Niches Make Riches

Episode #052: Peter Schroeder, Head of Growth at Onna

Episode Information

How many times have you seen really bad marketing? It seems to be pervasive these days with marketers often thinking that quantity is better than quality. And the worst part is that most of these missteps are completely avoidable by using data to determine the best messaging, channels, tactics, etc. for your marketing efforts. Digital makes it easier than ever to test out new strategies quickly and see almost immediate results which should prevent bad marketing from occurring for any long period of time. But, it's still happening because so many marketers aren't taking the time to figure out what is really working and not working in their marketing efforts. It's got to stop. In this episode of Mobile Matters, we talk to the Head of Growth at Onna, Peter Schroeder, about why he passionately believes that niches make riches, what startup life is really like, and why marketers need to start using data to determine their marketing strategies.

Stephanie's Strong Opinions

  1. Tech startup life isn't as glamorous as TV, movies, and social media make it out to be because it's really HARD to take a company from inception to a behemoth in the industry.
  2. Niches makes riches. You've got to focus your marketing efforts and not try to be all things to all people early on in your company's history.
  3. There is no excuse for bad marketing anymore. There is more than enough data available to help you make informed decisions.

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Stephanie Cox: I'm Stephanie Cox and this is Mobile Matters. Today, I’m joined by Peter Schroeder. Peter is the Heath of Growth at Onna, a platform that centralized data from your favorite apps that deliver to a connected enterprise supercharged with machine learning and unified search all in a one place experience. Prior to that, he was the head of marketing at North Pass where he helped grow the company from pre-product-market fit to a technology leader used by Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, and Shopify to just name a few. In this episode, Peter and I talked a lot about how he's developed an impressive resume of marketing leadership roles at only 26, why he believes in niches make riches, and what it's like to go from trying to find product-market set to Post Series A funding at a startup. And make sure you stick around until the end where I’ll give my recap and top takeaways so that you can not only think about marketing differently but implemented effectively. Welcome to the show, Peter.

So tell me a little bit about how you got started in your career and really kind of what you're doing today.

Peter Schroeder: Yeah, definitely. So I am a little bit younger in marketing. I'm only 26 but I've already been doing this for over eight years. 

Stephanie Cox: Wait, hold on a’re only 26?

Peter Schroeder: That's correct. I'm only 26. I got started pretty early. Early on right out of college, I thought I wanted to be a web designer. So I went to technical school. I thought all the money was sort of in programming and I decided I hated it. I wasn't the type of person that could sit there and look at a screen. I needed to build things that were creative and physical and tangible and not necessarily just sit on the keyboard all day. So I kind of pivoted to a degree that's actually digital marketing technology and it has a really big focus on SaaS and software and technology and in my sophomore year of college I started working at a bank as a digital marketing intern and then before I even graduated college, I got my first job at a really early startup called Runner Effects that just raised a seat around so I kind knew from early on that I wanted to be involved in text when I just kind of saw the movements that was happening in the space. So I made the plunder early on and since then I hoped to a couple of different software companies that have that brought me to the company I'm at right now, which is Onna which I'm really excited about. Just a couple months ago, we raised our Series A which was led by Don Capital with participation from Dropbox and the Slack fund. And yeah every single day I just love marketing software more and more.

Stephanie Cox: I would not have guessed that you were only 26 after looking at your LinkedIn resume profile. You’ve had some amazing experience, and roles. So thinking about all that you've been able to really lead a marketing team from a pre-product-market fit. So basically trying to figure out like, “Who are we, what we do in the world, and what do we have,” to pass Series A funding? So what was that journey like for you? 

Peter Schroeder: Yeah, I think what it's always been for me being younger in my career as I need to work with people. I need to research more than other people so that I can build my case. So it's not a subjective sort of like strawman persay conversation, but I'm coming to the table with steelman conversation supported by facts and quantitative data that can actually paint a picture on what I'm trying to do. So I worked out a couple early-stage companies that I've found a few things are really important. I've always kind of looked at technology from like Crossing the Chasm which is a great book for anyone that's early and software. But when you think about Crossing the Chasm it's about finding those early innovators and kind of early tribe that just has a rabid following for what you doing their passionate about it. They see the vision, and you kind of want to cling on to those people and you want to want to have them sort of lead the way into sort of an early majority of a more broad audience and I think that when we think about software today and how commoditized it is and how saturated these markets are, what a lot of people get wrong early as I think a lot of people go really horizontal. They try to say we can do a hundred different things for a hundred different people, but when you're really early on if you look at it you're doing a very small number of things really well for a small number of people. So it's really about focusing, going really vertical on your solution and your audience what that allows you to do is it allows you to get a lot more tailored with your marketing, your messaging... you see the craze in ABM right now and ABM is just good marketing like to be honest.

Stephanie Cox: Preach. I was going to say it's like basically a phrase for people who have been doing good B2B marketing for like ever.

Peter Schroeder: Yeah, exactly. I think you know good marketing is the right message, at the right audience, at the right time, which is essentially what people are trying to advocate for with ABM. So that's just good marketing on the further along the chasm you go and the more that you developed audiences in different markets...I think it's good to go more horizontally introducing new products in the use cases. But really early on when you're sort of like three product-market fit and kind of like running as fast as you can for that Series A,  it's really about focus... like you're a small team doing a small number of things like you need to use all of your energy as a team to just be able to focus on what's working and what's working well, and sort of sprint to you know, whatever that goal is. If it's Series A like small niches can get a lot of companies to a Series A and then you kind of can figure it out from next.

Stephanie Cox: So one of the things that you said that what I think was really interesting was about this idea that you have focus and I think that's something a lot of marketers struggle with especially if you've come from a larger organization and then you went into the startup scale-up world and you're used to selling, you know, everything to every industry and all these enterprise brands and you want to try to replicate that but you're point earlier, you don't have the resources from either time money people. But how do you think about like, deciding to go verticle but not so verticle that you know, five years down the road you can't expand?

Peter Schroeder: Yeah. I think it's interesting because I think you can always expand, you can always introduce new products and new different use cases based on what product does I think what you can't do early on is sort of confuse your audience when you send conflicting messages, so you have let's say you're pre-Series A, you have an average selling price of about $25,000 like that's really a small audience. Like I'm sure all of those people are doing one particular thing and you want to be able to make sure that you can focus and make sure that you're advocating for that one thing that you're doing and not confusing them or the market with what you do. So if you're an email automation tool and everyone's using you for that and then all of a sudden you come up with some messaging and some product features and start a campaign around let's just say...I'm struggling to find an example bullet that you introduce a chat to a like Slack, and everyone is kind of like what that doesn't make a lot of sense for what we're trying to do. Our pains are problems the value that you provide us like this is really conflicting messaging. We're not really sure what you do anymore or if you're committed to the long-term needs and the problems that we’re facing. So I think that that's where focus comes in handy a lot early on is just making sure you have that core commitment your early audience and can help like voice that to the rest of the market and make sure that they have a clear understanding of what you do.

Stephanie Cox: I completely agree. I also think it's important to know too that let's say you do have a committed customer base and you do expand outside to another area they're going to expect they get the same level of service and a same product consistency and quality that they have from you with your original offering and sometimes it can bite you if you're moving too fast or you're expanding into an area where you don't necessarily have the expertise that they would expect from your brand.


Peter Schroeder: I agree completely every early-stage startup team is getting pulled in a million different directions. I don't know why anyone would want to do that on two fronts. It's hard enough to build sort of this one shift to kind of getting off to see and get it sailing let alone introduce another one into the mix at the same time with the same amount of people.

Stephanie Cox: I completely agree. So thinking about all the challenges that you faced and kind of going from concept idea to Series A, what do you think are your biggest challenges? And what do you think you could do differently? 

Peter Schroeder: Yeah, I think the biggest challenge at an early stage company is finding the niche like when we think about the software industry and how commoditized it's's still doubling year-over-year even though it's a very saturated market. So I really like the phrase for early companies, “niches make riches” and I think it's so true.

Stephanie Cox: I love that, you need to trademark that. 

Peter Schroeder: It’s not mine, I have to give someone credit for that. But yeah, niches make riches and I think that that's true on a lot of different fronts just really focusing on one audience serving them well. When you think about those niches is a lot of the niches have communities and have people that talk like at my last company, North Pass, we specialize in the on-demand space. We sold to Uber, Lyft, Airbnb and those worlds are actually really small and you think about people who use our product and they jump to another company or they have these sort of on-demand focus groups where they’re focusing specifically on the problems that they're facing without even realizing what was happening behind the scenes. Our customers were collaborating on their own, sort of talking about how they were using our product to solve problems. And before we knew it we kind of just flooded the on-demand space and the every big on-demand company not just in the US but in the world we started expanding to Ubers of Europe, the sort of food delivery companies of India because we solve this technology problem that was specific for all of them. So I kind of want to reference. I know I talked to Matthew Shwayze about this from Salesforce and he used a toothbrush example for those who didn't hear it, I'll give a quick overview not as elegantly as he did, but sort of a summary. He said that if you're going to the store and you looking for a toothbrush and you don't know what you're going to look for if you don't know exactly what you're looking for is going to be met by a wall of these colors, these different toothbrush options. It's overwhelming and he says that most people pull out their phone. They go on Google, they look up best toothbrush or some string of phrases to find some recommendations of what they should try and I think that's one way that people buy today from both a B2B and a B2C perspective.

But I think there's a second option and I think it's a word-of-mouth option...where people are referring your product to other people that do something similar to what they do or maybe even the same thing that they do and I know it's kind of corny but I like to call it the Candyland example if you think about Candyland, there is a big rainbow that sort of jumps you from early on to towards the end. I think that word of mouth marketing really is that Candyland example that I can get you pretty close to the finish line of a sale and kind of skip a lot of the traditional steps that you would normally face.

Stephanie Cox: No I love that example of toothbrushes and Candyland. Who would have thought we would be talking about that on a podcast today about marketing?

Peter Schroeder: Who would have thought we would be talking about Candyland? 

Stephanie Cox: I know, I love it. So one of the things that I talked to a lot of people about is just giving my experience in a start-up scale of world, is what it’s really like to work at a startup. I'd love to get your perspective on that because I think sometimes people have this glamorized view of you know, it's basically Patagonia vest and beer pong and things like that when it’s like, I mean rarely any of those things. So what was that like for you or you know kind of what amount of stress or workload and just overall highs and lows did you experience as part of that journey? 

Peter Schroeder: Yeah. It''s really interesting because someone was asking me about like the perks of working at a start-up and like the benefits that you get, you know when you talk to people like working at Google they all know how glamorous it is, but they like what do perks entail and I was telling them about some of them like catered lunches like once a week like a masseuse coming in, and they kind of just looked at me like wide-eyed and they're like, do you realize like how lucky you are to be working in an industry where you get things like that? And I said, I know I am grateful. I think it's ridiculous sometimes that works at people in tech receive. In the same breath, I think it's warranted. I think that what we're doing in software and what we're building for the future, this sort of foundation of everything that we're creating in technology...I think it's integral for the future of the world and I think that people in tech really do need that balance because it can be really stressful especially when you think about early-stage companies people have so much on the lines the founders have a reputation, their livelihood on the line. As someone that they bring in as sort of a leader early on there and trusting their livelihoods in you. So that's a lot of sort of personal pressure to take on when I started at my last company, North Pass, we were bootstrapped company. So if you think about that from the perspective of someone working for that founder, every day that you're working and not getting closer to profitability, you're spending money directly from that person’s pocket, which is a terrifying feeling and it gives a lot of stress, anxiety, pressure, that that kind of results in a lot of overworking that you have to make sure that you can find a really good work-life balance that I like to find in the form of rituals, you know, make sure that you get up from bed and don't hop on the phone right away and start blasting emails right from down to the second you wake up like have a little bit of personal time, be able to make a cup of tea or coffee and kind of just do something on your own, make sure that you get out for walks during the day and actually like see sunlight. Don’t be behind a computer screen from you know, sunrise to sunset, at night making sure that you spend time with people that you care about. It's easy to get sucked into these mission-critical things where you end up working late into the night and you might not talk to the people that you love and care about all day. And I think that like anything there needs to be sort of a work-life balance, but I think even more so in technology where we are all just so encapsulated by the big goals, the pressure, and also the opportunity that so many people that work in tech are excited about.

Stephanie Cox: And so kind of adding to that...another thing that's a really good hot topic in tech lately has been product like growth strategies and I've seen that you've done some experience a kind of freemium model concept that seems to be all the rage, right. That’s what bots, Dropbox, Slack, like you name it… and really getting you into your free trial or even a free offering and then trying to convert you down the road. Talk to me a little bit about your thoughts on product growth, and is that something that marketers especially in the B2C space like Netflix, Hulu and others offering a free trial for a set period of time. 

Peter Schroeder: Yeah. I mean it all comes back to your saturations of the market. I think that having a really good world-class product is more and more important.  In software, I think there's kind of like two sets of product quality when you really boil it down. I'm going to use a Fight Club reference to phrase one of them, but the first one which you really don't want to market if you're a marketer is products that come with this message that like the first rule about our product is like you don't talk about our product and what I mean by that is like I really see it a lot where it's like you go to the sales process and they just don't want to show you the product, like they would do anything but get you to sign before they actually show you the product... 

Stephanie Cox: Or even have a product...

Peter Schroeder: It's also like a really classic sales technique that just means that they don't have a good product too, they might have something that works, but they are selling you a product vision that might be two to three years down the line and it's surprising to me that we still see that tactic work in 2019 going into 2020, but you still see a lot of it and then on the other end you have companies that embrace their product, build world-class technology and say “Hey, this is so cool. We want the world to see it. We aren’t afraid of anything in our product and might be a little bit foggy here. But our team built this world-class experience that we want you to see and if there are a couple of bugs in it...we hope you want to help us fix it and we hope that you want to give us feedback and help shape our product roadmap so that we can build out features and integrations that suit your need but hopefully in you just seen and experienced are experiencing our product, you can just see the vision that we have. We don't have to sell you a vision two to three years down the road. You can look at our product and say, “Holy sh*t, this is awesome, and it’s only going to get better, of course, I want to work with this company.” And if you think about that perspective as opposed to the first rule about a product, don't talk about our product perspective as a marketer, then you can just amplify that message exponentially as opposed to almost being afraid to tell people about your product.

Stephanie Cox: No, I think that’s a good point. One of the other things that I know that I want to talk about because I thought it was hilarious as I was prepping to talk to you, I saw recently you tweeted something that was, “We have too much data for sh*tty marketing to exist.” And I like just literally was like, yes, so true! So then why does it keep happening? So I would love to know what prompted that and please just tell me like your thoughts on what the hell we're doing wrong. 

Peter Schroeder: I thought that was interesting, it came because I was browsing through Facebook and I got an ad that was just so off-base that I couldn't even believe that I was seeing it and it made me think about your episode again with Matthew Shwayze from Salesforce that you talked about earlier and he talked about how his boss saw a billboard from a competitor in his boss was, “Hey, we should be taken out Billboards like our competitors.” Like why would we do that? Just because other people are doing that, we don't know if that's right for us, right for audience, right for the campaigns we’re running. We don't know if it's providing any sort of ROI or effectiveness for them. So, why would we do something just because people say we should do something and that's really the quantitative versus qualitative world that we live in and when you think about quantitative versus qualitative marketing you need to be able to provide the data and be able to prove assumptions that you make. As marketers, it's our obligation to build out tests. What it means in building out a test is you come up with an assumption, you test the assumption and then you try to define what it means if that was a success or if it was a failure, so that's three steps that actually can prove whether something would work as opposed to say, “Hey, we should run Billboards.” It's a much more scientific approach and it’s an approach that every marketer should be taking. There's no reason that anyone should just come up with an idea and it should just be executed on with no contrarian argument that all every idea that we have and every campaign we run we always have to look at what are the pros? What are the cons? What else could we be doing? And I think, especially at early-stage companies, we have such a finite amount of resources and money, that we have to be very conscious about what we're doing. And so I guess the sort of boiled down a long story into something short, I just think that people are just running with ideas based on nothing but ideas alone and it’s resulting in people getting served marketing and they really shouldn’t, that they lead to an overall pretty much bad experience, which is the worst thing that you want to fear. You're a marketer for your audience. 

Stephanie Cox: Well it’s also a vicious cycle. So for instance, let's say your boss sees some billboard and he says,  “We should be doing this.” So then you just go ahead and do it. And then someone else sees it sees that you're doing it too and now it's like oh will billboards are the way to go. And it just kind of perpetuates sometimes bad marketing and I can't tell you how many times I'll see, you know a company like mimic another company and then more people start mimicking them and I'm like you have no idea if that initial company was even getting results. Perhaps they were just doing it to test out a concept and now forty other companies have all of their marketing efforts that way.

Peter Schroeder: Yeah, and there are two trending topics right now that I wonder if that's the case for. I think they're direct mail and events. I've heard a lot about events lately and people kind of come to the table and they say, “Hey we're going to like to lose a lot of money on this event. We're not really directly able to track or measure anything that we’re really doing, but we all believe that events are really good idea,” and I have yet to see some sort of report or sort of a case study that confirms that the huge events that are losing millions of dollars for companies are actually fact a good idea.

Stephanie Cox: Yeah, the only ones I know from my experience that have ever been good have, you know at my time at Exact Target and Salesforce those were like Dreamforce and connections were huge events for us but it wasn't about necessarily, you know, generating a ton of new customers. There was some of that, but it was more about up-sells and really creating community of people that wanted to invest and selling more or using our product more which then continued to cause them to buy more products and things like that. So I know and those cases you would see direct correlations. I think the bigger question is whether or not that would have happened without an event. Who knows right? I mean some of it would have.

Peter Schroeder: Exactly I mean that also feeds into a lot a problem that people are facing, that’s actually defining multi-touch attribution, which events is probably a huge example of where people are running into that problem.  

Stephanie Cox: No, I completely agree. And e-mail is another example because how many times do you email someone and the email drive the sale? Or was it another was at the event or was it the direct mail or was it the Facebook ad they saw? We don’t know what really did it.

Peter Schroeder: I agree, especially when you get into these enterprise sales. Some of them can take up to 18 months or 24 months.  If you think about the touchpoints and the hundreds of touchpoints that could go into that sale, it makes it very difficult to be able to track from a marketing perspective where you need to attribute certain amounts of an attribution.

Stephanie Cox: Especially when you consider consumers don't...we don't stay on one device anymore. Right? Like I can't tell you how many times at night, I'm like on his house working on my computer, but then I'm also on my phone and then sometimes I'm on my personal computer at home or my husband's phone and so as a buyer like I might have seen your email on my laptop, but I am on my mobile device going straight to your website. 

Peter Schroeder: Yeah, I agree. I think that those sort of you know, just passing by and keeping a company top-of-mind. I think also another thing that's hard to measure is marketing to buying committees. If you think about that ABM approach of getting in front of different people at different companies. If you go to your boss with a proposal and he already knows about the company that you're proposing to him, if he's already seen case studies, ROI metrics, how much more efficient I can make the team, how much easier does that buying process become? It's things that are really hard to measure.

Stephanie Cox: No, I completely agree. So another thing that I noticed you've recently talked a lot about and wrote a post on this idea of imposter syndrome, which I talk to other marketers, especially like Ryan Bonnici and I talked to him about that for a while because my personal belief is no matter how experienced you are, how high up you are in your career, most people that have any sort of humbleness on them deal with imposter syndrome and feel like there's other...there so many other people that are better than them, that they're somehow falling behind sometimes.  I love to know how you think about that especially since you know, given your age, you’re under 30 and have had such an impressive career. So it must be something that you have experienced. 

Peter Schroeder: Yeah. It''s definitely something that I'm conscious of and when I think about you know, all the people I look up to you like you mentioned Ryan Bonnici, maybe the best CMO in the world that a guy like that has impostor syndrome. It kind of makes it a little easier to realize how a lot of more people in the world can have imposter syndrome because someone like him is doing world-class things at one of the fastest-growing companies that there is in SaaS and he still has this feeling of imposter syndrome. So for me, it's always been about just over-preparation and I think that the more..the further and further that I get in my career, the more that I realize how important that was it early on, but sort of how unnecessary it might have been early on in my career. I thought I had to do it all on my own. I thought I had to read every business book, every marking book, listen to every podcast, read every TechCrunch article to be more in the know than anyone else...and I think I think I kind of missed the mark there by kind of over-consuming and kind of taking it to a level where I didn’t need to. A little bit further my career what I started realizing is more so than just reading everything that's getting put out there, I think that you need to find a couple of people, a couple of mentors, a couple of people that you just really respect and you need to be able to ask them questions and make sure that they're really pointed questions. Like, make sure that they're very intentional questions about one, things that you're experiencing and two, places that you want to go. So I think that those people,e it might be something that you're experiencing for the first time as like a marketer, someone earlier in your career in tech and those people might have seen it four, five, six, maybe even hundreds of time for them...and it might be a really answer for them and it's just not's just not something you have run into before.

And then on the second thing as for where you want to go, asking them what they did in their career that you think...well what that they think made them successful. So like Ryan, for example, he wanted to be a CMO by 30, he knew that he wanted to do that. If that's a path that you want to go on and you want to be a CMO by 30, 35 like he’d be a great person to talk about or even listen to a story and sort of asked questions and how he thinks it's like still applicable for what companies are doing today and start of how you can see like yourself getting to that CMO by 30. 

So I think that as for imposter syndrome, it's something that I'll always be there for me and probably for a lot of other people but I think you can kind of combat it by just talking to people and getting like a good network, making sure that you have people at bounce questions off of and I think maybe the third thing that I did that I forgot about is early on at my last company when I just started managing a team and I was really starting to like question where I was, my founder sent me to like a CMO like VP of Marketing level dinner with a lot of sort of higher up at other SaaS companies, companies that just got funded, a lot of companies that we really respected and looked up to and I was so nervous going into it. I was over-preparing like I always did, trying to research every company, every person making sure talking points plotted out because I thought I was going to be overwhelmed by the information that they were talking about and I got there and I sat down with these people of about 10 of their VP and CMO level marketers and after the dinner, I thought to myself, “Peter you're not that far off like there might be a gap but the gap is not significant. It's a pretty insignificant gap that can be filled,” and I think doing things like that and just realizing your self-worth and realizing things that you actually know are valuable. I think that that's really important. 

Stephanie Cox: It's really hard to because you see especially on social media all of them touting their expertise and it’s easy to find the flaws and gaps that you have in yourself without realizing the gaps that I have are different the ones that you have, right? And it doesn't mean that we're not both as equally as talented and can't drive the same result. Everyone has things in their life and career that they can always do better on. So we have got to stop comparing ourselves I think to others.

Peter Schroeder: Yeah, I agree. I think in tech more than anything, there’s just sort of exclusive language by industry and bisector and like exclusive acronyms that people early on in their career just overwhelmed by acronyms and words that mean nothing but as soon as you get the lingo down, everything becomes a little bit easier.

Stephanie Cox: It's funny when you were talking about acronyms, I was just thinking about it. My initial thought went to this idea of category creation and how that seems to be like the hot topic right now is you know, all these companies that are creating new categories and you know, sometimes I just a question like, “Is it really a new category, like a truly a new category or did we just like label something differently that already existed and the tech has just evolved from it?”  

Peter Schroeder: Yeah, so I think what category creation I feel like categories have to evolve in that nature because if we think about the saturation..the saturation of the software space and just a sheer number of companies that are coming out...we can't have categories with like five hundred to a thousand different software or like other vendors are just never going to get found. Like people are just going to go with Salesforce and HubSpot and the old pillars when I actually think based on these niches people are creating software that better serve more audiences every day. So I actually think with the category creation that it's just making software more easy and relevant to find for the right audience, which I'm not sure how it's going to play out, but I think how I'd like for it to play out is like those software to make it easier for them to find their niche audiences and not have it all be about like the big Behemoth software companies.

Stephanie Cox: So we're going to get tonight to call “quick hits” and I'm going to ask you a simple question and you're supposed to give me the first reaction that comes to your mind, okay?

Peter Schroeder: Okay let’s do it!

Stephanie Cox: What’s the one thing you wish every marketer would do?

Peter Schroeder: I wish every marketer would learn sales and then vice versa. I wish every salesperson would learn more about marketing. But the more and more I think about sales and marketing, I think it's a joint department. I think it's all the same. Everyone's working towards the same goal. We need each other to succeed. We should understand what each other do.

Stephanie Cox: What's the one thing you wish every marketer would stop doing?

Peter Schroeder: I think it goes back to you know, we have too much data for there to be sh*tty marketing. I think that people should stop valuing quantity over quality. I think that we get too much noise of people just shouting their message as loud as they can, when 99% of people don't want to hear it. I think that like we mentioned before “niches make riches” and that should value quality over quantity.

Stephanie Cox: What's the one thing every marketer should know?

Peter Schroeder: I think that every marketer should know unit economics. I think that's as marketers, it's our responsibility to make sure that we’re growing our business and even more than growing the business is we're growing the business in a way that is economically sustainable. So looking at things like the lifetime value of our customers, how much it cost to recover, what it cost for us to get that customer. I think that there's a lot of unit economics that marketers don't pay attention to because they’re just so worried about growth, but I think it's our responsibility to grow sustainable businesses. So I think that's something every marketer should know.

Stephanie Cox: The most frustrating thing about marketing is?

Peter Schroeder: The most frustrating thing is saturation. There's so many times that I see customers that I know are perfect for our software and they end up going with the wrong solution. And I know it's wrong for them. And I know they're going to be back on the market in 12 months and I wish I could tell them but I think it's just the problem that there is with saturation that people aren't going to make the right decisions 100 percent of the time.

Stephanie Cox: One of my favorite aspects of having guests on the show is that I never know where the conversation is truly going to go. Sure, I always do my homework and have a list of questions prepared, but I really never could imagine that Peter and I would somehow go from talking about marketing to talking about CandyLand and then Fight Club references...and to me that's for the best content and episodes happen is where the conversation takes this really unexpected turn. Now, let's dive into my top three takeaways from our conversation. 

First tech start-up life isn't always with the TV, movies, and social media make it out to be. Yes, don't get me wrong, tech companies often have amazing perks, especially as companies start to grow, but what most people don't realize is there is a lot of hard work but it takes for a company to go from inception where it's someone's idea to being a behemoth in the industry and that work is hard, it's stressful and honestly, if you've not been through it, you can't even really understand it and it's hard to explain. And the earlier you start with a company more stressful it can become because finding product-market fit is always a challenge and it isn't as easy as people think it should be. Take a look at Slack. What most people don't realize is that company initially started as a gaming company that failed miserably and one of products it built Internally to help its teams communicate is what we call Slack today. But as challenging as start-up life can be, it's also an experience unlike any other where people work harder than they ever have before because so much is on the line. So if you ever think you might be an entrepreneur or eventually want to run a company someday, there's literally no better way to experience what it's really like than working at an early-stage startup. 

Next Peter’s comment that “niches make riches’ is so true. I wish he would copyright that, trademark that, put on a bumper sticker. It's seriously a great, great succinct message. So often companies tend to want to appeal to everyone which by default means they appealed and no one because their messaging has become too vague. Their product now doesn't have all the features that one use case would need. It has a lot of just random features and that's why his comment about how much “niches make riches” is so perfect and so true. Staying focused in your go-to-market strategy, especially early on is so crucial to long-term success. Now, this might be the moment where you start battling internally about this idea that if you position your company too specifically for one niche that you will always be a niche player and you'll never be able to grow outside of that. We've all thought that before, we all worried about that and some of us have experienced that exact issue happening, and that was true ten plus years ago. That's no longer the case. It's no longer the case that if you position your company one way, that it will always be seen as that same type of company. Because that's not how the world operates anymore. Now the most successful new companies start out with one clear value proposition for one specific target audience and then expanded over time being focused initially doesn’t mean you can expand. It just means that you don't target everyone at the beginning...and trust me that payoff is going to be so worth it and it’s just doing back to “niches make riches”.. 

And finally, sh*tty marketing has got to stop. I feel like a little bit of a broken record on this one because I swear I've said this a couple of times now on Mobile Matters, but it's worth repeating. I am still flabbergasted on a daily basis by the amount of truly crappy marketing that I see whether it is in digital print, direct mail, the list really goes on and on. Marketers today have way too much data to be making such poor decisions on channel execution, messaging campaign tactics and so forth. We all need to do a better job with using data to influence our decisions, actually setting a hypothesis for testing things that we do, and using that data to determine if it worked, and then quickly iterating based on those results. There is no longer an excuse for sh*tty marketing and there is no longer an excuse for marketers to not know what portion of their marketing is working and what's not working.

I'm Stephanie Cox and you've been listening to Mobile Matters. If you haven't yet, be sure to subscribe, rate, and review this podcast. Until then be sure to visit and subscribe to get more access to thought leaders, best practices, and all things mobile.

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