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Ryan Carlson (LinkedIn | Twitter) is Chief Marketing Officer at Okta. As the head of Okta’s Marketing team, he oversees Product Marketing, Corporate Marketing, Demand Generation, Sales Development and Pipeline Strategy and Operations. Amidst all those demands, what does he make his primary focus? Getting the world to know, love, and share the Okta story.

On this episode of Marketing Trends, Ryan talks about how to tell an effective brand and product story, how to bring customer insights into your organization, why you should build a team of mentors, and much more.

3 Key Takeaways:

– A marketing leader’s job is not only to carry an organization’s message to the outside world, but also to carry the attitudes, needs, and responses of the market back to the organization.

– Successful brands shouldn’t be afraid to express a strong viewpoint. That viewpoint should be true to who the brand is and relate to their core messaging.

– When working with analysts and influencers, it’s better to get started right away. Effective analyst relations programs take a while to bear fruit.

Bio:

Ryan Carlson is Chief Marketing Officer at Okta. As the head of Okta’s Marketing team, he oversees Product Marketing, Corporate Marketing, Demand Generation, Sales Development and Pipeline Strategy and Operations. His charter? Get the world to know, love, and share the Okta story.

Ryan has worked in technology and startups for more years than he cares to cite. Before joining Okta (back when the team was just a few dozen strong), he ran product for smart-building company Redwood Systems. He’s held various product and marketing leadership roles at semiconductor companies Xilinx, Velio, and Cypress.

Ryan holds an MBA from Columbia University and a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Colorado. He lives in Oakland with his wife and two young daughters. A few of the hobbies that he has given up include backpacking, fly-fishing, and exercise.

Quotes from Ryan:

“Not everybody is at the same place in their journey to using new technologies. And so a lot of marketing people want to tell a great story, but then they want to change their story and evolve it. We certainly do that, but we also use the best parts of our story at different times for different companies.”

“I think a lot of people think of marketing as taking a message and sending it outside your company, but you equally have to take knowledge from the market and bring it inside your company.”

“Take a viewpoint, take a strong viewpoint. It can’t be controversial for the sake of being controversial. It also has to be authentic and genuine and credible.”

“There’s a CMO-company fit aspect, as well. The CMO for a company works really well when there’s a match there.”

“One of the things that we found is that there are a lot of different ways to tackle analyst relations, but the biggest piece of advice I say is get started as early as you can.”

“I’m a category creation skeptic. I think if you can create a category, and Okta has done that, it’s incredibly powerful. If you’ve done that, then you’re successful. But I think, because of that, many people early on in a company or product life cycle think to themselves, ‘I need to create a category.’ And I think they put the cart before the horse. The way you create a category is to be the very best at what you do and to get more customers than your competition, faster than they do. And then if you do that, you will have created a category.”

Mentions:

 YOU Magazine

Caviar App

Revisionist History by Malcolm Gladwell

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