On CloudMyBiz podcast our marketing manager, Nicole Alvarez, touches on the subject of how to stand out as a SaaS company.
Camille: Welcome to CloudMyBiz Podcast, where we give insights on the latest trends within the SAS and lending industries. My name is Camille, and I’m one of the hosts. At CloudMyBiz, we provide business consulting and a loan management software solution called Fundingo. Our job is to help lending companies streamline their processes from beginning to end. On our first episode, we have Nicole Alvarez, who is our very own marketing manager at CloudMyBiz. A little bit of background on her is, she started writing music and fiction from a young age, which grew into her passion for marketing. Since then, she’s been working for SAS companies developing their marketing and SEO strategies. She was born in New Jersey, and has since lived in 4 different countries, which is so cool. When she’s not working, she’s neck-deep in an online course, trying to create hybrid plants, or contemplating how much rotisserie chicken it’s taken to train her cats. Hey Nicole, how are you doing today?
Nicole: I’m doing good, thank you. How about yourself?
Camille: I’m doing well. I really like this contemplating rotisserie chicken, it’s actually hilarious.
Nicole: it’s the only thing they will go nuts for. They don’t bother me about any other human food, but I have to actually lock the garbage can in a different room when I’ve eaten chicken.
Camille: That’s so funny. I’ve actually heard that that’s really effective in training cats.
Anything else, they’re like “What is this?” Well, I gave a short introduction, but if you wanna add anything, you’re more than welcome to. Otherwise, we can just hop into our questions.
Nicole: No, that summed it up really well. I definitely got my start in writing at a young age. I was the first in my daycare to learn how to write my name, and I promptly spent the next few months trying to blame the graffiti on the walls of my name on the other kinds who hadn’t learned how to write yet. But, into my start in ghost writing- I guess it paid off.
Camille: That is so cool. So, I touched base on how you ended up here, but just expand a little bit on how you even ended up getting into the SAS industry.
Nicole: So, naturally, humble beginnings as a writer. I started on 2015 as a freelance writer, and I was picking up articles wherever they would accept them. So, as much as I loved writing on motorcycle parts and storage units, I wanted to do something more challenging. I am a giant nerd. You will hear this every day. So, I thought about going into coding, or other really technical careers, but I’ve always had a pull towards psychology and understanding how people work. so, naturally, when I started writing, my next goal was to learn more about marketing. So, I started getting into SEO, content strategy, digital marketing, and then I picked up a couple of freelance gigs with some SAS startups. It was a blast. I loved the freedom, the whole culture of it. It’s a really fun place.
Camille: Would you say that there was anything specific that was a pivotal moment in writing that you remember that made you think “I think marketing would be a really cool field to go into”?
Nicole: In a lot of the content marketplaces that I was writing for, I noticed that they were focusing on keywords, and they would just come and give you a keywords to use. And there was just something about it that didn’t really seem intuitive to me. There were these horrible 5-6-word long phrases, and it was impossible. It was just word salad, and they desperately wanted you to shove it in that article. So, I thought “This is nonsense, I can learn how to do this.” And 7 years later, I did.
Camille: It’s really cool to learn a little bit about your background. When it comes to this industry, in this time period, what would you say are the top 3 most important elements to a successful marketing team?
Nicole: If I had to narrow it down, number one: You’ve gotta be flexible. Number two: you’ve gotta learn everything that you possibly can, everywhere. Number three: don’t set out to make no mistakes. You’re gonna make them. Set out to learn from them.
Camille: I can touch base a little bit on that. It’s trial and error, when it comes to marketing. You never know.
Nicole: Exactly. Marketing is changing all the time, even in comparatively normal times. So, if you’re being super rigid, you’ve just decided that you’re gonna stick with your current tools and strategies forever then the people who are taking calculated risks are definitely gonna get ahead.
Camille: Like you said, you have to be flexible.
Nicole: Actually, I just read a really great quote from Paul [inaudible], and it’s: “Education is what you get when you read the fine print. Experience is what you get when you don’t.” So that leads back into the second one. You gotta learn everything you can. If you wanna make a calculated investment with little risk, learn something. You could listen or open course lectures from Yale and MIT, and all that stuff on YouTube. You can take LinkedIn learning classes. I’m hooked on that.
Camille: I think one of the first things I ever learned when I started studying marketing in college was that as a marketing person, you have to learn a lot about what marketing is, and a little bit about everything else. So, it’s like a [inaudible], is what they said, you learn a lot down this aisle, and you have to touch base on everything, because everything is connected in a way.
Nicole: And the thing is that this is all trial and error. As soon as you make amends with the fact that you’re gonna mess up, then it gets easier to learn from it. Especially here. And to me, all experience is good experience. Something didn’t go as planned? That’s fine, don’t stress it. go back, write out the steps that led to that outcome, then go over other options, and write some really solid standard operation procedures, so not only you will win this the next time, but anyone else who takes on the task has it there.
Camille: All right. So, as far as the SAS industry goes, tell us about a few marketing trends that you’ve noticed within the industry. How are people adapting to the pandemic? Are there any changes that you notice that you think will be permanent?
Nicole: I love these questions. Absolutely, because this is one where everybody had to change. So, all the companies that were doing the bare minimum with their marketing really got a wakeup call, especially if they’ve been neglecting digital marketing. So, everyone moved from these in-person normal day to day experiences to suddenly really expecting a full, easy, comprehensive digital experience. So, now, even older audiences, even my grandma is calling me. Everyone is starting to do this. And those that aren’t, either really need to do it, or everybody’s gonna move past them.
Camille: I think that’s very true. The pandemic was definitely a catalyst in the digital world. If people weren’t doing it before, they definitely have to adapt now. And that was that push over the edge of working remote, and things of that nature. You wanna make sure that even if you don’t see people in person, you have to create that experience online as best as possible, and that’s what pushed people to enter that digital realm full-fledged.
Nicole: And it’s a lot of learning by doing. People didn’t learn it before because they didn’t have to, because they had other options. But now, that hurdle of taking the first steps, that’s already done. And it opened up all these new possibilities, just because we couldn’t continue doing things the same way we were.
Camille: What would you say is a piece of advice that you would give to a SAS company that’s just starting.
Nicole: Tech is your friend. Yu really don’t need a crazy budget or a huge team. Now we’ve got software that can do nearly everything. I was actually reading the 2021 digital advertising trends report from [inaudible], and they reported something really interesting. They said that more teams are increasingly more satisfied using software solutions instead of hiring freelancers, or agencies, or actually even in-house talent. So, make sure you definitely have enough hands to do the work you need, but you don’t have to get wrapped up in hiring when you can use your existing teams smarter.
Camille: Just leverage and make sure they’re using the tools. And it makes it easier for the people on your team. They have a million things going on. They can’t do everything at a micro level. So, having that software at hand, utilize it, take advantage of it…
Nicole: And like you said with the last question. There is so much new technology, so many more new programs and methods that we can use from this, that all we have to do is find them and use them.
Camille: Like I said, I think it just took that push, and it’s like, when people are swimming in a two-foot pool, they’re swimming for their life, and they’re like “Oh gosh, this is so crazy!” And then, all of a sudden, they’re like “It’s actually not that bad.”
Nicole: One door closes, you climb out the window. No, but there’s always another option.
Camille: What are some common mistakes that companies make when it comes to the marketing aspect of their business?
Nicole: I think a lot of smaller companies, particularly, they know their app is great. They know their software is awesome. How do they know? They see it. They did it. The thing that a lot of people miss is that this awesome app, it’s not just gonna be beamed directly into the consciousness of your customers. So, it’s awesome, but marketing is how you show people. They won’t know it unless they see it. So, don’t freak out at the short-term costs of the software, or the initial investments. Make calculated risks, do your research, and invest in digital marketing strategies that pay off in the long term. It’s like most things in life. You only get out of it what you put in.
Camille: Very true. I like that. How do you become successful if you never take any risks? Well, that’s most of the questions we have for you today. I just want you to have the last two minutes or so. Let’s do a shameless plug. Tell us what your team has been up to, and is there any exciting new with CloudMyBiz? We wanna know.
Nicole: Yeah, without a doubt, there’s always exciting news. So, right now, we have a major collaboration with Lexus Nexus for their Salesforce integration, and that’s just been a blast to take part in. Aside from that, we just completed a project with Fanny Mae, and we have a lot of other huge collaborations with new clients in the works. So, it’s been a blast. Also, recently, we released new features for interest-based loans in Fundingo, and like we were talking about, this is an industry where people didn’t know they could do digital. It was that fear of trying something new. But now, they’re ready, and we have this software that helps people that are a little newer to this suddenly use all these automation abilities to start working more with their real estate loans, and construction loans, and all kinds of alternative loans. So, it’s great. I feel like we’re playing a first-hand role in getting people up to speed with new technology, and helping them compete.
Camille: And I’m sure all those integrations are super beneficial, that you have coming up. So, they can have one hub in which they don’t have to go to different vendors for different things. They can have it all. So, I can imagine how easy that would be for streamlining purposes. That sounds like a really cool thing.
Nicole: Look at it this way: I’m a notebook person. I have my laptop, but I have a notebook- Actually, a minimum of 2-3 notebooks in every room of my house. When you have everything in separate places, it does get hard to keep track of. So, naturally, if you’re using the same software to keep track of everything, you don’t have to go searching for stuff, you don’t type in the same thing three times. It’s all there, and you don’t need the same time or resources, or even budget to just keep it going.
Camille: That all sounds really cool. Nicole, it was so exciting to have you on this podcast today. I hope that your cats are fed the rotisserie chicken.
Nicole: The other one is learning how to give you a high-five, one of my two.
Camille: I was definitely gonna ask what their newest trick was.
Nicole: You tell him “What’s up?” and he will, sometimes, give you a little high-five.
Camille: Thank you so much for joining us today, Nicole. I look forward to talking to you next time.
Nicole: it was a blast coming out. Thank you for inviting me.
Camille: All right, you have a good one.
Nicole: You too.