In today’s conversation, we speak with Elias Rizk, the founder and head of growth and performance at the Montreal-based MarTech startup ebCard. Rizk explains how he transformed his lead data capture app with a major pivot during COVID to achieve the same MRR as the company had reached before the pandemic. He takes us through his remote work setup and schedule. He also discusses how content marketing is quickly changing and why we need to focus on creating content that speaks to humans—not just departments.
Tell us about ebCard
I founded ebCard because I do a lot of events and I found that I was struggling to manage contact data. I tried all the apps, but with all of them, I ended up with scattered data that wasn’t personalized. I swear, sometimes I would take notes on my hand instead.
So I decided I wanted to make something that I would actually want to use. I talked to people who go to events a lot and they all faced the same problem. I noticed that they needed three very simple things that couldn't be found anywhere.
Firstly, they need to be able to capture any type of format when they meet someone and they exchange information. Secondly, people want to capture the conversation to qualify leads, or at least have a better inside view to a lead. Thirdly, people want to streamline the flow from the moment the data is captured all the way to the follow-up.
Of course, when COVID hit, we had to recalibrate. At first, we tried creating an app that could capture lead data in online events, but we found that very few clients were using virtual meetings for lead generation.
Now, what we do is we allocate data officers that work with you directly. You manage them and they report to you so that you can continue focusing on the things that you love to do.
So far, it’s been a great success, because people find that data quality is too abstract—the data in your system is always suffocating and frustrating, and it's the last thing you want to do. That's why we realized there was the need for a human intervention—someone who actually can work with you, under you, and who handles your platform and the data in your platform.
What do you do in your day-to-day work at ebCard?
I did start the company, but I didn’t want the standard hierarchy where you have a CEO. I’ve based the company more around the idea of Camelot—so, a round table where you have everyone in a circle working together to deliver everything.
The head of growth and head of product are the two pieces that drive the motor. At the heart to connect them and to transform them, you have head of performance and head of operations. Currently, I’m acting as both head of growth and head of performance.
So, you have these four pillars that actually drive the company forward and all employees are going to be within these four. Marketing, sales, customer support, and implementation are all growth. Everyone who interacts with the client is part of the growth team.
As head of growth, I’m the lead marketer and I have three people helping me out: social media, design, and content, but in terms of marketing strategy, lead generation, acquisition and nurturing, I do the work.
We use a lot of tech, but it’s all consistent. We use Zoho Workplace as we’re all remote. What I care about is having weekly cards. We have an ideas board that we dump everything on.
We use HubSpot as a CRM. We also do our marketing campaigns through it and we schedule all our social media from it.
We have a hotlist with things we’ve chosen to focus on for the week. Every week this hotlist should be completed. So if a task takes more than a week, we divide it into weekly milestone cards.
It's awesome when you see cards are moving into the completed list every day. It motivates you a lot. It also makes it easier to manage a team and keep track of progress this way.
Monday is team day and weekly planning day. I recheck all the metrics, all the OKRs; I revisit my to-do list. I start by scheduling—taking my to-do list and allocating items through the five days. I also choose a book to read that week.
What are some of your goals?
We want to regain the same MRR that we had pre-COVID by June this year. So the same MRR that took us two years to get, we're going to get it in six months’ work with this new model. We are hoping to triple it in the six months after that. All of our channel distribution and marketing efforts are targeted towards achieving this goal.
What has been most effective and why?
I use a technique that I learned from a book called The Four Disciplines of Execution.
So, I set a concrete goal, such as, “I want to go from x MRR to y MRR by this date.” Then, I consider the activities I will need to accomplish to achieve the goal.
If you were to look at my calendar, you would see that I have a public calendar, but many spots are always booked. These spots are set aside for me and my team to work on activities. Every Monday, for instance, I spend my time with the team, so that we can see where we are and make sure we’re on target.
How does content marketing fit into your strategy?
Content has become more difficult: Being noticed is harder. I am reading a lot about neuroscience books and I'm seeing that because of the way we handle social media and news, you know, using our thumb to scroll down, our attention span is decreasing. So how can you create content that's going to actually make an impact?
What I find is you have reputable companies, well-established companies that have been active on social media for years, that are doing well. Now, the challenge is for smaller companies who don't have the budget, they don't have the resources, their brand is not known. So, having a presence, creating awareness and driving traffic, and creating content that is going to stick—that is the hardest part for any company.
We’re creating two blog posts per week and updating two or three blog posts. My target is to release a blog post per day. The reason why we want to do that is I target marketers, and I want marketers to come to the platform, not only to learn about how to do data management, or to learn about data quality and lead capturing. No, I want them to come and learn about networking, about building relationships, about when to follow up when they’ve met someone.
When you draw your content map, you're going to see that you have keywords, sub keywords, sub sub keywords, and topics that have several subjects. Looking at this way, you’ll see an entire map of content that is generated. From one topic, we can have eight to ten blog posts per month.
A surprising number of people don't get this. For instance, if I target human resources, I may create content about a process in recruitment or about a certain person in recruitment. But people in HR are also human beings with interests, ambitions, and goals. That’s why I started writing about mindset and personal development—because content needs to appeal to the individual, not just the business.
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