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Systems Collide: As companies are managing more content than ever, and gathering more data on their customers, it’s time to talk about how Customer Relationship Managers and Content Management Systems are turning into the same thing. This week, Paul Ford and Rich Ziade define CRMs and CMSs, and discuss the hybridization of the two. We also announce that we’ll mail a box of chocolates to anyone who comes up with a good name for this convergence! (Ed note: seriously, we will mail you candy if you can give us a snappy name.)


Rich Ziade I — I don’t wanna use pour over as an analogy here.

Paul Ford No, don’t.

RZ But it’s — I love pour over coffee.

PF Boy, do you.

RZ And I’ve taken many pictures of sort of that oily —

PF You know, I gotta be frank: I like pour over coffee too.

RZ It is very good. It’s strong, it’s rich.

PF I try to pretend I don’t care about anything.

RZ It’s very good.

PF Uh it’s really — you just — you get that, just that little extra kick in the chin —

RZ Mm hmm.

PF — to get you through your day.

RZ Yup.

PF And you got the oil on the top.

RZ Yup.

PF Yeah.

RZ It’s got —

PF So you pour that water in and it goes through the coffee, pickin’ up little oils and so on, and by the end it turns into coffee. It drips into the cup.

RZ And that’s —

PF And that’s how sales works [chuckles].

RZ That’s a real filter [both chuckle, music fades in, plays alone for 14 seconds, ramps down]. We hear this many times from different people.

PF What do you hear?


RZ Funnel.

PF I gotta — I gotta admit something: I love a good funnel [RZ exhales sharply]. In fact, increasingly, as I go to meetings and meet with [music fades out] high level people from companies that might engage Postlight for services.

RZ Mm hmm.

PF I find myself not drawing architecture, software architecture, that’s what I used to do. I don’t just write down requirements. I draw funnels. Meaning, a triangle. And at the big end of the triangle, as opposed to the little point —

RZ Uh huh. Is possibility!

PF That’s right. Kind of — at some level your funnel is everybody in the whole world. Let’s say you wanted to sell . . . let’s say you wanted to sell me the watch that you’re wearing right now.

RZ Would never do it but.

PF Yeah, I know. But uh who — who could buy that watch? Anyone in the world. Well, not really. We gotta, you know, we gotta — it’s you gotta figure out who’s interested in watches. Maybe, maybe you could pay to advertise on Hodinkee, the noted watch blog.

RZ Or Awristocrat.

PF Is — is that real?

RZ With “W-R-I-S-T”.

PF Ugh god! That’s low.

RZ That’s pretty strong.

PF That’s not strong at all. Anyway, you wanna sell your watch, you gotta find out who wants to buy watches and then you don’t have to sell it the next day. They don’t just come in and be like, “Hey, gimme that watch, I’ll give you some money.” It’s like, you gotta talk to ’em, you gotta get to know them.

RZ Well, how do you start to essentially filter out the ones that are unrealistic for you.


PF That’s right. Funnel is kind of a marketing term about getting from less qualified to more qualified. I [stammers] almost don’t wanna say “leads” cuz it can be different than just like —

RZ It’s an abstraction. Like, can they afford it? That’s another big [right] lopping off [when we’re talking about]. Everybody likes watches!

PF We’re talking about watches, we could also be talking about a college education.

RZ We could be talking about hiring someone.

PF That’s right.

RZ Yeah. So it’s criteria that gets you closer and closer to the outcomes.

PF To somebody signing on some dotted line and saying, “Yeah, I’m gonna do that.”

RZ It’s the outcome.

PF That’s right.

RZ Right? From possibility to outcome.

PF That’s right. So there are funnels all around and when you talk to somebody about how they’re going to run their business, it’s invariable that they’re somebody with one of these triangle diagrams hanging out.

RZ It’s a big deal. Because you can’t control everything. If you could, you’d have an incredibly perfectly run business.

PF That is exactly right. And you can’t. That just isn’t real. I mean the places I’ve seen this: magazines uh send out direct mail and do online advertising in order to get [yes] people to click through and look at the magazine website at which point they also say, “Could you please subscribe?”

RZ Right.

PF McDonald’s is seeing you as someone who should buy a hamburger [yeah]. And it’s gonna tell you through advertising and online advertising over and over again, knowing that a certain percentage of you will come in and get a hamburger and if — if less — if that percentage drops, they’re gonna go, “Ok we need to fire our ad agency.”

RZ Just reset. What’s goin’ on?


PF They gotta keep that percentage up. Like there’s that spreadsheet [yeah] that everybody’s looking at [yeah] in the funnel.

RZ The funnel — there was a day you’d have — you’d have to stand out in the street with a sign [bugle sound “Hey everybody”] Right? How do I get you to walk into my shop?

PF That’s right.

RZ That is the — that’s the old school, analog way of somehow taking the millions of little atoms that make up New York City and somehow filtering just a few into your shop.

PF Let’s fast forward, past an enormous number of technological improvements in advertising and direct marketing and so on, and get to the web of the last few years.

RZ Which is an incredible — well, it’s — I mean, let’s just say one word: Google.

PF That’s right. So what we know now is that billions of people connect to the internet through Facebook, Google, and other major platforms.

RZ Yup.

PF To get information about all kind of things.

RZ Yup.

PF And, you know, Wikipedia’s there, and but also so is like Home Hair Finder or whatever the hell, like I found a site today it was just tugboats . . .

RZ Ok.

PF [Laughs] Uh I mean this isn’t part of any model [RZ clears throat ok]. Well there’s a funnel.

RZ No it isn’t. It really isn’t.

PF There’s a funnel on top of the tugboat.

RZ Right.

PF But other than that and —


RZ Ok.

PF No, I saw a tugboat as I was comin’ in.

RZ And you just searched tugboats.

PF And it said on the side, the name of the tugboat was the Jane D. Brown. I’m like, “I wonder if you can find anything else about that — that — ”

RZ That one tugboat.

PF And you go in and now of course there’s like tugboat finders.

RZ Of course.

PF There’s a whole scene and people have logged into —

RZ I wouldn’t call it a scene.

PF No, it’s a scene [both laugh]. It is a scene. I was tweeting about it and then people were like, “Oh you gotta come to Tugboat Fest.”

RZ [Disappointed] Oh!

PF Tugboats are awesome now. It’s just a big motor.

RZ Well it’s also friendly.

PF It’s a big floating motor. Yeah you wanna —

RZ You can’t put a cannon on a tugboat!

PF Kids love tugboats.

RZ It’s non-threatening. No ego. There’s no ego in tugboats.

PF The big, fat Queen Mary comes into the harbor, right? [Right] And she’s like, “Guys, I don’t even know how to get up to that pier.” [RZ laughs] And they’re like, [in gruff voice] “Come on boys! Let’s get ‘er up there.”

RZ It just gets no respect.


PF But that’s tugboat voice, just to be clear like, [in gruff voice] “Come on guys!”

RZ Is that a tugboat voice?

PF Well what the hell do you think a tugboat sounds like?

RZ [In high pitched voice] “Hey, Queen Mary, come on over this way.” [Laughs]

PF But it’s got 275 billion horsepower.

RZ That’s true.

PF That’s —

RZ Can we come back to funnels?

PF Let’s — [chuckles] let’s come back —

RZ Alright. There is software today that gets you way, way, way further ahead than standing outside of your shop with french fries.

PF That’s right and that’s um CRM software.

RZ What?

PF Customer Relationship Management.

RZ Right.

PF Uh meaning that . . . whether it puts it in these terms or not, it’s a tool for managing people along the funnel. And where you might really — first of all, in case you don’t know, you are in CRM software . . . all over the world.

RZ All the time.

PF You — every time you’ve called someone to complain about your phone service.

RZ Oh yeah you’re getting punched in.

PF Yeah, or you bought some shoes or whatever. They’re — they’re keeping track of who you are and where you are. When they ask for your email when you’re — when you reserve a hotel.


RZ Yeah.

PF That’s always the worst moment. They’re like, “I just need your email to send you the reservation.” I’m like, “Well, I’ll be there and you have my credit card number.”

RZ Blah!!

PF And they’re like, “Yeah we also would really like [in deep gruff voice] that email.”

RZ [Laughs] Totally.

PF So they know who you are. They’re keepin’ tra — they’re figuring out who are because they got that funnel.

RZ Yup. I mean look le — let’s run with the . . . hotel example.

PF Oh yeah.

RZ I mean they punch you in and you’re not just getting newsletters. Newsletters are effective.

PF That is one thing when you get that email from Starwood Suites. You’re just like, “When? How? What did I do?”

RZ [Inaudible] Points and — they’re all like views out into a harbor every time.

PF Have you ever tried the unsubscribe to and you and go and there’s like, “Oh, we’ve subscribed you,” and it’s like 450 different newsletters.

RZ Other things, yeah.

PF So that’s A. You made a reservation. And that just —

RZ But you also picked a particular class of room.

PF Mm hmm.

RZ Which they’re not gonna just gloss over. “Ok this person spends a little money.”

PF That’s true.


RZ “They’re not just getting the regular suite. They’re getting — ”

PF “Oh minibar too. They hit that minibar.”

RZ “They hit that minibar.” Right? So all of these bits of data around —

PF And then we usually can figure out their home address. So know where they came from . . .

RZ Yes.

PF Right? And we can consolidate. Like if we get their email, we hook it up with some other email stuff [mm hmm]. We can — we can find out a lot about them.

RZ Oh yeah.

PF Yeah.

RZ Like they’re — the median income of the neighborhood you’re from.

PF The good news too is as part of like, you know, Grovewood Estates um Stay Hotels [uh huh], I’m part of the um Consolidated Undulating Hotels Family [mm hmm] and they’re over 30,000 separate hotel brands [yup]. So if I stayed at like a, I don’t know . . . Shoeshine Inn —

RZ Mm hmm.

PF — in the last 17 years, they’re able to put that together. They know how I’m doing.

RZ There are multi-year, possibly multi-decade projects of — of bringing that data together.

PF Now my funnel here is, “I want people to come and spend more money at my hotel chain, on my services, over time. I want this long term relationship, and I want them not going to other hotel chains but really thinking of mine at anytime when they think ‘I need to go stay somewhere’.”

RZ And I’m gonna be proactive of — to chase that customer, even beyond them making an overture towards me that they want a hotel.

PF So point systems, right?


RZ Point systems.

PF Where do the point systems get tracked? Well they get tracked thinking about customer relationships.

RZ So there’s software behind this, Paul, sounds like is what you’re saying.

PF Well there’s — there’s been all kinds of software, there’s a — CRM is kinda like a big bucket term.

RZ Mm hmm.

PF And it can mean kind of anything, right? But it basically it’s like how do I track people and how I’m doing at persuading them over time?

RZ And measuring success. Yes.

PF Now I’ve been dealing with and talking with and you know who’s — [almost whispering] you know loves CRM is like the pharmaceutical industry.

RZ Oh my god.

PF I did some work with —

RZ Dude, I started to get the rash.

PF No, I know.

RZ They keep asking me, “Do you have the rash?”

PF Yeah.

RZ And now I’m getting the rash and I don’t know if it’s cuz of the ad.

PF 15 years ago that’s when I first learned about this stuff. Maybe 20 now. Like it’s been that long. This is — this is — this is like the hardcore substrate DNA of American [says “business” in deep voice] business in technology.

RZ Oh yeah.

PF Like CRM . . . way before anybody cared about the web, they were thinking about these network systems because this was how you could — this was where the money was gonna come from.


RZ Yup.

PF So this is a huge space. Billions and billions and billions of dollars but over the last, I guess about 10, 15 years, Salesforce has merged as the key player cuz they have uh — a few things goin’ for ’em: they’re big —

RZ They’re a cloud!

PF They’re a cloud. And they’re like super cloud. That was like the first like [true] unbelievably huge —

RZ Well, I mean that was the breakthrough, right? For Salesforce which is they were ahead of everyone else. They put it all into your browser. That’s it.

PF That’s right.

RZ You don’t have to host the damned thing. You know —

PF And relatively reasonable seed licence. You didn’t have to spend five million dollars to get kicked off.

RZ That’s right. Here’s the headline on their website: “Start instantly on the out of the box CRM built for small business growth.”

PF Ok. That’s great.

RZ It’s a strong — like that took probably six months to hash out.

PF Do you know how many people worked on that statement?

RZ Oh there are dead bodies behind that statement.

PF Oh my god! I’ve been in those conference rooms [yup], you know, and you write — you write like one word on the — on the whiteboard and they’re like, “What did they get?” Small business. They got to “small business” and everybody’s like, “Go home for a week.”


RZ [Laughs] “Sit this one out.”

PF “And just like everybody — we’re gonna finish this sentence next week.”

RZ Yeah yeah yeah.

PF “We got to “small business” just stop. Just stop.

RZ Yes. Yes.

PF But actually getting to “small business” is huge, right? Because so many of these solutions were just optimized for the Fortune 500.

RZ Yes. Yes.

PF You know, let’s [yes] get in there. Let’s get eight million consultants and the Salesforce is like, “Hey, you may not know a lot about technology but you can spend a certain amount of money.” It’s not super expensive. I think the seed licence is what? Probably a hundred, a couple hundred bucks per month or something.

RZ I think it’s not — I don’t think it’s super expensive.

PF Yeah so — so you’re not gonna spend some insane amount of money, more than you would spend on normal software. And you can keep track of all your leads for your small business.

RZ And they have — k, let’s just talk about how much they have.

PF Have you walked up 5th Avenue and noticed they have a giant building now?

RZ Oh they’re just everywhere.

PF It just says Salesforce. They also have the tallest building in San Francisco.

RZ Which is sinking, if I’m not mistaken.

PF Well that’s so San Francisco but like [RZ chuckles] they are so big!

RZ They’re huge.

PF And so powerful.

RZ I mean so what do they cover? Let’s go, let’s run down the list.


PF But I also think they’re one of those things that most civilians have no clue what the hell they’re doing.

RZ Oh! No, no, no, no. It’s like the rash.

PF Right. Right.

RZ I just noticed [music fades in] this [music ramps up, plays alone for five seconds, ramps down]. You know, Paul?

PF What?

RZ It looks like [music fades out] we’re slyly advertising ourselves again but we’re really not trying to do that. This is just [this is what we — ] an interesting in — industry observation. I swear!

PF Well it’s not just — we’re in this business cuz this is the business we like. Like we like solving these problems.

RZ Yeah.

PF And —

RZ Big. Large. Business problems.

PF This is, I mean, perhaps it’s a flaw —

RZ Paul! How do we solve them?

PF [Chuckles] Well, Rich, I mean maybe it’s a flaw in my personality but if you tell me how are we gonna combine a — the world of customer management and content, I’m like, “Oh my god. Let’s do it!” [Yeah] How do we solve it? Well you come to us with your big, confusing problems around technology, and first we figure out with you what needs to get done.

RZ [In a cutesy way] Oh!

PF Yeah, we do. We do. We do it —

RZ A bit of nurturing.

PF We do it on a whiteboard. We do it with some uh some —


RZ Beanbags.

PF Yeah but you know it’s uh then we send you back an envelope and we say, “It’s gonna cost this.” And then you go, “Hmm.”

RZ Yeah. This is something people don’t know about Postlight. If you’re looking for some just high level advice, we just give it out.

PF That’s true.

RZ It’s kind of nutty.

PF You’ve had a taste of it in this — in this podcast.

RZ Yeah.

PF But if you want that but — but like you know on the ground and we actually —

RZ With us going to your house.

PF [Laughs] We know your real problems [RZ laughs] where like I get up — I get out the tailor’s measurement tape and, you know —

RZ Exactly.

PF “Let’s take a look a look at your neck.”

RZ It’s not just about new opportunities for us, it’s also about . . . connecting. With people and we like it.

PF We do and the pr — the practical thing that happens is you come in, we figure out what needs to get built, and then we make you your thing.

RZ We talk about the problem, and if the problem needs a thing, we help you build the thing.

PF We build the thing. That’s Postlight, Thing builders.

RZ Talk to us [music fades in, ramps up, plays alone for five seconds]. So sales, meaning [music fades out] when you get potential opportunities like for Postlight [this happens], and we call it a pipeline and they — [that’s right] we don’t have them as clients yet but we — we keep working on them until —


PF Well and it’s like, “Hey, Rich, in, you know, about [sighs] you know some time next year, we gotta go live with a uh a new platform for a — to sell some [stammers], you know, whatever.”

RZ Dog food.

PF Dog food. “We’ve got our dog food. We’re sourcing organic dog food, we need to change up the website but, you know, increasingly what we’re seeing is people wanna know where the dog food comes from and they wanna have recurring orders and stuff like that. Is Postlight — can Postlight help me with that?”

RZ Right.

PF So we put it into our CRM.

RZ Yup. And we may wait six months. There may be two phone calls over a nine month period.

PF Well we check in a couple times. They usually are like —

RZ Say, “Hi.”

PF “Yeah, hey, still working it out.” Or, “We’d still love to talk about it.” You know? “Let’s talk about the numbers.” That sort of thing.

RZ Right. So that’s sales and then there’s service. Customer service.

PF Mm hmm.

RZ Customers want to be happy. And that can be down to, “Call this 800 number if you have any questions about how to install this thing,” all the way up to, “Having problems? I-88 blah blah blah blah blah.”

PF That’s right.

RZ And these are your relationships. Customer relationship management is incredibly, intentionally broad, broad term.

PF That’s right and it could be really proactive, right? Like — like let’s go back to dog food: we wanna know if your dog doesn’t like this food all of a sudden.


RZ Yup.

PF You can be very like, “Hey, you know, any allergic reactions here? Hit the FAQ on the website.”

RZ Right. They wanna learn.

PF “Come and give us a phone call. It’s all really important to us.”

RZ So now we’re gonna take us another — check out one more pillar [k] and we’re gonna stop here cuz there’s a — there’s an interesting convergence that’s happening.

PF Right.

RZ Marketing.

PF Mm hmm.

RZ So now I’m not chasing for a sale, necessarily, because it’s just not that — like for us, we don’t sell thousands and thousands of widgets. We sell our services to a handful of clients a year.

PF That’s right.

RZ Imagine you — there’s a billboard . . . that says, “Buy these shoes.”

PF Ok.

RZ “Cuz they’re cheap.”

PF Ok.

RZ Ok? But they’re nice . . . and they last a long time.

PF Ok.

RZ But the billboard has a sensor on it and if your car is of a certain model —

PF Ok.

RZ — the billboard’s gonna change and it says instead, “Get the best shoe money can buy.”

PF Mm hmm.


RZ Ok? And then your call will pass, you’ll see that ad in your Mercedes.

PF That’s right.

RZ And then the next car —

PF Who’s coming in a 1970 Ford Fiesta.

RZ Which he still owes money on.

PF That’s right.

RZ Right? Sees the “cheap” ad again. So . . . marketing which used to be just pushing content . . . in a very basic, dumb way. It was one way.

PF Well or — or it was very non-dynamic in that like you’d send the thing out and you’d get a little code and it’d be like, “Hey, when you come and buy — you know, when you — when you call, tell them it’s XPC!” And then they would write that down. Like —

RZ That was about as good as it got.

PF Yeah so this sort of like you could — you were always trying to track and figure out where the hell people heard about you.

RZ So you’ve got this odd convergence happening because you’ve got the need to push . . . let’s call it —

PF Well and let’s like the billboard is driven [chuckles] through a rest API that calls out to a web server somewhere and gets some information. Right? Like —

RZ Oh Paul.

PF I know, I know but that’s what I’m saying like everything is sort of powered by the same fundamental structure. And the reality is, deep down, under all this stuff, under every like digital billboard, there’s a CMS, there’s a Content Management System.

RZ Oh! You’re hitting us with another acronym, Paul.


PF I am. I’m doing it.

RZ What is this?

PF Content Management Systems. So, most people, when they hear “content management system” think, “Isn’t that just WordPress?” But it’s a little more complicated than that. And — but — but here’s what’s up: people need to publish things on the internet. If you’ve ever built a webpage, you know it’s not that hard.

RZ Yup.

PF You put some headlines in and some pictures [mm hmm] but if you need to build like a thousand web pages and then you need to go back and like change the style on them or fix an error or whatever . . . you need a database to put all that stuff in, and some editing tools, and — and, you know, you —

RZ You can’t go to a developer every time you wanna put up a new page.

PF I mean you gotta manage your content.

RZ Yeah.

PF Everybody does. And then there’s a —

RZ And it’s worth . . . clarifying that you don’t just mean publishers.

PF No. Everybody’s a publisher on the web. Everybody.

RZ Ok. That’s a really important point to make.

PF Yeah I mean everybody, every — look at any — there is no one in the Fortune 1000 who doesn’t have a CMS that they use to publish the information about their company . . .

RZ I think that’s right.

PF No, I mean, you know, cuz — think about how many websites for how many nations [right] are out there to support like um Crest toothpaste.

RZ Such a strange thing to say.


PF No but I mean that’s like you go in — somebody’s —

RZ I’ve seen it.

PF Crest needs a website.

RZ I’ve travelled outside of the United States and it’s very interesting to watch.

PF That’s right. And then like Pepsi and, you know, so — so like all of these places need to manage their content. Now they can get really orthodox about it, they have a lot of rights and permissions issues [uh huh]. They need D-A-Ms or DAMs for Digital Asset Management and so on and so forth but the core idea here is you put — you got a bucket of stuff and you put stuff in the bucket, and you organize it into articles, and hopefully a couple of people can work on it at once. And then one day you hit publish or you tell the computer that, “Hey, when midnight rolls around, publish for me.”

RZ Mm hmm.

PF So that’s a CMS. Everybody needs one in order to support their website has more than two or three pages on it.

RZ Alright so one side of the world you’ve got the CRM.

PF That’s right.

RZ Right?

PF That is the oldest of old school. That is what technology and business have been doing for decades.

RZ Yes. And which is how do you help me find . . . and keep a great relationship with my customer?

PF Right. At its — at its essence.

RZ At its essence.

PF Your customer could also be the — you work at a non-for-profit and then you’re trying to keep kids out of jail and you track them through that system.

RZ You could use it for recruiting.


PF Yeah.

RZ I mean it’s really just anything you’re chasing.

PF It’s variations on that theme. And Salesforce does a lot of that. There’s Salesforce for non-for-profits and Salesforce for —

RZ All kinds of flavors. Alright so then you’ve got CMS.

PF Mm hmm.

RZ A Content Management System which is a way to more efficiently manage and push . . . my content to world.

PF Mm hmm.

RZ Whether it be an ad, whether it be purely informational, whether it be an article, just content [that’s right]. Like I can’t go to a — an engineer or make it — you need to make it easier for me [yeah] to publish to the world. And as you said, on the web everyone’s a publisher. So, these are pretty far apart. I think. But we’re seeing something different.

PF Well what’s happening is people are coming to us and they’re saying, “I’ve got — I’ve started putting more and more of my business into Salesforce. We sell these things. We sell um health care services or expensive products or other kinds of services, legal would be a good example, right? Like I . . . when I put people into my CRM. And then I have a lot of people who visit my website and, you know what? It fee — used to feel like those were two separate worlds but increasingly, they’re not.” Let me give you an example. I want the people who I get in touch with to sign up for our newsletter because sometimes it takes six months. This um — I’ll speak as Postlight, if people come and get in touch with us about something that’s relatively vague. Like I don’t — “I know I need to make some changes in my big plan over the next year for technology.” I want them to subscribe to our newsletter. I want them to visit our website, get to know us, decide if they like our design and our strategy, and I want them to sign up for the newsletter so that they’re just kind of like a little ambiently aware of what we’re up to and what we’re working on . . . So — but once you’ve signed up for that newsletter, I don’t wanna ask you anymore. I don’t wanna nag you. [Right] I don’t wanna come after you [right] um and so in this case what if the person who came to visit came and saw the website and you could kind of link those two up so that they’re not — you’re not buggin’ ’em. But you’re also asking them when you have something to offer them.

RZ Ok.


PF You’re puttin’ some modules in there or you’re — you’re sharing some information, or you’re saying like, “Hey, you know what? This person has — let’s say I was a publisher and I was like a classic media publisher. This person’s shown up 20 times in the last month [mm hmm]. They already subscribed but boy they’re — they’re coming constantly. Maybe we should let them know about the cool reader’s council that we’re building cuz we want them to like sign in for that.” And then somewhere in the CRM, connected to the CMS [mm hmm], a little thing goes from like level one to level two.

RZ Ok.

PF Now I can see all my level two people. In fact, if they’re really givin’ me money and time, I might wanna hit them first before I roll out a new feature. They might be — they’re my — they’re my most passionate users [right] [sniffles]. If I’m gonna do a conference, I might wanna invite them [right]. Maybe it’s for pay [right]. Well now I have a whole new funnel. And so I can model that out in my CRM and then I can also connect it to the CMS and make sure that people — you know I can know when they hit any page [sure] or when they do anything, where they are in the cycle [right]. And this can be very spy-y. You gotta be really careful.

RZ Sure.

PF It can feel very invasive.

RZ What are you listening to?

PF Exactly. You can really be way up in people’s business and that’s not cool. But at another level, if you have a good product and they like it and you’re moving them through this stuff, and you’re not trying to force them and jam them into it. It’s a way to like give them some more options.

RZ Yeah.

PF It’s fun. It’s interesting.

RZ It’s a . . . friendly nudge.

PF I mean [chuckles] it’s business. It is what it is. Right?

RZ It’s business, no —

PF You gotta hustle. But —


RZ But it’s on the up and up. I mean look —

PF It doesn’t have to suck. Is what I’m saying.

RZ It doesn’t have to suck and it doesn’t have to be underhanded.

PF But you go to a CRM website and they’re just like, “Jam people in your funnel hole until they can’t [RZ laughs] breathe anymore!” And that’s not — we don’t build that. That’s not what it has to be [right]. That’s not what the web has been about for people. But you can know where they are. And this is not — you know there’s a point that’s worth making here which is not personalization, it’s not like, “Here’s your custom newspaper for where you are.” Um people don’t necessarily want that. They don’t wanna have the whole world adapted to their needs. But it is like, “Hey, maybe we — you know, this person has shown like . . . five times that they’re interested in this kinda car. So like . . . let’s make sure that they know where the phone number is.”

RZ Yeah.

PF “Let’s make sure that — ”

RZ Bubble up the right —

PF Yeah so it’s — it’s that kind of responsiveness and just sort of knowing where people are in the system [yeah], maybe some user management and account stuff that let’s them track and take care of their own needs.

RZ Where am I? As you describe all this?

PF Well this is the funny thing is you’re not in the CMS and you’re not in a CRM.

RZ No, no, no, where am I as the potential customer?

PF Mm. That’s the whole thing. Right? Like are you — you’re somewhere in the cycle. You have some information associated with you.

RZ Am I on your website?

PF You’re probably on my website.

RZ Ok.


PF But you might not be. You might be getting my newsletter.

RZ Ok.

PF You might be someone who I know is gonna give me a call in the next three months and if you don’t, I should probably check in with you.

RZ Ok.

PF Here’s a good example: I call you and I say, “Hey, thanks for getting in touch about the plastic surgery [mm hmm] that you want, right?” There might be a set of pages on the website that are just kind of for you and the people who’ve gotten to this point.

RZ Yup.

PF Not for everybody else, like —

RZ Right.

PF “So you’ve decided to.”

RZ Yeah.

PF And I might point you to those or send you an email with that information.

RZ Ok.

PF So, you see this kind of like platform emerging where — where people are in the funnel, the kind of content they see, the kind of opportunities that they have to integrate and connect to your thing.

RZ Yeah.

PF Uh —

RZ Content is morphing here.

PF It is, right? And it’s so it’s like you’re still gonna publish that blog and the art — and you still need a good navbar [sure] and so on but there’s a di — it’s a little bit of a different way of thinking about it.


RZ Right.

PF Also you’re kinda — sometimes you’re poppin’ up things where you’re asking people to just fill the form out themselves, or check their own account. Like [right], “Here you can manage your own relationship over here using this tool.”

RZ A — and look, I think . . . we touched on this before which is this is very dangerous stuff, right? Because it’s based on the ability to observe what a person is doing.

PF That’s right.

RZ And what we’ve come to learn is that Facebook found the ultimate sweet spot which is they can observe what you’re doing and never ever have to be involved with creating a single piece of content ever.

PF It’s so good. Everybody just keeps making the content for them.

RZ It’s perf — it’s perfection, right?

PF Yeah.

RZ From a business model perspective [yeah], it’s like, “How about just take advantage of all the stuff that people throw up all day long everyday?”

PF No, they just — they make a machine.

RZ They make a machine. And you could — what’s interesting about Google is that — that . . . sort of — the boundary around which you can be observed blew up.

PF Mm hmm.

RZ You don’t just have to observe me at when I’m looking around for a Lexus and then I sign up the newsletter. I don’t have to just stay fenced in, inside [no, then I go over to — ] of Lexus.

PF I go over to Car and Driver magazine.

RZ Oh exactly. And they chase you around the whole internet. Right?

PF That’s right.


RZ So, what you have with these two companies is the ultimate . . . ultimate convergence of CRM and CMS.

PF That’s right and there are big platforms too. Like there’s stuff that Adobe does. There’s this big thing called Sitecore. Like this is not — we’re not inventing a whole new world here.

RZ No.

PF What’s new and what’s interesting in our particular part of the world is that more and more clients are coming and saying, “I need to put these two worlds together.” [Yes] And it’s not web analytics, and it’s not just, “We wanna do a different kind of marketing.” It’s more like the “Hey, when a person gets to this stage in the process, that’s when they actually want that special kit about the future of their plastic surgery, and how, you know, like and after the plastic surgery is over, what do we do with them? [Right] We need to — we need to give them information on how to care for themselves and what the check ups [right] look like.” And so — so i — it’s about building those relationships, partly with content, partly through the CRM, partly by maybe phone calls, emails, text messages [yeah], whatever. And those things all tie together into one platform . . . And so where they’re coming to us, they might come — they might look for all in one solution. They might decide they’re gonna do it all with Salesforce and figure out how to publish content out of Salesforce. Uh where they’re coming to us is they’re saying, “Can you put these two worlds together for me?”

RZ Right.

PF “Can you build me a service uh um can you consolidate them?” [Right} And we don’t have to go I don’t think to deep into the technology of it but we’ve talked a lot about APIs on the show. Like you build a consolidated platform and then you build a nice web or mobile frontend on top of it.

RZ Right.

PF And the consolidated platform just basically says, “Hey, we know what a user is, we know where the content’s coming from, and we know where they are in this overall cycle, this overall funnel. We know that from the CRM, we know the content from the CMS, and the client hits the API that a place like Postlight built, and then you get those two worlds together.”

RZ Right . . . We need a new acronym.

PF [Breathes out sharply] It’s not CRMCMS.


RZ It brings — no. It’s something big and beautiful. I — I — I would even say it’s — it’s broader than oh system A and system B wanna collide into each other, I feel like.

PF Yeah I think that’s right.

RZ I — I think —

PF Well this is not a new idea. It’s been around for like 40 years.

RZ Right.

PF It’s just that the cult [yeah it’s — ] — like marketing people are suddenly like, “Oh we need a CRM.”

RZ Yeah, it’s becoming more explicit in terms of how it all has to glue together.

PF And people get it. They’re no longer — it’s no longer as territorial.

RZ Yeah, there’s education happening in both directions.

PF Mm hmm.

RZ Cuz the CRM people think the the CMS people are weird.

PF Oh the CMS are like —

RZ And vice versa.

PF “You’re gonna ruin everything good about the experience I’m building.”

RZ Exactly, exactly.

PF Yeah, and the CRM people are just like, “What is this nonsense?”

RZ Yeah, exactly.

PF “I se — I sell pharmaceuticals.”

RZ Right, exactly. I — I think we should put this out that if you come up with a good acronym . . . describing this convergence, uh we’ll send you a box of chocolates.


PF Absolutely 100 percent we would do that.

RZ Yes . . .

PF Well, Rich, I don’t know. I think this is real. I think that these two worlds are — are coming together. I don’t know, like I don’t think you’re gonna be able to download like CRM WordPress tomorrow or anything like that.

RZ No. Well this is a deep pool.

PF Yeah it’s gonna —

RZ You ever see the video when the guy thinks he’s stepping into a puddle and they fall all the way [music fades in] in?

PF Zoomf! Yeah.

RZ Yeah. That’s — this is a big world.

PF I think that my instinct is this is the future for the world of content.

RZ Somebody who is smarter than us who enjoys . . . Silicon Valley . . .

PF Mm hmm.

RZ . . . will build something that will —

PF Well they’re already building — they built a bunch of stuff. I mean, [defeated] I dunno, we’ll see.

RZ If you’ve built a bunch of stuff, let us know. We’re curious about it.

PF Yeah [chuckles] we’ll try to understand it.

RZ Yeah.

PF Uh, look, anyway, if you need anything: You know how to reach us. I’m Paul Ford, the co-founder of Postlight.

RZ And I’m Rich Ziade, the other co-founder.

PF Talk to you soon!

RZ Buh-bye.

PF Bye [music ramps up, plays alone for five seconds, fades out to end].