Transcript: How to Craft Compelling Stories by Thinking Like a Hollywood Producer with Audrey Zigmond

On this episode, I was joined by Audrey Zigmond, EMEA Customer Marketing Manager at Contentful. Previously, she ran customer marketing at HR technology startups like Lever and Reflektive. She has a particularly unique background, including things like producing events for Burning Man and performing in an ABBA cover band—and that diversity of experiences has shaped her passion for a good story. We spoke about the characteristics that can help customer marketers thrive, her advice on crafting a story like a Hollywood producer, and how to make sure that your story doesn’t get lost in the stats. Without further ado, here’s my conversation with Audrey. 

Margot Leong: All right, so Audrey, I am so thrilled to have you as a guest on Beating The Drum. And thank you so much for joining us from, I believe it’s Berlin, Germany, right? 

Audrey Zigmond: Yes. Thanks for having me. I’m super excited to be on your show. 

Margot Leong: Can you tell us a bit about your background and also talk to us about sort of your journey to customer marketing and advocacy as a result.

Audrey Zigmond: Yeah, definitely. So my name is Audrey Zigmond. I’m originally from Indiana and I made my way to the great state of California, right after college, where I got really involved in the technology scene there. Before that I studied journalism, but decided I was a little too opinionated and I think creative to go down that path. So I found marketing to be a better calling for me. 

And so when I moved to San Francisco, I got involved in field marketing first for a company called Reflektive. They’re a performance review software company. And at the time I had a boss, Adina – who I love – she really cared about me as a human. And even though I had a task to do with field marketing, she really saw potential in me to do customer marketing. So on my first day of work, she sent me to a customer marketing conference by Influitive and that kind of set the tone for where my career could head at Reflektive. And then about a year and a half later in 2017, I started doing customer marketing full-time and I’ve been doing that for about three years now. I specialize so far in startups that are usually Series A to Series D. 

And six months ago, I joined a company called Contentful. They’re based in Berlin, but they also have an office in San Francisco, which is how I originally heard about them. So I’m managing the EMEA region for the customer marketing initiatives at Contentful. 

Margot Leong: Something I wanted to go back to really quick is the fact that your manager sent you to, I think it was Advocamp, basically, that she sent you to your first day on the job. What was that experience like? 

Audrey Zigmond: It was really exciting. I mean, I think the first day of work is always like: you’re nervous, you’ve got jitters. It’s like the first day of school. And to be in an environment where people were automatically learning and networking and socializing really put me at ease and made me feel like I was in a good place. But then on top of that, it was actually content that really resonated with me about the way to center a customer in everything that you do as a marketer. I really liked that philosophy, so was really greatful that my boss was aligned with that too, and was able to take that to the next level at Reflektive. 

Margot Leong: I’ve been to Advocamp once before and that energy that you get just being around people that think very similarly to you about customers is just so amazing and pretty refreshing, honestly.

Audrey Zigmond: Totally.

Margot Leong: You have a really interesting and very unique and diverse background in terms of your roles and experiences. And you mentioned some of the stuff that you had done, you know, within marketing. This is something I’m pulling from your biography on your own site. I’m going to read this out, but, you know, English teacher in Northeast Brazil, progressive environmental policy lobbyist in Jefferson City, events producer in Black Rock City. So I’m guessing this is Burning Man-related.

Audrey Zigmond: Yes.

Margot Leong: ABBA cover band performer on a Greek Island, which I could completely see. And then, you know, of course, startup marketer most recently. A topic I’m very interested in is how our previous experiences have informed and shaped our approach to customer marketing and advocacy, and I would love to understand a little bit more about how all of these experiences influenced sort of your current approach to marketing and advocacy and how you engage with customers.

Audrey Zigmond: Yeah. I think you can sense from my bio, I’m an adventurer, I love a good story. I’ve always been that way, which is why I gravitated to the fields that I’ve gravitated towards, like journalism. The boss that I mentioned, she was a journalism major. I know you have a journalism background. Not saying you have to have that in your background to be a customer marketer, but I think what it implies is just this natural curiosity and want to put yourself in situations that you don’t necessarily belong in. And that’s pretty thrilling. I’ve found that customer marketing is a natural way to do that in a technology setting.

I did think about this question ahead of time and just what ties it all together. So to be a good customer marketer, you have to have three different characters. 

The first one is a diplomat. So on a personal level, I was a manager of a sushi restaurant in college. I’m the oldest of five children. You mentioned that I was doing a little bit of lobbying in Jefferson City. So in order to do all of these jobs, I had to be a really clear communicator. I had to deal with a lot of arguments, not necessarily ones that I started, but ones that I was tasked to end and I had to be really resolute in my decisions. And I had to take all of that with a lot of grace. I especially think of my restaurant days, like on another level, I think everyone should work in a restaurant, at least once in their life. It makes them a better person. 

The second one that I hear a lot in our world of customer marketing is a detective. So I mentioned my journalism background a lot. You have to be curious, you have to be relentless with leads, like maybe a source doesn’t want to talk to you now. You got to get them to talk to you someday if you want your story to be good and you have to still be as objective as possible for the sake of the story, but of course, even journalists add their own flair to things, and you have to just have the constant pursuit of the truth. 

And then the last one, which is probably my fav, is a debutante. So I definitely see myself as more of a performer-type and artist-type. I love events organizing, and my friends call me the “social secretary of San Francisco.” A debutante though – it’s like her first time being seen in a social circle. So she’s really presenting herself. She has a presence, but she’s also very green, and has that want to learn and to meet as many people as possible. So I think as customer marketers, we always have to have that energy about us. We’ve got to show up to the events and be interested in other people, but also be interesting and really put our best foot forward in order to do that work. So, yeah, diplomat, debutante and detective. 

Margot Leong: I think that’s fantastic. And something that you touched upon, right. Even with debutante is – I think that customer marketing, it’s not that you necessarily need to be extroverted to do this job well, but it’s the curiosity about people and that ability to connect with them. What is it that you enjoy the most about this type of work?

Audrey Zigmond: It has become abundantly clear to me, especially in the last few years that my purpose in life is to get people out of their comfort zone, not for the sake of getting them out of their comfort zone, but for the sake of them becoming the best versions of themself. I’m really fascinated around the concept of fear and like making that your friend so that you can achieve what you’re here to achieve. I think that that is a huge part of marketing because it’s our job as marketers to make the company look good, to make the people working there look good, to make customers look good, but especially with customer marketing, because you’re taking your most valuable resource and really making them a star.

So, we actually just took the StrengthsFinder test as a company at Contentful, and I found out my number one trait is “Activator,” which really resonated with me. So I think that really ties in with what I do as a customer marketer. 

Margot Leong: I would love to hear a little bit more about that actually with this activation and getting people out of their comfort zone and how that relates to using customers and sort of putting them in the spotlight, right? Which is a role that a lot of our customers are not used to at all. 

Audrey Zigmond: Yeah, so I think first of all, there’s always going to be those customers that are personal brand people, and those are really fun people to work with. But I actually think that some of the best stories are the people that would have never seen themselves doing something like that. And when I say doing something like that, I mean, be speaking at a conference for you or being on a video. And so it’s really your job to do some extra work there and really be a coach. And not only give them the logistical details they need,  but like really affirm them that what they’re talking about is important and it’s something that only they could talk about.

And when you can get people in that space, I always see kind of a light go on, like, Oh, I really know what I’m talking about. Or, oh, people really care about what I do. And especially in my career, like I’ve been working in HR technology, which is historically the last department to get any kind of recognition. So really making them into heroes was very rewarding work. But yeah, now I’m working in internet infrastructure, which is not something I would have been interested in a few years ago, but what’s cool about it is I’m talking to product managers, engineers, people that are usually kind of in the background and really putting them at the forefront of their company’s mission and really making them into the champions that they are.

 I think what’s brilliant about Contentful is they’re definitely a developer-first platform. The reason they’re so successful is because developers loved them and they invested so many resources in building that community from the get go. But then as we’re moving upstream, we’re definitely trying to talk to more project managers and people that are really implementing new ways to make their company a digital-first company, especially in the response to the crisis of 2020. 

And then on top of that is the decision makers that want to take out an old, traditional way of building their website and putting in something that’s relatively new. I mean, Contentful has been around for a little more than seven years, but it’s still a bit of a risk that they’re taking, but with the high rewards.  

Margot Leong: Basically, you’ve got different personas that you’re working with. Do you find that sort of your approach around even just connecting with them and getting them to tell their stories – is it similar or, how have you had to tweak that based on persona and title, role, et cetera? 

Audrey Zigmond: I think it is similar. Because at the end of the day, they’re still human beings. They still shut their computer off, hopefully at some point and go to their families, their friends, whatever. And so I think that that’s a natural way of building a relationship, just connecting on a more human level. But then also in really understanding what motivates them. I learned at the Advocamp conference that I mentioned that the six motivators in customer advocacy would be personal brand, company brand, product roadmap, special access, VIP rewards and networking.

So there’s some people that are really excited to like go to your happy hours that you’re managing with the field team, and that is a way to connect with them. Or there’s other people that don’t want the public recognition, but they really geek out about helping with the product roadmap. So understanding that and recognizing that early is a way that you can build that rapport with them and really make them feel valued. And that they’re getting something of value from that as well.

Margot Leong: Yeah, I think there’s such an interesting psychological aspect to what we’re doing as customer marketers. It is not one size fits all whatsoever, right? I’ve certainly been surprised too by like the different motivators.

Audrey Zigmond: Right. You really just have to peel the layers back and figure out what those people need, like what’s going to make them successful. One good way I’ve found of doing that is making them look really good to their boss, because let’s face it. We’re not always talking to the C-suite executives, but the people we are talking to, they have a lot at stake implementing your software or whatever it may be. So making sure they’re getting the recognition that they really put their neck out there and they’re doing something really great for their company because they might not have a culture of feedback or recognition in the way that yours might. So just always keeping a pulse on that by whatever means necessary.

Margot Leong: So the next piece that I wanted to talk about is around storytelling, which is something that I know that you absolutely love. So something that you had mentioned actually on your website was that your accumulation of experiences have taught you that creating a grounding space for people to come together is the key to great storytelling. And I’d love if you could talk about this a little bit more. 

Audrey Zigmond: Yeah. So I’ve learned that the best soundbites are always the ones that are unplanned and the more candid you can make things, the better the story is going to be – it all comes down to authenticity. In order to get those authentic reactions, you have to create a space for people to feel comfortable, but what makes you feel comfortable might be completely different from what makes me feel comfortable and that goes back to mapping the motivations and really figuring out what makes the person tick, what makes them excited, what their goals are. 

When I say grounding space,  I think I’m skilled at making those physical spaces – working with the field team really closely to make an event that not only looks good aesthetically and makes the stories look good, but really checking in on the customer and making sure that they’re talking to the people they need to talk to and making those intros for them. I feel like that’s a great way to make grounding space for them.

And then another one is just always try to do your best to match their energy. And that’s a really great way to get people to trust you, that goes back to a bit of the debutante thing that I’m talking about. As you mentioned before like, not everyone is naturally extroverted, but it’s a bit of an act, right? If you’re dealing with a customer who is really extroverted and meets all the people, just think of it like your job, like it’s my job to make sure they meet three good people today. And then for the people that aren’t as much like that, make sure that you are really attentive to the follow-up that you give them from that event or that opportunity that you gave them to participate in some of your advocacy. I think that goes a long way.  

Margot Leong: You also mentioned, right, something that some people can be motivated by is looking good to their boss. What are some of the ways that you’ve worked with customers to sort of facilitate that experience for them? 

Audrey Zigmond: So part of making them look good to their boss is also making sure their boss, they look like they’re making their boss look good as well. So one way I’ve done this is, especially with webinars or speaking engagements, I invite maybe someone at a director or manager level to do the talk. Usually they’re the ones on the front lines and know their stuff, and are really excited for this career opportunity, but then you add in a section for their boss to also present, maybe at the very beginning or the very end. And really making it easy for that executive to come in and be a part of it. 

And then sometimes they’re like, you know what? They’ve got this, like, let them do it and thank you for letting me be a part of it. So I feel like that’s been a really successful thing that I’ve done and also just making sure that the person who is managing them knows how much work has gone into it and how much of that has already paid off, especially in regards to the product and those success metrics. You don’t want them to feel like you’ve been doing something behind their back and you’ve been taking their employee’s time and their resource, essentially. You want to position it more as like we’ve been working on this cool thing and we also think you’d be a great addition and that completely changes the atmosphere. 

Margot Leong: So let’s continue talking about storytelling itself. First off, what do you think makes a great story, a compelling story? And then second is how do you then apply that structure or framework to how you approach stories with customer marketing?

Audrey Zigmond: Yeah. Well, it goes back to something simple and that I feel like we as humans know intuitively because stories are some of the oldest things that we have. In customer marketing, we’re used to making the sales slides and the case studies that say Challenge, Solution, Results. And for two plus years, I worked on a product marketing team. I’m not here to tell you not to do that. It’s very important, digestible way to get the story across. 

However, when you’re thinking of actually producing the story, you shouldn’t be thinking of it like a challenge, solution, result. You should actually think of like you’re a Hollywood executive. Or a wannabe executive, screenwriter, whatever, pitching a movie or a television series. 

I feel like the challenge in this lens, we’ll think about movies or television. I feel like there’s three ways that the challenge starts. It’s either like things they’re not as they appear and the people are unaware the danger ahead. So I think of like Stranger Things. Normal town in Indiana, but there’s something strange. 

But then there’s the lightning strikes challenge. I feel like a lot of Disney movies are like that. Like, everything’s kind of normal, but boom, like something happened we need to fix.

And then there’s also the “everything sucks and we’re on a mission to fix it.” I love musicals. I think Hamilton’s a good example of that. Like, we gotta start a new country. Like, how do we do it? So that’s a more compelling way of looking at a challenge rather than, you know, in my HR experience, no one was filling out their performance reviews. That’s not how you want to start your pitch to make your movie, right? 

So as marketers with the solution, we obviously want to plug our own products, but you have to remember not to be so straightforward about it because in a movie, the solution, the climax, it all comes down to, first of all, the hero, it was in them all along. I think of like Harry Potter, like he was kind of predestined, but he had to get there. But also a part of the solution, where are the helpers? It was the other people helping, the places, the things, the incidents, and that’s kind of where you come in and that’s where your partners come in and if that’s applicable. So you want to tell more of like a collaborative story, but also really focused on the hero’s journey and not just put it all on yourself, your company. 

And then finally, results. That should be seen more as like the victory and the celebration and also the legacy. So the victory and the celebration is something you see in the movie, at least if it has a happy ending, and I hope that all the customer case studies you’re making have a happy ending. 

Margot Leong: I also hope so. 

Audrey Zigmond: Yeah. But so what did they have to do to win? And why was that significant? And the celebration, like not only did they win, but how did people in the movie you feel about that? What were the characters doing? And then, how does the film look different in the end than it did in the beginning? And how are things changed? And then the legacy, like stepping back from the actual story is why did you make the story in the first place? Is there going to be a sequel? 

Why does this movie matter to the people watching it? And what’s the emotional impact the story is going to have on people and how will it inspire people to live their life differently or see something in a different way.

So I know that maybe the people listening, they don’t feel like they’re working in a product that’s compelling enough. And I get that. But you have to remember that this is a story about a hero, and you’ve got to tell the hero’s journey, even if it seems mundane because human beings are not mundane and there’s something in there that’s worth telling. So it’s your job to figure out what that is. 

Margot Leong: What I’ve noticed is that if you figure out the framework for the story, any story can be really compelling. It’s really the hero’s journey that makes it fascinating. I think that where companies can sometimes stumble a bit is where they think of themselves as the hero of the story. And really what it should be is that your customers are always the hero of the story in general. 

 So just to continue with the storytelling piece, let’s talk about the different mediums in which we can tell stories as customer marketers. How do you think about approaching the story differently in each of them? 

Audrey Zigmond: When I’m deciding which medium to use, it’s usually pretty clear from whatever marketing campaign our department’s working on, what we need at the time. Maybe it’s a quote for a case study or a quote for a press release, or we need a new video. 

So you start with that one piece. And you try to get as much from the customer in as a little time possible. So I think the best way to do that is just to conduct a customer interview and record that. Usually the way I start is either a written case study or a video case study, whatever one makes sense, but then using that as a bank for so many other pieces of content, and I know to some people that might be really intimidating, like, Oh, we only have this person for 45 minutes, but I would just encourage those people to remember, that it’s not about working hard and getting all the things, it’s about working smart. 

And also it’s important to know that it’s not bad to make content that’s the same in just different formats. And the reason it’s not bad is because we all have different learning styles. I think back to elementary school where I learned that I was a visual learner, but you know, I had friends who were kinesthetic learners and then other people are auditory learners. That means that I might be the kind of prospect that would watch the video, but then my boss needs the written case study, so it doesn’t matter if it’s the same exact script, right? 

But then additionally, not only thinking about your prospects and your customers, but thinking about the people internally who need to learn your story. Not only need to learn it so they can regurgitate it back to prospects, but also to know it and know what kind of difference your company’s making in these people’s lives. Like give them a reason to come to work every day. I really believe in that. 

So, yeah, I would say my strategy is to, you know, start with one thing, try to get as much time with the customer as possible, to get as many quotes as possible. Also in building out those questions for them, make sure other people at your company are weighing in on that questionnaire. I always ask the customer success manager who has that account and the sales person that has that account, like, Hey, what do you think of these questions? Am I missing anything? And so that is usually kind of like an evergreen space for me to get more content, to build into other things. And you know, if that goes well, and you’re a good interviewer and you can build more of a relationship, like oftentimes those people are down for an update like a year from then.

So yeah. That’s my strategy. 

Margot Leong: We had earlier talked about some of the more compelling ways to structure a story. How do you take that narrative framing, some of these devices, and how did you apply that to the actual work you did around case studies or videos? 

Audrey Zigmond: Yeah. Well, back to my kind of Hollywood metaphor, is you gotta remember that you’re the producer. And so you’ve already pitched the movie to the production company. They’re paying for it. They’re sending you to the set, but now you’ve got the actor who might be a little nervous. And you have to remind them, like what they’re about to feel, what they’re about to go through, what they have already gone through in the scene before. And so you have to basically pitch the story that is in your mind to them while you’re talking to them. 

So it’d be like, not only ask them, like, what challenges were you facing, but like really acknowledged that you did your homework and you’re like, wow, you were spending 80 hours a week reading other people’s performance reviews. I can’t imagine how much stress that added to your life – can you tell me more about that? And like, they’ll be in more of like a vulnerable place, you know? And then that’s what leads to more of those candid moments that I was talking about, the ones that they would probably not write in an email to you. That can make for a more authentic story. 

And then yeah, pitch it all the way though, and just remind them like, You did this amazing thing, what does that feel like? And then a lot of times, like especially in shooting videos, I do see the light bulb go off and be like, yeah, our company is a better place for it. Or like, my job is so much easier. Like I’m getting along, you know, all those things. So just like keeping the story you had in mind, pitching it to the customer, but then also being open to it evolving a little bit based on their experience, I think is the way to go. 

Margot Leong: Yeah, I think that the prep work is super important.  And basically having laid out sort of the framework for the story itself in your own head so that you can kind of guide the customer to get those quotes that would fit within it is super important. But then there’s that sort of emotional aspect, where they say things that are along those lines, but are like better than you could have ever thought of yourself, right. Yeah. And like that is like that happy surprise. 

There’s the piece of the results where it’s like, okay, this product has saved me this many hours per week, or I’m able to do X this thing, X percent faster as a result. And so that’s really great, but I think what works really well for videos is like, but what does that mean to you, right. As a person. I think, especially when you’re working with the champions themselves who have to work with this product day in, day out, I love capturing that emotionally resonant piece where it’s like, Oh, it helps me sleep better at night. I can spend more time with my kids. I feel like those are the sorts of gems where it’s so translatable. 

Audrey Zigmond: Yeah. And I think, you know, data’s great. We all want to be data-driven marketers, but I think we’re losing our soul a little bit on that. My old boss, another one called them “stat bombs,” like go in there and get the stat bombs. And those are amazing, but it’s like what you’re saying, you have to translate what those stats mean for that person, because once you show enough, you know, save 78% on time saved, like, what does that actually mean? How are those – is their life better? So, yeah, don’t lose sight of that in pursuit of numbers that look impressive because once you get all those numbers together, it almost doesn’t mean anything, right? 

Margot Leong: Yes, exactly. Like why, why are we tasked to tell stories in the first place, right? You know, during our prep call, you mentioned the importance of getting the right stories. What does “right” mean to you and how do you think about that? 

Audrey Zigmond: So especially in having an experience with being a customer marketer of one for a few years, I’ve definitely had to play up the diplomat role that I mentioned earlier. And that is because a lot of people have a lot of opinions that they want you to know on what the right story is. And it’s easy to kind of just go with the flow and be like, the VP of sales really wants me to focus on this customer, so I’m going to do that, but it’s really your job as a customer marketer to take a step back and make sure that in the big picture, this is moving the needle. You are the producer, like all these other people, their opinions matter, but like you get to call the shots. 

And so I think the best way tactically to start is to really do an audit of what stories exist and then align that with what your company goals are. So I always do this in my first customer marketing workshop that I have with the sales and CS team when I join a new company. I start with a slide of the stories that we already have. And I break it down into the things that you find in Salesforce, like what are their use cases, what size they are, what industry they are. On the left side, you’ll see what we have a lot of. On the right side, you’ll see what we don’t have much of. So if you’re going to ask me for a reference for something in the right column, I’m going to ask you to help me find a story to then help you sell to that side. And so that’s a good way of leveling off expectations and being like, I see that this is important to you, but I need your help in getting those stories, help me be a better detective, right? 

And with the left side column, the things you have a lot of, you have like the snowball effect I feel like. At Contentful, we’ve been doing a lot of case studies on healthcare companies that have gone digital first during the COVID crisis. And I think that’s great. But then, if we do too many of these, then it’s all just going to feel very similar. So you kind of have to be in pursuit of switching it up a little bit and like showing the breadth of your work and the impact your product can make on people, not just in one area. So just always have that audit ready to go to whatever, you know, strong personality wants you to focus on and make sure that it’s aligned to the bigger picture.

Margot Leong: I like the way that you structure that – putting up that slide and making sure that the teams that are asking you for help, you also have to partner with them for their help as well. So sort of putting that up front and center so that they understand the expectations and almost even seeing the breadth of the work that is involved as well is really important.  

Audrey Zigmond: Also, just going back to finding that hero for the hero’s journey. I feel like sales especially will focus on the brand. And that’s great.  but it’s like, you’re feeding me potential stories with people that don’t want to do this. You close the deal and you don’t know what their life is like anymore. 

So I think in finding those humans that are going to be like interest pieces, that’s where your collaboration with CS is so important because they’re the ones that are usually talking to them the most. And I think usually CSMs are like very empathetic and they can get really personal with their customers, which is why they do what they do. And so I’ve made it a point to definitely build better relationships with CS when I join a company. 

Margot Leong: Yeah, I think that’s really important is that it’s not all about the brand names. I think that can be the holy grail sometimes, but there’s so much that some of the smaller customers can help out with, whether it’s being beta customers, being able to give stories for some of the earlier products that enterprise often won’t touch because they’re scared of something actually happening and breaking things, right? I think that’s really important. 

So one of the last topics that I wanted to get into is around EMEA customer marketing. I think that it’s fascinating that you’ve had the ability to both work in customer marketing from an American context. And then now running EMEA customer marketing as an American living in Berlin. I think that is an experience that very few customer marketers have had the chance to do. First off, what has that experience been like for you?  

Audrey Zigmond: It has been unconventional for many reasons. As I mentioned, I started at Contentful in February of 2020. So a lot changed in a short amount of time. 

Margot Leong: Perfect time to join. 

Audrey Zigmond: This is the part of the interview that I’m definitely going to listen to in 10 years. And just remember what this was like. But yeah, I’m in a good place. 

I would say just a few things about that is not only am I in EMEA, but I’m in Germany and something Germans are known for is a lot of bureaucracy, a love of paper, a love of processes. Not usually my jam, but I actually love it as a customer marketer. This is the most Jira-happy company I’ve worked at, but really once I am able to write a process for requesting a reference or requesting a story, it’s there for the world to see. And all people have to do is follow those steps. 

And I feel like that following of steps is very ingrained in their culture here and in San Francisco, it’s very much like move fast and break things. You can’t do that in Germany.  I’m very curious about how other customer marketers are doing things in those regions, but I would say Berlin has a similar vibe to San Francisco. However, the process part of it and therefore things moving a little bit slower, people being a little more cautious is definitely part of that.

But then taking a step back, just the amount that I’ve learned in a short time here in this specific region really reminds me in the future: if I want to be a part of building a global program, is that you always have to have those regions in mind and like be culturally not only respectful, but curious. 

For example, we hired a few people to translate a press release and we learned that the French translation was not what it should have been, but we learned that the hard way by just pressing “send.” So, you know, just like little mess ups like that, where I’m like, I should check with the other French coworkers if this looks good, just have them do a pass at it. Or if one of the slogans that I’m making for our advocates, which we call “DXperts” is really like if people can really understand what that means in Norway or something like that. So I think you have to just ask a lot of different kinds of questions than perhaps you’re used to thinking of in North America.

Another thing that I find very interesting and back to the motivations is that in the United States, I had a lot of customer champions who were definitely excited about building their own personal brands. And I mean, I’m definitely one of those people. However in Europe, I feel like it’s a little different. People aren’t jumping around their jobs as much. And they don’t have as much of a desire to have title changes. That’s really not as important to them. So what they really care about is, again like internal recognition, making them look good to their bosses, company brand, other things that you can do to make them shine. So that’s been an interesting angle that I’ve had to pitch some of these opportunities for, making the company look good rather than the person. So that’s something I’m learning here as well. 

Margot Leong: You know, there’s a lot of customer marketers out there who are running global programs. What is the advice that you would give someone who is owning that entire global program around cultural nuances or just something that they should be familiar with?

 Audrey Zigmond: I think a lot has to do with representation. Just know that you need to regionalize whenever possible and double, triple checking is never out of the question. I think also just with current times, like we actually don’t know which countries, which cities, which economies are going to come out of this coronavirus crisis on top. And I have a premonition that a lot of the cities that weren’t seen as a tech hub or a place where you would have a lot of customer marketers are actually going to be that in a really short amount of time. So I think it’s now more important than ever to have that cultural sensitivity and really don’t discount anybody because it’s kind of fair game at this point. 

And also with just the culture of work changing, people working remotely, like there’s a lot more cultures you need to keep in mind with building a program, but then also not letting that intimidate you. I think going back to the consistency, making sure your story – the storytelling aspect is never going to change. That architecture is never going to change. It’s just maybe the ways you asked for the story are going to be different. Like for example, when I send an email to someone, a customer in the States, I usually have more of a casual tone, but when I send it to someone in Southern Germany, I’m very much ” dear ma’am,” like, you know what I mean? So just learning those things and being open to learning them. Yeah.  And

Margot Leong: Audrey, this has been such a pleasure chatting with you. I really appreciate you taking the time. Where can our listeners find you if they want to connect with you? 

Audrey Zigmond: Totally. Well, my website is just my full name dot com. Audrey and I’m also on LinkedIn. And then, yeah, I work at Contentful now, but I’m still passionate about marketing for all kinds of people. So I’m open to, you know, other little projects here and there. And one project that I actually have coming up is a brand I’m launching called Fear More. It’s about interviewing people that really befriend fear. So more to come on that, but the website is

Margot Leong: I love that. I think it’s like, everything you want is an inch outside of your comfort zone, right? So, yeah. I think that’s definitely something I would love to listen to when it comes out. Thank you so much, Audrey, and really appreciate you being on.

Audrey Zigmond: Yeah, of course. Thanks for having me. Thanks for listening everyone.

 Margot Leong: Thanks for tuning into this episode of Beating The Drum. For more interviews with advocacy leaders and tips on creating customers that will sing your praises, head on over to our website, If you enjoyed today’s show, please subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts and don’t forget to rate and review us. If you know someone that would be a great fit for the show, I would love to hear about it. You can reach out at Take care, everybody.

Thanks for tuning into this episode of Beating The Drum. For more interviews with advocacy leaders and tips on creating customers that will sing your praises, head on over to our website, If you enjoyed today’s show, please subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts and don’t forget to rate and review us. If you know someone that would be a great fit for the show, I would love to hear about it. You can reach out at Take care, everybody.



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