Gigamon CMO on Engineering Giga-Growth
What does pro-skateboarder Tony Hawk have to do with network security? For one, his surname is the same as Gigamon’s latest cloud visibility offering, Hawk by Gigamon. The solution enables customers to get a full 360 view of their hybrid infrastructures, making it easier to see—as Tony described in his Cameo for the brand—what could go wrong, what the backup plan is, and how to transform chaos into control.
Tony Hawk’s role as a Gigamon’s spokesperson is just one part of a massive, marketing-led transformation for the brand. It all started in 2019 when Gigamon went private and brought on Karl Van den Bergh as CMO to lead the strategic shift. With an engineering background, Karl faced the challenge head-on, quickly building a predictive ROI model and ramping up brand awareness efforts across the board.
Tune in for a seriously fascinating episode with a master marketeer, one who uniquely understands the value of how engaged employees, a clearly defined brand, and an award-winning demand gen engine can build the momentum a company needs to really soar (like, increasing pipeline by 6x soar).
What You’ll Learn in This Episode
- How Gigamon became a marketing-led organization
- Behind the internal and external launch of Hawk by Gigamon
- How Gigamon built its demand gen engine and increased pipeline by 6x
Renegade Marketers Unite, Episode 264 on YouTube
- Renegade Marketing: 12 Steps to Building Unbeatable B2B Brands by Drew Neisser on Amazon
- Reuters: “Elliott makes first public buyout with Gigamon in $1.6 bln deal”
- Marketing Today episode: A Masterclass in Agile Master Brand with Lippincott’s Nital Patel
- Hawk by Gigamon campaign
- Business Wire: “Gigamon Launches Hawk and Partners With AWS”
- Gigamon Visualyze: The Cloud Visibility Conference (On-Demand)
- RTU Episode 7: Leading with Enthusiasm (Guest: Elissa Fink, Tableau)
- Tony Hawk Cameo for Hawk by Gigamon
- PR Newswire: “Forrester Recognizes Five B2B Organizations For Achieving Strong Sales, Marketing, And Product Alignment”
- [0:00] Cold Open: About Renegade Marketing: 12 Steps to Building Unbeatable B2B Brands
- [1:03] Why Gigamon Decided to Invest in Marketing
- [9:08] Behind Gigamon’s Predictive Model
- [12:24] How Gigamon Differentiated its Brand
- [14:28] Why Gigamon Created Hawk by Gigamon (and How It Went)
- [24:32] Employee Engagement: Social, Care Packages, and A Cross Functional Team
- [34:01] Customer Rollout of Hawk by Gigamon
- [40:30] Gigamon Metrics: An ROI Model to 6x Pipeline and Employee Surveys
- [46:01] Lessons Learned: Don’t Overcommunicate
Transcript Highlights: Drew Neisser in conversation with Karl Van den Bergh
[0:00] Cold Open: About Renegade Marketing: 12 Steps to Building Unbeatable B2B Brands
Drew Neisser: Hey, it’s Drew. You may know that I have a new book out called Renegade Marketing: 12 Steps to Building Unbeatable B2B Brands that’s now available on Amazon in paperback, eBook, or audio. Crammed with wonderful stories and game-changing insights I’ve gleaned as both an interviewer and practitioner, I can’t wait for you to check it out. In fact, for listeners of this show, I’d be happy to share an entire chapter for free. Just email email@example.com and we’ll give you Chapter One: Clear Away the Clutter and our 12-step Cheat Sheet. Okay, let’s get on with the episode.
[1:03] Why Gigamon Decided to Invest in Marketing“Can you really drive effective demand without brand? I think you can to some degree, but you will be limited.” —@kavanden @gigamon Click To Tweet
Drew Neisser: Hello, Renegade Marketers! As I’ve referenced on this show many times and crystallized in my new book Renegade Marketing, being a CMO today is really, really hard. But the successful ones are truly the Cool CATS of marketing. CATS being an acronym for courageous, artful, thoughtful, and scientific.
And lest you think that CATS framework only applies to previous guests, I’m thrilled to introduce you to today’s guest, Karl Van den Bergh, the CMO of Gigamon, the fast-growing security, visibility, and analytics company. Karl is a Silicon Valley veteran, having held senior marketing roles at DataStax, Jaspersoft, Kickfire, and GM roles at TIBCO and SAP. He is also a relatively new parent, so I promise not to hit him with too many tough questions. Hello, Karl. Welcome.
Karl Van den Bergh: Hey, Drew, great to be on the show. Thanks for having me.
Drew Neisser: Oh, I’m excited to see you. Are you getting any sleep these days?
Karl Van den Bergh: A little bit. For a newborn, I think I’m doing pretty well. But yeah, no, we’re managing fine. Thank you.
Drew Neisser: A funny story from the Drew Archives. Right after our daughter was born, I went for a job interview, and I was sitting across the table from the head of HR for this company. She asked me, “How’s it going?” I said, “Well, I have this thing called daddy brain right now.” And like, the interview just went south so fast. There was no empathy whatsoever for what it means to be a new parent. So anyway, not a good way to start things. Don’t ever use that term if you’re listening. Just carry forth and act like it never happened.
Anyway, let’s talk about courageous strategy and dive into starting with courageous strategy. Can you give a bit of background on Gigamon and what the situation was when you arrived in 2019?
Karl Van den Bergh: Yeah, thanks, Drew. And again, great to be on the show, and hello to all fellow markers out there. Back in 2019, when I started my journey here at Gigamon—Gigamon, for those who don’t know is, as you said, a network security company.
The company had a very successful run as a public company, had been recently taken private by a PE firm called Evergreen, part of Elliott, one of the largest, most successful hedge funds on Wall Street, and a great team. And they decided to invest heavily in sales and marketing as part of their investment. The thesis was, this is a company that had a lot of upside and a lot of growth, and they wanted to invest.
I came in as part of the investment in marketing. Being part of a PE firm, or part of the portfolio of a PE firm is an interesting place for marketing to be. We could talk more about that, I’m sure. But job number one was, reinvigorate the demand engine and define the vision for the company. Those were the two things that were top of my agenda.
Drew Neisser: Yeah, and so we’re probably going to do a separate Renegade Marketers Live on that topic of being a CMO at a PE firm because I think we could go really a long time on that, and I’ve talked to other CMOs who are in that situation and I do think it is a very specialized area. We heard from Mike Dickstein at Spencer Stewart about how that’s a hot area right now if you understand that. We’ll come back to that later.
You mentioned two things and I want to get at both of them: Reinvigorate the demand generation engine and something to do with brand. Let’s talk about, first, that order. It feels like that is the order that most CMOs are given. It’s like, “Fix the demand generation then build the brand.” And can we talk about that a second?
Karl Van den Bergh: Yeah, it’s a great question. There are, as you know, different types of marketers or a focus that marketing has, whether it be around product or market definition or driving pipeline. At the end of the day, pipeline tends to be the baseline. You need to have it. It may not be ultimately where you add the most value, but it is a necessary checkbox for any CMO.
In the case of Gigamon, it was an interesting place because the company had been very successful from being really a product-led company to then a sales-led—and companies go through different transitions and different phases—to becoming more of a market-led. That was part of the investment in marketing.
As a result, though, of being product and sort of sales-led, marketing contribution to the business was very small. I’ve been at companies in the past, open-source companies where marketing bought in 90% of the pipeline. We were like, low, single digits. It was very low. And again, it hadn’t been an emphasis, it hadn’t been a focus.
The intention was, given our market and the opportunity, there was plenty of room for marketing growth. The job was to grow marketing contribution to pipeline, and it was quite a hill to climb. It was essentially, we were looking to exit from very low single digits to exit the year at 20%. So, represent essentially a 6x growth in pipeline contribution in 12 months, which I had never seen done before, Drew, so it was a bit of a daunting task.
Drew Neisser: Wow. Okay, I want to break that down. But we’re gonna wait on that for a second. We’re gonna come back to growing pipeline 6x, which is… I know that from a resume-building standpoint, any CMO who can walk into a CEO’s office and say, “We grew pipeline 6x,” they’re gonna get their attention, because that is part of it.
One of the things that we debate, and I’ve talked to some other CMOs about is, can you really separate brand from demand? But it sounds like, in many ways, just by creating and doing some blocking and tackling and getting all the components in place, you could, in fact, create demand without brand.
Karl Van den Bergh: You can. There are certainly some mechanics. I think even the most skeptical of the value of brand out there—and I think that’s a diminishing population—but [they] recognize that there is air cover, if you will, to use that analogy. Air cover for sales, there is value in brand, so people know who you are when you’re engaging with them in the sales cycle.
But yes, can you really drive effective demand without brand? I think you can to some degree, but you will be limited. Because if people don’t have the context, if they don’t have the value of your offering front and center, you have to have that conversation on a repeated basis, and it’s not effective. Having that air cover, that definition definitely goes a long way to making an effective demand engine.
Drew Neisser: And by the way, air cover is among the best euphemisms for brand there are out there, if you’re listening. If you’re still using the word brand, and there’s resistance to it. Almost anybody in sales, but probably CEOs and CFOs, they get that notion because they know what it’s like to call on a customer and have them say, “Who are you? Where are you from? I’ve never heard of your company.” Air cover as a euphemism for brand and brand awareness is a winner. It is no doubt a winner.
[9:08] Behind Gigamon’s Predictive Model“Building a funnel forecast model allowed us to start operating more like sales, which is one of the tips I would offer to any marketer out there.” —@kavanden @gigamon Click To Tweet
Drew Neisser: I’m curious, one of the things that’s hard when you take a new position like this where there’s no demand gen engine, how did you break down the challenges into a manageable set?
Karl Van den Bergh: I have to give credit also to our President who set up the framework here for the investment. It was really like looking at what are the components of an effective demand engine, and one of them was investing in inside sales. So BDRs, as we call them, business development representatives, was a big part of the investment.
It wasn’t just in the marketing, bringing a new CMO and investing dollars in the programs. We had a small team before and this was a significant… we hired nearly 40 people into that function. That was a big part of making this successful.
But then specific to the marketing and marketing programs piece of it— I’m an engineer by background and so everything I think about and the way I think, I like to break it down and I’m very mathematically oriented. I like to decompose a problem.
It was, first of all, understanding with some predictability, “How do I know the activities that I do are going to generate the funnel and pipeline that I need?” One of the first things that we did was we really created—and I hadn’t been familiar with this before, maybe the audience recognizes or knows or something—but we built a predictive funnel forecast model.
That really was taking all of the activities that we’ve done historically, look at their performance top to bottom, and then building, “If I were to pick from that menu list and put them into the upcoming quarters and the timing and the velocity, when can I see the return?”
So, building a funnel forecast model allowed us to start operating more like sales, which is one of the tips I would offer to any marketer out there. The more that you can operate like sales with, obviously, some significant caveats, the easier it is for your executive and your board to understand the value that you bring. That’s one of the things that we did. And I think that was a foundational piece to us being able to manage that growth throughout the year.
Drew Neisser: So, inside sales and predictive model. I want to break the predictive model [down], but I’m gonna save that for section four. That’s so smart. We talked a lot about that at the Super Huddle we had last week, where we were talking about the CMO/CFO relationship. I’m just imagining that your CFO has got to love you for creating that because their job is to create predictable revenue, right? I mean, they’re trying to build a predictable P&L.
Karl Van den Bergh: Absolutely. And, as you said, for another time, but we’ll talk about how that also was helpful in the conversation with the investors.
[12:24] How Gigamon Differentiated its Brand“We undertook an extensive customer journey analysis as the foundation for understanding who our prospects are, what drives them, what are they looking for in a brand that they can trust.” —@kavanden @gigamon Click To Tweet
Drew Neisser: While we wrap up this thing, one of the things that the research that we did found that a number of CMOs actually didn’t know—well, I shouldn’t say this. I’m gonna say, their brand and their marketing wasn’t differentiated. I’m curious, what did you do? What process did you go through to distill the brand promise down to get a very clear and, hopefully, poignant strategy?
Karl Van den Bergh: Yeah, so one of the pitfalls or the challenges that we fall into sometimes is we become too innerly focused. I think a good brand strategy, brand focus is to really start from the outside in. We undertook an extensive customer journey analysis as the foundation for understanding who our prospects are, what drives them, what are they looking for in a brand that they can trust.
That influenced then the voice that we came up with as a company. How do we want to represent what’s true to who we are, but then corresponds to what they’re looking for and what they trust?
And then the other piece—and this is part of the evolution of the company that we undertook—is where are we going. Because customers and prospects want to be led. They want to partner with a company that can provide a vision that helps them solve for their most pressing challenges now and in the future.
We wanted to know, where is the market going? Because we’ve been a leader in our current market, but we’re creating a new one. So how can we lead customers by presenting a vision that got captured in the brand of where we’re going, where the market is going, and how we can help our customers get there more easily.
[14:28] Why Gigamon Created Hawk by Gigamon (and How It Went)“Part of our brand and strategy was to wake people up to a new Gigamon.” —@kavanden @gigamon Click To Tweet
Drew Neisser: We’re going to transition now to what we call part two of this show about artful ideation. You’ve done your market research; you’ve identified your strategy. I’m curious, what was the vision and how are you articulating it?
Karl Van den Bergh: To say a little bit more about Gigamon, Gigamon and its inception was really an infrastructure play that sits in your company’s network and allows you as an IT professional to see all your network traffic and do so in a very efficient way so that your performance management, your security tools, your monitoring tools can work most efficiently. It removes any blind spots.
It’s an efficiency play, and originally efficiency play for the traditional data center. Obviously, the world has changed, and companies are moving to the cloud in all their various flavors. We’ve now extended that product investment started a number of years ago, so that now our, as we call it, “visibility fabric,” covers the entire hybrid and multi-cloud.
I can sit and I can look at everything, remove all blind spots across the hybrid multi-cloud, and allow my security tools and my performance management tools to operate in a way that’s most effective and most efficient and most cost-effective.
That was really the vision that we had, and where we’re bringing our customers—a lot of our customers are traditional, IT professionals who also are going through and their companies are going through this cloud transformation, this move to the cloud.
A big part of our vision was giving them the comfort that we have the journey mapped out for them and that we could take them to the cloud in an easier, less risky, if you will, and very cost-effective way. So, risk and cost management are definitely key parts of the value that we bring to our customers.
Drew Neisser: I’m curious, so you boil this down to that. Was there any sort of articulation of that?
Karl Van den Bergh: There was. Gigamon is a known entity in the networking space, but not a known quantity in cloud. Part of what we needed to do as part of our brand and strategy was to wake people up, if you will, to a new Gigamon.
We created Hawk, and Hawk is our cloud visibility offering. It’s not just the product, but it really is the face of the company, as we move into the cloud. So, Hawk by Gigamon, because we wanted to retain the strength of Gigamon, which is innovation, customer success, central to who we are, and a lot of the good things that Gigamon represents, but we wanted to really put a new face on it, if you will. That’s what Hawk is.
Drew Neisser: It’s funny, I was listening to a show by my friend, Alan Hart, with a brand strategy person and they talked about this master brand extended strategy. This reminds me of that, where you need a new name to help your customers, your current customers realize that there’s some substantial change happening here.
But the problem, of course, is that once you have this second name, you now have two names. And you end up with, in theory, dividing up your ability for someone to remember. “Who is it? I know we work with Gigamon? What’s this new thing they have?”
So, Hawk by Gigamon, you’re trying to have your cake and eat it, too. There’s this new thing, but it’s still the people that you know and trust. I’m curious—it must have been a really interesting conversation as you were talking about this change because, again, you have awareness of Gigamon; you have Hawk. Hawk is a bird. Talk a little bit about the thinking that got you to a place where this is the right brand strategy for you all to take.
Karl Van den Bergh: It’s a non-trivial one, as you said, Drew, that you have to go through. There was a lot of thinking through the different types of brand evolution strategies we could adopt. The driving force here was we wanted to, quote, “Wake people up.” Because we have been creating and delivering and selling—we have 700 Cloud customers—for a few years. But there wasn’t that market recognition.
We knew we needed to do something to shift. But we didn’t want to lose the core strengths and the attributes that Gigamon represents. That’s where we ended up. It is a continuing journey, because part of—we expect to continue to evolve as a company.
That visibility and analytics fabric which crosses the hybrid and multi-cloud is also the foundation for applications that we will deliver. We partner with a lot of third-party applications, we have thousands, in fact, of ecosystem partners who plug into the fabric, but we’re also developing our own and delivering our own.
We have a threat insight, which is our network detection and response offering, which plugs into that fabric. We did an acquisition to bring that product into our portfolio; we will likely do other acquisitions, so we also wanted some framework that was extensible, so we could have other offerings by Gigamon. That’s another reason why we chose…
Drew Neisser: So, you’re almost going to become a house of brands in some ways. It’s interesting, and again, this is fresh on my mind because I listened to the podcast over the weekend. But the idea of having a sub-brand—Hawk by Gigamon—is that you can, as you said, shake people up and say, “Oh, there’s something different going on here.”
But ultimately, is the objective here to actually try to create another brand that can stand alone? It sounds like, no, the object is to create a number of sub-brands that are all connected to create this spoke-and-hub model of “Blank by Gigamon.”
What’s interesting about what this one theorist from Lippincott said, was that, ultimately, brands pull these sub-brands together. If you look at what Adobe is doing with both Marketo and Magento, you can see that happening in real time. It’s a fascinating choice, and I totally get it. The alternative would have been to rebrand Gigamon all together so that you could say, “Hey, we’re more than you thought we were, that’s why we’re rebranding.” You went this route.
Let’s just ask the question, how’d it go?
Karl Van den Bergh: We’re a year into it. Not even, we launched Hawk in March of this year, so it’s still early in the journey. The reception has been very positive both internally and externally.
We know that from some of the metrics that we track, whether it be website visits or downloads, we had a big launch, co-launch with AWS around Hawk and then a number of other ecosystem players that supported us and plug into Hawk, so we had a rolling thunder.
Good support from the ecosystem who were eager to participate. Good reception from our employees. And that’s a big part of the brand transformation. We’re about a half a billion, thousand employee sized company, and getting every one of those employees to be ambassadors for Hawk was a big part of our investment because that’s gonna be a lot more powerful than just the marketing department.
They’ve received it very well and they’re enthusiastic about that journey. So, customers, the market at large, and employees so far seem to be very enthusiastic.
Show Break: On CMO Huddles
If you don’t mind, I’d like to plug CMO Huddles for a second. Launched in 2020, CMO Huddles is an invitation-only subscription service that brings together an elite group of CMOs to share, care, and dare each other to greatness.
One CMO described Huddles as timely conversations with smart peers in a trusted environment, while another called it a cross between an expert workshop and a therapy session.
If you’re a B2B CMO that can share and care with the best of them, please visit CMOhuddles.com or send me an email to see if you qualify for a guest pass.
[24:32] Employee Engagement: Social, Care Packages, and A Cross-Functional Team“We felt that it was a good way for us to engage employees and to organize and to see things that we wouldn't necessarily see in marketing or at corporate, right?” —@kavanden @gigamon Click To Tweet
Drew Neisser: We’re back and we’ve been talking about how you launched Hawk by Gigamon, a new way of thinking about the brand, a new product, and so forth. I want to get to this—you mentioned the thousand employees as being important. How long did you give to internal communications before you launched Hawk?
Karl Van den Bergh: We started the journey—we launched this in March; we started the journey last year, towards the end of last year, telling a little bit about the transformation we were going through. Obviously, we took the executive team and the board through the intention.
They were very much part of the decision process to go down this path as well as certain industry stakeholders.
Then, with the employees, we really started that journey at our sales kickoff, which is really a company kickoff this year in conjunction with some sales-specific activities. That happened at the beginning of the year. It was a four-month, I would say, lead time before the launch.
Drew Neisser: So much better than the research that we did, where most folks only give less than four weeks for their launch. Talk a little bit about some of the things that you did to help employees understand it and then prepare them to be ambassadors.
Karl Van den Bergh: Yeah, so some of it’s your standard fare. So, executive updates, there was an overview at our company kickoff that I provided, some product demonstrations that we did as well. And then we launched a competition for them on social media to get them involved.
What were some creative ways that they might highlight Hawk? And obviously, it’s an easy enough one to think of different creative ways that you could use Hawk. And so that was great to see that participation and excitement.
We have as a company over the period of the pandemic sent out care packages. We did a full Hawk branded care package and there was a kite in there with the Hawk branding and some other elements that were fun. So again, getting that enthusiasm and excitement.
We started a cross-functional team, Team Hawk, that represented different employees from different parts of the organization. They volunteered. That team gathers regularly to understand what are the roadblocks and the opportunities that they see from their perspective and their function to be able to have the employees as a whole really get engaged and excited to be promoters of Hawk.
Drew Neisser: Wow, there’s a lot there that I want to unpack because you mentioned a social media competition, a care package, and a cross-functional team. All three of those are great things to be thinking about to build your employee communications program.
Talk a little bit about the social media competition. What kinds of things came out of that?
Karl Van den Bergh: Yeah, actually one of them was, someone wanted to get a cameo from Tony Hawk the skateboarder. We did that, actually. We did that, and in fact, Tony Hawk came. We held our first-ever user conference, the cloud visibility conference Visualyze that happened in May. Tony Hawk became our spokesperson, if you will, to invite people to that conference.
Drew Neisser: Amazing. So this idea that came out of social ended up becoming part of your customer engagement program. I love that. That’s really cool. What else happened as a result. Any other examples of things that came out of or things that employees did as part of the social program?
Karl Van den Bergh: I don’t have any other ones that come top of mind, but there was a lot of—and we use a platform as I’m sure others do, Amplify is one when we use. Hootsuite, I think, is the product. We saw a huge uptick in the engagement of employees as measured by the metrics that we see on that dashboard around Hawk, and it has continued since.
Just the volume—by getting people to really think, whatever function they were in, and they could win prizes as part of this social media competition for whoever got selected to have the post of the day. We saw a huge uptick in general by employees posting around talk.
Drew Neisser: There you go. And if you want employees to post every day, you better have a competition that goes every day. Post of the day, what a great idea. Love that. Also just want to remind folks, we’ll be talking about metrics in the next section, but having employee engagement as a metric as part of the success of your marketing program—at least in my opinion and what I write about in the book—is essential.
You mentioned a care package. I love these details, and I think the listeners appreciate these details as they’re thinking through their next product launch. What else was in the care package besides the kite?
Karl Van den Bergh: It was in the beginning of the summer, so we wanted something that people could use. It was a kite for the kids, it was a picnic basket. It was a great hamper that you could put stuff in. It was actually a nice collapsible one, so it didn’t take up any space. There was a rug, waterproof from one side.
It was really for the family to take and what we saw after that is, you’d see the picture of this picnic basket—it was more an internal Slack channel, in different locations. People would be taking the picnic basket in different places; it was a great way to share the enthusiasm not only for Hawk, but then… People recognize that the company has done a tremendous job in taking care of its employees throughout the pandemic, so just some enthusiasm for that as well.
Drew Neisser: I love that. It’s great. You know you’ve done something well when employees want to take a picture, take it with you, and then share that. There’s a lot of pride that comes through there.
The last thing that you mentioned that really struck me is a cross-functional team. And can you talk about what went into getting idea? Having that team is not something I hear a lot about, at least in these interviews. Talk about the source of the idea, and then how you executed it.
Karl Van den Bergh: Yes, one of the leads from a Hawk marketing perspective, we really came up with this idea and felt that it was a good way for us to engage employees and to organize and to see things that we wouldn’t necessarily see in marketing or at corporate, right? It was, “Hey, we’re going to do this, we want everyone to be involved,” so we launched on Slack an open invitation to whoever wanted to.
We got over-subscribed. We wanted to keep it not too big, but sizable enough to reference different functions, so we had about 12 or 15 that we ended up with, but we were oversubscribed, which is great.
Then it’s run on a monthly basis, there’s an agenda in terms of different parts of the business that we want to review and make sure that, again, as I said earlier, it’s about obstacles and opportunities.
What are the things that are preventing us—because we’re transforming as a company like, as I said, like the market is, like our customers are, so we’re making that transformation as well. So what are the things that are impeding us? And then what opportunities or ideas does this team have that could apply both internally or externally in the market?
Drew Neisser: I love that. It makes it so clear what it is that you need out of the group, what the opportunity for them is to contribute. And I imagine there’s this source of pride of being able to participate in something like that. That’s another good thing. But also, as you said, it’s not just coming from marketing. This body becomes really invested in the overall success as opposed to their little part of the world. Which is cool. What a terrific idea.
[34:01] Customer Rollout of Hawk by Gigamon“The capstone event for us was, in fact, our first ever user conference as a company which is unusual given the size of the company and its history.” —@kavanden @gigamon Click To Tweet
Drew Neisser: You mentioned that you kicked off this with a customer event of some kind. Talk about the customer rollout of Hawk.
Karl Van den Bergh: As our capstone event, we started the launch with an announcement with AWS and then a series of rolling thunder with half a dozen other technology partners. Then a whole bunch of other digital, brand, the usual around cool video, everything that would surround it at launch.
The capstone event for us was, in fact, our first-ever user conference as a company which is unusual given the size of the company and its history. But we decided that we needed a customer-facing event to really get this off the ground. So, we created Visualyze, which was the industry’s first and only cloud visibility conference.
Had a lot of good ecosystem sponsorship. I co-sponsored with AWS, Nutanix, FireEye, New Relic… There’s a long list, so I’m not going to remember them all, but very, very good list of ecosystem partners.
Then the idea was a couple of things—one, help the market understand and our customers understand cloud visibility and analytics and the role it plays in their future. We had some great keynotes, both internal and external. And then we had some discussion groups as well.
We had the product side, we had the keynote, and then we had some discussion groups so that the prospects and customers could come together to talk about, for their particular industry, the challenges that they were seeing and the opportunities that they were working on.
Drew Neisser: It really became more than just a—not that it would have needed to be more, but you had customers there, you also had prospects or an opportunity to, say, upsell or cross-sell these folks. I imagine the partners doing that rolling thunder approach, each of the partners brought their own audience to the table, which is a huge thing. It had to have been a great lift for you all.
Karl Van den Bergh: It was. It really was fantastic to see the support that we had, because there’s clearly a need in the market for what we’re offering, which is obviously great validation for us. But it was fantastic to see the participation and the enthusiasm of our ecosystem in this conference.
Drew Neisser: The one thing that I talk a lot about in the book—you know that you’re on your way when you do have a community of customers, and one of the ways to do that is by user conferences, right? I think I told the story of Tableau where their first event had 100 people and it was like just getting off the ground. Then the last one that Elissa Fink had been part of had over 10,000. I’m imagining this is an annual event for you now?
Karl Van den Bergh: Yes, yes. Visualyze will continue. Our first event was 100% virtual. We are expecting the next one in ’22 to be a hybrid event just like many companies are likely to do such events. It will be a combination of a virtual global event with some specific in-person meetings, probably more for the executive track that we expect to do in some of the major metros.
Drew Neisser: Very cool. All right. So if I were to recap right now, I’d say the courageous strategy is actually saying “You know what, we need a different name to introduce a new product.” That was a big bold decision to make and took some hutzpah. In terms of artful execution, you heard several examples between the social…
Getting Tony Hawk involved, that’s a really fun thing that a lot of people wouldn’t have done because, “Oh, it’s B2B, why do we have this skateboarder there?” But what it really did was generate interest and sort of, “Whoa, I got to think about this differently. What’s Tony Hawk doing in my feed talking about cloud stuff?” I just love that juxtaposition.
And then in terms of thoughtful, just having a user conference, getting employees involved. Well, first, employees involved. Engage employees first. Second, cultivate customer champions, which you did. And then I have no doubt that there were additional programs to get prospects into the pipeline through, I’m going to call it “selling through service.” I bet it’s in there. I bet you did some interesting content. I’m just going to guess that you found ways of making it easy for your prospects to get to know what Hawk is and why that should be part of their future… just guessing.
Karl Van den Bergh: Yeah, so a lot of it starts with the top-level stuff. I mentioned video earlier, eBooks, working through that journey all the way down to the “How does Hawk integrate with the products and the tools that I have?” Getting very hands-on with some nice short videos that we have as part of the launch.
But, Drew, this is the beginning of the journey. Still a lot more to come. Our field is always good at coming back and pointing out, “Hey, it would be nice to have this. Can we have that?” That is part of our evolution, and our customers too as they start deploying this and learning about it. They also have suggestions on what we can do better. Always looking to improve.
[40:30] Gigamon Metrics: An ROI Model to 6x Pipeline and Employee Surveys“We needed to make sure every dollar we spent, every penny we spent, was spent wisely.” —@kavanden @gigamon Click To Tweet
Drew Neisser: Let’s talk about the scientific method here. At the very top of the hour, we talked about how we have to focus on both demand gen and ultimately on brand. One can be a successful CMO if one can 6x pipeline, and it sounds like you 6x’ed pipeline, is that right?
Karl Van den Bergh: We did, we did. Yeah. I wouldn’t be a very good marketer if I mentioned that, and we didn’t deliver. In fact, we won the SiriusDecisions Award for that year for the transformation of the demand engine. And it did come from, obviously, we got the investment; that’s obviously a prerequisite.
But it was building the machine. I mentioned, I’m an engineer, so I think in terms of machines and the parts of the machine. One of them was building a high propensity target model, which we built in-house. They are off-the-shelf, but we felt for our needs, and we had the expertise, some great data scientists as part of the team, to build that model that allowed us to really focus our investments.
We needed to make sure every dollar we spent, every penny we spent, was spent wisely. Building that predictable model, so that I had some confidence that the things that we were going to do were going to produce the results that we hoped.
And then implementing a franchise model, which is, as I’m sure many CMOs can relate to… Marketing, like any other function, does not exist in a silo. And so, in order to be successful, we have to operate as a go-to-market franchise down to the regional or sub-regional level.
It’s not just a corporate thing, but it’s down in regions where the marketing, sales, BDR channel representatives are coming together, they’re looking around a core set of metrics, which we provide them for their region on: Here’s your target, here’s your predictive pipeline, here’s a set of activities that you’re doing, and allowing them to make decisions at the local level, obviously, with corporate support, in order to be able to optimize and continue to optimize the output. I would say those are some of the key components of the transformation of the demand engine.
Drew Neisser: Wow, we’re gonna have to get you on the ROI model of Renegade Marketers Live because breaking down your high propensity target model, I know that listeners are going, “Wait! spend more time on that!” But we’re running out of time here, so I just want to ask a couple more questions. But I really want to understand that at a later date.
You mentioned employee surveys and how you were tracking that. Talk a little bit about that.
Karl Van den Bergh: It’s about twice a year, we do it. Some companies do it more frequently. Twice a year, we run a service that’s actually run by our HR department. We call it the Pulse survey and it has a standard set of questions, and occasionally we’ll evolve it. Then we take those results, and from a marketing perspective, obviously, we care about every function and how every function is doing.
We have our own work to do, and during the pandemic we saw swings in that. There were some real highs; in fact, some record highs during the pandemic because I think people recognize that the company was putting employees first. We are one of the unique companies to my knowledge that actually has employees first versus customers first as part of our brand values or corporate values. And that really was very visible during the pandemic. We had some real highs.
We had some lows too. And in marketing, we had some lows where people were burning out and were working really hard but not feeling getting the results that they expected. And so navigating employees through that was a big part of our focus, especially this last year.
Drew Neisser: Yeah, I mean, this is true at so many companies and it’s so hard because of Blursday right? You don’t know how many hours your employees are putting in anymore and they’re always on because you turn the corner, there’s your computer, “Oh! Office hours!”
And so, it’s really hard for employees to turn off, so many are just quitting and figuring, “Well, I’ll get another job.” It is a real problem in marketing and CMOs are stepping in because brand and culture are and how you relate to employees… You no longer have the office setting to define culture, so you’ve got marketing and communications and the way you talk and engage employees.
Karl Van den Bergh: Yeah. As you said, knowing that the employer cares, obviously, that’s the care packages and other things we did. But knowing there’s a vision, a strong vision, and there is excitement, it goes a long way too. That was subtext to the whole Hawk launch and getting employees engaged was to build up that energy and excitement around the vision for the company,
Drew Neisser: That we actually know where we’re going, so stick around, because it’s going to be great. Yeah, totally makes sense. Those dots really connect.
[46:01] Lessons Learned: Don’t Overcommunicate“Marketing is going under such a huge transformation and keeping your stakeholders, both your team, the executive team, and the board up to speed—don't be afraid to overcommunicate.” —@kavanden @gigamon Click To Tweet
Drew Neisser: We’ve literally run out of time, and I’m thinking about the person who’s working out and they’ve done their 45 minutes, and saying, “Drew, wrap it up!” Gosh, there have been so many interesting things that you did in this program. I so appreciate you being here. I’m going to give you one last chance, if there are any lessons learned from this that you’d like to share with the audience, please do so now.
Karl Van den Bergh: I would say communication, education. Marketing is going under such a huge transformation and keeping your stakeholders, both your team, the executive team, and the board up to speed—don’t be afraid to overcommunicate. I’m telling myself that as I’m telling the audience because I forget to do it sometimes, too. But it is so, so critical.
Drew Neisser: Yeah, I think that’s a perfect place for us to wrap up. Karl, thank you so much for sharing your journey. I really appreciate it. We’re expecting Hawk to soar and look forward to more conversations down the road.
Karl Van den Bergh: Great. Thank you so much, Drew, and great to be on your show. Good luck to everything you and everyone else is up to.
Drew Neisser: All right. Well, if you enjoyed this show, boy, there are so many good things in there. Do me a favor and hop on over to your favorite podcast channel and give us a five-star rating or share it with a friend.
Renegade Marketers Unite is written and directed by Drew Neisser. Audio production is by Sam Beck. The show notes are written by Melissa Caffrey. The music is by the amazing Burns Twins and the intro voiceover is Linda Cornelius. To find the transcripts of all episodes, suggest future guests, or learn more about quite possibly the best B2B marketing agency in New York City, visit renegade.com. And until next time, keep those Renegade Thinking Caps on and strong.