In our Behind the Conversations series, we put the marketing heroes you don’t hear about so often in the well-deserved spotlight.
Marketing is every bit of contact a company has with anyone in the outside world. What challenges do modern marketers face in the conversations their companies have with their clients? And where do they go for inspiration?
This time around, we talked to Remco de Vries about his marketing campaigns and messaging strategies at customer success community platform, inSided.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do.
My name is Remco de Vries, I’m 31 years old and currently employed as Head of Marketing at inSided—based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
We’re the leading vendor of Community Software for Customer Success & Product teams at SaaS (Software as a Service) companies like Gainsight, Mixpanel and Miro.
I started out as an Inbound Marketing Manager—setting up inSided’s inbound strategies, heading up Demand Generation & Marketing after. We have an amazingly versatile Marketing team at inSided, a definite driver of our success (that’s you Kate, Ben, Danielle, Jesse & Rea).
What led you into marketing?
Oddly enough I used to dream about becoming a pastry chef, but chose to pursue a career in UX & Interaction design instead. Life can be funny like that. I loved consumer psychology, A/B-testing, data & funnel design and that interest has stayed with me throughout my career.
My biggest gripe with UX at the time however: it was treated as a different form of visual design. It’s not. That eventually scared me away from the thought of having a professional career in UX, and I started considering a move (online) Marketing instead.
My first gig was setting up a Webcare strategy, managing online self-service content and rebuilding an online self-service environment (one of those ‘my-brandname’ platforms) at a large Telco in The Netherlands.
Shortly after I took the plunge into Acquisition & Retention Marketing, doing anything from pricing & proposition, ATL/BTL campaigns, supplier contracts and indirect sales channels before moving into E-commerce. I loved it! And never left for about 5 years, eventually leading multi disciplinary teams & achieving amazing results through funnel optimization, data analysis and day-to-day optimization (and a ‘little’ ad-spend, lol).
What are the marketing tools you can’t live without?
Hubspot is my all-in-one Marketing Automation tool I just can’t live without. From lead management to campaign management to dashboarding, I use it all at inSided. I have used Hubspot as a CMS too, yet am not thrilled by the possibilities.
Trello to work with my team or keep track of my own to-do list.
Google Analytics needs no explanation.
Ahrefs to mainly track our content marketing & SEO efforts (like it a lot better than Semrush) and Figma to cooperatively build visuals for campaigns, content, blogs, you name it. Sketch is a little more developed, but Figma is just SO much more convenient to use with a team.
Where do you go to get inspiration?
As is common these days, I too spend a lot of hours listening to several podcasts on Marketing, SaaS, Customer Success or Advertising. I don’t have the time or patience to read a book (though I just read ‘Obviously Awesome by April Dunford which is a positioning bible), so I often turn to a podcast or audiobook to stay updated.
Podcast tips: “Everyone Hates Marketers”, “Marketing School”, “Hey Salespeople”, “Marketing Swipe File” or “Syntax” for people interested in web development.
I’m also signed up to a Patreon or two (e.g. Dave Gerhardt’s is great & really practical) and get a lot of content & ideas from Linkedin.
Linkedin is a massive opportunity for Marketers. If you follow the right people or relevant groups, there are a ton of interesting things being shared every day just waiting to be picked up for your own company or team. There is also a lot of rubbish (my team often puns about Linkedin quickly becoming the new Facebook for the amount of sob-stories on there these days).
The last piece of advice is also the one most marketers wrongly sleep on: connect with your peers. I try to schedule time with other Marketers in the same industry to just brainstorm or share. If you take anything from me doing this interview, let it be that.
What campaign/piece of work are you most proud of?
inSided saw its first growth through selling to large(r) enterprise accounts, mainly in Telecom. Two years ago we decided to pivot our entire company to B2B Software & subscription based SaaS companies instead (we still do Telecom, too) and most notably Customer Success, Support & Product teams.
Imagine the effort for a second; this means repositioning and re-writing most if not all (branded) content, campaigns, sales enablement materials and updating our brand style at the same time. A massive feat! Super proud of the teams that eventually got us there, it turned out to be a true company-wide effort.
How does your company converse with its clients?
Like the teams we sell to, we embrace the Customer Success mindset when it comes to conversing with our clients. We’re honest, proactive, quick and focussed on measurable customer value. The latter being most important, being completely aligned on the value we’re creating for our customers is key to creating a long-lasting relationship.
Much of this takes place in 1-on-1 conversations, calls or EBR’s, and on (practicing what we preach) our own customer community. This is where you will find inSiders from all departments connecting to our customers or prospects.
What are some challenges you face in these conversations?
Zooming in on Marketing and our prospects or leads. Our biggest challenge is moving leads down the funnel. Interest or initial contact is easy, what comes after is where our job really starts.
Our buyers at some point feel 'a pain’ or have a challenge, it’s our task to get them to recognize what’s going on, consider solving it through technology, offer them a range of solutions and THEN get them to see inSided as the logical partner & solution-fit. It’s a lot, and it has to be done in an increasingly diminishing amount of time.
How are you planning to solve these challenges in the near future?
We’re marketing the challenge or the ‘pain’ over the solution. Through better understanding about our buyer and what they’re going through, we can also be more successful in Marketing to them and actually helping them out.
So it’s about having a lot of conversations, not a lot of sales conversations. Solutions v.s. just pushing our software. Sharing our most valuable content (e.g. our Customer Success Pillar Page) v.s. hiding it behind a wide range of forms.
Besides that, we have amazing customers that are actually using our product(s) to solve those challenges, so it makes a lot of sense to leverage them to get in touch with their peers. Something a lot of companies seem to forget.
Could you share some cool future experiments on your roadmap?
Sure! This one is a bit out there on the sales enablement side, but that also deserves some recognition as a Marketing discipline (albeit not as sexy). We are working on a 5 step program to help prospects sell our product(s) / solutions within their own company, present to exec teams, build a business-case, etc. I think this is a great example of reverse-thinking.
We’d often be able to convince our buyer in a few video-calls, but that same buyer would struggle tremendously to move the project along in her/his organization—through all sorts of reasons. Not good for anyone. We’re happy to go the extra mile and make sure there are best practices available to make that happen.
It’s not only about us selling our software, it’s mostly about our buyer being able to be more successful through our product & partnership. We want to be there to help make that happen from the very beginning.
Interested in participating in our Behind the Conversations series? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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