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Natalie Marcotullio on the “Pass Me The Ball” Mindset and Strategic Tradeoffs in Startup Growth

Natalie Marcotullio on the "Pass Me The Ball" Mindset and Strategic Tradeoffs in Startup Growth

There are many marketing channels and choosing the best for your company requires proper research. In this brand-new episode, we are joined by Natalie Marcotullio to discuss need for focus and prioritization in marketing efforts and the importance of understanding different marketing channels.

Natalie Shares her experience with using LinkedIn as a marketing channel. She emphasizes on the need to only share unique quality content on the social media platform in order to gain loyal followers. 

The episode also discusses the effectiveness of traditional sales funnels for B2B companies with centralized buyers. It acknowledges that while some companies may still find success with traditional funnels, more and more people are becoming familiar with evaluating software on their own.

Natalie Marcotullio is a highly experienced Head of Growth at Navattic, a cutting-edge technology company that empowers go-to-market teams to instantly create interactive product demos. With years of experience in growth marketing and product management, Natalie has played a critical role in driving Navattic’s rapid growth and success.

Tune into this episode to understand more about product-led growth, interactive demos, content marketing, and the importance of having a “yes” mentality in the startup world. 


  • Thought Leadership on LinkedIn 
  • LinkedIn as a Testing and a Distributing Channel 
  • Is Email Marketing Truly Relevant?
  • The Value of Having Unique Content 
  • Marketing on Different Social Media Platforms 
  • Scope of Head of Growth and Operations Job
  • What does product-led growth mean?
  • Interactive Demos for Engagement 
  • Vision for Content and SEO
  • Using Traditional Funnel products with centralized buyers
  • Buyer Behavior in the Decline of Funnel Era
  • Overcoming the Challenges of Using Interactive Demos
  • Getting to Like SEO 
  • Career Growth Through Taking Risks

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Key Takeaways:

[05:55] Thought Leadership on LinkedIn 

Post quality unique new thoughts to get consistent followers on LinkedIn 

“It’s funny cuz you said how you’re trying to become a thought leader. I would say social media does not come to me naturally. So diving into this world of LinkedIn, thought leadership has been, it’s been interesting. I barely post on my Instagram, but I’d say what I try to do on LinkedIn at least, is really not just focus about quantity and get a post out every single day to mention something. Only really posting if I have a unique angle or a unique data on it. And I think that’s hopefully why she said that as someone she goes to and really appreciate that praise. But when I post, really just thinking again like, have I seen anything like this out there? Is could someone else make this post? Are the unique insights again that I have from customers or from our experience at Navattic that I can share. So hopefully if anyone does see it, it is something new and different and not just kind of what they’re seeing on their feeds.”

[07:30] LinkedIn as a Testing and a Distributing Channel 

You can generate LinkedIn post ideas from blog posts or from comments with most engagements 

“It’s funny because it’s actually kind of both ways. Like, I’d love to say I have this perfectly organized funnel where first I do the research and then I do the blog post and then it’s the LinkedIn post. But I’ve seen it go both ways. Sometimes I will do a blog post and then again take the insights for LinkedIn and then sometimes I just have an idea for LinkedIn. Or sometimes what I’ll do is if I see a comment does really well in another post, then I’ll turn that into a piece of content. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So for example, I, someone was posting like, what are your marketing hot takes or something? And I posted, I don’t do email marketing and I’ve got like 20 likes, which was not what I was expecting. I thought if people were gonna come at me for saying I don’t do email marketing. Hmm. And then I made a post that was just like, here are four things I’m not doing this quarter. I’m a solo marketer. I only have so much budget and bandwidth, this is what I’m not doing. And so that regard, LinkedIn started and then I’m thinking from here, okay, maybe is there, is there a piece of content, a podcast or blog post I could turn from that LinkedIn post. So it’s kind of all circular. Circular. There we go. <laugh>. Yeah, it’s not necessarily always starting from one way going to the next.”

[08:41] Is Email Marketing Truly Relevant?

The relevance of email marketing depends on the company and the industry

“I have two reasons. So one, we sell the marketers and I just, I haven’t gotten to a point where I can think of a new unique angle for a new email they need. There are so many amazing newsletters, company newsletters, like things that are already out there that I’m just struggling to say, here’s a new angle that I have that you can’t already get. We do do like customer newsletters where we give product updates and things like that, but just like a generic newsletter and second reason, we just don’t really gate anything. So I just don’t really have a lot of emails to send unless they’re actively in our pipeline. In which case they’re in our pipeline. Maybe I’ll do some, you know, hey, you book time, but you need to follow up. Like those types of emails, but I don’t really need to drip them.”

[10:10] The Value of Having Unique Content 

Unique content strengths the brand of the company and makes it easy for people to identify and connect with 

“I think this has been kind of my go-to and the way I’ve survived being a solo marketer is I have this category and now my team’s used to it. They’re frustrated at first by this, but if it’s not valuable and unique, we’re not gonna do it. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So if I can’t think of a unique way that no one else has approached this and if we can’t add value, then I don’t wanna do it. I just don’t want to, I think it will almost hurt our brand. I don’t think we think about this enough and that everything we put out there has is cont like connected to our brand, it’s connected to our product, it’s connected to how people feel about us. So by putting out something that’s subpar, we could actually be hurting our overall image. And I, I don’t blame marketers. I’ve heard that a million times too, where my boss said, you know, this company doesn’t email newsletter so we need it or this company. And it’s hard to say no, right? Like it worked for them, why wouldn’t it work for us? But I think having those, those guiderails has really helped for us because I have a reason. And if I’m saying no, it’s not just like, oh, I don’t really like that idea.”

[14:33] Marketing on Different Social Media Platforms 

Market in social media channels that are relevant to your company and with your target audience 

“We do a little bit of Twitter kind of when we schedule out, we have some more reoccurring posts that we’ll do and that’s more on the company side than on my side. But why not expand into TikTok or something really just goes back to my first point of let’s prove out this channel first and then expand. We wanna get like really good at LinkedIn and figure out what works before putting in a lot of effort towards another channel. And I know some people are just thinking, oh you can just post basically the same thing. Hmm. But I really think there is, people who are really good at LinkedIn, are really good at Twitter, really understand the nuances of each channel and it takes a while to get there. So first we’re trying to figure out what content does really well on LinkedIn, then tackle another channel and figure out the nuances. Also just low lowest hanging fruit. We just know again from research, from own internal testing that this is, well yes, marketers or other places, our ICP of B2B SaaS marketers, this is where they’re at.”

[19:17] Scope of Head of Growth and Operations Job

The Head of Growth and Operation job title comes with many responsibilities including sales and operation 

“It is a role of a lot of hats, but I mean, I’d say about 70% of my time is true to more traditional marketing. I do wanna do more growth than I am. The reason it is growth is cuz I’m, I do a lot with our sales team as well and kind of, we’re not like full plg, but obviously with interactive demos we show a lot of our products. So how do we enable that? But I’d say 70% is more traditional marketing, brand demand generation. And then 10% is some random operational work. I have, at one point I was the chief of staff, so I have a little bit of operational background there. And when, when they hired me, they’re like, we’d love you to also help with that stuff, so let’s just, let’s just stick that on the title. Um, and then 20% is like cross-functional initiatives. Again, working with sales, working with customer cs, very, just a lot of different things essentially.”

[20:21] What does product led growth mean?

PLG just means inserting your product at every stage of the funnel to get them along

“So I have my own definition as everyone does. I think for the longest time, and I just thought this too, I thought it was a free trial. I thought it was just like, oh, you have a freemium or free trial, cool. You leave with your product. Funny enough, my last company was, had a free trial and was plg and I didn’t even really know the term and didn’t know that I, the way I think about it now, and I think this is just a more inclusive definition, is just leading with your product as your main go-to-market and growth strategy. So rather than leading with fluffy language or a bunch of e-books or trying to educate the market without your product or ever showing your product, I think P L G just means inserting your product at every stage of the funnel to get them along. And by the time they’re by, they’re very familiar with your platform already and basically should be users of it.”

[24:35] Interactive Demos for Engagement 

Use interactive demos over text-based content for engaging customers and promoting products

“And I think we’re seeing with blog posts, people are also just kind of sick of images or non image only, like only text. Mm-hmm. Hmm. <affirmative>. So we’ve seen even some customers, like for example, CISM made this awesome blog that was, you know, how to search for a CEO’s email, super top of funnel, but they put a little interactive demo in it showing how to do that in cism. And I’m, I don’t also think I’m saying that right, but <laugh> anyways, I have no idea <laugh>. Um, but even if you are, you know, when you see that you think you’re just being walked through how to search something, you’re not necessarily feeling like, oh, I’m being shoved to using the product. And it’s just more interesting than reading, let’s be honest, like we’re, we’ve gotten much shorter attention spans now. Something that I can click through and learn is gonna be much more engaging than necessarily just a wall of text teaching me how to do something.”

[29:56] Vision for Content and SEO

When creating SEO content, always have the vision and the goal of the company in mind

“I’d say my topline vision and what I said when I first came into Navattic is I want buying Navattic to feel like buying a cool new shirt or pair of sneakers that you saw on Instagram. So the way we’ve been thinking about B2B marketing for the longest time has been I’m gonna start them top of funnel, then slowly move them down through a series of very curated drips and points in the funnel that I control. And that’s great for a lot of reasons. You get to explain the exact messaging, you get to know exactly where they are and measure it out really nicely. But it’s all very you focused, it’s all you are the brand talking, telling them what to do versus let’s take like a brand new pair of sneakers. For example, I live in New York and sometimes it just feels like there’s this product like suddenly everyone has like I’m walking on the streets and everyone has the sneakers that all look the same every time I go on Instagram. – Like the influencers I follow while wearing them and just suddenly it’s everywhere. And I was like, where did this come from? And then suddenly I need a pair of sneakers and I don’t feel like researching 20 sneakers, I’m just gonna buy the sneakers that everyone has. So when I think about our overall marketing strategy for Navattic, I’ve been thinking about how can we just let our tours be everywhere so that when people go and have the need for an interactive demo, they’ll just automatically think Navattic rather than feeling like they were forced into our funnel.”

[34:37] Using Traditional Funnel products with centralized buyers

Study the intent of the buyer to know the best funnel system to use 

“I’d say as far as we’re in the funnel, I’ve done this before, now it’s not as much of a priority for me. I think of it more for intent. So is this buyer intent? Is this search intent or is this, you know, where are, like, what exactly are they searching for? Do they want something that’s more educational or do they want something that’s a listical very direct mm-hmm <affirmative>. So I think about a little bit like that and I, I’m sure they map out to points in the funnel, but as I was talking about before, I’m just not very funnel focused as a marketer”

[35:58] Buyer Behavior in the Decline of Funnel Era

Buyers now do research for themselves before making a decision 

“So what I will say is I actually don’t think the funnel used to be bad cuz I don’t think people used to know how to buy and to no fault of their own. We didn’t used to have to buy B2B software as part of our job description. Right? Not everyone used to be a buyer. Not everyone had to spend time researching 10 companies. Sorry, one second. I had to, can you still hear me okay?… Yes. <laugh> basically, no, that wasn’t part of everyone’s job description. So people used to not know how to buy. So it used to actually be very helpful that companies had the set rules and would walk you through and qualify you because you didn’t know how to qualify yourself. And in some cases I don’t, I don’t think that was necessarily bad. Now everyone’s a buyer. Everyone’s probably bought software before, if not multiple pieces of software. So we know the game, right? Like we know how to qualify ourselves in and out. We know what sales reps are doing and to try to move us down the funnel. So I think that’s why people are kind of over the funnel cuz it’s like I can do the research on my own now I can go to g2, I can go into Slack groups and ask people what they’re using. I can get in all the information I need upfront cuz I know what information I need. Now I just need you to tell me the things that like I can’t get and let me see the product.”

[40:00] Overcoming the Challenges of Using Interactive Demos

Have proper educational ways of teaching customers how use interactive demos to make it easy for the them to navigate through

“Yeah, you’re spot on. When I first joined, I was, it was a double edged sword. I was like, what’s amazing is if I explain to people the value or what an attractive demo is, most people get it. Like most people have, again been through a terrible buying process. Most people want to see more of the product up upfront. It’s not a hard sell in that regard, but people just didn’t know these existed. It’s still a relatively new category. It, we all kind of came together all every player in the space about two years ago. So it wasn’t also like we were taking on this big incumbent where we could say, you know, it’s us versus the old way of doing it or this old giant in the space. It was really us all coming together and creating this category mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And so in that regard, I think that’s why also this approach of just getting the name out there really works for us because we know once people hear and see interactive demos, they’ll get the value of it. And so that’s why my focus was really just like, get it out there versus, and yes, we’re still education educate, educating them on the value, educating ’em on different types of use cases, but it’s less like, oh, I need to fully explain the value of this category.”

[42:48] Getting to Like SEO 

There is no single solution to SEO problems, and that is the beauty of it

“So I fell into it from, um, I didn’t have much marketing background and got a tip from someone like I was studying marketing, this was actually way back in college. I got a tip from an alumni just being like, Hey, if you wanna get into marketing, you should really learn Google Analytics and Google ads. And I was like, cool, I, I need to get a job so I’m gonna listen to you <laugh>. Um, and I did the like self-guided Google Analytics crash course and Google ads and started learning that the very basics of just SEO and Google through that. And so my first job was actually a growth hacking intern back when growth hacking was all the rage. And because I had a little bit of that SEO knowledge experience, I took over the blog and really just started learning and teaching myself. And I think the reason I love it is cuz it’s a constant puzzle you can’t solve mm-hmm <affirmative> and there’s no one right answer. Like I was never good at math because I constantly was trying to solve a problem in a different way than you’re supposed to. I’m not very good at linear instructions. There’s the reasons I like startups all over the place and I love the concept of SEO cuz there are multiple ways to approach this problem. And it was a lot of pattern recognition. I think that is something as marketers that we really love to do. And the best marketers are good at pattern recognition and are really good at understanding when to break that pattern. And that was what SEO first taught me was how to, how do I get something to rank, okay, this did well, this did well, these things have this thing in common, I should apply to this blog post then.”

[47:32] Career Growth Through Taking Risks

There is a reward of growth in every risky career move one takes 

“Every big change in my career has been because of exactly that has been because no one else wanted the ball. Maybe at that moment <laugh> or no one else was, had the bandwidth or time to pick up the ball and then it just got thrown in my, or like that’s how I end up becoming a chief of staff. Not cuz I ever strategically said I wanna be a chief of staff, but because I happened to pick up a lot of operational work cause we just needed someone to do it. And then I was doing enough operational work that I was like, I’m really not just doing marketing. I, I want a role that reflects something bigger than that.”

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Alex Birkett

Alex is a co-founder of Omniscient Digital. He loves experimentation, building things, and adventurous sports (scuba diving, skiing, and jiu jitsu primarily). He lives in Austin, Texas with his dog Biscuit.