Cloudflare TV

Marketing Matters — Conversations with Tech Marketing Leaders

Presented by Dave Steer, Jake Anderson
Originally aired on 

In the world of technology, marketing has become a foundational and complex discipline. From Product and Brand Marketing to Performance and Demand Generation Marketing, marketing tells the stories that break through the clutter and inspire audiences.

Join Dave every other week for a conversation with a marketing leader at Cloudflare, and throughout the industry, 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.


Transcript (Beta)

Let's get into the show.

All right, and we are live. Hello, and welcome to Marketing Matters, the Cloudflare TV show that explores the wide world of marketing and technology.

I'm Dave Steer.

I'm the host of the show, and I work in product marketing at Cloudflare.

Today in the hot chair, we have Jake Anderson. Jake is the head of marketing at Cloudflare.

We're excited to have Jake as our first guest on Marketing Matters.

Now, for transparency's sake, I should also say that Jake is also my boss, but I promise that I'm gonna hold no punches.

So welcome, Jake. Thank you, Dave.

Great to be here. As always, this is very frequent, so it's nice to have a chat with you.

Jake, one of the reasons I wanted to create this Cloudflare TV show is the realization that in the world of technology, marketing has become a foundational discipline for companies of all sizes, and yet there's a certain elusiveness to the function.

Some people think marketers as the people that create billboard advertising, a lot of magic tricks.

Now, it is true. We do create billboard advertising, but obviously, marketing is so much more.

And at the same time, marketing as traditionally taught in school, the four Ps of packaging and positioning and placement and so on, has undergone a tectonic shift with new technologies that bring together companies and brands and people like never before.

And so I wanted our audience, be them engineers, product people, or up-and -coming marketers themselves to hear from leaders like you who are shaping the function and to understand the fundamentals of what it is.

What's world -class in marketing?

What does a marketer do all day? How do they spend their days? How do you approach your job?

How do you tell stories? And so with that as pretext, Jake, welcome to the show.

Let me start by asking you, tell me a little bit about your own origin story.

How did you start your career in marketing? And what was it about it that drew you in?

It's great you're doing this segment. And it's interesting that, it will be interesting to hear how other people talk about their stories as well as marketing is changing very rapidly.

My story is pretty simple. I actually started more on the retail side.

And I was distributing a ton of products through different retailers.

I was in merchandising, which is kind of the marketing side of a retail company.

And I got very involved in the, in the large scale systems of distributing merchandise and really fell in love with the technology of the business.

And then what I was so frustrated with is, in that business is that I never could understand the customer very well.

The only way you knew the customer was through point of sale data.

So they didn't have a really a name.

It was just a transaction, what they bought at that time. And it was always frustrating to me.

And I always was excited to move into more B2B marketing and then had really found that I loved large scale systems.

And so I was introduced to Amazon many years ago and was, as I was looking at different systems and marketing roles within Amazon, there was a little business that was just starting there called AWS, Amazon Web Services.

And I just thought it was the most fascinating business that was just seemed so disruptive.

And I loved how it engaged with small developers and I just saw so much activity happening as people were able to do things that they couldn't do before.

And so I love the B2B nature of that.

I love the large scale of that. And so I just kind of dove into the business believing in that business model more than anything else.

And as we worked on building that business, ultimately at first it was just the developers discovering it through our blogs and things like that.

As we moved into the enterprise, we needed to build a marketing team that could communicate that value that these services provide.

And particularly as we're launching so many products, how you communicate that and keep customers informed and also elevate the brand.

So it wouldn't be just seen as a retailer, but really what Amazon is, is a technology company.

And so we really built out the marketing function. So for many years, I was building out all the teams that require us to market and sell those compute, store, database, many services at scale.

That's really cool. One of the things I like about that story is you really seen sort of a marketing team from start to building it up.

What are some of the things that you learned along the way from that experience?

Well, I think marketing teams have to be very flexible and they change over time.

At different stages of the company's life cycle, as they're just new and bringing a new product to market and it's those first people that are willing to experiment, the messages that you give them are different from those that are slower to adopt, more conservative.

And so the messages that you deliver change subtly over time.

And you need more skills and being able to reach more audiences and building more of a relationship over time.

I think another thing is just, it's really interesting to see the functions that you build and what you prioritize.

So, and when some of those changes happen, for example, when, as a field team grows, or as it's often usually the sales team will grow to where the customers are, and you really need a field sales team that is with our fields, field marketing team, I'm sorry, that's with our sales team, and how you build that and the timing of that is very important in the relationships and then the infrastructure that's built.

So I think it's fascinating to see something scale up so rapidly and which functions were most important.

And then they all become very important as it's marketing is a very integrated function and all these pieces work together to communicate the value to customers.

That's great. I should just say on behalf of everyone at Cloudflare, we were excited to lure you away from AWS.

So that brings us to the current day and your role at Cloudflare.

Tell us a little bit about how you approach your role and what the marketing team is responsible for at Cloudflare.

First, I'm just so excited about the Cloudflare business. I just think, lured away is kind of an interesting description.

It's more like was introduced to what Cloudflare is.

And I just think the model of being able to provide all these network services at the edge in a very distributed fashion is really powerful.

And we're gonna see a big consolidation that happens at the network layer for security performance reliability at the edge.

And so it wasn't necessarily lured.

It was time for a new challenge and Cloudflare is a big opportunity. What I'm focused on in marketing at Cloudflare is really, number one, it is communicating value.

I see that as kind of the purpose of marketing. And in a B2B and particularly selling to a highly technical audience, very smart and don't wanna be marketed to per se.

They don't want the flashy advertisement. They don't wanna be sold to.

They very intelligent, very experienced and they know how to evaluate technologies on their own.

But they do need to be introduced and make the value propositions clear.

And so how we do that on a product level is critical and how we promote that.

And then at the same time, they're looking for, you know, just technologies come and go.

So what are the platforms that they see the brand and they see the future of that platform over time?

And so oftentimes Cloudflare will solve an individual problem for a customer.

But before they move on to our platform, because they also need to understand that, you know, what else will Cloudflare potentially be able to do over time?

And as we elevate that brand and communicate all the value that we're offering, that's ultimately the role.

And then there's just tons and tons of levers that you pull in coordination with a lot of people across an organization, your sales partners, your product partners, support.

Marketing is very much how you go to market.

And it's a big partnership with other go-to-market teams as well.

That's great. I mean, I think one of the fundamental things that will be really interesting for us is to hear from people like you in terms of how you describe the marketing function just generally, not even at Cloudflare.

So when you're at a dinner party and you're chattering away with a person and they ask you what you do, how do you describe what marketing is?

It's kind of what I just described.

It is articulating value. And you do that by highlighting the benefits that are most important to a particular person at a particular point in time.

And ideally in the right way as well, because there's lots of ways of communicating.

And people are ready for different messages and ready to adopt different things at different times.

So marketing is all about making, lining up that timing with the customer and wherever they are.

So if someone is just starting to explore an issue or they have a problem they need to solve and they're looking for something to solve it, there's a certain message you would communicate that's more high level, more about the brand and the problem to be solved.

As the customer moves through the funnel, there's more specific content to help them try the service, explore further, get their questions answered, understand what other customers are using it.

And so that's what marketing is, is talking to customers where they are and moving them along that process to be able to capture the value that any product or service offers to them.

That's great. I've often heard people talk about it in terms of like the right message, the right person at the right time.

And if you can get that equation down, it's gold.

But it's also sort of part of the science behind the function, like how you actually do that.

And I think one of the most challenging things that I've heard from a lot of people and certainly experience is, a big part of marketing is actually telling stories.

And the important part about that is it's a very noisy world out there.

The target audience is hearing from lots of people all throughout the day.

And so compelling stories is a really great way to break through.

How do you approach doing that in your job? The most important one to me is through your customers and through the problems that you've solved for them.

So ideally, when you're approaching a new customer, you can tell them, you know what?

Don't worry, this has been solved. There's not, you don't have to worry.

We have solved this. And not only have we solved this, we've solved this for a customer that is very much like you.

And by the way, this customer is a really well-recognized customer, valuable.

I think that's, without question, the most powerful way.

That is like, it's almost like having your, you know, the best way is to have someone that they know and trust that has experienced the product and promotes it to them.

Second best is someone else that they value or recognize, also deriving value.

So I think that's the, without question, I think that is the most important storytelling mechanism is through the eyes of customers.

But I think there's also stories to tell with respect to, through the brand and through the platform of where the company's going, that this is not only a brand that I see that people are trusting, but I see that it's going to really continue to solve my problems over time.

There's something I can trust in.

So anything to build that initial trust and then maintain it, because one thing we often think about in this marketing just being on the front end, getting the sale, getting the order.

But marketing is very much the entire life cycle of a customer.

Once they, how do they onboard? How can they be initially successful?

What stories can you share with them that get them onboarded quickly? As they're deriving value, what other products, or what stories can you share back to customers that say, hey, by the way, you're using this product, look at the value that you're getting.

That's the story that we tell back to the customer to remind them of why they first adopted it and the value that they're getting so that they will renew, and potentially they become a reference to themselves to go explore other products that we have.

So it goes on and on in telling those stories. It's a virtuous cycle.

And I'm glad that you brought up the word trust because I've often heard from some people who think, well, you could just put a billboard up and say, like, trust us.

And that is the biggest no-no. And there are other much more powerful ways to build trust and credibility.

Another part that I hear as extremely important, and certainly I feel this way, is just understanding the customer.

Now, it used to be that, you know, in order to understand what the customer wants, you would fly around the world and you'd go to focus groups and you'd sit in a back room with a double paned window, eat M&Ms and hear people talk about your product.

But the world has changed. There's so many more ways to understand what customers want and need.

How do you approach that? First, I mean, I'm not gonna advocate for old school focus groups behind mirrored glass windows, but the principle remains.

Like, you have to go hear customers speak and hear their own language.

I think what's changed now is there's so much, so many mechanisms that can deliver that to you as a marketer.

So I think through the data that you get, through how the customers are using the product, through how they engage on social media, it'd be very thoughtful of how you track with cookies and things, privacy of customers.

We're particularly attuned to being thoughtful about that, but there's a lot of signals that we get as they interact with our product and with our marketing sites and as we engage with them that tell us more about their propensity and things like that.

I think listening to your sales team is really important.

We try to, we're constantly meeting with our sales team. Hey, what's working?

Let's try this. And a lot of conversations because they're engaging deeply with customers.

And then jumping on sales calls is also really important.

I think the more you, as a marketer, understand your customer, the more not only, you just become the represent, like they often talk about that you shouldn't just be the, think about marketing, or if you shouldn't be a chief marketing officer, you should think of yourself as a chief market officer, that you think of the market and you understand the market and the customers.

And that's ideally where you provide the most value to the organization.

That's great. What I think you're absolutely right.

One of the things that I tell sort of up and coming marketers is your superpowers, your understanding of the customer, your deep empathy and insight in terms of what customers want to need.

And sometimes they'll tell you what they want to need.

And sometimes you need to infer that based on a variety of signals that you see.

Switching gears a little bit, I brought this up earlier.

It's an exciting time to be doing marketing and technology just as the technology landscape is fundamentally changing and brands also fundamentally are engaging with their customers and just new in different ways.

Authenticity is key. What are some of the challenges that you face with the new technology landscapes that we have?

I'd say number one is just the proliferation of tools and things that we can use to be able to give different customers experiences, track different customers, communicate with them on different channels.

And it just becomes kind of a mess.

And there's a number of different data platforms. There's, I won't name all the technologies, but how do you integrate all this data?

And you just kind of have this, because things innovate.

And so you need a marketing database and effectively like a data lake eventually to be able to first prospect and acquire customers.

But it becomes super important to be integrated in order to market to your existing customers as you're reading signal of how they're engaging with your product and then being able to communicate those messages that align with how they're using that product.

So that's really challenging. And then I think the other thing that Dave and I, Dave, you and I joke about all the time is attribution.

Because there are so many ways to touch customers and there's all these different tools doing it and customers are across desktop, social, different social platforms, different mobile devices, and they're being touched by the product itself that has more marketing built into it by support.

And it's like, how do you assign attribution for marketing activity?

This is like the age old dilemma for marketing.

Always has been, likely always will be. And there are methods to do this, but it is hard.

And so that remains a challenge to be able to build out that capability.

Yeah, and I think fundamentally part of the attribution challenge is we zoom out.

The reason why you create attribution is just to understand for the investments that we're gonna make, where do we place our bet?

Do we place it on email?

Do we place it on this channel or that channel? And when all these channels start to converge in an entire experience, it's hard to really get a strong understanding of that.

Well, because it's not only the channels, it's the sequence of those channels is probably an important factor as well.

Which messages are part of those sequences?

So the complexity of those different algorithms becomes exponential really, really fast.

And so I'd say that's one of the trickiest things we work with.

Attribution is a challenge. So I'm gonna switch gears a little bit.

One of the reasons I'm so excited for this Cloudflare TV show is I really care about leadership and your experience on this.

And I think one of the interesting things is marketing people today, especially in the technology industry are coming together with people who have very different skill sets.

Engineers, product managers, sales, PR, et cetera.

What are your pro tips for marketers as they engage with product managers and engineers?

Well, I'm gonna go back to it again because I think that's the answer is you have to be anchored together on a common thing.

And I think that's still the customers because let's say a product marketer is gonna work with their product manager and engineering team on which product's being built.

And they're both need, I mean, all of those parties need to understand the customer really well.

But marketing has a real responsibility to understand what messages communicate that value the best, what's resonating with them.

And the only way to really understand that as well as the vision for the product, which comes more from the product manager, only way to really understand that is to understand the customer and be able to then have a conversation that says, all right, I understand and have specific anecdotes.

Certainly the data that you can bring data that communicates how they're engaging, but also the anecdotes that you're both talking about, oh yeah, this customer, I know about this.

And that's the common language that you use because the reality is they are different roles.

And so you have to find common language and the customer is the best language to center on.

There's one other thing I would say.

Forgot my money, I had one other thing, but I forgot.

All right, we'll come back to it.

I think one of the things that I hear often and one of the ways that I approach this job is the idea of sort of the marketing product manager sort of like buddy system, that there's an area of overlap and they actually have to feel like sort of a core team and yet at the same time, each needs to own sort of a different component to gel in place.

And I think that that tends to be one of the recipes for success, small, well-equipped teams who have different charters, but have really good overlap at the same time.

Absolutely, I think it's all about having, what I've heard described as high bandwidth conversations that you can have with your counterparts, which just means, you know when you're having a conversation with someone and it's like, it's transactional almost, like we share this, I share that.

And if you can center on something that you both understand and often the customer and then the product and you start leaning more on the product manager and the engineers on the details, you need to know some of them yourself.

You have to put out that effort to understand their like how the product works, some of the engineering behind it so that you can have that high bandwidth conversation.

And you wanna be pushing them on the other side that the product manager knows exactly what are the core value propositions that we're sharing and why.

And so everyone's on the same page as to what we're trying to do. So it's that high bandwidth conversation is important.

Great, you know, we are growing and we recruit a lot.

You know, when you recruit an up and coming marketing leader what are some of the qualities that you look for?

I think one is speed.

And so it's kind of this mix of being able to think strategically with a vision of what we're gonna accomplish and then can convert that to execution.

And then the faster that they can, that someone can do that and execute and then put it back and update the strategy and execute.

I think examples of that when I talk to folks and they can do that at scale and very broadly are very, you know, those people make a big difference because sometimes folks are very good on the, when I think of leaders, they can execute but they're not driving, they're not updating their vision and driving a larger vision because you're in a growing business it needs to be growing constantly.

So it's that pairing is really important.

Obviously customer empathy, I won't dwell more on that. We've talked about it a lot.

Yeah, I'd probably highlight that, the mix of strategy and execution and learning through that.

And like quick, rapid learning, you know, the sense that you lean into action and that's where you go into.

I think that's one of the most interesting things about marketing and one of the reasons why I love it so much is the pathway to insight can be super quick.

Yeah. And that's one of the things that I screen for as well.

Okay, we're gonna transition to our next question. To our final segment, this is our lightning round.

I have a set of questions for you, all aimed at just understanding you more clearly and for future guests who are tuning in right now to see what it's like to be on this show.

I'll be asking the same questions.

So here we go. So the same ones or they're gonna be a surprise for them too?

Same ones. Okay. They're gonna have an advantage over you. Okay. Okay, Jake Anderson, what has been your favorite campaign in the past year?

It sounds kind of like this, I'm going to kind of maybe controversial territory, but I really value the campaign then and I like it now because it's even better.

It's a little, I think it's 18 months old and it's a little longer than a year, but the Nike, Colin Kaepernick, what is the line he says?

It's sometimes you have to believe in something, in order to believe in something, you have to be willing to sacrifice everything or something like that.

I just think a great branding campaign is one that understands the culture, understands what's underneath.

And obviously that was 18 months ago-ish and it was in tune with what was going on.

So I think, and I remember at the time thinking, how powerful that message was then and controversial, particularly controversial at the time.

So I thought it was really powerful and bold for Nike to do that, which is a very Nike thing to do.

All right, I love that campaign.

Okay, on a slightly less serious note, for some, but for others very serious, Oxford comma or no Oxford comma?

I'm so Oxford comma, like it's the only way, it's the only correct way to write.

I realized an associated thing, another thing that I have that people don't like, I probably need to stop doing, is I do the two spaces after the period too.

That annoys people. Okay, what marketing metric matters the most?

I hate that question, but ultimately the answer is closed revenue for marketing attributed activity.

So that goes into all of the attribution and measuring the results that we ultimately deliver to the business.

I think that's ultimately the most important thing. All right, super important question.

GIF or JIF, hard G or soft G? You mean peanut butter or do you mean GIF?

I mean GIF. It's a hard G, it's GIF. It's a hard G. Yes, and this was a debate a couple of months ago.

I don't know why it was a debate because it's clearly GIF.

I know, we need to put this debate to rest. We'll see what the other- We can add it to our new content style.

How about that? Okay, what book has influenced you the most?

Well, there's a lot of books that have influenced me.

I'm gonna tune this towards my professional career.

I'll answer it. I actually had the book here. Was this, is this one?

I showed you this one yesterday. The Tornado. Inside the Tornado. Jeffrey Moore also wrote Crossing the Chasm.

I read that book back in college and I was like, I was amazed by it then.

And I keep going back to it as it tells the story of the technology lifecycle and how companies adjust and adapt through that process.

All right, final question.

What's your favorite hashtag? That's a gimme. That's a, I really love the campaign that we launched in March.

I think it was really meaningful and it was great, really great for the team to do.

And I think it was a powerful message.

And it's built for this, hashtag built for this. Hashtag built for this.

Yeah, and the message that we explained is that the Internet is built for this, for this moment, as all of us are, you know, look at this, we're on Cloudflare TV over sitting in both of our homes and Internet is enabling a lot.

And it's powerful for Cloudflare to be helping build a better Internet to be supporting this cause.

So it's, I love that hashtag. Fantastic. Well, that about wraps up our first segment of Marketing Matters on Cloudflare TV.

Jake, thank you for being our first guest.

I learned a lot. Even though you and I talk 50 times a day, I learned a lot about you.

It was great to hear your perspective. And I'm looking forward to having more guests come on board and hearing more perspectives on what marketing looks like from the people who are shaping the industry.

So somewhere down the line here, I would like to be a guest host and then you can be in the other side of the chair.

How about that? That could be a fair deal out of this. Sounds good.

All right, everybody. Thank you for tuning in. We would love to hear your feedback on the show.

You can email me at dsteer at or on Twitter, just tweet at me at Dave Steer.

For Marketing Matters on Cloudflare TV, I'm Dave Steer, your host.

Thanks for watching and see you on the Internets. Bye bye.

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