Joel Padron

November 16, 2020

Welcome to the latest episode of the Modern Attention podcast. I’m excited to introduce you to today’s guest J Padron. J is the Director of Marketing at DTC brand CrossNet, a new four-square style volleyball game that has been blowing up.  

In today’s episode we talk about:

  • How he got his start in marketing and ended up joining CrossNet
  • How he approaches marketing
  • As well as why he started running SMS and how he approaches it

There’s a lot of insight packed into this episode. I think you’ll really enjoy it.


David Hoos: Hey, Jay, thanks for coming on the show. I appreciate you taking the time to field a few questions about CrossNet from me. First off, can you go into a little bit of detail on how you got your start and how you ended up at CrossNet?

Joel Padron: Of course. David, really appreciate you having me. So I got my start in marketing around 2014. So I just had the idea of Shark Tank is actually what inspired me to get into marketing, just realizing the power of it. And I didn't have a brand idea, I didn't have a product that I had. But I said let me start growing social media accounts. So whenever I do, I have an audience to promote to. And yeah, that ended up becoming this beast of a world that we know now is influencer marketing. So I was creating meme accounts primarily on Twitter and at its peak it went all the way up to I had over 15 million followers across Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. So that is where pretty much I got started. And from there I've just expanded into the whole digital marketing world.

David Hoos: Awesome. And how did that pivot into your time, like basically your job opportunity for working with CrossNET?

Joel Padron: Yeah, so that was that just came out of kind of nowhere in a way. So I had left the influencer space probably in about 2018 or so. And after that time I took off and kind of wanted to become more of a well-rounded marketer. So I started a lead generation agency kind of focused in real-estate and just practicing my copywriting, practicing running ads, creating more internal systems like really solidifying myself. When you're running meme accounts, you're just a teenager posting funny stuff like it was time to get serious and decide, you know, this is something I want to do for my or my career. So funny enough, during quarantine, I had just finished automating my agency. So it fully runs itself. I'm completely hands-off. And I've known Chris and Greg. So to the founders from across that team for a while, from the from when I was running accounts in one of their previous ventures, they would they would try to promote on on different Twitter accounts like I owned and we had loosely been connected from there. And just out of coincidence, they had moved to Miami. And I'm born and raised here. So once I found that out, we just met up one day we hung out, had a good time, and we stayed in loose contact for a couple of years. And I would play basketball with Chris every every week for a year. He'd just come over to my place because we ended up later on living a block from each other and we just always kept in touch asking how's business? And I would just always hear CrossNet is, every week is just getting bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger. And yeah, he ended up putting a tweet just one day, hey, thinking about hiring a marketer and any recommendations. And I was like, you know what, I really, really miss the e-commerce world. It's been way too long and missed the community. And I sent him a message and ended up just being like the perfect fit that each of us were looking for. So I jumped on early July this year.

David Hoos: Awesome, and can you talk just a little bit more about of, I guess, post joining CrossNet, what you came into and like what you've been doing there so far?

Joel Padron: Yeah, so it was really interesting. We're really getting behind the curtains and seeing how everything is. And I'm just in amazement of how hard they work and how far they've taken something with such a limited team. It was pretty much other than their in-house fulfillment team just there, just the three founders. So Chris, Greg and Mike and I was pretty much one of the first hires to really help them out, just giving them more manpower and really solidifying their systems. So building our infrastructure, getting social media posts scheduled out more than just like the same day, really being in close contact with all of our different agencies that we utilize overseeing our multichannel advertising. So that's pretty much what my role has been, is really just helping them navigate this modern social media world that we're really in nowadays and putting that experience that I have to make sure that we're dominating every single channel that we can.

David Hoos: Cool. So you mentioned that like it's a pretty small team and that you, like, work with some agency partners. Is that primarily how you think that they've grown to the size that they have without having grown like their immediate team as fast as just working with different partners for different things along the way?

Joel Padron: Exactly. Yeah, there's there's no like there they go really, really hard and they just need need more than manpower. So they're very smart where they've found, you know, the best in every single segment that they can to help them out. So, you know, you'll have a top paid ad agency, you'll have a top marketing agency, PPC, you'll have all the different types. So that's what what's really allowed them to grow to that scale. But now having me on board, I'm able to really keep a close eye on everything for them and create better ideas and strategies so we can maximize all those opportunities rather than just you have an agency. But if you can't spend as a business owner, you can't spend all day just checking in on things you need to do work and grow the business, not just oversee it.

David Hoos: Right. I make sense. I guess to some degree they were acting, as, you know, the marketing director, too. And so at a certain point they have to like hand it off to someone who can really focus on it better than them. It makes sense. Awesome. What can you maybe talk about? I know you've mentioned before our call about one of the things that you started doing was SMS. And I'm always interested in what people are doing with SMS at their companies. Can you talk a little bit more about that?

Joel Padron: Yeah, yeah. So Sims is definitely an area that I really, really enjoy. I've been working on it in different industries prior. So like I mentioned during that lead generation agency, a lot of personalized and segmented SMS use is super, super powerful. So when I jumped in and noticed we weren't really taking advantage of that and immediately I was like, all right, this is my baby. I'm going to watch this. And we're going to take this to be like a double-figure percentage of our online revenue. So obviously, it's pretty much from scratch. One, find your your SMS company that you want to work with, whether it's PostScript, Attentive, all of the other different competitors, and you get your basic automation set up. Those are very simple to set up and you're going to guarantee to make you an extra five, 10 percent of revenue. So I've really just been building it out from scratch and then obviously getting more creative with segmentation, post-purchase campaigns, list growth campaigns. So just really building that entire system up for us.

David Hoos: That's awesome. Is there are there any sorts of things that you've experimented with there that have been particularly interesting or fun or high performing?

Joel Padron: So I think that's the fun thing about it, is with marketing, you could just come up with all sorts of different ideas. You could have different angles. You could have very unique copy ideas. So you could take something that's very simple as as a post-purchase, like an order confirmation and turn that into something that is very different. So one that's really interesting that I think is unique that we've done is I've created an order and order delivery automation. So it since we use Postscript so it dynamically syncs to Shopify so it knows when an order is delivered. So it's really cool is I've created like there's like a gif of a UPS driver dropping off a package at their door and it lets them know, hey, your order has just arrived. And then we also include a link to a video of how to play Cross net. So we're notifying them in a personal way that their orders is here, your product is here and this is how you're going to go and have fun with it. And they love it like a lot of people respond to it. It's just really exciting. So I feel that that's part of the experience that you could elevate using us.

David Hoos: And that's like it opens up sort of a channel for some dialogue like it seems a little more personal. You know, you're and it's that right at that point where it's just arrived. So, you know, you're, I guess, managing that customer experience really smoothly. It's like now that they have it, here's a bunch of ways that they can start using it like that.

Joel Padron: It's something that's really big for us. Is is you know, we're we're more of a we're not a large SKU company. So our our big thing we want to focus on is people getting out, playing the game, knowing how to play it incorporates your friends and your family and getting people involved. So it's great. We're we're not focused on trying to make more money off of that. We're focused on giving you the best experience that you could have with our product. And at the end of the day, that's going to going to be what grows the business long term.

David Hoos: Right now, I think that's an important thing. I mean, it's a group game. So I imagine the more you can make the experience of people playing it better than that kind of creates more word of mouth that helps it spread pretty widely.

Joel Padron: Yeah, it's huge, you know, it's obviously, you know, you want to tap into as many different strategies as you can, and and this is one way that you could take online marketing to word of mouth marketing, as we know, is super effective. And and just the fact I think the funniest thing that happens with that one is we have a large amount of people that reply back to the message saying, hey, that's not my house. Like, it's so personalized and visual that they even imagine that there's randomly a camera facing their front door showing us drop off their package. So to me, that's a weird wind that I have where for a second I confuse a person into thinking that this is real life.

David Hoos: Nice. That's awesome. Well, I guess related to the whole SMS thing, I think one of the questions I have is around the. Kind of how you're adding people to that list, how you're growing, that you had mentioned something about, you know, giveaways and influencers. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Joel Padron: Yeah, of course. So like I mentioned, we started off from scratch for the most part. So we had zero people on our list that were non-purchasers. So other than just the traditional, you know, often pop-ups that you have on your website, I wanted to really grow it to a big size. So we utilized giveaway campaigns. So we've done it two different ways. We've gone after using actually paid ads. So targeting people in the volleyball demographics, people that are into outdoor games that live more of an active lifestyle are a little younger. We'll kind of just run a giveaway every single week where we have an ongoing ad. You sign up and using these platforms like PostScript in one swipe up, it automatically populates the keyword to enter. So in less than five seconds, you could enter to win a free cross net. So that is been really, really good for us where we're getting thousands of new people on our list every week. And then, yeah, you just give it away and you keep it going and you're building a list that's targeted and you're familiarizing people with the brand. So it's it's been really good for us so far. And then obviously influencer giveaways, that's that's another good one. So what we've done to grow the guest list and really we've really been focused on that is instead of the traditional, you know, comment or follow, I would rather have somebody answer their phone number for a lot of reasons. It's a lot more valuable, you know, that your message is going to get red. And definitely that ties into, you know, our Black Friday, Cyber Monday strategy where it's going to be a game of getting in front of people like have them read your messages. And I think that there is no better way than estimates, to be honest, just because it's the price stays the same. And you know that people are going to be opening your email might get like we'll get delivered, but you don't know if it's going to get seen versus estimates. It's really going to be seen. So we're really banking on that for our strategy and seeing a lot of success so far.

David Hoos: That's great, do you guys use other channels like email in addition to this? And like, I guess how is SMS or maybe why SMS in the first place? Where does it kind of fit into your bigger picture of things that you're trying?

Joel Padron: Yeah, great question. So that's been an interesting one, just having ongoing discussions and looking at the results. But email has been really, really big for us. So that's been, you know, anywhere from 20 to 30 percent on average of our online revenue. So I wanted to kind of mimic some of that success on Sims. So we try to we try to keep the messaging very cohesive between the two channels. And then obviously you don't want to bombard them. So each one has its own purpose. Where? What's unique and why I definitely recommend using both is email, you have a lot more opportunities to you just have a lot more opportunities to have messages with them often so you can have a welcome series and really send them a series about the brand. So introduce them to the story of how the company was created or why our product is better than others versus Esme's. You can't really be sending that many messages too often, so we try to keep them as similar as possible. But knowing how to approach each channel is you still need to treat them individually, right?

David Hoos: Kind of in a complementary sort of way, I guess?

Joel Padron: Exactly. They're very complementary, but you can't run at the same. And I think that goes with every single social media platform. They each have their own intricacies and best practices where you want to fit your messaging in line with that. So it's been it's definitely been growing and becoming a larger percentage of our percentage of sales. So I highly recommend taking advantage of both. You don't want to neglect either one of them. So that would be my recommendation. There's no it's not which one is better. It's use both.

David Hoos: Ironic since, well, you've covered like a lot of ground here, I guess one of my next question is, can you talk about any sort of like, I guess deeply held convictions or lessons that you've learned so far and that you feel like. You have some strong opinions about that you'd want to share with other folks.

Joel Padron: Yeah, I think that's a really interesting question. I would say one that I've just always held since I started is just being more of an independent thinker. So there's a lot of people that will see what's working for somebody else and just blindly copy them. And I've kind of always taken the approach of I'm going to learn what you did and why and try to understand why it worked so I could create my own in my own. Recommendation of what the best thing you could do is, so I'm always just kind of. Really thought everything through and been very analytical and try to understand the reason behind things, why it works and try to put my own twist on it. So that's just something that I've always done. I've always kind of, in a way, been a slight bit contrarian. So the whole crowd is going one way. I'm going to do the opposite. So it could be I've had some funny examples where I'll be giving a presentation back when we had in-person events. And I would say behind me you would see 50 million followers on social media and I'll be on the microphone saying follower count doesn't mean a single thing. And then the audience is just looking at me like, what? What is going on here? So I'm just always really thinking things through and trying to find the best way possible where I don't care who is right or what ideas is correct. It's just more about figuring out. It's actually more about what is working and what. Yeah. Following the data that's going to be what's true and not just blindly copying or just doing what you feel is the best.

David Hoos: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Well, what do you this ties into kind of the theme of the show as a whole are called modern attention. What do you feel like is I mean, I think this maybe dovetails nicely with what you said about going the other direction, being a little contrarian. But what do you think is most effective at getting and keeping the attention of consumers today?

Joel Padron: I would definitely say you need to stand out, that's first and foremost, I go by the motto, anything is better than boring. So I am not scared to try to tip toe the edge and the boundaries of where things are. And as we know, like that shock value that we have in society, where if you do something kind of outrageous or out of the normal or even pattern destruction, it's going to get attention. And that's the first thing you've got to do. So I guess that probably comes from my start in meme accounts, just being able to just speak in different ways that are edgy or just. Just bring out emotion from people. I think that's the big thing you need, you need to stand out. So I always recommend brands to not be scared to try something new. Most of the time it's going to work much better. And obviously the less polished in a way, results tend to always work better for me. So don't overproduce, don't try to chase perfection. Really just go out there, try to be authentic and try to connect with the audience.

David Hoos: I love that, well, I guess riffing off of that. What do you feel like is one big lesson or what's sort of a framework that you feel like has been kind of a foundation for how you work these days?

Joel Padron: Yeah, so I do feel a lot of the ways that I approach a new campaign or new client or something like that is you need to understand that's always the first thing that I focus on. I'm not going to tell you, like, I can't really come up with a campaign without understanding why you want to do something and what your goal is. So it's always trying to.

Joel Padron: One of my favorite questions to always ask is, who is your target audience? A lot of people don't know that. And then what's funny is you ask them to show you any sort of sales data, historical data on your insights and it's typically very different from who they thought, which is surprising. You know, something that's very interesting that we saw with CrossNet, that is, you know, it's an outdoor volleyball game that's meant for multiple people. You would think that the demographic is going to be males probably in college, right? Little do you know, the majority of the audience is actually moms buying it for their kids. So that's something that I always, that's my starting point is really trying to understand, because from there I'm able to build out campaigns and speak to my ideal buyer. So if I didn't ask that question, all of my ads would be speaking to somebody that's not my primary buyer. And that's going to have a huge impact on your results. You can have everything perfect. But if you've got the starting point wrong, you know, nothing you do is going to make it better.

David Hoos: That's a great point, I think, really, starting with the data and starting with like who is your target customer? And I mean, the data I think reveals that. But that's a huge, huge point. Well, are there any other very big kind of experiences or stories you can tell about? Kind of. Big lessons that have informed how you do marketing today.

Joel Padron: Yeah, so I'm going to even tie it into SMS because it really just works well.

Joel Padron: So one of the unique things that I experienced was growing a large social media following. Those are not owned platforms or owned channels. So an algorithm change can take away 30, 40, 50 percent of your business. So one of my first, one of my first large accounts, was on Facebook, a Facebook page, and then they changed the algorithm. And now you're getting, you're reaching 10 percent of your audience if you're lucky. And then that's what I experienced on Twitter. You could have 10 million followers and then one day they're gone. So, one thing that I've learned is technology is going to always be changing and shifting, but you always want to be in a position where those changes are to your advantage or won't take you out. So owning your emails, owning your customer list of SMS, understanding that data is going to always transfer over wherever you go.

Joel Padron: So I really would emphasize focusing on things like that, and especially since I grew up with a lot of, like, unique guerilla marketing growth strategies. Those come and go. You need to really tap into the ones that are going to be there forever. So that's one thing that I've learned and I continue to always emphasize where just because it's working now, don't think it's going to last forever.

David Hoos: For sure, that's awesome. Well, this has been a great interview, great podcast, I think people are going to get a lot of value out of it. If people want to keep in touch with you or find you online, what's the best place for them to do that?

Joel Padron: Yeah, so I would say the best place is on Twitter. You can find me at Joel Padrone. There's two N's at the end, so that would be the best place. I'm pretty active on there and always sharing little tips and tricks that I that I come up with.

David Hoos: Awesome. Well thanks again for coming on the show. This has been a blast and give give J a follow on Twitter. Thanks so much.

Joel Padron: Thank you. David.