How to effectively communicate your value to increase retention
CEO & Founder
Today on the show we have Nik Mijic, Co-founder and CEO of Matik.
In this episode, we discussed the importance of effectively communicating the value you deliver to customers and how to build an ROI calculator.
We also ran through an example of setting up a monthly review with your customers, the data sources to include, and how to set it all up.
As usual, I'm excited you think of this episode and if you have any feedback, I would love to hear from you.
00:00:00 Andrew: Hey, it's Andrew, and today on the show, we have Nik Mijic, co-founder and CEO of Matik. In this episode, we discussed the importance of effectively communicating the value you deliver to customers and how you can go about building an ROI calculator. We also ran through an example of how to set up a monthly review with your customers, the data sources to include, and how to set it all up. As usual, I'm excited to hear what you think of this episode, and if you have any feedback, I would love to hear from you. You can email me directly on andrew@CHURNFM. Don't forget to follow us on Twitter and enjoy the episode.
00:00:33 Intro: How do you build a habit for product? Don't just gun for revenue in the door.
00:00:40 Andrew: This is CHURN.FM, the podcast for subscription economy pros. Each week we hear how the world's fastest growing companies are tackling churn and using retention to fuel their growth.
00:00:52 VO: How do you build a habit forming product? We crossed over that magic threshold to negative churn. You need to invest in customer success. It always comes down to retention and engagement. Completely bootstrapped, profitable and growing.
00:01:07 Andrew: Strategies, tactics and ideas brought together to help your business thrive in the subscription economy. I'm your host, Andrew Michael, and here's today's episode.
00:01:16 Andrew: Hey, Nik, welcome to the show.
00:01:17 Nik: Thank you for having me. Excited to be on.
00:01:19 Andrew: It's great to have you. For the listeners. Nik is the co-founder and CEO of Matik, a platform that connects data sources with data driven content and makes it easy for anyone to create content with data tailored to their specific audience. Prior to Matik, Nik was a senior program manager for LinkedIn Sales Solutions. And my first question for you then, Nik, today is what was the motivation that led you to taking the leap and starting your own company?
00:01:44 Nik: Well, I think that would kind of start from the beginning. I'm an immigrant refugee. I'm originally from Sarajevo, Bosnia, and I think part of the American dream is to always kind of be your own boss or your own company. And so, I've always wanted to take the plunge into entrepreneurship. I just didn't know what the right timing was. I had worked at a few startups prior to LinkedIn as an early employee. So the company before LinkedIn was Bluenose Analytics. I was employee number five. I was in the customer success space. And so we were a competitor like the game sites of the world, the Tatangoes of the world. And that's really kind of where I kind of saw the power of data and how it's used in customer success to fight churn and really focus on retention.
00:02:27 Nik: And so when I was at LinkedIn, I worked on building out internal tools for our customer success and sales teams, as well as narratives. And we had that problem where we would come up with a template for a renewal deck or a quarterly business review or ROI deck. And there'd be a template that you would go to, Andrew, you'd make a copy of it, right? And there would be placeholders that would say, "Hey, go to Salesforce to get this data point. Go to Tableau, take a screenshot of this chart, go to Nik. He'll pull this data for you, analyze it in Excel." And we had a tool that tried to automate the process, and I had the chance to rebuild it. And I just saw the impact that it had on not just the productivity for our sales and customer success teams, but also the impact that it had on business outcomes.
00:03:11 Nik: When we use data to tell a story with our customers, whether it's ROI or value, we saw that they had higher better renewal rates, higher deal sizes. It really impacted the bottom line. So I've always been passionate about data. My product is in analytics. My background is in product and analytics. And I just felt like the time was right. And I was kind of at the stage of my life where, if I don't do it now, I feel like I'm never going to do it. And so my why that, I always tell people. I think one, given the background, my parents did a lot, sacrificed quite a bit to come to the US. I was young, saw them struggle quite a bit. So I wanted to show them like, hey, I wouldn't be able to do this if you guys didn't do the things that you did. So that was one of my whys. And the other, for me, was really, like I said, I didn't want to have that regret later on in life. My nephew was born, and I think that was one of the moments in my life where I was at the hospital with my brother, and we were sitting down, and I don't know why, but it just made me realize how quickly time flew by. I was like, we were playing in the playground yesterday, and now we're raising kids. It just seems like that was literally yesterday. And that was the first time in my life that I realized to which extent time really does fly. And so I didn't want to be older and be like, "Hey, I wish I would have given it a go." So those were the two reasons for me.
00:04:29 Andrew: Very nice. Yeah, I think definitely like pivotal life moments are a great time to reflect and make these big decisions. But also, I think you said something along the lines of, if I didn't do now, I don't think I'd ever do it. But I don't know how true that is. I think if you do it, it takes a special type of person, and I think there would always be that thing that would be eating at you saying come on, Nik, go do it. Come on, Nik. Go, do.
00:04:51 Nik: It's true. But the opportunity costs are higher. I think the longer you wait, I think the harder I'm not saying that you don't have the itch, you may still have the itch, but it just becomes harder and harder to give up what you have, right?
00:05:04 Andrew: Yeah, for sure. I think there's a great quote that I love a lot. It's like the enemy of a great life is a good life. And as you go in your career, you get more and more comfortable, you get more and more happier. It becomes a lot harder just to give up that good life. You're not sure what the outcome is. I mean, at the end of the day, startups are really hard business as well. So... Nice, and yes. So you decided to start Matik. I mean, obviously it's very straightforward, like the pain, it's something you experienced there previously at LinkedIn and saw at other startups as well. Let 's talk a little bit about your customers and how they use your product today. So what are some of the main use cases for you? You mentioned things like quarterly business reviews. Maybe elaborate a little bit on that for us.
00:05:42 Nik: So at a high level, we're automating data driven content and the output is a Powerpoint or Google Slide or a PDF that we're going and connecting to your data sources, pulling all the data and spitting out a narrative in one of those systems. And so primary use case today for us is Customer Success and Sales. Customer Success teams are doing business reviews, renewal decks, adoption reviews. One pagers are very, very popular even this time of year where it's like, "Hey, here's your 2022 recap, here's how you've used our product, here's the value that you've gotten from our product." And so we work with a lot of B2B tech companies like Asan, Glassdoor, Hover, Handshake, those are some of our key accounts that we work with, in particular in Customer Success and Sales, where we're automating those narratives on behalf of their teams.
00:06:32 Andrew: That's very cool. So I'm assuming that you dog food your own product and you're also doing these things for your customers. So I think what I'd love to dive into a little bit now is let's maybe pick one of these updates that you're providing your customers with and walk through sort of like an end to end process, like how you decide what data goes to it in it. So are you doing quarterly business reviews with customers? Or...?
00:06:53 Nik: Yeah, quarterly business reviews. So we use it both on the presale side and we use it on the post sale side. So on the post sale side for Customer Success, an example is we have monthly one pagers that we send to our customers, which is basically a synopsis of how they've using our tool, the number of presentations they've generated, how long it takes to generate those presentation, who are the top users, who are laggers for enablement, and then some recommendations on like, hey, FYI, here are the things that we recommend. Here are the features that you aren't using today that you should be using for us.
00:07:29 Nik: Our goal, the purpose of the one pager is to, one, provide visibility into how their deployment of Matik is going, how they're using our product, and to also entice them to use the full breadth of our product like, hey, you haven't used this power feature that you have active to book some time with your account manager to have them walk him or her walk you through that particular feature or product. So the goal there is to really just show them the value through usage, but then also be able to increase adoption across the entire platform.
00:08:01 Andrew: Very cool. Yeah, I think definitely, we've discussed this on the show before of having understanding what your cost first value matrix is and where most of the majority of users lie. So cost being either a function of time or money and then whatever you're delivering to your customers. And obviously one of the best ways then to reduce churn is really to just make sure that your customers are even aware of the value that your product delivers. And if it's cost savings being valued and being able to illustrate that, let's talk.... sorry. Yeah.
00:08:29 Nik: I was just going to say just one thing to add to that kind of sparks. Something that I think you may think of value a certain way, but at the end of the day, I think you need to be able to map that value back to a business objective that the customer really cares about. So I could say, hey, we save a ton of time, but if I can't tie that particular time savings to something that's really important to the decision maker or to the company, then it's kind of really irrelevant. And I think the matrix that you mentioned, I think is actually spot on. That's something that we're seeing within the industry is people buy your product or service. You could probably come up with a list of five to ten that your product marketing team has probably come up with value props and then associate like, hey, what are the usage metrics, what are the ROI metrics that tie to those value props of why people buy?
00:09:14 Nik: And I think if you get in alignment with your customers early on in the onboarding process, hey, here are the things that we are really going to focus on. This is what success looks like. Based on the outcomes that you guys are trying to achieve and then tying those metrics over time to it, I think that leads to the ultimate success.
00:09:30 Andrew: Absolutely. I think that's probably one of the sweet spots that you can get to if you have a mechanism to be able to effectively track the final value that your customer receives, that's one of the best ways for you to then optimize against it. I think one of the interviews we had previously with Hardy Gibson was previously at GoDaddy. They really worked through sort of what are their key metrics they were tracking? What did they consider important? And they were working on their website builder at the time. Eventually, they came to the realization that people don't come to them to get a website. If they're an online store, they come to them to drive sales. If they're a restaurant, they want more bookings. If they're a hair salon, they want XYZ. And they were lucky that they were in the fortunate position where they actually tracked the number of bookings or tracked the number of sales through their ecommerce platforms. And then that became sort of the key metric that they could then reverse engineer and say, okay, most successful stores that are selling the most, these are the steps they took during their onboarding. Let's help others get to that success state as well. But, yeah, I think it's not always you don't always have the luxury of being able to track that value that your end product delivers. So I think even in your case, one of the obvious values is the time it saves. But there is value to the end result of reducing, which is not so easy to quantify measure.
00:10:43 Nik: I think part of it, too. I think twofold I think the first is you do got to make some assumptions, right? And so if you want to get down to hay retention, you can create an ROI calculator that has some base assumptions about their average deal size or what their turn is today. Right? And at least it starts a conversation where you can then have that with your customer and be like, "Hey, what levers are incorrect? What levers are correct?" And then you can kind of go from there. And you don't just do that on the post sale side if you don't have that data. But we even do that on the pre sales side, right? So if you are a CS leader at a company that's looking to biomatic, I'm putting together a business case that is basically an ROI analysis that says, hey, you've told me these inputs you've given me, here's how big your team is, here's how much time you guys are spending. Here is you guys are currently touching 50% of your book of business. But the goal is, why aren't we are able to touch 100% of our book of business? And so based on these levers here's the ROI that you can receive from Matik based on these calculations. So I think it's okay to have assumptions because it at least starts a discussion with you, with the prospect or the customer to then really understand, okay, what are these really? And it's kind of like a discovery mechanism.
00:11:58 Andrew: Yeah, absolutely. So let's talk about it, then. These monthly reviews that you set up and you send to your customers, how do you sort of figure out what goes into them? Where did you get started when you first set up the first version of yours?
00:12:10 Nik: Yeah, so we look at content similar to the way that you build software. So when you build a tool, you spend all this time, you work with engineering, they build it. It's not like, hey, once it's launched, hands are up in the air, it's done. You see how people are using it, you see the feedback that you're getting and you're constantly making iterative changes. I think I love saying don't let perfection be the enemy of progress. And that's so true. In the startup world. Content is very similar. You have a hypothesis on by talking to your CSMs, or talking to your account managers or talking to your renewal people, what's been resonating, what hasn't been. You craft some sort of narrative around that and then from there, you're testing and iterating, now let's launch this narrative, let's see how people respond, the next 30 customers respond to this. If it's positive, let's continue. If there is some feedback, let's tweak it and then launch again.
00:13:04 Nik: So part of it starts with the hypothesis. Just like any story building, you start the hypothesis on what you think value is and what for the ultimate goal for this piece of content. Again, the goal for this was adoption and just making sure that we were keeping our customers in the loop of the value that they were getting. And so we tried to tie everything back to that as well as getting it. The secondary goal was to try to get a meeting. Hey, if we're not able to meet with you on a monthly basis, hopefully this is the trigger. Like, hey, I'd love to talk about scheduling within Matik, I noticed that's a feature we're not using. Can we jump on a call to chat about it? So you're then facilitating some sort of conversation with your prospect or customer.
00:13:40 Andrew: Yeah, I love that approach to content as well. I think the continuous iteration, it's funny. It reminded me of a recent conversation I had with the accountant that we have. I'm based out in Cyprus. I have a startup as well. And my accountant was trying to ask me when does the project end? And I was like, "It's a piece of software, it never ends. We continue building." He's like, "No, but there must be an end date." There is no end date. This is how software is built and iterated on. It's strange that even here in Cyprus, the accounting practices don't cater for the software world effectively, where there needs to be a defined period of R&D and there needs to be an end result. That's sort of the approach here. But yeah, so you speak to your sort of sales CS team, you figure out first iteration, what's going to go into it. I imagine there's different moving parts as well. So you're sending updates to your client. There's data coming from different products or services. How are you putting this together? Maybe just like if you could give us the bullet points of what goes into this report and then where the different data is coming from or how it's sourced.
00:14:42 Nik: I think at the start you kind of have your high level usage summary metrics, how many presentations you've generated, how many templates you've deployed, how many active users are currently using the product. And that's obviously coming from a database. We use a redshift and so we're able to kind of collect that connect Matik our product to redshift to be able to kind of pull in that data and insert it into the presentations. And then you kind of have just some of those, I would say, finalizing touches, like your profile picture, right. Your name, your title, account information that lives in, in our case, our CRM, which is salesforce. So we're pulling the user's profile picture, we're pulling their account level information from the CRM. And then same with feature adoption and leaderboards who's using who's not. That's also coming from our redshift. So for that particular use case, we have CRM as well as our database that we're pulling from.
00:15:38 Andrew: Very cool. And then these reports themselves, they're automated on a monthly basis--
00:15:43 Nik: Totally.
00:15:43 Andrew: ... out or it's something that–
00:15:45 Nik: Yeah. So we have a scheduling feature where you can come in and say, hey, I want to run this for as a rep. I come in, I select my accounts, and I say, I want to run this every single month. Send me an email with the reports, and then I can go ahead and send it out to my stakeholders at my account via email. That's actually something that we're really interested in, is we can create the content, but then how do we distribute the content? So that's something that we're really excited about for the future of Matik is getting into other narrative types outside of just documents. How do you automate because narratives can take multiple forms. It doesn't just have to be a document. If you think about it, it could be an email, it could be an SMS, it could be a video. Those are all different types of narratives that you could use our dynamic content in.
00:16:28 Andrew: Very cool. And how long has the Matik been going for now?
00:16:32 Nik: Four years, but it feels like 20 years. Startup world. So, yeah, we started the company officially, my co-founder and I. My co-founder was an early employee at Box all the way to post IPO. I met him through a mutual friend. We started the company officially in January of 2019, so worked out of my apartment, true startup fashion, and built the initial prototype. Got a few companies to test out the product and found some success. And that's what led to our seed round with Menlo Ventures. And then we really had a great two years to follow, which led us to raise our Series A with Andreessen Horowitz.
00:17:07 Andrew: That's awesome. What's been the biggest challenge for you? You said it felt like 20 years. I'm sure there's been a few challenges along the way, but what would you say has been like the biggest when you're at?
00:17:17 Nik: I think if you would have asked 2000 when I was contemplating leaving LinkedIn 2018, Nik, you're going to start a company. And I would have thought, "Hey, I'm building the product." I'm iterating because I'm a product person at heart, right? I love talking to users, I love figuring out what to work. But honestly, the last four years, we've dealt with so many things outside of work, whether it's a pandemic. We literally started a company in 2019. We raised a 3 million seed round, and then all of a sudden, three, four months later, people are lining up at the grocery store hoarding food because of the shutdown and this global pandemic, right? And so you deal with that, then you have to transition to remote work, everything being remote. And I think one of the best parts of a startup is that ethos that you build when you are in person and those wins that you get when you are in a small office and you grow and you're like, "Hey, remember when we were in the office last year?" Blah, blah, blah, and you have those memories.
00:18:14 Nik: I think it's been a culmination of things from external factors like the pandemic, like the war, social injustice, that you don't think when you start a company that you have to deal with those things. And I don't think most entrepreneurs have had to deal with those things over the past ten to 20 years, but it's where we're at today. And I think that's been something that's been not a bad thing. I would say it's led to some really great conversations and I think it's led to a great culture here at Matik. And that's been something that's really top of mind for me.
00:18:41 Andrew: Very cool. One of the things as well, when we build products, you never know, sort of like how your customers are actually going to use the end product or what things you get surprised by. So with Matik, what's been the most interesting surprise you've come across or use case that the customers use the product for?
00:18:58 Nik: Yeah, part of startups is you got to focus. You can't boil the ocean, right? You have to start somewhere. So that's one of the reasons why we've started with customer success and starting to get into sales more now. But I think one thing is clear that this problem of automating data driven content exists across the board. We've seen a lot of folks ask to use our product internally. So for internally facing presentations like, hey, I'm a PM. Or better yet, I'm an FPNA and I put together this monster deck for our leadership team once a month. And it takes me three to four business days to put together because I run all these queries. I then have to update my Excel sheets, blah, blah. I'd love to be able to set it up and automate 80, 90 % of it and then just focus on the things that are more qualitative that I can focus on in the deck. And so I think there's an opportunity for us to go down that path as well as other verticals outside of just B2B tech, right? Whether it's like marketing agencies or even finance, right, private wealth, they put together portfolio updates. It's very data driven and it's usually in some form of a narrative that they're sharing with their customers or prospects.
00:20 :06 Andrew: Interesting. I want to ask you a question I ask every guest that joins the show. Let's imagine a hypothetical scenario. You join a new company. Channel retention is not doing great at this company. The CEO comes to you and says, "Hey Nik, you've got 90 days to turn things around. You're in charge." What do you do? The catch is you're not going to tell me. I'm going to speak to customers, figure out the pain points, and I'm not going to look at data. You're just going to take one tactic that you've seen work at a previous company and run with that blindly hoping it works at this new company. What would it be?
00:20:38 Nik: And what's the problem is that they've got churn or they're not doing well?
00:20:43 Andrew: They've got churn and you need to reduce churn.
00:20:45 Nik: Yeah. So honestly, first hack it would be I would go and talk to the frontline people, right? I'm not talking to any customers. I'm talking to the people who are working with our customers and just being like, hey, they are the people that have the most knowledge about what's going on. It's not going to be your CEO, it's not going to be your VP, it's going to be those people that are interacting with your customers every single day. And there is a 99% chance that they have an answer. They just don't have the voice or they don't have the platform. My first task if I were to start at a new company, and that would be I'd have a one on one with every single CSM account manager, AE, to really understand what have you guys seen, figure out where the overlap is, and then from there deploy a strategy around data driven content. What can we do to showcase value to our customers? Because at the end of the day, you have to be able to tie to value. So that would be in a nutshell, what I would do is definitely just pick the brains of the folks that are on the front lines and then automate from there.
00:21:44 Andrew: Nice yeah, I was almost going to call you out being a cop out because you pretty much, instead of speaking to customers, you spoke to your team. But seeing that the data driven approach and illustrating to your customers how you deliver value, I'll let you take that one. Next up is what's one thing that you know today about churn and retention that you wish you knew when you got started with your career?
00:22:05 Nik: One thing, I guess it probably was the recommendation that I just provided. I've never been on the front lines until now, until being an entrepreneur. You're doing sales, you' re doing a little bit of everything. But I've always come from analytics and product. And so early on in my career, when I would support customer success and sales, I would think, hey, here's how you talk about ROI, here's how you talk about value. And I would come up with this really cool visualization. Then I would come up with these really cool analysis. But at the end of the day, I can maybe talk to it, but I have to have a CSM or a rep who's not an analyst, be able to speak to that to customer. And then the customer needs to be able to understand that.
00:22:45 Nik: So I think simplicity is something that early on in my career, I didn't understand the value of, because I thought, hey, if I come up with this really cool model, or if I come up with this really cool, that's great, I understand it. But I need to be able to get other people to buy in. I need them to be able to communicate it. So just the fact of just being simplistic whenever you're visualizing data, whenever you're sharing data, simple things, bar charts, donut charts go the longest way. Not some cool visual that I found on a podcast that I'm following or a blog that I'm following around sand key charts or spider charts. People just don't understand those things.
00:23:20 Andrew: Yeah, I think that's a really interesting learning. Similarly, I've been guilty of it in the past as well, of overcomplicating things, when really it's the simplest solutions that ultimately get the most traction and get the most buy in and usage as well going forward, and for the most part, probably are the most useful as well at the end of the day. Nice, Nik. So is anything like you want to leave the listeners I see we're running up on time now. Is anything you want to leave the listeners with? Any last words you want to share with us today?
00:23:48 Nik: Yeah, I mean, I think just for the focus of churn and retention, I think iteration is key. If it's not working, you got to iterate. I think a lot of the times we get stuck in our ways, and I think the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result . And I think. That is so true with customer success and preventing churn is you have to be able to be adaptive. And at the end of the day, I think, especially in today's economic climate, tying things to value, in my opinion, is the biggest thing. You can't specifically rely on quantitative feedback. Hey, this user loves our product. Now, the CFO is making every decision. You have to be able to tie it back to value, economic value. And tie it to a business objective. So you do that through data.
00:24:29 Andrew: Absolutely. I think it almost feels like the perfect storm as well for you and a product like Matik. So, for the listeners, we'll make sure we leave everything we discussed today in the show notes. You can check it out from there if you want. Nik, thanks so much for joining today and I wish you best of luck now going into 2023.
00:24:45 Nik: Awesome. Andrew, thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it.
00:24:48 Andrew: Thanks. Cheers.
00:24:57 Andrew: And that's a wrap for the show today with me, Andrew Michael. I really hope you enjoyed it and you're able to pull out something valuable for your business to keep up to date with CHURN.FM and be notified about new episodes, blog posts and more. Subscribe to our mailing list by visiting CHURN.FM. Also, don't forget to subscribe to our show on iTunes, Google Play or wherever you listen to your podcasts. If you have any feedback, good or bad, I would love to hear from you and you can provide your blunt, direct feedback by sending it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Lastly, but most importantly, if you enjoyed this episode, please share it and leave a review as it really helps get the word out and grow the community. Thanks again for listening. See you again next week.
A new episode every week
We’ll send you one episode every Wednesday from a subscription economy pro with insights to help you grow.
My name is Andrew Michael and I started CHURN.FM, as I was tired of hearing stories about some magical silver bullet that solved churn for company X.
In this podcast, you will hear from founders and subscription economy pros working in product, marketing, customer success, support, and operations roles across different stages of company growth, who are taking a systematic approach to increase retention and engagement within their organizations.