SaaStr Podcasts for the Week with Front and ICONIQ Capital — April 3, 2020

 

 

 

 

Ep. 321: Anthony Kennada is the CMO @ Front, the startup that provides your team with better email so they can treat every customer like your only customer. To date, Front have raised over $138M from some leading names including Sequoia, Eric Yuan @ Zoom, Ryan and Jared Smith @ Qualtrics, Michael Cannon-Brookes and Jay Simmons @ Atlassian and Frederic Kerrest @ Okta to name a few. As for Anthony, prior to Front Anthony was the founding CMO at Gainsight where he and his team are credited with creating the Customer Success category. At Gainsight Anthony and the team developed a new playbook for B2B marketing that fueled the company’s growth from $0 to over $100M of ARR. If that was not enough, Anthony is also the author of Category Creation: How to Build a Brand that Customers, Employees, and Investors Will Love. The book debuted as a number one new release on Amazon.

Pssst đź—Ł Loving our podcast content? Listen to the start of the episode for a promo code to our upcoming events!

In Today’s Episode We Discuss:

* How Anthony made his way into the world of SaaS starting in the sales team at Box and how that led to his entering the world of marketing and creating the customer success category.
* How does Anthony’s marketing playbook change when making the move from Gainsight with higher ACVs and longer sales cycles to Front with lowers ACVs and much higher volume? How does Anthony think about ABM today with Front given the lower ACVs? At what ticket size does ABM make sense?
* How does Anthony feel about brand marketing? Why did Anthony and Front decide now was the right time to engage with billboards? How does Anthony think about data and tracking for brand marketing? Does Anthony believe that all marketing has to be tied to a number directly related to revenue?
* How does Anthony see a changing relationship between customer success and marketing? How is marketing being pushed further into the realms of CS? What is the optimal relationship between CS and marketing? How does this compare to the relationship of sales and marketing more traditionally?

 

Ep. 322: Many people make the false assumption that the path for a highly successful SaaS company is straight “up and to the right”. Of course, for those involved, the reality of the journey is characterized by a series of obstacles that must be navigated. Fmr. Shasta Ventures Doug Pepper will share the key challenges that were overcome to allow Marketo to become a $5B SaaS Category Leader in Marketing Automation.

This episode is sponsored by TaxJar.

 

SaaStr’s Founder’s Favorites Series features one of SaaStr’s best of the best sessions that you might have missed.

This podcast is an excerpt from Doug’s session at SaaStr Europa.

 

If you would like to find out more about the show and the guests presented, you can follow us on Twitter here:

Jason Lemkin
SaaStr
Harry Stebbings
Anthony Kennada
Doug Pepper

Below, we’ve shared the transcript of Harry’s interview with Anthony.

Harry Stebbings: Welcome back to the official SaaStr podcast with me, Harry Stebbings, @hstebbings1996 with two Bs on Instagram. But to the show today, and I’ve been very excited for this one. He’s a friend, a marketing leader and in a way creating much of what we know as customer success today. So without further ado, I’m thrilled to welcome back Anthony Kennada, back to the hot seat today.

Harry Stebbings: Anthony is the CMO at Front, the startup that provides your team with better email so they can treat every customer like your only customer. To date, Front have raised over $138 million from some leading names, including Sequoia, Eric Yuan at Zoom, Ryan and Jared Smith at Qualtrics, Michael Cannon-Brookes and Jay Simmons at Atlassian, and Frederic Kerrest at Okta, to name a few.

Harry Stebbings: As for Anthony, prior to Front, Anthony was the founding CMO at Gainsight, where he and his team are credited with creating the customer success category. At Gainsight, Anthony and the team developed a new playbook for B2B marketing that fueled the company’s growth from nought to over a hundred million dollars of ARR.

Harry Stebbings: And if that was not enough, Anthony is also the author of Category Creation, How to Build a Brand That Customers, Employees and Investors Will Love. The book debuted as the number one new release on Amazon and is a must read in my eyes. 

Harry Stebbings: But you’ve heard quite enough from me. So now I’m very excited to hand over to Anthony Kennada, CMO at Front.

Harry Stebbings: Anthony, I have to say it’s such a joy to have you back on the show. Thrilled to see about your recent move to Front and such exciting times ahead there. So thank you so much for rejoining my very dulcet British tones, Anthony.

Anthony Kennada: Thanks for having me back, Harry.

Harry Stebbings: Not at all, but I do want to start with some context and maybe for those that missed our first episode, tell me, how did you make your way into the world of SaaS and come to be the rockstar of marketing that you are today at Front?

Anthony Kennada: Oh gosh, you’re too kind. Well, growing up, I had no idea that I would find myself in marketing, but looking back now, I think there were actually some signals that might have been hiding in plain sight. My job in college was to produce concerts on campus, which got me really interested in events.

Anthony Kennada: I was actually part of a fraternity in which I was the one coming up with the witty t-shirt ideas and working on our website. But my first real job out of college was as a technical recruiter. Basically I was recruiting engineers for Bay area based startups and the problem with it was that the year was 2008, and it was a really tough time for hiring, but an even worse time for recruiters.

Anthony Kennada: So the company ultimately met its fate, but I was successful in placing one engineer with a small file sharing company in Palo Alto, called Box. So I reached out to the hiring manager, I asked them for a shot on their sales floor and eventually they offered me a role as an SDR and I became the 37th employee at Box. And so that’s what really started, I think my journey overall in SaaS at Box.

Anthony Kennada: That’s where I fell in love with startup life in general and for the next few years to bounce around from sales roles to business development roles, to product roles, effectively everything but marketing until I landed at Gainsight.

Anthony Kennada: And I was the first marketing hire at Gainsight, I think the 19th employee. It’s there that really cut my teeth in marketing and mostly because I had to. We were about to create this new category, this movement in customer success. And there really wasn’t a ton of best practices on how to do that. And so my team and I spent six and a half years really writing our own playbook.

Anthony Kennada: Then we took the company from about a 100K or so of ARR to just about a hundred million of ARR before I moved on in June of this past year. So now I’m at Front, super excited to partner with Mathilde and the team and really take on a problem of really massive scale.

Harry Stebbings: I mean you guys did such amazing work in terms of creating that playbook at Gainsight, so totally credit to you for that. But I do want to discuss because you mentioned there, moving from Gainsight obviously to Front. And at Gainsight, you fundamentally created the market of customer success in many ways since day one.

Harry Stebbings: It’s different in the way that it’s much more of a case of kind of capturing a much larger existing market, being email in the future of work, big shift. So how does your marketing playbook and tactics really change when making this transition?

Anthony Kennada: Yeah, well you know what’s interesting is that the companies do represent two completely different go to markets. At Gainsight, we were hyper-focused from a TAM perspective on customer success and product leaders. And we spent years working hard to really try to expand that TAM, which now, it actually continually will show up in LinkedIn’s emerging jobs report as one of the fastest growing professions in the world.

Anthony Kennada: So we know some of that effort is starting to pay off. We took a lot of pride in really championing the role and in doing so, we ended up fueling our growth by selling it to that community that we were fostering.

Anthony Kennada: Front, on the other hand, represents an existing massive TAM, literally over a billion knowledge workers in the world use email at work. I think it’s hard to identify a bigger TAM in enterprise software. So our challenge on the marketing side is effectively, how do you take an otherwise horizontal TAM and deploy the right messaging, the right campaigns, to intentionally capture segments of that market at a time?

Anthony Kennada: And a big learning for me now, I’m only four months into the job, is honestly how incredible the Front product is and the value that customers are already getting from it. And so my sense is our challenge is effectively building that awareness engine. So I don’t think we’re product constrained. I don’t think we’re market constrained surely. And thankfully, I think we were able to do that really well at Gainsight. So I’m bullish on the future of the business.

Harry Stebbings: So do you think, sorry, off schedule, but I’m intrigued. Given the horizontal play that you have with Front, being available to so many different types of knowledge workers, do you think about segmentation within the marketing team and going vertical by vertical? How do you approach that,, because you can’t literally market to everyone from financial services to shipping brokers. So how do you think about marketing vertically and what the right play is there?

Anthony Kennada: Totally. So I view that as a function of our product marketing effort. And so we have a person on our team, we’re still small growing, but one person who’s dedicated basically industries and segments, marketing. And so his focus is actually, I think we’ll cover some of this stuff, is what are the verticals that have a high fit today that are dealing with the complexity of customer communications and for them, the difference between actually getting back to the customer quickly with the right context is the difference between success and failure.

Anthony Kennada: And so that person is effectively responsible for owning the business plan for each of the verticals and then aligning with the different go to market partners, be it the SDR organization, the sales organization, the web team, whatever it is to ensure that we’re building digital and experiential kind of components that are able to drive demand within those independent verticals.

Anthony Kennada: So for sure, I think that’s an incremental strategy for us to grow. You need some more of the flywheel type stuff to get it going at scale, but I think you need both when you’re attacking a market just this wide.

Harry Stebbings: And you said about the flywheel stuff there and Front is a very different play to Gainsight in many other ways, so much larger ACVs, generally speaking at Gainsight, also means you had a lot more freedom when it comes to re-budgeting around things like account based marketing, specifically. I’m interested, how do you think about an approach ABM today with Front, given the higher velocity but smaller ACV model?

Anthony Kennada: So we do have at Front, a self-serve business that to your point, drives a high volume of lower ACV deals. But actually we do have several deals that are in the mid to high six figure ACV range. So it’s definitely something that we’re thinking about, ABM and overall, how do we keep this machine producing but also go out and find some of those bigger deals.

Anthony Kennada: And so this actually is what we were just talking about, at the very top of the funnel, what we’ve done is adapt ABM where we’re not looking at specific accounts but rather industries or verticals that we can deploy some of those tactics into. Some of these are non-obvious verticals, but we’ve seen a cluster of customers who are incredibly successful with us and they’re used to the product, logistics industry, for example, financial services, and we’ll do then what honestly tens of thousands of other SaaS businesses have done before.

Anthony Kennada: We’ll build a target account list of accounts within that industry, or create a set of messaging that’s appropriate for that audience. We’ll deploy those personalized paid media programs and outbound cadences, we’ll show up at the random trade shows, the whole thing. It’s just important that we choose what the right industries, the right use cases are, or we’ve already seen success.

Anthony Kennada: But this, it doesn’t come at the expense of that product led kind of growth motion. We’re still doing a number of things to keep that self-serve business productive, but we have to do both in order to really control more of our destiny on the pipeline creation at scale. So to answer your question, I think every company needs to think about ABM regardless of where they are in their maturity or if they sell big deals or small deals. The question just becomes, are you doing it at the account level or at the industry level?

Harry Stebbings: It’s interesting, actually. I saw the other day, Mathilde posted a picture of Front’s first billboard ever, which was great to see. But my question there was like, it’s a very different form of marketing. Why did you decide now was the right time for that and how do you think about people who say, “Oh, I would never do that because you never have an anchor around conversion and there’s no trackability of it?”

Anthony Kennada: I love billboard questions because it’s definitely one of the most controversial things and maybe it’s this Bay area bias that we have about billboards. But we did it for a couple of reasons. We were coming off of the deals of our series C announcement and so for us, that announcement campaign drove a ton of new trials of the product and so we wanted to sustain that momentum in the weeks and months coming out of that campaign.

Anthony Kennada: And so we had never done a billboard as a business. I think the company from maybe a recruiting perspective or culture perspective had an appetite for one and what we thought is, can we see an increase in San Francisco Metro traffic to the site and ultimately lead signups if we’re able to do this out of home experience with the billboard.

Anthony Kennada: So we did it and it’s still early days on data. I think we’re seeing that there is momentum still, which is really exciting. Your point is valid, very hard to directly attribute that to the billboard, but there is something, I think from the brand side, from the employee sentiment side and I think a little bit in the data that we’re seeing in terms of increased visibility in the region in which we’re putting the billboard up.

Harry Stebbings: Yeah, no, and as I said, I love seeing it, but I was interested by that. Going back to the different velocity sales models, I am really interested in it, especially in terms of the relationship between sales and marketing. How does that change when you compare the time at Gainsight and the time at Front now and what kind of that relationship and interplay looks like between sales and marketing?

Anthony Kennada: Yeah, I think it’s just as important at Front as it is at Gainsight or any other company, frankly. At Front, our sellers today, they spend a lot of time engaging with trial leads that are from high potential, high intent accounts, right? And marketing, we have a role to play to enable our sales team with the right messaging, the right collateral, whatever it takes to help get those deals across the finish line.

Anthony Kennada: So it’s similar to what a lower volume sales model would look like. We signed up for a pipeline coverage number at Front to basically show that we’re in this with the sales team. Our success is dependent on their success. So this idea of very tight interlock between these two organizations is just as important as more of the higher ACV, lower volume type environments. But for trials that have this no human touch whatsoever, completely self-serve, we’re on the hook to partner with the product and the growth teams to build an onboarding experience that can lead to value delivery and ultimately activation.

Anthony Kennada: So it’s not just this relationship with sales that we have to work on now, but also with products, also with customer success and that’s where I think the best way it’s going to debug these kind of relationships between marketing and other orgs is to have marketing sign up for some type of number, to align incentives, to align accountability, and it has this way of shining a light on where in the process are there gaps today that need to be discussed and need to be improved on.

Harry Stebbings: I’m so pleased you said that about the horizontal layer of marketing across the company and all the different functions there from sales to product to customer success and picking up on the customer success one, I’m very much a believer. I think marketing really is being pushed down the funnel with so much of marketing as content now being used as a form of customer success and product engagement.

Harry Stebbings: Would you agree with me that it’s always kind of seeing the integration of marketing and customer success and how do you see that relationship playing out, optimally?

Anthony Kennada: Yeah. No, it’s 1000% true. The model I mentioned in the last question is one example. If your business doesn’t have a concept of sales and emotion just goes from awareness to product to success, in that world, marketing has an incredible relationship dependency with the customer success team. We need to create kind of the scale of education content and the programs to drive adoption, drive expansion motions.

Anthony Kennada: I think some people are developing this new role called either life cycle marketing or customer success programs or I’ve heard tech touch, regardless of whether that lives within marketing or within customer success, this is a point of intersection between these two groups that’s really important.

Anthony Kennada: It’s important to have them collaborate on visualizing what the customer journey looks like and create all of the one to many content and programs they’re going to move customers across their journey. But it’s not just if you don’t have a sales team. So an example of how marketing can support customer success in more of the traditional model is facilitating community, whether that’s user groups or admin communities, developing programmatic ways like advisory boards or user groups, anything that can really enable the customer success teams to have meaningful conversations with their customers.

Harry Stebbings: Would you not say events are almost a core customer success strategy as well in terms of engagement?

Anthony Kennada: Yeah, absolutely. Nothing can replace this in-person experience that we get when we get in front of a customer. So totally. I think they ought to be tied at the hip just as much as marketing and sales. And I think we’ve just been so obsessed with the new business as a community for so long that we’re only now starting to take notice of this.

Harry Stebbings: Yeah, no, listen, I totally agree with you. I do want to touch on, because we mentioned the billboards there and we mentioned a couple of the different channels, one being ABM, but when we look at the brand you’re trying to build today, it’s very much in the theme of upending the traditional large incumbents, your Microsofts and Googles of the world. And so with a marketing hat on, how do you think brand plays a role in upending these huge incumbents and what do the challenger brands look like at their best, so to speak?

Anthony Kennada: I have a lot of respect for companies like Microsoft and Google. Clearly they’ve obviously done a lot of things right to get to where they are today. But these are two examples of companies that are born in a completely different era. They didn’t need to compete by leading with purpose or by winning the hearts and the minds of the market. Instead they developed near monopolies, basically, in their respective categories and they ran away with the market.

Anthony Kennada: And now they’re totally locked into this go to market strategy of yesteryear. They lead with their what. Their what being their products or their how, their massive sales organizations, their entrenched channel partners. They don’t lead with the why and if they did, they would come across potentially more like a campaign than it would this kind of authentic expression of who they are as a brand.

Anthony Kennada: So I think that the best challenger brands being developed today fundamentally understand that in order to have a shot at beating the incumbents, you have to lead with why. These are brands that are purpose-driven, they’re community led and they’re investing in the success of their customers and the stakeholders that surround them.

Anthony Kennada: Since we know that customers ultimately buy products emotionally, even in B2B, building this emotive, authentic brand in enterprise SaaS, can really help accelerate growth. Frankly, unlike any other vector that I’m aware of in the marketing stack.

Harry Stebbings: Can I ask, in terms of building that why for the community that you serve, as we said, going back to the horizontal element of just how many different functions that Front can be applied to. For financial services, it could be the why is around secure and efficient compliance. For other industries, it could be a ton of other things in terms of collaboration and transparency. How do you think about converting the why across so many different verticals?

Anthony Kennada: We’re working on this now, actually, this idea, that higher level why, that higher level emotive positioning has to eventually connect to the product level messaging, otherwise it just comes across as marketing speak. I’ve concluded that it’s effectively the difference between brand and a product marketing exercise. The messaging has to be developed obviously collaboratively between these two groups, but in a hierarchy where everything cascades down from the highest level, that has to work for everyone.

Anthony Kennada: The highest level has to work for everyone regardless of what industry or vertical you’re in. But once you go down a layer or two, you can assign specific sets of messaging to relevant industries and relevant use cases that’s informed by that higher level story, but it’s contextually relevant for that intended audience. So I’ll give you an example. In our case at Front, we’re exploring, at the highest level, the human experience with work.

Anthony Kennada: And that’s a topic that’s loaded for all of us, regardless of what role we’re in or what industry. And it’s a very culturally relevant conversation today, this notion of hustle culture and working extremely long hours that inevitably will lead to burn out and decrease productivity and all these sorts of things. At our core, what we really seek is unlocking meaning in our work, whatever that means to you. And that meaning can come from number one, being in control of your workload versus having your work overwhelming you.

Anthony Kennada: And second is your ability to make an impact on your business, on your teammates, and honestly the world around us. And so that’s the sort of inspirational why. But if you zoom down to the product brand and the product messaging, we believe that our inboxes are the window into our work. And if we’ve ever felt like email overload has contributed to our stress, then that’s exactly what we’re talking about.

Anthony Kennada: But for some professions, getting back to a customer quickly, I mentioned this, with the right context, is really the difference between hitting the number and not hitting the number or having several tabs open to keep in check all of these various productivity apps and the notifications that are just popping up at us and also managing our inbox is extremely overwhelming.

Anthony Kennada: So our challenge of how we’re thinking about this is to come up with product level positioning that can appeal to those various use cases and it’s not easy, but I think if a brand can unlock it, it’s a very powerful story that can pull really the masses into this movement behind what you’re trying to create.

Harry Stebbings: Can I ask you a potentially controversial one? When you say a lot of what you do there, it does resonate in terms of what I hear from Superhuman. How do you feel about Superhuman? Is that a competitor, or is that a personal email versus a professional email? How do you think about the interplay?

Anthony Kennada: I think about it as the latter. I think we’re trying to solve a problem that’s less around the organization of your email and the visual layer that sits on top of email. We’re really building some complex workflows on how businesses work that sit beneath the front end, if you will. So I think Superhuman’s great from a personal productivity perspective, but when it comes to really the complexity of work, that’s really where we’re pouring in a lot of our innovation.

Harry Stebbings: Yeah, no, that totally makes sense. And I’m sorry for such a controversial question.

Anthony Kennada: No, not at all.

Harry Stebbings: I do want to ask though, because when you look at the people you’ve worked with, in terms of the CEOs you’ve worked with, you’ve worked with Nick Mehta, you’ve worked with Aaron Levie, you work with now Mathilde, some incredible CEOs and the CFO, CEO relationship’s an interesting one. How do their styles differ, first?

Anthony Kennada: I’m the luckiest CMO and SaaS I think for this reason. Each of them are super, super different. Aaron’s this high energy product centric type leader. Nick is an incredible people and culture centric CEO. Mathilde is really thoughtful and cares deeply about culture and mission, and she also gets a ton of energy from working on the product.

Anthony Kennada: I believe something that actually Jason Lemkin shared in a tweet a few years ago, that the CEO is actually the real CMO. Our job as marketers is to go and bring that vision to life. And I think that’s true. I think that’s true regardless of the market or the product or the style. What matters most is us unlocking what’s authentic to that individual CEO. So in the case of Nick, for example, we were able to come up with a number of campaigns and executive comms plays that showcased his childlike joy or his appreciation for music and pop culture.

Anthony Kennada: And we brought those elements into his personal brand that we showed the world. With Mathilde, she’s got this incredible following on Medium and social media around her leadership and startup culture knowledge. And she cares really deeply about the happiness of her employees and the professionals around her.

Anthony Kennada: That’s a story that we can help tell and as marketers, because at the end of the day, the only currency that a CEO has is time. So marketing, we have a role to play to really scale this authentic connection that they can make with customers out to the world and if we can do this right, it becomes a superpower and I think Aaron and Nick and Mathilde all appreciate that and have figured that out.

Harry Stebbings: Can I ask, when you look at the relationships that you’ve had with them, what in your mind makes the ideal CEO, CMO relationship if one is thinking optimally with the idealistic hat on?

Anthony Kennada: I think the heart of it is trust. It has to be this foundation from which everything else can develop and as trust is developed, I think an open line of communication for feedback, bi-directional feedback, is really critical for maintaining it over time. CMOs want to work for a company that has a big market opportunity, has a great product, has an inspiring team.

Anthony Kennada: They want to know that they’re going to be given some resources to effectively tackle the opportunity ahead of the company or maybe if not altogether resources, certainly the tailwind to go out and tell a big story. CEOs, they want to find CMOs that can be stewards of the brand and can help shepherd the company into this next chapter of growth.

Anthony Kennada: Not to mention someone who could be equal parts, creative storyteller, quantitative demand gen expert, cultural leader. So finding the right person really isn’t easy, but once you do, I think investing in that, the relationship with trust and feedback and getting obviously the success stories on the board are really a key.

Harry Stebbings: Can I ask, you’re in the epicenter and you have an incredible community of CMOs around you. Where do you think many find it tough in terms of the CMO to CEO relationship?

Anthony Kennada: First of all, there’s the risk of mis-hire and it’s this idea that a CMO will usually feel more comfortable either in demand gen or the storytelling components of the job. I like to say with their own free time, they’ll either think more in Excel or PowerPoint. And so it’s important to understand which qualities are going to matter most at the leadership level and then what qualities can be hired in a lieutenant down the line.

Anthony Kennada: And sometimes getting that wrong, I think, can lead to a lot of challenges. And I think the second one is when do you bring someone on. My belief, maybe I’m biased as a marketing leader, but I think you can save a lot of time by making a marketing leader, whether it’s a CMO or otherwise, a single digit hire.

Anthony Kennada: Because a lot of the positioning work, a lot of the operational work to start generating demand, Marketo or HubSpot, these types of things can really benefit from being built right the first time rather than being appended and being revisited later on in the journey. So I think it’s a matter of clarity on the role and the profile, and then timing of when you bring that person in.

Harry Stebbings: See I totally agree with you in terms of the timing there being single digit. And final question before the quick fire, what do you think they should look for? Because it’s such an interesting kind of Jack of all trades marketing position when you are a single digit first marketing hire, but also I guess the CMO in many respects too. Do you just want the pure analytical customer acquisition channel optimizer, or do you want the vision storyteller to set it?

Harry Stebbings: How do you think about the optimal blend of art and science in that first hire?

Anthony Kennada: I think answering that question depends on what the makeup of the executive team looks like. If you’re a CEO that’s more of the product driven type person, maybe more of a bent towards the quantitative, maybe you need a creative storyteller to be on stage helping tell the story, helping tend to find it, in which case that might be the right profile.

Anthony Kennada: But typically earlier days and obviously, Harry, you know this really well, even better than I do. It’s about hitting the right kind of success metrics to build the business and build a foundation of a growth engine. And so I think what you’ll typically see are more folks looking to bring in maybe a head of marketing that has more of the demand gen expertise.

Anthony Kennada: Maybe it’s like a stretch VP type of role and someone that’s about to step into owning it for the first time. That typically is more of what I see. But I think it does depend on who else is in the room.

Harry Stebbings: No listen, I totally agree with you and incredibly tough question to answer, so I’m sorry for such a shit question.

Anthony Kennada: Not at all.

Harry Stebbings: But the best interviewer is going to admit when they ask a shit question. I wanted to dive into my favorite, being the quick fire, Anthony. So I say a short a statement. You know how this goes, 60 second to fire an answer. Ready?

Anthony Kennada: Yep. Let’s go.

Harry Stebbings: So what do you know now about the process which you wish you’d known at the beginning of your time in marketing?

Anthony Kennada: I wish I knew that the work that we do in marketing has to translate to sales or to some type of revenue outcome. Otherwise it doesn’t actually really matter. And I know that sounds super, super dark, maybe controversial, but there’s actually, I think quite a lot of freedom in that constraint.

Anthony Kennada: And deeply understanding that has helped my teams take this servant leadership posture when working with sales that things pay dividends for us both on the relationship but also the business outcomes.

Harry Stebbings: What about brand marketing, what about employee incentivization, employee confidence, like, say billboards or like, say a lot of that fucks me off. A lot of people think podcast advertising is brand marketing. And you can get real data, but do you know what I mean?

Harry Stebbings: What about the softer ones, which isn’t directly traceable but it’s an ecosystem play as well?

Anthony Kennada: I think it’s super important, but I do think you can tie affinity type things back to some type of outcome. Be it the sales team’s engaged, we’re starting to hit the number, the product teams building the right things. In general, our ENPS tends to be a leading indicator for our NPS overall as a business, so I think there’s somewhere in a spreadsheet, somewhere down the line, all of those efforts do show up in some type of business outcome.

Harry Stebbings: Hit me. What’s the biggest surprise about the move to Front?

Anthony Kennada: This is the first time that I’ve worked at a business that it’s this high velocity. We send out this thing called a daily weather report on business metrics that go out to our leadership team and our board every single day, it automatically triggers and seeing a no touch 50K ARR expansion come through on a Sunday, is something I’ve never seen before in B2B.

Harry Stebbings: Wow. I dream of that as a VC. Tell me, you’re building a team outside of the Bay. Biggest pro and biggest con.

Anthony Kennada: It’s the only way to stay competitive in 2020, so Front is actually the second company now that I’ve brought to Phoenix, Arizona. Biggest pro, the energy, the excitement of our teammates outside the Bay area. I think it translates to higher talent retention, higher engagement. Biggest con, honestly, it takes time to really figure out how to recruit well in these new markets.

Harry Stebbings: If you could change one thing about the world of SaaS today, what would it be?

Anthony Kennada: Honestly, that companies would choose to invest in helping their employees find real meaning in their work. I think that there’s not enough being written about the emotional wellbeing of teammates and how that translates to productivity. Hopefully that’s something that we can help play a part of, but my hope is that together as an industry we can start being proactive about this conversation.

Harry Stebbings: Tell me, who in SaaS marketing do you think is killing it today and why do you think so?

Anthony Kennada: Yeah. I’m a huge fan of Joe Chernov, newly minted CMO at Pendo, by the way, and I know you sat down with Joe, but if folks get a chance to know him, you’ll appreciate just how wise and thoughtful he is. I think David Gerhardt at Privy, he continues to be this high energy young CMO that’s really pushing the boundaries of B2B marketing.

Anthony Kennada: And the third one, I’ve been working closely with the team at 21st Century Brand. They’re a brand strategy agency that was born out of Airbnb and this is a group of marketers that care really deeply about expressing purpose and community leadership in SaaS marketing. And that’s a spirit that I think we need more of overall in our industry.

Harry Stebbings: I did indeed see that about Joe and that made me very happy, but listen, Anthony, as I said that, it’s been a while since we did our last one. I was so thrilled to see the move to Front, such exciting times ahead. Thank you so much for joining me today.

Anthony Kennada: Yeah, thanks so much, Harry. It was really fun.

Harry Stebbings: As always, I just love chatting to Anthony in such exciting times ahead for Anthony. If you’d like to see more from him, you can find him on Twitter @AKennada. Likewise, it’d be great to welcome you behind the scenes here. You can do so on Instagram @Hstebbings1996 with two Bs. 

Harry Stebbings: As always, I so appreciate all your support and I can’t wait to bring you a fantastic episode next week.

 

Published on April 3, 2020

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