How Marketing Drove a Unified Digital Transformation Post-Acquisition
Aubrey Morgan, Director, Demand Gen at Syncari, dives into her previous role in marketing at Mulesoft during the time that Salesforce acquired them, which created an exciting challenge in differentiating brand, creating a unifying vision, and targeting personas in a different way that helped two teams meet in the middle for a successful campaign that still runs today.
Here's what you can expect on today's episode…
Read the full transcript:
What's up everyone. It's Bobby with Growth Marketing Camp. I'm super excited for today's guest Aubrey Morgan. She is currently the director of demand generation at Syncari. However, prior to that, she was at MuleSoft for many years. And what's so neat about today's conversation is we get to talk with Aubrey about her role in lifecycle marketing, which sort of went through a little bit of a transition as MuleSoft was actually acquired by Salesforce during the time.
That she was there. And so we're going to get into some really interesting topics. I've always wanted to kind of get a peek behind the curtain here. things like, the challenges in differentiating brand, creating a unified vision, targeting personas in a way that's helped, the two teams sort of meet in the middle, in campaigns that are successful being executed even today.
So for me, this was a really special conversation. We're going to get into some depth here. I really hope you all enjoy this as well, would love to hear your feedback. But for now, sit back, relax and enjoy this latest episode of Growth Marketing Camp.
Aubrey Welcome to the show. Yeah. Awesome. Thanks Bobby, for having me. I know we go way back, to the early days of Opensense. So I'm excited to be here. We're here to talk about a specific campaign and really the idea behind this Aubrey is. The word growth is such a nebulous word. It can mean so many things. And I think oftentimes, what's valuable is just demystifying the word a little bit.
Like I think people understand what it takes, like to go from point A to point B to grow. And I think by talking about a specific campaign, we can help to illustrate, what that word actually means in practice. I would love to just start by just a high level sort of introduction of the campaign that you want to talk about today.
Tell me a little bit about what the campaign was and perhaps some of the primary objectives. Yeah, sure. So I think there were a lot of learnings from this campaign that as I'm going back a couple of years, I didn't want to focus on last year.Cause it was basically like.
Everyone was probably struggling with their campaigns last year, trying to figure out how to react to the changes in the market. So basically the first time we truly ran an integrated campaign was a few years ago. and. How that worked was we started from the very top, right? So the planning took a lot of work and this was post acquisition.
So why I say like a true integrated campaign is because we were trying to figure out how to work within Salesforce as well. Salesforce had their own campaigns team and MuleSoft had to be its own brand, but also with Salesforce. So how did we. Move away from being so reactive to Salesforce coming over the fence and saying Hey, we're going to work this thing.
Or we need this thing and MuleSoft integration. So it fits in every campaign, so it was this challenge where we were like, okay how do we plan alongside them then? Same team, different function. So basically we went to the drawing board. We said ok great, the coolest thing about Salesforce is they do this thing called a V2MOM it's vision values methods. Measures and objectives. It's like the planning. So every individual has to do a V2MOM and every team and department head all the way up to Marc Benioff has to do a V2MOM . It's a great way to, yeah, it's a great, you can see it.
I sound like I'm selling a book here, but like Marc Benioff talks about it in his book about the V2MOM, but I actually loved that at first. I was wondering if it's like corporate. America, but in reality it actually was a great way to think ahead. So anyways, what we started doing was, okay how do we inform the campaign themes for the next year?
We don't want to be just like spinning them up on the fly. So the first thing we did was we looked at our FY20 marketing focus areas and that came from our CMO. And we're always a fiscal year ahead. So I'm talking about a few years ago. Then we had our go to market approach, which was run by product marketing, which was informed by the marketing focus areas.
So think of it like a funnel, well, demand gen. And then we had, or digital focus areas cause I was in digital. So the idea here was like, how do we piggyback off of the priorities of the business, knowing that. We have slightly different focus areas and it's really important to separate those, but figure out how they work together.
So as an example of that, the marketing focus areas were to market to through in with Salesforce. Like, how do we this was right when we were acquired. It's like, how do we work better with Salesforce? The second thing was simplifying the message.
MuleSoft is a very complicated thing. And also working with Salesforce. Salesforce is easy for people to understand their branding's like more approachable MuleSoft's, very enterprise. And that was. Our customer. So how did we help people, especially at Salesforce, but everywhere, understand what MuleSoft is doing and what the value was, whether or not you're the target buyer.
And the third thing was be bold. I think we were always like making sure we were, we continued to be politically correct, but what do we say that like really helps people understand. I think of like fire Fest, you know, with that orange box on. Instagram that like where people were like, what is that?
Or reddit back to my favorite ad of all time. And then we have to go, the market approach was really just our product marketing, so we had our business initiative, lead functions. We have our solution led. Then we had our focus verticals and stuff like that. So those were all that was going to be all the content that was going to be spun up by product marketing.
And then we did the demand gen focus areas. And now it's actually really challenging because like truthfully Nima was my boss was very focused on numbers. And we've talked about that already. Like we're going to drive this much pipe and this much revenue and this that's not like how a team gets aligned.
We're not like, Hey guys, we're all hitting a billion dollars in revenue this year let's get to work. So that's the measure part of it. So what we actually had to do is sit down and I said, what is the vision for the year? Which is. V2MOM, but then also what are the themes? What are we trying to do separate everyone else from that?
So that was actually was really interesting to come up with that, which was one proved MuleSoft, ease of use. Like how do we just simply demonstrate? And that could be through videos that could be through anything, but that helped the whole digital marketing team at the time, figure out. Okay, cool.
Like I run. Social ads, like how can I do a different way of demonstrating Mulesoft's ease of use. The other thing that was interesting was establishing neutrality. Because we are a separate brand, we kept mulesoft.com. We kept our logo and we have a lot of customers that were not Salesforce customers.
So how do we not scare them away? And our competitors were very quick to be like, Oh, like you want to just be part of the Salesforce world, like integration cloud, blah, blah, blah. And so we had to make sure that we combat that in a way that, you know, across our digital channels.
so I thought that was super cool that he said that. And then product differentiation. So more product led messaging. And ensuring that people really understand, like why we're different and then targeting customer experiences. So it was actually the first time that we were really like, okay, cool.
Like how do we take all of our efforts and make sure customers continue to be happy with us? And that wasn't just an email that was across all of our channels. Yeah, all that being said. So took those initiatives. We also did deep persona research, right on top of that, because with Salesforce, there were they have different buyers.
So we were struggling with that a little bit to be like, okay what value does Salesforce bring to us? And what value do we bring to Salesforce? And where we came together was actually this notion of like digital transformation, which everyone says, but Salesforce really wanted to target this notion of digital transformation.
And truthfully MuleSoft is the company that enables digital transformation, but Salesforce. Target's a very different buyer. They target the executives, they target the CEOs, the CFOs, the CMOs of the world. We target IT. And so what's interesting was we came up with this campaign.
Theme called Business as a Platform, this idea of aligning business in it for the strategic value of APIs. And that was a really cool campaign. That's still is running to this day. So that's why actually, it's funny. We were like, Oh, we'll do quarterly campaign themes. But in reality, they last. For years.
And that's actually best practice is like a campaign should be running for a long period of time because by the time you like get ads up and everything else, it's gonna take this down now. So yeah, so we came up with that campaign theme. Sorry. That was a very long answer, but no it's super helpful because there's, a couple of things that jump out to me, based on that answer.
number one is. You have Nima or whomever, who's setting a pipeline goal, but then to hear the breakdown of that into. Actionable sort of ideas that in of itself is like an incredibly impressive feat, like adding on these three or four things, to be the, the themes or the campaigns that will eventually lead to these numerical goals, which you either hit them or you don't, which I don't know.
I think that's such an interesting thing about melding of numbers and creativity, which I would say to some extent, like that's what digital marketing is maybe. Yeah, no, I think that's right. but I would actually say that. So going back to the V2MOM thing, and I sound like I'm selling that, but what I always did with my team.
Was I said vision values, methods, right? So when you're planning for a year ahead a lot of people say, okay we're going to do these big initiatives. Those are methods. That's fine. That's good. But what's the vision for next year? And so what I would do, I took more time on the vision and like wordsmithing our vision for the year, what are we as a team trying to accomplish?
Strategically? And my team would fight, not physically, even really not verbally, but we would just like really every single word would get nitpicked, I don't think we do that. And by even having that conversation at a high level, the fact that we were debating every single word shows that like we had like slight misalignment.
And so you jumped right into the projects and we don't even agree at the top level, what we're trying to do next year. That's a problem. So that was the biggest lesson that I actually took away from Salesforce was like, get the vision straight, make it a couple of sentences. Use that as your advertisement for what your team does.
If people are like, hey, what is lifecycle marketing? I'd be like, here you go. And then you do your values. What do we care about as a team? That's a little bit easier, right? Nobody's fighting over the words. The vision's really important. The values are like, what do we care about? Five points maximum. And that's things like, we want to be a good team,
we want to work together, we want to help other people, we want to whatever those are. And then you go into methods. The methods becomes so much easier when you get that vision. Oh, my goodness. That is so awesome. I love that because just the idea of negotiating terms in the vision amongst your team.
And just understanding that absent, that the slight deviations in trajectory that can occur at scale, if you don't have that sort of consensus. And that is like so cool. I'm like pumped about this. I've written down V2MOM, and certainly be researching more. But I love that as backdrop and context for what you've described so far. One other point on that is I've also seen it done wrong where you say: hey team, here's the vision, give me feedback on it. And then it doesn't feel like, I think the idea of better teaming comes from everyone collaborating, which I know it's like a very democratic process, but I felt like the team was excited for the year ahead because they have a say in the vision, versus hey, can you guys like proofread my vision? It looks like you're an editor they're on the vision instead of being a part of it. And that was something that actually was just something that I found to be very helpful for my team and very empowering.
I think that's just critical to the vision of get everyone aligned and don't just pitch it, have them work on it together. And that obviously doesn't work for every team, but that helped a lot with my team. That's amazing. Um, Um, so, presenting MuleSoft as a simple solution, is something I heard.
Is that the trajectory that your campaign that you did you want to talk about today went or tell me about it. Yeah, that's right. At the end of the day, it's always going to be about what you're selling, but it was softer. Right. So, Business as a Platform was broken into like three categories.
There's like the value of integration where we did this reporting and this was like on the it analysts, like why invest in integration? What's the value that you get out of it. We had this other really cool track that content marketing was working alongside. Technical consultant, not McLarty where it was API programs joining this notion of the API economy as part of a business strategy.
How do you strategically build in API APIs similar to the Bezos mandate, you know, into your larger program strategy. and that really was, those were. Events even that we're bringing in an IT person and the business executive and really mapping out like, what is an API strategy work for?
Because both of those people individually will not create the same value as the two of them working together. So that was something that we worked on. And then finally, the third kind of pillar. Was the application network. That's a term that we use a lot, which is how do you expose new capabilities as you build new projects?
It's very IT-focused piece, but that's really the core to MuleSoft. The value is we are building Or you're building a project and it's always going to scale because the next project, you're not going to rebuild that old project. You're going to actually add to an existing project because it's easily discoverable.
So those are the three pillars. And then within those pillars, there were. This sounds so much more complicated than what it kind of was complicated actually, in retrospect, but within each of those pillars, there's always a marquee asset. Okay. So there's one core asset that tells you what that entire program is.
So for the value of integration, we had a white paper that was like how to articulate the value of integration. API programs was this API strategy, essentially white paper, and then application network was this white paper on the hands-on guide to digital transformation. Then there were supporting horizontal assets that work for, you know, cross vertical that work for, and like top to bottom of funnel.
And some of these, it's hard to just identify, a webinar or a white paper or a report as this is top of funnel, but that's what we're trying to do. And what was cool about the Business as a Platform thing was you could start to understand where people's interests.
Were, but it wasn't didn't have to be isolated. So if you were a value of integration, didn't have to be a standard nurture path. That was like, great, thanks for downloading this white paper. Here's the next asset. It's Hey, there's like a series of different things. Choose your own journey.
But like all these things kind of work together. And then we had vertical assets as well. Specifically in the API programs piece, it was really important to, industries. Operate very differently. And I know that's an obvious statement, but especially with integration, manufacturing is very different.
Retail is being completely disrupted right now. APIs are critical to running e-commerce effectively. And especially in the past year, like retail just has to step up their game and. MuleSoft is like integration in general is really important to that strategy. Same thing with like public sector, federal government financial services.
But they're completely different end points, completely different situations. So we really needed to hyper-focus on those verticals question for you. Businesses, a Platform to, a primary personas, it sounds like on the IT and the business side. And so you talked earlier about.
Targeting via LinkedIn, I think in the context of Syncari, but where were you meeting your market? In terms of channel. And was it different strategies for the different personas? How did you think about that and what did all that look like? So good question.
I think simple way. I would think about this as just going back to what I said, like way earlier, which was when we were doing our percent of research, we had Salesforce, which, does really well with these executives and the business on the business side. And we do really well with IT.
So there are two different properties, really there's salesforce.com and mulesoft.com. And so we wanted to be really intentional about using those properties and. Targeting personas in a different way and hopefully helping them meet in the middle. So it was actually very complicated at first. And now in retrospect, I do things a little bit differently, we wanted to drive the IT buyer to MuleSoft.
If, ultimately if a non-technical buyer came to mulesoft.com, yes, they'd get that one asset that they understood, but then they'd be in this like weird. Sales cycle that they've I'm way in over my head hold I have to bring it. So it wasn't the best experience for them. And we weren't optimizing for business executives because we just didn't have this ecosystem of marketing content for them and truly a sales process that could guide them along.
They'd always have to be with IT. So we wanted to go IT first there. What we did though, was enable, and this was piggybacking off of the Salesforce campaign plays. Which were like, great. We have this content, we have these ideas. Let's collaborate with you on a webinar. Let's put snippets of MuleSoft where applicable in white papers.
Let's run ads for these people alongside Salesforce. And so those two plays were running in tandem. That was a good way for us to like work with Salesforce better. But like I said, it was definitely a little bit more complicated, honestly, internally, a little bit confusing because people were like, wait, so are we trying to like, how do we find them or whatever?
To your point on advertising those. So that was a play that we were running also on top of this, right? I talked about content. That's the hub of like how we capture engagement, but we ran, a whole creative process, which was fun for me because I never really got to kick off an official, full blown, creative campaign and get some like concepts and really think through how do we articulate this message in a way that makes sense.
Without it being like, Businesses as Platform to normal people wouldn't mean anything. So how do we communicate that through our creative I think what's interesting also is you think of the campaign theme and you feel like, okay, that's the campaign theme. Therefore I have to publicly announce it that way, but ultimately that's not how campaigns work.
You can have different content that fall under different titles, but under the same kind of creative branch. If that makes sense or umbrella not branch. So yeah, so we were running ads, you're running syndication just like enabling the field to leverage this content. And, all of that was working together.
Also working with field marketing on events and partner marketing as well to roll out these so the themes actually just helped to keep more internal alignment as well. Okay. That's pretty cool. And I'm also curious cause clearly it sounds like there were some challenges in figuring out the right go-to market and the right sort of approach, given the stakeholders that are involved, given the association with Salesforce, but I'm curious.
So I'm assuming those are the things that work. Fairly. Well, It sounds like there's some things that you might do differently. What were some things that definitely didn't work? That might be relevant? Just high level, like without getting into too much detail. KPIs, I think were tough.
Especially as you're getting started with campaigns. I think it seems a lot easier than it is. We used a multi-touch attribution model and it was tough because I think for a lot of people who aren't familiar with, like digital marketing, one targeting is tough, right?
Like even if we were to say Hey. We want to target, these specific people, like ultimately that's not how the internet works. People are going to search for different things. We're going to come up for that. And you can target with paid advertising, but you know, you can't control the whole world.
and there's that. On the targeting piece, the second is how do you measure performance in general? I think there's a lot of stuff that just is highly successful for MuleSoft. For example, there's a video, what is an API? Amazing. It's not necessarily, the most technical of people that come in through that.
But it is interesting too. We don't just take that down because we have a new campaign up, so there's things that live on the internet forever. And when you have a multi-touch attribution model, you have the benefit of I don't know if I would call it a benefit, but you do have basically the sooner you launch something, the better it will perform by the end of the year.
So if we're trying to roll things out over time, it's okay there's a lot of factors at play here. There is. When is this launching? What else is in the mix? What just organically is driving demand by itself, whether or not we're putting dollars behind it or not. So, How is this going to perform? So we were trying to figure out that out, especially with a multi-touch attribution model was pretty difficult. And then you have things like events, which we're running almost separately and it's own attribution model. You have ads on top of that.
So we really had to like relook at our entire reporting structure to figure out, okay like how are all these things going to work and how do we identify. What success looks like for every individual component of this campaign. So that was tough. Another, like retrospective is a learning, at least that I've found is the best practice is you really need.
The buy-in from the very top. And we had that to some degree, but it was almost, it was at first it was treated like pitch me some campaigns let's run it, but you have all these activities that are still happening in the background. And ultimately, I think we talked about this. At the beginning, which is like corporate marketing needs to come up with a unified message that we can all get aligned to.
I shouldn't be pitching another message on top of what we're telling the whole world. Cause that's weird. It also just spins up unnecessary activities and an ingredient campaigns truly has to be integrated. And we also have got there for sure, but it took us a minute to realize okay, integrated campaigns is not like this separate function that is just running around, asking people what they're doing and trying to bring it all together.
It's really like a focus area. It's a team that kind of runs the play, but there's a lot of people that, that ensure and enable that to be successful. Absolutely. That word alignment. I think that's just something like I've learned in our limited scale. Again it's interesting for me to extrapolate or project out what the scenario looks like when you're working at a company, the size of MuleSoft or ultimately Salesforce, but even in our scale, like just having that alignment top to bottom.
It's imperative. And so I can't imagine again, through slight deviations, the impact that they might have on your overall trajectory. So that's pretty incredible. But generally speaking, Business as a Platform that sounds like a pretty catchy sort of thought. And idea, like generally speaking would you say that it was.
Successful. Tell me more about sort of outcome? KPI. It exceeded all expectations. Yeah, it was cool. Like I said, I don't think public facing, it was not obvious to a visitor. That Business as a Platform with the campaign, right? That was more of the internal term and the content that we were putting out there, it was hugely successful.
And it actually carried over into the next year when we ran another campaign, which brings me back to my point of you're competing with things that were previously successful that continue to get engagement. They're still live on the website. It was hugely successful and actually really set the stage for this is how.
We do it moving forward, but even better, even more alignment get corporate marketing involved at the beginning, make sure all the teams are really planning within this campaign umbrella rather than on the side. And also some campaign things and events too, like events started folding under campaign themes and.
I think that's where the branding perspective comes in as well. Do you say, okay. The campaign theme is, our big corporate event this year. That theme should be carry over. We shouldn't have to be coming up with a new theme for the event this year. So there's some work to do from a branding perspective, but it was definitely a step in the right direction.
And the content we created was very thoughtful and it showed in the performance. From engagement with the assets. Obviously we calculate that, but also, multi-touch attribution. Especially compared to any other asset that we have live, like those pieces of content jumped right up to the top.
for a revenue honestly, I feel like I'm walking away from that, with just even more questions, to be honest with you Aubrey, but you've been so generous with your time. For part two. Yeah. Honestly cause again, I just feel like such a novice when I talked to you, because there's just a ton of.
Things that you've mentioned there that I just would need to dig into to really understand. But I do appreciate you diving into that a little bit as we wrap up here, I just have call them like rapid fire type questions. Okay. Yeah. But they're marketing oriented.
So don't get too nervous here. This is the one that's at the top of my list here. What's one thing that growth marketers should stop doing that. They're doing now. Or start doing that. They're not doing yet.
Okay. Let me see. I think it's just clean your data, right? Like focus, reorient yourself around the strategy and figure out what numbers you care about before you kick off any new initiatives.
If you go into it knowing what you're trying to measure. It's much easier than getting all the outcomes and then trying to extrapolate from that. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. it's always fun when you can get the data to tell the story, whatever story you want it to after the fact that's the takeaway here?
Don't manipulate the data. You mentioned Nima a bunch. And again, having worked with him. I have my own perspective on him but tell me, I want to know some other marketers perhaps that you look up to that you pay attention to on LinkedIn or you've read their books like for the audience, who should we talk to next to?
Who should we read about who do you look up to? From a marketing standpoint? So there's a lot of people that I look up to Nima is like my number one, I think. I hate to say my own team, but Nick Bonfiglio from the now founder and CEO of Syncari is amazing.
And then Ross Mason, the founder of MuleSoft, who is on the board of Syncari as well. All just like incredible thought leaders in this. Space. And I think why, I don't say a marketer specifically is because integration is a core part of the pain that we're all feeling. And I think we're moving more and more toward, like, how do we get more personalized?
How do we automate things? And I think if we don't start thinking technology first and really think about the future there. Everyone, whether you're a creative or you're in operations, then you're going to be behind. You're going to feel that pain, whether it's today or three years from now. And then last one thought leader, Scott Galloway.
I don't know if you ever listened to him or have read any of his books, but he is A professor and he is incredible. He has like really great insights about how technology companies work today and where they're successful, where they're not his predictions for the future. He did a book that he released at the end of last year on COVID that I read in about a day, probably less than a day.
So I just eat up everything he's saying. That's awesome. I had not heard Scott's name before definitely check that out. Cool. Thank you for that recommendation. I really appreciate how generous you've been with your time.
I've been looking forward to this conversation again, just get a peek behind the curtains, and I think you've been more than gracious in showing us really appreciate having you on Aubrey. Yeah. Thank you, Bobby.
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