10% Growth for 5 Years | Claire Hunsaker

10% Growth for 5 Years

with Claire Hunsaker


About this episode:

This is a show all about getting attention online. Whether it is for you personally or for your company, each week we delve into how to get attention, how to keep attention, and how to make money from attention.

‘May I Have Your Attention…’ is brought to you by Captivate.ai, which turns your webinar or podcast into three months of social media content. Find out more at Captivate.ai

About today’s guest:

Andrew is the Founder of EverydaySpy, which trains individuals and teams to leverage influence, intelligence and intent. Techniques once reserved for elite spy agencies can now serve everyday people in their pursuit of personal and professional objectives. He served in both the U.S. Air Force and Central Intelligence Agency, in addition to being a Senior Advisor at CVS Health.

Selected resources:

  • Claire’s LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/clairehunsaker/

  • Claire’s company: http://askflossie.com/

  • Books mentioned

    • They Ask You Answer

    • Positioning – how to find product market fit

    • The Lean Startup

    • Crossing the Chasm

Selected quotes

  • We’re increasingly seeing this move towards niche communities, niche audiences, and people having to learn how to find and connect, which is old school marketing, which I love.

  • It’s intimidating to navigate personal finance. There’s a lot of content out there that is not written with women in mind. There’s no community for women, but Ask Flossie changes that.

  • I think that a lot of startups really underestimate how much they need visual design to look like they’re trustworthy and look like they’re compelling.

  • We use something like 20% more words when we speak versus when we write to get the same point across.

  • If you’re working with a sales team, your empathy for them has to be 120%. The objections that I ran into as a salesperson were objections that I as a marketer could have preempted.

  • One of the best tools for startups and small companies is Upwork. I’ve used it extensively to fill tradecraft gaps. Ask Flossie will be a legion of contractors before I hire someone.

  • You have to be willing to take risks and listen to how you get received. I’m gonna give it a whirl because nobody is going to die if I don’t get that video series right.

  • A little bit of visual design goes a long way in reducing friction in helping somebody connect quickly. When you do it right, you convey a really positive emotion about your brand.

  • I think that we’re going to see a little bit of a backswing towards formality when we’re all released back into the wild after COVID and can like put on business clothes again.

  • If you’ve got an audience of 100 people and you’re not prepared, even if you’re addressing them directly and being authentic, make it worth their time they bothered to show up.


Justin Nassiri  00:02

Well, my guest today for me I have your attention please is Claire Hunsaker in the Bay Area California. Claire, welcome.


Claire Hunsaker  00:10

Hi, thanks for having me.


Justin Nassiri  00:12

I want to give listeners a or viewers a brief background. Claire is the co founder of ask Flossie, a company whose mission is to help all women close the financial gap. While she is a badass marketer today, her career actually started in writing, earning a BA in English literature at Columbia University, and then working as an assistant book editor at penguin publishing. After earning an MBA at Stanford Graduate School of Business, she began to focus on marketing, working as VP of Sales and Marketing at sama source. And then VP of Marketing at stormpath, where she built and led go to market from seed to Series B, and hit 10% monthly growth consistently for five years, which is insane. Storm path was acquired by Okta, where she worked as Senior Director of demand generation before founding asked Flossie. So Claire, maybe to start things off, we’re going to talk a lot about getting attention digitally, be that for an individual or for a brand. What does that mean to you even to kind of capture attention?


Claire Hunsaker  01:22

Yeah, I think the first thing that came to me when you mentioned the idea was channels, right? It’s it’s really about connecting with the audience that you’re looking for, in the place that they are, right. So if you’re trying to position yourself as a individual looking for a job or promoting your services, your audience is going to be really different than if you’re a company in whatever sector right and and all of these communities now that the internet is huge. They’re all in sort of niche platforms. Nobody is just, you know, it’s it’s not I was thinking about it, like when we started on the internet, the AOL homepage, was it right? Like that was that was where you went, if you wanted to get noticed. But now, it’s, it could be LinkedIn, I’m a knitter. If you are not on Ravelry in the yarn tastic world, you’re not in the universe. And so I think that we’re increasingly seeing this move towards niche communities, niche audiences, and and people having to learn how to find and connect, which is, which is old school marketing, which I love.


Justin Nassiri  02:31

What I love about that, that was literally the call I had before. This was a company where they’re wanting to do a podcast for their CEO, and I was talking to them about, okay, who’s your ideal customer persona? Who are you going after? Where are they? And it was like, everything was backwards. They were approaching this with? Well, the CEO likes Facebook. So we’re going to really focus on Facebook, but it all boils down to that empathy and understanding of who is your community? Who are you trying to get in front of? Yep,


Claire Hunsaker  03:01

everything starts with personas. I mean, I, it is such an I call marketing tradecraft, right. It’s not, it’s not some magic professional thing. It’s something that is a series of things that you accomplish, and the order regardless of you know, the explosion of digital hasn’t changed at all. And and if you don’t know who your persona is, you’re just flushing money as far as I’m concerned. So it’s, it’s the first thing we did with ask Flossie is think really deeply and do like a lot of market research. And, and, and then also, it’s something where we think really deeply about how do we connect with that person in a way that is needed for them. Right, so like, it’s great, that CEO loves Facebook. But if his audience doesn’t, look, it doesn’t matter.


Justin Nassiri  03:49

Yeah. I love that too. Because what I’m realizing is I’m guessing you know, from what I know about ask Flossie, very different mission and customer than storm path. Like one is hardcore, I’m guessing engineer and the other is, is not that. What I love, though, is it’s it sounds like you’re using the same principles to understand who you’re going after and could uncover that foundation as you start to grow.


Claire Hunsaker  04:17

Yeah, I think that there’s there’s some like really fundamental things to starting a business or starting a service. I my cousin is starting an environmental consulting service and it’s so wonderful to get to, like, share marketing with someone who’s an environmental engineer, right? Like, it’s like, oh, here’s the stuff I know how to do. I don’t know anything about your world. And but you know, understanding who your audience is doing research. It’s so cheap and easy to do research now. You know, Survey Monkey, I ran a 50 person survey over Christmas week for like 200 bucks. I mean, wow, user testing. Use it extensively to just hear people narrate their way through your brand and having That allows you because I think the biggest challenge and we particularly had this storm path. And I have it with everyone I talked to asked glossy about as glossy as a, on a mission to help women feel like they have a wing woman, you know, like it’s intimidating to navigate personal finance, it’s, there’s a lot of content out there that is not written with women in mind. And there’s a there’s not there’s no community for women. So we’re focused on on sort of giving everyone a guide, and it stormpath, we were focused on educating developers about how to build fantastic services in really secure login. So that they would understand that they don’t have to build it all themselves, they don’t have to use open source, they the maintenance burden is a lot less. And this was early, this was 10 years ago. So it was like early days and in software as a service. And but it’s the same concept, we you start with this tremendous bias about from your own expertise, right, like our CTO, we had to convince him that authentication was not intuitive for everybody. And so it can actually help having people who are less expert, reviewing and helping design the content, because they can say, Hey, you know, actually, you need to write a blog post about what’s the difference between this term and this term that you you could describe in your sleep? And like probably have, but like, isn’t, isn’t, isn’t obvious to everybody? Right? expertise bias, I think is is like one of the early killers.


Justin Nassiri  06:33

I love that. Well, let’s I want to talk a lot about your work at stormpath. But let’s start with I just love you have such an, in my view, non traditional background, you started writing and publishing, how is that maybe influenced how you’ve approached marketing.


Claire Hunsaker  06:51

So I had a six year career in publishing, I worked in publishing through college, I actually did a master’s in literature in London, right after college and worked in for a literary agent there and then worked at penguin. So I spent a substantial first career in it. And, you know, I think the two pieces that that were really useful about that are threes like one, it was obvious that traditional publishing was like, really going to run into some challenges. This is you know, I left publishing in 2003. And watching the.com explosion in that part of my career and just the like deer in the headlights that people in that, in that industry had it, it destroyed the industry. It’s it’s rebuilt itself, but it was catastrophic. So you can kind of see that coming. And, you know, when I was in my master’s program, I wrote a paper on the relationship between HTML and language development. So I’ve always been really technical, I taught myself basic as a kid. But it so I could see that and, and I was like, I gotta go. But I think that the two biggest things from a sort of tradecraft perspective, were one I got a lot of practice, editing. Editing is a skill, it’s a skill you can build. There’s, like, if you read Strunk and white, or you know any of these, like great editing books, and just practice those precepts over and over, I can edit an old, you know, a 1400, word technical, technical technical blog post in less than an hour now. And like, that’s helpful. And then the second piece is that, you know, even though it was literally walking a manuscript around to different departments within Penguin, like that was literally the content process there. And I got a really good sense for how important process is in content development, and having a structure that is predictable, and that has clear milestones so that you are creating something predictable for creators, but also you can understand what your throughput is, because you have to do whether it’s books, or blog posts, or Instagram posts or Pinterest pins, like it has to be on


Justin Nassiri  09:14

clip. I love that because, you know, I think what comes through for me is the value of editing and the value of structure. And I feel like there is so much noise, that the mistake I see people make so often is they’re not, they’re not editing, whether it’s video, whether it’s text, whether it’s thoughts, they put out such a high volume, and expect the audience to put the pieces together and I feel like one of the most difficult things, trimming the fat I always think of of a pitch deck for fundraising, where it’s like some of the best slides I’ve ever seen, have so few words on it. And I know that that came about from 1000s of revisions rather than just Just this onslaught of text.


Claire Hunsaker  10:02

Yeah, I mean, the way the way it it manifests most clearly, you know, for me in the 21st century is that there’s this really interesting trends that I’ve seen kind of progress that people, people, right, like they talk. And one of the things that authors throughout history have forgotten is that nobody’s hearing you, like, unless it’s video, nobody can hear your voice, they can’t hear your cadence, which makes punctuation really important, right, because that’s how you convey cadence in the written word. And the we use something like 20% more words when we speak, versus when we write to get the same point across. And so I spend a lot of time editing posts that just have, you know, like, and sometimes I was thinking about blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, it’s like get to the point, because people don’t have the attention span for the written word they do for a verbal word. But I think you’re right, there’s, there’s a, it’s almost misleading how they move to video makes it feel all unscripted, this move to, you know, community content makes it feel unscripted. I put on makeup for this stuff. You know, like, I have notes of stuff that I want to make sure that we talked about like, it’s it’s got, you got to have some preparation and structure.


Justin Nassiri  11:26

I love that. What about I want to before we move on to your work at storm path, I want to just touch briefly on sama source and get a sense for any tactics you learned there or anything that you learned about grabbing attention for a growing brand.


Claire Hunsaker  11:44

Yeah, sama source was fascinating, because Lyla, who was the founder of sama source, and just a hugely passionate force behind it, she was excellent at PR. And like, we had PR opportunities that nobody else would have. And so a lot of what our marketing was about was taking advantage of that, and making sure that we were backing up her extraordinary efforts to make the brand look bigger than it was, you know, it was a 20 person, nonprofit, we all worked like 90 hours a week, it was one of the most intense work environments I’ve ever been in. And a lot of making it look bigger. And this is something that I’ve done over and over and over again, his visual design, I think that a lot of startups really underestimate how much they need visual design to look like they’re trustworthy and look like they’re compelling. And we invested really heavily in that we brought on, you know, he was Junior, but I’ve hired him three times now. A really fantastic visual designer, we worked with a, an excellent visual design team. And we invested in it both from a time perspective, and from a money perspective. And I think that was it. That was a big learning. For me, it was also interestingly, something that Aaron paths are really invested in early event, they they really thought deeply about how the visual design was going to convey trust in that financial brand. The other thing that was really interesting from samasource, was that I was I left sales, I was doing sales. And I had like, participated in sales processes and closed business, you know, like I had, I sold quite a bit of business when I was a management consultant. But this was different. I was like selling services to fortune 500 companies like Microsoft and eBay. And you know, when you I, it really drove home for me that if you are working with a sales team, your empathy for them has to be beyond 100%. It has to be 120%. Because the objections that I ran into as a salesperson were objections that I as a marketer could have preempted. Right. So I think a lot when I design websites or design campaigns, how do you preempt the objections that someone’s going to have later in their decision process, so that the sales team doesn’t have to deal with that, and so that you have more efficiency at that part of your funnel. And that’s true, I think, whether you’re a consumer brand or a b2b brand.


Justin Nassiri  14:23

I just love that the foundational role of empathy there where you talked about earlier, the role that surveys play, the role that that customer research plays, and this extends into the sales team as well. And I love that phrase pre empting that the objective the objection of finding out what’s going to keep customer or potential customer from saying yes, and how can you addressed that in your marketing


Claire Hunsaker  14:50

100% and it continued when I was at stormpath. You know, I ran sales calls, I ran. I ran customer calls, I ran into Somebody signed up for our service. I literally picked up the phone and called them and just said, Hey, I would love to hear what you think, you know, your feedback really matters to us. And then later, when we were bigger, I would just and we had a sales team, I would just hide in the corner, and listen for the words that people use, you know, listen, how our customers were describing us, how are they they were describing our product and features? Because those words are what close that that gap, you know, to make it feel really intuitive to them.


Justin Nassiri  15:28

I’m a big, whenever I have a sales call, I’m always typing constantly in Evernote. And that’s whenever someone I think the most valuable part of a sales call is when the person says like, Oh, I looked at your website, and I understand that you dot dot dot, and they explain what we do. And I it’s like the words matter, the sentences matter the way they explain it is so


Claire Hunsaker  15:50

percent. And it’s also like a really tough moment. Because you have to be like, Oh, my God, you totally missed the plot or totally misunderstood that or like, there’s, there’s always some like moment of like Christ, did I get that? Right? And being able to like, hold yourself and just be open to that, I think is really, really tough. You know, that’s put a lot of effort into that. Watching it get mangled by your customers and


Justin Nassiri  16:20

pronouncing your kid’s name, you’re like,


Claire Hunsaker  16:22

Oh, my God. Yeah, sorry.


Justin Nassiri  16:25

What about you talked about the importance of visual design? Any any recommended resources? Is there tools that you use for that? Or do you recommend finding a contractor if they’re smaller to do that? Or how do you how do you address that, from an early stage to a later stage?


Claire Hunsaker  16:43

I think I think that, you know, later stage bring on somebody but I, I cultivate it. You know, I think one of the best tools for startups and for small companies is Upwork. And, you know, I will make ask flossy a legion of contractors before we bring somebody on because they’re fantastic people who want to be freelancers. And so I’ve used up work extensively to find people to fill any kind of tradecraft gap, you know, I look for specialty stuff. So for instance, I’m going to be putting together starting to work on like, our brand, I have a freelance designer I’ve worked with, for seven years on and off at various companies, I found him through up work, he’s great, he’s going to be like reworking my logo and making it look less like I put it together. But I also think that he and you know, similarly, someone who just focuses on Canva templates, someone who focuses on email templates, people who know the specialty pieces of how that design works together. Um, but then I will probably hire branding is not my strongest suit. It’s something that I’m not as experienced in. And frankly, I’m a little dubious about it. And so I will probably do a medium sized branding project here this late spring summer, to really think deeply about the brand, how we want to convey the asked glossy brand to people in ways that are kind of intangible. Because I tend to focus on like real brass tacks stuff.


Justin Nassiri  18:24

It makes me wonder. So one of the things that’s coming through for me is the importance of a cohesive visual design emails, website logo, and I’m guessing some of that is just the credibility of interaction, random thing buttoned up. And then at the same time, I was thinking of what you said earlier with video, you know, people are doing a lot more video and there’s a certain piece of authenticity or the perception that things are off the cuff. How do you think about the contrast between being buttoned up being you know, really credible, but also being very authentic? approachable, real and human?


Claire Hunsaker  19:05

Yeah, I think that’s really Oh, it’s such a tough one. I think about it a lot. I think about it, particularly with ask philosophy, right? Because our like model of what like, finance looks like it’s like, somebody in a like, conservative suit, who isn’t wearing giant gold hoop earrings with a like crazy floral wallpaper behind her. Like, I don’t really feel like I fit that mold. And, and I’m gonna be me, right? Like, maybe it’s okay. So I think you have to be like, a little bit willing to take risks and listen to how you get received. I’ve been doing this video series not wearing a like ton of makeup. Like not wearing a stitch of makeup at like six in the morning with my coffee because I want to get I want to be fast. I want to be connected. And like I don’t know if that’s gonna work. But I’m gonna give it a whirl because you know, you’re not gonna die. I write like, nobody’s gonna die if I don’t get that video series, right? So I think it’s worth experimenting and playing with that, and really listening to what you’re hearing back really listening to feedback, I ran my first video by like, you know, four different friends in the range of feedback was fascinating. It was like stuff I never would have thought about. But I do think that a little bit of visual design goes a long way. And I think that what it does is it reduces friction in helping somebody Connect really quickly with whether what you offer is what they want, right? or need preferably need, right? So if you have if they’re not having to, like get through your visual design, to to, like land on? Do they fit? Do you fit them? It’s, it just really move things through. And I think it can also when you do it, right, convey a really positive emotion about your brand. And for different brands, that’s different things. And you know, for different different brands need different levels of button up fitness, versus unbutton up. And so I think we are moving. You know, in a world, in a world where we’ve spent the last year working from our living rooms in our pajamas, I think that we’re going to see a little bit of a backswing towards formality when we’re all released back into the wild and can like put on business clothes again. And I think that will probably be represented in I like I think it will be really represented in like brands and vibes. But I also think that there’s, there’s this breakdown in that in theater, they call it the fourth wall, right? It’s like the wall between you in the audience. And when an actor turns around and addresses the audience. They’re breaking the fourth wall. And I think that that the last year in particular has kind of crystallized this trend towards breaking that down. But you’re still on stage.


Justin Nassiri  22:03

That the two things I just want to tease out that I love there is when you were speaking about visual design, it made me think of the the lorem ipsum text that you’ll see. They’re like, we don’t want the text to distract you. We want your feedback on the design. Yeah. And something that came to me was that thinking that when a consumer is thinking of engaging with a brand, those those things that are out of place, that can be like a speed bump to them getting to that decision of like, do I associate with this brand or person, and it’s just kind of the distraction. So minimizing those, having everything in order allows them to relax into evaluating, is this the right fit for me? Oh, and I love that piece, I think that you’re spot on that thought that, you know swinging back a little bit more towards formal I love the way that you said it, you’re still on stage. And I didn’t put that together. But I do feel like with with COVID. And with everyone working from home, I love how it’s humanized us kids running in the office like now we’ve all got that. But I love what you’re saying is like balancing that at the same time with like, and you still have to project a certain image, you still have certain values that you need to maintain.


Claire Hunsaker  23:18

I don’t I don’t think it’s about projecting the image. I think it’s like more about honoring your audience, right? Like, if I roll in, and I haven’t prepared, like, everyone’s gonna have to listen to me, like cast around for ideas, you know, and like, What a waste of their time I don’t. My mom, I was talking to my mom this morning. And she was like, I don’t have time for that took off. I was like, wow, like my mom has got a short attention span for me. So I think I think we have to honor the fact you extend this and torture this like theater metaphor. If you’ve got an audience of 100 people sitting there, and you’re not prepared, even if you’re addressing them directly, even if you’re being authentic with them, make it worth their time they bothered to show up. So that’s how I think about it.


Justin Nassiri  24:08

I think that’s so powerful, because it’s like, people and consumers have so many options for their attention. And I love the like the sacredness of taking that seriously. Like if I’m going to say something, let me prepare, let me put forward the best thought to honor them and honor their time. I think that’s a great perspective. What about I wanted to talk about storm path, and we’ll use the bulk of the remaining time for this. Yeah. I want to learn more about the tactics you use. But what I think is so the most compelling thing of your story is that I’m just guessing the tactics, the tools that you used in seed stage, there is there’s no I’m guessing there’s very little overlap when you’re Series B, that is 10 orders of magnitude different. And I’m just curious to learn about how those tactics changed over time, or if they’re ones that were constant, but it’s just, it’s so rare to see someone who’s able to grow with a company through those different stages.


Claire Hunsaker  25:09

Yeah, so I, for context, for people who don’t know, the story of that, like I was employee number five storm path. And I’d been advising Alex the CEO, just kind of while I was at sama source, and he was at stormpath. And he was kind of thinking out what he wanted to do. And I needed like, help, I needed somebody to bounce things off of to so we had been sort of chatting in the background about what the marketing was going to look like, with the go to market was going to look like. So I was like, the only marketer, I was the only like, and Alex, I was the only non engineer at the company for a long time, a couple years. And, um, the thing that was fascinating was that the tactics didn’t change, right? Like the, the way we did them, they got bigger, and they got more efficient, they like changed operationally, just so that like, when we had a developer, you know, we started out, we had no developer evangelists, right, like any content we wanted to do. That was technical, I had to get out of the engineering team. But we still made technical content that we developed in combination with the marketing team and technical people, and tried to really build a content flywheel around that around that educational, technical content. And so then we had one developer evangelist and the operations and the process changed a little bit. But ultimately, it didn’t change that much that the tactic itself didn’t change that much. And then we had nine developer evangelists, and it and a, like full time content marketer whose job was to hurt those cats and hurt our contractor writers as well. And so it was, it got bigger, and it got more operationally complex, but it was the same move, like, early on. And I think that one of the biggest things, so one was that we had a contractor army, right, like we always, you know, we kept, we are a marketing first organization, rather than a Salesforce organization. And, but we still kept the marketing team Ravel lean for what we were doing. You know, we publish two to three blog posts, technical blog posts a week, advertised around them, and had a full blown series of campaigns and campaigns and email systems around that. And we also automated all of the, you know, sort of product drips to make sure that people who are signing up for our service, like had it kind of unified experience that guided them to use it more.


Justin Nassiri  27:45

Do you have any, I’m just on that. Do you have any recommendations for? How did you keep track of that of like this, we’re going to publish this on this date, we’ll run ads, we’ll do the newsletter. How did you just even track that?


Claire Hunsaker  27:59

Yeah, I think there’s, you know, when we started this, there was no, there wasn’t like 14 different scheduling pieces of scheduling software. So I still do it all in Excel. And I now I now do it in sheets, because I don’t have Excel on my new work computer. And, and sheets has all the Excel, like keyboard shortcuts now. I’m sure there are better ways to do it. But but we just did it. You know, it’s like, I think that there’s a real there’s, there’s so many pieces of marketing technology. But one of the challenges is every time you add one, you have to onboard everyone to it. And if it’s not immediately intuitive, and super necessary, it, it can be a big distraction. So, you know, I’m all for keeping things simple until it doesn’t work. That’s probably not the best bias to have. So I don’t I don’t know that the best answer on that one.


Justin Nassiri  28:57

I love that I love I love especially with so many options. I love when people keep it simple without adding unnecessary complexity.


Claire Hunsaker  29:06

Yeah, the challenge is that you do have manual work that is required there, right. But I think we use automation software and I can’t remember which one it is I’m now experimenting with later to do all of my social media stuff. It looks pretty good. And then we also I really for small businesses. I really love HubSpot. You know, the challenge with Marketo is that Marketo requires a full time employee to run it. It is an incredibly complex and an incredibly like. It’s got some weird cruft in it. From a software perspective, HubSpot is really intuitive. You don’t have to be an expert in HubSpot to be dangerous with it. It’s fast to set up and it’s relatively inexpensive so that I’m also kind of interested in ConvertKit because they make it real easy. They don’t have the full features that HubSpot has.


Justin Nassiri  30:02

And as you’re thinking, I guess, you know, primarily these developers, what what kind of lead? What sort of approaches Did you take to understand what they were looking for? And how you could answer their questions or essentially capture their attention?


Claire Hunsaker  30:17

Yeah. So we, first week, we had a keyword strategy, right. So we knew the keywords that we knew the problems that people were trying to solve with regard to storm path was a way to add login to a web application without building it or securing it or anything. And frankly, it’s, it’s important, because it’s like the thing that people get wrong, there’s a reason that all these password hacks happen. It’s, it’s, it’s technically a little bit complex, it requires a lot of maintenance, and it’s a pain in the ass that nobody wants to do. So we offloaded it for everybody. And so we knew what the problems that people were trying to solve were. And we drilled way down into what came up with, you know, like, one of our key search terms was we wanted to dominate the search term for authentication. authentication is just the developer way of saying login. And so we had core search terms that we wanted to dominate and really, for five years, just focused heavily on making sure we got in on those, the other one that we worked on was our brand. Right? Like, I think that one of the things that businesses often miss is that it costs virtually nothing to own 75% of the real estate above the fold for your brand term. Like, it’s, it is easy, cheap, free advertising. If somebody’s like, what the hell is blah, you know, what is captivate? You know, you can own that. And it’s, I think it’s really powerful. But, but then what we did is we looked at support tickets, because I also for a while, ran the support team, because I was the support team, the me and our engineers. And, you know, we looked at support tickets, we looked at what people were asking, we looked at what people were asking, in various, I think this is a great trick. What are people asking in online communities about your problem space, right? pick those questions and write blog posts to answer them. And I think that there’s, you know, there are all these places where you can see, and then it was we were rigorous about analytics, we looked for particular milestones after launch, to say, We know, we know something is going to be a win, if it hits blah, at you know, in week one, and blah in the first month. And then we just double down repeatedly on that. And the other thing, I think, is that there’s there’s some expertise that a marketer can’t fake, right? Like, I can’t fake understanding, knowing what’s hot in the React software platform. I don’t I don’t do it. I don’t know what the big problems are. I don’t know what our Nishi problems are. So I think you have to rely on your subject matter experts. And maybe that’s, you know, at stormpath. It was it was our developer, evangelist team and, and also early on our engineers, but it’s also your sales team, right? Like any question your sales guy gets, you should write a blog post about that, if you can answer it publicly. And preempt that objection, do it.


Justin Nassiri  33:29

There’s a great book on that called, they ask you answer. And it’s this, the author started this, like, as a pool company pool, like outdoor pool or, you know, above ground pools. And it was literally, every time they got a question they would write the longest, most detailed answer was just literally just letting that guide that, but I love how you were using that from the sales conversations, how you were using that from, from the community. And I also appreciate how willing you are to engage with experts, like find the right person on Upwork, for email for different different channels, and really getting their expertise.


Claire Hunsaker  34:07

I my view is like, I always want to hire people who are better at that thing that I am hiring them to do than I am, right. Like, I want people who teach me who improve my game, and who are focused on it with just rabid fanaticism. And, you know, it can be a little intimidating, right? Like you’re sitting in there and you’re like, Oh, good, Lord, you might know more about this than I do. Am I gonna be able to keep up with you? Go, go go, you know. Let’s do it.


Justin Nassiri  34:38

That’s awesome. Anything else from stormpath? that stands out?


Claire Hunsaker  34:43

Yeah, I think that one of the things that we really rolled later, and I think people often forget, because it’s not quite as it’s not clearly performance marketing, is we did a lot of visual remarketing. So It’s pretty easy to put together, like, you know, your your three or four key sizes of Google AdWords, it’s cheap to run. And if someone has landed on one part of your site, you can remark it. other components that might be compelling to them. So for instance, we you landed on Ruby, you like a Ruby is a software development language. And people who do Ruby are obsessed with it, people who don’t do Ruby, think it’s stupid. So like, if you landed on a Ruby page, I know that you got there because you were looking for a Ruby, blog post on whatever. And I would remark it to you all the other resources that we had for, for Ruby developers. And it was cheap, it was easy it was it allows you to sort of design like mini awareness pads. And what it doesn’t do is it doesn’t lead to an init like a conversion. But it does lead to a really strong engagement with with your product and in with like a narrow pieces of your audience. And you can do it in a in a broad way. They say that I have heard the statistic, I don’t know who they is, but I have heard the statistic that your brand needs to have at least seven impressions to make an impression. And one of the things that’s great about remarketing is it’s a cheap way. Even if you’re just promoting your brand and your tagline. You know, it keeps people in mind so that when when they have a real need, you’re there for them. They remember who you are.


Justin Nassiri  36:39

That’s great, too, that sense of niching down to the Ruby example, so powerful, like you know that they want more of that. So being able to give them more of that.


Claire Hunsaker  36:47

One of the things that was interesting, though, is that that was the only language where it mattered for us to separate them out. Everybody else were dabbling. So they were in a more generalized audience.


Justin Nassiri  37:02

I have other questions, but I just want to make sure make space for any other thoughts from stormpath.


Claire Hunsaker  37:08

Always work with people you respect. I did thing when I look back on stormpath, it was hard. I think I might have thrown a chair at or head of product at one point like I was working with for one of my best friends, which is, you know, there’s a lot to navigate there. But I we hired fantastic people who are really committed. And there was zero political, Bs. And it was really, really wonderful to to work on a team like that. That is the gold standard that I will pursue for the rest of my career.


Justin Nassiri  37:42

How is it now you know, to ask Flossie, I’m guessing it’s prime primarily you like how is it going from having a team of people to be able to leverage to do things to now? I’m guessing where you’re having to do most of this? Yeah, definitely are with a small small team.


Claire Hunsaker  38:00

Yeah. Oh, yeah. It’s real small. It is me and an army of contractors. And I am working on finding a co founder because I have started companies by myself. And it is no fun. And the you know, I started based I left October right before the holidays. So right around Thanksgiving, so that was like, two months ago, not even. So it’s in my team, a doctor was 26 people at its peak. And, you know, I was running everything from campaign operations to advertising to our developer marketing and our developer content. And I, I loved it, it I I enjoyed it. And I find being early, early stage again, a little bit lonely and a little bit tough. We’re also like, in the process of moving. So we’re like selling our apartment, San Francisco, and we just got through the holidays. And I have a 11 month old infant and I got puppy, because that was smart. And I’m working on getting certified as a CFP. So it is, I think that I am I am personally, really enjoying right now, the time when I get to focus on the strategy of building something from scratch. And the fantastic thing is, because I’ve really cultivated an army of people who I’ve worked with on and off for a long time. I don’t feel quite as lonely as I think I could because I already know who my designer is. I already know who I want on my board. I know who you know, buddy of mine started a new content shop that I’m interested in working with right it. It’s far enough now in my career that I’m not really alone anymore.


Justin Nassiri  39:53

That’s beautiful. I wanted to ask you as well, your thoughts on the year ahead and what you’re thinking Or how you think this year might be different?


Claire Hunsaker  40:03

I, you know, I, I’ve been thinking about we’re all going to be locked down for another six months, right. And I think one of the things that I’m seeing, and I don’t know how much of it’s locked down versus just the evolution of digital marketing is the competition is crazy, you know, if you are selling authentic tortillas, right, in 2004, it was easy to dominate the syrup on that one. It was super easy, right? There was no competition. Now, good luck, right? Those are all established brands. For every product, it’s really, really hard to find a new niche. And the barriers that asked glossy website, I mean, when I started my first company, it took us six months and $11,000 to get a basic PHP storefront up, you could do that on Shopify in a weekend right now. I got up to ask glossy website in about two weeks in my evenings, on WordPress, and Bluehost, for free, right, like, the barriers to entry digitally are just non existent. I got onto my cousin’s website, she built a website and Squarespace that’s actually good and ranks. I was like, holy cow. So I think that we’re gonna see this increasing competition for digital attention. And it’s getting more sophisticated, it’s getting hard, you really, you really have to be in multiple channels, you have to be willing to work the grind, and do more. And you have to be figuring out how to use technology to your advantage. There’s a lot more automation technology than there was five years ago or 10 years ago. So I think that it is a more sophisticated game. I think video is gonna be weird. I mean, we’re now in a world where the mobile first question isn’t even a question anymore, right? Like, it was a it was, it was like, Oh, yeah, we were like we started Gago mobile first, like five years ago, 10 years ago, it was like, yeah, mobile is going to be a thing. Five years ago, it was like, mobiles kind of thing. And we might want to start making it a priority. Now it’s like 80% of my users are on mobile. So that is, I mean, how often do you use your computer anymore? Right, I’m on my phone right now. It’s just, it’s, it’s done. And I had one more pop, and I lost it. Because I just ask a question. As you


Justin Nassiri  42:37

think of more and more of your, your community using their phone, how does that change how you think about blog posts or videos or all the content you’re creating?


Claire Hunsaker  42:49

I think short form, you know, I think that there’s, there’s always been this thing online where it’s like, you milliseconds to get somebody’s attention. But if they’re on their phone, they’re in a different context than, you know, shackled to their desk. You know, in this world where we’re all at home, kids are running around in the background, my dog is like ricocheting off the siding right now. The, like, our attention span is even that much shorter. And we’re doing things in smaller chunks. So imagine somebody on the phone, at the grocery store, checking their phone, right, or in that two minutes before whatever they’re cooking for dinner, finishes cooking, checking their work, email, or checking their notifications, right, it’s, you have a shorter window, to do it. So I think short form is going to be where it’s at. There’s a reason that that Tech Talk is taken off. And it’s not just because the young people like it.


Justin Nassiri  43:43

I love that because it underscores what you were saying earlier about the importance of structure and editing. In a world where you have fractions of a second to get someone’s attention, we have to be really deliberate in what you’re leading with and what you’re saying and cutting out all the unnecessary fluff and to your earlier point about empathy of really understanding the need.


Claire Hunsaker  44:06

Bright totally, like what they need is not to have to wade through all 40 word preamble to get to the juice.


Justin Nassiri  44:16

Are there any resources that could be books, podcast, courses, anything that have helped you grow as a marketer grow in catch people’s attention that you would recommend? Yeah, I


Claire Hunsaker  44:26

love this question, because I thought about it last night, and I was like, you know, I was like, Oh, I don’t read blogs. I’m terrible. I mostly read financial stuff now but I think that the most important thing to look at is what are your competitors doing? Right like I have had somebody pull the like, it’s called the you know, second market entrant. If you’re the first person in the market, you’ve got to do all the learning and then they can like, just ride your coattails in and it is a it is painful to have it done to you. But you’re if you have People in the market who are learning things, and you see them doing things repeatedly, there’s a reason. And so I think that like, the resources, the most active resources is what’s happening now in your market. That’s, that’s what’s going to change, figuring out how to get there, there’s a million ways to skin that cat. Um, I think the other thing is, you know, digital marketing, in particular changes really, really quickly. It’s a different world than it from a, what’s working and how it’s working and content forums and that kind of thing. It’s a different world than it was 10 years ago, and my grandmother who outlived her husband by like, 30 years, so she was a widow for a long time. And she was like, on the dance floor until she was 84. And she had this thing where she said, always have younger friends. And she’s like, they’ll keep you young. And I think that’s also really true in marketing, right? That the, the, the platforms and the content, a lot of like the nitty gritty of where it is. It changes really quickly and keeping, keeping your ear to what younger generations are doing. You know, one of my regrets is that I poo pooed millennials, right? I was like, oh, millennials, Oh, God, ah, I’m Gen X. They are now like the dominant market. And it didn’t like dawned on me that like these 19 year olds, when they entered the market, were at some point, gonna be running the show. And so I think that keeps being it taught me to be more engaged with trends that people who are younger than me are doing that I might not personally have time for, like, tick tock. One of my goals for 2021 is to learn Tick Tock not because like, I really don’t want to spend my life on Tick tock, but Tick Tock has something that is compelling, a younger generation of people in a really meaningful way. And I want to understand that, particularly like, tick tock eyeshadow, is a whole thing. And then I’ll recommend one book, I think the best marketing out that book out there is a book called positioning. And it’s a generalized book about how to find product market fit. And he is one of the ones that I have read two or three times I’ve gone back to it over and over and over again, because it’s really it’s not about, you know, use this channel or use this tactic it’s about here’s the cons here is conceptually and philosophically how you find product market fit. And you know, the other one is the lean startup. I think everything in the lean startup is right. I think it’s distilled down in a way that anybody could do. You know, those are my two, like marketing Bibles. I have on my shelf to read this year. David, Ogilvy advertising, which is, you know, I think he wrote in the 60s, but it’s, it’s philosophically about advertising.


Justin Nassiri  48:01

Beautiful. And I’ll have links to all of those in the show notes. Well, last question is just kind of open ended. Any anything that we did not cover that you want to make sure people know, before we wrap up?


Claire Hunsaker  48:13

I’m curious about where you think podcasts are going. I mean, you’ve been a podcaster for half a decade now, six years. A long time. I, you know, I, everyone’s got a podcast now. So like, Where do you think podcasts are going? I kind of think it’s getting away from the it’s going to be getting away from the book tours, and like, interested in people who are more focused on people who have like, like primary material. But I’m curious what you think.


Justin Nassiri  48:46

I think the biggest advantage podcasting has is you can be hyper niche in your focus. And so if you’re into knitting, you know, you could probably niche down even further to specific type of need of knitting. So I love the ability to deliver casual content at scale repeatedly to a very small user group. And I think that’s one of the misconceptions I see with most people is they they point to the Joe Rogan’s, the Tim Ferriss, and they aspire to have 10s of millions of people in their audience, which is nothing wrong with that, but I love I think it’s Kevin Kelley wrote the essay 1000 true fans. And what I remember from that was, if you have 1000 people who love your brand, you can build an empire. And I feel like a missing approach with podcast is like, forget the millions, find the niche where if you had 1000 people who are passionate 1000 people passionate about Ruby, what could you do with aliens, but but you can use that 1000 and you can cater them in a way that no one else can? Yes, I see that the graveyard of four branded podcasts where people try for 10 episodes and then give up. I think we’ll see in the year ahead, people who cracked the code of delivering exactly what a very micro audience wants, the format, the guests, the length, all of that. And they’re able to scale that up. I’m hoping to see a lot more very successful companies and individuals who are taking differentiated approaches not because This American Life is doing it, or Joe Rogan’s doing it, but because they realize my audience that no one else cares about, this is what they’re going to respond to. So this is


Claire Hunsaker  50:37

here. Yeah, man, that’s really interesting. Like, the, the, there’s that concept of that there’s a sorry, I keep putting I keep doing hand gestures are like way out of frame. So there’s the, you know, they talk about Crossing the Chasm where you go from your early adopters to, like, you know, people who are gonna line up outside the Apple Store to people who are like my mom, that’s, that’s the ultimate market you want to get to. But those 1000 people, those 1000 fans, I’ve been thinking a lot this year about what is a fan, right? Like, what am I a fan of and why am I a fan of that? Because that’s ultimately who your first market is. It’s those 1000 people. I hope you link to that and also to the book you mentioned before, because I always like your reading. I always like your suggestions. I started listening to your hustle on your, your suggestion,


Justin Nassiri  51:24

so good. It’s so good. I love those. I love those guys. Well, Claire, thank you for your time and what’s ahead for ask Flossie. That’s it asked flossy.com and I’ll have links to all of that in the show notes, but thanks for sharing your expertise. Thank you. Have a great weekend.

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