· 59 min read

Your Brand Narrative Is a Living Being: From Thesis to Execution with Warmly

Your Brand Narrative Is a Living Being: From Thesis to Execution with Warmly

In this episode of Learnings at Scale, Max sits down with Derek Jackson, Head of Marketing at Warmly. Derek’s brand-building strategy combines a strong bias to action with careful attention to feedback. He walks Max through the process of cultivating a brand reputation. With a clear marketing thesis and an iterative approach to branding, Warmly keeps an eye to future growth in the B2B SaaS space.

Featured Chapter: The Pillars of a Marketing Thesis

According to Derek, marketing is a bit like establishing a religion. A marketing thesis brings together an existential problem, a doctrine, and evangelism: from your perspective on the market you identify the problem your product solves, articulate the ways the product solves it, and then spread the word about that solution to the people who could use it. For growth-minded marketers in B2B SaaS, the goal is not to attract an audience, but rather to build a participatory community and a space in which that community can engage in an ongoing conversation about the product—a cathedral, if you will.

Click below to check out the featured chapter on YouTube!

Full Episode

Derek and Max define marketing as a multi-layer optimization problem. Algorithms, markets, and people all change over time, and intuition is often a more powerful tool than a playbook. They discuss growth loops, stepping back from individual components to see the big picture, and the ongoing role of consumer engagement in developing a brand reputation. Derek shares insights from practical experience as Head of Marketing at Warmly, including his fair share of mistakes.

Click below to check out the full episode on YouTube!

Actionable Lessons

Episode Chapters

Quotes & Insights

“If you don't make a choice. It will be inevitably […] made for you […] when there's an opportunity to present a proposal, […] propose.” 00:14:26

“I experimented […] around […] this idea of the happy path. Like what does the user need to do to experience some magical moment? How many times do they need to experience that magical moment within what amount of time before they would say, I'd pay seven bucks a month for this on my own?” 00:17:13

"We believe that brand is the last defensible moat in B2B SaaS...And brand is a function of reputation, of what people say about you." 00:25:39

"The projects that I spent the most amount of time [...] experimenting and rationalizing and analyzing the data and A/B testing [...] did not move the needle at all. Ironically." 00:37:56

Full Transcript

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Derek: [00:00:00] This idea of the happy path, like what does the user need to do to experience some magical moment? How many times do they need to experience that magical moment within what amount of time before they would say, I'd pay seven bucks a month for this on my own.

Max: My guest [00:00:15] today is Derek Jackson, head of marketing at Warmly.

Max: I was super excited for this interview because Derek and his team have a rather unique point of view on marketing. Derek believes it's not just about attracting an audience, it's about building a community, [00:00:30] a cathedral if you will, where potential customers can engage in ongoing conversations. According to Derek, Marketing is a little bit like establishing a religion.

Max: It brings together an existential problem, a doctrine, and a [00:00:45] strategy for spreading the word to the people who need it. In this episode, we talked about defining and executing on a marketing thesis, and how Warmly took their Warm Leads product from zero to a million dollars in annual recurring revenue in [00:01:00] just 14 months.

Max: By applying this methodology on the way, as we were walking back from grabbing that coffee, you were, you were telling a little bit about how you, how you kind of found your way into warmly. Yeah. So how'd that go?

Derek: So, [00:01:15] uh, a few years ago, maybe four years ago, I was working at this soft robotics company. Um, basically they filled bags that looked exactly like this coffee bag with vegetable oil and they excited electrodes through it.

Derek: And it. Expanded and [00:01:30] contracted in kind of a muscle y form. Soft robotics? Like software robot? Soft robotics, yeah. So, uh, robotics that had, um, performant qualities similar to that of, like, organic material, like your muscles. Oh. So your muscles are taking [00:01:45] energy, and they're expanding and contracting. Yeah.

Derek: By virtue of that energy. And so you can take things like, uh, thin films and plastics, and if you just plug electricity through them, basically, they have similar Uh, [00:02:00] properties as like organic material would like muscle and tissue. So anyways, we had this crazy company, um, that was highly like research funded.

Derek: Um, we spent a lot of time writing, uh, NSF, NASA, us army grants [00:02:15] just to get money to figure out how to commercialize this like bag of vegetable oil. And it wasn't really working out. Uh, we, we had cool contracts like to build Robo fish for surveillance purposes, uh, that, that was the challenge. And part of why I [00:02:30] was there was to help the CEO at the time, figure out how to commercialize this thing.

Derek: So there was some use cases in industrial automation, uh, for actuation systems. Basically they're massive mile long conveyor belts and things like Walmart or target [00:02:45] distribution centers. And they have these little breaks and some of them, they're mainly pneumatic. So they. Push air through them to stop the conveyor belt to control for speed.

Derek: Um, but if you have these like squishy breaking systems, like these, uh, [00:03:00] more like organic, uh, uh, material systems, you, you basically get more control over speed, um, it's not necessarily as like binary, there's more variable variability in the motion. So there's things like industrial automation in the [00:03:15] defense was the other big one and, uh, space, which kind of rolled into it.

Derek: So. Uh, NASA for example, they had this grant that they wanted us to, um, build a, a, also another actuation system, a similar braking type technology that wouldn't get space [00:03:30] dust on it. And so, uh, because it was covered in this like plastic material thing, it didn't have any mechanical bolts or gears or parts that dust can get inside and then break the system down.

Derek: So there was these really strange use cases [00:03:45] and obviously with, um, defense, they wanted biological looking, uh, surveillance systems or, or things that, uh, they, they could, you know, use for defense purposes. So in this case, it was, uh, This like robo fish that moved [00:04:00] like a fish because these bags would expand and contract and you could make it sort of Wavelengthy like like like a fish.

Derek: This sounds like

Max: some

Derek: like

Max: James Bond Like here's the this like spy fish. Yeah

Derek: It sounded [00:04:15] really cool, but he was insanely hard to sell I can imagine and so the shop just became a research like funding vehicle Okay, and so I spent a lot of my time just writing grant solicitations You

Max: Was your, were you studying engineering or what were you studying?[00:04:30]

Derek: No, so I went to, I went to business school. Um, I really didn't want to go to college. I thought it was a total waste of time. I was like, I want to go start companies. Why wouldn't I just go start a company? What is business school going to teach me about it? Promised my parents I'd go for a year. Ended up staying because Boulder, I went to CU Boulder, had a, a [00:04:45] really, Awesome and flourishing startup community that I spent my time like skipping class and instead just like reached out to founders to like, let me come work on their stuff for free or just talk to them.

Derek: And that's what I was interested in.

Max: Maybe that's why we got along so well. It's funny. I remember having a similar conversation [00:05:00] with my parents. It wasn't. It was in my case. I probably worked. It worked out all right because I had a had an auto detailing company. called Maxwax Auto Detailing. And I was like, you know, I, I had, uh, you know, I was, like, licensed, [00:05:15] insured.

Max: I had a little website. I had, like, this trailer that I'd drive around. And I remember being, like, very arrogant, just being like, why would I go to college? I'm like, you know, I'm making 1, 000 a week detailing cars, you know? Yeah. And then I ended up, then my, my, uh, my determination was like, okay, well, if you're gonna force me to go to college, I'm gonna go to Colorado where [00:05:30] I can ride my bike.

Max: Yeah, yeah.

Derek: Ironically, I think people that are more, Authoritarian or anti Sikhs authority somehow find that somewhere else, right? Like institutionally could not care less what the school was going to teach me. I just didn't believe [00:05:45] that, you know, someone who's got an MBA studying how to start a business and is now teaching how to start a business instead of ever starting a business has a, It's just not relevant.

Derek: Um, and so Founders for me was like, [00:06:00] that's, that's authority I sought out instead.

Max: So how did you find, so it was Warmly then, like your first job straight out of school?

Derek: Uh, I was working basically full time at both of these companies. Okay. Uh, yeah. So I, I think I was a junior in college at the [00:06:15] soft robotic startup going into senior year.

Derek: That's when I started getting into Warmly and I've been there since.

Max: How'd you get, how'd you get the Warmly gig?

Derek: So because selling Robo fish is really hard. Um, I wanted to, I got the classic after a year of doing that. I got [00:06:30] the classic takeaway, which is anyone who goes into hardware says hardware is hard.

Derek: And so I wanted to try software instead. And being in Boulder, there was a lot of exposure to, um, the tech stars portfolio companies. And so founders working on early stage stuff, [00:06:45] typically software products. And so I thought that would be a good, um, entry point into figuring out what I wanted to do from there or what I'd want to build by virtue of joining, uh, a company like that.

Derek: And so at the time, uh, I reached out to one of my friends who [00:07:00] worked at zoom and he was building the developer advocacy. Program there. And they were just about to release this beta partnership where they'd bring on 20 startup companies to build a technology on top of zoom. This was in like the throes of COVID.

Derek: And so, [00:07:15] uh, zoom, I think at its peak had a 250 million daily active users, maybe even 300 million. I think it's down to a hundred million now. Um, so everyone is on zoom. They say, Hey, let's invite some companies to come build these software products on top of zoom that were already [00:07:30] within. Uh, there was no set, um, they didn't scope in what types of products can be built in, but they're like, let's just experiment with 20 different companies.

Derek: So Max, Alan, Karina, uh, the, the co founders at Warmly Today, like they were working on something else. They were getting ready to pivot. [00:07:45] Into the third product and they wanted to get onto this zoom apps beta program. Um, and so when I asked my friend, Hey, I want some, uh, some founders that I could talk to, uh, potentially join company for pitch, pitch a job, basically.

Derek: Um, he [00:08:00] knew of max because he was trying to get into the, these like one of 20 companies. Okay. And so I said, Hey, can we make an arrangement? Max just raised some money. They're probably going to want to hire. And this is a fantastic distribution opportunity [00:08:15] for them going on zoom to these hundred million daily active users that their app widget is just going to be right in the taskbar, right?

Derek: Like startups dream about that type of that type of distribution. And so I was like, well, I guess I'll just be a growth marketing intern for you and I'll help [00:08:30] you just like take advantage of the distribution. Um, and so. Tommy, my friend at the time, had sort of got us in touch. Then Max let me pitch him and I've been there ever since.

Derek: Shout out Tommy. Yeah, shout out Tommy.

Max: Were they, were they in [00:08:45] Colorado? Techstars is in Colorado,

Derek: right? They did Techstars Boulder in Colorado. They were hopping around for a bit. I think this is after they returned from living in Hawaii for a period of time where they did YC. Okay. So I think that YC batch summer of [00:09:00] 2020 was remote.

Derek: Yeah. Um, they decided to just go to Hawaii because it's like, whatever, it's remote. Let's just go do somewhere nice. Um, and then they did, uh, TechStars Boulder.

Max: What was the idea that they pitched at YC?

Derek: Uh, I, [00:09:15] they were working on job change tracking basically, or yeah. So people that buy your product, you want to monitor where they go from job to job because they're going to be your next champion.

Derek: And so that turned out to be, I think, a big headache on the data side of [00:09:30] things. Okay. Uh, Um, and then, yeah, there's a few other things that, um, didn't make it as much, it was more push than pull in terms of the people that are selling to. And so they decided to switch gears. Okay. This was a bit before my [00:09:45] time, so I don't have full context.

Derek: Yeah, yeah, totally. Totally.

Max: And so then you met, did you say you met Maximus in Colorado or how was it? How did, like, how did that, you, I mean, you pitched him. So, uh, how did the, how did the.

Derek: Yeah, so Tommy put us in touch [00:10:00] in email. And then I met Max on Zoom a couple weeks later. I think he was being a ski bum in Breckenridge.

Derek: You know, he's growing out his COVID flow hair and everything. And grainy Zoom background, whatever. Uh, and um, I think it was like two calls [00:10:15] after that, just continued to talk about what, what the role might look like. Um, went back to the team and then ultimately made the invitation to come on. What was your pitch?

Derek: Uh, it was, it was that, which is like, you're going to come, uh, you, you had just raised some money. I'm sure you want [00:10:30] like cheap labor, like interns, uh, as, as a wise founder. And, and you're going to be on zoom, big distribution opportunity. Uh, and so having a growth marketing person to come in and Utilize that and [00:10:45] figure out different ways, uh, to grow users.

Derek: Like it's, it's probably advantageous to you. It was, um, a bit, a bit off the cuff, honestly. I didn't know exactly what I was going to do. I never worked in software. I never had like a growth marketing role like that. [00:11:00] Um, and so that was generally my pitch was this is, this is a cool lever. Like, let me pull it.

Derek: What did you do for the first

Max: like six months?

Derek: For the first six months? Uh, so big learning for [00:11:15] building a company on top of a big incumbent is that you do not have the luxury that you would have your own timeline if you were building it just yourself. So zoom was quite slow and, um, was, was fairly abrasive.

Derek: In terms of hitting [00:11:30] the timelines that they had said they were going to commit to, and so a lot of it was just collecting different, uh, was, was coordinating launch plans for the general admission when it would go public to everybody. Um, and so we wanted to make sure across, like, all, all [00:11:45] socials, all, you know, Like email systems.

Derek: So when users did come in, they were like, Hey, you know, here's how you can get started. Um, classic, like email drip nurturing sequence stuff. Um, and then, uh, you know, making sure we had [00:12:00] activated this early community of advocates that we had in our, um, in our reach because we were a tech stars company, a YC company, and we had a handful of investors at the time.

Derek: We wanted to make sure that we sort of tapped into making warmly feel like, It [00:12:15] was this exclusive, um, you know, business tool that people were using to meet one another. Cause our, our early, uh, target audience was, was founders and venture capitalists because you're getting on these calls, uh, founders are raising and during COVID, [00:12:30] like you're not on Sand Hill road with a more sort of put together pitch.

Derek: Um, how do you actually build relationships on zoom? Um, that was really, that was, that was sort of the pitch that we wanted to make to the market. And so it was [00:12:45] a series of just activating those people that would be our target audience to talk about how great War Millions is.

Max: I should know this, but I don't have it right in front of me.

Max: How many, how many years has it been from like when you started to now? [00:13:00]

Derek: It has just, as of like last week, crossed three years.

Max: Okay, nice. Yeah. And I'm curious that like that first year, I'd imagine you were probably doing a lot of different stuff.

Derek: Oh yeah, everything. Everything.

Max: I touch every different [00:13:15] part of the business

Derek: besides

Max: engineering.

Max: Is there anything that stands out like as a, I mean, like the, the show is called learning to scale, but I'm just curious, like, is there anything that really punctuates that learning? I feel like there's something often about the first year [00:13:30] in a, in a position like that, at least that was my experience.

Max: Yeah. Like, I'm curious, what did you, is there anything that you really walked away from that first year? having figured out or, or thought was interesting or learned.

Derek: I think maybe it was more of a junior [00:13:45] green around the gills type takeaway, which is um, if you don't make a choice, it will be inevitably make like Made for you.

Derek: Yeah. Um, like when there's an opportunity to present a proposal, like propose or else you're going to sort of get relegated to [00:14:00] someone else's. And so for me, that first year was actually learning how to say no to a lot of things. Interesting. Um, and discerning like. Where is this something that I can be an A plus player out versus not?

Derek: So for example, um, like [00:14:15] sales was not the thing that I was going to be a plus at. Okay. It's very clear. Um, early on. I didn't have like a formal quote or whatever. It was just the business was, there was momentum happening in the business and we just needed a Swiss army knives [00:14:30] everywhere. Right. Um, unless you were engineering.

Derek: And so across like sales, customer success, marketing, biz ops, even sort of like a. quasi chief of staff role to Max, our CEO, um, product eventually. Um, that was a little [00:14:45] bit later, but I think that year was, um, yeah, learn, learning how to sort of make your proposal, um, or get relegated to, to somewhere else that you, you might not want in, might not be in the best service of, of the company and you, um, in terms of what, [00:15:00] what, what you're exceptional at.

Max: How many team members were there when you came on?

Derek: I think there was maybe 11, 12, something like that.

Max: And how big is the team now?

Derek: The team, 25, 27. So I think for the first two years, it kind of hovered [00:15:15] around that, that 15, 16, 17. Um, uh, range while we were still figuring stuff out. And then I'd say over the last year, that's when we've started hiring and have made plans to hire further from there.

Max: So you came in as like this growth marketing [00:15:30] Swiss army knife, and then you were kind of floating around a lot of these different functions. It sounds like,

Derek: yeah, exactly.

Max: Always like coming back to marketing or

Derek: doing

Max: it through a marketing angle or how did that,

Derek: yeah. Um, doing it through a marketing angle is a good way to, to, to [00:15:45] phrase it.

Derek: Um, I also at the time was, so after doing more, I would say content related growth marketing things on social or, uh, evangelism with, with advocates, things like that. Um, [00:16:00] there was a unique opportunity I thought to invest more in, in kind of like our, our PLG motion is when PLG was all, all the rage and still kind of is.

Derek: Um, I definitely hopped on that and wanted to figure out how to actually [00:16:15] monetize. This like zoom product thing by building different growth loops. And so, um, I really wanted to know what the leveling framework was of what actions does someone take as a user to get to value? And then what [00:16:30] is the threshold or inflection point at which they'd probably be willing to put down a credit card?

Derek: And so I experimented a lot, uh, especially with our team, um, around like This idea of the happy path, like what does the user need to do to experience some [00:16:45] magical moment? How many times did it need to experience that magical moment within what amount of time before they would say I'd pay seven bucks a month for this on my own?

Derek: Cause at the time we were doing more of a slack approach, which is like. The thesis, I guess, that we had came up with early [00:17:00] was, um, intercompanied option is how we're going to win. Meaning we aggregate as many bottom up users to then, uh, go and sell top down and bring it wall to wall. So this was the Slack mode, which is get at least three people to [00:17:15] send.

Derek: I can't remember how many messages it was, but they found some magic retention number that if they activated to do these, Steps. They took these actions. Um, it increased the likelihood that they would invite a friend, stay on the platform, and then ultimately [00:17:30] it made it very easy for our sales team to come in top down and say, Hey, look, you know, max Derek, whoever is, is, is using Slack.

Derek: Um, they've sent this amount of messages. They've been using it for X amount of Y amount of time. Um, you should probably own a business plan, right? And so that was, that was [00:17:45] kind of the marketing angle. For me as related to, for example, something like product, um, is I wanted to figure out like how, how could you monetize this, this more bottoms up, um, and, and user motion to then make it easy for sales to sell.

Max: It prompts a [00:18:00] couple of questions. My, my first one is what's a growth loop.

Derek: Yeah. Um, I think a growth loop is something where each incremental, uh, input generates some end to two, [00:18:15] uh, of, of that input. And so for us. just to be more like, uh, tangible about it. Um, our, our growth loop that worked really well was when you became a user in our, in our zoom app, [00:18:30] um, you have to authenticate your, uh, I don't think they'll be upset about this, but you have to authenticate permissions to access like zoom and your calendar.

Derek: Cause we hooked him with your calendar. Cause we told you people that you were meeting with to prepare you. And so, [00:18:45] because you get contacts from people's calendars, the second someone becomes a user and joins. Like five emails get sent off to your coworkers saying, Hey, when did you like to join Max, your teammate on warmly?

Derek: He uses it to look more professional on zoom. Nice. Right. And so you're like, [00:19:00] Oh, okay, this is strange, but I'll maybe join this. And so each action that was taken, each incremental user that joined generated two or three out of that. And so that's kind of, kind of like what a loop is.

Max: Did you, I'm curious, did you ever have one of those like [00:19:15] blow up in your face?

Max: Those kinds of like,

Derek: Oh yeah, definitely. Um, I. At one point in time, um, I was doing this very manually when I first figured out that it was going to work. So what I would do is I would pull contacts from something like Seamless or [00:19:30] Apollo, meaning like who at this company, uh, can I, uh, download contacts from given this user at that company?

Derek: Uh, and then I would send manual HubSpot broadcasts to these people and try and throttle them. [00:19:45] Um, and I think a good learning here was. If you, you need to know what your limitations are. And so you kind of need to push the, push the boundaries. So I got, I got quite, um, borderline [00:20:00] egregious with the amount of emails I would send at these companies.

Derek: And if you imagine like larger companies, you're sending a lot of these emails. Like this isn't, I'm not scraping two or three people at some small startup. Like I want maximum sort of lift for the manual work that I'm doing. Yeah. And, and so that's what I did is [00:20:15] I, I, I napalmed, uh, Atlassian and they got really, really upset.

Derek: So I think I scraped like 300 people from their company. And this is me as like very green around the gills interned, like just, Testing the waters of what I couldn't get away with. Cause the numbers [00:20:30] were fantastic in terms of conversion. I like, I knew what the ROI was. And so at that point, the goal is just make an infinite lever, right?

Derek: Yeah. Just keep, keep pushing that. Um, and so I think their head of security or something directly emailed Max or see, I was like, this is [00:20:45] unacceptable. Uh, you know, 350 Atlassian employees just got an email saying that. You know, warmly is now approved for their, uh, Atlassian zoom instance. Like this is, this is not okay.

Derek: They, they went and then got the zoom CSM, [00:21:00] uh, who was then like, Hey, this is, they also slapped us on the wrist for that. So, um, what did Maximus say? Uh, he is amazing in times of crisis, like all CEOs, I think. And so he had a, this, this wonderful [00:21:15] apology, um, guarantee would never happen again. We'll delete you from all of our systems, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Derek: I actually don't remember exactly what he did, but I remember the moment I went to him and I said, Hey, I did this thing. And, um, I was, I was amazed at [00:21:30] how resiliently calm he was. Um, you know, I was, I was sort of like struggling to get it out of my mouth. Like this is what I did. I fucked up. Um, and he was like, just, just tell me what it is.

Derek: So I told him and he was like, okay, and just kind of [00:21:45] goes quiet for a little bit, starts writing an email. Uh, and then he's like, well, we'll figure this out. He just kind of like dropped off the call. He's gone. I think that's like the resiliency that you need as a founder, which is like, it's your job to build, um, like firehouses, like, [00:22:00] and these are your departments and your people and the tools and things that you equip them with.

Derek: Um, and ideally they've resolved them yourself, but in the early days as a founder, like you're the sole fireman in a way. Um, and so he, he had to put out that fire for me.

Max: Yeah, I mean, I feel like there's a [00:22:15] quality to it where it's, if you're not like pushing up against the boundary, you're probably playing it a little too safe.

Max: Too safe. Exactly. There's going to be some point where you step over a little bit.

Derek: I think it was a goal for our team, uh, early on to have at [00:22:30] least like one mea culpa moment a month or something like that. Yeah. Like where if you weren't messing up and apologizing for something like that, then you're not, you know, You're not, you know, press pressing.

Derek: I imagine

Max: though, like, have you, you know, those, like they'll have the, in the [00:22:45] factory, it's like, however many days since an accident, I'm imagining you're warmly offices, however many days it's an accident better not get over 30.

Derek: No, if it's been over 30, yeah. It's like, it's, this is something's wrong.

Derek: Something's wrong. We got to mess something up now.

Max: I'm curious now that [00:23:00] you're getting into this head of marketing role where you're obviously having it probably take more of a. Not to say that you didn't have a big picture view early on, but more, you know, when you're, you know, doing those early things, it's more, it's more seaball [00:23:15] hit ball, right?

Max: Like you're, you're doing this thing and you're trying to drive this output and then do another thing and try to drive this output. How did you like cross that chasm to go from like looking at the individual components to them starting to think bigger picture and like, [00:23:30] what's the, what's the overall thesis here?

Derek: Yeah, um, Well, the transition, I wouldn't say was, was graceful, so to speak. It was more so like this needs to happen. Right. And so in classic sort of startup [00:23:45] fashion, uh, Alan, who I was working with at the time doing marketing and, and this is now our, our, um, like warm leads product we had since, uh, started.

Derek: Strategically divested the, the zoom product. Um, by the time that I started doing [00:24:00] marketing, uh, for this one, and I saw him early on, maybe nine months ago or so really pushing for building a category around this, this new tool, um, and why category creation was so important. And as I [00:24:15] saw him, uh, mobilize a lot of different efforts to create a category around our space and we can go.

Derek: Further in depth on that, um, I saw that, uh, it was more clear to me that we were making a [00:24:30] very concerted effort to say like, this is what we believe is the winning strategy for B in B2B SaaS. I think, uh, I don't know too many marketers that are. [00:24:45] intentional in the way they discern how, what, what the winning strategy is in their space.

Derek: Like, I think it's seldom that I have come across like a marketer. And maybe this is just cause we're more early stage and interact with more early stage people. But our [00:25:00] thesis, for example, is we believe that brand is the last defensible moat in B2B SaaS. Okay. And brand is a function of reputation of what people say about you.

Derek: And you do that through content creation. Um, and if you're in soft [00:25:15] robotics, for example, or, or in zoom, like what, what is your thesis for why you win in marketing? Um, I, I don't meet too many people that put that on paper and say like, this is sort of the five paragraph essay of why we win short and long term

Max: being able to [00:25:30] identify the thing,

Derek: being able to identify the thing, because a lot of marketing, I think gets, it's such a, The role is interesting.

Derek: And to go back to your point around, um, when you're an IC, you're very, you're just in this swim lane and you just execute on that [00:25:45] swim lane. And then when you zoom out and evaluate all your options as sort of like the, the marketing head, um, all these different swim lanes, you, you start asking yourself like, how do these cohesively even work together?

Derek: And that's interesting learning for [00:26:00] me as marketing has so much, uh, coordination overhead that you have a lot of siloed. Uh, and specialized functions, maybe even more than any other department, um, that don't necessarily have a clear why behind the way they work together. So for [00:26:15] example, you know, you're like SEO, right?

Derek: Contact writers and stuff like that are putting out blogs for keyword, keyword research to take advantage of. Uh, you know, search volume activity. And then you've got people talking about, you have these like talking head videos on your podcast, [00:26:30] talking about whatever. And then, you know, you have paid ads running these like competitor comparison thing.

Derek: Like it's not exactly clear how this rolls up into some bigger picture or how this is sort of a concerted effort to serve some larger marketing thesis for why you [00:26:45] win. I think having a worldview, especially in your space, Um, given some track history of other competitors that have, that have ultimately won and how and why, um, is like an important mental activity that I [00:27:00] was kind of given the opportunity to think through a little bit.

Max: It's like this multi layer optimization problem. Like you're at the ICU level, like you're optimizing the thing, but then when you're at the head level, you're optimizing the things.

Derek: Yeah. Yeah. How does that lend itself [00:27:15] to like buyer psychology or like you're thinking about it from the perspective of you as a trader?

Derek: Uh, but, like, what interests you about pricing specifically from the perspective of the buyer?

Max: People are really bad at, um, mentally pricing options. Gotcha. Like, there's, [00:27:30] like, the one thing is, like, people are really bad at, um, humans as a whole are really bad at assigning accurate probabilities to things like long tail risk.

Derek: Mm.

Max: Right? So, one example could be, um, And this isn't necessarily something that we've, we've [00:27:45] had to do, but like if you're thinking about how you, um, set like performance guarantees or things like that within contracts, like that is an option. And you can, if you are aware that this event, like the worst case [00:28:00] scenario, which is often like in a buyer's mind, the thing that they're trying to avoid is the worst case scenario.

Max: If you think about it through that lens, there's often things that you can do with pricing to remove the possibility. of the worst case scenario event. And for them, that might [00:28:15] seem like a big boon or like a big value add to the contract. But if you actually had a way of doing the math, you would see that you just sold an option on a 0.

Max: 5 percent probability outcome than is the thing that people are worried about. And that's a little bit of like a theoretical [00:28:30] example, but

Derek: Yeah.

Max: I think there's a lot of that. And just thinking about how you can layer options into stuff like wool and like making, like understanding just what incentives are worth and stuff like that.

Max: I mean, we'll do bigger ones like our, like we don't, we don't have any like longterm [00:28:45] contracts. We have every, all of our contracts have like a 28 day out. And so that gives our clients like huge optionality. Cause then it's like if you oftentimes in the quality, like this doesn't sound like self advertising probably won't put this in the podcast, but like where we do really good work in the [00:29:00] performance marketing space, I think, and, and our, the agencies that we compete with are not like our size.

Max: They're like 10 times our size or 20 times our size. Yeah. Um, and we are very much like that, like premium agency, I guess, in terms of pricing and whatever. [00:29:15] And so. It makes it a lot easier to have that conversation when it's like, well, they're all signing you to a 12 month contract. We're giving you a 28 day out.

Max: Like our contracts have so much embedded optionality that it's like, why, why wouldn't you as a [00:29:30] rational actor go with us? And then if we suck, fire us after 60 days and go sign the 12 month contract that you're going to sign anyway. Because if you get the, if you get it wrong the other way, you're going to lose 10, you know, in that example, six times as much.

Max: Money with [00:29:45] or more with the last time and the fees paid and stuff So it's just like I think going back to your question There's like you when you start to think about things like how do I? How do I sell an option to my customer in the contract that then makes it? [00:30:00] Much more valuable to them.

Derek: Have you ever had a prospect go with a different agency?

Derek: And the key word that stuck out to me there was rational actor, right? Like you give them all these escape hatches or you give them that like quote, unquote, a hundred, a hundred million dollar offer. Like, [00:30:15] there's no way you can say no to this. Uh, all of this is built in purpose, uh, to, to be advantageous to you.

Derek: Well, like, has there ever been a time where on paper it was a worse option, technically speaking, or contractually? But the prospect went with someone [00:30:30] else.

Max: Oh, definitely.

Derek: Yeah. A hundred percent. And why is that?

Max: I think probably the most common one is that for better or for worse, there's probably a perception in agency where they'll, um, and this is the, probably the most frustrating one, they'll like look on LinkedIn and see how many employees you have [00:30:45] and they'll be like, okay, well, I'm going to estimate the quality of service you're going to give me based on the number of employees that you have.

Max: That's very frustrating as a business owner. Cause it's like the, the. financial metric. I mean, apart from growth and things, but the thing that Alex and I look at is [00:31:00] like net income per employee. Yeah, we want to be a highly efficient business. And I think that that is good for our, it's good for us and it's good for our customers and it's good for our employees.

Max: Because what it means is that, you know, things like a lot of agencies will, [00:31:15] um, big client fires you. They'll fire the staff or some, you know, there will be some headcount reduction. It's very common. And, you know, knock on wood, of course, like at some level, if a lot of clients fired us at some point, we'd have to make some hard call, but it would have to be a lot of clients, right?[00:31:30]

Max: And so we designed the business to be highly efficient in those ways. And so then it's frustrating when you get decayed from a process because someone's like, Oh, well, you only have this many employees. Your work can't be that good. And it's like, well, that's ridiculous. You know what I mean? Like our whole thing is that.[00:31:45]

Max: Our, and our view on the space is that I think marketing requires you to have these, um,

Max: like a healthy dose of maybe and a healthy, a lot of experimentation. And we really don't know. [00:32:00] And, and I think that once you accept that as like, you know, there for a lot of these things, like we're defining the playbook as we go, you know, you know, if you think about it just as basically as like, do you think the, the algorithm, whether for paid or organic is the same today as it was a [00:32:15] year ago?

Max: So why would you then work with an agency that has some overly defined playbook and a huge staff built around that defined playbook? I would rather work with an agency that is designed to be nimble and be able to [00:32:30] say, okay, this is the thing that works now. This is a thing that works tomorrow. Not in a frenetic, like frantic kind of unfocused way, but just having that again, optionality.

Max: Um, so that, that kind of thing, I think, but that, you know, now that I say it, it comes back to just, you know, find the right [00:32:45] customers. Like when we find the right customers, they, we don't have to explain anything to them and they don't have, you know, I'm sure you've probably experienced that at warmly.

Max: Like you don't have to overly explain this thing and justify and rationalize and try to get them to understand because the people that are going to get it, they'll get it.

Derek: Yeah. The, [00:33:00] the worst thing that you can do is preamble. Like just build up the, the, the five paragraph essay for why you should go with us, uh, versus not like it, it should feel instantaneous.

Derek: I also think it's really strange that from the buyer's perspective with agencies, the goalpost is a [00:33:15] number of employees because like for marketing, especially with us and also being a startup that's lean, um, we want to have the lowest number of people in the marketing team for the highest revenue amount, um, smallest possible growth team for the biggest possible business.

Max: And also it's such a [00:33:30]

Derek: Bullshit able number.

Max: Like, if that's what it takes to win, like, okay, let's go, uh, hey, Alex, let's go, you know, VPN in some places, spin up some LinkedIn profiles, and put 30 people on the LinkedIn, like.

Derek: Yeah, if you really wanted to. If you

Max: really wanted to, you know, or, or, get a bunch of contractors and ask them to put their, whatever, [00:33:45] whatever it may be, like, it's just such a, Silly thing.

Max: I mean, we like on our website, we just have like the 28 day contract. We're just like the only thing that drives retention is results or something like that. And I believe that, you know, it's true. It's like, why would the agency have a better deal than the [00:34:00] whole marketing team? Like how many people on your marketing team at warm?

Max: We have a 12 month contract. Yeah. You know what I mean? Exactly. Right. Um, but yeah, anyway, Derek, thanks for coming on the show. I appreciate it. Thanks for making the trek over to the East village.

Derek: Yeah. Here in New York city. [00:34:15] We got a bag of caffeine. This is pretty cool. Drinking the Puerto Rican coffee.

Max: I was so stoked to see that my local PR coffee shop is like two blocks away.

Max: They're gonna get so, you know, not that anyone watches our podcast yet, but if [00:34:30] anyone does, they're gonna get a lot of free, sort of earned media value from the amount of times that 787 got called

Derek: out. Well, you gotta go interview the guy. Who, who the place and then he'll humbly shield the podcast.

Max: Yeah.

Max: Let's, let's, uh, let's hurry this up so we can go, uh, do two podcasts. . Just [00:34:45] kidding. Uh, really interesting with that. And I'm curious how you, how you approach. This now with kind of effect. I mean, effectively you're just, it's, it's a marketing mix, right? It's depending how much time and time and money you're investing in all these different things.

Max: And like there's [00:35:00] a certainly a corollary to that in investing where it's like if you're constructing and investing, there's, you know, formulas and math that you can put to this to sort of identify the optimal portfolio and so on. But the idea being that like if you have 10 securities or 20 securities, [00:35:15] you know, you'll look at like the return over some period of time and the volatility defined by certain.

Max: You know, terms and whatever, um, you're like, put this stuff into a model and you arrive at this like recommended allocation based on some [00:35:30] overall like portfolio target volatility that you're trying to back into, right? Like, you know, you add up the standard deviation of all these different things to arrive at like an overall standard deviation and it, the thing that has struck me as interesting, you know, spending the last five [00:35:45] years in marketing and before that having spent, you know, The preceding years and finance is that in marketing, it feels like there's often this desire to apply this, this level of [00:36:00] mathematical rigor that is fundamentally impossible.

Max: in marketing, right? Like everyone's looking at all this data and there, you hear a lot of people talking about experiments and like, you know, statistical significance of experiments and all this stuff. And if you actually like zoom, [00:36:15] you know, not to like pontificate too deeply on this, but like if you, if you zoom out and you just like think about the thing, right?

Max: Like it's kind of ridiculous to really get too deep into that, the math of it in a way, obviously, like not to say you don't have to look at the numbers and look at the data, but just because like, if we're talking about [00:36:30] something like, you know, Or get performance of an organic post or performance of ads or whatever during this a like you probably aren't looking at it on a long enough time horizon because like just on a baseline level to have true like significance, [00:36:45] regardless of whether you're sort of a B testing tool tells you have significance like to have true significance, you probably would have to run it over, you know, multiple Most businesses have seasonality.

Max: So if you're running it for three months, like you're have some embedded seasonality in there. [00:37:00] And, and that's just one thing. The algos are changing, like how many changes happened on the website while you were also running this, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And. All this to say, you have, you know, you strike me as someone that has, from the conversations we've had, you have this kind of [00:37:15] like, I don't know if I, like you have a systematic approach, like you put a lot of thought into these things, and I'm curious how you go about now stepping into this head of marketing role.

Max: Deciding where to place the energy and how much of it is [00:37:30] like looking at specific data or numbers and how much of it is Like this thing worked really well last week. Like it's pretty clear.

Derek: Yeah. Yeah, it's interesting.

Max: Did I lose the question with me? No, I

Derek: think I know what you're saying And it goes back to what we talked about around [00:37:45] you're you're in a bad spot when you have to give the preamble Yeah, like where you over rationalize a bunch of things to make your decision like seem really right and there's a there's a time and place for that.

Derek: What initially came up for me while I was listening to you [00:38:00] was any time that I spent the projects I spent the most amount of time sort of experimenting and rationalizing and analyzing the data and a b testing and doing all this stuff was the stuff that did not move the [00:38:15] needle at all. Ironically, um, any time that I took an idea and sort of a, in a vacuum and was like, this is why it's going to work this very tactical email campaign, for example, or email broadcasts, like this is what this purpose is going to do.

Derek: And this is, you know, how we're going to run the test [00:38:30] and change the wording around and the subject line and blah, blah, blah, like, uh, did, did not work. That, that, that's not what moved the needle. It was only when I think we took a step back, uh, and asked, and I think the, the proclivity to look [00:38:45] at numbers is so desirable.

Derek: Um, because it's so clear versus having this more long tail weight in C approach. Um, it's kind of like, is your marketing machine more analogous to a, [00:39:00] uh, like a cow grazing very short incremental gains, like an investing, like, are you going to put that thing into an ETF and just let it sit for 20 years?

Derek: Or are you, do you have like this more of a lion approach, which is like highly ambitious, very uncertain, but if you win, you [00:39:15] kind of get it big. Right. Um, and I think you can't get to the like ambitious, weird, nebulous lion appetite for marketing if you're only just looking at numbers and data. Um, and this goes back to what we had talked about, like what, what is [00:39:30] your thesis for why you win?

Derek: Because if, if you've really started to crystallize that, um, the goal then becomes, you know, Increase top line distribution through the vehicle of the thesis and whatever activities that need to, [00:39:45] that get you there and then go back and increase step over step conversion. And I think that's what a lot of people spend a lot of time on is what is the AP test result?

Derek: What is the statistical significance? But like, That's step two. Step one, for us at least, [00:40:00] is increase top level distribution. Find the thing that works to go from zero to one. And then one to N, that's when you bring in the people to start doing the experimentation, the regression analysis, like all this sort of stuff.

Derek: When I was mental [00:40:15] masturbatory stuff like you don't want to be, and sorry to interrupt, but I think making decisions by Excel spreadsheet is just not a good place to be in. Um, there's a helpful time and place for it with anything, but I kind of like what [00:40:30] one of the first investors said in, um, in the book shoe dog about Phil McKnight.

Derek: Um, when everyone was saying like, why are you putting money into this for him to build this factory and, you know, build the shoes, whatever, like who cares? It's like people put such. Um, such [00:40:45] stupidity is derived from just numbers. Yeah. I thought that was a good take. Um, and marketing is, is, it sounds like a classic marketing thing to say, but I, I think this is one of those cases.

Max: Well, it's a good point. I mean, I think it's, I think what it comes down to when I hear you talking about it [00:41:00] is that you have like, you can probably assign some level of like expected value to most actions, whether it's super precise or it's just sort of your sense of kind of what it's going to be. And ultimately, like if you're.

Max: If you're, if you're coming up with some [00:41:15] new program or news, however you define it, new strategy or like new thread to pull on to drive growth, that inherently it can have quite a, like that can have, it's an, it can have an unbounded impact. Like you don't [00:41:30] know until you do it. It can have a huge impact, but any in any optimization of a thing that is already existing, like you're kind of optimizing on the margins.

Max: I don't know. You know what I mean? Like, like you can make it a lot better, but it's rare that you're. You're going to take a thing and [00:41:45] certainly it happens, I think, but like, it's rare that you're going to take a thing and then optimize it to be like a hundred times better. You're going to optimize it to be more efficient, but it's, you kind of have to balance the two efforts.

Max: Like you have to constantly, and that's probably the hardest part I'd imagine. Like you have, you have to create these new [00:42:00] things and keep coming up with the new ones and then also like keep making the existing ones better. I think that's kind of what you were getting at with like, you know, you build it and then you sort of pass it on to someone or however you handle that within the team.

Derek: Definitely. And I think with. The interesting part, too, [00:42:15] is to want to say either or, um, sometimes it's both and, like, going back to marketing just being a big coordination problem, a lot of stuff has to just be actioned at once, and so you want to sort of, like, identify [00:42:30] each swim lane for what it is and then, and sort of, like, I understand what your return on is on or the conversion or whatever, but you have to activate all these different channels at the same time.

Derek: And that's why I think, um, if you have this [00:42:45] really compelling thesis for why you win, um, all of those are easily justifiable versus the CEO is going to want to come in and look at each different swim lane, like performance marketing, like, let me look at SEO ads, whatever, like what, what is the row [00:43:00] ass or, or something on that.

Derek: And, um, it's very easy to start evaluating things in that way and want to cut or, uh, just, just look at the numbers and see what it is, but what is the overall bigger, like what we call, um, your church? Like, how are you building that? [00:43:15]

Max: Yeah, I was, uh, it's funny. I was talking to another founder yesterday who was talking about the, how they look at like blended CAC as like a key metric, you know, and it's interesting kind of what you just said prompts that because I've [00:43:30] noticed having just gotten to Be around a lot of really successful operators that it seems like the ones that have the highest like decision accuracy and like drive really fast Growth are the ones that are like simultaneous like yeah, you're looking at the specific [00:43:45] data points like the micro But they're always hinged to the overall blended numbers because the specific stuff can lie to you.

Max: So yeah so often um, but you know Going back to this idea of like building a thesis, one thing that, [00:44:00] you know, impresses me about you guys, and I think it's cool. It's like the, the Warmly crew, you guys seem like you have this really strong bias to action. And, but you're, it's also simultaneously like very [00:44:15] well thought out.

Max: Not to say the bias for action and it being well thought out are mutually exclusive. But like you guys have this pretty clear, uh, thesis that you're marketing thesis that you're kind of building, uh, building the marketing [00:44:30] around. And I'm curious, like, how do you go about, you know, you know, we talked about like your time is more of an I see you running these experiments, you know, how you're thinking about this, like, multi layered optimization problem.

Max: How do you take a step back from that to then [00:44:45] build? thesis, which I think is obviously specific, probably also more conceptual in a way

Derek: it's very conceptual. Um, but it's interesting how it ties back to how it tactically gets executed on. Um, so taking a step back on the thesis, [00:45:00] like I think what we needed to do by virtue of building a sales and marketing tool and platform.

Derek: So we did the zoom thing. Now we, uh, de anonymize companies and contacts. On your website, you know, for, for B2B companies. And [00:45:15] then we automate the outreach to those companies and contacts, uh, through email, LinkedIn and chat website chat. So that's just context for, for what we do now. Um, and so sales and marketing SAS is extremely saturated [00:45:30] and building software is extremely cheap.

Derek: And so technology as a, um, motor, you know, you, you can kind of go down different strands across like. Data or network effects. Things like, like, what about your [00:45:45] technology is special? Not, not a lot, actually. It's very easy to copy companies and what products they do. And in fact, we did that like 60 months ago.

Derek: We just found a small player in the space. We thought this was directionally correct. We could build a better business off of it. And now we've surpassed them. And now we're focusing on bigger [00:46:00] fish. Um, and it goes back to, um, who, who is this city on the hill that you aspire to be like, but ultimately. Um, surpassed because they didn't do something right.

Derek: And, and it [00:46:15] was ultimately their sort of like hammer Tia, like it was their tragic fall for us. That was drift. So we looked back 2015 to like 2020, what happened to drift and why did they work so well? And that's because we were building an AI chat tool at the time. [00:46:30] And they had the best brand by far out of any other tool, um, sales, sales or marketing tool.

Derek: And specifically this. Term and phrase around conversational marketing within chatbots. Like that, that was a very new [00:46:45] phraseology for, for people to say. And so they built a category around conversational marketing with this chatbot. Um, and they built this massive surround sound megaphone brand that was just [00:47:00] 100 percent share of customer voice out in the ether of LinkedIn.

Derek: And when you thought about, uh, Drift, you thought about their content. Oh yeah, the chatbot tool, but I love the, I love the marketing. I love those guys. Um, and so, [00:47:15] It's also a B, a B minus tool or, or like a C plus tool, probably a C plus tool. And so what's going on there when you have technology being ranked on the order of C, like C plus C [00:47:30] minus, and they're still winning deals, right?

Derek: Like something about brand is working. And you also saw this with things with other companies like Clearbit. Clearbit data intelligence tool, big contact database thing, similar to Apollo, [00:47:45] ZoomInfo, some of those other guys. And they won, uh, a large percentage of, I think they won in general because they also had really great brand.

Derek: Which, if we break down, is reputation. And reputation comes [00:48:00] from really compelling and quality content. It's educational and entertaining, uh, and, and it's insightful substance. And so, um, they had, when we, when we had actually talked to the head of demand generation at clear bit, they told us that their [00:48:15] eBooks were some of the best, like, um, book value assets of the company because of how much.

Derek: Revenue it generated from a pipeline standpoint, just like one eBook. That had it six months long, uh, sort of lag until it [00:48:30] actually started generating revenue. I can't remember what the content was about. Um, but it pulled in like three or four deals a quarter or something, right? Like just that single piece of content and asset.

Derek: And I would say that was like phase two of the overall B2B marketing [00:48:45] saga. Like first was probably, um, you know, your HubSpot era, like go directly to the decision maker. And that's how you market to them. The part two was, was probably like inbound marketing, creating a lot of content and things that, [00:49:00] uh, would pull people in.

Derek: And I think drift and HubSpot and Clearbit fall into that, fall into that realm too. Um, three is like probably PLG making it really easy for, for buyers and people that are checking out, checking out your stuff to, um, [00:49:15] experience your tool. And I think the last one now is media. And so I think we're taking, we're, Part two of inbound marketing and dumping like fire on, on the jet fuel and saying like media reputation, what people say about you, your sheriff, percentage of customer voice, [00:49:30] um, doing that in a different way, leveraging the insights of the competitors that, that worked out really well in the past is, is how we inform the way we think about doing marketing.

Derek: Hopefully that was a decent overview and not to all over the

Max: place. No, it makes sense. I'm like, how [00:49:45] do you, the, the thing that I feel with you guys is that you're, You're, we were talking about growth loops earlier and they're in a way I feel like it must be kind of like one big growth loop at Warmly.

Max: And what I mean by that is [00:50:00] that you guys are selling a product that sales and marketing people use. Yeah. And you're also really good at sales and marketing. Yeah. So how, how much does like product drive marketing and marketing drive products when it, they're out there? Just [00:50:15] uniquely given your, it would be different if you were, I don't know, like, I don't know, what's another example.

Max: Like if you were selling iPad cases, you know, like obviously like they're just different, but how they're so intimately involved with one another that how much of that kind of feedback drives the [00:50:30] thesis.

Derek: Yeah. Um, I, I think we, I think you're right that it is this big growth loop with all these different efforts that are in service of, of sort of dog footing our own thesis, which is like, We believe that your [00:50:45] website from a product standpoint is, is the choke point of the business, right?

Derek: All go to market efforts are in service of ultimately driving people back to the website. And because we tell you who those people are, and then we automate the outreach to those people. [00:51:00] Um, we spend a lot of time on the marketing side, like generating buzz and activity to come back to the site, especially on social.

Derek: Um, we think that part one, part of the thesis of like how to actually do go to market. Is the [00:51:15] impact of how buyers make decisions ever since like COVID. So in saga or part one and two of the overall B2B marketing saga, like people were, uh, looking online ads, like eBooks, white papers, whatever, to make decisions [00:51:30] about how they were going to buy.

Derek: COVID hits, everything is on, on LinkedIn conversations are having conversations about tools or back channels and Slack communities, DMS, group threads, things like that, uh, and especially LinkedIn. And so we surround sound and [00:51:45] megaphone LinkedIn and socials. Um, because that's what ultimately we have found is the channel that, that drives traffic back to the site.

Derek: And so once that happens, then we automate all the outreach to those people and say, Oh, Hey. You know, uh, [00:52:00] max, like cool that you found us on the site, whatever. Um, would you like to talk about warmly and, and how you receive this email? Right. Cause that's us doing the work. I don't know if that answers your question.

Derek: There, there is a bit of crossover of like the product, um, [00:52:15] uh, the product fueling growth or, or capturing demand while marketing is creating demand. Um, uh, yeah, a bit of crossover there, but I think it's, it's more so around like, what is the. What is the megaphone that [00:52:30] we're trying to build to go back to this choke point of the website and show people that.

Max: And I mean, it's got to be kind of like a, uh, to in some, some way, like a slam dunk for the sales team. Right. When it's like, they come to the website to do this thing. And when you get them using the thing that it's sort of [00:52:45] like, well, we're here talking, aren't we? You know,

Derek: like you get the chat message and it's like, Oh, it says your name, your company, whatever.

Derek: It's, it's personalized. And then you also get an email and a, and a LinkedIn notification. And the second that happens. Right? Like I think, uh, I can't remember what study it was, but [00:53:00] I think it's seven seconds that people spend average time coming to your site and then they bail and don't ever come back again.

Derek: Yeah. Right. So you have this seven second window to capture the mind and the heart of the visitor. Um, and for us, it's very compelling [00:53:15] because we help people, you know, generate more revenue from the website. Yeah. Yeah. And do that immediately, instantly.

Max: We've kind of, I think, danced around the, or like touched on some of this, like the tenets of your thesis and [00:53:30] kind of like hinted at it, but how do you, how do you break it down your over, like the marketing thesis overall or like the pillars of it or however you describe like the kind of core pieces?

Derek: So because we are Because we are optimized [00:53:45] for, uh, generating reputation and brand, what people say about us. We believe that the thesis is essentially, uh, one of the oldest forms of actually doing marketing, which is we're trying to build a church or a [00:54:00] cathedral. Um, I like cathedral. Sometimes Alan says church, but, uh, either, or, um, and it's, uh, I think there's, there's two parts to building a church, or if you look religion, there is this overarching [00:54:15] logos or, or word or doctrine, um, the Bible that gives you a worldview for how to think about the world or a heuristic to think about the world or a lens to look at the world.

Derek: Um, and it's in service of offering some form of, [00:54:30] um, salvation, this existential problem that needs to be solved. And the doctrine, the scripture, the word, the logos is how you overcome that problem. And so, for example, If we use like Buddhism, for [00:54:45] example, uh, Buddhism, the existential problem is, is there is suffering the Buddha said two things.

Derek: I only I only teach two things, um, suffering in the end of suffering, right? And then everything, all the tenets of Buddhism go into actually the alleviation of [00:55:00] that understanding what it is. And, you know, Blah, blah, blah. And you can look at things like, uh, Christianity as well. Um, how do you make it into the kingdom of heaven or something?

Derek: And I have a background, went to Jesuit school. So that's why I think about things from like a religious standpoint, but how is that any different from [00:55:15] trying to sell a product, you have this problem and you need mass trust when over the hearts and minds of people, um, entrusting you to solve that problem.

Derek: And in a space like SAS, [00:55:30] where everything is so cheaply and easily copyable and made. It does become about your reputation or your word, like your doctrine. Like, do people actually buy into your worldview? Um, more topically, like in, in the space, I think somebody who does a good job [00:55:45] of this is, is Chris Walker.

Derek: Like we were pretty informed, um, by the way, he thinks about things with like signal based selling, reacting to different, uh, hand raises in the market on and off your website, wherever, um, for you to, to reach out to them. So I [00:56:00] think like that influence you, you just have to build. And that's, I think part one is if you're going to build a church, the first pillar is you have to have the right perspective on the market and where it's headed [00:56:15] and how you come into it.

Derek: And it's a very traditional story arc, which is like, this is the way the world is. This is why it's changing. And like, this is, you know, where we, we kind of slot in, this is our hero's journey in a way. Um, [00:56:30] Part two or pillar, pillar two is if you have a doctrine, if you have a scripture, if you have a logos, the Bible, you need to evangelize it.

Derek: You need to have other people sharing the word outside of your own individual zone of [00:56:45] influence you internally as a company or a marketing team or your employees. Um, and so. Paul, like one of the disciples, he was tasked to go build churches. Like, Hey, we need people to know about this. Uh, and so he had to just go and build churches and [00:57:00] then spin them up and have people run them.

Derek: And so that's what you kind of need to do with people outside of your immediate zone of influence with, you know, partners, affiliates, advocates, influencers, um, people that subscribe to this worldview. [00:57:15] Your perspective on the market where it's headed and why it's valuable and why you win. Um, and they communicate that in their own words and voice.

Derek: And the important part here is it's not like just building an audience or a following, but making it [00:57:30] a participatory community that this is an ongoing conversation about the message that you're delivering, right? Like there is no. Why do people have Bible study, right? Like, what does this mean? And what is the sort of [00:57:45] allegorical significance of whatever?

Derek: Like there's still interpretation there. And I think that's what you want to hone in on, on the community side of things is it's not audience us delivering the message, talking at you. It's this, it's this, uh, communion communion. Like it's, it's this, uh, bi directional conversation that's [00:58:00] happening of, is this actually.

Derek: You know, um, is, is doing signal based selling the right thing to go? Are those the right words? Like, how, how do you see that? And when they're having these backchannel conversations, dark social, LinkedIn, these like DM chats, like how buying decisions are being [00:58:15] made, they're actively exercising that verbiage and message constantly.

Derek: And then naturally you just get this affinity towards what, what resonates or doesn't. And so the evangelism, the missionary, the pillar, part number two is, is also [00:58:30] informing and synergistic with pillar number one of the doctrine. It, it's a, it's a feedback loop and informs it. And so that's, that's how we do that.

Derek: Um, that, that's more conceptually how we think about the two pillars, the thesis, [00:58:45] and tactically. You're creating a category around who you are in that worldview with things like content. So we have, uh, we can talk about the different types of content that we do. Um, but you know, uh, across like your podcast, your blogs, whatever, [00:59:00] everything that you do as a marketing team and, uh, with all of your, your evangelists, your missionary rolls up into this singular strategic narrative about why you exist, where you are, this, this, like logos, [00:59:15] why you win.

Derek: And so that's going back to not having marketing be this silent thing where SEO blog content is talking about something entirely different than your talking head podcasts, right? Like, is that thematically in service of, of the doctrine, like [00:59:30] your perspective of how, of where, where the market is headed?

Max: So those are the kind of the two pillars. Those are the two pillars. Yeah. And how do you go then and think about turning that into Like the [00:59:45] execution plan, like just to, I mean, just what you were just saying, right? Like you have to make sure that the podcast, the talking head videos, the LinkedIn posts, the blog, all this stuff is, um, It's sort of like in service of this greater goal and message.

Max: And like, like we [01:00:00] were talking about earlier, like it's this big optimization and coordination problem. Yeah. How do you, how do you tackle that as a head of marketing?

Derek: If you know your strategic narrative, it's pretty easy to discern like what activity makes sense for you to do or not. And so tactically I would say [01:00:15] in terms of building the doctrine, the, uh, you know, pillar number one, I think that is an activity that you do with your founders.

Derek: Um, and something that is still being crystallized for us, which is, uh, the output is a four part blog series of where the world has [01:00:30] been, where has B2B marketing went, like with what I was sort of explaining with Drift and HubSpot, this, this sort of B2B marketing saga, four parts, um, how have, uh, buyers made decisions, how, how buyers made buying decisions about sales [01:00:45] and, and marketing software, For Uh, where is it headed?

Derek: Where and where do you slot in? That's just a four part blog series. It's like a five paragraph essay, right? That you do in school. Like this is, this is what we believe for X, Y, and Z reason. [01:01:00] And then you tie a bow around it. And that's a four part blog series. We're also, um, just to cite another example, pretty influenced by the early marketing team at HockeyStack.

Derek: Um, they do marketing attribution software. And they built their [01:01:15] strategic narrative around attribution 2. 0, right? Like marketers have a really hard time knowing what they do works right. For a lot of different reasons, they have a tool that helps you do that. And so they just told the story of where have marketers been and what tools were they using [01:01:30] to solve this, this existential problem of attribution.

Derek: And it's just a two part blog series. And that is, that becomes your strategic narrative. And so every piece of content ties back to being in service of how you think the world works. [01:01:45] So we might have a talking head interview, uh, on our podcasts about dark social or demand creation from, from things like dark social.

Derek: Um, that doesn't necessarily like, it's not a one hop jump to, Oh, we de [01:02:00] anonymize your website contacts and then retarget them, right. But it's part of our worldview for how we think go to market works. And so that interview is relevant because it ties back to this, this, this sort of this thesis. Um, and so tactically we [01:02:15] also have different ways of, um, uh, breaking up content and for who.

Derek: So we have the podcast, which, um, Alan brings on, you know, VP marketing, sales, CEOs, uh, from companies to [01:02:30] talk about more, Would say like top, top down content, content that is aimed at decision makers or change makers within an organization that typically respond well to, um, more high level narrative topics.

Derek: So for example, [01:02:45] he just had someone on the podcast, Chris Walker, who's going to talk about signal based selling, right? Like he's got 150, 000 LinkedIn followers. Um, he's sort of created this narrative around signal based selling, uh, CEOs, VPs, um, they want. To [01:03:00] know the next thing to be thinking about strategically.

Derek: And so that type of content is going to resonate with them. And we tie well to different signals in the market because we automate the channels to capitalize on those signals. And so that's a relevant piece of content that ties back to the narrative. [01:03:15] Um, the second type of content would be like middle, middle out content.

Derek: Um, once a change maker, like a CEO or VP, uh, has kind of bought into the narrative, like you're going to need someone to operationally implement [01:03:30] that tool or platform, right? Because it's tied to, tied to you. And so these are like academy type videos of how to do X using Warmly. Um, that, that could exist as like a blog or a video on the website.

Derek: Um, [01:03:45] and so that also ties to the strategic narrative of sort of jobs to be done using your tool based on this overarching kind of strategy around signal based selling. And the last one is, uh, like bottoms up content, content that, um, is [01:04:00] aimed at the end user, the person who wants the change maker, the implementer have agreed that this is the way they want to do things for go to market.

Derek: Uh, you have someone who is like tactically siloed, I see end user doing that stuff. And so that could just [01:04:15] be like LinkedIn talk like videos or posts or things that generally, um, gained. Gain mindshare in, uh, in an organization where when someone comes in and says, Hey, we're gonna use this tool warmly.[01:04:30]

Derek: They say, Oh, I, you know, I love their content. That's great. You know, they, they, they know who you are. Um, and they can kind of get behind things. So those are the different form factors that we tie back to how we. Um, pull this strategic narrative together to [01:04:45] create the doctrine. Hopefully that makes sense.

Derek: I don't know. Yeah, yeah, it does.

Max: I'm always interested in the, the, you know, as someone that's like very much also doing this stuff at the same time and figuring it out, you know, our own marketing and these things. I'm always really intrigued by like, what are the, [01:05:00] what are the practical first steps Right?

Max: Like there's, there's so often times when you're trying to do something like, like define a brand narrative, like that's a pretty big, open ended, unbounded problem. Yeah. And I'm curious if someone's listening to this and they're like, I, [01:05:15] I resonate with this. This sounds like something that I would help.

Max: I'm, I'm curious if you have any, I don't know, exercises or approaches or just how, how did you, when you talked about getting all the founders together, I think, and kind of like hashing this [01:05:30] stuff out and this, I think four part blog series is maybe part of that. Uh, but how did, like, what would you recommend in terms of like action steps to go and start to distill that?

Max: Is there anything that comes to mind that you guys did that, that helps you turn a [01:05:45] corner or anything like that? Um,

Derek: I, I would say it kind of goes back to that, writing that blog. Putting on paper, long form, who you are and what you do. Um, Alan did that in like a weekend and [01:06:00] it had gone through a lot of different iterations because we wrote it and then we put it out there on LinkedIn.

Derek: We had, I think like a newsletter, um, LinkedIn that a LinkedIn newsletter that we pushed it through. And then we, we did a lot of like back channel DMS with our immediate network of, [01:06:15] of other founders, people in YC, tech stars, investors, like, you know, We just shared it with as many people as possible and then kept refining it over time until we've got something that we felt like this was, this was, um, this was [01:06:30] something that we really wanted to commit to.

Derek: And for us, it was like creating this category around, uh, autonomous revenue orchestration. Like we had so many people in conversation, tell us about this problem that they're trying to solve. These RebOps people. [01:06:45] And we're giving them this, this sort of blog series around how we think about that problem.

Derek: And they're either turning their nose away or, or leaning in. And I think that was like a really good exercise, um, just immediately to, uh, get some feedback on and to [01:07:00] go to the second pillar around evangelism. Those people that you're sharing it with then feel connected to that problem you're solving.

Derek: And so what we did, uh, and over time now, I think we have like 120, Uh, like micro influencers, people who have some sort of [01:07:15] influence within the go to market space who constantly help us refine that strategic narrative. Like that's not a one and done, you know, dust off the hands, like, you know, hard days of work.

Derek: Like we're done with that. We got it. Yeah, like that, that is constantly happening. And so like [01:07:30] we, we redid the narrative, I think two weeks ago. Okay. It is probably the fourth or fifth time now that I've done it. It's a living document. It's a living document. Yeah. And, uh, everything on the website backlinks to it.

Derek: Every piece of media alludes to it, uh, directly or [01:07:45] indirectly. Like, it is, it is, that, that is, that, that is sort of the, the highest book value asset in the company, I think. Um, and so we get all these different influencer types or people that we're asking for feedback on developing the [01:08:00] narrative and conversation on DMs.

Derek: And so anytime that we push out content, um, because it directly is going to tie back to this narrative, depending on how many sort of valence rings it is, it directionally connects back. Um, these people are [01:08:15] commenting on it and, and sort of supporting on it. And it's this kind of ongoing communication, um, that's again, all about this problem that you solve.

Derek: Yeah. And so I think tactically, um, writing, writing that, putting it out in your channel of influence, [01:08:30] right? It might not be LinkedIn for us. It is, it might be Twitter or something. And then building this early minimum, uh, viable cabal of, of people that really resonate with that problem just compounds over time.

Derek: Um, and I think [01:08:45] actually that, that is probably like the highest impact thing that we've done since is like get these 120 people, you know, To help us hone in on this message at mention us in different threads and channels that we wouldn't have otherwise seen people on our team, [01:09:00] um, on, on LinkedIn. And that that's probably been the highest lever for sure.

Max: As we, as we kind of come to a close here, I'm curious with all this stuff you're working on. You know, like defining the thesis, executing it, stepping into, you know, the, [01:09:15] the head of marketing role, all this. Is there anything that you're especially focused on learning at the moment?

Derek: Yeah, it's, it's learning how to create more of a, um, a formal process around this, this, [01:09:30] this missionary.

Derek: Sure. And I think I'm especially impressed with people at clay who have built their creator and expert programs. Where you're actually incentivizing people to talk about your, you know, gainfully incentivizing people in a way [01:09:45] that both parties feel like their needs are met, um, to create content and talk about your problem space.

Derek: Right. And so we've got all of these, we have this sort of phalanx of, uh, uh, of evangelists who are talking about us [01:10:00] and stuff, but we also want to be like long term partners with them. Like, how do you actually build a system or how do you build Um, put some guardrails on it, uh, so that you can more deeply focus on like nurturing those relationships and those partnerships, um, versus right [01:10:15] now, which is just like contract to hire, like anyone who's a part of the movement, like, let's do it.

Derek: Um, I, I really want to learn how you create, um, you know, a creator program or an expert program that, uh, people who, who like have subject [01:10:30] matter expertise, not only just using your tool, but also talking about your problem. Um, Um, and doing that in a way that, that meets both the needs of the company and, and their, their long term goals.

Max: That makes sense. That's awesome. Um, where can, uh, where can [01:10:45] people find you?

Derek: Um, I'm sometimes on LinkedIn. I'm like the most anti marketer ever. No social media, no anything. Uh, email derrick at warmly. ai. Um, yeah, I feel like I'm a, I'm an engineer [01:11:00] in like a marketer's body, but yeah, email is probably the best.

Max: And if they want to come in, uh, you know, see the, see the sort of cathedral in, in real life or in pixel form, where do you, where do you recommend they go?

Derek: Brooklyn, New York. That's where all [01:11:15] the cathedrals are.

Max: Tallest one. But I mean the, the Warmly site, like the, I guess it's probably the best place right now.

Derek: It's the best place to go. Yeah. Nice.

Max: Sweet. Well, I appreciate you coming on the show, Derek. Appreciate it. Putting up with the, uh, you know, the noobness of the podcast [01:11:30] and it's first rep. It's great.

Derek: It's great. Sweet.