Xenia Muntean is the CEO and Co-Founder of Planable, a content review and marketing collaboration platform used by over 5,000 teams behind brands such as Hyundai, Viber, and United Nations.
Prior to launching Planable, at 20 years old, she built a digital marketing agency and led social for clients such as Coca-Cola. Xenia Muntean has been recognized on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list and she spoke on the Innovation Stage at Cannes Lions in 2018. Xenia graduated from Tim Draper’s start-up academy in Silicon Valley and took Planable through the TechStars London accelerator in 2017. She has also published a book – The Manifesto on Content Marketing Teams, and has launched her own podcast – People of Marketing.
What You’ll Hear
- [2:01] Why Xenia Muntean became an entrepreneur
- [3:27] How she came up with Planable
- [5:22] How Xenia motivated herself to get started
- [8:55] How she overcame challenges
- [12:35] Tips to stand out from the competition
- [18:28] Time-saving tools for social media
- [22:00] Social media in 2022
- [27:38] The most interesting place Xenia’s visited
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Why Xenia Muntean Became an Entrepreneur
Xenia says she didn’t want to become an entrepreneur; it happened by accident. She didn’t come from a family or even a country where people ran their own businesses.
When she was younger, she wanted to work in advertising, although looking back she can see she was trying out entrepreneurship – she ran a jewellery design company and then a social media marketing agency.
She became an entrepreneur because she was in the right place and time with the right people. Xenia says she took advantage of the opportunities that were presented to her.
How Xenia Muntean came up with Planable
In 2015 Xenia was running her social media marketing agency and building up a lot of content for clients as well as managing their profiles themselves. She used spreadsheets to track client editorial content, and felt that the process could be improved.
It wasn’t very efficient, and much of her time was taken up with editing spreadsheets, PowerPoints and other documents based on client feedback on the content. Internal communication and collaboration with the rest of the agency was also lagging behind.
As they began to scale, it was hard work to manage everything. The agency was approached by others who were having the same problem and they realised they were the ideal customers for the solution they were looking for.
Xenia sat down with some of the other agency owners to discuss workflows, tools and technology to come up with a solution. Planable was born from that.
How Xenia Muntean Motivated Herself to get Started
“It’s hard to put your plans into action and move away from your current state – leaving a good job and put yourself out there,” Xenia says. What you need is a good support system, and she and the Planable team had that.
They joined a start-up accelerator and got a lot of support from mentors and people who’ve gone through a similar journey. They understood the challenges of starting a business and were able to normalise the experience for the Planable team.
They realised that everything they were experiencing was normal and didn’t mean they were bad at business. Xenia says the support from the mentors made such a difference and their help was priceless.
The other advantage was having co-founders – you’re not in this on your own. It also means that you won’t waste time and put things off. You support each other to keep pushing forward. It’s given them courage and helped them to channel and maintain their ambition.
How Xenia Overcame Challenges
Xenia explains that the Covid pandemic arrived as the Planable business was going through a phase of transition. She felt that they were still a start-up trying to find their place, and wasn’t entirely confident with what they were doing.
She describes Covid as a stress test, and said the company performed amazingly throughout. That built Xenia’s confidence in what they were doing, especially as she still had some of the ‘struggling start-up’ mindset.
She was scared at first when there were huge financial challenges happening globally. Xenia worried that the company would not struggle to survive and grow. However, the team has done a good job and she feels more settled.
They lost a few clients at the start of the pandemic but they managed to keep growing Planable. Xenia says that you need to look at things through rose-tinted glasses in order to keep building your business.
Tips to Stand out From the Competition
Xenia says that’s a challenge for all businesses. Planable sits in a space alongside some really big companies – even SalesForce has a social media management tool. Lots of emerging companies are trying to solve social media problems for professionals.
For Planable, they knew they were in a competitive space from the get-go, so they had a philosophy of not looking too closely at the competition. They were aware of what was happening in the marketplace but didn’t research their competitors too closely.
Instead, Xenia says: “We wanted to focus on what we do best. That sounds simple, but it’s actually really hard. We had to say no to a lot of features and functionality that customers requested. We wanted to stay true to our vision and not copy other companies.”
The product has to be built in response to what your customers ask for, but you have to stay strong to your vision and say no to features that they’ve seen elsewhere. The big one was analytics.
Xenia says that Planable is a collaboration tool for social media teams so they don’t do analytics reporting on performance. They want to be the best at planning, collaboration, approval and workflow, so they don’t go into the social media management space.
Planable don’t want to be a jack of all trades but a master of one, so they say no to a lot of requests. Xenia admits that it’s hard to do so, but it’s a key strategy to stand out from the competition. It allows you to build something of your own that 10 people will love rather than something 100 people will like a bit.
Time-Saving Tools for Social Media
When clients come to Planable for help, Xenia says they recommend an audit or a retrospective. This encourages people to look at their last campaign or project and work backwards.
Clients are told to go through each step of the workflow and processes and identify the weaknesses. That might be a bottleneck that stopped you from making progress or collaborating as well as you should.
Xenia says there are some common problems and patterns around people failing to plan properly or how teams don’t work effectively. Because workflows are specific to each team, they have to look for themselves at where their own problems come up.
Having everything in one place makes things easier. This includes planning and collaborating on content, communication and scheduling. Not having to copy information from emails into other places also saves a lot of time.
A lot of people think that collaboration is great in theory but not in practice and it slows them down. Xenia says it might feel like that in the beginning, but it allows for diverse opinions to be shared. It also ensures that the company has an authentic voice which represents all teams as well as the company on social media.
The social media team is at the heart of the company and they have to represent the voices of lots of other teams. They have to collaborate with each stakeholder to make social as authentic as possible.
Social Media in 2022
Xenia says that we can expect a big rise in stories across all the platforms, although some are doing it better than others. Brands will need to allocate time to plan these properly. Stories have a much bigger reach than other types of post and often outperform them.
More and more businesses will get onto TikTok, too – it gets more traction every month. The rise of stories and videos add up to a diversification in content creation, and we can expect more formats taking off.
The way we plan all these different formats will be more important than ever. There’s a wide range of content formats and we need to choose the best ones for our brands.
The Most Interesting Place Xenia’s Visited
The last place Xenia visited before lockdown was Tel Aviv, and she loved it. “It’s creative, cosmopolitan, full of art and young people. And as a vegetarian, I didn’t have to worry about going hungry!”
You can have a free trial of Planable, or use Lilach30 for 30% discount. Connect with Xenia on LinkedIn and mention that you heard her on my show!
Xenia is the CEO and Co-Founder of Planable, a content review and marketing collaboration platform used by over 5,000 teams behind brands such as Hyundai, Viber, and United Nations.
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