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EPISODE 12: The Truth About Ad Spend (w/ Performance Marketer Nima Gardideh)

The Startup Stack
EPISODE 12: The Truth About Ad Spend (w/ Performance Marketer Nima Gardideh)

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The internet is crowded. Standing out — much less, selling product — requires time, luck, savvy, and, according to Nima Gardideh, really smart software.

Nima’s growth studio Pearmill helps create and run creative advertising campaigns for companies who want to make a big splash but don’t have the manpower to do it. This week he and Louis talk about performance marketing and how it’s changing the way we think about our marketing dollars.

“We think of ourselves as scientists, but instead of doing experiments on earth, we’re on these platforms trying to discover the rules and then use them to our advantage.”

Nima Gardideh

🎙 Highlights Include

  • Performance marketing basics: What is performance marketing and who is it for? 
  • What does it take to set up a performance marketing operation & how much money should you expect to spend? 
  • What is the future of user generated content & why is it trending down? 
  • What are the benefits of broad marketing? 
  • How has Facebook changed the game when it comes to running targeted marketing campaigns? 

This Week’s Guest

Nima Gardideh

Nima Gardideh

Founder & President @ Pearmill

Nima Gardideh is the Cofounder & President of Pearmill, a growth agency specializing in digital performance marketing.

The Startup Stack’s Host
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is louis-1024x1002.png

Louis Beryl

CEO, Co-Founder of Rocketplace

Rocketplace is a curated marketplace of high quality professional service providers. A 3x founder, investor, and board member, Louis began his tech career as a partner at Andreessen Horowitz. When he’s not working or podcasting, Louis enjoys cooking for his family. His pizza, he’d like you to know, is incredible. 

Full Episode Transcript

Louis Beryl: [00:00:01] What’s a social media marketers favorite kind of cracker. 

Nima Gardideh: [00:00:06] Oh man, that’s a good one. Um, I don’t know.

Louis Beryl: [00:00:09] Instagram!

Nima Gardideh: [00:00:11] That’s pretty good. [Laughing] Like it was one of those obvious ones and you’re like, okay.

Louis Beryl: [00:00:16] Yeah, I know this one. I know. Hello and welcome to The. Startup Stack I’m your host. Louis Beryl this week, we’re taking a deep dive into the world performance marketing with Nima Gardideh. Nima is the Founder and President of Pearmill, a growth marketing studio based in the Bay Area. Growth marketing is a relatively new space in the world of tech and one recent, pretty bold claims. Unlike other forms of marketing performance and growth shops, promise to extract an exact ROI on every campaign as in money in money, out dollar for dollar. But is it too good to be true? And if not, why isn’t everyone doing it for those answers and much more. Here’s my interview [00:01:00] with Nima  So maybe Nima you could tell us a little bit more about how you started Pearmill. 

Nima Gardideh: [00:01:18] We started out of what we call a failure. So we’re actually been in tech most of our careers, but all the founders. And, uh, we had the startup that we went through sort of YC fellowship with, and it didn’t work out. But what we had realized as part of that is that we love working together and B that we’re pretty good at growth in general. Most of our backgrounds, but either in marketing or product and growth is the combination of those two things together. So when that company was failing, we sort of like decided that, Hey, we could do this for other companies and start focusing on helping the different sort of sectors and software. And how many founders were you back then? Just the two of us. And then we added a third one because we realized we need [00:02:00] a creative arm. And this is one of the most important leavers in performance marketing. So we added a third co-founder Mary. She ran her own social media agency in Australia and then moved to the US and that’s when I met her. And we added her as, as a co-founder about a year and a half ago. That’s kind of how we started. 

Louis Beryl: [00:02:15] You’re just talking about performance marketing and the, uh, critical elements of skill. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about what is performance marketing and tell us more about these critical elements of doing it, right?

Nima Gardideh: [00:02:26] Yeah. So I think that the universe of marketing that we like to focus on. Being performance marketing is essentially, if you can specifically calculate the return on investment of any sort of work that you’re doing, that’s kind of the general universe. Can you tell me what the dollars and dollars out are of, of the work that you’re doing? Um, and specifically for us, we, we focus on, you know, the obvious two general channels within this universe, which is paid search and. Paid social. So paid search being, you know, Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, social being Facebook, [00:03:00] Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snap, TikTok, Pinterest, you know, those sort of social platforms, um, even some next door here and there, but, uh, those are sort of the general channels and performance marketing being essentially. Can you calculate the ROI on the work that you’re doing? Yeah. And is that a synonym for a growth agency or do you view those two things differently? I viewed them differently because, you know, if, if you’re just a pure performance marketing agency, you’re probably doing creative and out operations, and that’s kind of the two things that you’re doing a growth agency goes a little bit deeper than that.

So creative and… 

And ad operations. So being like basically going into the ad accounts, launching the campaigns, the setting, your strategy for how to do targeting how to choose the different channels. Maybe doing a little bit of the analytics on top of that. And that’s kind of what played the old school performance agencies used to look like. The reason we called it growth studio is because we also have software as part of the work that we do. And you need to have software in order to get to the massive scales that, uh, [00:04:00] that some of these bigger companies are. Are spending. So if you’re spending, let’s say half a million to a million dollars a month or, or higher, you can’t do this stuff by hand anymore, you’re just going to lose, uh, lose the game. So you have to have some software that comes in for automation, for analytics, sometimes even machine learning, depending on the scale. And so some folks have this has these teams in house. So if you, if you look at the big companies like. Airbnb or and even like TripAdvisor or any of these marketplaces or the bigger companies, they have a team like ours. In-house where there’s purely focused on performance. They’re writing software to producing creative, they’re doing analytics, but the sort of middle of the market that isn’t the size of these behemoths can’t afford a whole team for this stuff. Right. So that’s kind of where we come in. And we, we help out with resources on both the creative and our operation side. And then you get access to state of the art software that you would have had to build yourself.

Louis Beryl: [00:04:58] And that’s that’s [00:05:00] proprietary software that you guys have felt. 

Nima Gardideh: [00:05:02] Yeah, it’s basically, I I’d say it’s custom per client because the problems are different. Um, so think of it as slightly. There’s a platform we build on top of, but otherwise the software, the rules and what works and what doesn’t is very customized to each client.

Louis Beryl: [00:05:17] So you give these like custom softwares that you deliver to each client, like really cool software names.

Nima Gardideh: [00:05:23] No, but now I want to. 

Louis Beryl: [00:05:26] Yeah. Thank you. I’m like, what are the, you know, Einstein or Apollo? I’m like, I feel like they can have really cool names. 

Nima Gardideh: [00:05:33] I love it as well. You really should. We have like this, the most obvious names, like we have the template engine, but we should really be a little bit more creative there.

Louis Beryl: [00:05:39] Yeah. Everest. Well, speaking of names, where did the name Pearmill come from? 

Nima Gardideh: [00:05:46] I’m a big fan of naming things that are contextual. So Pearmill, uh, was created out of two different historical things around advertising. So pear comes from a name of a company called pear soap. That was in the 18 hundreds. It [00:06:00] was one of the first companies that is attributed to running an ad and they did it in a magazine. I want to say. And what they did is they bought a painting from a, an artist whose name was John Miller. Yes. And that’s actually what a mill comes from. And it was a kid with a soap in his hand, I think, sitting on a bench and it just said pear soap on it. And that company became a behemoth and eventually was a precursor to, I think, what became P&G. Yeah, so that that’s kind of where the name comes from. It comes from, we put those two things together, pair from pear soap and, you know, mail from John Millie as was the artist behind, behind the bubbles painting, uh, that they use. 

Louis Beryl: [00:06:38] You know, I’d love to hear a little bit more about the beginnings of pear paramount. You’re working with pretty large clients spending really significant advertising dollars. You’re building custom software for each of these clients. What were some of the challenges you faced in getting Stack? 

Nima Gardideh: [00:06:53] Yeah, I think being trusted with that much budget is, is a very hard thing to do. There’s two things. One is that we thought [00:07:00] we were very good. And when you entered the market, you realize that the game changes so much that what we knew about performance marketing kept changing every six months. Um, so we had to learn that it’s much more about process than it is about knowledge is as essentially the way I’d like to describe it is that we are almost, we think ourselves as scientists and instead of doing experiments on earth, we’re doing experiments on these platforms to discover the rules. And then we use the rules to our advantage. And that’s kind of what our process actually is. Internally. We run a growth process. It’s basically an experimental experimental approach where we define hypothesis of why we think this could work, what metric it would push and move the needle on. And then we run the experiments and the ones that work, we create playbooks out of. Until they no longer work and we have to use other playbooks. 

Louis Beryl: [00:07:49] This is fascinating. I I’d love for you to deep dive into one of, one of these examples. Like tell me about starting a relationship with one of your large clients. What does that, what is the beginning of the relationship look [00:08:00] like? How is the working relationship formed?

Nima Gardideh: [00:08:02] Yeah, I think a good example for this as, um, recently this year, obviously it’s been a volatile year and in March when the lockdown started happening, we had this company come to us, uh, Saundra, They were a distributed hotel and obviously they were going through a bit of a turmoil because they had, they were doing extremely well before March. And then literally every week the CEO could show me that the conversion rates were dropping, their revenue was dropping, starting basically end of February. And we started working with them. I think the third week of March. And what they wanted to do is essentially just maintain their asset level. They just wanted to that spend, they wanted to maintain their revenue and their original sort of growth channels were not even Facebook or Google or any other performance channels that you would have thought of. They, uh, in the, in that industry, you get your customers from what’s called an OTA. Online travel agency, which would be your, verbal Airbnb, all these different sort of players that are aggregators of hotels. And [00:09:00] then you get your customers from there, but no one was searching on those things anymore. So they were not getting the traffic and we have to sort of rediscover a new channel for them. And so the original hypothesis was, are people still willing to book hotels? Yeah. Period across any of these channels. So we started going across about three different channels. At first, we found that Facebook was working, uh, so we shifted our whole budget onto Facebook. And then we just kept figuring out what is the messaging that’s working right now? What can they do in terms of their product and their service to support what’s happening? So we ended up helping a lot of nurses and doctors isolated from their families, which are, you know, get people that were in these. Essential jobs find homes while they were trying to not infect others or people who may have had the virus go get, find shelter while they were sort of quarantining. So all these sort of different pieces of messaging that ended up working and also their services have to change. So then you could do check in without having to speak to anyone. They would send people to clean the place… 

Louis Beryl: [00:09:57] Tell me more about that because you’re an outside firm, [00:10:00] but you’re discovering these pockets of. A value proposition that really seemed to be working, but you obviously have to be working really closely with your clients. You know, as you said, the services are changing, maybe that the client offers the check-in process might be changing. How do you do that day to day? 

Nima Gardideh: [00:10:16] Yeah, I think that’s, uh, that’s the toughest part of our job, right? Because. We are an external party coming into your company and telling you, Hey, this is what you should be doing sometimes. And I think what works very well for us is can you think of us as someone that’s just part of your larger growth process? All we do is we just bring on the data and then we can help you run that process more efficiently. They’re the sort of ideal client for us is someone that is running a growth process internally, already. They are thinking in terms of hypothesis, they are thinking in terms of. What metrics should we look at to move the needle? And then all we do with them is be part of that conversation. So for Saundra, specifically, we put a tactic together. We call them the sort of the CRO team, the conversion rate optimization [00:11:00] team, where we have PMs designers, user experience folks, and the chief revenue officer, and the VP is on that team. Thinking about this problem together. And then they were shifting stuff from there and we were shifting stuff from our end to figure out what works. And it actually, quite frankly, it was one of the more interesting things I’ve done in my career, trying to shift the whole company services within a few weeks to survive. And they did a great job. And now they’re growing incredibly well. 

Louis Beryl: [00:11:26] Pearmill has been growing a tremendous amount over the last three years, you know, you’re over 20 employees now. Now, what do you think. Tell me a little bit more about that growth. And when for you, did you really feel like it, it was clicking and they were like, yeah, this is really going to work.

Nima Gardideh: [00:11:42] Yeah. You know, to be quite Frank, the first two years of this company, we didn’t think we were going to want to grow it. We just want it to be the two of us kind of consulting. Um, because we weren’t sure if we wanted to do it agency…

Louis Beryl: [00:11:53] So for two years, it was just two people. And how you’ve grown by 10x.

Nima Gardideh: [00:11:57] Yeah. 

Louis Beryl: [00:11:58] Oh my, I can’t even [00:12:00] imagine what that’s been like. 

Nima Gardideh: [00:12:01] I 

mean it’s been interesting to say this, to say the least the decision to grow the company was around September of last year. We decided that, Hey, we’ve learned enough about marketing and growth in general, that we can do a good job. That’s number one, number two, that we realized software could actually play a good role here. We’ve always wanted to build more software. That’s what interests both me and my co-founder and our third co-founder that we added. We wanted to sort of build a company that is enhanced. By software. And this was just such a wonderful sort of entry to that because it’s a highly operationally hard problem running a growth agency. There’s all these different disciplines working together. But also software can help both make that more efficient internally, but also we can have gains and wins for our clients. So it was such a sort of great combination of, Hey, can we have software and a large team working, coincided with that software to make it, make it work. And when we realize that’s a possibility, we’re like, why don’t we just. Build this company and then make it big. Yeah, it’s been a, it’s been a fun ride this year growing this way and I’m [00:13:00] trying to get even more into it with different companies. 

Music Interlude [00:13:05] Louis Beryl: [00:13:05] Okay. Do you like our show? I do too. If you want to support The Startup, Stack the best way to do that is by subscribing and rating us on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to us also sent dad jokes. Or if you have them actual good jokes to podcast at Rocketplace dot com, feel free to send us feedback there too. You know, you’re over a dozen clients now. So you’d like to describe them. They’re fairly large, right? Maybe not there, maybe not quite as big as an Airbnb, which would build this in house, but these are very large client. I’d love to talk about. If you think about a typical client that you work for, where would they be at? Where they should start thinking about working with a performance marketing agency like yourself. 

Nima Gardideh: [00:13:47] Basically, we, we, we let in two types of clients, one is what we call. I think you mentioned earlier the whale client, right? They’re already maybe big in some way, either in forms of ad spend. So they’re doing a lot of ads, but already, or they’re [00:14:00] based because they have other 500k and a million dollars a month of ad spend. Yeah. So those are the whale type you should be around that area or you’re about to get there. So if you’re like doing two 5,300 and you want to go to a million, you want to speak to us, that’s kind of like the perfect spot and that type of client, you know, it just depends. Why, why are you going out for an agency to begin with? Is it a resource problem? Is it an expertise problem? Have you not been able to put in enough thinking around. Building software around this stuff, because that’s kind of how you have to win at that scale. And do you want to come to someone that kind of understands it? That’s kind of our ideal customer is someone that maybe is already spending and wants us to take him to the next level because we have more resources. You know, it’s very rare that you’ll have illustrators graphic designers, motion, motion, folks with videographers photographers, all in house, in a team producing stuff for you, right. On the creative end and on the software end, it’s very rare that you can have engineers full-time working on just this specific part of the problem for your marketing team. And we have all that in house, [00:15:00] right? So that’s kind of the first type of customer. And when you’re meeting a new client, how long do you think it takes to kind of implement that? The setup started within a couple of weeks in terms of taking over the ad spend, but to discover what pieces of software help or what piece of creative, it’s just the process. Basically, we just run these experiments constantly. We, we say for instance, Hey, do we think if we did this thing with the catalog ad ads API on Facebook, we would get gains on CAC. Um, and at first we would just do it super manually would do it via like, you know, spreadsheets and if it works great, now we’re going to systematize this and write software to automatically do it and even do it a better job than when we were doing it manually. It’s all a process, I’d say. And then for the creative side, same thing. What pieces of messaging do we think work? Does this format work? Does this sort of concept work and then we sort of dig in deeper into it. Okay. So, you know, let’s say some of our listeners out there are approaching this size. They’re thinking about hiring a performance marketing agency or, or maybe they’re smaller, to be honest, they’re thinking about hiring any performance marketing agency.

Louis Beryl: [00:15:59] What [00:16:00] would be the questions that you think that, you know, these companies should be asking when they meet. Different performance marketing agencies in order to evaluate one from another.

Nima Gardideh: [00:16:09] I think you should first figure out what type of performance marketing agency you’re working, we’re working with. And by that, I mean, is it a hero driven company or is it a process?

Louis Beryl: [00:16:19] Okay, well, what’s a hero driven company? 

Nima Gardideh: [00:16:21] Driven ones are basically, they’re usually around one or two marketers that are incredibly good and they’ve left and started a consultancy. And you kind of, what you’re doing is you’re buying that name, that person’s like knowledge and you’re thinking, okay, this is going to be.

Uh, the company is going to help me scale. And those companies are very good, except until they’re not. And, and, and the case that if they’re hero driven, that means that you want to be working with, uh, the name on the, on the wall. Right? If you’re not getting that person, that partner to be on your account, you’re likely getting a worse experience, right? You want to be working with them in their earlier stages when they’re only like five people. That’s like the perfect sort of size of that performance marketing is when there is [00:17:00] one person who was very good and they’re actually, maybe don’t have any ambitions to grow the size of the agency. They just want to do good work and you want to go after those types of people. And it’s very good, especially in your early stages because they’re going to dig very deep into your company. Understand what’s going on and try to really shape the marketing apparatus of your company. And the other type is sort of the process type. And I would say we’re kind of in the middle of these two in a way, because of course, myself and my co-founder Karim, who’s, who’s our other growth partner. We sit on on the account still because we want to keep the size big enough. That it’s interesting for us, but still small enough that we can still be involved in every account. But we have a very strong process on how we constantly do well for our clients. And we teach our team how to run that process very tightly and safely. And then we teach our clients how to run that same process inside their companies. Uh, so we are definitely one of those process driven agencies and you were kind of buying into the process. Yeah. It’s before the hero mind, you want to judge the person for the process when he will judge the process. Okay. Yeah. Well, let’s talk a little bit more about a process driven agency. What [00:18:00] are the questions that I should be asking to really evaluate? Do I think this firm has a good process. How do I distinguish between two firms that maybe are. Process-driven firms. Yeah. I think what you want to figure out is, and this is I’ve actually hired agencies in the past. Being on the brand side is the process beyond just performance. Is it just focused on, Hey, we just know that we have to. Launch creative every week. And we do this, this targeting this way as the process around sort of like different pieces of performance marketing, or is it more cohesive of learning about the nature of the market? And I would say the processes are thinking about what is it that works in this market. Is are far more powerful than, Oh, we just know how to do Facebook ads. Well, and this is the process that we run in order to do Facebook ads. I will ask like deeper question about the market and that’s our process. The hypothesis goes way, well, beyond just the channel that we’re trying to work on or the specific growth problem that we’re trying to solve. We’re trying to figure out what it is about this market. [00:19:00] Is that mixed consumers buy or makes businesses buy your product. And then we then worked backwards from there. So you want to judge, how far is the process of running into the depth of the market? And if, if you can judge that and can see that the agency is thinking beyond just that one channel. I think that in my opinion, right, this is obviously why we designed a process this way, a better agency and the ones that are. Built the process around, Oh yeah. We just know we launched creative every week and this is how we think about creative production. This is how we think about targeting. What I would be worried in that scenario is are they capable of changing their model when the rules of the game change as Facebook changes their algorithms every 90 days. So does Instagram, so does WhatsApp, same with Google. They just change it so often that what you used to work six months ago may not necessarily work.

Louis Beryl: [00:19:50] You know, you’ve mentioned a couple of times about how fast everything’s changing over this year, but what are some of the things that have changed that have been really notable? I mean, obviously we’ve had [00:20:00] huge things happening in the world, but I’d love to understand from a performance marketing perspective, how things have changed and where do you see things going in 2021? What changes are you anticipating? 

Nima Gardideh: [00:20:09] There’s been like a small trend that’s become like the, the standard. Now this year, I’d say, I think that you kept hearing that creative is important. You should do more creative, especially on paid social channels like Facebook and Instagram. And the reason this became a reality is that before even a, as early as a year ago, it was about, you know, slicing your, your targeting in all these different ways. I’m going after people in between 25 and 35 and 35 to 45. And then splitting the gender. It’s about having all these things in different ad sets or different campaigns, and I’m producing custom creative for each of these sort of pockets, some creative. What are you, what do you specifically mean? So let’s say, um, and the old days you would have, one of your ad sets would be 25 to 35 uh, women or men, right?

Louis Beryl: [00:20:51] It would be what, just like a picture. 

Nima Gardideh: [00:20:52] Yeah. It could be a picture or a video and I mean, different there’s different ad formats. Right. And there’s carousels, there’s like tons of different ad [00:21:00] formats on these different platforms. And what you would want to do is produce creative that resonated with that specific slice of the market. Or he would go out there and find customers. You already have it in that part of the marketing, ask them to produce stuff for you. And this was like a big trend for awhile where you would have user generated content. You would ask your customers to talk about your product or take pictures of videos of your product. And then you’d use that as the ad unit itself. And we still do some of that, but that’s become less important. And that’s actually, one of the things that’s changed this year is user generated content, as important as what it has been the past couple of years, it’s becoming a little bit less important because it’s harder to nail exactly what you want out, the content we’re. Now the new thing that’s become the sort of standard is the broader you’re targeting the lower your costs. And the reason for this trend is because machine learning has become such a huge part of Facebook and Instagram’s ability to target people for you that when you. Get rid of your targeting optionality and say, Hey, you know what? I just want to sell things. So you tell Facebook, I want the purchase event to fire more. That’s what [00:22:00] I want. What they do is they will find people in their user base that are likely to fire that event for you. So it’s machine learning based essentially stop targeting of your larger market. And what this does is that. It puts a lot more focus on the creative itself because the market is massive. So you want to show creative to people that are actually going to buy your product and you want the creative to be so obvious that when I, as a user see that creative, I know exactly what this product is about. And I will only click if I’m likely in the market for this product. So you don’t want to click baity things in the larger sense. You want them to only click on them if they resonate with your product space. So we call this selective creative. Like you almost, we sometimes even start the copy with, are you in the market for X? Do you think, do you have this problem? You know, we, we want to qualify the person before.

Louis Beryl: [00:22:52] Can you tell us about a piece of creative that maybe recently has worked really well?

Nima Gardideh: [00:22:56] Yeah. I think that the interesting thing for me. Sorry, Sonder is [00:23:00] a, is another, we talked about them earlier is what we realized is that people really want to see what the apartments that they have look like. Um, so we have these sort of mini videos where we do like a very fast sort of a scan of the apartment. You see the kitchen very quickly. You see the, uh, the bed very quickly and maybe if there’s amenities, you see them very quickly within like a 15, second sort of slot. And it gives you an idea of what this place looks like, and they have this gorgeous apartment. So immediately you’re hooked and that kind of gets you, gets you excited. And then later on we have, we have ones where there are so many even walking you through more slowly. So if you maybe watch that video, we then later on show you another video of someone that’s actually living in one and telling you here’s like, How I live every day, I make my coffee, I wash my dishes. I, uh, have access to laundry inside the unit and kind of having them pitch almost what the hotel experience looks like. It’s their, their apartment hotel. So you get to get a full kitchen and set up for it. So there’s sort of like flow through the creative is [00:24:00] actually important for these types of clients that, um, the average buyers, you know, Thousands of dollars because someone will stay at, at one of these apartments for like three weeks. And that’s thousands of dollars of revenue for them. But it’s a, it’s a decision that someone takes quite a few weeks to make. Um, so we want to show them the different pieces of creative than they, they over time build more conviction that, you know, what Sonder is a solution for me.

Louis Beryl: [00:24:21] You know, we’re in that shadow of a monstrous election season. And one of the things I’ve heard is that with all of that going on, and then right after that, we have the holidays, billions and billions of dollars are being spent. You know, we had the election, billions of dollars spent on holiday advertising. That actually it’s a terrible time to be doing performance marketing because the costs are really high. How do you, how do you navigate that? 

Nima Gardideh: [00:24:47] Yeah, I think that it’s been, I thought last year was bad. This is the worst year ever in terms of cost CPM. And there’s also a third thing that’s happening this year beyond what you just mentioned, which is, you know, in Q2 and [00:25:00] Q3, marketers, we’re not spending as much for quite a lot of these brands because they thought, Hey, you know, the virus is going to go away. We’re going to spend a lot of our money later in the year, which is exactly what they ended up doing. Even though the virus and go away, they’re dumping their budgets because they don’t want to lose these budgets. So the CPMs are going even higher because of that. So there’s just so much happening and, you know, for some of our clients, we’ve just lowered spent to be honest. Right. So it’s, cause they’re just not going to be competitive anymore for, for this quarter. Uh, they’re going to be fine January onwards, but if their product is not relevant to, to the holidays or. Um, what’s happening in that last couple of months, then maybe they shouldn’t be spending. And we quite often give that as, as the advice and for some of our B2B clients, especially we’ve reduced, reduced spend, but some of our other clients like Saundra or even nurse flight, that’s very relevant because obviously they, they help nurses find jobs and all these hospitals need nurses right now they’re scaling up and, you know, as marketers, our job is to sort of fight against the market dynamics. So that means [00:26:00] pulling on all the different leavers. As hard as possible, you know, that the four leavers of sort of performance marketing is targeting. How can we champion change our targeting in a way that we enter auctions that are less expensive creative? Can we produce more creative, uh, to get click through rates up and costs down, right? Landing pages can produce better higher converting landing pages. And the last piece is sort of what we call the data lever. Can we come up with different, more creative ways to send signals to Facebook and Google and LinkedIn? So that their machine learning algorithms do a better job at finding more relevant customers for us. Right. So we’ve just been on the past month or two has been the hardest for us because we’re doing everything at the same time. Usually we will like focus on one of these livers at a time and slowly find optimizations where now we’re. We’re trying really hard to kind of find optimizations everywhere. Yeah. It’s definitely a hard quarter. I was actually wondering for Rocketplace like, do you guys have folks coming in in this quarter and saying, Hey, we want to do marketing. Like, has that changed for you guys? Like, is that something more people are coming or they know of [00:27:00] this dynamic? And they’re like, well, we’re just going to wait until January to maybe find an agency or work on this stuff.

Louis Beryl: [00:27:05] It’s funny you asked that, but I was looking at the numbers recently. Over the last, like 30 days and marketing and design as a search on our platform has been the most popular recently. Versus what historically we have seen is software development being the most popular. And that has flipped over the last 30 days.

Nima Gardideh: [00:27:29] I wonder if as it’s getting harder and they want help. 

Louis Beryl: [00:27:32] I think to your point is that maybe people were saving, you know, it’s getting harder. Maybe budgets have been saved to the end of the year. Here, cost per clicks are going up. And so. Yeah. People are very focused on ending the year while and spending dollars there for sure. I wanted to ask you a question about starting Pearmill. If you could go back and give yourself some advice, knowing everything you know today, what would be the advice you would give to you and your co-founder, [00:28:00] you know, three, four years ago. 

Nima Gardideh: [00:28:01] Yeah. I mean, I wish we had brought in a co-founder for creative earlier. I thought we were good. And then when we added Mary who’s, our chief creative officer and she built a whole team around herself. Our just performance started getting so much better. It’s not that we weren’t doing creative before, but we didn’t have someone who had the combination of. Analytical thinker plus extremely creative mind. And, uh, I think we were very analytical and that part we had, we had for ourselves, she just comes at the problem with a totally different lens where she looks at the data. But then she also has to combine that with a level of intuition that is just beyond what I’m capable, but 

Louis Beryl: [00:28:37] I love that. I’m sure Mary will love to hear it.

Nima Gardideh: [00:28:40] The piece of advice is I wish I hired Mary earlier. Yeah. Or we tell her a lot. I mean, she’s like change the company for the better.

Louis Beryl: [00:28:48] And if you could give the, you know, the other entrepreneurs out there, one piece of tactical performance marketing advice for 2021. 

Nima Gardideh: [00:28:56] Yeah, I think, uh, not to sound like a broken record here, [00:29:00] but I think you’ve got to think about what is the process underlying everything. Are you, are you learning from these initiatives or tactics you’re running in a way that you can use it to get better? Are you learning that you, this concept you tried up on Facebook, for instance worked. Why did it work? Why is it that this piece of creative that you launched has two X the click through rate than the ones that you’ve been running all year long? Because if you understand why these things are working, you can systematize them. But otherwise, you’re just going to try to basically run a Hollywood S process, or you’re just trying to randomly come up with things that work. What you want to do is find formulas that work, and that’s how you sustainably grow instead of coming up with the next cool campaign idea.

Louis Beryl: [00:29:46] Awesome. Well, Nima, this has been great. It’s been really cool hearing about pear mill and everything happening in performance marketing. I really appreciate the time today.

Nima Gardideh: [00:29:54] Thanks for having me guys. This was fun. I always liked doing these. You’re a pro. I was taking notes, so was like, this is such [00:30:00] good stuff. BA BOOM! For more in our conversation today, visit We upload a new episode every week. So if you haven’t yet make sure to subscribe to The Startup Stack in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen to them. Thanks again for joining us. See you next week. 

Announcer: [00:30:22] The Startup Stack written and edited by Hannah Levy, produced by Leah Jackson.

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