Natalie Marcotullio (Navattic) - Connect as People
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Ben: Welcome to The Marketing Stir Podcast by Stirista, probably the most entertaining marketing podcast you're going to put in your ear. I'm Ben, the producer here at Stirista. The goal of this podcast is to chat with industry leaders and get their take on the current challenges of the market and we'll have a little fun along the way. In today's episode, Ajay and Vincent chat with Natalie Marcotullio, the head of growth and operations at Navattic. She talks about how gaining leads via word of mouth is a good early sign of a company taking off and how SEO is a big part of their marketing strategy. Ajay hosts a panel at Ad Week and Vincent is ready to host the Silver Apple Awards on November 10th. Give it a listen.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to another episode of Stirista's The Marketing Stir. I am your happy host, Vincent Pietrafesa, the vice president of B2B products and partnerships at Stirista, still interim general manager of AccessB2B. Let's just drop that. Let's make me the general manager. I've been the interim for so long. You know I'm doing my thing. Just make me general manager. Who do we have to talk to? Well, I'll tell you who we have to talk to. We'll get to him in a moment. But anyway, let's pause one moment. If you're just joining us and you're like, " What is The Marketing Stir? What is Stirista, The Marketing Stir Podcast?" We cover all aspects of marketing. It's a conversation. It's like we met this person at a conference, at the bar. That's what we're doing here. We're having fun. Thank you so much, for speaking of conferences, so many people coming up to me recently at various conferences and telling me you enjoy the podcast. That will never get old. That will never get old, so we appreciate that very much. Thank you for doing that. Let's pause one second, Stirista. We're a marketing technology company. We own our own business to business data, our own business to consumer data. We help companies access that data to help them get new customers. Isn't that fun? We have our own email sending platform, our own DSP. We could do connected TV, display, OTT. Email me, vincent @ stirista. com. That is how confident I am. I just gave you my email address and you are using it for a variety of reasons, but also thank you for inquiring about Stirista. We appreciate that. The other thing I'm extremely happy about, I just got to see him in person and the Gupta was in full effect, ladies and gentlemen. He was out there speaking, doing his thing. Ladies and gentlemen, my co- host, Mr. Ajay Gupta. What's up, Ajay?
Ajay Gupta: Hey, Vincent. Yeah, good to see you. It was good to actually, I guess, have a conference with this many people. I think it's the first time. More than 100,000 people showed up at the conference. That was fun. We definitely had a couple of wild nights there, so I am in recovery mode this week.
Vincent Pietrafesa: I will tell you that after that one event, yeah, it took me almost a whole day to recover. I swear I'm not out there till 5: 00 in the morning. Midnight's my cutoff. You know that. 12:07, I think I was out of there and then I was like, what did I do? But it was great. I gave you some credit yesterday or a couple of days ago on the podcast, last episode's podcast. I did because I waited till you miss that one. That's the one episode Ajay missed. I didn't want to give credit-
Ajay Gupta: What's the credit you gave me?
Vincent Pietrafesa: The credit I gave you was the fact that you hosted a panel at Ad Week. You rocked it. You did a great job. See, I will do it in person. For all those people who write it, he rocked it. It was a great panel with Ajay, of course, the CEO of Stirista. You had Chad Engelgau of Acxiom. You had Meb Francisco. She was there from MediaCom. Then you also had Serge Matta from LG Ads. LG Ads was the party, was the event. I blame you, Serge.
Ajay Gupta: That was the event, yeah. I think the cool thing about that event was they actually gave me a primetime spot. It had more to do with my guests than me, but still, finally showing some respect around here.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah, no, it was great. It was great to see a lot of work was done. It was autumn in New York City and Ajay was in full effect. Stirista was in full effect. We had a lot of people there, which was great. I love these. I love that the trade shows are back. Let's talk about a trade show first. Well, there's a couple of things. So this next guest, I met her at a trade show. A lot of our guests don't come onto the podcast that way, but I started talking to her and she was a fellow New Yorker and I was like, well, right over, right across, right there is a connection. That's always a connection. We have a variety of connections. We are also of Italian American heritage. I was like, come on, that's automatically family right there. We talked about that. She's already come out to one of our New York events for the Marketing Club of New York Comedy and Cocktails and also maybe she attends, hopefully we'll see her at the Silver Apple Awards. That's November 10th this year, Ajay, hosted by yours truly at The Edison Ballroom. Shout out to the Marketing Club of New York, a nonprofit. They do amazing things. But I met her and I was like, oh, we have to get you on the podcast because she's doing great things in her career. They're doing great things at her company, Navattic. Ladies and gentlemen, Navattic is the company. So please, a warm welcome to Natalie Marcotullio, the head of growth and operations at Navattic. What's going on, Natalie?
Natalie Marcotullio: Doing well, doing well. It's funny hearing you guys talk about needing to recover from the conference reminded me of when we met at B2B SMX and it was at a casino, so as you can imagine, that was the longest I've needed to recover after a conference for a very long time.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah, exactly. We met at the sales and marketing B2B marketing exchange event in Boston and yes, that is at the Encore. That's what that event was. It was great, I know. You know what I liked about that? A variety of things about that event, Natalie, but in the casino, even in the casino, you could not smoke cigarettes and I was excited about that. I was excited because still, even in the casinos you could, so it was great, but it was great meeting you there and then getting to see you at a Marketing Club in New York event. But Natalie, let's get right into it. Well, and also, let me back up. You felt the connection too, right?
Natalie Marcotullio: Of course.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Did you feel the connection? I was like, New Yorkers. I always explain this to Ajay, wow, how East Coast- ers just know it. He's always fascinated when I'm like, " Wait a minute. You might say you work in California now, but you're East Coast," and they're like, " I'm from Brooklyn." I'm like, yeah, I knew it. I knew it. It's an intuition that I have. Enough about me. Natalie, let's talk about you. Let's talk about Navattic and also your role within the company. I'd love to learn more about both of those.
Natalie Marcotullio: Yeah. So Navattic, basically is a try before you buy experience for software. We just say interactive demos, get a chance to get hands- on with software from a website, from a link, wherever. For me, I'm head of growth, which we're a 12- person company so that's a little bit just a made up title of like, okay, let's just do all the marketing plus maybe dip our hands in some other departments. But generally, what I do is just try to look at the whole buyer experience, see where are there some leaks or gaps and how can we fix those.
Vincent Pietrafesa: That's awesome. We always love to ask people, it's one of our most popular questions is the fact that how did you get into this business to begin with? How'd you get into marketing? Did you study marketing? That's a rarity as far as our guest, but that would be intriguing as well. So tell us a little bit about that.
Natalie Marcotullio: I actually did study marketing. Growing up, I always loved art and then I liked psychology, but both those are incredibly unpractical, so I looked at marketing. I was like, hey, that seems like a practical version of art and psychology. I'll give it a shot. So started traditional marketing degree, but I was very lucky I got a tip from someone who said, " Hey, you should look into digital marketing, like SEO, SEM, all the rage right now." Went and taught myself some SEO, SEM. Did some Google analytics certifications and that really is what jump- started my career, was learning that early on and getting a little more of that digital side rather than just the more traditional marketing background.
Vincent Pietrafesa: That's amazing. Ajay, you could tell Natalie is a lot younger than us because someone said digital marketing. For me, it was like we barely had textbooks when I went to school, so this is crazy. That's a new generation and that's what also intrigued me about Natalie. She's doing great things at such a young age, if you don't mind me saying so.
Natalie Marcotullio: No, I appreciate it.
Ajay Gupta: Yeah. I think they had not invented books when Vincent went to college.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Well, they had newspapers because that's what I used to... My shoes were made out of newspapers as I mentioned a lot of times.
Ajay Gupta: Well, Natalie, it's great that you switched your major before. I went through and got a master's in creative writing, so I discovered marketing later in life to find something useful to do. But yeah, was curious, what are some of the channels and strategies that you're using currently and what's working for you?
Natalie Marcotullio: Yeah. So not shockingly, SEO, still a big part of our strategy. I always say SEO will be my first love of marketing, can't fully let it go. But we have noticed still success with that. I think SEO's gotten a lot harder, a lot more crowded, but at the end of the day, putting out educational, helpful content will still tend to get the word out there, especially for us. We're a new category, so SEO has been really important as far as educating. Some other things, this is going to go way old school, but we're seeing a big increase of word of mouth, which is really exciting actually as a marketer. Obviously, we know we're doing things. We know it's customer enablement, connecting with people on LinkedIn, all that dark social stuff you hear, but it is still really cool to see when people say, " How'd you hear about us?" " A colleague, a friend saw it on LinkedIn," all this stuff. I'm getting more and more excited about those word of mouth leads. As a marketer, it's frustrating because you can't measure that as much, but I feel like that's those early signs like okay, maybe this is taking off. What's not working? Getting really annoyed with SEM these days. Also love it, but just as channels get more crowded, I cannot believe how much a click costs sometimes.
Ajay Gupta: What influenced your decision to join your current role?
Natalie Marcotullio: I was actually a customer of Navattic before joining, which is the ideal use case. I had known the team. I was talking to them early on, kind of lightly advising. I was at a company before that had a free trial. We were PLG and for the life of us, we could not get people to fully convert on this free trial. I felt like I spent all my time just trying to get people to have success in the platform. What we ultimately came to, it wasn't that once they did get their data in, get some time with the platform. They were very successful, but there was a big hurdle to see value. You had to integrate or import your data and a lot of people weren't comfortable doing that in some sort of free motion. So when I was there, I specifically remember someone saying on my team, " I wish there was just a way to have the customers walk through the product themselves and not have to set anything up." I knew the team at Navattic. I was like, I think I have a solution for that. So I gave it a shot. We replaced the pretrial with the interactive demos and once I started using the platform, I just knew I want to be part of it.
Vincent Pietrafesa: That's amazing. That's like the best testimonial right there. It's like, " Why did you join the company?" It's like, " Oh, I was a customer and I like the solution or the technology." We have our own Aaron Grote who heads up our digital team. Same thing, he was a client of ours and he enjoyed it. When he tells that story, a genuine story, people are like, " Oh, wow, that's great. That makes sense," so we love hearing that. Natalie, you talked about smaller company, but talk to me about the mission and how you're thinking about growing in this next year.
Natalie Marcotullio: Yeah. I think two big missions is, and I think they tie together, one is just creating a better buying experience. That was also part of the reason I joined Navattic, because I was a big buyer of B2B software and I just got so frustrated that I'd have to wait a month before ever seeing the software, testing it out or buying a software that ended up not working. So really, the biggest thing is just improving the buyer experience by seeing the software earlier and with that kind of enabling more companies to go PLG without needing a bunch of engineering resources. I think those are some of the big missions around growing, is PLG is really taking off. It's a really hot topic right now. Everyone's talking about going product- led, but I don't think a lot of companies recognize it's a lot of engineering's resources and entirely re- shifting your go- to- market strategy. We say this is PLG- like, like how can you test the waters. Give your prospects a little bit of access, but not upholding your entire organization to do so.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Is that how you would say that you're standing out from your competitors? Is it that and some other ways? Could you tell us a little bit more about that?
Natalie Marcotullio: Yeah. I'd say that, focusing on that PLG top of funnel, that's one way. But if part of our mission, as I mentioned, is giving a better buying experience, one thing we've realized is we need to then do that for our own. So we've been trying to think through the entire funnel and there are still points we can be better, let me clear. We've not created the perfect buying experience, but we're just really trying to think how can we make it very seamless for our customers, not only to buy the software but then to implement it, make it super easy to use. We talk about how this is no code and no engineering. We want any marketer to be able to go in, be able to use the software and have one of these built in a day.
Ajay Gupta: Natalie, what does your ideal customer look like?
Natalie Marcotullio: I touched on that a little before with a marketer, but for us, it really is marketers, growth professionals. I'd say in more standard data terms, mid- market- ish. Basically, what we found is if you are a company where you've already validated product market fit, you validate you have an awesome product, you have a lot of leads or a lot of free trialers, users coming in, this is where an interactive demo can be most useful because it's a way to weed out some of the free trial pokers, weed out some of the window shoppers as you might call it, and just get your best quality leads to your sales people or into your product and let everyone else experience it from your website. I think those high- growth companies that are seeing an overflow and need a way to make sure that their sales team is really optimized, that's where we see the best fits.
Ajay Gupta: Got you. Talking about marketing industry at large, what are some of the things you're excited about in this post- pandemic environment?
Natalie Marcotullio: I think in general, because the pandemic brought on so many groups, everyone going to LinkedIn having to network remotely, suddenly we realized that we could connect with anyone. Information can be democratized. So rather than before where I think the sellers had all the power, people will go out and ask in their group, what is it like using this product? What's this cost? Give me the inside information. And with rise of G2, all that, I'm excited for the fact that people are able to do a little more of their own discovery and get that information, make those connections. It is becoming more of a buyer first mentality rather than seller first.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Natalie, I remember this when I met you because I was talking to a group of people. Again, it was a while ago, but I was so impressed, like I said, by you and there were so many other leaders on that stage that we met that night. I know you talked about this, female leadership, female leaders. You're a big advocate for that as well as myself and our company and everyone should be, but talk to me about what makes your experiences unique in the field and how you're advocating for female leadership.
Natalie Marcotullio: Yeah. When I started with that data-driven background, marketing in general tends to be more female- focused, but getting into the world of growth and more data... I was at a networking event, a growth-focused networking event the other day and it was almost entirely male. So I think just recognizing where there are areas that are a little less female-focused and just developing resources or being a mentor for those who want to get in it. I think that's just the biggest thing is mentoring anyone who wants to get into startups, wants to get into data, all that, because there's a lot of inside baseball that you just don't know until you've done it. I found myself talking to some past founders who are females, females who are high up at startups, it's been so helpful, and male or female. You don't have to be a female to mentor, just giving some of those tips and inside baseball to everyone.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah. And also, we talk about it a lot, you should not feel embarrassed or taken back by reaching out to someone and asking for his or her advice, a mentorship, a cup of coffee to pick someone's brain. We talk about that all the time, especially our listeners who are new to the field or even students that we get a lot of feedback from. I think that's good. That's great advice. You had an offsite with your team and you rave about your company and your company culture. Talk to us about your company culture, your company and how that plays into the different types of organizations you've worked at before, how important it is to you.
Natalie Marcotullio: I think at a small company, I've always specialized in startups, company culture is everything, because if you're not aligned, you only have so many resources, so many people. If you guys aren't getting along, if you can't communicate correctly, you got a small ship going a lot of different directions, that is not going to be successful. So to me, I think part of the reason that we've seen some success so far is the culture we have of being collaborative, hardworking, and just generally getting along and liking each other. I tell everyone, you do not realize how much of a competitive advantage it is to like your coworkers every day and show up and be excited to work. You can see that innovation comes when you can just have a casual chat with a coworker or you enjoy working with them rather than constantly being at odds. It's not easy working with people. Everyone has their own motivation, things going on. But as much as possible, that you can connect as people, it helps so much more than the work inaudible.
Ajay Gupta: Natalie, this is one of our staple questions we ask here. I'm sure you get a lot of emails and LinkedIn messages that are unsolicited. What's a message that gets your attention and what's one that really annoys you?
Natalie Marcotullio: I got to give a shout out here to a rep at Chili Piper. Not shocking that Chili Piper has a great brand, but they had a message that was one very personalized, that we all know personalized but more, it really tugged at my heartstrings in a way that made me want to respond. I think so often when I get emails, they're very formal because we've been coached, you have to very formally reach out to someone. They're above you. They're superior if you're going to reach out. This message, they send a casual video, asked for feedback from the video, said, " Hey, even if you don't want to buy, I'm just starting out with videos. I'd love to hear what you think." It put us on the same playing field as well as just made it sound like they were asking a friend for advice. Then the follow- up email asked around like, " Oh, would you be willing for a meeting? It's tough quarter, Q4," and it worked. I was like, " I've been there. I understand. I want to help." So I think as far as good, just remember we're all people. I think we're afraid that... And let me clarify, it depends on your industry. You work in a very formal industry, maybe don't go around throwing out gifts, but at least for B2B SaaS, I think there was a level of it was refreshing to be human to human. To answer the second half of that question, I just think the very generic email that sounds, again, very formal or that it'd be such an honor if you talk to them. I really love this idea of you should be on the same playing field. They can say no, that's fine, but we're all just people.
Ajay Gupta: Makes sense. Natalie, I heard you like to read books. What are some of the books you're reading and you recommend?
Natalie Marcotullio: I'm cheating a little because I did finish this book and I haven't picked up a new one yet, but it's not business book too. It was just a really fun one. If anyone's seen The Good Place, it's one of my favorite shows. The creator of the show, he just put out a book. It's really funny. It's lightweight. The title is a joke, but it's called How to Be Perfect. But the title, if you look at it, it's funny, it's messed up, but it was just like moral philosophy for dummies almost, but in a very comedic way, so it was awesome. I recommend that.
Vincent Pietrafesa: That's Michael Schur, right? Yeah, also creator of The Office, Parks and Rec, some of my favorite show. I have to finish The Good Place. I got into six or seven episodes. I think my wife checked out, which I'm like, wait a minute. That should actually be a requirement for marriage if you like The Good Place or not, at least in my book. But yeah, that's good. It's a short book, Ajay, so even I would read it. I know you're going to go there. I know that smile's on your face because inaudible.
Ajay Gupta: That's why I went ahead and asked the book question because sometimes you ask it and it just throws me off.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Ajay doesn't think that I read. I read when I need to read. Don't worry about me. Don't you worry about my literary skills. I'm more of a verbal guy myself, don't you worry. Natalie, as we're about to wrap up here in the next few questions, but talk to us about what's some news coming out of Navattic. What are you excited about? What conferences are you looking forward to attending? You got your pulse on all these conferences, it seems like, so you're like my new reference. Talk to me about that.
Natalie Marcotullio: Conferences, still doing 2023 planning. Probably we'll go to the other B2B conference in, I think it's in Scottsdale.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah, February, right? February or March?
Natalie Marcotullio: Yeah. But for now, I have to admit, I'm looking forward to a little of a break from networking and conference season. It's been so great being back in person, but I'm truly a little networked out. But as far as other than conferences, some exciting stuff that we're looking into is more of just the partnerships in general. We just released a partnership with G2 where you can now embed interactive demos on G2 pages. inaudible for us is really exciting as we talked about part of our mission is enabling the buyer journey. Obviously, G2 has been an awesome resource for buyers to have more knowledge, so just cool that we can align missions there.
Vincent Pietrafesa: That is cool. Yeah, no, G2, I'm very familiar with them. I think we've partnered with them in some way, I think G2. Already, we're on G2 Crowd.
Ajay Gupta: We do, yeah. We do some co- marketing and I think we are on the DSP grid there as well.
Vincent Pietrafesa: That's cool. Yeah. Also, Natalie, you obviously like to read, but a personal side of you, what else are you interested in? What do you like doing? You said art. You're still artistic or do you like to do things there? Talk to us about some hobbies.
Natalie Marcotullio: Art is something I should do more of. I was so proud of myself. I did go to a gallery the other day, which I live in New York. That's not an accomplishment. There's one in every corner, but trying to do a little more of that. Besides that, I think just a very typical New Yorker, trying new restaurants, walking around the city. Yeah, just exploring the city as much as I can.
Vincent Pietrafesa: I love that you said, you were like, " I'm tired of networking." We just got back to it three months ago after three years. You're like, "You know what? I'm good. I'm already good with networking." That's great. So a final thought, Natalie. It could be anything. It could be to students. It could be just related to work, just anything in general to our great Marketing Stir listeners.
Natalie Marcotullio: Yeah. This feels pressure and I think is something really inaudible.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Yes, it's a lot of pressure. It's a statement though. It's not like one word someplace. It's like, what is one word that describes... I was like, one word? Or maybe that is easier. I don't know. It could be one word.
Natalie Marcotullio: I think I'll go with some of the best advice I've gotten as far as marketing, so this is totally plagiarized too. But I think as marketers, it's so tempting to see so many channels, mediums, all those things going on and just feel like we have to be everywhere. I can't tell you how many marketers now are like, " I got to get on TikTok." It's like, is your audience there? Does that make sense? I think I've really just been trying to focus. One thing I will tell my team is like, I will not do a channel unless we can do it in a way that's unique or great. If we can't do those things, we won't do it. So I think my closing thought is, as a marketer, I know it feels like you have to be everywhere. At least I've seen success with narrowing it down. Who knows, but hopefully that gives you a little frame of mind when someone else on your team is telling you how to make a podcast or do a TikTok.
Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah. No, that's great advice. That is great advice. Natalie, we appreciate your time. It is great talking to you. Hopefully, I'll see you soon, not on a networking event because you're over those. I'm kidding. But it'll be fun. Thank you so much for giving us your perspective. Ladies and gentlemen, that's Natalie Marcotullio. She is from Navattic. She's the head of growth and operations. I'm Vincent Pietrafesa. That's Mr. Ajay Gupta. The Gupta was in full effect, New York City. We're glad to have him back. Natalie's in New York. I'm in New York. A New York episode, I love it. Thank you so much for listening and we'll talk soon.
Ben: Thanks for listening to The Marketing Stir podcast by Stirista. Please like, rate, and subscribe. If you're interested in being a guest on the podcast, please email us at themarketingstir @ stirista. com. Thanks for listening.
Ajay and Vincent chat with Natalie Marcotullio, the Head of Growth and Operations at Navattic. She talks about how gaining leads via word of mouth is a good early sign of a company taking off, and how SEO is a big part of their marketing strategy. Ajay hosts a panel at AdWeek, and Vincent is ready to host the Silver Apple Awards on November 10th