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Aaron Rodriguez on marketing a business in hypergrowth
November 9, 2021
The CMO of Jeff explains the value of agility, adaptability and empowering the full brand ecosystem.
Aaron Rodriguez is more than just a marketer. He’s a passionate product developer, a data scientist with a hunger for detail, and a mentor thinking about how to empower the marketing instincts of thousands of local entrepreneurs across more than 30 countries. He’s the chief marketing officer of Jeff, the super services app founded by three college friends in Valencia, which uses a network of franchisees to deliver laundry, beauty and fitness services. That doesn’t just involve designing a brand position or signing off ad campaigns. It involves integrating marketing into every aspect of how the business operates.
Rodriguez develops B2B strategies that align with sales to recruit Jeff’s expanding network of local business partners. He develops brand toolkits that help to shape the customer experiences those businesses deliver. At the same time, he scours data for insights into whether Jeff is delivering the ‘good, good life’ that its brand promises for end users of the app. And he feeds those insights directly into the evolution of the Jeff product platform.
Seizing the product moment
“I think the CMO of an organization like Jeff needs to be focused on helping the company in all areas,” says Rodriquez, who joined the start-up shortly after its founding in 2015. “I’m actually a partner in the business, so my role adapts to the needs that the company has. It involves helping our partner franchisees with their marketing strategies, but also providing help and support on improving the product. Right now, we are in a product moment, because we see improving the product as the best way of adapting ourselves to the new world that we are seeing. And so, 90% of my time is focused on that area.”
It’s been time well spent. Jeff has been able to keep growing, despite the impact of the pandemic, thanks to its digital-first, contactless approach to delivering traditionally in-person services. Originally launched as a laundry service booked through an app, with pick-up and delivery from local franchise hubs, it expanded its business model in 2019 to offer similar experiences in beauty and fitness. And it’s been agile in adapting those propositions to the demands of a world reshaped by the pandemic.
“We’ve seen many changes in user behavior that represent both challenges and opportunities for Jeff,” says Rodriguez. “People still want offline experiences, but they want a greater role for online in delivering them – and assuring them that they can have what they want while avoiding crowds. In our fitness vertical, there’s increasing demand to be able to book gyms privately for personal training. We’ve seen people increasingly valuing the proximity and smaller size of neighbourhood stores – and we’ve seen change play out through the do-it-yourself movement, with more demand for customers to learn skills within their own homes.”
Jeff’s agile response to changing consumer behavior doesn’t come about by chance. It’s the product of a culture that breaks down siloes between product, marketing, sales and customer service in the interests of solving problems quickly.
A business on a mission
“At Jeff, we don’t talk about a sales team and a marketing team – we have a growth team,” says Rodriguez. “This enables us to align around objectives, goals and the way that we work. We have shared missions and we create squads for each of these missions, with representatives from functions like marketing, technology or product design. It provides the insights we need, enables agility and accelerates execution.”
The missions these squads embark on don’t just involve pivots to Jeff’s product portfolio. Rodriguez is very aware that Jeff is a brand delivered through partners – and he’s prioritising tools that can empower those partners with the insights they need.
“We’re building a system to guide our partners and help them make the best marketing decisions,” he says. “We are a data company, with access to a lot of data on our customers’ behavior – and we are trying to build that marketing know-how into the different tools and products that our franchisees use.”
Leveraging marketing at every stage of growth
CMOs are increasingly aware of the need to work beyond the marketing department, engaging entire organizations in the task of building brands and delivering customer experiences. Jeff and its CMO go further, using data and insight to empower an entire ecosystem. It’s this broader vision that is enabling the rapid scaling of the business.
“Leading marketing for a hypergrowth organization means continuously adapting to the company’s needs,” says Rodriguez. “When the company was first created, I was a growth hacker, validating our model, achieving a good market fit, developing the strategy and executing it. In the second stage it was about scaling the marketing team and enabling us to expand. Now it’s about growing the brand, broadening our service and value proposition, and building a brand architecture in line with the vision of the company.”
The ‘good, good life’ that Jeff promises won’t just be delivered through a slick app interface or a clever ad campaign. It’s delivered by exploring everything that marketing can and should do for a business, its partners and its customers. When a CMO commits to empowering all those with a stake in the brand, it’s amazing how quickly that brand can grow.