Hey there! Welcome to the Marketer Of The Month blog!
We recently interviewed Elias Rubel for our monthly podcast – ‘Marketer of the Month’! We had some amazing insightful conversations with Elias and here’s what we discussed about –
1. Investing in immeasurable marketing tactics
2. The effectiveness of team support and effort
3. Benchmarking your marketing strategy
4. Demand capture vs demand creation – navigating through the current economic climate
5. Showing up for your team in times of uncertainty and doubt
6. How to pursue greater growth without compromising your identity
About our host:
Dr. Saksham Sharda is the Chief Information Officer at Outgrow.co. He specializes in data collection, analysis, filtering, and transfer by the means of widgets and applets. Interactive, cultural, and trending widgets designed by him have been featured on TrendHunter, Alibaba, ProductHunt, New York Marketing Association, FactoryBerlin, Digimarcon Silicon Valley, and at The European Affiliate Summit.
About our guest:
A serial founder and currently the Founder & CEO of Matter Made, Elias Rubel is a builder with incredible attention to measurable results. His company is a B2B growth firm, focused on helping clients accelerate their outcomes through marketing, especially at the Series A level (post-product-market fit). In this episode of Marketer of the Month, Elias talks about building an incentives-aligned marketing company and laying the groundwork for navigating the present economic environment as well as weathering an uncertain future.
EPISODE 090: Enhancing Demand Efficiency and Identifying Effective Routes to Scale
Saksham Sharda: Hi, everyone, welcome to another episode of Outgrow’s Marketer of the Month. I’m your host, Dr. Saksham Sharda, I’m the creative director at Outgrow.co. And for this month we are going to interview Elias Rubel, who is the CEO of Matter Made, which is a demand efficiency agency that has held some of the most iconic SaaS companies of our generation grow. Thanks for joining us, Elias.
Elias Rubel: Absolutely. Thanks for having me.
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Or you can just listen to it on Spotify!
The Rapid Fire Round!
Saksham Sharda: So, Elias we’re going to start with a rapid-fire round just to break the ice. You get three passes. In case you don’t want to answer the question, you can just say pass. But try to keep your answers to one word or one sentence only. Okay?
Elias Rubel: Sounds fun. Let’s do it.
Saksham Sharda: Alright, so the first one at what age do you want to retire?
Elias Rubel: 40
Saksham Sharda: How long does it take you to get ready in the mornings?
Elias Rubel: Seven minutes
Saksham Sharda: The most embarrassing moment of your life?
Elias Rubel: Oh man, that would take me a second to think about so I’ll skip it.
Saksham Sharda: Favorite color?
Elias Rubel: Blue.
Saksham Sharda: What time of day are you most inspired?
Elias Rubel: Either first thing in the morning or if I happen to be energized at night, like 10 o’clock. But usually, I sleep by then.
Saksham Sharda: Okay, how many hours of sleep can you survive on?
Elias Rubel: I need eight hours of sleep or I’ll be a bad person to interact with.
Saksham Sharda: Fill in the blank: An upcoming marketing trend is _______.
Elias Rubel: Dark Social is overhyped.
Saksham Sharda: The city in which the best kiss of your life happened?
Elias Rubel: San Francisco
Saksham Sharda: Pick one – Mark Zuckerberg or Jack Dorsey?
Elias Rubel: Dorsey for sure.
Saksham Sharda: The biggest mistake of your career?
Elias Rubel: Getting too caught up in the noise of business just generally.
Saksham Sharda: How do you relax?
Elias Rubel: I relax by spending time in nature with family and friends.
Saksham Sharda: How many cups of coffee do you drink per day?
Elias Rubel: I have two milk lattes every single day,
Saksham Sharda: A habit of yours that you hate?
Elias Rubel: I say “like” too much.
Saksham Sharda: The most valuable skill you’ve learned in life?
Elias Rubel: Empathy.
Saksham Sharda: And the last one is your favorite Netflix show?
Elias Rubel: God I haven’t watched Netflix in a minute. So I will say, “Stranger Things” because it’s easy to think of.
Saksham Sharda: Okay, well, that was the end of the rapid-fire round, and you scored 9/10 because you passed only one. So that’s good.
The Big Questions!
Saksham Sharda: So tell us about dark social, what is dark social?
Elias Rubel: Dark Social is an interesting thing right now and I think it’s becoming a hot topic. But it’s championing the idea that there’s a bunch of stuff that happens on social and out there that you can’t measure, but we should be investing in. And inherently that idea is right. Like there are plenty of things that are worth doing that you can’t measure. But in practical application, if you’re trying to justify the budget to a CFO, it’s really hard to chalk it up to dark social and throw a bunch of budget at it. So I think it is an attempt to put a nice term on something that’s otherwise uncomfortable. So that budget can be allotted to it and CFOs will be comfortable with it. But at the end of the day, it’s still really hard to measure. And I don’t think it’s worth hyping about. It’s just a definition for a category that’s otherwise hard to measure. So I feel the same way about that as I do. Product lead growth is another one and even ABM like these are all terms for things that have already existed for a long time. What do you think? One of our clients like Dropbox, what do you think Dropbox was doing when they first had you know, invite a friend and get some free storage that is classic viral loops, product lead growth. So it’s always existed product lead growth has but the market is super hyped about it right now. It’s like, oh, what are we going to do about product lead growth? It’s like well if you are a good product person, this is you know, something you’re thinking through anyway. It’s the zeitgeist of conferences and all these things. So I’m not necessarily knocking it I’m just saying I think it’s funny that certain things get hyped up like this. When it’s like, of course, you need to be thinking about this, or of course, you need to but this has already existed. I’ll step off my soapbox now, that was a spicy way to get started for you.
Saksham Sharda: So speaking of like, activities in marketing, particularly whose short-term ROI is not measurable, what are some other things you think that are short-term not measurable, and they are always projected as long-term but you can never tell?
Elias Rubel: Short-term not measurable, it is really hard to launch. Well, to answer your question accurately, you often understand more about the ICP, right? So, ICP, what’s the ACV? And therefore, what’s the buying cycle? I think a lot of marketers get pressure from boards and CEOs to launch something and augment the business metrics, the key metrics in a short period. By a short period I mean they’re asked this a month later, like what’s the update – first month, second month, third month. By the third month, they’re like, Why isn’t this working? And the real answer is if you’re in a mid-market on up sales cycle, some of the marketing programs you have to invest in there are going to take three months to eat to birth into the wild in the first place well, right? If you’re doing Account Based Marketing, one-to-one. That easily is a three-month lift to get to the point where sales and marketing are playing the same game together. Well, everything is well-researched, and well-orchestrated, to get to the point where you’re starting to see even leading indicators of success. And that’s then compounded by the idea that what if your contracts or whatever your sales cycles take 3, 6, 9 months to close? Well, you shouldn’t measure an Account Based Marketing Program or any marketing program in my mind by the top-of-funnel vanity metrics like MQLs you should be measuring it by the bottom-of-funnel revenue generated. And so you could be 3, 6, 9 months out from truly being able to benchmark how this program did base on that piece alone. Does that answer your question?
Saksham Sharda: It did, yeah. So I was gonna say, what advice would you have for growing in these particular precarious, recession-ridden economic climates then? And how can one show up for their team in times of fear, uncertainty, and doubt that are all around us?
Elias Rubel: Okay, so I’ll break that into two questions, the how to show up for the team fear, uncertainty. If doubt, I’ll ask you to remind me about that one once I answered the first piece. But what should people be focused on in these times? So I think in marketing, especially in SaaS and B2B marketing, there’s a lot of talk about demand capture versus demand creation, right? Demand capture is like people out there with the intent they’re looking to buy, they know they have a problem, and we need to go capture those folks at this moment. And then demand creation, right? It’s people who should be using our product, who probably have a need, but they haven’t identified it yet. And we need to do some education and nurturing. If I were to just distill that down. So most marketers out there are thinking about these two categories and figuring out how to align budgets based on that. But I think it’s kind of missing a bit off, not missing the point but it’s jumping to the end too quickly. I’ll use a little bit of storytelling just to set the stage here to give an example. So I was very competitive in rowing and raced for the US team at Worlds for Ocean Rowing in 2018. And if we were to go back and say, demand capture versus demand gen, that would be like, our coach coming to us and saying, we need to go out and get this number of wins. Do it! And like, let’s go find the low-hanging fruit. Let’s go get those wins. And then the other one would be like, you know, we need to go out and we need wins. But we know that the races aren’t for six more months. So like let’s get those races on our calendar. It’s cutting to the end of the journey, but largely ignoring all of the work that goes into being able to win in the first place, right? There’s nutrition, there’s training, there’s sleep, there’s all of these factors, just readiness factors that ultimately set you up to be the best at demand capture and the best at demand creation, right to be the best at winning races when they’re tomorrow and to be the best at winning races when they’re six months from now. And so, I like to think of that, that kind of behind-the-scenes piece as demand efficiency. And right now there’s a lot of talk about how to be more efficient and more scalable and more sustainable with our efforts. It’s not growth at all costs, it’s shit, we need to care about the cost to acquire, and we need to care about how efficient are we in each of these channels. And so demand efficiency looks at the full picture, the full marketing picture, not just what is it costing us, but what are all of the surfaces where a buyer goes in their journey, and all of the opportunities that are lost where cost to acquire is driven up, because they’ve been ignored. So there are plenty of handoffs, right from the top of the funnel, down to mid-funnel, sales get involved, and sales pass that on, how is marketing still touching it at that point? So the analysis of the top of the funnel, mid-funnel, bottom of the funnel, and all of the surfaces in a marketing program. And generating essentially like a health check on what a company’s demand efficiency is, I think a lot of folks are racing, again, to get to this demand capture, demand creation, without taking that step back and seeing how they’re doing across the surfaces. And then putting programs into place to solve those things. I mean, we’re able to when I think about the results matter made is put on the board, we go in, and we’re able to commonly reduce the cost to acquire by 15%+ within the first 60 days of an engagement across our average results. And the way we’re able to do that in the first 60 days reliably, is by looking at those ignored spaces, right? And so if you’re thinking about your budget, and you’re trying to justify with your CFO, as a marketer, or as a CEO, what we should be investing in marketing, well, if you’re able to free up 15% of your budget, to grow just through inefficiencies that you get rid of. That’s huge, right? And that’s just like average, in the first 60 days, there are plenty of companies where we can go in and see like 300 plus percent. Efficiency is driven. So I think people who are too quick to jump to the end should be focused on the kind of journey to get there before then looking at those other two pieces. Did that answer that first question?
Saksham Sharda: Yes. And so about the second part, then how can one show up for their team in times of fear, uncertainty, and doubt?
Elias Rubel: Yeah, I mean, I think it’s twofold. One is setting really clear expectations. I think people flunk flounder when they feel uncertain, and they haven’t been given clear expectations, like what is expected of them. What are the operating parameters for their role and the environment, like, if you went into your role with a certain goal, now the markets shifted, and you’re held to that same goal, or you think maybe you’re going to be held to that same goal, that’s going to create a ton of anxiety and distraction from you being good at your job? And so I think leaders very quickly need to reset the stage, “hey, this is the new world we’re operating in. It’s not the one that we had a second ago, here are the new inputs”. And based on that, here’s the output that we get, we are going to expect, and making sure that feels realistic to the leaders and then is communicated in a way that feels realistic to the individuals on the team. So just kind of resetting the table on that front. And then the rest of it’s just all of the things that you should be doing anyway, which is spending time building relationships, making sure that your people can talk to you and feel heard and seen. Yeah.
Saksham Sharda: So could you give us an example of a company that you’ve worked with anonymously that has nailed these two? Right?
Elias Rubel: Yeah, I can certainly think of plenty of examples of this across our portfolio, whether it’s Loom, Com, Hop, and Dropbox, plenty of great companies who have done a really good job of these things. But I won’t speak specifically about anyone by name just out of respect for their privacy. But I think the companies that we’ve worked with, you do a good job of this, set goals, and then set micro goals leading up to them that are very achievable, and celebrate those wins, and they take the time to celebrate the momentum, especially in marketing. And especially in startups, it’s easy to set a big goal, you get there, and then you just blow right on to the next goal. And you don’t take that second to say “Holy crap, we’ve accomplished a lot. And this deserves celebrating”. And this deserves calling out the people who have been integral in this process and even some of the people who are supportive of this process, but not the key leaders of it. And so I think the companies that I have, in my head, have done a really good job of creating micro milestones and micro-moments of celebration for their teams, which has kept the morale up positive, keeps the feeling of tempo and cadence up and positive, and also creates a more hard-charging team because they’re not just going after this big, audacious goal. They’re going after a big, audacious goal through a series of smaller goals that they feel like they have this winning cadence getting to that big, audacious goal.
Saksham Sharda: So given your experience working with various companies, how do you think brands can avoid compromising their identity while pursuing this greater growth?
Elias Rubel: I don’t think brands need to be in a place where they compromise their identity to chase growth, as long as the message that they’re putting into the market is delivered by their product. Right. So I think that a brand gets into jeopardy if they get out over their skis. Because their marketers and sales reps are promising something that the product doesn’t deliver. And then they’re trying to retain people, through various tactics to it, that’s a bad situation, right? And so as long as what you say you can do is what you can do, and the clients are happy for that reason, customers are happy for that reason, your brand is not going to be in jeopardy. I think in these current times, it’s about slowing things down a little bit, really focusing on whatever your roots are, and going back to those not being in this aggressive growth mindset. But being in this scalable growth mindset, which again, on the marketing side comes back to this demand deficiency idea that I mentioned. But just in general, I think it’s a universal statement for companies right now, which is double down on what you’re good at, don’t force inorganic growth that the company isn’t ready for, which could get you out over your skis. And there’s a way to do that. That doesn’t sacrifice the brand.
Saksham Sharda: And what about companies that feel pressured to pivot or something in these times? Because they feel they might not do well. So what about those companies? How did they go about managing their brand?
Elias Rubel: Yeah, I mean, I think that being nimble in times like these is essential, right? The companies that are stubborn about it will die, or may very well, you know, hurt themselves much more than if they had been nimble. So I think like an example in my sphere that I’m aware of, there’s this company called no boring designs, noboringdesigns.com. And they’re this like zany-design forward design agency. And up until this point, they had only done big, really expensive projects, working with a lot of our clients like Yelp, Dropbox, and stuff. And so we thought of them through this light of like, “Oh, they’re only the expensive agency.” And they made this big pivot just now to be only focused or mostly focused on low price points like 2500 a month and up to deliver campaign creatives and others like sales enablement, campaign assets, things that marketing and sales teams need in a hurry, but they never get because the designers in the house are working on the product design priorities. And so the marketers and sales folks are frustrated, they’re like, I just need this tomorrow. So I can launch my campaign. So they pivoted to that model, knowing that the big budgets for these huge websites and brand overhauls are slowing down now. But the need to go out and drive growth hasn’t slowed down. So I think that’s an example. Again, in my sphere, where I see a company that was doing great at one thing, called it as it was for the current times, and very quickly pivoted to something that they believe is going to work for them now. So just an example.
Saksham Sharda: As given these conditions, what do you think, is it better to hire in-house for companies or outsource to an agency? When is the right time for a business with funding to hire versus outsource?
Elias Rubel: Yeah, that’s a great question. It’s gonna differ for every business. I know, that’s like a cop-out answer. But I’ll explain what I mean by that, and why. So certain companies are going to want things in-house, just based on like executive personalities, right? There are inherent limitations when you work with an agency around the working style, because the agency is going to have a certain way that they like to work, and more importantly, a way that they’re efficient and effective. And so I think companies that are interested in adopting whatever the latest best practices are around how to work in that specific agency’s area of expertise will gravitate towards agencies, and then they’ll adopt those best practices, and everyone’s better for it. But there are some companies that just like, hey, we’re only going to work the way we want to work. And that won’t mesh well with agencies, and then they end up in a situation where the agency relationship isn’t good because the agency needs to work their way company wants to work their way and you get friction. So I think working styles is a big important factor there. Right now though, I think, if anything, working with agencies is more advantageous than it’s ever been. Because of the times right, the carrying costs for a full-size Marketing team that can execute programs end to end at any decent velocity. When you factor in salary and benefits, and all of the things that go into in-house employees, that’s a huge chunk on your p&l every month. And so it’s not that you’re going to save that huge chunk by going with an agency. But you’ve created a lot more mobility for yourself in planning. Because if things were to get worse, now you have to riff that department if it’s in-house, as opposed to or riff it down, as opposed to going to your agency and saying, like, what is a reduced scope look like? Something along those lines. So I think in times like these, the flexibility that agencies bring, where you get the same or better expertise, with more flexibility is pretty key.
Saksham Sharda: What do you think the future holds, is it going to be more agency oriented? Because we’ve had several marketers come on and predict that it might be more outsourcing oriented than actually having an in-house team. What do you think about that?
Elias Rubel: Yeah, I think there’s a lot of interesting movement in the market right now, I don’t even think it’s necessarily driven so much by agencies, as compared to individuals and ICS, who would have worked in-house, I think people are getting restless, and people are interested in freelancing. Or either freelancing and consulting on their own, or going into an agency environment where they’re not married to just one company for three years at a time. And so I think that more than anything will be the forcing function where it will be harder and harder to hire talented people in-house because those talented people will either be consulting or joining agencies, so they can see a broader breadth of challenges and problem sets that just interests them. And then that will force companies to consider agencies more than they ever have in the past, not just because the labor is in there, but also because the talent is now shifted to another place, and companies inherently are gonna want to work with the best people.
Saksham Sharda: All right. So the last question for you is then, what would you be doing in your life if not this?
Elias Rubel: What would I be doing in my life if not this? I feel like I’m doing what I want to be doing. If I were to do anything else, you’d probably be like, go be a bartender at the neighborhood pub. Chat with the neighbors. Sling beer. I don’t know, I’m a pretty laid-back person. So I spend enough time in nature. I spend a good amount of time with my family. I like running a company. Yeah.
Saksham Sharda: All right. Okay. Well, that was the last question then.
Saksham Sharda: Thanks, everyone for joining us for this month’s episode of Outgrow’s Marketer of the Month. That was Elias Rubel, who is the CEO of Matter Made. Thanks for joining us, Elias.
Elias Rubel: Thanks for having me.
Saksham Sharda: Check out the website for more details and we’ll see you once again next month with another marketer of the month.