Since the start of the FINITE podcast in 2019, we’ve had inspiring B2B marketing practitioners across the technology industry discuss truly exciting topics and share their pearls of wisdom. From sales & marketing alignment and enablement, to ABM, personalisation, and the value of marketing theory.
For this episode, Alex sat down with Guillermo Murga, Director of Marketing at Anvyl. Anvyl are a really interesting B2B technology product that is effectively an intelligent supply chain platform, helping to streamline everything across the supply chain in terms of communication, workflow, automation, and production analytics. Anvyl really allows companies to really optimise their supply chain from order to delivery. Alex and Guillermo discussed scaling a marketing team for a startup, marketing mistakes, and software and tools to help you scale.
Listen to the podcast below, or find this podcast and our previous episodes here.
Full transcript Below
Hi Guillermo, thank you for joining me.
Thank you so much for having me.
About Guillermo and Anvyl
I’m looking forward to chatting with you today about scaling a marketing team. I know you’ve got lots of experience with different sized companies, which is going to be cool to explore. Why don’t you tell us a bit about your background and what you’ve worked on today.
Yeah, sounds great. My name is Guillermo Merga. Currently I’m the Director of Marketing at Anvyl. We are a supply chain software intelligent platform. But before that I actually started my career in advertising at the ad agencies. I used to work in consumer marketing, big budgets, and Super Bowl campaigns. But after that I kind of pivoted five years ago to start the #startuplife. It went to B2B SaaS, which was kind of a big change going from like consumer marketing to B2B, especially moving from big budgets to startup budgets, which you have to be very creative with that. So you have to do a lot of scaling, beaming, creative to make, I like to say if you have $1 in startup world, you have to make that into $100 somehow. And a lot of that has been creative thinking, a lot of automation, marketing analytics and making see what works, and then investing in those kinds of channels. So that’s a bit of a background. I’ve been in Anvyl for almost seven months. And before that I was at another startup for three and a half years. In my startup experience, I’ve always been the first marketing hire. So that’s been great. I like to go in there, fresh eyes, blank canvas and making my own and trying out different things. And especially for anyone listening, as you’re scaling you kind of have to test everything. And then once you find that formula, hit that sweet spot and then you just kind of heavily invest in it. But that’s how it isn’t. Like in marketing there’s no really clear answer. Every brand is different so you have to test different things. Once you kind of get into that, that’s how you can know.
I find the B2C B2B thing, really interesting cause I think there’s so much debate, in the UK at least, about can you go from B2C to B2B marketing? Like do you feel like you’ve taken a lot of stuff with you from your days in consumer marketing that actually really help you out now in B2B marketing?
Yeah, that’s a very good question. I have. So one of my first accounts, I was on a Toyota account. And when you’re on buying an automobile, that’s a very long journey. Nine months to twelve months. If you think about it.
Maybe strangely long for a B2C.
Yeah, so it’s very similar to B2B. You have consideration, ‘yeah. Let me try it’ ‘Let me get on a demo’ to actually doing the contract. So I tune a lot of my experience in B2B to that first automotive account that I had with consumer, because it is a big contract, like as a consumer you have a car somewhere between four to seven years, it’s a big investment, I might take a loan.. Very similar to SaaS in a way.
And I’ve seen multiple decision makers sometimes too.
Yeah, right. That’s like the dad, the mom.. So I tuned a lot to my experience working in automotive, consumer marketing. And it’s like a big journey, a consumer journey in a way.
I can imagine. Yeah. So tell me more about Anvyl, and the product, and what it does.
Yeah. So previous to my experience, I’ve only really been with MarTech in a way. So the supply chain is very new to me. I was easily very interested in it because supply chain, everything touches supply chain, especially in the current ecommerce world, direct to consumer brands. If your product is not on the shelves or is not delivered to your doorstep then you have a problem. And the supply chain touches everything. Even before marketing, imagine you have a great campaign, I want to buy this product, but wait, this product is not on shelves or in stock. Guess why? It goes back to the supply chain. So with Anvyl we’re trying to simplify that. We’re trying to build visibility into it. It is a software that anyone can use, very lightweight, pull your suppliers, your parts. In a way it’s like for people in sales, they have Salesforce. For people in accounting, they have QuickBooks. For people in marketing, they have HubSpot or Marketo and so forth. Supply chain people now have Anvyl and that’s what it is. It is software anyone can use and it is about transparency, automation, collaboration, and messaging. It’s basically the first thing a supply chain leader would use on the first day as they wake up in the morning. And then the last thing they see before they go home. And it builds ease to them. And also a sense of like, okay, I know my supply chain is operating at its full efficiency.
And have your customers been using other software before or is this kind of a new, are you almost creating a new category?
Yeah, no, great question. We’re industry leading, so a lot of supply chain people use spreadsheets, Excel, G sheets, email. It’s very decentralized. And what Anvyl is providing is a hub. So everything is there when you need it and if you’re on vacation, for example, your coworkers or even like your finance or marketing people like, ‘Oh yeah, my shipment is currently in the middle of the Pacific ocean’. And that’s exactly what we do. So we are coming there as kind of a category leading software.
What marketing looks like at Anvyl
Awesome. Tell me a bit about your day to day. Obviously you’re Director of Marketing, but tell us a bit about what marketing looks like here and what you do day-to-day.
You know, it’s very cliche but no day is alike. On Sunday nights I like to plan out my week in a way and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesdays are more like strategy meetings with sales, especially product and so forth. And as the week progresses I turn more creative in a way. So my Thursdays and Fridays are more about thinking about content, PR, outreach, new ideas. So no day is really alike. But I think as a marketer you have to think first, about strategy and then the actual tactics later on. So that’s how I plan my week.
It’s an interesting way of splitting it down cause I think prioritization is such a challenge, especially when a marketing team is small. And so unless you can, it sounds like you like to like segment your time and to clear windows cause I think the risk otherwise is that between email, Slack, HubSpot and Pardot and all the tools you’re using, you can just risk getting nothing done. You can just sit there looking at data and tools and bouncing between small tasks but not like moving the needle.
No, that’s exactly right. And I’m a big fan of putting on my calendar time to work on X and X so that people like kind of blocked off that time. And a lot of my creative thinking actually comes from passive time, when I’m walking to work or on the weekends. I feel as a marketer you have to, you’re always thinking and your work is not Monday to Friday. It’s pretty much 24/7 and you don’t have to be at the office. I think as a marketer you have to be during the work week it is about talking to other teams, product marketing, sales and so forth. But most of my creative thinking, my best ideas actually come out of the office and it’s always great to leave that time apart and so that you can always in a way think about what’s next. And it’s something that a lot of people don’t really think about. In a way I do more of my work outside of the office.
I’m sure a lot of people do these days. And what is the marketing function like? Are there others working on marketing with yourself within the business? Are you using agencies? Contractors?
So currently I’m a team of one, which happens a lot in a scaling startup. We do use some sort of agencies outside vendors. It’s very interesting because currently you have to always think about, if you do want to bring a like a full time employee, think about like do I have enough work for them? And also you have to build a plan for them. How can I set them up for success in a way. And in a way it’s like using contractors and our agencies go away as you’re scaling but then it’s also a great way to like building your internal team as well. Currently, as a team of one, I’m doing everything from events, content, email marketing, paid acquisition. And in a way I’m more of a marketing generalist, but as you scale you kind of find those points where like, ‘Oh if this channel is working for me’ maybe then I could get like a full time employee to work on just for example, a content producer or an event producer and so forth. So as an early stage startup you just have to kind of try everything and you have to be generous and then it’s fine to use outside vendors and so forth. But then once you find what’s working, it’s time to try to explore bringing that person in-house.
Timeline for a marketer coming into a startup
That makes sense. So let’s talk a bit more about this as a topic because we want to explore scaling marketing from very small teams. I understand that in most of your roles recently you’ve been kind of the first marketer as we’ve just talked about, like limited resources, team of one. Having to figure out what’s working and what’s not. Lots of testing and failure and learning. When you come into these different B2B tech companies, has it been after a certain point in their life cycle? Is is after a certain venture raise? Like where in the timeline has marketing opened up?
Yeah, so from my past experience I joined right around their series A, as you’re scaling and you’re getting kind of the funding, usually founders do the marketing themselves or they are using outside vendors. But the at the Series A point provides a great opportunity to really define a brand and see where you fit in the market. And that’s when you really want to come out and show your best messaging and then launch on these programs. So your Series A is underway. I like to use analogies, so its like your debutante, your bar mitzvah in a way. It’s like your quinceanera, whatever you want to call it, but it is like the perfect time for you to shine. And then that’s when you have to get a key marketing leader who can do everything, a generalist and then they’re not afraid to touch anything and they are able to toss it so forth.
So that’s kinda like that series A point is probably very critical for a brand and then as you’re scaling your product gets more sophisticated and so forth. It’s always okay to look back and change your message. You always have to make sure your messaging goes with the product itself. So that’s always good. Readjust and as a start up, your product is always moving and hopefully getting more functions and so forth and functionalities and marketing has to keep up with it. And that’s when you have to always reassess and it’s okay. You know, like your messaging today probably won’t be the same one in six months and that’s fine.
First step as a first marketer in a startup
Yeah. Gotta be comfortable with change. So what’s the first step been for you? Like I’m interested in when you come in, you mentioned earlier like blank canvas, clean slate. Where do you start? Like is it a case of talking to sales if there’s already a sales function, learning about the market, user research, do you invest the time in a big formal strategy document and spend the first couple of months just doing the strategy work?
Yeah, so my first week I like to talk to sales, product, engineering because they feel like everything is aligned and nobody wants a marketing silo. So everything that’s like my first thing is just doing interviews in a way user market researched within those departments. And then I like to do marketing themes and vision. And then from there I like to do tactics from under each kind of umbrella in a way, whether it be content, PR, paid events and so forth.
And I like to do deliverables and present those to the whole team and be like this is what I’m going to do in 30 days, 60 days, 90 days and so forth. And I want it to be very transparent so people know what I’m doing and what we’re doing to get to that brand vision. And especially from our business goals.
Interesting. I mean that’s something that’s actually much further reaching than just marketing almost. Cause when you start talking about vision, it’s almost like HR, it’s culture, it kind of defines the whole company to some extent. So it sounds like you’re really invested in getting the whole team.
Oh yeah. As a marketer I feel like one of our biggest brand assets are our own employees. So I have to get them ramped up about our product or vision and so forth so that they are selling it themselves. And I’m a proponent of social selling. So when we post something on LinkedIn, for example, as a brand, I encourage everyone to share themselves. And likewise, as I’m doing this podcast myself, I encourage our product person to do podcasts. Our HR person did a panel last week. We are all thought leaders and we want to be seen as the best in the industry. And that is what I’m trying to make all of our employees to be our brand leaders.
Processes necessary to scale marketing teams
Awesome. I want to understand a bit from your perspective how much you think how solid processes are, to really starting to scale marketing. So when I say process, I guess that could be anywhere from like a document that outlines points ‘one to five of how to do something’ through to a much more sophisticated setting up like marketing tech and tools and operations in order to start.
Because I think sometimes when there’s just a marketing team of one, you can always get away with being a bit disorganized and things can be stored all over the place and there’s no structure because it doesn’t really need to exist because no one else is working with you on it. Are you always kind of thinking ahead to like what happens if I hire a content person? Is it going to be easy for them to be onboarded and like is everything stored neatly and in one place and that kind of thing. Is that a key?
Yeah. So one of my main software marketing softwares is HubSpot. So I use that a lot and I automate a lot of things as well. So for example, if a lead comes in that’s sent to a Slack channel, it gets emailed to sales. So I set that all up because I don’t, to be honest, it saves me a lot of time myself and then I don’t get bothered, which is great. And then it’s just transparency too. So I think a lot of what the MarTech, especially now, there’s a lot of ways to automate and be super transparent. And then if somebody has a question, I have my dashboards. So I am actually ingesting all my data marketing data into Looker. Okay. So that’s a dashboard that’s available to everybody so they could see exactly how many leads came in, by what source, and how much we paid for them and everything is available to them. I’m very transparent and if they have suggestions, I’m open to it.
I feel like as a marketer you have to be open to a lot of things and maybe your best ideas is the engineering person next to you. You never know. So I think especially now with a lot of technology, automation, dashboard, digital analytics and setting it just all out, as a marketer you don’t have to hide anything. And if you do, then you’re doing something wrong.
That’s fair enough. Are there any mistakes you think you’ve made? Like when you’ve come into early stage companies, earlier on this must have been very new to you and I think every company is different. Different teams, different founders, but like what would you make sure you wouldn’t do again?
Yeah, I think especially with a lot of different technology nowadays, it’s okay to ask for help. What we know now in marketing probably will not be relevant in a few years and I like to be involved in a lot of like meetup groups, Slack channels for marketers, sharing ideas because it’s okay to ask for help, you know, it’s not expected for you to know everything in marketing, that’s impossible. And whoever is that person, I would love to meet you. But it’s just like, it’s okay to ask for help. And there’s marketers, like I personally, I’m not great in product marketing, but a part of marketing I can ask someone for help. They might not be good in events. I love events. So it’s just like sharing this information around. So it’s okay for us to ask for help. And that’s probably something I realize like if you are a marketer, it’s fine to not know everything, but you have to be open to learning and being able to, especially adopting new technologies, especially now that things are growing so fast.
I completely agree with you, but I think I come across so many marketers who maybe it’s cause they’re a bit more junior or they’re newer in their role. Maybe they’re in environments where the founder hasn’t quite stepped back or isn’t trusting of them yet. But I think that ability to test things and fail and be open to asking for help can sometimes be perceived as a weakness from other parts of the business. I completely agree with you that it’s not, but I think it takes a certain confidence from the person that’s the marketer to say like, look, we need some external help or we need a vendor that can consult on this for us or you know, I can’t do everything. But I think some companies, I see the founder is basically like ‘I’ve hired a marketing person like why can’t you do that?’ Like that’s your job, right? So have you got any kind of thoughts or tips for how to work around that?
Testing Instagram for B2B marketing
Yeah, it just feels like testing is a sign of weakness. It’s a sign that actually you’re smarter. Your marketing budget should not be a gamble. You should allocate your budget based on data and things that you showed that proves to be bringing results. And to do that, you have to test things. So if people are saying that that’s a sign of weakness. Now especially, as there’s always new platforms that are evolving. For example, I tested Instagram for B2B.
Okay, like B2B paid social ads?
Yeah, but you think Instagram consumer products. But Hey, actually people are finding our white papers on Instagram. But I wouldn’t have known it if I had not tested it. It’s a very small test. Thousand dollars, but the leads are coming through there. So there you go. So especially as new technology, new platforms, you always have to keep testing. I might even test radio next, who knows?
Yeah, yeah. I mean we’ve seen in the UK, some pretty niche B2B tech products, advertising on the radio and on the tube and things where you would think like how, where does the business case exist for that? But I mean, do you have these discussions with CEOs, founders in the business and say, we want to kind of gamble $1,000 on Instagram and they’re just like we trust you. That’s cool.
Yeah. So I kind of plant the idea in their head and then they’re like, Oh, that’s interesting. And then I bring the results later.
You’re able to back it up with numbers right?
Yeah, and then if the data shows, it’s like, yeah, let’s do more of that. So I plant the idea first, suggest my strategy and then from my small test I bring the results of the data. And if the results aren’t good, they’re not good. But if they’re great, lets invest in that.
And what about budgets? Cause obviously as you said at the start, like you’re trying to turn $1 into $100 pretty much.
That’s my trademark by the way.
Are you focused on trying to open up budgets as things progress and constantly going back and saying like look, this is the result, this is the impact. We can scale this further.
In a way I’m always trying to do more with less. So if for example, content in PR and events have worked really well for us versus paid acquisition and I’m not afraid to turn off pay channels to put more of that budget towards something that is giving us higher ROI than before.
So I would say that especially as a scaling startup, you always have to think about it as if I have this a hundred dollars in the bank, let me not touch it in a way. And I want to do something, what can I do for free? Like what can I do just by organic for example. Just like last night for example, we had an event here and instead of hiring a photographer, just asking internally, is anyone here a photographer? Got great assets, saved myself some money. So it’s amazing what you can do without any money. So as a trick I was actually doing this past week, I was like, I have to get 40 qualified leads with no money.
As a challenge to myself. For any marketers, try that and see. You’re going to create some really creative ideas. How do you get those leads without any money and then you’re going to create all these different outlets you never thought about. So that’s a challenge to you guys. Try that.
Importance of measurement and reporting in building trust and scaling marketing
We’ve talked a bit about measurement and reporting just now. Do you think that’s important in building trust and scaling the marketing team? And communicating the success of marketing. I mean you talked about looking and having dashboards and stuff. Is that something that you’ve just realized over the years that it’s just valuable to have and the transparency point I think that’s really interesting on that front because I think sometimes different businesses are like, what do marketing actually do? Right? And that can be like a question mark for others on the team. But it sounds like you’re basically just sharing your results with the whole office and they can see.
I’m not afraid to show any of my results. So yeah, I have a dashboard on Looker. I give access to anybody to HubSpot. Product have HubSpot, engineering have HubSpot, sales on HubSpot. They can see exactly everything that comes in. I will be honest like, ‘Hey, this didn’t really work well’ and so forth, but everything’s really transparent on my data. And then every Monday and Friday I look at all my analytics, pay media, HubSpot, Salesforce, Google analytics, and then that helps you plan the week. And then on Friday I do a recap too. Okay. So yeah, those are blocked in my calendar’s an hour of just analytics and data because I can’t suggest things without the data points behind it and I have it available for everybody. It’s transparent and when I have to build my case, I don’t really need more proof because it’s all there.
Starting to build out your marketing team
So we talked a little bit about team structures already I guess, but in the different places that you worked and looking ahead now, and where is the goal that you start building out the marketing team a bit more? Do you have a gut feel on like which roles you would bring into the marketing funnel first?
Yeah, so I would say I think as a startup you have to get like a marketing generalist who kind of do everything. And after that you focus, I would say a copywriter for content. I think content, especially as you’re evolving the brand and the messaging, and I feel like every brand needs to be their own Netflix in a way. They have to produce content constantly and it’s actually a very good low cost way to produce leads. So that will be looking for the next hire, like a copywriter, slash designer, do all those things. And then from there I would also do more of a kind of like a field marketer for events and so forth, especially in B2B, SaaS. Those are great for just like thought leadership and so forth. And then also from there, I think PR is a big component that people don’t really think about, but as a brand you always have to make sure you’re producing compelling content that gets place because you want to be seen as a thought leader, as an industry leading person. Like when people say, Oh, what is, let me think about supply chain help, we think about Anvyl now, so you have to get those connotations. A lot of that comes with good content and also getting good placed articles.
Yeah, that makes sense. I think the job description of your average marketer now you talk about a generalist can be huge. Right. And I sometimes almost want to cry when I see job descriptions on indeed and stuff where it’s like $30,000 salary in London. They want Salesforce experience, they want the ability to code and HTML and edit a website. They want creative skills, copy skills, events, skills. They would like. There’s so much that falls under that generalist marketing role potentially. I think early on you’re right that the more general marketers need it, but how do you get that sense of priority? Is it just about the testing and the learning that we talked about? Figuring out which channels are working and then investing in them more?
Yeah, I guess that goes back to your first week. It’s like you have to like talk to everybody, in every department and then you assess what we need first. So for example, is it new messaging? Is it a new website? Is it that you need just like a content stream of things? So that goes a lot with like as your first week or first kind of month you have to reassess and everything you need and then from there you fill in the gaps as you go. ‘Oh, we’re really strong in this’, but we actually need more help in that and that helps a lot.
Technology and tools to help you scale your marketing team
Are there other tools or technology that you use and we’ve talked about HubSpot, Salesforce, that whole kind of sales and marketing alignment piece sounds like you’re pretty good at with all the transparency and the data and stuff. But is there anything else that I guess really helps to scale or like when there’s only one of you things that help with more automation.
Yeah. So it’s great to use all the different platforms, but you know what’s better, making them talk to each other. So I use a lot of Zapier, which just talks to a lot of things. So for example, I integrate a lot of the Salesforce with Slack and so forth. And this automation has made my output four times as more because what I would do before I would literally do this everyday manual and then now, it’s just all these bots are working for me. So as a team of one, I feel like I actually have a team because all these bots are doing all these things for me that they don’t ask for health benefits, but it’s fine. So, yeah, that has helped me. It’s great to have technology, but make sure that your marketing tech stack talks to each other as well. That’s actually more important that people don’t think about.
Yeah, for sure. I’m always really passionate about the fact that it’s easy to buy all these expensive tools, but unless they’re set up properly and you’ve got the people and the skills and the processes to run them, it’s like buying a really expensive car and just leaving it on the driveway.
Yeah. Then it’s also important to realize how much you’re using it because SaaS is expensive. Some SaaS products are, and it’s okay to cut things off too. And always keep exploring too. There’s so many new products coming up already and like for example, I think salesforce is going to be probably a little dated soon. They’ll probably be a better salesforce later on. Maybe it’s HubSpot and then I don’t have to use salesforce, you know? So you have to be also at the top of everything, I also like to on Fridays my creative day, I like to call it, I like to research a lot of new products.
Well I guess the beauty of a SaaS model is that most of them have like a free subscription, right? So yeah, or like a 15 day trial or something.
Yeah. We do too by the way, if you guys are interested, let me know.
Sales and marketing alignment
To that point about like testing and learning and failing, it’s actually quite low risk a lot of the time, especially if it doesn’t need loads of integration and other people. What about on the sales side of things? So as I say, it sounds like you’ve got a pretty good relationship and you share a lot of open stuff.
Yeah, we’re attached to the hip, I like to say.
That’s good, do you share a desk or sit opposite each other, literally how close are you?
I wish I could show you guys, but we’re literally in this same row and I could just literally turn over my chair and I can talk to them. So we have a sales meeting Monday morning, 9:00 AM. And then on Fridays and then we reassess all the leads that came in and they gave me feedback. Like, ‘Hey, this wasn’t the best fit’, and then that helps me too. I feel like marketing and sales, in product, should all be aligned. And you know, I get suggestions from them too. It’s like, Hey, you know, people have been saying this and then I always like to tweak our collateral and sales decks to based on what the market is saying. Okay. I feel like every piece of content should be reevaluated every quarter basically. And if this is really helping SMBs, for example, let’s produce more content for them. And then I also like to segment things too. Like maybe this content is not for SMBs. This is more for enterprise and that’s when I align with sales to make sure that they’re saying the right message and putting this content in front of the exact same profiles that we want to match.
That’s awesome. Yeah, I think that sales and marketing relationships are so key. I think it sounds like, I don’t know. I always feel like there’s a little bit of luck involved in that. There’s a marketing team and a sales team that just understand each other and see eye to eye. There’s definitely some companies where like sales don’t believe that marketing needs to exist almost.
Yeah well, something new we’re trying at Anvyl is that we just hired our CRO, Chief Revenue Officer and we’re marketing sales and customer success are all one giant pot, so we’re all really just a big team.
I’ve seen that working really well. So that’s cool. I think I’m seeing, yeah, I’m definitely seeing the rise of the Chief Revenue Officer more and more. It seems to be, it makes sense, right? Yeah, it is like the definition of sales and marketing aligned.
So we’re all like basically a big happy family. I call them my cousins in a way. No, it’s a system that’s been kinda building up pace, but it’s working for us.
Perfect. Yeah, I think we’re going to see more and more of that. That’s super interesting. Well, thank you so much for your time. It’s been a pleasure, I think there’s lots of really practical tips and things in there, lots of experience. So I’m super grateful and, uh, yeah. Thanks again.
Thanks for listening. We’re super busy at the finite building, the best community possible for marketers working in the B2B technology sector to connect, share, and learn. Along with our podcast, we host a series of events here in London, so make sure you head to finite.community to subscribe and keep up to date with upcoming events.