I had a free-flowing conversation with Cordula Pfluegl, Marketing Director, TNW, about career adaptability, monetization, and team management. Listen now to hear her discuss a versatile marketing career, cross-industry experience, and marketing resilience.
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It is hard to make this episode of How I Made It In Marketing and share it with you.
Because you are professional marketers and entrepreneurs, many of you know marketing, business, and content creation better than I ever will. So I could work on this forever just to make it better, bulletproof to criticism, dare I say… perfect.
Of course, then we wouldn’t be able to publish regularly. Instead of the other 70 episodes we’ve produced so far, there would only be this one.
Which brings up a great lesson I read from in a podcast guest application – “Done is better than perfect.”
A truism I know I’ve had to live with. It applies very well to my job, as someone who wants to create awesome content, yes, but also lives in the constant reality of deadlines.
In this episode, Cordula Pfluegl, Marketing Director, TNW, shared the story behind that lesson, along with many more lesson-filled stories.
TNW, which stands for The Next Web, is mostly known for its annual tech conference hosted in Amsterdam but is also a media company writing about technology with 1 million monthly readers. TNW is a Financial Times company. I’m sure you’ve heard of the 130-year-old newspaper, and it probably stuck out to you if you ever saw it, as the pink newspaper. FT is owned by Nikkei, Inc., which reported 175.2 billion yen in sales last year.
For the lead-up-time to the conference in June, Pfluegl oversaw a team of 10 people, including the event-focused marketing coordinators and the company's brand team of designers and content creators. When marketing the annual TNW Conference, they created over 2.8 million organic impressions with user-generated content on LinkedIn alone, in the two weeks around the event.
Listen to our conversation using this embedded player or click through to your preferred audio streaming service using the links below it.
Some lessons from Pfluegl that emerged in our discussion:
Aligned with working for multiple brands and within a number of industries, Pfluegl had a very non-traditional career path to begin with. Before starting her marketing career as a social media manager, she had already been working as a model for over 10 years and as a clinical psychologist in one of Europe's biggest hospitals.
Her previous experiences shaped her on her marketing journey and gave her a natural resilience when dealing with stress and new work environments.
Understanding early in her career that her previous jobs made her a more curious, more adaptable and more knowledgeable marketer led her to believe that this would also apply to having a variety of brands and products on your marketing CV. Hence, she was never afraid of jumping between industries and embracing a new product challenge.
Her first years she worked in luxury travel, marketing 'the African travel dream' to European and American customers. She learned a tremendous amount about SEO and content marketing, even ran her own social media consultancy business for a while before she joined the founding team of a women-focused startup.
The product (an online community and business school) could not have been more different than luxury travel, but she was truly compelled by the mission of "Future Females" and the potential of building something from scratch. Her skills in social media, exploring new markets and sales came in super handy in those early days. She would recommend to every marketer to work for a startup (or run a business) for at least a certain period in your career.
It makes you understand the basics of business and just forces you to work with limited financial (and human) resources. After growing Future Females revenue and her team, the industry-specific route would have suggested that she stay in a non-European context focusing on what she knew best: online-education offerings. But she was more interested in expanding her marketing horizon further and in returning to Europe. She found this job opening for the Marketing Director role at the Amsterdam-based company "The Next Web.”
She had attended their tech conference before and knew that the B2B-focused company with a pretty unique business model recently got acquired by the Financial Times. All of this made her extra curious and so she applied for the role. In the interview process she was able to impress with her versatile background, which covered brand strategy, community building and growth marketing.
Today she can say that in every new role she was able to benefit from her industry-broad career experiences. As a marketer she chose to be business agnostic and make her career choices based on where she could grow and learn the most while bringing a different angle to the new business. Given the current climate (recession, inflation etc.), it is more important than ever to be versatile as marketers and not bound to only one industry or a certain niche like D2C.
Community has been a buzzword in marketing for the last few years. Everyone was and is talking about its importance for every purpose-driven brand. Building and scaling "Future Females" made Pfluegl understand that having a 50,000-strong female community was one thing but monetizing this asset was a completely different story. The vision of the company to increase the number of female entrepreneurs had resonated with so many women (especially in Africa where this was still a lesser-known narrative), that they had no problem attracting people and growing their followership, but they struggled to transfer the community asset into a real business asset.
They had grown a great online presence and had collected tens of thousands of leads before having a clear product or monetization strategy. They tried brand partnerships, selling people an event subscription and affiliate marketing with little to no success. For the first year they were not sure how to generate revenue. This was something they addressed in 2019 (year two) by launching their first real product based on the feedback they received from their community members and over 40 hosted live events.
They released the Future Females Online Business School, a comprehensive, cohort-based course that explained how you could turn your idea into a viable business model. It was the first digital offering of its kind in the South African landscape and paved the way forward for their prosperous growth journey.
They had to go through multiple alterations and ultimately learned that the product could grow significantly faster offered as a B2B program than initially intended to a D2C audience. But the important learning was that if you are running a for-profit business you will need to have a solid monetization or product strategy in place from Day 1. She learned that having the right mission and vision in place is as important knowing how your business will generate revenue from its community, offering, service etc.
In Pfluegl’s first manager role at a luxury travel company, she was faced with a typical scenario at a medium-sized company: each team was a silo and apart from an overarching revenue goal there was not much of an understanding of how the company actually worked and each team contributed. From a purely operational point everything worked fine. But you could feel in culture and collaboration there was definitely something missing.
She remembered a concept she had read about. Since they did not have an HR department, she took it upon herself to organize the first company-all-hands lunch-and-learn session. Lunch and learns are simple and can be integrated at any company and at any company size. You bring together the whole company for a (free) lunch and have one person or a whole team present something for 20 to 30 minutes. Everyone gets together and learns something new while doing something pleasant (eating).
It's a simple exercise but done right, it can have a great positive impact on culture, collaboration and actual understanding of the company's departments and goals. The results were remarkable: better cross-company communication, higher employee satisfaction and more alignment with the company's mission. She introduced this winning concept in every company she worked at, whether it was her encouraging someone to give their first internal presentation or prepping marketing-related workshops that could be beneficial and interesting for other departments.
Pfluegl also shared lessons she learned from the people she collaborated with.
via Romain Diaz, colleague and founder of early-stage climate VC fund Satgana
Romain Diaz, a visionary entrepreneur, had always possessed a keen sense of purpose but when launching his latest venture, the climate-focused VC fund Satgana in 2020, he taught Pfluegl one very valuable business lesson. As he was looking for the next step building his entrepreneurial career, he delved into extensive research on climate change and its far-reaching implications.
He realized that while financial gains were important, they paled in comparison to the urgent need to combat the environmental crisis that threatened the very foundation of our planet. With a firm resolve to make a meaningful impact, Diaz founded Satgana, a venture capital fund with a laser-focused purpose: to drive positive change and innovation in the fight against climate change.
Diaz's journey with Satgana began with a blank canvas and a strong desire to create a ripple effect of positive transformations. He meticulously crafted the mission and values of the company, ensuring that they aligned seamlessly with his passion for sustainability. The purpose he had set forth became the North Star that would guide every decision, investment, and partnership that Satgana would undertake.
Undoubtedly it was also the reason why she decided to join the company as an early-stage advisor and investor from year one. The early days were not without challenges but Diaz's deep sense of purpose permeated every aspect of Satgana's operations. From evaluating potential investments to nurturing partnerships, the litmus test was always the alignment with their mission to create a positive climate impact.
This clear purpose acted and still acts as a filter, enabling the team to focus on projects that were truly transformative and had the potential to accelerate progress toward a sustainable future. Today Satgana has built a portfolio of ten startups and is in the process of fulfilling their second closing of the €30 million fund.
Working with him on Satgana, (especially in that early stage), served as a reminder that when purpose becomes the compass that guides our decisions and actions, remarkable transformation and sustainable success is possible. Apart from the company purpose, Pfluegl loves to use this lesson in her marketing teams and emphasize the purpose that builds the foundation for their work.
via Orianne Gambino, Product Manager at Airbnb Africa
In 2019, Pfluegl had the incredible opportunity to work alongside former Product Manager Orianne Gambino, on the launch of Airbnb Experiences in Cape Town, South Africa. This venture opened her eyes to a crucial career tip, one that Gambino embodied and taught Pfluegl through Gambino’s actions: the importance of market localization. As Airbnb expanded its reach with the introduction of Experiences, the company recognized that a one-size-fits-all approach wouldn't suffice.
Instead, they embraced the concept of hyper-localization, tailoring their offerings to suit the unique needs, preferences, and cultural nuances of each market they entered. This strategic shift was an acknowledgment that successful global expansion required understanding and adapting to the local context. Airbnb's initial step was to bring on board individuals who intimately understood the new market they were entering. Gambino, with her deep knowledge of the culture, local community, and landscape of Cape Town, was an invaluable asset.
Her role extended far beyond being a representative; she became a bridge between the global company and the local community. Through Gambino's actions, Pfluegl witnessed the tangible impact of localization on the success of the launch. She seamlessly integrated the global vision of Airbnb Experiences with the distinct characteristics of Cape Town. She curated experiences that resonated with the local population, ensuring that each activity celebrated the city's unique culture and characteristics.
Gambino and her team's approach taught Pfluegl that localization is not just about language translation or cosmetic adjustments. It's about understanding the nuances of the local market, building authentic relationships with the community, and tailoring your offerings to meet their specific needs. It's a process that requires a deep investment in learning and adapting to the cultural and social intricacies of the region.
The success of Airbnb Experiences in Cape Town served as a testament to the effectiveness of market localization. Not only did it boost customer engagement and brand awareness in South Africa tremendously, but it also educated a global audience around local culture, community, and lifestyle. At that time, Pfluegl’s distinctive contribution involved scouting and introducing two of the Airbnb Experience hosts who continue to lead the most sought-after Experiences in Cape Town to this day. (Due to her expansive network in the food-and-travel industry, she was able to scout a lot more Experience hosts back then but the good ones stick around.)
It's a lesson that has shaped her perspective and approach, reminding her that understanding and adapting to local dynamics is not just a strategy—it's a philosophy that leads to meaningful connections, lasting success, and positive impacts.
via Lauren Dallas, co-founder and CEO of Future Females
One of the biggest lessons she has ever received came from her former co-founding team member and CEO of Future Females, Lauren Dallas.
Her mantra "Done is better than perfect," encapsulated a mindset that scared Pfluegl at first, since she is not so much a perfectionist but an eternal optimizer, constantly looking for things to improve on. In a startup environment, time is often the essence, and waiting for perfection can mean missing valuable opportunities. Dallas always reminded her that progress and impact are often more valuable than the pursuit of flawlessness.
This was particularly helpful, when embarking on their ambitious mission: to build a global community that empowered and supported women entrepreneurs. Dallas's approach was practical yet powerful. She encouraged them to launch initiatives, programs, and events even if they weren't meticulously polished. The key was to get things out into the world, gather feedback, and refine their offerings based on real-world experiences.
Her perspective on embracing iteration and learning from each step became a crucial element of their success. Dallas's leadership and her "done is better than perfect" mindset propelled Future Females from a small-scale initiative to a thriving global community spanning over 45 cities worldwide. They expanded their reach, hosted impactful events, and created valuable resources—all while recognizing that imperfection was a natural part of the growth process.
An outstanding example of this principle in action was the launch of their business school product in six emerging markets. While they could have spent an excessive amount of time striving for perfection, they chose to prioritize execution. They rolled out the product, knowing that they might encounter challenges along the way. And they did. But each challenge became an opportunity to learn, adapt, and improve. The rapid launch allowed them to gather valuable insights from each country (here again the previous lesson about localization became handy), which in turn informed their iterations and enhancements.
The results were undeniable. By focusing on "getting stuff done" rather than chasing perfection, they not only launched successfully in multiple markets but also tripled their revenue. The journey with Dallas and Future Females exemplified the significance of this lesson—how it can shape a startup's trajectory, foster innovation, and empower a team to achieve remarkable feats, all while reminding them that sometimes, done truly is better than perfect.
Pfluegl ended by sharing a lesson from one of her favorite entrepreneurs and writers – Naval Ravikant – that following your true natural curiosity is a better foundation for a career than following whatever is the big gold chase right now.
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Not ready for a listen yet? Interested in searching the conversation? No problem. Below is a rough transcript of our discussion.
Cordula Pfluegl: We often think they will be our biggest critic. We will get this like massive fraud of criticism for just not being perfect. It is not being ready, but people are actually accepting of that, especially when you are honest and authentic about it. You say, okay, we are sort of we're launching. This might not be perfect, but this is our attempt to getting this out into the world as quickly as possible and to you and to fulfill your needs.
Then they will understand. So I really think that we wouldn't have made it to 45 cities worldwide in year two or three of the company. And the program would have but not such an amazing success if if we would have always waited for the next alteration or for it to be perfect.
Intro: Welcome to How I Made It in marketing. From Marketing Sherpa, we scour pitches from hundreds of creative leaders and uncover specific examples, not just trending ideas or buzzword laden schmaltz, real world examples to help you transform yourself as a marketer. Now here's your host, the senior director of content and marketing at Marketing Sherpa Daniel Burstein, to tell you about today's guest been it is.
Daniel Burstein: Hard to make this episode of how I made it in marketing and share it with you because you are professional marketers and entrepreneurs, many of you know, marketing and business and content creation better than I ever will. So I can work on this forever just to make it better. Bullet proof against criticism, dare I say? Perfect. Of course.
Then we wouldn't be able to publish regularly instead of the other 70 episodes we've produced so far. There would be only this one perfect episode, I guess. But that brings up a great lesson I read from the podcast guest application for my next guest done is better than perfect. It's a truism I know I've had to live with.
That applies very well to my job as someone who wants to create awesome content, yes, but also lives in the constant reality of deadlines. Here to share the story behind that lesson, along with many more lesson filled stories, is called Do Love. Google the marketing director of T and W thanks for joining us.
Cordula Pfluegl: Corey Dula Thank you for having me on the podcast. Super excited for our conversation.
Daniel Burstein: So let's take a quick look at your career. Just kind of cherry picking off your LinkedIn. Your career started early. You were a model at the age of 14, then you were a clinical psychologist before you went into marketing, you worked a number of roles, for example, head of digital marketing for African bush camps, CMO of future females.
And now, as I mentioned, you are the marketing director of T and W TMW, which stands for the next web, is mostly known for its annual tech conference hosted in Amsterdam, but is also a media company writing about technology with 1 million monthly readers. He is a Financial Times company. I'm sure you've heard of the 103 year old newspaper, and it probably stuck out to you if you ever saw it as the Pink newspaper I've always known.
Is that F.T. is owned by Nikkei Inc., which reported $175.2 billion billion yen in sales last year. I'm sorry. And for the lead up to the conference in June, Flegal oversaw a team of ten people, including the event focused marketing coordinators and the company's brand team of designers and content creators. When marketing the annual t w conference, they created over 2.8 million organic impressions with user generated content on LinkedIn alone in the two weeks around the event.
Well done Core Dula So give us a sense, what is your day like as marketing director of T and W?
Cordula Pfluegl: Okay, so a normal day for me in an average day and I'm going to to the office would usually start a bit early. So I would try to get a little bit of personal time in before I head to the office because I feel the most productive when I can do some something for myself to really kick start the day, get the most out of my energy levels.
And I kind of also get my head a little bit empty before the date so I would usually do some exercise. Was also training, doing my first marathon this year, so I was usually preferred exercise would be running and then if I managed to get that one in, I would take the train to Amsterdam, where our beautiful offices in the heart of Amsterdam next to the blooming market.
And that would allow for a really nice, almost routine that I had every day to sit on. The train for me was always a time where I could prepare the day. So I look at my schedule, I look at the meetings scheduled for the day, and I really try to come up with a to do list and with things that I want to achieve, that I want to get done today, that I want to get out of the meetings, schedule and some time needed for anything.
And that gives me a really good head start so that I can before I dove into emails like messages you really need to take. Find it very helpful if you take control of your day early. And some people like doing that in the evening before and I love doing that on my commute to Amsterdam. So it was always very grateful to have that that 45 minute train ride and very grateful for Dutch trains make it super easy.
And then if I if I get that on an ideal day, I know it can start really productive. Then I would go into the office and then my day would usually start it in the average lead up time to a conference in June. There would usually be a lot of meetings and some time with the team and a lot of decisions that need to be made so that I always try to give me like a little bit of that calm before the storm starts moment in the morning.
And yeah, and then I would really enjoy to use the time that we have in this ten years of great hybrid work culture now where people come to the office, but not every day, and the time that we are in the office together, we try to really use very productively and efficiently together and make the most out of it.
So to have really good meetings, to have two brainstorming sessions on a day where everyone is here, and that's something we did in the in the peak time for us when we were preparing for the conference in June. A lot.
Daniel Burstein: Well, you know, I'm glad you mentioned Amsterdam and the Dutch train because, you know, including those applications, you gave me a hard time. She's like, hey, I like your podcast. I like how I mean it marketing. But come on, there's markers outside of America too. And I realize we've had marketers on actually from all over the world, but I never usually ask them where they're located and sometimes, you know, it doesn't even just come up because they're just talking about marketing.
So I mentioned we're doing right now is joining us from the Netherlands for all our non US listeners. So let's start by looking at some lessons from the things you made. As I said, that's a great thing we get to do as marketers. We get to make things. I've never had another profession, but I feel like, you know, if you're a podiatrist or an actuary or something, you don't actually make things.
We make brands, we make campaigns. And you. This is your first lesson working in various industries and for different brands and products from DTC to B2B makes you a better and more versatile marketer overall. So kind of tell us about your path. How did you become a better and more versatile marketer?
Cordula Pfluegl: Yeah, I do this kind of I believe in my story, so I know everyone sees us different, but I have seen various benefits in in this path of having quite a diverse background. You mentioned it when you introduced me. I had basically two careers before I joined the marketing group. I joined the path market years. Basically, I used to work as a model and then I worked in psychology and that was more academia.
And already then I started realizing that my previous career, so working and traveling for a really long time as a professional model and then being a clinical psychologist. So working a lot very hands on with people have had equipped me for four things, even in marketing, after all, so that I could use I could use for the psychology, obviously the psychology aspect in marketing, but also my experience with working with so many different cultures and with so many different people.
And for that reason, I learned early in my career that I'm not going to follow a very traditional approach which is just going for one industry or one product only. That I was always very versatile and very, very curious to learn new things. So I had a bit of this, this curiosity to jump between industries. I started to work in marketing as a social media manager, and I learned the whole the whole kind of instrument around social media from learned like marketing, from the social media starting point upwards.
And I worked in luxury travel in South Africa and I was marketing these luxury experiences to mostly American and European travelers. And from there, I kind of obviously was very happy with it, but I kind of also always looked in, okay, this was now a DTC experience. It was very lifestyle, very hospitable. But I also always was curious what what else is there?
I was always very curious about a startup environment. I always I always had this what you just spoke about this like initial feeling inside myself, this urge to create. And so it was always felt very much entrepreneurial in my head also. So after my first years in luxury travel, I started my own social media consultancy, which gave me the first taste of entrepreneurship myself.
And I think that then led to me joining a very early stage startup that was not in any way affiliated with luxury travel at all. It had a completely different mission. It was called Future Females. And the big, big mission and purpose statement of the company was to increase the number and the success of female entrepreneurs globally. And at that time I really could relate to that narrative.
I was very, very motivated by it. I felt it as a female entrepreneur myself. I felt it. And so I decided that my next role and that my next career path would basically lead me into the start up, where then later on I became CMO of and we built this company from almost no revenue to a to a very decent revenue to a fully working business model, to a global community of 50,000 entrepreneurs, all that from South Africa.
And I kind of found myself in this in this new industry that I was in at that point. And coming from from the education and almost community focused approach in the very much startup world. I then changed industry again, which left me with the position that I'm I'm holding right now as the marketing director of the next web, which is again, another industry and another approach we work very much B2B.
You said in the intro we host one of the biggest tech conferences in Europe. It's hosted in June in Amsterdam. And we also are a media outlet that writes about technology trends and has million subscribers monthly that read this content. So this is quite a different product by itself, again, all over again. Then what I used to do before when I was building the startup for over four, four, five years.
So what kind of led to all of my decisions was always, I think, the fact that I was never afraid to go into a new industry and learn something new and that I had this natural curiosity. I think we're always, always a little bit more triggered by the mission. The step purpose, the why behind the companies instead of going, okay, I've worked in luxury travel.
Now let's go to the next luxury travel brand. Or I've done a lot of de to see. Let's stay in this whole line of D to see marketing my whole career I always loved learning the next then the next challenge I kind of learning next lesson at the company. And so in every role change that I that are under that I've undergone, I was always able to use certain things I learned in the other companies because it just gives you a broader knowledge of everything around you and other strategies, maybe other angles that you can bring to the team or to to get a new challenge or the new job.
Daniel Burstein: BRADY Yeah. And so obviously, like, some people will tell you, go narrow, go deep. You're saying take the opposite approach. Do you see have you seen in your career from modeling clinical psychology to all the different organizations you've marketed for? Are there any commonalities of what makes a successful business or marketing organization? Because I'm glad you say this in general.
As I mentioned, marketing Sherpa, we published a lot of case studies. Sometimes you hear from a reader, it's like, Oh, I need a case study in this. Not just this, like not just automotive, but like automotive parts, car seats or whatever, you know? And it's like that's the only thing they feel like they can learn from. And it's like no learn from other industries, learn from other organizations.
Like when I've written about, for example, I wrote, you know, good and bad B2C and B2B value propositions to kind of show here. When it comes to a value proposition, there are certain fundamentals that make a good value proposition, and that applies to B2B, to B2C, to all different industries, all different organizations. So for you, like being you said you've had this kind of instead of a narrow and deep experience, a broad experience, any big commonalities that stick out for you of what, hey, this is what makes a effective marketing organization or effective business overall.
Cordula Pfluegl: I think there's one one almost golden thread that with all my experience is this and also the different career path that I could always count on. And that was that how communication is often like the key. It's the key in a lot of the things I've done. If I go back very early, being a model at 16 and traveling to Japan, not being able to communicate in the language, but somehow finding a way of still being able to communicate on set and with people.
So there was communication very early on in my in my career and then obviously working as a psychologist, so much of it is around communication. If you work with people and the way we communicate and the way we work, we really find this as a skill. We honed this as a skill. And then coming into the marketing world, you're communicating on so many levels with your team and you're trying to have this entire intercompany communication strategy also well mapped out.
But also you're communicating with the customers, you're communicating with investors potentially. You communicating with on so many different levels, like really knowing your communication strategy and the kind of that was one thing that was always, always present. I would say even though all of these different my different roles and my different jobs were so different and in different segments.
But I think in marketing also one thing that that holds true, even if you jump between industries or if you jump between the approach which can be B2B versus DTC and so on, is that you you have your, you know, where your kind of strong suit is as a marketer. So if that's something that can be it, that can usually be applied whether you are in the to see your different industries.
So just that I think you as your own skill knowing that this is what I'm really good at, I will bring this to the table. I think that's something you could also always apply as someone with a varied with a more diverse background.
Daniel Burstein: Yeah. Go for your strengths. Here's another lesson you mentioned. Having built a big community doesn't mean you'll be able to monetize it. That is so true and a hard lesson that some startups learn a little later in their path right after they build that community. So how did you learn this lesson?
Cordula Pfluegl: Yeah, that was that was an interesting one for us. When we were building future females back in the day. So as I told you, we had that big that big purpose sort of purpose was, okay, we want to create this community of female entrepreneurs and the umbrella of increasing the success and the number of female entrepreneurs, and that globally we wanted a global community.
And we also managed ads because a lot of people really jumped on board with our mission statement and loved the feeling of community. And that wasn't our problem. Before we knew it, we had 15,000 people in our facilitated community space. They were all communicating with us among each other. There was constant engagement going. But now at this point we were we almost were a little bit ahead of our game because we didn't at that point have a proper monetization strategy in place.
We were early. It was the first year we hosted our first 20 events. We were getting so much positive feedback that we almost got a little bit that just a star site or how do you say stars star? Star star stuck with the positive feedback, forgetting that we also as a business have to be profitable. And you're right, a really profitable business model that we can leverage our 50,000 strong community.
So at that point we then really took a deep dove into what this product could be that our community would also be then able to profit from at the same time pay for. Because obviously, if there's not really, if there's not a real Yeah. A real monetization of, then you will struggle at some point. So we had to do this in various steps of iterations and we tested, we tested a little bit, it was surveys and also with feedback that we got and that we really seeked for we got an understanding of what could be that common denominator, what people really need, what, what is the product that people that women's specifically need?
Where's the hurdles? Where do they get stuck when they they're wanting to start a business, but they're just not getting over that first step. And for us at that point after trial and error for a little bit, we we came to the conclusion that what we think, where we can make the most impact is about creating a new product that at the time wasn't available, especially not in the African continent or in that region at all, to help super early stage entrepreneurs to map out their business model for their business idea.
So it was called the Future Females Business School that still runs today as a program, and that was exactly tailored to these super early stage entrepreneurs that had an idea but didn't know how to now compact all of this into a viable business model. And that we launched to our community and immediately got the feedback that this is exactly what everyone needed.
And from there we then made it better and it went through a lot of adoptions and then changes and improvements so that we could really make it this product that then was able to be the foundation of our business and also make make us profitable as a company because we were able to sell this product in the beginning to but then really understood how impactful it could be if you also market this product in a bid to be set up and have it be funded by the governments or bigger companies so that we we could give more people access to such a product.
And then in especially a continent like Africa, really, really increased the female entrepreneurship segment and give the female entrepreneurs the tools and this program and the community to finally make their dream of being an entrepreneur come true.
Daniel Burstein: So you talked about communication being so important, and if you're saying you're launching a product that had never existed, did you learn anything about how to communicate that? Because that is one of the hardest things to do. I remember once I was at a some conference and I was, you know, at a networking event, I was talking to a guy and we're talking a competition or something.
He said, Actually, we have no competitors. And I was like, Well, dream come true. You've got no competitors. And he said, No, it's the hardest possible thing in the world because they don't already have a category in their mind for I want this thing and so great, you want this thing. Let's just get in the top three consideration, said Petrino.
We get in there. And so for you launching something that didn't exist, I mean, that sounds great. You know, you learned about your your potential customer. You got in there, but now you got to communicate to this thing that they don't even know what it is. So did did you learn anything about that from you? As you mentioned, communication skills are so important.
Cordula Pfluegl: 100%. I think you hit the nail on the head there. So if you that's the one downside. If you're launching something that will at that moment doesn't really exist and it is new to the whole audience and entrepreneurship itself, at least now in the in the African context, was also quite new as a narrative to females. Then how do you tell someone in in the best efficient way what it is that you're launching and what will people get out of it?
So what we really learned is that we had to do a lot more explaining that we thought for us it was super clear what this business school is and what we what it will do. And the whole concept around online education. And the course is also much more clear in some markets in the world than it is in others where the online education segment isn't as big yet.
So we really learned that the the power of community, again, having our first testimonials made this much more clear to visualize what the business school this product can do for you as a as a early stage entrepreneur. And then also really visualizing everything, everything that is, is hard, sometimes hard to explain in sentences and write ups and so on, try to find a way.
We, for instance, had a very great first promotional video that was, I think, doing a really great job in explaining from which point A to this point be the future females business school can get you. And and I think in this video we we succeeded in catching a lot of interest of the right people because it was made for exactly we knew exactly which women we're speaking to that they would they did find this video interesting and keep on watching in there.
That was our first lesson there to use video. This was now the video was already obviously coming coming on very hot to like everyone is using it but we learned that some some things you just easier communicate in the video you really have to show it so that people can grasp it quicker. And and for us that was that was a good big learning to have video and also just use the community.
Once we had our first cohorts, once we had the first woman go through the business school, just let them explain. Like let them explain the success. Let them explain, explain the personal experience they had with the product and with with future females as a brand. And that word of mouth spread so quickly within the female community and really allowed us to to then just define our communication strategy from there.
Daniel Burstein: I'm glad you mentioned testimonials, because I think sometimes when people use testimonials, they will put on a testimonial. And this was great and amazing. The best thing ever. That's not really the best testimonial. And you see that everywhere. Like to me the best testimonial is someone explaining it from their perspective, so someone just like them can understand it.
Like I remember there's wedding. We have this up a guild where there's a group of small companies and they're probably similar to the female founders thing. And we're looking at one for this company. They do very affordable wedding videos. And I mean, I found a great testimonial form where it wasn't just this is great. It's I wasn't sure about this and then I didn't think I can do this.
And then I did X, Y and Z and oh my gosh, this worked out for me, which again, I think is more getting in the person's head of what they may be considering when they're making a purchase versus Oh, it's great, right? Because we see that everywhere. Right? There's everyone's got a hundred testimonials of it's great. So is there any when you're like searching for those testimonials, is there some like specific characteristics you were looking for to make sure, like you said, it kind of told that story?
Because I also think when you're talking about see, I don't know, was it if it was all of Africa or just South Africa, I would imagine there's also different different cultures, different considerations. There where someone would want to see, hey, there's someone like me who did it, so I know I can do it too. Versus again, just saying, Oh, that's great.
So what did you look for in a test? A good testimonial.
Cordula Pfluegl: Yeah, we we definitely had we had different the testimonials and also what you said about different markets. So we started in South Africa, but then really quickly scaled in to other markets, Kenya, Nigeria, also Indonesia and outside of Africa. So every market is different and and people also like completely receptive to different things. So that's something we also learned along the way.
But what, what made it really interesting in our case and testimonials generally at that point in an African context, there wasn't that many role models or even visualizations or any kind of like a lot of media presence around female entrepreneurs. Not as much as we had it as you had it in in the US or we have it in Europe.
So we really had to already play with that kind of idea that now we're showing you all these female entrepreneurs who have made it now, who have started their business, who had the first success, who gained the first thousand customers. And so we we knew that numbers are important. So that does not change depending on market to show.
Okay, when I started, I had no plan or very little understanding of this. Now I have 100 customers or of hundred describe us or have managed to achieve this in this goal within my business. So that's something that worked in our testimonials very well, but also the just showing them authentically in in the struggle that they as women faced in the beginning this is kind of known as the as the hurdle to launch or like these kind of blocks that you have just to start.
So so they were a lot of them were speaking about how this they didn't know what the first step was. So they just they therefore didn't do it at all. And so our business school, the community that we also provided, gave them the first step. So it was really just creating this new this new product for someone very early stage.
It wasn't addressed at all because in a normal accelerator world or busy world or online education world, it only starts much later. When you already have a business model, you have a clear understanding of the motivation you really willing to start. But for for this niche, we didn't have that. So like really speaking openly about the problems that the women were facing this, this first kind of uncertainty, I'm not really sure I can do the first step that really helped for us.
And the testimonials are great.
Daniel Burstein: So we're talking about a community of customers, but we also have an internal community within our companies. Right. And another lesson you mentioned is practice in company and across team learning together. So how have you done that?
Cordula Pfluegl: Yeah, I'm a huge fan of of everywhere, just general learning all together, like lifelong learning and learning within the company. I think you as a company owner or use a company should always have an interest in the fact that your employees are learning that they keep on learning. They're interested in learning, and if they know that, then make it interesting for them or created as a team experience.
So in my first manager role at African bush camps, I came into a medium sized company where the teams were pretty much structured. Everyone was working in their little silo, everything was functioning, it was operationally set out great, but there was no real collaboration or learning together or understanding between the teams what the other team actually is doing.
And there was also that interest really because everything was going fine anyway. But I really saw the need for for something that the whole company could that could bring everyone in the company, the whole company closer together. And that could then also be the foundation for more, for more team collaboration, for the teams, working a bit more together, for being a bit closer and, and kind of like create that umbrella.
So at that company specifically, we didn't have any department that would come up with these great concepts. So I had a super simple idea that I've heard of before, and that was the concept of, of lunch and learn. It's a very simple concept and maybe some of you have heard about it before, but that you, you over lunch, you learn something.
And it's a it's an obligatory thing to attend the whole company comes to. You also should be a little bit on the side of like making it interesting for the whole company to come. But the idea is that you have to have lunch anyway and why not learn something while you have lunch? And why not do it all together and create the space for for the team to be together in one room and do this for 20 to 30 minutes.
So so it's not taking up a lot of space out of your calendars of people, but really to make it easy for people like an easy entry thing and you can make it weekly or once a month. And we started this at my old company and we it really gave us this time that we as a company could come together, explore topics, and it when we started, we had overall topics first and then each team started presenting a little bit what they're working on and the people could ask questions and got really interested and we all learned about what the other people are working on or we even learned something more personal.
Or if someone decided to bring something more, some, some of their interests to the table and present about that there. And it really was such a simple exercise and always strikes me that it's so simple that you can do something with relatively little budget and like 30 minutes a week or 30 minutes once a month where everyone comes together and has this learning experience together or this sharing experience that can make such a big impact.
So in our case, the results where that people were really looking forward to today's lunch and learned sessions out of out of these sessions came more team collaborations. There was higher employee likes, higher satisfaction among employees. And and it became this almost this tradition, you know, you always be like, okay, so what are you having for lunch and doing?
What are we talking about this week? And it's such a such a cool, small concept that I think you can bring in into your team, into your big company. And usually people are in the beginning, maybe sometimes a bit skeptical, but once they they have it's interesting enough what it like really seeing that they're learning something. It is such a great experience to integrate into your company.
You don't want to miss out on the extra value it can create.
Daniel Burstein: What we've been learning from some of the things you made in marketing and in just a moment, we're going to learn from some of the people you collaborated with. I guess that's a great thing we get to do as marketers. We don't only get to make things, we get to make them with other people. But first, I should say that the How I Made It in Marketing podcast is underwritten by McLeod's Institute, the parent organization of Marketing Sherpa.
You can get the power of 10,000 marketing experiments working for you with a free trial to MC Labs a I at MC Labs dot com slash a I that's m e c al-Arab Ask.com slash a I. All right, let's take a look at one of those lessons you learned from someone you collaborated with. You said having a clear purpose will always guide the way.
And you learn this from Romain Diaz, your colleague and the founder of Early Stage Climate VC fund Sadhana. So how did you learn this from working with Romain?
Cordula Pfluegl: Yeah, so working with Remain on this particular project was super interesting to me because it's out of kind of of my room. So it's it's a VC fund. He launched early stage B C fund in 2020 and I was an early, early stage advisor. I advised on marketing and brand and and also I'm an early investor in the fund.
So I was there from the beginning and was able to observe how he came up with First Division for the Fund with the whole guiding principles and so on. And something that was so clear to me there was that all the pre-work he did before even launching, that he put so much thought into why he wanted to do exactly this fund and why it should be a climate focused fund and why this was important to him and which values he wanted to represent with the fund and which he wouldn't want to represent.
So the VC world, obviously the moment is full of of new funds the whole time and the sometimes very specific. And in this case also he put a lot of research in before launching and really gave it so much thought that was clearly purpose driven for him. It was important to to launch something that was very much aligned with his values and that really made an impact on a future of sustainability and for for the climate for the world.
So he set this himself, this north stars, this North Star that then would be a guiding principle for every decision yet to make. It was hiring decisions, so it was a portfolio decision to take on a new company. It was an investment decision or partnership that they would undertake. And to really witness that at a super early stage of such a company being created to me was such a strong lesson.
To have this purpose always go back to the purpose. What? Why did we build this fund for? What do we want to achieve with the fund in this case, it really needs to mitigate the effects of climate change. So then how do we do this? Portfolio companies really the most impactful portfolio companies that can lead this way. And he was very clear on that.
And people that joined him along the way and being on his founding team of super clear on that now the portfolio companies that are represented by said Garner exactly chosen because of this reason because of the purpose it was all the way there since the early days. And for me that was strong because I so often think when we are in our fight and flight mode of marketing and daily solutions and daily problem solving, we forget the initial purpose.
We forget the initial purpose. Sometimes of the company, even why we're doing what we're doing. And sometimes we also in the marketing team, we have a certain narrative for a purpose that we want to. That's how we want to execute marketing. So for me, this was always when I'm trying to write, I'm sometimes a bit lost or too much in the process.
Thinking part of my brain is just, okay, this the solution to this next problem we need to solve this problem. You go back to why are we doing what we're doing and how can this help me to make a better, more informed decision now and build a better strategy that's not just solving a problem today, but also it's long lasting and ideally sustainable.
Daniel Burstein: So the why are we doing what we doing? Probably a lot of entrepreneurs listening as well. You mentioned before very early stage startups. You mentioned working for a VC fund. Do you have any tips for them on what really works well? What doesn't work well when you're pitching to get funding? Because, you know, one thing I mean, we've seen is like value proposition.
It's like having really a clearly articulated value proposition where you understand not just the customer but the competition. The other thing it seems like you're saying, which I totally agree with, we talk about customer motivation also understanding the motivations of who you're trying to get funding from. You have a perfectly awesome idea. It just doesn't align with the motivations of that specific DC group or wherever you're trying to get funding.
So, I mean, what have you seen? Are there any maybe commonalities of what works well? What doesn't work well.
Cordula Pfluegl: Yeah. I mean, it's the same in the busy world as a cynic, the entrepreneur, it always needs to be a good fit. So if I can name the example, said Garnier, again, how they made it a bit more precise and in the way like it even crystallized more is tend to find their themes and their messages that they really wanted to focus on to have the highest.
So they chose to narrow it down to transportation, energy, food, agriculture, industry, buildings, carbon removal and circular economy and that was there clear that that's a clear focus point now of of the fund so it made it easier for then interested investors. But on the other side also portfolio companies to know okay, do we fit into one of these categories and this would be a good fit.
And the same is if you're an entrepreneur, you starting now to seek out investors and to seek out fundraising, then it's like I will I will try to find a good, the best fit for myself, the investors that really already have a track record in investing in companies like me or they have something that that aligns us together.
It's like really trying to find that that fit. And I think the purpose can always help. But you also need to find the people that are purpose aligned with you, that also seek that same purpose. And then it will be a great match, right?
Daniel Burstein: Yeah. And speaking of finding that fit, it's the same thing we need to do with our customers. Rather less than we have is market localization is important. You then learned this from Brian Gambino, product manager at Airbnb Africa. So how did you learn this with Aurion?
Cordula Pfluegl: Yeah, that was great. When I was still living in South Africa, I worked with Aurion on the new product launch of Airbnb experiences in Cape Town. So that was in 2019, I'm sure now by the time now a lot of people have used Airbnb experiences as a super great product. Product. It comes with when you book your stay, you can then also book local experiences on the Airbnb platform.
But it's not such an old product. It launched in 2000, and the Airbnb being a very smart company, when they rolled it out, they had different teams in all the different continents working on new rollouts. And when you rolled it out in South Africa as like the African market, first, they chose a really great team of people working on it that had in in the African market that I experience specifically in Cape Town, in South Africa.
And one of them was my friend Dorian, who was a product manager. Back, back at the time. And she really I worked with her on this project because I was also very, very much in the food and hospitality entrepreneurial scene at the moment. So I knew a lot of people that would fit that would fit the description of these Airbnb experience hosts they were looking for at the time.
And we I really observed her working on this, on the approach of taking something and then localizing it and making it successful due to its localization. So something that would have worked when Airbnb launched is in Europe or in the US, might not work in an African for an African audience and the people that know about these cultural almost these cultural differences, they will they will notice they will know from which side we have to take it.
So one of the things, for instance, she did when launching this product at first is really and now it comes back to community building is really, really important. But she held a few events where she just did some. She did community building, really. She invited the people that could be the Airbnb hosts, but also people who are already experiences, but also people who were working in Cape Town and in the more informal settlements around Cape Town to really make this supermarket specific.
And she got them all together and it was almost like a big, big brains brainstorming session. And she really listened to the feedback and the implement that was launching instead of just saying, okay, this is the this is the product. We have headquarters strategy here. We will just try to apply this to an African context. So she she really managed to take what was given there as a blueprint, but then localize it to what was what was really important for not just to the consumers in South Africa, but also the market specific things, requirements around safety and also the way you communicate again is quite different.
And that's that's something where I really had the first aha. Moment of, okay, this is really important. You need to have localization always in mind, especially when you work in different cultural setups or in different countries. And me having worked in three different countries in the last ten years, I learned this is not the same way we communicate in South Africa is not the same way the very direct Dutch communicate here.
For instance, it was the first time that this became such an eye opener for me, but she really managed she and her team. They really managed to launch this this new product offering in such a short time, super successfully with brand awareness, obviously, for the company, with so many new hosts being signed on, people were really interested in using these local experiences and also creating an extra value for all these travelers who were coming for the first time to Cape Town, to South Africa to have access for the first time, really simplified access to super local experiences.
And I really thought that this was a great lesson that I often think back to, and my personal contribution was also one that I am still super happy and with because I at that point when I was working with her, I was suggesting people, I was introducing people to the concept that also explaining the new product. And at that time I had two of my contacts working already working in the field, already offering certain experiences, but like very small scale.
And I saw the potential, I saw it there. Their offering could be such a great benefit to all the tourism coming to Cape Town and that their experience is such such great experiences both to share and have bigger audiences, have access to them. So to have these people, these business, business owners, they still host experiences today in Cape Town and are still some of the most popular sought after experience in Cape Town, getting booked by tourists all the time season.
So I'm very happy that I could also play like a small part in like this in this bigger experiment for Airbnb that when they launched this product in South Africa.
Daniel Burstein: Well, as I mentioned, that's kind of a fun thing of having a marketing career to help make things right, not something you help mates of Congratulations. So you mentioned the very direct Dutch and you talked about how important communication is. So I wonder, do you have any tips about communicating to different countries as marketers, like as colleagues, not just to our customers?
Well, one, I'm going to ask you this because you'd called me out and said, hey, you have such an American point of view and there you've got to bring a non-American point of view. So I hear the non-American point of view of this. But also, you know, early in my career when I worked with international teams, I mean, there were off sites or conferences.
You would see these people in person sometimes in their countries. I remember a Canadian hosted was so excited, just had to go to Canada and Canada. But a lot of times now you're doing what we're doing. Now it's just kind of this online communication. You never go to that country, ever see that person in person. It's only over email.
I mean, I noticed one. One difference I noticed in my career is other languages in English. Usually it takes them more space to translate something written in English. So if I was writing something that was also going to be translated in other languages, I had to be conscious of what space it was going to fit in because it would take a more space.
So for you to work in all those different countries, work with people around the world, and each stark differences stand out to you too, to work well with your colleagues, not just the customers.
Cordula Pfluegl: Yeah, with the colleagues. That's a really good point, because I also now I think I'm counting, but at the time we were super international. I think you have like people from 12 countries working there now. So there's also definitely cultural differences that play into everything. But also when I was in future females, we had a very remote set up.
A lot of our program managers were in all these other places with time difference and everything, and they were managing cohorts in places like Indonesia. We also didn't know so much about culture. So I think that the one thing that I can share here is a learning is to to really spend a bit of extra time to understand how your colleagues work and how you to them together can do to best work together.
Because in the remote set up, that's obviously quite difficult. You never actually come together and get a sense for the person. And there was one exercise that we did as a team at Future Females with our broader team that was in all these different countries we had everyone figured out how to work with me manual. It's almost like a guidebook with school and you can find templates of this on the on the Internet.
I'm sure there's so many we use one or so and it has questions like kind of my luck. It's similar to like, you know, that funny sentences like my love languages, X, Y, Z, right? Yeah, it's my love languages. Like if you bring me on Netflix and chill, I don't know. But it was similar. It was like you so many people would say their communication style would be preferred slack but then email but then a call and other people would say, if it's really important, please call me.
And then if I'm not available, then a slack and then an email. So that really to know these kind of things, it also has questions around how do you want to have feedback given to you and a few personal questions. So it's like really a how it's so simple but like a how to work with me manual and if you have that at least herded one.
So I spend a bit of time with a new colleague that you're working remote with two to understand how they work, how they would like to be communicated with, and how they would like to be addressed and how they would like to have issues addressed. It's really so, so valuable. And and you can once you have a few of these manuals you have, you've read them or if you worked with, then you can start seeing cultural differences in these.
So certain countries are less what? That's what I said. It's like the Dutch for instance, very direct, don't have issues to talk about conflict it straight away like straight get to the point in South Africa were very much on the opposite so your first talk a little bit around the topic and then you only get and these things if you don't if you haven't worked in the country you don't know.
So I would really I think this is the best way is like go to like more playful roads and try to get to know your colleagues a bit better in that sense, how they individually want to be worked with. And then you learn about, okay, now I've worked with like four people, five people from South Africa. I know that this is a bit different there.
So you understand what culture and country plays into into this.
Daniel Burstein: You know, I'm glad you mentioned love languages because we're having this time here for McGlothlin, who many of listeners will know who I work directly with. We have we're having a lot of meetings to build this Air Guild I was mentioning. And so at one point a jerk of me said, Hey, Dan, I know your love languages meeting, so let's have some more meetings.
And it was great because it was a great indication that I hate meetings. And so just, you know, that little acknowledgment that like, hey, we have to do all these meetings. I know you don't want to, you know, I know this isn't the right fit for you, but just sometimes those little acknowledgments will go a long way. So you said love language.
You really just made me think of that. I love that. Any smile. Every time we had another meeting, I was like, Yeah.
Cordula Pfluegl: Yeah. And then it made you laugh. Also, I think humor is such a good tool to bring to cross our cultural differences, too, because we all, like, laugh sometimes, or you can laugh about ourselves. And I think that's that's a nice way how you put it.
Daniel Burstein: Yeah. All right. So this life lesson, as I mentioned in the beginning, I love it. I've had to tell it to myself so many times because it's the only way as a creator, you can get anything done or you will just keep, you know, like there was a famous saying, a book is never done, it's only do right and so true with any content we create this podcast, the case stage you read everything.
So I love this. I love this lesson done is better than perfect. And you said you learned it from Lauren Dallas, the co-founder and CEO of Future Female. So how did you learn that and how has it helped you in your career?
Cordula Pfluegl: Yeah, it's been such a such a valuable lesson. And I learned a lot of lessons from Lauren. I worked with her so long on building future females. And and she's such a great serial entrepreneur. She's launched so many things. So she really she learned it herself, I think, that way. Like, if you want to launch, if you want to get things done, then you can't always be this perfectionist.
You can't always sit on it for weeks and weeks and years after nothing will ever get done. So she was really had that like get you done attitude from from when I first met her but for me to the struggle was always at first you need to get to use you need to get used to that. And I wouldn't say I'm the true perfectionist.
Not at all, actually. But I am an optimizer. I constantly see things that I can make better, and I want to. As soon as we launched, always I also wanted to like make things better again. And but sometimes it is it is not the best thing for the moment, too, to make small adjustments. The best thing is to either launch the next thing or go to the next step or have this done and really get it out there.
And we had in every startup will notice story, but everything you launch in the beginning is imperfection, is small things, and then you get feedback and then you make it better and you prove along the way. But you do often a need to get the product out there. And when we had the opportunity to scale our future female business school, for instance, into all of these new markets I mentioned Indonesia, Nigeria, Namibia, like a lot of African countries, we at that point were 100% sure if we could roll it out that quickly, if we had all the resources, if everything was culture culturally approved and amended, but we did it anyway and we learned so
much on the way and they really allowed us to have such an impact in in the one year where we hosted so many women through the programs in all these countries. And we if we would have waited another year or if we would have waited for making all these adjustments, it would have cost all these women the opportunity to learn in that product was needed.
It was really everything from an operation point was in place. So we just learned along the way and we did this was with a few things. We did this with another education product we launched and also with the communities that sometimes we've built. So you will see that the people are more they're more open to the actually, not that they're not that we often think they will be our biggest critic.
We will get this like massive roll of criticism for just not being perfect or just not being ready. But people are actually accepting of that, especially when you're honest and authentic about it. You say, okay, we a startup we're launching. This might not be perfect, but this is our attempt to getting this out into the world as quickly as possible and to you and to fully fulfill your need.
Then they will understand. So I really think that we wouldn't have made it to 45 cities worldwide in year two or three of the company. And the program would have had not such an amazing success if if we would have always waited for the next alteration or for it to be perfect. Like you really need to understand that in the startup world.
And I would almost incentivize every marketer also to, to learn this, that in marketing we usually put out content and scale. We put out so much content, we create so much content people in social media will know that it can't always be perfect and there will be mistakes sometimes, and that will you will need to adapt and make changes, but it's completely normal.
So I would say that chasing perfection in marketing as well as in startup and entrepreneurial world is probably not the winning strategy.
Daniel Burstein: So, you know, you mentioned you're an optimizer. So once you launch, how you make sure you then learn and optimize and improve, measure whatever you need to do. Because when I've written this before, it's kind of funny, like a play. On words of what you mentioned earlier. I called it Launch and learn, like you have lunch and learn, launch and learn because I sometimes when we take that minimum viable product approach, I prefer to call it minimum awesome product.
But whenever that approach is, you know, we're so focused on, oh gosh, we got it out the door and then we move to the next thing and we forget what you're supposed to do as you launch and then you learn, okay, it's out there now. It's in the marketplace. This is a data cycle. Let's learn from it, you know, and then let's see, like how we have to improve it before it just boom.
That's okay. Now let's launch the next thing. So totally agree with you. Like I said, I've lived it to done is better than perfect, but once it's done, we do want to improve it. So have you had any experience with that? It gets out there. How do you make sure you're learning, learning from your audience and then how do you actually improve it?
Cordula Pfluegl: Yeah, I think learning from the audience is always key. Like really have an I have an open mind and always an open door for the feedback that you get and collected. And actually action is I think in so many companies the feedback loop is broken, the feedback comes back, but then the actioning of the feedback never really happens is like just a collection.
And okay, now we know. But, but that really needs to be a priority if you want be an optimize and if you want to constantly improve. But I also think what's important for us as marketers, sometimes we are too much in the trenches ourselves. What I mean by that is when you just launched this product and build it and worked on it for, let's say a year, then the right time to go back in and make really good improvements is not like two or three weeks after.
You really need to get out of the forest to see the trees again. And then so you go and either you go in with like first completely clear work on something else and then you go in like a month later and you look at it with new eyes almost, and then see the flaws. Or you have someone who is who helps you.
This can be the community or your customers already, or someone who's new on this project to go over together with you. And they see these things easier because you're so sometimes so blinded. You've worked on it too long. So I think that's one of the common mistakes. Is that optimal? The best optimization happens in the next optimization circle afterwards, where you need a little bit of distance so that you can get back into it and then see these things again.
So I think that's something we also just common psychology. If you have looked at something and painting for too long, you don't see new information anymore. But after a while you were suddenly recognize completed things again. So I think that's something that we should remind ourselves often.
Daniel Burstein: That is a great point. Step back and see it again for the first time. Yeah, you can sometimes get so buried in it. Well, now that you step back and you see your whole career, we've talked about a lot of things about what it means to be a marketer. What are the key qualities of an effective marketer in your opinion?
Cordelia What are you looking to be? What are you looking for when you hire?
Cordula Pfluegl: Yeah, and what I really see in myself and I also want to see that in people that I would hire or that I would want to work with is, I think this natural curiosity that marketers need have and that's, I think now above and beyond the marketing life. Right. It's great if you if you're very interested also in marketing, but I think it really adds to your to your profile and to your creativity.
If you have an interest in general life, in culture and things that have been around you, you don't need to be a generalist in everything and know something about everything, but just have an interest and have this curiosity for people, for things, ask the right questions. I think one of my my favorite questions in interviews, it's also like where do people get the inspiration from?
And that's for their work and for marketing and so on. And then a follow up question for that could be what is one thing you feel very strongly or passionate about outside of work? So that gives me gives just gives me an idea of what the person's like, but also like, do they have an interest in something outside of work where they can really get have their curiosity?
BLOOM And I feel that one of my favorite entrepreneurs and writers, navel ravikant he'll always speaks about how we live in a time that has so such infinite leverage and the economic rewards for this true natural curiosity have never been higher. If you really don't chase the money or chase the big gold chase, like what's really interested but what you really interested in.
And then with this curiosity, you will enhance your creativity, advance how you build strategy in marketing. I really like personally love listening to podcasts, but whatever your medium is, choose whatever makes you happy can be podcasts. It can be you attending lots of art that inspires you or you your medium is movies, so you watch a lot of movies.
I think we as marketers, we have so much to gain from from just being a bit involved in culture and pop culture and everything that's happening around us that, that, that's for me, some something that could be that it has to be has to be a go to for an effective marketer.
Daniel Burstein: What I can't end this interview now without asking you those questions I know you met them was a job interview but about where you get your inspiration from and especially like outside of marketing, I know you mentioned podcasts. I mean for me, I think I mentioned before in this episode, I love stand up comedy and I mean I love creators in general, but especially standup comedy and listening often podcast, but not just a stand up comedy, but how they craft it like the craft of it.
I love it and I apply that to what I make. I mean, it's kind of give me some of the inspiration for some of the things we even do on this podcast. So for you, I know you mentioned podcasts, but is there something you find inspiration from maybe in the industry but also outside of it?
Cordula Pfluegl: Yeah, I really love doing things, just new things. So even if it's a first, not 100% clear apart from podcasts, which is more the obvious choice that I really listen to, at least 10 to 15 hours of podcasts every week. So I do get a lot of inspiration from various podcasts. My favorite is also listening to topics that you're naturally not aligned with, so something that you would usually be like, I disagree with this and try to get the other side of the story really helps open up the horizon.
But apart from my whole podcast addiction, I, I really love going to, let's say, an immersive art experience or performance art because it's so different to what I do and it takes me out of this sometimes tunnel, I mean, with his marketing and within what we do for work and so on. So I really like having these new experiences that I'm sometimes part of and I get inspiration from that.
Just having a a new kind of perspective, having a new angle, trying to put myself in the shoes of the artists, what the artist thing, how did he come up with this solution? How did he come up with this presentation, with this whole installation? So I think that's something that for me really somehow helps me be inspired. And then I think lastly, what also you said you spoke to it so often in this episode.
You said so often that we get to create things. We are like, this is such a privilege that we are able to create. And for me also, I have this feeling inside that I want to create something that's always there. It's kind of like for a lot of entrepreneurs that's the same. They want to create and market to sometimes also have it.
And for me now, for instance, writing my own Substack for me that's an outlet of like now creating in my creativity and it almost forces me that I have to now on a weekly basis put all my thoughts what could be like a really good value add? What can I share with my subscribers that really helps me be inspired again?
Because I know I have to create something valuable. And then at the same time, I'm looking a bit more actively for inspiration.
Daniel Burstein: Yeah, that's a great lesson too, for anyone. Early in their career, like I interviewed so many people who said they are writers or wanted to be writers, and it was like, okay, what have you written? And they really hadn't written much. And when I was coming up, it was really hard to get stuff published, you know? I mean, you had to sometimes do just spec work because it was really difficult to publish.
But today you can self-publish like, okay, you see you're writing, right? Nothing stopping you, right? Or whatever it is. Designer, get it out there in the world. So I love that. Well, thank you. I got inspiration from getting to listen to this podcast for the last hour or so. Thank you, Cordelia. I really appreciate it.
Cordula Pfluegl: Yeah, thank you. That was. I think we covered so many things. I know bits of inspiring for people that either it's that they going to start creating something tomorrow or now after listening to this, or they will go to a stand up comedy which you hopefully inspire them to. I I'm sure everyone can get a little bit of it.
It's peace nuggets from it.
Daniel Burstein: Yes. Or if you're listening, go to an art show. But and thank you for listening. Hopefully you've got some great ideas on this.
Outro: Thank you for joining us for How I Made It and Marketing with Daniel Bernstein. Now that you've gotten inspiration for transforming yourself as a marketer, get some ideas for your next marketing campaign from Marketing Sherpas Extensive library of free case studies at Marketing Sherpa dot com that's marketing SRH ERP Ecom we've been.
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