Transcript: Why Customer Advocacy Should Be a Standalone Department (Similar to Success or Marketing) with Hollie Wegman

On this episode, I was joined by Hollie Wegman, Executive-In-Residence at Redpoint Ventures. Previously, she was the VP of Marketing at Segment and Envoy. I love exploring customer advocacy from as many angles as possible, and I thought it would be great to bring Hollie on to provide a more macro, birds eye view around the value of this function. We talk about why she thinks customer marketing should be its own pillar, how to think about metrics depending on the stage of your company, and her timeless advice for new managers. Without further ado, here’s my conversation with Hollie. 

Margot Leong:   Hey Hollie. Welcome to Beating The Drum and thank you so much for joining us today. 

Hollie Wegman: Thank you for having me, Margot. I’m excited to be here. 

Margot Leong: Great. Can you tell me a little bit about your background and sort of how you ended up doing what you are doing currently at Redpoint?

Hollie Wegman: Yeah, sure. My background is in SaaS marketing and I also did some consumer marketing in my early career. And recently I have been with Redpoint Ventures as exec in residence, which has been a nice way for me to take some time and reflect on what my next adventure will be. 

Margot Leong: And you mentioned, right, some of the stuff that you’ve done previously. What are some of the companies that you’ve worked at? I know that you’ve had quite a long history working in some pretty amazing companies within Silicon Valley.  

Hollie Wegman: I’ve been very fortunate. I worked for, long ago, in consumer for a company called Flip Video, which is an old camcorder company now and that was acquired by Cisco, so I got to work for a big Fortune 500 tech brand. I went to Salesforce from there and that was an amazing place to learn, particularly around marketing and B2B and how innovative and cutting edge it can be. And then I spent my time in a couple of startups, MuleSoft and Envoy and Segment. And yeah, it’s been a great ride. I’ve been very, very lucky. 

Margot Leong: Yeah, and Envoy is actually how we know each other. I was lucky enough to be on your team there. And really we went through the gamut of sort of the really, really early stage startup experience together, right? 

Hollie Wegman: We did.

Margot Leong: Like I think it was less than 20 employees or even one to 10 employees when we were there. I can’t even remember, but that was an amazing bonding experience, I think. 

Hollie Wegman: I was so glad to have you, Margot. Oh, I don’t know what I would have done. 

 Margot Leong: Definitely a learning experience for sure. But talk to me a little bit about, you know, what you do as an entrepreneur-in-residence at Redpoint, because it’s not something that I think a lot of people know what that type of role does and what you’re sort of enjoying about the experience so far. 

 Hollie Wegman: Yeah, I mean EIR roles are structured very differently in different firms and some of it is a ‘choose your own adventure’ and what you’re interested in as well. I am focused on spending a lot of time with founders of early stage companies, thinking through with them, how they might approach their go-to-market and their marketing, maybe making their first marketing hires. So I really enjoy spending time with founders. It’s the most fun thing I ever get to do. And I also get to learn about all the new companies that are being built, which is endlessly fascinating. 

And then I also spent some time in the Redpoint team and they’ve been very welcoming to me and I couldn’t be more lucky and grateful that I’ve landed where I have, because they’re amazing. And they’ve been teaching me a lot about getting the chance to see how venture works from the inside, which is also really cool.

Margot Leong: Fantastic. What is it about marketing that gives you energy, right? What do you enjoy? Why do you keep coming back to marketing? 

Hollie Wegman: I think marketing is amazing because it’s one place where you get to be the perfect sort of joining of art and science. And I always say alchemy and the machine, you know, the alchemist makes gold out of base metals and it’s magic. And I love that piece of the creativity and the magic that is part of building a brand. 

But I also grew up through management consulting and other types of fields that were highly analytical, and I enjoy that side of the discipline of business as well. So when I found marketing, I thought, well, this is perfect because I get to have both.

Margot Leong: I’ve never heard about it sort of framed in that way before where you talk about this alchemy idea and then combining that with being more data-driven, more analytical and, you know, my understanding of sort of the marketing landscape, is that especially within B2B, it’s sort of evolved from brand to being very data-driven. And now seems like kind of a mix of both. Is that accurate to say? 

Hollie Wegman: I think that is exactly accurate. I think you need both. You need the alchemy and the magic, and you need the machine, which is the data-driven, rational side of how things are actually working in the market. And I think you need both in B2B and I think for a long time in B2B, the alchemy was a little bit more ignored. And I think amazing brands like Salesforce, Slack, Square have really taught the market what’s possible in terms of brand and how all people appreciate a little bit of magic in their lives, even when they’re buying software technology. So I think, yeah, it’s cool the way that B2B is going.

Margot Leong: You have been the VP of Marketing, you know, at several tech companies, which is where I know you, of course. And you have had customer marketing and advocacy as part of your team. So I think something that would be really interesting for us to understand is why do you think that customer marketing is important? Why have you decided to include it in your team? 

 Hollie Wegman: I think that there’s no more authentic way to explain to someone what a product does and how it might change their work, then through hearing a similar person using that product. It’s much more powerful than the company itself running an ad that says, This is going to change your life. Having someone say this actually changed my work and made me more efficient, and this is how, and – that just is the essence of customer marketing, connecting customers, they’re getting value and enjoying the product to other customers where they can have a real conversation about what’s really happening with that product. 

Margot Leong: What would be interesting to hear about is if you can speak to specific examples at companies that you’ve worked at, where you’ve seen this really translate very well to customers and have a real impact.

 Hollie Wegman: I think that the key place where I learned about the power of a customer was Salesforce, and at Salesforce, the ethos there – and I think this came from Benioff down – was to connect customers. It’s a customer relationship management tool. So, you know, and it’s hard and it’s much more than that, but I think connecting customers was critical to telling the Salesforce story. When we would have an event, it was kind of known that you don’t plan something unless there’s going to be a customer voice on the panel or on the stage. We don’t want to hear ourselves talking. And I think that was really special. 

And the customer marketing program at Salesforce was, for a time, run by a woman named Erica Kuhl, who I suggest everyone check out because she’s an amazing customer marketer. The customer program there was vibrant and rich and connected, and a really deep part of the DNA. And I think I learned it there and I took that to other companies that I went to and saw that value. And I think that it helped a lot to have that training in the early part of my career. 

Margot Leong: I was curious about where you think that this type of role should live within an organization. I mean, obviously there is the marketing piece that is like part of the title, but I’ve seen it live within success. I’ve seen it also live actually and report to sales. You know, obviously I think for the majority, it does live within marketing. 

Hollie Wegman: Yeah, I have a unique point of view on that. I think that we’re not perhaps ready for this view right now, but I think customer marketing should be it’s own thing. 

Margot Leong: Yes. 

Hollie Wegman: I don’t think that it’s strictly marketing. I don’t think that it is strictly success. It certainly, you know, helps with sales, but it’s cross-functional. And I think what we will see over time, I predict, is that as companies realize the power of customer voice and how important it is to build around that, I think that it will increasingly start to become its own part, its own function.

Margot Leong: Where do you think companies are, from a maturity standpoint, when it comes to understanding the value of something like this? 

Hollie Wegman: I think some of it might be colored by the fact that I come from startups. So, you know, early stage companies sometimes haven’t fully recognized the power of the customer voice. Later stage companies tend to be more sophisticated on this point, certainly by the time you’re a public company, you really understand this. So some of it is tied to stage. 

I also think that certain products lend themselves more to the customer experience, being very central. For instance, if you think about developer products and developer relations as a function, which is not exactly customer marketing, but I think it’s definitely community-oriented and companies that have that as core to their DNA will certainly recognize the importance of it. 

So I think it varies depending on stage, it varies depending on the focus of where the company is thinking to sell. 

Margot Leong: And so going back to this idea around just marketing in general being a mix of this magic around brand and then also data to measure the impact of all of it, how do you think about even measuring the success of customer marketing programs, right? When you think about those metrics, how do you advise people to approach those even. 

Hollie Wegman: Yeah, I think there’s a couple of different levels. I mean, you can measure it by, okay, I want this many customer case studies around this many variations of use case, and I want this many people in the community, and I think those are indicators of customer health and customer marketing health.

I think that there’s another level, which is a more exciting level to me, which is to tie it to the company’s high level goals, whether that be referrals or revenue through referrals, for instance, and seeing where customers had a play in that, in that, and made that mechanism easier, perhaps for sales.

And so I think there’s a sort of ticking a lot of boxes around having a good, robust rounded out customer program. And then there’s also a level, which is making sure to understand how having all those boxes ticked, is driving the company results at the very high level. 

Margot Leong: This is something that we had talked about a little bit earlier in our prep call, which is that tying what you do back to the company’s high level goals, that should just be the way that everybody should think about setting metrics, essentially, measuring success, right. 

Hollie Wegman: I mean, it should be, but it’s not easy.  You know, there’s a distance there. Right. I wrote a certain customer case study. I don’t know – how does that tie to revenue or the new product we’re going to launch, right. So it takes some stitching together. And I think this is why companies do spend an enormous amount of time building strategy, understanding their goals, communicating their goals, and doing, you know, bottoms up and top down goal setting. And yeah, this isn’t easy. That’s why whole books are written on setting goals.

 Margot Leong: Something I think to note is that customer marketing and advocacy, you know, I think it’s getting a lot more popular in recent years, but what I am noticing is more and more younger, slightly earlier stage tech companies adopting this. But as you and I know, when you are basically the earlier stage of company, the less likely they are to have really thought out goals. A lot of times, it’s literally just running around, you know, like with your hair on fire constantly. 

And so yeah, I guess my question is, you know, how would you advise someone who’s doing this type of work at a place that’s more early stage, where there’s just not as much clarity around strategic initiatives. How would you advise them to think about trying to align their work at least in a way that is effective? What should they be thinking about? 

Hollie Wegman: I think that’s a great point and you’re right. It’s in the early stage companies, there are a lot of jobs for everyone to do, and there isn’t always the room to have a deep specialization in something, even customer marketing. So the customer marketing person might be doing many things. And I think that the way that they show that they’re adding value might not be OK, this ties directly to ARR because you know, at the early stage, maybe there aren’t actually that many customers. 

And one of the things that the customer marketer can do to bring to the company as a company is finding their way towards product-market fit and is thinking through how do we continue to penetrate a market with our product, is this person uniquely can listen to the voice of the customer and can bring that to more than just the marketing materials, but also to the product roadmap, to the customer success or support side. And the customer marketer is there to be that voice of the customer and bring that to the whole company. And when you’re only, you know, 40 people, let’s say, it’s a little easier, you all know each other, you can talk often and you know that you have one person that always has the customer’s heart in mind with everything that they approach.

Margot Leong: Yeah, I really liked that way of putting it, and I think that’s kind of similar to what at least my early focus was at Envoy. You know, when we were there, it was less than 20 people. And at that stage, I mean, you’re really talking to, you know, companies that are early adopters anyway. And so the way that we thought about it is that, you know, we need to understand our customers inside and out. And so, you know, it’s getting on the phone with customers or meeting them where they are every single day, right. Figuring out how to then convert that into personas that we can then think about for product marketing. Thinking about what are the elements that make someone just sort of satisfied customer at least early in the customer experience versus someone that could potentially be an advocate, which are actually two different things, in my opinion. And so how do you then replicate that so that you’re embedding that early into the customer experience? You know, so that you have, you’re able to more scalably, I think, create advocates. 

Which I think what we’re saying is that we should definitely have customer marketing or advocacy in earlier, right? All the early companies. 

Hollie Wegman: Yeah, I think, I think to have someone in the company who like you at Envoy, and you did an extraordinary job at this actually, who spends time – you know, you would, I remember you sitting at the live chat manning the chat and listening to customers ask questions. And I remember you sitting in the support pod, and I remember you sitting with the product and the design team, and it’s the person that, you know, has always got their ear to the customer. And I think that is a huge value to early stage companies. And I think they are starting to realize that as well.

Margot Leong: Where do you think it currently lives in a lot of companies or do you think a lot of companies even think about unifying this as a whole?

Hollie Wegman: I think that it’s going to depend somewhat on the company. If, you know, in a B2B setting, if the land is the key, you know, source of revenue, not the expand, then post-purchase is good because you want them to have great experience and you want to retain them. But if the expand is a key part of that customer’s, you know the lifetime value of that customer, then post-purchase becomes a necessary focus for expanding them into more meaningful use of the product. 

So in the first case where the land is key, and you really just want them to have a delightful experience so that they continue to renew, I think that customer marketing and success work pretty equally together. I think that if the expand is also, you know, part of the go-to-market strategy of the company, it becomes a much bigger and more important thing to think about post-purchase because every step along the way is a chance for the customer to gain more deeper, meaningful use with the product. And then you’re going to have sales involved, as well as success, and potentially even, product and engineering to innovate and build features that fit customer needs. So, it a little bit depends on the type of go-to-market of the company. 

Margot Leong: Yeah, absolutely. That makes sense. You know, especially thinking about customer marketing and thinking about the audience in which there are a lot of people that are new to this role that are a bit earlier in their careers. I think sometimes they’re, you know, when you think about executives, right, and you’re earlier in your career, it can sometimes be scary to think about that gulf. 

And it’s like, how do I talk to someone? How do I make sure that they notice me and notice what I’m doing? How do I sort of make sure that I am presenting the work that I’m doing in a way that translates to this high level to what someone in your role cares about. 

I’m curious as to like what your advice would be to someone who’s a little bit early in their career as to how to talk to a VP of Marketing, you know, about what they’re doing and, and what would be important to convey, essentially.

Hollie Wegman: Yeah. I remember very distinctly those early years in my career and preparing for a long time to have that one on one with that, you know, two skip level person and thinking, what do I say? And how do I be sure that I’m being helpful and gain visibility that I want for the projects that matter most and I think impact the business. It’s stressful actually. And I remember it very well. And to think that you’re insulated from that when you’re in a more senior role, you certainly aren’t because there’s always, you know, then there’s your CEO and then there’s the board. And then there’s frankly, the customer, which is always there, wanting something different or more.

So, I mean, the main advice that I would give is, and things that I had to work on throughout my career, because I think particularly if you’re not, you’re not the type of person who toots their own horn, you know, readily, or comfortably, then, you know, you have to find a way to feel authentically able to promote the work that you’re doing. 

And actually the voice of the customer is a good way to do that. So approaching a meeting that you have with a VP and thinking through, okay, how is the company getting customer wins? How are we connected to the customer? What are the customers excited about and how is marketing making their experience more delightful? How is marketing connecting them to each other? And then how am I listening to that? And how am I being helpful to this executive in them reaching their goals and listening to them and what they would like me to help with. 

 Margot Leong: Yeah. I’m currently re-reading one of these books by Peter Drucker, The Effective Executive and I think 

Hollie Wegman: I love that book.

Margot Leong: I had no idea – that’s great. 

Hollie Wegman: Yeah.

Margot Leong: What I read in that book, what was really interesting to me is that basically what you’re trying to do is that you are essentially working on programs – the whole goal of that is to influence something that’s external to you. Something outside of what your normal sort of locus of control is, which is basically how the customer reacts to these things and hopefully buys it or not, right. 

But the thing is you are so sort of consumed internally with what you’re doing, that you almost can’t see what the outside is. And I think that it’s really important to think about that when you are talking to people at different levels, right. It’s more of the ability, I guess, to be able to think, okay, what does someone in these shoes care about at this time and thinking about okay, what is important to them to understand about what I’m doing, versus being stuck within the minutiae of what you’re doing and it seeming very important to you sort of at that time. 

Hollie Wegman: It is helpful because you are really focused on, you know, you can say it’s minutiae, but it’s critical work, but then it’s at a level that isn’t necessary. It’s similar to what we talked about earlier, where the goals are kind of way at the top, and then the things you do to get the goals – it’s hard to connect them. It’s a similar kind of exercise. The minutiae feels so far away from the high level goals and it’s sort of building that architecture to sort of climb that up to the top. 

And yeah, I think that’s good advice. I also think that it’s really important to, as a leader, if you’re in a position where you’re trying to support a team in hitting their goals, to remember that that minutiae is important and you need to take the time to really understand what people in your team are actually doing, because they are many times closer to the customer, many times closer to the realities of what’s happening in the business. And if you can’t spend time to hear that minutiae and understand how to help them connect things too, I think there’s a role for the executive to play in making that possible. 

Margot Leong: I guess my general question too is, as someone who is a VP of Marketing, like you have basically functional areas that you have to know really well, maybe like brand and demand gen and maybe some other things. And then you have all of these different like little segments that you’re also owning with teams that are owning these areas. How do you end up knowing enough or feeling comfortable enough to be able to lead all those areas as well?

Hollie Wegman: I don’t think you do. And I think that’s why teams are really important. I think you know as much as you can about what the company’s trying to achieve. You have your own expertise in areas where you’re strong and then you know enough to realize you’re going to need help. And you hire amazing people to help you fill out the areas where you’re not necessarily going to be as strong and then you support them and make sure they have what they need to help us all achieve our goals. 

So I think that there’s a lot of pressure on marketers today to be everything. And I think it’s a bit unfair. I think that leaders and founders need to realize that you’re going to bring on a marketer whose primary job is to help you hit your go-to-market goals and, you know, secondary to that is them being a great product marketer, demand gen or growth marketer. Brand, PR, all of it, right? Because there is so much area and they’re not going to be really great at every single one of those things. 

So they are going to need to build the team too, to help them. And it’s a much more constructive way, I think, to build a team that has different expertise and it brings, it makes alchemy more possible because you have new ideas and you have different points of view. And if you have a leader who thinks they know everything and is just trying to autocratically push that down, it’s not going  to create alchemy. I mean, you might get a great machine, but you won’t have alchemy. 

Margot Leong: I guess even to your point about alchemy is there’s a lot of new managers, right, who are going to be listening to this. You know, what are some of the things that you wish someone had told you when it came to managing a team or building a team, right? Anything that comes to mind that you think would be helpful for early or new managers to think about. 

Hollie Wegman: This is my own very personal thing, but, and I learned this over a long period of time, I’m still working on it, but it’s: a new manager needs to listen. And it’s not your job necessarily to just have to tell everybody what to do. Half of your job might be to help make clear what the goals are. And some of your job is to coach and bring ideas out of people to make sure that they can hit those goals. 

But listening is a key thing. And I think as a manager, you feel all this responsibility. Like I’m a manager, I have to manage and you know, but it can create a situation where you spend all your time talking and you don’t listen enough. And I think early in my career, and even now I’m still always working on listening more.

Margot Leong: Yeah, I guess that’s exactly what you were talking about with creating that magic, having as many diverse perspectives as possible. I’ve always been sort of blown away by what I’ve learned from my direct reports. To your point, there is so much pressure on managers to be expected, to be like, okay, like this is the North star and this is what the vision is. And I know exactly where we’re going. 

I think that having honestly, as many inputs as possible, not even just from your team, but cross-functionally like from other departments, right. From relationships that you build within the company is so important to help guide you as well. 

Hollie Wegman: I couldn’t agree more. And it’s so nice that you mentioned the cross-functional point because that’s a place where leaders fall down to, is they’re deeply entrenched in marketing and they forget about product sales, legal. I mean, you know, everybody has a part to play. It’s an orchestra. Not a one-note band. So I think, yeah, the cross-functional  point you made is really good too. 

Margot Leong: Yeah, and I think within what we’re doing within advocacy, right, right, is that it is super cross-functional. I mean, we have obviously a high demand of requests coming to us from a lot of different departments. But if we’re not careful, we almost let us let ourselves surrender to getting buried with all these requests and it comes very tactical. You’re sort of just running from like one request to another, and you’re trying to scale all of that. 

But really what we should be doing, right, is also thinking about, okay, what are the company goals as far as I can wrestle them and, you know, what should we actually be doing in order to get there? How do you think about cross-functional influence in order to do so? That’s something I did not think enough about earlier on in my career, and I’m still sort of, you know, muddling through all of that, but yeah, I guess I did not realize just how much power I also had within this role to influence other teams to get what I wanted as well. Not just allow other teams to influence me. 

Hollie Wegman: Yeah, I see exactly what you’re saying, and it’s just a lot of surface area to cover. So you know, it takes awhile just to respond to all the demands, let alone, like you said, get ahead of the demands and think, okay, wait, what might I need also from these other teams that could help me be more successful. It’s not always just, you know, I’m their service, but we’re at service to each other. 

Margot Leong: I guess, how do you approach being able to influence, but even before that, right, setting this like, basically planting the seeds to create those relationships so that when you do need help, that it’s a bit easier because you have a bit more trust, already built. 

Hollie Wegman: Yeah. I mean, I think one of the easiest examples I have of this is when I sat next to product management at Salesforce actually, and the product manager, and I went to lunch every single day, every single day. And what was so interesting about that role, looking back on it, is I took for granted, this was just a person I really liked being with and who was incredibly intelligent and just awesome. 

But the other thing that I look back on in other companies where I didn’t necessarily, or maybe where I had more friction with product management was that time we were spending just naturally together all the time, sharing ideas and talking about what we were doing. It completely mitigated any friction. So no cross-functional friction in that role. And I think it was because we were just naturally spending a lot of time together. 

And I think sometimes it’s easy with other functions not to spend that time, you know, having lunch, go for a walk, just show them something that isn’t fully, you know, presentation ready, but it’s just an idea you have and get their feedback early. And then they just almost naturally, we’ll share with you what they’re doing, and it makes it a lot less formal and a little bit easier to maintain. 

Margot Leong: Yeah. I think that, especially if we’re talking about earlier stage companies, you know, a few hundred people or less, I think you have this massive opportunity to really build those relationships early on, right. And so you’re growing with these people, but, you know, I don’t think I realized really the importance of relationship building at all levels and with all of different types of departments. 

Even if you think you never will need help from that department. I think it, it often like blows me away or surprises me is, you know, I’ll have lunch with someone in engineering, just as a friend and then, you know, a few months later I’m like, Oh, I’m presenting at an all-hands this customer story. And you know, a lot of them are engineers. I want to make sure this resonates –  let me pick this guy’s brain, you know, you never know sort of the serendipity of the things that can happen. But sometimes it’s like the investment you put upfront in building some of these relationships, just to do it and just to really have more friends, honestly, at work. I think it really can pay off massively over the long term. 

Hollie Wegman: Yeah, I completely agree. And especially in a small company, if you can talk to most people often, it’s just going to make things smoother. In bigger companies it’s definitely harder because you have to make a big effort. Some of it, you know, I’ll say one small thing for bigger companies is co-location, you have a big adjacency with a team and we had this at Segment. It was really critical for Segment when we were standing up marketing in a bigger, formal way to be co-located on the floor, physically with sales. And in COVID times, this is obviously not as easy, but maybe it’s more around creating channels together or other things, but, you know, being near, physically near people actually does help. 

Margot Leong: Yeah, I can imagine because you are also like, for example, if you are sitting next to sales, you are also overhearing snippets of their calls with customers, right. Yeah, there’s just a lot of ability to sort of mix and just get more of a sympathetic or empathetic point of view for what other teams are going through. And there’s just a lot of information sharing and potential, like new, amazing things that can come out of just sitting next to a different department and not being as siloed, essentially.

Hollie Wegman: Yeah, I completely agree. And it’ll be interesting to see what happens as we work more remotely, how we’re going to be able to create those opportunities. So that’ll be interesting over time. 

Margot Leong: Exactly. Maybe like a lot of Slack or team chats as you were saying, or, you know, socially distanced, occasional sitting outside with different departments – something like that  . 

One of the last questions I wanted to talk to you about is career paths. A lot of people within customer marketing, they enjoy it so much that they end up sort of staying in it, and they love it and they can’t envision themselves anywhere else. For people that really enjoy customer advocacy, but are also interested in leveraging that experience to expand elsewhere or play a larger role within their organization, how should they think about developing their skillset? What are the natural adjacencies out there for them?

Hollie Wegman: Yeah, I think customer marketing is in a special position because they understand the customer, which gives them a lot of ability and flexibility. And I think that makes their career hard in a way, because there are so many things they can do, that they can get spread very thin.

But on the other hand, it’s a very powerful tool because if you think about understanding and knowing the customer. It’s going to be the way in which you are able to create the brand that gets into the hearts and minds of, you know, the next batch of customers. So you can clearly see a case for them to learn adjacencies around message-building, which is a very natural thing for customer marketers often anyway, in lifecycle marketing, and possibly demand gen and leading to a CMO.

You could also imagine them thinking through the customer experience very deeply and you know, on the path to kind of a chief customer officer, which in many companies now we’re starting to see that as a full-time role. 

Another possible path is customer success, or leading possibly even support because the customer, you know, it’s just intrinsically post- acquisition. And support is, or excuse me, success is very focused there as well. And so I think there’s a really good synergy there for a customer marketer to lean in on that side and potentially go toward a role that’s very senior in the success organization. 

So I think that really the hard part is figuring out what you’d like, you know, the most, what you’d enjoy, which is always the trick for everyone in building a career. But you’re in a unique position as a customer marketer to experience a lot in the organization. And I think can lean your career toward any number of possible, more senior roles.

Margot Leong: I love that. I think the love for the customer is just so inherent and to really understand a lot of different functions and departments and work closely with them, understand some marketing principles, understand how to think about being in service to the customer – I think the world can really be your oyster . 

One of my last questions is, you know, you have gotten a chance to talk to quite a few companies, especially in a very interesting time, you know, during COVID. And I’m curious to understand where you think marketing may be going within B2B and how you think COVID has changed that, if you think that even the focus on the customer has to be even more now, just because there’s less places to go for new pipeline. Yeah, I just wanted to get your thoughts on that.

Hollie Wegman: I can speak to it uniquely on the side of being a customer myself. My experience using technologies during this kind of tough time, I mean, and just also being a person, right? This is a time when a lot of things are changing. People are working out when they live in small apartments where they will work from home.

Parents are working out how they will work alongside their children. We’re all in difficult and new, uncharted territory and we rely on technology now in ways we never even expected. And psychologically, I think we need to have good clarity on like, okay, what can this technology do for me in this unique time? And is it going to support me and be reliable and delightful and make my life not harder at a time when everything’s already quite difficult. 

And you know, you think of something like how Zoom has really stepped up in this just unprecedented way to support business and continuing to have continuity. If you think of collaboration technologies like Miro and Figma and many others, Asana, you just think these feel like thank goodness you’re there for me. 

And I think that to the extent that you can bear in mind during this time that you want to make sure that you understand that state of mind of your customer and how you’re going to help them understand how your product is going to make their life easier and make their work easier in this time? I think that’s the critical insight that I’ve gained. 

Margot Leong: It’s interesting because it’s like when you even think about personas, you maybe even need to rework some of those personas and think about them in this new age. And the great thing is that, like, there’s no sort of person better suited to doing that than someone within customer marketing to have that existing relationship. And maybe a way that our function can be helpful during this time is to spend some time doing that research, right. Especially if you are at a company where you don’t have the resources or separate teams that do research or all this persona work, right. 

I think that you bring up a very good point, which is that we are in a great spot to really talk to the current customer and understand, okay, what is your state of mind in a very authentic way that doesn’t feel like, you know, sort of a very impersonal survey that will get much less likelihood of being answered even.

Hollie Wegman: Yeah. I think that does make customer marketing critical because you guys already have the relationship with the customer to have an authentic conversation, but maybe it just starts out with: how are you coping right now? You know, and just being a person and asking people, you know, how are you doing? 

And I think, you know, in a customer relationship, that’s close with somebody on the customer marketing side, you know, you really do know these people that you’ve been talking to them potentially for years. And I think there is an opportunity there to get some insight about what their world is like and how your product should fit in maybe in a different way than prior to this particular new, strange time. 

Margot Leong: Of course I love that, but, you know, Hollie, I so appreciate you taking the time to chat.  There are so many takeaways and things that I’ve learned, so thank you so much. Last question is where can our listeners find you if they want to connect?

Oh, I am on LinkedIn all the time. And so you go to, then you’ll find me, and I love to be connected to anybody who is pursuing a career in this or interested in this topic. 

Perfect. Well, thank you so much, Hollie. I really appreciate it. 

Hollie Wegman: Thank you so much, Margot, this has been just a real pleasure to talk with you. I always enjoy it. 

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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