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Growth for an IPO, funnel-vision, and driving demand at scale | Julia Beebe @ Toast

 
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Episode Description

On today's episode Julia Beebe, Director of Growth at Toast joined me for a long-overdue discussion about the importance of constantly making optimizations for your funnel. It's no surprise that Toast has seen so much growth and success this year. They've IPO'ed, continued to grow headcount, and have given back to the restaurant industry after the industry has been severely impacted by the pandemic. And Julia has been at Toast through it all (6 years in fact). Definitely an episode worth listening to if you're looking to find ways to strategically scale your headcount, your budget, your impact to the business.

Show Notes

Follow Kaylee: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kaylee-edmondson/

Follow Julia: https://www.linkedin.com/in/juliabeebe/

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About Demand Gen Chat

About Demand Gen Chat Demand Gen Chat is a Chili Piper podcast hosted by Kaylee Edmondson. Join us as we sit down with leaders in marketing to discover the key to driving B2B revenue. If you want benchmarks or insights on trends in the market, this podcast is for you!

Episode Transcript

Hey everybody. Welcome back to another episode of Demand Gen Chat. I'm your host Kaylee Edmondson and today I am super excited, uh, long overdue interview, uh, with the Director of Growth Marketing over at Toast, Julia. Welcome to the podcast, so excited to have you.

So happy to be here, thank you.

Yeah, absolutely. So Julia and I started talking in June, obviously Toast has had, um, just, you know, a small bit of news this year with the IPO and had a lot of things going on. So I wanna start by just like setting the stage for Toast. I grabbed some of these, I normally don't read during podcasts, but I was trying to do my own research and was very fascinated with some of these stats. So I'm gonna read some of them 'cause I think they're very, uh, they set the stage really well for just kind of where you guys have been this year. So, um, obviously you announced your IPO. As of the third quarter financial results, the revenue grew 105% year over year putting you guys at $486.4 million.

Your ARR is now 77% year over year growth landing at $543.8 million. And then, uh, the third quarter gross payment value is now at 123%, which is $16.5 billion, which is just massive. So running demand gen uh, /growth marketing for a company of this stature in SaaS just has to be like completely rewarding in so many ways. Um, and obviously Julia, you've been there through all of this growth, 'cause you've been there for quite a few years now. So I wanna know more about you, how you landed at Toast, we'll start there and then we can get into the weeds on some demand gen stuff.

Yeah, yeah, that sounds great. Um, so I started at Toast like six and a half years ago. Um, so it's still really, really early. I was probably employee maybe 80 or 90. Um, the marketing team was very small, you know, they needed someone who could, uh, help, um, develop a website, help, uh, design a logo, help set up an event program. And so I came on, um, through a referral, uh, with another marketer who also still works here, who, who brought me on and just kind of dove right in and was like, "Throw me at anything, I'll do all the things." And it's kind of been like that ever since, which has been great.

Oh my gosh. Yeah, no, that's insane. So coming into the marketing org, when you started six years ago, because six years ago in SaaS is like gotta be the equivalent of dog years. So it's really like 57 years ago. Um, what, what did the marketing team look like then? And obviously just based on what you're saying, your level of responsibility was a little bit wearing multiple hats, right?

Right, for sure.

How did that evolve?

Yeah. So when, when I started, we were, we had one product marketer. Um, we had another demand genner. Um, we had a video marketer, a content writer as well as our, our VP at the time. So it was a and mighty team, although it grew very quickly, you know, month over month. Um, and like I said, at that time, you know, we had just stood up our website on HubSpot. Um, so a lot of my role was around just building out more content, um, designing that website, um, just having, creating a CRO program.

Um, we had just started our event program at that time, so one of my first events that we went to was the National Restaurant Association Show. It looks a lot different now. Now we're in like a crazy, huge booth back then. It was, you know, very, very, um, small and scrappy. Uh, and then I was also the very first designer, um, so kind of everything in anything. Um, at that time we had our, our logo is actually a piece of toast, like an image of a piece of toast. And obviously-

[laughs]

... as you think about all the ways you need to use your brand, that's not terribly scalable. So that was also one of the first projects I worked on. Um, and you know, I really went from wearing ev... any and every hat, you know, we needed to create a nurture, like dove in there. We need to figure out how to break into new markets dove in there. Um, we needed to think about how to go up market, you know, uh, dove in there. And just over the years, I kind of, um, worked cross functionally across marketing and I think built a little, a little, some credibility that I just like to dive in and build new things and try new things.

And I was able to pitch to my boss, you know, this function of growth marketing that was kind of, "You know, we're the people that can look around the corner, you know, come up with that next disruptive idea, um, so that the, the rest of our demand gen to can really innovate, you know, in the, in their spaces deeply while we're kind of looking around the corner to be like, well, what else could we be doing?" Um, so it's been-

I love that.

... Yeah. It's been a lot of fun, um, growing out the team and, and coming up with these roles.

Yeah, no, I love that. That's super interesting. So I haven't, I've talked to a few growth marketers this year and I've interviewed them about their perception of growth marketing and how they implement that for their organization. What it means, what their level of ownership is. But this is the first I'm hearing that growth marketing for you guys is basically like... I don't, I'm gonna say like an experimental hub, right?

Where you have the freedom and the clearance to be thinking big and thinking broad and outside of the box so that you still have a dedicated demand gen team that's running the day to day operations for ongoing campaigns, but have added this additional layer of just like visibility into the future that a lot of like your people on your demand gen team probably don't have time to be processing like that or thinking like that, 'cause they're in the weeds for today thinking about today or this month or maybe even this quarter. Um, but to have a dedicated layer that's looking for the future is really cool. How did you get to a point where you realized your team needed that function?

Yeah. I mean, I think that the team does a little bit of both, you know, we definitely partner across our demand gen or kind of acquisition leads to say like, "What is the big picture? What is that KPI strategy we need to hit? How is the health of the funnel? Um, but you know, when, as it pertains to why did we think we needed this?" I, there was just like a lot of times over the years where maybe a metric as our business grew or changed was behaving really differently. And we were trying to look to the different channels to say like, "Why is this happening?" And they just didn't have the, the capacity to kind of go in completely shift gears and say, "I'm gonna go figure out why this thing is totally different than it once was," because a lot of time, especially in the funnel, it's not one channel it's, you know, a macro trend.

And so to put it on organic or paid or any in-individual channel and say, "Solve for this," it can be really challenging. Um, and we do have a, a centralized BI team, which is wonderful, but they're not always in the weeds of all of the, you know, um, nuances of, of the, the marketing and, and even top of the funnel sales kind of activities. So I think as we kind of started to see more and more opportunity areas, um, we just thought of, "Well, why don't we just have a team that's really thinking about that?"

Um, and so part of our scope is very much that like high level strategic partnership and just partnering across all the channels, but then we're also thinking really deeply about our tech stack. So they partner really deeply with our marketing operations team, as, you know, a way to disrupt the funnel and even our sales team, how do we partner with them super, super closely so that we have this continuous funnel and it's not, you know, just a lob the lead over the wall and like fingers cross that it converts into a customer.

Exactly, exactly. And I think too, it becomes very easy to be in a reactive seat because I think it's, especially in SaaS, we're all wearing a lot of hats. It's very, I think it's very normal, unfortunately, to be wearing a lot of hats and having to rely on that lobbing process, um, of just tossing it over or like handing off the baton and then like praying for the best on the other end. Um, but no, I love that you guys are, are at this level where you're just trying to be very thoughtful and methodical and I love the disrupt.

I think that, um, if your primary focus is disruption, that's like a very core, um, but also very like motivational value that your team can stand behind. Um, and while you're partnering with all of these other functions within the marketing team to really like move the needle on big pieces, um, I think that's interesting. Are there any learning that you took away this year in terms of, you're saying you like to look at the full funnel and, um, just kind of understand like, "Wait, what's maybe not working as well? Or even on the flip side like, "What's working really well that we should like double down on?" As you're like looking at the bigger picture, are there any like crazy learnings that you saw this year that you're excited to dig into more for next year?

Yeah, I think it's, it's honestly maybe a learning that I identified a couple years ago, but just continues to ring true. Like as we think about efficiency and really narrow in, on like a specific area of the funnel, it's very much a once you, uh, if you very deeply focus on one area of the funnel, it almost puts another area of the funnel at risk. Like there's only so much, uh, capacity, especially when the humans are involved to say like, "If you focus here then like this other area is gonna get less focus."

So I think as we've evolved over the years, we've really tried to go with, uh, how do we think about, you know, automation and human touches and marketing content. And let's all these tools together, instead of trying to put all of our, um, you know, focus on, on one initiative and then once that initiative starts to focus some place else you lose those gains. Um, so really like how are you, um, creating, uh, stable growth and not just solving for the minute and then looking to the next shiny object?

Yeah, no, I think that's good and, and super methodical too. I think that, um, yeah, I think I said this again, but I'll say it one more time. Like being reactive is unfortunately just part of the game. So I think there's like some percentage of all of our days that is spent being reactive because at the end of the day, that's just marketing. Like we all need to hop on the latest trend and we all need to be very relevant and understand like news-jacking and things of that nature so that we can be timely and topical, but there is definitely a greater percentage of our time that should be spent looking at things full funnel or taking a step back, clear stuff out of the weeds, understand your conversion metrics throughout the funnel and look very strategically at which areas need the most improvement. Um, but also like maintaining that human touch, 'cause I just don't think we'll ever get to a point where everything can actually be automated in a way that makes sense?

Yeah.

Um...

And we don't, you know, we don't want everything to be automated like one of our-

Uh-uh [negative].

... our team has a charter and, you know, 'cause within growth is also the marketing operations team and we're very conscious that automation and um, using tools to improve the funnel, scares a lot of people and makes them feel like their job becomes less valuable. And we, you know, firmly believe that we're giving you time back to be more creative and have more fun with your job and be able to be even more successful, we're not trying to get rid of your role. So it's something we're very, very conscious of. Um, I will say, you know, we're still doing our fair share of reactive red degree type plays, you know, obviously when everything's going great, it's really easy to lift your head up and be like, "What are, what do I wanna be doing six months from now?"

Yeah, no, exactly. I think that's really well said. Um, in terms of things that, especially coming off of a year of learnings and a huge year for you guys in the media and the news, what are some things that you think B2B marketers traditionally might get wrong that you think that Toast is doing exceptionally well at?

Um, that's a really good question. Um, I know we talked a little bit about... I, I think one thing that, uh, I've always been really happy about in my time at Toast is, you know, we have a huge sales team and, and whenever we have sales, new sales people join, they're kind of, uh, uh, surprised at like how well marketing and sales work together. Um, and so I think that's something that we at Toast have invested in and do a really good job with.

We have a super strong relationship with our sales organization and I think I've worked at other companies where that's been a little bit more of a struggle. Um, and I just think from day one, you know, we've then go to market, we've worked super closely, we've all rolled up into, um, one of our co-founders and that is something that I think has just helped us, you know, not only weather some of the harder times, but also accelerate in, in when the business is doing really well.

Yeah, no, and I think too that, that's definitely a newer, somewhat newer emotion is like obviously you're saying a co-founder, but a co-founder or a CRO function, um, part of creating that natural marriage between a go to market function and really aligning sales and marketing seems to be having them roll up to the same type of leader, traditionally the CRO role. Um, because I think that that ingrains your metrics to be aligned, which I think is one of the biggest breakers between why sales and marketing aren't always like on the same side of the fence. Um, if we wanna like keep going with that fence analogy-

[laughs]

... just became young. Uh, because it's like, I think that in most organizations, especially in SaaS somehow marketing is held to this standard way over here, whether be leads or MQLs or impressions on social media or whatever it is. And then sales is like, "Hello, no, we're here to drive revenue. Like we need dollars in the bank." And I think that this newer motion of rolling up to a similar leader or the same leader in most cases creates an alignment where the salesperson is like, "Hey, no." Or your CRO leader is like, "Hey, no, we actually all need to be working towards driving this business and driving this business's revenue." Um, it kind of puts you on the same side of the fence. Like what are some other things outside of rolling up to the same leader or level of hierarchy between sales and marketing that you think creates that alignment? Is it just leadership, um, or is it all of you guys that just work together on projects? I'm, I'm just curious.

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think I, I do think a, a big value has been growing out this growth marketing function because we have, you know, I think when we started our demand gen team and, and really we were more of a traditional, super focused on MQLs, MQLs at all costs like that was our primary KPI. And, um, in, you know, the past couple of years, I think we've been really thoughtful about, "How do we build out, you know, the down funnel efficiency of that, which has been a really big focus of my team." And so that's why we're so close to sales because kind of to your similar point, you know, I'm thinking almost more about demos and DLs than I am about MQLs. Like MQLs is almost a vanity metric at times that they're not gonna convert down the funnel.

Um, and simultaneously I guess, just from, uh, how we thought about the demand gen, or we've also thought really deeply about, you know, above the MQL and how does that, you know, have more rigor and thoughtfulness as well? So awareness impressions, um, creating a lot of rigor around that, but I think being really thoughtful about that post MQL experience and kind of coming to the sales org and saying, "You know, we don't just want to give you a lead, we want to understand what you need. We-we're listening to you about what markets you don't feel like you're getting the love they need."

Um, you know, pre COVID and, and now we're building it back up, we had a really strong event and regional marketing program. So that was, you know, their go-to person that they could say, like, "I need this support." Um, but then also proactively, you know, we, uh, plan together annually, um, and we really just try to have a strong feedback loop. Um, but I think at the end of the day, we just have really strong empathy for one another and understand that, you know, I think something really unique about sales is when I'm thinking about, um, you know, MQLs and like hitting marketing numbers, that's like a leads in a funnel. But when I'm talking to my sales leaders, they're talking about like their sales reps hitting their quotas, which is like their livelihood. And it's not just like numbers on a page, it's like humans.

And so, like, it's also deals, it's also revenue, but, you know, it's twofold. If like a sales team is missing their number, they're not only missing that for the business, they're missing it for themselves for their bottom line for their life and family. And so I think lifting our heads up sometime and just approaching all of our relationships, not only the sales with that deep level of empathy just gets everybody to a place where we're kind of able to roll our sleeves up and get into it together.

Yeah, too. Yeah. And they are, yeah. I think it's, it's different for marketing because obviously most marketing roles aren't purely compensation, um, or a large percentage of our take home isn't compensation. Um, and it's a very different world, right? I think that there have been tons of, um, pretty successful marketing leaders in the past year or so that have done a trial period as like acting as though they were an account exec and truly like shifting their salary to rely on the same structure or model that they or sales reps do. And it's a totally different world, right?

Um, I think that putting a human aspect on it, and again, I think that goes back to your marketing strategy too, just like understanding that some things can be automated, but there also needs to be a human touch. Um, taking that same view for your sales team definitely would create better alignment. Um, in terms of making sure that you guys are closing that feedback loop with your sales team, what does that look like? You guys are just having leadership at the table, meeting weekly? Do you have like a massive, incredibly productive Slack channel? Like what a, what does that actual, what does that feedback loop actually look like in terms of making sure that y'all are talking on a regular basis?

Yeah. So I mean changed a lot over the years. I think the one thing that's really, uh, stood the test of time is we, we do have a weekly kind of funnel review that started off as being very full focused, channel focused, you know, in, in its conception many, many years ago. And now it's really this full, you know, location, acquisition revenue. There are marketing leadership there, there are sales leadership there, there are the people driving the programs, um, there are sales operations, there are marketing operations. It's like everybody having a space where we can kind of talk about every single week, "What are we doing? What are we worried about? What are the risks?"

Mm-hmm [affirmative].

Um, and I think that the more that we've let sales into that, um, and be bigger stakeholders in that, I think they that's been helping a lot with the feedback loop. Um, but I think it is also kind of does come back to that like leadership and where they report into it makes it a little bit easier to be aligned. Um, but the end of the day, like, uh, you know, if I'm looking at the funnel and I'm worried that it's at risk, I will just, you know, Slack the sales leaders and say, "Hey, what, what can we do? What can marketing do for you? What can sales do? Like let's all look at this problem with fresh eyes and see what we can figure out." And I think most of our best ideas have come when we, you know, have brainstorms together versus independently.

Mm-hmm [affirmative]. Yeah, no, I love that. I think too, like let's segue to this other section I really wanna make sure we cover before we're at the top of time, but, um, I think that I said this a little bit before we started recording too, but marketing now, especially in software, I think is at this very critical turning point. Uh, we have a lot of moving pieces, obviously going on in the market around, um, tracking and privacy policies. Um, and all of us just collectively as a unit, getting more rigorous about, um, being thoughtful of other people's privacy, which is a really strong movement, but also has impacts on us and how we go to market and how we make sure that we're getting in front of the right people at the right time.

Um, which I think is part of, you know, this moment of change in how people market and which companies are actually going to rise to the top of the occasion. For Toast, especially serving this restaurant/ hospitality industry over the last year, year and a half, I guess at this point, um, in the middle of COVID and a global pandemic, you guys have obviously been through tons of change with your go to market strategy and continuing to make sure that you're doing the right thing for your market at the time, given all of these other worldly events that are happening. What types of down funnel effects did that have on your marketing strategy in the last year, year and a half. And are there any learnings that you can take from that period of being in the middle of COVID to apply to this like next stage of innovation as a marketing team?

Yeah, for sure. I mean, I think that, you know, when COVID really hit, we, one thing that helped Toast was we, you know, were a startup and are in some facets still a startup. And we were really able to kind of go back to our startup roots and everybody just roll up their sleeves and be like, "Okay, this isn't, this is a new problem for us to solve, like we're gonna figure it out all together." Um, so that was, I guess, uh, silver lining, just kind of like a cool moment to have everybody come together, be like, "How are we going to solve for this?"

I think the biggest learnings that from a demand gen perspective, um, I think some of the programs that have been really successful during this time have been, you know, our very top of the funnel programs where we've really met our prospects and customers where they are at this time, kind of going back to that feeling of empathy, you know, they're, we're all going through this like crazy moment. Um, but they're truly like on the front lines. And so, you know, com... giving products away for free, like putting together new educational material on like, "How do you even function in this new normal? How do you as a full service restaurant start doing takeout and delivery? Like, how do you just completely shift everything you've ever known to be true and just being there as a, like, whether it's content, whether it's the product, whether it's support just being there for them?"

And I think just that importance of just being there for them and listening to them, I think it's just something that we, you know, want to continue... We have always done, but it's just something that we need to continue to prioritize always because it's never, it's never been an easy industry. And so while it's been incredibly hard right now, just always listening deeply to the cu... Our customers and prospects and what they need, um, and creating, you know, not only products, but also like content and just like places. Like we have a Toast Community, which, you know, is just like amazing seeing all of the restaurants come together and supporting one another, so being able to facilitate that.

Um, so I think a nutshell, in a nutshell, like really prioritizing community and products and content and programs that just help restaurants be better together is just something that, um, has always been important, but just became very, even more important during COVID. Um, and then I think the less heartfelt, more like a growth marketing E-answer is, I think before, um, you know, before COVID, it was very much, "Let's just drive as much demand as we possibly can."

And during COVID we had to be a lot more efficient and we kind of some pilots that we were toying, toying with and we were really early stage, Chili Piper's a great example. We were like, we just need to do this because like, "What are we gonna, gonna do in, in this kind of like, disruption? What are we gonna do to just make sure that we get out of this thing?" And so, um, I think we, as an organization kind of, uh, learned from COVID how important efficiency, technology, creating these sustainable motions are, um, and while wanna continue hiring tons of incredibly amazing people, uh, you know, we wanna also hire a ton of amazing developers and tech people and operations people that can build something that really outlasts all of us. Um, so I think tippity-top of the funnel, awareness, community, good vibes, and then super efficient, not being scared to try new things, um, and just, you know, really thinking about that, that full funnel and kind of getting things to our sales reps and onboarded and live.

And, um, not only live, like we always say, "Like thrive," we want our customers to not only be using our product, but be like crushing it and like doing so well. Um, and so I think those are the, you know, how do we create that full circle of a journey from the joy of seeing that Toast is there for you originally and then getting live and then actually experiencing like, "Wow, this making my life better."

Yeah, yeah, yeah. So given that, I assume that means for 2022, you're gonna be spending tons of time in communities continuing to ramp with social, um, and especially providing content as people hopefully regain some level of normalcy, normalcy maybe in 2022. Um, how does that impact your more bottom funnel, like demand gen programs? What are you thinking in terms of programs and planning for, especially as we're approaching a new year?

Yeah, I mean, I think that, you know, that further desire and need to get closer to our customer is really, um, helping us think about our '22 programs. You know, we want to, not all restaurants are made equal. Um, it's like a very, it's very high level to just say the restaurant industry, they're so unique. You know, there-there's very small restaurants, there's very big restaurants, um, upmarket, down market, different types, ghost kitchens, like food halls, like everything's so different. So, I mean, we're thinking very deeply about how we, we can get more nuanced as we're, you know, thinking about how to best partner create products for, and just like love on the uniqueness of our industry.

Um, and I think that's a, a top of the funnel thing, but it's also a bottom of the funnel thing. Um, because you know, not only are they different in their practice, out in the world and their passion out in the world, but how they kind of behave as they come into the marketing funnel, on the sales funnel, onboarding all of that, um, i-is different. And so just being really thoughtful that we're creating curated experiences so people can feel seen and helped and be as successful as possible, is probably one of our top priorities.

And I even think like segmentation, top funnel, but also bottom funnel is something that I think it's like almost like broad strokes in the beginning, right? I think all companies, especially starting out, if you're like a very small startup with a really small marketing team and maybe even a small budget, it's always just broad strokes. So you look at your industry as like, "Okay, we're going after the restaurant industry and here it is." And then once you get to a, a stature like you guys were, you've just been so successful, it's, it's a great opportunity to be able to look at a really statistically significant portion of data and say, "Oh, okay. Actually like it's not just restaurant or hospitality. Um, you know, like our top three niches are this and like the way that we break it down to make sense of it all," because I think it's very easy to get lost in the data.

Um, it's like we have our core, uh, verticals within B2B SaaS that are like our primary people and we know who our ICPs are, and we know what size the company needs to be. And like all of those traditional, um, demographic, firmographic information. But then we have a set of trailblazers where it's like, "Oh, okay, we're starting to see initial trend lines in these three verticals, but like, that's pretty untapped. Like we've never created custom content for them, we've never done any type of like dedicated social campaign. Um, so like, let's go after these three for a quarter and then at the end of the quarter, let's just do a good like postmortem figure out what worked, what definitely didn't work 'cause, right? When we're going after new things and trailblazing new territories."

We're we also are really lucky because it's a really easy industry to get excited about. Um, so it's fun to market too. We're uh, we're lucky to, to be able to work for restaurants, so excited for 2022.

I'm curious if we can talk about any type of planning for 2022, just because it's top of mind. Um, when does planning season start for you guys? How do you traditionally structure it? Are you like a bottoms up type of team, tops down type of team? Do you kind of meet in the middle? Like there's so much around planning that I feel is like, everybody has a very firm, like you're on one side of the coin or the other. Um, I'm curious to hear how you guys do it and obviously as that's evolved over time [crosstalk 00:27:43].

Yeah, yeah. I mean, so I can speak to it, you know, this year where I feel like it's a combination of top down bottoms up, 'cause you know, like our, our SLT team will really start meeting during the summer to kind of start talking about what are the bigger things. But as a marketing team, you know, we're, there's even initiatives that we kick off at the beginning of this year that evolve into something bigger, something bigger. So I think we, as a, as a marketing org, probably know as part of like our H2 planning, what are the things that we're starting to get excited about and thinking about that we wanna start scoping, scoping, getting feedback on piloting in the second half of the year that we can really start making the case for and pitching across the business of like these are big focus areas for the following year.

So, um, I think that, you know, from a bottoms up standpoint, it's a lot of like, "What are things we're most, most excited about?" And then from the top down standpoint, it's very much, "Okay, what are the bigger strategic investments?" And then at the end of the day, we have to kind of look at the board of, "What are the strategic investments, what are the things that we know are gonna make an impact within our programs?"

And sometimes those things overlap and sometimes they don't and then, uh, prioritize budget, all of that good stuff. But it's very, uh, cyclical, um, and I think as we've gotten bigger, something we've gotten better at, but it also has a lot of growing pain is just the cross-functional components. Um, because you know, if I wanna do something, it's not just me, it's like five other teams that I need to get on board. And if they're choosing to do the thing that I pitched them on, they're probably saying no to someone else. So I think our planning, um, you know, it's definitely gotten a lot more, uh, we spend a lot more time like road showing and trying to get everyone on the same page.

Um, we start earlier every year so we can kind of get head count and resourcing in place so that we can say, "Go," on January, 1. Um, so it's definitely earlier better aligned, um, still very cyclical. Um, and you know, I'm sure we'll still end up doing a lot of things that we said we like weren't going to do just because we can't help ourselves. Um, but-

Sure, yeah [laughs].

But I think it's gotten better, it's certainly gotten better. I think we hit a point where, and the growth of our company, where we went from, like, we can be released crappy, we can stand something up in a month, we can... we don't need to plan a whole, like we're gonna plan a quarter, but like a bunch of stuff is gonna come up when we're gonna do it to-

Exactly.

... like there's just too many cross-functional dependencies that like, that, that model kind of broke. Um, I'd say like before COVID, and then COVID hit, we were like, "Oh, just kidding, we can totally do that again," because like-

[laughs]

... we are just doing that. And now we're kind of at that a new reality again, of like, "Okay, we need to slow down to speed up a little bit and make sure that we're really, um, aligning resources across teams and all of that good stuff."

That's super interesting. I love, I think the, I think the reality is that most companies must land with a middle ground on tops down bottom up. Like there's just, no, I don't know. I've never seen, I've never personally seen it done any other way. Um, we're very similar here as well where it's like, almost like a meet in the middle and then yeah, like that healthy negotiation stage around like, "Well, these are our priorities and these are sales priorities and these are the CS teams priorities" almost creating like a Vinn diagram of sorts, which ones are actually top priorities for us collectively. Um, so we know those are a yes and then like a few additional-

Yeah.

... pieces, like get a seat at the table.

And you need that healthy mix of like the, the SLT ideas are larger, gonna be like horizon 3, like what are investments we wanna make that aren't gonna hit next year, but like, we need things to hit next year. We need growth next year, so I think a lot of that, like horizon 1, horizon 2 is probably coming more from the teams in the weeds and kind of that partially horizon 2, partially horizon 3 is coming from the top. And then how do you staff against the things that need to get done? And I think, again, that's where our team like our team comes in. My team comes in where we're maybe thinking a little bit more, you we're maybe 50-50% like horizon 1 and then like horizon 2 and 3 whereas a lot of the teams that are in the weeds day to day are like 75% horizon 1 and like 25% horizon 2. So that, um, kind of creates capacity to do all the things.

The end of the year is definitely where we make commitments for broad strokes for the entire next year. And then like you're been, we do very deep, quarterly planning. So like right now we're doing deep quarterly planning for Q1, but we are also making broad stroke commitments for the entire calendar year, which is why December always feels like a media planning cycle for us just because it's trying to really figure out which tables we think we're ready to commit to as like winning tables, if we thinking about it in terms of like gambling-

[laughs]

... um, we're trying to figure out like which tables we really wanna commit to for the entire year in terms of committing to like a final number. Um, but then just going really deep into planning cycle for a quarter at a time. 'Cause like you say so much changes in a quarter for us that it's like almost a waste of time or a waste of effort, um, to go deep planning for anything beyond that, because we will learn so much and we will grow so much in, you know, 90 days that's-

It's crazy.

... critical for us to like take those learnings and apply to the rest of the year.

Yeah. I mean, we almost say it's like annual planning, but it largely ends up being like H 1 planning and like a little bit of H 2 planning, but like largely, largely H 1 planning.

Before we wrap, I always ask this question, who is somebody, another marketer or not? You could go outside of marketing, I guess that you're following in the space that you are learning from, finding value in. Maybe you read a book, listen to a podcast or they just like a really great Twitter feed. Um, who's somebody that's that people who are listening to this podcast should go follow, consume their content, et cetera?

Ah, I feel like I don't have a good answer for this because I'm not a great consumer of marketing content, which is probably a bad thing. I, uh, I'm like very, I, I talk to my boss about this a lot. It's actually a growth area for me, "How can I be more like looking outward to the industry?" I think there's just so much going on at Toast. I feel like I'm drinking out of... Even six and a half years, I feel like I'm drinking out of a fire hose all the time. Um, and so a lot of, I think one, one thing that I've been really lucky this year, I've grown my team quite a bit. And so I think a lot of the exciting anecdotes and up updates and, you know, new information about the marketing industry has really come from the new people on my team and their unique experiences and kind of what they bring to the table.

So I'd say that I get my content from my, my team and, um, the kind of broader Toast marketing team. Um, but if people, people out there listening to this, if you're like, "You're crazy, this is something you should be following, listening to," please send it my way. Um, but yeah, I think generally just, uh, once we, once, once I sink my teeth into an idea, then I'll start researching lots of stuff and getting exposed to things, but don't, I also have four year old at home. So I think a lot of my time is more spent on a different content, uh, when I'm not working [laughs].

I hear that, I hear that. We have two small little ones here too. So it's definitely... That in and of itself is a full-time job, so that's valid. Um, cool. Well, I will, um, link all the things that we've chatted about in the show notes for today. Um, if anybody is listening and wants to follow Julia and all of her wisdom, LinkedIn, is that the best place?

Yeah, yeah. LinkedIn is... Uh, and you should really follow Toast because, uh, I think the team does a great job of just publishing so much incredible content for restaurateurs, but also about what's going on in the industry and everyone loves restaurants. So, uh, if you are very looking for ways to support them, you should follow Toast and, uh, be able to know what's going on.

Yeah, absolutely. And Toast does, especially on LinkedIn, I haven't done a ton of research on other platforms 'cause I just spend most of my time on LinkedIn, but Toast does a really, really great job of highlighting customer stories and user generated content. Um, especially in the feed it's, uh, obviously you have a very unique position to be able to source a lot of really great user generated content.

But I think that, um, it's just really, really well executed and even though, um, even though for us, our market is drastically different from your target audience it's very inspiring just to even kind of look through the content that Toast is curating and spark ideas for ourself, but hopefully people listening can spark ideas for themselves and their business, um, to try and get your community or your customers more involved with how you're, um, putting out your best foo-foot forward on social. Um, so yeah, kudos on that front 'cause it's like very, very good content [crosstalk 00:36:14].

It's feel good. It's... Yeah, it's feel good content for sure. Bring-brings you joy.

Yeah, 100%. Um, thank you so much again. I'm so glad that we finally made this happen, so worth the wait and this will be our final episode for 2021. I wanna send a huge thank you to anybody, anybody who listens to this and has made it to this far [laughs] in the podcast. I appreciate you guys so much. This started out as a passion project for me so that I could, um, almost like to what Julia is saying, I felt very isolated, um, in terms of just drinking from the fire hose here, um, and needed to try and stretch my wings and learn from my peers so that I didn't feel like I was falling so far behind in the marketing world.

So, um, it started out as a passion project, it's become a real thing. We will be doubling down in 2022 so stay tuned for that. Uh, we have some exciting things in the works and are gonna try and make this bigger and better for anybody that is listening and wants to come on this ride with us. But yeah, for everybody, that's end of year. Happy holidays. If you're doing end of year planning, all the best to you-

[laughing]

... as you're planning and with that, [foreign 00:37:17] and we-we'll see you next year. Thank you guys.

Thank you.