Get creative with how you respond to customers. Several years ago, we started recording five-second thank you videos and posting them on social media. The impact was massive and immediate. We would thank a customer by name for a good review, or for giving us a call, or for just touching base. It cost us nothing and did a ton for brand awareness and goodwill.
I had the pleasure to interview Yaniv Masjedi. Yaniv is the chief marketing officer at Nextiva, an industry-leading cloud communications provider, headquartered in Scottsdale, Ariz. He manages the firm’s marketing and branding efforts and initiates programs related to brand management, demand generation, advertising, marketing communications and thought leadership.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Growing up in LA, I always thought I wanted to be an attorney. I went to UCLA for political science, fully intending on going to law school afterwards, but that all changed when I took a job at IPOWER, a web hosting company in Santa Monica. The company was growing rapidly and it was really exciting to be part of a team on the cutting edge of technology. I worked in sales at first. My shift was from 6 a.m. — 2:30 p.m. and then I’d head to school. Somehow, I didn’t mind the schedule, though. It was an exciting time.
A few months in, a marketing role opened up at IPOWER. I’d never even taken a marketing class, but I jumped at the opportunity. The management team let me give it a shot and I immediately fell in love with marketing. The two leaders of the company — Tomas Gorny and Tracy Conrad — are incredible marketers, so I learned a ton from them.
IPOWER merged with Endurance International Group, and in 2006 Tomas came up with the idea for Nextiva. He wanted to transform business communication, starting with phone service. He was tired of the lack of innovation and poor care for customers and employees. Nextiva was the answer for an entire industry. Inspired by this, I followed him and Tracy to Nextiva and was part of the founding team; we welcomed our first customer in 2008.
From the beginning, Nextiva’s leadership team has always been focused on growing the business for the longerm, not having an exit strategy and doing right by our employees and customers. It’s been an incredible ride. Today we’ve expanded beyond VoIP, employ 1,000 team members all over the world, serve more than 150,000 business customers, and are growing more every day.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Nextiva is a really unique in that, while we’ve been rated as one of the fastest growing tech companies in the U.S., we’ve never taken a dime of outside funding. Tomas, our co-founder and CEO, has always lived by the idea that it doesn’t make sense to have an exit strategy. He and the rest of the leadership team are in this for the long term. That mindset informs everything we do; we work hard to innovate constantly and create really great experiences for both our customers and our employees.
When we started, we were so passionate about revolutionizing customer service in the communications industry that we trademarked the term Amazing Service. It’s something we take seriously and live by daily.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
There are so many exciting things happening at Nextiva right now. If I had to pick, I’d say the launch of NextOS would be the biggest thing we’ve done in the past year. In spring 2018 we launched NextOS, which is an all-in-one communications platform for companies of all sizes. Instead of companies struggling through fragmented communication — i.e. dozens of apps open on the desktop at once, from email to analytics to chat and more — NextOS puts all of those in one place.
It is a game changer. As Tomas says, “VoIP is to Nextiva as selling books is to Amazon.” With this new platform, we’ve opened up a ton of new possibilities for ourselves and our customers. It’s a really fun time right now.
Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Is there a takeaway of lessons that others can learn from?
I can’t say that there has been one moment where I felt like I became successful because I think that is constantly evolving, and I’m always focusing on getting better, but I can say that one thing has made a difference in my overall productivity. I got off all social media. I was on Facebook, Instagram, Snap and Twitter, but a few years back I decided to try shutting down all of my personal accounts to see how it impacted my time management. Whoa. It was night and day.
Within 24 hours of getting off my personal social media accounts, my productivity skyrocketed. I wasn’t sure if it was a fluke, so I kept track of my time over the course of the next month or so. The result: my time management got even better. I haven’t gone back since.
What advice would you give to other marketers to thrive and avoid burnout?
Avoiding burnout really comes down to the people you surround yourself with. If you are in charge of a department, make sure to hire people you genuinely enjoy being around. We spend so much of our lives at work, and when one person makes life miserable, it can impact everything. Focus on hiring the right people for your company culture, and burnout will be less likely to happen.
How to you define “marketing”? Can you explain what you mean?
Marketing serves a very different function for a company with just five employees vs. a Fortune 500 company. But at the end of the day, the goal of marketing is to serve as a vehicle for business growth. What you do as a marketer should grow your business and make your customers happy.
As an example, I suggest every person on a marketing team be responsible for growing at least one metric, and held accountable to reporting on that metric every month.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Tomas Gorny, our co-founder and CEO, is that person for me. I’ve been working with him for more than 15 years now and am honestly astounded by him every day. He is a visionary. While he started Nextiva as a company focused on VoIP, he knew from the first day that he wanted to expand that vision beyond phone service. He has a real knack for knowing what will be important in the future. He’s also an incredible people leader. Our award-winning company culture is largely thanks to his leadership.
Can you share a few examples of marketing tools or marketing technology that you think can dramatically empower small business owners?
Not to promote our company’s product, but honestly we are getting a lot of feedback from marketers about how NextOS is helping them do their jobs better. Quite a few people in the marketing field struggle with how much to reach out to customers via different channels — be it social, email or phone — and NextOS is helping marketers keep better track of those contact points. This is hugely valuable, as are the analytics and AI features on the NextOS platform.
What are your “5 Non-Intuitive Marketing Strategies for Small Businesses”?
#1: Have a phone number on every page of your website. This seems obvious, but you’d be surprised at just how many companies fail to do this. It shouldn’t be hard for someone to reach out to you. In addition to this, find out how your customers prefer to communicate with you. Is it via chat? Phone? Text? Email? Once you have that information, make it easy for them.
#2: Get creative with how you respond to customers. Several years ago, we started recording five-second thank you videos and posting them on social media. The impact was massive and immediate. We would thank a customer by name for a good review, or for giving us a call, or for just touching base. It cost us nothing and did a ton for brand awareness and goodwill.
#3. Utilize video case studies. Video is everything right now, especially because our attention spans these days last seconds at best. Make it easy on your customers to learn about past wins by recording case studies on video and posting them on your site or YouTube channel.
#4: Leverage a referral program. Nextiva has had a robust referral program from our first day in business, and it has paid off. Great customers attract more great customers. Reward the people who are doing the referring, and you will always have a steady stream of incoming leads.
#5: Make every employee a marketer. Yes, some people at your company are in sales or business development or engineering, but that doesn’t mean they also can’t be marketers. This goes back to company culture. If you create a great culture, your team members will be more likely to talk to their friends about you — friends who could become clients. And give your people swag — hats, sweaters and bags can serve as effective advertising.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I’d love to start a widespread movement around corporate giving programs, or CSR (corporate social responsibility). Yes, many large companies have programs like this, but I think companies of all sizes can do this. It doesn’t have to be complicated or cost a lot of money to give back to your community. We have a program called Nextiva Cares, where we regularly partner with community organizations and give back.
Business isn’t just about sales and revenue. It’s important to remember that business can be a force for good, too.
Can you please give us your favorite “life lesson” quote? Can you share how it is relevant to your life?
My favorite quote is from Albert Einstein: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.”
This has been relevant to my career and Nextiva as a whole — we really encourage creative thinking. It helps us continue to innovate.
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