Are marketers technologists? According to Whitney Bouck (LinkedIn | Twitter), COO of HelloSign, they ought to be. Whitney has spent years marketing to CIOs, and she thinks that marketers need to be just as much of technology junkies as the people they market to.
On this episode of Marketing Trends, Whitney explains how to make that idea a reality. She also talks about her current work at HelloSign, why she decided to become a COO after a career in marketing, how to market highly technical products, and much more.
5 Key Takeaways: - Marketers who want to be successful need to be technology junkies, especially if they're selling to CIOs. - One of the keys to developing a great relationship with a CIO (or any executive) is listening more than you talk. - When marketing a technical product, it's very important to focus more on the user experience than on the technology itself. - As a leader, you need to to find great partners who can act as sounding boards and take your ideas and push them to new limits. - Marketers succeed the most when they make their customer the hero.
Bio: Whitney Bouck is the COO of HelloSign where she leads the Sales, Marketing, Customer Operations, and Business Development Teams. Whitney also serves as an advisors and mentor to numerous startups, including LogDNA and Ekata. Previously, Whitney has held senior marketing roles with Box, EMC, and Oracle, among other technology companies.
Notes & Quotes: How Whitney Got Into Marketing - (1:40) - Getting into marketing wasn't a direct path for Whitney. - Whitney started her career as an engineer at Oracle. - It was a product management role that grew her interest further into marketing and eventually it became her passion. - "I discovered that I like telling stories, I like helping turn on light bulbs for people and I like learning what their priorities are and helping to problem-solve with them. And those are really a lot of the essentials behind marketing." - Whitney Bouck
Being A COO - (2:50) - Having previously served in a variety of functions, Whitney felt her experiences prepared her to become a COO. - Marketers can fit well into the COO role, if the role is designed to be a holistic management role. If the role is purely operational, the fit might not be great. - Whitney has the nickname the "CIO Whisperer.” - "I personally have a fascination for technology and always have." - Whitney Bouck - The way Whitney is able to have such great relationships with CIO's and other people within tech companies is by having three things: mutual respect, curiosity, and great conversation. - "You have to be genuine, authentic, and curious. I mean, I can't fake it. If I were to fake interest, I think it would be detected immediately, especially by a CIO." - Whitney Bouck - Whitney thinks that a key to having a great relationship with a CIO is listening more than you talk. - Early in Whitney's career, she attended CIO summits to learn about what conversations were being had and where problems were arising for CIOs.
Three Keys to Working with CIOs - (14:30) - (1) GO where they go and start to build relationships as early as you can. - (2) Start to aggregate people in a meaningful way in small groups. - (3) Find the people that are going to give you the best advice and bring them into an advisory role.
Technical Products And How to Market Them - (16:40) - End users, "just want to know what the experience is like, how easy it is to get the job done, and how quickly they can do it." - Whitney Bouck - For HelloSign, "documentation is deeply technical, very different than say the very technical information for the security team about how the infrastructure is and how hashing and encryption work and all the things that security professionals are going to care about to decide whether or not that product is safe for business use." - Whitney Bouck
Favorite Campaigns - (18:20) - One of the first that came to mind was when she helped change the way consumers viewed cloud computing and SaaS technologies. She made it very user-focused and didn't promote the technical specifications, but focused more on the user and the user experience. - "Maybe we can make CIOs the hero here." - Whitney Bouck
How Roles Are Changing In Tech - (21:30) - "The minute you land on a page, it knows who you are, what you like, what you've purchased elsewhere, where you last came from and can personalize an experience for you." - Whitney Bouck - "This technology wasn't there yet. And so you really had to do a lot more. For example printed brochures and in-person conferences and visits and phone calls and things like that that are a completely different way of marketing." - Whitney Bouck - "Marketers today are technologists and they're data junkies because they have to be. And so that is totally a different skill set than it once was." - Whitney Bouck - Whitney sees the role of CMO and CIO as two roles that need tighter collaboration.
HelloSign - (26:40) - Whitney was excited about the market opportunity before joining. - "I love joining companies. Especially when they are in this kind of smaller ready to scale state and then come and be part of that scaling motion that gets us to IPO and or acquisition or whatever." - Whitney Bouck - Whitney was also excited about the products that HelloSign brings to the table and Dropbox's acquisition of them and that collaboration."
Advising Startups - (32:20) - "I love sharing lessons I've learned and helping others, but it is very much a mutual learning kind of thing. I get to stay ahead of emerging technology trends and I get to meet the great leaders that are emerging and growing companies. They're going to be ahead of me on stuff. So it's very helpful to me as much as it is for them to have access to my expertise." - Whitney Bouck - "I feel like I got so much help along the way. How can I not give back if I'm at a point where I can help? It just seems like the right thing to do and it's fun. " - Whitney Bouck - One thing she advises frequently towards technical founders is to not lean into the phrase of "build it and they will come." Whitney mentions that you need to know who your target customer is before you build. - Many technical founders also are sometimes unwilling to admit what they don't know and it hurts them in the long-run. - "I just feel like there are some companies who are willing to take money from anybody, which isn't a recipe for success. It doesn't mean you're bound to fail, but you're not as well set up for success, I think. Versus being choosy about the kind of investors you want that have the great network, the right experience, the insights that are going to help you and are going to be great partners in times of trouble and not taking money at the wrong time. You don't want to wait until you're on your last legs with 60 days of runway left to take money." - Whitney Bouck
Pardot Lightning Round - (40:10) - Most fun app on your phone: Uber Eats - Favorite Indian food in SF: Dosa - Favorite vacation spot: The Caribbean - Favorite recent book or podcast: How I Built This - Most excited for about the future of marketing: Personalization - Best advice for first-time CMO: "Don't be cocky. Ask a lot of questions. Don't think you understand everything. And seek mentorship from people who've been there before you." - Whitney Bouck - What Whitney does for fun: Cook - What question does Whitney never get asked that she wishes she was asked more often: "What are some of your favorite spots in California?"
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