Running a Startup Marketing Team with a PLG Focus

A Conversation with Samia Moutawakkil

In today’s MarTech conversation, we speak with Samia Moutawakkil, the head of marketing at Reveal, a platform designed for B2B companies to discover and learn from their partnership ecosystem.

Samia spoke to us about the company’s product-led growth strategy and other marketing initiatives such as customer referral incentives and content.

Tell us about Reveal

Reveal is a new SaaS platform that launched in 2020. Our core belief is that every B2B company has an ecosystem of partners that revolve around them—companies that target the same persona or offer a complementary product. Sometimes companies leverage their ecosystems, and sometimes they don’t. Our belief is that your ecosystem has a huge wealth of insights on your company’s prospects and on your potential clients, and that collaborating with that ecosystem is the key to faster growth.

What we do is help you connect with these companies in your ecosystem through your CRM in a secure way so that you can compare data, find new leads, learn about your prospects, and, ultimately, help each other grow revenue.

Our customers range from companies of around 50 employees to 5,000. Our sweet spot, however, is companies in the mid-market range because they have enough data in their CRM and they’re at a stage where they have well-developed marketing teams and sales teams, and often, dedicated partnership departments. 

In terms of our revenue model, we are a freemium service, so we offer our core features for free. From the start, we wanted to have product-led growth—we wanted the proof to be in the product. So, with free core features, one of our key growth channels is actually the network itself: companies that have found value in Reveal and start inviting their ecosystem. We also have paid features—for instance, allowing you to put your ecosystem data back into your CRM so that your sales team has direct access to the information. 

While our tool is very unique, we do have some competition. We compete with tools that help with partner relationship management and we also compete with lead generation tools. 

What are some of your goals at Reveal?

We currently have over 2,500 companies using Reveal. We are trending to have over 3,000 by the end of this year. We actually have very ambitious goals for the next few years because we want to get to 30,000 companies by 2023. We're really growing from a network effect. That's at the core of everything we do because it’s deeply embedded into how our platform works: The more companies you invite from your ecosystem, the more value you get.  

What do you do in your day-to-day work as head of marketing?

I report to the CEO and I currently have a team of seven. So, it’s actually quite a big team considering the size of the company. From the beginning, the founders really believed that marketing and branding are great levers to build and boost the network effect. 

Right now, we have one person focusing on growth, which means paid acquisition and outbound. We have one person focusing on content marketing and community. She also manages a team of freelance writers. We have one product marketing manager, which is important as we’re product-led. We have one brand designer. And we also currently have the SDRs within the marketing team because we believe that there needs to be a lot of alignment between SDRs and marketing since both are focused on the same objective: generating opportunities.

In terms of our metrics, we follow three key KPIs daily. First is the number of registered companies. That’s where everything starts. The second goal is the number of promoters—these are the active users of the platform. The third metric is revenue. 

I see my goal as supporting, coaching, and hiring my team. My weekly priorities consist of making sure we are on track with OKRs and the vision we created for our marketing strategy, providing feedback and guidance, pushing our team for excellence, and coordinating our efforts with those of the product and sales team. We use Notion for project management. We use OKRs to make sure everyone has a roadmap. Based on that, I follow all of the team’s projects. We also use Slack for direct messages. We try to keep meetings to a minimum as it can be overwhelming, but at the same time, we have weekly check-ins to make sure there’s a strong team spirit, even though we are working remotely.

What are some of your challenges at Reveal?

At this stage of our startup, the most challenging thing in a marketing team is to be able to prioritize and know what you're going to focus on. There's always a temptation to do everything. There are so many things to tempt you every day. There's huge pressure as a marketer to be doing the right things—you don't want to be missing out. But at the same time, it would be foolish to do everything, because it means that we're not using our resources in the best way. So, for me, this is an everyday challenge. I always have to think, “What should we focus on? Are we focusing on the right things? Is this working? If it's not, maybe we should stop and focus on something else.”

When we create the OKRs, we make sure that every project that we're working on is related to a key result that we want to reach. There's always something to measure. Our projects and initiatives never last longer than two weeks. So you build it, then you measure it. 

What has been most effective and why?

The channel that we really want to focus on is our network itself. We’re always thinking about how we can make sure that people invite the maximum partners, and so on. So, initially, our growth was fully organic and it was quite successful. We started doing paid campaigns after several months. 

A lot of it is down to the product team, but in terms of marketing, it’s all about providing resources so that people know how to use the product; so that people understand how they can actually drive value out of it. It's especially important for a product that's a bit complex. So it's our role to give them all the resources they need to become power users. 

What initiatives have been unsuccessful and why?

We have a culture of testing, and we’ve done a lot of testing that showed us what direction we didn’t want to go. For example, about a year ago, we wanted to see how we could encourage people to invite even more partners. We thought creating a paid referral program was the best way to do this. Our idea: We would reward anybody who invited a partner by giving them a gift card. We were certain that this would be a success because it's easy to invite partners.

But it didn't work as planned. I think we overestimated the power of the reward that we were giving. We thought, “Who wouldn't want a $50 gift card?” But people don't have time; it's not necessarily that interesting for them to get that gift card. That was a learning experience for us. It's not just about rewarding people—you need to dig a bit deeper. Since then, we've looked into the reasons for our failure, talked to our audience, and found out what really mattered to them: a sense of recognition, of belonging, and of helping their community.

Anytime our efforts are unsuccessful, we analyze, we adjust, and we try again. We know that all efforts are not guaranteed to skyrocket, which is why we always start small and then scale. 

What new trends are you noticing?

I think product-led growth is definitely a trend. I sometimes think that it has become that keyword that everybody wants to throw around. But you really need to make sure it means something because product-led growth means that you're focusing everybody—the sales team, the marketing team, and so on—on the product. And it needs to be deeply wired into your company culture. And it's not that easy to go from, say, a sales growth model to a product-led growth model.

Referrals are definitely also something that's on every marketer’s mind right now. I feel like it's getting more and more important but nobody has really found a secret recipe yet. It's still something where people are trying different things—trying to understand what pushes a human being to do something. Also, account-based marketing is something that I hear about every day. 

But I don't really see myself as a follower of trends, because sometimes I'm very skeptical about what’s behind the trend. The bottom line is you need to do what's working for your persona.

How does content marketing fit into your strategy?

Content marketing is super important for us. We do have a paid acquisition strategy, but we don't believe it's the way we're going to win the game. We have a blog, plus we do webinars, white papers, and so on. Our content strategy is similar to our product strategy—the user experience is priority. Our approach to content, and everything we do, is this: Always put yourself in your audience's shoes. We ask: Why would they care? What value does this bring them? Is it digestable? Is the information actionable?

I think, right now, what we're noticing with content marketing is that it's becoming a competitive market in itself. Every company has begun to understand how important it is. We all talk about it. At the same time, it's not just about creating the content. I think it's about really understanding what your buyer persona is actually going to read. If you're just creating a blog that nobody's reading, then you're wasting your time. And it's not that easy to find the answer to that. You need to talk to them a lot; you need to measure your results a lot. Plus, when your content overlaps with the content of 10 or 100 other companies, how do you stand out?

And the other thing is community. We call ourselves the Collaborative Growth Platform, so it makes sense for us, even in terms of content, to be collaborating with partners. We've created a community called The Society for revenue leaders, which is free and open, and what we do with our community is what we champion: Collaborate. We create valuable connections for the members and create content with them that serves and educates the membership.

Connect and find out more

You can find Samia Moutawakkil on LinkedIn and get more information about Reveal on their website.

We hope you enjoyed this industry spotlight. You can learn more about our series of interviews with MarTech leaders on social media. Follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

MarTech Insights

Get new interviews by email

Learn from our conversations with up-and-coming marketing leaders, published weekly.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Please use trusted email providers like Gmail.