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Lessons for a Budding Digital Marketing Expert

In conversation with Islin Munisteri

This episode of ECoffee with Experts features Islin Munisteri, Chief Revenue Officer and Co-Founder of Theia Marketing. During her conversation with Matt Fraser, Islin shares her journey from a reservoir engineer to being the founder of Theia Marketing. Watch now as she unravels some cutting-edge digital marketing and growth marketing strategies.

Developing your entrepreneurial skills simultaneously with growing your business is a huge part of being an entrepreneur.

Islin Munisteri
Chief Revenue Officer and Co-Founder of Theia Marketing
Islin Munisteri

Hello everyone. Welcome to E-coffee with experts. I’m your host Matt Fraser. On today’s show, I have a very special guest, Islin Munisteri. Islin is the chief revenue officer and co-founder of Theia Marketing. Before founding Theia Marketing, she was a reservoir engineer in Alaska. She takes the unique experiences she gained while working in the oil and gas industry and applies them to the complex marketing world. Her ability to identify a complex problem and develop a custom solution has been invaluable for her work and volunteering achievements. As the Chief Revenue Officer of Theia Marketing, she helps drive return on investment for growing technology, energy, and healthcare companies, using cutting edge growth marketing and digital marketing strategies and tactics, such as Facebook ads, Google ads, search engine optimization, email marketing, marketing automation, conversion rate optimization, and web analytics. She enjoys reading a good book, going for hikes with her family, and mentoring young people in her spare time. Islin thank you very much for being on the show. It’s great to have you. So you’ve had an interesting journey so far working in oil and gas, then transferring to a marketing position. What did you want to be when you were a kid and why?

It’s interesting. I was looking back at some old documents my mom saved, in a drawer somewhere back at home, I wanted to be a model. When I was nine years old, I wanted to be a model. And I’m like, What was I thinking? Or I also want to be an Author. And I do have a, I self-published a book called You are Enough. It’s just interesting when you’re a kid, like, how far off reality comes in, like 10, 20 years later?

Yeah, well, if it’s any consolation, I wanted to be a milkman when I was in kindergarten. And that job doesn’t exist anymore. I remember I couldn’t think of anything, so I jotted it down. If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

If I could have one superpower? I feel like this is a superpower that anyone can develop. I’m talking about the ability to sell well. I call it the ability to grow money on trees. That’s a skill I’m developing. So I want to be able to, to be able to grow money on trees for our agency. So comparing employees and hair technology, all that’s growing money on trees, would be my superpower.

If you won the lottery today, the super lotto, or whatever it is, what would you do?

I would move out of our co-family space and move into our own house. And we would hire a couple more people. And to be honest, I really wouldn’t change my lifestyle significantly after winning the lotto. Because you read all those case studies of people who go bankrupt a few years after winning the lotto.

Some money property. What about any donations? Would you donate to any causes you’re interested in or any foundations or something like that?

I volunteered with junior achievement when I lived in Texas. I do volunteer for NavPress, which is like Zoom. It Zooms with students. To share your career experiences with students across the country on Navpress via zoom. Interesting. Yeah. I would probably support Navpress. I would support the Denver Zoo. Because we go there fairly regularly during spring, summer and fall. And I would also give money to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Because you can’t always teach that process-based thinking and critical thinking without zoos and museums.

So when did you first know that you wanted to be an entrepreneur? Because I know you and your husband started this agency. And so I’m just curious, when did you first know you wanted to do that or have you always had entrepreneurial aspirations?

The entrepreneurship was out of necessity. When we lived in Texas and Alaska, and I guess at that point my husband became tired of the oil field, you living in Calgary, you understand that there are layoffs every six months to a year when there’s a new acquisition when something changes in the business landscape for that company, layoffs are part of the landscape. So we’re tired of riding that rodeo. And we want to build something that is enduring for our kids. And, we chose a marketing agency, which has evolved into more of a HubSpot technology consulting agency. So that’s where we’ve grown, and now we’re a HubSpot platinum flow solutions partner. I like it, it’s a good movie-ish. But there’s a movie on I think in the RAMBO series are something where it’s one punch at a time, one round at a time, one game at a time. So you just keep on going; you just keep on that repeatability of the process. And that’s how we built our agency. So I think entrepreneurship is about doing a lot of personal growth while growing your company. You move from fear to love and abundance. It’s not easy growing your agency, in fear-based thinking. So you have to move your thinking and mindset in completely different ways.

So what are some hard choices you’ve had to make to get where you are today with your agency?

We live in the basement of my mother-in-law’s house. Which is great and bigger than our house in Houston. So you just make some sacrifices. We’re a one-car family. But working remotely, it doesn’t matter. You make those sacrifices so that you can get to the next level. And you started figuring out cash flow, accounting systems, CPQ, and configuring price quote systems. So just solve one problem at a time.

Those are challenges that people don’t tell you about when you go to start an agency. Figuring out whittling down your cost per action and figuring out how you will eat. You talked about sales before, figuring out how you’re going to sell that and how to get it filled. Those are challenging. You went from oil field engineer, and then you started doing digital marketing. How did that happen? How did you start learning about digital marketing? What was one of the first projects you worked on?

We learned about marketing through Duct Tape Marketing and HubSpot Academy. Those are two great resources. HubSpot Academy is by far the best free resource for folks out there who are getting their feet wet in marketing. You just start doing projects for clients. Start acquiring clients, learning as you go. And believing that you can learn and grow. Pivoting industries is difficult. But interestingly, my husband applied to like 100 jobs, In different engineering fields in petroleum engineering, and they didn’t want him because he wasn’t their type of engineer.

Oh, wow.

They are very specific. It’s like you’re not a mechanical engineer, you are not a chemical engineer, you’re not the particular engineer that fits in this perfect keyhole. And you don’t have these experiences that I’m wanting or something like that. So he started a marketing agency. And we’ve turned into more of a technical consulting agency. And we’ve gotten good at implementing onboarding and HubSpot through workflows and automation, and putting business processes, your marketing and sales Customer Success process straight into HubSpot.

It’s interesting how that has evolved. So how did that end up happening? How did that process go from offering marketing services to more business processes, CRM and automation implementation?

I would say it’s just acquiring one client at a time. Though, I would say for whatever means possible. You have community events, LinkedIn outreach, and email outreach. There are a lot of different channels to get sales, right. And you just need to refine the channel that works well for your agency. I wish I could say there was like one thing, one magic bullet that worked for us. But it’s not that simple.

You said you started as a marketing agency, and then you pivoted to the business process side; what made that change is what I’m asking?

I guess what caused that change is we adapted to what our clients needed. So we changed our services to match what our clients needed. It wasn’t like a magic pivot; we’re looking at magical strategy. Because a lot of folks are like, we’re just going to think of these magical strategies; they will automatically work wonders for your business, it doesn’t work that way. We’ve pivoted with the market. So what our clients needed. They needed a business process, and so we provided a business process. When you look at marketing in business processes, that seems more valuable. Because you’re trying to drive their growth engine, and driving their growth engine is not only for marketing. It’s marketing, sales, and making sure you don’t have a lot of churn on the customer success fulfillment side. Whether that be in software or tech, or nonprofits or government. You’re just trying to optimize the business process to help them grow their customers and turn customers into evangelists.

So how have you been able to take and pivot and productize business processes? Have you created a product out of the offering that you’re doing or the service that you’re doing, to sell that to the market?

Productizing a service comes with a certain maturity level of your agency, something that’s repeatable, and then you decide to productize. As an agency, you are selling time. So, prioritizing the number of hours and meetings. That’s how we productized.

Do you have different segmentations of what you offer, like a bronze, silver gold, or platinum implementation service for businesses?

We offer- Why call a starter. We have taken the naming from HubSpot, but we have a Theia Concierge starter plan, fairly light. You get two monthly meetings with us, and we work on strategy and technical implementation. So yeah, a certain number of hours of strategy and implementation with that. The same thing for the Theia concierge Professional, Theia Concierge enterprise. And then we also have a Theia Concierge custom, which is like our highest number of hours, and you’re trying to do a lot of heavy lifting in that single three-month or four-month period.

What do you think about the importance of automation in marketing for businesses?

There are lots of different marketing automation platforms. But I would say the marketing automation makes it easier to nurture prospects to customers. So you’re driving that deal pipeline through marketing. So as you’re nurturing marketing qualified leads into sales qualified leads. Then you implement lead scoring along with the marketing workflows you have, like sending emails or calls or whatever it may be. Taking those certain marketing actions to those folks. And if they’ve interacted enough, they’re ready to be handed off the sales.

What kind of things do you do to score leads?

Lead scoring is more art than science. I would say the art is the actions we are going to take and then the sciences are, we’re going to score a certain amount to those actions.

So, any action examples you can share?

For example, they clicked on a link in an email. That’s 100 points. Or if they went, in HubSpot, there’s a tracking code where you can see if a contact has visited your website. So they visited your homepage three times, which says, 50 points a time. So that’s a very basic lead scoring. And so if they’ve engaged enough with your product or service via the marketing actions of like, visiting a landing page, attending an event, clicking on links in email, or listening to your podcast, for example. There are different actions they take along that customer journey. So once they’ve had enough of those touchpoints with you, then at this point these leads have gotten to say, like 1000 points, and you take that score, and then you’re like- Okay, at this score, we’re going to send this person to sales automatically. So you have a workflow in the background that says, send this person to the sales rep in this territory. And then, hopefully, sales will engage. There are also service level agreements that you need to have between marketing and sales. If you have an inbound lead that fills out a form that says- Oh, my God, I’m super interested in the solution, then sales will get back to that inbound in a certain amount of time.

So is there a process you take for working while discussing with clients the value of those actions? For instance, you mentioned that clicking on a button would be 100 points or a certain amount, something else with so many points. Is it just consulting with the client about what is most valuable or is there a standard for like a click button? Is there a standard in your experience that a button click is worth a certain value across the board?

No. I try to think of a business as its ecosystem. So each business will have its lead scoring. You can start with a basic template, but how you implement the lead scoring and everything, that’s where the strategy comes in. And that’s why lead scoring is a different animal for every business because not every business might have events right now. And they interact with a landing page to get an ebook. Yeah, a lead magnet. So if you’d like that’s like a different score. So there are commonalities between different businesses for lead scoring. This is why it’s called the roadmap to doing lead scoring. This is the one Excel spreadsheet that you use. I wish there was a master spreadsheet for this.

There is no lead scoring Bible.

Yeah, there’s no lead scoring Bible. Like it’s an intuitive process. So you implement your first lead scoring, you’ve tested between marketing and sales, and they realize; oh, we’re sending them too early, or we’re selling them too late or we’ve missed the boat on this. So then you’re iterating. You have to iterate and test. It’s not like set it and forget it. I wish. And then marketing and marketing ops people wouldn’t have jobs, right? Because if you’re not iterating, and testing, like, what’s the point of your lead scoring?

You have always to improve those funnels. So what’s the biggest challenge you’ve encountered with marketing automation and working with campaigns like this business processes and things like that?

I can highlight some of the bigger challenges we’ve had. We’ve worked with revenue communities before, and getting the right scope of work in the discovery proposal process is key to ensuring you don’t overservice the client. And having a process to keep the client apprised of how many hours you’ve used. You’ve used X number of hours and we have Y number of hours left. Do this. We won’t be able to get everything done. Here’s a backlog of projects. We’ll do this next month.

How do you handle those conversations? Is it difficult?

So we have an account manager who’s good at relationships. She helps facilitate those conversations. I wouldn’t say it’s bad, but you need to know when you’re over-servicing a client. So like, we did way too much work in a single month for one client and then you lose money on that project because you realize you weren’t paid. After all, you were not tracking. I recommend harvest for time tracking. So you can see when you’re getting close to burning up all those hours. The challenge is an internal business process; it is not over-servicing clients. Sometimes you have certain clients that are on 20 different systems. And they’re like- I want you to integrate all these systems through this one, data integration platform, and HubSpot. Put it all together for me and automate everything. And we include some Zapier zaps in there. And in our proposals, we have a clause that says; – Due to limitations of these revenue operations like HubSpot or whatever system we’re using, your solution may not be possible. It’s like we have some disclaimers. It is not always possible to implement your ideal solution. It’s always possible to get there, but are you willing to pay?

What’s one of the biggest success stories you’ve seen due to implementing the processes in marketing automation that you do?

We’ve helped the client increase their business by like 70%. Just by implementing process, task tracking, and HubSpot sales pro for their sales team. So with all that activity tracking you can do in HubSpot, you can figure out which activities are moving the needle the most for them, so you can track that in the deal, the deal creation pipeline.

And get higher close rates for sales.

Yes, where are you mining your sales? Do they come in from outreach? Do they come in from inbound? Where did they come in?

What are some of the most important metrics to track to see the difference in conversions and the connection between marketing and sales?

I would say that varies for every business. You have – Why call, leading indicators, and lagging. I guess they’re not lagging indicators. For example, leading indicators would be, say, website traffic. So if you see an uptick in website traffic, and then or so, for example, if you’re running a campaign in HubSpot, and you have all of your assets, whether they be social media assets, landing pages, buttons, forms, attribute it to that campaign. You can see the ROI that you drove through that campaign, paid social, and all of that. So for example, for a wedding photographer, his leading indicator is the number of views on a gated landing page. His pricing page. So if you can get the number of views up on that, you know the lagging indicator will be more calls. And then there’ll be more booked meetings and more deals in the pipeline.

What strategies and tactics do you use to keep track of the different campaigns running on the different channels?

I like how SWAT has a pretty good campaign tracking dashboard as you’re setting up your campaigns. There are UTM codes.

Do they have built-in UTM codes? Are the UTM codes the predominant way? Or is there some other way that it is implemented?

For example, with tracking, you want to implement UTM codes to see where your traffic sources are coming from. For example, there’s this source like a Reddit forum, and you post your article at the Reddit forum, you want to track you need to have a UTM code for that so you know the traffic is coming from Reddit, for example. As for campaign tracking, you can track it with an Excel spreadsheet, but a lot of the tracking is done natively in HubSpot. So you can see the ROI of a paid ad social. As long as you attach all the assets to that campaign, you can see the outcomes of your campaign and marketing influence revenue. And marketing attribution is like a black box and is a can of worms for operations. Because you can say – Yeah, I did all the stuff that I influence this much revenue and you’re like, it’s great. And if you’re using the sales tools, or if you’ve integrated Salesforce properly, you can say, Yeah, this campaign is integrated, it drove these deals into the pipeline.

Hey, what are some of the biggest mistakes you see companies make when implementing the marketing automation and business processes that you do?

The biggest mistake I’ve seen is making a soup sandwich of systems into straight spaghetti. If you already have a wonderful HubSpot, we call it the Franken spots set of systems. It is not easy to like to unravel it. We prefer you to be completely on Hubspot across sales, marketing, and customer success. And have a website on the CMS, right? That’s the preferred method. But because people want this, teeny feature, or a red Jeep on Tuesdays out of this one platform like, when you’re doing sales automation, outreach has this one report that I want. We help the client figure out that; you can create the same report in HubSpot. You just need a little bit of help. So it’s like really digging deep into the issues.

So, having a harmonized all-in-one platform is probably the best route to go.

Yeah, having an all-in-one platform depends on your business needs. You might need something a bit more complex than Hubspot service tools. You may need to be on Intercom or you may need to be on a different tool. But it depends on what your business case and your business needs are.

Hey is there anything I haven’t asked you that you would like me to ask? Anything I may have missed?

Not really. At Theia Marketing, we are very good at putting your business processing into your CRM. I also won the RevOps Careers Podcast. I get to interview different folks on RevOps about their careers and we discover what their biggest challenges are. And we learn about things you would tell yourself when you are young in your career. The most significant value prop of the RevOps Career podcast is that you learn from different folks in the community. And you can also connect with these folks on LinkedIn. So of note, you can continue the conversation further with these folks to see if they are interested in mentoring you or if you just want to have a coffee with them to learn more about how they’ve tackled certain challenges that you may be facing.

So if people want to learn more about you, where would they find more information starting with the RevOps podcast?

The RevOps podcast is available at @theia.careers and you can find it on Apple, Spotify, or on all the podcast apps out there. You can find me on LinkedIn or give me a call at 7204090458. That is my business number. I am very old fashioned. I have LinkedIn, email, and the phone.

I want to thank you very much for being on the show today. For taking the time out of your day. It’s appreciated, and have a wonderful day.

Cool, thanks Matt.

No problem.



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