Marketing Trends
Marketing Trends
Dec 1, 2021
Unpacking Evolving Marketing Channels Landscape with Nico Dato, EVP Marketing, Podium
Play • 53 min

You may not need to invest any marketing dollars in a new Tiktok channel. If you’re like Nico Dato, the Executive Vice President of Marketing at Podium, you’re thinking about the best ways to not only get the attention that those new well-known channels bring, but also gain the trust of SMBs in order to win them over as clients. But the reality is, there is no right or wrong answer to where you spend your ad budget. The truth is, the only thing that actually matters is what’s performing. 

The channel mix is evolving every day and it’s important to think about where your clients are and develop a relationship with them, and second, stay abreast of third-party apps that are emerging as new marketing platforms in the U.S. 

“We do a ton of trade shows, which is something that not a lot of people do. We do a lot of direct mail. We do radio; we do everything you can imagine. For us, it takes three or four touches on average to get someone's attention in the way that we want. A lot of times that comes from a combination of digital, traditional, radio, print… We're marketing and selling to plumbers, insurance agents, car dealers, and, and people who are out there physically working in the real world all day long. Like what a lot of people don't realize about Podium is, if I'm selling to an HVAC contractor, like most times they're like checking out Podium at like nine 30 at night, because they were fixing air conditioners all day, or unclogging toilets, Making sure we get that right channel mix is critical. [Conversions are] They’re not always going to come via Google search.”

In this episode of Marketing Trends, Nico and I unpack the best way to grow a team from seven to over 1,000 and peel back the curtain into how Nico has transformed himself from a marketer to a marketing leader. Staying on top of all marketing channels, new and old, is how he stays on the cutting edge. All this next on Marketing Trends. 

Main Takeaways

  • Hire for People not just for Needs: When you grow and hire, sometimes there will be a temptation to hire quickly, and in your rush, you may be thinking more about hiring candidates who can help stop the bleeding, so to speak. Instead of hiring for the task you need to be done now, you should be hiring the individual who can best contribute to the company overall. Find someone who can grow with the company, that fits into the culture, and it just might take a couple of extra weeks to find them and train them up. 
  • Gaining Trust of SMBs: Small and Medium-Sized businesses are usually the subject matter experts in their communities. For example, the dentist is trusted, personally, by the people that he services. That dentist and his front office staff likely aren’t marketing experts, and it takes an understanding of the trust that they themselves garner, in order to understand the level of trust you need to build with them. Their business is a passion and they need to know they can trust you to be on their team. 
  • Increased Utilization of Third-Party Apps in the US: Third-party communication apps like Whatsapp are being used with ever-increasing frequency in the U.S. which is arguably behind this trend in other countries like Brazil, and Japan. This is a whole new channel for marketers to tap into and add to their mix. 

Key Quotes

“I've been super fortunate to learn on the fly. I didn't necessarily have all of this classical training in how to run a marketing team and how to build a comms function and a product marketing function. I've just been so fortunate that my career has just kind of snowballed. [Going from a marketer to a marketing leader] is a huge transition. When you're an individual contributor, you have control over the destiny of the thing that you own. And it’s up to you to work as hard as you want, to strategize as much as you want, to learn from outside sources as much as you want. [Then] all of a sudden you're having to guide a team in doing that one thing that you think you can do really, really well. The secret is that oftentimes they know how to do it much better than you do.”

“[The] transition [to leadership] was really hard. I'm not perfect at it by any means, but I think I’ve grown by way of leadership over the last couple of years. It’s a transition that you don't need to make unless you really want to make that jump. t's not easier. There are great career paths in any of these disciplines that don't necessarily mean management.”

“[Marketers] are worried about SLS. You're worried about contracts with your customers. You're worried about all of these things. The thing that our CEO has done a really good job of is that, he's tried to keep us focused on the things that matter most. As you're scaling quickly, [identify] the five priorities to align with and get all of the subsequent teams to also align to, in order to make sure that those things are perfect.”

“My hiring mantra has always been to hire people, not for the role, but you need to find the right person. I would rather take a longer amount of time finding the right person than having to restart in three months or six months or, or whatever it is. My intent is to find the right person for the role and, and know that the longer-term impact of finding the right person is going to be much greater than filling the short-term need. That may just be a two or three-week difference.” 

“The one thing that I have found every year becomes more and more surprising -- and probably it shouldn't be a surprise because it continuously happens -- I think that the channel diversification that's happening here in the US and I should be inclusive of Canada, but largely the U.S. is changing. Historically the best way to reach them [was] via email, and then all of a sudden it started to become texts. We are a huge advocate of texting, but what's interesting is we've started to enter the world where consumers are using third-party apps as well to communicate. It's something that you see internationally; you go to Brazil, you might see it with WhatsApp; you go to Japan, you might see it with Line, and et cetera. The data shows in [our] report, 40% or something similar, are starting to use third-party apps on a daily basis to communicate with one another. It's a huge opportunity for brands. There's channel diversification that's happening, and you should take advantage of that.”

“At the top of the funnel, we work to try and be everywhere and show that we are honed in, on local business for these businesses. It's why we do a ton of trade shows. We do a ton of trade publications. We do a lot of display advertisements or radio advertisements. A lot of times they just want to know you're legitimate. The hardest thing for local businesses is getting their trust; they've been burned so many times because they are so vulnerable. It's really important to us to make sure they know that we're going to be a partner to them. It's hard to do and there's not one answer that solves all.”


Nico Dato is the EVP of Marketing for Podium, the leading interaction management platform that enables companies with a local presence to conveniently connect at critical touchpoints and help them strengthen their business. Dato grew up in Bountiful, Utah, and attended the University of Utah, where he graduated in 2013 with a degree in economics. Prior to Podium, Dato helped run demand generation at Teleperformance and then managed Zane Benefits’ marketing team.

After joining Podium in 2015, he assisted in taking the company through Y Combinator in 2016 - becoming one of the highest revenue-generating companies ever to attend the accelerator. As a part of the executive team, he has also helped secure funding from IVP, Accel, GV (formerly Google Ventures), and Summit Partners. In his free time, Dato enjoys golfing and spending time with his wife, Rachel, and daughter, Penelope.


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