#Marketing: Coffee With a CMO - Tim Kopp
DG: Hey, what's up everybody. It's DG. I'm back with another episode here on Seeking Wisdom of Coffee with a CMO. This time I sat down with Tim Kopp. He was the CMO at ExactTarget, which eventually went public and then sold to Salesforce for, I think,$1.2 billion. But he's an amazing guy. He grew them from about$ 40 million in revenue to 400 by the time they got acquired by Salesforce. And I sat down with him when we were in Indianapolis, back in June for the Drift Roadshow out in Indy. And Tim was just one of those guys that I instantly hit it off with. We went deep on the funnel and metrics and hiring and what he looks for in CMOs. I thought this was really interesting about Tim, he advises. He's an investor and advisor in so many B2B marketing and sales companies and the thing that they typically lean on him for his advice in hiring marketing leaders. And so we really dug into that process. We talked about what he learned during his days at ExactTarget. And I'm super- excited to bring you another episode of Coffee With a CMO, this time with my new friend, Tim Kopp. Check it out. Hold on everybody.
Tim Kopp: Cool. Let's do it.
DG: Go back to the coaching tree thing.
Tim Kopp: Oh my gosh. Okay.
DG: You had a big exit, so you had this team of a couple 100 marketers. What is the formula? First of all, how does somebody get tapped to be in your coaching tree? Because I'm assuming you're not just going to all 300 people that used to work for you at ExactTarget and you're like,"Do you want a VP of marketing job somewhere?" What is the makeup of that person?
Tim Kopp: When we were building ExactTarget, it was in Indianapolis. There was no other season marketing software people to hire. So we ended up with a team. I think we grew it from, let's call it rough numbers 10 to 300. And in that journey, I bet maybe 20 people out of that 300 had previous software marketing experience. So most of what I ended up having to do was train, teach, coach because they don't do it right in university. They don't teach you how to do-
DG: And especially not at the time where you were at,'06,'07,'08. Online marketing was just blowing up so you definitely didn't learn that in college.
Tim Kopp: It was serious on- the- job training. So I had to do a profile that was more psychographic. So we had a couple of my best leaders who came out of the military, teachers. One of them was in window sales. So I've hired for leadership, problem- solving and communication skills. And I really tried to hire to a profile. And I think one of the most important parts of learning personally, professionally is just exposure. That's why I like to travel. The more you're exposed to things, the more you learn. So I tried to expose my team to a lot of things and then let them hop around and try things. And just because you've never done marketing ops doesn't mean you won't be great at it, if you already know Excel. So it was trying to understand and have an instinct for that, expose people to a lot. And then when you're growing, I've always said growth covers a lot of sins. It creates a lot of opportunities.
DG: When the company is growing fast, people are just going to uncover more opportunities. Maybe you hired somebody from marketing ops, but the company's grown so fast that six months from now maybe they can do sales ops or shift to some other role.
Tim Kopp: So we've moved people from marketing to sales then create international experiences. So we had people go to Australia or London and then back.
DG: How does that scale though? If your company is growing fast, everybody that you hire has never really done marketing before. Don't they come with some debt of you can't just plug them in and go or maybe crosstalk
Tim Kopp: It did create some debt. The good news and I think one of the core assets were things that we hadn't really bet was building the company in Indianapolis, in the Midwest. We can hire within, call it a 100 or 200 mile radius, number of high quality universities is incredible. And you can hire really bright people out of school who just weren't exposed to it. How do you scale it? If people are hungry and they're ambitious, that's part of it, but then you have to make a big investment. Scott Dorsey, who was our CEO, one of the things he and I talked about all the time was marketing from the inside out. And I think this is one of the most important concepts within marketing. And I started all of my marketing and all of our best marketing was pointed internally first to make sure that people lived and breathe what we were. So before we did a product launch, we had to launch it internally. People didn't believe in it. I wanted to hear about it-
DG: I could talk to you about this for hours.
Tim Kopp: So I think that was the core. Every new hire was a week of training at our headquarters, no matter where you were in the world, it was a week there, in and out, meet every executive, meet the product. So it was this full immersion in the company and what we're about. And I think it was just a real commitment to learning and then thinking of marketing.
DG: I just want to give you one example of that. So two months ago-
Tim Kopp: You guys do this.
DG: ...we launched a new product at Drift. And LinkedIn had just launched LinkedIn Video and I had been using it personally to record videos and the traction from it was unbelievable. And so I had this thought. I was like," What if we had all 120 people at Drift, on launch day, record a video and post it on LinkedIn." And everybody did it and it was unbelievable. We had 300, 000 views, the biggest traffic day to our site ever just from posting videos on LinkedIn. And the number one question that I got after was like," How did you get everybody to do that?" And I said," It was easy because we've created this culture where everybody at Drift wants to do marketing." If you're in sales, if you're in customer success, if you're an engineer. Especially today, because everybody has Twitter, everybody has a LinkedIn page, everybody has Instagram. It's easier than ever to do that. And so we just care so much to what you said. If we can't get the internal people at our own company excited, how are we ever going to get a customer to do it? And so everybody, that's like the manual.
Tim Kopp: The old way of doing B2B marketing was like," Let's hop over that. Here's a new product. Let's launch a press release and then save our best marketing for the top 20 people in the-"
DG: Especially today, with the way people buy, I want our sales rep posting a video on LinkedIn and being like," Give me a call today. I will help set this up for you." That's what people want, they want to see that. So you were talking earlier about you had an interesting marketing org at ExactTarget, which is you owned everything. You owned marketing and basically all of sales enablement for that same reason, of the internal marketing thing.
Tim Kopp: Yeah. Our BDR team, sales training and enablement, product launches, pretty much everything that was non- quota bearing, we tried to run. And it was because the way we tried to fundamentally solve our problems, we want to grow X percent. Let's say we'd want to grow 50% at a later stage per year. And X amount could go towards sales and marketing. And then we would sit down and figure out just how do we want to carve up the dollars. I think of sales and marketing as two gears. And if they connect with equal precision and they're hitting on the gears, that's when the magic... But if you're trying to build a bigger gear than the sales team, then it breaks. So it's not a competition, it's true meshing. And so fortunately, when I came in, we realized marketing was underdeveloped relative to the sales team and by a lot. We had a phenomenal sales team and marketing was way under built. They allowed me to invest back in marketing, build out the team. It didn't actually mean spend. Unfortunately, I think the easiest way to do marketing is crosstalk. The hardest way to do it, I think the right way to do it, is hire some great people and do it from the inside out. So it was really building out that marketing capability to better match the sales team. And then as we better match that, then I actually had to give back some money and say, " You know what? We need more sales reps. You guys really need the money more than we do." And there was this constant back and forth.
DG: This could be its own clip. A CMO said," Here, you guys can have-" crosstalk
Tim Kopp: But I got mine first. And so it was to make the sales team work, we had to have more marketing. We had to do better with analysts. We had to have a better user- conference. We had to have better in- market support. We had to build out our brand. But there does come a point where you just... The point of marketing is more sales. That's the fundamental. And if you lose sight of that, you're missing the point of that.
DG: I'm sure people ask you about this a lot so I don't want to spend a ton of time there. But if you could think of some of the biggest lessons scaling the company when you joined, growing from however much revenue they were doing. Whether it's 20, 30, 40 million to basically 10X that by the time you guys got done. What's the biggest growing up stuff that has to happen in- between there, in a marketing org specifically?
Tim Kopp: So a couple things come to mind. I'll probably think of more as we go here.
DG: And I'm asking because obviously if you just put it on a spreadsheet and you drag the spreadsheet, it's crazy.
Tim Kopp: So that's where I was going to start.
DG: Traffic and leads and you're just looking at that like," Okay, how are we going to go from here to here?"
Tim Kopp: So I think the number one thing that eats marketing executives alive is their terrible prioritizers and then driving expectations across the organization. You can't do it all, get over it. Get over yourself, it's impossible.
DG: As a person?
Tim Kopp: As a person, without a doubt. And then as an organization. It was literally almost like I viewed myself as a product manager. What are all the requirements? So I went out and I got out in the market, visited with the sales team, met with the other executives. What are all the problems we have? And as you can guess, I had a list of 73 things. Rebuild the website, do better with Forrester, we need better sales collateral.
DG: Launch a conference.
Tim Kopp: And on and on and on. Okay. Got it. So which of these things do I think are going to make the biggest impact and where do I think I can really win versus what are the resources we have? How do you go off and do some quick wins? I grew up as a brand marketer in CPG, P& G and co.-
DG: We're going to talk about that.
Tim Kopp: ...but at the end of the day, you build your credibility by delivering to management, so don't fight the numbers. So in the beginning, the first six, nine months, it was the CFO and the finance team, I want to be my best friends. So what are the set of metrics that set us... For every dollar you give me, I'm going to give you$ 3 back. So then you build the political currency to go off and do some of the other things. And as it turns out, I think branding has a bigger impact on demand gen than pure demand gen does, but you have to prove it out through some of the grinded out crosstalk-
DG: And that takes time.
Tim Kopp: And it takes time.
DG: Yeah. And you can't show up in the first six months and your job is buying a bunch of ads and nice looking T- shirts-
Tim Kopp: That's right.
DG: ...and all that stuff. Yeah.
Tim Kopp: So at first it was," Here's the whole list of things and I get it. But these are the six things that I'm going to knock out of the park because I think they really matter. Our sales support is awful. So we need a better sales deck. We've got to do better with analysts. We've got to do better at our website. Here's the three to six things that we're going to do really well. And by the way, if you gave me three to four other bodies, I could go and do these other things. When you're ready to do it, we'll work with 60 hours a week per person. We'll do that." But what are the set of priorities and how do you have people do five things really well, instead of 50 things half- ass? And I think most people, when they struggle moving up the food chain in marketing, if you're not great at collaborating cross- functionally and setting priorities, you'd die, you'd just die.
DG: I'm just thinking about that now. That seems like a good exercise to do regularly, not just when you took over.
Tim Kopp: So Scott and I, literally, probably every week, this is my to- do list. And because then it can change. That was your list of top priorities last week but now I need you to focus on this.
DG: That also plays into who you need to hire too, because I think at that stage-
Tim Kopp: Exactly right.
DG: ...that type of growth,-
Tim Kopp: That's exactly right.
DG: ...you can't hire people who are going to freak out. If you say," Hey, here's what we're going to do today." I might come back to you next week and say," You were going to do SEO, but you're not, you're going to do PR now." Some people just don't deal well with that.
Tim Kopp: It's almost like you've done this before.
DG: No, I haven't done it, but I'm in the middle of it now. Yeah.
Tim Kopp: You're doing it, I could tell. So it's this pendulum swinging between hiring generalists and specialists. Are you hiring athletes or snipers? And in the beginning I want athletes. I don't need somebody who is world- class at SEO just yet. You need people who are really good athletes, who can move on their feet, who can prioritize and communicate and be good enough at a number of things that are dangerous. Once you get to 30, 40,$50 million run rate, then I think you can go in and start to hire... I need somebody who is just amazing at how to run an analyst process. Somebody who's great at SEO and that's all they do. They're in that line. But in the beginning, I just want great athletes. And I think the tendency is you want to go hire..." Well, this person came from Facebook and Google and this and this and this. And they're the best in the world in affiliate marketing." That's awesome. But when you're in a world where priorities change all the time, you have to sort of hire accordingly.
DG: So you and Scott, that's how you two would work together? Which is like," Here are my priorities right now. These feel right or wrong. Okay, good." And then go and...
Tim Kopp: Well, here's the other challenging thing about being in marketing. Everybody thinks they're a marketer. So nobody's going to-
DG: The only reason why I'm doing this series is because it's like therapy. It's like therapy.
Tim Kopp: This is not therapy. The question is do I send you a bill at the end?
DG: Yeah. We'll find out. No, you bought the coffee. We're good.
Tim Kopp: Anybody can comment on a logo. Anybody can stand back and look at an event and look at the pieces or look at the way of report, decide what you could've done differently in the end. But it's rare that somebody would sit there and challenge the CFO on why we picked this path with GDPR or why the tech team picked Ruby on Rails. That just doesn't open itself to the kind of debate that marketing does. So everybody wants to be a marketer, everybody has all these opinions. So you have to find this balance of like," Cool, I want your input." And it's like," Great. I got it. Let me go." And I think people tend to be too much input and then you just die because they're taking input from everywhere. Or they're not listening to anybody and they're just putting their head down. And so it is tough. I do think that there's a big difference. I think marketing is the most challenging job in the C- suite right now because of the nature of all the fluid priorities. And everybody wants to comment on everything and just marketing has never been more strategically important than it is now.
DG: And you have to do both. So David who's my boss and our CEO, his line, his saying is both.
Tim Kopp: Both, that's right.
DG: Because it's usually always both. Do we want to drive demand or do we want to build a world- class brand?
Tim Kopp: Both.
DG: Well, we need both. Not only do they support each other, but we've got 50 sales reps who need to eat. And at the same time, we're in this for the long- haul. To build a billion dollar company, we have to build a brand that gets people up out of bed every morning. You can't do one. You can't pick one.
Tim Kopp: Exactly right. That's tough.
DG: Yeah. For people that will watch this, which is mostly marketing people that want to grow, what is... You've groomed a lot of VPs of marketing or CMOs. What are the things that separate them from the director of marketing or marketing manager who thinks they want to grow, but aren't ready yet? What separates the really good people that you're willing to... Because obviously you have probably a million marketers in your network who want your advice, who want your intros, who want your connections, but there's probably only a handful of people that you've personally helped. What separates them from everybody else?
Tim Kopp: I think your biggest rate limiter as an executive is how well you can hire. So I may not be the best at everything, but I'm pretty good at knowing what I'm not good at, what I am good at and finding ways to hire. And so I like to expose people to a management experience as early as possible and see how they do. And the difference between truly wanting to be a VP of marketing and an executive... There's nothing wrong with, by the way, saying," I'm going to be a senior manager or a product manager or a product line and be amazing at it." Not saying one's better than the other, but you're asking if somebody really wants the executive experience, they have to learn the soft skills with the hard skills and some of that is you have it or you don't. And then it's this flexibility, it's really hungry to learn. There's a lot of it. Ability to hire would probably be the second. I don't know how to characterize the last one, but it's a lack of defensiveness. I use this line all the time with my team and they would joke with me. I'd say feedback is a gift. And I believe in this sort of radical candor framework. I'm trying to learn, you're trying to learn and the only way we're going to do it is if I care about you, you care about me. And when you need hard feedback, I'm going to give it to you. And then I'm going to invite the feedback when I'm not doing something right. And I don't know, that's a challenge for a lot of people.
DG: It is because it's just... Human nature is for you to say," You screwed that thing up, why'd you do it?" And my nature is to be like,"No, no, hold on." Human nature is to get defensive. And I always have to remind myself," Don't get defensive. It's only going to help." But that's a such a different mindset. You have to have the growth mindset of like," No. Tim's trying to help me right now. I'm going to get better because of this." But it's hard. Nobody wants to sit there and take that. I think-
Tim Kopp: This final thing, building off what you're saying, there's an element of selflessness, I think, that goes into all of, which is I care about my career, but I actually care about the company's objectives and the team objectives more than my own. Which sounds really easy but you have to fight a lot of human nature. You want to have to maximize the whole at the time.
DG: I don't think I'm good at this yet but I think that the advice I got from somebody recently was what you have to understand is nobody really cares how you get there, how you get to the goal. It's your job to get there. And so whether that means you hire 50 people or there's an agency that does this piece and you do that piece. You have to get rid of this feeling that you have to control everything. Your job is to get there. And oftentimes it's got to be through the right people.
Tim Kopp: That's exactly right.
DG: All right. I want to talk about P& G because I'm fascinated with P& G because I love brands and brand- building. And I think that brand is really hot right now. We've been talking a lot about it.
Tim Kopp: Who knew?
DG: Brand is coming back and there's a million reasons why we could talk about that. But what did do at P& G?
Tim Kopp: I was so lucky.
DG: You did it for seven years?
Tim Kopp: I'm so old right now that when I started, I was literally one of the first digital marketing. So I created what was digital marketing in some ways. In those days, it was pretty easy. It was go to whatever AOL and Yahoo were doing and that was the only game... But it was literally figuring out the early days of building websites, email acquisition. So it started off in the IT organization as a digital marketing manager. So my lucky break was I ended up on a brand called Crest Whitestrips. And then I ended up doing their global launch through digital marketing. So build out all their first digital marketing programs, the website and then prove that you can use offline and online together. We did almost$ 100 million year one launch by figuring out how to combine brand marketing and direct marketing online and offline. And then it was like a drug. I have always said nothing breeds adoption like success. And once other people saw it-
DG: Yeah. Well, because then you have everything you need, you have testimonials, you have proof, you have all the stuff you need to grow.
Tim Kopp: P& G, it's been a little bumpier now, but 20 years ago... I cannot think of a better place to start my career and learn branding. So what I really learned there was understanding. People think understanding your customer means sitting in a focus group and eating M& M's. Okay, that might be part of it. I did my share of that. But what you really have to do is understand what we would call a software sense. Who's your ICP, who really is customer? And then understanding this customer is boss, consumer segmentation, and that brand really does matter. Of course, brand matters. And if it matters when you're in store, it matters just as much when you're buying software. So I had sort of the seven years of experience between IT and marketing. Ended up running from Whitestrips. Ran digital marketing for the entire beauty care division for them, which was just a great experience. And then from there, I went to Coke. So I had this sort of 10 years, CPG hardwired digital marketing, branding, that's just how I grew up.
DG: Do you think because of what you did at P&G and how P& G focus on understanding the customer, do you think that's why you were good at what does sales need? What does this team need? When you're figuring out all the other pieces.
Tim Kopp: Maybe so. Because the role of a brand manager is I really think about it then, technically it was marketing, but it was really project management. You were a general manager. Your job was to run a business cross- functionally. So I guess I always just thought of marketing that way. Actually if you look at the way a lot of great... I think the best B2B marketers today did not grow up in B2B actually, they grew up doing something else and then just landed here.
DG: Even if they didn't grow up doing it, I think it's the people that look for inspiration from... And I'm sure you've seen this now over all the companies that you have invested in and advise and everything. If one B2B marketing company is doing it well, then everybody's going to do it. If somebody said the best time to send an email is 2: 00 or 8:00 PM on a Tuesday, if that was the best practice's report that came out in B2B marketing, everybody would go do that. Versus the real mindset would be like," I'm trying to send an email Saturday night at midnight when nobody's sending an email." So I wonder how we teach more of that.
Tim Kopp: I agree. I think having this innate curiosity is part of it. You can't just wait to have the answer sort of told to you. And I actually think as an aside... So I had 10 years of B2C and then I had actually 10 years B2B. So I went from Coke to Webtrends then to ExactTarget. When I jumped in as a CMO at Webtrends, I think there were fewer than 10 B2B CMOs out there. I think that's the other tough thing about being in marketing now, just basic discipline. It's just the newest role in the C- suite. And I think Adobe might've had one, Cisco had one. And it was very thin. Marketing did not have a place at the executive team. Frankly, the head of sales often ran marketing. So when I told people I was a CMO-
DG: That makes me itch. Armen, if you're watching, I love you, but you should not run marketing.
Tim Kopp: You shouldn't. They're just different and that's the way it is. But when I told people I was going to be a CMO, they thought it was a made up title, like a chief medical officer." What do you mean?"
DG: Chief management? What is that?
Tim Kopp: "Okay. They've made up a title for you. That's cool." It actually turns out that it's all going together. I don't know what to call it. I think it's more like just B2H, which is business to human because people were people. And if I go into Apple and I buy a new phone, as I did here recently, or I go into Chipotle and you buy a burrito, you don't then take off a hat and say," I'm going to go back to my office and buy a software."
DG: That's it. We're all B2C buyers. And I think the biggest challenge with marketers today-
Tim Kopp: That's why you struggle with B2B. The business of Adobe is not buy a piece of software, it's a person crosstalk.
DG: It's a person. And by the way, the same person who you're selling B2B software to, and making them go through this brutal sales cycle is also on Zappos or Amazon and buying something. I have a daughter, she's one. We can buy anything within two seconds. We're like," Oh, we need this, we need this, we need this, boom." It's at the house tomorrow. But then if I want to go buy a B2B software product, which maybe cost$ 500,$ 299. Everybody on my team at Drift today can swipe a credit card and buy something. But the process there is just crazy. So I love the B2H. It's all people. People also say," We sell to the enterprise with really long sales cycles." Oh, so are those not people in the enterprise? Is a different? I don't understand.
Tim Kopp: I know. And I still think people buy... The reason branding does matter is people... You still buy based on emotion. People want to be part of something. They want be part of a company. Drift has a phenomenal software platform but I think a lot of reason people believe in what you create is the way you've humanized your brand, the way you've made... You're a movement that people want to be part of. How do I separate that from a pure demand- gen process?
DG: Was that that an intentional thing for P& G products, if you're into P& G product? It wasn't just compete on features? Obviously they had the best scientists that are working on Crest Whitestrips but wasn't there some thought for packaging and branding on how we're going to compete on an emotional level? Was that a big piece of it?
Tim Kopp: Absolutely. Yeah. And it was a formula that they would go through. It was creating an insight that was in somebody's mind, then coming in with what they called an ACB, an accepted consumer belief on something. And then an RTB, which is a reason to believe, which is like what your differentiator was. But at the end of the day, why do you really buy Tide versus why do you buy Gain? It's because you have some emotional attachment to Coke versus what you do with Pepsi. And I think people ascribe all these other small things to more technical things than they should. But at the end of the day, it really is brand. I can't say that I have an Apple device or I have a Mac because I believe in these three key product differentiators.
DG: Every sales rep is going to tell you that their thing is faster, it's better, it's easier to use, it integrates with X, Y, and Z, customers love it. That's the same thing. We were at dinner last night and my favorite thing happened. When I go to a restaurant, is... We both never been here before. We're at a nice restaurant. I didn't really know what to order. I said to the waiter," What should we get?" Without even taking a breath, he goes," The pork chop." And we both were like," Boom. Done." And that was amazing. I hate when you go to a restaurant and you're like," What's good here?" And they're like," Everything." You want somebody to be real with you. And especially in the sales and marketing world, I want somebody to tell me the truth. And one of the best copywriting strategies of all time is addressing your flaws upfront.
Tim Kopp: Could not agree more.
DG: Because that's going to make people believe you more.
Tim Kopp: Yes.
DG: So if you can address that all upfront-
Tim Kopp: But why did the waiter say the pork chop? One, they weren't overly trained to rehearse... This wasn't a chain restaurant?
DG: It was not a chain.
Tim Kopp: They're not allowed to say that.
DG: He said it without hesitation.
Tim Kopp: It was somebody who has tried all the thing. They knew it. And then they had this fundamental belief. And I do think it's the same way, if you're selling a pork chop or a piece of hardware or a piece of software. When you believe in somebody who believes in what they believe in, it... Branding and demand gen, or even these words that are hard for me to put silos around because I do think they're coming together, but that's why this idea of marketing from the inside out is so powerful. You did that. And I think because when you're pointing your best marketing guns inside the company to where somebody has that kind of belief, but you're also empowering them to be who they are. They're not overly trained.
DG: It doesn't feel like they are good at selling because they've nailed the sales script. They're good at selling because they really believe in it and they've seen it. Tim, I'm done with my coffee.
Tim Kopp: I am too.
DG: Thank you, man.
Tim Kopp: That was a good timing.
DG: I appreciate it.
Tim Kopp: Yeah. That was great.
DG: Thanks for doing this.
Tim Kopp: That was good.
DG: Was it?
Tim Kopp: Timed it up.
DG: Timed it up perfectly.