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Interviews 2013 - 2016

How Marketers Stay Productive: Alex Turnbull of Groove

March 25, 2014

For our fourteenth interview series, we feature Alex Turnbull, CEO at Groove. Groove is a simple online help desk software.

In this interview, you can read more about his work at Groove, favorite marketing tools, productivity tips as well as his advice for budding marketers.

Your location: Newport, Rhode Island.

Your favorite gadget: A tie between my iPhone and my 6’ 2” Sharp Eye.

You start your day with: Too much coffee and a meeting with Groove’s developers.

Your favorite time-saving trick: Screen sharing. Whether we’re working through bugs or going over ideas for new designs or features, a ten minute screen sharing session — we use, but there are lots of products out there for this — can save hours of email back-and-forth with people trying to follow along.

Your top 3 blogs you read daily: Groove’s blog (to catch up on reader comments), The KISSmetrics blog and Neil Patel’s Quick Sprout.

“Working smart is important, and you should automate as much as you can.”

Describe an average day at Groove?

There’s very little most days have in common with the days before. In general, we start with a developer stand-up meeting where we discuss what our team has accomplished, what we’re working on that day, and what roadblocks we need to overcome. I usually spend about 80% of my time working with our developers. The rest of it is a combination of customer support, marketing, business development, and just about everything else that comes with running a business.

Because we’re a remote team, we rely on tools like HipChat, Skype and to keep us all tightly connected.

As a founder, what are some of your favorite productivity hacks?

I find that using a project management tool is critical to staying on top of the thousands of tasks we have to do. We actually use two: Pivotal Tracker and Trello. Really though, it doesn’t matter nearly as much what you use, as long as you pick something and use it consistently. It makes an insane workload much easier to tackle.

My other productivity strategy — I hesitate to call it a hack — is forcing myself to turn off. Sometimes that takes a glass of wine at the end of the day with dinner, but being able to step out of the office and stop thinking about work is massively important for staying productive when I am working. Otherwise I burn out, fast.

As a person who is well-versed with online marketing/ inbound, I’m sure you rely on a few marketing tools to automate your efforts. What are the top 3–5 tools you use?

I love HubSpot for automation, and of course we use Groove to automate a lot of our support workflow ;)

The Groove blog seems to be buzzing and the content out there is fantastic for budding startup entrepreneurs. Is this your strategy for customer acquisition? What made you start this blog keeping in mind there are numerous startup blogs out there.

The blog is, hands down, our number one channel for customer acquisition. Of course there are a lot of startup blogs out there. There are a lot of [insert almost anything] blogs out there. But there will always be room for unique angles that people find useful and interesting. We were never worried that there were too many startup blogs, we were only concerned with whether people would find ours valuable.

There are so many help desk tools out there. How does Groove stand out and how do you convey that in your marketing messages?

Groove was born out of a need that I had at my last startup: Gmail couldn’t keep up with the number of support emails we were getting, and the existing tools (e.g., Zendesk and were too complex and overwhelming for what we needed. Groove is designed specifically for small businesses who find themselves in that position of needing a tool that’s powerful enough to help them deliver personal support at scale, but simple enough to use out of the box without any training.

In our marketing, we make our positioning clear by singling out growing small businesses: we’re admittedly not the best product for everyone, but that’s okay. We know that we’re the best for the people we built Groove for, and that’s who our marketing speaks to.

Is there any advice you’d like to give to budding marketers to help them work smart and stay productive?

Working smart is important, and you should automate as much as you can. But don’t obsess over productivity, because while you’re doing that, your competitors are working on their product and on making their customers happy. You’re going to have some long days, and there’s not a whole lot you can do about that if you want to succeed. Work hard and work smart.

A big thanks to Alex for taking the time out to answer these questions! If you haven’t already, I highly recommend that you check out Groove.

The ‘How Marketers Stay Productive’ series asks marketers their tips & strategies for staying productive. Every month we’ll feature a new guest and the tricks that keep them working smart. Know someone you’d love to see featured? Email Us.


Project management software for smart marketing teams.

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