Interview with Alexander Sumin, Co-founder and CMO at ClaimCompass
Alexander Sumin is the co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer at ClaimCompass, a company that helps air passengers receive their deserved compensation for delayed, canceled or overbooked flights. Alexander has been on the list of Forbes 30 under 30 in 2017, NextGen Business Leader in 2017 and IBM Global Entrepreneur in 2016.
Your Journey as a Marketing Professional
Please take us through how you got initiated into marketing as a profession and how you grew to be the seasoned marketing professional you are. Also, add a few interesting experiences you had in these years.
I’ve always been drawn to marketing, although my perception of the domain has been incredibly naive and simple. I began my career working for a large chartered airline in Montreal, doing various things including customer acquisition. Later on, I moved to Berlin and worked for a PR and Marketing agency, something that I had wanted to try for a while.
I’m not much into theory, so most of the things I know have been gathered along the way trying to build a successful company, working on different projects and interacting with marketers much better than me. I think a good representation of this is our journey trying to build a successful company. We launched ClaimCompass back in 2015 when being absolutely broke, all we could afford was to post in Facebook groups and message boards, trying to acquire our first clients. Today, I like to think of my role as more of a growth-driven, rather than traditional marketing, as I seek to drive growth at all stages of the funnel and the business as a whole.
What are the primary marketing channels you have worked on? What will be your advice to young marketers on these channels?
I think the best piece of advice that I can give is, test one channel at the time and test it well. Otherwise, you’ll spread yourself too thin and probably end up wasting a lot of time and resources without really learning anything that important. On the other hand, think of each channel as a minimum viable test – for an intelligent marketer, it won’t take long to understand whether it has potential and how scalable it is.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve done mostly paid channels – Facebook and Google ads. These days, I’m much more interested in making these channels’ contribution to our growth as minimal as possible, which basically means improving the product.
With scores of marketing software available today, how according to you should a small/ medium business go about selecting the right software for their needs?
You’re right – there’s an abundance of software for marketers out there, as is for anybody, really. I think it all comes down to what that business needs. If you’re just starting out, I think all you need is to set up your tracking correctly, have some sort of email marketing automation software, and pick a source of traffic – if it’s paid, for example, then each ad platform has its own solution for posting and managing ads, and at that scale you won’t need much else; Perhaps I’d also throw in a landing page builder, like Unbounce.
What are some of the important marketing software that you have used?
Today I use mostly Mixpanel and Google Analytics for analytics, Ahrefs for SEO, Facebook and Google ads for publishing ads and tracking performance, Mautic and Mailchimp for automated email journeys, Unbounce to build landing pages and pop-ups, Mouseflow to watch user sessions, Typeform to collect feedback, as well as Google Sheets, Phabricator, Zapier.
Advice for the marketing community
Your 2 line advice to people entering into marketing domain.
My advice would be to approach marketing with respect and understand how its numerous and different components interact with each other. It’s just as much of an art as it is science, so to me – seeing the bigger picture and understanding what levers will have an impact on it is the most valuable and precious skill one can have.
Some of the learning resources/ books that you would like to recommend to our audience.
Not a huge fan of books as a source of practical knowledge, I’d much rather read for fun and that’s fiction, not business literature. But there are interesting books and blogs out there, not only marketing related but business, in general, like Peter Drucker, Steve Blank, Seth Godin, Paul Graham’s blog, Andrew Chen and Brian Balfour’s blogs, Sean Ellis, etc.