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How To Think About Growth Marketing with JC (Jean-Carlos) Polonia – Episode #121

“If you can understand business, it will make you a better marketer.”

JC Polonia is the Head of Growth at LOOP, a car insurance company based out of Austin, Texas, that takes biased and discriminatory data out of the industry. He’s also the founder of Digitality, a New York-based performance and production marketing agency. From local small businesses to venture-backed companies, JC developed his chops for growth marketing from the grassroots. Data-driven and results-oriented, his efforts revolve around paid media buying and conversion rate optimization.

Questions and topics we covered include:

  • How to pitch marketing services to local businesses using side hustles
  • Why the marketing agency still works as a business model
  • The benefits of working in-house instead of working at an agency
  • How JC defines what a growth team actually does (hint: it’s not just media buying)
  • Why should marketers understand both the company’s brand and the company’s business fundamentals?
  • The importance of knowing what stage your company is in
  • What does it mean to be “resourceful” as a marketer?
  • The challenges of being a people manager?
  • How to approach internal marketing with the CEO and CFO?

And more!

Say hello to JC via LinkedIn –

And say hi via Instagram (his reels are great) –

Our Podcast Partner – MarketerHire

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Full Episode Transcript:


Kenny Soto 0:02  

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the people Digital Marketing podcast with your host Kenny Soto and today’s special guest JC Bolonia. Hi, JC how are you?


JC Polonia 0:14  

What’s up, Kenny? Thanks for having me on. 


Kenny Soto 0:16  

All right, so I’m gonna do a quick disclosure. Before we even get into the questions. JC and I are co-workers at a startup called loop. We sell car insurance. And we’re bad assets that do really, really well. And throughout the months that I’ve been working with JC, I was just really impressed with his ability to grow revenue for the business. 


And one day it dawned on me I have all these marketing experts that I have on the show. I work with one every single day. Why don’t we just have him on the podcast? So this is how this episode came to be. I already have a lot of context on your career. But I don’t want to assume that the listeners do, hence why you’re on the show. So my first question for you JC is how did you become a digital marketer?


JC Polonia 1:07  

Well, first, firstly, thank you for having me on, once again, appreciate that intro. My digital marketing career is probably a little unorthodox, in comparison to most who probably went to school, studied marketing, and then kind of got into an entry-level job. And that’s kind of how they develop their chops. I like to come slash say that I’m from the school of hard knocks and kind of learned through the grassroots in and of itself. 


So while I was in college, this is kind of the high level, I realized, okay, this internet thing is big. There’s something there. I don’t know what it is, yeah. But I also knew that I wanted something to be impactful. And it had to be something that could be scalable, something that could grow. So I ended up starting. And during this timeframe, dropshipping was huge, everybody knew about being able to take and source a product and things like that. 


But it’s like, I didn’t want to just take any product, I wanted something that actually meant something. And that can have an impact. So I started clothing brands, the easiest niche to kind of get into, just because of the fact that hey, you can do some print-on-demand pod for those of you that are out there, and kind of just fulfill based off of anytime you actually got orders. So that’s what drop shipping kind of is. 


And then they would take care of all the fulfillment, but I wanted to have a purpose. So I was part of a fraternity when I was in college and my fraternity worked with a philanthropy that helps people with disabilities. So that was something that was near and dear to my heart. So when I started the actual brand itself, 10% of all of the proceeds would actually be donated back to that very same philanthropy. Now me in the beginning tied it back to how I get started with digital marketing. I had to learn how to how do I get this out there. 


How do people see it? How do they know about it? How can I grow it? How can I bring awareness to it? And it’s like, cool, you have your typical, like, Oh, tell your friends, so your family. But once you get past that, what else do you do? Right? So I started looking for new ways. And I ended up coming across Facebook advertising, Google search, etc. So I told myself, alright, let me try it. I was a broke college kid who didn’t have much money. But I knew that I wanted to make this work. 


So I worked my regular jobs. And I put my own money into paid advertising to kind of learn. So over time, I wasted a lot of money, kind of getting through the process, understanding it a lot better, until it got to the point where it was like, Okay, I have an understanding of how this actually works, at least for this particular niche. This particular brand, was when I started realizing that clothing isn’t the route for me. So in order to really scale that up, it’s super tight margins. It’s like in and of itself, you need a brand new product. 


So I was like, Okay, I love this. This is a passion project. But it won’t necessarily be the thing that scales won’t necessarily be the thing that I can grow with outside of college. But I started self-assessing, and I’m like, Alright, without any background, without any marketing knowledge, because I studied psychology in college itself. I learned all of these skills, how do I apply this to the real world? How do I apply this to people around me? So I ended up taking on local clients. 


So there were other businesses that then entrusted me to create their content, and make the creative all the way from the top down to the bottom to execute the distribution, which is all of the pain. So not only that I learned on my own dime, I was able to take those learnings and help other people scale their businesses. And to keep it short summarize, that’s kind of how I got into the space.


Kenny Soto 4:56  

So I get questions all Time from friends and family and former people I knew back in college. If I wanted to get into digital marketing, what can I do? So you just presented a very practical way of learning and getting clients at the same time? Let’s dive a little deeper. How do you pitch your services to local clients?


JC Polonia 5:22  

Great question. So first, they helped that I had my own metrics to show, right? So it’s like, a lot of times people end up trying to get into the space and try to work with companies work with brands work with other people, but they have nothing to show for it. Why would they trust you? Right? So it’s like, that makes sense. Cool. I wouldn’t trust you either. 


Thankfully, I had metrics on the backend, I can show what it cost me like I was getting cost per view, I’m just videos and less than a penny a pop, you flip the mindset for a potential business owner, and they’re like, you’re telling me I can show my brand to X number of people for $100, or $1,000. It’s like, their perspective changes completely because all they know is traditional marketing. All they knew was a newspaper, all they knew was magazines, all they knew was word of mouth, and they don’t get exposed to it. 


So this was back five, seven years ago, when it wasn’t as widely known to business owners as a whole. So the first thing you need to do, if you don’t have experience, is getting it. I don’t care if you have to work for free, I don’t care if you have to do it on your own dollar, start your own brand, start your own company, do it for yourself because that’s going to be the only way that you can talk to anyone else. 


And they’re going to give you the credibility to actually speak to it. And don’t get me wrong, it is not easy, because you’re going to learn for one industry, your media buys strategies, and your marketing strategy completely changed from industry to industry, because there are a ton of new nuances that you have to learn. 


But starting for yourself, you’ll also get other skill sets that are going to be super helpful for you in marketing, which is going to be business fundamentals. I always personally think, especially if you’re in the acquisition side of marketing, and that’s purely where you’re focusing, if you can understand business, it will make you a better marketer, you have to know that for your company, or for anybody that you work with.


Kenny Soto 7:20  

You in your backstory got clients, and correct me from wrong through that transition from doing your own business to getting clients you started an agency Correct? Right. Now, why choose the agency model?


JC Polonia 7:41  

In the beginning, the agency model was what I knew, but that wasn’t necessarily something that I strive for, I kind of just like, by happenstance created an agency, right? Because it’s like, in my head, I was just a freelancer, in the beginning, working with a bunch of other people. And then at the point where you transition from an overpaid freelancer to getting an agency is when you have your own brand set up, and is when you have a team set up underneath you. You don’t have any of those things. 


I just consider myself a freelancer that works with a ton of other people. Right. So that was, I guess when people say you started an agency, that was the moment that I thought that happened. Until then it’s not like I set out like, I’m going to grow this to be a VaynerMedia of the world. I’m like, I enjoy marketing. I enjoy working with people, I enjoy the content, and I enjoy bringing results. How do I package that it came about as an agency and it made sense?


Kenny Soto 8:40  

And then can you also give context on what you do today, and how you got that job in the first place?


JC Polonia 8:47  

I will give all credit to that job because of my agency. But I’ll tell you a little fun story that comes from it. So today I’m the head of growth for loop insurance as he got a little bit of context from Kenny. So I oversee all of our paid media, web, email, etc. Work closely with our marketing team. We’re part of the marketing team to just kind of grow the revenue, acquire our members, and make sure that they have a great experience, in and out. 


So that’s my focus. How did I get this role? So when I was developing my agency, I had actually reached out to John Henry, who was our founder comes back to the clothing shop by the way, the first time I ever reached out to him and Kenny I actually don’t think you know, the first time I ever reached out to him was because I was trying to implement influencer marketing for my own brand. 


So I reached out and I said hey, can you and would you wear some of my clothing if I sent it out to you like this is the purpose? This is why I’m doing it etc. He was much smaller back than I was very small. He said yes. never actually happened not because of him just never actually had, but what that did was a very key moment. Because of the fact that I was able to get inside the DMS, there wasn’t that whole like, oh, message request feature. 


Anytime you send another DM, you just pop it to the top of the feed, right? Because now the conversation started, he puts out an inquiry or a form out there, just Oh Historia says, Hey, I’m looking for some paid media buyers. I’m like, Cool. Alright, so at this point, I now have a lot more confidence in what I do. I had done it dozens of times, with a ton of different industries, and a ton of different clients. I didn’t know what he needed it for. And then I reached out and I said, Hey, cool, I do this also, blah, blah, blah. 


He tried vetting me over DMS, he started asking a bunch of hypothetical questions. And I answered it, and he was like, alright, this kid kind of knows what he’s talking about. So we get on a call, and he tells me that it’s actually funny enough a venture for clothing. So he was starting equity apparel at that time, right? All of this plays into how this happened. I worked with him on equity apparel, on the paid media side, and kind of run some ad ops, on a much smaller scale. He takes off a little bit with that. 


But then he kind of goes quiet. So I said, Hey, all right. My problem is that you’re not focused on this anymore. So probably another I don’t know, the timeframe, another six to 12 months go on. And he reaches back out and says, I’m starting a car insurance company. I said, What’s your starting? Started? Your


Kenny Soto 11:33  

The car’s super random. It sounds really random.


JC Polonia 11:37  

Honestly. When I heard that, I was like, how do you go from a perilous venture, like cleaners to like car insurance? And when I thought and I used to think car insurance. I’m like, this is boring. Like, I was honest. Like, it’s not something that I was really interested in it. And he said, let’s just let’s have a conversation. And let’s do it big. He explained the mission, explained the injustices that were happening. And I said, Okay, this is something I can get behind. 


And that was the moment where he then offered me a starting role as like, just paid media ops. So Facebook ad specialist, what I came in as, and to be quite frank, in the beginning, it was just a start as a contractor, kind of moved in, I fell in love with the team, fell in love with the purpose fell in love with the mission. And he offered me a full-time position within two weeks. And I was like, Man, this is tough. This was tough. But I took it, I ended up taking it, and haven’t looked back ever since. 


So from that ad specialist role, I think our team was probably only 12 to 15 people at this time. So I was pre-Series A. So this was right after the seed round. One of the first hires there got to see us through Series A. And now we’re about 7078 people deep in our organization going after our series B and have gone from zero to I’m not gonna say our revenue out there just yet. But there’s definitely been some growth and some skill from things that weren’t necessarily set out yet. Right. We started from scratch. And it’s been beautiful to kind of watch it happen in life.


Kenny Soto 13:18  

It’s not always the case that there are advantages for everyone when it comes to being solely focused on one brand. So I want your opinion on this. Is it always a good idea to focus as a marketer on one brand? Is that for everyone? Are there pros to being in the agency model and working with many other clients?


JC Polonia 13:44  

Here’s what I will say about that. It’s dependent on the person’s personality. And the marketer itself. There are marketers out there because when I was in the agency space, still very active in this space, understand it very well know it very well worked with a ton of people that are still actively participating in it. Like, I know that there are people that get bored with one brand. 


They want the exposure to like CPG, they want the exposure to service space, they want the exposure to a bunch of different companies or brands because they like to challenge, right? They have never probably experienced what are the challenges that come when you stay with one brand consistently over time. Right. So it’s like that was something that I thought about a lot before transitioning was like, I really enjoy speaking to many different people and hearing different obstacles. 


What I ended up realizing after being with one company for now, almost two years was that, although it’s within the same industry, at every level that you take, or you get to the next step, there’s a new challenge. There’s a new problem that you have to solve. And that doesn’t become boring. As you go through rebrands you go through new products, you go through new value propositions that you have to introduce. 


So it’s like, is there a pro and con I’m sure you get more exposure to other industries within the agency space. But when you stick to the brand and one space, you end up learning so much more deeply. So you go for depth over with, in comparison. So my advice to anybody that’s out there is, you have to experiment, you have to do both. Try it, and see what makes sense for you, as a marketer, and what you enjoy, if you can get passionate about it, go all in, that’s what you should do.


Kenny Soto 15:32  

The title is head of growth. But growth is a very, very vague term at times. My next question is, is growth, just paid media performance marketing? Or are there other details outside of that?


JC Polonia 15:51  

It’s a great question. It also varies company, the company in terms of what you oversee, there are many times people who when I speak to vendors when I speak to partners hear that title, and they think, okay, head of growth, you might also be overseeing state expansion, right? So you’re now looking through different markets, things of that nature. When that time comes, I will be part of the conversation. 


But that has led primarily through our underwriting departments, when you look at current assurance as a whole, there are other metrics that you need it to play, and more than just market share and total addressable markets, you’re now looking at the potential risk within those states, right. So that’s something you have to account for. So depending on who asked for category changes in my eyes, what growth means to me is just increasing our member community, increasing the premium that we have, and helping retain our customers. 


If I do those three things, along with everything else that’s happening in the business, then to me, that’s important. That’s important. That’s where I focus my time, whether that happens through paid, whether that happens through email, whether that happens through SEO, whether it happens through whatever the case may be, or all of the different functions that we have as a business. That’s what matters to me, and how they’re impacting each other. 


To get us to that point, now you started looking at other opportunities, where heads of growth, work closely with our engineering teams, we work closely with product teams, because you start trying to unlock new distribution channels, paid media, all it is is a distribution channel. So I think growth, I think adding on distribution channels, maximizing their effectiveness, keeping spend as little as possible, and making it efficient as possible.


Kenny Soto 17:24  

Before asking my next question, I just wanted to give more context for the listener who doesn’t work in our industry, what is premium mean?


JC Polonia 17:34  

So a premium in the insurance world is basically it’s not revenue, technically, but it’s like, I’ll give an example for the first person, so you go get your car insured when you get your quote, you’ll see your premium amount. That’s how much your policy is going to be worth over time and what you have to pay, right? So it’s, it’s what you have to pay as a consumer, not what it’s worth, that’s your liabilities, your coverage, all of that stuff. But if you have $1,060, that you owe over six months, that’s your premium.


Kenny Soto 18:06  

Now, when it comes to becoming a better marketer holistically, why should marketers understand both the company’s brand and the company’s business fundamentals?


JC Polonia 18:19  

That’s a phenomenal question. If you don’t understand the brands, what you could do is optimize for short-term results, which will end up deteriorating the company from within. Because now, you’re just focusing on a flywheel that’s customers in customers out. And you’ll always be reliant on these other methods and or tactics to get customers through the door, is there a time in place 100%, if you can do that while being brand-aligned, you’re going to 10x your business over the next five to 10 years. 


That’s where the focus has to come in. Now, if you don’t understand business principles, and then you’re also purely just on the brand side, there’s a lot that has to come into play there. Because depending on the stage of where your company is, you do need to drive results at that moment, it’s finding that fine balance between the two that always become the most difficult. And it changes depending on if you’re in that zero to one phase, one to 10 phase, or 10 to 100 million. That’s always going to be that stepping stone. 


But having a holistic view of the business will always make you a better marketer because you can understand from the inside out what makes your customers tick, what makes your business tick, what moves the needle forward, and when it gets your customers to happy and actually taken action.


Kenny Soto 19:44  

One of the most useful things that I learned both at the loop and in the past is you got to speak to almost every single member of the company speak to sales, speak to customer care, speak to anyone who’s working in product But if they have the time, speak to your founder speak to your executive team. 


And then outside of that, there are more than enough podcasts around business and specific industries that you can leverage outside of your day-to-day to get more context about how you as a marketer, regardless of your function, how you’re involved in the business, you’re part of a series of parts in a big system. And if you’re just focused on Oh, I got more impression share on paid ads on Facebook, or, Oh, I increase my engagement rate percentage on Instagram reels this week. Great. But is it really great? How does that tie back to sales enablement, revenue growth, audience building, etc, etc, etc?


JC Polonia 20:51  

100%. And if you’re so narrow-minded, you could be missing a big portion of what you’re doing that could be affecting the rest of the business, right? So, I mean, I can give an example, right? Car insurance is one of the few industries where your customers can actually cost you money. Right. 


So at this point, if we were only looking at purely our CAC, and purely our premium customer acquisition costs, for anyone that’s out there, and purely our premium, which we just spoke about before, we might be missing out on the fact that maybe we’re bringing in customers that are high risk, maybe they’re not the best drivers, right, so maybe we’re not the best company for them. 


So not having that holistic picture, you could potentially be within the first three to six months look really, really good on paper, and then all of a sudden your other metrics go out of whack, right? So it’s like your loss ratio. Insurance nerds out there know what that is. And it’s like, how much you’re losing for every dollar of premium that you bring in, right? All of that kind of is so important to the business itself, that if you don’t know that, you won’t be able to speak to it or even your operations. 


If you’re growing too quickly, you can overwhelm your care team, so much volume of calls, right in terms of what they had and what they were expected to if we weren’t looking three months down the line or having those conversations internally, we could potentially set them up for failure. So there’s a lot that you have to take into consideration. It’s not just your one metric on your impression, your reels, or how much it costs you to acquire a customer, what is best for the business at the moment that the business is in.


Kenny Soto 22:31  

This is the perfect segue to talk about the company stage or the stage your company is in. Why is it important to understand that? And how does that determine what to do now? Versus what to do later?


JC Polonia 22:46  

Why is it important? So I would say the biggest reason why is to have an understanding of how you deploy your resources. When you know what stage your company is in, you know what its biggest need is. So for example, for us in the beginning, you have a product that needs to get to market. What are you worried about, you just need exposure, you need people through the door, you need customers to come in, try the product, and make sure that it makes sense so that you can iterate and make the product better. 


So what’s important to us in that stage, or at that moment, is speed. We want as many people to come through the doors, understand and know about the product itself so that we can also iterate against the product and make it better so that then everybody compounds and they tell their friends and family. Right? Once you’re past that point of like, okay, the product is proven, etc, you start looking deeper into, in our case, what we just talked about, right, the other concepts that are happening within the business. 


So you know that you can deploy X amount of dollars now because it’ll bring about the expected X number of customers. And we can handle that. Once you have or you know, the capital that’s in your pipeline that you can deploy out, you can take bigger bets as well. So now if you start moving away from more of that, like the startup stage where you just need customers, that’s when you go into big brand bets, bring brand plays, right? So that you can get out of this flywheel where you’re not just focused on how much dollars I’m putting out into the market versus how much I’m getting back. 


How can you now use your dollars to make an impact? How can you now use your dollars to get people talking and get people to compound so that they know who the company is, who are the people behind it and what the mission is behind that as well? So knowing the stage that your company is in will allow you to make the decisions you need today and know which decisions you need to forego later given what you need in the next three months, six months, or 12 months down the line.


Kenny Soto 24:47  

If anyone who’s listening wants a little bit more context on what JC just mentioned, Google the leaky marketing funnel. It’s a metaphor used by many marketing As experts, they all define it differently. But it ties back to what you’re saying where it’s like you can drive in and bring customers into the company. You can spend $100,000, every single week and get it done. Can you keep them? Are you? Are you projecting the number of customers coming in? 


Actually, working alongside the sales team and the care team? Are they able to handle that workload? Do we have the staff? Or are you just burning cash for the sake of burning cash? These are things to keep in mind. And if anyone wants to get better at visualization, I don’t have the graphic skills to show as myself, just Google, the leaky marketing funnel. Now, JC what does it mean to be resourceful? And I asked this knowing that you have a lens of what you’re doing right now in growth, but also, you will have a lot of resourcefulness that is shown through your backstory. So it doesn’t necessarily need to be just with Lupe, it can also be with the work you’ve done in the past. What does it mean to be resourceful?


JC Polonia 26:08  

It’s a great question. I could start with both. I mean, resourcefulness comes about when you put constraints on yourself. That’s what I truly believe. Because let’s say, Hey, you told the marketing team, you only have 100,000 hours to get this done. All of a sudden, the types of ideas that start flowing through the organization change completely, and what they default to, and their actions change completely. 


Whereas if you told them you have a million dollars to get it’s not Oh, they’re going to default to like just buy every media space that you have in the world, right? So resourcefulness within a company is really important as putting those practices into place. I always try to throw out hypotheticals like what if we only had x, right? If this was just $10,000? How does that happen? If this was only 5000 hours, how does that happen? And even within the people and the tools and the resources that we have, there’s been many times where we’ve come up with creative solutions with engineers with analysts, like how do we this doesn’t happen, this isn’t get done automatically. 


But can we set up some logic where it can get done at least the next day, right? So there are a lot of opportunities there, where if you give yourself the constraints, and understand where you’re confined, you’ll be able to come up with a solution, it may not be perfect, but your solutions will always be better than staying stagnant. So if you don’t have the resources, work on your resource will miss because that’ll move you along further. 


The same thing applies outside of your company your business like this comes you can correlate it back to fitness, can’t afford a gym membership, cool. You can run do push-ups and pick up a sack of rice to do curls, right? Like that’s the god-honest truth. But people don’t like to think that. And they want to give themselves excuses to move forward. Those aren’t just applicable to moments in marketing, those are applicable to some moments in life. So to me, resourcefulness has always been key. And I think it’ll always continue to be key. Regardless, I think the more efficient you are with your resources, the more you can get done. And the less you can rely on external sources.


Kenny Soto 28:15  

I forgot where I heard this. But I’m quoting an industry leader and entrepreneur that said, I forgive mistakes done through action faster than mistakes done through inaction. You got to have a bias toward getting shit done. Period, figure it out. If you don’t have the resources, figure it out. That’s what you got paid to do. Right? You have the job because they trust you to do a specific action or series of actions. 


And if there are blockers, obviously raise them, because there are people above you to help you with those blockers. And in the event that those blockers don’t go away, what can you do, there’s always something you can do, especially if you don’t only rely on your own brain, you have a team for a reason.


JC Polonia 29:04  

100% and that’s applicable at all levels of the organization. Like at the leadership level, it’s still a conversation that we have consistently to rely on each other, to be able to come up with what the solutions might be. So we usually, I don’t know how many people have this terminology or take these concepts but get a V one out, right? Get a version one out the door, what’s with the information that you have and the resources that you have? Can you come up with, let that be what catapults you because now you can bring this forward to your team? Whether it’s leadership, whether it’s literally doesn’t matter. 


Now, there’s a structure that you can actually think through. It’s much more difficult to improve on something that’s still in the ideation phase. So once you can get that v one out, you can make the improvements over time. And you might realize your V one is your v 10. From where you’re at right now. And that’s Okay to write because at least you’ve got something off the ground. And, you know, this is what we have to deal with. We understand it, and we can project it. In April, we’re going to revisit this because we’re going to have x. And that’s what’s going to keep you pushing forward for.


Kenny Soto 30:16  

What are the challenges of being a people manager?


JC Polonia 30:21  

Personalities. That’s, that’s, that’s a lot of it. Knowing how to adapt your communication style, so especially if you’re going cross teams, that’s really important the way you would talk to a creative is very different than the way you would speak to someone within a product, someone within engineering, what they respond to the type of structure, they like, the type of structure, they thrive in the types of goals, they’ll set, they’re very, very different. 


I have the luxury of being in a position that I think of as the intersection between creative data and product. So I’ve been a bridge, or at least I try to be a bridge between our teams, just because I have the context of like, a little bit of the engineering side to understand what’s happening in terms of the logic, a little bit of the data side to understand the analyst and a lot of the marketing sides to say this, what we got to do on our end to fix it. So in regards to people management, it’s truly communications, knowing how to adapt. 


And also keeping people engaged, it’s very easy, especially if you’re just focused on one part of the business. And if you get hired as a specialist, many times people tend to stay there unless they branch out themselves. So getting them engaged and involved with other areas of the business is super, super important, because then they can also see the impact that they’re having as a whole. It’s not just, hey, my click-through rate is only point eight 9%. 


This point 10% improvement led to an increase of 3% in conversion, which now means we have 100 new families that have saved with us that now can afford to buy their kids dinner this week. Like that’s real. And it’s very easy for us to forget that when we’re so deep into our work. But as a leader, it’s important to bring that out, keep talking about these conversations, because there’s real impact behind the work that we’re actually doing.


Kenny Soto 32:21  

Two more questions for you. My next one comes from a personal experience, prior to joining the joining loop. And I guess the main reason why I was able to join the loop was that I had gotten fired for not knowing how to do this. What is that thing? That thing is reporting to the CEO. So my next question for you, and this in two parts really? Sure. How do you manage up to your co-CEOs? Excuse me? And part two is how do you manage up or across to your CFO?


JC Polonia 32:59  

Great, great questions. I try to put, it’s a little bit difficult for me to speak to others, because I personally have experienced running a business, not to the scale of it being venture-backed. That’s a whole different beast. This is Bootstrap. This is a startup. But I’ve always thought of having a CEO mentality. So for myself last summer, I asked myself the question, what would they want to know? And what is the most important thing that I can be speaking to them about right now? And that’s always going to be if you are in the day-to-day, you will have context into what that is. And that’s what they’re looking for from you. 


Don’t wait for your CEOs, your managers, or whoever it is to bring about issues or problems. If you sound like the bad MTA, New York. So if you see something, say something that’s going to be necessary, don’t wait on it. And every time be proactive about wanting your one on one, that’s okay. They might be they might have to push it because they have 10 million other things that they have to do. 


But ask for it. Hey, can we meet up next week, I have x x and x to talk about, and at least they know that you’re proactive, especially in this world today. It’s very easy for virtual and kind of just all the slack stuff to go under the radar, and you’re doing the work. But then if you’re not talking about it, who’s going to know they’re not identifying that this is a problem, right? So be proactive, reach out, and have a structure for them. 


Don’t make the meetings pointless. So don’t expect them to tell you or ask you the right questions. If they hired you for that function or that reason. They expect you to be able to come in and tell them, This is what I’m seeing these are the action steps that we have in place. So that was as far as the question for the CEOs. I think that’s the best piece of advice, keep communication high and have a structure always. What was the second part of the question?


Kenny Soto 34:55  

How do you manage across to your CFO?


JC Polonia 35:00  

Both are CFO, right, so we have our VP of Finance. So he’s what I would consider our CFO at the moment, I actually probably spend more time with him than 60% of the company, given the nature of the space that I’m in, so we’re constantly deploying dollars out into the market. And every dollar that we deploy out is an impact on what our projections are. 


So they’re constantly talking to investors, they’re constantly talking to other departments, they’re constantly trying to determine what our volume is going to be for these other departments as well. So having a budget, having a structure, having communication and agreement, that’s the biggest thing for me. Every time I leave my conversation with our VP of Finance, I do a recap. And I said, Hey, for the next two weeks, for the next month, for x, this is what we’re looking to spend, are you aligned with this? Because they will tell you either yes or no. And sometimes keeping the answer towards the end of it that simple is so key. 


Because your conversation right before that is going to get very, very granular, very detailed, and be about a lot. And it’s natural because you want to talk about all the possible risks, and you want to talk about all the possible upsides. But by the end of that conversation, if you get, hey, our budget is x for this month, your lines, awesome, anything changes, please let me know, and I will keep you updated. If I started seeing x change. 


For us, if I start seeing our acquisition costs slowly creeping up, I know now the context of the conversation that we had before is no longer applicable because our projections are going to change. So I bring that up and say, Hey, can we have a conversation this week? This is what I’m seeing. How do you feel on your end, you have to be tight with them and have communications tight as well. 


And don’t be afraid to set a weekly, have it on the calendar, if it’s on the calendar, it can be seen and it will happen in the conversations will happen. And if you don’t need it at that point, I’d rather push it and say, hey, it’s not necessary, we can push it, but at least have it on there so that you never go without having those conversations.


Kenny Soto 37:10  

My last question for you JC is hypothetical because time machines do not exist. But if one did, and you can go back into the past about 10 years, knowing everything he knows today, how would you specifically accelerate the speed of your career?


JC Polonia 37:25  

Well, wow, that is tough. Because I am grateful for the path that I’ve had. I think it’s given me the context and experience in both business and creative marketing, in paid to know what I know. Now. If I had to go back with the knowledge I have, what I do know now is that there’s still so much more that I don’t know. So this is what I will put as taking that back then I would want to experiment faster. Getting into the space. In the beginning, you get very scared because there’s money on the line. 


So it’s like, Oh, crap, I just lost $100. Nothing came about what do I do, especially if it’s your own stuff, right? And like, you’re young, and you’re doing it. But that is what and how I learned. And the same thing happened when I joined the company. Just go faster, and experiment. And make sure that the people that you work with, have a culture of learning, have a culture of experimentation because it’s very easy to go to the wrong company. 


And all of a sudden you make one mistake, and it’s like, Alright, you’re gone out the door. And that’s okay, I get it, then maybe that advice doesn’t work for you. I’ve been grateful enough to be in a position where that experimentation is actually applauded. And I’d rather not focus on stagnation and fear but on trust and experimentation. 


And that would project anyone’s career personally, regardless of the industry that you’re in. I think marketing in particular because there are so many things that you can do. But I think it’s gonna push you forward. So I would go back with the knowledge knowing that I need to experiment more and continue to learn and build on what I already know.


Kenny Soto 39:04  

If anyone wanted to say hello to you online, where can they find you?


JC Polonia 39:09  

Just come knocking on my door and I’m just getting Ashley JC Polonia on Instagram. You can also email me JC I ride with happy to chat with anyone and see if I can be of service.


Kenny Soto 39:24  

Thank you again for your time today JC and thank you to you the listener for listening to Episode 121 of the people’s Digital Marketing podcast. I do have one favor to ask of everyone who’s listening right now. If you’ve listened to this episode in its entirety or more than one episode, please rate us where you’re listening to this because any review ideally five stars helps us out a lot. And as always, I hope everyone has a great week. Bye.

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