What Happens When Your Audience Disappears? - PizzaTime

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

PizzaTime's business exploded during the pandemic as companies looked for ways to engage remote employees.

The company, which offers catering to remote teams, reaped the benefits and transformed itself into a high-growth entity.

But as more people start going back to the office, PizzaTime has to re-strategize.

In this episode of Marketing Spark, Matthew Carnevale talks about the different marketing growth tools being applied.

This includes doubling down on customers and referrals, leveraging a blog and newsletter, and talking to customers on a regular basis.

Sometimes companies emerge out of necessity. Entrepreneur has a problem and create something to fix it. Pizza time is a prime exam in two thousand and seventeen, Josh grows ran a digital agency called Planet Sary. He wanted to throw a pizza party for his team, which worked and work remotely around the world. Took some manual work and the experience was so good that gross realized that he was onto something. In Two thousand and nineteen, planetary launched pizza time, which would organize virtual pizza parties for distributed teams. It was a good idea, but the timing was wrong, so gross shelve the program and then covid emerged and Josh's team went about reviving pizza time. The order started to roll in to get some insight into pizza time and how it attracted new customers and how it's driving sales. I'm excited to be talking to Matt Carna, Valley, head of growth for pizza time. Welcome to marking, spark Ay mark, thanks for having me. Yeah, you, you pretty much nailed the story there, but yeah, appreciate you having me on and obviously super excited to chat about my journey with pizza time. Why don't we start by talking about how you arrive to pizza time? You've been there since last September. What were you doing before? What was it like starting a new job at a time when every buddy is and was working remotely? I started my career and marketing about three years ago or four years ago at a company, one local. One local is a small business marketing software company. Actually started in sales and then, after about six months, transitioned into growth. There I was doing everything from sales, enablement, partnerships, content, you name it, everything between and then, yeah, last last summer I stumbled upon pizza time. I thought they had a really cool story. They seem to kind of hit the growth pedal at the right time, so I figure is a good time to jump on board. You know, my last company was we had a big sales team. We are software company, venture backed, and you know, pizza time is quite the opposite. We actually have zero sales reps. were fully boots drapped and we're more of a service company as opposed to software. For the UNINITIATED, people who haven't used pizza time, to describe to me how the service works and what are the use cases? What kind of customers? What kind of companies are taking advantage of the service? In essence, pizza time is a virtual catering company. We supply food and drinks for remote meetings for, you know, employees across the world. In terms of kind of how it works, it's pretty straightforward. Let's say somebody has, you know, a meeting with their remote sales team that's spread across North America or even global. They'll just let us know the date and time of the meeting and then we send out an invite to all the attendees across the world and then at the time of the meeting, we just send out food to everybody and we lean on, you know, local delivery APPs, whether it's door to ashual greets or, you know, internationally, whoever they're local delivery partners are. Yeah, in terms of the use cases, like I said, it can be for internal meetings, it could be, you know, virtual socials, happy hours or even virtual conferences and webinars is a big use case as well. So you find this new opportunity, you get excited about what Pizza Times doing. What were your biggest growth priorities and challenges going into the job? What were they looking for you to do, because obviously during covid the idea not only resonated but it got some traction and as a bootstrap company, obviously every dollar counts. So when they hired you, what were they looking for you to do and what did you see as some of the things that you needed to do at the growth person to get the...

...company to the next level? Yeah, great question. So when I was brought on, you know, I was pretty much hired to define our growth strategy. So we were essentially at the time doing very, very little marketing. A lot of the growth for pizza time is product led. People would use our product in it, the word would spread through a big companies or, you know, people would use us in virtual conferences and then attendees of the conference would go use us for their own company, me. So that's how our growth a kind of happened before I joined and then when I joined it was like okay, let's let's figure out how to keep growing and tap into new channels. For me it was my first time ever doing that, even though I came from, you know, another startup. So really like the first couple things I was looking to do was, okay, let's go talk to some customers. Let's get an idea for, you know, what problem we're solving and why they already buy from us and where they buy from. Another big one was looking at the data, so looking at what already exists, whether that's our google analytics or Crum, anything like that. And then from there. Some of the things that emerged from that discovery was I had to pretty much set up our data structure. So we had some data in our CRM, but none of it was appended to any of our you know, marketing software like Sangrid, etc. So I had to make sure that we had all the proper data so that I could run campaigns and they would actually look like targeted, personalized campaigns. But another, you know, a big project that I kind of worked on in the very beginning, and this kind of taps into your point of us not having, you know, a massive budget where we can waste money, is I set up a reengagement funnel and email re engagement funnel. So anybody who hadn't purchased from US in greater than ninety days, they were added to an email sequence which is centrally reincentivised them to, you know, make a purchase with us. I was like a four step sequence and it's still running to this day and it still helps to recover, you know, two to three new customers every single week. And the reason why I think it was great, a great project to work on from day one was because I wasn't I didn't need to ask for any marketing budget, I didn't need to ask for, you know, add budget, whatever. It's just like Hey, I'm going to create this sequence and it's going to recoup some old customers. And I think, you know, people tend to look at new customers as a way to impress your boss. Hey, I could bring new customers to the business. But a great place to start for like in early marketers, like who are the people who haven't showed up for Demos? Are Haven't bought in a while, and let's try and get them back into our funnel. Usually leads to some like early wins, you know, early on. I think that's one of the things about new marketers. When they start, there's an expectation that they're going to deliver results, but the reality is as you have to build confidence, you have to make your boss recognize that you've got some ideas that you are going to grow on the long term, but in the short term you're looking for quick wins and if you can do that really in a cost effective way, that's even better. So did you find that that re engagement exercise helped validate what you wanted to do and gave the organization some more confidence in marketing? Yeah, I would say so. I like already, within the first couple weeks of it running like we were able to get some purchases on the board and I think you know, as a marketer, like everything you do ideally is going to be tied back to revenue. So if, in the first couple weeks you could already show the CEO like Hey, I've already paid back a bit of my salary, I think that's a you know, really, really great one. So you've been there for about eight months. What is your job look like in terms of your priorities and challenges versus eight months ago? Eight months ago in the online world, in this covid world is its fluid and dynamic and there's no such thing as anything written in stone. Everything sort of written in sand. What are the biggest change is that you've had...

...to make or things that you've had to pivot on or maybe programs that you've had to launch. I would say like overarching. You know, our service is really dependent on remote companies needing it. You know, that's where our demand is derived from. So, you know, we in a last eight months a lot of companies have sent employees back to work, back to work in a office. So people who may have been our customers eight months ago or no longer customers and our total addressable market has shrunk over the last eight months, which is obviously never easy to deal with. But I think from a strategy standpoint, you know, in the past it was like hey, if you are an HR director or if you are a team leader, we have this great tool that's going to help you increase morale and build, you know, engagement in your team. We can no longer use those broad approaches. Now we have to get a lot more targeted. So you know, for example, if we did a cold email campaign in the past, we can just collect the knows for any HR director because every company's remote. Now we have to do is we have to look at, you know, intent data. So we have to look at, you know, is this company actually hiring remote employees? If we are, we know their remote company. So then we can hit them up with an email and say hey, we got this great tool for you. So I'd say like overarching, like high level speaking, now I have to get a lot more targeted in who I go after and I have to look for those and scrape those intent signals, whereas in the past I had the luxury of assuming, you know, ninety nine percent of companies were fully remote. So that's really interesting. When you're totally address ball, market shrinks dramatically in a short period of time and your entire sales and marketing effort is built on this certain type of behavior, and that is no longer the case. So one of the questions that I cure us to have you answer is intint intent data. Where does that come from? What sources do you access and scrape? Where do you get that data? I would say, like you know, like I mentioned, the Big One is looking at job boards. If a company they usually will say beside the job posting remote or if not in the in the headline they say it's somewhere in the posting. So let's say whether it's on on site, hybrid, are remote. Set's a really, really valuable data point for us and you know, it's something we can pull off the web, whether it's manually or through tech. So that's a really big one for us. Another one, like I mentioned, the big use case for our product is virtual conferences and virtual Webinar is. Well, a lot of companies post online you know where are if they're having a virtual conference upcoming. So we can do some reverse engineering there. Right, let's say company XYZ is having a virtual conference in June, then we can look for the contact on Linkedin, we can get their email and then we can hit them up with an email saying hey, like, we know you're have wet, you have a conference in three months. You know we have this great tool that's going to allow you to do x. Why don't have a conversation? So those are kind of the two bigger ones. You know, on topic of virtual events and Webinars, there's sites like event right, which gives us like a huge list of virtual events upcoming. So we just tried to tap into that. Usually, so I'm clear, is pizza time just pizza or do you cater all kinds of different foods and beverages and things like that? And we actually have five different services. I just really, really quickly walk through them. So we have our piece of time service, which is pizza delivery to remote employees across the world. We have a lunch service which is just an expanded menu, so it's like pizza, burgers, salads, things like that. We also do coffee and pastries for morning meetings. We have alcohol delivery for happy hours and then we also have virtual experiences, so can be like a hosted Bingo or trivia or something like that. Obviously, remote employees remote events are the sweet spot for pizza time. Well, what about all the people going back to the office after two years away? You would think that a lot of HR...

...managers and a lot of bosses in general are want to do things to build culture and and teamwork and make people feel connected to the organization again. Are you? Is that an opportunity for pizza time to tap into into that demand to get your employees feeling like a team all over again? So we definitely have explored supporting on site team building or even hybrid company team building, but the only reason it's not is attractive for us is because, you know, we're super niche product and we've always done well because we're so niche and specific. There's already companies who are really, really good at, you know, team building for inoffice companies, and we just think it would be a lot tougher to compete there. We know we've already carved out our part of the market and we know we do it well and you know, a lot of people are loyal to US specifically for what we do. So it's not to say we would never consider it, but at the moment virtual only is still our priority for the foreseeable future. So over the past eight months would have been some of the biggest challenges that you run into as as a growth marketer. You know the market is changed on you. It's shifting as we speak right now. Has it been the need to pivot? How US quantified when the time is to do things differently? Talk to about sort of the marketing channels that you're your leveraging and some of the ones that you're now starting to explore. Like it kind of goes back to a point about, you know, the total dressable market has shrunk. So five months ago, you know, I would run a campaign on facebook that targeted you know, I use detailed targeting and anybody that was a HR manager, director, whatever, was somebody who's a good fit for us. So now we can no longer do that. So some of the things that we're trying to tap into now is, you know, more specific bottom of funnel activities. So an example is we're building out a bunch of landing pages that target, you know, really specific keywords that only get like, you know, ten to thirty searches a month. But the reason we're doing that is because those are the searches are so specific and we're really one of the only companies that can solve that issue. So we're putting a time and effort to invest in those because we know that we can actually solve that problem. We're starting to you know, we know a lot of our growth has come from our existing customers, but we're putting a lot of effort now behind our refral program because, like I said, you know, the top of funnel is not as clear to us anymore. We don't we don't know one hundred percent who needs our product and who doesn't. So we're letting our existing customers fuel that growth. And the reason why we're betting on our existing customers being able to do that is because our customers work in, you know, big companies and across these big companies. You know, a lot of the policies are the same. So, for example, if you know Amazon has one remote team that uses us, well, there could be a hundred other that could use US within the company, because we know Amazon's a company that accepts remote were remote working. So for us we're betting on the fact that, you know, our customers are going to know other people, other employees who are also remote first and spread the word of pizza time throughout their own company in their own networks. A couple questions, couple follow up questions. One is in terms of the landing page strategy, without giving away state secrets, can you give me an example of a long tail keyword that you're building a landing page for, because obviously, if someone's looking for something like that, even if it's really really easy and you're the result that comes up, that is great in terms of conversion. Can you provide an example of how that works in the real world? Really specific example would be how do I send pizza to remote employees across the world? I know it's kind of our feeling, our pitch, but that's something that it's not a high volume search whatsoever. I think it gets like seventy searches a month. Now we're the only company who does it. It definitely works well for us. You know. Another example is how do I send lunch to people who are in my remote sales kickoff meeting? Like something as...

...long tail as that. It's not something that everybody searches, but again, we're one of the only companies who can fulfill that. So you know that that's worked really well for us. If you have a really good idea of your existing customer base and you can retarget them and reengage them, that's awesome and that will drive obviously, hopefully sort of land and expand kind of strategy. But what about top of the funnel? Feels like there's a lack of clarity, or is not as much clarity as you had, you know, six or eight months ago or a year ago. Is a bit of a guessing game right now. What's your Jijik approach to trying to drive top of the final activity when you're not really sure who it's going to land with, like who is actually that target audience? Sounds like a really tough way to operate as a marketer. Yeah, it's super tough. It's gotten increasingly more difficult. And it's even difficult because, you know, I don't have a sales team working side by side with me. So you know, my last company we had like twenty something sales reps doing cold calls every day. So we're getting a lot of immediate feedback as to what's going on in the market. Well, I'm not getting that. So what I've done is our blog strategy is super top of funnel. I know I said like we're working on landing pages at target longtail keywords, but our blog strategies actually very top of funnel and the reason we're doing that is I'm almost treating every blog post like a sales rep, like it's out there answering some broad question to somebody. Those posters are doing a lot of that top of fun of work and getting a lot of that intention. And then from there what we can do is we could actually put a facebook pixel on those blog posts and retarget the people that don't convert or don't take another action off that initial blog post. So yeah, majority of our top of final efforts are put into our blog right now. It's interesting because blogs aren't terribly sexy and I think a lot of companies that even backed off blogs for ebooks and a see creating a lot of content on linked in these days. So what is the block strategy? What are you trying to do with it? How many times do you post? What do you do with your blog post in terms of distribution and repurposing content? That'd be really interesting to get some inside to do. Somebody's actually leveraging blogs and a very effective way. It sounds like that's what you're doing. So in terms of like the actual strategy itself, like I said, the keywords and topics that we're targeting are a lot higher level than those very specific landing pages. So an example would be like how do I create camaraderie a but among my remote team, or how do I keep remote employees engaged? That's a super high level topic. We're not even expecting somebody to convert off that post per se, but we're getting attention from, you know, HR managers, directors and people like that. So that's kind of the keywords and topics that we're going after right now. We're posting once a week, so quite frequently, and we use, you know, external writers to fulfill, you know, the content. So that's it for the like the actual writing itself. In terms of distribution, we repurpose a lot of our content for Linkedin, albeit we don't have a big following, you don't get a ton of engagement, but when we're trying to build up toward it. But another really big distribution channel for us as our newsletter, and I know that you know newsletters are not necessarily some new innovative tactic, but we found, and you know, happy to touch more upon this, is when you send emails at roughly the same time every month with a bunch of value packed into them, the open rate for them starts to go up quite significantly. You know, I noticed for myself like whenever I get newsletter is that I think are really, really good, like I won't even open them until I'm ready to read the entire thing I got. Either Star them or leave them on on read. So we've shifted away from like spanny email strategy to now like packing in all of our good blog content into there and not even really asking for a conversion, like we're not saying here's a great blog post, but also by our product, it's like here's just value, just here, here's like...

...something great to read and our open rate has gone up and you know, with that over time we've seen our engagement within our newsletter go up to yeah, a big believer in newsletters. I just think the idea of touching your customer on a regular basis and providing value out of information is has so many, so many good benefits. And I would love to get the pizza time approach to the newsletter. How often do you send it? What kind of content are you putting into the newsletter? Is it all native content? Do you create content? What's you overall? What are you trying to do and how do you do it? Yeah, yeah, great questions. So we send it once a month. We send it on the third Thursday every month. So even though our customers aren't paying attention to that, somewhere in their brain it's predictable. What I do is, since we post once a week in our blog and our newsletter goes at once once a month, I summarize our for blog posts in, you know, maybe one paragraph or in a couple bullet points. So what I do is I'll go through the content and I'll say like okay, if I had to summarize this, what would I write? And I just rewrite that or have somebody rewrite it. So we have our most important snippets from every single post. So somebody were to skim it, that's what they'd get from it. So summarize their blog content, I usually I'll include maybe a link to another really interesting article that's not ours, so I'll give a backlink somewhere. Do something like I'll talk about what we just launched or what we're working on right now, because our genuine belief is that our customers care about that. I mean they care about what it does for them, but we believe it's something that our customers want. So we're okay talking about that and not making it to sales. And then, last but not least, I was like to include some sort of funny meme or joke in there just to kind of make them smell or lighten up their day. And you know, I'll also talk about what pizza time has in store for the coming month. So it's kind of like a summary of like a bunch of grate content and then you know what's next and you know some other stuff they may found find useful. So in terms of drawing the list, customers will automatically be opted into the newsletter and they can opt out if they want to. Yeah, that's how we treated it. And how do you add non customers who maybe want to be part of the experience? Do you try to do that at all? Is that part of the overall growth strategy? Yeah, totally. So what we'll do is, like if we're running other can't let's say we're doing like a facebook campaign and you know, somebody had, you know, opted into receive some emails from us but never converted. Those are people we'd move over to our newsletter and will let them know like Hey, unless you explicitly say you don't want to be included, we're going to add you to our newsletter going on next month. And not too many people who drop off. So we have that directly on our blog page. There are people who you could sign up right from there. So we have a subscribe option right from our newsletter. And then, you know, in other conversations with customers here and there or people who aren't customers, I'll always encourage them, hey, let check our newsletter just to say in the loop. Yeah, that's pretty much the the couple ways in which we get people into a news letter. So charms of channel perspective. You've got the weekly blog, you leverage some of the content for Linkedin. You're running the newsletter. What are the other marketing channels that you're deploy high level? We we been lately looking at are we even beefing up our referral program a lot, like I've saying. So we're using our existing customers a ton. Another big one that we've done, which has worked pretty well for us, was we are running a campaign on on instagram where we are targeting HR directors and leaders. What we were saying them was, hey, like, if you work remotely, we have a great, obviously service that helps you build morale and engagement and to prove it to you, will send you a free lunch. You just have to attend our weekly Webinar. So we would actually use their product. They would go through the process themselves of signing up for a lunch and receiving food and then in the weekly Webinar are like, I would just, you know, spend ten fifteen minutes talking about a bit about...

...pizza time and you know how they can place an order and our pricing and stuff like that, and that's worked really well for us. You know, we can't pour thousands of dollars into it. So it's a slow, it actually slow growth strategy, but the uptick has been really good because we're putting our my you know where mouth is. If you want to ask about is in terms of how do you quantify the success of your your marketing efforts? What are some of the the North Star that you have identified, and one of them, of the KPIS that you and your boss have have decided that is how they're going to assess whether you're actually doing your job well or not. So I would say the biggest one in the north star metric for us has quarterly transactions, not revenue. Obviously we want to see revenue go up, but the way our service works is our average order value or our order value is really dependent on how many people the person is ordering for. So if you're ordering food for a team of ten people verse a hundred, obviously the one hundreds going to be a much bigger order. But what we actually want to see is our more people buying our service. It's not are there big orders, because we can't control how big the person's team is. So our North Star metric is definitely transactions, not revenue. So we want to see that going up month over month. As an add on, again, we have those five different services that I mentioned earlier. We want to see product awareness for the is go up. A lot of our customers, when I found out when I originally join, was they've used their pizza product but they didn't even know we had a coffee product. So a big thing of mine was like, from day one, I want to build product to where us. What are some of the biggest lessons that you've learned over the last couple of years, both things that that you've learned because things have gone well the things that you've learned because some things haven't gone as well as expected. So I'd say the biggest one for me is like eighty percent of projects, or at least in my stage of a company, early percent of eighty percent of projects are going to fail and ninety five percent aren't going to be right. The first time that was a tough pill to swallow, but you know, it's kind of comforting knowing that, hey, like the majority of things aren't supposed to work anyway, but it's about finding the twenty percent that's going to and if something doesn't work on day one, that's okay. Like change it and tried again. It's not just about giving up right away. So that was really big one. Another big one is your customers are your best friend. Got To go in and talk to your customers from day one and then keep doing it every single week forever. I don't stop. They're going to tell you what to work on, they're going to tell you how to market to them, what to write, what problems to write about. So that was really big one. And then very, very last was just understanding the data. So having a really good understanding of like you know, depending on what your company is, you know what your monthly revenue is, what's your churn rate is, what you repeat purchase rate is everything. Like get a good understandings that when you're in those conversations with your team in your CEO, you can back up your decisionmaking with data as opposed to just your thoughts. I love that you mentioned talking to customers as a key element for your success, because it's something that I talked about a lot and it's something that I see a lot on Linkedin, because it's a lot of markers don't know their customers very well or at all, and I think is that they operate in a silo. They're very they're busy tapping on the on their keyboards and looking at their dashboards and using different tools, but they don't engage with customers. Like how do you find out what your customers are thinking and what they want what they don't want to you? What's this the tactical approach to doing that? You know, really simply, what I do is, you know, I go into our CR am, I look at our customers for the last fifty days and I just I rent. I don't hand pick, I just randomly choose people that have purchased. They could have used this once or a hundred times, doesn't matter to me, and all I ask them for is fifteen minutes of their time. No gift, guards nothing. Most people are willing to help and you know, it's just a matter of asking them,...

...you know, why they use our product. What problems do we solve for them? Asking them how they found us, you know, asking them for just general feedback, good and bad, asking them how their team like using us. Yeah, I just try and you know, I make the conversation as natural as possible, but it's just getting an idea of like, okay, why do you use us? How did you find us? And you know generally, you know, would you use this again? Why or why not? What are some things we can improve on? And the reaction is pretty positive. When you do the out reaching mass and the jump on a call with you. Of course I'm you know, the majority of people don't get on the call, but we still have like a twenty percent, I would say, yes rate and I've never had anyone say like, you know, stop, this is annoying. Everyone seems to be a cool with it. So we've had a really good uptick. Curious about the fact that you work for a company that serves people who work remotely. Have you ever met anybody who works for Planetary or pizza time, and, if so, what was that like? No, I haven't. It kind of sucks. I mean I'm a I'm a people person and I definitely like like meeting people in person. My last company, you know, I had a blast with my colleagues and some of them are still some of my best friends to date. You know, it's a challenge for sure, I'm not going to sugarcoat it. I wish I could meet them in person and you know, it's definitely something that you know I look for is like, you know, meet in my colleagues in person. Well, I can think that maybe an excuse to go to Brooklyn might be a good thing down the road at some point in time. Yeah, yeah, exactly, exactly. This has been a great conversation. Where can people learn about you and pizza time? You could visit my Linkedin Matthew Carnivale Pizza Time Toron Ontario. In terms of pizza time itself, go to www dot pizza time, dot X Y Z and you know, if you ever want to reach out to me specifically about anything pizza time related, my email super simple. It's my first name, Matthew, with two T's, at pizza time, dot x y Z. Thank you, Matthew, for all the great insight. I love talking to markers who can really get into the Wei needs and talk about how they're doing things, what works what doesn't. Thanks everyone for listening to another episode of market spark. If you enjoyed the conversation, leave a review, subscribe via a podcasts or your favorite podcast APP and share by a social media to learn more about how I help mebbs as companies as a fractional CMOS preaches a go advisor and coach. Send an email to mark at Mark Evans Dot c a or connect with me on Mandin. I'll talk to you soon.

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