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AMA: Jess Saumarez, founder of The Marketing Plot

AMA: Jess Saumarez, founder of The Marketing Plot

Jess Saumarez founded multiple tech businesses and is now the strategic marketing consultant behind The Marketing Plot, helping fellow business owners grow their brands.

Hi Jess! Could you share the story behind your company including the inspiration that led to its creation?

I had co-founded two businesses before, and through that startup journey, I really saw how small startups struggle to get to market.

Founding teams are generally so focussed on the product, that getting it in the hands of their customers becomes a final thought or problem to solve when they feel they're a month away from a launch!

I created The Marketing Plot so that businesses could access knowledgeable and seasoned marketers for an affordable subscription, and gain access to a whole marketing team at a fraction of the cost of what it would cost to hire them in-house.

The "CMO" role is a really important element of The Marketing Plot because it means that we're not an agency: we consult and embed ourselves into the businesses that we serve so that we can advise founding teams and contribute to the business plan. 

What were the initial challenges you faced when launching your company, and how did you overcome them?

Initially it's all about building a team around you who also believes in the business idea and the potential impact it could have in the market.

It's finding people with passion who are willing to hustle, as well as people who have complementary skill sets. From day one, you're building a culture that will define your business strategy, so it needs to be right!

To overcome these challenges, I had really open and honest conversations with people who wanted to join the business.

For example, asking them how they behave in stressful situations, how they prefer to navigate decision-making, how they feel about public speaking, what lifestyle they want to lead.

These are really important questions that aren't traditional to interviews, but when building a founding team, are essential. 

Could you tell me a bit more about your team and how you've grown the business?

We live in a gig economy: Some people want to be employed, but there are many people out there who want a more flexible lifestyle and control over their own work.

Because of this, I don't employ any of my team. The Marketing Plot is a network of marketers who come together for specific projects or clients and pick and choose where they want to work.

The difference between this and gig economy sites such as Upwork is that all of the individuals under The Marketing Plot have been vetted and handpicked, and are ultimately managed by the dedicated "CMO" working with the client who ensures that all work carried out is of the highest quality. 

What are the metrics that you never take your eye off and why?

As a marketer, I'm very biased! I always have a Hubspot dashboard that shows me some key metrics:

  • How many new contacts we've brought into the funnel
  • How many touchpoints we are giving our MQLs
  • What the conversion is to SQLs and their predictive revenue
  • How happy current customers are and whether they are staying loyal
  • How much has been spent in the business compared to what has been brought in that month
Can you talk about your fundraising journey, the lessons you've learned, and any advice for other founders seeking investment?

I've been through several rounds of funding in multiple businesses, from crowdfunding to angel investment.

The product and the stage of the business will inform you what strategy to take.

For example, if you are a product-led business looking to scale your user base or fundraise for manufacturing, then a crowdfund makes sense because you can acquire users simultaneously through your fundraise and fill your pipeline of orders.

If you are looking for funding to scale, then angel investment makes more sense because you might find individual investors who can bring something more than money to the table, such as lived-through experience of scaling a business.

As a final example, if you are looking for funding so that you can branch into other markets, then approaching competitors or similar businesses can be a great option to acquire funding and create a joint partnership. 

Great advice! How does your company promote diversity?

As a woman in STEM, diversity and inclusion is a really important topic.

Although we work predominantly with B2B professional services or tech companies, we also take on clients who are a force for good, looking to disrupt their market.

For example, we recently supported the launch of "Race Ahead" an anti-racism training course, as well as a company looking to train staff in women's health such as menopause and menstruation.

Inclusion has also been thought of in our brand design. We use illustrated characters which are gender-less and without coloured skin that doesn't insinuate any race. 

Do you have a favourite motivational quote or mantra that keeps you inspired on tough days? If so, what is it?

"RIGHT..." I think I say this about 10 times a day!

It's so simple (and not a motivational quote) but it is such a fantastic word that means that something is about to start and that it's time to get going.

It also means that something has been checked off the to-do list so time to move on to the next task!

What's the most unusual or surprising productivity hack or ritual you've come across?

I fidget a lot. On the rare occasions I've worked in an office it made me quite self-conscious because traditionally people need to be seen sticking to their desks and working for eight or more hours a day.

But I discovered that a lot of what I do requires thought, creative decision-making, and reflection away from the laptop. So breaking my laptop time into 50-minute chunks, followed by 10-minute "fidget breaks" has helped a lot.

Also, walking meetings in the diary are great. Just because I'm on an hour's walk mid-afternoon doesn't mean I'm not working, I'm actually doing some of my best work during those times!

Thanks so much for your time, Jess. Best of luck with everything!
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