Aditya Vempaty of Synthego on retention as a marketing-driven metric and a focus on customers instead of product

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Podcast outline

[01:35] Aditya’s background

[03:20] What consumers care about more than your product

[05:35] Why companies need to identify the problems prospective customers are trying to solve

[08:45] Why retention is more important than acquisition

[10:48] The biggest lesson Aditya has learned in his career

[12:00] How Aditya builds trust with consumers through “problem marketing”

[13:35] Why building community is important and how Aditya builds community 

[14:24] What it was like for Aditya to go from a SaaS product to biotechnology

[16:31] How Youtube will be leveraged more in a B2B perspective

Aditya’s Inspirations

Tiffany To 

Brian Balfour 

Connect with Aditya



Speaker 1: (00:02)
Welcome to season two of best in SAS, where we talk through the patterns and playbooks and the revenue sprint to 20 million and beyond with the industry's most accomplished executives, entrepreneurs, and investors. Despite the world melting around us, we survived season one with only a few scratches and a couple of bathroom incidents from our resident. Best in SAS, puppy mascot, Stewart, wash your hands and Don your favorite face mask because here comes season to howdy everyone. Welcome back to another episode. I am thrilled per usual for you to listen in on this conversation, but before we get into it, if you're a regular listener and you enjoy the discussions, do me a favor and let us know by rating and reviewing us on Apple podcasts. It helps other folks find the show and it helps Apple realize they should feature

Speaker 2: (00:56)
On new and noteworthy. So

Speaker 1: (00:58)
That would be awesome with that enough of my blabbing. Let's go

Speaker 2: (01:02)
On to the episode. All right. So today really excited for this conversation. We have a decia empathy benefit. We're gonna redo that then. Patty. Fuck. Yeah, that's fine. Okay. Redo. Here we go. All right. Today, really excited to have a duty of empathy on the podcast. The dizzy has an amazing background as a marketer and revenue leader. Um, drove a ton of growth at amp amplitude analytics. Um, he's a mentor at first round capital and currently at, since they go corporation, uh, as their VP of marketing. So does he have really excited to have this conversation on the show? Thanks for having me really excited to have, you know, share whatever knowledge I can to the folks that are listening and give back in whatever way possible. Totally. So it's interesting. I mean, you have, I don't know if I've met too many marketers who are, were originally engineers, so I'd love to just let's start at the beginning.

Speaker 2: (02:06)
Like you were, you started off as an engineer and somehow made your way over to the dark side. How did that happen? I, yeah, it's interesting. My heart always as a child growing up in Silicon Valley, wasn't engineering, but as I started doing engineering and being part of engineering organizations, I just realized I wasn't going to be a top 10% engineer. I'm the type of people that did that, where I would say as much smarter than me and way more fluid with code than I would ever be. And also just seeing what marketing was doing all this side of the building. It just stole my heart overnight. And I realized like I need to be in marketing cause I a will shine. I love interacting with people and my skill set would be much better use there. And that's kind of where it started. So what was it though, like specifically that you fell in love with that you're seeing like, I just have to be, I have to be a part of that.

Speaker 2: (02:55)
I have to help with that Semitism yeah. Thing that really, I would say like triggered me and drew me in, was influencing a lot of people to make decisions and influencing their thinking and understanding how at a psychological level people think make decisions and digest information or content. That's what really at the start of it really drove me. And, um, that's where I would say I was like, I want to learn how to do that. I want to learn how to move many people in a direction. So I love that you took it there because I know you and I have had conversations in the past about how one of the, one of the pillars, one of the most important things for companies to get right is to realize that their product and their features really don't matter if people don't give a shit about that.

Speaker 2: (03:52)
It's really all about a person at the end of the day and what makes them tick. So I'd love to hear you kind of go down that path and talk about how you've unpacked that over time and how that influences the decisions that you make and the programs you roll out at the companies that you help grow. Yeah, that's very true. I often take probably a very contrarian view to what most marketers take is that normally gives a shit about your product. And that's not in a mean sense that they hate your product. It's that they're more concerned as a customer. Who's looking for a solution about their problem. And I really got to the crux of this. When I read this book called predictably irrational by Dan Ali. And when you read it, they do a lot of psychological experiments, which show that people are innately concerned about their own issues.

Speaker 2: (04:42)
Not about what's presented to them in front of them, not about what value they'll get, they're concerned about what is their problem and how can they solve it. And there's a famous experiment that the economists did, which Stan Arley brings up and shows how people are nearly driven by their own issues. And he talks about, Hey, if I overdo Rome and I offered you France, how would you make a decision for vacation? Uh, most people will be paralyzed like, well, I don't know if they're same thing. I just flip a coin, but what if I offered you roam with breakfast and France and Rome without breakfast, they found that 99% of people chose Rome with breakfast because they believed they were getting more value and they could compare something and then say, okay, out of this, this benefits me. The most of this is what I want to do based on that.

Speaker 2: (05:28)
And you can influence the direction they go. And there are many examples like that in the book that just showed me, people innately care about their issues and their problems. And I just want to see how you can help them get there to solve their issues and their problems. So do you have, is there a framework that you follow to lead a company down this path? Or how do you begin to actually take that? Let's call it a theory, although I completely agree, but like how do you take that as a theoretical marketing practice or understanding of how people tick and apply it practically? Yeah, one of the biggest things first off, that's a great question. And it all actually starts with, um, sales actually believe it or not. And understanding how SDR is one of the most common questions they're getting from their customers.

Speaker 2: (06:15)
What are the most common types of questions, comments, thoughts they're getting from prospects and taking that and seeing the nuggets of gold of, Hey, these are the problems they're really trying to solve. And let's take an example with a amplitude. It was like, Hey, how can I understand user behavior better? Okay. Why do you want understand user behavior better? Well, I'm really trying to understand how to drive engagement and get more users. Okay. Why do you want more users? Well, I need more people to constantly use the product so we can generate more revenue. So you really, aren't looking for new users. You're really looking for retention. Yeah, actually. Yeah. That's the end goal here and teasing that out as you're working with the sales reps and they get that information from their prospects and then developing content that addresses those problems, the, uh, blogs via guides.

Speaker 2: (07:06)
I am podcasts even. And once you start doing that, you start developing a system of going back, getting information from the sales team, looking at what content really resonates, developing a messaging on that, developing higher level of messaging, a lot of what it means to the business, if you solve this problem. So that's more like your company level message and then one off pieces of what are the particular pro uh, issues in solving this problem like with retention, how do you know if people are getting value out of your product? How do you know when they're dropping off? How long are they using your product before they drop off? What are the things they're doing in the onboarding and do they continue or drop off and understanding a lot of these things helps, you know, what is the material and content you generate to start talking about the problem and being viewed as a thought leader that is educating people that leads to trust.

Speaker 2: (07:58)
Totally. So, I mean, at the, in the 15 months you were amplitude, you grew revenue by, uh, in partnership with the rest of the, or grew revenue by 400%, which is obviously very impressive. I'm curious, you mentioned the word retention in, in the Valley of so many of these companies have very similar words that they like, you know, everybody's like, we need to figure out our why, or like, what is, what does it all boiled down to? What is it that they want? And a lot of the time, those words are very much the same, right? It's like retention, engagement, um, churn, like all these, all these words that kind of aren't very differentiated anymore. And so when someone comes to a website and they're looking at your kind of copy, it's like they have blindness for it because it just is saying the same thing as everyone else.

Speaker 2: (08:49)
So I'm curious to unpack, unpack, um, you know, how, when you come to that realization that, well, what they really want is engagement. Like how do you present that in a way that they don't have blindness to it because everyone else is feeding the engagement drunk. Yeah, that's really right. Right. People are being engagement. Trump they're being the retention drum. And what really helped those early on and really honest is that we actually showed insights. Um, there was a report that we got from a company called QUATRA. Uh, one of my good friends was the founder CEO of it. I'll get Jane. And they did some data analysis and found that if you acquired, let's say 10 users within three days, eight out of 10 would never come back and use your app or product. And so what we started extrapolating that and saying, well, if you spend $10,000 acquiring people, 8,000 of that, you just burned up in three days because you are trying to get new users, but you're not looking at what the problem is.

Speaker 2: (09:51)
And the problem is that you can't retain them. And instead of just sitting there saying, we help you with retention. We said, we started putting marketing out. And each one saying, did you know that you're burning $8,000, you're burning 8,000 out of the $10,000 you invest in acquiring customers. And that type of insights made people stop looking really reconsider. It's not customer acquisition, it's retaining them. That's the issue. And that's where having that, [inaudible] an insight really drove home the message versus saying, we help you with this, help you with that. And then elevating that actually not just HR, but talking more about it's about product analytics. It's making sure, you know, what's going on in your product. It's not just webpage analytics, it's on the product front, it's the engagement, it's that value that you get from us, that customers get from using that product.

Speaker 2: (10:42)
And how do you know they're getting that value or not, because that drives the retention, which drives you to spend less, to acquire more customers, which drives more value for the customer at the end of the day. Again. Totally. So, you know, there are many ways to learn lessons in any, in any career path, marketing, sales, executive, whatever. I think sometimes the biggest lessons we learn or are learned the hard way, right? Like painfully. So I'm curious, what was, what was maybe the biggest lesson that you've learned thus far in your career that's led to the biggest breakthrough? Yeah, I think the biggest lesson for me that I, that I really learned in my career is it's not so much about, you know, what your marketing, it's not so much see about the product. It's really about understanding what that customer's problem is. It sounds cliche maybe, but how do you really get to the crux of what their problem is and understand it?

Speaker 2: (11:50)
And if you're not speaking to them in language, in the language that they care about, meaning like their problem, they're going to move on and it doesn't matter if they buy a product from you or not. But if you speak to them in a way they understood, they realize, you know, their problem, you're trying to address it. You build trust and trustable of all is what will allow you to grow a company and grow customer brace and build champions that I think is the biggest takeaway I've learned across all of my career is building that trust. And that's what marketing's job is to do is to really build that trust. So how are you in your current role? How are you working to build trust? So for us, trust really comes from doing a few things. Um, and it's not many, it's a few things in doing them, right.

Speaker 2: (12:40)
And it's one as I alluded to earlier, uh, I call it problem marketing. I know people call it product marketing, but I call it problem marketing, where you're sitting there and talking about problems people have, and that they're trying to solve and saying, Hey, if you know, amplitude, I gave an example of like, you're burning up $8,000 out of the 10. You invest in your funnel to acquire customers for us at Cisco. One of the things we talk about is it takes you seven attempts to get an experiment, right. Versus said to go get and get it right in the first go. But what we're really focused on is saying, it takes you seven attempts to get this experiment and takes almost three months to do it. Are you ready to spend that time and energy and money, or do you want to look at if there's a better way and delivering that insight?

Speaker 2: (13:25)
And so one educating and problem marketing. So when you market the problem, you educate the audience on what the problem is and make sure it resonates with them. Next is putting out content, right via the form of a blog, a guide. We have a podcast we do called CRISPR cuts and we have two, three blog posts every week. And these lead to folks getting a lot of content, which is high quality, not all of it's going to be great, but if you put three pieces out there, one or two will do really well and they'll resonate. And this isn't just like spray and pray. It's more of, Hey, I think these will resonate. And that one will really hit. And then that leads to trust and also helping build a community, um, is the last thing that I really, really wouldn't advise. And we're doing that by doing something called CRISPR office hours, I'd simply go where there's a lot of scientists.

Speaker 2: (14:17)
We're not able to get into the lab due to COVID-19 and the pandemic. So we actually have various scientists who are working on COVID-19 research, come on every Thursday and talk about what they're doing. Talk about the emotional toll, this shelter and places had on them and how they're recovering from it and give a safe space for folks it's across academia and industry to just have genuine conversations. So people feel like a sense of belonging, and we don't try to sell them on any products. We try to just sell them on, be interactive, get more out of one another, and we're to help you serve and build and develop the community which leads to trust. So it must have been really interesting to transition from a SAS product to, you know, you're in biotech. Right. So what was that? Was it as a, as a lot of people like to like, to think that they're, they're so different, right?

Speaker 2: (15:14)
Like, yeah. Was it, was it a big shift for you or was it kind of still coming back to the same core principles and therefore just business as usual? So I think there was two things here. Let me take a step back from what you said. If you look at my career, I've been somebody who constantly shifts industries. I've gone from storage infrastructure to SAS now to biotech. And one of the things, um, in making those shifts that I really come to appreciate is it's people taking a chance and trusting that I can do it. And, and that really helps because the core principles in a lot of businesses, regardless of industries are the same as you alluded to, it's making sure from a marketing perspective that customers have trust in the brand and company you're working with and that you understand their problems and you're talking about their problems and educating them on how they could solve it with or without you.

Speaker 2: (16:14)
And those core principles have allowed me to transition between industries. But also what really is allowed me is what we talked about. The start of the podcast is my, is my engineering background. Being an engineer really allowed me to look at problems and spaces and break them down into core fundamentals and understand those fundamentals and then develop backup from there. So it's looking at a problem and breaking down the small pieces and getting into the core, what is the piece that everything is built on or pieces. And so that way you can start understanding why these problems matter in various industries and what are those problems and how they resonate with the core principles of that industry and how you tie it back to the marketing principles that I always come back to.

Speaker 2: (17:00)
Makes sense. So I'm curious, is there any portion of marketing that you haven't unpacked yet that you want to unpack? Like, is there any kind of thing that you've been thinking about wanting to try or anything kind of like further out there that you've yet to do and you're excited to try at some point. Yeah. For me, I think what we're starting to do, and I really want to push the channel on this. I haven't done this before is a YouTube, uh, I think in the next year to two years, while there's a lot of YouTube content, I think you're going to see B2B brands engage in YouTube content ways that we haven't thought was possible. Given the more virtual events we're having, given the decrease in physical events. I think YouTube actually is going to be a channel that is once we've leveraged even more in a B2B perspective than it was before.

Speaker 2: (17:50)
Interesting. What, like, where does that, where does that, where did that theory come from? So the theory actually came like, as we're seeing this downturn happen, um, people still wanna engage with one another. They want to attend events, but this downturn of being sheltered in place is resulting in travel, being eliminated. So folks are finding, Hey, I want to go to virtual events. I can't go to all of them. How do I view recordings on it? How do I engage with people during the virtual event or after the virtual event? And now you do the people a way to do things more on demand than you could possibly wear. If they're getting the same networking value, same value, that's translated FaceTime to virtual time. People will actually move away from travel and want to consume content that is interactive online and YouTube right now without much overhead where you don't need to develop and make pages and take time to do it is a very high, low investment interactive tool.

Speaker 2: (18:49)
Sure. Makes sense. So interesting. I'm excited to see how that, how that unfolds. It'd be really compelling. So as we wind this down, I always love to ask, um, who who's been influential in your career, either as a mentor or even peers out there who you think just do tremendous work and inspire you? Yeah, mentor wise. Um, I had a mentor. She was my boss and that was we all my good friend, Tiffany toe, uh, worked with our Nutanix. She was my boss at Koa data for three, four years. And then she's gone on to lead marketing and product functions at various companies. And now she's at last year and she's been a great mentor. And just allow me to see my weaknesses learn that you need to grow constantly and not sit all, sit on your, uh, past wins. And then another person who, um, who introduced is actually the thing is another mentor that I go to on a very regular basis.

Speaker 2: (19:46)
And in terms of just being a mentor and someone I look up to it's on a human level. Most of these people have very human level friendships with that. Allow them to give me advice and allowed them to be more vulnerable than I would be in normal. Your typical mentor, mentee relationship, and another person. I would say that I really look up to that does really cool work is Brian Belfour of Reforge. So those are like the three that I generally like follow engage with and chat on a pretty regular basis. Nice. Those are some great names to have in your corner. I agree. I totally agree. It's like once you can get past the business formality of, you know, engaging with someone and get onto the more human friendship level, you're able to be so much more vulnerable and both, I think the mentor and the mentee can get a lot more out of the relationship that way.

Speaker 2: (20:37)
Oh yeah. It changes the complete nature of what it is and allows you to get to the core of what you're trying to do as a human. And it's funny that comes back. I mean, that re bring it, it brings it full circle, right? Like all of what we've been talking about, all of what you've been sharing is, is about human marketing and connecting on that level with your prospects and your core audience. So thank you so much for joining us on the show today. This was really enjoyed this conversation. Yeah. I appreciate it also as well. And I'm look forward to having this episode come out and thank you for having me. Um, it's always fun to talk, marketing and be on, you know, podcasts that really drive home the message and not just marketing, but how we can do better as a community. Absolutely. All right, man. Have a great day. Thank you. Thank you.