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Discover the keys to effective small business marketing and sales growth in the latest Conquer Local Podcast episode!
Jeff Tomlin is joined by Stefano Colonna, the Founder and CEO of Movylo, an entrepreneur with a remarkable digital journey. Stefano, known for founding multiple companies in the mobile and marketing sectors, shares insights into his entrepreneurial path. Having secured investments from angels, institutional, and corporate VCs in the US and the EU, his expertise spans three continents.
In this episode, Stefano unveils the inspiration behind Movylo, a marketing automation service crafted for small and medium-sized businesses while advocating for simplicity in marketing solutions. Tune in to learn more about the need for effective lead capture to drive sales and monetize online presence, and how Movylo is transforming marketing for small businesses.
To learn more about Stefano and Movylo, visit www.movylo.com/vendasta
Conquer Local is presented by Vendasta. We have proudly served 5.5+ million local businesses through 60,000+ channel partners. Learn more about Vendasta and we can help your organization or learn more about Vendasta’s Affiliate Program and how our listeners (like yourself) are making up to $10,000 off referrals.
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Boost Sales and Monetize Your Online Presence with Effective Strategies
Jeff Tomlin: Welcome to the Conquer Local Podcast! Our show features successful sales leaders, marketers, thought leaders, and entrepreneurs who will inspire you with their success stories. Each episode is packed with practical strategies, as our guests share their secrets to achieving their dreams. Listen in to learn the highlights of their remarkable accomplishments and get tips to revamp, rework, and reimagine your business. Whether you’re a small business owner, a marketer, or an aspiring entrepreneur, the Conquer Local Podcast is your ultimate guide to dominating your local market. Tune in now to take your business to the next level!
I’m Jeff Tomlin and on this episode, we’re pleased to welcome Stefano Colonna
Stefano is an entrepreneur with a remarkable journey in the digital space. He’s founded multiple companies in the mobile and marketing sectors, some of which were successfully bootstrapped. He has secured investments from angels, institutional, and corporate VCs in both the US and the EU, showcasing his skill in managing people across three continents. The services offered by the companies Stefano founded have made a significant impact, reaching millions of users globally.
His entrepreneurial journey began after graduating in Marketing in 1998, followed by several years of experience in prominent advertising agencies in Italy. At the age of 28, he ventured into creating his first start-up and has been a dedicated entrepreneur ever since. His ventures span various domains, including mobile software development, video streaming, and, in recent years, Movylo, a leading marketing automation service tailored for small and medium-sized businesses.
Get ready Conquerors for Stefano Colonna coming up next on this week’s episode of the Conquer Local Podcast.
Jeff Tomlin: Stefano, welcome to the Conquer Local podcast. Hey, it’s great to see you on the show and it’s probably been too long since we decided to finally get you on, so thanks for joining us here. How are you doing?
Stefano Colonna: Absolutely, and thanks a lot to you, to all your colleagues, and thanks a lot to the audience, too. We’re doing great, absolutely. Always busy doing things, but really good, thanks.
Jeff Tomlin: Stefano, you’re known as one of our most passionate partners the team says that they work with. And says definitely a passionate dude when it comes to digital marketing. And so, why don’t you give us a little bit of the background? You’ve got a product, Movylo, that you call sort of a digital marketing solution in a box. So talk a little bit about what was the inspiration to build this thing and quickly what it does.
Stefano Colonna: Yeah, thanks a lot for seeing that we’re passionate because that’s exactly how we live it every day. I could say that it started really years ago and it started because we were just speaking with business owners, local business owners, those times, talking about software and trying to understand, understand what they need, and they told us, “I want more customers, I want more sales. I know that online I must do something.” But we found out that they were basically not really understanding what they were in need of. And so they were just basically relying in many, many times in sales reps selling them things, but they could not really understand what to do and how to use these tools. So it took us a couple of years to understand how to package technology and put it behind the scenes. And so we found out that making a lot of mistakes and learning a lot that still these days, they just understand that for them online and the digital world is a way to find new customers and to close more sales. So digital doesn’t have to be, you have to be digital because you want to be innovative, but digital can help you find customers and close more sales. So by following this thought process, we developed and developed different modules and then tried to come up with something that we call a kind of marketing office in a box. So something that you turn it on, you let it run and it delivers you the results you want. So more customers and more sales. We always say that local business owners like clicks but love sales. So this is the idea behind it.
Jeff Tomlin: It’s something that we found too. It’s so, so important to try to make something that’s sort of simple for your users to get value out of and to get to value quickly. You sort of talked to it a little bit, but I wanted to ask you because everyone’s got a slightly different set of observations that they’ve seen in this space. And so specifically, what are the things that you’re seeing that small businesses struggle the most with when it comes to marketing and using marketing technology?
Stefano Colonna: I would say mainly two things. The first one, they’re not software users. So there are plenty of incredible platforms out there, HubSpot being one, but imagine giving HubSpot to a restaurant owner or to a beauty salon owner. It’s too much for them. They cannot understand how to use that and how to get value out of that. And they’re not even interested in spending time learning complex systems because their passion goes to running their business.
So first thing, first, giving them a software tool to use is not the right way. The other thing is that they understand marketing not so much, so they don’t differentiate too much with the website, with Facebook, the results that I can get out from Facebook or from Google or from a website because they’re not software users, they’re not even marketing experts. So what they need is a mix of these two things, marketing and software tools packaged in a way where they get the results. They don’t get a tool to use, but they get the results they want because their passion goes to running their business. So if you run a restaurant, you want to speak with customers, you talk about food and so on, you understand how important is online, but that’s basically it. You don’t want to spend your time learning new platforms, otherwise, you would change your job.
Jeff Tomlin: Yeah, a hundred percent. I wanted to ask you a question about your journey as an entrepreneur because you said at the beginning through a lot of iteration and the mistakes that you’ve learned from has led you to building the solution that you have right now. And I wanted to dig in a little bit about maybe some of the mistakes that you guys have made and what you’ve learned from. The reason why I wanted to ask it. I’ve seen more and more interviews lately from entrepreneurs talking about how important it is to be resilient when you start any type of business, and you probably learned the most from the mistakes that you’ve made. And so maybe you could talk a little bit about that and your learnings from the mistakes that you’ve made along your path.
Stefano Colonna: From years of mistakes. It’ll be a really, really long answer. Well, we always say you either win or you learn. And being an entrepreneur, obviously, you’re trying to build something that either does not exist or it is to be considered better than something else that already exists. So obviously you need to move and to start thinking outside of the box and to try to create things that are challenging. And obviously, you cannot align all the points at once. So you start doing something, you learn from the feedback of users. The really good thing of being an entrepreneur, starting things from scratch, is that you can speak with users and understand their feedback so that you think maybe something is great. And the mistake we made for years has been we kept on developing the software tool to make it more and more powerful and they always say, “Oh, I like it. It does many, many things, but I manage a restaurant,” or “I run a salon so it’s too much for me.” And so we try to imagine how to scale down what we have built and what we have been building for years. So working with people, I mean we’re all human beings, so speaking with human beings that could be suppliers, customers and so on, really makes you understand step by step the single thing you are doing if that is adding value or just making confusion and noise. And so you build, it’s like being a sculpture. You build something and then your sculpture things away.
Jeff Tomlin: That’s interesting. We learned the same type of thing, and specifically that was to have our user experience testing different from our market research because we found if you’re doing user testing, you want to see how usable is the software, can people figure out how to navigate and actually get the thing done that your tool is built to do? But if you’re in that process and you ask them what they want, they’ll start to design it in their head, and that’s not necessarily the same thing that they want in terms of value at the end of the day. If you don’t have software in front of people and you ask them, “Hey, what’s the most important thing that you want out of your marketing?” They’ll give you different answers. Mostly they’ll say, “Hey, we want our phone to ring and our door to swing.” And so that’s interesting that you said that because we sort of learned the same sort of thing to have user testing and your fundamental market research a little bit different.
Stefano Colonna: A real example of what you were just saying is that, for example, usually small business owners try to have what is called presence like a website because “Yeah, I want my business to exist on digital,” so they understand the website is important for them to exist. Then they start to spend money on getting clicks, getting likes, getting followers and so on. But then after a few months, if they don’t see real sales coming in, they think that, “Well, I mean it’s not for me,” or “I’m missing something,” and they start to complain because they don’t see a right, it’s not even difficult to show them a right as long as you explain things because they’re not marketing savvy basically.
Jeff Tomlin: And again, so why it’s so important to understand what the real thing that they want at the end of the day is. So let’s talk a little bit about the usability then. You’ve got automation systems built into your software, and so I’ve used a lot of different types of automation in different types of systems and they can be pretty complex to use. So when you’re building something like automation into your platform, usually those things need to be set up. How do you make the user experience simple when you think through that process?
Stefano Colonna: This has been very challenging for us, too, over the years because we can say that basically what we do in order to help your local business have success is to automate your marketing. So marketing automation. So we haven’t invented anything basically, but we have seen really well that marketing automation is still too complex for these types of users. So we define ourselves like market automation automated, so that we say on autopilot, they basically just push one button or we push it for you because we try to mix and match two good things. So one is technology with automation and the other is the human touch, so we call usually agencies or end users every month to manage the service for them in order for them to do nothing and get results so that with one single button, you start having this packaged market automation service. It’s like an engine that starts finding new customers, engaging with them so that you don’t do anything and you get results. Because if we give you something to do, even a basic configuration, a lot of them will just not complete it.
Jeff Tomlin: It’s funny, we used to have a saying around here, that the thing about marketing automation, is there’s not a lot automated about it, and it’s true with a lot of marketing automation systems is you have to create all the content. There’s a lot of stuff to set up. A lot of people have really struggled to get to value with those types of systems. So hey, walk us through a little bit about how it works, one thing I’m sort of interested in is how your marketing strategy and how you think about it is different from what other solutions are out there and how other people think about small business marketing.
Stefano Colonna: Well, I would say that there’s one keyword that can define this. It is simplicity. So everybody in the SME space, business owners themselves, the agencies sell it to them and on have really a small amount of time to dedicate to a single business owner because I mean you cannot charge them significant money to call them or visit them every day or every week. So simplicity is the key word. What do we do basically to just follow this process? We try to approach as at least that you usually already have a website and or spend money on SEO or pay-per-click. And the reason is if you have a website, your website gets clicks. So it’s really easy to tell you, good, you have a website and your website is getting clicks, but where are these clicks going? You just have a website. These clicks come and go. They bounce, so they go uncaptured, and you don’t see ROI. You need something to capture these clicks and convert them into real customers and real sales. And this is even more if you spend money on advertising, SEO, pay-per-click and so on because you spend money to drive more clicks. And so your problem is even bigger because you drive more clicks, these clicks still go uncaptured and are under-monetized and you lose a lot of value. So how do we usually even pitch Movylo or explain it by simply saying that if you have a website, if you do SEO, if you do pay-per-click, you must capture and convert your clicks. This seems like a basic explanation of a complex system, but you start adding complexity to explaining how marketing automation works, then they get overwhelmed and say, “Well, it’s too much for me, but I get the fact that I get and I’m spending money to get clicks, followers, likes, and so on, and I’m not converting them into real money.” So just talk about conversion. We have found that it’s a good angle to approach them and to complete basically a customer journey without mentioning technical words like customer journey and so on, because for them, I mean they don’t understand what customer journey means.
Jeff Tomlin: Yeah, so important because you have to keep continuing to iterate on your conversion game if you will. You have to get better and better at converting the traffic that you’re acquiring because it’s getting more and more and more expensive to acquire traffic, especially if you’re using paid systems. Organic search is becoming more and more competitive. So if you’re playing that game, you’ve got to put more effort into it. So we’re seeing a trend that the cost to acquire leads and to acquire traffic is just getting more and more expensive, which means it’s so important for businesses to actually focus on and iterate how they convert the traffic and the clicks into actual customers at the end of the day, isn’t it?
Stefano Colonna: Absolutely. And this is even worse for SMBs because when you are an enterprise or even a small enterprise, you know that you have to spend money on marketing and you get something out of that. You can understand analytics and so on. When you are a small business, you feel that the money you are investing comes out of your pocket and you run a small local restaurant, or small local salon. So your website will get just a few clicks. Your Facebook page will just have a handful of likes. So it’s really something that in order to get a lot of clicks, a lot of likes, you should invest a lot of money and that scares you because it feels like you putting a lot of the money out of your pocket from your family on the table. You don’t want to risk that. You have the money to put in, but you don’t want to risk it before you see results.
Jeff Tomlin: A hundred percent.
Stefano Colonna: So starting to deliver results that you can perceive, so not just thousands of clicks, but just a few real sales, that eases the pain that shows them, “Okay, I can trust you and if I can trust you and I can convert my 50 bucks, 120 bucks, 200 bucks into real sales, then I can spend more and more and more.” So I keep putting if you will… I can spend more on advertising by more clicks.
Jeff Tomlin: Can you talk a little bit about how the autopilot system works and just walk us through that a little bit?
Stefano Colonna: Yeah, well imagine that, I mean, Movylo is divided into three levels of success. The first level is we must help you capture customers and build your customer list. So the first thing that we do is we help you capture customers from your website, from Facebook, from Instagram, QR codes and so on, so that every day you start capturing leads, clicks, and followers, and build and grow your own customer list. Then the autopilot kicks in and you can imagine an engine that starts sending out personal and targeted messages to the customers in the list. Thanks for setting up, happy birthday, come back to visit us, bring a friend, write a review, and so on, and then decides what to send next and when, based on who happens, what, clicks on what, and so on. So a lot of intelligence, but behind the scenes. The user doesn’t have to do anything. You don’t have to do a complex configuration with triggers and so on. It’s all like pre-digested. If you want, you can just enter a bonus into this message, like free coffee or a 10% discount and so on. And this helps your customers to receive such messages, emails, text messages, social posts and so on. And if they decide to get the bonus, they can come back to your business, they can call you, they can make a reservation, they can use it online.
And this is level three. So level one is the customer list, and level two is digital results like engagement, open rates, clicks, and so on. And level three, real sales. So this is the process of the model autopilot.
Jeff Tomlin: And so at the end of the day, we are talking about value and what customers really want at the end of the day. So with Movylo’s lead conversion product, how are you guys measuring value at the end of the day, or if customers have got to value, do you measure that with leads or are you measuring that with conversion? What’s your definition of a value point there?
Stefano Colonna: Money. Money, because we help them close sales. So we can say that the autopilot brought you a new sale of $50, $100 from your website, the autopilot brought you $200 from the Movylo app or from a reserve with Google or from the QR code that you place on the tables. So we can track to single source the money that you made. And at the end of the month, we can tell you that with this month you have closed like $1,000, $2,000 extra sales through the Movylo autopilot.
Jeff Tomlin: Well, that’s compelling and probably the best type of proof of performance that you could ask for. Hey, we’ve covered a lot of different things and we’ve got sort of a unique perspective on small business marketing and automation. What are some of the things that if you had had a couple of takeaways for the audience, what would you want to stick in their head?
Stefano Colonna: Well, probably I would say put yourselves in the shoes of these small business owners that are local entrepreneurs, because many, many times we marketing people that sell marketing things, do not try to think like these people think. So it’s really easy if you put yourself in the shoes of a restaurant owner or a salon owner or a plumber that they just want to say, “Okay, I accept that I need to spend money with you, but show me customers and show me sales. All the rest, it’s good, but I want customers and sales.” So focus on simplicity. Do not give them software to use. Do not give them too many analytics, and too many things to learn and understand, but drive them results, and conversions. The other thing would be that if you are selling them or giving them things like a website, an SEO plan, a pay-per-click campaign, or anything that drives leads to them, be clicks, followers or anything like that, remember that they can be happy if they get clicks, but then over time, they will need to convert them. So if you start from day one, bundling something that generates clicks and something that captures and converts clicks. It’s a sweet spot because they get results, they will start telling you that they get results from you and they will stick with you, buy more things from you, and everybody wins and everybody’s happy.
Jeff Tomlin: I love it. I love what you guys are doing over there and I’m glad that we had a few minutes to sit down and chat and catch up. Stefano, if people wanted to continue the conversation or learn a little bit more about you guys, how do they reach out to you and how do they connect?
Stefano Colonna: Very easy to speak with us through the Movylo site through Vendasta, through many, many pages, but we built a landing page, it’s movylo.com/vendasta where they can also see some more content dedicated to them and they can book a call with us.
We are a product company and always here to support users who want to interact with us being that end users, consultants, and agencies. So, anybody who wants to speak with us, it’s just one click away.
Jeff Tomlin: Amazing. Stefano, a big fan over here. Thanks again for joining us. Hope you have an amazing day, man.
Stefano Colonna: Thanks a lot. Thanks a lot to all of you and great rest of the day.
Jeff Tomlin: Stefano is such a great dude. I’ve got two key takeaways from our conversation: First, Stefano highlights that simplicity is key in entrepreneurship. So important. Despite years invested in developing technology behind the scenes, the ultimate goal for Movylo was to offer a straightforward solution. The “marketing office in a box” concept exemplifies this by providing users with immediate, tangible results and catering to the mindset of entrepreneurs who appreciate user-friendly solutions. In the software space, simplicity is critical to user engagement and engagement is the doorway to customer expansion and reducing customer churn.
The second takeaway is capturing leads effectively for conversion. Stefano stresses the crucial role of effective lead capture to drive sales and monetize online presence. Movylo’s approach involves a three-level strategy: capturing customers through QR codes and platforms like Instagram, utilizing intelligence for targeted engagement, and closing sales with incentives. This strategic approach prioritizes results-driven solutions over complex analytics, aligning with an entrepreneur’s perspective and fostering successful customer journeys and long-term loyalty.
In essence, the key to entrepreneurial success lies in simplicity and an effective lead-capture strategy that prioritizes tangible outcomes and resonates with the entrepreneur’s mindset. If you’ve enjoyed Stefano Colonna’s episode discussing Lead conversion, keep the conversation going and revisit some of our older episodes from the archives: Check out Episode 642: LinkedIn Strategies that Double Lead Generation with Geoff Chaney or Episode 633: Transforming Sales Coaching with AI with Michael Miranda
Until next time, I’m Jeff Tomlin. Get out there and be awesome!