It’s been approximately four months since Justine Jordan took on the role of Head of Marketing for Wildbit. In this week’s episode, I challenged her to describe those formative weeks. I wanted to know how she worked, questions she asked, and did she have to compromise her beliefs?
The result is an insight into how she immersed herself in the role and how she rejects short-term tactics in favor of long-term, brand-building activities.
listen to this episode
- The benefits of building relationships to get the job you want
- Why and how you should build a trust bank
- Learn to shut up and listen more
- How marketers really can be customer first
- How patience can be a real strength in marketing
- Justine’s number one tip for uncovering pain points
- Why you have got to talk to people
- Read psychology books to better understand how humans work
- The definition of design thinking
- Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
- Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dunbar
- Drive by Daniel Pink
- Indie Hackers
- The Brand Gap by Marty Neumeier
- Zag by Marty Neumeier
- Brand flip by Marty Neumeier
- Seth Godin’s Marketing Secrets to Launching a New Business
- Edward Neuraumont – How to Stop Marketing With Your Ego
- Guillame Caban – How to Find the Right Growth Channels
Louis: Recording, and bonjour bonjour and welcome to another episode of EveryoneHatesMarketers.com, the no fluff, actionable marketing podcast for people sick of shady, aggressive, marketing. I’m your host, Louis Grenier. In today’s episode, I will challenge my guest to talk about her four month’s experience in her new job, how exactly did she perform, what she learned from it, the mistakes she made, and how she applied her beliefs to this job. As you know, as you’ve seen, she has some beliefs that are very much aligned with mine and if you are listening to this podcast, with yours.
My guest today is an experienced marketing leader, with 10 plus years experience in various tech companies, and just like me, just like you, she hates traditional short-term tactics and she prefers long-term, brand-building activities. She used to be the VP of marketing for Litmus, the CMO of Help Scout, she’s now the head of marketing for Wildbit. They are creators of a few stuff including Postmark , you might have heard of it. Justine Jordan, very happy to have you.
Justine: Thank you for having me, and what a lively intro, thank you.
Louis: That’s what I do. I’m not even paid to do it, so can you believe if I was paid?
Justine: We’re never paid to do this, right?
Louis: It’s paid in exposure, that’s what happens. As we just, we were talking a few minutes ago before hitting recording and I told you that I’m not going to tell you what we’re going to talk about. I want to keep the surprise, not the surprise, but the actual genuine conversation intact without you preparing questions in advance. You’ve just heard in the intro what I wanted to talk to you about, so you started this new job as the head of marketing for Wildbit four months ago, roughly.
Louis: Obviously there might be things you can’t share, I’m aware of that, that’s all good. I think we have a massive opportunity together to do some sort of a retrospective of those four months, what you’ve done, and how you’re perhaps starting to create these aspirational brand that you thrive, to create, that you like to do. This aspirational brand, a customer first mindset. The reason why I’m very curious of that is because, to be honest, customer first is a very much of a bullshitty term that everyone can throw around. What I’d be very interested in hearing from you is how do you actually do it, and how, not only how are you planning to do it, but more importantly, the last four months, how did you start to do it? Sounds good?
Justine: It does sound good, and actually I’m pretty excited to talk about that. I don’t think you’re going to catch me off guard, or there won’t be too much I can’t tell you so it should be fun.
Louis: Okay. Let’s maybe start from maybe day zero, you might argue that you started to, even before you started to officially work with them, you did stuff before. You might have talked to the CEO and whatnot. Let’s try to take a step back all the way to the beginning, how did you get started with them to try to build this brand that you want to build with them?
Yeah, I’ve actually known Natalie and Chris, who are the founders of Wildbit for gosh, probably a decade, the better part of a decade. They were friends with the Litmus founders, and every year, most years, I think, there is a conference here in Boston called Business of Software. The Wildbit founders and the Litmus founders and the [inaudible 00:03:43] founders, I’ll say this group of customer first founders, if you will, product first and customer first, would get together in Boston. I weaselled my way into a couple of those dinners over the years, and got to meet the folks at Wildbit, we were always Postmark customers at Litmus, where they loved the product, really good deliverability, I’m not just saying that because I worked here, I used to be a customer.
I’ve known them, known of them and seen the way that they operate their business and the way that they treat their people, the way that they build product, for a very long time. It was probably a solid six or eight months before Natalie and I started talking seriously about joining the team that she had reached out to me for advice on hiring her first head of marketing. I remember her telling me all about the role, and I was thinking to myself, man, this sounds like a dream job, but I just wasn’t ready to make a change at that point in time, then super fortunate that a few months later it was time for her to pull the trigger and time for me to make that kind of decision as well.
Yeah, I’ve known of her, known of them, and seen the way that they run their business for a very long time now.
Louis: I think you’re going to guess from the question I’m going to ask what answer I’m expecting, but it sounds like this is good advice for anyone out there to genuinely build relationship with people for years and years and years, and plant the seeds before getting a job like yours.
Justine: I know you can’t see me, but I’m vigorously nodding my head yes, because I have, I’ll tell you a secret. I have never, at least not since I got hired at Exact Target back in 2007. My latest resume is from 2007 when I updated it to apply for that job at Exact Target. Every job I’ve had since then has been a direct result of building relationships and being in the right place at the right time, and nurturing those relationships. I’m sure this will come out over the course of this conversation, but I very much believe in that everything you do as a human, but especially as a marketer, has to have some give and take. I have this concept of a trust bank that I borrowed from actually Brendan Schwartz, he’s one of the founders over at Wistia, and I think he borrowed it from someone that wrote a famous book.
I can’t remember what it is right now, but everyone of us has a trust bank and you have to put more credits in the trust bank than you take debits out. The way that you do that is by belong other people and building those relationships, that goes for business and personal, for sure.
Louis: Just like what you said about the famous person who wrote a book, I think it really kind of limits the spectrum of people we can think about, right? Having said that, being more serious about your answer, before we dive into the actions you took in the job, the key things you’ve done, maybe the mistakes you’ve made, the things you would really recommend folks to do when it comes to genuine customer centricity and genuine results as well as the result of it, what would be your number one advice then to build a trust bank? I know we’re talking about building relationships and being in the right place at the right time. That all sounds good, but it seems a bit generic still.
For you, you haven’t created a resume in the last 13 years at this stage, you don’t need to. What would be your number one advice for folks who want to become you one day, to have the same level of success? What will it be?
Justine: Give more than you take. I think-
Louis: How do you do that?
Justine: Well, if I go back to my very early, before I answer that I want to acknowledge, especially with everything going on in the world right now, this interview is being recorded in June of 2020 in the height of social unrest in the US. It’s a time where I’ve never been more aware of my privilege as a white person living in America, and so I say this with that privilege in mind. A lot of what I did early in my career was just help people, so you might be interested, a lot of folks will ask, “How did you get to be marketing hire number one and employee number eight at Litmus?” A lot of that came from a genuine desire to help people like me. I felt very alone at Exact Target, our whole team, our whole company was building and designing emails and fighting against Outlook rendering, solving some really obscure challenges. I’m also dating myself, but this was before Twitter was really big, this was before content marketing and blogs were a dime a dozen.
I knew that there were other people like me out there, because we had competitors, and surely there were people like me working at our competitors, but no one was talking about these problems. No one was trying to come together to solve these challenges. I never intended to become a thought leader or to build a brand, all those things in retrospect were accidental byproducts of what I was trying to do. I genuinely wanted to share what I was learning, I wanted to brainstorm with other people, I wanted to write about all these challenges we were facing. To invest that amount of time, better yet, if you can get paid for it and genuinely help other people… I’m trying to think of how else I did this early in my career. I was part of an organization because I started life as a designer before I was a marketer called the AIGA.
I don’t know too much about them these days, I haven’t kept up, but joining organizations where you can network with other people, where you can mentor, even if you’re really early in your career, there’s someone earlier than you. If you’re in college, mentor someone in middle school or high school. There are so many ways that you can give back no matter what your experience level is. Someone else is about to do something that you’ve done before, and you can help them with that.
Louis: I very much like this answer, and thanks for mentioning everything that is going on right now. Whether it’s right now, or if you’re listening to this episode in two years, in 2022, racism will still be there and we need to actively fucking fight for it. Against it, excuse me, fight against racism.
Louis: Be anti-racist actively, and I’m hoping with those interviews we can teach folks who come from underrepresented minorities to stand out and do the right thing. Thanks for mentioning that, and I guess it’s easy as a marketer, I guess in any profession but I know that as a marketer, it’s easy to think that where you are is where other peoples are at. This massive imposter syndrome of thinking I have 10 years of experience so you kind of assume everyone has the same knowledge, and it’s not the case.
Justine: Yeah, and I know we’re going to talk about this too, but Wildbit for instance, we have a four day workweek, which is really uncommon in the US. We only work 32 hours a week, I have every Friday off. As I was reflecting on how I want to use that time, I created a landing page on my personal website, and I call them Pay Them Forward Fridays. People can request to do office hours with me, and I’ve talked to a variety of people, people with about the same level of experience with me, people that are just in college and they’re not really sure what they want to do, as far as a marketing career. Some of the most impactful conversations, if I’m being honest, have come from people that I would have considered peers. Especially if you’re a solo freelancer, if you’re a contractor, if you’re in a small company and you’re the only marketing person, it reminds me of my days at Exact Target.
It can feel so lonely, you can feel like you’re the only person in the world facing those problems, and that those problems are unique to you. If I’ve learned nothing over the last few years, it’s that everyone has faced something similar to you, you just need to find the person out there that’s done it. People are afraid to talk about it, right? Just being able to connect with people and say, “No, what you’re feeling is normal. You are not alone.”, can be such a powerful experience. Imposter syndrome, that lack of confidence, all of those feelings can be so overwhelming and can really affect your day to day performance and your ability to do your job.
Louis: Absolutely. I faced it multiple times in my career and I think what saved me was-
Justine: Me too.
Louis: -talking to people who felt the same, and then starting to switch the story in your head, realizing that focusing on first principles in marketing, so the things that will never change, helps me a lot. Understanding that people are, will always be people, even though technology changes, their brain won’t. Focusing on that first really helped me to refocus my energy and all of that. Now, thanks for that great intro. We are 30 minute into this episode, 13 minutes, but we haven’t delivered on what we’ve promised yet, right? Tell me, this is a 10 year story in the making, right? The reason why you’re working there is because, not because you applied six months ago.
Louis: Tell me, you joined the company, or tell me about your first day or the first few days. What are the key things you’ve decided to do straight away?
Justine: The key thing that I have done and I would recommend that anyone do in the first even 90 days of a new job is to listen. Just to shut the fuck up and listen. I will be the first to acknowledge that in so many cases, you are hired because you’re
an expert, that you’re expected to influence things, to change things to some extent, but even now, four months in, I am still learning every day about how the rest of this company does business, about how it’s different from the last companies I’ve worked at, about the specific individuals, about the values of the company. I have been fortunate enough to start two new jobs in the last couple of years and both times what I’ve done is I’ve worked with other people in the company to create a prioritized list of people I want to have informational chats with. I’ve always worked in remote companies, so I’ve always done this over Zoom, call them Donuts or Coworker Coffees or Fika.
There’s lots of terms for these, but I reach out in those first 90 days and going along that list of priority of people who I should talk to. I ask them some questions like, what are you excited about, about why I’m here? Why are you nervous about why I’m here? For me, as a marketer, I’m really interested about their opinions about what the company has done well with its marketing in the past, or what maybe it hasn’t done so well. What were they frustrated about, what are they looking forward to? That can also give me a really well rounded sense of what a company needs from, especially in my case, marketing leadership. Also, what are some of the ways that I can… Change management is something that I deal a lot with in marketing leadership roles, especially coming into mature companies. How can I help people understand what I’m doing and why I’m here and feel really comfortable with it, instead of everyone hates marketers, right?
Especially in product led, developer led companies. I get called out all the time for the kind of bullshit that other marketing people do, or called out for calling myself customer first, because some people believe that marketers can never be customer first.
Louis:: Oh yeah? You’ve heard that before?
Justine: Just a time or two. I have to get ahead of that perception, and again, almost give more than I take, initially. Give people my time, give people a platform so I can hear their concerns really before I do anything.
Louis: In concrete steps, concrete work, you actually schedule calls with almost everyone you could in the company, yeah?
Justine: Yeah. It’s rare, depending on the size of the company, Wildbit is 30 people. My previous company was 100, and so you kind of have to prioritize. I always go customer support, customer success, whatever you want to call it, people that are talking to customers are key. If you’re in a leadership position, talking to other folks on the leadership team is key, especially in a SAS business. Our product business, I want to talk to people in the product and the engineering side, designers, other marketers. Again, depends on the way your company is made up. Especially people that have worked on other marketing projects or worked with other marketing people, and that’s why asking maybe the people that were on your hiring team, “Hey, can you help me prioritize who’s going to have an interesting perspective on me and why I’m here,” can be really helpful.
Louis: You have these calls, and you just listen, can you remind us of the few questions you like to ask again?
Justine: Yes. In fact, I write all of this down, let me pull up-
Louis: Take your time.
Justine: -the ones I used most recently. I asked people, again, I work in remote companies, even when the world isn’t burning down, I ask where you live, how long have you been with the company, so basic stuff. I also ask what you do, and I want to get beyond your title or your role in that, I don’t care that you’re a designer because at a small company, people usually wear a lot of hats and even if you’re a designer it might mean that you do a whole bunch of other things. For instance, one of the designers at Wildbit does front end product development and also writes all of our business intelligence dashboards sequel queries. He’s a very multi talented person, so to know what they work on on a day to day basis, or what projects they got in the last, say, six to 12 months, is really insightful. I also asked, as someone new here, what should I know about Wildbit?
That’s really open ended, but you get a lot of really interesting responses, so what should I know about this company? I’ve asked what’s been great about marketing so far, what’s been not so great about marketing so far that you’ve seen, and then thinking about the future of marketing at this new company, what do you hope to experience and what do you fear?
Louis: Great. Okay. If you want to take note of that, you’re going to have to pause the podcast and write them down, because Justine is not going to say them again, okay? How do you then make sense of them, do you take notes, do you transcribe them? What do you do?
Justine: You could definitely record those conversations and have them transcribed. Over the years, I’ve developed an uncanny ability to listen and type, like nearly transcribe in real time. I don’t know that everyone has that ability.
Justine: I take very, very detailed notes, and I keep them all organized in Evernote because I’m old school.
Louis: What do you mean? It’s not as if you’re using fucking postcard and pigeon or anything like that, it’s very much a software. Anyway, [crosstalk 00:20:28]-
Justine: No shit, this is what all the cool kids, no shit to what all the cool kids are using these days, right?
Louis: [inaudible 00:20:33], okay. You talk to those people but surely, let’s be honest here, this company is customer first, and whatever, but they’re not hiring you just for listening to people internally. They’re hiring you to generate results, to have more customers, to raise the profile of the company and whatnot. What else did you do? In the meantime, I suppose you didn’t just spend three months talking to people without doing anything. Apart from that, which is super valuable by the way, thanks for sharing, what else did you do? What activities did you do that you feel are going to generate results, while being customer centric?
Justine: Sure. I was incredibly fortunate that a lot of that work was done almost for me coming into the company, because a good friend of mine who is a marketing consultant happened to be doing a consultant engagement with Wildbit in the few months before I came on board, but I’m going to tell you what they did and pretend that I did it, because it’s the same thing that I think you should probably do. I want to be full on and credit that I didn’t actually do this myself, I was able to leverage a lot of the work that they had done. They did a very deep audit of past performance of the previous year. What had been working so far, what channels were driving the most activity, just to get a hold on where are the opportunities for this business?
Wildbit also is a little bit special in that we have multiple brands, so Postmark is the most well known, we also have Conveyor, which we just announced yesterday that we’re sun setting, we have an older product called Beanstalk, we also launched two new products very recently so that’s also a fun challenge as a team of 30 and a very small marketing team, is to support or create growth activities for all of those. The majority of that work was prioritized around Postmark since it generates the most revenue for Wildbit. We have the most performance data. After doing that deep dive, using Google Analytics and revenue and financial data. We started to, I should grab this framework, I can share it with you, we can maybe do a resource later on, which is to kind of ask yourself where the different areas of the business that growth could come from?
Again, my friend, her name is Agatha Somerowski, has a really great framework for this. She asks questions like, how can we get more people talking about our brand, how can we get more people coming to us? How can we get the same customers that we already have to buy more? There’s kind of this predictable set of levers that you have to grow a company, and understanding-
Louis: Yeah, sorry to cut you but I want to make sure we’re on the same page, so there are acquiring more customers, making customer pay more, or reducing churn?
Justine: Yeah, but there’s also things like getting people to talk about your business more. [crosstalk 00:23:52]
Louis: That’s more customers.
Justine: It is, but it’s slightly different because you can get more customers through buying ads. Do people trust ads, or do people trust people?
Louis: I don’t know, you tell me.
Justine: I think they trust people.
Justine: That was probably a predictable answer coming from you and me in this podcast. Yeah, because the other thing is Wildbit is a bootstrapped, self funded company. We don’t have a bunch of VC money in the bank. We have a healthy budget, we’re profitable, we have a healthy business, but I don’t have thousands, millions of dollars to go spend on top of funnel acquisition. We have to get creative about how we do that, and we [crosstalk 00:24:44]-
Louis: Before we talk about this, I want to go back to something. Does our work cut out for you, as you mentioned, and a full audit has been done prior to you joining, we’re not going to go through it because you haven’t done it yourself and I don’t think it’s fair for me to ask you how you did, since you didn’t. We haven’t really talked about that in detail in this podcast, but I remember an episode with Edward Nevraumont for example where we talk about how to utilize channels. We also talked about it with Guillaume Cabane, a fellow Frenchman. Same topic, so if you’re listening to this episode right now and you want to know more about this particular topic and how to do an audit, go there.
Going back to what you said, let’s talk then about this particular lever, which is making more people talk about the brand, making more people discover it. You are about I think to talk about it, so let’s deep dive into that. How do you translate more people talking about the brand and knowing about the brand to the end result, to have more customers? How do you pull it off in the first place to make people more aware of what you do? What did you do, or what are you doing?
Justine: Yes. This is something that makes a lot of modern performance marketers deeply uncomfortable.
Justine: I’ve held the title of CMO once in my life and you’ve probably read your fair share of articles about how the average tenure of a CMO is something abysmal, like 12 or 18 months because so many times, especially in modern digital organizations, marketers are bearing more and more responsibility for revenue growth, and with that comes this expectation that you A, have figured out attribution, and B, can measure everything. I’ll go back to some other famous person that I don’t remember, what’s that old adage about how you can only measure 50% of all of your marketing? I forget what famous marketer said that, so I definitely lean much more toward I’ll say the brand side of marketing. The MBA, the revenue side, is something that I’ve had to learn over the course of my career.
It does not come naturally for me, but I definitely have developed a deep appreciation and respect for it, because it can help me get buy in for those other ideas. I’m just saying all of that as an up front, because this question comes up a lot. All the things I’m going to tell you about, people ask, how do you measure that? How do you know it’s working? What’s deeply uncomfortable for a lot of people is sometimes you don’t know, especially not right away. Over time, if you’re patient, you’ll see it come with direct visits, you’ll just see more money coming in and you won’t be able to explain where it comes from. That’s super frustrating, and it also isn’t a good fit for every business, because in this growth at all costs mentality that so many companies are operating in now, that patience to grow a sustainable brand just isn’t there.
Louis: Fuck yeah. There are so many things you said I say a lot, not in those beautiful terms, because I can’t speak that much in English, but the P word, is the bad word.
Louis: No, patience. It’s a bold word for marketers and CEOs of fucking [inaudible 00:28:37] company. I completely get you, it’s very difficult for performance marketers who, by the way, performance, what does it mean? Non performance, when you don’t do performance, what do you do? Non performance, makes zero sense, this term. It’s not against you, by the way, I know it’s being used but anyway, folks who do direct response expect, they do something, they expect to sell, they expect to lead, they expect something. Right?
Louis: They are very uncomfortable with this idea of, let’s invest in content, in brand, let’s make people talk more about us, and in three, six, nine months, as you said, they will be a combination of channels like direct, organic traffic, they will grow up. It’s actually proven, there are studies and I’ll try to put that in the resources, if I think about it, there are studies showing that the right investment between brand and performance is 60/40/. 60% brand, 40% performance, but the results don’t come straight away. They then combine and get super interesting. The P word, patience, is something we need to teach more folks to thrive. Basically, you joined a company who understand that, first of all, that’s kind of step zero. We’re showing a good position. Let’s talk about then how you’re going to do this. How are you going to get more people to come to you and build this brand? What’s your plan?
Justine: Yes. It starts with the people, so all of that bullshit about being customer first, it actually starts with the people inside of the company. I saw you had Seth Godin on recently, he was talking about brand and that’s what brand is. It’s not a logo, it’s not your website. It’s not your slogan or your tagline or any of that superficial bullshit. Your brand is the people, and it’s the perception that other people have of your company. That perception is made off of a collection of experiences that people have with your company or with your brand. Chances are, they’re going to have more experiences with, again, the people. What you need to do is invest into those people, which is why I go around and I interview everyone at the company, or as many people as I can. Chances are, they have a unique perspective. They have something that needs to be shared with the world, they make up an important part of that brand for the company.
Likely no one’s heard about it beyond the walls of that organization. Slowly, and this is what we’re starting to turn the wheel on Wildbit, there’s lots of different ways you can do this and it’s going to depend on your company. It’s going to depend on your audience, who you’re trying to reach. I’ve worked in a lot of companies where I’ve been fortunate enough that those people are online, Twitter is a good place to reach them, Slack communities and other types of online venues are a good place to reach them, even LinkedIn. Indie Hackers has a wonderful community of early stage product people, right, and you can find that thing through looking, referral sources in your Google Analytics. You can do surveys, there’s lots of ways you can find those places. This is where the patience comes in, again. You have to do that research, you have to do that hard work to find out where the people are, and then again you have to shut up and listen.
The mistake that a lot of people make, especially with marketers, is barging into those communities with their own agenda. You’ve seen them, right, in the communities that you’re in. They join, and the only time they ever contribute is to push their product or to sell you, or to jump down your throat with an opinion about something. They don’t meaningfully engage, they don’t contribute, they don’t ask questions if they’re new. With few exceptions, communities aren’t often made up of just assholes that are going to kick you out for asking basic questions, especially if you demonstrate that you’re really there to learn. That’s part of it, you’ve got to find out where the people are. That’s why the interviews are important, that’s why you can use data these days.
There’s a lot more of it available to find out where the people are, and again, contributing, listening, giving more than you take. I’m going to keep coming back to that. That’s step one, then there’s all the marketing, the traditional marketing tactics that come with that. Once you’ve listened, once you’ve learned, once you understand your position, where you fit in that ecosystem, and the value that you can bring to the conversation, then you start talking about it. Again, you talk about it in a way that puts the reader in the position where they’re getting more value than you are. A couple years ago I gave a talk at MozCon where I had a Venn diagram and on one half, the circle said, I was talking about email marketing, and one side is what the subscriber needed. The other circle was what your business needs, and where they overlapped in the middle, I had magic.
Because, when you’re able to figure out that little tiny slice about what your customers or what your audience, or what your subscribers care about, and the value that your business can bring to them, that’s where all the magic happens because everyone’s getting value. That’s where that brand bank is, you’re really building up the credit. The way that I think about it is that you have to really invest in building up those credits, you have to have the patience to build up those credits before you can go back to that audience and then ask for something. You need to have enough credit in the bank before you make a withdrawal. Right?
Louis: Yeah. I very much like that view. Step one of that, it seems like you find out where young people are hanging out, first and foremost. Your best customers, potentially, right? You want to look at it from [inaudible 00:34:51] a lot of people come from there and whatnot. From [inaudible 00:34:56], so you would actually ask them, where do you suspend your time online? Or do you ask other questions?
Justine: Exactly. Where do you spend your time online, what podcasts to you listen to? Yes.
Louis: They always say everyone hates marketers, then you move on and say, “I need to be a guest on this show.” One other way I do it is when I talk to people directly, I genuinely ask them, but instead of asking them, what I found interesting is people are very bad at predicting the future, or they’re very good at making themselves look good. What I try to ask them is, instead of what publication do you read, or blog, I ask them, “In the last two months, at least what you can remember, what articles did you read? Where do you spend your time? What did you do?” To make them, force them to stop the bullshit of, “I read all the news articles,” when in fact they just spend their time on Instagram. You need to be careful though, right? You need to use the numbers from the actual behavior with the answers and try to find an inbetween, I would say, that would be my personal advice.
Once you understand where they spend their time, it seems like there’s a step where you try to figure out how you can, the V word is a word I don’t like to use too much as well, the value site, because everyone is talking about it and they don’t know how to explain it, but I’m sure you’ll manage. You try to find ways to add value to the conversation, and as you said about this bank, it’s giving before you’re taking anything. How do you approach it, in this role? Maybe you can give me one or two examples of an actual way to give value, to give before you take?
Justine: For sure. What are people in your company an expert on that your audience cares about? One good example is, so here at Wildbit, we have Postmark, we also have one of our brand new things that just launched called DMARC Digests. We have a ton of people here that deeply understand email authentication, SPF, DKIM, DMARC, all the things that go along with that. Well, how can we help people? It’s complicated, it’s technical, it’s wrought with mystery. How can we write about how to help that? Can we create a webinar, can we create a product? Yeah, at the end of the day, our intent is to get you to buy DMARC Digest, it’s a product that you can pay for, but we don’t go out saying, hey we built this thing, please buy it. That’s not adding any value.
We don’t even write, I mean, we do write value messaging, of course, right? We have value propositions, taglines, all the things that go along with doing a marketing launch, but even that is predictable. I guess the better question is to say, how can you take your expertise, ostensibly you have it if you built the thing that you’re now trying to sell. I really hope you’re an expert at whatever you’re trying to sell, so just say, how can I help people either understand this… Can I give them something for free, whether that’s knowledge, that could be a premium product. Help support consulting calls, the possibilities are endless. To use a tangible example for us, Postmark has been writing about DMARC for years. We repurposed some of that content, we’ve updated it, we’ve been sharing that.
We’re going to refresh some of that. We’ve also been doing, and this ties into all of the brands, too, part of that analysis that we did really gave us some insight into how we could improve our SEO, because we do have an old site that has a lot of really great content on it. It just wasn’t really well optimized for, because there’s kind of two parts of SEO. There’s the human part, and the machine part, so you’ve got to optimize for both of them. Those are lots of ways that you can, I guess, give or add value. We’re both using air quotes, and you can’t see that, but it is an overused term at this point. That really just boils down to be helpful, how can you be helpful and give something away for free? When I say give something away for free, it doesn’t just mean an offer, an eBook, the typical marketing crap you’ve probably come to expect. You can be more creative than that.
Louis: By playing with the format, playing with the depth of what you are giving, by how else can you be more creative than an eBook?
Justine: You can just again get on Twitter, get where your audience is. Let’s say your audience is on Indie Hackers, and you’ve learned that, I don’t know, early stage scrappy founder folks have a really hard time establishing in our case DMARC and email authentication for the first time. Maybe you call up Courtland, who owns Indie Hackers, you start to build that relationship, and you say, “Hey, I really understand that a lot of people in your community struggle with this, I want to give them a free webinar,” and teach them about how to set up DMARC for their new businesses. You don’t ever mention, maybe at the very end of your webinar or your presentation, you mention, “Hey, I have a product for this.” The intent that you come at that with is, I found an audience, and I have a way to genuinely help them.
Louis: Part of on my site, I’m offering a free course, like a seven day email course on how to become a more confident marketer. Lesson three, the item subject line, so there’s seven concepts. Lesson three is actually giving, giving, giving, versus taking, taking, taking. It’s funny that you said very much the exact same thing, even though we never talked before. I very much agree with that, and I think the key here is when in doubt, give stuff. Solve problems, talk to people, fucking be generous. Right?
Louis: That’s helped me a lot. Usually, when I struggle to have, to make people give a shit and sign up to whatever, or pay for something, it’s usually because I didn’t give enough. Back to the concept of the bank, if you are listening to this episode right now and feel lost, you don’t know what to do next, usually removing your marketing hardcore salesman hat and put on the, I’m just being fucking helpful here hat, will actually help you usually to move away from the don’t know what to do next.
Justine: Completely agree. You probably heard this advice before too, it’s not anything new. I have nothing original, by the way, everything I’ve learned is from reading and listening and experimenting. You have to ask that, answer that question for people. What’s in it for them? So many times business people marketers are so focused on what they need. You got to come back to that Venn diagram. I guess that is my one original thing. Come back to that intersection where you create that magic. There’s one for every business, otherwise you probably shouldn’t exist. There’s something that your audience needs, and that your business can offer. It’s not just a product, there’s some sort of knowledge or help or something that you can do there. If there’s not, you just need to go back to the drawing board and figure out how you can not be so selfish, I guess.
Louis: That’s what it is, right? It’s marketing, so market-ing, it’s all about your market. It’s not me, myself, and I-ing, you know? That’s a big thing I see everywhere is we’re just very self centered. Very, very self centered as a profession. What would be your number one tip to uncover those particular pain points from customers to leverage, to help them solve? What do you like to do to find them out?
Justine: Well, again, listening, talking to people. I was fortunate early in my career that I was my target audience. When I started marketing to email designers and email marketers at Litmus, I was marketing to myself, the exact target, basically. I had an inherent deep understanding of the challenges that those people faced, but if you aren’t fortunate like that, surveys, conversations, talking to customers, talking to the people that are using your product if you have a new product, finding people in the communities that you think where they’re going to use them. There’s really no other way to do it, you got to talk to people.
Louis: Before I ask you three questions I’d like to ask at the end of any podcast, what’s the one thing I forgot to ask you about the four months in Wildbit that you think listeners would get a lot of value from?
Justine: Hmm. Something that you forgot to ask me about my first four months at Wildbit?
Louis: Or you just forgot to say it, I might have asked you but you forgot to say it.
Justine: Oh. I don’t know that anything really springs to mind. I mean, yeah, shut up and listen. Don’t come in thinking that you have all the answers, I guess. Every business is different, every team is different, be confident, recognize that you’re there for a reason and your experience is there, but don’t be too confident, because you can learn from the team that’s hired you in, too. The older I get, the more I realize I still have a lot to learn.
Louis: I appreciate you saying that. I think it’s a good immediate message for everyone listening. Marketers tend to be very self absorbed and very sure of themselves, or at least they make it seem to be. I don’t think many are very sure of themself, I have a deep belief that most people are feeling major imposter syndrome, but because they are marketers they know very much how to market themself and they make you believe that they have their shit together. Don’t trust it. They usually don’t, and things change very quickly even though people don’t. That is a law of paramaters so you need to be on your toes. On this topic, and you might have felt like you already answered this question, but what do you think marketers should learn today that will help them in the next 10 years, 20 years, 50 years?
Justine: Yes. They should learn about brand, and the older I get, and the more experienced I get, the more I see a focus on digital marketing, performance marketing, attribution everything, Google Analytics, SEO, the technical side, measure everything, the part that I see people continually neglecting to learn about, especially younger people, is brand marketing. I actually did slightly prepare for you to answer, ask me this question, and there’s books that maybe you’ve never heard of. Seth Godin, I think everyone knows him and he’s definitely a good person to go to about some of these topics, but there’s some older books by a guy named Marty Neumeier. He wrote The Brand Gap, Zag, and a book called Brand Flip. I think they’re even a little bit hard to find these days, but they’re out there. The other couple of things I would say that marketers need to do that probably don’t, that’s going to serve you forever, is to learn about the concept of design thinking.
A lot of my unique perspective on this comes back to the fact that I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts, I went to art school, and I learned the design thinking process in that. That has served me better as a marketer and business person in my career than I think anything else, if I had to point to one fundamental. The other thing I would say is read psychology books. I don’t mean like textbooks, but there’s a lot of really interesting ones, like Predictably Irrational, or Freakanomics, or even Drive by Daniel Pink. All those books will help you better understand humans and why we make decisions, what motivates us and how we operate. Overall, that’s going to make you a better marketer if you understand why humans are the way they are.
Louis: Before I let you go, and thank you so much for being so transparent and honest with us, and practical as well, what is design thinking?
Justine: Design thinking is a process or a framework, it starts, and I might get them wrong just from memory, it starts with doing research, it starts with exploring a lot of options, it involves iterating, testing, learning, and basically repeating. It sounds super basic, but I’m surprised the number of people who just don’t do this. If you follow that, again, it can apply to any situation. I don’t even remember why it’s called design thinking, but it’s simply a cyclical process that involves, again, learning, listening, research, testing and iteration, and then putting those learnings into practice so you improve the next time around.
Louis: It’s like a double diamond, right? The first diamond is, it’s diversions first to understand, to research the problem, and then conversions to select the problem. Once you have the problem, you diverge on the problem, try to think of potential solutions, and then you converge on the specific solutions.
Louis: Yeah, you can apply that to anything. I think in terms of Designs, Design with a big D, which is creating anything…
Justine: Yeah, it doesn’t involve graphics or imagery, so before you, I know people listening to this, whenever I say design, they think, “I’m not a designer, I can’t draw, I’m bad at graphics.” It has nothing to do with graphics, it has everything to do with a framework for how to think, about how to solve problems.
Louis: Well, Justine, once again thank you so much, I wanted to ask you about your top three resources, but you’ve actually managed to talk about resources in the answer of your past question. I don’t have any questions left apart from where can people hear from you, learn more from you, all of that?
Justine: Sure, I am @meladorri on Twitter, which you’ll have to ask me about that in a future interview. @meladorri with two R’s, like the Smashing Pumpkins song. Then my personal website, which I don’t always keep up to date, but you can find me there, too, is JustineJ.com, but of course check out Wildbit, too. We’re doing some cool stuff over there.
Louis: Once again, thank you so much.
Justine: Thank you, this was fun.