Please describe your job: What do you do?
I am the chief evangelist of Canva and the creator of the Remarkable People podcast. Evangelism comes from the Greek term for “spreading the good news,” so I spread the good news of Canva. That is, how Canva has democratized design and enabled millions of people to create beautiful graphics and to communicate better.
Talk us through a typical day…
Do you really want to know? I get up at dawn and surf for two and a half hours. Then I eat breakfast. Then I answer emails, edit my podcast, record keynotes, and make live appearances. Then I eat lunch and then surf again. Then I answer more emails, do more editing, record more keynotes, and make more appearances. My life is like Groundhog Day if you’re familiar with that movie. Often, I cannot even tell you what day of the week it is!
How do you maintain an effective work/life balance?
Work/life balance is a myth. At different stages in your life, it’s one or the other—or at least predominantly one or the other. You don’t accomplish remarkable things without sacrifice. There are going to be times when you are underpaid and overworked and times when you are overpaid and underworked.
My recommendation is that you don’t set yourself up for disappointment by believing that you can thread the needle of work/life balance. Assume, there isn’t balance and then any time there are episodes of joy, you’ll be happy.
How has strategy changed at your company?
The strategy in 2020 accelerated towards inherent and friction-free collaboration for both our employees and our customers. In a pre-pandemic world where in-person scheduled or impromptu meetings happen all the time, collaboration was a “nice to have.” In a pandemic world where some of us have not seen our colleagues and customers have not seen their colleagues for months, collaboration is crucial.
Canva’s product features reflect this new reality by incorporating online whiteboards, “talking presentations,” notifications, and real-time editing, updating, and sharing. While we believe that someday the pandemic will come under control, we think that such collaboration will shortly become so ingrained in behaviour that we’ll look back and say, “Wasn’t it always this way?”
How has customer behaviour changed during the pandemic?
The pandemic has thrown everything in the air, and things are only now beginning to settle down. My first observation is that customer expectations in product selection are lower—that is, they don’t expect every widget in every colour, size, and configuration. Simple availability is a feature. Second, at the same time, customer expectations of service are higher. People expect that your site is accurate and informative and that all aspects of ordering, paying, receiving, and using are easy and contact-free.
Third, speed is everything. People are not at home with lots of time to bake bread because they no longer have to commute, that’s a myth. The kids are home, so you’re responsible for every meal plus snacks, you’re IT support to ensure online education works, you’re not using gardeners, cleaners, and domestic help, and, oh yeah, you are in four or five dreadful Zoom calls every day for time zones across the world.
What do you predict for the future?
No one can predict what will happen tomorrow, much less “the future.” If anyone tells you that he/she can, the person is delusional. A year ago, did anyone predict a pandemic. There were predictions that a pandemic could happen, but nothing was specific.
In this kind of time, there are two different theories: you hunker down to survive vs. you seize the day and grow aggressively. Only time will tell. In any case, those that succeed will be able to claim that “they knew what to do.” You’ll only hear from these people.
The other 99% who also “knew what to do” and really didn’t will be gone and silent. The bottom line is that you take your best, educated guess. You work hard, and you see what happens. You may have to pivot. You may have to believe when no one else does. It’s impossible to predict.
What advice would you give a marketer right now?
My advice to a marketer right now is…
1. Milk your cash cows and turn inventory into cash. 2. Simplify your product lines with the goal of good availability of fewer items. 3. Simplify your supply chain to ensure good availability. 4. Do business directly with your end customer. Don’t put your fate in the hands of resellers and multiple-tier distribution. 5. Sell to your installed base. Assuming you had a good product and treated people well, they should be the easiest sale.
The most important piece of advice that I’ll leave you with is that you should ask the question, “Therefore, what?” That is, based on all that you know about your business, the needs of your customers, what’s happening in society, the unlikelihood that the pandemic will be magically solved, what business opportunities will arise? What new products should you create? What new services should you start? That’s the key to marketing in the pandemic and post-pandemic world.