Outgrow Blog

Marketer of the Month Podcast – Killing the Desk Phone and Other Marketing Gambits with Morgan Norman
16/07/2021 Soumodip Roy
40 min read
Hey there! Welcome to the Marketer Of The Month blog!
Morgan Norman Podcast

We recently interviewed Morgan Norman for our monthly podcast – ‘Marketer of the Month’! We had some amazing insightful conversations with Morgan and here’s what we discussed about – 

1. What sets Dialpad apart from other business communication platforms

2. Common marketing trends amongst big companies

3. Morgan’s take on influencer marketing and personal brands

4. How branding for SaaS differs from branding for non-saas products

5. Morgan’s greatest digital marketing success story

6. Key factors one should focus on while launching a product in a completely new region

About our host:

Dr. Saksham Sharda is the Chief Information Officer at Outgrow.co He specializes in data collection, analysis, filtering, and transfer by the means of widgets and applets. Interactive, cultural, and trending widgets designed by him have been featured on TrendHunter, Alibaba, ProductHunt, New York Marketing Association, FactoryBerlin, Digimarcon Silicon Valley, and at The European Affiliate Summit.

About our guest:

Morgan Norman is the ex-Global Content Marketer at Ring Central, ex-SVP of Marketing & Chief Creative Officer at Zuoro and Netsuite, and ex-Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at Copper. He is currently the Chief Marketing Officer at Dialpad, an AI-driven, cloud-native business communications platform.

The Podcast –  Killing the Desk Phone and Other Marketing Gambits with the CMO of Dialpad, Morgan Norman

The Intro!

Intro

Saksham Sharda: Hi, everyone. Welcome to Outgrows Marketer of the Month. I’m your host, Dr. Saksham Sharda, I’m the creative director at outgrow.co. And for this month, we are going to interview Morgan Norman, who is the CMO of Dialpad. Thanks for joining us Morgan. 

Morgan Norman: Thanks for having me. I’m looking forward to this! 

The Rapid Fire!

rapid fire

Saksham Sharda: So we’re going to start with a rapid fire round just to break the ice.

You get three passes in case you don’t want to answer a question, you can just say pass, but try to keep your answers to one word or one sentence only. 

Saksham Sharda: So the first one, how long does it take you to get ready in the mornings? 

Morgan Norman: 20 minutes! 

Saksham Sharda: All right! The most embarrassing moment of your life?

Morgan Norman: So moments in high school… being bullied. 

Saksham Sharda: How many hours of sleep can you survive on? 

Morgan Norman: Four and a half. 

Saksham Sharda: Fill in the blank – An upcoming marketing trend is ___________. 

Morgan Norman: Owning your category. 

Saksham Sharda: The city in which the best kiss of your life happened?

 Morgan Norman: San Francisco. 

Saksham Sharda: Pick one – Mark Zuckerberg or Jack Dorsey? 

Morgan Norman: Jack Dorsey, all day!

Saksham Sharda: The first movie that comes to your mind when I say the word ‘ambition’. 

Morgan Norman: The Right Stuff. 

Saksham Sharda: When did you last cry and why?

Morgan Norman: Lost a pet and it was about a year or so ago. 

Saksham Sharda: The biggest mistake of your career?

Morgan Norman: I would pass. I think it’s ongoing.

Saksham Sharda: How do you relax?

Morgan Norman:  Painting! 

Saksham Sharda: How many cups of coffee do you drink per day? 

Morgan Norman: Uh, most likely two and a half. 

Saksham Sharda: A habit of yours that you hate? 

Morgan Norman: Impatience. 

Saksham Sharda: The most valuable skill you’ve learned in life? 

Morgan Norman: You have to rely on others. 

Saksham Sharda: Your favorite Netflix show? 

Morgan Norman: Right now it’s Kim’s Convenience. 

Saksham Sharda: Okay, alright! So that was the end of the rapid fire round. And you scored 9 on 10 because of one pass and you win a car! 

Just kidding! You don’t! 

Okay. So now onto the bigger questions.

The Big Questions!

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Saksham Sharda: Could you tell us one unique thing that sets Dialpad apart from other business communication platforms? 

Morgan Norman: Well, I think it’s always tough for one thing, but Dialpad is a place where work comes together.

So we do business communications and we enable it for people to communicate their way. They’re empowered through chat, through message, through call, through video meetings and conferences. And I think what makes it unique is that we’re solely focused on the end users first. We really believe in delight and design at every moment.

And that’s really the ethos of the company from the beginning. 

Saksham Sharda: So, before we started the interview, you said you had a background in art and we can see some paintings in the background. So what led you eventually towards the communication platform? 

Morgan Norman: Yeah, so, I was raised by two artists. My mom was a painter. My dad was a musician.

I ended up becoming a writer and a painter. What I love about communications is, I really believe it’s the foundation for every relationship. I believe it’s really what allows humanity to move forward. And we’re just beginning in a new evolution of communications. I think that if people can figure out the ways and mediums to communicate for them, that they’ll be able to create amazing things.

And I think life is about creation. There’s very few software products from my perspective that interest me in that way. So that’s why I’ve had a passion for this space. And I think that it helps build a borderless world. It helps create new things in the world. Uh, it brings new harmony, and really our future depends on it from humanity’s perspective.

Saksham Sharda: And what do you think is the boundary? If I were to like kind of merge the boundary, how would you merge the boundary between art and marketing?

Morgan Norman: Wow! I haven’t had anyone ask me that before! What I’ve learned about marketing is, marketing is always a mystery. And I think that you’re always learning from it. What I’ve learned is that everyone creates and everyone needs to create, and marketers are just pushing that on a daily basis. What I would say about the art aspect is that the best marketing I find is when you get into a state of presence or a state of flow. I think programmers talk about this as well, but that flow is where ideas just show up.

It’s almost like you don’t create,  almost like if you’re observant and if you’re with a group of people collaborating, the idea will just show up and the solution will show up like a collective. It is not like you’re forcing it. It’s the forced marketing that I feel doesn’t last as long. But the ones where you are really present, you’re in a calm state, you’re observing, you’re enjoying each other’s time, you’re not trying to basically get to a specific outcome like this must create revenue, you’ll create amazing ideas! 

And that’s kind of the gift. I think that, you know when you come from being an artist and everyone creates, so everyone knows this. But I think applying it into the workplace is something a little bit rare because we’re always thinking about outcomes, we’re always in the future.

So if we could pull it back to the present, I really believe you’ll build lasting work and the most meaningful work, and you’ll apply that into your career and it will take you exactly where you need to go. So I see that, marketing is just a… it’s just a corporate artist. It’s  one of the ways I’ve looked at my career. And  it’s actually softened it a little bit for me to be a little bit less harsh on myself about, you know, what you’re trying to do. Are you a sellout? You know, I think a lot of people think about that when they go into corporate life. But just be a corporate artist, be yourself, be in the present and amazing things will show up for you.

Saksham Sharda: For sure. I think the market itself is beautiful. I mean, like when we, when we look at artists, you know, I don’t think that I’m quite sure artists exist, you know, outside of the market. And like, you know, there’s the arts for art’s sake movement, but that’s there, but that’s just a movement, but that’s also a marketing, self-marketing by the artist when they say art for art’s sake.

Right. So I think it’s so pervasive in every aspect of a society to just recognize that, okay. It’s a game and it’s fun to play. And I think that’s also what differentiates it from sales. Like you said, that, you know, sales is more result oriented, whereas marketing is more thought oriented, more long-term solution oriented.

So I liked your philosophy there!

Morgan Norman: It’s a great approach. I really do agree. And I think it that’s what will build magnificent teams when you have that approach as well. Yeah. 

Saksham Sharda: So speaking of that, like you have remained the CMO and held some key marketing roles at multiple organizations in the past. So what part of your role has been constant across all these organizations?

Morgan Norman: There’s a consistency on a couple levels. It’s a great question. And because the craft of marketing is evolving and because of what we’ve all been through in this last year, it’s evolving heavily to a digital world, really online. And that makes it a little bit more challenging.

The first thing is obvious. The hard part we deal with with marketers is marketing can sometimes become 80% performance and data and 20% craft. And that’s a trend that you’re, you’re really forced to look at data to try to get that predictability. So you’ve got to marry those two. That’s really common.

Another factor that, you know, Is really owning a category. Everyone is really trying to be a breakout in their category. This also goes into, you know, what, how do they actually message their specific purpose and how are they bringing meaning into the world and, and owning a category, it’s not something you can fake.

So this is a really common trend. There’s a lot of jealousy, you know, executives will say, I want my company to be this or that, but you have to be super authentic. To basically own a category. That’s another specific trend. The other piece is that I would say moving more and faster into, you know, these consumers to the enterprise models.

It’s exploded into levels that we always knew it was here, but now it’s at levels. None of us could have ever comprehended that. You know, it’s, it’s really a relentless focus on the end users. The end users can continue to revolt, but really building this delightful experience from the first touch point on.

And that’s not how most B2B companies were designed. They were designed in a very different way. So those are common trends you’re seeing some of the biggest companies pivot to,  in my experience right now.

Saksham Sharda: And so you would actually kind of discourage a company from being the, you know, everything like, it has to stick to a particular category. So you would emphasize that they need to stop trying to be everything or like get their toes in all the waters?

Morgan Norman: Yeah, it’s a tough debate, because the FOMO gets a solve, right! And you know, I think it’s just like everyone wants to do more things, right? So it’s like the first time you fly in a plane, it’s amazing.

But if you get on a plane, you know, a hundred times, a thousand times, you’re like, Hey, when can I get off it? It’s not that exciting! So, constantly we’re pushed into these areas of wanting to do things we might not necessarily want to do because of boredom. So you’re right. You have to really focus or you have to accept that you’re not going to be great in all these areas, but you’re going to do many things.

You’re kind of the one-stop shop. And there’s a lot of companies that are very successful doing that. 

Saksham Sharda: And if you were to relate this to, you know, branding and rebranding for organizations, what’s your take on like, you know, influencers and personal brands becoming the first point of contact, you know, for these businesses.

Morgan Norman: Yeah, I think it’s super exciting. I feel that influencers are very prevalent in the B2C space and, and moving further into the B2B space, pretty quickly. it’s a big opportunity for brands to be associated with influencers. And I don’t just mean the mega stars. Like, you know, the, A list actors.

I mean, really influencers are everything from people who do content, bloggers, writers, you know, people who actually have a following and have a stance. I do believe that’s going to be an area where there’s going to be a strong opportunity for all brands to, have them carry their story and carry their meaning.

If you don’t take an influencer approach, it really needs to come from your customers and your users. So being customer first, and that’s very difficult, it’s very difficult when you’re dealing with. It’s pretty easy when you’re dealing with a couple thousand customers, when you’re dealing with millions of millions of users and trying to contain that and keep it all positive.

It’s very different. I do believe also influencers can give you a lot of feedback where from a brand perspective, you never know how a brand is going to be interpreted. And there’s no wrong idea. It’s like if some people will like it, some people hate it. Influencers can help you balance that, they might have a strong perspective and an operational discipline where you need to include that perspective in some of your brand work

if you’re going after a specific customer. Another area is how to verticalize around influencers, which is incredibly powerful. That’s everything from specific industries, but also segments. There’s people in SMB influencers or helping people with soul  entrepreneurs build their businesses. And then there’s the big enterprise influencers that get into analysts and so forth.

So I think it’s a great strategy. I don’t believe anyone’s doing it a hundred percent well yet, we’re learning together. A lot of the platforms out there are helping us learn more about it. 

Saksham Sharda: So do you think this in some way ties into what I asked in the rapid fire round, what is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in life, or one of these questions, which was, you said delegating stuff that you can’t do everything yourself.

So if, as a company you are getting influencers to do what you could have done yourself, but it would have taken so much energy. So how do you think it relates to that?

Morgan Norman: It’s, you know,  my lesson was, when I was, you know, more youthful in my career is that you feel a small group of people can accomplish so many things and you just letting go of that and realizing you really have to rely on everyone and even people outside your company to succeed.

So that’s where customers come in and users, and I think you’re a hundred percent, right. Is thinking that you can’t rely on the larger communities and the resources available. It’s just a missed opportunity. It is kind of foolish and more ego driven than anything. So I think it aligns perfectly to that.

That’s always a learning experience because when you start to rely on people like that, you start to get up, you start to hear things you don’t want to hear. And that’s the toughest part, is you start to get critiques and you know, the mind doesn’t like critiques and marketers. You’re like, you’re always getting critiqued every day.

So as you, as you branch out, it’s you have to, you, you have to kind of separate the personal from the objective with a lot of the influencers. You can’t take anything as religion, but you have to look for patterns. And if you see the pattern, you go, well, you know, my thoughts really don’t matter.

It’s a pattern now people are saying this. So I think it’s a huge opportunity. It’s also a lot, it’s a lot more fun to be honest, you know, marketing in a small group is not as fun as interacting with a lot of people that have some strong opinions. It’s always going to help you. 

Saksham Sharda: And what do you think the dangers, the, this poses, for instance, like, you know, if you’re kind of expanding your official relation with so many people, then, you know, if they say something wrong and it reflects back on the company and then you might get canceled or do you believe that all publicity is good publicity?

So there really isn’t anything the influencer can do that is actually going to get to you?

Really there’s bad publicity. There’s crisis managers that we all get into. I think a mistake even I’ve seen some folks on my team make, is thinking that influencers are always on your side. And just like a journalist, influencers are typically very authentic to themselves.

They have their own brand they’re going to maintain. And that’s what’s made them so successful, right. Is that people actually know they can rely on, that they’ll take a middle road or a centrist road if you will. I do feel that if you’re getting five stars from everyone, it’s not really real, you know, people don’t believe that if everything’s five star reviews. You need to get some criticism and that’s what’s going to help the company be better.

I think there’s criticism. And then there’s kind of just emotional nonsense and that’s where I cut it out. If it’s dispassionate and it’s like, hey, this is an area you need to improve. We dropped the ball, you know, you’ve got to own it. If you make those mistakes as a company, that’s very hard to do. But if it’s something where it’s just like, someone’s rant or ego, I just, you know, I just dismiss that stuff and you’re always gonna get that someone, everyone has a bad day and wants to pass it on.

So just separate those, if you can. That’s the small group. Yeah. 

Morgan Norman: Yeah. Welcome to the internet! 

Saksham Sharda: I was going to say, where do you go around looking for this? Where do you go around looking for these influences?

Morgan Norman: Well, our industry is, you know, B2B has always been defined by a certain set of influencers that make quite a living in it. You know, there’s basically the larger analyst and then there’s a bunch of people who write for industry trades or rags or digital properties, and they are very influential.

They’re always on top of the news. They’re getting exposed to things before a lot of the media is, and they’re giving feedback into companies. So that’s one area, but then there’s other unique areas that the general influencers that I see that are pretty exciting are actually on speaker circuits. And they’re actually doing a lot of panels.

They might have come out with something, whether it’s a certain lightweight paper or they’re working on a book or they’re working on actually.. like a podcast series. Like you have our video series. Those are folks you want to keep your eye on. Because generally once they hit that speaker circuit, it keeps picking up, you know, once they keep, they get more and more talent, they’re invited to more and more events.

So those are ones I look at and I try to follow their talk tracks. 

And there are any specific themes we can fit into. I also just reach out to people personally. I’m always in a learning mode, so I reach out to people constantly. I listened to a talk the other day, from some heavyweight CMOs.

And I just reached out to them directly. I said, Hey, I’m really looking forward to this talk. I’d love to pick your brain, you know, for this specific area. And what was great about it is, I don’t know them, they’ve run massive public companies and they both reached back out and said, yeah, let’s set up some time if you need 20 minutes.

So I’m just really humble that way. And because you realize people know so much more than I do, and that’s been really beneficial for me.

Saksham Sharda: Hmm. What I constantly get, even the way from which you answered the rapid fire round is that there’s a lot of, there seems to be a lot of authenticity about you, and that seems to be rising as a marketing trend itself.

Cause I have a lot of people who come to the interviews and I asked them, so what do you think is an upcoming marketing trend? And they’re like, authenticity! So, but I get that from you without you having to actually say it, that it’s a trend or it’s marketing, but it’s just there in your case. So, admirable!

Morgan Norman: Yeah. I wasn’t always that way. No and I think it’s a really good point. I just, you know, take a transition here. You know, I fell into tech, and I thought initially you had to kind of wear a certain uniform and you had to play a certain role. And I wasn’t actually myself. I didn’t expose a lot about myself, how I grew up.

I kind of kept it hidden, you know, from a lot of people. And then what I learned is actually someone sat me down about it. Someone who worked for me and they still work with. And they said the best part about you is that the things I know about you now, and it would be interesting if you exposed it to other people and that shifted my career.

He’s a good friend of mine. And it really changed not only how I interacted in the corporate place, but then it got everything kind of flourished from there. So I would encourage that with everyone is that, you know, we all put on a little bit of a uniform at work, and I think that just be yourself and the world wants you to be yourself.

And as a marketer, it’s really required. That’s your gift. Your gift is like your ideas and it is who you are. But if you’re holding back, which I did for many years,  you’re not gonna, get to that point and letting go of that was a really good opportunity for me. Yeah!

Saksham Sharda:  And when it comes to the conferences you were talking about, where you are tracking these speakers, and you’re trying to figure out how your theme fits into their theme. And if you can market in that way, what are these, can you tell us some of these conference names. 

Morgan Norman: Well, now it’s changed. So a lot of the names and no, one’s really sure how it’s going to boot back up.

But what I can tell you, I’ll give you my tactics though.  I always study top B2B conferences and everyone knows those ones from the Dream Forces. And then there’s smaller ones like HubSpot’s inbound. You know that, that those are just, just examples. I’m not saying do those. And then there’s kind of industry conferences, like, you know, Mobile World Congress and so forth.

The first piece I look at is I look at the agendas and I kind of review what’s a common pattern. And generally those patterns are about two years in advance. And if you can see a couple patterns, what they’re talking about, you know, even going back to Dreamforce, you know, six, seven years ago, they’re talking about stuff we’re seeing now.

Right. You know, like sustainability goals and stuff like that. So, if you can use that as an advantage, like all this stuff is out there, I’m a big believer of borrow everything you can and make it your own and use that as a research foundation. So that’s what I would encourage is like, if you see shows that are of interest.

Go through their agenda, see who’s speaking about it and then go actually to their blogs and see what they are writing about. And you’ll find some really interesting trends that will help you figure out where you need to be in the next couple of years as a marketer, how you want to position the company you’re at or how you want to position yourself.

Saksham Sharda: I keep like sidetracking, but when you said borrow everything, you can and make it your own in a new way. That’s exactly what artists do. So you do have it in you!

Brilliant. So, okay! The other question I wanted to ask you was when you use this phrase that, oh, you have to suit up and present a personality at the office. Well, that hasn’t happened. Well, you’re speaking for the phrase and logically, but in reality, that hasn’t happened. So what kind of boom have you seen when it comes to Dialpad?

Cause you know,  if communications have moved online, you must have seen a pandemic boom in your company! 

Morgan Norman: So the industry, like a lot of industries is, the industry has a long history of distrust. And if you think about just like internet service providers, that was an area of like that.

If you think about even your home phones, everyone had home phones and they’re like, why am I even paying for this! Business communications also had a similar aspect where people would buy thousands of plastic phones on desks and no one used them. So there was a sense of mistrust in this, in this industry.

What was greatest Dialpad was always built without that to say, you know, we had a concept of kill the desk phone. We were really early on work from anywhere. It’s been absolutely explosive. And that’s great. That comes with a lot of joy and to be part of it, it’s really amazing. It’s also very stressful for a lot employees too, because you’re doing more than you’ve ever imagined.

You’re servicing people on, you know, 70 different countries, sometimes a hundred different countries all at once. And so you deal with a little bit of growth where it’s exciting, but you’ve got to kind of manage and pick your priorities. But the main thing that I would say that’s exciting about Dialpad is the growth.

We do believe we’re righting the wrongs of this industry. You know, when you build a product, the team has original DNA from Google voice, right? So they built the Google voice platform. They were the first to actually teach Google about this. And so that same DNA, those Google products focused on simplicity focused on not trying to build 10,000 features like some companies, you know, really master that 20 to 50 features people will use.

So I feel it’s an exciting time and it’s an exciting time also to see that users are demanding new modes of communication. And so our platform allows us to build that. We have some announcements coming out that will show different ways of people can communicate that were demanded by users. It was some ideas we didn’t even think about.

So that’s kind of cool. So it’s a great time. And every company is kind of trying to figure out how they’re solving this in this hybrid work world. Yeah. 

Saksham Sharda: And what is your strategy for retaining this post pandemic? Cause I guess I expect there would be a kind of backlash against how much screen time we have had to spend for a whole year.

So I think there would be a push towards, let’s go out! And how do you, how do you plan to market yourself in that age? 

Morgan Norman: I love that you pushed on that. So, I don’t want to say that we have the perfect antidote to that. One of the things we’re realizing is that people need a blend of informal and formal communication.

When I say formal, formal is everything from a phone call, a scheduled meeting,  and that can be a little bit tiresome. So what we’re focusing on is actually.. we have new things where we alert people, you know, when meetings should stop and then they can set a timer to give themselves a little bit of a break.

We have lighter weight modes where you don’t always have to engage the same way on video. We have gestures where, you know, people can do interactions and chat without doing it fully, having to speak all the time. Another thing that’s helping us as we’re we have a platform that’s powered by AI. So you can be, you can take a meeting and be on a run and it’s taking notes the whole time, it’s taking a transcript, it’ll actually log activities.

You can be in your car. So we’re trying to encourage this new way of behavior. Now, will the world go fully back into offices? I think it’s going to take some time and it will always be a blend from now on. But another area, which is really important, is how do we help someone remote? Feel that they’re having a similar experience for someone in the office and to do that, there’s a lot of casual conversations that happen after meetings and we’re actually working on some stuff to solve that.

So how do they engage right after this call and say, Hey, I just wanted to chat real quick with you. How do I do a drop in almost like office hours? So there’s some new things that will come out that will help us, but it will be a learning journey. I do believe we’ve got the best platform for it. But we do want to lighten the mood for everyone so they can reduce their stress and they can kind of focus on what they need to do. 

Saksham Sharda: Fair. Let me just diverge a little to another topic, which is, how do you think branding for SAS differs from other non SAS products? Like how would you approach that? 

Morgan Norman: Wow. Okay. That’s a real tough one! I really… so I watch brands and consumer brands just do amazing things, you know, in terms of how they push the envelope on commercials and radio and  their digital properties and digital ads.

I think SAS companies are moving more towards this cutting edge. We have to, because even with us, we’re dealing with millions and millions of users now. And so I don’t know. I think SAS is traditionally boring. Let’s just be direct about that. It’s traditionally designed to function as, let me check all the things you want and we have all of that, but what’s happening is SAS is evolving through content.

Which is, you know, a lot of the stuff you’re doing through, you know, talks, whether it’s blogs, they’re pushing the envelope through events. So, the surface might be a little bit boring, but behind the scenes, the rappers, you know, what’s going on is starting to push a pretty far, and you’ll see more of that.

And then I think more of it will come upfront. The other thing that SAS is realizing is users are in more control now. And so that will allow, so users are going there and saying like, ah, do I want to use this? Or am I forced to use it. So, I think you’ll see more SAS campaigns that will become, that will be aligned more to what users want.

But traditionally consumer brands, I mean, there’s so many exciting consumer brands and consumer ads that, you know, SAS companies just can’t replicate. But, I do believe there is some, I think some of the marketing there is much stronger is what I would say, than what we see in B2B SAS, to be direct with you and because they just pushed the envelope.

Saksham Sharda: So what would be your greatest digital marketing success story so far? 

Morgan Norman: So from a campaign perspective or just a management perspective?

Saksham Sharda: You can interpret that as you like!

Morgan Norman: Okay, I’ll give, I’ll just talk career wise later, I’m more, it’s hard to look at marketing successes for me, I’m more, it’s, I’m more of a critic of myself, but the things I’ve been part of, some amazing teams!

There’s things we’ve been labeled, you know, the greatest sales deck ever created. We did at Zuora and the subscription economy. I don’t believe it’s the greatest sales deck ever created, but that’s a different story. I do think we had amazing success at Dialpad with a kill the desk phone and work from anywhere really early.

This was like 2015. You know what I would say about this kill the desk phone campaign; We had a CEO from a top or CMO from a top 20 fortune 500 company call me and said, how did you do this? What made you do this campaign? And the second factor is it made everyone in the industry pull desk phones off their website, the main pages.

So when you look at a campaign, what I would say is, and is that when it causes an industry to react, it’s a success. When it shifts in industry, that’s what I would say is meaningful. So those are, you know, some minor things in category creation. The piece that I would say is the biggest success for me, it’s more meaningful is watching some folks that’s worked for me that have surpassed me in certain areas.

I think that’s super exciting. I watched a gentleman, he was the head of marketing at Brand Folder and he just did an acquisition there. That was really exciting, but also you see people inside where they become such great operators in their discipline. They’re surpassing your skillset and that’s the best, you know, you can do all the campaigns in the world, but watching people really hone their craft and master their craft faster.

That’s the greatest thing! That’s lasting!  You know, from a marketing leaders perspective. 

Saksham Sharda: So you don’t have a Pygmalion complex, so you are happy that your creation is….that’s that’s brilliant! So it keeps tying back to how you answered the rapid fire question where you said that the ability to delegate and to you know, set up a system and the people in that system sometimes surpass you and the system doesn’t need you anymore. I think I had an interview once with this, marketer who said he goes to different companies.

He joins there as the SEO expert and then he makes his job redundant. His only goal is to make his own job redundant by just training everyone. And so you can look for another company and satisfy his creation and training urges. 

Yeah. Brilliant. 

Morgan Norman: So I think that’s, I think that’s true. Yeah. 

Saksham Sharda: No, I think it’s, uh, it’s the same with me as well. I think what you said about watching people grow is definitely very rewarding. And as you said, it’s actually equally rewarding as actually doing a marketing campaign because here you have a, I don’t know, psychologically kind of like made something really great possible. Yeah. 

Morgan Norman: Yeah, I think so. I think so. 

Saksham Sharda: What are some key factors one should focus on while launching a product in a completely new region? 

Morgan Norman: Well, it’s wow! Regions are very tough to launch and I think that, you know, working in the states, so luckily I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of things overseas.

And it’s just been such a rewarding experience. I do feel companies here are little Silicon valley focused. You know, just so the perspective is a little bit limited at times. The key thing in the region to really get off the ground from my experiences is that what’s been successful is you’ve got to have a digital footprint first.

And so start early on SEO, start early on organic. You can translate a lot of stuff over to whatever region you want to do, whether that’s, you know, Western Europe, Southern Europe, you want to go after Australia, New Zealand or APAC. So, get that started way early before you even gonna launch. So the website should have a presence, really focus on inbound, organic.

The other thing that I’ve found, it’s really hard to get press in a region where you’re not familiar. So, one of the easiest ways is to basically use your own company data. Tell a story about why the world’s shifting your way and have a launch event. That’s another way of doing it. A key factor is if you’re going to launch you can’t launch and disappear.

And that’s the hard part. You really should design what that launch calendar is going to be, and just be relentless for the first couple of years. But that’s from a content perspective, how you show up an event sponsorship perspective, how you work with key press and try to get some exclusives, but you also need a spokesperson there.

A lot of times in these regions, you know, if you’re launching, they’re not going to want to hear from someone in the states, they want to know, do you have a local regional manager, you know, or GM of that country that can actually answer the questions, why it’s such a great opportunity. What customers do you have?

Another tactic is on the partner side is, is what a partner help you launch and syndicate the story. And then there’s just getting into, you know, getting your digital campaigns and testing, but I’m a big believer in launch events. You know, they’re quite exciting to do, it professionalizes the company, big believer in, you know, come with some data as some sort of content that they can talk about.

You know, they have to pitch these stories to their editors. And if it’s not an interesting story, they’re not going to. And the other factor is you gotta have controversy. If you don’t have a controversy in your story, no one can write about it. So you have to have, you have to pick a fight on why you’re interesting versus they’ve got so many things to write about.

So you have to be fair to the journalist and say, is this something they want to write about? Is this going to keep them going and do they want to follow the company and get to know the journalists early, sit down with them. A lot of them I’ve met, you know, out here I’ve met, you know, years before they’ve written about it.

I’ve, you know, met him for coffee, you know, and said, tell me what you think. You know, like wall street, journal journalists are like that. And then eventually one day, if they have the right story, they’ll mention you. 

Saksham Sharda: That’s what I said. Give us an example of a controversial campaign that you’ve done that comes to your mind now.

Morgan Norman: Well, I think, yeah, so I think that the kill the desk phone was probably the most controversial, cause people said, how dare you? There were some people who were like, how could you put ‘kill’ on a, on a billboard? You know? Like it seems like something, you know, evangelical. So that was really… But it was also picking a fight.

I mean, it was very direct saying like, what, this is wrong, it’s wrong from a plastic waste perspective, it’s wrong from your selling people and you’re duping people this way. So that’s, that’s one area of righting the wrongs that, you know, I think is important. That’s probably the most prevalent one. Yeah. 

Saksham Sharda: Well, but I guess the phones create a lot of plastic waste instead of vice versa. I think you’re picking a fight with Goliath that cause industries..

Morgan Norman: You, but you can, and, and, you know, small, if, if you can, if you can really pick the right argument that you can stand by. You know where we say, it’s not that we don’t sell desk phones, but we encourage, you know, let people work from their laptop.

Let people move around the way they need to, whether it’s a work, whether it’s home, whether it’s a cafe, you know, are you going to carry around a desk phone? So it’s not like phones aren’t necessary for some industries. They are. They’re critical for some, but in general though, it doesn’t mean you need to buy them for every person in your office.

So I think if you think about there’s a reason and an ethos, you know, that someone’s started a company or someone’s asked you to join as a marketer, dig into that DNA, where did that idea come from? You know, what is it, what do they really believe at the core? And what you’ll find is if you dig into the founders really hard, you’ll find that there’s something that really irks them.

Then keep building on that pattern and keep socializing, what do you think about this? And then your interviews. Eventually you’ll find the thread. It’s not like we created that. We just saw it in a pattern. Everyone mentioned it. Then you just dress the campaign on top of it. 

Saksham Sharda: So that comes to you!

It comes to you, instead of like, yeah, it was just meant to be a part of a great pattern. You were meant to execute that campaign. I was going to say, so how did you go about it in that campaign? Cause I’m quite interested about it now. So like, what were the key steps to gain attention? Like, what was your first thing? Like you got your thought of this great idea, but then how do you execute it?

Morgan Norman: So, generally what I find is the ideas are there. And this is really a hard thing to admit as a marketer, the base foundation is there. So the first thing that I do is I do a set of brand question interviews, and I actually write a blog about it.

That is the same structure I still use for every company. So the first thing in my cap might want to talk to you. But the first thing is I do these sets of interviews and then I basically figure out what was the punchiest statement. And then what I’m doing in this next set of interviews, I’m going to bait them.

And so an example, they would say like, oh, we can do this without desk phones. That’s what happened. And you know, and then I would say, well, how many people were, are not using or how many people are using, no desk phones or don’t have desk phones. They’d be like 87 percent. And that’s it. Okay.

There it is. Okay. So I’ve got the data and I’ve got an opinion. And then, so the next time. I’ll go into it and say, well, what’s the impact of, of someone not having that? What’s the impact to the user? What is the joy, you know, what’s the value to the user? The value to the company? and I’ll keep baiting it and I’ll see if it’s a pattern.

And then ultimately after about all these interview cycles. Okay. Okay. Here it is. Then from an addressing perspective, you let people get really out. So you don’t want to control people’s ideas saying, what do you think about this is this one of the pillars.

So you’ve got to design it from a blank brand pillar. And out of that became, you know, work from, you know, anywhere we talked about, we had like connect everyone work anywhere. So all of that, and we had a bunch of bad creative ideas. And then one day in a room, I remember I can actually still remember it.

The idea said, would we ever say something? This. And we debated this for months. And because when the one thing I would say that you could gauge yourself in is that if the campaign doesn’t make you uncomfortable to make you say, I’m not sure I want to do it. It’s not, it doesn’t have enough conflict. It has to make you go, is this too far?

You know, if you look at like, even Steve jobs, famous commercials – Think Different, you know, they weren’t gonna run that ad. They basically said it’s too much. And they eventually ran it. Right. That’s you have to always think about, you know, how far you’re going to push it, how uncomfortable you’re going to be and your job as a CMO, and I always talk to this about Craig and I love Craig our CEO is to make him uncomfortable. Your job is to make him uncomfortable. And then Craig, luckily we get along so well. It’s pretty easy to get him to get over the line and then it just took off. Yeah. 

Saksham Sharda: That’s brilliant because I’ve had that feeling with my..every marketing campaign, like a lot of them that I’ve done, I’m just like, oh no, this might actually backfired really bad.

And I go to the CEO, and I’m just like, this might actually backfire!  I’m glad you managed to nail that kind of anxiety into it that you have created something that is a wave and you don’t know which way to go, but you know, it’s a wave. Like, you know, it can come back at two, but still, yeah.

That was beautifully put. Uh, okay. So I have one last question for you, which is, what would you be doing if not this? 

Morgan Norman: I always love marketing and I really do, ike I said, marketing is a mystery to me. It’s about learning about humanity.

So I would always love to do some aspect of it, whether that’s, you know, continuing to advise. Ultimately, you know, I’d love to open an art gallery. I really believe there’s a lot of artists that are underrepresented, and help them market. It’s not just about, you know, I’m a big believer in art, but I think art is not as accessible to everyone.

So, and the reason why is I’m a big believer in kind of community and I think that would be a really great opportunity to continue to learn from people. You know, it’s something I’m pretty passionate about. And then continuing to like, you know, advise companies is what I would think, because it is creative, it’s so exciting to learn about.

There’s a reason these ideas come into the world and our job is to help bring them to life and it’s, it’s just, it’s a gift to be a part. From my perspective!

Goodbye!

Saksham Sharda: Thanks everyone for joining us for this month’s episode of Outgrow’s marketer of the month, that was Morgan Norman, who is the CML of Dialpad, which is an AI powered cloud communication platform. Thanks for joining us, Morgan, check out the website for more details and we’ll see you once again next month with another marketer of the month.

 

 

Marketer of the month

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