February 1, 2021
18. Why You Should Pay Attention to Your Organization’s Reputation w/ Justin Helmig
by Liz Pope
On this episode of Marketing Behind the Curtain, we sit down with Justin Helmig, CMO of LifeOmic. A transformed software engineer, Justin shares just how building a talent brand is the best driver for getting A-level talent through the door.
We’ll touch on:
- What goes into building a talent brand: culture, reputation, reviews, and investing in professional development
- Keeping the marketing team process-light and full of empowered and accountable individuals
- The variation between enterprise B2B and consumer-facing Martech tools
- Building a culture where it’s acceptable to move quickly, make a mistake, own it, and learn from it
Transcript of the Episode
[00:00:04] We’ve been very deliberate about it’s really promoting our talent brand, very cliche, a firm believer in A talent hires A talent. And right now I have unquestionably, top to bottom, the best and most talented team I’ve ever had in my career.
[00:00:18] You’re listening to the Marketing Behind the Curtain Podcast, where we pull back the curtain on the people, processes, and technologies leading marketers are using to fuel growth within their organizations. Let’s get into the show.
[00:00:37] Welcome to Marketing Behind the curtain, where we take a look at all the hard work that happens by marketers behind the scenes to put a shiny outward face on organizations of all different types. I’m your host, Devin Kelley with Method Savvy, a consultancy that helps ambitious leaders find better ways to grow their business. Today, I’d like to welcome Justin Helmig, and Justin and I have known each other for a long time, but haven’t talked in a bit here. So good to reconnect with you. And Justin, why don’t you introduce us to yourself and also LifeOmic, which is your newest project here and kind of your role and also just like what the organization is is getting into there?
[00:01:14] Yeah, sure. So appreciate you having me. So LifeOmic was founded about four years ago by a serial entrepreneur named Don Brown.
[00:01:26] I got to know Don through his last company called Interactive Intelligence. I joined in 2016. Pretty soon after I joined, we went through an acquisition. So we were about a four hundred million dollar public software company going through a cloud transformation, got some great initial traction and there was a lot of M&A activity in that market. So we ended up getting acquired for about a billion and a half dollars. Don started LifeOmic right on the heels of that. I took a year off to do a fintech startup and then had the opportunity to rejoin Don at my firm in early 2018. So I’ve been here for close to three years. We started in the precision medicine and precision health space. So kind of our first hypothesis and still our largest business is that we would build this data aggregation analytics platform called the Precision Health Cloud. We would sell that into health care providers, to hospitals and academic research institutions, mainly medical schools, to find treatments for some of the most complex cancers and other diseases by combining genomic data. So typical kind of DNA sequencing, but in a clinical way with other clinical data. So typically data stored in electronic medical records.
[00:02:46] So we got into that, landed the first couple of customers, and really realized there was this kind of patient-facing or end-user-facing tentacle missing, and that to really transform health care as it is in the US today and even worldwide, we really needed to move upstream and encompass one the end-user and then to prevention and wellness. So we started a building, a suite of direct to consumer mobile apps. We launched our first app, just kind of a soft launch in May of 2013, and that started to get some really good initial traction, all organic. So we decided to double down on that side of the business, stepped up the development team a bit more, relaunched the app on the iOS as well as Android in the winter of 2018 and hit the ground running in twenty nineteen. So we are bumping up against three million users between our two mobile apps and really now encompass the entire spectrum, which is quite an audacious feat for about one hundred person company that everything from prevention and wellness and the direct to consumer side to help find cures for the most complex cancers on the medical side.
[00:03:58] Yeah, so all kinds of good stuff to dig into there. But I think the health care space in particular is really interesting these days. And it’s funny how much progress is kind of getting pushed through the health care space in a relatively short period of time here five years ago. You say health care is kind of behind the times and is kind of patient-centric, and that’s really become the name of the game in the health care space and interested in from the marketing perspective and also the brand perspective. You guys have an organization that was built-in kind of launch to sell into the hospital and health system space, which is a very, very different customer than a consumer and especially a consumer app-driven space. So talk to me about how just do you guys think about the life, a brand, and how you’ve been able to build a tent big enough for both of those spaces?
[00:04:52] Yeah, it’s been a challenge, but a great opportunity as well. So we have a very we’ve been very conscious about building a brand hierarchy. So LifeOmic because our corporate brand, we typically use LifeOmic for the medical sale side of the business. We’ve kind of built up a brand in that space. We knew that that would be very difficult to coexist in the direct to consumer space. And if we had one brand, one Web presence, it would be very confusing for a consumer to go to a LifeOmic site, big, heavy B2B enterprise medical software and, by the way, some lightweight wellness apps.
[00:05:32] So. We kind of spun off a brand of its and from day one on the consumer space called Life, we have a content site, kind of a companion content site called Lifeapps.io . And that’s really the portal for our consumer apps as well as content. So that site in and of itself has become a pretty decent media site. We’re running about two hundred and fifty thousand uniques a month on that one hundred percent earned. So it serves as a great acquisition engine for apps. It allows us to kind of have a consumer-oriented brand hierarchy around that Life parent brand. And it allows us to kind of head that loose coupling between LifeOmic as a corporate brand and kind of the B2B side, as well as the consumer side. And we replicated that with a couple of other products. We’re repurposing our Web, mobile web, mobile apps, as well as our Web infrastructure for the employee wellness space. So there again, we felt like we couldn’t really latch onto the LifeOmic brand that really created another sub-brand called LifeOmic Precision Wellness for that vertical. And we have a couple other products that follow that same model.
[00:06:41] Yeah. You know, it sounds like despite having this very broad breadth of product offerings into different markets, you guys also have a relatively small team. So talk to me a little bit about the people that have allowed you to do this, because as big or as challenging as it is to build a tent big enough for the hospital and healthsystem side of things and the consumer side of things, those are some pretty different audiences you have to go after and probably some pretty different marketers. You need to do a good job of addressing both.
[00:07:15] Yeah, so one goes back to talent brand, so Don, our founder and CEO is an amazing leader.
[00:07:23] Certainly when I joined Interactive, I really felt like the talent level there was exceptional, even as a large company. And something we’ve been very deliberate about is really promoting our talent brand. So when you have five-star reviews on Glassdoor and you win awards like we just announced Outside Magazine’s Best Places to work for the second year in a row, we’ve been that’s companies best company for innovators. It really helps at the top of the funnel from a talent acquisition perspective. And then I think if once you take it down into a candidate, I really look for versatile people that are super hungry to learn. I although that very cliche, a firm believer in the A talent hires A talent. And right now I have unquestionably, top to bottom, the best and most talented team I’ve ever had in my career. So we’re about nine people with one more that will join us in February, I’m sorry, in January and still growing at a pretty good clip. That being said, certainly, the team is asked to wear a lot of hats and really be able to switch between, again, that heavy B2B enterprise, kind of new products like our employee wellness, which really targets a whole different buyer and ICP persona and customer set, as well as the consumer side. But again, if you hire talent that loves to learn and love switching hats like that and is really able to understand what’s transferable and what’s not and how to apply that in the right way, it can all work out as it has well for us.
[00:08:54] Yeah. So talk about just managing that that team and especially as it’s grown that I feel there are a couple of different leadership perspectives you can take on kind of shifting gears like that when you have multiple brands, multiple audiences.
[00:09:12] I feel like in some sense know there’s one perspective you can take where you’re just like, hey, guys, now we’re working on this and the team doesn’t even know what’s happening around them. They just kind of jump right in. And there’s another perspective you can take, which is like, OK, guys, we talk about ideal customer profile. We talk about these enterprises over here in this segment. But now we’re going to do something different. So set aside everything that you do and let’s just go start from zero. How do you approach just like shifting gears and not losing people along the way?
[00:09:41] Yeah, I mean, alignment’s key.
[00:09:43] Devin, you hit it right on the head, which is it’s hard to keep alignment when you have a single product and a single customer base and a single segment, let alone a handful with a small team. I think for us what we’ve tried to do is culturally inside of life, across all the different functions, we tend to be very process lite and very empowered. And so we’ve tried to convey a similar type culture in the marketing department we use. OK, so that’s kind of our central alignment point. We’ve evolved over time. I think what we’ve fallen into actually 3rd quarter this year, I think is a really good example where we were spread too thin. We really didn’t. We had a lot going on and I think we tried to do a little for a lot as opposed to really honing in. So our OKRs, although we achieved them at a reasonable level, but we’re a little thin. So for this quarter, alignment was all around a couple of product launches that we have. And we’ve really tried to shut out any of the noise, which is hard because that means, at least in a temporary fashion, leaving some products a little bit neglected for the quarter in terms of marketing support, but really using that focus to drive down.
[00:11:02] And I think once we try to do in a cascading fashion, so we have corporate objectives and then we kind of align. I’ll typically take our draft team and align with done this again, our CEO and my boss, and make sure we’re all on the same page on that. Sometimes, like this quarter, we had tough discussions about not paying special attention to a few different products and kind of delaying a launch that we just couldn’t have handled this quarter. But once we’re aligned on that, then I typically empower the team to write their own hours and encourage them to cascade when possible. I think that that’s really critical. But not everybody’s going to have one hundred percent of their hours that cascade. We try to keep the organization fairly flat, but yet at the same time manage a reasonable number of direct reports. So I think I think we’ve had a pretty good level there where everybody feels like they have good managerial support, mentorship, and career development support. But by the same token, we don’t have so much depth across both the team and the company as a whole where people are kind of feeling like they’re off on an island or feeling like there is a tendency to misalign.
[00:12:16] Yeah, so I think that’s interesting with the idea of kind of a flat organization kind of process like let A players be A players, but it sounds like with the different ways you’re going to market things that are mobile versus enterprise, you’ve got to be getting close with a team around 10 of having to deal with matrixing without some things. Right? Like there’s one designer work on everything? Does one marketer focus on certain products? Like, are you guys just touching on that? And like I mean, if you want to do there’s like 15 different management structures, you still have to handle these different things. And you probably could be running a team of five on each one of these products if you really, really wanted to.
[00:13:01] Yeah. So I’ve given a lot of thought to that and have certainly asked my directs to do the same. We tend to kind of go and I know this won’t scale over time as we continue to grow, but right now we’re kind of using the gravity strategy, which is we have typically a set of needs. When we go to get additional headcount, they typically kind of align around a product or a vertical or buyer persona. But then again, we’re also hiring for versatility. So people kind of have this gravity towards a certain set of products. But yet what we haven’t done is is really kind of have a marketer or product market or product manager and marketer team kind of focal team around a product, you know, and again, I don’t think it’ll scale for the long term. It’s something I think about on a weekly basis. It’s something I dread to think about, at least on a monthly basis. But I think for the time being, until we start to see some cracks in that foundation, I love the gravity. I think it also provides the opportunity for the team and myself as well to be able to shift gears, which is really thought-provoking and interesting, kind of keeps each day unique and exciting and fun. And I think especially in times like now where we’re all a bit more isolated, I think that test switching also really helps keep people engaged.
[00:14:27] Yeah, I’m totally with you on the shifting gears. I mean, that’s why I’ve been on that agency consulting side for so long. If I have to do the same thing every day, I go nuts and the fact you can bounce around. It certainly keeps things interesting. I think every scaling company out there is struggling with that same kind of challenge, like a versatile A player versus like when do I start building up specialties? And I’ve yet to have anyone come up with a good answer for like shifting from the team of 10 to the team of twenty five in and kind of making that work. So I’d love to be able to provide some advice there, but I think it’s really like that. No one’s ever done that well and everybody kind of stumbles through it every time.
[00:15:12] Yeah. I mean even at Interactive where my team was just over 100 people international, I think what you get is kind of the opposite problem. So people were focused around particular products, but of course kind of the higher growth, cooler, newer products were the one everyone wanted to be on. So then you’re kind of faced with this tough choice of do you reorganize the team? So they are able they are time slicing across the products, in which case the gravity will always end up towards the cooler. Newer products. Yeah. Or do you kind of partition people off based on products? And then what you’ll have is the eight players on the newer products, just natural evolution and then kind of maybe the lower players, the older products. And that’s not always a great strategy as well. So I think he hit it. There really is no silver bullet, but the goal is just to keep the team engaged and keep people feeling like they have a great opportunity for vertical advancement and are having fun every day and learning every day.
[00:16:09] Yeah. So you said something a couple of minutes ago. I want to go back to you, which is that the organization, beyond just the marketing team, likes to think of themselves as process- light? What is what does that mean?
[00:16:21] Yeah, so I think the idea is even on the development side, so we run Kanban process on the development side, we don’t run tight scrum or anything like that, and we really try to empower people. We want to have people grab stories or epics and kind of self organize around those, but with very, very minimal process. So we use similar tools to every other development company on the development side, like Jira. But by the same token, I think what we try to do is minimize some of the ceremony and some of the planning meetings and that type of thing on the development side. It is a amazing, amazingly few number of meetings, which is works really well. I mean, the team’s grown again. I joined I think we’re 37 people were about one hundred now. And the team is cranking away with the same velocity and focus and alignment as they always have. For us, obviously, it’s much more meeting heavy because of the collaborative nature of kind of what we do and again, switching between products. But by the same token, I think we try to stay fairly process light as well. So, yeah, and again, I think with those anchoring, aligning everyone and those rolling up to corporate goals, it’s it’s worked fairly well. And I think that that part will absolutely scale well.
[00:17:44] Yeah. So talk to me a little bit about like you may be the first person I’ve ever talked to. You said, like, “we don’t have that many meetings and it’s great!” That’s kind of like the the rare non-complaint on the marketing front. How do you guys handle some of the stuff that I think a lot of people would think of as kind of essential, whether it be having to exist in a largely remote world now versus like review and approval type stuff that oftentimes turns into a meeting or in marketing speak like a collaboration session or brainstorming or those things can become bad words as quickly as they’re good.
[00:18:23] Yeah. So we tend not to have–and in this even conveyed to larger teams like Interactive–a lot of review overhead. So we try to keep review and approval really light I like to have two eyes on any piece of content, especially heavier content that’s less plastic just for spell checking and grammar stuff. But, you know, we try not to burden it down with kind of a formal sign-off process. So we really try to focus meetings around problem-solving, removing blockers and less shorts kind of approval or overhead or kind of typical hierarchy.
[00:19:01] It bites us once in a while. Right. But by the same token, I think what you get back and velocity versus the occasional thing or mistake that payback is, is really strong. So I definitely am not going to change that any time soon.
[00:19:18] Yeah, I like the approach there. One of the questions we often ask is we kind of wrap up these conversations is, you know, we’ve talked a lot about how you kind of make things go. Well, what’s an example of maybe getting published too early or having a mistake like that sneak through? And then it’s interesting to say, hey, we acknowledge that’s going to happen. We’re not necessarily going to scold you. And it does seem like we’d rather move fast and break things and know that, like, we’re batting a hundred and not a thousand, and that’s OK.
[00:19:52] Yeah, and I think the real key there is–I won’t pull out specific examples because I don’t want to throw anyone under the bus, although I have one actually today, hours ago. But I think the idea is, you know, we want if it’s something heavy and it was a fairly major mistake, we want to do a postmortem. Right? We actually follow the same process the development team does. And I think the key is if it’s a mistake, because we were careless and just people were just kind of going through the motions, that’s a problem. But I think that’s a foundational issue with talent. And we really haven’t had that if it’s a mistake, because, again, we were moving too fast and we did break things. And then the idea is how do we not make the same or similar mistake again? So if somebody makes the same mistake four or five times, again, that’s a major issue. That’s not a process issue. It’s a talent issue. If somebody makes the mistake and it looks like they cross their T’s, but they forgot to. And I like just so long as we understand why that happened and what we can do to avoid it, I think that’s the best of what we can do.
[00:21:03] Yeah, I mean, I think that’s always kind of tough to balance. Right? And like to become reactionary and like overprocessed things either because we don’t have good talent or if you’re trying to make up for another challenge that’s there.
[00:21:16] And when you talk about things that are scalable, like letting good people take off and do good things, is scalable. I don’t find that a lot of those process type solutions really are.
[00:21:29] No, and I think when people mess up, myself included, the one earlier today, a little time bias there, but, you know, I also expect and I certainly believe this is a team and certainly believe this of what we look to hire on every time that they feel worse about it and they feel fully accountable for it and really own the problems. And I think that’s much stronger than any process. And again, if you feel like you have people that don’t feel accountable to it or just don’t care enough, you probably have the wrong people on the team if you’re trying to build an A team.
[00:22:03] Right, yeah. So you mentioned hiring briefly there and you mentioned that this team’s growing and we are having this conversation in the middle of a pandemic here.
[00:22:12] But I know marketing and especially players is still pretty tight out there. You know, if you said you feel like you have the best team around you’ve ever had, how is kind of the building of that team gone? And you mentioned during the hiring process addressing how people deal with mistakes like is that part of that process?
[00:22:35] I don’t know if it’s actually come up, at least in the interviews with me, but then again, that probably wouldn’t be a question a candidate would ask. So I don’t know if it’s come up in any of the interviews. But I mean, I think, you know, ultimately there’s kind of the groundwork you have to pay market. You have to have an environment that’s attractive. The person has to come in an interview with people that they want to work with, that they like kind of professional and personal level. And I think on the on the sourcing a talent, it’s hustle. I try to do as much internal as I can, not because I don’t believe recruiters at a tremendous amount of value. A good recruiter absolutely is worth their weight. But by the same token, we’re not hiring a ton. A ton of people we’re very much filling roles, kind of one at a time. So when we’re hiring one or two roles at a time, it’s just spending the time on LinkedIn and really trying to identify talent from the outreach side. And then on the inbound side, again, going back to what everybody looks at Glassdoor. So it’s super, super important. And we actually take this on as an accountability in the organization to manage our talent brands. We try to be conscious about that, a little bit of bandwidth to manage that and really making sure that people get a good and honest feel for what the company is. And then, too, is when we get negative feedback on things, making sure we understand why and how we fix it. So a great example is we have exceptional reviews on Glassdoor. But one thing that kept coming up, and this is very typical of startups, is we didn’t have fallen one match. So we saw it from the team. We heard it from the team. And that’s something we actually rolled out as a benefit because it was something that we just saw this recurring requestor, recurring need for it. You know, it’s worth it. If the team sees that as important to accepting or staying at home, then we should absolutely invest in that.
[00:24:37] Yeah. I mean, it doesn’t hurt when you’re making kind of best places to work list either. Are you? A little bit, yeah.
[00:24:44] And again, like those are allocating a bit of our bandwidth towards talent brand and it really does.
[00:24:50] I think we have an incredible culture and it’s something that I love to trumpet and I think it’s something the rest of the team loves to trumpet and enjoys actually spending a little bit of our time helping promote that talent.
[00:25:03] Yeah. So, I mean, it’s interesting to use the the language talent brand there. And is, is that a marketing owned function?
[00:25:11] Is that something you collaborating with like an H.R. function on a corporate comes like I’m presuming that’s not an accident and somebody has cars that are built around. That is an idea, but that seems to be well outside of building a brand that encompasses or allows you to encompass approaching the hospital and health system market.
[00:25:36] Yeah, I think it’s a little more implicit.
[00:25:38] But again, something that we do set hours around and again, we talked about cascading OKRs. So those tend to be kind of little island OKRs, but important, certainly critically important. I mean, this is a purely altruistic it’s also self-serving. Right. So when we make those best places to work lists and when we have great Glassboro reviews, when we have ultra-low attrition like that helps me a lot. That saves me a lot of time and gets me access to better talent. So but I think my colleagues and other functions also get to enjoy the spoils of that effort as well. I think honestly, when I joined in or well, actually when I joined Striker years ago, I think we went through a big transformation with Sean. Our CEO came in and we were trying to build the talent brand there and. We had raised a bunch of money and didn’t really have a great business and laid off a bunch of people before we walked in the door, and that’s a hard thing to overcome, especially in a tightly knit community like this. So I think I got my first taste of that way back then where it really is important to show what you are from a company and to be honest and transparent about it, because not every company is right for every person.
[00:26:53] So I think we went through a great transformation there. And oftentimes late before we sold the company, I would sit there and think about how hard it was to hire when I walked in the door and what talent access we had just a couple of years later because we really focused on that. And it was also interesting when I joined Interactive, we had a fantastic H.R. department and they were really, really strong and they had actually had an ass. They said, listen, we’re extremely thin, right? We’re going through a massive transformation from our company, going from on premise software to cloud. And that involves different people. Right. So we’re stretched super thin on the recruiting side. Can you help us on the talent brand side? So even in a larger company, that was something that I agreed to and committed to allocating a chunk of our bandwidth to really help. And again, they were they were all so strong and such a pleasure to work with. It was actually a joy to do that. But by the same token, again, it’s it’s an investment that pays over and over across all functions, not just marketing.
[00:27:57] Yeah. Talk a little bit about the like the role marketing plays and really the role brand plays, because I think it probably is more brand than marketing our creative. We will tell you that branding is the being, marketing is the doing.
[00:28:10] And when you’re talking about that integration with HRR, it’s really about the brand. Right? Like who are we? What do we do? Mission vision, values type stuff. But like, it’s always funny as we engage with different folks on different organizations, whether HRR feels like there’s a place in the room for marketing or not, whether they understand that there’s a resource there that they can utilize or not, whether leadership acknowledges that or not. So talk to briefly about the role you guys played since it sounds like the door was open to have that conversation.
[00:28:45] Yeah, I mean, I think it was it was an ask.
[00:28:47] It was an ask from the VP of H.R. and, you know, again, it was out of necessity. They were starved for resources, talent, brand, and hiring and people is so critically important. And I don’t think anybody should be lost on that because your team is what you succeed or how you fail. And so for that, it was helping them convey both from a strategic perspective as well as a tactical perspective, what was interactive intelligence. And again, fortunately, I mean, we had a great culture. It was a company that had a really good reputation. Don was the founder and CEO there as well. And he’s just he’s a really unique and visionary leader, but yet very approachable. And Intocable, so what we really tried to do is, is solidify that and again, help them on the strategic side and help them on the tactical side and just work together on that. I mean, just as everybody I’m sure you have on this show says, you have to collaborate across functions to be a successful marketing leader today, especially. And that doesn’t just mean on the sales side it really needs across the entire company and every function.
[00:30:05] Yeah, and the hardest thing there oftentimes is just like people being willing to be open to the conversation. Right. Like we can all kind of be helpful to one another if you’re open to looking at where you can be helpful. You know, the biggest challenges there is when H.R. looks at you, I don’t know where you’re going to do to help here. And the conversations just kind of dead on arrival. So, you know, the hardest part is getting started. And I think the fact that you had an ask there probably creates an awesome environment for that collaboration.
[00:30:34] Oh, yeah, absolutely.
[00:30:35] And, you know, again, so much of that’s ingrained in the culture and in the MVV, as you said, mission, vision, values, that’s not going to be a fit for every organization for sure.
[00:30:46] Yeah. Let’s shift gears a little bit. We’ve talked about people and process, but talk about technology on your team a little bit because you guys are a kind of digital or technology-driven brand. You’re bringing change to a market that is there’s probably been a laggard in the technology space, in the health care space and or happen to be kind of cutting edge with consumers on one side and probably end up dealing with some ERP systems that are older than either of us in the enterprise side of the health care spectrum. So what is technology look like for you guys and what’s kind of a people problem versus a technology problem for you guys to solve?
[00:31:27] Yeah, so. Well, I’m in a software engineer, or transformed software engineer, so I love the technology side and the Martech stack side for us, we’re one hundred percent cloud across the entire company. So that’s everything from our software, which is 100% cloud based, cloud native, all the way to the tools we use. So I think I would probably get kicked out of the business if I suggested putting some archaic software on a server inside of a data center that we manage. But I would never go down that path. So on the marketing technology side, what we’ve tried to do is stay one step ahead of where our product roadmap is going. So we also took a very deliberate strategy to divide the B2C marketing stack from the B2B marketing stack. So kind of going in the nuts and bolts, we are big users of HubSpot marketing, automation and CRM for the B2B side. For me, when we onboarded HubSpot, which was one of the first things I did after we joined my team, was two people. So we needed something that was lighter weight and it’s really served us well. I think that’s a fantastic solution. And we actually on the B2B side just added their service product as well. So that’ll give us kind of that uniform view of a customer on the B2B side. And then we use other tools like we did use Pendo. We actually started built and sold a security product and called Jupiter One to Bain Capital earlier this year. And we ended up jettisoning Pendo during that transaction and use WalkMe now. So we use that for analytics, for B2B analytics, HubSpot, for CRM and marketing automation. And then we have a very, very different stack on the direct to consumer side. We use MixPanel for analytics. We use Sendgrid in ESPE, so their marketing platform is built on top of their API for email. We use WalkMe for an app while walking through to our tutorials and walk-through and such as well. So and then we actually have our homegrown solution called SkillSpring that we use both as a product feature as well as an engagement tool for our consumer audience.
[00:33:50] So I think the differentiation between needs in just the technology, between the enterprise kind of B2B side of things versus the consumer side of things is so, so interesting.
[00:34:07] And it’s interesting how like what is essentially the same function, like something like email operates differently between the two buckets. So you take something like HubSpot on the B2B side and say, hey, will this work as we move over to the consumer side of things? And functionally it could serve the same purpose. Right? Like it could it can perform the task, but you end up in a lot of really tricky spaces there around pricing models, around scalability, around how things integrate. And I’m glad you kind of brought that up. But so often when I talk to people who maybe in a consumer business and thinking about moving the B2B or vice versa, they’ll go, we’ve got an email tool just assume that, like the suite that brought them, what would you give them wherever they were going? And so it’s interesting that you’ve broken those out separately and maybe just touch on kind of why you decided to ultimately break those out separately and what some of the considerations are in the toolset that you have and one versus the other. I think it’s oftentimes differentiated in ways people don’t expect.
[00:35:18] Yeah, I mean, to me and I think it kind of goes back to the overall strategy across different products, different segments, which is you have to be pragmatic about what’s transferable and what’s not and be willing to let go of something when it’s just not going to fit. Right. HubSpot’s fantastic. Right. But our B2B business is very different, right? We have salespeople that are looking through the CRM system and looking through last contacts and contact history. We have deal pipelines. We’re removing people through. We have gated assets, we have landing page. Like we just have a whole set of primitives that are just different. Right. So on the direct to consumer side, we really knew we wanted to anchor around, again, this consumer content side lifestyle. And that was just very different from what we would do with HubSpot. We’re not going to have the notion of landing pages right. We have the notion of email digest and the types of traffic and the types of user accounts that we expected to get for our mobile apps and website. That wasn’t going to work with the HubSpot pricing model anyway, so when I asked them what’s three million contacts, I wasn’t happy with the response. But again, it’s very different. So the analytics that we look at from A, B to B journey side online is very different than using this panel to understand customer journey and engagement and be able to drive mail off of that. So, again, I think it all goes back to just being conscious about what’s transferable, what the end goals are. What are you trying to achieve with these technologies and picking a solution that’s best understanding? You know, ideally, if the entire team could look inside HubSpot every day for everything, that would be great because it’d be one tool. But that’s not really pragmatic. It would be a round peg in a square hole for so much of what we do.
[00:37:17] Yeah. And I mean, I think that brings back kind of the people question we were talking about in the beginning, which is like you’ve got you probably listed off six different tools that are between the consumer and the B2B side. And you’ve got a team of 10. You know, when you have people that are smart and willing to bounce back and forth between different things, that works great. But as soon as you have somebody, you start saying, oh, man, I wish we could be. It helps, but all the time. And all they start doing B2B work. And it’s great to have these things broken out. But if everybody is like, oh, man, I going to do a SendGrid thing again, you know, like it’s important to keep a level of equality there or understanding at least like feature function and purpose in a way that that’s productive there. And that kind of goes back to the, you know, like are the cool kids working on this and therefore ought to be on the cool kid team. Like, that’s that there’s a lot of moving pieces there with a small team. And again, that’s about alignment and buy-in. But I can certainly see that being a challenge over time.
[00:38:21] Yeah, well, and everybody’s the cool kids now because we’re still pretty young in it. So. So that also helps.
[00:38:29] Yeah, being it, being new, still having that new car smell goes a long way to like, oh, this is cool. I love what this can do.
[00:38:37] Oh yeah, absolutely.
[00:38:39] Also, I appreciate you kind of walking us through people process and technology here. It sounds like you guys are doing a lot of exciting stuff. We usually wrap up by asking that question about if there’s anything that you’ve kind of dropped the ball on. And it sounds like you’ve had that experience today. But I won’t make you throw yourself under the bus if you don’t want to.
[00:39:01] You know, I mean, I think, again, we just today we’re on top of our mobile apps.
[00:39:08] We’re releasing this 52 week wellness program, which will launch our first cohort of users on January 4th. We are doing some preregistration outreach. And so, you know, admittedly, this week there’s a time bias there. But we had a few school of hard knocks in terms of how we automated that sign-up flow, because it was a little bit different than what we had done in the past. I think there were some good lessons learned in terms of testing and but yeah. So I think it’s just a case in point of something that’s inevitable. If you want to move fast and you want to be aggressive and you want to be innovative on the marketing side, I think you just have to do the best you can and realize you’re not going to prosecute people if they seem to be going through the right motions, myself included, but screwing things up. And also, I think it is a really important thing to build a culture where people aren’t afraid to own it and aren’t afraid of repercussions, because I think situations like this, none of those learnings will go across the team or the company if it’s tried to sweep under the rug type approach or if people feel like there’s some sort of punitive punishment coming if it gets uncovered. So, you know, it is a hard balance. You want people to do the smart thing and be careful. But by the same token, we do want to move fast. We do want to be aggressive. We actually pulled in our timeline by a couple of weeks for outreach here. And I think when it’s all said and done, we’ll be really, really happy that we did and it’ll all be worth the pain at the end.
[00:40:48] That’s an awesome spot to leave being thrown yourself under the bus, and I like the acknowledgement of if you’re going to move fast, you sometimes have to break things right. You can’t move fast and break things.
[00:41:01] Yeah, and it was interesting because when we got everything fixed and going today, the response from the program for kind of this preregistration is, I don’t know, a magnitude more than I expected. I had to turn off Slack because we’re getting slack announcements for everything and it’s just been blowing up all day. So, you know, it also you leave it with the hair, the hair-pulling, or I don’t have much left, but the hair-pulling of the missed opportunity of the handful of folks that didn’t go through the process properly. But at least there’s some reward at the end of seeing this velocity of imbalance coming in.
[00:41:37] Awesome, awesome. That’s an awesome story to share, and I think good takeaway is for everyone here on the idea that we’re not all perfect here, but along the way we can all learn something. And, you know, just because we make a mistake doesn’t mean it’s apocalyptic and we all come out the other side. So, Justin, I appreciate the time and I appreciate you sharing. It’s awesome to reconnect.
[00:42:02] Yeah, likewise. Thanks, Devin.
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