How to Turn Your Customers into Your Greatest Advocates

In this week’s episode of the Demand Gen Visionaries podcast, Dave King shares why word-of-mouth is the next marketing frontier

How to Turn Your Customers into Your Greatest Advocates
Megan Guy
Megan Guy
September 10, 2020
min read
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Apple Podcast LinkGoogle Podcast LinkSpotify Podcast Link

This week on the Demand Gen Visionaries podcast, we were joined by Dave King, CMO at Asana. Dave has been building teams of “super marketers” for years, most recently at Percolate, Highfive, and Salesforce. 

Asana is a leading work management platform that helps teams orchestrate their work, from daily tasks to strategic initiatives. Asana has built an incredible community following; it serves millions of customers across 190 countries and integrates with over 100 applications to deliver a completely seamless workflow management experience, no matter what department you work in.

Tune in to the episode to hear Dave break down Asana’s unique demand gen strategy, which is based on a core belief in delivering an exceptional product experience, including:

  • How to add value and engender trust amongst your customers to drive powerful word-of-mouth marketing
  • Why giving away the product for free is Dave’s number one demand gen tactic
  • Which channels marketers should focus their efforts on to create impactful experiences with targeted audiences

Want to skip ahead to the highlights? Check out these can’t-miss moments:

Episode Highlights

(4:43) Asana Demand Gen is Built on a Hybrid Go-to-Market Model

  • Unlike many other SaaS companies, Asana has a self-service engine and a direct sales engine
  • The self-service engine gives away the product for free, which has helped Asana scale to millions of customers. This allows customers to see value from day one and is a huge driver for word of mouth.
  • The direct sales motion feeds from the self-service momentum. The sales team takes a consultative selling approach to help self-service customers get even more value from Asana.

(7:49) A Marketing Team Aligned to the Customer Journey

  • The Asana marketing team is organized by stages of the customer journey.
  • Growth marketing team: Focused on driving visitors to to sign up for the free product. This team operates on a massive scale and includes paid acquisition and organic marketing.
  • Revenue marketing team: This is the more traditional demand gen team, which includes integrated campaign managers and regional teams. This team is responsible for driving pipeline, and their number one goal is ARR.
  • Engagement marketing team: This team builds strategies to help customers get value from the product, including how to educate and engage existing customers. This includes the lifecycle email marketing team and community team.
  • Product marketing team: Responsible for ensuring Asana has great product-market fit.
  • Corporate marketing team: Generates awareness and crafts Asana’s story
  • Brand team: Delivers an elevated brand experience and ensures brand consistency across the entire customer journey

(10:32) How Asana Drives Revenue from a Self-Service Free Model

  • Identified that Asana’s core persona is a team lead or project manager who is responsible for coordinating work across an entire team
  • Asana’s self-service motion is catered to them, and then the direct sales motion narrows in on key departments (such as operations, marketing, sales, and account management) by providing consultative guidance on how they can optimize workflows and expand their Asana usage.

(15:38) Asana’s Success is Based on a Consultative, Community-Based Approach

  • Every team at Asana uses the Asana product. This enables them to experiment with new use cases and share learnings and successes with customers.
  • Asana created a community where they facilitate connections between companies and teams with similar use cases to share successful strategies
  • Some of Asana’s most creative ideas come from what they see in the community

(20:37) Dave’s Uncuttable Demand Gen Budget Items

  • Free product: Drives significant word-of-mouth impact. Even if a free user never pays Asana, the research shows that this audience is still a huge influence on brand awareness and reputation.
  • Paid marketing: Search and review websites
  • Brand: PR, analyst relations, advertising, community programs

(21:23) How Asana Accelerates Building Customer Advocates

  • Asana maniacally instruments and tracks NPS. This helps them measure their success in building a product that customers find remarkable.
  • They’re also heavily focused on customer education. They actively think about how they can help people be better at their jobs. This is brought to life this in several ways, such as giving away Asana Academy curriculum for free, facilitating connections in the community, and building delightful experiences that make people feel good (for example, when a customer completes a task, a magical celebration flies across the screen)

(28:08) Marketing Tactics that are Diminishing in Value

  • Dave is finding that big ad platforms are starting to peak in their payoff. They’re still successful, but he believes they’re approaching the height of their influence.
  • What’s emerging in influence are podcasts and internet radio. These create a more intimate experience for a targeted audience.
  • Dave also can’t wait for the end of asset gating. It’s intrusive to the customer experience. Soon marketers will adopt ways to eliminate gates, deliver tailored customer experiences, and still benefit from gathering data on the backend.

(30:34) How Dave Prioritizes Asana’s Website

  • Positioning: It’s important that when people visit Asana’s website, they instantly know who they are, what they’re all about, and what they stand for. This must be very clear and above the fold.
  • Performance: Their website is the front door, so they need to make it as seamless as possible for visitors to sign up. 
  • Education: Deliver learning journeys catered to a variety of visitors, which extends beyond potential buyers to prospective employees, community members, and investors.

(31:49) How Asana Built a Demand Gen Campaign in 48 Hours

  • When COVID hit, Dave and team launched a campaign called “Asana is here for you”
  • The campaign had three pillars...
  • First, it got Asana in the hands of any team that was working to slow the spread of COVID (i.e. humanitarian organizations, hospitals, medical research labs, and churches)
  • Second, it helped teams adapt to remote work. The sales team stopped prospecting activity and offered free consultations to any team that needed help adjusting to remote work.
  • Third, it provided economic relief to any team that needed it. Encouraged teams that were heavily hit to continue using Asana when they needed it most, even if they couldn’t afford it.

(37:56) Quick Hits: Getting to Know Dave

  • Favorite podcast: “Pivot” with Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway
  • Current TV show: Watching “Treehouse Masters” with his three kids. In every episode, they build a treehouse 
  • Alternative career: He would love to teach at a community college
  • CMO advice for someone trying to figure out demand gen: Demand gen has to be tailored to each company’s unique audience and business needs

Episode Quotes

“Some of the best marketing is not creating things out of scratch. We see what is working organically, and then create programs to amplify and facilitate that."
“When I come into a company, I talk with the founders and the board and I say, ‘80% of the budget I will show you—to the best of my ability—the return on that investment. The other 20% I'm asking you to trust me to make great long-term brand investments. I can't always show you the ROI, but I'm asking you to trust that it will be in the best interest of the company.’”
"What is the scarce commodity in society right now is trust. There is so much information out there, but we make emotional decisions and we make them based on trust. And I think that's ultimately what a brand is, is how do I deliver trust."
“Demand gen has to be tailored to your audience and the needs of the business. You can't take a demand gen model that works at company X and apply it to company Y.”

Ready to hear from more Demand Gen Visionaries? You can subscribe and find all episodes here.

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