Digital Marketing Strategies that Fuel a $64B Software Giant
This episode features an interview with Michael King, Senior Director of Cloud Marketing at VMware. Inside the $64 billion cloud computing and virtualization software giant, Michael is responsible for the VMware Cloud Marketing team and is tasked with transforming the customer perception of VMware’s cloud services and products.
In this episode, Michael expands on the demand gen strategy that he calls “the relentless pursuit of whatever works,” illustrates his audience-action-measurement playbook, discusses the importance of a consistent customer experience, and explains why your channels must reflect your audience.
How the seismic shift away from “broadcast” marketing tactics is ushering in a new wave of conversational marketing tactics that are generating massive ROI
Why marketing’s fundamental measure of success should be revenue-based, and how to make this transition in your organization
Ways the most successful demand gen marketers are pushing the envelope to eliminate friction in the buying process and speed up sales cycles
Want to skip ahead to the highlights? Check out these can’t-miss moments:
(6:08) Michael’s Demand Gen Fundamentals
Michael and his team were brought on to relaunch VMware into the cloud
VMware’s demand gen strategy is the relentless pursuit of “whatever works”
Constantly experimenting and testing new messages, audiences, and channels
Think about demand as a triangle: Identify the audience, determine the desired action, decide on the measurement. They’re experiment and test everything around this triangle.
(12:27) Michael’s Team Structure
Team is composed of demand and growth team, partner marketing team, SaaS customer experience team, and a revenue operations team
Demand and growth team is split into “always-on” marketing projects, campaign-specific projects, and digital projects (social and video)
They operate similarly to an agency model for other VMware teams
(19:05) Consistent Customer Messaging
Customers will often hear one type of messaging from marketing, and then a slightly shifted message from the sales team, and then a slightly different positioning when they get into the product
This inconsistent messaging causes a slowdown in the sales process
Michael is a big believer in having his team support consistent customer messaging
(21:43) Michael’s Uncuttable Demand Gen Budget Items
Communities: You must learn where your customers gather and participate in those forums
Open-source software: If you’re selling to or working with developers, knowing your open-source communities and spending time in your open source is critical
Blogs: Serve as a consistent, repetitive point of contact with customers. A lot of content marketing is a single exchange, but blogs keep people engaged repeatedly
(26:37) The Seismic Shift Toward Community-Based Conversational Marketing
“Broadcast marketing” — email campaigns, display ads, social media — are becoming less effective and more expensive because they’re difficult to execute with growing privacy regulations and noisy, saturated channels
The signal-to-noise ratio is so low; the value you get from random emails, random calls, starts to get filters out
The way to project your message in through interactions with your community
The ROI of investing in community engagement in terms of what you learn and in terms of eliciting interest in your offering is night and day compared to broadcast marketing
(29:46) There’s No Measure of Success Other Than Revenue
Marketing has one measure of success: is revenue coming in through the door?
There are several other engagement measures to pay attention to, but it ultimately boils down to revenue
(30:25) Michael’s Favorite Demand Gen Campaigns
One from a previous company was especially successful: it was early in the mobile application development days, and they produced an annual research report that completely changed the conversation the market was having about their space
Recently at VMware they launched KubeAcademy, a educational platform for Kubernetes. It drove very high engagement, but was especially valuable because it allowed them to build a community and give back to their audience to help them up-level their skills
(35:36) Websites are the Nexus of Demand Gen Activities
Websites are both a destination and a conversion place
Michael looks at websites as conversion first and informational second
Websites must uphold consistent messaging and positioning in order to prevent conversion slowdown; a reduction in speed is what kills all good demand gen
(43:48) Quick Hits: Getting to Know Michael
New shelter-in-place hobby: Coffee roasting
Recent books and podcasts: Hacks on Tap (podcast), Behave by Robert Sapolsky (book), How Not to Be Wrong: the Power of Mathematical Thinking by Jordan Ellenberg (book)
Advice for first-time Head of Marketing: 1) Spend a boatload of time with your sales team, and 2) know your product
“Demand gen strategy at VMware is the relentless pursuit of whatever works. I tend not to be dogmatic about these things. I work with a team that is always challenging me, always pushing me to think differently.”
“No matter what, things are always changing. You may come at it thinking, ‘I know the audience, I know the market, I know the benefits, here's the play I'm going to run.’ But things change…Anytime you go into any demand gen or any other marketing situation thinking that you have it cooked, you're probably cooked.”
“The longer the time frame is from hand raising activity to benefit achievement, the fewer customers you're going to convert, and then you'll just see leaky funnel left and right...reduction in speed is what kills all good demand gen programs.”
“There's a lot of things that you can measure…but when it comes down to it, marketing should measure itself on one thing and one thing only: revenue through the door."
“As marketers, as product people, we spend 10, 12, sometimes 20 hours a day thinking about our product. The average customer spends 20 minutes a quarter thinking about your product. So you have a very limited amount of time to earn that ear.”
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