David Rostan: Q&A Session

Q&A Session: David Rostan

David Rostan Q&A Session is happening on July 11th, 2019 at 10:00 AM PST (1:00 PM EST)

David is a marketing leader and team-builder for high-growth companies. In his current role as VP of Sales & Marketing at Calendly, he leads the product marketing, acquisition, brand, and sales teams to help grow the number one automated meeting scheduling tool for teams and businesses. Before joining Calendly, David led organic and product marketing at Dashlane and prior to that, he was a startup growth consultant and entrepreneur. Early in his career, David held marketing and strategy jobs at larger corporations but has found startup life to be a much better fit. He holds an MBA and received his undergraduate degree in Rhetoric, of all things. When he’s not working, he’s spending time with his wife and his twin daughters in NYC.
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David Rostan – Transcript

Q&A Session with David Rostan @ Calendly

July 11th, 2019

What strategy or strategies led to your B2C growth?
Largely our messaging and positioning. as a viral product, we could position for one particular solution (e.g. sales teams book more demos) but we chose to position to the lowest common denominator of the problem — the hassle of back and forth to schedule a meeting you want to have. that appeals to b2b and b2c, alike.

Have you had any successful partnerships with other SaaS companies?

We do great product partnerships that we combine into marketing partnerships. Integrations with intercom and zoom, for example, come with a big marketing push that we execute on both sides. We have a template for those with a menu of “we offer” and “we want you to offer” to make those plans/discussions efficient.

How you do enable Product-led sales? Until what ACV? How do you qualify them?

Product led sales can scale pretty high without sales. But most often you really DO have sales . . . you just call them support.

I am building a SAAS app and what are the key metrics should I focus on right from the start?

Usage. Depending on how much it should be used, DAU, WAU. some sort of activity or intensity metric. If viral, track that. you want to see traction. That people love and get value from the product.

I’d love to hear more about how you are using NPS to drive growth!

I like to focus on a few things.

1) the detractors – see if it is an issue and if so, unblock it. if not, I don’t spend a lot of time there

2) the passives – these people can be moved higher. Why don’t they LOVE you? Often it is b/c you aren’t making a brand connection. Maybe some content in your onboarding that isn’t “do this step” but builds a connection.

3) the promoters – a) use their language and also see if they are echoing the language you use. they are great for messaging guidance and b) follow up asap and ask them to do just what they said: promote you. Give them discounts to give out, ask for reviews, build a small army of advocates with them.

In the last 12 months what core marketing strategies have worked well and what has not worked at all? Thanks so much!

We’ve been focusing a lot of our activities on sales and self-serve materials and product marketing. Those things take time to show benefits, but we know we’re on the right path when we say “yes! that message/position/solution is US”. More immediate results come from onboarding campaigns and those pay dividends always. Always be optimizing these and testing.

By how far do you guys have a net profit after marketing costs every month? Do you guys have months where you have lost? When there is a loss during a month, what do you do marketing and strategy-wise to get to a profitable month in the next month?

We don’t typically discuss the numbers, but Calendly is a profitable company.We self fund. So that means we invest wisely and need a quick payback to be responsible with our investments in marketing and sales. To me, if you aren’t profitable but have the cash to spend, you are trying to establish your payback period and your CAC and LTV so you can eventually predict that very thing – how much can you spend and when in the future will you make it back.

B2B and B2C when it comes to building you clientele what was the most successful way you found to add to your client list

In our case, the key is: when they’re ready, make SURE we’re meeting with them ASAP! Hence – embed Calendly on your website or use it in marketing or sales automation to make sure clients don’t slip thru our fingers. Self-promotional but true.

How do you guys reach out to lapsed/canceled users (if at all)?

We love to identify them ahead of time. We use Braze for email and in-app messages and ideally, we see slowed activity and ping them. Usually with refreshers on why and how to get value out of the product. e.g. hey, reduce no-shows by adding reminders to your events. That gets them thinking of the benefits of using Calendly more regularly vs not. To revive, there are many ways discounts (we don’t do these, but I’ve seen them work). What we do is package new release stuff. e.g. hey, we have an amazing iPhone app now so you can schedule on the go! It has 5 stars! etc. 

I’d love to hear about who your ideal buyer is in B2B and how you think about marketing to them.

We have several. Anyone who makes or loses money or time based on the meetings they do and don’t get. Sales & lead marketers, customer support & account management, recruiters, product & marketing researchers, conference attendees, education for student advising. We collect use-case at signup and market to them as that customer profile.

When you are seeing a worse month in terms of revenue compared to the previous month while you didn’t make any changes marketing-wise, what do you do to get the revenue back up in the upcoming month?

Depends, when it is seasonal, we project it like that and don’t panic. but we’re always testing no matter the month. You can always do big campaigns for spikes if you have the cash, but we don’t really do reactive like that. We can sometimes turn our focus to conversion marketing to see if we can squeeze more revenue out of less volume and those things pay off evergreen.

Can you share a bit about your approach to product marketing? I see other tools building scheduling features into their products. How do you compete?

Simplicity. You see it in our message, product, and website. We grow vs others b/c we are the most simple and elegant solution. Our balance of enterprise power with consumer usability. We need to echo that in our product marketing AND we need to speak in terms of solutions to the pains people actually have. So, if we are the best at making sure that the client doesn’t slip thru your fingers because of the experience for that invitee – the prospect – you never consider anything else. That prospect is worth the best experience and that’s what we provide and how we position.

I’d love to understand your email strategy and any referral schemes. What works? What hasn’t?

We are lucky. Using the product is a referral. So we don’ usually have to ask. In the past, 2-sided discounts or, better yet, credits! (People don’t like to waste the credit they have “earned”).

How do you decide on ‘onboarding emails?’ I’d love to learn how to do freemium email onboarding.

We start with one branch. What’s our philosophy on how to make people successful? To determine that, talk to successful users vs unsuccessful. If they are otherwise the same, your philosophy may be around getting unsuccessful to look like successful with more info or guidance or understanding of the value prop. For us, since you may not need to meet right NOW at account creation, we like to try to get you to understand the signal – when to think about needing to use Calendly, and then we’re there when you do. And what are you going to get out of it (huge benefits, etc.).

What marketing campaigns have you seen the most success with when converting freemium users to paying users?

Running them against paywalls. then build nurture off of that. So, a reminder is a great example for us. People NEED to make sure they don’t get no-shows. They need to distribute the agenda to get people on the same page. They need to try this feature. Then, when they do, they either upgrade or don’t. But if they don’t, we can send case studies, content, and other information that can show the value (to THEM) of the feature vs the cost. And when we talk about that, we aren’t always talking ROI – there is an emotional value that people understand. They have a need and the cost isn’t usually the issue vs the huge benefit.

What’s your advice to someone very much interested in marketing but has no clue on what to specialize in? What criteria should one take into account to decide besides what is asked by the market and one’s passions?

Marketing is fun because the specializations are so varied. Quant to creativity and everything in between. What you love to do should be your depth, if you think of the now-classic T-shaped marketer view. That said, I see more marketing generalists coming back, which gives highly adaptable people who can understand the customer and write persuasively a great chance to dive in, do a lot of stuff and see what they love (and what’s profitable in the market for their skills), that’s one reason the customer support to marketing pipeline is so good at a lot of SaaS companies.

Have you had any success leveraging influencers?

We haven’t spent a lot of time “leveraging” them, yet. In fact, the best ones are delighted by the product and amazed at how they ever managed without it. Those people will create videos and social posts on their own. That said, at Dashlane (prior role) we did see a ton of success with influencer marketing – organic (via a platform like Influitive) and paid (e.g. youtube influencer).

What were some strategies for making Calendly more viral?

Lean on the product for that. We collaborate with a product marketing person on that team, but there is no virality that can match that which is built into your product. First, though, think about the touchpoints and the signals. That is, where can you talk to someone about referring/sharing your product and how can you help it occur to them to do so? And it never hurts to answer “what do I get out of it” – in a lot of cases that is credit, 2-sided free months, etc.

How many on the marketing team? What is the breakdown of roles? Do you have a partner team? Inside or outside of marketing?

We’re building a partner team outside of sales and marketing. Because it spans both of those and products (integrations) for us. Marketing is Demand Gen/Acquisition, Product marketing (includes customer lifecycle marketing), and Brand. But we focus on product marketing and demand gen/acq first and most. WE. ARE. HIRING!!!

In what ways, if at all, do you feel like your marketing is affected by your customer requests for desired features?

Credit to our product team and our founder, Tope, who is amazing and (though he’d never say it) has a unique vision for what our users need and don’t need. It is affected by 100%. We build what they need, but not the features they need. We dig deeper and deliver the solutions they need. And we strip out all the bloat (i.e. we don’t make everything they ask for) because we have the expertise to solve the problems in the meeting space. We do link our support tickets directly into channels to be triaged and investigated by the product. Listening to customers and users is EVERYTHING to us.

What’s the favorite part of your companies marketing strategy?

Product marketing. We have a belief that if we get the story right over time, to more and more key segments and people, we will build a huge and (even more) successful business. I like being at a company that builds marketing for the long-term like that. (that said, our short term goals aren’t exactly small ones!)

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