Skip to content

The SaaS Podcast

How to Build a SaaS Brand Without Doing ‘Branding’ – with Paul Campillo [270]

Paul Campillo - Typeform

How to Build a SaaS Brand Without Doing ‘Branding'

Paul Campillo is the director of brand and communications at Typeform, a SaaS platform that lets you create interactive forms, surveys, quizzes, and more.

Paul was a social worker helping youth involved in the juvenile justice system and he was helping adults coming out of prison to find jobs.

One day, the CEO of the non-profit where Paul worked told him that she'd heard about some software called Typeform which might be useful for them and asked if he could look into it.

Paul went to the Typeform website and thought the product looked pretty cool. He came across a job application form that was created in Typeform. Filling out the form seemed like a good way to play around with the product so he answered the questions and submitted the form.

About a week later, he got an email from the head of HR at Typeform asking him if we could chat with their CEO about his job application. And eventually, he became Typeform's first marketing hire.

In this interview, we talk about his journey from joining a startup in its early stages and seeing it grow into an 8-figure SaaS company with over 300 employees and $52M in funding.

Paul explains that whether you realize it or not, your startup is building a brand. And we dig into what exactly that means beyond how many people think of branding.

We explore the importance of building a product people love, how to build deeper connections with customers and Paul shares a painful example of what happened at Typeform when they didn't pay enough attention to customers.

We cover the fundamentals of storytelling, why it's so powerful, and how you can start using it to communicate with your customers in a more engaging way. And Paul shares a simple but powerful 5-part copywriting framework that you can use to market and sell your product.

I really enjoyed doing this interview. Paul is a real down to earth, no BS kind of guy. He shares some great ideas and insights in this interview and I'm sure you'll get a ton of value from listening to Paul.

So I hope you enjoy it.

Transcript

Read Full Transcript

Omer: [00:00:00] Welcome to another episode of The SaaS Podcast. I'm your host Omer Khan and this is the show where I interview proven founders and industry experts who share their stories, strategies, and insights to help you build, launch and grow your SaaS business. In this episode, I talk to Paul Campillo, director of brand and communications at Typeform, a SaaS platform that lets you create interactive forms, surveys, quizzes, and more.

[00:00:38] Paul was working as a social worker, helping youth involved in the juvenile justice system. And he was helping adults coming out of prison to find jobs. One day, the CEO of the nonprofit, where Paul worked told him that she'd heard about some software called Typeform. Which might be useful for them and asked if he could look into it or went to the Typeform website and thought the product looked pretty cool.

[00:01:02] He came across a job application form, which in itself was created in type form, filling out the form, seemed like a good way to play around with the product. So he answered the questions and submitted the form. About a week later, he got an email from the head of HR at Typeform asking him if he could chat with our CEO about his job application.

[00:01:23] And eventually he became type forms. First marketing hire in this interview, we talk about his journey from joining a startup in its early stages and seeing it grow into an eight-figure SaaS company with over 300 employees and $52 million in funding. Paul explains whether you realize it or not, your startup is building a brand and we dig into what exactly that means beyond how many people think of branding and logos.

[00:01:53] We explore the importance of building a product people love how to build deeper connections with customers and Paul shares a painful example of what happened at Typeform when they didn't pay enough attention to customers, we cover the fundamentals of storytelling. Why it's so powerful and how you can start using it to communicate with your customers in a more engaging way.

[00:02:19] And Paul shares a simple but powerful five-part copywriting framework, which you can also use to improve your marketing and how you sell your product. I really enjoy doing this interview. I've spoken to Paul a couple of times. He's a real down to earth, no BS kind of guy. He shares some great ideas and insights in this interview, and I'm sure you'll get a ton of value from listening to it too. So I hope you enjoy it. Paul welcome to the show.

Paul: [00:02:46] Good to be here Omer.

Omer: [00:02:47] So do you have a favorite quote, something that inspires or motivates you or just gets you out of bed every day?

Paul: [00:02:52] I think the first first thing that comes to mind is without purpose, nothing exists. And you know, when I find that people are struggling to get out of bed, I always asked them to come back to their why. And so that's something that I think about often.

Omer: [00:03:05] All right. So for people who aren't familiar, can you tell me, I said a little bit about Typeform. What does the product do? Who is it for? And what's the main problem that you're helping to solve?

Paul: [00:03:16] Yeah. So Typeform, the company is an interface company and we design interfaces mostly used for data collection.

[00:03:22] And so the use cases, common use cases are forums, surveys, quizzes, things like that to interact with your audience. The problem that we solve that's different from everyone else is we focus on the user experience or the respondent experience, as we say. And so that's our, that's our secret power. We believe that if you put people first, you're going to get all the data you need.

[00:03:43] So you might, you might see that every once in a while from us people first data second, and you know, that's, what's really critical for us is that you have the best respondent experience. You get, you get the answers that you're going to get so that you can shape your business accordingly.

Omer: [00:03:57] So you have a really interesting story in terms of. Your background and what you ended up doing at Typeform and how you joined the company. And can we talk a little bit about that? And then we'll sort of get into the whole idea of brand and why that's important, but for people who may be thinking like, Oh, mine, like I'm not a marketer, or I don't know about branding or, or this type of stuff. Just tell us a little bit about your background.

Paul: [00:04:28] All right. So my background was essentially social work. And so I was, working with homeless youth and then youth that were involved in the juvenile justice system. before I graduated to working with adults coming out of San Quentin and helping them find jobs.

[00:04:44] And so how I came across Typeform was that the CEO of my organization, my non-profit came by the office one day and she said, Oh, I just met with Zynga and Pandora. And they said, we should be using Typeform for our workshops. And I said, okay, what's that? And the reason why she comes to me, because I was always doing all the crazy innovative stuff.

[00:05:03] And so I looked up Typeform and I was like, Oh, this is cool. I've never seen anything like this. You know, I was very familiar with form builders before and also the, the ugliness of them. And so it, it really appealed to me straight off the bat, but then there was this like animated gif or gif depending on, you know, what side of the argument you're on there.

[00:05:24] In the corner and it's like, come join us in the sun and or something like that. And then, so I clicked on it and it took me to a job application and says, Oh, what do you, what do you do? And the job application was obviously a Typeform. And so I said, Oh, this gives me an opportunity to interact with it. And so I started answering the questions and, you know, they said, what do you want to apply for?

[00:05:40] And I said, Oh, Content Manager sounds nice. And I clicked on that. And then it said, upload a blog post, which sounds ridiculous if you're trying to put a blog post in a Typeform, but I did. And then it said, you know, go to this webpage, rewrite all the copy, use the inspector, rewrite all the copy on the webpage and then upload the screenshots after you're done.

[00:05:58] And I did all that and it took me like three hours to complete this thing. And I finally submitted it and just kind of went on my way. And I said, yeah, we should use this tool. And I basically took the Typeform as a challenge more than anything else. I wasn't really seriously applying. Then about a week later, I get an email from the head of HR and she says, Hey, the CEO wants to talk to you.

[00:06:19] And I said, okay, not on a Skype call. And I talked to David, our head of growth at the time. And David said to me, yeah, man, that was really good. Really good submission. It was the best submission we got. And we're trying to figure out like how you did it because you don't have any marketing experience. And, and I said, well, you know, maybe that's not true, but I did study copywriting for some time because I had to sell these non-profits right. I had to understand marketing to a certain extent.

[00:06:51] And so anyway, long story short, about four months later. Ended up jumping on a plane to Barcelona. And that's how I got here. Five years later here I am still here.

Omer: [00:07:03] So you were basically the first marketing hire for Typeform,?

Paul: [00:07:07] Yeah, I was, I was our first marketing hire because Typeform had basically the viral growth. So, you know, if you go to the product, you'll see in the bottom right-hand corner powered by Typeform and Typeform basically grew either by word of mouth or people clicking that button and being exposed to it. And then, you know, coming through the product that way. So they decided to, Hey, we're going to start working on marketing.

[00:07:32] We should, we should come up with, you know, start creating content and things like that. And so that was the, that was the skill that I had. And by the way, I wasn't completely ill-prepared because I did start a blog in like 2010. And so they did have something to kind of take a look at, but yeah, that was the first marketing hire at Typeform.

Omer: [00:07:52] So, like what's the size of the company today, you know, in terms of revenue or team or whatever, and then, and sort of, where was it when you joined?

Paul: [00:08:03] So I joined, don't remember the revenue at the time, the ARR, but I do remember I was like the number of 28 in the company. And right now I think we're just over 300.

So over five years, it's a significant amount of growth. And I think we just we're bout to crossover, or we did cross over a hundred thousand customer threshold. So we're right there.

Omer: [00:08:29] So you're on board. You're like you're the marketing department basically for Typeform. You joined, what were the biggest challenges at the time? Because the product on its own was doing pretty well. Right? I know David and Robert had, had kind of really focus a lot on, you know, a great looking product and there was sort of an inherent virality sort of built into it. So what were the challenges for, for marketing? Where were the areas that the company and the product was struggling, that you were sort of set up to sort of go and solve.

Paul: [00:09:06] Because they had focused so much on the product. I don't think there was a decent marketing plan in place. And so it was like, what kind of, what we do now, you know, it's not like product growth was slowing. I think our key factor and, you know, our vitality rate was definitely on to your unicorn path at the time, but they thought, Hey, how can we, we augment this? How can we enhance this even more? And they figured that, yeah, we need to start producing content. You know, we already had a decent brand that was built from the product and some of the other like communication that we were doing previously, even before I got there, a lot of people thought Typeform was actually a Silicon Valley company.

[00:09:46] And I think people still believe that, but it was more or less like how can we enhance what's going on here? And so content seemed like a really good way to start exploring and particularly SEO. You know, there's a lot of, like, there's a lot of key terms and key word searches for forms, surveys, you know, and all the like, corollary words.

[00:10:07] And, and so they just felt like there was a huge opportunity there maybe to get that SEO loop going. I told them when we were going through the process. And it's funny because it was, it was like I was in competition with a guy from Kissmetrics. So I probably shouldn't even, I don't, I still don't know why they hired me, but I was basically the same.

[00:10:29] Well, I'm going to give you something spectacular. I want to create something remarkable. And I think the guy from Kissmetrics is more or less on the line of I'm going to give you a great SEO quality content. And, and I think there, they were kind of struggling with that, but I think when they kind of sat down and thought about it, they said that we, you know, we should go for something that's really going to make us stand out.

[00:10:51] And I think there was always this, this erring on the side of brand versus erring on the side of like the performance side of, of the marketing. But we were doing, we were running paid at the time. And of course, we had all these different things, but I think they were looking for an edge in addition to the product on the marketing side.

Omer: [00:11:11] So one of the things that he told me was when we were talking earlier that in the early days that the product was sort of built-in a vacuum and, and customers weren't really that involved at the time. And, you know, fortunately, that didn't turn out to be too much of an issue when we sort of look back now at the business and how well it's doing, but what kind of problems did that create in the early days?

Paul: [00:11:38] I don't think those problems were apparent. I don't think that they really showed because again, you're seeing virality at a ridiculous rate. And so I don't think, you know, people you're not aware of something until, you know, virality plateaus, and then everyone's like panicking at that point. But I think, you know, the conversation we had earlier was more or less along the lines of.

[00:12:02] If I was, if we took the 2020 me and we transport, we put me in a time machine and transported me back to 2015, I would look at this whole thing in a completely different way, because you have to remember, I didn't really understand anything that was going on. Right. You know, they would shoot all these numbers out at me and, you know, and say, Hey, we're trying to do this.  And I'm just like, okay, I think I can create something remarkable around this. And, you know, we can do that.

[00:12:33] But as far as understanding the entire business, and it was definitely more complex than I thought. But if I had to go back, one of the things I would absolutely do is figure out a way to involve not just customers, but people who are early adopters and, you know, really take the people who are out there and doing something incredible with Typeform.

[00:12:56] And instead of me being creative and coming up with ideas and creating remarkable content and, you know, we produce some really good stuff. I would completely reverse this content strategy and grab customers and feature them, especially the early adopters, especially the people who are out there in the wild.

[00:13:15] And I can give you an example right now. So there's this guy and he's pretty popular in the, what did we call it? Digital nomad space. Right. And so he's out there just kind of roaming around, but in his name is Levels io and he basically created a startup a month for 12 months. So every month it was a different startup and his primary department interface that he was using to kickstart his projects either to grow a community or whatever the case was, Typeform.

[00:13:44] And this guy was constantly giving us feedback on things we can improve. Like for example, recurring payments. How do we set that up so that we don't have to manually do this every time? You know, things like that. And we never listened. I mean, or we listened, but we didn't act on it. Right. And, Oh, that's a problem.

[00:14:03] You could also say customer success is over there, feeding us this information too, because obviously, they're client-facing or customer-facing. And so they're constantly given this feedback and they're feeding it into the company as the “customer voice” and still same features requests and all that stuff was going on for quarter after quarter after quarter, year after year after year.

[00:14:26] And at one point I saw a tweet from the sky Levels io and he says, you know, Typeform is dead to me. And no one ever wants to see that. Especially from someone who got so much value from the product and, you know, had done some amazing things with it. Instead what I would do, if it was 2020, I would invite this person.

[00:14:47] I would fly this person into the office and I would have them sit down with our team. You know, I would have them talk to them. David and Robert, no, who were both co-founders I would really pull the VIP treatment for people like that and just try to get their ideas and, you know, figure out ways that we can kind of collaborate together.

[00:15:07] Absolutely you're as a product designer, you have a vision for the product. Great. But at some point, are you listening? Are you paying attention to the behavior of what customers are doing? Are you incorporating their feedback and developing a better product, a product that people are going to get more value from?

[00:15:25] Because they think, I would say arrogantly that you have all the answers and especially when you know, you haven't like had these conversations with customers is a big, big mistake. And that brings me back to. You know, a quote, and this is something that if, you know if I had to do this all over again, I would slap this quote in front of everybody.

[00:15:46] And it was a Jeff Bezos quote. And he basically said, and this is a 1998 shareholder letter, right? So this is, this is pre-alpha Bezos. I constantly remind our employees to be afraid to wake up every morning, terrified. Not of our competition, but of our customers. And I think that is the right attitude to have.

[00:16:09] I think you got to understand that you are going to make the most headway and have the most innovation by reaching out to your customers and figuring out what's really driving them. What's the reason behind they're using the product in a certain way. And thankfully, we finally did that. You know, we started doing these jobs to be done interviews, and that was, that was a big part of that process.

[00:16:32] We interviewed a lot of customers. We tried to figure out why, we tried to figure out what people were doing with the product. And we basically came up with seven big things of what people were doing to get value out of the product in a functional way. But then there's also the social and emotional benefits that people are getting from the product.

[00:16:50] And that's really where we kind of stood out. And so, yeah, thankfully we kind of reverse course changed our philosophy internally a bit. And so we started doing these jobs to be done interviews, which completely changed how we saw our customer, what their motives were. And also we changed how we. We're building video ask David is, our co-founder and video asker and chief is, is basically an active member of a community that they built on Slack. And, you know, whether it's a bug fix or a feature request or, you know, dropping new releases before everyone else gets them, I think it's a super engaging way to involve people in the process of building a product.

Omer: [00:17:33] Okay. So let me ask you a couple of questions because. We all know the whole thing about, you know, get out of the building, talk to customers and so on.

[00:17:41] Right. And, and yet, so many of us don't do it or try to avoid doing it or are just not sure the best way to, to kind of get that done. And I think I want to call out one thing you said earlier, you talked about not only I would talk to customers, but I would also make sure a big part of my energy was focused on early adopters.

[00:18:07] And I think that. Is a super important distinction because those early adopters, they're your biggest fans. They're the people who are trying to do the most with the product and push it beyond, you know, its boundaries to see what else it can do. They're coming up with a whole bunch of ideas. And so. Those are the people that I think is really important to listen to because not only are they thinking ahead about what you could do to make this product more useful, they're probably also going to be the guys who are going to potentially be influencers that are going to get the sort of the the later adopters on board or vice versa, go on Twitter and say, you know, Typeform is dead to me, which is like, you know, the sort of the the other end of that spectrum.

[00:18:53] So. I, I think that in itself is really important, but if someone's listening to this now and saying, okay, that sounds all great. Like, you know, you, you guys were making money at the time and you, you know, if you wanted to fly somebody over, you could do that. Like how should I go out and reach out to customers?

[00:19:09] You know, should I run interviews? Should I try to, you know, get face to face things set up. And because often in the early days you don't have like a lot of customers. Out there. And sometimes it's just hard to figure out, differentiate between someone who's, who's giving you a whole bunch of feature ideas that are completely useless, but they think they're cool versus the stuff that you really should be paying attention to. Right.

[00:19:37] So there's a lot of confusion and like, what are some, some, some lessons that you can share that, that might help people to get more clarity on how to be more effective with talking to customers.

Paul: [00:19:48] Yeah. So I would, I would definitely talk to people. The reason why we, it was early adopters or why I choose early adopters in my head is because I want to talk to somebody that's actually using the product.

[00:20:01] And I'm not talking about Mike, just doing a one-off survey or, you know, not doing anything with the design or not doing anything with any of the other features that we have. I'm talking about somebody that's really digging into the product. Learning about the product, you know, and getting more value out of the product because they're more likely going to have more quality feedback.

[00:20:20] Anyone can rattle off a list of features to you, but there are certain people who get what you're trying to do and, you know, really understand the value that you bring. And those are the people that you really want to focus on. Now, how do you know that? I would say also that, you know, the jobs to be done, help clarified in my head as far as like what people are using Typeform for.

[00:20:42] We can focus on the functional aspect of things, but then there's the social and the emotional side, which I tend to focus on, particularly with Typeform, because they really tell you like where you stand out, what the differences that you're bringing.  And so I would have those questions. It's not, it's not about flying out.

[00:20:59] It's just about getting on a call with them. A Zoom call, I would actually advocate not using a tool like Typeform or, or even video ask. I, I prefer not an asynchronous conversation, but, but a live synchronous conversation that you can have with somebody. And, you know, especially in these days, the pandemic.

[00:21:17] It's easy to set up a video call. You don't have to, you know, you don't have to fly anybody in. I don't think anyone's flying in any way because of the current situation and set up those as much as possible, especially in the early days. If you're just building your product, you as a CEO should be having those conversations as much as possible.

[00:21:36] Especially if you're a heavy influencer in the product side and the technical side of things. So I don't know. I mean, I don't, you know, we can, we can talk frameworks and, you know, we can talk specific questions that we ask, but I think, I think anyone can go out there and kind of figure out like what questions they need to ask.

[00:21:53] But, you know, as far as the people you want to focus on people who are getting value out of your product, those are the people who want to talk to people who have been with the product for a while and then churn. You know and ended up leaving the product. I want to talk to those people too, and, you know, figure out like, Hey, Hey, why did you leave?

[00:22:09] You know, what's going on? And a lot of times, you know, it could be, Oh, I just found a competitor or, you know, or it's just a one-off survey or, you know, whatever the case is, it could be, you know, this, this person's offering the same thing at a cheaper price. You know, it could be a business business model issue, and you know, all these things should be.

[00:22:28] Evaluated often your pricing, your business model. I think we're working on our third pricing model. We should be releasing it anytime soon to, to the rest of the world, we're testing it now in the UK. So always improving on those fronts.

Omer: [00:22:42] So talking to customers, getting feedback about the product, that sort of one, one way to use that information in an actionable way in terms of, okay, let's listen to what people are saying.

[00:22:55] Let's figure out how we need to change the product and make it better. New features, improvements, et cetera. But then also from a, from a marketing perspective, How can you use that information to help you with acquisition and finding other customers?

[00:23:13] Paul: [00:23:13] Yeah, so, well you want to make sure you're communicating the right message, right.  And so marketing, and I would say even quote-unquote, branding. It's about, really about positioning and making sure you're positioning your product in the right way. And so you have enough of these conversations, you start picking up patterns and you want to make sure that you get that you get those patterns, that customer voice into potential customers in front of potential customers, I should say.

[00:23:40] So. We have a simple framework that we use at Typeform it's called the 5P's, it's a, it's a copywriting framework. You know, the first thing is the persona. Who are you talking to? Just being very clear about who that is now you can, you can figure out who your ideal customer profile is by doing some research, you know, figuring out who's using your product.

[00:24:00] I think, you know, our, I think our top three are, you know, SaaS companies, consumer apps and agencies. So figure out who you're talking to, the second P is, what problem are you solving for this person? Obviously, we're not Google forms, you know, and we're not some of these other form builders out there. And I think the thing that distinguishes us is our interface and how people, basically, what people told us is you help us look good.

[00:24:29] And that's that's important, but you just don't help us look good, but you also will help us deliver a better experience. So those two things in combination, when we did our research, that's what we found. So yeah, the second P is the, the problem. So make sure you're addressing those two things, whatever those key differentiators are, are you, you know, maybe your problem is collecting data or getting honest data or getting, not getting enough quality data.

[00:24:52] Then you want to make sure that you put people first. Right. And when you put people, first, people are more likely to be relaxed. You know, if they see a, a jarring list of questions and the typical form gives you, they might be less prone to, you know, To give you their honest take on things, but if you give them something that's delightful, something that's interactive, they're more likely to give you whatever you want.

[00:25:13] So second P is problem, third P is the promise. I think I just covered that. Make sure that you can back it up, you know, whatever the problem is, you have a solution for it. And then the, the fourth P which is the most important piece is proof. And this is where, you know, your testimonial shine. You're showing a demo of the product.

[00:25:32] A demo is also proof, and you know, these various things, Robert Cialdini called it social proof and, and he called it authority. So, if you're showing them a bunch of logos, I think initially we had Nike using it at Facebook using Typeform, Airtable. I mean, Airbnb. And so we would list these logos across our, our website, you know, cause it gives credibility so that we would call that authority, but it's all under the umbrella of proof. And so proof, you just want to make sure that you use those cups, that customer voice. So, you've talked to all these customers, you're figuring out what they love about it.

[00:26:03] You're figuring out like, You know, the value that they're getting and you want to make sure that you feature the customer's voice as much as possible wherever you can on your website. Because if anything, if you're trying to build trust with people, the best way is to let other people speak on your behalf.

[00:26:19] Especially the more credible they are, the better it is for you. And so that's proof. And then the final one is the proposition, you know, what are you giving me? W what do I get? Am I getting a free trial? Is there free forever with limited usage? You know, whatever the case is. And so just being able to nail all those things.

[00:26:35] So, yeah, w we've seen definite improvements whenever you add testimonials and the customer voice into your marketing, and it can be any type of collateral and we even revamped our entire content strategy to be focused on the community even more. So how can we involve our community into everything that we're doing?

[00:26:59] If we're building a case study, how can we, how can we source those stories even better? If it's a template? How can we feature on our templates page? You know, maybe it's, something that envisioned created, right? So, they have a product on, on a product feedback template that they use. Here's the actual questions that envision uses.

[00:27:17] You know, and you can take those questions and, you know, revamped, the design yourself could be expertise. You know, initially when I started, I was like, I'm not credible to write anything on behalf of this company. And so I reached out to like Joanna Wiebe from Copyhackers. And I reached out to Peep Laja from ConversionXL, for example.

[00:27:39] And I was like, Hey, can you write an article on such and such? And they were like, yeah, of course. So, it's like, sometimes you just gotta reach out. I think, you know, from an SEO perspective and I'm sorry if I'm jumping around, you want to make sure that you have credibility everywhere. Right? And so you just don't want to do what I termed hot dog content hotdog content is when you go to Google search and like take a little bit of everything, you slap it all together.

[00:28:05] And you're like, Hey, here's some content for you. And it's like, none of it is original or. You know, credible. I think so. Yeah. We want avoid hotdog content. We want to make sure that, you know, there's credibility across the board with whatever we create. And a lot of that involves just, you know, your customers, just getting them involved in what you do and letting them know like, Hey, this is what we're doing. We'd like to involve you in how we create content.

Omer: [00:28:29] So tell me a little bit about like, how that translates to content because I think the testimonial piece people I think will obviously get right. It's like, yeah, if I can get a customer saying something nice about my product and I can put it onto my website, that's a great proof.

[00:28:47] A case study is another powerful way where you can show people how a customer got a result or an outcome. But when it comes to like actual content and a content strategy. What does that mean? What are some examples of what you could be doing there? And I think the hot dog, I haven't heard that term before the hot dog strategy, but I think a lot of people will, will do that.

[00:29:20] Right. And I think that can. That can work if you're just looking and saying, if that's part of your research and you're just saying, okay, this is what's out there. How can I come up with something which is a lot better and so on. But if you're just sort of literally just going through and saying, I'll take a piece of that and I take a piece of this, then, then there, isn't a huge amount of value that you're delivering through there.

[00:29:43] But what are some examples of how you can keep customers involved in that content strategy or using customer input for that content beyond some of the obvious things that we might think about, like case studies.

Paul: [00:29:57] Yeah, so I can give you one example of, you know, we, we were just launching our new integrations and these are native integrations within our platform. And what we did was everyone rallied around this whole concept, so we called the integrations week. So we have the engineering and we have the product side. And what they were doing is they were talking to customers and saying, Hey, what, what are the most requested integrations? Okay. So we've already switched our mindset to, instead of being so inwardly focused and starting to involve customers at this point.

[00:30:28] And so we got this list and one of the things on the list was Drip, you know, how are we going to involve Drip, the CRM into, you know, what do we need to build? What does this integration look like? And so they worked with people who had requested this. So they had calls, they took that information, started working on an integration.

[00:30:46] You know, constant feedback from the customer and then they would pass it on us and say, Oh, you're a part of, you're the, you're the marketing side of this, integrations week. And I'd say, well, yeah, but just because you talk to their customer, I want to talk to the customer now. And so, you know, for example, this one customer, I got on a phone call with him and I found out this guy runs a tractor.

[00:31:05] Well, how should I say a farming equipment dealership in Texas in Granbury, Texas. And this guy really loves like marketing automation and all these different things, but his philosophy was more around the idea of, I want to do it with a human touch. Right. And so I don't know that unless I talked to him and, you know, and I, and I'm getting, I have an interview with him.

[00:31:27] I think I talked to him for like 90 minutes. And so we have this conversation and I said, okay, great. So, what can we do here? What can we do? That's different here. And, you know, we work together and we came up with a script for a video. And so we put together this landing page, we put the video on there and the video was basically about him.

[00:31:44] Hey, it's Tim from Granbury, Texas, you know? And so he's now a part of the whole marketing process and what we're trying to create. And you know, the name of the video is marketing automation with the human touch and it feature Typeform and Drip. And, and so he was, I don't know, he shouldn't be like, like audio clips.

[00:32:02] Hey, can you say something here? Because I got a, I got a narrator from Fiverr to kind of do the narration for the video. And so he's sending me clips and the narrator speaking, and then he's bringing him in and then, you know, it kind of ties off really nicely, but I think there's a level of involvement that we can start having when it comes to marketing.

[00:32:20] You know, and it goes beyond just, Hey, let me just take your testimonial and slap it onto a website. And it's like, how can we make this page better? How can we feature your work with what story can we tell here? And you're really having that conversation with them and, you know, trying to tell the best story possible. So I love it. I love it. When you involve other people in that way, it gets their juices going and they have really good ideas.

Omer: [00:32:43] You also have a, a storytelling framework that. You use. And I think it's a lot of people. Sort of struggle with storytelling. And, you know, I, I remember a while back when, I was actually interviewing for a job and it was a tech job and, suddenly the sort of the the hiring manager was like, Oh, you know, like storytelling is really important to us, you know?

[00:33:09] So can you tell me a story? And I was like, what, and I came up with some really lame thing that I was just like, I don't know. I just cringe even thinking about it now, but it's, it's something that, you know, I spend a lot of time on this podcast as well. It's like, cause there's storytelling here. It's just, yeah.

[00:33:24] We want to, we want people to listen and learn, but there's also the whole thing about. How do you find that story? How do you tell it in an interesting way and what are the different components of a good story? And that's something that, you know, it's a craft and it's something that I'm still learning and trying to get better at.

[00:33:41] But that framework that you shared with me, I think is really helpful because anybody could go out there and probably. Come up with a story today just after listening to this. So can you share that with us? Because I think that'll be really helpful.

Paul: [00:33:54] Yeah. So I think that's critical when you're building a brand and you know, you got to tell the company story and got to, so, you know, not just, your, your customers and the outside crowd, but you really have to sell.

[00:34:05] Your internal stakeholders. Right. And supercritical. But yeah, storytelling to me is everything. As a matter of fact, I called myself a storyteller for the longest and refuse to call myself a content writer because I felt like it was, it was, it's not that I was great at it. It was aspirational to shoot for, and I understood how powerful it was.

[00:34:22] And just look around you today. And it doesn't matter of politics, education, like storytelling is crucial, but I came up with a simple, framework and it's C3SG. So let's start with the first C the first C is your characters. So normally when you talk about characters, you're talking about a protagonist and antagonist, maybe a mentor, someone or a guide, someone to help them along.

[00:34:45] The second C is character flaw. Now character flaw comes into play, because you know, well, I'll get, I'll get to character flaw in a second, but character flaw becomes a crucial part of the storytelling process. The third C is conflict is so it's the inciting incident. When things start to happen. You know, it's like something comes in and causes somebody to look at the world in a different way, or it says, you're going to have to change something.

[00:35:08] And then, the fourth letter is S and S stands for struggle. And so the struggle you could say is where the story is. As a matter of fact, Pixar came out with their 22 laws of storytelling. And I think the first law was we admire characters for attempting more than what their successes have been. Right.

[00:35:27] So we admire a character for trying, rather than succeeding over and over and just, you know, accomplishing everything. So S and then the final one is G, which is the goal. What what's happened, what's the outcome. What's the result? What's what, what did we figure out about this character? The whole point of a story is its characters transformation.

[00:35:49] That's the whole point. So whenever you watch a movie, whenever you watch sports and you tie a story to what you're watching, the whole point is to you're involved in some way, even in a subconscious way, you're trying to transform. Along with that character, trying to feel that transformation along with that character.

Omer: [00:36:07] So that's really, really helpful there. So, one of the things that personally I struggled with for a really long time was I completely got the idea of a story when you talk about fiction? Once upon a time, there was somebody he did, you know, all that sort of stuff. Yeah. Nailed it. When you then take it to a business environment and it's just like, wait, how do I tell a story in a business context?

[00:36:33] I, it just took me so long to make that leap. And I think also when you start thinking about stories, like, well, how do I tell the story? And then you sort of one mistake that I made and I've seen other people do as well, is they make themselves the character of the story instead of what you've been saying, which is really about, yeah.

[00:36:50] You know, focus on a customer, right? So maybe can we go through like an example of a, you know, kind of a story so people can just get, Hey, this is, this is how it kind of applies in the business context.

Paul: [00:37:06] Yeah. So, start with the first C characters. So, there's a French couple and they live in the French Alps and they been in business for 35 years working in a farmer's market.

[00:37:19] So there's your characters, a little backstory character flaw. And this doesn't become known until everything else kicks in. Right. But the character flaw is that they are not tech-savvy at all. They, they don't have a Facebook, they don't have a smartphone and it's a matter of fact, they want to stay away from it as much as possible.

Omer: [00:37:40] And are we talking about, is this a real couple, or are we talking about a

Paul: [00:37:44] Yeah, this is, this is a real story. This is a real couple. Conflict pandemic hits. You got to shut down your farmer's market. French government shut everything down. Struggle. What do we do now? We, you don't know what to do. It's our livelihood.

[00:38:02] We've been doing this for 35 years and I don't really understand the backstory until I talked to one of the other major characters who end up being the guide in the story. And that's their son, their son was a growth hacker at a Canadian startup. And he's been trying to get their parents to go at least to a mix of digital for a long time.

[00:38:22] And obviously this is his opportunity, right? Because he had this conversation with his father and his father is, you know, very a happy-go-lucky guy. And when he heard his father be really down, it kind of threw him off and he realized I have to do something. And so him and his brother rallied, they set up a Facebook page, they set up a no-code workflow.

[00:38:43] They took customer information in. Through a Typeform, they took payments through Stripe. They sent all the information to Google Sheets, Google sheets then sent that information to Sendinblue, which is, an email SMS platform. And so they communicated to customers that way. And then that information, whatever the delivery information made it into circuit, circuit, then figured out the best delivery routes to deliver vegetables door to door.

[00:39:08] So. The struggle was more of an emotional struggle. And it's important to highlight whenever you're telling a story, the conflict and the struggle elements the most, and then the resolution, as it starts to come out, the goal was to figure out like, what do we do out of this? But the end of the end result was, you know, they implemented the solution.

[00:39:27] And they ended up making 23,000 euros their first month in business, which was the most they had ever made, which is kind of bananas for them because they they're just like, we just want to sustain ourselves. And now it's like, wow, you just really took our business to the next level. And so now there's this, you can see kind of see the point I was making earlier about the transformation being the point of the story.

[00:39:49] You can kind of see them moving more towards this, wow. We should really incorporate more digital into our lives and really changed how they view crossing over into that new world.

Omer: [00:39:59] Yeah. And that's an awesome example. And you know, it's not always going to be the case that you're going to have a customer out there who, you know, made more money than ever before by kind of going through this, but there could still be a story.

[00:40:12] And one of the things that I learned from doing almost 300 interviews on this podcast is. Everybody has a story. And it's my job to figure that out by talking to that person and asking the right questions. And I think what you're saying equally applies with customers that every customer has a story and it's your job to figure that out. And the only way you're going to do that is by talking to them.

Paul: [00:40:39] Right. And so we'd go back to the proof element in those five PS, right. And that's where it comes into play. If you understand the backstory a little bit more and I mean, really get in there and understand the specifics of anyone you want to feature on your website or, or in a, or an article or a podcast or whatever, then you want to make sure that you harp on that on the struggle and conflict part, because that's the part that really grabs people and brings people down to earth.

[00:41:05] The last thing you want to do is post a lot of success stories, right? That don't have that element of grounding that, that people need to find them more credible. And so if you can do that, if you can bring that to your marketing, like tomorrow, I can guarantee you you're going to see different results.

Omer: [00:41:22] Yeah. Have you, have you read a book called The Brain Audit by, I think it's Sean D'Souza yeah.

Paul: [00:41:28] Yeah. I'm familiar with it. Yeah.

Omer: [00:41:30] So, so I, I liked that because I mean, he, in there, he talks about this idea of this reverse testimonial and about asking a number of questions. Cause a lot of the times, like, you know, you might just say.

[00:41:41] Ask a customer. Hey, would you mind giving us a testimonial? Then somebody tries to come up with something, but I like the way he sort of asked the questions. And I think one of the first questions was what was holding you back from using this product or service. And then his whole idea is, look, when you do that testimonial lead with that, right?

[00:42:03] Because if somebody is saying, well, I didn't think that this was, or I thought it was too expensive, or I didn't think it was going to work or whatever. You're, you're basically. Tackling the objection head-on that other customers might have, but you're letting another customer explain. Look, I had the same issue.

[00:42:21] I had the same concern and here's what I discovered. When I then tried this product or service. And I thought that was a really, really kind of interesting way because again, it's tempting just to say, let's not mention any of those objections that people might be thinking about on our website. Right?

[00:42:38] Because that doesn't look so good, but, you know, you can do that. And if you, if you're using customers. To talk through that and then how they found what their concerns were and what they, what the reality was. I think that's a really kind of an interesting way to do that.

Paul: [00:42:51] Yeah. If you can raise doubts with people who love your product, raise the doubts that they had before they entered the product. I think that makes for a powerful, definitely a powerful story. And also again, We're all dealing with objections when people come to your page and the question is, are, you know, do you know what those objections and doubts are and you need to address them because I guarantee you it's going to be probably three things, you know, there's, you know, it's going to be your pricing or can this really do the job for me?

[00:43:19] You know, whatever the case is. And so if you have, I don't know if you're featuring reviews on your site. If you have those credible voices from your customers, which are only going to get by talking to them by the way. And you know, and, and you have these elements, these proof elements on your site, you increase the odds, the probability that people are going to convert and get value from your product.

Omer: [00:43:42] Yeah. Let's talk a little bit about just the whole idea of branding. I think there's a lot of confusion around that term and a lot of the times. It sort of gets interpreted as my logo, right?

Paul: [00:43:57] Yeah. Never do branding. How about that? Because you've run date, never do branding your job if, even if you're, I'm the director of brand at Typeform.

[00:44:05] And I understand my job is not branding. My job is positioning. And my job is storytelling, and to make sure that the positioning and the story that we're telling as a company matches credibly, what our product is trying to do, that would avoid that word, like the plague and, focus on what makes you different and makes you stand out.

[00:44:24] And I think you're going to find something there. You know, that was another realization too, you know? Cause. I'm coming into this fresh. And, and I'm trying to understand what's going on. And you know, that, that Michael Porter quote, who's like, you know, the master of strategy and business competition, there is no best, you know, and that, that has to hit you for a minute.

[00:44:44] Right? You have to realize there is no best. He goes on to say your job is to create a unique company, a company that offers something different and your job is to figure out what that is now. I don't know like we're in the MarTech space. No. And there's a lot of SaaS companies and they're all SaaS companies in the MarTech space.

[00:45:05] And we know in 2011, there was only 150 companies, approximately 150 companies in the MarTech space. And we know in 2020, in 2019, there's 8,000 companies. And the question is there's a lot of copycats. There's a lot of people can copy your features. Copy your design, copy your marketing, copy of your copy.

[00:45:24] But. The question is how are you going to stand out? Where are you going to stand out? What positions you differently? What makes you really unique in the mind of the customers and your, your job is to triple down on that. You've got to provide that function of value across the board, but you got to figure out what really is that unique thing that, that makes you stand out.

[00:45:43] It could be a business model. It could be your brand. And of course brand is the result of everything you do. And a brand is not something you own. It's something that exists. And the customer's mind. And that's important too. It's like, you're trying to influence. Yeah. You, you're trying to tell the story.

[00:46:02] You're trying to position your product, but the brand doesn't exist just in your head. It exists in every customer's head. And so think of it like a Venn diagram. On one side, you have the company story, the brand story you're trying to tell. And the other side is the customer's story of your brand. And your job is to, if I don't, I don't think it's possible to make them concentric circles.

[00:46:24] There's there's going to be some customers who just don't get it. And you're, I mean, how should I put it another way? How many people are on the planet? There's 7 billion people on the planet. And essentially you have to think of this. Like there's two worlds that exist. There's the inner world and the outer world and the outer world, we all share.

[00:46:42] There's one world and the inner world, there's 7 billion worlds. And that's where the problem exists. Whatever you're trying to communicate to them does not mean that they're going to understand it or get it. And so you have however many people are in your customer base that think whatever about your brand, that's where your brand.

[00:47:00] Resides. You're trying to influence that. You're trying to get them to see it a certain way, and it takes a lot of skill and maybe some black magic to get them to that point. But you have to understand that the brand really exists outside of you, but while you're starting up your business, I don't care if you're a two-person, people in a garage, you are building a brand from day one. But don't do branding do positioning, focus on positioning in the market, focus on being different, focused on being unique and, really standing out. And for me, I found that my, my horizontal view of the company, since I was there very early, I realized that the brand was being built in customer success. The brand was being built in product and engineering.

[00:47:45] The brand was being built by recruiting and hiring. And the brand is being built by the culture at large. And the brand is being built by marketing and there needs to be alignment. And, you know, you can use the, the vectors model that Elon Musk talks about, but you want to get everyone moving in the same direction of that story.

[00:48:05] Otherwise, you're going to have an inconsistent experience or an inconsistent message. And that's the last thing you want to do. You want to be a unified front when you're presenting to the world.

Omer: [00:48:16] I think that point about positioning and figuring out what makes you different is so important. And some of it could be around where I think a lot of us gravitate towards is how can I have a different set of features in my product, but it sort of touches every part of the customer experience, what your website looks like, what your pricing plans are like.

[00:48:44] And a lot of the times it's tempting when you're starting out, just to look at what competitors are doing and saying. I'll do the same as them I'll have a website that looks similar to the other companies and in many ways that might be okay to start with, because you don't know any better. Right. So, but you got to kind of keep evolving and figuring out what is that thing that I can do differently.

[00:49:09] Like when everyone is zigging, I'm going to zag. Right. It's just like, how do you, how do you figure that out? And it's not just about your product.

Paul: [00:49:17] Yeah. So it's your customers again? And it's also, it's, it's part customers and it's part, vision that you have. So, you've got a vision for your company and what difference it wants to make.

[00:49:28] Now, if you're just entering the marketplace, because you're getting you think you can be faster, better, or whatever the case. That's good. There's a place for you. And there's a place for commodity businesses. But if you're trying to be a category leader, if you're trying to be a thought leader in the space, then you're going to have to come up with something significantly different.

[00:49:49] So it's two things. It's that vision that you have. Either for the product or for the company or for the world and how your business fits, you know, within that world. And it's also your customers and understanding what are they ultimately trying to do? Are they really trying to be better at creating forms or are they trying to be better marketers?

[00:50:09] And so if they're trying to be better marketers, how can you help them get there? How can you help them accomplish that job to be done? If they're trying to impress people, then how can you help them be not just impressed people, but how can you help them be even better than that? How can you help them be a thought leader and influencer within their own company?

[00:50:28] How can we help them be common influencer outside in the world? And I'm saying these are potential avenues that the product could address. It's also a place where content can come to play and help people get to these places. And so we're seeing a lot of that. I really like to think about who do I want the customer to become?

[00:50:49] And this kind of ties back into my social work experience. I used to deal with a lot of people that faced a lot of issues and some people just said, I just want to get better. But I always had this vision of what they could be. Right. And you could say that's kind of selfish, you know? And I said, no, really, I just want more of them to shine.

[00:51:08] I want more of them to come out. I want more of them to reach their potential. And so they might be satisfied with being a better marketer. But what if I could offer you being becoming a better influencer? Would you be open to that? Would you take that? And so. I love the idea of customer design and starting to think of customers in a very different way and how we can like develop a path for them to reach something beyond what they were expecting.

[00:51:31] And I think there's a lot of opportunities there that many companies have not yet explored. But maybe Disney can speak on this because they're really good at this. Right?

Omer: [00:51:40] What do you mean?

Paul: [00:51:40] Well, they build immersive worlds, right? And was the last, last world they built the Star Wars world. And now you can show up and you can show up looking like you and me and like a regular tourist, or you can really get into the Jedi garb. Right. And wear the robe and stuff. And I read about a guy that actually did this. He showed up at the amusement park. He made some credits, you know, some, some fake Star Wars credits that, you know, he probably pulled from one of the movies or from the books he showed up and he was playing a card game. With some random dealer and he put down his credits and it unlocked this whole other world for him. Like the guy got them in front of lines. He was able to go into see certain attractions that weren't available to other people because he immersed himself into this whole world. And so having that. The element of surprise, the element of the light is available to everyone.

[00:52:34] Like there's things that we could do within the product. People love like our terms of service because we offer two versions. We offered the lawyer one, and then we offered the human one. Right. And people, people really. Love that. Right. And so it was like these little small things that you could do with microcopy within your site, but there's also, like I said, plenty of opportunity with content that could really take someone, you know, beyond what they were expecting themselves.

[00:52:59] So I, you know, we could call it customer design, but just think about that question. Who do you want your customer to become and think? I think this is going to be a bigger thing in the 2020s.

Omer: [00:53:10] Love it. I think on that note, who do you want your customer to become? We should wrap up. So I'm going to go into the lightning round. Are you ready for these seven quickfire questions? All right. What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?

Paul: [00:53:25] Talk to your customers.

Omer: [00:53:26] What book would you recommend to our audience and why?

Paul: [00:53:29] Ooh, Badass, Kathy Sierra talks about a lot of the things I just, I just talked about, as far as the product, as far as content, just helping people be badass I think that's the ultimate goal.

Omer: [00:53:41] What's one attribute or characteristic in your mind of a successful entrepreneur?

Paul: [00:53:46] Oh man. Empathy. I wouldn't, I would even take that one step further and I don't. I would say compassion. I would love to see more compassionate entrepreneurs. I think sociopaths can be empathetic, cognitively empathetic.

[00:54:00] Right? And so how do we take that one step further and really act on the things that we're, that we're taking in from customers.

Omer: [00:54:07] What's your favorite personal productivity tool or habit?

Paul: [00:54:10] Journaling, writing everything down.

Omer: [00:54:13] What's a new or crazy business idea. You'd love to pursue if you had the time?

Paul: [00:54:16] Crazy for this idea. Everybody's famous. It's a magazine where you feature stories from everyday people. It's almost like humans of New York, but I think we should be highlighting more of everyday stories to bring inspiration to everyday people.

Omer: [00:54:32] Because everybody has a story.

Paul: [00:54:34] Everybody has a story, right?

Omer: [00:54:36] What's an interesting or fun fact about you that most people don't know?

Paul: [00:54:39] I was born in Wichita, Kansas during our tornado.

Omer: [00:54:44] And finally, what's one of your most important passions outside of your work?

Paul: [00:54:47] I would say dancing. Yeah, I used to, I used to breakdance, but not so much anymore, so it doesn't have to be on me and I would kill myself. But every once in awhile I feel the urge.

Omer: [00:55:00] Yeah, I used to breakdance. And then now these days it's just like, you know, even sitting on the floor.

Paul: [00:55:08] I think we're past that stage, so.

Omer: [00:55:13] Cool. Well, thanks, man. It's been, it's been a pleasure a great conversation. We covered a lot of things that I think you bring a real fresh perspective and insights, which I think hopefully we'll get a lot of people listening to this, to think differently about their business and how they can involve their customers and help transform.

[00:55:37] You know, provide a transformation for their customers. So things super useful stuff here. If people want to find out more about type form or video ask, they go to typeform.com or it's videoask.com. Right?

Paul: [00:55:50] Yup, that's right.

Omer: [00:55:52] And if people want to get in touch with you, what's the best way for them to do that?

Paul: [00:55:55] LinkedIn is my preferred method. Every once in awhile, I'll get DMS on Twitter, but it feels more natural on LinkedIn. So @paulcampillo on LinkedIn.

Omer: [00:56:03] Cool. We'll a link to that and the profile in the show notes. And I don't know about, like, this is a pet peeve. It's got completely nothing to do with this interview, but it's just like the number of times I'm getting people with the canned messages saying, looking to expand my network, or I was impressed by your background in computer software. Don't do that. It's like just send, just send a genuine message. It's like…

Paul: [00:56:32] We're t a stage now where we identify those genuine people from the people who are trying to get something from you really quickly. So I would say really do your research find out about that person, whatever you can and, you know, make sure it's a genuine interaction and we'll definitely more of us will reply for sure.

Omer: [00:56:50] Yeah. Totally. Thank you. I wish you all the best and thanks for taking the time to chat.

Paul: [00:56:56] Thanks, Omer. Appreciate it.

Omer: [00:56:57] Cheers.

Paul: [00:56:58] Cheers.

Book Recommendation

The Show Notes

Omer Khan

Hi, I'm Omer, the founder of SaaS Club and host of The SaaS Podcast. I help early-stage founders and entrepreneurs to build, launch and grow successful SaaS businesses. Join me on this journey.