Ep 5: How To Grow Your Business With Content Marketing – Interview With Lori Sullivan

Ep 5: How To Grow Your Business With Content Marketing – Interview With Lori Sullivan

Today we’re exploring how Lori Sullivan integrates creativity, team collaboration, and data-driven strategies to attract quality leads that turn into revenue at Fleetio, an outstanding software for fleet management.

Our website is our most important asset. If we don’t understand the experience visitors are having, we won’t understand the pathways we should be providing for conversion 

Lori Sullivan

Lori Sullivan is a professional superstar leading the marketing team of the ever-growing brand Fleetio for remote fleet management in more than 80 countries around the world. During the past 5 years, Lori has dedicated her career to helping this groundbreaking brand turn global thanks to her insightful techniques.

Key Takeaways: 

  • How to track the lifecycle of an idea and vet it’s potential success before implementing.
  • Why you should always track how those ideas drive ROI.  
  • How important is to have an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) to organize your strategy.
  • How content marketing can shift interest in your brand.

Connect with Lori Sullivan

Check out Fleetio‘s content
Connect with her on Twitter and  LinkedIn

Links Mentioned

Take a look at FullStory for visitor behavior analytics
Mixpanel product analytics for conversion
Find out more about Asana for project management
Get to know  Slack as a communication channel

Thank you for listening! 

If you’d like to know more about change-makers in digital marketing, celebrate their wins, and discover how they built a breaking ground career you should subscribe! We’d also love it if you’d share the podcasts you like and leave comments about your experience.


Episode Transcript

Katherine Watier-Ong  [0:00]  

Let me know. Okay, sure. So far it sounds. Okay. All right. And we’re recording Oh, the last part I didn’t tell you is that we’re going to record a real introduction to you and to the insights from your podcast later. But right now, Jim’s gonna do a quick intro to you. And we’ll just kind of get going.

Sounds good.

Yeah. Gotcha.

Jim Keeney  [0:20]  

Hello. And today we’re going to be talking with Lori Sullivan, who is head of marketing at fleetio. And Lori, if you could just tell us a little bit about fleetio. and the role that you play in that company.

Lori Sullivan  [0:34]  

Absolutely. Thank you guys for having me. First off. Yeah, I would love to tell you guys a little about fleetio. So fleetio is a b2b SaaS company. And we build fleet management software. So we help organizations around the world track, analyze and improve their fleet operations. We have customers in over 75 countries now which is pretty wild and they range from Organizations like trucking companies to courier and delivery services, taxi services, landscaping companies, construction companies and contractors and even government agencies. Basically organizations who need to use vehicles or equipment to do a job whether they are using vehicles and equipment to serve their own customers, or getting someone or something from point A to point B. And so in fleetio they’re able to bring things like maintenance, fuel, vehicle inspections, all into one place and really understand the total cost of ownership of their fleet of vehicles and equipment and make better decisions based on that data.

Jim Keeney  [1:46]  

So when you’re a SaaS company in and obviously digital marketing is a critical part of what you do, so can you can you talk about the role of digital marketing within fleetio and how that works. For The company and for yourself?

Lori Sullivan  [2:02]  

Absolutely. So digital marketing has really always been the catalyst behind revenue in our company really since day one. So we didn’t build a strong outbound sales engine until late last year. So the majority of revenue to date at fleetio originally stems from inbound marketing, which has been for us mostly digital. Aside from trade shows, which are still big in our industry, especially for mid market and enterprise level businesses. Everything we do is digital. So whether it’s content marketing and SEO or social media or pay per click advertising, all of our marketing activities, point prospects to our website at fleetio.com. And because of that, we spend a lot of time on conversion rate optimization on our site, and we spend a lot of time nurturing leads throughout the funnel. A marketing team, our main goal is to fill the top of the funnel with quality leads and make sure that that turns into revenue.

Jim Keeney  [3:09]  

Excellent. So talk to me about your typical week. Just kind of go through one of the things that I’ve been wrestling with and thinking about is, obviously what you want to do is set up your marketing process as a repeatable process. Right? And, and a lot of time that starts with an organizational process where you get into a pattern of analyzing things in the same way. Figuring out what the next campaigns are going to be executing those campaigns. Can you talk us through how you have that set up? And how that how that came about?

Lori Sullivan  [3:48]  

Absolutely. So our process has evolved over time, because our team has grown very rapidly. So back in 2015, I was marketer Number one at fleetio. And I was a very early employee in the company. And now I lead a team of nine. So the marketing process and the campaign building process. And even the evaluation of results process has changed a lot over the last five years, based on us rapidly adding talent, year over year. So the way we think about it now with a team of nine, we really I would say, most weeks are never the same. We have a culture of what we as a company called rapid iteration. So that means that people bring ideas to the table all the time, and we’re not afraid to test those ideas. And so that allows us to stay really nimble as a company, but also as a marketing team. So while you know, we do have a little bit of framework to our week. We have a team meeting on Mondays we have one on ones, with managers and direct reports throughout the week. So we do have our kind of framework that we’re, we’re working within each week. Even with that being said, No two weeks are usually the same. So when it comes to ideas for future campaigns, again, like I mentioned, everyone is bringing ideas to the table. We may do a quick stand up to brainstorm ideas, we may collaborate in a Google Doc. And we as a marketing team also like to bring our product marketers into those conversations as well. They sit on the product team, within fleetio, and we collaborate with them really often, especially when it comes to anything dealing with the voice of the customer. We like to think about product marketing as the voice of the customer in our organization. And our marketing team as the voice of the experience. So we collaborate with them a good bit when it comes to new ideas and executing on those. When it comes to analyzing results, we’re an incredibly metrics driven organization that’s at the company level, but especially at the marketing level. So anything that we put in place, the first order of business is knowing that we can track the results. We are very religious about that. If a project is opened, in our project management tool, one of those first tasks is going to be ensuring we can track the results in a detailed way. We always want that tracking to be first so that anything we set up, we know the actual effects. So we know hey, do we need to double down on this or do we need to ditch this and I think when you have a culture of rapid experimentation you teach your employees and you teach your team to be okay with saying no, because you’ve proven through data, that something doesn’t work. So we always want to rely on data to understand if campaigns are working, or if they’re not, how to build on them if they are, and then that it’s okay to say no to them if they do not, in fact work.

Katherine Watier-Ong  [7:24]  

So I just want to take a step backwards because you sound a lot like me when I built my team. And I’m kind of curious what your background is one, and whether or not you personally have the background in some of the data stuff. And that’s where some of this is coming from. And then, too, I’m kind of curious, what are the different roles of that nine, so how many are what they doing and then who do you have outsourced? I’m kind of curious about that kind of structure?

Lori Sullivan  [7:47]  

Absolutely. Great question. So my background before joining fleetio again, I’ve been there about five years, I believe I was employee number six, and now we have about 100 people. So it’s been a wild ride these past five years. And that’s been a really wonderful experience. But before coming into fleetio, I was actually in the agency world. So I’ve worked for large agencies, small agencies. With the agency, I was out right before fleetio, it was actually a small, boutique style b2b, specifically b2b agency. And so what I was doing there was running digital programs from top to bottom for all different types of clients, from corporate clients to startups, and helping these clients understand the value of digital this was years ago. So things like content marketing, and PPC weren’t something that many were comfortable with. And so explaining that value kind of selling the value to them, executing on programs and then presenting those results. So my background is truly in b2b Digital. So when I met our CEO at fleetio and we started to talk about this opportunity and the potential to come in and build a lead generation engine and build a team. It was something that was a very motivating, attractive offer for me. So I feel like my, my background aligned well, and through that background, especially being on the b2b, digital side, analytics, were always, you know, a huge part of what I was doing content and SEO and kind of the front end things the input was definitely something I had my hands on, but it was always revolving around data. I was always doing something in the digital world that was truly measurable, and was trying to communicate that to clients. Because 10-15 years ago, we didn’t have all of the data and technology to measure our efforts as marketers that we do now. And so I think in a time where we have that at our fingertips, and we can prove the value and power of marketing, we really have to do that as much as we can and surface that in an organization. I feel like a lot of times marketing in an organization has to kind of be the marketer have their own efforts, right, and really prove their worth. But now we’re super lucky because we have the data to do so. So my background kind of aligned well with what we were hoping to build at fleetio.

Katherine Watier-Ong  [10:34]  

And the team of nine so who what are the roles and who do you outsource? Or what parts of the marketing mix to outsource?

Lori Sullivan  [10:41]  

Yeah.

Jim Keeney  [10:42]  

you can, as you answer that, if you could, essentially do the lifecycle of an idea. That would be great.

Katherine Watier-Ong  [10:50]  

I think Jim’s hinting that he wants to know what was your first hire? What was your next?

Lori Sullivan  [10:54]  

Absolutely, yeah, yeah. So we can do it kind of in a timeline. that would be helpful. So in the early days, as anyone who’s ever worked at a startup knows we have limited resources. Like I said, I came in as a marketer number one, and when I was looking at what marketing mix we’re going to create and who would be the first hires to execute on that. We knew we couldn’t pay to play yet. That wasn’t something that we were able to do in 2015. And so we had to kind of work around that. So we started to capitalize on short and long tail organic terms, through blogging on site optimization and other content. And so SEO and content marketing strategy was really where we started, and it paid off in the early days, but it’s also really paid off in the long run. So my one of my first hires was a Content Marketing Manager. We knew that we saw early gains when it came to SEO and content marketing when it was just me And we knew that we had to double down on that. So that was our first. Soon after we hired a product marketing manager, because the product content on our website was incredibly important for conversion as a team that really focuses on inbound marketing and bringing people into fleetio.com. Our website is our most important asset. And so it was really around how do we structure a team to first you know, produce the best content and get the best content on the site that will hopefully entice people to convert and for us, that means starting a free trial or requesting a demo of the product. So content marketing manager, Product Marketing Manager. After that we had gained a little bit of traction and we knew we needed someone to strategize around growth through pay per click advertising and social advertising. So we hired a growth marketing manager and he handles all of our paid media efforts. And at that point, we knew we had some more kind of specialty roles to fill before we hired for what I would call scale roles. So doubling down on more content creators and stuff like that. So within those specialty roles, we brought on a designer and a web designer. Remember, our website is really our most important asset. So we really wanted to ensure that the design efforts behind that were strong. And then we brought on someone to handle more communications and branding. So under her job description was PR social media events like trade shows that I mentioned. And then eventually, we brought on, this was a fairly recent hire, but we brought in someone to help build our partner marketing efforts. So we do have a number of partners that Their software integrates with our software. And so we kind of share leads back and forth do some collaboration there, as we brought on someone to really build that, because it was something we had those relationships but we weren’t really investing in it from a marketing perspective. And then as we continue to see traction on the content side, again, this will be a theme content is very important to us. We brought on additional content resources, so another content specialists to work on blogs, white papers, landing pages, and then we also last year brought on a videographer. Video is an incredibly important part of our content strategy. And we know based on our site analytics, that video really entices conversion for us. Our product while it can be explained very simply, when you get into the nitty gritty of it, it is quite robust and So, video is a great channel for us to explain the true value of our product and really communicate with the customer. And so we brought on a videographer. So all that to say again a team of nine we pretty much keep most things in house currently. In the early days we did outsource a number of things under the design umbrella whether that was white papers like content layout, sales sheets to help enable our sales team and you know, different design projects here and there we did outsource video creation so short explainer videos, we outsourced that before before we brought those roles on. But we kind of pride ourselves that we keep as much as we can in house because we have an amazing amount of talent within my team of nine and also We know our brand and our customer better than anyone. And so I know there will be a point where we’re scaling. And we need to outsource a few different things. But right now, we are really keeping most things in house.

Katherine Watier-Ong  [16:16]  

So I’m curious about the video. So the video for you is landing pages to help with conversion, or you also putting some of it on YouTube or trying to get it to rank in Google?

Lori Sullivan  [16:25]  

Yeah, it’s a great question. So it’s both short answer. It’s both Yeah, we, we if you go to fleetio conference, you’ll see a number of different videos that aligns well with the landing pages that they’re on. So we really do our best to create a video content calendar that the topics on the video topics that we’re brainstorming and putting on that calendar are going to entice conversion on the specific page that they’re meant for. And of course, we have our kind of one minute long Explainer video about video as a whole, it resides on our homepage. But we do create more specific video content. And we host our videos on Wistia. And then they’re on our site, but YouTube, especially within the last year has become a very viable acquisition channel for us, actually. So we think of YouTube as the search engine that it is. Any video that we create, we, we look at the keyword that we should be targeting behind that video, we optimize the video title on YouTube, the description, we link to the appropriate page, relevant page on our site. And we see at least I would say probably around a handful of leads a week come from YouTube, specifically, people who are searching for fleet management content or how to use on YouTube again, I mean, we know YouTube is a is truly a huge search engine and so within the Last year, so we really wanted to be sure we were using it as such. And we really optimized our video content around that. And it certainly paid off we see regular leads come from YouTube.

Katherine Watier-Ong  [18:13]  

That’s awesome. Are you also running paid ads behind your YouTube videos.

Lori Sullivan  [18:17]  

We’ve tested paid a little with YouTube, but we really haven’t invested too much there. That is something that we’ve had a lot of conversations about recently, because that’s kind of been our strategy. We lead with organic and then when we figure out what works, we’ll invest some some paid to test and see if that could be a viable thing for us as well.

Jim Keeney  [18:41]  

So, coming back to a twist on what I was asking before, can you take me through the lifecycle of somebody comes to you with an idea one of your product managers comes to you with an idea and you go, Hey, that might be a good campaign that might be a good opportunity walk that through your process all the way from beginning to end.

Lori Sullivan  [19:05]  

Yeah, so when someone brings an idea to the table, I think it’s based on what the idea at hand is, it’s usually good to get a few key players on the marketing team in a room for or on a video call, for at least a quick stand up just to kind of talk through what that could look like. Because when an idea comes to the table, it really the best way to execute that may not be exactly as it’s brought to you, right? And so we really want to understand the why behind it. And the potential effects. We always want to have kind of a hypothesis of what could happen if we execute on this campaign or if we implement this idea. And one of the first things as I mentioned earlier, is making sure we have tracking in place

Jim Keeney  [20:00]  

Right, metrics

Lori Sullivan  [20:00]  

but actually measure it right. And so that would be, I would say, first order of business is getting people on a quick stand up talking through the why talking through how this could work. If there are content oriented things or paid PPC oriented things, getting the right people in the room. In a quick fashion, we’re definitely not a company that has meetings to have meetings. But getting the right people in the room to really talk it through what the execution will look like. And then we would lay that out in our project management tool. We use Asana internally, it’s a great tool for that. So we may spin up a project in Asana, get it laid out, assign things out to the appropriate people. probably talk a little bit about what that schedule is, how long will it take us to execute on this? What’s kind of the pacing when do we want to have this done by but again, I think the most important part that a lot of marketers miss when bringing an idea from inception to execution is the tracking piece are things set up to track the success of this. And if they’re not, that should be first order of business. And then at that point, once things go into our project management, software are now kind of task oriented. Whoever, whether it’s me or one of our content managers, whoever is going to oversee the campaign would really be the one kind of running the operations of the project, really making sure that it’s on point from a goal perspective, and in terms of what we wanted to achieve. And then there’s a couple people on our team that dig further into data and analytics and so they would definitely be looped in to set up that tracking and then ultimately, report on the results to the rest of that kind of project group.

Jim Keeney  [21:57]  

It’s interesting because it sounds a lot The the mechanisms by which you’re going to measure and and produce the campaign and everything are set up, before you even begin kind of ideated around what the content would be like and, and who’s going to do the creative and what the creative might you know how the creative might resonate with customers and things of that nature.

Lori Sullivan  [22:23]  

Go ahead. Go ahead.

Katherine Watier-Ong  [22:24]  

No, I was just kind of curious with your metric focused approach. Two questions. One, is your audience desktop or mobile? And two, do you reject an idea because of the, I’m assuming you use Google Analytics, if your lack of tracking if a lack of tracking would run into problems? Because if you do a lot of mobile oriented stuff that you want to launch a campaign that’s like, I don’t know, get more Google discover traffic or a voice response or something we all know, as marketers, that’s kind of a missing data piece. Right? Wondering if you reject those ideas now?

Lori Sullivan  [22:57]  

Yeah, it’s a great question. So we focus a little more on desktop, and that’s based on our customer base, or that’s based on our market. That’s more so what they are using and where they are. So while we do have a good bit of mobile traffic, and we certainly focus on mobile, in the places where it makes sense, a lot of what we’re testing is on desktop. And so most of it is typically trackable. And we do use multiple tools. In addition to Google Analytics to track a lot of the things that we do so we use a tool called heap analytics. We used to use mixpanel for this where you can track data through true funnels. We use that really heavily when it comes to certain ideas and campaigns. We use a tool if we’re focusing on site conversion and really understanding pathways through our site. We use a tool called full story, which is actually recording of someone’s journey through your site. We do have some supporting tools in addition to Google Analytics that we’re lucky to have, because it gives us an extra element of tracking. And so for us if we’re going to test something, or we’re going to put something out into the world, and we can’t see if it works, we’re hesitant to do it. Or we’re going to say, before we do it, we’ve got to get the tracking in place correctly. Because if we’re going to push something out there, and we can’t measure it, we don’t necessarily know if we should be doubling down on it, and we should never do it again. And so for us tracking is really important. Now, when you get into a situation like you’re mentioning with mobile, that’s a different story if that data truly isn’t accessible to you. Luckily, a lot of where we’re testing is more in a desktop environment. So typically We’re able to track what we need to. Sometimes it’s already set up, it’s an easy check the box. But sometimes we have to focus resources to get that tracking set up before we execute on a campaign or an idea.

Jim Keeney [25:15]  

So you’re, you’re using full story to actually monitor user experience. Is that, is that what you’re doing? Yeah. And and, you know, maybe I’m, you know, maybe I’m skewed a little bit, but in your industry, given the people that you’re dealing with user experience is very important, right?

Lori Sullivan  [25:33]  

Absolutely. For us. Again, our website is our most important marketing asset. And if we don’t understand the experience that people are having, as they are that visitors are having, as they’re going through our site, we don’t understand those pathways like that we should be providing direct pathways to conversion, right? content that is we have a pretty robust website too we have to provide those direct pathways. And if we don’t understand what they are, what the paths of least resistance are, that that would be really tough and our conversion would suffer. And so for us understanding that behavior is incredibly important

Jim Keeney  [26:20]  

well and it comes back to the original idea, right? So, you know, the idea of projects, an outcome and an assumption. And so in setting up that analytics and metrics up front, you’re really, you’re really designing things to be able to make decisions based upon that flow. And to consider that flow as kind of the first thing when you’re doing everything, right.

Lori Sullivan  [26:43]  

Definitely.

Jim Keeney  [26:44]  

Yeah, that makes a huge difference. I’m interested because you said that you’re just now starting to do outbound. So you’ve been inbound for the first you know, for the first four years, four and a half years. How do you and you have, you know, kind of project, Product Management definitely built into the whole process. How do you build a culture so that you stay connected to your customers, when your only connection to them is, is through kind of once they get to you so, so it’s a little different if you don’t have that kind of distributed sales force where they’re coming back and saying, well, I talked to so and so on. And he said, X, Y, and Z.

Lori Sullivan  [27:25]  

Definitely. So I think at Fleetio, we’re really good at sharing data and information. So when we close a new customer, our salespeople know why they have to include a detail on why and we actually pipe that information into a channel in slack so anyone can see it. If a customer churns our CSM log, a detailed reason for the churn and we pipe that into the channel in slack. So we’re getting insights naturally, we’ve kind of set up that mechanism, not data sharing for ourselves, which is really helpful across the entire company. It’s incredibly helpful for marketers. But I think that honestly, the best thing you can do is hop on the phone and talk to customers, if you can get on site with them, like we’ve been on site, doing video case studies and things like that, understanding just what makes them tick, especially in their individual business or in their industry. So we do have customers in virtually every industry you can think of. So everything from services customers, to construction companies, to trucking companies, it’s very wide. And so they all have unique and individual needs. And so understanding the needs of current customers really can help us craft content to acquire new customers, based on you know, the individual needs of that organization being in the industry that they’re in construction companies have a lot of heavy duty equipment that’s really expensive to maintain, that we can help with. But that’s so different than a services business like Stanley Steamer who’s serving, you know, business or residential customers, and really trying to adhere to a tight timeframe with customer visits, who they’re just dealing with lighter duty or medium duty vehicles. So understanding the scope of the intricacies of different fleet sizes, different industries. That’s incredibly important for us as marketers, and that is done by talking to customers, talking to customers who potentially turn for some reason. We try to do as much of that on our own as marketers as we can, but when we’re not the ones talking to them, how can we get the insights from someone on the product team or someone on the sales team or someone on the customer success team. And I feel like we’ve set ourselves up pretty well to distribute that information company wide so we know where we can go in slack to learn. And we also really try, especially our content marketers really try to stay in the know on what’s happening in the fleet and transportation space in general. That’s part of their job. And so we really try to keep a pulse on the current trends, the current issues, the current concerns in the fleet space as a whole and within those specific industries, and that allows us to feed information to our outbound team as well. So if they’re calling into a certain industry over a two week sprint, they have Some ammunition from us. And they understand what’s going on in that industry right now that they can bring up and talk about that truly connects with that prospect. It isn’t just, hey, our product’s great.

Katherine Watier-Ong  [31:15]  

Right. So I’m kind of curious, how did you manage? Did you have just like dozens of customer personas and journey mapping? What does that look like? So when you get the insights around the specific needs of somebody in specific industry, how are you capturing that? And do you have a different process that you’re following that would help you scale that because you have so many.

Lori Sullivan  [31:36]  

So we’ve created a number of different kind of pieces of collateral and internal documentation around our ideal customer profile. So when it comes to our potential market, it’s really broad. In the early days, we were kind of all things to all people. Now, we can’t be. Right, we really have to focus. And so years ago, we kind of did our original ideal customer profile work. We looked internally at our own customers and churned customers. We looked externally at the market and tried to understand who truly is our ideal customer. For us, there are two kind of factors within that one is fleet size. We do best with kind of that upper SMB, lower mid market organization. And then there are a few key industries that we do really well in. So, our ICP research that’s kind of an ongoing thing for us on the marketing and product marketing side that feeds our outbound SDRs. So that way, they’re not looking at the transportation space or fleet space, wondering who they should call into today. We’ve said we know we’re a perfect fit for mid market services, businesses. In the cleaning and restoration space, or the landscaping space, those are two areas where we do really well. That’s where your focus for this two weeks sprint or you know, however long they choose to, to focus in that area. So we’ve, it’s a new muscle for us, enabling outbound like we do. So we, we’ve learned a lot as marketers over the last six months on how to do that, what to do what not to do, but ensuring that they are pointed in a very specific direction is incredibly important because we can serve so many industries, but we know we’ve narrowed in on where we know we do well, and there are really three key industries with some kind of sub industries that we know are the top performers.

Jim Keeney  [33:56]  

So just for our listeners, ICP

Lori Sullivan  [34:00]  

ideal customer profile

Jim Keeney  [34:02]  

and SDR

Lori Sullivan  [34:04]  

sales development representative. Some people call them BDR business dev. representatives as well. Yeah, so an ICP ideal customer profile is something that as a marketer, especially for us where, you know, we can serve a lot of different size fleets and tons of different industries. Developing and kind of framing out an ideal customer profile just helps point everyone in the same direction. It allows us to get customers or get prospects into the funnel, whether inbound or outbound, that will close faster and easier with the least amount of friction. And that’s why we would develop an ICP and really invest a lot of time and keeping it updated and evolving it.

Katherine Watier-Ong  [34:57]  

So for you, you Customers pipe into like a Salesforce or something in the back end, which is how you can back it up to where they came from. I’m just sort of trying to figure out where you got the data around your ideal customer from your sales team, right?

Lori Sullivan  [35:13]  

So we get data from our sales team. Yes, we, we actually ask for fleet size and industry when someone starts to trial or request a demo on our website. So sometimes it comes in from the marketing side and inbound fashion. Sometimes it comes in from the sales side. But yes, everything is centralized in Salesforce. Salesforce is really our kind of single source of truth when it comes to revenue generation.

Jim Keeney  [35:45]  

So one thing that it sounds like it’s a constant balance is because you can, as you said, be all things to all people. But at the same time, you have, you know, defined traction models. That and funnels that you? Do you find yourself cycling between, you know, too many different channels and then back to a more focused set of channels. And how do you balance that? Especially since you know, the funnels all come back to your website, and you don’t want to you don’t want to have a website that doesn’t have a clear message?

Lori Sullivan  [36:22]  

Absolutely. Yeah, it is tough. I think it was definitely tougher in the early days because we didn’t have a defined ideal customer profile. And we felt like to grow. We didn’t want to isolate anyone. We didn’t want to focus too much on one industry or the other. You know, because we just wanted to grow.

Jim Keeney  [36:47]  

As somebody, as a friend of mine said, when you’re when you first started as a startup, it’s like any money from anywhere, we’ll take it.

Lori Sullivan  [36:56]  

Yeah, it’s a struggle and you don’t want to isolate anyone or turn anyone away? Right? But as you grow and like I said, we’re a company of about 100 people, we have thousands of customers now. We’ve learned a lot from the customers that we’ve gotten and turned over the years. And we have enough information to know where our perfect product market fit is. And so I think as a company, it was definitely a learning exercise for us to say it’s okay to ignore a certain size business or a certain industry for a startup who you know in the early days really just wanted to grow that’s a learning exercise it truly is. But it was something that at the you know, leadership level we had to communicate the why behind and move forward executing on so for us again, it’s all based on data. So it’s not something that we were scared to do. But it was something we knew that if we were going to double down on what was working the marketing channels that were working, and that was, especially content in SEO, we were going to need to create content for construction. That’s where we do really well there. We are going to have to create content for services, businesses and sub industries of those services businesses like landscaping and cleaning, we do really well there. We were going to steer away from smaller trucking operators.

Jim Keeney  [38:39]  

Right.

Lori Sullivan  [38:39]  

Because churn was high there. So just knowing that we were grounding all of that in data that we had accumulated over the years and we trusted that data. It was certainly a learning exercise for the company, but it gave everyone a clearer direction. I think obviously, it makes a ton of sense on the marketing and sales side. But even on the product side, you know, our product managers, were starting to prioritize customer feedback based on whether someone was in our ICP or not. It really started to kind of weave through and through our company and really made us feel like, okay, we truly know who our perfect fit customer is. Where prior, we were excited that we were growing quickly, but this allowed us to really get to know that perfect fit customer even better than we did before. And that’s something that was company wide, had had positive company wide results.

Katherine Watier-Ong  [39:46]  

You keep saying it’s a learning experience. So I think it might have been more than one conversation is my gut feeling. You get a sense of how long it took you to sort of persuade people there.

Lori Sullivan  [39:59]  

So I would say, our original ICP or ideal customer profile project, probably spanned a six month time period. Because if you think about any marketer who’s done an ICP project before, it’s a huge research project, right? You’re looking internally at your own customer data. You’re looking externally at the market, the total addressable market or Tam, what’s out there, what’s most advantageous for you as a company, but what works looking at where the product may fall short for some business sizes or some industries, there’s a lot of research there. And so I think setting that kind of research project on a pedestal and the company and continuing to communicate the why behind it, involving others in the organization was a key part of its acceptance. So there were weeks at a time where me and my team were socializing it through the different parts of the company, whether that was sales team, customer success team product team, having those qualitative conversations to understand what other people thought around who we should be targeting based on their customer conversations or what they had experienced on a sales call or the objections they were hearing on a sales call socializing it through the organization as you go through that process that was crucial for us. And it let everyone kind of feel a part of it. And they understood why that was the most important thing.

Katherine Watier-Ong  [41:44]  

Now, did you do any external research during that time? Did you do surveys, or was it all internal customer data or website data?

Lori Sullivan  [41:53]  

We didn’t conduct any official surveys. We did. Look at Some previously created market reports that had been done by third party. So we used a lot of that to understand sizes and things of that nature, total addressable market. We did a lot of research when we started to try to understand which industries were the best fit for us. We were looking at what was going on in that industry. For instance, when we originally did this huge project, the trucking industry in particular, was going through some new regulations where they were requiring electronic logging devices and some different things that were new to trucking. And it was one of those questions we had to ask ourselves where it’s like, we do want to build this into our product? Probably not. So you know, it was that type of research. So third party research that had really already been conducted. You know, combined with what was actually going on in that space at the time, which is why it’s important for us to keep a pulse on that, we really have to know and understand the current trends and challenges in in those industries as a salesperson hops on the phone to understand need, that context is really important.

Jim Keeney  [43:24]  

Well and there, there’s a couple things that are interesting to me and very remarkable about what you’ve done is, number one, you’ve connected your marketing efforts directly to cost of acquisition and long term value, right. And, therefore you’re right in the heart of the metrics. And the second thing is, it seems like your marketing department is seamlessly connected with a Lean Startup model of mode of existence. And so as the company is growing, you’re actually at the vanguard of that because a lot of times you You know, in some of the questions that Katherine is asking is, a lot of times digital marketing is coming into an organization that is mature, and we’re having to kind of sell upward and sell sideways and all that kind of stuff. You’ve actually designed your marketing department right from the get go to be part of the core competency of a Lean Startup growth company.

Lori Sullivan  [44:24]  

Yeah, I mean, I think we do, really, we’re really good at that as a company, like I would say, our entire organization, even as we’ve grown to 100 people has stayed very nimble. And we move fast. We get a lot done. We’re not afraid to test things. But I think for a marketing organization that’s just so important, and we are very integrated into many areas of our company because of that. We have a very tight relationship and alignment with our sales team. We have an amazing team Sales Team, you know, we hand off quality leads to them. And they’re excellent closers. We share a lot of information with them, we do our best to enable them. And that alignment is really key and why we’ve had great inbound success. It’s, you know, it’s not just us generating the leads, but I’m building that engine and velocity over the years. But that tight alignment for them to take that lead and actually go close it within, you know, hopefully, a short timeframe. So yeah, I think that idea flows through and through our company,

Jim Keeney  [45:38]  

when it comes back to what you were saying about setting up the metrics first, because that gives you the lever to be able to fail fast to say, okay, we tried it, it’s not working, let’s move on. And that gets you on that continuous learning curve. Without You know, I think one of the most important things in growth culture is to have a culture where you’re not afraid to fail and you’re not afraid to recognize mistakes when they happen. Which happens, you know, most corporations, most cultures, it’s just built in, it’s baked in, you don’t report up, you try to cover up your mistakes, etc. If you don’t have that, if you don’t have that open, you know, clearer view of the metrics up front and through the process, so that everybody can say, you know, could point at it and say, hey, it’s a dog, it’s not gonna go, move on.

Katherine Watier-Ong  [46:31]  

As we’re talking about pivoting, we’re all recording this as we are self isolating from home.

Jim Keeney  [46:36]  

Yes, exactly.

Katherine Watier-Ong  [46:37]  

And when we go live for this episode, we unfortunately will also be doing that. So I know you have a remote organization mostly, and you’re obviously a digital first organization. But are there any other shifts that you feel like you’ve had to make most recently to sort of ramp up your entire organization to be remote?

Lori Sullivan  [46:56]  

So our company is probably 30-35 percent remote. So we already have a lot of the tools and technologies in place to take our organization to a work from home environment. That wasn’t the hard part for us. Our focus during this time is understanding how this pandemic is affecting our customers. Because it’s affecting again, we work with a lot of industries. So for delivery fleets, they’re incredibly high demand right now and are scrambling for resources, where services fleets may see a large lack of demand and have a lot of downtime. So our focus during this time has been reaching out to customers, talking to as many customers as we can and learning from them, learning what they need, how we can help, you know, letting them know from our perspective, like how the product could be of help, even more than they’re already using it today. One of the first things that we did this week when we were shifting to work from home and you know, the situation was escalating in the US was put together a COVID-19 Resources Center on our website. We spun up a couple blog posts, and are starting to collect information around national and regional service providers like Firestone and Jiffy Lube, updating that landing page with their updated hours or store closures, anything that could be of help to our customer base, kind of putting all of that in one spot. We spun up a blog post around, you know, the effects of COVID-19 on fleets but also how you can protect your drivers who are still out there on the road. We work remotely. We’re a very remote organization. So we’re currently spinning up a blog post right now on best practices for remote work for fleets. any way that we can help be a resource. That’s what we’re looking to do during this time. So the Content team kind of shifted away from their normal content calendar and has been focusing on COVID resources for fleets during this time.

Katherine Watier-Ong  [49:11]  

Awesome. Well, this has actually been a really great conversation. I don’t want to take tons of your time because we’re getting near the end. But is there a particular win that you’ve had recently that you want us all to celebrate together? Or do you have a resource that you’ve used maybe during your ICP process or something that you think would be helpful for our listeners?

Lori Sullivan  [49:30]  

Yeah, so the win that I would love to celebrate with you guys is a huge pat on the back to our content team. You know, I mentioned us really investing early on and content and SEO and it really helped us see small gains early on, but it’s paid off in a huge way in the long run even still today. So our top keyword our you know, our category keyword, our high competition keywords, We’re after and we’ve always wanted to rank as high as possible for his fleet management software. Tough, you know, PPC bids on that term are like 80 bucks. We hit number one organically for that was in January of this year. And that was a huge victory for us. something we’ve been working toward for a long time. And of course, we got to fight to stay there. But we and we saw once that happened, we actually saw click through on that term, from search engine results page go up over 50%. And that’s just from going from number two to number one. So anytime I talk to anyone about SEO and the power of rankings, I’ll give that example because it’s again, it’s something that we really started early on, but that was a huge win recently.

Jim Keeney  [50:57]  

Congratulations. That’s really amazing.

Lori Sullivan  [51:01]  

And then I would say resources. In general, I think that as a marketer, maybe more than most other professions, you have to commit to being curious and being a lifelong learner because things change every day. I love podcasts. I love reading. So I would definitely recommend, you know, digging into the podcast world, if you haven’t too much already. When it comes to resources, it’s an easy way to absorb information. I’m really excited to listen to everything you guys are going to put out in the future. I’m currently reading some of winning by design. They’re SAS sales books. They’re a great SAS consultancy. And so I think just committing to being a lifelong learner as a marketer is absolutely crucial when it comes to resources for Are the ICP work we did, I think having a good framework in place there, there are many out there if you googled, you know, ICP framework or marketing, you know, ideal customer framework, understanding what the framework of that project is going to be. So you can communicate that to your team and anyone that’s going to be involved. You know, we’re lucky that everything is so searchable these days. And there’s a lot of great marketers that put their ideas and those types of things out there in the world. And we can kind of look through and maybe use some ideas and adjust some to our, our liking and our specific need. But yeah, I would say staying curious and searching for those resources on a regular basis and continually absorbing information, whether it’s podcasts or reading, etc.

Katherine Watier-Ong  [52:53]  

Cool. So thank you for your time today. Why don’t you tell people where they can learn more about you and your company?

Lori Sullivan  [53:00]  

Absolutely thank you guys so much for having me. This has been super fun. If you guys want to connect with me, you can find me on LinkedIn at Lori Sullivan. And then check out Fleetio at Fleetio.com. We are always putting out new content and updates to our site. So stay in the know at Fleetio.com 

Jim Keeney  [53:22]  

excellent

Katherine Watier-Ong  [53:23]  

great. Thanks

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