Interview with Palak Bavishi, Marketing Manager at Contactually

We had the great opportunity to interview Palak Bavishi, a recent grad from the University of California, Irvine and marketing manager at Contactually, online software that helps manage relationships. You can learn more about Contactually at their website or follow them on Twitter: @contactually.

Can you tell us about how you got started in the marketing field and what your career path has been like to this point?

I’ve just begun my professional marketing career with Contactually, but have interned and worked with many companies including AT&T, with their marketing efforts to create a strong outreach to users and customers. I have developed a strong interest particularly in internet marketing, and seen how technology has changed traditional marketing methods to advanced Internet techniques. Internships have helped me learn about different marketing strategies that can be used for particular industries.

What is the best marketing career advice you have ever received?

The best marketing career advice I have ever received would be “It’s not about who you know, but who knows you.” Marketing requires building relationships with people who would benefit from what you’re trying to offer them. Networking plays a huge role for marketers, especially for startups and small companies trying to grow. It’s important as a marketer to expand your network, and create a lasting impression with your connections.

What skills do you think are most valuable for marketers in today’s work environment?

As technology advances each and everyday, the most important skill for marketers would be networking. Networking should be a well, established skill for any marketer to be successful in developing a user base. In addition to networking, marketers should also be in sync with new technologies on the rise with social media, email marketing, as well as search engine marketing. These are all marketing strategies that should be mastered to reach a positive ROI.

What are your favorite books on marketing and how have they helped your thinking or effectiveness in marketing?

One of my favorite books on marketing is “The Referral Engine: Teaching your Business to Market Itself” by John Jantsch. Word-of-mouth referrals are greatly recommended in this book over any other marketing tactics. Jantsch creates a powerful argument about how trust and credibility relies in recommendations of a product from a friend, colleague, or even a stranger. In order to gain referrals, it’s important to keep customers and users happy and provide a quality experience. By keeping in with these ideals, referrals will flow instantly, and allow the business to grow steadily.

Do you read any marketing blogs or listen to any podcasts on a regular basis?

A few of the many marketing sites that I follow are Quicksprout, Small Biz Trends, and Social Media Examiner. These sites provide great insight about marketing, and new ways to use different mediums to attract new users. They provide great learning material about what the marketing industry is looking like, and offer great tips and advice for new marketers.

How does Contactually help marketers?

Contactually is a personal assistant for building professional relationships. For marketers, it’s important to follow up, and keep in contact with leads and prospects. Contactually will prompt you to take action with your email contacts, and make sure you are reaching out to those who have slipped off your radar recently. It’s a great tool to reconnect with people you may have contacted a few months ago, and forgotten about. In addition to storing all your contacts, Contactually also provides a platform for marketers to be able to connect on all levels (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) with their contacts.

Can you tell us the story of how Contactually was started and what your goals are?

Contactually was started in July 2011 as a side project to help better update our CRM (Highrise, at the time) via email. We built the first version over the weekend and had a few dozen users within a week. We got a lot of feedback and realize that integration with a CRM was really a secondary solution; the primary problem most people had was a difficult time remembering to follow up with important contacts. We refocused Contactually to meet this need, went full-time in October, moved to San Francisco for 3 months as part of 500 Startups (a tech incubator), and just moved back to DC in early Feb to continue scaling the product.

In the future, we plan to continue improving the product, eventually including greater integration beyond email (import contact histories from the major social networks and your phone), as well as building out email plugins and a phone app. We’re hiring both developers and marketing folks and plan to grow the team significantly over the next several months. We launched paid plans last month and are actively seeking ways to incentive users to upgrade their plans to our premium feature set.

What is your marketing strategy for growing the company?

Our marketing strategy to expand Contactually is to outreach to small business owners, realtors, marketers, and entrepreneurs who will find this tool beneficial for their business. We plan on engaging with our users to make sure we are providing them with a product they can use daily, and with ease. As we are rolling out with new features and improvements, we plan on spending our marketing efforts towards updating our blog, and engaging with potential users via social media, and email marketing.

How would you describe the Contactually brand?

Contactually is a personal assistant for professional relationships. Our brand resonates most strongly with other business professionals who have a lot of important contacts, specifically SMB owners, marketers, realtors, and biz dev people. We want business folks to associate Contactually with intelligent automation and increased productivity.

Where can people learn more about Contactually?

More information about Contactually can be found on our site Contactually, where you can learn about the specific features we have to offer. We are currently in private beta, and are still in the process of rolling out new features. We have setup a special invite for Cool Marketing Stuff readers. Enter special invite code during signup: coolmarketingstuff, or visit