The SocialMadeSimple Show- Episode: 2 with Corey Cotnoir
“We are a social media marketing business and our intent is to span the entire social media landscape and provide an end-to-end solution for our customers there”
Ryan: Alright, welcome back to the second installment of the SocialMadeSimple Show, I’m your host and MC, Ryan Chiasson, and we’re joined by none other than the Chief Operating Officer of SocialMadeSimple, Corey Cotnoir. Corey thanks for joining us today.
Corey: Thanks for having me Ryan.
Transition: The SocialMadeSimple Show
Ryan: So to jump right into it, I know that we had gone over in our last episode David’s background coming from the mortgage world, but I think that’s a great place to start; to get your background on your work experience and how SocialMadeSimple came to be.
Corey: Sure, yeah so I graduated from Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire, a small liberal arts school. I graduated with a Bachelor of arts in business there. I wasn’t totally sure when I was in school what I wanted to do yet, I went there to play hockey and was a little bit short-sighted as most athletes tend to be. After graduating, I just kind of looked around and I knew I had an interest in business generally speaking, especially in the digital space, so I tried my hand at really helping a lot of business owners that I had from family contacts and networking. I really kind of started my own freelance business right after graduation where I primarily worked in web design and got my own feet wet in the advertising space that way which was a great learning tool for me. Whereas most people tend to jump into an entry-level job and they’re restricted in what they can learn, this was good because it had me learn on the fly pretty rapidly. Simultaneously I was practicing real estate. So I got my real estate license, I helped our office in real estate marketing, but also I just had a passion in the real estate industry and maybe we’ll get into that a bit later.
I think I know David talked a bit about his history, weirdly enough our business has a lot of ties to the real estate industry so that was a nice easy segway for me. I joined SMS in December or November of 2014. So over the five years that I’ve been here, I’ve had a variety of different roles in the business. I really started at the ground level and had jobs at this business that helped me understand what goes into how we fulfill for our customers, whether that’s producing content and the actual deliverables that we provide for our customers or transitioning into the product end of things which I had a desire and a passion for. And then over the last few years now, helping oversee the operations and kind of what goes into the day to day.
Transition: Leveraging the SocialMadeSimple Platform
Corey: Where I think a lot of people that would be in a position I’m in right now would tend to have less of an eye on how our team uses what we use on a day to day basis, I’m fortunate enough to not be removed from needing to use it that way. I would say our platform, the easiest way to summarize it would be: it serves two purposes and it’s pretty unique in this nature. It is our customer-facing experience first and foremost, so every customer we have, the way they consume SocialMadeSimple’s products and services is through the platform we’ve built for them.
That’s not all that’s unique, that’s what most software businesses have their platforms for. Where I think provides us a nice value add and unique fit in the marketplace, but most importantly something that is more unique in this space, is how we enable our internal teams through the same platforms to provide our services. So when we’re selling our programs and communicating with customers we don’t get into these details, they don’t care point-blank. What they don’t realize, and that’s because we’ve done a good job of hiding that, is that we’re able to provide the prices we provide and the quality of services we provide really because of the team we have and because of the platform we’ve built.
So to get more specific, the platform allows our team to produce content at scale, to save those pieces of content across libraries, to build brand libraries to serve the big brands we work with efficiently and effectively, to manage everything we do, to manage our ad campaigns, the reporting of our customers, it’s basically our internal CRM for our management where most businesses would be running all over the place with the variety of different software or paying crazy amounts of money for a CRM. It’s really everything we do, it’s the lifeblood of our business, and that dual purpose is what I think is most fascinating about it.
Ryan: Yeah, absolutely. I know you had started to touch upon just some of the programs that we fulfill, for the folks that aren’t familiar with SocialMadeSimple as a whole, we really range from taking on single-location small business to being a solution for franchise and multi-location businesses as well as partnerships with being more of a back-end social marketing solution. And I know it, just being in the sales cycle and the business development process, that we offer a lot of customization in our programs so I think if you could touch upon that I think that would be a great thing.
Corey: Sure, yeah so it’s a pretty vast question to answer simply, so I’ll do my best. I think the best way to answer it is that we try to offer everything social. So I would hope, and you know as you said Ryan that if a customer comes to us and says they need something, I hope that on the surface, we already offer it. If for some reason we do not, it shouldn’t be hard for us to provide it. That’s the core piece of this is that we are a social media marketing business and our intent is to span the entire social media landscape and provide an end to end solution for our customers there.
I think the easiest way to break that out is into 3 different customer segments which would be small and medium-sized businesses, multi-location/ franchise brands, and then partnerships, where we’re really strategic and good in white labeling and partnering with big brands. But to return to the programs, I think that the best way to simplify what is the core of what social made simple does, I often break it into 2 pieces to simplify it which would be content and ads. Those have a lot of that branch out underneath that, but really the simplest way to describe that would be content, which would be our team creating from scratch the content that our customers then experience, that we publish on their behalf, and that we work with them to produce. That would be their posts that go out to their social networks as well as the content that we can transition into ad campaigns to boosted posts. We’ll go as far as going across different platforms, even blogging, email, so it’s all based around our team’s ability to write really professional content that drives results.
The second part would be ads. So the important distinction here is these are strategic, results-focused ad campaigns. It’s not as much about the branding element like the content is, it’s more for down the funnel. It’s for saying, “I want to spend my money in a way that I can generate leads, and I can track, and measure sales, and I can get purchases from my E-commerce website, it’s those. The intent there for our team is to show the business that we’re getting the results that they’re paying for and we don’t shy away from it, and that’s in a way a bit segmented. There’s plenty of gray area still between the two, but that’s the easiest way I think to describe what we do in a nutshell; everything social, and the easiest way to look at that would be through the lens of content and advertising.
Transition: What Makes Us Unique
Corey: If you asked a lot of the businesses and a lot of the people in the position I’m in elsewhere, there would probably be a ton of cookie-cutter answers, so I’ll do my best to avoid that of course. I think the key is that the key is we’re affordable, and again that can feel cookie-cutter but I think the big distinction is that we’re affordable because we’ve invested in our software to be affordable. We’re not affordable just because I say we are or we say we are.
Our pricing and what we provide for that price; we’ve had ten years to build up to where we are. It’s not like we just hired a team of people and said, “okay this customer wants content and ads, just go do it for him and figure it out” That’s gonna leave you operationally in a place that you can’t afford to scale that. You can’t provide good service and also make enough money to do that as a business, so we prioritize that efficiency behind the scenes, that scalability behind the scenes, which leads us to a place where we rival some of our biggest competitors in the space tend to be software, and the reason for that is because of our price point. If you go find an agency to provide you with the same service you get from us, you’re gonna be paying them five, ten times more than you’re paying us to do that same level of service. So it can be really misleading when you look at pricing on websites and you look at “well we give you posts, we give you ads”. You might go elsewhere and see the same bullet points and similar price points, but, the key is what’s actually happening behind the scenes and what you’re getting within those. And I think that’s what separates us more than anything else from our competitors.
Transition: Successful Company Growth
Ryan: Just in terms of as time goes on and as we expand into different verticals and different customer accounts that we’re fulfilling, how do you feel like SocialMadeSimple will have to adapt just in that regard?
Corey: Sure, yeah it’s a really good question and it’s my job obviously to make sure that we grow, and as we grow, that the whole ship doesn’t sink because it’s too hard to figure that out. And that’s where a lot of businesses do end up failing because they’re not able to solve a scalable model and what might work for a few customers when you launch doesn’t really work when you’ve got 20, 30, 40 knocking on your door. So for us, I think the key here is software. So I touched on it earlier, and again we’re taking more of an operational lens right now than the one the customer sees and feels, but the software that our team uses to do everything they do on a day to day basis is the key. So how can we enable the team of experts we staff, the people we have growing into new roles on a day to day basis, to be better at their job and to take on new accounts. And that’s always going to be done through better use of software. There are times as you know Ryan, that we will go find third party solutions that help us get by in certain areas, whether that’s sales solutions or sales CRM’s, but what needs to scale most importantly is the way that we provide those affordable yet effective solutions to our customers, and that we will be done 100% through the software that we use. I think I feel very confident in where we are. I think if we continue on the path we’re headed, as you know we’re experiencing pretty quick growth here, I don’t see any reason why that’s gonna slow and I don’t have any concern in our ability to continue scaling with the foundations we’ve built, especially from a software and a personnel perspective.
Transition: Capitalizing On Social Marketing Trends
Corey: Tricky question because if you asked me maybe a year ago, I think my answer would be significantly different. I think right now I’d say I’d be careful in answering this too assuredly because today’s marketplace seems so rapidly different from what it was a year ago. I can say with fair certainty that where we are and where we likely will continue to head would be in a place that emphasizes advertising. And what I mean by that is paid advertising, more importantly. As many people that are watching this probably know, social media 5 years ago was not as much a paid advertising place, it still had that and was still a core component of it, of course, it’s how these brands make money, but you could get by just by simply growing an audience and leaning pretty heavily into organic content, and you could earn your branding and earn your engagement. That’s just really difficult and borderline impossible for 99% of businesses nowadays. The few that are big, the few that have created a community and a really big brand around what they do, they have that, but for your average small business or medium-sized business and even up to franchise brands, it’s really difficult to expect to just log in to a social platform and just begin engaging with your customers without paying a dollar. So I don’t see that going anywhere. If anything, I see it getting more and more competitive and more robust. And so for us, I think that it’s important that we’re able to provide those businesses, especially like I say, the ones that don’t have the luxury of being able to leverage organic, and put them in a place to compete with those brands and say “let’s show you how to bid properly, let’s show you how to advertise competitively on these different networks, what strategies you need to implement so that you can get in front of the right people and you can produce business results on social platforms.”
The other piece of it though is that I feel like we’re experiencing pretty quick change and pretty difficult to predict change too. A lot of these platforms are under fire for data use. As you know that’s constant, we’re constantly monitoring that, and there’s a lot of politics wrapped up in what’s going on on these social platforms so it’s really hard to say with total certainty whether these are gonna impact further government restrictions on how businesses and people can interact on social platforms, but if everything stays course I would say that it’s entirely ads. That’s the future for social for businesses, they have to be ready to pay in order to get in front of the audiences.
Ryan: Yeah and to kind of touch upon that, I think it was probably in 2017 was the first time I saw studies come out saying that companies were starting to spend more money on social advertising than traditional markets. So it’s been crazy to see just the growth just overall and just our growth after having been with the company for over a year now, which is still crazy to me, but to kind of wrap up and tie into our last question, where do you see SocialMadeSiple 5-10 years from now?
Corey: Yeah so it’s building off of what I was just talking out which would be paid advertising, how we can empower businesses that don’t typically have access to this type of toolkit, to the type of data they need to properly advertise and compete with those big spenders, how can we empower them to do that? And for me, the answer is again in software, but in this case, it’s more specifically in software and marketing automation. We have a ton of tools. We have JustListed.Social, as you know Ryan, that is specifically for the real estate space that already does this, that empowers real estate agents to just press a button and basically create an ad campaign that’s built to work because we’ve tested it. We have our own data sets, and we get them leads right from the push of a button.
So I would say it’s taking that automation, taking the power of our software tool kit to all of the businesses we intend to serve. To the businesses that cannot do this effectively, they don’t have the time, they don’t have the monetary resources, they don’t have the experience, the expertise, whatever their reason may be. Rather than us just saying “we’ll hold your hand, trust us to get it done”, also turning over software to them to say’ “Use this and it will do what you need to do, and it will do it affordably, and it will do it at scale”. So I think 5-10 years from now I’d love it if we had a far more comprehensive and robust marketing automation ecosystem that we could basically turn over to all different verticals across the business world.
Ryan: Yeah, I think it’s gonna be interesting to see, just as we grow and develop as a company, to see those things come to light.
Ryan: So, I think that is all the questions that we have for today, Corey thanks again for joining us. For everyone else, feel free to go on to SocialMadeSimple.com to check out all of our resources and the different programs that we offer in the social marketing world, but until then, we’ll see you next time!