Project Description

Episode Number: S02E03
Published: March 4, 2019
Gusest: Nadia Hitman, VP Brand Marketing
Company: JoyTunes

The 100K Member Community-Driven Brand with Nadia Hitman at JoyTunes

When a small startup is recognized at Facebook’s F8 for building a killer community, when mother’s share their five year old’s piano videos, and when a brand is so strong that it hits both Apple and Google’s app of the day, you know something is up.

That something is Nadia Hitman, the VP of Brand Marketing at JoyTunes. And in this episode, she shares the journey to 10+ million downloads, the #1 spot in education in app stores, and $42 million in funding.

And that road lies through a rock-solid understanding of brand-promises, a community experiment that was seriously validated, and more.

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About Marketers In Capes with G-CMO

Marketers In Capes shares practical, no-fluff marketing advice in under ten minutes. Hosted by Eytan Buchman, each episode gets real-life marketing heroes talking about practical tips for standing out in a saturated world. See more rapid fire insights from heroes at Drift, MixPanel, Typeform and others here. Season 2 is recorded together with G-CMO,  a community of Israel’s top CMO’s from global companies, on a mission to power the startup nation. It’s all kinds of awesome.

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Season 2 Episode 3 Transcript

Note: These are transcribed using a combination of humans and AI. Neither are infallible. Both sometimes make funny mistakes.

Eytan Buchman

In eighth grade, I picked up a guitar and started to play. It wasn’t for the love of music; it was because I assumed it would make girls like me. But, as it turned out, they all kinda got sick of me playing the acoustic intro to Hotel California and the base line from Eminiem’s Lose Yourself again, and again, and again.

Apparently, being lonely while playing music isn’t so rare. It’s actually a fantastic way to seed one of Facebook’s most incredible communities.

Sound cryptic? It is. Which means it’s the right time to remind you that you’re listening to Marketers in Capes with GCMO, a community of Israel’s top CMO’s, I’m your host Eytan Buchman, and besides very justifiably self-deprecating remarks about my crappy guitar skills, today, we’re talking the importance of a brand promise, how a startup accidentally tested their way into an 100,000 person community, and how to hire independent, free-reign marketers.

Who could possibly talk about so much, you ask? Nadia Hitman, the VP Brand Marketing at JoyTubes.

Nadia Hitman

Okay, cool. Um, so I’m Nadia. And I come from a background of building international consumer brands, and doing the marketing in high growth tech startups. I came from London as you can tell from my British accent. …I worked on international brands like Procter and Gamble, Unilever, General Mills, Morphy Richards, kvc, any of the big brands, where I sat within the marketing departments there…. I’m passionate about breeding brands that have an impact on our lives…

Eytan Buchman

If you cut me, I bleed B2B. But Nadia went looking for that consumer impact, and she found it at a company called JoyTunes.

Nadia Hitman

I’ve been in JoyTunes for five and a half years now I’m the VP Brand Marketing and at JoyTunes we’re making it possible for anyone to learn to play musical instruments through building a big global household, Netflix-style, consumer subscription business. Basically bringing music learning and playing to all…

Eytan Buchman

P&G has a market cap of about $310 billion dollars. At a startup, it can be hard to get…$310. Which means a different approach to marketing

Nadia

So in P&G, you have obviously extensive budgets…. I think that’s very much a big difference because in the startup mindset, you’re doing testing, you’re like doing it really from the ground-up learning everything, and seeing what the results say before, then you’ll put the bid the budget on it….And then once something’s working and impactful, then you have a bigger playground.

Eytan

That’s not to say there isn’t anything to learn from P&G.

Nadia

at P&G, one thing that I found like mind blowing was that all the briefs had to be a one page, which actually works really well in the startup environment. I actually took that from that mindset into Israel, making everything short, concise, removing the cream, and running with what is meaningful.

Eytan Buchman

Which is why it’s called a brief…Zing! Anyway, what does a VP of Brand Marketing actually do?

Nadia

So the easiest way to divide it would be everything to do with the message, the brand promise, creating the communications and choosing which channels you’re going to communicate with, whether is from paid advertising to community, like creating a community, right the way through to like how you’re going to use marketing automation, email, push, in-app, everything within this domain. More recently, I’ve moved more towards working closely with acquisition, so how we’re using video content to reach millions around the world. So, every week something new can come in.

Eytan

Let’s go back a second (rewinding noise). I’ve recently gotten very into thinking about what a brand promise is. I pay a premium for a Marshall electric guitar amp because of the brand promise – awesome sound. It’s basically the way company acknowledges that it has a unique commitment to you. Or, as Nadia puts it:

Nadia

Understanding what do you stand for? Like what are your values? How do you want your audience to feel? What is How are you different? How are you different from other companies you need that differentiation and that’s a lot of the work that comes in with the brand building and then comes through right the way through to the messaging.

Eytan

Technology comes and goes but brands don’t. Once built, they have a tendency of sticking around. And one way that brands are increasingly doing that is with mission-driven companies. Not the Techcrunch satires of changing the world – but doing actual good.

Nadia

then like social good within it, which is also wrapped into what we’re doing at Joytunes as well, we’re like bringing goodness into the world. It sounds super cliche, that from all the stories that we have, from our millions of learners around the world, you see that. You see the goodness that is bringing to them, you actually feel it and that’s what I love about consumer brands as well; it’s that you can actually really see that impact that you’re really enriching their lives. And it’s not it’s something that’s much more than a cliche.

Eytan

I like tat this closes a loop. The brand makes a promise and when it fulfills the promise, it feels it. JoyTunes feels it at scale, through one of the most incredible community-building stories that I know.

Nadia

We have on on Facebook, now the largest piano learning community on Facebook. It’s called Simply Piano Community and we opened it pretty much six months after the app was out and that in itself, was an interesting decision.

Eytan

Not to spoil the ending, but it took off. Fast.

Nadia

It was recently recognized in Facebook’s F8 developer conference as a community success story, alongside Adidas and Airbnb, which is incredible.

Eytan

So how did it come along?

Nadia

We wanted feedback and we wanted to see how the app is being perceived and also for them to input on product, for them and to share their successes, to have a resource, because obviously learning a musical instrument by yourself can be a lonely experience. So we wanted to really create a harbor community so that they could have peer to peer support, as well as from our musicians and anyone actually in the company. And what we saw very early on was that people were so willing just to share their journey, to share their successes to share why they’re learning.

Eytan

But again, this started very, very small.

Nadia

I had this very, like small goal when I wanted to create the community because it’s like, okay, here’s the brief – we want to get feedback and see how the products being related to and create this place for them to share and for resources and tips. Do they need help? What do they need, and for them to ask questions? So I said, Okay, let’s do a very quick test with a Facebook community, because if it doesn’t work we can just take it down, rather than you know, create a forum which then needs dev work and you know, then it’s like a lot harder if doesn’t go the way you want it, to then like put it back. So said, light test, Facebook community. And the very early goal that I had was okay so if about 50 people are going to give us feedback and north community os over 100000 members

Eytan

But it’s not just a matter of waiting for the community to grow by itself.

Nadia

One thing that happened to us is when we just did this light test, and we also then saw all the goodness that was being shared in it. And so we said hang on, if we put a way for learners to join the community inside the app, then this Going to obviously reach far more people.

Eytan

Yup, product-led community growth, not community-led product growth. Cool, right? But what does that community actually do? Three things, really:

Nadia

Every day there’s so many stories that are shared in this community, and we’re actually using that taking it 1) for marketing insights 2) to get product feedback and 2) we’re using it actually to reach new audiences, we make ads out of them, ee use the like the videos throughout the user journey.

Eytan

So, no, the video of me as a lonely and likely under-deodorized guitar strummer is not being used in their retargeting ads. You know what is?

Nadia

There was this mom, who was sharing progress of her son who was five at the time, he had no piano experience before. And each week she would post a little video of how he was doing and we saw that he was making amazing progress. And one of our team members, Levi, he, he reached out to the mom and said, Hey, your son is doing amazingly. And this is where the idea came from putting him inside one of our ads, which then opened up a whole new area of creatives for us which is user, authentic generated content.

Eytan

In essence, this is where communities are freaking amazing – they create an awesome way to engage directly, which creates even more resources to use for engagement.

Eytan

But going back to inside of the way JoyTunes works, one of the more interesting things, is that they work in pods – small and agile teams. Which has interesting implications for marketing skills.

Nadia

So the concept of pods, as I said, it’s like a mini startup inside a startup, which gives you a lot of ownership to run fast and own what you’re doing…So because of that, what we’re looking for typically when we hire – not just marketing, but in other professions as well, is someone that is has got the ability to really lead, they need to be that marketing lead within their port. What does that mean? It means that they need to have this strategic thinking as well as the hands on execution inside the ports. There’s no ego There’s no one to delegate to. There’s no one you know, like, okay, I can’t do this because I’ve had 10 years experience doing X,Y and Z.

Eytan

Just to bring this home, when she’s not playing chopsticks on piano, how does Nadia stay on top of her marketing game?

Nadia

So I’m reading a lot. I’m listening to a lot of podcasts. I listen to a lot of podcasts And staying up to date with you know, like, by being close to other marketers, I’m learning and constantly evolving like me, five and a half years ago, when I joined joy juice, I came to join teams with 15 years experience already but in the time that I’ve been at JoyTines, I’m not the same person that I was five and a half years ago. as a marketer, you need to stay close to the trends. You need to stay close and learn from your peers.

Eytan

This interview almost – almost – made me want to get into consumer marketing. But the underlying idea behind brand promise and community is similar in b2b – an implicit relationship with your audience.

It might be over outbound targeted content, through a Facebook community, or spoken about by a huge brand advocate in a video. One thing is for certain – that relationship form when you know exactly what emotional promise you’re providing. And when you’re not signing Wonderwall off key at a bonfire. You can learn more about Simply Piano or Simply Guitar at Joytunes, learn more about the concept of pods in my show notes, and get to know my guitar skills…from the four-inch layer of dust on my guitar.

My name is Eytan Buchman, you’ve been plucking your way through Marketers in Capes with GCMO, and even though I don’t know where the do key is on a piano, I’ll “C” you later. Sorry, that was terrible.