Marketing Matters — Conversations with Tech Marketing Leaders
Join Dave Steer for a conversation with marketing leaders to understand more about marketing and the people who are shaping this discipline. What advice do they have for up-and-coming brands? How do they navigate the challenges associated with an increasingly noisy world? What's their superpower?
Learn from the experts on how to build great and enduring brands, engender trust and advocacy, and drive adoption and use of new products and technologies.
This week's guest: Rebecca Clayman, Head of Brand @ Cloudflare
Hello and welcome to Marketing Matters, the Cloudflare TV show that explores the wide world of marketing and technology.
I'm Dave Steer. I work in product marketing at Cloudflare and I'm also the host of Marketing Matters.
Today in the hot chair we have my good friend and teammate Rebecca Clayman.
Rebecca is the head of brand at Cloudflare.
You know, I first met Rebecca years ago when we were working on product and corporate marketing for a fairly small and unknown brand that nobody really heard about.
That brand was called Twitter. I've had the distinct pleasure of working alongside her and her team for nearly the past three years over at Cloudflare.
So, Rebecca, welcome to Marketing Matters. Thanks, Dave. Thanks for having me.
It's good to be here in the hot seat. I'm looking forward to chatting with you.
And, by the way, it's really hot. So, for those of you who are tuning in, we are in San Francisco going through a rare heat wave.
So, if the two of us start to schvitz on Cloudflare TV, that's just what happens.
Authenticity. It is what it is.
Working from home. Not used to heat in San Francisco. So, we'll get through it.
Are you really working from home? It looks like you've got some pretty, pretty cool mountains in the background.
Oh, yeah. Actually, I am. I'm in the middle of Utah.
If I lean back too far, I might go over the cliff. So, I'll try to sit still.
But this is actually a photo I took on a road trip a few weeks ago.
Went up to Zion. All right. Well, stay safe over there. So, I'm psyched to have you on the show.
You're the first brand marketer that we've had on the show. We've had a chief marketing officer.
We've had a demand generation person. We've had a product marketer.
But now it's time to turn our sights to brand. And I've long said that in technology, brand marketing and product marketing are really two sides of the same coin.
Great product marketing reinforces the brand message at a high level.
And great brand marketing is rooted in the service and the value that we offer.
Sort of the job to be done. And yet, brand is one of the most difficult roles, since brand is everything.
So, I'm really excited for our audience to learn more about you, the marketing leader.
But really, the brand function, specifically. So, welcome.
Let's start by asking you this. You've had quite an interesting career adventure so far.
I'm interested, what drew you to the marketing career? And what's your origin story?
Sure. Yeah. So, I started off my career at a tiny startup. At the time, I was one of the first 10 employees at an online health company, building consumer-facing health resource hubs.
So, we had homegrown CMS and building out verticals.
And this was when blogging was just beginning. This was pre -Twitter, before Twitter existed.
And so, what I did was I built out these verticals, then hired patients and doctors to blog about their experiences.
One of my earliest accomplishments was actually conceptualizing and launching an ask a question feature, where consumers could, anybody could submit a question and then doctors and patient bloggers would respond with advice.
And it was just incredibly interesting.
The top traffic driver on the site, and I think it's still in the nav. I don't know that it would be something that would be so easy to roll out today.
I was surprised I got away with it, but it was really fun.
And that was sort of my formative experience, kind of like thinking about how to bring communities together.
That's what initially drew me to marketing. It was really based around building content experiences, like digital content experiences and bringing communities together.
And then that became kind of a thing. Lots of products launched that did that.
So, from there, after that experience, I went over to the agency side and I like to think of my agency years as sort of bootcamp, because I just hustled.
You worked so hard on the agency side, which I know you've had experience there as well.
But it was great because the network that I built was fantastic, and I got a ton of exposure to a lot of different brands.
I learned a lot about the creative process, doing lots of new business pitches, really the competitive nature of the industry, the importance of ramping up really, really quickly, and then also crisis communications.
I did some of that. I was at a PR firm for about four years.
And then really the critical importance of building a strong standout brand.
I was able to see what was resonating, what wasn't, and got exposed to a lot of brands that I admire.
So, after working on the agency side, I joined Twitter and worked on the Twitter brand team for a number of years before doing Cloudflare.
Here I am. It does bring you to Cloudflare, but before we get to Cloudflare, it's really cool to start your career from an agency standpoint, from the things that you just brought up.
You get exposure to a lot of different clients, and a lot of different things you have to ramp up.
I often thought also starting your career in PR, where you have to talk to journalists every day, gets you to hone in on a story to probably the most cynical audience you could possibly imagine.
So, it's great to hear that as part of sort of your storytelling background as well.
But that does bring you to Cloudflare.
So, at Cloudflare, you lead brand. Tell us what brand is, what are you in charge of, what does brand do, what does brand not do?
So, when it comes to brand, when I'm talking about it, I like to use the house analogy, right?
So, when you think about branding and marketing, and people ask the same thing, what's the difference?
I think of branding as the foundation, and you need a strong foundation for your brand, just like you need a strong foundation for your house or any building.
And you need that strong foundation in order to create something that is going to be long-lasting, that will be memorable, that will be effective and successful, and also that can scale.
Because the industry moves really quickly, companies need to grow and evolve and change and pivot really quickly.
So, if you have a really strong foundation, then you can do that in a way that's efficient without having to constantly move in a lot of different directions or create a lot of debt around your architecture.
So, what does that mean?
And how do you do that? So, you build your brand identity, you figure out your brand messaging, figure out what is your personality, what is your positioning?
And that's where, once it gets to positioning, that's where, as it happens, you and I, our teams work together really closely, right?
The brand PMM coin, as you mentioned, needs to be hand-in-hand and then bring that messaging out into the marketplace in a way that resonates.
So, the ultimate goal of branding is to create a really positive, lasting impression in the minds of our audience, of our customers, to differentiate ourselves from the competitive set.
That's awesome. Brand is, I think, one of the most difficult roles because in order to do that, you really need everybody rowing in the same direction because in order to break through the noise and the clutter, it's very difficult to do in this kind of environment.
And one of the things that I've been so inspired by with your team has been a recent campaign that you did.
And so, I want to ask you a little bit about this because I think it was one of the most profound brand efforts that I've seen in my career, and that's the Build for This campaign, where your team really took the lead in creating this at probably one of the most sensitive, caustic times in society.
Can you tell us a little bit about that campaign and what you learned in the process?
Yeah, absolutely. So, we launched this campaign called Build for This at the end of March.
They came together really quickly.
We worked with an agency called HO Studios. They're amazing. They're a sort of sister agency of 72 and Sunny, and it was such a powerful initiative to work on because this was early on in the pandemic, so it was really emotional time.
So, what we saw as a company was that we were, and as it so happens, we still are living in the midst of a massive health crisis that's affecting individuals and businesses and governments and societies and economies.
So, what we saw was there is this little bright spot in that the Internet has been sort of this little bright spot in that it's enabled us to continue to function.
Businesses have been able to stay online, and it's also helped people stay connected.
I know it's been really important for me to complain about all the Zoom calls, but it's been a really important way for me to stay connected to my family.
We now do, slight personal anecdote, we do a Thursday night movie night over Zoom with my immediate family, which is not something we did before, so that's kind of special.
This is my family on the East Coast and the Midwest. So, as a company, what we decided to do was we have the ability to see the changes in traffic and threat patterns due to our massive network.
So, we have access to this data, and so we feel responsible for and have the opportunity to share what we're seeing and share our expertise, share that data, because we have been seeing massive changes, and there are continued changes, and all that has been reported on our blog, over time, but we decided to create a video to celebrate the Internet.
So, it was actually sort of a positive, emotional, but sort of positive homage to the Internet and what it has enabled for us in this really difficult and in some ways devastating climate.
So, we launched the campaign in the end of March.
We've seen, since then, since we launched, there have been a lot of videos that have come out, a lot of commercials, but we were pretty early on with it.
We were one of the first movers, and we were really proud of the work and had no idea what the response would be.
It was risky, but the response was overwhelmingly, almost entirely positive, and it just felt really powerful to work on it.
We're really proud of it.
That's great. You know, the anecdote that you brought up in terms of your weekly movie night with family on the East Coast, I mean, it really landed me in the right way in terms of the build for this campaign, and I think that that's one of the reasons why I've been so inspired by it, and I think it landed in such a great way, was we're going through a terrible time right now, and you can almost not fathom going through this without the Internet.
Even 10 years ago, if the pandemic had hit, it would have been a completely different case, and our lives would be even more horrible than they are right now, so a really great job to you and the team on that.
Thanks, yeah. Okay, so I want to zoom out for a second because I want to talk about you a little bit, and I want to understand a little bit about sort of the way you think about marketing as a profession, and you know, I think one of the things that we can all benefit from is just explanations of like what's marketing, so when you are at a party, and you're chattering away, and somebody asks you what you do for a living, and you say I'm in marketing, how do you explain what it is?
So what I get into is maybe more typical to me.
I don't know that this is the way other folks in the profession go about it, but I like to get right into the psychology of it, because that's what really has drawn me to marketing.
I love, I studied psychology undergrad, and I love sort of observing human behavior, and then, you know, and then thinking about that, and so that's what I find interesting, and I also love the storytelling aspect of it.
So what I like to talk about is sort of how people think, how they absorb information and make decisions, and so, you know, I'll use the like the house analogy, but you know, that I brought up earlier, but I'll also talk about, you know, building and establishing an identity as a person, as a human being, right, because companies have identities, and it's what's a really important part of branding, but I don't think I mentioned yet, is that the strongest brands have an identity that's expressed really well, that is true, and as authentic as they are, and that's actually one of the things that's really fun about Cloudflare, is that the company has such a strong identity, and so when I came on board, it was there.
We had a really strong mission, but also the personality, the values, the voice of the company, it was all there, it just hadn't been surfaced yet, and written down, and brought to life, so that's, you know, so that's something that my team has worked on, and that, you know, has long -term benefits, because then you can translate that into marketing activities, and so I'll sort of talk about that, you know, if you can really, if you can get to that core truth, if you can bring it to life authentically, then I really think that's the way you create a brand that is memorable, and you know, and maybe even iconic.
That's great, you know, I've seen you in practice, and I've seen other brand leaders in practice, and I've often seen, you know, sort of the best of the best do what you do, which is, you know, figuring out what that core truth is, in an authentic way, almost becomes sort of like corporate therapy, because you end up talking to so many people in the company, and really assessing everyone's viewpoint, and then stitching it back to them, in a way that that is, that's true, and is real.
Yeah, and I will also say selfishly, for me, that's the most fun, I love doing that, it's really nice to have an opportunity to talk to all different folks throughout the company, and it's not something that, if it's not part of a specific work stream, sometimes we won't do it, you know, maybe have the best of intentions of like, having a coffee, or in this case, now like a Zoom coffee, with people you don't work regularly with, but I think there's a, there's kind of unique opportunity on the brand side, to have a, have a good reason, to really pick people's brains, interview them, really understand what, what they do, and how they think about the work that they do, because folks, you know, folks at Cloudflare are very passionate about the work that they're doing, and, and very thoughtful about it, so, so it's been, always been helpful to have those conversations.
That's great, one of the, I also think one of the superpowers that I've seen from, from your team is, and I would say marketers in general have this kind of superpower, which is the ability to tell stories.
Tell me how you approach sort of storytelling in an age like this. Yeah, oh, so how I approach story, well, right now, in an age like this, I approach storytelling with a lot of, with a lot of Zoom, Zoom calls, so lots of Zoom videos, being pretty scrappy, but, but, but to me, story, I mean, storytelling is everything, right?
It, it is what brings humanity into the work. You have to be able to tell good stories, as human beings, this is, this is how we connect, and this is, this is what people remember.
They remember good stories, they don't remember lists of point solutions, right?
So, you know, from a marketing perspective, that's really helpful, because that helps people remember who we are, and what we do, and what value we can provide, and we have to remember that, like, when we're thinking about our customers, right, from a marketing perspective, people are busy, it's a crowded space, they have a lot going on, you know, they're not, they're not necessarily, like, looking for us to market to them, especially, you know, the IT buyer, but storytelling is one of the techniques that can break through the noise.
So, if you have a good story to tell, you can capture people's attention, and then you can hold on to it, like, maybe they'll actually watch your whole video, maybe, maybe they'll find it, find it interesting, and maybe we'll touch on something that speaks to, to the humanity, right, to, to something that resonates with them, and that helps them remember, and helps them remember your brand, and, and connect with it.
I think that's critical, you know, I, I often talk to my team about the same thing, which is, and I think I read this stat earlier today, that on average, people will see 6,000 to 10 ,000 brand messages per day, and so the real question is, in three seconds or less, how can you, how can you be memorable, and I think you're right, I think stories is, is, is the way to do it, people respond to that, people remember a story, and, and even if you're working on that point solution fact sheet about product XYZ, the real question is, how does that ladder up to a broader narrative that you're trying to put out in the world, and how can you be really consistent about it?
Absolutely, yes. Okay, so I'm gonna, I'm gonna pivot a little bit, because I think one of the best parts about the show is that, is, it has really enabled me to sort of explore leadership, and I think when you're in marketing, especially in the technology world, you know, marketers get to work with a whole different array of different types of people, engineers, product managers, you know, CFOs, the whole gamut, and I, so I'd love to hear from you, sort of what your pro tips are for other brand marketers in working with either product managers or engineers, how would you tell them they should approach it?
I think the first thing, this is very straightforward, but make sure you're having conversations, just start by, by considering, like, it is possible to work in a silo, and that is not a recipe for success, right, you have, we have, again, we have brilliant folks that are, that are building the products, that are passionate about it, and very thoughtful, and also very creative, so the, it's, it's really, really important to, to bring people in, and if that means, you know, if that means, like, having, having additional conversations, and pushing the timeline out a few days, so that you can, you can have those conversations, just, just plan for it up front.
I think the reason that, that folks don't communicate is just because we're moving too fast, there's so much to do, moving really quickly, and we're not going to ever have more time, or not going to ever have less to do, so just take that time, like, make the time to have conversations, to bring folks into the war room, to just, just sit down, to just do stakeholder interviews, and, and, and pick people's brains, because, especially in a culture like, like Cloudflare, folks are really open to sharing their point of view, and, and, and sharing their expertise, and that leads to the best solution, you know, no, there's no one person that knows everything, folks bring all sorts of different skills to the table, and, and different bits of knowledge, and so you have to have an, an organized process, so this is, like, the former project manager in me, you have to have an organized process, so that it doesn't, so you actually eventually launch something, so that it doesn't stand out of control, and so that you're really clear about roles and responsibilities, and respectful of people's time, but if you're clear about what you're, what you need to do, what you want to accomplish, write a good brief, and share that out, and then ask the right questions, then you're going to, you're going to get a lot more from, from looping people in, in the right way.
That's great, I distinctly remember the first campaign at Cloudflare that you and I worked on, where we were just sort of in brainstorm stage, we were, we couldn't find an office, or, like, a conference room to go into, so we were in the middle of, like, a hallway, and we were brainstorming, and a solution engineer had passed us while we were doing our brainstorming, and he's like, what are you guys talking about, and we're like, oh, we're talking about a, a campaign that we're thinking about, and he's like, oh, can I help, and so we invited him in, and, and I think up until that point, we were, we would almost been like, no, it's a marketing thing, and we learned so much from talking to him about what our customers think, and what they want to need, and it became, it really was such an additive thing, and that really stuck with me.
One thing I do have to tell you is that, that's happened to me at least three times.
It happens a lot, and I think that's one of the, one of the joys of working on brand is that it's fun, it's a lot of fun, and folks want to be involved.
I'm not saying product marketing isn't, but, but I bet it happens, you know, more often on brand.
Listen, two sides of the same coin. It's fun on the other side, too.
Absolutely. The water's warm, the people are nice, and product marketing, Lynn, you can always come over, and I promise it will be fun.
Thanks, Dave. Keep that in mind.
The billboards, but, you know, to be able to be close to the product has been really nice as well.
Yeah, no, and, and it's, it's true that, that it is a symbiotic relationship, and, and necessary, right?
Like, brand is reliant on collaboration with actually the entire marketing team, because we're the early part of the journey, right?
Like, we're more at the top of the funnel, and so we're supporting what everyone else is doing in, in marketing, and, you know, the biggest challenge for, for brand, one of the biggest challenges when it comes to attribution is, is, is, like, figuring that out.
Like, you know, really selling in, in the value, and so, you know, that's one of the things that we, on the brand marketing side, spend a lot of time working on, is making sure we're creating that experience, getting the instrumentation in place so that, because what we're doing is measurable, it just, it's, it takes a lot of coordination.
So, I guess one other question that I have, it, again, in the spirit of sort of leadership, which is, you know, how do you find and attract great talent?
So, when you're looking to bring on board a marketing person, what are some of the qualities that you think are sort of, like, must-haves for people to join the team?
Yeah, I think, I think the two that, that, that probably work, work best are domain expertise coupled with, with a, with a, with a growth mindset, right?
The ability to, to adapt, right?
Technology, marketing landscape, all that, it's constantly evolving, and also our team is constantly evolving and growing, and we need to be able to be flexible and, and pivot, and so, you know, and sometimes move away from a certain way of doing things and, and adopt new ideas.
So, that's, that's really critical for success in our industry and on our team.
Great. Okay, I'm going to move us to our final segment.
This is the lightning round, and I put a lightning round in here because it's just such a great way to get to know you, and I, and I've known you for a while, and I'm sure that some of your answers here, which will be from the gut, I will, I, I will, I will be shocked.
I will learn something about my friend, Rebecca Klayman.
So, are you ready? Okay, I'm ready.
Let's do this. All right. So, I'm going to ask you a question. I just want you to think what first comes to mind, and then if, you know, there, there might be something we're going to explore as you do that.
So, let's do it. Okay, question number one.
What has been your favorite advertising campaign in the past year?
Oh, in the past year. Well, okay, so I guess I'm, I'm sort of cheating on the very first question, but okay, the campaign that I, that I love, that I'm really envious of is the shot on iPhone campaign, because I see that as a marketer.
I'm like, oh my gosh, like it tells the story, and it doesn't get still, like that campaign has been around for years, and it's still not still, and anybody can participate in it, and you don't need lots of words to explain, like it just comes to life, just in, just in looking, looking at it, like it's the billboard that draws your attention.
So, that's kind of like the dream, you know, campaign.
It's so beautiful that, and that campaign makes me very nervous every time I take a picture, because I'm like, how am I going to take a picture that's going to look exactly like that, but thinking about it, yeah, thinking about it.
All right, it's the same question, but what has been your favorite advertising campaign of all time?
Well, I, I, I love this. Actually, somebody brought this, brought this up. A Cloudflare employee brought this up the other day, reminded me of it.
The Always Like a Girl campaign, that video, I don't, I don't know when it came out, but it had to be like, at least, it was probably five years ago, or something like that, but, but it, it was powerful, not perfect, but really powerful, and yeah, brought tears to my eyes.
It's, I think it's, it's super important, and I love seeing the way marketing is evolving to consider, you know, the fact that there are lots of different humans in the world, and it's beneficial to not stereotype people, so I like that.
A hundred percent. Folks tuning in, please YouTube that. That's a, that's a great ad.
So good. I kind of asked this question before, but I want to hear the answer again.
What is one trait that you think every marketer needs to have? Agility.
Agility. That's good. All right, now here's a super serious question, and I know, look, there are people who've got points of view on either side, and it's almost like, you know, politics, and I'm hoping that we can get out of our bubbles, and we can, we can all just talk to each other about it, so if you have a different point of view than I have, let's just agree that we'll be friends afterwards.
Is that, is that okay?
We'll see. All right. Oxford comma or no Oxford comma? Oh, yes. Definitely Oxford comma, and I'm not saying that it wasn't a group effort to launch our first content style guide, because it was, but, but there was, but I also would be lying if I said I didn't infuse my bias toward the Oxford comma, which is required.
It's the people who do not like the Oxford comma. I don't understand them.
I just don't get it. We, I'm now violating my own principle. Yes, Oxford comma.
Okay, what marketing metric do you think matters the most? Well, I'm, I'm just gonna have to, I'm just gonna have to say whatever our, our leader said on his marketing matters segment, which is marketing qualified leads that then translate to sales qualified leads, because that's how I can be successful in my job, is agreeing with what my boss thinks is the most important metric.
He's probably tuning in right now, so that's a good, that's a good answer. All right, next question.
What book has influenced you the most? Yeah, there's no way I can only mention one book.
I, I could try, but I'll mention a few books that I read recently.
If you haven't read them, you have to read them. Okay, so definitely read Trevor Noah, Born a Crime.
You've probably read it, and if you haven't yet, listen to the audiobook.
It's so good. Michelle Obama, Becoming. Business books.
I talked about growth mindset, so you know, I thought it was cool when we were at Twitter, every employee got a copy of Mindset, and, and I, I thought that was, that was really good.
I, I really enjoyed that book. It's, it's helpful, and I just read my first graphic novel.
My brother has been sending me graphic novels into them, and, and so I just opened up Watchmen, so I'm excited to, to read that, because I'd never read a graphic novel before, and it's my new jam.
All right, those are all good books.
All right, you brought up Twitter, so I'm going to ask you another super serious question, which is very important from a societal perspective.
Yeah. What's more important, the retweet button or the mute button?
Oh, more important, they're both. I think, like, if you could only have one, you have to have mute, because I think you'd lose people otherwise, just because there's, there's toxic behavior, but retweet is so powerful for amplification, right?
Like, it's, I love the retweet button, but I don't think you can, I don't think you can function without mute.
All right, if you weren't doing marketing, what job would you be doing?
I mean, I always wanted to be a journalist. I never tried it, but, but yeah.
All right, last of the lightning round, favorite hashtag? Oh, yeah, the, the SFBatKid hashtag.
I remember that, I remember that so well, and I remember that day, and it brought people together in San Francisco.
That was, that was just really, really cool.
That was really powerful, so that's definitely my favorite hashtag.
All right, Rebecca, thank you so much for being a guest on the show, Marketing Matters.
I, I think I learned a lot about you, I learned a lot about Brandon, and other people tuning in did as well.
That was a lot of fun, so for everybody else, thank you for tuning in, and we will see you on the Internets.
Thank you very much. you