In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Xenia Muntean. Xenia is the CEO and Co-Founder of Planable, a content review and marketing collaboration platform used by over 5,000 teams behind brands such as Hyundai, Christian Louboutin, Viber, and United Nations. Prior to launching Planable, at 20 y.o. she built a digital marketing agency and led social for clients such as Coca-Cola.
Xenia has been recognized on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list and she spoke on the Innovation Stage at Cannes Lions in 2018. Xenia graduated from Tim Draper’s startup academy in Silicon Valley and took Planable through the Techstars London accelerator in 2017. She has also published a book – The Manifesto on Content Marketing Teams and has launched her own podcast – People of Marketing.
Social media is a marketing channel today that can’t be ignored. The CEO and Co-Founder of Planable, Xenia Muntean, was tired of spending her life in a spreadsheet creating content and juggling managing multiple social media accounts. Instead of continuing to spin her wheels in such a seemingly unproductive workflow, she decided to find and create her own solution to the problem. In this episode, I talk with Xenia about her journey in building Planable, the problems the platform has sought out to solve for so many people, and the many ways you can use Planable in your content planning to enhance your customer journey.
Questions I ask Xenia Muntean:
- [1:49] What it was like going through the Techstars Accelerator program and how do you think it relates in terms of success for you?
- [2:36] Why did you create Planable?
- [4:53] What’s been the hardest thing for you to figure out or learn along your journey with creating Planable?
- [6:31] What’s been the most rewarding part of growing your own growing Planable?
- [7:23] What was the biggest thing you did to launch Planable, that led to a great deal of success?
- [8:53] What was the launch with AppSumo like?
- [10:55] What are some of the problems that Planable saw along the way?
- [14:10] What role does AI play in content planning and in execution and even inside of the Planable tool?
- [15:46] What are some of the ways that you’re seeing people use Planable for different stages of the customer journey?
- [17:32] How are you seeing agencies and consultants using a tool like Planable?
- [19:13] Where people can find out more about Planable, and is there an offer you have for Duct Tape Marketing Podcast listeners?
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John Jantsch (00:00): This episode of the duct tape marketing podcast is brought to you by the MarTech podcast, hosted by Ben Shapiro and brought to you by the HubSpot podcast network with episodes you can listen to in under 30 minutes, the MarTech podcast shares stories from world class marketers who use technology to generate growth and achieve business and career success all on your lunch break. And if you dig around, you might just find a show by yours. Truly. Ben's a great host. Actually, I would tell you, check out a recent show on blending humans, AI, and automation. Download the MarTech podcast wherever you get your podcast.
John Jantsch (00:51): Hello, and welcome to another episode of the duct tape marketing podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today has Xenia Muntean. She is the CEO and co-founder of Planable, a content review and marketing collaboration platform used by over 5,000 teams behind brands like Hyundai Viper and the United nations prior to launching Planable. At 20 years old, she built a digital marketing agency and led social for clients such as Coca-Cola. She's also the author of the manifesto on content marketing teams and the host of the podcast, people of marketing. So Zenia welcome to the show.
Xenia Muntean (01:28): Thank you so much, John, for such a warm introduction.
John Jantsch (01:31): Awesome. So I, I, as part of your introduction, I didn't, didn't read this part, but, uh, I know that you, when you were starting Planable, you went through a, a Techstar program in London, I think in 2017. Yeah. I'm just curious, you know, a lot of people talk about, especially a lot of startups want to go through that program, go through that kind of program. And I'm just curious what it was like for you. And what do you think it meant in terms of success for you?
Xenia Muntean (01:55): Uh, I think it was a tremendous program for our company. It, it really helped us open a lot of doors. And I, I think I, I really see Techstars as kind of the foundation of our company or the way we kickstarted Planable, not just because of the money and the, the round that we, we raised with them. But it's also a lot about the, the networking, the connections we made there and just everything that we learned about startup life. It it's really where we built the product, where we learned how to grow it, where learned how to develop, create value for customers. And it's also a lot where it's where we got our first customers. Yeah, it's really, it really kick started our business.
John Jantsch (02:36): So, so a lot of founders have, um, a very similar story as far as why
Xenia Muntean (02:53): Mystery solved John
John Jantsch (04:01): Yeah, I think you're right. I mean, I think the first generation of tools, like this were really all just about automating posting and things and, and when you started getting teams working together yeah. And approvals that were needed across maybe departments, you know, maybe legal had to even look at, you know, things then all of a sudden it got a lot more complex, didn't it?
Xenia Muntean (04:20): Yes. That's, you've put it perfectly. It's really about the first problem in social media. There's this amazing channels, social media's this new thing. How do we automate it? How do we publish at scale? Okay. Problem solved. Now there's a lot of people working and creating all of this amazing content. How do we align them? How do we create efficiency? How do we save time on that? And that's where, you know, Planable comes in.
John Jantsch (04:47): So kind of again, talking about your journey with Planable, I always love to ask entrepreneurs as what's been the hardest thing for you to figure out or learn
Xenia Muntean (04:59): Hardest thing.
John Jantsch (05:01): That's, you know, what's so funny. Uh, that's also the hardest question that people have
Xenia Muntean (05:06): True.
John Jantsch (05:06): That is cause every everyone pauses on that.
Xenia Muntean (05:08): Yeah. Hard houses on that. Yeah. Hardest thing. I think I, I was just having a conversation with my co-founder today on this topic. I think hardest thing is to learn, to let go, because in the beginning, as a, as an entrepreneur, you're very hands on, you do all of the things that's normal. You can't afford anyone else
John Jantsch (06:22): Yeah. I've been doing this for 30 years and I can attest to the fact that
Xenia Muntean (06:35): Seeing the team thrive and, and grow and like hiring people and seeing how they become better and better as professionals. Not necessarily. I mean, yes, of course at the job that they're doing at Planable, but also as professionals, just seeing them grow in their career and seeing them making, like connecting between each other and building friendships and just like this growing organism that has its own life. And you do not have it, you know, you don't have control over it, but it's beautiful at expanding and growing and it's aligned with what you were envisioning and it is just magical. Yeah. Yeah.
John Jantsch (07:16): So, so you've achieved, I mean, 5,000 teams, as we said in the intro, you've achieved a level of success with Planable or growth with Planable, but what was the biggest thing you did, uh, to launch that, that you think led to, you know, a great deal of success?
Xenia Muntean (07:30): Yeah, that's a, that's a great question. I think a lot of small things that we did in the beginning, I can't point to like one single thing that we did that skyrocketed us. That would be great. Like that would be great advice to give to someone the, the, the, this thing that you need to do and that's gonna like skyrocket your business and you're gonna do amazing. I wish there was such a thing, but I think it's just the result of a lot of tiny experiments, a lot of initiatives that you're trying trial and error, and finally find something that works for your market. Something that works for your business. We've tried, for example, we've tried paid ads for a really long time and different channels until we finally figured out one that was working for us. But in the beginning, what worked for us was doing a lot of things that don't actually scale talking to people, word of mouth, putting myself and my cofounders out there and like reaching out directly to people. That's kind of how we got the first clients really in the beginning, it wasn't anything that you'd think is scalable, like ads or SEO or content marketing, none of that stuff. Like first clients, purely manual work and reaching out to folks out there
John Jantsch (08:46): E everybody wants the one thing, right. That makes it happen. Although I do recall I've been an app Sumo subscriber for years, and I do recall you had a pretty successful launch on app Sumo, didn't you?
Xenia Muntean (08:56): Yes, that's correct. We did app Sumo in the beginning. Uh, it's a great thing to do when you're just launching out your product has maybe in beta, you need a lot of people to support you. And it's really hard to build word of mouth from zero. No one knows about you. And it's really hard to get the ball running. And abso is a great place to do that. Not just because of the cash injection that you get from the deals from the lifetime deals that people buy. But also you get really great feedback. Yeah. In bulk, like a lot of massive feedback from people which you, you really need in your early stages, then you also get word of mouth, right? Like if you've built a product that people love, even if it's like very raw cause app Sumo users are, they're used with like raw stuff. Yeah. Software that maybe breaks a little bit, you know? Yeah. Right, right, right. It's you know, normal. So besides the feedback, you also get a lot of word of mouth people writing about you on social media blogs. And that then becomes a recurring subscriptions.
John Jantsch (09:58): Yeah. Yeah. AB Sumo people buy everything, anything, you know, they don't, which as you said, it's a very discounted plan that you're giving, but you get so much in when you have nothing, you get so much in return for that. So it's great. Great avenue. Yeah.
John Jantsch (10:10): This episode of the duct tape marketing podcast is brought to you by Planable. It's a social media collaboration tool that helps marketers around the world plan, create review, approve, and schedule social media posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Google my business, TikTok and LinkedIn, if you wanna check it out, you can actually give it a try for free. Just go to Planable.io, sign up and start creating awesome content. There's no credit card required or time limit for the free plan. You have 50 posts included. And once you reach that number, you can use a coupon code, duct tape 50 and get 50% off the first two months for any plan that suits your needs. So go to Planable.io and grab your team and give it a spin. So let's talk a little bit about some of the problems that the Planable solves.
Xenia Muntean (10:59): Yeah,
John Jantsch (10:59): For sure. First one is, you know, if you asked any marketing teams, you know, I, I would say content planning, obviously production is hard too, but I think content planning is a thing that they struggle with the most. I mean, very few people get out ahead of it. So, you know, I guess why is content planning so hard and what did you, how are you addressing that for teams?
Xenia Muntean (11:21): Yeah, so I was just looking this week at some stats and some reports in the industry. And I stumbled upon a very interesting fact that two thirds, only two thirds of small businesses actually use social media for marketing and to promote themselves. And I think that a lot of businesses don't use social media because they don't know if their, you know, of course they don't know if their audience is out there. Yeah. They don't understand the long term benefits. And most of the times, because they're small businesses and have limited resources, they want to see immediate results. Of course. Yeah. Yeah. And then also, because there's limited resources, it's really hard for them to maintain consistency. Right. So a lot of businesses struggle with posting on social media at least, you know, once a day or at least a couple of times a week. So, but growing, you know, social media requires consistency requires setting some expectations in terms of quantity of content, but also quality of content on social media.
Xenia Muntean (12:27): Yeah. And that's kinda where I'm, you know, that's where planning content
John Jantsch (13:21): Well, and I think what it does, at least it does for us, is it me, it kind of ensures that we're gonna be posting content that is actually going to be around our business goals
Xenia Muntean (13:34):
John Jantsch (13:35): To. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And, and so we're saying, oh, we're launching this product or this course, or whatever in this timeframe. So let's produce content running up to it, you know, that's going to support it. And I think that, I mean, it's, we all know that. I mean, right. That's not like some genius thing, but I think that it, it really takes the tools to end the end, the discipline, I guess, to, to do it. Doesn't it
Xenia Muntean (13:56): Discipline? Yes. I love that. Yes,
John Jantsch (14:00): So AI artificial intelligence is, is being built into everything today, or at least is being talked about as being built to everything today, particularly social media content. How, how does in your mind, you know, what's the role of AI and content planning and, and execution, and even inside of, uh, the Planable tool.
Xenia Muntean (14:19): I think we have a long way to go until we can use AI for content creation. I feel like that part like creative content creation is something that is not gonna be touched by AI in a meaningful way for a really long time in advance, in order to create meaningful content for your business. You need to understand the market, your business goals, your audience, you need to understand your tone of voice your brand. So there's a lot of moving pieces to that. Mm-hmm
John Jantsch (15:23): One of the things that, that I do think effective content marketers are doing are, is really viewing all the stages in the customer journey and, and producing content specific to those stages. Obviously, when somebody is just out there trying to find something, you know, find a solution, they, they have different questions and objectives than when somebody's thinking about buying or even after they've become a customer. What are some of the ways that you're, uh, seeing people use Planable for those different stages of the customer journey?
Xenia Muntean (15:53): I think what Planable helps the most is making the lives of marketers or businesses that, you know, promote their products and services, making their lives easier by, by streamlining, like the entire logistics, you know, the tedious, boring stuff that no one wants to do, right. Mm-hmm
Xenia Muntean (17:04): This can make it better, right? And just streamlining this entire process up to publishing and publishing, including obviously automating, scheduling and forgetting about it. That's kinda how I see Planable helping our customers.
John Jantsch (17:20): So, so with teams, even small teams, there's a little bit of complexity and approval process, but I, I, you take it to the agency level and, you know, that's, I might be managing 10 clients who have 10 teams
Xenia Muntean (17:37): Half of our customers are agencies and, and consultants. It's kinda a no brainer
John Jantsch (18:45): Yeah. So, and you're absolutely right. I mean, because not only is it 10 different clients with 10 different markets, 10 different approval processes,
Xenia Muntean (19:25): Yeah, for sure. So it's, if, if you wanna find out more about Planable, you can just go to Planable, do IO, and you're gonna learn a lot about the, the product. And then if you wanna take it for spin, see how the product works, you can sign up for our free trial for our free plan. You're gonna get the full experience of the product, really see if it's a good fit for yourself. And then if you wanna move forward with, with Planable, with one of our paid plans, you can definitely use the duct tape discount, just write duct tape in one of our, in, in the coupon field. And you're gonna
John Jantsch (20:01): Get this. Actually I think the coupon we set up is duct tape, 50
Xenia Muntean (20:04): Duct tape 50. Thank you, John.
John Jantsch (20:07): Correct. 50% off for the first two months, uh, by using that means duct tape, all one word 50, and that'll be in the show notes as well. So that's, there you
Xenia Muntean (20:15): Go. And if you wanna,
John Jantsch (20:17): I owe,
Xenia Muntean (20:18): Sorry. Yeah. And if you wanna connect with me and learn more about like the entrepreneurial journey, just hit me up on LinkedIn and more than happy to talk to you about like building businesses or growing your agency or optimizing, uh, for efficiency.
John Jantsch (20:32): Awesome. Well, I appreciate stopping by duct tape marketing podcast. Congratulations on, uh, the success of Planable and, uh, hopefully, uh, we'll run into you one of these days out there on the road.
Xenia Muntean (20:44): Yes. Thank you. Thank you, John.
John Jantsch (20:46): Hey, and one final thing before you go, you know how I talk about marketing strategy strategy before tactics? Well, sometimes it can be hard to understand where you stand in that what needs to be done with regard to creating a marketing strategy. So we created a free tool for you. It's called the marketing strategy assessment. You can find [email protected] not.com.co check out our free marketing assessment and learn where you are with your strategy today. That's just marketing assessment.co I'd love to chat with you about the results that you get.
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Planable is a social media collaboration tool that helps marketers around the world plan, create, review, approve, and schedule social media posts on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Google my Business, TikTok and LinkedIn. If you wanna check it out, you can actually give it a try for free. Just go to planable.io, sign up, and start creating awesome content.
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