Why Product Marketing Doesn’t Work Without Customer Stories (With Matterport’s Robin Daniels)
Why Product Marketing Doesn’t Work Without Customer Stories (With Matterport’s Robin Daniels)
Tricia: Hey, everybody. Welcome to CMO Conversations. As you can see today, I'm joining you from my living room. The times have changed and we are not in the CMO Conversations gallery that we have in our office here at Drift, but I'm still Tricia, I'm the CMO of Drift. Every other week, I am coming to you live with another CMO, trying to address for you the challenges and changes that are happening in the marketing landscape by having conversations with great CMOs from all different businesses, industries, and parts of the market. Today, I'm joined by Robin Daniels. Robin and I worked together 10 years ago. Since then, he left Salesforce, went to Box, went to a couple of startups, was that LinkedIn. Most notably his last job was the COO of WeWork, which obviously had a very interesting tumultuous end. Today is his second day a new company called Matterport. Robin, thanks for joining us here on CMO Conversations.
Robin Daniels: Thank you. I'm excited to be here. How's it going?
Tricia: It's good, but I think your week is probably the most interesting because you're starting a new job while pretty much the whole country is in lockdown from their house. So, how has it been starting a role as a new CMO, new company, new team, remote from your house?
Robin Daniels: I won't lie. It was the oddest first day I ever had in my life. I mean, meeting my team all over soon was just an odd experience. It was totally fine, but it's just not quite how I anticipated it going. When you come in as a new leader of a team, you're both excited to meet all your peers, you're excited to meet all the people who are going to be working for you and with you, and it's just an odd way to kind of get introduced to people using Zoom, because everyone is kind of in their own little box. It was fine. It was just a little odd, not being able to go over and shake people's hands or hear their stories or feel their energy and everything else. But this is the new reality. This is what we're going to have to all work through in the next couple of months. So, we're totally adapting and it's fine. We can still be productive and you can still create meaningful connections. It's just different than I think what most of us would have anticipated how our start would have been, but it's fine.
Tricia: Yeah, and how big is your team?
Robin Daniels: My team is just around 20 people. Just some context, so this yeah, this is my second day at Matterport. Last year, I was the CMO of WeWork, and that was quite a crazy ride, but maybe we can talk about it at some other point in time. But I got introduced to Matterport actually when I was a WeWork because we used Matterport to scan and do the virtual walkthroughs of a lot of our buildings.
Tricia: Oh, that makes sense. I can see that.
Robin Daniels: Yeah. If you're trying to get a tour of a building in Manhattan or London, you can just do it from the comfort of your laptop, you just move just virtually. I was always super impressed with the technology. As I dug into it a little bit more, I saw how Matterport is really trying to map the physical world using really advanced 3D cameras and technology. Now, if you want to go buy a house, if you want to get a tour of an office space or anything like that, you can go do it from the comfort of your house. Of course, during a time like this, when everybody is sequestered at home, you're just seeing a spike in the use of 3D tours and technology to actually get a sense of what it's like out there in the real world. So, it's a really interesting technology and I'm super excited to join it.
Tricia: It's interesting you mentioned that because just in the past, like three weeks, we've seen a huge spike on Drift of people interested in the real estate, this space, because they're really trying to figure out, how do we retool this business? Which I mean, who knows? For history, it's been the same, right? I mean, you saw that on the commercial side, changing at WeWork, but on the residential side, it's been pretty much the same. Like, you go tour around in the car with your agent. We've seen people really being innovative and thinking about like, how can we keep this business going in the shape of the new world? I think you're probably in a great place now, hopefully with Matterport, because one, hopefully all of this goes away, like people are still going to be interested in looking at spaces from the comfort of their living room and not having to give a Sunday to drive all over the place.
Robin Daniels: Exactly. At the heart of it, I'm the kind of marketing person who loves storytelling. I joined because it's so right for storytelling. I just read today that Redfin have seen a 500% increase in virtual tours just in the last week, which makes sense. Of course, all these people who are now sitting at home want to actually still look at houses and look at the physical world, but they can't because we're sequestered home. There's so much opportunity for storytelling and using these amazing use cases to really elevate what the conversation is all about. Then when you take it a step higher, I think, well, what is the future going to look like if everyone starts using this technology. Imagine, instead of a hundred people driving to an open house to see that open house, you can just do it from the comfort of your home. Think about the climate impact that we have if that happens. Now, multiply that by a thousand, a hundred thousand, a million. There's all this interesting things that will happen if we start actually being a little bit smarter about how we digitize everything and provide an interface to that physical world, but through the comfort of our phone, laptop and so on.
Tricia: Yeah, that's amazing. I know, like in my own house, we actually have a full legal unit that we rent out. When I was CMO of Salesforce in Canada, I was having to do walk throughs and things that remotely, like where we interview people to see the keys and whatever, but I have other friends who have units in the city and they had people who were going to be students at the university because their house that they have for rent was like right by the university, and that people were saying like, " Oh, I'm a professor and I'm going to be coming from Japan." So, they were like, is there a way you can just like do a FaceTime with me to walk around your apartment? And they're like, I guess so. This seems crazy, but with the tool that can actually do the layouts and the virtual tours, it's like definitely a beneficial. I think you hit on a point, which is one of the things that we worked together before doing product marketing and you were always like really good at looking at like, what is that story? What is that message? I mean, what would your advice be to other marketers of how they can build storytelling into the way that they're doing their marketing? Because I think it's such a key thing today.
Robin Daniels: For sure. For sure. I mean, I think, first of all, the heart of storytelling, I think a lot of it comes from product marketing and brand, and that's why I'm so keen on companies starting with a really strong product marketing team, or a brand team and really kind of honing in what the message is that you're trying to communicate to the world. Performance marketing of course, is imminently one of the most important things, but I think if you start there, then oftentimes you miss the storytelling and you get seen as a transactional brand. If you create the stories that people fall in love with, you get seen as something bigger than just a feature or a product and so on. I think storytelling is really at the heart of it. The best way to use storytelling in my mind is for sure, using the customer stories. It's eminently more interesting to hear what your customers are doing than what you're doing. I think if you want to create a true community, you want to create a true brand that people fall in love with, you tell those stories, and you elevate those stories. That can be anything from the individual level of how a single person benefits from using your technology to how the team benefits to how the organization benefits and how the world benefits, but sharing those stories and showing, that we care more about your stories than our story, we care more about your success than our success, I think is the best way to utilize storytelling. Over time, you show it to the world that we are really invested in your outcomes and your success and your community and how you're able to drive the business forward for your company, more so than we care about what you're doing for my success. I think that's ultimately the best storytelling. It doesn't mean you can't be successful if you focus on yourself. I just think that you miss a lot of opportunities for creating a long- term brand that has long- term value.
Tricia: Yeah. I think you hit on a good point there in terms of the starting was sort of the transactional performance marketing versus the brand and the story. A lot of companies really, it's kind of an afterthought to add product marketing, which I'm sure you think is interesting. I think it's interesting coming from sort of a long history of being a product marketer. When I was hiring demand people in the past, I struggled really on finding people who understood the importance of the message. I think a lot of demand people just think, oh, I'm going to spend X amount of money in X amount of channel, etc, to basically get my leads and sort of drive the pipeline. Inherently, they're not successful if they don't have a good message, right?
Robin Daniels: Yeah, that's right.
Tricia: You see these demand marketers knocking their head on the wall and you're like, yeah, you don't have a good message so you're not going to drive any pipeline. It's like, what's the point? But I think a lot of companies have founders and a history of starting with like a product idea, right? You don't have anything if you don't have the product. Then you start, and you need to describe to people like, well, what is your product? I think product marketers also get stuck in talking about features versus what you were just talking about, which is like, if the customer tells a story about the value, it really has interests. How do you make that transition, do you think, from like feature- based product marketing up to really talking to the value, and is it a transition over time or is it like you should really start in one place versus the other?
Robin Daniels: Well, I think this is such an interesting question, and why there's so much, I think, tension around this question as well is because of course, you need performance marketing to keep the business going because you see instant results. That's why so many CEOs want to lean into it right away. Let's do more on performance marketing. You heard from heads of sales of CROs, as well as more performance marketers, we see instant results. Product marketing takes a little bit longer because you have to figure out what the stories are. What is that we want to highlight? What do we want to lean into? You got to AB test that and you're going to certainly mind those stories over time. I think it just takes a little bit longer. I think you have to do both in parallel. It's not one or the other, but over time, as you start getting way more deep into why customers are buying your technology or your product or platform, what the benefits are for them, then you should start leaning into amplifying those stories a lot more. Now, kicking in the last, I would say four months, five months since leaving WeWork, I've spent a lot of time with various startup companies and their CEOs through various VCs who introduced me. It's been a lot of to fun actually kind of being able to advise on marketing, go to market and so on. So many of them, they oftentimes come to me and say, well, we struggle with the results of our performance marketing. It seems like we're not getting the results that we need or we expect, and the leads that are coming in are not quite the quality that we want and so on. Then I ask him, you said, well, what story are you telling? And they kind of like, well, I don't know. We're just buying keywords or showing up with our ads in these different sites. I'm like, well, if you haven't figured out the story yet, you can just keep pumping money into performance marketing, but the results you're going to get are not going to be the best results in the world, or the people that end up signing up for your service or product oftentimes end up churning at a much higher rate because they haven't fallen in love with the story that it is that you're trying to tell, because you haven't proven that you've earned that business. I think you have to peel everything back and start even earlier and say, well, what is it that you're trying to do? The best marketing really starts with two fundamental questions, which is, why do you need this product? And why do you need it now? Those are the two questions that you have to answer, and so much marketing out there I think misses that second point. A lot of great marketing out there and a lot of really smart people are really good at answering the question of why do you need this product? They're really invested in the story of the technology or platform, but very few are really good at answering why now. Unless you can create that urgency, then, you if you think about all the people that you're trying to sell to a market to, they're so busy and they're so overwhelmed with information. If you haven't given them a good excuse to why they should move now or why they can't live this, it's very hard to actually get anything that's meaningful besides the transactional sale. I just think, focusing on that, peeling the layer back a little bit and starting there is not a bad thing for founders and CMOs to do. Then when you think about once you've answered that question, why now, I think you have to be able to do something that's completely unique that you can't get anywhere else. That's your job in marketing. It's our job in marketing to figure out what those things are. You have to be able to identify yourself as being the first to do something, or the best to do something, or the only one that does something. If you can't say one of those three things, then you haven't honed your message closely enough. Because then everybody else can come in and say, they're doing it better than you. So, you have to be able to say, well, Drift is the first company to do this, or we're the only company that lets you do this, and ideally show it to some customers, because that's even more powerful, but you really have to think about your messaging at such a deep level. If it doesn't come through with that urgency and clarity, then I think you just give people an excuse to punt and keep punting and punting and punting, and then you'll never be successful.
Tricia: Yeah, 100%. It's interesting that you talk about this like why now, why us? I think that's the epitome of what does product marketing need to do? I think part of marketing is interesting. I have two categories of product marketing. I have like the 101 of product marketing, which is sort of like that, and also like messaging the features. Then I think product marketing, it's also like working with the analysts and the competitive and other things. How do you view product marketing? What would you put into that bucket? Then also, I think today, most people want to feel like they're making a difference, so how would you measure the success of marketing?
Robin Daniels: Well, let's start with the first one, first question around, what I would put into the bucket of product marketing. It's a great question, but at the core of it, I think it's a lot of positioning and messaging. I think product marketing should own that, especially in a B2B environment. Product marketing should also really be responsible for any launch that goes out, really the coordination of that launch and really the message of the launch itself. But there's a lot more that goes into product marketing. I would also put competitive analysis and market analysis into product marketing. Sometimes it's a part- time job for somebody who is a product marketing manager, and if you're a bigger organization, you really have to make it a full- time job, because it can be so overwhelming trying to keep tabs on what all your competitors are doing and outmaneuver them in interesting ways, but competitive analysis is critical thing. It's oftentimes the thing that is the most immediate for sales, because that's how they win deals. Competitive and market analysis is super important. I would also put in there certainly analyst relations, I think is a key part of product marketing as well. Then sometimes, certain organizations I've been at, you've also had customer marketing, customer stories, customer-
Tricia: Customer stories or customer marketing?
Robin Daniels: Both, customer marketing and customer stories, because they're so intertwined in how you go to market either in a launch or how you think about the core messaging, because you can't really separate it from the core of product marketing. What else would I put in there? Certainly sales enablement I think is a huge, huge part of product marketing. I think product marketing's job is to be the sales person's best friend. Doesn't mean we work for sales, but it means that it's our job in product marketing to ensure that sales has everything they need to be successful, the right competitive information, marketing information, pricing information, pitch decks, of course, analyst information, all those things. It's our job to make sure that sales has that, and it's sales this job to make sure that they close the deals, of course. It's our job to make sure that we give them the support to do so. I think sales enablement should live within product marketing. I think sales productivity, scaling that across in business, especially when you have multiple geographies should live in sales. Oftentimes, in small companies, I've worked for sales enablement and sales productivity is kind of one function, but in bigger companies, oftentimes you split out sales enablement into one function that's under product marketing and sales productivity under sales.
Tricia: Would you put in the sales productivity the traditional training of, how do you do a great first call and just like skill-based stuff?
Robin Daniels: Exactly, like skillsets. Exactly, how you negotiate a great deal? How to go for a discovery call, how to ask the right questions, how to be positioned and so on, and then do that at scale, because it's really tough, because the product marketing team is often small and they have so many things on their plates. So, it's really tough oftentimes to go around and train a thousand sales reps, let's say around the world. So, you have to use a sales productivity team that you see in region who can go and do that, but they also do more. Sales productivity also does a lot of the skills- based training as well.
Tricia: Yeah. I think that's something that I've seen across companies is the need to actually clarify, what are you talking about in enablement? Like, is it understanding the product and the story and the personas and all that stuff or is it the actual skills? Because you definitely have to do both. I mean, everybody needs to grow their skills, whether it's the marketer or the sales person.
Robin Daniels: It's very true.
Tricia: Probably like, what are those actual inherent skills for every single role? Well, what about the measurement? I think when we were starting at Salesforce together, we didn't have a lot of measurement, to be honest crosstalk. It was like, the launch is happening and there's great traffic to the website and the events are full and we get a like four out of five, or actually that would be terrible. So, if you get like a 4. 9 out of five, then product marketing is doing a great job, but I think it's evolved a lot over time. I mean, everything in marketing has evolved to be much more measurable and really tied back to the business. What are the various things you tie product marketing back to the business?
Robin Daniels: It's a really good question, and it's one of the hardest things I think about being in product marketing. Most of the other disciplines within marketing are fairly easy to measure, I think, but part of marketing has traditionally been one of the harder ones, but I also, I think if you break it down into its sub categories, it becomes a little easier. If it's competitive analysis, then you could say, well, how we move the win rate for example, versus super competitors, I think that's what that's an obvious one. Or how often are we delivering new pieces of competitive material to the sales reps to be successful? You can probably break it down that way. If you're in customer stories and customer marketing, you can probably say, well, how often is certain customer stories being used to win deals? And how many clicks are we getting on these customer stories when we post them on social on our website and so on. How much traffic are they driving? Same with analyst relations. How are we showing up with analysts? How many times are we being mentioned in certain reports? Are there now categories around this or a magic quadrant, a wave and so on? Then I think from just pure positioning and messaging, I think a lot of product marketing is also owns content in many organizations. So, you can start measuring, if the content that is being created is to be used both internally, if it's for sales, and externally if it's for customers, and how that's driving conversions. An interesting thing that you can do, and I've been looking at doing in my teams is product marketing is oftentimes responsible for creating content with other teams within marketing, but that content, usually if you're in a B2B scenario, there's a lot of different pieces of content that moves a customer to the buying cycle. Well, if the conversion rate is high, that means oftentimes the content is working from stage one to stage two, to stage three, to stage four, and so on because you have a piece of content. I think that'll be an interesting way of actually measuring and also probably having KPIs for product marketing to see how effective the content really is. I would ask you, what are you seeing? It's something crosstalk.
Tricia: I was going to say like, what I decided to do is to give partial ownership of share of voice to product marketing. Because I think one of the key things, like you said, is to have like this differentiated messaging and positioning, but it means also working with product to have decent offerings that map toward the needs in the market as well. So, we want to make as much noise as possible about the fact that we have this great why us, why now? I have set up the team to really be measured on things you mentioned, but at the highest level on share a voice. That also translates into the growth of web traffic.
Robin Daniels: Totally. Totally. Yeah. I mean, launches is of course a key part of product marketing. There's so many things you can measure about a launch, how many press sits did you get out of it? How many customers signed up for your either GA or beta program, if you'd had one of those, and how many people showed up to your event? There's lots of things. Some of them, I think, I would say marketing, product marketing influences, and other things are more owned, should be owned by product marketing. But I think the future of any well- run organization honestly is shared KPIs. Again, so sometimes we influence certain things. If you're in product marketing, all the time, you should completely own it. But in order to have a well- run project, whether that's a big launch, which includes pretty much anyone in the company, customer success, sales, and so on, a lot of shared KPIs, I think is a way of actually streamlining how you go to market with that, and making sure that everyone is aligned and on the same page.
Tricia: Yeah, I totally agree. That was, when I joined Drift, the one metric for marketing was pipeline and the one person who spoke about it was the performance marketing team. I felt like more than half my team didn't really wake up every day feeling like they were making a difference and so what I did was, like marketing is still accountable to pipeline, and we did that because really we want to be accountable to the closed deal, but we wanted to measure people to something that they themselves could impact, and then I broke down the rest of the team so that everybody has something that contributes to pipeline. Like, share voice in growth in website traffic contributes to pipeline, but it's something that those teams can specifically own versus like here's the piece of content and then did it convert to pipeline or didn't it, which is then dependent on a little bit of the performance marketers of like, where did they promote it and how much promotion and dollars did they put behind it, etc?
Robin Daniels: Totally. You just get less finger pointing. I mean, I think the classic scenario a decade ago between sales and marketing, even within marketing, it's a lot of like, did you do that? Did I do that? Who's responsible? But I think nowadays, people are just waking up to the fact that we'll get much better outcomes if we actually start sharing the KPIs, and it could be certainly within marketing, but also beyond marketing, I think that makes a lot of sense. I just think I've seen so many times in my two decades in Silicon Valley just finger pointing because there's not a shared goal or shared commonality around what the goal should be. So, I'll do everything I can to try to create some of those shared goals. Doesn't mean every goal has to be shared. I think that's also a misnomer, but if a lot of them are shared, it means at least we are aligned on what the big strategic initiatives are for the business.
Tricia: Yeah, one of the things, I think that's interesting, like probably you see this at the CMO level is like you have your team and there's a lot of different things that marketers do, like we've talked about a lot of different role. Across that, there's a lot of asks across marketing. It's like a never ending bucket of asks. Like, employee brand team wants help doing recruiting events and then the sales team is finger- pointing that they don't have enough pipeline, and then like the CS team, whatever, it just goes on and on. I'm curious like, in the different companies you've been in, especially like WeWork, I think we work in terms of like business model and what they were doing is like a different outlier than your typical enterprise SaaS. Like, do you see different structures in the company in terms of how marketing is structured, where they report, etc, and how does that impact how many different things you're trying to like deflect in terms of what you're being asked to do?
Robin Daniels: It's a great question. A lot of it depends on if you have also, I think it's the CEO who cares about marketing. Let's be honest. Sometimes you have CEOs who are just focused on the product side of things and really thinks marketing doesn't add too much value. I think the first step is aligning yourself with a CEO who understands and loves marketing, because that certainly proves that you can be successful. If not, then you have probably different tactics than you can say. But I would say, in general, most of the companies that I've spoken to, and what I advise is that the CMO should always report to the CEO. If it's a really big company, maybe the COO. I would be very hesitant to join a company or advise anybody to create a structure where the marketing team works under sales, because then it becomes so a numbers and metrics driven. A lot of times you end up taking the long- term planning out of it for how do you create a brand? Let's create a big event next year that's going to cost a lot of money, but it's actually going to have a huge impact on our brand and our pipeline, but it seems far away. That doesn't oftentimes get the attention it needs if you're just sales where it's much more around quarter to quarter. So, I would be a huge advocate of putting marketing anywhere, but there it shouldn't be under sales, it shouldn't be under finance. I don't think it should be under the CEO or it should be under maybe the COO. That would be my recommendation. Most of the structures within marketing are fairly similar. It depends a little bit on B2B versus B2C, I would say. You can add the complexity of international, those international role under the local GM or just the role under the international structure. There are pros and cons of doing both. I've tried both in my career and both can work equally well. Again, it comes down to communication and alignment of KPIs, more than anything. The big one that's oftentimes is discussed with how it should be in marketing or not is communications. Is communications directly in marketing or does it sit outside, especially financial communications? But even just kind of comms in general, when you have executive communications and financial communications. I've seen that where it sits outside of marketing, I think that can be fine too, because it's a different kind of communications, but if it's product communications or customer stories, it should absolutely sit in marketing.
Tricia: Yeah, definitely. You've touched on the product marketing value. We talked about performance marketing value. I think one of the things that you were always great at, at Salesforce, and you've talked a little bit about it here, is the story in the brand and like really making it different. One of the things you always did well was what I would call like shiny object creation. I don't know if that's like a Salesforce term or not, with the shiny object, so that people will like hear about you, but what's your advice on really like, not just having this unique story, we've talked about that already, but on creating something that really creates a moment almost in the market so that people will pay attention to you and your brand?
Robin Daniels: Yeah. That's a good question. It's funny, I don't hear many other companies talking about shiny object in marketing, so it might be a Salesforce term, but I think a lot of it comes down to focus. It really does. It's one thing I've tried to do in my career is make sure that the team has really deep focus on achieving one or two things really well. If you put the clock forward a year, nobody's going to remember you or the team for doing 10 things. It's just not going to happen. I'll kind of remember you for five things probably, but maybe two things, maybe three, but at least one. I would say focus all your energy on doing one thing really well. When I was at Salesforce, for example, and when we worked together, I was working on chatter with a great team over there. The thing that we did was we said, every six weeks or so, we're going to relaunch Chatter. The reason we came up with that playbook was because I'm a firm believer that people don't remember you for hearing something once. People's attention span is very scattered. We knew that when we launched Chatter, it was not going to be a crazy revenue driver, but it was going to be a crazy differentiator for anything else that was in the market. But in order for that to stick, we had to come out and consistently have news in the market around what it is that we were doing. So, every six weeks or so, we would have a new announcement around Chatter. It was always, and we said, okay, here's the roadmap for doing that over a period of one and a half years or so. So, it was a very intense timeframe to go out and do new launches every six weeks or so, and the team was tired after that period of time, but it also made us... The stock price nearly doubled at that time, because it suddenly puts Salesforce in a different category than Oracle, or SAP, or Microsoft. It was a social angle to the CRM system that was really interesting to talk about. We got more press coverage than any of our competitors by far, because there was a new kind of interesting angle around this social angle to it because we were calling it, it's kind of like a Facebook for work. So, we were saying, let's constantly have stories in the news about the impact that Chatter can have on organizations. So, we would always try to take a different angle every six weeks or so, but we constantly just kept that going, and we did that because I think that the relaunch, relaunch, relaunch playbook is really, really powerful. Now, it's not easy to do in a lot of companies. That's why it's so hard, I think, team structure, because you get stuck with, we have to do something urgently for this quarter. So, you have to go in and communicate very clearly to your stakeholders and the rest of the executive team that this is your plan and this is how you're going to execute over the next year, year and a half. Because if you want something to really stick and make a huge impact and create a brand around it, then it takes longer than just a quarter. I mean, I don't know of any brands that have done it in a quarter or two. It just takes a consistent effort. It's a lot of work, but I think that focus on one thing, doing one thing really well, I think is what has served us really, really well. Us coming from Salesforce, you and me, and others, and so on, I think I've taken that to heart, is that we're not trying to do too many things. I think oftentimes you get just to diffused in what needs you're focusing on. Nobody's going to remember it. It's going to be kind of half- ask, and you're not going to be proud of the effort that you've put into it because you're going to be peanut buttering your effort over so many different initiatives, rather do one or two things really, really well and put all your effort into that.
Tricia: Yeah, I totally agree, and I mean more so even agree about this like repetition, especially in the past 10 years since I've known you, the world has just become more and more and more noisy and people just don't remember. You have to say the same thing and you have to say the same thing again, and then you have to say the same thing again.
Robin Daniels: With consistency. Exactly.
Tricia: I feel like as a marketer, it almost feels boring because you're like, no, no, no, I said this last week and I said it last month, but you're like, oh, okay, the people outside my walls and outside my company, they actually like, have not heard this yet. It's hard to imagine, but they literally haven't heard it, even if I spoke to them directly last week, I have to come back and like reiterated and things like that. I think, we're having a big conversation internally about how do you, in a remote environment, even more so, reiterate things to people. I was talking to somebody and they were saying, oh, like, now that we're all working from home, you're almost more focused because you're like one-to- one, you can see in the Zoom, what's the person doing, but then at the same time, you're not focused because you have all these other things going around in your house and you know like, I need to get off this call because I have to go to see my kid, or whatever. Following up with like the notes and what are the action items, what did we agree, saying it again, it just gets back to that same simple principle of like, say it again, say it again.
Robin Daniels: Totally. I always try to divide my time into kind of three different categories. I spend my time on tactical things, strategic things, and epic things. The tactical things, I think are the things that keep the light going and keep the business functioning. Well, we update the website with a new blog posts, or I'll answer these emails or help with something that's urgent and so on. But if you only focus your time on tactical things, that's not how you create a super brand. That's not how you create a brand or story that people fall in love with. So, you have to spend the majority of your time, and I would call it the strategic initiatives, the initiatives that require a team effort, but really concerted effort over a period of time. It could be like the Chatter launch, like we talked about. I would say that was super strategic borderline epic because of what we did over such a period of time, but really getting the team to get them to say, we're going to put a program out there or campaign out there. It's going to be consistent for the next year. It's going to require funding, creativity, all kinds of things. That's how you create a real momentum for the business. Something that people start remembering. Then you also have to focus on, I would say the epic initiatives, which are the rare things that, the crazy ideas that you have that can really change the business 10X. I define epic as, either you find something that's so broken that people have done report and say, it's crap we can do it 10 times better, or you try to do something that's never been done before, but it's scary being in that category because there's not much data to guide you. If you're just doing incremental things all the time, then you have a lot of data to guide you, say, oh, if we do this 10% better or 20% better, we're going to get much better outcomes. Great, then you should absolutely do that. But if you want to create the epic outcomes, you also have to take some chances on some things that have never been done before, or have been done so, so crappily before. But you can't spend your whole time just like in Lala Land, thinking about that, because then you kind of neglect the business as well. So, you have to start dividing your time. At least what I do, I say, I'm going to try to spend 20% of my time on tactical things, 60% of my time on strategic things, and then I'll also have to set aside some time to work with the team on what epic things can we do, because if you don't set aside that time, it'll never happen. If it doesn't happen and I say crosstalk no, because you get so busy with other things. I mean, if it was easy, everybody would do it, and it doesn't just happen automatic. It's not like you get a good idea and you execute within a day or so you have to set aside the time with you and your team to do that. Those are the fun moments, because the worst for me, and I've had way too many, many of these experiences in my career, when I get to Friday night and I'm hanging out with my family or my friends, and I look back at my week and I felt crazy busy, but I don't really know if I achieved anything of note because I was just fighting fire. Everything was tactical, and I'm like, it's the worst week. I've tried to become better as I've grown in my career to really focus on at least the strategic initiative that we have to move forward as a team that would really make a difference for the business. That's how I would think about breaking it down.
Tricia: Yeah. Well, can you give the audience an example of an epic thing that you did, somewhere across any of the companies you've been? Just so they get a sense of what kind of risks did you take or what was the sort of impact or something?
Robin Daniels: An example that you and I chatted about with Chatter, and it was probably one of the most epic thing. I mean, it kind of created my name in the industry in some way. When Box came looking for me, they basically said whatever you did for Salesforce and Chatter, come do it for us, because I think I create a kind of a name for leading the effort there, but it was hard to me. It's not like I did it alone. The team was incredible in the execution, that we maintain this for a good year and a half of just hardcore execution around making sure that we were constantly thinking of creative ways to tell the story. Because again, it's easy to just fall into tons of story the same way. I think you also have to have different angles for it. I think, that that was probably one of the things that I'm most proud of with my career.
Tricia: That's awesome. Now, you went, was at Salesforce, Box, you were at Vera, you were at LinkedIn. Then you're at LinkedIn like, oh, I'm in this like secure place, it's going to be great, and all of a sudden you get this call, you should come work at WeWork. One of the things that, since you were at WeWork, you could talk about WeWork if you want or not, but since you were at WeWork, I think you had this like aha moment of, what is a healthy company?
Robin Daniels: Yeah, crosstalk.
Tricia: I know you're like very opinionated on how companies should basically be measured, not just on like bottom line, but so, can you share with the audience your perspective on a healthy company, like the role like we're seeing now, tons of companies are like pitching in millions of dollars to help with the effort to fight coronavirus and everything. What's your perspective on the role of a corporation, and as a person looking for a new job, what is a healthy company?
Robin Daniels: It's great question. I think, yeah, I would say I'm somewhat opinionated. I think, of course companies measure their health by revenue and profits and they also measure how much churn they have and so on, which I think they're all important, and absolutely every company should continue measuring that. But I also think that we should be measuring companies long- term value by how much value they deliver to their customers. It's something that's very hard to quantify, but I'll give you an example. I pay$ 10 a month for Spotify. It's probably the best$ 10 a month I spend every single month. I would pay a hundred dollars for Spotify because of the joy that it gives me and the joy I had, so it just makes my life infinitely better. It's hard to measure. I think so many times I see these articles of somebody got fundraising at this valuation because they're growing this fast. My question is well, what value are you delivering to your customers? Obviously they must be delivering a lot of value or else they wouldn't get that valuation, but are you delivering something that's essential and needed and makes their life better, happier, more joyful in some way. I just think there's more ways that we should be measuring the health of businesses. I have an iPhone, right? A lot of people would say the iPhone is super expensive. Yeah, it is expensive, but it also gives me an incredible amount of utility and joy compared to my laptop. It costs as much as a laptop, but I use it way more... Not only does it serve as my device that I use all the time, but I can take pictures on it, I can watch movies on it, I can listen to music. I mean, I can play games. There's so much I can do on that device that when you look at it that way, the value you get out of it is infinitely, I think, nearly more valuable than a laptop for different a reason. I just think that there's ways of re- evaluating the worth we put on companies, because I think that the world has got an excuse, where it's just about multiples of revenue that you have, and that's how companies are valued in the stock market and so on. But what about asking the question of what ... If you look at the, let's say Fortune 100, what value are they delivering to two companies out there or to individuals? I think that would be an interesting way of looking at it. I don't have a great answer for how we're going to do that, but I just think it's something that investors should be looking into.
Tricia: Well, I think there's another thing, and I've talked with you about it before, which is also, not just what is the value that the company is delivering to their customers, but what is the value of the company is delivering to society?
Robin Daniels: Yes, absolutely.
Tricia: What's your perspective on that in terms of valuation almost? It's like, I think the two are often thought of as being in conflict with each other, in terms of like, can you actually deliver value in terms of a foundation or purpose in the communities that you exist in? If you have offices in San Francisco and New York and Boston, etc, are you doing things locally in those environments, as well as driving your product and your profits and things like that?
Robin Daniels: Yeah. I mean, it's a really good question. It's hard to answer. I think it's super timely, especially with the coronavirus pandemic going on right now and everyone being sequestered home. I think a lot of us are re- evaluating the value that we think about certain things in our life. For example, I think all of us are really showing a much more appreciation for teachers, hospital workers, if you're a nurse or a doctor or something like that, or police, and everybody who a lot of times they're being underpaid, but the value that they serve is just fricking immense. I mean, how does a society even function without these? Then you have flip side, a lot of people who are making a lot of money and you can kind of start questioning what the value that they inaudible. That's on the personal level. It's same, I think, on the organizational level as well, like which organizations are really essential and which ones are not? I would say, one of the things that I realized is, I haven't been using Facebook a lot, for example, in the last couple of years, because I feel like it's just become kind of a divisive platform for many reasons. But during this time of crisis, I got to say, I've been on Facebook a lot more, because it's nearly it's become a public utility that we all use all the time to stay connected. So, there's a lot of value in it from a connectivity perspective. If you use it for the good that it was meant for, it's really powerful. If you take away all the negative that has happened on Facebook and Twitter and so on, these platforms are really powerful inaudible, and now we're getting back to what they were really meant for, I think in really positive ways.
Tricia: I like to have the perspective that out of adversity, you can always have opportunity. It's interesting to see, like in this current time, what is happening with pollution being reduced by like less planes, less people driving around, etc. I've just been odd by the videos of like the dolphins swimming in Venice canals. I never knew that dolphins used to swim in the Venice Canal. I mean, it's like, doesn't even... I don't think Venice dolphins, I don't know. It's interesting to see. Then I've seen like the pictures like, oh, three months ago here's a family sitting at home and they're all on their devices, nobody's actually even talking to each other. Then now it's like, oh, people are playing board games and they're doing puzzles. It's just really interesting to see, like in an adverse time, like what positive things can come out of it, which I think it's just a great thing given that obviously everybody's kind of suffering in some way.
Robin Daniels: Such an interesting moment in time, really for all of us, where we're learning to adapt to a new reality. I think the positive of what's happening is we're all showing a lot more empathy and understanding for each other and we're all getting to realize that we're not just coworkers. We're actually real human beings who have families and who have other things outside of their work environment that they need to focus on. I think it's just bringing a lot more compassion and humanity to the workplace, which is great, and I hope we don't lose that, so I'm very hopeful about what the future looks like.
Tricia: That's one of the challenges and things that I think is happening with marketing, especially B2B. In the past, B2B marketing is like, you're a company talking to a company, and a lot of cases, people don't focus on the fact that it is human. That's one of my big sayings is like, oh, it's not really B2B or B2C, it's B2H. As a great marketer as a storyteller, you have to really be able to identify, who are you talking to? And how are you talking to the human that's on the other end? Even if it is somebody at a company, it's like companies don't buy from companies, humans buy from humans, they just work in companies.
Robin Daniels: Totally, totally. There's fierce debate right now around the marketing around coronavirus, especially on LinkedIn, there's a lot of great threads on this topic. The consensus from everybody who is in marketing, who's leading a marketing team is you try to come across as authentic and you try to come across as being helpful, and you use the stories of your customers to show the power of what it is that you do versus trying to go in for the hardcore sale about talking about yourself. This is not a good moment in time to do so. I think you can actually lose a lot of brand value if you come across that way right now. So, it's a delicate time. It doesn't mean you can't market or sell yourself. That's our jobs and the world's still has to function. I just think there's a way of doing it that has to be a lot more authentic and empathetic to what we're going through as a human race right now.
Tricia: Yeah, I think the whole concept of empathy, I think, it's like even on a whole nother level of that human, right? It's like, you can talk to a person as a human versus talking with a bunch of jargon, and like company talking, whatever, but then, to really demonstrate the empathy of sort of the current environment. That's the ultimate in marketing is to be able to connect with somebody in a way that has empathy, has authenticity, and actually has this ability to like really show that you care about them, and it's not just one message for every person under the sun. One thing we didn't really talk about, and I think could become unfortunately, important right now. One question I have for you is, you move from big companies to little companies, and I think that a lot of people are always wondering like, should I go to like the big secure company? Is it more interesting and fun to be in a small startup? Do I want to take that journey? Just quickly, what would your perspective be on moving from company to company and the size?
Robin Daniels: It's a great question. I get the question a lot actually, and I think it's a really important one. It all depends on what you're trying to achieve. Obviously there are pros and cons of going to either. I've been here. I joined Vera in 2014 with eight employees. I went there, it was one of my first head of marketing gig where I ran all of marketing. I went there because I wanted to go to an environment where I could experiment like crazy and try different things. I just had a CEO who just said, " Yeah, whatever you want to do, go for it." Because I didn't know what I didn't know. I had certainly certain experiences, and my experiences came a lot from product marketing and customer marketing and so on, category creation. But I didn't know a lot about, I would say performance marketing, or even communications at that point. I'd been a part of it, but I never kind of owned it, so I wanted to go to an environment where I could experiment like crazy. Going to a small company is super beneficial for that, because they haven't figured out their playbook yet so you get to experiment. If that's what you want to do, it's a great inaudible to go. If you want to go to a place that hasn't figured it out and you has the playbook for things, and you can learn from some of the best and oftentimes going to a big company is awesome. If you want to go learn how to do great B2B marketing, Salesforce is a great company to go to, to do that, but you'll be put into a box that's usually a little bit smaller. You won't have the freedom to go and try crazy things in the same way. You won't have the freedom to maybe go and do other things that are outside of your area. If you're in product marketing, you get to do product marketing. If you're in performance marketing, you get to do that. That's okay as well. There's nothing wrong with it, but depends on what it is that you're trying to grow from a skillset perspective. There's really no right or wrong answer. It all just depends on, where you want to be in five or 10 years from now and what skillset you want to have with that? Just thinking about, when you come to a smaller company, you do have a lot of freedom because there, a lot of things haven't been figured out. That can be a huge negative as well because there's nobody there to guide you or tell you or lean on. If you go to a big company, let's take Apple, for example, amazing company, to great marketing, but you will not have a lot of freedom to do a lot of the things that you want to do at Apple. You can't mess with the brand. You can't do that in any way that you want to. Performance marketing is kind of set, the story, that they've got a playbook for everything, and that's totally fine. You will learn that and you can go and take it on to your next step. So, it all depends really on what you want to achieve.
Tricia: Okay. The final question I want to ask you is, it kind of relates to this sort of like small, large company, etc. It's like, what is the one lesson that you think the best lesson that you learned throughout your career that you could share with everybody? So, it's kind of like storyteller, Robin, gives us lessons today.
Robin Daniels: Well, for me, it's been certainly the need to communicate, communicate, and then communicate some more. I always think of it this way. In the absence of information, people will make up their own stories about what's happening. It doesn't matter if it's your peers, if it's the leadership team around you, or if it's your team that reports into you. If you don't communicate frequently what it is that's happening and why, people will make up their own stories. I think you just owe it to everybody around you to communicate why you're doing certain things and the expected outcomes of that. Every time I've succeeded in my career, it's because I feel like I've communicated really well. Of course, you have to execute on top of that, but you get everyone aligned on what it is that you're trying to do. A lot of times when I've failed, it's because I haven't communicated well enough or the reasons why. For example, one of the regrets I have in my career, I was at LinkedIn, I had a star performer who worked for me. She was just awesome. One of the best part of marketing people I've ever worked with in my life. She came to me and she had some frustrations about her role and why she wanted to move in to do something different. I listened, but I didn't act on it quickly enough, and I think the signal she took away was I didn't care, and I did care, but I didn't communicate my feeling, and I didn't act quickly enough. If I just communicate and say, hey, I have more things that I'm working on right now and I'll get to it, and I promise you I'll look into it and so on, but again, in the absence of information, people make up their own stories. I'm sure that she took away like, oh, Robin doesn't really care about me or my career and so on. But the times I've succeeded as well is because I've made sure that everyone is aligned on the vision, whether that was a Chatter launch, everyone was aligned on, this is what we're going to do, here's the timeframe for when we're going to do it. Here's the team's job and here's how we're going to execute on and everyone just kind of signs off and then you do regular check- ins and you update everyone frequently. That's how you succeed. Communicate, communicate, and then communicate some more, and do it hopefully in a very epic way.
Tricia: Epic, make sure it's this shiny object, otherwise you might get forgotten.
Robin Daniels: Exactly. That's right.
Tricia: Awesome. Well, this has been a great conversation. I'm sure if people have other questions for you, hopefully they've enjoyed the conversation, but they may want to have additional questions on growing their product marketing career or other lessons that you've learned along the way. I think probably the best place for people to reach out to you would be in LinkedIn. I know you're very active in LinkedIn.
Robin Daniels: Actually I am. Please do.
Tricia: Find Robin in LinkedIn, new CMO of Matterport. I'm sure his profile is going to become very noisy because he's going to have lots of like congratulations about his new job, which obviously always puts you to the top of the list. Thank you for joining us on this episode, I'm excited to continue building CMO Conversations while we're all coming from our various homes and home offices. If you enjoy this episode and you have other people that you want me to speak to, reach out to me and LinkedIn and send me direct messages about questions and topics you want me to cover or people you want me to invite to be on the next episode, and share with your friends. If you're on Spotify, which obviously Robin is, then you can listen to CMO Conversations there, but if you have another platform that you like, we basically have CMO Conversations across every single platform. The more that you like it, the more you can rate it up, the more that we'll be able to share these brave conversations with other marketers, and hopefully make a big difference in people navigating their careers and really dealing with the changes that are happening day- to- day for the marketers. So, thank you for joining us. Thank you, Robin.
Robin Daniels: Thank you.