17 Jul July 17, 2019 – AdKaddy Todd Furneaux, Gaggle AMP Glenn Gaudet and Summer Thriller Peter Houlahan
Todd Furneaux – CEO/co-founder of Ad Kaddy
Consumers actually want the ads, but they want them on their terms and in their context.
Todd Furneaux is the CEO/co-founder of Ad Kaddy. Todd spent years in product development, identifying and implementing products and processes to best understand and meet customer needs. This fueled Todd to develop a better way for brands to interact with their customers without resorting to interruptive advertising. The advertising itself isn’t the problem, it’s the interruption of advertising. So, he developed AdKaddy, a mobile apple created to help users keep their personal inboxes simple and free of brand clutter. It sorts emails into categories making it easy for people to overcome inbox overwhelm and stay up to date on the news from their favorite brands. It’s a win-win for both sides.
When you are starting out and don’t have anyone else, you as the founder need to get out there and really explain why people should get involved in your product.
Glenn Gaudet is the founder of the GaggleAMP Company. Glenn lead GaggleAMP in delivering value-add solutions that help amplify and analyze social media efforts within an organization’s marketing efforts. He wrote the book, Connection, Community & Conversation: Making Social Media Work for Business. His 20+ years of experience in marketing and growing companies has given him a lot to be thankful for. Glenn is passionate about sharing business growth insights with their clients and prospects. He also advises startups on how to bring their products to market, bootstrapping and increasing market influence.
Peter Houlahan is a freelance writer contributing to a wide range of publications. In his career as an emergency medical technician, he has written a number of articles related to his profession. He holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College. A native Southern Californian, Peter now lives in Fairfield County, Connecticut. He is the author of the book Norco ’80: The True Story of the Most Spectacular Bank Robbery in American History
Highlights from Glenn’s Interview
It’s a SAS solution, so it lives up in the cloud. It’s designed to help companies activate their employees to be part of their digital marketing efforts. Say you want to get your employees to retweet something, share a piece of content, engage with some influencers out there. There’s over 50 different activities you can have your employees do. The solution makes it super easy for the employees to do it, and then the marketing person gets to track the results of that activity.
We’re going to talk to you a little bit about what you’re trying to accomplish first. It might be the kind of thing where you want all 300,000 employees, or maybe you’re starting with the 3,000 that are all in the same building. It really comes down to what the overall marketing strategy of the organization is. What are you trying to amplify? What are you trying to get out there in terms of digital engagement? The approach with a company the size that you described would probably have some segmentation. Would you want everybody engaged in the same conversations? Maybe? Maybe not? It, again, depends on what your content strategy is, and what your overall marketing strategy is.
Take a step back and think about it more broadly than one individual campaign, because what you’re trying to do is, you’re trying to build momentum out there, you’re trying to build dialogue between your employees and their contacts, which are customers, which are prospects. And if all you’re asking them to do is tell people about this one new product, it’s probably going to be very short-lived. So instead, think about that as part of an overall broader campaign. Maybe we’re also talking about things like the impact that the company is having in the local communities that it serves. It could also be talking about things like, what is the day in the life of an employee to work there, which will help my recruiting efforts. I would probably want you to think more about broadening out the overall campaign view to a more broad talk about the marketing and communications strategy that I want for my entire company. Then think about the kinds of things I can have my employee do to amplify an impact, and what those goals are. Does that make sense?
First of all, I would say congratulations. Obviously, you are dominating your numbers, which is great. There’s going to be some things that you’re going to be wanting to talk to your financial folks about in terms of what kinds of conversations can you have. Given that you’re probably a public company, you’re regulated in terms of what you can do and what you can say, probably around the numbers we don’t want to hear.
You want to be clear about what you can and can’t do. But I think what you’re raising is the broader point, which is, how do I segment my employee groups so that I have certain people who might be subject matter experts in certain areas to engage with the folks they’re connected with, versus have the entire company do it. And so we would show you, within our platform, how you do that kind of segmentation. We’d also tell you, you’re thinking in the exact same way, because there are some things you may want the company broadly to do. But more often than not, you want to think about time specific segmentation of your employee groups that are connected to certain audiences, and then being able to deliver upon that with these smaller groups of people, rather than just saying, let’s have all 3,000 or 300,000 people do this.
The thing that you would probably want to think about is, do you have somebody on your staff who could actually manage this, and can put together a content strategy and a marketing strategy? If you’re struggling to do that, then amplifying what you’re struggling with probably doesn’t make sense. But if you’ve got that, you’ve got that ability. And if you’ve thought through that, then by all means, you can amplify it even with as little as 10 people.
There’s people who have used it for non-employees. If you look at a broader stakeholder view, you need to make sure that you know, whatever this organization is, there’s enough affinity in the organization. Rather than just being this mindless thing that automatically reshares everything that everybody puts out. That’s not what our product is designed for. What our product is designed for is to have somebody who’s driving it, that is in that marketing strategy mode, somebody who’s actually thinking about the specific things that the group of people that you’ve gotten on board should actually do. In the case of the Chamber of Commerce, you might have somebody who’s really trying to craft a story around, not just the members themselves, but the impact that the chamber is having, and then be able to highlight some of the various members and what they’re doing in that environment. That goes a lot further than if you just go in with this mindset that all I’m going to do is have everybody retweet everybody else and call it a day. Does that make sense?
Absolutely. So it was actually in 2010. My background is… the position I had most recently before this was being a Chief Marketing Officer. I spent over 25 years in various marketing roles, with the pinnacle being Chief Marketing Officer for a couple different companies. So I was in a job interview, and I was interviewing for another CMO position. I was talking to the CEO in that interview, and he was asking me about social media and how that impacts marketing. Now, let’s all go back in the Wayback Machine, because this is 2010. Social media did not have the influence that it does today. However, it was still growing even back then. And this particular company was competing against a tech company that was the 800 pound gorilla in the space. And they already had a significant presence on social media. So I said to the CEO, “How many employees do you have here?” And he said, “I have 1,000.” And I said, “What if we got some of these employees to be part of our social media activity, so that we can rise above the noise, and help jumpstart what we’re trying to do?” He thought it was a really great idea. I thought it was a great idea. I went home that night and looked for the product that could actually do what I thought we should do, and it didn’t exist, so I had a decision to make. Do I continue down the path and take a CMO job like this, or do I take this idea and create a company around it? I did the latter. I created a company around it.
I often wonder, would my decision have been different, had I been married? Would I have been able to take on the risk that I took on? Because when you start, and you know this from the conversations that you have all the time, when you start a company, you usually do not get a paycheck when you start.
I had a lot of passion; I envisioned what the product would look like, and I just kept moving and driving. I was still in the Boston area, and it’s a pretty vibrant community here, particularly with a lot of the venture funding that’s around. And the natural thing is when you go to all these startup events to learn how you do startups and all of this, it’s like, “Oh, you just go out, you talk to VCs, and you get a bunch of money. And that’s it.” Well, we took a little different path, because what we were able to do very quickly is get a minimally viable product out there, just to see whether or not there was any interest in this. And I was able to do that by tapping into people that I’ve worked with in the past. I said, “Listen, I don’t have any money, but I can pay you once I get the revenues going. We did so much of this without raising a penny. And then we moved into a mode of “Well, I should probably raise a few dollars, otherwise I’m going to have to mortgage my house. I have enough friends and family who were very interested in putting in some money. And it wasn’t much money at all, but it was just enough, so I didn’t have to mortgage my house. As a result, that gave us the ramp that we needed to be revenue positive. It was really exciting, because once we got to that point, we were able to grow organically through the revenue that we created, which I know is somewhat unique in the world, where people talk about venture money and private equity money. We actually built the business the old fashioned way for revenue.
We did something that’s called the promissory note, which is, we promised interest against that, and I’ve been able to pay off anybody that’s wanting to get paid off from the interest. I also still have some people that want to stay in, and we’re still collecting interest for them. So it’s really a win-win.
My co-founder and I both, between the two of us, we are 100% of the company. When we started, I needed to get people to try it, right? We’re inviting people into our beta program. So what I did is, I leveraged all of my contacts on LinkedIn, I went on Twitter and started tweeting at people, just seeing anybody who might be interested in trying it out and trying it out for free. We ended up getting a couple dozen companies involved in the early beta, and we kept about half of them on when we moved to a paid beta. Ultimately, were able to move most of them into full time clients going forward. It was a really interesting experience, because when you’re starting out, you don’t have anybody else. So you, as the founder, need to get out there and explain why people should get involved in your product. And I’ll tell you, that is something that I’ve always kept with me. And getting out there and connecting with customers is something I still do even now, almost nine years into the business, because that’s the only way I’m going to know what the market wants and how we position ourselves in that market.
I’ve spoken to some audiences around early stage and getting things going, and one of the things that I always say to founders is, if you ever get frustrated, if you ever get tired, if you ever get nervous about your business, get out there and sell, get out there, talk to the market, talk to customers, because in that you will rekindle the spark which started you down this path to begin with. It will help recharge you as much as it helps you charge up your sails.
If you want to learn more about what my company can do for you, go to gaggleamp.com/startups. It will have a bunch of resources on there for you to choose from, all no charge. If you want to get ahold of me personally, you can reach out to me on LinkedIn. Just mention that you heard me on this show. Or you can tweet at me; my Twitter is GlennG.