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Introducing my new podcast Scaleup Marketing

Today I launched a new podcast. You’re thinking just what we need another podcast, right? Okay, fair enough.

But I’m trying to fill a gap. While there are lots of marketing podcasts that focus on hot takes, opinions, and startups, I couldn’t really find anything that was specific to the challenges I faced as the CMO of a $100m+ scale-up company. So I started one.

I’m going to interview people who I think can make me a better marketing leader, and I hope they will do the same for anyone who listens. I’m going to publish a new episode every two weeks to start.

First up is Dave Kellogg, a Silicon Valley legend with 10+ years experience at each of the CEO, CMO, and board levels across ten different companies ranging in size from $0 to over $1B in revenues. When I was first getting into marketing about a decade ago, I binge read everything Dave wrote about marketing on his pioneering blog https://kellblog.com.

Tom Wentworth:

Hi, everybody. Welcome to the first episode of my podcast, Scaleup Marketing. My name is Tom Wentworth and I’m the chief marketing officer at Recorded Future, an enterprise cybersecurity company. I started this podcast to shine a light on marketing in the enterprise. There’s a lot of marketing podcast focused on hot takes and startups, and I’m hoping to fill a niche for marketers looking to learn from enterprise marketing veterans like my first guest, Dave Kellogg. Dave is a Silicon Valley legend having 10 plus years experience at each of the CEO, CMO and board levels across 10 different companies ranging in size from zero to over a billion in revenue. Dave’s been blogging about marketing and enterprise software on his site kellblog.com since 2006, and I know you’ll learn a lot from him, so enjoy.

Tom Wentworth:

All right. Hey Dave, how are you?

Dave Kellogg:

Good. How are you doing?

Tom Wentworth:

I’m fantastic. Thanks for participating in my first ever podcast episode.

Dave Kellogg:

Cool. Glad to be the guinea pig Tom.

Tom Wentworth:

We’ll see if you’re still glad by the end of it, but my intent here is to… There’s a lot of podcasts in marketing that talk about hot takes and a lot of SMB focused. I’m hoping to cover really the challenges that we face as enterprise marketers at scale SaaS companies and I thought there’s no better first guest than you. I think you’ve been doing this for a long time, so just introduce yourself a little bit.

Dave Kellogg:

Sure. Well, thanks for having me. So my name is Dave Kellogg and my elevator pitch is I have 10 years as an independent director, 10 years as a startup CEO and 10 years as a startup CMO. So I’ve sat in three different chairs around the boardroom table. So I think overall it gives you an interesting perspective, having been a CMO and then having managed CMOs and having been on the board of companies working with CMOs. So I got there by when I started out technical and moved into marketing pretty early on and brand marketing as a small startup. My biggest run as a CMO was in BusinessObjects where we grew from 30 million to a billion in revenue over a nine year period. And then after that I tried my hat at two different companies as CEO and snuck in a quick GM gig in between. So, I view myself as basically a startup executive, CEO, board member, advisor, consultant, but deep down I believe marketing, right?

Tom Wentworth:

Yeah. Obviously I work at Recorded Future. I think you became a friend of Recorded Future through Bernard at BusinessObjects. Is that correct my memory?

Dave Kellogg:

Yeah. Bernard helped. I think I met Christopher at Spotfire. I mean, the first time I worked with Christopher was Spotfire was a partner of BusinessObjects and in my opinion, Spotfire cracked the vertical code on visualization because we had looked at a lot of visualization startups and everyone was trying to be horizontal and it felt like Spotfire was the first guys to say, “Hey, lets [Jeffrey Moore 00:02:59] this, but let’s go vertical, get a beachhead.” And I liked that strategy company. Obviously, they sold the company, and that I’d heard Christopher had started Recorded Future and in between I was running a company called MarkLogic, half our business was in DOD and the intelligence community and a big chunk of that was open source intelligence. So I was like, “Hmm, this is really interesting.” Christopher said we’ll go do something in open source Intel, it’s kind of how it started out as you know, so that’s how it all began.

Tom Wentworth:

Yeah. Speaking of MarkLogics, that’s how I got to know you. So I worked at a company called Autonomy for a little bit infamous company Autonomy. And I remember finding you, this is back in 2008 or so I think because you were a prolific blogger before blogging was really a thing, which we’ll talk about a little bit. But you’d write a lot about Autonomy. MarkLogic and Autonomy were not really direct competitors, I think, but competing for mind share for sure and you would talk a little trash about Autonomy, which in history will tell you, I think you were right. But I remember sort of like, “Who is this guy insulting my company?” And it was you.

Dave Kellogg:

Yeah. So Autonomy, I mean, look, the search space was weird. MarkLogic was a half database, half search engine. And we competed primarily the [Fast 00:04:20] search transfer if you remember them.

Tom Wentworth:

Of course.

Dave Kellogg:

And then we also competed with Autonomy and let’s just say, those were two companies that had very checkered episodes, right? Like Fast, I believe the CEO went to jail, right?

Tom Wentworth:

Yup.

Dave Kellogg:

I mean, they sold the company for a billion dollars in the middle of an accounting scandal that resulted in at least one executive going to jail. And by the way, I was truth telling about them too. I had found one UK financial analyst and me, right? The only two guys going, “Wait a minute, they’re booking deals on MOUs.” If you just read the documents, these guys are doing crazy stuff, so that was one. And then Autonomy, I had two issues with. One was the whole Bayesian thing because we had some Autonomy alumni at MarkLogic and they basically were arguing, the founder had a PhD in computer science but as far as we could tell, as far as the people I trusted tell, the Bayesians was more marketing and BS than reality. And so you had a very educated guy bluffing others about what was going on in the inside. And fundamentally, at least all the guys we had felt it didn’t work terribly well either, but it sounded really cool, right?

Tom Wentworth:

I think, yeah, we’ll talk about product marketing in a little bit, but I think it was unbelievable product marketing. In retrospect, I have a lot of respect for what they did because they carved out Bayesian and Shannon’s information theory was the other too. As employees, we were… They were the most ruthless in certifying against messaging of any company I’ve ever seen. If you were a rep, you couldn’t get paid commission until you could tell the story a hundred percent accurately, which maybe in retrospect, wasn’t a terrible idea.

Dave Kellogg:

So I heard that Mike Lynch carried a copy of Edward Bernays propaganda with him all times, literally. He was so religious about the message and driving the message. So they drove a message really well, but I thought the message was kind of BS. So that was my first beef with autonomy. The second beef I had with the autonomy was, I remember a friend of mine was running Verity, right? And Autonomy had acquired Verity and I remember meeting with my friend at Verity and he was telling me that they were doing term licenses. It was one of the first times I’d heard this because this was a long time ago. This was mid-2000s probably. And he’s like, “Hey, we do term licenses now because it’s kind of a discounting alternative.”

Dave Kellogg:

So we see the list price is a hundred and the customer says, “I want to pay 50.” Well, most enterprise software vendors at the time would go, “Great, 50.” And they’d said no 50 for a two year license or 50 for a three-year license and when the average CIO’s tenure is two and a half years, three years starts to approximate infinity, right? Especially, five-year license or… So Verity was doing all these term licenses and I’m not sure, I mean, my theory, I have no reason to know if this is true or not, was that Autonomy, part of their financial engineering trick was they figured this out for Verity. They bought Verity and then went, “Holy cow, we could get all these new sales.” Right? Because they were no SaaS student economics, right? But just reselling these just to customers another term license. And at least to me, I always felt like that was the light bulb that started a lot of that became dubious stuff that happened there later on.

Tom Wentworth:

You’re always in the middle of it, I was happy to leave when I left, but I do look back on Autonomy as a marketing organization. They were really, really good. I think the success and the whatever $11 billion exit was really driven by just best in class marketing. Fast and others weren’t nearly as good as the Autonomy was. So respect to our fellow marketers out there.

Dave Kellogg:

No, look, I think that the marketing was very good at Autonomy. I do believe though, there’s one thing that I think is worthy of pointing out here because I would pattern match NicroStrategy and Autonomy and Fast into the same bucket of where you create this image that you’re amazing and then you realize you have to do everything to sustain it. And that’s how these guys get in trouble eventually, right? Because I think all three of them had not good endings, but you create this self for a long time. You create this, well, the analysts love us. Why? Because we’re growing really fast. Why? Because the customers love us and therefore we have a good strategy, right? It decreases virtuous loop, but all of a sudden you’re dependent on it. And if you start missing quarters or things go wrong, then you feel like the whole thing’s going to collapse. So I think they had great marketing, but I actually think they had what I would call almost a house of cards strategy. Like it works really well while it works and then it doesn’t.

Tom Wentworth:

I think history has proven that out, but it’s interesting there’s a lot of enterprise startups now. Enterprise is hot again and I think a lot of companies would be well-served to go back and look at the history of enterprise. There are so many companies and a lot of the things that we’ll talk about a little bit later are tactics that enterprise companies have been doing forever. It’s interesting this in prepping for this talk with you, I read all of your, not all, but a lot of your blog posts since I think 2006, and you were maybe the first marketing/enterprise blogger of all time. I don’t think you get credit for that.

Dave Kellogg:

That’s interesting. I never thought of it that way, but it’s true. I mean, especially the early days, the blog was a little more unfocused. So I was blogging about a lot of things, but marketing was definitely coming up and at the time, yeah, I can’t remember that far back, but there certainly wasn’t a lot of blogging going on in the enterprise software, no. Because as you point out enterprise, it goes in and out of fashion, right? And I think it’s in fashion now.

Tom Wentworth:

I think it’s very much in fashion. It’s funny because just like you I was a math major, I was a tech guy, my journey to marketing was much later in my career and I remember explicitly panicking trying to figure out what it meant to be a CMO and I came across a lot of your content. It’s still evergreen where it’s timeless, right? A lot of the advice you had for product marketing and for demand gen and for brand. So I remember going back and looking at your content and Mike Volpe from HubSpot and others, so there’s so much great content there. We should figure out a way to get that content. There are so many marketers that benefit from doing what I did, I guess. So thanks for that.

Dave Kellogg:

Yeah, thanks. I’ve been seriously thinking, we could talk about this later, but I’m seriously thinking about actually trying to write a book about it. Because I mean, it’s, I can’t remember how many pages I have, but it’s probably 10 bucks or more worth of content out there, right? So I could just distill it, repackage it and try and get something out there. Because I do believe it’s one of the most misunderstood departments. I don’t know if I’ve ever blogged about this story, I think I did once. But scoping nearly at The Sun 10-year anniversary party. I want to thank engineering for building their products, customer support for servicing our customers, [inaudible 00:10:53] for selling and marketing for whatever it is they do. It really reflects a lot of attitudes about marketing.

Tom Wentworth:

It’s funny. So one of the first posts that you did way back in 2006 was, I think it was called… You were talking about defining the role of marketing and you said way back then, and you actually followed it up with a blog post recently, but I wanted to give you credit. In your recent blog post, you said it was the first time you’d actually talked about it. Well, no, you actually talked about it 2006, which is marketing exists to make sales easier. And I’ve heard that said a lot lately. It’s such an eloquent and still accurate and maybe always accurate definition, but I don’t think that a lot of marketers see their job that way.

Dave Kellogg:

No, a lot of sales people don’t see it that way either. I mean, so I picked that one up and that was funny. Once in a blue moon, I write a post so long ago, I forgot I wrote it and I go write a new one and then I can find the old one and I’m like, “Hell, I’ll just put it up anyway.” As kind of a fresh angle on it. But, I do remember that. By the way back in the day, I would say the one difference is I didn’t understand headline to titles because SEO wasn’t as big a thing in 2006 or whatever, right? So I would write more clever or catchy titles, but not very SEOble titles. So that’s sometimes why I can’t even find my posts because I’ll search for marketing exists to make sales easier and not find it.

Tom Wentworth:

I think you wrote a lot of those posts before Google. So I’ll give that a little bit of slack there.

Dave Kellogg:

It’s a good point. I didn’t anticipate PageRank, yeah. So that line, I mean, I’ll tell you where I got that line because it was from another interesting guy. I was a director of product marketing probably at Ingres in the late ’80s. And we had had five marketing VPs in two years, one of those revolving door jobs and they brought in this guy from Oracle named Chris Greendale, and he was the one I stole that from him and I give him full credit. He just stood up and said, “Why does marketing exists?” And he goes, “Marketing exists to make sales easier.” And every CMO has a speech about why marketing exists and what the mission is, but that’s just super resonated with me. And then later on in my next job, this one, I blogged on as well, but the VP of Biz Dev made t-shirts that said, “Code, sell or get out of the way.” And then he’d got and walked over to marketing he’s like, “What do you guys do again? You don’t code, you don’t sell.”

Dave Kellogg:

The third way I look at it is if you make a startup, if you only had 10 people to start up, you might not have a marketing person, right? You might have a bunch of developers, salesperson too and that’s it, right? The two engines of the plane are sales and development and the first principles derivation of marketing is that you want to make sales more productive. I mean that little, I call it a reduction of statement. I mean, that has launched into many arguments, not only with fellow marketing people, which is maybe anticipateable, but also salespeople. I’ve had sales VPs say, “That’s wrong.” And say, “Well, I’m saying that we exist to make your job easier. How could you disagree with that?” And I think the number one misconception about that statement is that it relegates marketing to a super tactical role. And that’s not. If you see that, that’s you projecting it, that’s not me saying it, right?

Tom Wentworth:

Yeah.

Dave Kellogg:

It doesn’t say that. You can make sales easier by segmentation, by product design, right? There are super strategic ways of making it easier to sell the product. It doesn’t have to be just fill the lead box.

Tom Wentworth:

Yeah. Certainly building a global brand. It’s easy to sell Salesforce if everyone in the world knows about Salesforce, right?

Dave Kellogg:

Absolutely, yeah. Totally. There’s a thousand different ways of marketing can make sales easier and a good marketer will get that statement and understand it. And a bad one will interpret it to narrow, not a bad one, but let’s say a less holistic one will interpret it too narrowly.

Tom Wentworth:

What are some other answers people give you? So if you ask somebody what’s the role of marketing in your current role, what do people say other than making sales easier?

Dave Kellogg:

Yeah. I don’t even know. To be honest, it’s not a question I ask people that much because I felt like somebody handed me the answer a long time ago. I don’t know. Every once in a while I’ll see it, like I’ll see a mission statement from marketing department and frankly, I mean, I think one of the reasons of good of marketing is I don’t like marketing, right? The great irony of Google is they hated advertising and now they’re the [inaudible 00:15:19] advertising company.

Tom Wentworth:

I hate it too.

Dave Kellogg:

Right. So we hate and what we hate is bad marketing. So most of the time when I asked marketing what their job is, I either get like, “Hey, we’re here to help make it easier to sell.” Great. Or I get what I call gobbledygook, and I just turn off and I think this actually makes me a good marketer like I said, because when I see gobbledygook, I just turn off. I stop reading, I stop processing, like I get nothing from it. And I assume other people are a little bit the same way. I don’t want to read a bad white paper, I’ll read a good white paper, right? Dave overview long copy sells. I’m a big believer, right? It’s another misconception, right?

Dave Kellogg:

Got to write short copy because people aren’t interested or people are bored. This is a high consideration purchase, right? But, I don’t know. I’m a fly fishing nut, if I’m going to buy a fly rod, I might spend an hour researching it, right? I want to read a lot of long copy because it’s something I care a lot about. If I’m buying a $200,000 piece of software to bet a big part of my job, I’m interested. I’m not going to read bad copy, but I’ll read long good copy, right? I’m a little bit off your question there, but to me, it’s the same thing, which is, marketers when describing their mission should be terse and not sound like it was written by a PR agency.

Tom Wentworth:

And do all those things out your peril. Another article you wrote that I love back again in 2006, pre-Google, the sad state of software marketing. So you talked about marketing getting squeezed and at the time product marketing, sorry, product managers infringing on product marketing, CS owning more, the customer relationship, salespeople relegating marketing to the events and swag people. I think you identified all the way back then that marketing needed to reinvent itself and at some point it happened. You’ve written extensively about marketing over the years. At some point it feels like something changed and I think it’s the way you captured it in this post about the sad state, like you said, marketing evolved and I think marketing did evolve. And how have you seen marketing change over the years as you’ve been writing about marketing?

Dave Kellogg:

Yeah. Look, it’s a great question because there are a couple of big changes. So first, I’m a little bit old school, I guess. I mean, I want to view marketing using the Theodore Levitt definition, which is the entire company seen for the point of view of the customer, right? So this is the mankind is my business marketing, like churns my problem, everything’s my problem. Mankind is my business. Everything in the company is my business because I am looking at the company from the point of view of the customer. So I have a very broad definition of marketing personally and just to talk about how it’s changed over the years, when I started in this, in enterprise software, my first product marketing job today you would describe it as half product marketing, half product management and literally at some point we restructured the department and it was outbound product marketing and inbound product marketing. I mean, product management is a term didn’t exist, it wasn’t a thing, right?

Dave Kellogg:

So it used to be back in the day that product marketing did all of the outbound stuff, sales tool creation, messaging, positioning, analyst relations, yada, yada, and all the inbound stuff was working with R&D on the product speck and the product plan. And that was a great time to be in product marketing and look, the reality was it was really hard to find somebody who was good at both, right? I was reasonably good at both. I was better outbound and inbound, and by the way, I did both. I ran all inbound for a while and I ran all outbound for a while and I ran inbound and outbound for one product, right? So I did all three permutations, but it was just too hard to find people good at both. I think that’s my personal opinion.

Dave Kellogg:

What drove the evolution? There just wondering if humans who were good at those two very different jobs so the job split. So basically the dawn of product management really hollowed out product marketing. I remember one time I interviewed at Oracle at the time of Charles Phillips was running Oracle and I interviewed with him for a job and I had met him at a prior life. So I kind of knew him, it was a little bit casual and at some point the title was CMO of a something or other. And I go, “You’re not looking for CMO, you’re looking for a head brochure writer as far as I can tell. It’s like literally this is chief brochure officer, I’m not interested in doing that and I think you’re going to have trouble attracting a good candidate.” Because sometimes you’ve hollowed the jelly out of the donut, right? Like my jelly donut has got no jelly in it, it’s got a hole and you took all the fun parts out of the job.

Dave Kellogg:

I do think there’ve been a number of trends that have changed marketing, some for the worst. Look, I think companies are better off for the rise of product management. I personally believe you should build a model, which I did at BusinessObjects where product marketing still had a role. Product management was the center of the hub but product marketing was at least a spoke into product management for, “Hey, we need to make this thing launchable, this thing needs to tell a story.” If you advance an inch across 12 fronts, I got nothing to tell anybody. Can we please be strategic about how we product plan? Right?

Dave Kellogg:

Because the risk and product management, in my opinion, I know this is a marketing blog, but the risk in product management is exactly that, which is you get everybody in the room, everybody wants something else and you advance one centimeter per release on 12 different axes and that is product marketing hell because there’s nothing to talk about. So I think the rise of product management was one thing that kind of disempowered marketing at the time. I think, what was the other one? Let me just think. I mean that was big. That was probably the biggest one. Because it started to make marketing more tactical.

Tom Wentworth:

Exactly.

Dave Kellogg:

Right? Because the big strategic lever was product, right? I can’t remember how customer success started to squeeze. But I guess it’s-

Tom Wentworth:

You talked about advisory boards and all the things we would all run back in the day and that it took those away from us too.

Dave Kellogg:

Yeah. It’s true. I mean, look, at some companies, the product marketing job really is back to that brochure writing job. I always like to look at things backwards. So part of my view on this issue was, why would a customer ever want to meet with me? Right? Because they’re like, “Well, you should go meet with customers.” I love meeting with customers, it’s part of my career tech support. But why would a customer want to meet with me if I’m not driving product strategy, right? If I’m just chief brochure officer, why do they want to talk to me again? Right?

Dave Kellogg:

So I’ve always felt that if you want your product marketers to talk to customers, design a product marketing job where customers want to talk to them where they say, “What do you do here?” And they say, “I just write brochures.” That’s not good. But if I run the customer advisory board to your point, right? Or if I work on product strategy, then all of a sudden it’s more interesting.

Tom Wentworth:

So true.

Dave Kellogg:

By the way customer surveys. Another thing that marketing used to do that now customer success would do, right? A lot of this stuff just got, you reminded me of the post, but you kind of breaking the bones off a chicken, right?

Tom Wentworth:

Yeah. And interestingly, you talked about this way back in the day, but what you didn’t write about a lot in the early days was demand gen. And obviously one of the biggest shifts that we’ve seen in marketing is just the seat at the revenue table concept that Marketo and HubSpot used to talk about a lot. And over time, you switched pretty aggressively to talking about how important that is. So, what’s your take on how did that transformation happen? And what was the shift or what caused the shift to that big change? That’s maybe the biggest change in marketing throughout enterprise marketing history, right?

Dave Kellogg:

Yeah, absolutely. I’ll give you one other answer to the last question then I’m going to come back to that one. Sales productivity, another thing that got broken off the chicken.

Tom Wentworth:

Yeah, totally.

Dave Kellogg:

Right? Back in the day, your job was sales training, sales enablement, building sales tool.

Tom Wentworth:

Totally.

Dave Kellogg:

And again, I think companies are for the better to have these things. I’m a huge believer in separate sales enablement now, but it’s been a huge change in the product marketing job. And to a certain extent, I think what it means for product marketing today is, you need to be very much in control of the message and you need to be super collaborative with all these people who have parts of what used to be your job. You want to be in touch with customer success on surveying to make sure they’re running a good survey and getting the data you need. You want to be bound at the hip with sales productivity and sales enablement, right? You want to be bound at the hip with product management. So I think in terms of how the job has changed, it’s much more influence and collaboration rather than jar control. And that’s okay. You can still be successful at it, it’s still an important role, but the approach is very different.

Tom Wentworth:

Actually, you said it perfectly. Before you get to my question, I’m going to give you some credit for a quote you said. The great marketer, and this is a post about product marketing. So I think you meant the product marketer. The great product marketer imposes simplicity on the market. The successful product marketer takes a complex gray world and transforms it into a simple black and white one. If you don’t have role level locking, shout out to Ingres, right? You’re screwed. And that definition still, I think stands. And that’s something a product manager can’t do. A product manager is going to be locked in the world of agile and backlog and a product marketer who can do that is spectacular.

Dave Kellogg:

No, thanks for reminding me that one. I love that quote because first a lot of marketers forget to impose simplicity, right? And almost no one else, but marketing is going to say, “We need to impose simplicity.” Because when you try to impose simplicity what happens? Everybody tells you you’re wrong. “Oh, you forgot this. You’re not aware that. Or what about this?” Right? And what they’re doing is basically injecting complexity back in, right? So I think the great marketer imposes simplicity in a complex world and you do it in such a way that you’re still credible, right? You can’t be, I mean, basically simple but not simplistic. And that’s the magic, that’s the really hard part. And it’s true. Only product marketing will do that because almost everybody else unconsciously, like if you just, what is it? A camel is a horse designed by committee. But if you build your message by committee, it’s going to be complex as heck. It will not leave anything out. Everyone will be happy, but that’s no way to do marketing.

Tom Wentworth:

And that’s a product managers job. You can tell me the hundred things that your new products going to do, but a great product manager who can boil that down into a sentence without using the word and in it, is brilliantly good. And I think that is what new product marketing is going to be or needs to be.

Dave Kellogg:

Yeah, I agree. That’s a good point.

Tom Wentworth:

Back to the original question, actually you said that in the early days, the path of the CMO was through product marketing. But because of this rise of demand gen and that big change, you sort of changed your tune on that. So how have you seen that shift happening?

Dave Kellogg:

Well, look, the job has changed. I often say that I think the job has changed the most in the last 25 years of the c-suite has been the CMO. In my mind, without question. There’s a couple of new jobs, I mean, customer success is new, it hasn’t changed. It’s just a new thing. Tech ops, dev ops, that’s new then those aren’t always CC jobs, but the one that’s changed the most is marketing because back in the day it was really strategy, positioning, analyst, relations, maybe some branding and communications that was kind of the pecking order and generally, I hire some good demand gen people to make sure we got leads, right? It was kind of a, “Oh yeah, don’t forget field marketing, don’t forget to demand gen.”

Dave Kellogg:

And part of that, frankly was, I mean, look, I’m going to go back in ancient history, but nobody knew what the pipeline was, right? You didn’t have Salesforce, you didn’t have SFA, right? The pipeline was the spreadsheet the VP of sales was tracking. I mean, literally when I was at Versant with the guy who later went on to run Verity, he was our VP of sales and that was the first time I ever heard the 3X coverage ratio, by the way, it was early 1990s but it was 3X what?

Tom Wentworth:

Another myth that’s lasted all these years. The three, why isn’t it 3.1 or 2.9? No, it’s three.

Dave Kellogg:

Yeah, absolutely. Self-fulfilling prophecy in my mind. BUt you couldn’t track all this stuff. To me, it’s the systems. I mean, the way I think of this and I think it’s an interesting way to look at it is, once the systems came along to make questions answerable, boards started to know what questions were answerable. So they started asking them and if you couldn’t answer them, it was a problem. Like they’d say, “What’s your weekly conversion rate or what’s your stage weighted expected value?” Right? Or, “What’s the manager level forecast versus a rep level forecast?” Or, “What’s the four quarter rolling forecast coverage or what’s your stage to close rate?” Right?

Dave Kellogg:

Once you know those questions are answerable by working with other companies, then all of a sudden, I mean, this to me is why sales ops exists, because at one too many board meetings they asked the VP of sales. He go, “I don’t know.” He or she, usually he at that time, he or she would go, “I don’t know.” They’d ask finance. Finance is like, “Hey, I’m too busy doing the budget, I can’t do sales analytics.” And then boom, you had what is effectively a dedicated FP&A person for sales. I mean, in many ways, if you look at sales ops and FP&A, some companies have a job called sales FP&A, it’s the same person, it’s just two different levels [crosstalk 00:28:53].

Tom Wentworth:

Yeah, we have that. Yeah, we have sales and marketing FP&A.

Dave Kellogg:

And that person could interview and do fine at a sales ops job at almost any other company, right? Because it’s the same beast. So how did I get off on that? Oh, we talked about accountability. So what happened is all this stuff got more measure, more accountable. In my mind, marketing got increasingly accountable for building pipeline. I mean, back in the day, sales VPs were very much of the, “Sales needs to get their own leads, sales needs to prospect.” And I always felt it was like my parents saying they had to walk uphill both ways to school. And it was like this character building thing. Like, “I think all sales reps should prospect, keep the saw sharp.” And I was raised in that environment so that also made you not super pipeline sensitive, because like, “Hey, pipeline sales is problem, they’re supposed to go generate it, they’re supposed to spend one hour every morning dialing for dollars or whatever.”

Dave Kellogg:

And then some smart person figured out. And really the first time I read about this was probably about Jason Lemkin and Aaron Ross was first time I saw the book where they basically argued for the industrialization of sales. That these are all actually separate things. Like really good at processing inbound is actually very good for processing outbound, which is, not very good, but very different for processing outbound, which is very different from selling mid-market, which is very different from selling enterprise. And it was kind of the, I’ll call it the industrialization of sales that led all this to the point where a lot of companies, I work with marketing generates damn near 100% of the pipeline. And I think that’s a good thing.

Dave Kellogg:

I mean, don’t we want salespeople closing deals? Why do I want every sales person spending an hour a day prospecting? Okay. Maybe in a named account model where I have 10 accounts or something, I get it. But if you’re a selling 50 to 100K ASP SaaS package horizontally, why not? Why not build a machine in front of them to hand it over. And by the way, I think marketing got ahead of sales on building that machine because I think a lot of the people in charge of enterprise sales were more artisanal sales reps, they were big deal people, really good at relationship.

Dave Kellogg:

So I think the machineffocation of sales, I don’t know in many ways I felt it was harder on old school sales VPs, because that was just not how they rolled, right? Give them a velocity model, conversion rates, stage aging, reporting, it’s all a little too much for some of them to handle. Whereas for whatever reason, I felt at least certainly demand gen oriented marketers were much more, “Hey, this is a machine, we’ve got to get this many names, this many leads, this spending MQLs.” And SLAS for how long it takes to get processed and all that kind of thinking.

Dave Kellogg:

I mean, the long answer to your question is, or the short answer is that the role has changed dramatically in that regard. Demand gen went from something really tactical almost an afterthought, in my mind to where it’s very… I mean, look, I asked people when they say, “I need a CMO.” I say, “There are three pillars, you get to tick two.” Right? Product marketing, communications and demand gen. And nobody grew up in all three. Most people grew up in one of those pillars. Sometimes they may have grown up in two of them. Nobody’s grown up in all three and almost no one is great at all three. So you’re going to find a candidate who has some profile, where two are strong and one is weak. In my mind, that’s what you should look for. And now you have to pick which two. And a lot of times today, they’ll pick demand gen and brand and they’ll actually move product marketing back to product, right? So that job got reunified, but under a different VP.

Tom Wentworth:

Yeah. I’ve worked in both. So I’ve run product marketing a bunch of times. I’m good for the record at demand gen and product marketing. Brand for me, or comms for me, I’ve got a higher around that, which I’ve done. Because I’m a math guy and I think you’re a math guy do. So demand gen stuff for me, conversion and funnel. I think the big change is really, the magic happens when you have a team of reps who can do all the things that you talked about, the old school enterprise reps who are unbelievable at the last 30% of an opportunity, but if marketing can take away the middle part that they weren’t good at it, they don’t want to deal with, that’s where I think the magic happens.

Dave Kellogg:

Absolutely. If we could industrialize that, we can add so much value. And basically the way I say it now, it took me a long time. I mean, this actually touches indirectly on, and I don’t know where you stand on this issue where SDR should work because in a lot of companies that’s polarizing and in my opinion more often than not, I’ve seen old school VPs of sales beg to have the SDRs work for them. You give them the SDRs and then they ignore them because they’re not process oriented, it was just a power play. It’s like, you don’t care what the SDR is, you’re not hip deep in the operations, you just hired somebody to run it and I’d rather have it over on the marketing side.

Dave Kellogg:

So my personal belief is that I call marketing these stage two manufacturing facility, stage two opportunity in sales, the stage two closing facility and I’ve got to say target account marketing, ABM, whatever you want to call it, [inaudible 00:34:00] account models aside, because that is a different world. Like MarkLogic, we had one rep who had NSA, right? You’re not going to feed that person, literally those are one accounts. You’re not going to feed them through the pipeline and we might get some stuff, but they’re going to have to walk the halls and go find people. I think the job has changed enormously and, I mean your two pillars, it’s a great set of pillars. And yet another proof point that all of us. I mean, I would say that mine is our product marketing and comms. To be honest-

Tom Wentworth:

Interesting.

Dave Kellogg:

…I love comms. I’m not that strong in demand gen. I like the numbers though and one of my best demands and people I work with and my little family of companies right now, it was his prior job was high school math teacher.

Tom Wentworth:

Interesting.

Dave Kellogg:

So it’s a little validation.

Tom Wentworth:

A little bit of regression goes a long way.

Dave Kellogg:

Yeah.

Tom Wentworth:

It’s interesting on the math topic like you and I is, I was a math CS major in college and never took a marketing class in my life but one of the things that when I was coming into marketing, you wrote a lot about funnels and a lot of people were able to talk about, you should have a funnel, but no one talked about the math behind it. And recently you wrote what I think is the best articulation of what very few marketers actually do in the real world, which is this idea of an inverted demand gen funnel.

Dave Kellogg:

[inaudible 00:35:21].

Tom Wentworth:

Like start backwards from an outcome like a new deal and start to look at in each step, how things are working and back all the way through to telling the CFO what you should be spending every quarter and you’re thinking on how you got to time into it and how you’ve got to segment. It’s really interesting thinking. So I guess just one plug for your inverted, maybe plug your inverted marketing funnel thinking, but two, do you find people are doing that? Because I find that even though it’s the obvious thing to do, people still aren’t.

Dave Kellogg:

I think people are doing it. I think more and more you’re seeing it. It is one of those things that everyone’s kind of like, “Yeah, I need to get around to doing that but meantime I had 800K in demand gen last quarter, revenues grown by 25%, so I need, whatever a billion next quarter.” So the answer is I think some people do it. I mean, look, if you have a marketing ops person, I mean, this is the other way of saying it. If you have a marketing ops person and they’re not doing it, then I’ve got a big question. So, are you big enough? Are you quant enough in your marketing that you have a dedicated marketing ops person? And by the way, this is a new finding for me, but I’m increasingly arguing that companies should have integrated sales and marketing ops just to avoid model wars, just [crosstalk 00:36:41]-

Tom Wentworth:

To work for who? Where do they report to?

Dave Kellogg:

Well to me, I mean, this is a little bit out of the box, but I do double solid line. They go to your staff meeting, they go to my staff meeting, they go to both our staff meetings, they’re on both our teams, they go to both our off sites, like they feel like they’re on both teams but that requires a high degree of collaboration to the sales VP and marketing VP, right? Because they’re in more and more work.

Tom Wentworth:

I agree, but I actually think I’d put it under the CFO. I ever wrote a blog post about that once. Is the ultimate arbitrary of church and state or having… You put it in the CFO because the CFO just wants the truth, marketing and sales data can have bias. So I totally agree, a drop in the [inaudible 00:37:19].

Dave Kellogg:

That’s funny. You’re more interesting individual than I. Because I worry if they go on to finance, they’re going to end up doing too much FP&A and budget work and I want them a hundred percent. I’d feel more comfortable if they work for sales or by the way I think-

Tom Wentworth:

Fair enough.

Dave Kellogg:

…to me, it’s actually a good test of the sales marketing relationship because in reality if those people get along. If they buy into the notion that we could have one-offs person building our models, why should I build an inverted funnel model in one spreadsheet, you build a closed model in another spreadsheet?

Tom Wentworth:

Exactly.

Dave Kellogg:

I got to paste numbers and send them over email, right? To link our two models together, that’s crazy. We should have one share model that tells us, well, first it tells us how much bookies capacity you have based on your hiring and then it tells me how much pipeline I need to generate because maybe I have to generate 70% of the pipeline. It tells me how much demand gen I need to do that, it tells me how many SDRs we need to hire. This is something I haven’t blogged about, but if you’re running a heavily inbound model, you need to make sure you have enough SDR capacity to process all that stuff. And I think that’s it. SDRs, demand gen, yeah. So one model out putting all those. And I think the test on the sales marketing relationship, if they’re really working well together, they should just be like flip a coin. I don’t care who they work for. We need one model. That’s what matters. And if they work for me, they’re going to your staff meeting and if they work for you, they’re coming to my staff meeting but they know they work for both of us and we’re going to lock elbows and force that.

Dave Kellogg:

I like your idea theoretically, by the way, I have seen people do… They’ve go one level broader and do go to market ops. They take the whole thing, consulting, everything. And then that usually ends up either under a COO or under finance but I’m just a little wary of the finance side but it all depends on the company and it all depends… Look, my operating assumption is finance is understaffed so those people get pulled into core finance. Like, “I’m supposed to be doing the [inaudible 00:39:14].” So if it’s adequately staffed and they can actually do their job then great. But if-

Tom Wentworth:

I never had the guts to do it. So it was just in a PowerPoint slide once, but I did build a slide that’s had operations together, unified and I actually think back to how I got into marketing, if the operations role, which is a new role, that role didn’t exist until Eloqua and others forced it. That’s the role I would have gotten into. I would have loved marketing operations as a math nerd coming out of college.

Dave Kellogg:

No, totally agree. I can’t remember how we got on that. I know we broadly were talking about changes in marketing, all the [crosstalk 00:39:52].

Tom Wentworth:

Just the role of math plays in marketing. I think it’s just the fact that we now need to have a skillset in marketing that… And it’s why it’s so hard. You once said that marketers, once said, you said recently in the opener that you wrote the forward for the [inaudible 00:40:06] book, shout out to [inaudible 00:40:07] good friends of Recorded Future. Marketers need to be ambidextrous and I think that’s true. It’s also really hard, but it’s totally true.

Dave Kellogg:

No, I agree. That’s a great book. And the argument of that book in that forward, the fundamental argument is, being strong operationally is the ante that lets you be strategic, right? Because if you want to be strategic, but your operations are a mess, you’re going to get a bullet, right? There’s no way in this day and age with all the accountability around pipeline and conversion rates and cost per sale and CAC and all that stuff, if you’re not tied operationally, you don’t last. So for strategic marketers, my advice is you need to either be really good at ops or get somebody to help you who is really good at ops because ops is the [inaudible 00:40:51] and or ops is table stakes, whatever you want to call it. But if ops isn’t working, nobody cares what you say about strategy in my opinion.

Dave Kellogg:

The pipeline’s empty, I don’t really care anything about strategy right now. Go fill the pipeline then we can talk about strategy. I think in the general term we’ve be talking about as the rise of demand gen and really the rise of marketing accountability for pipeline. There’s a post you haven’t mentioned, which I personally love. And sometimes the ones I like the best are not the ones the world likes the best, but it’s the one where, it’s the evolution of marketing is measured by, “Hey marketing, go do blank.” And I love that one because it’s basically, “Hey marketing, go get leads. Oh, sorry, go get opportunities. Actually go get pipeline. Oh, get pipeline that closes. Oh, get pipeline that closes and renews.” Right? Which is effectively now you’re in the ICP business, right? You’re literally talking about making sales easier, if you can figure out that ideal customer profile, boom! That’s a super strategic way to do that.

Tom Wentworth:

Yeah. Which I find and I won’t get into this, but my pet peeve, I have two pet peeves. One is ABM and ABM is how we used to market before we had marketing automation tools. Every marketer at Oracle or BusinessObjects we had to do ABM. We didn’t have ways to reach thousands of people. So that’s a pet peeve one and also in a math topic, pet peeve two for me is lead scoring. Lead scoring is the dumbest way to prioritize activity. These companies just give arbitrary points to things. Like when I look at leads, again, mathematician familiar with things like linear regression, just do a regression on your data, don’t just assign random points, it’s worse than having the lead scoring at all.

Dave Kellogg:

Because I was just going to say, if you look at the problem the right way as you do, do our A leads convert any better than our B leads, any better than our C leads and if not, why are they ABC? And so many people forget to ask that question because they get axle wrapped on the point mechanism, right? And by the way, as I’m sure you’d know, the point mechanisms could be incredibly complicated. This is many points for white paper, this is many for a webinar. [inaudible 00:42:55] overtime-

Tom Wentworth:

Why eight points, or nine points or six points? It’s the dumbest thing. I once did, that’s real AB test. So leads over the reps didn’t. One, we told them they were all MQLs, ones were scored with our point-based scoring model and ones were just random. The random leads outperformed statistically significant the scored leads, which is the minute I killed old school lead points.

Dave Kellogg:

Lead scoring system.

Tom Wentworth:

We can move on from the topic.

Dave Kellogg:

Good for you. I think lead scoring it’s a… What was the other one? Oh, the other one that drove me crazy was the decaying points. Just to make the math even harder, right? You should get 10 points for a white paper, but every week you lose a point because it was a week ago.

Tom Wentworth:

Exactly.

Dave Kellogg:

And it’s just like, “Okay, let’s make the calculation impossible.” And then forget to do a regression and then we’re just counting, as I say, we’re counting angels on pinheads like we’re not counting anything. You should [inaudible 00:43:48] accounting but…

Tom Wentworth:

There’s few things that get me more angry when I see a marketing automation vendor tell you, you can do lead scoring by assigning points. Just stop it. Let’s not do that anymore. All right. Not [inaudible 00:43:57].

Dave Kellogg:

Yeah. I was friends with the CEO of [inaudible 00:44:00], and they tried. He was a math guy too. He was a Berkeley math guy and CS but as you know that company kind of flamed out, ultimately it didn’t work. I mean-

Tom Wentworth:

People will figure it out. We’ve made advancements and a lot of the first gen predictive lead scoring tools didn’t work, but we will get there because this is a problem math can solve.

Dave Kellogg:

I mean, look, the other problem solves around this particular rat hole, not rat hole, but topic area. This could be a rat hole if we’re not careful.

Tom Wentworth:

Pet peeves.

Dave Kellogg:

Pet peeves, there we go. Because it’s one of mine too. I mean, we’re definitely cut from the same cloth because ABM is definitely one of mine and then lead scoring, not thought about correctly and most people don’t. And by the way, lead scoring is usually the underpinning for determining if something is an MQL, right? So it’s not innocuous, right? Because that’s a big moment when you decide something’s an MQL but the other thing about lead scoring, what the heck was it? Oh darn! It was, we talked about [inaudible 00:44:58], we talked declining points, oh shit, I can’t remember. It was… Oh, I had one more thought. Lead scoring, lead scoring, why do I hate lead scoring? People that do the regression. I can’t remember right now. Oh, I know. Thank you. I got it. Just really gives up.

Dave Kellogg:

We’re not selling Dave Kellogg a toothbrush, right? We’re not selling a single person one thing and I can watch it be like, if there’s 17 different people from four different departments contacted you one, one, to webinar to download a white paper. I mean, it’s a hard problem and I think a lot of marketing metrics assume two things that are not true. One that it’s linear and two, that it’s one person. And I think you would probably vertically agree that it’s definitely not linear and it’s definitely not one person.

Tom Wentworth:

No. Yes, so thank you for that. I’m glad you agree. I would have entered this conversation if you disagree by the way. So you had a great answer.

Dave Kellogg:

I guess you get to continue then.

Tom Wentworth:

I got one more question for you and I got some quotes I want to say just because they’re fantastic. You shift in your career, math nerd to BusinessObjects, eventually to CEO and I’ve thought about it once in a while and I don’t know that I have the guts to go do what you did, but how did you do it? Because I think a lot of marketers want to do it, but it’s actually really hard to make that shift. How did you make that shift?

Dave Kellogg:

First I do think it’s very hard. I think there’s two ways to do it, frankly. One is just to found your own company-

Tom Wentworth:

Touche.

Dave Kellogg:

…it’s probably the easier way to do it to be honest because getting recruited into it, super hard and I could tell you, I was CMO of BusinessObjects as we grew from 30 million to a billion and I didn’t get CEO calls until we were 500 million at least. So to me at some point, you had to be a big time CMO to even get a call from somebody. And I remember one time, I love this story. I went on a call, I meet this recruiter, she’s a high-end boutique recruiter and we’re having lunch, we’re talking about the job in the million and she looks at me and goes, “You are not a CEO, you are a CMO.” I’m like, “Of course, I’m a CMO.” I’m a CMO of a $500 million company. What are you telling me? Is this something that is fortune telling?”

Dave Kellogg:

It’s hard because people… And particularly the time, I think it’s a little easier now but when you interview for CEO jobs as a CMO, it’s, “Have you ever had a P&L?” No. “Have you ever run finance?” No. “Have you ever run HR?” No. “Have you ever run sales?” No. Right? So at some point it’s like, why did you call me to go… Because you just looked at my CV and see I never did those things. You can look at my CV and tell me I’m a CMO. I know I’m a CMO. So in my mind it ends up being a barter. I mean, I think, there’s two things you need to do.

Dave Kellogg:

One, while you are a CMO embrace the whole business. I mean, one of my prouder moments was sometime at BusinessObjects, some people were sick, somebody wasn’t in and like, “Hey, Dave, there’s a big shareholder on an investor relations call can you come in and handle the call? Because we got nobody.” I’m like, “Fine, I’ll meet with the guy.” And I’m meeting with the person, he’s asking about our numbers and our ratios and our growth rates and blah, blah, blah and I’m answering all the questions. And about halfway through the meeting, the guy goes, “Are you CMO or COO?” And that was like a big compliment in my mind. I was like, “Thank you. Yeah, I’m CMO, and yes I know all the numbers because I understand the business.” And I’m a believer that marketing should understand the whole business.

Dave Kellogg:

I think part of it is while you are CMO and on the e-staff, embrace what that is, right? One of my bosses always told me, “Dave, you have two jobs. One, is to run marketing for me and the other is to help me run the company.” Right? And I always think that all CMOs have not one job, right? If you just give yourself that first job running marketing, you’re kind of missing. Remember the second job, you’re also part of the team running the company and that gives you a pretty broad remit. My basic line is, there’s always a difference between getting a job and then being able to do it. I had some friends, particularly in sales who were great at getting jobs, but they would just fail. This one lady I knew was just fantastic at getting jobs, but she was not actually nowhere near as good at preparing herself to do them so my whole thing was okay, let’s prepare ourselves to do the job and then go get the job.

Dave Kellogg:

So step one, prepare. And then step two, how do you get it? In my opinion, at least when I looked, first, I didn’t see the pick of the litter because I was a flawed candidate because I hadn’t run a P&L, I hadn’t done this, I hadn’t done that. So it ends up being a horse trade. It was like, “Okay, you haven’t run a P&L, but…” I remember one time they were like, “Have you ever run a forecast call?” I’m like, “No, but I’ve been to 450 of them over the last nine years.” You think something might have rubbed off. It was a good answer, it turned out that that worked, but it’s like, yeah. I embrace the process. I don’t go to the forecast call and I’m not on email, right? I’m paying attention. So getting myself ready.

Dave Kellogg:

And then I’m horse trading basically. So the ones that I would see would trade domain expertise for lack of functional expertise. It was like, “Oh, it’s a company that sells to marketing.” Or, “Oh, it’s a company in BI and analytics.” Right? And that became the rule. It was a horse trade between what I could bring and what I was missing. And that’s how you get the job in my mind. You got to prepare yourself, you have to market or position myself. You need to position yourself as an executive who comes from a marketing background who understands the whole business and then you need to be ready, either found your own company, great. Or be ready for this horse trade where they’re going to say, “Well, you’ve never done this, you’ve never done that and I have concerns.” And you need to have good answers to those questions.

Tom Wentworth:

I think often the only path for that to happen is for a CMO to get offered a CEO job at a terrible company that forever tarnishes your reputation. Would you advise if somebody were to go through it and be lucky enough to get offered a CEO or president role, but at a company that clearly just wasn’t going to be successful, is that a path that you’d recommend people consider?

Dave Kellogg:

It is a fantastic question in my mind, because I think in Silicon Valley often we’re faced with what I call Groucho Marx problems, right? I wouldn’t want to be a member of any club that would admit me. I wouldn’t want to be CEO of any company that would hire me and that happens a lot. It happens to CMO jobs as well, right? So you have to be super sensitive to Groucho Marx problems and you are absolutely correct that if you take that job and that thing fails, you’ve burned your resume and if I were advising you, I’d be like, “You need to go cleanse yourself, go back to a big vendor and reposition yourself as failed CEO guy and literally go cleanse yourself. You need to do two, three years of the penalty box, being the CMO again.” Because if you get two or three of those in a row, then you’re permanently repositioned. Oh, you’re a failed startup guy and then you’re done, right? I do think Silicon Valley is forgiving to the extent that you get one mess up, but you can’t get multiple mess ups. But-

Tom Wentworth:

Then your path is really just, your only path to CEO is the company you start.

Dave Kellogg:

Yeah. And then it’s going to be hard to raise money because if you have two or three failed ones. I did a post on this as well, which is another one that I like that people don’t, it’s called the red badge of courage, failure in Silicon Valley. It’s not about marketing, but it’s about failure, right? And Silicon Valley will view a failure as a red badge of courage, but don’t get two and don’t get two in a row. So you have to manage it closely. And here’s the real thing. I mean, you touched on the point. If the company can’t be saved because what I was going to say was, you actually end up the only people will hire you will be broken start-ups and you end up a broken startup guy.

Dave Kellogg:

And then some of these things can’t be saved. I interviewed for a CEO job recently at a startup, love the founder, love the category, I thought there was a cap table problem, which when I was younger, I couldn’t have recognized, but there was a problem with the cap table in my mind that doomed the company. So I said, “No.” In this particular case, the CEO got bounced and there was a big blow up six months later. So I called it right. It was like, “This thing can’t be saved. I love you, I love your company, but some of the worst mistakes you could make as a founder early on is who you let on your cap table and what way, and you’ve lost control of your company and there’s nothing I can do to fix that. So, sorry. There’s nothing I can do.” And having the wisdom to be able to recognize that took me a long time to figure out.

Dave Kellogg:

So I think the short answer to me and I’m going to give you a sophisticated answer to this is, it’s all about what you need to prove to yourself, right? I could have made more money if I wanted, I turned down CMO at VMware when I was leaving BusinessObjects in favor of being CEO of MarkLogic, right? I would’ve made more money probably but they sold early. But let’s just assume I would’ve been more money as CMO of VMware because obviously they did real well but I wanted to be a CEO. It was super important to prove to myself that I could do that and I have no regrets about doing it, things worked out fine, but you got to be very clear on that priority because second, it’s hard to go back and get those CMO jobs if you’ve got CEO.

Tom Wentworth:

Exactly.

Dave Kellogg:

All of a sudden it’s like, “Wait a minute. Why do you want to go back?” I mean, and look, I think it’s harder for other executives to understand this, but we’re marketing people, we should know this. It’s what I always tell people, right? You should know this. You’re going to reposition yourself as a CEO, it’s not going to be easy to go back as a CMO.

Tom Wentworth:

Yeah. Which then means the only jobs you’re going to get are the failed CEO startup jobs and those are some uncomfortable life to live for a title that looks good, but it’s not ultimately going to sustain you.

Dave Kellogg:

Yeah. Don’t do it. So you can look at your business card and see CEO because you’re going to be happy for exactly one day and that’s not good. So-

Tom Wentworth:

Well, I’m now CEO of my podcast so that’s how I’ve checked this box off so that’s an easy one.

Dave Kellogg:

There you go.

Tom Wentworth:

All right, I’m going to let you go. This has been fantastic, but I read probably a hundred of your posts over the past couple of days and I pulled out because they’re awesome and I’m looking forward to the book someday, which I hope is coming. But I got a few things I wanted to call out. One, a key skill for any successful CMO is the ability to say no, just don’t be too good at it. So true.

Dave Kellogg:

Yeah, absolutely. In this particular one because I’ve been doing this for a while and coaching a lot of CMOs, I actually have CMOs who I’ve told that to, where I literally taught them how to say no. It’s like, “Hey, when I knew you five years ago, you were a doormat and you needed to say no more and now you’re saying no too much.” I need you dial back.

Tom Wentworth:

This one is LinkedIn. You wrote this a long time ago, but this is the modern state of marketing thought leadership on LinkedIn. Market for your sales force, not for other marketers. Marketing is a self-congratulatory discipline, lots of campaigns that win awards don’t move the sales needle on edge. You wrote this back in the era of people submitting for [inaudible 00:56:15] awards or whatever, but now it’s for hot takes on LinkedIn. So totally agree with us.

Dave Kellogg:

Yeah. That’s a great one, it is. Marketing and particularly advertising is a completely self-congratulatory industry. And I think credibility is so important in enterprise sales. Your salespeople have to believe in you and if they see you spending [inaudible 00:56:34] off congratulating yourself for campaigns that didn’t move their needle, that’s not a good thing for you.

Tom Wentworth:

Whatever it is in the new world you’re sharing, the thing you did, the event you launched, the flashy thing you launched, yeah, okay, but I don’t want to know you launched something doesn’t mean it actually had an impact on the business. No one ever goes and talks about that. No one says, “I did something cool that actually did this.” No one talks about that way.

Dave Kellogg:

Agree.

Tom Wentworth:

So that one felt relevant today and the last one and the most minor, but maybe the most important. I have an innocent, again, an old school, Dave Kellogg post. I have a new pet peeve, sales and marketing people who use the word very as a condiment sprinkling it heavily and indiscriminately like salt into any product or company claim. So we cannot use the word very and in general, just marketing copies got out of hand.

Dave Kellogg:

Yeah. I can’t remember if I put my favorite Mark Twain quote into that post.

Tom Wentworth:

You did.

Dave Kellogg:

I love that. Find every various substituted for damn and then edit for profanity, which is a fantastic way of saying, “Yeah, there’s a lot of bad copy out there.” I still do some interim marketing gig work and I’ll end up editing copy from time to time. I like doing it, but there’s just a lot of bad copy out there and it all starts with adjectives, right? Just piling. The other one I’ll say now is, if your marketing copy reads like a restaurant menu, like, free range, organic, Hudson Valley chicken…

Tom Wentworth:

Full of buzzwords of the day, that’s… Yeah.

Dave Kellogg:

Yeah. If you line up five adjectives before your noun, it’s probably a big warning sign. Another big warning sign is the word very. They used to have jargonator. There was a website called the jargonator.

Tom Wentworth:

The best.

Dave Kellogg:

I have trouble finding them. They would actually give you a jargon score and those are great too because Silicon Valley, it’s a [inaudible 00:58:41]. I started earlier in the conversation talking about don’t write copy that reads like a PR agency wrote it, which is potentially offensive to PR people but don’t. Because PR agencies are famous for this stuff.

Tom Wentworth:

Yeah, Apple doesn’t and you shouldn’t neither. Dave, thank you so much for time today. This has been great. I mean, really reading your blog posts in preparation for this was such a refreshing reminder of how much the world really hasn’t changed as much as people like to think it’s changed, but just what good marketing looks like and I’m going to tell everybody, I interact with my team here and people that are going to hopefully listen to this that they should go check yourself out because it’s the best annotated history of the evolution of enterprise software marketing that I think exists on the planet. So I hope you get an autograph copy of the book someday.

Dave Kellogg:

All right. Well, thanks. Big compliment and I appreciate it. So thanks. It’s been a pleasure talking to you and I wish you success with this podcast because I think the world needs it, more discussion about enterprise software marketing.

Tom Wentworth:

I’m going to pull that out as a pull quote in my promotion. So there you go. Thanks Dave.

Dave Kellogg:

Hey, take care. Great talking to you Tom.

By Tom Wentworth

CMO at Recorded Future | Formerly Acquia, RapidMiner | I like math, open source, and the Smashing Pumpkins

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