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"How a SaaS David Took On Industry Goliaths & Won Ft. Mark Graham of commonsku" (Inbound Success Ep. 28)

Kathleen Booth

VP of Marketing, Speaker, Host of ‘The Inbound Success' Podcast, Leader of the Annapolis HubSpot User Group

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"How a SaaS David Took On Industry Goliaths & Won Ft. Mark Graham of commonsku" (Inbound Success Ep. 28) Blog Feature

Published on March 5th, 2018

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How does a scrappy SaaS startup successfully take on the established giants in an industry?

In this week's episode of The Inbound Success Podcast, commonsku Co-Founder Mark Graham shares how he and his wife (and Co-Founder) Catherine successfully grew commonsku and disrupted an industry dominated by large, entrenched, very well funded players. 

Listen to the podcast to learn more about how Commonsku's obsessive devotion to its customers, laser focus on its target audience, building a community, and commitment to the creation of great quality and a truly inbound approach contributed to its success, or read the transcript below.



Transcript

Kathleen Booth (host): Welcome to The Inbound Success PodcastMy name is Kathleen Booth and I am your host. This week, my guest is Mark Graham the co-founder of commonsku. Welcome, Mark.

Mark Graham (guest): Hey Kathleen, thank you. I'm really excited to be here. This is something I've been looking forward to.

Kathleen: I'm really excited to have you. I've known you for quite some time but I would suspect that there are many people in the audience who don't. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and about commonsku?

Mark: Yes, I am one of the co-founders of commonsku. commonsku is a CRM and order management and team collaboration tool that was designed specifically for the promotional products industry. For folks that may not the promotional products industry, it's an industry sometimes known as SWAG. Kathleen, of course, you were in the business formerly.

It's a huge, $22 billion dollar industry that's filled with a bunch of suppliers and distributors that are all producing great promotional products for great marketers that need to advertise themselves through the product. commonsku is the platform that makes that all streamlined and organized for people who are in this business.

Kathleen: Background for listeners, I first met Mark ... I'm going to have to guess what year it was, but if I had to guess, I would say it was probably 2012 maybe? 2013?

Mark: Yeah, I'd say it's five, six.

Kathleen: Maybe earlier.

Mark: I would say six or seven years ago, yeah.

Kathleen: Yeah.

Mark: When you were at the ASI show.

Kathleen: I don't know if my memory goes back that far these days. But we met several years ago when we were both on the speaking circuit, speaking at the ASI shows, which is the series of conferences/trade shows for the promotional products industry. At the time, I owned a digital marketing agency that also was a promotional products distributor. Mark owned a promotional products distributorship as well, called RIGHTSLEEVE. At the time, commonsku was like the twinkle in his eye.

It's been fun to watch the company grow. I'd love for you to share how you came up with the idea for commonsku and what made you go from having one business, your promotional products distributorship, which was doing quite well, to starting another at the same time?

Mark: I think any interesting business is usually started by the founder or co-founder scratching their own itch. In my case, I still own RIGHTSLEEVE, it's still a thriving distributorship to this day. But at the time, this was going back actually, about 15 years ago. Sorry, 2005 is the time. At that point, we, as a distributorship, we're looking to grow and scale our business. We were looking for a piece of software that would allow us to streamline all of our customer communication, streamline all of our orders, and streamline all of our communication between suppliers, and all the people who worked at the company.

There wasn't any one system that allowed us to do that so we chose to design our own software. We thought, "How hard could this be?" and of course, it turned out to be really hard, but we just ended up continuing because we were fascinated by it. That was 2005.

Fast forward to about 2010, and we had established this piece of software internally at RIGHTSLEEVE, as a very powerful part of our business. By this point, we had received a lot of press within the industry. We had a lot of people that were coming to us asking us about technological advice. We thought to ourselves, "Well, we know this business pretty well, maybe there's an opportunity for us to spin this off as a separate company and become a software company providing CRM and order management solutions to other people like RIGHTSLEEVE."

That was around 2011 and we wrote a business plan and then spun out this company from the RIGHTSLEEVE software IP into a separate company servicing the entire industry. We scratched our own itch, we knew what the problem was. The itch for us was, was too many systems, duplication of information, taking way too long to submit an order, the customer experience was suffering. We said, "There's gotta be something we can do about this because nothing in our industry exists to our standards." That's how it was born.

Now, fast forward to 2018. We've now grown the business to about a $400 million market size within the industry, that's the amount of revenue that goes through the platform. It's been really exciting to be helping steer that growth.

Kathleen: It's very interesting because as somebody who used to own a distributorship, I was feeling that pain as well. You say, "Well, there was nothing out there that met our standards." What most people probably don't realize is that there were solutions out there and they were funded by, what I would characterize as a couple of 800-pound gorillas in the industry, with a lot of financial backing, huge existing captive customer bases, and other elements to their business that made it very hard to detach yourself as a user.

It's interesting because on the surface, it looked like an opportunity where you could enter an unserved market but, I think from the outside looking in, at least it seems to me, that part of the challenge you faced was the challenge of perception. People thought they had a solution, they didn't necessarily realize that their solution was inadequate. I imagine some of your early challenges were essentially making them know what they didn't know.

Mark: Yes. That was a huge challenge but I think that the way that we overcame it is, we knew at the very beginning that we were going to be smart by targeting a very small group of initial users. Because we had a product that, while it was very well-tested within the RIGHTSLEEVE environment, was not well-tested in the larger enterprise market or just the larger promotional products industry.

Our first plan of attack was to surround ourselves with early adopters, the kinds of people that were just drawn to what we were doing. They were curious people. They were also people who felt that the existing industry solutions did not meet their standards as well. We were a part of this little ragtag, crazy club. It was a very very small club at the time.

We worked with them to validate the product, to debug the product. From there, we were then able to go and market the product to a larger group of customers within the industry. That was probably the most important thing in our earlier stage - not so much trying to go out to the mainstream market and convince all these people who thought they already had a good solution. Had we done that right from the very beginning, I think we would have been dead in the water. But by starting with those initial users in the very loud user base, we were then able to validate the product and they were able to help us kind of cross that chasm, so to speak.

Kathleen: Yeah, I thought your approach was interesting because it's an industry that is not, I would say, generally known as a very technologically savvy industry. There are very low barriers to entry for people who become distributors and so, sometimes you get retired folks who are looking for something they can do in their free time. It's just an interesting industry demographically and so, I think it was really smart of you all to start with the subset that was those innovators/early adopters.

Mark: I think another thing I would say about that Kathleen, believe me, we've made a lot of mistakes so, if I'm giving answers that suggest that I'm an expert here, I would hate to misguide you. But what made it, I think a little easier for us at the beginning, is that we were going after people like us. I would say we had a lot of obstacles. There's no question. The big, well-financed, very well entrenched competitors in the industry, they're scary.

But for us, we had intimate knowledge of the problem that we were solving and we really understood who we had designed the product for. The first customer was RIGHTSLEEVE and RIGHTSLEEVE as a company from a trade perspective, highly entrepreneurial, high growth-oriented, highly creative, highly curious. When we designed commonsku, we designed it for people who are like RIGHTSLEEVE - creative, entrepreneurial people that were interested in growing their business.

If you segment the promotional products industry, like you making some comments about it not being particularly technologically advanced, you've got a lot of part-timers. You also have a lot of independent salespeople that are within the promotional products industry and they're the ones who are primarily serviced by our core competitors, the people that you mentioned at the beginning.

When we first started we said, "Are we reinventing the wheel with just something that's a little bit nicer for that mainstream market? Or are we creating a brand new product that is servicing the entrepreneur who has not had software like this to allow them to scale their business." By doing that and saying that we were servicing the creative entrepreneur, it meant that we were able to go after a part of the market that was underserved so we could use them as kind of a beachhead to then go after the mainstream market.

I think that, from a strategic positioning standpoint, was smart for us because we knew that we didn't have to convince that entrepreneur in the same way that we would have to convince maybe that part-time salesperson that you referred to before, who already had a solution that was free, by the way. We're convincing people to pay for our software. It's pretty tough when you're having to go up against a free solution.

Kathleen: We talk a lot about inbound marketing in this podcast. In a lot of ways, you can only really do inbound marketing well if you've already figured out your brand positioning and messaging. That's kind of a precursor to it. What you're really talking about is laying the foundation for what would later be the marketing strategy.

There's somebody I very much admire who's done great work on positioning. Her name is April Dunford. She has a whole positioning model and-

Mark: She spoke at Skucon in January.

Kathleen: ... Yeah, she's great. What I hear you describing is what I think she terms, "reframe the market." The example she always gives is Tesla, where there was an electric car market. The value prop when it was just Prius was all about like, "how long is your battery going to last?" Everybody was competing on battery life until Tesla came along and said, "Well, of course, we're going to give you good battery life, but what you really care about is how fast does it go and how sexy is the design?" All of a sudden, nobody was talking about battery life anymore. They're all talking about "how fast does it go and how sexy is the design?" It reminds me a little bit of that where, it's a great way to unseat an incumbent, by just changing the conversation essentially.

Mark: I think that's an interesting observation. I think that we knew, from the beginning, that there was no way we could outspend our entrenched competitors who've got a great product and great hold on the market. I think for us if we could lead with a great brand that stood for something, that focused on a particular part of the market, that was one thing we could do.

Content, I know is a big part of what you talk about in this podcast and within inbound marketing. We also knew that we were pretty good at generating content. We understood social media, that was something we did very well at RIGHTSLEEVE. We were able to bring that kind of content side into the commonsku business and we knew that if we could educate our customers as to what commonsku was about, why you would want to pay for the software, what it meant to be a growth-oriented entrepreneur in this business, and really communicating in a language that made sense to distributors, we felt we could win them over the mid to long-term. It would never be a quick sale, but you have to keep in mind though, commonsku, if you're a distributor coming onto the platform, we're running your business. It's your business, we're a software company, it's not like a franchise or anything, but your business runs on commonsku.

Kathleen: You're the ERP basically.

Mark: It's exactly like an ERP. It's a huge huge decision for a distributor-owner to make a switch from Platform A to Platform B.

For us, it would never be a quick sale so, we had to instill a sense of aspiration, a sense of trust, a sense that we knew what we were doing, that we had the entrepreneur's back, and that we were one of them. When we looked at our competitors, they weren't one of us. They were successful people who provided search databases, and very successful at that, but we knew that we could come at it from a different angle, then build a tribe of people who loved what we were doing, so that they would go and talk about us, and be really proud of their association with us. That was a very emotional start because we knew that that's what we could do better than anyone else.

Kathleen: Building on that - the concept of having a tribe - very early on in commonsku's existence, one of the functionalities that you built into the platform was a community, which the other platforms did not have actually. That was a key point of differentiation very early on. How much of your success in building that tribe and creating that connection early on do you attribute to having the community element in the platform?

Mark: It was huge. I can't underestimate it. It was absolutely an integral part of the software because one of the core values of commonsku is around collaboration, around sharing, around transparency of information inside the platform that allowed for this growth-oriented distributor to have all of their team members accessing the same information so that they could all work together to close business. Of course, you see that with a product like Salesforce which has got their Chatter product and Facebook has their Workplace product. commonsku has got a similar vibe to it.

Kathleen: commonsku's community, at least to me, the difference was really, it's not a community of people within your organization. I think with Salesforce and even with Facebook, you're still talking to people within your own company, whereas with commonsku, it's more like the broad Facebook or the broad LinkedIn, where you're speaking with people outside as well.

Mark: Absolutely. Well, it's both right? We created that collaborative, transparent work environment within a company but then we saw that if we could create it between networks, so between RIGHTSLEEVE, and Distributor A and Distributor B, and Distributor C, that we're all in the system, that each of them have their own private networks but they could come together, because we recognize that they all had something in common.

That, I think, was a very interesting way of approaching things because now we were able to create a tribe of basically, competitors, but competitors that saw the world through this transparent, collaborative lens, and recognized that the more they could share with one another, that would make the industry better and would make each other better. That was a real flag that we waved right from the very beginning because we believe that is really, really core to what it is that we do in this industry.

Kathleen: The rising tide lifts all boats.

Mark: Absolutely. I think people self-select. There are some people who go, "That's super weird. I hate my competitors, I don't want to share any information internally." That's great. commonsku might not be the right product for you. It meant that we had the right people coming to us as opposed to the wrong people coming to us.

Kathleen: You started out early on by getting your initial core group of beta testers. You built the community from the very beginning and you baked it into the products. Can you share what marketing channels really produced results for you in the early years and then take us through the timeline and what is it that's producing results for you now? Because the world is a markedly different place even in just the past five years, from a digital marketing standpoint. I am curious how your efforts have evolved.

Mark: Yeah, that's a great question and I would chuck it into a couple of different buckets. Number one, investing in our community was a huge thing for us in the beginning because it meant that by investing in this community and building these networks, we allowed for a lot of word of mouth. There were people that would refer us to their friends within the industry because this was a new and novel way of running a business. We spent a lot of time in that referral/word of mouth community building side of things because we didn't have the big bucks to spend on advertising. That was number one. Investing in the community, investing in that tribe.

Number two, we've spent, right from the very beginning, a lot of time and energy in content. That has helped us a ton in SEO in terms of getting found on the search engines. I wouldn't say that we're particularly good at SEO strategies. It's definitely something that I think we could learn more of. But we get found so much because of all the native content that we're producing. We must be doing something right. But we don't have an SEO expert here at all. I think it's by function of the fact that we've got a lot of good data and content.

Social and interacting with our community on Instagram and Facebook, those have been really good platforms for us, Twitter as well. We have also spent a lot of time and energy on our podcast, where we bring in customers and we showcase what success looks like.

We also spend a lot of time speaking about tactics on our podcast, so that way, we can really educate the entrepreneurs who are looking to become better at what they do. As a result, our content gets shared a lot and it becomes a really great way for us to sell to prospects. As we can say, "Look at all of this stuff that we stand for. Look at all this content that we're producing. Look at all the ways that we're investing in your success as an entrepreneur." It goes well beyond just it being a CRM and order management platform, which seems very tactical. All those forms of content have been really, really big for us.

Kathleen: You started podcasting a long time ago if I remember correctly.

Mark: Yeah, I got my start through PromoKitchen. We still do PromoKitchen now, but the first podcast was in 2011.

Kathleen: You were a super early adopter on that.

Mark: Super early, yeah. No, it's been lots of fun and I've loved it. I just love interviewing people. You're doing a fantastic job right now.

Building upon all the content that we created, we've spent a decent amount of time on drip campaigns and inbound marketing. We use a platform called Wishpond and we set up a series of workflows that allow for us to deliver content to people at various stages in our funnel.

If we have people right at the top of the funnel, we ask ourselves, "How can we use content and the education that we've created to get this person further down the funnel to either a trial or to a demo?"

Once someone's at a trial stage, how do we use content and drip campaigns to get them past the trial and into a paying customer situation? We're constantly tweaking that. I don't think that we've mastered it by any means, but it certainly has been transformative for us as we've seen the number of leads really grow, quite exponentially over the years. We attribute that to our investment in content.

Kathleen: Now, you are probably are the first podcast guest I've had who's using Wishpond so I'd love to just take a little side trip here and talk about, why Wishpond? What was it about that platform that attracted you? What do you like about it? You've used some other marketing automation platforms, how does it compare?

Mark: Yeah, when we were making a decision about our inbound marketing platform to use, there were two criteria. One was, is this a product that's going to work for us as commonsku, from a marketing perspective? That's number one. Number two, I would say equally importantly, is this the kind of application that we can integrate into the commonsku platform? commonsku is very much a platform in that, yes, we've got the CRM and the order management on the collaboration side that's baked into it. But we're integrated with QuickBooks, we're integrated with some major search providers within the industry. We're integrated with Shopify. We wanted to make sure that we could have an inbound marketing platform that we could integrate with that was reasonably priced, and accessible, and not too complicated for people that were using our platform.

We initially had an experience with HubSpot. I think that we were probably rather uneducated when we started using HubSpot. This was pre-Wishpond, just jumping back in time. Our experience, I would say, was so-so with HubSpot. It was expensive, at least for us, at the time. It was very complicated for our team to use. I think that we got the impression that we were using a small part of it and it felt very overwhelming to us for what we were looking to use it for. As I say, we may have been uneducated and didn't know what we were doing.
But at the end of the day, when we switched to Wishpond, we switched to them because the feature set was a little bit more limited and more accessible, and more realistic to us, and also at a price point that made a lot more sense. That was important for us as then we integrated with them to make sure we could then go and sell that product into our community as opposed to, "Hey, get on HubSpot, it's going to be enterprise at 25 grand a year." Most people, in our customer base, would choke at that kind of price. I think the feature set and price point for us was really important in making the decision with Wishpond.

From a developer's perspective, if I put my commonsku developer hat on, Wishpond had a lot more flexibility in working their API and working with their team. It was a little bit smaller and more nimble than we found the HubSpot team was. This is not a condemnation of HubSpot. I know that they are a phenomenal company and they've done a lot of amazing things. We have a lot of respect for them but just for us, it kinda fell through the cracks.

Wishpond has been a great success story for us in terms of how we've been able to integrate with them and also, how it is we've been able to create these drip campaigns, and also set up a huge amount of ROI.

Kathleen: Certainly, every product is good for a different reason. It's all about finding the one that's right for you.

Mark: Yeah, I think at the end of the day, what we had found and maybe I'll get an e-mail from HubSpot afterward.

Kathleen: They're listening.

Mark: ... Well, I've tons of respect for what they've done in terms of how they position themselves in the marketplace. But I think that HubSpot is a great enterprise-class product and I don't know that it has been designed specifically well for the very small business segment, which is the segment that we service primarily.

I could be wrong on that. Happy to speak to the folks at HubSpot.

Although I do find it funny, I will say this, whether you cut this out is up to you, is that, we still get sales calls from HubSpot to this day that are pitching HubSpot to us as though we've never heard of them before. I always write back and I say, "Hey Tim, thanks for your e-mail. We were on the system if you just looked in your CRM, a year and a half ago." They're like, "Oh, I didn't realize that." I'm like, "Okay, well. You might want to take a look at that." Yeah. Tons of respect for them, they've been successful for a reason. But for us, we just ended up going with Wishpond.

Kathleen: That's very interesting, thank you for sharing that. Now, fast forward and today, commonsku has grown considerably. You've successfully, really, I think, taken on the incumbents in the industry by not trying to beat them at their own game but carving out your own niche and having your own approach.

When you look at your marketing today, what do you see is delivering the best results for you, from a lead generation and customer acquisition standpoint?

Mark: We have created an event strategy with commonsku. You were a very popular speaker at one of our SkuCon events a couple of years ago so, thank you so much for that. But the whole idea around our events was how we could create an offline version of the commonsku community. That was our kind of guiding principle right from the beginning. We wanted to create an opportunity for the community to come together to be educated, to be inspired, and also to network with other people within the industry - other users, other people that have been successful, so they could trade ideas. It was our version of INBOUND or of Dreamforce.

We would look at those conferences and say, "We should do the same thing. We've got a vibrant, really smart community of customers. Let's bring them together, and have an amazing time, and bring some spectacular keynote speakers that have done some great things in their various areas to educate and inspire the audience." We started that in 2005 and we've now run seven events in Vegas, in Palm Springs, Chicago. We've got another one coming up in New Orleans. They've been great at bringing people together.

Kathleen: Wait, in 2005 or 2015?

Mark: 2015, sorry.

Kathleen: I was going to be like, "Wait, you started commonsku a lot longer ago!"

Mark: 2005 was the date I gave you for when we built the original, the precursor to commonsku.

Kathleen: That's right. Okay. Starting in 2015, you were having the events and there have been seven of them.

Mark: I'm glad you're listening. Yeah, we started in 2015 creating these events as a way to bring the community together. We've now run seven of them. They've become really successful ways of bringing the community together but also a great way for great PR, great buzz, great word of mouth. We have a lot of people that now come to us because they say, "I've heard about SkuCon. I've heard about commonsku. I hear all these people talking about this product in a really positive way." We did that ... When I say intentional, it might sound like we architected that in a disingenuous way, that's not what I mean. That was definitely part of our strategy, as if we treat the customer well, and we educate them and create a successful environment for them, then everything else will follow.

That's what I would really say we invested in our community, we invested in our event strategy in order to create that environment where people come to us as opposed to us necessarily having to cold call them, interrupt them, and convince them. You started off convincing someone who's never has heard of your product to spend $99 a user a month when the competitor may have something that's free? That's a real hard crappy sale to make.

Much easier for that prospect to learn about you through your content, to learn about you through a respected peer of theirs in the industry that's raving about their positive experience with the software. Much better for them to come to you already pre-educated and raising their hand with the problem they're looking to have solved. We want that customer all day long.

Events, content, that's been huge. I think the other thing that I would say from a customer acquisition standpoint, Kathleen is, trade shows, it's a lot more traditional but some of the bigger industry trade shows have been successful for us just because you have a lot of high-quality distributors that are walking the aisles and they'll come and seek us out, and we can establish some really good contact points with them.

Kathleen: Yeah, I think it depends on what the trade shows are and your industry. Certain industries have really good ones that attract great attendance. This is one of those industries for sure that people go to trade shows. Even tiny distributors go to trade shows.

Mark: Some are better than others, there's no question. We do pick and choose between them, but we've certainly seen some great customer acquisition success through trade shows.

Kathleen: That's great. When it comes to content, what aspects of your content strategy are performing really well? Are there particular types of content or particular topics that you find really resonate with your audience?

Mark: Customer success stories, I think are always popular because people want to see people that have been successful, whether they're successful using commonsku or just successful with their particular approach. I love celebrating entrepreneurs in this industry that have cool things and unique things about their business. That translates into SkuCon, which you've been to. It also translates into our content because if we can put some of these people on a pedestal, to help inspire other people in the industry as a potential way to think about your business, that's always been the most successful for us.

Our podcast, we have a great amount of listenership, we have a lot of engagements. I love hearing from people that say, "I listen to this podcast and it made me see the light about your product. I'm interested now in going ahead with the trial." I love that because the sales pitch, so to speak, happened on the customer's terms where they were being educated and they were learning about the product, not in some cheesy sales-y way but in a way that we were explaining it to them that made sense. That's a customer that we can convert much quicker and much more reliably.

Kathleen: That's just so special I think. I mean, I go through that with my podcast because you sit in your room where you record, and you have your podcast conversation, and you put it up online, and you don't have contact necessarily, with your listening audience until one of them reaches out. When that happens, it's like, all of a sudden, things come full circle and you realize, "Wow, there's somebody out there. They're listening. They're getting something from it." There's a special relationship that develops from that, I feel like.

Mark: Yes. Yes, absolutely. I think you have to start slow. I mean, it's not like we certainly don't have the biggest podcast out there but we have always focused on that quality engagement. We know who our customer is and we're patient. I think that that's ... I mean, not that you were asking for advice about podcasting, but I think that that's what we've found is that you just stick with it. It grows week after week and as long as you're providing value and not disrespecting the listener, and you're doing it from an authentic place, then, I think they'll stick around and you'll continue to educate and inspire them. People who are educated and inspired often become customers, for the right reasons.

Kathleen: I always say that I would continue to do this podcast even if nobody listened because I learn so much from it. I have to believe that if I'm learning something that there are at least two or three other people out there who are. But it's true. I really do it because I'm so fascinated to learn from the people I talk to and that's the fun part of it.

There are two questions that I always ask every one of my guests. I'm going to close by asking you the same two questions. The first is, company or individual, who do you think is doing inbound marketing really well right now?

Mark: There's a guy at a company called Drift, in Boston. They are a conversational marketing platform, which before I heard of Drift, I would have said, "What the heck is conversational marketing?" A guy by the name of Dave Gerhardt, who I believe is their head of marketing, who I think is doing a phenomenal job at inbound producing great content and producing content that educates customers about this brand new concept, conversational marketing. I'm like "What the heck is that?" Being able to define it in a way that makes sense around the product that he's selling. It's a good example of something that where we became customers of their product exclusively through their branding and content initiatives. We listened to them for a couple of months and said, "This is fantastic." and then went to a trial, and then, ultimately, went on to the product. We're generating great success. Dave Gerhardt at Drift is my answer for you.

Kathleen: It's funny, he must be doing a great job because my last guest said the same thing. Yeah, you're the second person in a row. 

Mark: It's good stuff and I didn't listen to that. I would say the founder of Drift is someone by the name of David Cancel. The two Daves spend a lot of time on generating great content with one another. David Cancel is another person there to take a look at. I think he's a former HubSpot guy actually. Maybe both of them are but they've done a nice job.

Kathleen: That's a good one for people to check out. Now the second question is the top challenge that I hear marketers share with me, other than "Can you make the day have 40 hours?" is "How do I stay up to date on all the things that are changing in the world of digital marketing?" "How do I stay current, how do I continue learning?"
My second question is always, what are your go-to sources for information that you feel keeps you up to date with what's happening in the world of digital marketing?

Mark: Yeah, I think for me, I would describe myself less of a digital marketing guy and more of a marketer in general. I'm less in the weeds from a digital perspective and I'm more focused on marketing and brand building overall. I love listening to ... There's a great podcast, as an example, called How I Built This with Guy Raz. I'm not sure ... Have you listened to it before?

Kathleen: I haven't listened to that one but I am very familiar with Guy Raz.

Mark: With the TED Radio Hour.

Kathleen: Yeah.

Mark: As an example, I'll spend a lot of time listening to those podcasts about how the entrepreneurs and marketers that he has on that podcast have reshaped industries. I take tons and tons of notes about that. Seth Godin is another great example of someone who I just spent a lot of time listening to. I've had him on my podcast a couple of times. I spend a lot of time listening to those authors and also those podcasts.

Kathleen: Great. All good suggestions. Well, thank you, Mark, this has been really interesting. It's been fun to catch up and see where commonsku is today after all those years back when we first met and you were just thinking about launching it. It makes me think, "Gosh, what have I done in that time?"

Mark: Well, look at what you've done, it's been impressive.

Kathleen: Oh no, it's so cool. This isn't about me. It's really cool what you've done and I very much admire the businesses that you've built. It's great to hear the backstory on it. If somebody has a question for you or wants to reach out and learn more about some of the things you've talked about, what's the best way for them to reach you?

Mark: You can send me an e-mail, mark@commonsku.com or you can find my information on commonsku.com. I'm also on LinkedIn. You can find me very easily there and more than happy to answer any questions. I'm also Twitter @heymarkgraham.

Kathleen: Great, and I'll put all of those links in the show notes. That is all we have for this week. If you listened and found value in this, we would very much appreciate a review on the platform of your choice, whether that's iTunes, Stitcher, or what have you. And if you know somebody doing kick ass in inbound marketing work, please tweet me at @WorkMommyWork because I would love to interview them.
Thanks, Mark.

Mark: Awesome. Thank you, Kathleen, it was so much fun. 

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