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Naman Khan
Naman Khan
Journey to CMO: What I Learned From the World's Greatest SaaS Companies
Naman discusses his journey to CMO—working with the world’s most recognizable brands, learning messaging frameworks from Marc Benioff, and standing up his own marketing organization.
Zeplin is a connected workspace where you can share, organize and collaborate on designs — built with developers in mind. Zeplin was founded in 2014 and supports 4+ million users from thousands of product teams, including Apple, Starbucks, Salesforce, Amazon, Microsoft, and Audi. Zeplin is a Y Combinator startup while also backed by amazing investors like Elad Gil, Mike Maples, and Kevin Hale. They’re a small but mighty, distributed crew with offices in San Francisco, Istanbul and London.
INDUSTRY
Computer Software
FOUNDED
2014

Guest Bio

Naman Khan is the CMO of Zeplin. He is an accomplished B2B and B2C marketing leader with experience at some of the largest companies in the world. Before joining Zeplin, Naman was VP of Marketing at Dropbox where he led development of user messaging, marketing content, demand generation, and go-to-market strategy. Prior to Dropbox, he served as VP of Product Marketing at Salesforce, led product marketing for Microsoft Office at Microsoft, and led B2C growth at Autodesk.

Episode Summary

This episode features an interview with Naman Khan, CMO of Zeplin.

Naman is an accomplished B2B and B2C marketing leader with experience at some of the largest companies in the world. Before joining Zeplin, he served as VP of Marketing at Dropbox, VP of Product Marketing at Salesforce, and held marketing leadership roles at both Microsoft and Autodesk.

On this episode, Naman discusses his journey from some of the world’s most recognizable brands to becoming a first-time CMO and standing up a new marketing organization. He also shares how he learned to harden messaging frameworks from Marc Benioff as well as some fascinating insights from his time at Salesforce and Dropbox.

Key Takeaways

  • How to harden messaging frameworks; it takes prioritization and curation.
  • Content is an investment, it doesn’t happen on its own.
  • Succeeding is great, but learning is way better.

Quotes

“I've been through messaging frameworks many times over my many years. There's only a handful of messaging that I've seen done well…When people like Marc Benioff review a messaging framework, they know what good looks like, so you learn how to harden messaging frameworks. You learn how to create really simple content that optimizes for simplicity instead of completeness or accuracy…What you really want to do is think about your user…You'll be lucky if they remember two or three things, so optimize for two or three things. This sounds so simple, but unless you've done it the hard way, it's very easy to keep making those mistakes.” 

“We all want that very simple, elegant, pithy ‘A thousand songs in your pocket’ that kind of says it all. I don't think it's always going to happen, but that's the goal–to get to where you curate a message that people totally get…but that comes from curating and prioritizing. You really have to invest in it. Otherwise, you just end up with kind of flat, generic sounding messaging that you can just take your logo off and put a competitor's logo on.”

“When people think of tactics, they may not always think of website. But because we're a hybrid self-service and sales-assist model, our website is super, super critical. So making sure that the website is optimized for top of funnel, middle, and purchase is important. And again, that doesn't just happen. You have to be very thoughtful about when you update your website with different features, when you want to run a promo, when you want to spin up a landing page, and how that will affect the overall kind of revenue footprint for your company.”

“Growth experiments and our MarTech stack–I put those together because you just can't have one without the other. For us to drive revenue and drive demand, it's all about running experiments through the high volume of visitors and the high volume of freemium traffic that we get.”

“Succeeding is great, but learning is way better. The reason is marketing isn't just rinse and repeat. You can't have done growth optimization at one company, come do the exact same thing at another company, and think that anything will ever look the same. There are just too many variables.”

“You can glean a lot of insight if you invest in data science. You can actually build a pretty complete picture of what the user is doing. You see that in other industries like social media–they know what I'm going to have for lunch right now, it's kind of bananas. So if you invest in really learning about your customer–quant, qual, take a look at how they use your app, and you iterate on it and become really good at it, it makes for much more sophisticated, targeted, high-ROI marketing.”

Episode Highlights

Episode Transcript