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Doing the Right Thing for Today’s Empowered Consumer

September 3rd, 2014

As we begin to enter the final quarter of 2014, advances in tech have radically heightened consumer information access and made immediate, global, brand-uncontrollable, and (increasingly) video-based dispersion of product/company information the norm. With this as the playing field upon which their authentic brand is increasingly defined, doing Right by a customer doesn’t just feel good, companies now can demonstrate using readily accessible analysis tools that it has a QUANTIFIABLY GREATER ROI than the alternative.

“The alternative” to doing the right thing by your customer, BTW, is disregarding one’s gut instinct in favor of falling back upon “company practice,” or “company handbook” landmines, defined or left undefined from an earlier age (perhaps just mere months ago…), and which now ofttimes generates a culture of unempowered employees blindly obeying “procedure,” or worse, some genius idea to generate more money on the back of a rock-solid legal but ethically dubious pricing structure or contract with customers.

There is a “Right” vs “‘Too Much” line in the sand to draw with customers – company employees must know that too – it’s NOT about always rolling over. Customers and employees understand you run a Business and will respect that. 

But draw YOUR line in the wrong place (doesn’t really matter if it was a lazy lack of thinking enough (or at all), or an attempt to squeeze some more juice out of the customer or the sales team that month) OR fail to place it anywhere at all, and the bomb starts ticking. When it explodes the costs in cash and brand equity will – immediately or over time depending on the size of the enterprise – significantly and forever act to tarnish the brand and the value of the enterprise.

Think of the “Great Comcast CSR Debacle of 2014” or the constant rage against companies who are notorious for making it impossible or certainly extremely difficult to “Cancel and refund the $59.99 that you have, 5 times now, despite probably 3 hours on the phone in 7 separate conversations, charged my credit card – AFTER EACH TIME ASSURING ME THAT THIS WILL BE THE LAST TIME!”

The good thing is that companies who, for whatever reason, weren’t customer-centric, now will probably get at least one big punch to the gut that they do indeed deserve as a wake up call, and on the consumer end, I bet that customers WILL again be willing to pony up more cash and increase their brand loyalty to the company that everybody “knows” is just going to do the right thing. If your firm already understands this and it’s built into the brand’s DNA you’re all set – if not, there’s some thinking and planning to do.

Because now there are too many informed customers – who don’t remain silent, and they see all – and with the help of the Internet, remember all, and fairly easily come together as a vocal movement. So let the best combination of product and service win!

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Experimentation with Video Hosting and Analytics and Player Attributes

August 31st, 2014

While I’ve embedded my “intro” video on the home page using Wistia as the host, here I am going to be “clean” and utilize a link to Youtube. Yes, the videos are the same – but the hosting is different and I’m interested in seeing the differences. To this list I could add (and may try) Vimeo, Vinjavideo, and a few others in the coming weeks. I think establishing a video host / video hosting service for these videos is a combo of SEO, ease of use, analytics, pricing, etc – hence this experiment.

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Thanks for the Performance Marketing Ecosystem

August 20th, 2014

This is short and to the point. I want to thank my many freelance partners, fellow marketers on the agency and client side, and thought leaders everywhere for being so open and sharing with their knowledge, time, and help in navigating the ever changing and rapidly diversifying marketing field. You all make it fun (and possible) to do what we do at Soundview – performance marketing across all manner of campaigns – and I am eternally grateful.
Seth Baum
Managing Director, The Soundview Group – The Los Angeles Performance Marketing Leader

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Aggregator sites and SEO

May 28th, 2014

Recently I’ve noticed in searches that big aggregator sites with a lot of link juice are really being recognized by Google.  One that is very interesting to me as it shows up VERY highly in Los Angeles, my local market, is Thumbtack.  It’s a useful site – reminds one of elance, or guru.com, or perhaps in some ways o-desk; but the long and short of it is that it connects people to get their projects done.  But I am fascinated by how Google “looks’ at a site like that.  In the meantime I use it to keep abreast of the tide of items that people want from marketers.  Perhaps you too will find it interesting?

Advertising

 

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Greatest Email Ever from a Founder after Signing Up to Trial HEAP His New SaaS Analytics Program

May 8th, 2014

Long story short, visiting a large company’s website, I saw a company I hadn’t seen before show up instead of GA or omniture or something else on the bottom left of my browser as the default “web analytics tracking program,” and it said “Heapanalytics” which hadn’t hit my radar.  So I went to their site at http://www.heapanalytics.com  to check it out – and since it was so simple, started their two week trial.  [Heap Analytics looks cool as an aside.  #heap]

The email I got from one from of their founders – which is probably automated just in terms of sending to anyone who installs their code  – is just ASTOUNDING.  And if he does follow through (and I have no reason to think he won’t) on its’ promises it’s even more astounding.  I just really love when people love their product this much.  Below this is the Email that I received:

 

Ravi here from Heap, I noticed you installed Heap recently. The next step to getting value out of Heap is defining events and running queries. Check out our tutorial video to see how events work: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbCTM1PXhHI

I’m one of the founders here at Heap, and for the 14 days of your free trial, I’m happy to do a one-on-one guided tour of Heap. If you’re interested, just reply to this message and we’ll set up a time! You can also ask me any questions you have over email if that’s easier for you.

Thanks,

Ravi

Founder, Heap

P.S. We’re located at 2nd and Bryant in San Francisco. If you’re ever nearby, feel free to hit us up! We’d love to meet you.

 

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Marketing versus Selling

May 1st, 2014

By Seth Baum

I received the information below (and want to attribute all credit for its content) from Douglas Kolker, a true guru based here in Los Angeles on teaching individuals and groups how to Sell more effectively in consultative selling environments.  I liked it so I wanted to distribute it more widely here – but please contact Doug directly at dkolker@summitsellingsystems.com for more information on how to radically improve your ability to sell.

 

Selling vs. Marketing

Many service professionals and other business people make no distinction between marketing and selling. All too often that leads to people conducting the wrong activities for the wrong purposes.

Definitions:

Marketing is the role of identifying groups of people or companies that may be a fit with your product/service before person-to-person contact is made.

Selling is the effort applied to those “possible fits” initiated by person-to-person contact.

Picture of Effective Marketing versus Effective Selling

Effective Marketing versus Effective Selling

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What is Growth Hacking and who’s a Growth Hacker?

April 17th, 2014

By Seth Baum

In my industry (marketing), the term “Growth Hacking” is starting to be used a lot.  Wanted to jot down my perspective in case it was useful for anyone.

I think the role and the phrase “growth hacker” are pretty much one and the same.  And while I’m not sure that there is any “stock” definition of the phrase “growth hacker,” to me it’s come to mean the following:  

  • A person who is perceived to be capable of generating incredibly fast, terrifically, almost mythically “over-sized” consumer adoption rates of digital services or products or apps.  That’s the “growth” part of the phrase.
  • But if that weren’t enough, there has to be a cool factor in the method that was used to achieve the aforementioned outcome. The solution, or the suite of marketing tactics that took this thing from 0 to 60 in nothing flat (substitute unique visitors, page views, paying subscribers, etc. for my car analogy) also has to be unique, or a unique spin on an old idea, or the first time something like this was tried.  In short it has to be unorthodox versus tried and true, and to up the ante further it probably in some way utilizes or exploits some funky quirk in either human nature, machine code, or both. And the icing on the cake is that this technique all in costs a heck of a lot less than even a smart person would guess. That’s the “hacker” part of the phrase.
  • [I’ve purposely left out a discussion of “viral” as I think it’s confining – growth hacking may or may not have a viral component.]

So a growth hacker’s role would be to generate greatly oversized returns on the company’s most important KPIs at extremely nominal or a cost approaching zero.

I suppose one can rightly claim to be a growth hacker if you hit that one massive homerun and everybody remembers it, even if you never do it again.  It’s still a tremendous achievement and deserves praise.  But if a person makes it happen consistently than they truly have a unique brain, one I’d like to be around as much as possible.

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Scaling e-commerce – marketing “must think” for customer acquisition

March 23rd, 2014

If you are involved in a marketing capacity to do what the title of this article suggests, highly recommend reading these two recently (as of today anyway) published articles by two very sharp thinkers, Josh Hannah (@jdh) and Jonathan Sills (@jonathansills), and letting the combination of their thinking marinate with you for a while:

http://pando.com/2014/03/22/thats-a-nice-little-40m-ecommerce-company-you-have-there-call-me-when-it-scales/

http://techcrunch.com/2014/03/22/the-may-december-media-strategy-a-winning-mashup-for-locally-focused-startups/

Sharp – very sharp.

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