A Conversation with Tom Kuhr, CMO of Greenfly
In today’s MarTech conversation, we speak with Tom Kuhr, the CMO of Greenfly. Greenfly is a company that brings brands and their advocates together and helps them share media assets to improve the brand’s word-of-mouth marketing success.
Kuhr explains why word-of-mouth marketing is becoming increasingly important, and tells us a little about his approach to marketing a SaaS startup.
Greenfly is a software company that was created as an advocacy marketing platform. It's designed for organizations of all types to really harness the power of their advocates and gather and deliver short-form media to and from them. We call it digital media exchange.
What we're really good at is making sure advocates and brands are connected so that they can work together. So, for instance, we make sure that everyone on a professional sports team has photos from their games, or that everyone on a TV show has the latest trailers and behind-the-scenes footage.
We're trying to empower organizations to deliver the right messages, the right media, to the right people so that their audiences stay engaged. “Advocate” is, of course, a big term. It could be brand ambassadors, it could be athletes, it could be sponsors of sports teams, it could be actors or producers, and so on. So, we're actually working within a few different industries to make social media part of an everyday workflow for the brand, not just the marketing team.
The company was started by a major league baseball player named Shawn Green, who played on the Mets and the Dodgers, and who was a two-time all-star. He thought it would be really great to be able to answer questions using video on his phone, rather than having to write them down or communicate back and forth through the team. There was just no easy way for the team to send him those kinds of requests, or for him to record that video. So, it actually started as a content collection service for him.
Our direct competitors are file-sharing apps. But they're not really geared toward digital media. They're geared toward any file, so they provide a very general-purpose solution. We see people using WhatsApp, email, or Dropbox folders before they come to us. But these alternatives aren’t as advanced—you can’t transfer media to your phone, search through photos, and so on. We provide metadata for searching and we also make it super easy to post on 10 different social media platforms. We're providing that kind of media at scale.
We have really great customers. Major League Baseball is one of our biggest long-term customers, and we're working in the entertainment industry with a bunch of different networks, such as ViacomCBS, the Warner family, and ESPN.
One of the biggest successes of last year was working with the Democratic National Committee and the Biden for President campaign. When ads were blocked on social media platforms close to voting day, the campaign obviously still wanted to get the word out, and they still wanted to get messages to voters. So they grew their advocate group from a few hundred really prominent social media influencers and supporters to thousands of people. They were providing new content every day to thousands of people and building that organic word of mouth because they couldn't actually do advertising. And that was really, really successful. We got great feedback and hundreds of millions of impressions of Biden material across each digital platform.
We’re still a fairly small company—fewer than 50 people.
The marketing department is in charge of product marketing, demand generation, account-based marketing, revenue operations, and customer marketing or loyalty marketing.
So we're doing a lot of things. We do everything from monthly newsletter, to blog updates, to producing organically oriented content to drive search traffic to the website. And we're doing that for multiple industries.
We’re pretty campaign-based, so we have specific metrics we want to reach with each campaign: How many names we want to capture, how many of those names we expect to go into a sales qualified lead stage and an opportunity stage, and so on. Our goal is to fuel the sales pipeline. If we're not driving measurable pipeline value, we're not doing a great job.
We work really closely with the SDR team. We've managed the SDRs from a content perspective, where our head of sales manages SDRs from a day-to-day workflow perspective. But we're very much aligned on who we're doing outreach to and when we're doing that outreach to try to combine that with the bigger picture.
My typical day is changing all the time. On a regular day, we're always running a campaign somewhere. It could be a multi-touch campaign across multiple channels or it could be a single piece of content, but there's always a campaign going on.
I look a lot at Google Analytics and our website traffic and Salesforce for name capture. I also look at Outreach.io to see how our conversions are going from name capture to meeting. Both of those are really big metrics for me. I’m also looking at organic search and paid search and making sure that they're continuing to get optimized along the way. I look at Marketo probably twice a month at the early results of campaigns, open rates, and things like that.
Our growth goal this year is to grow at least two times what we reached last year in ARR. So it’s fairly aggressive—we're growing really quickly.
The pandemic has been both good and bad for us. It's tightened up a lot of budgets, but it's made social media that much more important, especially in sports, since people aren't attending games. We're starting to see that trend happen across the board in all industries. For instance, it's really hard to do a photoshoot when people are stuck at home. So people are using Greenfly to gather scripted content from their advocates and their ambassadors.
Last year we created a few guides. One for our sports clients was called “120 Ways to Engage With Fans When There Are No Games.” We then did a follow-up called “30 Ways to Appeal to Fans When They're Not in the Stadiums”. That did really well from a download and name capture perspective.
A lot of what we're doing, because we're such a small company, is general awareness—letting people know, “Hey, this company exists; this product exists.” So, it's a lot of early market education. And every lead is different. Some organizations are digitally slower than others, whereas some are on the forefront and they're ready for this kind of thing. They're already thinking about it—they have staffing or they have a very rudimentary workflow worked out already. So a lot of selling for us is capturing people at the right time in their digital transformation journey.
So that has worked really well for us. Multiple touch points over about a four-month period of time resulted in quite a few names captured and conversions into real opportunities that we've closed.
I see what Greenfly’s doing—working with advocates and being able to communicate with them on a broader scale—as becoming more and more important for B2C and B2B. You're more likely to trust someone who's not working for the organization. You’re more likely to trust the customer who's used the product, or someone that you look up to as an industry leader. Just like you're more likely to want to follow a specific athlete rather than follow the team or the lead on social media. People are trying to make personal connections. And while it’s especially true in politics and government, it’s equally true in brands.
The more we can connect with people who are already our supporters, the more we can identify them and give them the right tools to tell their friends about the brand that they love and support, the less market-y it seems and the more real it is. And that means more direct interest and more direct response.
People just don't have enough time to look at every single option anymore. It's crazy how much information is out there—and it's hard to weed through it. So we're going back to old-school marketing, which is word of mouth.
We have a blog, and we produce content pieces. We call them magnets, because they’re supposed to attract people. And education is really important for us. We’re trying to explain how word of mouth works on social media.
We haven't really focused so much on how to use the product or product-specific content. It's mostly been general education: What's the next level of an ambassador program? What's holding you back right now? So we've created a lot of educational material like that.
We’ve also tried to highlight our customers with customer success stories; that's been great for people that are aware of us. And that comes after awareness. So, we have top-of-funnel, middle-of-funnel, and bottom-of-funnel content. We have a pretty traditional approach that way.
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