Introverts Can Thrive in Marketing with Ana Bibikova – The Reluctant Marketer Podcast #1

Today, I’m talking to Ana Bibikova. She is Head of Marketing at Aimondo, and a consultant and mentor for startup founders. Ana thinks introverts can thrive with modern marketing.


Matthias Bohlen 0:34
Hi Anna, I'm so excited to have you here. Good morning today.

Ana Bibikova 0:38
Hello Matthias, excited to be here as well thank you for having me.

Matthias Bohlen 0:43
Today, here with me, dear audience, is Ana Bibikova. She's Head of Marketing at Aimondo, a pricing SaaS for e-commerce retailers and brands. Ana has more than 18 years of experience of marketing experience under her belt. She's very much into SaaS marketing, b2b SaaS, marketing, things like lead generation, content, events, paid acquisition, social, you name it.

Matthias Bohlen 1:06
And Anna still has time for something special, and is on a mission to help founders with very limited resources to launch more successful and useful products that help real people solve real problems. So yeah, quite exciting. She's doing all kinds of other things. So let's dive in. Welcome to The Reluctant Marketer Podcast.

Ana Bibikova 1:28
Thank you so much. Thank you for having me.

Matthias Bohlen 1:33
First of all, how on earth do you find time for this? Your head of marketing you have been founders and you have a family raising children at the same time? How does that all work?

Ana ran a business, then became a mentor

Ana Bibikova 1:44
Oh, my, that's a tough question. It actually does not there is no magic pill you can't fit everything in there.

Ana Bibikova 1:55
So the story is that I have been on my own like doing private mentorship just sessions or I am still with the founder Institute as a part of their mentorship program.

Ana Bibikova 2:11
So I have several annual commitments as far as it goes with that big you know, classroom lectures and several one on one mentorship sessions with the founders for answer the founder Institute program.

Ana Bibikova 2:29
Otherwise, I had to put my you know, private in private marketing consultancy business on hold for a while, as I joined the team of b2b service in December,

Ana Bibikova 2:45
after having almost four years of this gap, doing my own projects, building my own consultancy business, and one of the reasons why I joined it is like in the first place I, I used to be a head of marketing. I used to be like basically an entrepreneur: I used to build an innovative retail company with E commerce for almost seven years. And I quit because of the burnout that I had, again, I spent too much time working, I had and I was actually focused on the wrong things. You know, as an introvert, I did not realize where my strong sides were that and basically because I enjoyed doing marketing so much I enjoyed doing, you know, playing behind the scenes. But as a hub of business, I could not afford doing it all the time. And I ended up actually submerging myself into things that I hated doing, like hiring people manage,

Ana Bibikova 3:54
interacting with people all the time. So no surprises there. As an introvert, I got to a stage where I just hated every single moment I spent building this business and growing this business. I just sold everything that I could and quit.

Ana Bibikova 4:11
So after that, I was hoping I would never work again. I just spend all the time with my family growing my kids, but obviously that's something that happened.

Ana Bibikova 4:22
A friend of mine who was here inside and was leading the local accelerator program for this startup founders. It happened like five, some or five years ago. So he reached out to me asking if I would like to lecture to some of the founders and share my experience in marketing, because that's

Ana Bibikova 4:48
the most painful point that startup founders usually have. They know more or less well how to build a product but they don't know how to promote it, how to bring it in front of the customer's eyes. So he invited me as just a lecture as as an educator to talk to the founders to tell them about the, like my own experience in building business. And I was very surprised, because they said, You know, I've never been in the startup field before, I don't know how to talk to them. And he was like, come on, you've been doing some things in the various things. Oh, yeah.

Ana Bibikova 5:23
Yeah, it's all it's setup. Because the retail concept that I introduced to the market, it was very innovative back then. And I've never seen anyone actually doing anything like that like this still, because it was a mixture of, you know, the cooking class, space, the made up space and the commercial space. So people could come in there, they could, they could around the space, and they could use it to arrange cooking classes to learn how to cook. And they could use the ingredients that were sold by the stores. And they could actually just come there every single day. And because we have cooking classes on ongoing basis, like every weekend, we have something going on, and people could come over there and visit us and taste the food and learn how to delete. And again pictures that the ingredients in the same time. And also we arranged like online checkout, so that like people could buy like this cooking class as a gift people could buy cooking classes experience. So there was a lot a lot of online activities around this as well.

Ana Bibikova 6:36
So yes,

Ana Bibikova 6:39
yeah, I've never seen anything like that before. And I've never seen anyone do it like this, even now, even after COVID. I want people like us to go online for all kinds of experiences. So it was very innovative back then. And this this this friend of mine, he said you can share your experience your background, how you did, did you come up with this idea in the first place? How you introduced it? What challenges did you have?

Matthias Bohlen 7:09
You had the experience? Yeah.

Ana Bibikova 7:11
So yeah, that's what I started doing. I started talking to the founders, and very fast, I realized that they would not so much about like, how to come up with an idea. They already have ideas. They struggled mostly with maybe batching, their ideas, validating them, right? Which one is visible? Which one is not? And if the visible one, what is the best target audience for me? How do I find these people? What what audience is supposed to be more promising? Who are the best paying customers? Who are the good paying customers, but they're not early adopters? So there is always a balance between choosing your go to market strategy, what niche should you go with? Should you even build a niche business? And if you build an also niche business, like for example, one of my favorite example, Peter Shum, he built this rare, rare form

Ana Bibikova 8:13
service application. That it's it's it's like the Form Builder, like Google Forms, but three here.

Ana Bibikova 8:23
So it's for everyone. It's not like you have very specific audience, you can introduce a product. So it can be used by small businesses, by marketers by enterpreneurs. By founders. Yeah.

Ana Bibikova 8:38
Anyone, right. So, like Google, it's for all kinds of people, or I don't know, their likes notions. For example, there are many other project products. Yeah, it can be used by anyone. But the stories, you still have to choose whom to start with, because as a founder, you have a very limited budget, and very limited,

Ana Bibikova 9:04
very limited resources in terms of addressing audiences. So most often you have just one or maybe two shots to shoot em have to be very precise, who to sell to is because if you choose the wrong audience, for your go to market strategy, you can get demotivated and discouraged very fast if you don't have positive response. And if you invested a lot of money and time resources into reaching out to this audience, and you're not getting anything back, so you basically burn all your cash very fast, and you don't have anything to go with further. So that's the pain points of the of the early stage founders that I realized very fast. So again, that it was more about as soon as you get to know your audience, or is as soon as you chose someone, how do you reach out to them? How do you go to them? Where do you find these people?

Ana Bibikova 10:00
And yeah, that's what I started mentoring about that I started educating people on as like a private consultant as a part of the founder Institute mentorship program.

Ana Bibikova 10:15
But again, after maybe four years of doing this,

Ana Bibikova 10:21
mostly my deal flow was coming from Twitter from LinkedIn and the founder Institute program, because I was very active on social media telling people what I could help them with my, my insights, my understanding of how it should, that shouldn't be done. And probably it resonated with many people as well. But eventually, again, I got to the point, when I started feeling that it doesn't fulfill me as a person, on a certain level, because it's a good thing to help someone with an extra piece of advice. But in most cases, because I used to deal with the very early stage founders, I never put like, follow up, or I never had this luxury of seeing my ideas and my tips been implemented. Because as you know, the other stage founders, they they kind of swimmers that have to cross the Indian Ocean, they have so many things to do, there's so many things, they have to juggle all the plates, and they have so many things on their plates, that most often, they just have chosen some direct direction to go. And even if they hire me as a consultant, or as a mentor, I tell them, This is what how it should be done. This is what you have to do. This is what you have to change, they realize that I'm telling them all the right things, and they resonate with them, but they already so deep in some workflow in some, you know, in some in some force, they have to just changing this demands a lot of effort, and then realize that, for example, building this, like marketing machine, building the structure running all the customer interviews during this season, that they just don't have time for that they may only manage to the bottom products, they don't have time for all the restructure.

Why introverted solopreneurs struggle with marketing

Matthias Bohlen 12:27
This was one of my questions that I had, why do we struggle so much with marketing when we are solopreneurs? Or especially introverted ones? Why doesn't marketing come natural to us? Why do why do we struggle with myself? And it's I've seen other people struggle with it, especially introverted people, what do you think how wide is marketing so so it's kind of off to us.

Ana Bibikova 12:51
I don't believe that it has to do with the marketing or actually building a product that it's not about that, and I don't believe it has to do something with introversion. Because

Ana Bibikova 13:04
you know, for example, many people believe that a say a good salesperson can be an introvert. Because to be good at sales, you have to be convincing, chatty, you have to be a little bit pushy and pitchy. And you have to be very persistent. And not to be discouraged by people, you know, sending you a way you have to stay motivated, doing door to door sales, stuff like that. So you just can't be an introvert in and be successful in sales. And that's completely not true. Because, yeah, the bulk of the process is to stay put and stay motivated while being rejected all the time. But to be honest, you know, none of us likes being rejected introverts or extroverts we don't enjoy when people tell us "go away. You're so annoying."

Ana Bibikova 14:00
Nobody enjoys that. It's not about introversion and extraversion, that main difference that introverted people and there were actually many scientific studies on that, that we are we get overwhelmed by interacting with it's not we that we antisocial, right. It's not that all around us, we actually enjoy meaningful conversations, but one on one, we can be very happy just following your friend and and discussing some something over a cup of coffee or a glass of beer or something like that. But if it's one on one, that's that's the conditions why while we feel comfortable during the internet, social interaction, the conversation should be one on one. It should be meaningful. We should it shouldn't be like empty, small talk. It should be about some topic that we really enjoy. Talk

Ana Bibikova 15:00
About that we actually have put some thought into, and when we were talking to a person that we believe is interesting to us. So if all these conditions three conditions meet, we are amazing at social interaction, but we can last for a very long time much longer than an average extrovert. What we really don't enjoy is like covering the room, when we put ourselves into, like, unknown circumstances, unknown group of people, and we have to interact like with all of them, like group meetings, conferences, all, you know, interaction,

Ana Bibikova 15:46
parties, it's all horrible. It's so very bad, and we really suck at it. And one of the reasons why is that, not because we are antisocial, because we're extra social, we have this, you know, like,

Ana Bibikova 16:04
signal, like a signal receiver machine in our brain, that all the social cues that much better than average, extroverts would peak.

Introverts are more sensitive and like to be in control

Matthias Bohlen 16:18
It's kind of like a microphone, right? In your podcast. It's more sensitive,

Ana Bibikova 16:22
yeah, it's more savvy or more sensitive to social cues. And that's why we get overwhelmed much faster. It's kind of you know, system overload, we get too much information, too much of that. And we get totally wiped out in a after very short interaction with many people we have, because we feel kind of responsible for picking all these cues, and building our communication in a very personalized way with all the people and it's just physically impossible. Yeah, reasons. And the second reason is that introverts in general, are more like,

Ana Bibikova 17:01
again, more uncomfortable with unknown circumstances, if we find ourselves face to face with an unknown group of people, we feel more uncomfortable as average extrovert, for example, because we don't know what to expect. We don't know if these people are going to be interesting to us. We don't know. And we're not kind of in control. We feel that's why we feel more comfortable.

Ana Bibikova 17:29
Because we, we it gives this sense of control. If you don't like these people, you just stop interacting with them. If you feel overwhelmed, you don't interact with them. And in real life, we're not in control. So we kind of, we feel overloaded, and we feel this lack of control. And it's actually a dreaded experience. And that's why we felt so uncomfortable and so tired. after all.

Matthias Bohlen 17:55
This explains a lot to me, because I always feel totally not in control of marketing, because marketing. To me, it feels like changing the behavior of people, right? I want people to buy my stuff. I can't control that.

Introverts can be great in sales

Ana Bibikova 18:12
That's true. And that was one of the reasons like getting back to my this

Ana Bibikova 18:17
reasoning that introverts can be great in sales, is that the reason why we get overwhelmed, not because we're antisocial. But all the way around. Because we extra social, we pick the cues much better than average extrovert. So we actually much better in listening to people listening to their pain points, listen to what they say. And we're better in channeling this requirements, this pains into the right narrative, how to wrap our product in the right way and present it to people so that they instantly see that our product actually solves their problem with general excerpt. It's totally different. They have like, you know, the, the, the guidelines, how to sell their product, and they just go with it. They go and they chat. And they sell because they don't listen to any feedback. They don't listen to what people are actually saying to them. They can last longer because they just can endure more interactions. But it's it doesn't mean that they're better at sales that average introvert would be we kind of have totally different approach. It's quality versus quality quantity, right? That

Ana Bibikova 19:38
will just cover many people and they would introduce the same speech to everyone.

Ana Bibikova 19:45
And eventually they will stumble upon someone this feature actually resonates with that's how they close the deal. With us. It's totally different. We try to be very, very personalized, very targeted, very customized.

Ana Bibikova 20:00
try to find people who really need our product and that as soon as we find them, we kind of wrap our messaging our product positioning into something that will be very relevant to these people. And we bring our product to this audience specifically. And that's actually the trams that modern marketing goes into modern marketing is much less about, you know, this mass market messaging, they very shouty mpg and just sending the same message to everyone. Modern Marketing is much more about crafting personalized messages. That's why I think that's modern marketing actually belongs to introverted enterpreneurs. And

Ana Bibikova 20:49
they can be actually very successful specifically in the more modern marketing world and the way we understand marketing now, in terms of again, answering to your question, why marketing, it feels like marketing doesn't come naturally to introverted technical founders. Yeah, you're already actually raised this, it's one of the reasons that marketing is more or less, much more unpredictable than, like building technical response from the system. When we we know how to vote, we always know that we put this line of code into the system, we'll probably like, get this response. And if we're not getting it, it means that we wrote the wrong code, that there is a safe somewhere in there. So we always know that feedback that we want to get the system feedback, and we just tweak the code until we get this feedback. With marketing, it's a little bit different. We know that that's the feedback that we want, we want sales, we want customers, right? But there's so many points where something can go wrong, right? It's not just

Ana Bibikova 22:06
two sides like interaction with you and then in there and the I don't know text editor or some other kind of things that you used to write for then there are so many touch points where you can put the road coding it can be you know, the wrong messaging, the wrong audience can be the wrong visuals. It can be the wrong ad targeting campaign, it can be the wrong location, it can be the wrong platform. So yeah, so many things can go wrong. So we kind of get lost again trying to juggle all these cues and put it into the system that's why market with technical founders struggle with marketing because there are so many touch points where we can make a mistake. So if we try to split it into simple tasks and simple little experiments, like okay for these two weeks and don't expect very fast results, that it stops being so overwhelming. Again, it's like the same story as advice for introverted people try to break your to move your interaction from the covering the room into one on one conversation. If you stop seeking, like for example, if you go to a party if you stop seeing this person interpersonal putting this into perspective, like oh my gosh, I have to talk to so many people it's so tiresome I hate you if you start thinking I will find one friend I want to talk to and I will spend all evening talking to this friend is sobs been overwhelming all of a sudden. And if you do just that you go to a party you find one person you actually like or you wanted to be introduced to or you actually know from another party, it suddenly turns from a horrific experience into an enjoyable experience and you spend all this report hours and a party talking to a person you really like and eventually find possible in marketing as well.

Matthias Bohlen 24:10
Can I do something similar, in marketing?

Ana Bibikova 24:12
It is very possible in marketing, you just stop thinking of I have to cover all the grounds I have to find the right audience the right message the right everything, channels and everything. Yeah, you find you do one experiment at a time for example, okay, today, for this month, I wants to build my cold emailing system and our first of all start with finding the right audience. So I have a hypothesis that my product will be most relevant to XYZ, these people.

Do marketing, one experiment at a time

Ana Bibikova 24:49
So I will find these people online and I will send the same pitch to them. All right, I will send the same code same same email

Ana Bibikova 25:00
With the same subject line to all these three groups, and I will see how it resonates with them. So eventually you find the one that is resonates the most, then you start tweaking the subject line, like for the next couple of weeks, you start playing around with the subject line, like, Okay, if I tell these people that my product can boost their productivity, will it resonate better than if I tell these people that this product can can improve their revenue, or this product will save their time or this product will leave them more time to spend with their family? What kind of what kind of food? What kinds of bottles should I push with this specific audience, because I have to figure out what what what resonates better with them. Then after I find the better, the better subject line, I can start playing around with my copy. So take one step at a time, take split the big tat, big marketing work into very, very small chunks, and always experiment, always run experiment, trying to build, you know, in this one on one interaction with your audience, then then it works much better.

Ana Bibikova 26:17
And you get data could also help

Ana Bibikova 26:21
you get predictable results. Because as a technical person, we're all data driven. As soon as we start getting data, see, you know, absolutely different presentation, the open rate, we instantly figure out that, okay, here we're moving in the right direction, we get encouraged to get motivated here, which is, which is the samples, we don't move in that direction. It gets so much easier when you start running the experiments. It's much easier with the small budgets again.

The age of mass marketing is over, you're not Coca-Cola!

Matthias Bohlen 26:55
Interesting. So you mentioned in your previous answer, you mentioned this kind of modern marketing today, that's different from previous years. This sounds very much like achieving those one on one kinds of conversations you you mentioned lately.

Matthias Bohlen 27:13
Does it have anything to do with sending the same message to everyone versus talking to one person specifically, is this the kind of modern marketing? Or what did you mean when you said marketing is changing towards something more modern?

Ana Bibikova 27:28
Yeah, that's exactly what I mean that marketing, our approach to marketing is changing from this mass market approach, just covering lots of lots of field at the same time with the same message with the same product to being more personalized, more

Ana Bibikova 27:50
actually talking to a customer on a more personal level, all the marketing communications, if you if you look at the big companies like Coca Cola, or Procter and Gamble, everything they seal, try their best to create to build products for different niches for different audiences. So they personalize their marketing on the product level. And they also personalize the marketing on the communication level of trying to send all different messages to all different audiences. And they also build their marketing communication in a more informal, like, human like way, right? They, they try to put a face behind the brand, they try some person to be the this voice behind the brand to speak with the audience. They don't say, you know, like, our sneakers are the best because they're the best, they're more comfortable, they have better layers and stuff like that. They have this brand attached to certain person who says, I'm better like basketball player, I become better professional, like because I'm using the sneakers. So they try to connect the message to the personal achievements. So the person to the understanding how their audience their customers would feel about themselves, not about the product. Like because people don't want better sneakers, they want to feel better in them. They don't want them to to look really they want other people to see oh, you you you have new sneakers, they look amazing. Or they want to look at this sneakers in the mirror or just put their eyes down and think to themselves Oh, I'm just I look amazing today. So it's not about the sneakers, it's about feeling how you feel about it. And that's why all marketing communications are become more human human related and more personalized. That's one of the reasons and the second reason actually covered it a lot talked about this a lot with my on my podcast episode with our wait, like I think it was aired in January.

Ana Bibikova 29:58
It has so much has to do with the modern economic structure, how society is structured and how modern economists structured. First of all, because like 50 years ago, the economy belonged to the big corporations, right? So they were big companies who could spend, like 1000s, and millions and billions on marketing on advertising. Today's economy is much more fragmented, and it belongs to small players, it's a greater economy. And creators, they don't have this budgets to address to the mass market. So the only way graders can structure their business is to address to targeted niche audience to very, very small groups of people.

And that's why basically how marketing had to restructure itself to address to people who are the main players in today's economy. We can't teach, you know, small players, the same tricks that big dogs can use, we can do exactly, traders, like do the same things that Maurice used to do 50 years ago, just found another 5 billion on your marketing campaign, and you'll be on top of the hill.

That's not something Yeah, exactly. So marketing has to reinvent itself to offer that success, you know, strategies, that the winning tactics to the small players, because that's for the main players in the today's economy. That's one thing. And the second thing is actually the site, the city has restructured itself, considerably compared to how it was like, again, 100 years ago, and 50 years ago, like when we started seeing these big corporations, and this mass marketing. Going up, one, basically, beginning of 20th century, middle of the 20th century, when big cities started to evolve. And people started just moving from from the suburbs, in the big cities, cutting their traditional links, traditional relationships with the family, how the rural society was structured, structured, you lived in the village, and you know, pretty much everyone there, you knew, like, if you felt this problem, you have to go to Mr. X, and you have that problem, you have to go Mr. Y. Or if you have that problem, you have to go to Mrs. Z.

So when you move to a big city, you you severe all the links you had with your family with the traditional society, you kind of a part of this faceless machine, you're part of this, just a big crowd of people who are more or less the same, they all work for the same plan, they all work for the same factory, and they have no connection, no horizontal connections between each other, they all have just this hierarchy was built top to bottom, from the big boss on the plants to all the small employees who are working on this for the same tax rate. That's why this faceless mass marketing worked because these people were connectionless, they didn't have the background, they didn't have you know, this, this value structure around their family, their their friends, that the horizontal length, they all knew that they live in a big city, they belong to generation XYZ or boomers or something.

Yeah. And they, they belong to a certain age group. They belong to a certain like income level. And that's what we need it as marketers, so dressed to these people, it doesn't work that way anymore. Because all people now belong to a certain community. We belong to a certain community online, or we belong to a certain community in our neighborhoods. So we have our value system, our pictures and preferences structured around this small communities. And for marketers, it's not enough anymore to have this very wide, you know, demographic structure, so addressed to people who live in a city of Los Angeles who are from 18 to 25 years old and who have this sort of

Matthias Bohlen 34:35
the old persona thing, right?

Ana Bibikova 34:38
Yeah, household... It doesn't work that way. Because people who live in this city have this sort of, they have can have totally different life values, totally different lifestyles, they would follow totally different influences on social media. And so you have to create absolutely different marketing messages to these people to address this Remote. Yeah, because this is Friday is not has restructured this horizontals horizontal links, we used to have, like 300 years ago, we're living in the villages that work a bit completely severes. One, like during the Industrial Revolution, right, this society, due to the new tab that has been introduced social media, zoom, Google mates, people managed to recreate all this links that we used to have this horizontal link, and rebuilt itself into small communities, again, like into small villages, and only in the big cities, some of us might work for a big factory, we still belong to adopt small, you know, online villages, we built online communities. And that's why marketing is the second reason why marketing has restructured sales to create very personalized messages because this white demographic filters that don't work anymore.

The arrival of the creator economy changed marketing

Matthias Bohlen 36:06
That's so interesting, because it creates a big chance for us solopreneurs I think, because we can focus on on kind of community we like or kind of community we really understand and can give you two, we are not doing marketing, like "pounding the drum, tooting the horn", as I always say, it's felt. That's what marketing felt to me when I technical founders started with it. And I thought this is not for me. What the heck.

Ana Bibikova 36:36
And that's exactly why you see this rise of this creator economy, right. So because the conditions are right, the tap is there, and people who are ready for to to deal with this small small craters to like, like we used to deal with that 500 years ago, right where we would go to to order our shoes, we wouldn't go to a big supermarket to buy our we would go to someone we know, to someone we trust, and to someone who's got very good recommendations from our neighbors, we would not go to buy our food from you know, like, like McDonald's or subway or somewhere, we would go to someone, again, who's got reputation, and not just any reputation, but reputation from people that we believe they know what they're saying, right reputation from our inner circle and reputation in our community. I don't ask for example, as a creator, I don't care what you know, a marketer from KFC would say, it's totally irrelevant to me, as for example, a marketer for a small startup, I don't care what like a marketer, a marketing director, and Procter and Gamble is simply thinking about marketing. What's relevant to me what other startup marketers are saying, what kinds of tools they would recommend me to use. So that's, again, all they're all They're very small community business all alone again. And that's why small players, small, small, small, small startup founders have so many, much more chances for success as they used to have, like 30 years ago.

Matthias Bohlen 38:31
That's good news. That's totally good news.

Ana Bibikova 38:34
Yeah, some

Ana Bibikova 38:37
good news, everything is on one hand. So because the entrance barriers are so low, like the customers are ready to deal with smoke layers. Instead of, you know, faceless big corporations. It's the good news. But the bad news is that, like, it's still, it's still the world of business. So the rules are still there, the more players entering the market, the higher the cost of customer acquisition will go. So if you have low barriers, if you have a ready demand, so obviously, you're the only one who's got this genius idea to start your business, probably will be other intrapreneurs entering the market flowing in, and you have to compete with all of them. That's why you have to become really personal with your interaction with the customers. You have to be become very creative. You have to become you either have to spend more, just buy your way in the market. That's not the best news, or you have to be more personalized in your communication. And that's a good news.

Personalized marketing is the new way to earn people's trust

Matthias Bohlen 39:52
I remember when Corey Haines,

Matthias Bohlen 39:56
well known marketer when he said marketing is earning trust at scale, so earning trust of a lot of people.

Matthias Bohlen 40:04
Can you put this into perspective with the with the more personalized communication? How can I do this ask at scale because the conversion rate is so low. Let's take 5% is already good for SaaS. So to get 100 people, I need 20 times 100. So I need 2000 People who are at least interested in my SAS, so that 100 people convert. What do you think earning trust at scale? Does that work? How can that work for a solopreneur?

Ana Bibikova 40:37
What Corey actually man's is, again, being being very specific with your targeted audience, and not trying your best to be loved by anyone, by everyone, but be loved, but very specific group of people. So it's really it's it's not only about just marketing, it's about product as well, right. So just beginning with building the product, you should address the needs of very specific audience, you should be in touch with this people constantly talking to them, and understanding their jobs to be done understanding their requirements to build a product that would reflect this specific people needs. For example, let me give you an example.

Like when a job join the from my personal experience, when I joined the team, this the b2b SaaS team in December, I was I started to look for the cold email outreach tool, I needed some tap to be used to, to get better data to the structure, my cold emailing campaigns. And I had this close to their friend, like, how close can you be with someone online, right? It's not like your best friend, but it's someone who you know, on Twitter, you interact with you had couple of conversations, like we assume, and you kind of support their product launch, they support your product launch, more personal interaction than with the rest of of Twitter audience.

And I know that the team, we're building cold email outreach products, and obviously, they were my first choice. I didn't look for the market leaders, like I knew the market leaders like lamb lists, for example, right? I know that that's a very decent product, it will be always on my consideration set just because of the market leader. Like for example, if you go for, I don't know, buying diapers, Procter and Gamble would be always on your consideration set because they you know that you always find them in any supermarket.

Yeah, but if you know someone personally, from Twitter, from the interaction there, this set up, they were not even customer ready, this very little product would sneak their way meaning into your consideration set anyway, because they gained your trust as a founder, I knew nothing about their product. I haven't used them. But I knew the founder, I had the respect to them, because they had here's how they build it. They're the marketing, their communication, their strategy, how they interacted with their reader users, it resonated very well with what I believe is the right thing to structure, your media, your your product, your marketing, your communication. So that's why they gain trust with me. And that's how they got a customer.

I'm pretty sure they because they were building off their communication in public on Twitter, they share their ideas on Twitter, they they were very open with everything they did on Twitter, the first product, actually, we were hooked up when they build a product that failed. They were building some I don't know, Customer Support Chat or knowledge base chat or something like that. And they reached out to me to support their product, their product can't launch, I started interacting with them. And eventually, the Product Funnel can't launch didn't go very well.

And then eventually the whole product failed because they didn't manage to get any traction on that. But because we're already hooked up, we interacted a lot further and further and I saw how they were building this product in public. I saw how they were getting customers feedback was every single stage of this new product was called the male and outreach product. And so because of that I was the part of their trusted network met all that, you know, 500 700 people that were not just following the journey, but they interacted with in a more personal way.

So I'm pretty sure that if other people in that 700 people that work at Sunday would get this needs to get all the melee outreach to our most to earners, that is the founder name or No, yeah, earners product would sneak their way into this people consideration set just because they trust the founder. So building in public for this specific audience, having this trust with your audience.

And having these community conversations with your audience is one way of building building trust at scale. And means, again, addressing maybe this 700 people or 505,000, people who follow you at this stage, they don't need the cold emailing outreach show, or they don't need this tool in general. But as soon as they get this demand, as soon as they be in a market, I'll be showing you will be in their consideration set along with the very big players who invested millions in their marketing strategy.

Ana Bibikova 46:23
That's a new super interesting point. But this also means that I might have to wait right? I might have to wait until I'm yeah, I'm trusted by enough people.

Planting as many seeds as you can

Ana Bibikova 46:38
Yeah, exactly. So it's, it's just one part of the marketing strategy, right? It's, in general, when you're a small stage founder, it's about to answer as many seats as you can, right? It's about here, being on Twitter, putting out content, establishing trust with people, it's more maybe addressing the future demand, nurturing your this people who would look for a tool, something that you're building in future, maybe not today, maybe in two weeks, maybe in a month, maybe in a year. So it's about establishing trust with these people, or maybe these people would recommend you to someone else, maybe they will never be in the market for the tool. But as soon as they get that's what I get mad all the time. Because I'm building so many, no marketing has been done in this company for five years. It's it was more sales driven for five years. And they got to an amazing points, like almost 2 million annual revenue without any marketing.

Okay. So now I'm here trying to build the marketing machine to improve on this results. So the sales team is still there. But I'm trying to leverage all other opportunities that are already there. And I'm trying to build lots of things. So obviously, there are a lot of automations. I'm using lots of tech that hasn't been used here. And again, because I wasn't building something actively with my own hands, right? For some time for maybe four or five years. While I was mentoring. I was offering the advice, how things should be done. But I was looking deeper, what kind of tools should be used to do these things, what kind of tools are better. And it's one of the reason another reason that I used to work mostly with the US base founders and most like 99% of tech tools. They are aimed at the US base audience, like audience intelligence lead generation for the melee, you pick it, it's all for the US market, when you start catering to the European base customers like I am now it's totally different story because for example, German customers, they're not even on social media, you can't find anything about your prospects for located in Germany, because they they're not even on social media, and so on and so forth.

So I'm trying to build lots of things that I have no, like personal experience with or like my knowledge is a little bit outdated because I didn't do anything like manually for four years. And because I haven't catered to the European audience before. And yeah, that's why I constantly stumble on these blocks. Okay, I use this tool for the US and it worked amazingly well. It just doesn't work for Europe. Because it just does not. It's not supposed to be used here. So yes, it was Yeah, and I put this you know, request on Twitter every day. Like, I have this problem. If you have a view if you if you encountered this problem, if you had this challenge before, what tools did you use, and people started sending me recommendations. And you know, 99% of this recommendations are not about tools that they personally use. It's about some founders that they know that they follow on Twitter that they want.

Ana Bibikova 50:21
And they say, you know, honestly, I haven't used this. So before, but this, this guy is building what you're looking for. They've got amazing, like, reputation, they've got amazing reputation. That's what people keep on telling me, they always recommend me someone with a reputation. And that's exactly how you plant the seeds and how you start getting the crops, like maybe people who you're talking to right now, they might not even be in the market in the nearest future, or might never be in the market. But if they trust you, if you manage to build your reputation with them, they would recommend you to someone who is in in the market. So yeah, that's how it works.

The development and marketing loop

Matthias Bohlen 51:04
Interesting. How do you see this loop? What do you think you mentioned on your homepage of the marketing toolkit that you have, that founders have to change this loop? What do you think is the big change that should be made?

Ana Bibikova 51:45
The you know, I actually have a free email course, like that, an email sequence on exactly this subject, how to find customers before you build. So if your listeners are interested in this kind of things, they can join the courses completely free. Just Google, the links are in my Twitter accounts or LinkedIn or on my website, whatever the Yeah. Everywhere. So what my perspective on this is, I actually got it while I never gave it a second thought, to be honest, I always assumed, you know, product is product marketing is marketing, they have different jobs, and okay, they should interact with a part of the team, but they shouldn't be a part of the same of the same loop of the same cycle. Yeah, this song is that I when I started mentoring founders, when I first joined the founder, incision program, I guess, three years ago, and I started mentoring founders. And I realized very soon I start getting my own like, you know, failure rate sets, like what founders fail what founders actually get somewhere because you know, you you follow up with the people anyway, you mentor them, you get them advice, they leave the program, and then they you kind of get connected on LinkedIn or Twitter and you then just randomly do chats how they do it says I'm still around there or is it just should was sounds to the setup cemetery. Grave? Yeah. Yeah. And and what I realized very soon that founders footpads

Ana Bibikova 53:35
technical backgrounds, they have very high failure rate. Yeah, that's the Central's founders who, who are completely technical, they have very high failure rate. But what was surprising that founders that have marketing background also have very high failure rate. So if they knew how to address the audience, they knew the basics, you know, how to run Google ads, how to build their social media presence, stuff like that. But they also had very high conversion rate, what actually had who actually had the lowest failure rate were founders with product backgrounds. founders who work lino product manager is those who used to build products based on their constant customer feedback. Like those who used to start with conversation with the customers, who used to build products on top, after listening to what people are saying, after having customer interviews, after you know, getting used to launching beta versions, getting used to launching data and actually get customers on the beta versions and getting the feedback and after that interact, interact. Iterating so base founders, they were the most successful ones, because they started with the customer requirements. They

Ana Bibikova 55:00
started from with going to people asking the right questions, because they have this experience this product background, it's about asking the right questions. And putting this question the answers into the right perspective getting the right data out of this questions. So they, they just build that product based on the actual customer demand, they didn't sell the building until they got the right understanding what the demand is, and what this what kind of people they're going to interact with, their, what they were what, where they're coming from, what their background is like. And as soon as they got there, they got pretty much ready to implement go to market strategy, right. So they knew the product, they knew the customers, they knew where to find these customers, they knew what what kind of like sorts, these customers had in their hands, what kind of perspective this customers had. And it was very easy for them to hire someone to do the marketing outreach, because they could provide very precise guidelines, in terms of demographics, in terms of, you know, psychographics, in terms of everything, that's the people I want to target, that's their problem, that's where you find them that that's the words that they're using, well talking about this, exactly the language, it was very, very simple, very easy for them.

And also, because they had already people lined up, who they interacted with, during the product development stage, the beta stage, so these people became the, you know, the ambassadors, the product ambassadors, these people already invested themselves into building the product. These people were already a, you know, big fans, they just always people either became the first customers paying customers, or they can started referring this product to everyone else. So that's that what kick started the whole success during Yeah, and that's what my personal observation is. So if you go from that, like Lean product development, if you go from actually talking to customers interacting with them, that's the same prop framework that is basically an outline in our with Carl's books, like embedded into your printer, right? It's the same principle, you go to people first, you investigate, first, you talk to them first. And after that, you start building, but not just building, but you're also build constantly interacting with these people, you engage these people, you make these people part of your building process.

And with that, like that's the building public framework, again, jumping in, right you engage these people up, make these people a part of your building process. And like that, with that you a, you build trust, you build reputation, and you build a community of raving fans, who would go out there and always wrap around your product. So everyone they know is irrelevant, you know, target audience. That's how it works.

Matthias Bohlen 58:22
That's, that's cool. It resonates with me very well, because I recently put or from the beginning, I put up a waiting list for my upcoming product to quiet to market this marketing system for for introverts. And suddenly, I got 120 people on it. And I thought, Oh, wow, that's totally different from the previous things I did, which didn't work. And then when I put the product out on the dashboard of the product, I put savvycard calendar to allow people to sign up for four meetings with me to have some sort of onboarding because I didn't have any onboarding wizard code yet in the product itself. And people really signed up. And so Oh, my calendar is filling up with with meetings with people. So and this was really amazing. I met all kinds of

Matthias Bohlen 59:15
different characters. It was amazing to talk to different people to see how they see marketing. And when they say I'm forced to do marketing and say, Hey, enjoy marketing, I can't enjoy that. So it's really amazing when you put up some opportunity, and I'm so glad I left the cervical seal in it in the product. Because people are it's so easy for people to sign up for the next meeting.

Ana Bibikova 59:41
Yes, it's a very, very smart way of again, a way of building this trust and communication, personal communication with people because if you put if you move your interaction with customers, especially on the early stage on this personal level, it's kind of in vast amounts in this reputation and the trust you build at scale.

Matthias Bohlen 1:00:05

Matthias Bohlen 1:00:07
Do you still have some time to talk about Nigel? I'm a big fan of introvert Nigel.

Ana Bibikova 1:00:13
No, it's already one hour I've been talking. I have another meetings coming and I have to do my actual work.

Matthias Bohlen 1:00:21
I totally understand that.

Parting words

Matthias Bohlen 1:00:24
It was so much fun talking to the to you today. And so I learned so much. It's so amazing. And not only intellectually but also emotionally. I learned so much today about what marketing can mean for an introvert. And for for anyone today, this village and community thinking and all this. So thanks, simply, thanks a lot.

Ana Bibikova 1:00:44
I'm so happy to be here was helpful. And yeah, hopefully your listeners will also learn something new. I really hope people will enjoy doing marketing because it's actually fun. And it allows us to still be better people as well. You know, we go over because we don't only tell our audience what they should do, but our audience tells us what we should do and how we should think about the world. Yeah, it makes us better people. It's it may it helps us grow as personalities if we're better in marketing.

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