The Pavilion Podcast
The Pavilion Podcast

Episode · 1 month ago

Ep 243: Building Early Stage Marketing w/ Sara Croft

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Building Early Stage Marketing w/ Sara Croft

Part of the "Is This A Good Time?" series hosted by Brandon Barton.

Hello everyone, and welcome back to the pavilion podcast. I am your host, Brandon Barton. You're listening to is this a good time to show where I put pavilion members on the hot seat for fifteen minutes. We hear their incredible stories. Shows are out on Thursday, so hit subscribe and you will not miss hearing from our experts. Our guest today is Sarah Croft. She's a principle of growth marketing at innovate map, and we talk about building early stage marketing. This episode was brought to you by Clari. Drip, drip, drip. That is the sound of revenue leaking from Your Business, and it's your CEO's worst nightmare. Why? In top economic times, every drip of revenue counts. Revenue leak represents money you've earned that is somehow slipping through the cracks. Luckily, our friends of Clari have a purpose built revenue platform designed to stop revenue leak and drive revenue precision through the framework of Revenue Collaboration and governance. To learn more, visit CLARY DOT com. Slash drive. All right, let's see this episode one eighteen. Is this a good time? All right, everyone, I'm here with Sarah Craft. She is the principal growth marketing at innovate map out of Indianapolis. Sarah, is great to have you, happy to be here. Thank you so much. Well, let's jump right in. I'll meet no filler. Tell us a little bit about your card role and, uh, you know what you do at innovate map, and then bring us all the way back, you know, through your resume a bit and tell us some of the stops along the way. Sure. So I currently lead marketing at innovate map, which, for those of you who do not know, we're a digital product agency, which means we work with B two B SAS companies to help them build, design, deliver and grow their digital products and bring them to market. Uh, and I have the wonderful rule of being able to lead marketing for the company. Actually came in as the first marketer, which is very typical for me in my career path. I'm usually that person that comes in and sees like, what's happening in the company and where is marketing going to be able to take us and build the team and the strategy and the resources to be able to...

...play all that out. So I've done that for two times in my career now, most recently at Tech Point, which is a nonprofit accelerator for tech companies in Indiana, which is why I know so much about B two B SAS here in Indiana. There were ninety member companies. I worked with on a day to day basis to amplify their story and make sure that Indiana was getting known as a tech ecosystem. So also there did that all on my own, came in at Ground Zero and just be able to build the company and grow up from there. That's awesome. Describe for people what it is like maybe coming in with your level of experience as the first marketer. I mean I've been involved in a lot of like seed, in series a stage companies, um advisor, blah, Blah Blah, and it always seems like it's a hard thing to get somebody with the experience necessary, uh, yet who will also roll up their sleeves. Talk a little bit about like that paradox, but also like what are you? What are you doing in the first three months, you know, maybe then like six months in a year. Yeah, yeah, it is really challenging. It takes an immense amount of focus for that marketer because you're going to see a million problems or really opportunities of what you know marketing can do and solve for the business, and you're gonna have to be extremely dedicated and picking which ones are the biggest battles that we need to focus on right now. And that depends on you know, what stakeholders you're working with, it depends on your industry. DOES ANYTHING ACTUALLY EXIST? Like most times they come in and there's already maybe one or two people who are on the team, but they need someone to come in with strategy, to lead them and to terms what is it that we're actually going to do? I think it takes a healthy dose to someone who loves to dig their hands in and get things dirty. If you if you don't like to execute the work, you're not going to succeed in this particular role. A lot of my advice for, you know, seed and serious really precede and seed companies at this stage is understand, uh, you know, what your product market fit is as you're figuring that out, and then determine what is a marketer really going to be able to do to help you out...

...here? And if you, as a CEO or a founder, can't identify that, then you're really going to have a hard time of being able to support the right marketer in the right role. So if you just say, like, Hey, I'm just gonna bring in someone, they're going to do marketing for me and it's going to be great, well, Cross your fingers, because that's what you're gonna need to figure out if that's actually going to be successful for you. Interesting. And then talk about building out the team. Um, somebody puts you in place, had a marketing VP, marketing CMO, like doesn't really matter at that stage, right, it's just like your leading marketing effort. What do you see as like the hiring plan for the next two years? Right, like, I wonder. I think this is a challenge because it's like your constraint on money. Let's pretend it's that you're in a money constraint situation because, like, typically it is. What do you build out first from a team perspective? Sure, yeah, it really depends on what the company's goals are, honest with you. So I'll just give you an example, like an innovation map. I mean, we're not a B two B SAS company. We're an agency and I've been in nonprofits in all of my career, so that that path looks a little bit different. But as an example, when I came in we were a very localized, relationship driven strategy, and so when we decided that we wanted to hire somebody for New York and be able to grow that market and that audience, I needed somebody who's going to be relationship driven. I didn't need a digital marketer that was focused on Geo targeting and S C O. I needed somebody who is actually going to meet with people and have coffee with them, who would be energized and excited by that. So that's like a specific use case where I think you've really got to decide what are the goals of the business and what's the best path to get there. Uh, there's a really great book from Shiv, and I'm gonna Butcher his last name, Naranya Naranya Nan, who wrote this book called Post Acquisition Marketing, and he talks about like that first one hundred days of what success really looks like. And if you are not one reading that book and paying attention to everything he says in your M B, two B SAS you're you're totally missing out. But too if you're not hyper focused on that first one hundred days. So I hear you on, you know, two years of hiring plan, but it's that...

...first one hundred days that's really gonna matter. What's the strategy? What are you, as that first market are going to be able to do to execute it? And then where are your gaps, where you likely are going to need to bring other people along to support to you? So my teas and content marketing and social media, it's not an s e o. When I get to that point, I know that I'm going to need to be able to bring that person in. So it takes a lot of individual assessment. I think you need to be hyper aware of yourself as that first marketer and be super honest of like where are you a superstar and where do you need to bring in more reinforcements? Interesting, interesting, cool, and look, you know, we always talk about luck being something that's it's a part of anyone's career that accompanies the hard work. I wonder, throughout your time you know, have there been any instances? I mean it's it almost seems like it's interesting that you've gotten out of the nonprofit game. So I kind of want to wonder about that. But like, where is luck influence kind of your success. You know, I have a pretty deep network here in Indianapolis. I've stayed here my entire professional career and I gotta stay networking it. You know, at this point it feels like luck at the when opportunities come to me and I'm like they just thought out of me out of thin air. No, it's not. It's been fifteen years of laying groundwork, of networking where that's really happened, and I'll give you an example of where it truly was. Look, so I graduated with an art history degree. I'm not I'm not a marketer by trade. I didn't have a business degree and I just decided at the end of school. I was like I don't want to go to Grad School, but I went and got an internship at a museum here in Indianapolis and I did that for two days a week. I needed another internship, so I went to this website. I kid you not. It was called smaller Indiana dot com, like that's the name of a smaller Indiana dot com. This was two thousand nine. I don't even know how I found this website. I made a little profile of myself and I basically just put out a post and said Hey, I'm an Indian, I'm looking for an internship, and someone at that nonprofit that eventually offered me a full time job had contacted me for an intern ship and then I ended up...

...staying at this nonprofit for six years. I mean, to me that's pure luck. Like who's going to this website to look for talent? It just had to have been a cataclysm of like lucky opportunities that made that work out for me. But I kid you know, there's been many moments like that throughout my career where I feel very blessed. Yeah, I mean it sounds like it like the you know, who would have known that that opportunity would have led to a full time job, led to the networking that it did? Was it always a plan for you to stay in Indianapolis? I mean you must love it there, clearly, but like, was that when you were in your twenties? Let's say? You might still be sure, Um, you know, is that? Is that like the Post Grad I want to be in any forever and and because, you know, you've obviously represented the brand of Indianapolis for a while, you know, via visit, and I mean you have to embody it and love it. So I'm just curious. Yeah, yeah, well, when you if you don't familiar with Tarahood, Indian it's a fairly small town. So when you go from sixty people in a small on town to about one point five million, it feels like a jump. It feels like a bit of a leaf at that point. Um, you know, it does kind of go back to look, every opportunity has really been placed in front of me and granted, I'm sure I worked my butt off to be able to get there and prove that I was worthy of that. But so many opportunities, because India is so close knit, they just kept coming at me. So why would I go look elsewhere when there's five things in my inbox that are like Sarah joined this committee and be able to represent the smarts of marketing in Indianapolis and and build the NBA All Star brand for four well, heck yeah, I'll stay for that. So you know, Indianapolis, we are a tight knit business community. I wouldn't say everybody knows everybody Um, but it's really, really Um, just close. We we do know each other fairly well. So I don't know. You see me in New York a little bit. I mean that's how we met and now that we have this New York office, I'm spending more at time out there and I thought, G I wonder what it would look like to to leave that New York office. But also I have so much...

...to do here. We'll just see what hits me first. I love that. That's great, very cool. Look, you know, as a as a you know, five star World Class Marketer as you are, I'm sure you have some tactics to to to give to us. Tell us you know either one or two tactics that have worked for you that you think people should be kind of using or they're not paying enough attention to. Sure, yeah, you know it's this hit me, Um, a couple of weeks ago when the growth leaders that innovate maps of sales, marketing and client success, we all got together and we had a quick, you know, focused day where we just realized how misaligned we truly are. And I mean not at a foundational level, but what are our priorities right now? Where are we going? What do we need to be doing? Each of us have been growing our own teams. You get focused on your day to day work. It gets really hard to be able to get that bird's eye view of what's happening in the company and even what your sales leaders is focused on, what your client success leader is focused on, making sure you have same goals and priorities, and so it's it's kind of a common um tactic to share, but just really making sure that you're focusing on that alignment and communication is important and I'll tell you, brandon, especially right now with how much has changed in this market landscape. I mean you and I sat in a room and listened to Sam Jacob's talk about job numbers in January compared to May and how different they are like. If you think that the way your businesses operating today is the way that it was operating in January, you're simply not paying attention. And so there's change happening. Just get aligned. Just get aligned and just have that conversation. Don't skip over it. It's extremely important, uh, and make time for it. Love that. Love that. Any key positions you're hiring? For sure? Sure, well, it looks like we'll be expanding into some new markets here again soon. New York is just not enough for us. We've got to look at other potential places to go back to that growth marketer role. Um, someone who's going to come in boots on the ground, almost a street team approach to a city. UH, looking at maybe putting somebody in Cincinnati or Louisville, kind of like that area.

That's something that always focused on brandon. Creative marketers, people who can think about performance marketing but also think about the fun, the Cura, curiosity, the campaigns that get you excited and get interest. Definitely have that on the roster here soon. I love that. Great and and and those are the specific places, you know, whatever, Louis, Louisville, Cincinnati, so forth. Yeah, so everybody starts out here in the India Office for a couple of months and then we let them fly out into whatever those markets are there. It's pretty cool. Yea. Who wants to go visit any for a while and then go to go back somewhere else? That's right, you've got it. Give some shout outs. Who you know? Who Do you who do you find inspiration from when it comes to content they're putting out? Or so Jake Butler on Linkedin is someone that you should keep an eye on because he's got his be on. Who the startups are and the founders that are coming out of the Midwest that you just simply don't know about yet. So if that's something that you're paying attention to, especially if there's any vcs on the all definitely be following jake. I think he's got a lot of great information that people should be paying attention to. Otherwise it like the higher level. I don't know if you all are listening to the all in podcast, but if you're not, you are seriously missing out and I am like late to the game. I feel like I listened to every episode at this point. But I mean you're you're talking to four individuals who kind of came out of the tech bubble burst of the early two thousand's. They know what they're talking about and if you're not paying attention to this, you are missing out on some of the smartest Intel on tech and stass right. Yeah, it's so funny. I listened to all them and I find some some of them, you know, they just think, uh, like way with a way further horizon than I think, and it's like and the this, and then if this, and then I'm like wait, that's true, because now n f t s are going to be not just some piece of art, but it's going to be everything. It's gonna Lock my door one day, like why, you know, and and and I don't know. For me, I do. I also love that podcast and find it inspiring cool.

I think that's the first time somebody's brought that up here, which is surprising. So really, yeah, Kudos to you, because it's it's it's killer and it's entering. It's frankly, entertaining. I love when they fight. It is I really enjoy it and there is definitely a fight going down right now and I might be listening mostly to hear how that's going to end, but it's a good one. It's a good one. Cool, and I noticed that you were a food writer in your past, you know, doing recipes and so forth. So I'm really curious for you, uh, and I almost I'm gonna I almost want to pigeonhole you into giving us someplace in Indie, since you know it so well. So when we visit you in Indie, give us a sleeper hit restaurant that we need to know and and go to ANA. Yeah, shout out to Eddie Som he's an entrepreneur behind uh, probably about ten different restaurants in town, Barbecue. He's got a brewery called Big Lug and he's the son of a of a family of restaurants tours in Indiana and he's kind of taken the family style restaurant chain and turn it into something new. Uh Is. He's like a twenty six year old entrepreneur. That's so shout out to Asath. You can't go wrong if you go to any of his restaurants and they're located all throughout the city. Uh and you'll have just a great experience. So I love that. Well, we there's so much going on in indy. Um, it's it's one of the to me, like the up and coming spots for tech, for for intelligent people who understand SAS like. Seems like there's a little bit of a marketing hub there with all the names that that we we you know, people have spoken about I won't name them, but you all know the names and Um and I love it. So so, you know, excited to follow along as you continue to grow and then hope to get to New York more often. Absolutely, I'll be there as often as I can. Cool. Thanks Sarah, thanks brandon. All right, that's our show. Thank you so much for listening. If you love the show, please rate and review in the apple podcast for spotify APP, send it to some friends and make sure to hit subscribe. This episode was brought to you by Clari, the only enterprise system that's purpose built to run revenue. Clarie's revenue platform helps...

...identify and stop Revenue League so you can achieve revenue precision predictably end repeatedly. To learn more, visit CLARY C L A R I dot Com. I had so much fun to I hope you did too. Now get out and crushing numbers.

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