Today I'm chatting with VP of Marketing, Amrita Mathur about how she grew Superside by $8m in the first year.
When Amrita Mathur joined Superside as their first marketing hire in 2019 there was no product, no platform and no recurring revenue. No stranger to being called in when companies are at a strategic inflection point with their growth strategy, she did what she’s spent a career in B2B marketing learning how to do: implemented a marketing-led growth strategy that translated into $8 million in subscription revenue in the first year and 400% year-over-year growth since then. Now as VP of Marketing, her team is revolutionizing design at scale for ambitious brands like Amazon, Meta, Shopify and Coinbase.
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Suzanne Chadwick 0:00
Hey, lovely, welcome back to the podcast. Amazing to have you here. Today we're doing something a little bit different. I am interviewing Amrita Mithila, who is the VP of Marketing for a company called suicide. I actually used to work with suicide when I was in the brand agency in my corporate life. And I found their business models super interesting. And so I wanted to hear her story. And as I will share a little bit later as well, I think it's really important for us to be able to hear lots of different voices in the business space. One of the things that I have shared before is that in order to stand out, one of the things I love to look at is how other businesses in other industries who do things completely different to what I do, what they're doing, what they're thinking how they're working. Because when we can learn from other businesses, it can inspire us to think in new ways to do things a little bit differently as well. And so I think it's really important for me to bring different voices to you, to inspire you to think differently about how you can stand out so let me introduce you. When Amrita third joined Supersite as their first marketing hire in 2019, which wasn't that long ago, there was no product, no platform, no reoccurring revenue, no stranger to being called in when companies are at a strategic inflection point. With their growth strategy. She did what she spent a career in b2b marketing, learning how to do implemented a marketing lead growth strategy that translated into $8 million in subscription revenue in the first year and 800%. Year over year growth since then, I reckon we could probably learn a thing or two No, yeah. Now is the VP of marketing. Her team is revolutionizing design at scale for ambitious brands like Amazon, meta Shopify, and coin base. So I'm excited to share this interview with you. Now, before we dive in. I also want to remind you that if you are here in Australia, and you do want to come to magnetic mastery on the 23rd of November, that now is the time to get in and grab your tickets. It's going to be an incredible day focused on you what you're about how you bring your magnetic mastery to life through your message through listening more to yourself, trusting yourself more to create an aligned business. So check out all the details at Sue's chadwick.com. Forward slash m m for magnetic mastery, and come and join us. But listen, without further ado, let's dive into this week's episode. I'm ready to welcome to the brandbuilders love podcast.
Anrita Mathur 3:23
Thank you for having me. My pleasure. My pleasure.
Suzanne Chadwick 3:26
I have to say that when the email came to me about interviewing you, I did have a flashback because I used to run a brand agency in a corporate and we used to use supersize. And so we did.
Anrita Mathur 3:45
Oh my gosh, why? Why? Why? Why did you say that before? That's crazy. Oh, yeah.
Suzanne Chadwick 3:52
I was like, I know that business. I know that because we use that business. That was in my previous that was in my previous life. But when I saw what you've done, which obviously I've shared with my audience already about growing a subscription based business from zero to 8 million. I was just like, let's have a chat. I want to know all the things. And I want to know what you know, and I'm sure my audience want to know what you know, as well. So, before we do dive into all the marketing questions, I'd love to know a little bit about you like where, where you're from where you're living. How did you end up at superside?
Anrita Mathur 4:30
Yeah, it's all very uninteresting, but I live in. I live in Toronto, Canada, which is a great city. I think we rank maybe after Melbourne on the one of the nicest cities to live in. I think it's like Barcelona, Melbourne, Toronto. I think that's sort of the general amazing city. Yeah, three amazing cities. So yeah, we're like Sister Cities in that way. But yeah, I don't live in an amazing city. I love it here. It's summer. Summertime right now. It's like 35 degrees outside. We're all melting and I have actually lived here for almost 20 years. But I grew up in India. And my dad was in the military. So we moved around a lot. Like I never really had roots anywhere else. Sometimes people ask me like, we're in India you from? And it's like, I have no answers. Like, I'm not really from anywhere. Like, I mean, do you want to when my grandparents live? I'm not sure. Really? Yeah. So that's my, that's sort of like, like, where I've sort of lived. And I've been in tech my whole life. I've been in marketing my whole life. I love marketing. Marketing has a bad reputation. Sometimes I feel because I think a lot of people conflate marketing and sales and support and advertising. And it's all just like this one big jumble. But like, I think marketing, particularly in tech is like extremely well defined. And I love that. And I love the guardrails that sort of come with that. And particularly if you're used to working for, you know, perhaps venture backed companies or whatnot, even if it's a small business or a large business, that also comes with its own set of guardrails. So yeah, I've just done that for a long time. I love that. So did you study marketing at university? Oh, gosh, no. And I hear I don't know if this is actually true around the world. But I've heard it could be a myth. But I've heard that some of the best marketers actually don't have a marketing educational background at all. I mean, I did computer science. So that's how you ended up in tech. Sort of, but it was just tance honestly, like, so much life is one of those things where you just, you know, you can plan all you want, but things just happen. And yeah, like, I'm very much like, you know, laid back and go with the flow, I would like to explore and was like, oh, yeah, this seems interesting. Let me try that. And I'm always trying to, like, go after the joy first, before, you know, being super intentional and planned about things that swimmin after my eyes.
Suzanne Chadwick 6:57
Yeah. Yeah. And so how did you end up in Toronto? And how did you end up with supersie?
Anrita Mathur 7:06
Yeah, so I moved to Toronto a long time ago, you know, the whole went through the whole immigration process, etc, just wanted to try something different. And I was young, and wanted to get away from my parents a little bit. So that was helpful. But suicide is, is a very interesting company. And probably unlike anything else I've done, because it's not classic Tech, I mean, just for context, for those who are listening Supersite. It's a design company that's built an amazing, creative subscription service. So normally, a typical creative agency is like, Okay, here's the, here's the stuff that we do, you can engage with us on a project, or two, or three, or maybe there's a retainer relationship. But we've productize that to such a degree that we've got these like very stringent subscription packages that people can subscribe to. And we do that and only that and nothing else. So it's extremely productize. That's our claim to fame, or at least, this renditions. And then the second thing we've done, which really creates a lot of scalability and efficiency, and cost effectiveness is we built our own underlying design ops platform that powers all of this stuff. So the most simple, miniscule things that take agencies time, like quoting on a project, how do you do an estimate? How do you triage and send it to the right person inside the company to handle the platform takes care of all of that. So it's, it's like, literally, for a customer, you go in on a computer, you say, oh, I need whatever, I need 57 versions of this Facebook ad, and like I needed in two days, and it's like, no problem. And then two days, it will be the first draft in your inbox. So like, it's that simple. Like, we've tried to create a very frictionless, hassle free sort of environment. So that's the that's the context. And so why I say it's unlike any other tech companies, because it's it's still mostly services. It's a People Powered business. We've got this tech platform, but we don't actually sell the tech, we sell the service. And the tech is for our own use and our customers use. And we've thought about, like, should we monetize that separately and whatnot, but there's, I think we we fear cannibalization. So our strategy is to, to, like, just use it for to power our own business for the moment, at least. Yeah. Yeah. And I ended up here, because I was at a point in my life where to be fully honest, I was looking for a company that was two things. One, kind, like I had this word in my head. I wanted to work for a true meritocratic kind, truth seeking organization. And supersites founders, actually all Scandinavian, they're all Norwegian, three co founders and it says a lot. Scandi culture is yeah, very like blind and sort of truth seeking and that has just permeated through the Oregon and I love that. Like, I think there's really like when people show up to meetings, or we're trying to make a big decision, and there's all these, like, you think there's all these like opinions and egos in the room? I'd say 99% of our staff is extremely like, not like, there's just there's there's no self, it's very much about the idea. So they've hired very well. And I love the culture of the company. And they're very kind company. I mean, I've gone through some trauma in the last couple of years. And man, my boss, like just like, showed up. That's rare. So amazing. Yeah. So I was looking for that. And the second thing I was looking for is I wanted to be on the ground floor of a company. So when the recruiter who contacted me said, Okay, we have like this little thing built here, but it's not quite right. And we're thinking of rebranding, and we launched this whole thing. And would you want to join that? And I was like, that's exactly what I'm looking for, like, just like, full like, literally from scratch, like, how do you like how do you take this kernel of like, an MVP that you've proven? And how do you build that into something and something bigger? That has wings, and I knew there's a 5050 chance it's goin g to bomb? But I still took that plunge? So where had you come from? Like, what were you doing when that offer came through, I was at another tech company. This was they were in the educational technology space. So we used to sell to universities, schools, professors directly, we had a number of different products, and built like a marketplace for them. I had launched like one of their big products and was building that second sort of arm of that business. And I was leading the dimension and growth team there. And in my head, I also knew actually, one additional thing that my next role should probably be more like, like, I was still reporting to a CMO. But I wanted to be the head of marketing. So I was I was like, I'm ready to do this. I've done this for like, a long time. And I'm ready to do this. So yeah, it was just like Check, check, check. Right? Does all the all the boxes. Yeah. So good. And so when you got there, what was there? So what was there was a company called Conscious k o en su s. waiver. We were with you at that time, and then you rebranded to suicide. Yeah, gotcha. Cool. Yeah. So it was called contest, no one could spell it, no one could find us our own customers couldn't find us. It was a very much like a for have a rudimentary term for like we used to call it like, it's almost like a pay as you go business. So if you had a single design project that you wanted to get done, we were building a service that could get that done, the challenge with that kind of business is you don't have the time to get to know your customers business and care about their goals and their objectives. So it was like very transactional. And I think we suffered from a lot of issues, including retention, quality issues, customers not being happy, just like, you know, unpredictable revenue model, etc, etc. And you're basically like hanging on by a thread every single month, because you're just like, Okay, I had 100 customers this month. Now I have 150. But those like those previous customers haven't come back, because they have no need for us. And maybe they'll come back three months from now, but I have no way of knowing. So it's just this like horrible model, no predictability, no forecasting, etc. But what was there, the good part was that there was a simple version of the design ops platform that had been built. And we knew that that had something there was something there. We also knew that a lot of our customers did want to use us more long term and had the design volume and cadence that that needed that support. We didn't have a service that could support that at that time. But we knew we had these customers and we knew that these customers loved us. I don't know if I can actually name them. But a really big helped healthcare pharma company, massive company was one of our concepts, customers that's still with us today, and is like one of our top 10 customers. So those were like the early Inklings and the founders knew that there was something there. So they had already made the decision before they even brought me on, that they're going to try to move to a subscription model that they're going to have to beef up the actual service and they're absolutely going to have to hire a crack engineering team to build this amazing design ops platform. And they had already decided to rebrand not they didn't know what it was going to be going forward, but they just in their head. They knew we can't be conscious anymore. So So we did the rebrand. Yeah, I mean, I lead that with, with the with the help of a bunch of people, of course. But yeah, first day on the job, my boss was like, Okay, here's the drill, and we're we should be rebrand. Doing, think about a great name, go find the.com. And he was very hell bent on like the.com, he was like, we're not going to do a.io or.co or dot whatever it is it has to be a.com. And then, you know, we really want to move to a subscription model. So let's lay all the foundations for that. So So when they say put aside come from, there's so much to unpack there. Oh, gosh, so the name. So I would say like, if you just think about a rebrand in general, not every company is going to have this opportunity, right. And I always like to say, sometimes there's a lot of value in your current brand, even though it might be like a crappy name. But maybe you have a big enough customer base, maybe it's sticky enough that even if it doesn't quite work in this day and age, it's sticky enough that you shouldn't shed that. There's actually a lot of companies that I've worked for where the product name, like their main core product is what customers identify with. And I've actually suggested you take your product name and make that your company name. Anywho. That's a tangent. So that's alright. We can talk rebranding all day. So Right. Yeah. I love it. So interesting. Yeah. So yeah, the three things I thought about is like one part is the name. The second part is the visual identity. And I had a, I had a couple of very firm ideas, and I'll come back to that. And the third part was, essentially, like, let's have a really solid hypothesis for who our target audience even is, which is obviously our current customers or conscious customers, we knew most likely wouldn't be the future companies. We knew that we knew that that's probably not the case, why we primarily ended up serving small to medium businesses, sometimes one single person inside a really large enterprise. Org. But off the majority of the customers were small, some medium businesses, and they just didn't have the velocity. And I think they were in. They were at a stage in their growth where it didn't seem like they would really ever get to that velocity in the you know, in the next at least three to five years. Perhaps there were more lifestyle businesses, perhaps they were and nothing wrong with that, right? Like more, like, if you can run a $10 million, one person shot like, that's brilliant. Like that's, that could not be better, but you don't need to change that it's not broken. So So yeah, we had audited our customer base and realize that they're not the majority of them would probably not be future subscription customers. So we had, the first thing I did is come up with a great hypothesis for who our customers could be like, who are they? What sectors could they be? What are the specific use cases where a subscription would be warranted? We knew that volume has to do with like, to fulfill the promise of scale, you have to have that desire. And that and having been in marketing myself, like I could imagine a few cases where that would be necessary. So I came up with the hypothesis, there's, I knew that there's a few types of marketing people and a few types of creative people, that would be great buyer personas for us. And I had a hypothesis for the industry that we would do well with, I knew, for example, we would probably not do well, with the big consumer goods, companies like Coca Cola, because I know their planning cycles are like crazy long. If they're launching vitamin water in Brazil, they've decided that two years ago, like you know, they've decided that so long ago that for us to infiltrate that and be part of our process is going to be next to impossible. So through the process of elimination, I knew these are the industries that I wouldn't want to go after. So came up with that hypothesis, interviewed a ton of people, like anybody that I could get my hands on that kind of roughly fit that and reviewed them. I think they did something like 57 interviews in the first month or so. And then just to understand their design needs, exactly, just understand their design workflow, almost like what how does it come up? What do you do when you have that need? Do you go to your design team? Do you have a design team? Is your design team centralized? Or you know, some companies operate where there's design people spread throughout the org? So what does that look like? Is there some normalcy between certain industries we found for example, most tech companies operate the same way. They always have a centralized design team. Sometimes they have two teams, one inside product, one design marketing, and they had their division of responsibilities properly, split etc. Anyway, so we figured that out, but Supersite the name, I knew that the name had to be killer, and I knew that it had to be something that would differentiate us from agencies because we ran into this problem, and we, I knew we would run into this problem where we would either be mistaken for a marketplace. And then you have to be like, no, no, we hire all our creators, and they, they're on our staff. And then we could, of course, also be mistaken for an agency, because truth be told, if you just strip, the tech and all of that stuff away, you're still offering a service just like an agency does. And I actually like to give the Uber analogy, you know, when Uber first started out, they used to call themselves Uber taxi, because they needed to give somebody like that frame of reference. And then eventually, they dropped the taxi when people realized, oh, yeah, it can get you from point A to point B, but it's not really a classic taxi service. So we're in that same spot where we're sort of like an agency. But we've completely changed the model on how that's operated. And how that creates efficiency, but it's it's so underneath the hood, that it may not be apparent to customers or to our market. So I knew that the name had to be killer, I knew that it had to be differentiated from agencies. So we, our our process was we kind of started hunting for a name, first, and the visual identity, we started thinking about it, but that we decided that that would come second. And we hope man that was like rounds and rounds and spreadsheets and spreadsheets with rows and rows of names. But though the one thing we all agreed on the we had a small group of, I think five people that worked on the name together, the one thing that we all agreed on was, what we were trying to do was had to be like magical and almost like fantastical like those words kept coming back over and over. Like it had to be magical. It had to be like out of this world like very fantastical. And I think someone at some point said had to be super like it's such a super like such a it's a very European thing to say actually, like Americans maybe don't say this much. But yeah, someone said like, this is such as Super Service. And we were like, oh, there's something there. And then we got introduced to this guy. I can't remember his name, who actually turned out to be the guy who had named Dasani the water that Coca Cola ended up buying. Anyway, he he came up with the name Dasani. He got introduced to us. And then we just had like, a brainstorm session with him. And I and I said to him, like, we like this word, super. It isn't. The name doesn't have to have the word super in it. But I would love that if possible. And we were riffing on Super something super this super, super, whatever. And then he just I think said, like, so you work alongside your customers, you're like, really? Kind of like, part of their team. And we were like, oh, yeah, we work alongside and we're super. That's super sad. I love that's literally what it was. And we just we just knew when he said that allowed, we just knew that was the name.
Suzanne Chadwick 23:07
Yeah, that's good. I think you've just got to go through even though it can feel painful and long and laborious. I just think you've got to go through that process sometimes. But yeah, it's like really does stand out. It's memorable as well. Thank you. Yeah, I think so. And I think that I think concepts, I'm just gonna say,
Anrita Mathur 23:25
Oh, my God. 100 times better that conscious. Yeah, it's memorable. And we knew that there was also other companies that had the name super in it that was like supreme, there was this other big company that had come out called superhuman that did that challenge Gmail and whatnot. So I was like, oh, it's possible that this could end up, you know, sounding a bit generic and ubiquitous, you know, five years from now. So we knew that the visual identity also had to stand out and had to really pull that super thread a lot more. Yeah. So that's where we started that process. And, yeah, and like one of the, I guess that's the visual identity is a big part of your brand. And, you know, we have evolved certainly over the last three years. But the core has remained the same. We always knew what like what what we want to stand for. And that tonally, we always wanted to be knowledgeable, but extremely friendly. And we always knew that we had to constantly keep pedaling this idea of like continuity, and reliability, and flexibility and all of the things that Supersite does really well. And so how does, how did those words actually translate to the visuals and how you impart that feeling that was super important to us. So everything we do like homepage, down to like an ebook or a guide or a webinar. You'll always see the same sort of design elements and it's always trying to like show like momentum and continuity and and all that stuff, reinforcing it. Yeah, absolutely.
Suzanne Chadwick 24:53
So good. Now obviously, you are a marketing guru for taking a business like this Let's go with that, shall we? I think that's a pretty good time. Yeah, let's go with guru better than ninja. It's not going there. And so when you got in what was their revenue level? Obviously they were changing now to a subscription based model. Yeah. And so did they? Did they have any customers? Did you have any customers that came across at the time that you already had? Like?
Anrita Mathur 25:26
Yeah, we had we had a few. So the one that I mentioned earlier in this podcast, who and who's still one of our top 10 customers, health care company. Yeah. And there was like a couple more. There was actually, ironically, a couple of really mega agencies that loved us. Who would you like this secret weapon that they don't tell anybody about? Yeah, yeah, exactly. We have, like, stopped servicing agencies for a variety of reasons. Firstly, feels apathetic and Te theoretical to who we are. But also, it's just, I mean, can I say, I don't know if I can say the word shit, but it was a shitshow. Yes, it was just a short show, because they have all these brands that they work with. And then they send all that through, and it's all convoluted, and you don't really understand what the goals are the usual stuff. So you know, kind of said, that's not gonna work. But yeah, absolutely. Like, bunch of customers came through, but most of them Yeah, I would say like, yeah, I don't think we have almost any, except for like, the couple that I can think of that are from that time.
Suzanne Chadwick 26:32
Yeah. And so how did you enter? How did you then grow? Like, what was your strategy now? So you've named the business? You've made a decision on the subscription model? Yeah. How did you go into that growth mode with the marketing that you were doing?
Anrita Mathur 26:47
Yeah. So I saw because we had a really good hypothesis. And we tested it, and we're on a few people. And we had a couple of customers that were willing to sign on and be like the guinea pigs, essentially, in our beta customers for the subscription program. That gave us a lot of hope, right, so that those people that were like, okay, cool, let's do this. We had made money through the concept days through this Pay As You Go model. So we had money in the bank, we had made like a million $2 million. But we and we had raised a small round, I think we'd raised 3.5 million, right before I had joined. So we had a little bit of that in the bank as well. And we had good run rate, and we were willing to invest in marketing and all of that stuff. So I got a pretty healthy I would say like, a lot of leeway, and a healthy enough budget from from the founders. And they said, We know that this can be successful. They were actually like, I use the word delusional, politely. But we were all delusional. They were all delusional, like we were so gung ho, and we were so positive, and we were certain that this was going to work. Like we just knew it in our bones, it was going to work. So I think that delusional nature kind of propelled us even further, because like, we just didn't even think about backing down. So yeah, so we set up all of those foundations, we created a website, obviously. And we said, Okay, what is the best? The first thing I sat is? How do we actually get people in the door? And what is the process for selling them on it? So let's say Coca Cola, whoever's interested? Now what, like, how do I capture that lead? Where did they go? Do? Is there a sales team, we had no sales, you had nothing? So we said, okay, great, we're gonna follow this, like super efficient inbound model. As a huge subscriber of that, we're going to do all of the right things to like, attract people to us. So we're going to cast this big net and catch all types of fish, maybe we'll catch some tuna, maybe we'll catch some whales. Often we'll have the sardines, whatever, right? So we're gonna catch all this fish will sift through that. And anyone that's like, Yep, I'm ready to talk to sales, we will then pass on to sales. And we had our we had our VP of sales at the time, that I think he was maybe like the only I think by then he had hired like a couple of people actually. So I think there's like three or four of us. And they just took every call anyone that would want to talk to us to learn more, we would just pass it on to that team. And we had like a great talk track. And we you know, we were still trying to suss out what the right use cases are. But through trial and error, they would close a lot of people and we would learn from that. So our first I would say like, the first thing we did was, have a great message, have a sick website. Because you know, in some ways we're selling design and our own design has to be good in order to sell that right. So it had to be like really good. So we did that. And then we pumped for validation, because we wanted to validate very quickly and have a very tight feedback loop. So we pumped money into Facebook and Instagram ads. We here is this. This is 2019. I like Hey, this is like not that long ago. No, this is just three years ago. Wow, we went from zero to 8 million subscription revenue in one year.
Suzanne Chadwick 30:09
Okay, yeah. And so I said, Say 2019, Instagram and Facebook ads, Instagram and Facebook,
Anrita Mathur 30:15
we started with Instagram and Facebook only. And we did some Google AdWords and stuff. But that wasn't like high volumes. We just wanted to make sure like, we had lots of leads in the door. And we wanted to quickly figure out in like, three or four months, who was a good lead, who's not a good lead, who can be closed, who can we not close? Right? We wanted to learn that. So we're like, okay, let's pump some money into this, and validate our assumptions. That was sometimes Facebook and Instagram ads can take a long time to like, get the hang of and get rolling. We we got there really fast. Like in the first month, we had, I want to say in the three 350 range leads, like we actually had 350 People say, Hey, I'm, I'm this is interesting. I'm willing to talk to you guys. So what was the message? So I can't remember all of the messages. But it was very simple. I remember starting off with simply saying, the main message was always around scale. So we always said in our ads some way or another, are you not necessarily as opposed as the question but basically, like, if you're looking for design that scale, okay, you know, you need to Perseids the way for you. And on the landing page, like you can only say so much in an ad and the rules were actually different back then, as well. But on the landing page, what we would explain is, how we are more efficient than a typical agency model, and also how we could end up being a lot more cost effective and reliable. So we always juxtaposed ourselves against the possible incumbent. There's essentially there's three, I would say, for most mid market enterprise companies, which is who we're going after, I'd say there's like three ways to get design done. Particularly at scale, either you have your own in house team, an amazing design team, right. And you have every possible designer on the team, you maybe have a motion graphics guy, you got an illustrator, or whatever. So a lot of companies do that. Or you have a bunch of agencies, or you have a combination of those two. So we knew that who were actually battling, like who our true enemy is partially the in house team, but also the the agency. Now we can go bad mouthing the in house team. First of all, we don't know anything about them. Second of all, we need to be they need to be buying us they need to be our friends. So we obviously can't be juxtaposing ourselves against that team. So it was always on the landing page. It was always like, Hey, we're like, you know, we would say words, like we were, what were one or two thirds of the cost or something or whatever I can remember 50%, the cost of a traditional agency, or a typical traditional agency, and we are 20x Faster than hiring, we would say. So if you have to go out and hire we know that takes three months. And like imagine your Amazon in Seattle, easily. It's going to be three months before you hire an amazing designer. We've got staff ready and waiting. We can be up and running tomorrow. So I think that 20x Number was quite magical for us. And people were like, oh, yeah, if I if I just think about this against this idea of like, hiring a new person for my team, this is amazing. This message obviously works in a bull market, right? This this current reality right now as of like, late 2022 is very different. But in 2019, everyone's like, grow, grow, grow. Everyone's like hire, hire, hire. The problems at hand. Were How do I do that fast enough? And how do I beat the competition? Yeah. And so if I can ask or what kind of ad spend did you have to hit 8 million in the 12 month period? I think we were spending close to $50,000. Total on ads per month, per month. Okay, per month. Yeah. And that was split. I'd say a good 20% was against Google AdWords, we actually just ended up shutting that down entirely, just because it wasn't bringing us the right traffic and quality. Yeah, yeah. I think because it's still sold based on search, like it's taken inbound to the next level, you can't really target so so that that so I'd say like, the bulk eventually the bulk of that I think after the first six months, the bulk of that 50,000 was on Facebook and Instagram. And Instagram was just like a machine for us, like a machine like we were shocked how good Instagram was for us. And we invested a lot in growing our organic social on Instagram as well. They both go kind of hand in hand. That's what I realized that you can't just have an amazing paid program. You have to have an amazing sort of organic, social and reach and engagement program as well.
Suzanne Chadwick 34:56
Yeah, amazing. And so what do you think like when you look back now A couple of questions. I've got all the questions. When you look back, was there anything else besides ads that you did that you felt really gave you traction or helped you to secure those clients?
Anrita Mathur 35:16
Yeah, part of it again comes down to the brand and the visual identity, you really have to find a way to stand out. I think we did that very creatively with our ads to anyone can run an ad these days to get up and running on Facebook. And Instagram takes like, half a day of training, like anyone can learn that, right? So that's not the differentiator, anyone can pump money in and push a couple of buttons, the differentiators and the message, the differentiators and the continuity of that message to your website, right like that people forget about that. It's not just like what you say in the ad. It's like, what's the next step, because like, a lot of people will just go google supersite.com. And it's like, now if it looks different, or sounds different, or is a different expectation that you've set that's going to fall apart. So our conversion has always been very stable, because we take care of all of those elements. And I'd say the third thing was we really prioritized, like creative testing in our ads. So what I mean by that is, you may, you may run a Facebook Instagram ad, that's a winning ad for you, and it looks a certain way with the button is in the bottom right corner, and maybe it has like a cute dog on it or whatever, I'm just making up examples. Eventually, your audience would have seen it a couple of times, to the point where they now have AD fatigue. And for whatever reason, perhaps they have not engaged with it. So it is almost like, like it's formulaic. Now. But you have to refresh your creative, and you have to do it at a cadence and and and I guess, like, a good cadence, but you also have to kind of always be stepping up your game. So we took that, because again, that's our business. We took that to heart. And we just kept refreshing the creative inside the ad very, very often. So to answer your question more directly, we were very consistent with our message and all our web properties, like doesn't matter what all our digital marketing had. Very straightforward, simple, easy to understand messaging, but it was consistent everywhere you went. So it was the visual identity. We tested creative, like crazy. Like we had the first few people I hired other than on the growth side, we're all creatives and like their main job was beyond just the brand identity, like their main job was like, constantly testing new creative, that would perform. So not just like, coming up with stuff and being like, this is how it's going to be because my way is the way it is. Right? And this was cool. And because I'm the designer, so I know better. Like we really didn't follow that we were like, no, let's just test it. Let's see what the data actually says. I feel like part of this has become a bit of a cliche, because everyone says like, let's go with the data. Let's go with what the data says. I don't feel like people look at it enough. Yeah, I think people talk about it. But I don't know how well people do it. Especially with creative. It's such a funny thing. And this is slightly tangential to your question. But I'll say that, on the designer side, what I've noticed having worked with hundreds of designers now, there is a certain for I'm sorry for all the designers that are listening, but there's a certain level of aristocracy almost like built in, you know, there's it, I think creatives in particular, especially if you've been around for a while and have had success, I think they can't look at the data, because so much of their identity is about creating from scratch from out of nothing. And when you do that, you're like, literally like, it's like a part of you that you're giving away to someone else. And so to say, oh, that might be wrong. And whoa, wait, wait a second, Instagram is telling me something different that this like, thing that I spent two minutes on is doing better than this thing that I spent like 10 hours on. That's hard for people.
Suzanne Chadwick 39:22
My coach always says because they ran a lot of ads. She's like, I always feel really upset because it's a really ugly ads that do the bad stuff. She's like, you know, we'll expand we'll do this amazing, like one with a gorgeous photo or great design. And she's like, and then just the black one with white text will like do 50 times better. And so yeah, you've got to be testing and you can't be precious about what you think looks good. It's whatever works.
Anrita Mathur 39:52
Yeah, it's whatever works. And it has to still of course be as part and part of your universe. Like never give that up. But yeah, whatever works and whatever. But the whatever gets you consistent results. So that was like I'd say like the first four to six months of our life, like the bulk of what we were trying to figure out is like, who was a good buyer for us? They so we just needed like lots of people in the door to figure that out. So in the first six months, we've, by the time we got to think we launched the site in September, so by the time we came to now, march 2020, you might recall, a pandemic hit, I recall. Yeah. And so we were like, This is weird. This is a curveball, what does this mean for us? And we were all like panicking. And, you know, I think in three months, everything was fine. Like we realized that unfortunately, there was like lockdowns, which forced screentime to go up, which probably propelled more digital marketing, which in turn led to more business for superside. So actually, for us, like the pandemic was, I think it gave us tailwind, so there's no easy way to prove it. But I suspect it gave us tailwind.
Suzanne Chadwick 41:03
I feel like anybody that was in the digital space generally did pretty well, like we were already set up for success. And then everybody else who then had to get online was now like, how do we do this? So people who are already online, we're kind of ahead of the curve.
Anrita Mathur 41:20
Yeah, 100% 100%. And the best part about all this was, we're a fully remote company, we're fully distributed, we don't have a single office. So we know how to do the whole async thing extremely well, we didn't have to adapt. And our customers were now looking to us to help power them because they didn't know how to do that. And so it was the market. So actually, just from a pure brand building standpoint, like we milked the whole like, we know how to do remote. Right. And as well, which was helpful. Yeah, so. So after we got out of our initial shock, I think by the time we got to summer 2020. And we knew that, hey, the things were going to be fine. We started experimenting a lot more with other things. So we, we had brought on by then, content marketing person, she she has been amazing. So we she and I just like literally would brainstorm every single week and just come up with like new ideas, new things and formats that we wanted to test. We've done so many tests, I can't even remember all of them. But like at one point I what sort of content was she doing? Yeah, so So we knew we wanted a blog, that was a good mix of content that was search informed. So writing for things that people will already searching for. That's more like I'd say classic SEO style, blogging, which, unfortunately, is often not very creative or innovative. And you certainly can't tell like amazing stories to that. But it's a means to an end, right. So you're writing for search, you're writing for Some search that's already happening in a certain amount of volume. But the second part was we wanted to just create like a bit of almost like, not necessarily having a community that was constantly talking with each other, but a sense of community and a sense of camaraderie, particularly through the pandemic. So one of the examples of the things that we started, which was a total test, and has become a huge driver of leads for us and try drive traffic for us is this idea of a small, intimate, interactive, almost, I mean, it's like a it's like an on webinar, or we call it an on webinar. But it's not that different than a webinar, we will use a very interactive tool to kind of conduct this now. But we started off on just using Zoom. And we would invite you know, we would have these like topics that we would, we would do one topic per month, and we would just publish the whole series and say, Hey, we're for the next six months, we're and we call it the gather and grow on webinar series. We wanted people to like gather and all of us grow together, that was the whole vibe. So we would say, Hey, these are the topics we're covering in the next six months, either the speakers we're going to have come join us. It's going to be super interactive, you can ask a question, of course. But we're also going to be doing live teardown. So if you have a business problem, or you have a design specific business problem, we're gonna like crack that for you on let's call this actually. So that's that was the original idea. That's how it started. We did the first one and I had like the small bet with the CEO, the CEO was like, we won't even get 20 People like 20 of the right people and I was like well no, I think I can answer this is made pandemic. Yeah, this is mid Penn. This is like a cat. I think we did this in June or July. The first one was Yeah, I think a first gathering Grove was maybe in July 2020 And he was like 20 people and I was just like now I have I have 20 marketing friends I can bring to this I'm gonna beat that number and we I think we had like 80 live with the on the on the thing, which was like, Okay, this is nice. And everybody was like, Oh, the webinars dead. Everyone's on.
I now they're confined to their computers that no one's going to join this and it was just like, No, if it's the right content and the right vibe people will join. You know, people listen to podcasts all the time. There's like you, you know, everyone's always like, oh, there's just so many podcasts. And it's like, yeah, but you still listen to the ones that you like, yeah. And seek them and find them. Yeah. So. So yeah, that's how it started. And that's, that was just like a silly little conversation I think we had in a cafe and we said, well, let's do this thing. And we're just gonna call it gathering grow. And we just did it. And it was awesome. And then we just had another and then another, and another, to the point that has become so big that we have a full time person dedicated to just this program. Now, like all she does, this woman, Diana, who's incredible on our team, all she does is gather and grow. And she ran one today actually funny enough on the topic of building a resilient brand, very similar to what we're talking about today. And we had 653 people, I was
Suzanne Chadwick 45:58
about to say, Did you see a drop off after pandemic, but it's just grown? It's just
Anrita Mathur 46:02
grown. Yeah. Now, we also have like a brand, like we have got a nice email database built out.
Suzanne Chadwick 46:08
So is this just for clients? This gathering Grove
Anrita Mathur 46:11
is not No, it's for anybody that wants to join. We collect, you have to register, we get information. So we generally know like, hey, of everyone that registers and joins these things we know about 25% are perhaps in our target market, and we're okay with that we're this is a free for all, anyone can come and learn and join. And the way I think about it is, hey, you may not need Supersite today, maybe your current employer does not need Supersite today, but you might change jobs tomorrow, and you might go to someone else that might need suicide. So for me, it's all about just like, one ensuring that people are having a good time and enjoying themselves and learning and connecting. But part two of that is just like, this is a very long term game. We're not playing like this, like short term game.
Suzanne Chadwick 46:57
Yeah. Yeah, good. And just my last question is just really around, you know, you were sort of saying that when you first started, and you were doing Facebook and Instagram ads, and it was a very, like bull market. Where do you think marketing is now? So we're recording this in like August 2022? Where do you think, what do you think's working right now? And for my audience who might have subscription based type businesses? What do you think they need to be aware of as well, when it comes to their marketing and growing their audience?
Anrita Mathur 47:33
Right? Yeah, no, that's a great question. I mean, this is obviously something everyone's been debating and trying to think about and crack. I mean, listen, I think it's obviously going to depend a little bit on the business that you're in, there's some businesses that are naturally a lot more recession friendly, healthcare, energy, etc. Right. So assuming you're not in one of those lines of work or those sectors. I would say, I think it's important that no matter what size of business you are, you have a real pulse on your customers and how they're feeling and how they're reacting. Just as an example, not sure if this is scalable by any means. But like, we've been talking to our customers I've been I've done six calls I just started last week, but I've done six calls with different customers already. And my colleagues are chatting with customers one to one. And we're asking very open ended questions about what is the direction that they've been given? And how are they personally feeling. And that can actually tell you a lot. And I write down I mean, I don't know if you can see it, but I literally write down words that they use, and I try to see what common words come out of that. So I read a lot of verbatims. Like, I'll be like this person from this customer said, blah, blah, blah, and I'll put it in comments. So I know that they actually said those words. And already even in the sixth column, I can see there's like some commonalities. So then I'll take that and use that in our messaging. This is just like a little trick, right? So yeah, so that's, that's one like, reflect your customers state of mind. That's tip one. And I would say the second thing is obviously everyone's conscious of, you know, even if that's not the case that they need to do this optics can sometimes matter. So your your customers might, your listeners, customers might want to save money, or they might want to appear like they're saving money. And so what you could consider is if you're a subscription business, maybe adjust your terms a little bit, or maybe find another way to add value that gives people more value for that same money that they're already spending with you. Perhaps they're locked into a contract with you, right? Maybe they've said hey, I'm going to pay you whatever $10,000 every month for the next one year and they're locked into a contract. Don't take that for granted. Try to provide more value if you can, depending on you know, what's obviously Paul possible. So that would be the second thing, that I think the third thing is just like really, I mean, necessity can kind of Spurn a lot of great ideas. And maybe part of me actually thinks this, this might be a bit controversial, but part of me actually thinks like, it's maybe a good time for some businesses to try to pull ahead. There's actually What do you mean by that? Well, I think that in some ways, you know, it's kind of like, I'll give the stock market analogy, like, you know, people will always say, like, Oh, this is a great time to buy or like the real estate, just look at real estate, house prices are crashing, if you have the money, it's a great chance to buy a house in a neighborhood that you might not have normally been able to afford. Right. And not everyone's got that money to do it, obviously. But, and the same goes for the stock market. So I feel like the same goes for like growing a business and growing your brand, that you can take some risks that perhaps you couldn't have taken when it was a bull market. Maybe a rudimentary example would be I mean, we're thinking about this ourselves, not that we would ever have a billboard at Times Square. But as an example, let's just use a hypothetical example. You could probably, if you could not ever afford a billboard on Times Square in New York, maybe you can now because prices have dropped. So like, that's, that's sort of what I mean, like, you can take some, you can place your bets, and you can take some risks and do some bold stuff in a time where perhaps your competitors and the market in general isn't doing it. And so you have a greater chance of standing out and a greater chance of pulling ahead. And there's been some research from the last recession in 2008. And nine that kind of a showed that companies that invested in marketing have actually pulled ahead. So not sure his death history will repeat itself. But there's, yeah, there's definitely something there.
Suzanne Chadwick 52:01
Absolutely. Yeah. I love that. That's so good. And I was listening to a podcast the other day, from Russell Brunson, who's got Click Funnels. And he was saying that as well as just like, a lot of times when the market gets tired, everybody stops spending is like, but if you can keep spending, even if it's not at the same level, you'll find that there might be kind of more opportunity, because you've got less competition, which I thought was really interesting. Obviously, ads are mystifying at the moment. They're not as great as they were. But I do think like whatever else there might be other opportunities to Yeah, take risks, be bold, think a little bit outside the box as well. So I love that so good.
Anrita Mathur 52:46
Yeah, and I think spend is just a proxy for marketing activities, right? It doesn't have to be something you spend money on. It's just like, make your own gather and grow and try that. See, like, you
Suzanne Chadwick 52:59
have inspired me, you have inspired me, I actually did a survey, recently of my subscribers, I usually send out a survey every year with just three questions. And I get such good responses. And I was like, I think I'll run some, like webinars or zooms and take some of the topics, like some of the key topics that came through and be like, okay, like next week, we're going to do one on, I don't know, growing your business or sales or whatever. And, you know, maybe we'll do another one on if you want to grow, but you don't know what to do like how to figure that out. So those sorts of things. So I think that you just reinforced the fact that I think that that's quite a good idea. So I think I might might play with that. And you already
Anrita Mathur 53:42
have a fan base. So yeah, you don't have the worry of like no one showing up.
Suzanne Chadwick 53:49
Although the fear is always there, and
Anrita Mathur 53:53
it's funny as a creator, I think, yeah, you always say you have to kind of keep yourself grounded. So I can I can see that for sure. Yeah.
Suzanne Chadwick 54:00
Well, so Mona Lisa, and thank you so much for sharing your story and all of your marketing tips. I just think it's always really interesting to hear what people have done and, and even as a big company, that's multimillion dollar I just, let's try this. Let's try these. Like, let's just give it a go and say, I just think that that's such an important mentality to constantly have in this market as well.
Anrita Mathur 54:23
Yeah, no, I absolutely. I mean, when people ask me, like, what is marketing? Or how do you get started, I'm just like, honestly, everything's an experiment. If you can come up with a great way to just like, do experiment after experiment and take the kernels of learnings and like apply them right away. You have a winning like there's nothing else it's maybe this is the computer science part that translated well into marketing because it's, it's really just a series of hypotheses that you have to either prove right or wrong. And once you know you're right, and you're on the right track and you have a leading indicator. Then you just like double down on that and make it better and better as you go.
Suzanne Chadwick 54:58
They go I love it. Great. eighth note to end on. So for those of my audience who want to check you out, we'll have all the links in the show notes as well. But where's the best place to find out more about suicide and connect with the community and all the rest of it?
Anrita Mathur 55:11
Oh my gosh, yes, we would love that. So supersite.com. And if there's any marketing people, or creative people or designers listening, you can find a ton of resources in the Learn section. We're also launching our own community, like our a little platform where people can join interact with each other, not really, necessarily with just suicide. And so that's launching next month, so you can come check that out as well.
Suzanne Chadwick 55:33
Amazing. Amazing. I've got a fantastic creative community. So I'm sure there'll be all up in that. But yeah, thanks so much. I really loved this chat as well.
Anrita Mathur 55:45
Thank you so much Suez Have a great day, you too.
Suzanne Chadwick 55:52
So, you inspired did you get something from that interview? Because I think it's really important for me to obviously share, like my insights with you. And for me to have other incredible small businesses on the podcast. But I also think it's really great to connect with bigger businesses to see how they started, what they're doing and how they're thinking about things. You know, community is such an important thing. So it's really interesting to see that that's what they're pivoting towards. That's what they're really building on. And so, you know, what are you doing around how you're building your community, how you're thinking differently, you know, is a subscription membership model, something that you could think about from a reoccurring revenue perspective? I think that there's so much happening in the market now that there's just no one way of doing things. So it's definitely worth having a think about, you know, how we can learn from different types of businesses. So I hope that you enjoyed that. I really enjoyed my conversation as well with Amrita. Well, that's it for another week. It has been amazing to have you here as always, and remember to follow me on all socials at Sue's Chadwick. But thanks so much for listening. Until next time, have an awesome week and make sure you keep playing big and branding bold.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai