Video

The CEO’s Role in Marketing: How to Hustle, Build Momentum, Sell Your Company and Yourself (Video + Transcript)

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For CEOs, taking ownership of marketing rather than just leaving it to the marketing department is imperative for company growth. It must be built into the concepts of the company from day one. But how exactly should a CEO be involved in marketing? Stacey Epstein, CEO at Zinc, takes the Strategy stage with David Kellogg, CEO at Host Analytics; Kathryn Minshew, CEO at The Muse; and Greg Schott, CEO at MuleSoft, to discuss how marketing has been critical to their respective companies’ success.

For starters, every CEO is different. The role that he or she will play in marketing will depend on their personality and strengths. For example, a lot of CEOs feel a lot of angst with PR. Being in the limelight is a walk in the park for certain individuals while for others, it’s excruciating.

Furthermore, they get into how to ensure sales and marketing are in alignment with each other and how they used content to help bring in new customers.

And if you haven’t heard: SaaStr Annual will be back in 2018, bigger and better than ever! Join 10,000 fellow founders, investors and execs for 3 days of unparalleled networking and epic learnings from SaaS legends like Eric YuanTomasz TunguzChris O’Neill, and Mikkel Svane. If you don’t have tickets, lock in Early Bird pricing today and bring your team from just $799! (All ticket prices go up November 1st.) Get tickets here.

 

TRANSCRIPT

Announcer:  Please welcome Stacey Epstein, CEO of Zinc, previously Chief Marketing Officer at ServiceMax, and Vice President of Global Communications at SuccessFactors.

Stacey Epstein:  Thank you. Hello, everybody. I’ve been really excited about this session today because I get to speak about a topic that’s close to my heart and important to me, and that’s marketing. I’m going to try to convince you guys that it should be close to your heart and important to you, too.

Before we move forward, let me bring out my panel. Come on out, panel.

Stacey:  We have Kathryn Minshew from the Muse, and Greg Schott from MuleSoft, and Dave Kellogg from Host Analytics. Hello, panel.

[applause]

Stacey:  I told them, instead of me trying to remember all of the great things about their background, I’m going to have them introduce themselves to you. I want you guys to focus a little bit on marketing. Each of you has a little bit of marketing in your background, so tell us about yourself.

Dave Kellogg:  OK, I go first? My name is Dave Kellogg. I’m excited about the panel, because I have 10 years on both sides of the marketing line. I’ve been a CEO for 10 years, 6 years at MarkLogic, an enterprise NoSQL company, now 4 years at Host Analytics, an enterprise performance management financial apps company.

I’ve been 10 years as CEO looking at marketing from this side, and part of that, I was 9 years of Chief Marketing Officer of Business Objects, as we grew the company from 30 million to a billion in revenue. I like to think I can see both sides of the issue here.

Stacey:  Right. Kathryn.

Kathryn Minshew:  Yeah, I’m Kathryn Minshew, Founder and CEO of The Muse. I came to starting my company with very little marketing background initially, but dove in face first, as it were.

I’d say I feel like I learned a lot of things the hard way. We now have over 50 million people every year who use The Muse, most of it is organic traffic.

I spend a lot of time figuring out PR, content marketing, various forms of guerrilla marketing to help build the early stage, and then now I’ve got a great marketing team that takes the lead.

Stacey:  Thank you. Greg.

Greg Schott:  I’m Greg Schott. I’m the CEO at MuleSoft. I was Marketing VP/CMO three different times beforehand, for three startups. A couple of them went through IPO, so I had quite a bit of marketing background coming in.

I’ve been CEO of MuleSoft now for eight years. My current VP of Marketing has been amazing, so it’s been a great ride working together with him, but I’ve got a lot of marketing background before this.

Stacey:  Thanks. You guys heard, I’m now a CEO. You notice the panel’s full of CEOs. I feel like every week I get a CEO sent to me from one of our investors, or someone else that I meet that says, “I want to talk about marketing. It’s this black box. I don’t understand it. I don’t know if I should do it. If I should do it, how do I go about it, and is it really that important?”

Then, I was in the audience earlier, and I heard the Trello founder talking about how, in the early days, they didn’t have that marketing muscle. They didn’t know to focus on it, and yet they were still pretty successful as we saw their big acquisition news.

My question to the panel, and I’ll let you guys decide who wants to go first is, “Is it that important as a startup as you’re growing? Should you double down and focus on marketing, or can you get away without it”?

Kathryn:  I’m happy to kick it off. Marketing has been, I would say, critical to our success. I do think it depends on the type of company that you have. For us, we built The Muse to be a marketplace. We needed to have that critical mass of users.

We did Y Combinator, and a lot of companies in our batch, they launched on TechCrunch or on Hacker News and say, “Good, I’m done. I finished.” We found that that was a pretty limiting way to think about marketing, especially early stage, because you only get people who are in that one part of that one community.

We used content effectively in the early days to, essentially, get the message out about what we were doing. In our case, because we have a job search and career platform, we found that publishing great career content, both on our site, but also through syndicated partners, was an effective way to build that early mass.

We actually had 20,000 people use The Muse the first month that we launched, 26,000 the second, 70,000 the third. We’ve been off to the races ever since.

Stacey:  You think that was largely because of marketing?

Kathryn:  I do. I think it was for us, not thinking about marketing as an appendage or something that sits outside of the core, but saying, “For us to have a product that resonates, we need to have a diverse set of people use it.”

We needed those people to find it in the most organic and authentic way as possible. We built some of the concepts of marketing into the company and the product itself from day one.

Greg:  I would just say I think about marketing as being about as critical as it gets. If you own a company where they’re not thinking about marketing as being important, maybe marketing as a function, they may not be thinking that way, but in a successful company, somebody is doing the marketing.

By that I mean, they’re doing the positioning. They’re figuring out the product market fit. When I think about the organization of a company, I think of three main pillars, one being the product leadership, one being the marketing leadership, and the other being the field and sales leadership.

Everybody else, the CEO, the finance, recruiting, HR, everybody else, is in support of those three functions.

If you think about marketing as an appendage, you’re not thinking of that as really at the center of everything. It’s the intersection between your products and your field organization.

Then, if you think about the definition of what marketing is, it’s really many more things than just demand gen. If you think about it very broadly, marketing is your web presence, your analyst relations, your public relations, your digital demand gen, your event space marketing, your product marketing.

It’s a very broad job, very broad role for any company, and really for a leader in that organization.

Dave:  Yeah. I just echo the sentiment that marketing is super important. It’s not something to leave to later, in my mind, at all. It’s a competency you want to develop earlier rather than later.

I would say that with most SaaS companies, the role of marketing has really changed over the last 10 years, and we are increasingly reliant in a velocity sales model for marketing to fill the pipeline.

Tactically, marketing is very important in that regard, and then strategically, for the reasons Greg talked about, positioning the company of thought leadership, so it’s not something to put on the back burner.

Stacey:  Having a background as a CMO, I’ve worked for different kinds of CEOs that take a different role and participating in marketing. I worked directly for Lars Dalgaard at SuccessFactors. Who was a very dynamic, charismatic presence and we leveraged that a lot.

I’ve worked for other CEOs that are a little bit more introverted, maybe more product focused. They play a different role, and as a marketer you have to work with that.

As a CEO, what do you think? Give some advice, as a CEO, what role do you think the CEO should play in the marketing strategy, in the marketing execution.

Greg:  I’ll take that one. Unfortunately, it’s an “It depends” answer, so it really depends on what your organization needs, and if you have somebody who’s running marketing, so you have a VP of Marketing or a CMO, it’s what their strengths and weaknesses are. Myself and our VP of Marketing, we have this, I fill in gaps that he has and vice versa.

I think about it as something that the CEO gets involved where they need to. The one place I don’t think you can abdicate to anybody in the organization is around the overall positioning of the company, and how you want the company to be perceived, the direction it’s going.

Usually, a lot of your positioning will actually drive a lot of your product direction and everything else. There, you have to take full ownership of it, and then work with a person in marketing to help create the messaging around that.

Stacey:  Yeah, I definitely agree, and this is one of the challenges of being a CEO, especially of a startup. It’s that you’ve got a company that demands a lot of different things and has a lot of different needs, and you have to figure out where are you best equipped to fill that need, and where should you find somebody to bring in.

I do agree that that positioning question is really important. For us it’s also been interesting, something that I’ve been more involved in recently, for different segments we’ve also found that different levels of involvement is important. As we’re selling into our B2B side of the business, I have to be very involved there.

I go to a lot of meetings, really think about the positioning, whereas when the consumer side of our business got to a certain point, it was easier for me to take a step back and say, “We’ve got fantastic people who are really owning different channels, and I can kind of dip in when I’m needed, but not be quite so much up to the elbows in the details.”

Dave:  I’ll come on this from two angles, one, as a marketeer, you need to play the hands you’re dealt in terms of your CEO. If you’ve got a dynamic, charismatic CEO, get them out there, put them on stage.

If you’ve got an introvert, work with that, but don’t try and twist them into something they’re not, because you’ll invariably have very awkward moments.

[laughter]

Dave:  The other thing I’d say is, interesting enough, I remember back when I was a CMO and I’d interview for CMO jobs. One of the patterns I noticed was some big percentage of the time I’d leave the interview going, “You guys don’t need a CMO, you need a CEO. You’re asking the CMO to position the company, determine strategy, product market fit.”

I’m, “What does the CEO do here?” I think it’s important as a marketeer, if you’re looking at companies, to think about that, because the CEO very much should be doing those things.

Greg:  I think it’s a great point on don’t make…I’ve had it happen to me before. If you’re a CEO, don’t have them try make you do something that’s unnatural and vice versa.

If you’re in marketing, don’t push the CEO to go somewhere that’s not natural for them. There’s some CEOs that are going to be fantastic in the limelight out in front of everybody, and there’s others who are just going to be reluctant.

If you look across many companies, there’s those front facing CEOs, the Mark Benioffs of the world, and then there is a lot of great companies that are run by folks that are more backroom. You just have to understand what you’ve got instead of trying to force square pegs into round holes.

Stacey:  I definitely agree. Let’s stick with positioning for a second since you both talked about the importance of the CEO being involved in positioning.

I feel like when you run a company, and especially if you’re the founder, you live and breathe what the company is all about, but sometimes, translating that into assets or tactics or positioning statements or things that a marketing team needs to create the deck, the pitch, the PR stories is a little more challenging.

How have you guys been effective in taking what you know and believe your company is about and helping the marketing team with what they need to get it in the market, create a brand, create awareness for your company?

Dave:  The most important element here, in my opinion, is to have what I call a blueprint, where you sit down with marketing, you take three to five basic questions, and define the answers.

If somebody says, “Who are we?” what do we say? If somebody says, “Why are we different?” what do we say? If somebody says, “What are the benefits of using our product?” what do we say? If you just take very simple questions…because a lot of marketing people try to pretend that positioning is this black art, wizardry; it’s not.

Positioning happens in the mind of the customer. It’s my favorite statement on positioning. Where does it happen? Right here in the mind of the customer. It’s usually about very simple things. Somebody bumped into somebody, “Greg, what does MuleSoft do?” That answer to that question? That’s positioning.

Stacey:  For me, too, a lot of it is back to your statement about the customer. It’s about that empathy to who am I selling to and why is this valuable and important to them?

A lot of CEOs get so caught up in, “But the features are so great, and I’m going to build this thing that’s going to be so good,” but they forget that marketing is really about communicating that in a way that the customer says, “Yes, I want those features. I need them.”

Helping yourself answer those questions like Dave brings up is a really valuable exercise. It’s also so critical internally, as your team grows. That was a really interesting lesson for me.

We’re about 135 full time employees. When we were small, we were this tight knit band. Everyone knew why we were here, who was our customer. We talked about it. You could stand up at the middle of the office, share a customer note, and suddenly, everybody was on the same page. It was really interesting.

As we started to get bigger, actually, our director of marketing and basically the first marketing hire that we ever made, he came to us when we were probably about 50 people and said, “I think we need to really set out a brand book. We’ll set out our personas.”

I remember my first reaction was like, “We’re moving too fast for that right now. We don’t have time.” I was wrong. It was so unbelievably useful, both externally but also for every single, new person that we brought onto the team and that we continue to bring on to set everyone around the same core principles.

It also took some of the burden off me, having to constantly…and obviously, I still do stand up and talk about it, but it’s nice to have it in a single format that we can share with new hires, with partners, and use internally as well.

Dave:  I’ve got an anecdote I’d like to share on this one. In between MarkLogic and Host Analytics, I spent a year at Salesforce, where I was a senior vice president and general manager of the Service Cloud. If you look at a great marketing company like Salesforce is, to your point, how do you get a company that large consistent and on message?

One of the hardest things I did during my year there was study for the Media Spokesperson Certification Exam. It was like 30 pages of a small print, and the test is given with live TV cameras. If you want to know how you’re on message, when you write it all down, you standardize it and you test on it. I was very proud of that achievement.

Kathryn:  I love that.

Stacey:  Yeah, I love to do the elevator pitch, where you want it to be short and sweet, but you got to test it and make sure you’re not just talking about the features, you’re talking about the value, right?

Then you have to get everybody to do it at an all hands, have everybody get certified on elevator pitch, and partly because to me, everybody is a brand ambassador in the company, and partly because it helps you reinforce who you are as a company with your own people, which is really powerful.

Last question about positioning messaging. PR to me is another big area where CEOs often have a lot of angst. I feel like any agency, like the bottom amount you can pay is 15, 20 grand a month, which for bigger companies, is a drop in the bucket.

But when you’re small and cash is really king, how do you feel about PR? When is the right time to do PR? How involved are you in what the PR team is pitching and saying? General thoughts on PR.

Greg:  PR can be the least expensive way to market your company, the least expensive advertising you’ll ever get. The big question comes in as to whether you’re going to do it internally, or you’re going to use an agency.

My own personal philosophy, as I’ve seen over the years, is most companies, when they bring in a marketer, will immediately want to bring an agency in. What I’ve seen, and maybe it’s just been my companies and how we’ve done it or haven’t been able to do it, but you will then proceed to churn PR agencies about every 18 months from then on out.

Every single new agency will be that bright, shiny object that somehow is going to fix your PR. You’re going to have the right person.

Then you’ll churn them out 18 months later because you’re tired of them churning out people on your account, and you’re paying too much money, and they don’t get it. I’d be extremely careful with ramping up spend with PR agencies.

I’d think very long and hard about, depending on your message and how complicated it is, how much you do internally. It’s really important to do it, but it’s that internal versus outsourced is a big decision.

I’m a fan of insourced, certainly for the more complex stories. As you get to simpler stories, then you can hire people that can spin up quickly externally, really hard ones, it’s a complex story.

Kathryn:  I would agree with that. The one exception, and this was really interesting for us, was industry specific PR.

Initially, I did all the PR at The Muse. I thought it was really fun. I found early on that it was really almost interesting for me to talk to people who were reporters and media, understand what they were working on, see if I could help them.

Those relationships over time grew into, once we actually had something worth telling stories about, people coming and asking me to give quotes or to be featured in different things, but the area we could not crack without external help was HR PR.

Without getting into too much of the detail, I don’t know how many people in this room know a lot about the human resources industry PR. It’s not something that you encounter every day. There’s a full suite of media platforms, conferences dedicated around this very specific industry, and breaking into that was incredibly hard.

We tried unsuccessfully for probably 18 months before we finally found an agency that specifically knew that world, worked with them for a finite period of time, and all of a sudden, had access to keynote opportunities in front of 700 of our customers.

That was really pivotal and I think for us that was one of the biggest areas where we found it to be really useful to go external.

Dave:  Building on the prior answers, PR is all about the audience first and foremost as you’re saying, and your standard PR firm is going to know really well how to talk to what I call the digirati, the Silicon Valley community broadly.

If you’re selling to tech, they’re very useful but the more you’re picking off, I ran a company where we sold to media and federal government, Host Analytics we sell to the VP of financial planning and analysis, super targeted titles, the less the general purpose of the PR firm will actually help you in terms of generating leads.

They might help you raise money by generating awareness in this community, but overall, I think of PR like a gym membership. Whether or not you use it, they’re going to charge you that retainer every month.

[laughter]

Dave:  It can be the cheapest way to market your company or it can be the most expensive if you don’t drive them.

Like Greg, I’m actually a believer, especially if you’re at relatively small scale to try and avoid that 15K a month retainer and instead use contractors who specialize in certain things, case study writers, PR writers, analyst relation contractors.

You can find these people, and for maybe less than 10 you can cobble together some specialists who will do a better job for you and work on exactly what you want to work on.

Stacey:  That’s a great point. I think to start PR you need to have customers that are willing to talk to reporters and unless…

If you’re too small and you don’t have that yet, you’re going to have a really hard time getting reporters to take interest. Reporters get really tired of talking to CEOs that are talking about the features of their product.

They want to talk to Coca Cola. It doesn’t even have to be a name brand, but you’re not going to get your money’s worth unless you can put customers forward.

The second thing for me with PR is that if you don’t have somebody in your company that really understands how to manage and work with an agency you’re not going to get your money’s worth, unless you’re willing to do it yourself.

Because the PR agency, they only know so much about your company. Back to Greg’s point about having it in house, when they’re in house they’re part of…

They were in that elevator pitch exercise. They know the messaging. They know what’s coming in the product. It’s really hard to translate that to a PR agency without at least somebody who really understands that process. That’s my feelings on PR.

Let’s move to content. Let’s start with you, Dave, because you’re a pretty active blogger and you’re pretty vocal out there, and I do think especially when you have a PR agency, a lot of times people want to ghost write articles for you.

What’s your approach to that? Does everything come from you? How do you decide what you’re going to write? What’s the cadence? How do you prioritize that over all the other things you have to do as a CEO?

Dave:  Sure, so I write a blog called “Kell Blog,” K E L L, Blog, and it’s pretty well read in Silicon Valley. I started it just as a passion, really. There was just a bunch of topics I wanted to share and I do write it myself.

I think some CEOs try to do ghost written blogs, and I wouldn’t recommend that. If you want to have a corporate blog, have a corporate blog, and have PR people write it and have product managers write it, but if you want to have your own blog, have your own blog.

That means, in my opinion, you should write it yourself. Most of the times, personally, I just write about stuff I’m really interested in.

I’ve done a lot of posts on SaaS churn rates because it turns out when you’re raising money people care a lot about churn, as they should, but man, when you dig in the details there’s no two people count it the same way.

There’s a lot of different ways to count it and that just inherently interested me, so I did a deep dive on it and started writing about it, partially, so I could answer VCs when they asked me, “How do we calculate churn?” I’m like, “Go read my post.”

I think for me I don’t write that much for the finance audience, and my audience is actually much more digirati than finance. One of the things I’ve been trying to figure out is how to actually use it to generate leads as opposed to just awareness for the company. Other thoughts?

Kathryn:  I was going to say I think exactly what you ended with there, which is what’s the purpose of the content because content can be incredibly valuable. It can be a total flop, and I think making sure that the outcomes that you’re looking for are clearly stated in advance.

For us, I do a little bit of writing on behalf of The Muse, but early on, we realized that one of the biggest challenges in building a marketplace is getting those early adopters on both sides.

Since we wanted to tackle career, which is a space in which people are looking for a lot of advice, we said, “Well, let’s start out by creating a lot of high quality career content, and build up one side of the market place before we introduce jobs and companies on the other side.”

We actually started by tapping people that were interested in writing. It was funny. We had a little button on the site very early on that said, “Get involved.” When you clicked it, it said, “We’re seeking contributors. Do you have career expertise? Tell us a little bit about yourself, what you’d write about.”

We got to a point where we had 200 people a week reaching out and saying, “I want to write for The Muse. I want to contribute content,” and so we were able to pick the absolute top two to five percent, and create a very steady flow of content that brought in individual users.

We started experimenting to do the same thing with the B2B side, the HR user. That’s been pretty interesting as well. I think for us, it was not ghostwriting, but it was finding different people with points of view, and then giving them a platform worth having.

One of the things that I saw to know that it was working is people would start putting on their LinkedIn, “I’m a contributor to The Muse” right under their full time job title. That was a sign for me that we were giving just as much value as we were receiving from people who were contributing content to the platform.

Greg:  For us we have open source roots, so we had developers writing for developers, and that was really the beginning of all our content creation. Now we’re at a scale where we have a large content marketing team inside of marketing that does a lot of our demand gen work and creates a lot of the content.

For myself, I’ve learned in the past few months that Tweeting actually does something, so I’m up to 14…

[laughter]

Greg:  I think I’ve got 14 followers now and 12 of them are family members.

[laughter]

Kathryn:  I tweeted you today.

Greg:  What’s that?

Kathryn:  I tweeted you today.

Greg:  There you go. I haven’t seen it yet.

[crosstalk]

Kathryn:  You’ll have to re tweet it.

Stacey:  15.

Dave:  15.

Greg:  I’m up to 15.

Kathryn:  You have to re Tweet it.

Greg:  Whoo hoo. It hasn’t been something…I’ve done some contributor articles, a little bit of blogging here and there, but for the most part, it’s been the marketing team as well as both internal developers, as well as a lot of our external developers that contribute to our forums.

Kathryn:  I have one other quick thing, which is we’ve had a lot of success figuring out when a platform is about to have an inflection point, and then doing our best to be part of that. One example I’ll give is when LinkedIn first rolled out their Influencer Program, I was like, “This is really interesting.”

I asked my network for multiple introductions to figure out who’s behind it and said, “Look, I’d love to contribute content. We can write about workplace and career topics.” I ended up getting tapped in the second wave and within two weeks had over 100,000 followers on that platform.

I think that usually a month or two later, you have missed that wave. I missed it for Twitter. But if you can find a platform that’s opening something new or starting to have an imbalance between content producers and content consumers, it’s often an easy way to build an initial audience which you can then grow more linearly over time.

Stacey:  Interesting. All right, so we have about six minutes left. I have two more topics I really want to get to. One, which I think is crucial for marketing, is sales, and marketing and sales alignment. My personal philosophy is that marketing serves sales.

Every department in the company should be focused on driving revenue, especially marketing, and marketing should be measured on revenue, and that takes sales and marketing alignment. How do you guys feel about sales and marketing alignment? Do you force it? Do you have it? How important do you think it is?

Greg:  There’s nothing more important from a marketing standpoint. You have to have…The marketing leadership has to get up in the morning thinking about how they’re going to go drive revenue for your company, full stop.

The biggest challenge sometimes with marketing is teams in marketing often want to, internally we call them activity fields, they want to generate activity fields. They want to talk about 10,000 leads.

They want to talk about some project, some event that happened, and you have to always make sure that they’re asking the question, the next, “Why would we do that?”

Then, “Because I get 10,000 leads.” You say well, “Are those valuable leads?” “Well I don’t know.” Then you’ve got to find out what happens when you send those 10,000 bad leads over to the sales organization, and they just dump them all on the floor and think they’re all useless.

It’s about having a marketing organization that every morning is trying to figure out, “How are we going to drive more revenue?” That’s what we’re all there for ultimately, so it’s critical, and it’s the orientation of the leadership and the marketing team that determines that.

Dave:  The number one cause of death for a chief marketing officer is the chief revenue officer.

[laughter]

Dave:  You have to make sure those two people are aligned and they get along. I started my career in technology on the tech side, but I moved into marketing pretty early, and when I was a young product manager we had a CMO. He came in and he said, “Marketing exists to make sales easier. That’s why we’re here.”

It stuck with me and this was more than two decades ago. I went from product manager to CMO with that as my North Star. Why are we here? We’re here to make sales easier, and we can do that by providing leads, or generating opportunities.

We can do that by positioning the product. We can do that with competitive tools. There’s a lot of different ways we can do that, but everything we do is about making sales easier.

Stacey:  Yeah, I think for me one of the ways I force that into the thinking of the company is by having a demand gen model, back to your point about what are the leads for? The model starts with the bookings target.

From the bookings target you work down the spreadsheet on, “Well how much pipeline do I need to hit that bookings target? How many leads do I need to create that much pipeline?” You look at conversion rates, and that is a process that’s done with sales and marketing together.

It’s a way to force through the organization, the marketing organization, “We’re here to generate bookings, not leads, not even pipeline, but bookings.” It forces it into the minds of the marketers.

I always judged my team partially, as a CMO based on, “Is the sales team coming to me and telling me that Kathryn’s doing an awesome job for them?” Because that’s what I want to know.

I don’t want to know that she threw a great event, or she did a great campaign. I want to know that she helped someone close a deal, so I agree it’s a philosophy in the organization.

Kathryn:  Yeah.

Dave:  That tool is just such a powerful tool to build and drive alignment in the organization because if you leave marketing alone to make it by themselves, they might come back…

For example, this happened to my company. They came back with a model that just said, “Deal size times ASP equals number of deals needed.” You go, “OK.” You work through the funnel. Then you go, “Wait a minute. How many sales forces do we have?” “We have corporate, mid market, and enterprise.”

“Well what are the ASPs?” “Well they’re all different.” “Well wait a minute. Shouldn’t the model model those different ASPs because they have a different number of deals?” Then you, “Oh.” You get to drive alignment through creating that, so I’m a big believer in the model.

Stacey:  I have so many more questions, but I’ll try to close with this last one. Jason Lemkin and I were joking backstage that he said, “How do you spell marketing backwards?” It’s a money pit. Then he said, “Oh, I’m being facetious,” when I told him I was going to repeat it on stage.

I do think a lot of CEOs think, “Well, God, I’m just throwing money at this department and I’m not even sure what I’m getting for it.” How do you guys decide how much money to allocate to a marketing team who’s always asking for more money? Hard question, I think.

Kathryn:  Yeah. I can start. I think that for me, at The Muse we differentiate between things that we should see short term results and long term bets. Within the short term results we’re constantly testing and refining.

What does a lead cost us across a variety of different channels? What’s the quality? When we’re looking at users, what’s the action they’re taking. Over a couple of weeks, a couple of months. How quality is that individual? We also dedicate some money to long term bets.

These are things that we may not be able to track or measure immediately, but we are very clear about what money is in the short term payoff and what money and what budget is in the long term.

It’s a reasonable amount where you say, “I believe that this may succeed, but I don’t necessarily need to see the results in 30 days.”

Greg:  I would say so much of it depends on who’s leading marketing for you. If you have the right kind of person in that chair, they’re not coming saying, “I need more to be effective.” They’re looking at the ROI of everything that they do, which is what we have. We have somebody who thinks that way.

They’re thinking about the ROI. They’re making tradeoffs every time and they may come and say, “Hey. If I get two more million dollars next year, I think I can deliver this much more for the organization. Let’s talk about that.” You need that kind of an orientation for the leader.

I know I keep getting back to that. I do think it makes it so much easier than having somebody who’s just, “Give me more and I’ll do more.” It has to be, “With X amount more, I can give you Y amount in revenue off the back of that.”

Frankly, we’ve had somebody who I actually have had to push to spend more money in certain areas. We put up billboards on 101, which was not something that had a real clear ROI.

For candidate marketing, and for partner marketing, and other things which hard to really show the near term ROI or something that made sense, but it wasn’t something that he was naturally gravitating toward.

Dave: I agree with all the panelists. The last thing I had to add is just the industry benchmarks are really useful all right. Just to see what other people are spending as a percent of revenue and a percent of ARR, more importantly.

Finally, that demand gen model we talked about. It’s a great way to generate the demand gen budget.

Stacey:  Thank you all for being interested in this topic. Thank you to the panel. It was a great session.

Kathryn:  Yeah. Thank you.

Greg:  Thank you.

Published on October 16, 2017
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