Q&A with David Mihm on Why He’s Joining ThriveHive
October 23, 2018 | Contributed by: Greg Sterling
Earlier today ThriveHive and David Mihm announced that he would become the new VP of product strategy for the company. I’ve known David for years and consider him one of the most thoughtful people working in local arena. He’s also pretty independent.
So, I was curious about what attracted him to ThriveHive and why he decided to take the job. The following is an unedited email Q&A I conducted with him following the announcement this morning.
Why have you decided to join ThriveHive?
As I wrote in my personal update about the announcement, ThriveHive President Perry Evans and I have been friends for a number of years, and he’s been an advisor of sorts since even before I started Tidings. We’ve stayed in touch at conferences and in cyberspace and once he laid out the Guided Marketing vision — and I got a chance to see some of the assets ThriveHive already has in place — it was an easy decision.
What is it that they’re doing specifically that interested or impressed you?
Mike Blumenthal and I have talked a lot about what the successful “agency of the future” looks like in our bi-weekly chats, and long before I joined, the leadership team at GateHouse Media and ThriveHive was already executing on a lot of our biggest conclusions. The more Perry and I talked, the more I couldn’t resist the opportunity to test out some of Mike’s and my theories on what would make an agency successful–at scale.
Speaking of scale, on a more tactical level, I’m eager to take advantage of ThriveHive’s data science team. It’s not a luxury we had at GetListed (or that I currently have at Tidings), to say the least! The scale of ThriveHive’s business means there are so many best practices we can leverage from our existing customer base to help other customers.
And I love ThriveHive’s commitment to SMBs–and even more specifically, VSBs. That audience is where my passion has always been, and ThriveHive really knows how to not only reach them but serve them at scale: among other data points, the Perch app has a near-perfect rating in the App Store. Economics and product usage encourage a lot of SaaS companies to go upmarket, but it doesn’t feel that will be the case with ThriveHive.
What’s different about the approach that ThriveHive is taking vs. others you’ve observed?
The conversational, guided marketing paradigm feels totally intuitive (and innovative) to me and ThriveHive has made a big bet on it. Figuring out the right set of tasks for a business at each level of maturity has been intriguing the more I’ve thought about the Local Marketing Stack. But with ThriveHive, there’s not the usual hesitation of getting humans to help out when the pure SaaS model is no longer the best option.
That said, the chance to automate best practices in an intentional way based on what we learn from those human interactions is a key piece of ThriveHive’s appeal, particularly for lower-spending customers where agencies (and many software companies, frankly) historically have not been able to deliver real value at those price points.
And then there’s the whole layer of the Gatehouse Media sales force — which has the potential to be an “unfair” advantage relative to other SaaS companies. I’ll be paying a lot closer attention to the sales training sessions at LSA events now that I actually have the opportunity to work with a sales force 🙂
Do you have any general observations about how the digital marketing landscape for SMBs has changed vs. 3 years ago?
The topic of my session at the upcoming LSA Localogy event in Seattle is “Why you need an on-SERP optimization strategy.” That to me is a colossal shift in the marketing landscape relative to 3 years ago: Google is controlling more and more of the search experience. I’m as shocked as anyone to now be arguing that for most local businesses, SEO probably shouldn’t start with a website, but with Google My Business.
The number and quality of the non-technical features they can now leverage within GMB makes it the first place to start capturing customers already searching for them online; so many purchase decisions are now being made purely based on information in the Knowledge Panel.
Obviously a website is still a critical piece of a local business’s overall marketing, and I can’t envision that a Knowledge Panel or a Facebook Page will ever replace a website. But the amount of resources Google has devoted to GMB and the SERP real estate they’ve made available to SMB’s have dramatically increased in that 3-year timeframe. And a website is just inherently more complex than a Knowledge Panel.
The other big shift is that Google and Facebook are of course both monetizing much more heavily, as Alex Porter and I discussed on our webinar with you last month. As that trend intensifies, it’ll be important to help SMBs convert more leads into customers, build loyalty with the customers they’re paying to acquire, and leverage the low-cost organic options even more effectively.
What’s going to happen with Tidings?
I wrote about that in my personal update as well: Tidings will continue to operate as usual. We’re seeing steady growth and great feedback from our agency resellers in particular, and that audience/customer base will be where we focus most of our feature development moving forward.
That said, I need to fund that feature development somehow, which is where my salary from ThriveHive comes in! I’m going to continue to bootstrap Tidings, but my role with ThriveHive gives me an extra set of boots to do that.
David will be speaking at our Localogy event for agencies and in-house marketers in Seattle on 11/9. And ThriveHive CMO Adam Blake will be a featured speaker at LSA’s SMB SaaS TechAdoption Summit on 11/6-7 in San Francisco.