We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: no CMO can succeed without the backing of their CEO. Countless CMO guests on the show have talked about how crucial it is to have that top-down support, and on this special episode, we’re joined not only by the CMO of Wasabi, Michael Welts, but also by his CEO, David Friend. With a strong working relationship that most would envy, they talk about how they’ve built their brand and grown their customer base from 1200 to 15,000 in just two years.
The key thing David was looking for was a “simplifier” CMO, and with Michael, he found just that. Through bold marketing, Michael and his team developed a strong value proposition, “1/5 the price of Amazon and 6x faster” and based their sales strategy around the three Wasabi “peas:” price, performance, and protection. Tune in to this week’s episode to hear how to build a B2B demand gen machine, measure metrics outside of revenue, and have the CEO-CMO relationship that dreams are made of.
Full Transcription: Drew Neisser in conversation with David Friend and Michael Welts
Drew Neisser: Hello, Renegade Thinkers! Being a CMO has always been hard. Throw in a global pandemic and you have an unprecedented pressure cooker boiling with unbounded uncertainty. It is at this moment that the CMO’s relationship with their CEO really gets tested, but here’s an important truth in both good times and bad times—no CMO can succeed without a strong working relationship and the trust of their CEO. That’s why, on this special episode, my guests today are both a CMO and his CEO.
Just to be clear, David Friend, we call him Dave on the show, is not your run-of-the-mill CEO. David has founded or co-founded five other companies that have been sold, including Carbonite. Longtime listeners will remember that episode 41 featured Norman Guadagno, who was the CMO of Carbonite back then. Anyway, David’s current company, Wasabi, was founded in 2015 and is a truly hot cloud storage company that prides itself on being 80% cheaper than Amazon AWS.
Wasabi’s CMO is Michael Welts, a 25-year veteran of tech and the startup world. Now Michael, as it turns out, was hire number eight. Wasabi had a bunch of engineers, the founder, and Michael was hire number eight and since then, in those three years, Michael’s only been able to help the company grab 15,000 customers. So, come on, Michael, what’s up problem? Anyways, gentlemen, welcome to the show.
Michael Welts: That’s the same thing Dave says to me all the time. What can we do better?
Drew Neisser: Yeah, come on. Now, this is exactly what this show is about. Let’s get a little give and take between the CEO and the CMO. Anyway, let’s just talk first about the world that we’re living in right now. Where are you, David, and what’s it like?
David Friend: Well, I’m in downtown Boston and it’s pretty well deserted. Newbury Street, which is the big restaurant and shop street, looks post-apocalyptic. It’s just a very strange experience right now.
Drew Neisser: Yeah, and Michael, what’s going on in your neck of the woods?
Michael Welts: I’m up in New Hampshire, so social distancing isn’t all that difficult to achieve.
Drew Neisser: So we’re hunkered down. We’re all keeping our physical distance as some are suggesting we do. Dave, maybe you could give a framework for how this pandemic has impacted you as a leader of the organization and some of your first thoughts.
David Friend: Well, we’re growing very, very fast. We grew 5x last year and we’re planning to grow 3.5x this year and 3.5x again next year. Any company that’s doing that is consuming cash, obviously. My first thoughts were, as the CEO and the chief fundraiser for the company, how’s this going to impact our cash? I decided it was probably a good idea to put a little more cash in the till so I’m just right now wrapping up an additional investment round which will be concluded in the next few days.
Drew Neisser: Yeah, that’s interesting. There’s still capital out there that needs to be invested and given your track record that makes a lot of sense. So cash is number one, and that’s been talked a lot about, like how many months of operating capital do you have? That’s great. Now, what other things from an operational standpoint did this impact?
David Friend: I’m always watching charts of various key performance indicators in the company and the one that’s at the top of the list, obviously, is how much did we sell last week. I keep watching that for some signs of a downturn but five of the last seven weeks have been record weeks, so things just keep going up and up, and I’m not talking about small increases. These are pretty substantial increases over the best weeks that we’ve ever had. I have two theories. One is that storing data is a “gotta have,” not a “nice to have.” When the hospital takes an MRI or a CAT scan, they still have to store it somewhere and people are not going to turn off the police body cams or stop the telescopes and Chile from sending data or the satellites or making feature-length films and all the other stuff that we store. The second part is, with people hunkered down an in a hunkered-down mentality, maybe the idea of saving money goes to the top of the list as opposed to some of the more speculative projects that they might have on their plate.
Drew Neisser: Yeah. And I was wondering about that. I read an interview that you did back in early 2019, pre-pandemic, and you said then that 90% of the folks that were buying were strongly influenced by your value proposition.
David Friend: Price is important. That’s why we’re 1/5 the price of Amazon and that’s probably number one, two and three of why people buy us. Number four is probably performance, being faster than Amazon, and number five is we’re not Amazon. A lot of people just don’t want to give a nickel to Amazon for whatever reason.
Drew Neisser: One of the things that Michael and I spoke about is that you have always baked marketing into the product from the beginning, from a very conceptual standpoint, before you even launch the company, which is one of the reasons that I wanted to have you on the show. That’s a very enlightened perspective. Can you talk about how you think about marketing as it relates to your product offering?
David Friend: I think in terms of billboards. A lot of people talk about elevator pitches and things like that, but I think in terms of billboards. I haven’t taken very many billboards out in my life, we did a few at Carbonite, but I like things that are easy to sell. I don’t like complicated products, I don’t like things that have to be explained and explained, and when I was teaching at business school 8 or 10 years ago, I had an exercise for people who were trying to come up with ideas for new companies. “Show me the billboard. I’ve got 10 seconds to catch somebody’s attention while they’re driving in on the Mass Pike. How am I going to get my point across?” That’s the way I think about things and that’s why we made Wasabi so simple. There really isn’t anything to learn about Wasabi. It’s an API, it stores your data. It doesn’t matter what kind of data is. It’s like the electric plug in the wall of your house, you know, plug in whatever you want.
Drew Neisser: From a business plan standpoint, when you thought about this, you literally got it down to those words: “It’s an API that stores your data.”
David Friend: Yeah, our original quote “billboard” was “1/5 the price of Amazon and 6x faster.” That was it. That’s all you need to say.
Drew Neisser: It’s interesting. It’s very feature-driven and function-driven but you actually also have this very funky name.
David Friend: Well, you want to have a name where when you hear it, you can spell it. I can’t believe how many companies there are that have names that could probably be spelled 25 different ways. It’s hard enough to get someone to go search for your company online, so why make it difficult? Wasabi is also a name that you can remember and it’s hot, and we’re dealing with hot cloud storage. It’s actually a great name. Carbonite was a great name too, but Wasabi is even better. Mike and I went through maybe 200 different possible company names for this business, and when we saw Wasabi, we both looked at each other and said, “I don’t care how much it costs to get this name. This is the one that we have to have.”
Drew Neisser: You knew you could build a hot company around this. If you want to talk about marketing wisdom, folks, we could stop the show right here. Make a product or service that anybody can remember and say in eight words or less, and then come up with a name that is equally memorable and unique. That’s 90% of the game, so Michael, I’m thinking of you, the marketer, like a catcher waiting for the pitch to be thrown to you. Tell me, in this environment where you have a product that is 80% cheaper and 6x faster, what’s the marketing challenge?[Laughter]
David Friend: I gave him the easiest job on the face of the earth.
Drew Neisser: I was gonna say, “I want that job! C’mon!”
Michael Welts: Price is definitely the thing that resonates more than ever right now, it really is. But also, you have to give some credit to what’s been done over the last few years just to build the brand, so that people recognize the brand and go looking for the brand. I think that’s why we’ve seen the success. If you look back three years ago, it took us a year to get our first 1200 customers. Two years later, we’re at 15,000 customers. It took us five months to get our first petabyte of data. Now we’re doing three petabytes of data a week and expect to be a petabyte a day by the end of the year. You have to build a memorable name, you have to build a new category, and to your point, that’s kind of what we’ve done here. Hot cloud storage is a significant new disruption to the old traditional cloud storage market.
Drew Neisser: Okay, we’re going to take a quick break and we’ll be right back.
Drew Neisser: Okay, there was a lot going on in that last bit of the conversation that I want to unpack but before I do that, I’m curious, what kind of adjustments have you had to make as a result of the pandemic and any changes if any?
Michael Welts: Well, our message is still around pricing. I think if there’s any change that’s happened it’s actually primarily in how we message ourselves from a social strategy. That’s changed dramatically and we have to be sensitive to the environment. We meet daily as a marketing team and bear witness to what our competition is doing like ads strategies, some brand new ads strategies have come out claiming huge cloud offerings by some of the largest vendors out there like IBM and Dell just over this past weekend and we haven’t seen that from them in the past. Everyone is jumping on this cloud message suddenly. We’ve been there for a while now and we just are more sensitive about how we talk about ourselves socially. We don’t get involved in a lot of the talk, or make it appear that we’re trying to take advantage of this unfortunate situation right now.
Drew Neisser: Yeah. Nobody wants to be perceived as a vulture. For sure. So, let’s talk about, what adjustments did you make for social? How do we talk about a product that costs less and is 6x faster but still have this conversation that, probably now more than ever, is a pretty good value proposition?
Michael Welts: I would say probably 70% of our messaging is still around pricing, but now what we’re doing is we’re diving into specific use cases, or let’s call them vertical industries, that represent what’s going on in the world right now. As David cited about medical images, huge storage requirements for that. The fact that you need to keep your cloud up and running and you want to be able to access your data. Right now, because of everyone working at home remotely on Zoom, things are crashing. You still need access to your data, you still want to make sure you can store your data safely, so we changed our message to reflect those kinds of market situations.
Drew Neisser: Interesting. And I’m wondering, Dave, as you think about this, the current market that we’re in, the likelihood is businesses are going to slow down. Some businesses got to be taking a hit. With the market potentially slowing down a lot, how do you as a CEO plan into that?
David Friend: Some businesses are slowing down, clearly, and there are other businesses that are accelerating, and you read about those in the paper. I think in the case of data storage, I guess if a business goes out of business, they’re not going to generate any more data, but people still have to do their backups. We’ve got thousands of companies that send us their backups every day. People aren’t going to throw away data that they might otherwise have saved.
And as I said, I think that there are a lot of people that have expensive ways of storing data and they’ve been putting off looking at how to save some money on this because they’ve been on other projects that have taken their attention. But now with everybody having this bunker mentality, they’re saying, “Well, maybe I’ll focus on staffing issues and ways that I can save money and one of those that’s been sitting on my plate that I haven’t had time to do anything about is to take a look at this Wasabi company and their claims that I could actually save a significant amount of money on my data storage.”
Drew Neisser: Okay, so I’m curious. I want to get back to the very beginning premise of the show. What do you look for in a Chief Marketing Officer?
David Friend: That’s a good question. I love marketing. I started as an engineer, but with my very first startup, after we built our first product, we looked around the room and said, “Okay, who’s going to go out and sell this?” and I was the least unpresentable person among us.
Drew Neisser: That’s a qualification. “Least unpresentable.” Well done.
David Friend: Then I discovered I really liked it. I really liked the ability that I seem to have for explaining something simply and listening to what people were saying to try to figure out how what they’re expressing informs what we should be making and offering. I think a lot of marketing is simply being a good listener. It’s not about simply responding to what a customer or a prospect says but trying to see what’s underneath it. What are the motivations beneath it? Because I do feel that you can’t always run your business by just looking at your list of features or something that people say they want to add. That’s a bit like driving by looking in the rearview mirror.
But you do have to listen to a lot of different points of view and then synthesize them. What I heard in our market and what resonated immediately with Mike is that data storage is not exciting data, storage is something we have to do, and I’d like to do it the cheapest simplest way possible. When Mike and I had our first conversation, that resonated with him immediately and he said, “I totally get it.” Not many marketers do. Most people are complicators, not simplifiers, and when I met Mike, I said, “Here’s a simplifier” and there aren’t a lot of those people around.
Drew Neisser: Well, it’s funny. I love all the things that you just said and but, simple is hard. It’s a lot harder than anybody realizes. It’s only simple when it’s proved to be simple and I think you’re right, a lot of marketers are complicated. So, Mike, what makes you a simplifier?
Michael Welts: It’s interesting because my background, unlike Dave, is not one of being an engineer and in our industry, in tech, most of the people that wear the marketing hat usually come from a technical background. They’re product management or product marketers. So, to Dave’s point, they tend to think of speeds and feeds or product features. My long-standing view has always been that features ultimately commoditize so it really comes down to how simple the message you can refine things down to. That’s my differentiation, if you will, among others in our space. I’ve kept it extremely simple. I intentionally don’t go deep into the technology, so I can tell a simple story. I keep it uncomplicated by doing it that way.
Drew Neisser: Okay, so keeping the story simple, and with a name like Wasabi, you’ve got to have some fun. When Mike and I were talking in our prep show, we talked about Wasabi as the ultimate ingredient brand, and it’s funny because and I didn’t get there initially in the sense that I thought, “Cloud Storage? That’s not an ingredient.” Talk a little bit about how this works. You’re really more like Intel than I might’ve thought.
Michael Welts: When you build startups, achieving scale is the greatest challenge. You can build the organization to get those early adopter customers, but building a great company, an exponential type of company, opportunity comes down to going through the channel. We’ve done it a couple of different ways. There’s the obvious channel that would include things in our business called managed service providers. Like 20 years ago when you had Internet service providers, they provided you anything from cable TV to internet services.
Nowadays managed service provides you with different types of cloud services. They might offer you data storage, but they also offer you backup and recovery services, so you go through those providers. The ingredients side of the equation though comes in with technology partners, where you secure the largest backup and recovery vendors in the market and you become the ingredient to them. So when Veem out there with their 300,000 customers and 80,000 channel partners, they’re saying, “Backup your data on Veem and get it 80% cheaper on Wasabi.”
Drew Neisser: Right, because you’re white labeling it to them. Or green. I think you were probably green labeling it to them.
Michael Welts: Yes, we’re doing the white label, but we’re certainly allowing them and encouraging them, as is the case with NTT, they just signed a big deal with us, globally, and they are going to be “powered by Wasabi.”
Drew Neisser: “Powered by Wasabi.” Now, I think I wrote something down about Wasabi peas. What was that?
Michael Welts: That goes back to the simple message. The easiest message we had right out of the gate, and by the way, Dave was right on. When he interviewed me at his dining room table at his home, he said, “Tell me what the billboard is for Wasabi” or as it was called at the time, Blue Archive. He had given me some advanced notice of what he thought the value proposition was going to be and we eventually got to where we’re at today, but the second-tier message has to be just as simple, so I called it the Wasabi peas, and it’s three simple messages that we build our sales strategy and our value proposition around. Its price, performance, and protection. So, 1/5 the price, performance that is better than any of the competitors on the market, and then protection, which takes care of the whole fear of security and ransomware. Those are the three things people look to for getting into the cloud with their data.
Drew Neisser: And there you are. And that’s the easiest message to communicate to the sales folks. All they have to do is stay with the Wasabi peas and they got this. So, I’m going to go back, Dave, and not quite let you off the hook completely on the CMO question. Tell me, when a CMO hasn’t succeeded with you—and you’ve run enough companies that there must have been one—what was the problem?
David Friend: Well, the problem again was just making a big deal out of something that’s a small deal. Carbonite had a pretty simple product, but you’d be surprised how hard it was in the early days to find somebody who simply could avoid getting down into the weeds and talking about features and so forth. They’d just talk about fear. Carbonite was a backup company and what sold was, how would you feel if you woke up tomorrow and all your data was gone? That’s the billboard. How it does it? Those are details, but let’s stay above that and that’s what Mike’s talking about with respect to Wasabi. Let’s keep the message one level up from “tell me what your technology is and explain this spec and that spec and so forth.” Nobody’s interested in that right off the bat. That doesn’t sell.
Drew Neisser: It sounds like it’s really about staying on the bigger story. Great place for us to take a break. We’ll be right back.
Drew Neisser: We’re back. One of the ways that I know that CMOs and CEOs don’t often communicate is on metrics. What are the metrics that matter? When you look at marketing, what are your expectations? What are the metrics that you think really matter?
David Friend: I have my own dashboard and my own KPIs and obviously, we look at the results, which everybody does, but I like to look for those things that are leading indicators of results. In some companies where sales are driven by direct response, you want to look at visitors to your website. Let’s say somebody comes to your website, they download a free trial and three or four weeks later they either buy it or they don’t buy it. You can tell, after a while, by looking at these leading indicators, what’s going to happen down the road and that’s extremely important for a company like Wasabi because we have to go out and buy equipment in advance of people actually sending us their data. You don’t want to sign up with Wasabi and then, we’re sold out.
Focusing on those things which, if done well, will result in something else happening downstream is the most important. Those will vary from company to company, but anytime I’m looking at a metric, I try to say, “What is it that we could be looking at that would give us an advance warning on this particular metric?” You’ll find you can move back and back and back until it gets pretty fuzzy, but most people don’t really focus on moving back up that chain of leading indicators.
Drew Neisser: I think that’s so interesting and so dead-on because I’ll have this conversation with the CEO and it’s basically about revenue. Well, revenue in B2B land can be 6, 12, 18 months down the road. How’d you get there? It’s not a very good leading indicator.
David Friend: No, it’s a lagging indicator, and you shouldn’t be focusing on it, you should be focusing on what things, if done well, will result in revenue.
Drew Neisser: And so then we start talking about pipeline, and I think, Mike, you and I talked a little bit about some of your metrics. From a marketing standpoint, when you’re going in and saying, “Hey, this is looking pretty good.” What is that? What is the “that” that’s looking pretty good?
Michael Welts: First of all, as Dave just explained, we started out building brand association or brand awareness right out of the gate. Our KPI, literally from a marketing standpoint, for probably the first 18 months of the company, was coming in and measuring website sessions and free trials as a result of the 30-day free trial signups. But they’ve now morphed into top of funnel activities and ultimately moving people down through that because the size of our deal has grown so much larger now. It’s a longer-term sell, but even in that case, it’s still less than 30 days to close some of these larger accounts. It can extend out to as much as six months, but that’s the power of a very effective value proposition. “You’re losing money while you’re not switching over to us,” so they move rather quickly to try it.
David Friend: I just want to add something to that because when people say, “Well, why wouldn’t somebody buy Wasabi?” The answer is probably because you haven’t heard of us. And the second question, which you get for the first several years of any company’s life, is “Who the heck is Wasabi, and why should I trust you guys with my data?” That’s the marketing challenge that Mike has and that’s why we invest in brand. We spent millions of dollars building brand awareness and a lot of companies don’t do that. They’d rather spend that money on product development or something.
Michael Welts: Very typical for a startup company.
David Friend: In my view, you raise a little more money, you give away a little bit more percentage of the business to whoever your investors are, then you spend that money on building a brand because that’s something that nobody can take away from you.
Drew Neisser: It’s fascinating. Brand is hard to measure. Somebody said to me, “Well, you can’t eat brand.” And that idea was that I can eat a lead, or I can eat a closed sale, but brand is very difficult to measure. I guess you consider website traffic a proxy, but do you do any kind of brand awareness measurement?
Michael Welts: The closest thing we have that right now is our Net Promoter Score that we run on a quarterly basis. I’m very proud to say that we are right up at the top where the tech industry normally ranges. In fact, were twice where Cisco is on their NPS number, as an example. We’re twice the number of the on-premise storage vendors like at Dell EMC. It says there’s tremendous customer satisfaction out there—it may not be overall to brand awareness—but we’re building a good reputation and repertoire with the customers that are out there.
David Friend: Yeah, it’s “what does your brand stand for?” At Carbonite, I actually got to the point where one time I went out on Huntington Avenue with a clipboard and stopped every random person who was going by to ask whether they’d ever heard of Carbonite. We had invested heavily in brand and we had 11x the brand awareness of any other backup company in the consumer space.
Now I’ll tell you why that’s important because let’s say somebody comes along and says, “Gee, I can figure out how Dave Friend and Jeff Flowers built this really cheap and effective cloud storage, so I’m going to go to Kleiner Perkins and raise $50 million and compete with them.” And you’re the customer. So this new company comes along and says, “Gee we’re just like Wasabi but we’re 10% cheaper or 10% faster” or something like that and you’re the customer and you look at them and say, “Well, what do you have for customers? I’ve never heard of you guys, where did you come from?” You say, “Well, we got this, we got that,” and then they say, “Yeah, but Wasabi has been out there for two and a half, three years, and they already have 15,000 customers. We hear about them all over the place. I think I’ll go with the one that everybody else’s using.”
That’s brand awareness. What does Wasabi stand for? Wasabi stands for “always the lowest price.” There’s no point in going shopping because our commitment is we’re always going to be the best value in cloud storage and that’s what Mike has been building with Wasabi, that ability when the CIO or the IT guy goes in and says, ‘I think we should move our storage to Wasabi,” you want the person on the other end to say, “Oh, yeah, I heard of them. They’re a really hot company.” Well, how do you get that image in the marketplace? That’s marketing and that’s what Mike does.
Michael Welts: Quick example from over the weekend. It’s one of these perfect storm situations. It’s between brand, it’s between what’s going on in the world today, and it’s the momentum of the company, but we had over 16 threads in different social communities talking about not only Wasabi, but how Wasabi ties into protecting your data through this crisis that we’re going through. It was on communities like Reddit. We were all over Reddit this weekend, and I’d like to say that was a planned marketing strategy this past week that we implemented, we’ve been doing a slow build of our involvement inside Reddit over the last nine months, and clearly it’s paid off from a brand perspective and people are starting to do the price analysis and looking at us and talking amongst themselves.
Drew Neisser: You’re smart to go slow build on Reddit. They’ll sniff you out pretty quickly and you’ll get a lot of thumbs down from them. But that makes sense. I’m curious because the decision-makers in the cloud storage on an enterprise-level are a select group of people. It’s not a vast number of people across medium to large businesses, which I think you’ve now targeted. I’m curious, how are you actually building awareness with them right now in this chaotic world that we live in?
Michael Welts: We have a number of different areas that we do it in. In two months, we’ll launch a fun social challenge campaign that will go out. It’s a low-cost campaign but we expect millions of hits as a result of it because it’s something we’ve done in one of our previous lives as tech startup marketing people. We have a good campaign planned for there. We’re also switching up our messaging so that it reflects a new type of offering for the company where you can basically reserve your storage far in advance, instead of paying for it as you go.
Because of what’s happening in the market right now, the unpredictability of the amount of data you need to store or retrieve causes you to want to have more predictability and security in knowing what the price is going to be, so we’re going to do something called Reserved Storage. You can now lock it in for a year, three years, five years for as much data as you want instead of having to worry about a part of the organization that’s asking to retrieve more data, you now have a superior price. We spent a lot of time around that. Lastly, to answer your question. Something like a Sirius XM radio, where we have a great target inside the IT decision-makers and the C-Suite on some of their not just Howard Stern-type shows.
Drew Neisser: Right. Dave, when you hear “Sirius XM,” you can’t really measure that and there are some folks that would say “Don’t do it if you can’t measure it,” but that one’s got to be a little tricky. To distinguish that noise versus any other noise. What do you say to the people who say to only spend money on things that you can measure?
David Friend: A statement like that wouldn’t say much about your marketing savvy, that’s for sure. It’s very hard to measure the results of those things and a lot of marketing is very much gut feel. If you’ve read any of the books by any of the great marketers, they always talk about the disconnect between the spend and the results and the fact that it’s very difficult to figure out which portion of your marketing spend is actually working. This comes down to experience, I think. There aren’t any really good numerical ways to measure these things in the short term, but very often, you can see, for example, if I tell Mike to go cut his advertising budget by 50%, the numbers will go down in the aggregate.
Now, is it Sirius XM or is it NPR, or is it Computer Weekly, or what is it that’s causing it? That’s a lot harder to know because anytime you try to measure those things, you end up putting friction into the process. You’re forcing the customer or the prospect to have to tell you where they’re coming from in some way. Nobody wants to do that, so you wind up ticking off your customers or your prospects by looking intrusive or nosy. This is where experiencing gut feel comes into it. It’s like when somebody presents you with two or three different concepts for a TV ad, which one are you going to go with? Well, that’s a judgment call. There’s no way to know without testing them all and testing them all is out of the question. You don’t want rookies in this job.
Drew Neisser: Experience does help. Let’s assume for a moment that we are about to go into a pretty radical recession. It is known, but few believe it, that when you spend money in a recession, you can actually gain share because so many people cut. So, you have two advantages. One, rates have a tendency to go down, and two, your competitors are cutting budgets. I’m curious, do you see all that’s happening right now as playing right into your position?
David Friend: You’re totally right and you’re not going to see Wasabi disappearing from the airwaves, that’s for sure.
Drew Neisser: We have a bunch of CMOs listening who, thankfully, spend some time with Renegade Thinkers Unite and I’m curious, Dave, if you had a group and you were talking to them, two do’s and a don’t for them as they approach their role.
David Friend: First, you have to be an idea generator. A CEO doesn’t want to have to come up with all the ideas himself, but he does want to take a look at ideas, and he does want to think about how he can get outside the box and take some risks. Anybody who’s in my position is used to taking risks and I’m betting the farm every day on one thing or another, including my own money. What I like about Mike in the CMO role and his team is that they come up with ideas, so every week we’re considering something new. We reject most of them, one way or another, but out of that comes a flow of creativity that I think rivals the engineers in terms of this is innovative and this is what’s putting the company on the map.
In terms of don’t do, I think over-analysis. For me, it’s boring to start with and you can quickly draw erroneous conclusions. If someone comes in and says, “I want to attribute this result to this cause,” you have to step back and say, “Okay, well, first of all, that’s the past, it’s water under the bridge and do we really want to dwell on that. Let’s keep trying something new until we find something that works.” Also, I think over-producing stuff like sometimes at Carbonite the amount of money that we’d spend on something where you could get 90% of the results for 25% of the spend. There’s a lot of people that the more they spend the more successful they feel for some reason. That’s not the spirit of a startup, that’s not the spirit of a company that wants to be a fast mover. You’ve got to be able to find those things where you get a lot of results for a small spend even if it’s not the most polished way to do it.
Drew Neisser: Great advice and Mike, I really want to just congratulate you on choosing a CEO very carefully and I want to wrap the show up with that because I’ve said this a lot: A CMO cannot succeed without the support and trust of their CEO. Full stop. Now, what does that trust look like? Well, you just heard it and you heard it on a number of levels.
Think big picture story, back that up with ideas that finish up with the story. Think big picture metrics, don’t look just at revenue, make sure you’re thinking about awareness and pipeline. When we’re talking about metrics, if you’re buried in the data, they’re looking at you going, “What are you doing? I’m thinking big picture.” That’s what this whole conversation was about.
If we think about Wasabi and big picture: interesting name from the beginning, talk about a brand just built into the name. “Hot cloud storage?” Pun right there.
Two, knowing what your value proposition is upfront and baking that in to make your job easier as a marketer. So, if your CEO isn’t Dave, you may want to talk to Dave and find out who the other ones out there are like him, because I got to tell you, this has been very special talking to you. I’ve really enjoyed it. I want to thank you both for being on the show.
Michael Welts: Thank you very much.
David Friend: Yeah, it’s always fun to see Mike. It looks like he’s growing some fuzz there.
Drew Neisser: Yeah, well, I was thinking about that too. We’re going to call that the “pandemic beard.”
David Friend: I just shaved mine off.
Drew Neisser: Gentlemen, thank you again and to the listeners, thank you for joining the show. We really appreciate you taking the time. I know it’s a tense time for everybody. Be well, take good care of yourself, and until next time keep those Renegade Thinking Caps on and strong.