Cloudflare TV

Marketing Matters

Presented by Rick Wootten, Rebecca Graeber
Originally aired on 

Join Rick Wootten 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.


Transcript (Beta)

All right. Welcome to Marketing Matters. This is the show where I get to interview some of the brightest minds in marketing.

And on today's show, I have Becky Graeber with me.

Becky is the head of growth for Cloudflare, and she's responsible for marketing to our 3.2 million customers.

She has an MBA from Harvard. She's a CPA. She's worked at Medallia and Deloitte in the past.

And I've actually had the pleasure of working with her twice, both at Cloudflare and known her for a number of years.

And I can attest that she's got a strong passion for marketing and for driving customer revenue and satisfaction.

So welcome to the show, Becky. No, thanks, Rick.

It's an honor that you consider me a foremost thinker in marketing, so excited to be here.

You know, I love working with smart people. You're definitely one of them.

So, you know, I feel like I have a good partner. In fact, I refer to us as yin and yang a lot of times.

Hopefully, that's a good metaphor, you know, because, you know, my job at this company is to bring customers in, and your job is to create a great experience for them so that they buy more and they continue to work with us.

So it's a great thing. So, you know, one of the things I stole from Dave when he had the show, you know, a year ago was he would always open up and ask people to kind of tell their story.

And he always used the metaphor that it's like, you know, every great hero or villain or, you know, any character in a comic book always had a backstory.

And so, you know, I always find it interesting how people in our field come from various different places.

One of my CMO, he was a scientist before he came over.

Another one was an engineer. And you came from a different angle.

And why don't you tell us about, you know, your background, how you got into doing marketing, particularly customer marketing?

Yeah, absolutely. It's a, to your point, it's a non-linear path here, probably not a typical one into marketing per se.

But, you know, I actually joined Cloudflare on the sales side, but doing more of what I would call, you know, a GM type of position, looking after the revenue for our pay-as-you-go business.

And it just so happened that at the time, you know, Cloudflare's maturity, this is circa around the first time that you joined Cloudflare, Rick, the things that we needed for that business at the time, the resources that we had available to us, a lot of the growth tactics that we needed to pursue were more in the growth marketing domain.

And so, that gave me my first taste of diving into more of the marketing discipline.

And it really took off from there.

I enjoyed it immensely. And my role has kind of evolved. I think the customer marketing angle in it and where I sit today actually has to do with the fact that I come more from a customer success background, even professional services, really thinking about how to build relationships with your existing customer base.

So, putting those two things together has really worked out. Yeah.

And if I remember correctly, from when I looked at your LinkedIn profile, you're also a CPA.

How did that happen? That's not typical. Well, that's a lengthy backstory into why I became an accountant.

But yes, I am a CPA. It is inactive. I do not practice it.

So, don't ask me to help you on your taxes. I don't even do my own. It is technically how I started my career and got my education.

You know, I think we've talked about this before, but my undergraduate degree is graphic design.

And where I work right now, I mean, I use design in my job, but I don't do design.

I haven't done that.

Well, I haven't done it professionally in a very long time. But I think it's interesting because having, for me, having a design background and having an engineering background and bringing the two of those together creates an interesting platform for me, then how I focus on demand generation, how I build programs and how I measure the programs.

And I imagine that having a financial background probably influenced how you approached marketing as well.

Do you agree?

And what does that look like? Oh, yeah. Yeah. No, absolutely. It definitely does.

And it has definitely helped shape kind of the way I approach marketing. You know, I think a finance background kind of comes in two flavors of how I would say I apply it here.

The first is very similar to some of the stuff that you just described, some of the obvious things like, you know, understanding ROI and budgeting and bringing really a very data and analysis driven perspective into what we do.

And given that you and I are both on more of the performance marketing side, that's a, you know, our head has to be constantly in kind of the quantitative side of what what we do here in the marketing department.

But I think, you know, when I talk to people about kind of the finance background and what I think it's really done for me is, you know, I came from what is kind of an M&A particular discipline.

And that kind of background really helped me understand the drivers of the business.

So like, what is the go to market strategy? What are the financial drivers that that create success for that company and thinking about from the financial fundamentals?

And that's really helpful from a marketing side, too, because, you know, it pushes me to think a little bit about what are the growth drivers for Cloudflare?

Where are we going to see long term success for this business?

What customer segments is it going to come out of? Which markets, et cetera, et cetera.

And that lets me think about how marketing is going to help contribute and support that growth for the company over time and gives that kind of like bigger, bigger picture view into what we do.

Yeah. You know, I am I was involved in.

Well, so so I think we talked about this before. I used to work for Palm years ago.

This was back in the early 2000s. And we went on a buying spree for a while. You know, we're growing really quickly and we're trying to add incremental technology to our stack very quickly.

So we bought a number of companies and I got to be part of the diligence for that.

And that was fun. That was that was so much fun to to go and talk to folks and understand, you know, the business models they built, why they built them the way they did, and then, you know, trying to imagine how that would come together to to form a solution for Palm.

And I remember one of the companies we looked at was a company called Lingo Motors, which was a weird name, but it was a a bunch of students from MIT that afterwards went off and kind of started.

In fact, like almost a third of the staff, if I'm not mistaken, were PhDs.

It was like it was ridiculous. It was so much smart in the room when I talked to them.

I definitely felt like a kindergartner. And their whole premise was to use natural language search in everything.

And so so, again, if you put this in perspective, we're talking 2003, probably when we did this, maybe 2002.

And we were looking at integrating natural search into basically the Palm devices.

Now, today, that's that's Siri.

That's, you know, you know, all these things that we've become accustomed to.

But those have been around for, you know, six, seven years.

They weren't there, you know, almost 20 years ago. So it is it was cool. It was neat.

And and to your point, it helped kind of shape, you know, my my view, my business acumen view of what we do and how we measure things.

And I think that's been that's been beneficial, you know, but that's cool.

Yeah, I think I must have known you had a financial background, but I guess I forgot somewhere along the line.

So when I saw that, I was like, dang, that makes sense. When I look at her spreadsheets, it's like, how do I do that?

Like, I can't do that. Yeah, no, I don't necessarily wear it as a badge on my sleeve.

But I'm glad that you picked up on it.

Well, on LinkedIn, you have it right there in your title is CPA at the end.

So, you know, oh, my goodness. Thank you.

One of the things that's kind of fun is trying to describe to people what we do for a living, because, you know, for us, we're a lot of the people we talk to are pretty aware of marketing.

You know, we're clearly aware of marketing. But every once in a while, you'll come across somebody that, you know, when you when you say that, you know, you're doing customer marketing, or, you know, revenue marketing, they're like, what, what is that?

How do you how do you explain to people what you do?

And what kind of fun questions you get from them? Yeah, I mean, it's it is so true, though, when you know, people who aren't as familiar with the marketing discipline, they usually just think about, like, ads and promotions and things that they see as a consumer.

So get that a little bit mixed up. And it's true that, you know, marketing is a lot more than just those things.

I think the the way that I generally describe it, particularly in the customer marketing domain, like the biggest thing that we need to do is understand who our customers are and be able to communicate to them, like, what what value can we be providing?

The benefit of customer marketing in particular is, you know, I am glued to or incentivized to think about customers not only buying products, but then staying with us, they need to see that value and keep coming back.

And so we can't just hawk them any wares and hope they buy it, we really got to be able to show them, you know, this is something that is going to be relevant, that's going to solve the problem for you.

And amongst all the platform of things that Cloudflare can provide, this is really genuinely as a partner, what we think that you could benefit from.

And so that's, that's a lot of what I try and try and do here. I'm trying to think of interesting, any interesting anecdotes I usually get, but I think a lot of it is like the the madman perspective, where it's just a bunch of people in suits, coming up with like big, big brand campaigns in the background.

I don't launch a single brand campaign.

So definitely not accurate. Yeah, it is. It is funny, because certainly popular culture influences what people think of us doing.

You know, I've never had a couch in my office where I could go take a nap. You know, I've, you know, never had like a cocktail bar where, you know, I can serve people drinks when they come in.

So yeah, that wasn't that wasn't the world I lived in.

I mean, you know, I, I did. I'm gonna date myself a little bit. I did get started in marketing before it had become performance marketing.

So you know, there was, you know, a handful of years where it was very much a kind of a brand thing where you were looking to create, you know, a certain amount of brand awareness, impression, that sort of thing.

But, you know, because I've always been kind of a performance marketer kind of mentality, I very quickly, like, going back to 1999, jumped into eCommerce and things that were much more measurable were, you know, the marketing campaigns were designed to drive direct revenue.

And even when I worked in a B2C company, SonicWall, the whole point was, is we were trying to track everything end to end to try and drive that revenue.

So I think, I think I was lucky enough to be born in the right time where, like the thing I have the passion around matches with what the industry needed at the time, because I don't think I would have done well in the Mad Men time.

I'd be like, you know, this is all, it's all too loose. There's nothing you can touch.

So. I mean, the only caveat I would say to that is, as you were describing, you don't have a couch or a bar cart in your office.

But we're all working from home.

And literally within 10 feet of me right now, I have both a couch and a bar cart.

It's a little bit of a different world. I'm using neither of them during the workday, I promise.

Fair point. There's a bed right behind me.

So it's not like, you know. Your nap is right there. That's right. I don't have any alcohol in the room though.

So I'm missing on that one. Yeah. You know, I've had, I've had, I've had fun ones.

One of the stories I like to share is, I was in college, I was studying graphic design and I was dating this, this woman and her parents, her family, not her parents, but her family were saying, you know, you can't date him.

He, he's going to go draw pictures of people on the wharf.

He can't make a living doing, you know, illustration. Cartoonist. It's like, no, graphic design, that's different.

And they just, and then I remember like, yeah, I think the first website I launched was like 95 or something like that, 1995.

I have to go back and look.

I looked recently to see when my first website gdfx .com went online.

Then it was somewhere around then anyways. And, and I would try and describe to people what I did.

And the only way I could get them to, because by the way, nobody really understood the net back then either.

Right. And that's what they called it, the net.

The only, the only like thing that I could, I could get tell my grandparents was, okay, you know, those magazines, I put them on the computer.

That was it. That was, that was the closest I could get to describing it. All right.

So, yeah, when you say net, it makes me think of, oh, sorry. I think we got a bit of a delay.

No, I was just going to say, when you said net, it made me think of, now you work for a company whose public company ticker symbol is net.

And trying to describe to my parents or my grandparents, what Cloudflare does took, took a little while as well.

Yeah. You know, surprisingly, I didn't have like my, my, when I told my kids, hey, I'm going to go work for Cloudflare.

This is back in 2016.

When I told my kids, I'm going to go work for Cloudflare. My son says, oh, I actually know who they are.

I was like, how do you know who they are? He said, well, I use discord.

And every once in a while, discord goes down and there's a Cloudflare page that pops up that says, it's not our problem.

It's theirs. Yeah.

Discord, a wonderful customer for a long time. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. You know, eight, eight months ago, actually, it's longer than that now.

It's almost been a year.

So about 10 months ago, everything blew up, right? All the marketing plans we've made went right out the window, at least in my world.

How did, how did it impact you in your world?

Like, you know, from a customer marketing standpoint, clearly you, you know, relied somewhat on physical events, but beyond that, how did, how did that impact you?

Yeah. I mean, I think in a lot of similar ways, marketers in our domain got hit hard, threw our plans out the window, as you said, but it also kind of forced us all to like converge really competitively into the same stuff.

So, so all the digital, you know, that everything went digital, everything went virtual.

And in our space, you know, we also rely a lot on email too, as you know.

And just really quickly, you can see how customers and, you know, all of us as consumers ourselves were getting super oversaturated and exhausted from that stuff.

So it, it took a toll. You actually could meaningfully see it in the engagement that we, we had because people around the world were just inundated with a lot of the same stuff through all of the same channels.

Yeah. You know, and I've, I've been reading some articles and they, they've talked about, you know, not to make it that my life is more difficult, but they talked about how it's more difficult right now to acquire new customers.

And so where the focus needs to be is on, you know, retaining and expanding your existing customers, because there's a fear of switching right now.

You know, you're not the vendors, not the vendors, the customers are not confident vendors will be around or what have you.

I mean, it's a little bit different, I think in our case, I mean, we're actually kind of thriving in this, unfortunately, fortunately, and unfortunately, right.

We'd never wish this situation, but, you know, is, has that been the case with you?

Have you found that, you know, you know, the task is harder or, or, you know, maybe the same as it was before?

Yeah. I mean, realistically, you're, you're absolutely right.

We did definitely see our customers and thankfully we've got a lot of loyal customers that really got more deeply ingrained with us as a vendor.

And you saw that kind of weariness to search for new, you know, or move away from your incumbents, if you will.

And so we did see that, but, you know, as with any company, there's, there was some pain through the transition that our customers weren't really sure how they were going to come out the other end.

Things worked out really well.

I know, you know, Matthew and Thomas and our quarterly reporting, you know, show this, that, you know, Cloudflare has done well with our customers and did right by our customers to make sure we weren't kind of exploiting them through this, that we were providing services and kind of would make, make good on it as we came out of it.

So that I think built a lot of rapport and relationship that has served us well.

So yeah, I think there's a lot of domains where my job is a little bit easier than yours, but that's, that's mostly just because we've got such a great customer base.

So. Well, you know, and I think the point you just made is, is, is critical that and it's something that it's, it's, it's one of the reasons I wanted to work here is I, I like how we treat people.

I like what we stand for.

And so, you know, as, as, as you remember very well, because I remember working on the project with you, you know, there was the, the big push at the beginning of COVID to try and make remote accesses available to people as we could.

And, you know, we did a number of things, including giving away product for quite a while to, you know, kind of help people respond to this in a way.

And, and I think that's just inherent in, you know, the, the mission of the company, which is to help build a better Internet, right.

It's, you know, it's not an arrogant, we're going to go build a better Internet, but we're, we're here to help.

And, and so it always makes me feel good when, when we do that.

I mean, I think this last week we did the announcement around, you know, we can, we can help set up queues for inoculations or against COVID.

Yeah. And I just, I love working and not to be too sappy, but I love working for a company that stands for something and really tries to make a difference.

It doesn't mean we're perfect, but you know, we're pretty, we're pretty cool.

Yeah. Well, and as marketers too, it, it does make our jobs a little bit easier, right.

We're, we're providing these products as I, a couple of questions ago, you know, trying to give value to customers.

We're not pushing it on you, but if you can find use and benefit from this, then great.

And, and we'll back it up.

We'll provide a product that we genuinely believe you'll find valuable so that when, you know, we come out the other side of this, we, we think you'll want this and it'll be useful for you.

So you know, it kind of writes itself.

Yeah. Well, in a, in a world where if you want an Xbox or PlayStation, you're going to have to pay double the retail price.

It's, it's nice that we're, we're not, we're not price gouging people.

So that's kind of cool. So, you know, over, over the time of your career, and even in the time I worked with you, you've worked on some, some really cool marketing programs.

Did any of them stand out to you as, you know, some of your favorites or, or even better yet some, some of the ones that are more tragic and didn't turn out the way you wanted.

Yeah. You're not going to win them all.

Right. Uh, no, I, I think, uh, there is one, one program that really stands out that I'm super proud of our teams on.

And a lot of that has to do with, you know, coming together with different Cloudflare functions and the innovation that we've got, um, and just collaboration.

And that's what I, we call it project spotter internally.

That's going to mean absolutely nothing to the viewers here, but it's really this effort where, um, we are trying to uncover with customers, which products we genuinely think they might find value out of and how much.

And, and so when we talk about customer marketing, I'm not pushing things on customers that we don't validly believe will either make their website more secure, or we'll definitely make their sites faster because we have a lot of that intelligence for our customers.

And it allows us to, to come to the table with them, um, in a much more consultative approach, arming our account teams to be able to deliver that value to them.

And it all starts with a good amount of uncovering, you know, our internal data and being able to surface those insights to customers.

Um, and I I've loved that one. It's worked really, really well for us just because is this transfer of value between us and, and our customers in a really genuine way.

Um, but that doesn't, that's not how they all go. Um, you asked, you asked which ones don't work well.

Uh, you and I both live in a world of ABM. And I think we, you know, we had seen some positive work coming out of your team and across the industry on, on heavy personalization with account-based marketing.

Um, and so we did some pilot testing where we were like, let's use this personalization and, and with some very specific customers, try and get their attention during, you know, COVID.

Um, and one customer saw this and was like, why are you using our name as, as a reference in marketing?

You're like, we're not a reference customer.

Why would you do that? We were like, oh, we're not. No, no, no. Like no one else sees this.

This is just us trying to tell you guys specifically how we can help you.

Um, and we, we probably should have foreseen that that might be a reaction that we'd get.

I was hoping you'd bring that one up. Cause I was, that was one of my favorite because it was benign, right?

I mean, all we were doing was, you know, targeted advertising where we were using the end prospects, um, company name in the ad to them, right.

It wasn't a general and, uh, their, their reaction was priceless.

I mean, and I'm sensitive to it. Like I, you know, we, we tweaked the message and we went back out with something a little bit different and it worked.

So, um, yeah, it is, it is funny when benign things go terribly wrong.

I don't think I've shared this on this show before, but, uh, one of, one of my favorite goofs ups that my team did, uh, it was with Seagate and, um, we were redesigning the entire website, but I mean, complete overhaul.

And by the way, this is like at the time they're 13, $14 billion company, we were active in like 45 countries.

So a redesign was significant. Like it was a big deal. And so, uh, we had QA'd it and, and like, we spent a lot of time developing this thing and we launched it.

And about an hour later, and I, the, the, and it felt good. Like everything looked good.

The uptime was good. The response time was good. And about an hour later, one of the customer support reps came over and he said, man, we've got a problem.

I was like, well, what's the problem? He said, well, all these people are calling and they're upset because we, we sent them to a dating, uh, you know, web, not website, but a dating phone number.

I was like, what are you talking about?

And so we pulled up the website and you know how you have the 800 number on your website.

Well, uh, in, in the, in the transcoding of the old website to the new website, instead of having one eight, eight, eight, we put one 800 and it turned out to be a dating website or a dating service as opposed to our customer support.

So anyway, considering we did them a favor, I'm not sure, but you know, it is what it is.

So yeah, I it's, it's, it's fun. I had a guy that I worked for years ago, uh, and, um, he did a presentation for this marketing event and he said, you know what, all I'm going to do is show you all the mistakes I made.

So you don't make the same, same ones.

It was, it was a great day. Yeah. Learning from your mistakes is equally as important, if not more important than, you know, experimenting successfully.

There's a lot more to be gleaned when you, when you fail, I think.

A hundred percent. Now, you know, um, yeah, we've talked about this.

I've got, I've got kids that are in college right now and they're going to be coming out, you know, post COVID.

Um, but you know, I, I keep thinking about all these people who are starting their career right now, who are, you know, who literally got out, got out of college in 2020 or, you know, getting out of college here in 2021 in a few months, um, you know, and, and trying to start a career in marketing.

Right. I mean, it's a, it's an interesting time to be in that field. What advice do you have for, for, you know, young adults getting out of college, trying to find a job right now in marketing?

Yeah, I, I definitely, uh, I sympathize for them.

This is not a, an easy time to be coming into a job market. That's for sure.

Um, but with marketing in particular, I think one of the things that early, early folks in their career, I think are spending a lot of time getting to learn a lot of the functional skills for their job.

And that's, that's very critical.

I don't mean to underplay that, you know, learning demand generation or, you know, event marketing, that kind of stuff.

Um, but the one piece of advice that I think really helps accelerate young people in their career is thinking a little bit more about, um, getting to know your customer and investing and understanding your product.

Uh, cause a lot of, a lot of what needs to flow from the campaigns that you work on ways to elevate and kind of forward your thinking is to remember those components in addition to the day-to-day aspects of your job.

Um, it's, it's not always as easy when you're earlier in your career that you may not have as much exposure to, to talking with your customers, but, um, it'll give you a ton of insights when you make the extra effort to do that.

So yeah, that would be my advice.

Yeah. You know, I, I agree with you. I, uh, I, I think, um, you know, we've talked about this when, with interviewing people there's, there's for me personally, there's, there's always three things that I look for.

One is just, you know, kind of, uh, generally person's knowledge of a field or at least their, um, ability to think around a corner, right?

Cause in our jobs, every single day, the factors change what, what we think the marketing conditions are, but we think the, you know, the competitive conditions are, it's going to change every single day.

I mean, it seems like at least once a week, I hear about a competitor from the sales people and it's a different one than the previous week.

So that means that different people are making moves against us.

And so one is, is, you know, just, you know, being able to be adapted to that.

The second one is, you know, having a passion for what they do.

Right. And I think that that carries across any, any job.

Like if you, if you really enjoy and care about what you do, it totally comes through in the job.

And then the last one is being a lifelong learner, like, you know, to, to do what you do or, you know, to do what I do, you have to constantly be learning, um, you know, what, what you knew three years ago, isn't relevant anymore.

You know, the social networks that you knew, you know, five years ago are probably not the same ones today.

You know, the tactics that you tried in the past, you know, they're, they're going to get you to this year's goal, but not next year's goal.

And so, you know, being, being able to kind of adapt and learn there, any, any, any other things you think that, you know, people should focus on soft skills and otherwise.

And. Oh, yeah. I mean, one of the things that you just said there really triggered it in my mind.

When I, I talked to my team and in fast growing environments, particularly, you know, companies that are scaling like cloud player.

One of the things that I always say is, you know, if you're doing the same thing that you were doing a year ago or two years ago, you're inherently doing it wrong.

The company has substantially grown in size. The market has changed completely underneath our feet.

So you got to challenge that status quo.

Otherwise you're not, you're not pushing yourself to meet the demands of, of the company, the market, your customers as it exists today.

So I love that advice a lot.

So yeah, it's, it's definitely, it's an unenviable position to be coming out into the market right now.

I wish I had better advice for young folks. It's, it's a, it's a tough time for them, but you know, you know, your point, your point is well said though.

Cause I, if I think about, you know, not that I'm the role model for like what everybody needs to build a career around, but you know, I started out as a designer, then I became a web developer.

Then, you know, I started leading a campaign team.

Then I moved over into e-commerce, then I moved into you know, digital marketing and then into marketing operations and like, you know, then sales operations.

And like, it's, you kind of adapt and grow with the role. Yeah, absolutely.

And you picked up all those skills along the way. That's right. Well, thank you, Becky.

It's been great having you on the show and let's keep in touch.