Chief Marketing Officers talk Digital Marketing Strategy and Tactics CxOTalk #332

Chief Marketing Officers talk Digital Marketing Strategy and Tactics CxOTalk #332


We’re speaking with two chief marketing officers
from Silicon Valley to learn their digital strategies. I’m Michael Krigsman. I’m an industry analyst. Thanks so much for watching CXOTalk. Tim Matthews, tell us about Exabeam. Exabeam is a security software company. We are trying to disrupt the security management
marketplace. We’re a midsized company going up against
a couple of billion-dollar giants. Mark, tell us about InfluxData. We’re a time series database, so sort of a
specialized database. It does a really good job of analyzing and
looking at IoT data or machine data from DevOps. You’re both in different spaces, but it’s
both enterprise software, and so our focus today is going to be on business-to-business
marketing as opposed to consumer. Yes, enterprise, but the route to market for
me is through the developer. Tim, what is the route to market for you? In our case, we’re selling to the IT department,
specifically the security team, typically in larger companies. But in both cases, you’re selling to a relatively
technical audience. I would say a very technical audience. Yeah. [Laughter]
Tim, as the CMO of Exabeam, give us a sort of broad overview of your areas of focus and
priority. As I mentioned, we’re an upstart trying to
disrupt some very large companies in IBM and Splunk, for those who know those two companies. My two primary areas are to raise awareness
of Exabeam so that buyers of our software are even aware of us. Then my probably number one priority is driving
pipeline to make sure there’s enough pipeline for our sales reps to be able to hit their
quotes for the company to hit our number. Pipeline is the primary set of activities,
and that’s where your time and budget is spent? Yeah, so people call that demand generation. I say pipeline because I measure my demand
not in leads but in dollars. Mark, how about you? Where are your areas of priority and how does
that compare to the things that Tim was just talking about? Yeah, it’s so funny. I’m smiling. It’s exactly the same. Number one, category creation, we call it. Get our names on the map, but even just get
people aware that there is a better way of solving … (indiscernible, 00:02:27) problem. Number two is the pipeline. As Tim said, it’s, “Don’t care.” Obviously, in some way, I care about leads,
MQLs, and all the great acronyms that are out there, but it’s about the pipeline. If we’re not creating pipeline, they’ll find
another CMO that can. If I could add, Mark and I have a little bit
of a different job because he just mentioned category creation. He’s got, in some ways, a harder job because
he has to convince people they even need what he’s selling. In my case, as I said, we’re going after an
existing market with newer technology and a better way, so we’re having to prove that
we’re better than the incumbents. If we were to roll this up at a high level,
is it accurate to say that what you’re both trying to do is stand out for the noise? Is that maybe just too obvious a way of looking
at it, too simplistic? I think marketing, in general, is a competition
for eyeballs, right? It’s a competition for mindset. Ask any marketing person, I think that’s the
same thing. To me, what’s interesting from both of us
was, we hold ourselves accountable to a pipeline number, which is very different from an eyeball
number. Yes, you’ve got to get eyeballs to eventually
get to pipe, but it is that you’ve got to have that focus to where you’re trying to
get someone to as opposed to just going, “Oh, I had 10,000 leads,” and I think that’s sort
of the old way of doing marketing was very much activity-based marketing as opposed to
results-based marketing. I’d say, too, that I wouldn’t say stand out
from the noise, although there is definitely a lot of noise in my market, which is the
cyber security market. But I like to think of it as meeting the buyer
where they are when they’re ready. I need to be there whether it’s Google or
an event, whatever it happens to be, I need to be there to solve their problem. For a lot of small companies, it’s a challenge. When they don’t know you already, they’re
not looking for you, necessarily. Make sure you’re in the place where they’re
looking to do research or actually make a purchase decision. Let’s drill down on these issues you were
just describing, the distinction on the one hand between eyeballs and results and, on
the other hand, the distinction between driving leads and meeting the customer where they
are. Connect the dots for us on that. Sure. Maybe I’ll just start. There are certainly a number of businesses
where eyeballs or viewers are the metric that matters. I think, in B2B, and probably eventually in
all markets but in B2B, the rubber meets the road with pipeline and dollars. The thing about talking about dollars is you
could have a conversation with a salesperson or with a board member, and everyone understands
dollars. You start talking about some fancy marketing
metrics, you probably might lose people or, at best, get a cynical response. Yeah, I was going to also jump in there. It’s not that the activity isn’t important. It’s almost, if you want to be a world class
athlete, you’ve got to get up early, you’ve got to go to the track, you’ve got to put
in a certain amount of effort to get that. It’s that end result that’s in the top of
your mind, so if you’re driving your marketing team. I agree with Tim. You can definitely talk about pipeline generation. Obviously, all the metrics we’re looking at
is, how many people are coming to our website? What’s going on in terms of Twitter follows,
and all those types of things? That’s not the end. It’s almost, you’ve got to do those things
knowing that those will result in that pipeline that then you have this common terminology
that you can speak to. I’d sort of say it gives us a much clearer
focus because you could have a ton of users. You could have a ton of leads. You could have a lot of people loving you. But if no one actually buys, we’ve failed. I think it is sort of that relooking at everything
with that in mind going, “What’s our conversion metrics down, all the way down to pipeline?”
as opposed to just pure lead gen. There are important things to do, but it’s
the end that really matters. I think the question that marketers always
have is, how do you draw a direct connection or link between marketing activities and sales
results? We measure absolutely everything, right? We look at cohort analysis down from where
we saw a lead, what did they do last with us, how many touchpoints did they convert
into an opportunity and into the pipeline? We just apply that rigorously across everything
we do. I don’t think it’s that hard to see now in
terms of, it might not be this simple, one-to-one correlation. They came to an event. They turned into a pipeline. Let’s go do more of those events. It’s a multitouch process. With the metrics that we’re able to collect
now, we can do a much better job of just looking at this whole influence pipe and where things
are going. Right, there’s an old joke that half of my
marketing budget is driving business; I just don’t know which half. That’s maybe the old way, right? I totally agree that now, especially with
a technology buyer, there are so many ways to track effectiveness all the way from that
initial click through to a sale. It’s become a lot of fun and marketers, in
general, are better armed to prove their worth, to really show the investment and the ROI
on their marketing dollars than they ever have been. What is your relationship to sales? We drive the car together. It feels like two in a box. We just came back from one of our events and,
outside from the customers I met, probably spent most of the time with our sales VP just
trying to strategize what we do, so I definitely feel like we both got the same goals and both
driving the car in the same direction. Right, we’ve got a good relationship as well,
but there always is that tension between sales and marketing. Usually, one of two things is the scapegoat:
the product doesn’t work or the leads aren’t any good. In our case, we go to great lengths to communicate
directly with our sales VPs. We actually, on a quarterly basis, sit down
with them and review the pipeline on a rep level. We go rep-by-rep, region-by-region and, actually,
show them how we’re helping to drive their business. Especially now that so much business is driven
online that that’s critical to show them that. What does sales say to you or ask of you? What kind of specific things do they want
from you in terms of your marketing campaigns, or do they not care as long as you’re driving
the results that they desire? I was going to say, I think, from sales, you
can never have enough pipeline, so it’s always, what more can you do to generate even more
pipeline? What I’d say, and maybe it’s unique where
I am at, is we feel like we go into this problem together as opposed to it’s not like sales
asking me to do something like, “Hey, let’s strategize through things. Here’s the data.” I get sales asking me for a lot more data. Even the sales rep is going, “How many leads
happened in my territory? What pipeline came from marketing sourced
stuff? How can we help?” They have a lot of ideas. I also have the maybe unique responsibility
of inside sales and this SDI team, the telesales team reports into me, so I get a very easy
way of testing out some marketing messages, do they work or don’t they work. I really feel we’re trying to solve or solve
this together, right? There isn’t this adversarial sort of sales
and marketing thing where we feel like we are pulling each other apart while we still
try and beat a competitor. It’s more like, how are we going to go after
these competitors? What are we going to do to stand out? We have very frank conversations about which
things work to marketing and which things didn’t. Which sales reps are working? Which sales reps aren’t? That’s why I feel like it’s a partnership. Yeah, I was going to say that certainly there
is no shortage of ideas coming in from the field. I get emails and texts every day, “Why don’t
we do this? Why aren’t we doing that? Our competition is doing this.” You can be overrun by ideas. Some of them are good and some of them aren’t
so good. But again, that’s where having a discussion
about the pipeline is critical because I can say, “Well, your reps have more than they
need. Why are we going to do more?” for example. It’s helped me professionally and it’s a fairly
recent development for me to be able to talk about the business in terms of the pipeline
and in terms of investment and have it at that level, not, “Why don’t we go to this
show or that show or advertise here or there?” You can spend a lot of money and waste a lot
of money and not hit your business goals, so trying to drive the conversation around
investment and pipeline as opposed to tactics. There is a little bit of tension here. I do try and get our sales leaders to trust
me to deliver a number to them and less about giving me suggestions on the tactics. Tim, it sounds like the pipeline is your really
primary reference point for evaluating everything that you’re doing. Is that accurate? It’s definitely true. I may sound like a broken record bringing
it up so often, but it’s the commonality. Everyone can relate to it, like I said, the
sales team, the sales management, executive management, the board. Really, at the end of the day, that is our
job, whether it’s thinking about awareness or direct demand gen. If I’m not making the phones ring, so to speak,
and driving leads that convert into opportunities for the sales team, I’m not doing my job,
so why not talk about that most important thing first? If you want to know how I got there, then
I’m happy to tell them about all the inner workings of the marketing team. Yeah, and I don’t know whether it’s the same
for you, Tim, but what to me has been sort of interesting on this journey is pipeline
can only be created by sales, so you own this goal and you focus 100% on this goal. But sales is the only people that can actually
create the pipeline, so you’re giving them almost these sacrificial leads that you hope
will turn into a pipeline but going, “Hey, I’ll take the goal of you guys, and I have
no control of you creating it.” To me, it was a huge change between sales
and marketing when we started adopting that. They’re like, “Wow. You’re prepared to put your pocketbook where
reality is as opposed to just hide behind this perception that, ‘Hey, you can create
leads out of anything. We really don’t care.'” Right. Going to the pipeline and not being in control
of creating the pipeline, yeah, I think it definitely kept the teams a lot closer together. There’s a certain amount of trust you’ve got
to have when you hand off a very good lead that becomes pipeline. Then the flip side is, once they convert it
to the pipeline, it’s then their responsibility and they’re taking this really precious asset
that you’ve created and it’s up to them. In a way, it’s marketing, being able to put
a little bit of pressure on sales to say, “I’m giving you something really good. You’ve accepted it. Now it’s your responsibility,” as opposed
to, many times in my career people have blamed really crappy leads or, “No one wants to buy.” Well, you’ve accepted it. You’ve created it. Right now, it’s in your hands. What about the tracking? You’ve developed this great lead. You’ve handed it off to sales. How are you tracking the end-to-end process
from the source of obtaining that lead to the point of the sale; either it closes or
doesn’t close? Yeah, and I’ll just say to start, even with
all the advances, it can be a challenge to really track something 100% accurately. Think about your own browsing habits. One moment you’re on your desktop. Then you’re on your mobile phone. Maybe at home, you’re on your tablet. Think about that kind of dynamic across maybe
ten people at a bank who is going to buy your software. That being said, we do track lead sourcing,
so the first time we ever saw somebody, and then we do track all the touchpoints. You can track all the touchpoints and the
argument is always, “Well, which one of those touchpoints was the one that really converted
them into a buyer?” That so-called lead attribution is actually
very difficult to get right. Yeah, I agree, but what I’d say is that I
think, on a particular piece of the pipeline or particular opportunity, knowing which was
the thing that turned them over, but I’d say the laws of averages is what I go by. I go, “Okay, we know if we get so many people
into the pipe then they do this. We know in X number of days that this Y percentage
will convert.” I’d say we track everything. I almost feel like I’m always asking for,
“Well, let’s also put another date/time stamp on that field and see what happens there.” While my team, and me personally, spend an
inordinate amount of time just looking at the data trying to see, is there some trend
here that we’re missing that maybe another marketer hasn’t seen? I go, “Ah, this will give us a competitive
differentiator,” because it’s not by gut anymore. It’s a lot of data-driven, even 100% accurate,
knowing exactly what was the thing that turned them over, you know, to our own buying habits,
what was the thing that made me go and buy those pair and sneakers? Was it because I saw the ad on TV a month
ago? Yeah, I don’t know. Right, that’s true. If I could just give you one anecdote, our
previous company, we had our technical team use chat to deal with technical problems. When I was looking at the data one day, I
noticed all of these leads for the lead source said chat. It turns out that our technical support team
were terrible salespeople. They would barely answer the chats. But we realized that buyers, even of enterprise
software, wanted to interact via chat and, in many cases, it was over the weekend. You never thought that you would close a deal
or initiate a deal on a Sunday. That led to an experiment in a chat team and
eventually a 24/7 chat team. That became one of our most successful lead
sources. Really looking at that data and figuring out
where your business is coming from is crucial for a modern CMO. Can we drill down a little bit into those
sources of leads since it’s ultimately so crucial to both of you? How do you think about it? How do you structure your thinking around
where we’re going to do demand gen? Where is that demand going to come from? Yeah, so at the highest level, we look at
marketing sourced, sales sourced and, in our case, channel sourced. We have resellers who sell our products. Then within marketing, at the very highest
level, we look at events, we look at online, and then we look at direct marketing. Then, within each one of those, you can kind
of break them down further. Those are the high-level categories. Yeah, I think ours are similar. I’d say obviously a strong proponent of ours
come from the open source community, so community driven interactions. I think, for all of these things, I’d almost
say that the thing we focus the most on is content being king. People come to our website. People come here because there’s interesting
content, and so you’ve done a ton of SEO. You just love SEO and you try and deconstruct
how Google does its rankings because that’s what drives people to start expressing interest. Then we go to where they are at the moment,
whether they’re going to this event or that event. We go and meet with them on the floor and
that, but usually that’s not the first time they’ve ever seen us. They’ve heard of us. They’ve seen us somewhere else. I think it all goes back to having a strong
content strategy, but that’s also tied very keenly into a strong SEO. Content without SEO doesn’t exist. Content and SEO, are those the kind of top
of funnel points for you? Yeah, so you asked me earlier about what I
meant by meeting the buyer when they’re ready to research or buy. Mark was just talking about that. Having the right piece of content, you can
think of your own searches. How do I do this? How do I do that on a business level? Having, whether it’s a blog post or an e-book
or a video that answers a question and leads someone toward registering on your site as
a lead. That’s crucial to have the right content at
the top of the funnel and then, as Mark said, you have to reverse engineer how somebody
buys. What is it that they’re looking to do at the
very beginning when they’re looking to buy something like your products? What’s the question they’re asking? Most importantly, what’s the Google search
or the phrase that they’re typing in and how do you make sure you’re there? There’s a lot of technicality in how you do
that, but it’s a really important thing in today’s digital marketing. Yeah, and I’d also say that the other piece
is giving them the right content in the right format. We find a lot of people like to read it on
a website just sort of as either a blog or a piece of documentation. But, more and more, we’ve seen people ask,
“Why isn’t this up on YouTube? Why isn’t this up on SlideShare? Why isn’t this in someone else’s blog or somewhere
else?” It’s almost finding the buyers where they
are and, obviously, trying to get them back to tell them about our stuff. But, more and more importantly, it’s just
trying to find out what mediums that the stuff is being consumed in. I know this, our video here, is out on Twitter
and stuff. Twitter is a huge interaction mechanism for
us because you just get a lot of people telling you their real thoughts about what the product
is like, especially when something goes wrong. It’s like the first thing you do is you go
to Twitter and tell the world what the problem is, but you’ve got to engage with them wherever
they are. We found the same thing with YouTube. We found the same thing with SlideShare and
a couple of these other mediums where you just go and say, “Hey, things are already
out there. The audience is already out there. Let’s go be there with the audience as opposed
to forcing always the audience back to us.” We have a couple of questions from Twitter. Why don’t we take those now? The first question is from Arsalan Khan. He’s an IT guy, and he’s asking, “Does IT
ever help in terms of this demand gen process? If so, what could IT do?” Sure. First, I’ll say that there is a booming area
known as MarTech, marketing technology. There’s just a lot more software than there’s
ever been before to track your buyer from every which way. Certain now, we have what’s called marketing
operations, which is kind of one step away from IT, but we do work very closely with
our IT team to do all the integrations, tracking all that data, analyzing all that data, storing
all that data. I read recently that the CMO has become the
second biggest buyer of the technology behind the CIO. Certainly, we’re kind of moving in that direction. Yeah, I’d agree, whether it’s just traditional
IT or it’s almost become shadow IT inside of marketing. We’re a smallish company, so we don’t really
have a big segmentation, but we also find people building our product is another source
of information for the content. We’re also tracking how many queries did someone
write in our product. How long did it take them to get up and running? Did they stop using for the past four days? It’s all part of that nurture stream. I’d say marketing has become just embedded
in every aspect, including IT. I always just joke inside the company that
everyone is in marketing. I don’t care what you do. You’re in marketing because you’re trying
to find more of those eyeballs. IT is a critical part, or at least understanding
how the systems work are critical even though it wouldn’t be a traditional IT group in the
old world. Right. The other thing I’ll just add is if you’re
selling to IT, which I do, and you sell to developers, but just a click away. Yep. It’s interesting. You could actually go downstairs and talk
to our IT team and find out, how do they research when they’re buying something? What do they look at? What mediums do they use? It’s interesting. You could actually do some market research,
so to speak, inside your own building with the IT team. Okay. Let’s go on to a couple of other questions
that are coming in. Shelly Lucas @pisarose asks, “What is the
most challenging or difficult thing about being a marketing leader today?” Obviously, hitting the numbers is sort of
maybe just tongue and cheek if you don’t hit your pipeline numbers. It’s providing the smarts and the visibility
into where to go next. I think that’s sort of a huge challenge. There are other smart people out there. It’s a very competitive market. There’s a lot of VC money being thrown at
a lot of different problems, and so I feel perpetually it’s only the paranoid survive. I say to my team the whole time, “We can do
better here,” and so it’s driving the team, I’d say is one thing. Then finding the right people to be part of
your group, I’d put at the top of all of those. It’s growing the team in the right way to
better hit the numbers with the right members because a bad hire is just really taxing on
the system. We spend a lot of time worrying about who
we’re hiring, how do we onboard them, and how do they become part of the fabric of our
company and definitely a part of our marketing team. I agree with that. There’s definitely now a very specific pressure
on hitting the number, the pipeline number, which we’ve, I guess, brought upon ourselves. Yeah. [Laughter]
[Laughter] Right? I think, especially in tech, and this is a
little different than consumer goods. One thing that is a challenge that we strive
to do is really bring market intelligence and vision into the company. It sounds funny to say because, after all,
the marketing comes from the word “market,” but really understanding the market, providing
that back to the company is something that is not as common here because, quite often
in Silicon Valley, you’ve got a technical founder, maybe a sales leader, and that’s
the source of this data. Really going out and understanding the buyer
in the market is something that a lot of marketers don’t do, ironically enough. That’s interesting and, in a way, a little
bit shocking at the same time. [Laughter]
[Laughter] We have another question from Twitter. Gus Bekdash says a lot of companies he finds
that folks are fixated on tactical marketing, which is promotion leads, messaging, really
the tactics, but not enough on strategic marketing. What are the products, segments that our focus
as a business should be on? How can we correct that to ensure that there’s
a greater focus on the strategic aspects of this? Yeah, that’s what I was just touching on. How do you bring that insight into the company? For example, here, we’re beginning. Honestly, we had a lot of the last year or
so really focused on making sure the demand engine was there and the awareness was there. Now we’re doing more things like market research. What are the markets? Bringing that data forward into the conversation,
things like persona research, going out and doing interviews, so bringing those insights
back. I’m not going to design a product, but I can
tell people what markets look promising, what buyers are saying. I think, as a marketer, if you provide that
information and provide that data into the conversation, then marketing has a more strategic
role in the direction of the company. Yeah, I agree. I think the thing to me that sort of is bringing
that data back, so it’s doing those. We sort of do customer advisory councils or
surveys of the customer and bring it back going, “Hey, customers are looking for this. This is an adjacent space. This is what we need to get into there, but
I’d sort of say where marketing has maybe done itself a disservice in the past would
be, “Oh, here’s a strategic thing.” “Why?” “Oh, because it just sounds like it’s a good
idea.” It’s coming back with some of that data and
saying, “Hey, this is what we’re seeing. This is what we think we could address.” Then I spend a lot of time also with our product
management group trying to define and prioritize what’s needed next in the product because
of what we see. I think you can just get so caught up in the
day-to-day thing. I agree with the person on Twitter that, hey,
you forget about doing the strategic stuff, but I feel there are some partners that you
have inside the company, like I have, definitely project management is a huge partner of ours
to go and say, “Hey, this is what we’re seeing. What are you seeing? How do we go after that?” Our CTO, the same type of thing, they spend
an inordinate amount of time, as well as our sales engineers, at customer sites. It gives us a much better grasp of maybe some
of these more adjacent futures that we can go in. It’s all back to bringing data to the table
as opposed to just pure gut feel. That’s right. I agree with that. Marketing has a lot of data. Just share it. Use that to your advantage to get your point
of view across. To what extent are you spending time and resources
calibrating on an ongoing basis? Who are we selling to on a broad level, defining
our segments and markets, like we were just saying, versus the tactical efforts of counting
page views, counting leads, things like that? We spend a lot of time creating the systems
to count page views and all the rest. As I said, there’s sort of this startup cost
of creating a matrix driven marketing group. It’s bringing in the right tools to do that. It’s hooking them all up together. It’s coming up with a common way of thinking
about it. Once that’s done, it feels that just becomes
very much more of an execution engine. Go drive this. Let’s go do a couple more things like this. We spend more of our maybe higher order bit
of our brain worrying about where are we going next and that type of thing. There’s a startup cost and then that becomes
more just sort of an engine that we spend a bit more time then thinking and spend more,
I’d say, definitely of my time and maybe the senior members’ time thinking a little bit
more of where we’re going as opposed to what’s happening now. Yeah. There’s an expression, another old marketing
expression, “Nothing important happens inside the building.” I’d say that one thing we don’t do enough
and we have to keep reminding ourselves to do is get out there. Get out to a tradeshow. Go on a customer call. Go to a focus group. Just get out there, understand, and really
meet the buyers where they are. One thing that I realize is how few marketers
have ever actually, in some cases, met a customer. Even if they have, how often have they actually
gone to their place of work and understood what their day-to-day looks like, what their
environment is like, what kind of pressures they’re under. That’s, to me, really good marketing. I’ll say that we always have to take a pause
and force ourselves to get out there as we get caught up in the day-to-day. It’s a really important thing to remind yourself
to do. I wish I could do more of it, honestly. Is there some sort of discipline that you
can use to enforce that outside in thinking into marketing teams? I’ll just tell you, we’ve done a couple of
fun exercises. I have something that I call Be the Buyer
Day. We do it once a year. Once a year, we drop everything and we act
like a customer of our product. We do our online research. We go to websites of us and our competitors. We call in. We disclose who we are, but we try and find
out what it’s like to be a customer. That’s really interesting because then you
see how good or not you are, as well as your competition. It just kind of puts the marketers in the
mindset. That’s a pretty easy, daylong exercise where
you can divide up your competition or divide up your product line. It’s fun to kind of have the marketers report
back what it’s actually like to be on the other side and try and buy your product. I really like that. We haven’t done that. I might steal that idea. Go for it. I’d sort of say ours has not been maybe as
formally applied. I can tell you that for everyone on the team,
we all do group duty, right? We all get to the tradeshows. We all stand in the booth. Nothing is beneath anyone. It definitely is a startup, but it gets people
out there having to tell the story to see if they can actually have the guts to tell
the story and then get the tough questions back and go, “Well, I don’t have an answer
to that. That didn’t work at all.” It’s, as I said, almost like having that mentality
by doing what you preach. I’m out there as well doing the thing. I do like your idea, Tim, of going, “Hey,
be a buyer for the day.” I’m definitely going to steal that one. I like that. [Laughter]
It’s shocking what you’ll find. Yeah. [Laughter]
[Laughter] Get ready. One of the things that I’ve observed working
with many, many, many software companies over the years, both really large software, the
largest ones, as well as smaller ones, is what seems to happen is it’s very hard for
software companies to tell their story without sort of falling into sounding like a brochure. Then what happens is customers, the buyers,
tend to then discount the content coming out of the software company because they say,
“Oh, yeah, it’s just their infomercial,” no matter what they say. Yeah. In our style guide, we have a list of forbidden
words, so “state-of-the-art,” “cutting edge,” those kinds of things. You start speaking in this jargon and you
think, “Can’t they just speak English to me?” It’s actually, in some cases, a sign that
the marketers aren’t very good writers or you can’t express the idea without using some
modifier like “cutting edge.” We do challenge our writers to write like
humans in clear English without modifiers. We’re trying to stand out, yes, but standing
out; that’s one way to stand out is to just have a clear message in plain English that
people can understand. That helps. Yeah. I’d say, for us, because we may be a developer
and open source based, and so it’s very, very technical influencer audience, they might
not be the person who has the check, we’ve got to really stay clear of any of us saying
“market leading” and any sort of things that were talked about in the style guide. I’d say what we’ve done is we almost describe
the product through the lens of the customer. We’d rather go and take a lot of customer-driven
marketing. We go and listen to the customer story. We write up the customer story. Then we use snippets of that to tell the story
because then it’s authentic. What I found was you try and speak as a marketer
and we all sound the same, right? “The market-leading this. We’ve all done this. It’s great.” There’s just this rolling of the eyes. I think this is what gives marketing its bad
rep. I was chatting with a developer on a show
last week. He goes, “Well, I hate marketing people.” I said, “Well, I’m a marketing person.” He goes, “Oh, but you gave me a shirt, so
that’s okay.” [Laughter]
There are other bribes that we do to sort of give the audience, but it gets down to
giving back to that strong believer on content is king and it’s got to be that relevant content
because there’s just too much of it out there where people don’t buy off brochures anymore. They don’t buy from what’s written on the
website. They are asking the peer groups. They’re going to shows, seeing what the competitors
have got, and you’ve got to just be very authentic. I think, also, tell people about some of the
problems. We do this; we’re really bad at doing that. I think that’s always a big challenge, especially
when you get some very aggressive new marketer and you go, “Hey, we even say what we don’t
do.” “Oh, wow, I haven’t had that before.” What’s the antidote to that? I think that part of the issue in technology
is that we don’t do a very good job with our brand. Who are we? What do we stand for? You end up with a lot of me-too-ism in the
writing, in the messaging. I’m a big admirer of consumer goods because
I love, for example, Yeti coolers. It’s amazing. It’s a cooler. It works better. But how they do their marketing is just so
different and refreshing to any other cooler. I think that in technical marketing, there
are only a very few companies, and Apple is always the example that comes up, that really
have their own very unique brand, which is not just their identity, but the way they
talk about what they do. I think that’s the answer. I think that’s a wakeup call for heads of
marketing, in tech in particular, but any market that’s commoditized or very competitive
that’s a B2B market. How do you stand out? What are you even saying? If you don’t understand that, you’re not going
to be able to teach your writers how to be unique without that understanding of who you
really are, I think. Yeah, I would agree with that. I think the other thing that jumped to mind
to me is, back to data analysis of what people do, are they coming to the page that you’ve
written about, is that content making a difference? I think a lot of marketers feel like they
are gold on word counts and not on page view counts, right? Mm-hmm. I go, “Hey, I don’t care if it’s 100 words
or 1,000 words. It really doesn’t matter. If it’s not having an impact, let’s just throw
out that page and get rid of it. You might think it’s a wonderful piece but,
if it’s not giving any sort of clarity out there, it’s a total waste of time.” I do think it is tough in the B2B world because
one database looks very similar to another database and you’ve just got to try and find
that essence, go and find your sort of brand value and essence, and describe it out there
in the words of your buyer. I think, again, marketing is this competition
for eyeballs of a particular type, and my type would be of a developer or DevOps person. I’ve got to speak in their terminology. I can’t speak in product marketing or marketing
terminology. Otherwise, you do just get this generic piece
of thing that you’ve got 10,000 words and no one came. As we finish up, we have just a few minutes
left, let me ask each of you for advice that you can share for midlevel marketers who want
to become CMO and who want to do a better job. Sum up everything you know, in a way. Yeah, for me it would be, be bold and be prepared
to fail. I think the lessons that I’ve learned as a
marketer has come from trying new things and a lot of them don’t work. I think it’s showing that boldness and that
tenacity. If you’re trying to move up in the chain,
coming back to your manager with data. To me, data wins anyone over. You can have a theory, but if I come and go
and say, “Hey, we’ve implemented this check feature and it’s converted this number of
leads,” people are going to say, “Wow, okay, that’s something to look at.” Whereas, “Oh, I think check would be a great
thing.” I think it’s, become a doer and let data be
your resume. I would add to that, you should bring a knowledge
of the buyer in the market. If you want to move beyond being a director
up to a VP or CMO, you’ve got to bring that market understanding and the buyer understanding
into the conversation to have that strategy that’s going to help you propel your company. That, for me, could be as technical as you
want, but without that understanding, you’re never going to have that seat at the table
to really start directing where the company is going. You can do that by talking to sales, talking
to customers, talking to analysts. If you’re not that person, you’re just going
to be a midlevel event or demand person forever, which is fine but, if you really want to move
up, you’ve got to bring that strategy. Maybe just tongue and cheek, I think, then
also realize being a CMO isn’t maybe as great as you think it is. It’s having a goal, as we talked about, that
you’re not in control of. It’s having everyone think that they can do
a better job than you because everyone can do marketing. [Laughter]
It’s having the backbone to stand behind that, right? I think there is sort of this, be careful
what you wish for on this journey. That’s a good point. All right, well, we are out of time. It’s been a very, very fast 45 minutes today. You have been watching CXOTalk. We’ve been speaking with Tim Matthews, who
is the CMO of Exabeam, and Mark Herring, who is the CMO of InfluxData. Gentlemen, thank you so much for taking the
time and for being with us here today. It’s been a really interesting conversation. Everybody, be sure to come back next week,
subscribe on YouTube, and subscribe to our newsletter at CXOTalk.com/subscribe. Thanks, everybody. Have a great day, and we’ll see you next time. Bye-bye.

One comment

  1. Thanks for sharing. Digital marketing & SEO work. Most people don't have the patience or take the time to learn it, let alone wait for the results. It's like planting seeds and farming.

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