Growth Rockstars Reveal Their Killer Tools, Marketing Inspiration and Life Wisdoms

If you want to be a lion, you must train with the lions.

It’s a slightly cooler way to say that in order to be the best, you must watch and learn from the best. From where we stand as growth marketing agency, the eleven people lined up in this post all qualify as lions. It’s why we asked them to be part of The Growth Conference we organized last June. To set new standards, only the best is good enough.

The list, in random order:

We asked them 3 simple questions:

  • What are your top 3 go-to tools?
  • Which marketing campaigns inspired you the most?
  • What’s your life’s motto?

Jorn Vanysacker

Jorn Vanysacker, VP of Marketing at INTUO, says he can’t live without Trello, a project management tool. He’s a big fan of landing pages “Still a great way to validate certain assumptions” and what he calls “Amazing people with a ‘can-do’ growth mindset.”

Jorn’s favorite campaigns are the ones with a funny twist to them. He listed them accordingly to their lifetime stages:

1. Supporting future customers (awareness): by Intuo
“Not just because we made it. But because it relates to what people wonder about, and genuinely helps people to improve their current situation with easy tips. It got us the 8th place on Product Hunt.”

2. Actually selling
“Old Spice – brilliant video. The way they oversell the benefits of their product is simply brilliant.”

3. Delight your actual customers by interacting with them (on a larger scale)

“This is an example of a great way to respond to (negative) customer interactions.”

A man named Richard posted this on Facebook:

screenshot of a facebook comment to bodyform

And this was Bodyform’s (feminine hygiene products) response:

4. Hubspot’s “break-up” video when you want to unsubscribe.

“I’m confident plenty of people re-subscribed after seeing it!”

His favorite motto?

It’s easier to apologize than to ask for permission.”

Pieter Van Leugenhagen

Pieter van Leugenhagen, Co-Founder at Yondr, can’t live without LinkedIn, Yadera (automation tool designed for IT companies and marketing agencies), Slack and Teamleader, a CRM tool that combines pipeline management, project management and invoicing.

Pieter goes further and gives us bonus tools which he things are useful for marketers: Loom, Skype/Google Hangouts and Franz.
Loom is a free Chrome extension you can use to record your screen and yourself at the same time. At Yondr they use it to pitch and prospect ideas. Franz is a tool that combines the most popular messaging apps in one tool. Slack, WhatsApp, Telegram, Facebook Messenger,… You name it, Franz has them all.

One of the campaigns that keeps on inspiring Pieter is one done by Toms Shoes. For every pair of shoes you’d purchase, Toms would donate a pair to a child in need. One for One.

And the Audi customer experience:

Audi had a sandbox in their stores. Customers would build their driving terrain then the sandbox would be laser scanned and through a VR device, you could test the new Audi QA in your self-made sand playground.

Pieter’s life motto?

“I don’t have dreams, I have goals

Savvas Zortikis

Savvas Zortikis, Co-Founder & CEO at the world number one referral marketing tool Viral Loops, uses Intercom, Segment, and Zapier on a daily basis in his company.

Intercom serves different purposes at Viral Loops: “Intercom helps us communicate with our customers for support and success, run marketing automation campaigns and host our knowledge base. It also acts as our light CRM and database,” Savvas says.

Segment gathers data from different sources and sends them to any tool or platform. Savvas says that with Segment “you can set an event once (e.g. on your app or website) and track it to different platforms (e.g. Mixpanel and Intercom). Segment makes our teams faster and gives us the ability to test several marketing strategies and product tools without setting them up from scratch.

Zapier saves Viral Loops time from their engineering team. It enables non-technical staff to connect several apps and automate routines.

One of Savvas favorite campaigns is one held by Oobas Butler, freelance writer at Vice, with ‘The Shed in Dulwich’.  ‘The Shed in Dulwich’ is a fake restaurant that got multiple good reviews and reached the Nr. 1 restaurant ranking in London on Trip Advisor when it didn’t even exist.

Check the whole story here:

The Co-Founder of Viral Loops has as a motto:

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

He claims: “If you lead growth and marketing teams or build your own company, you need to realize that you have to step up and become a top leader/founder—from top marketer. Your team members should be the experts and specialists—not you. And this is hard. It’s hard when a new tool or marketing channel comes along, and you can’t grab it and run. And if you want to be an A-player (as I do), ego makes it even harder. You can still be an A-player (with all the associated adrenaline, anxiety and sleepless nights). But this time, your job description, identity, and ambitions are different and involve your entire team.”

Justin Wu

Justin Wu, Head of Growth at CoinCircle, told us his favorite tools include Instapage  a landing page platform, Prosperworks  a CRM that works on top of G-Suite and Autopilot for creating visually appealing customer journeys.

The campaign that keeps on inspiring Justin is the Airbnb traffic arbitrage campaign from Craigslist.

The motto he lives by:

Hustle beats talent when talent doesn’t hustle”

Anna Stepanova

Anna Stepanova, Senior Director Innovation at Thomson Reuters, can’t live without her podcasts and recommends everyone to listen to ‘Plenty of Fish’ ‘a very funny channel for curious people’. She relies on Webex – a communication tool, to do 80% of her work and she is a big fan of the live photo feature on her iPhone.

As for campaigns, Anna finds a campaign from her own town the most inspiring one. It is called ‘Repair Cafe’: “twice a year you can bring virtually anything (even a bike) to a workshop and the team of expert volunteers will fix what can be fixed – completely for free. Isn’t that an awesome way to stop so much stuff going to waste?”

Her motto is:

Never stop learning – curiosity will get you to unexpected places.’” 

“I actually started my career in finance and moved into innovation, how cool is that?”

Nick De Mey

Nick de Mey, Co-Founder and creative director at Board of Innovation, dropped us some of his favorite tools:  

Dashexpander – a free text expansion tool for Mac OS X, that allows fast writing through abbreviations;

Calendly a straightforward calendar app that doesn’t rely on previous meetup communication. Nick says “Calendly creates custom URL to let others book meetings straight in my agenda. I have different URLs for different meeting types. e.g. a 15 min skype call, a 60-minute recruiting interview. No more back & forth to find a suitable time slot.”

Finally, Nick names Grammarly, an all-time favorite spell-check tool that is way more than that. It’s a Chrome plugin & editor to check your texts while you’re writing online. Works with every form. Checks grammar, spelling & suggest synonyms.

Nick’s motto:

Amazing things will happen

Create a context to trigger serendipity. I consume tons of info & always try to connect with peers (e.g. via Linkedin). This creates new opportunities due to random associations & encounters.

Joris Brabants

Joris Brabants, Growth Marketing Manager at TravelPerk, first names MixPanel, an analytics service that tracks user interactions with web and mobile applications.

Joris says: “I really can’t live without tracking from the very first touchpoint all the way to in-app activity and lifetime revenue, so this would be my #1. If you’re running a SaaS or eCommerce business and don’t have an analytics tool like MixPanel (or Kissmetrics, …) you’re missing out on a lot of customer intelligence.”

His second choice is PersistIQ, a sales engagement software: “We tried a lot of email tools out there, but this is by far our go-to outreach tool. It’s the only one that integrates properly with Salesforce and it enables our SDR team to reach out in a personalized way at scale.”

Joris depends on Autopilot to connect the dots between all tools they use and makes sure they keep in touch with their leads “I’d call this our lead engine” says Joris.

When asked about his favorite campaigns, Joris tells us that in order to evaluate a successful campaign you need to look at the entire funnel and results:

“The one that inspires me the most is a campaign run by ClickFunnels. They’re a SaaS tool to build out sales funnels, it’s completely bootstrapped and has an ARR of over $300M, and with a positive CAC. The way they acquire their customers already gives them a positive return. That’s every SaaS marketer’s dream.”

He explains further: “They basically give away a copy of one of their books, you only pay shipping costs (already covering the cost of the book + little bit of profit), and then move you through a couple of upsells/downsells of digital products (courses) which increases the average cart value and covering more than their marketing cost. So the booking funnel already makes them profit and these people are nurtured (in Clickfunnel’s case read indoctrinated) to move further up the value ladder and start using their software.

Joris stumbled upon these inspirational words a few years ago and for him, this is still relevant on a daily basis:

“You can’t improve one thing with a 1000%, but you can improve a 1000 things with 1%.”

“It’s from the former CEO of Scandinavian Airlines I think, but that’s what we actually do across the entire customer journey, looking for these opportunities to where we can improve and move a bigger % through certain steps of the funnel.”

Claire Shapiro

Claire Shapiro works as Strategic Design Thinker at Board of Innovation and used to teach the Google Design Sprint Methodology across the world. As Xoogler, Claire has a preference for all things Google and can’t live without her yoga mat and passport.

Her favorite campaigns:

  • The Truth: an anti-tobacco campaign that lowered the teen smoking rate by 6% launched in the 90’s
  • Gudetama, a depressed egg yolk cartoon that became a cultural phenomenon
  • #MeToo: leveraging the power of social media for the right reasons

Her life motto is:

“You do you.”

Marnik D’Hoore

Marnik D’Hoore, Founding CEO Bloovi & Bloovi Careers, told us he can’t live without Hubspot CRM, Google Drive and texting.

He owns a page where he shares his motivational quotes but his favorite one is:

Complexity is your enemy. Any fool can make something complicated. It is hard to make something simple.” 

Kay Snels

Kay Snels, marketing manager at Uber’s HQ in San Francisco, loves the ‘random function’ in Google Sheets.

She explains: “I use the =rand function in Google Sheets a lot because it makes sure you’re running experiments that are truly randomized, free from any kind of bias you might not be aware of. Super helpful for splitting up a set of UUIDs (Unique Universal Identifiers) across 2 groups to run a test. Also helpful in identifying a random winner for a marketing campaign.”

Her second favorite tool is Facebook Audience Insights Tool.
Simply upload a list of email addresses and get overarching insights into what this audience likes, from which Facebook pages they’re into to their average age. This can help you propose insight-driven marketing campaigns and even business development partnerships. You can’t argue with data!”

Her third most used tool isn’t necessarily a tool. Kay uses Instagram Polls for a better understanding of the audience and changing your marketing strategy in real time. Since the engagement rate on them is pretty high, you can trust the results and tweak your marketing strategy based on what your audience wants. If someone is taking the time to engage with your brand regularly, they’re also more likely to convert into an actual sale so I’d say “ask away” ”.

For the most inspiring campaigns, Kay chose the Jet Blue’s campaign ‘FlyBabies’ and ‘Airbnb For Everyone’.

For mother’s day, Jetblue announced that the passengers would receive a 25% discount – up to 100% discount on their next flight everytime a baby would cry during the flight. ‘The video is adorable and makes you more empathetic towards parents with young children, as it walks you through how they are experiencing pre-flight stress.

Airbnb for Everyone wzs created just a few months ago.

“It’s no secret that Airbnb is my favorite brand in the world. Their recent campaign ‘Airbnb for everyone’ showcases how they turned customer insights into real growth opportunities. I recently did a brand spotlight on their video in one of our marketing stand-ups, where marketing managers at Uber discuss Uber’s upcoming campaigns and highlight great work from other companies.”

“What I loved about this Airbnb campaign is that they listened to what the customer really wanted and turned these insights into 5 features that make Airbnb truly for anyone. One of them is ‘Airbnb Collections’ which are based on customer’s use cases. Previously users weren’t able to easily find the home they wanted. They didn’t necessarily want to search by each individual amenity (WiFi, a pool, A/C) so Airbnb discovered a few interesting trends and turned them into business opportunities. For example, most business travellers prefer to not interact with a person and have WiFi so they can work from anywhere, so they made business travel an option. Big families usually like a full-on kitchen to prepare family meals. So instead of splitting up the discovery menu into homes, they split it up by use case. Brilliant.”

“They also noticed that certain homes provided above and beyond service and amenities and therefore they chose to launch “Airbnb Plus” which is a genius way to capitalize on homes that are already on their platform, but by creating a category on its own, they can have higher margins.”

“Take a look at the campaign, you’ll be inspired to think about your own business in different ways!”‘

Her life motto?

“Let’s do this.”

“Uber has an internal platform for employees that you can customize, similar to a social media profile. When I had to choose my tagline, I picked “let’s do this” because that’s the mindset I have when it comes to new projects. At Uber, there’s a true ‘rally culture’ where people are always down to dive in head first into a new challenge, and I’ve always felt like that matches my personality well.”

Isabelle Dumortier

Isabelle Dumortier is the tutu queen of the Benelux, having opened 8 Tutu Shops in Belgium and The Netherlands in less than two years.

Her favorite tools are Klipfolio, a dashboard software, Headspace a guided meditation app, and Todoist a tool that helps you organize.

Her favorite campaign is ‘Dumb ways to die’ from the Australian Railways. ‘Dumb ways to die’ is a campaign that started with a series of cartoon videos and led to nearly one million people signing a pledge to be safe around trains. A video case study below:

Her life’s motto is almost self-evident if you look at her profile picture:

“Happiness is an inside job.”

Ferdinand Götzen

Ferdinand Götzen, Head of Growth at Recruitee, chose as favorite tools Asana for project management, Mixpanel, and Intercom.

Ferdinand has no specific favorite campaigns, but rather general approaches by some companies, for example, Hubspot’s content marketing and Hotjar’s focus on creating value.

His motto for growth:

Focus on things that create value and are scalable”.

Moos Tits

Moos Tits, Co-Founder of Belgian mobility phenomenon Go Poppy, says he can’t live without Trello, Supermetrics, and Intercom.

Moos uses Trello for everything in his life: “among other things, I’m intensively using it for setting up experiment roadmaps with the team”.

Supermetrics helps him focus a lot on better understanding the performance of campaigns and channels. “Currently hooked on Supermetrics for doing this. Love dashboards.

About Intercom: “A fully integrated Intercom is magic. Awesome live chat, nice FAQ pages, advanced drip campaigns, make FB custom audiences (through Adespresso) based on intercom segmentations across every step of an AARRR funnel + auto sync = gold.

As for favorite campaigns, Airbnb is once again a favorite among our speakers: ‘Until we al belong‘ is Moos’s top campaign.

He explains:
“Airbnb used videos to show people from different ethnicities, culture, and backgrounds to demonstrate acceptance. The campaign hit 5 million views on YouTube and over 100,000 views on Instagram within the first month. It gained massive traction throughout social media. It’s the task of a company to take op their role in creating a better world. Airbnb is leading by example. That’s pretty cool!

As inspirational quote he chose a citation from Steve Jobs:

Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you. And you can change it, you can influence it… Once you learn that, you’ll never be the same again.


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