CMO Confessions Ep. 22: Hired Inc.’s Katrina Wong

Hello and welcome to CMO Confessions, our weekly podcast encapsulating what it means to be a marketing and sales leader in the B2B space today.

This week on CMO Confessions we have Katrina Wong, Vice President of Marketing at Hired. Katrina is a friend of mine and we have had the good fortune to discuss all things marketing over the years.

As the head of Hired’s marketing efforts, Katrina is tasked with marketing to two significant audiences: businesses and consumers. Her solution to addressing these audiences — to bring them together into one — is an effective one, and one I hope more businesses adapt.

In this episode, Katrina and I discuss a range of topics, including her move to business-to-human marketing, how companies like Hired are reimagining in-person events and the difference between building a brand and building a high-growth engine.

If you’re interested in discovering what else Katrina has to say, you can find her Twitter profile here. If you’re interested in her background you can check out her LinkedIn profile here.

If you’re interested in listening to our growing podcast series, you can find all of our episodes right here in podbean. Alternatively, you can also find us on both iTunes and Google Play stores.

Without further ado, welcome to CMO Confessions. Let’s chat.

Table of Contents

What is B2H Marketing?
Katrina’s Pet Peeves About Marketing Today
The Creation of a Director of Marketplace Operation
The Wow Factor: Inject Whimsy and Humor Into Your Marketing
Building a Brand Vs. Building a High-Growth Engine
Are Customer Engagement and Demand-Gen Worlds Merging?
Partner With Your Customers To Bring In New Customers
Customer Engagement to Retain Happy Customers

Transcript:

Joe Hyland:        

Hello and welcome to this week’s episode of CMO Confessions, a weekly B2B sales and marketing podcast where we explore what it really means to be a marketing leader in today’s business world. Today I’m super excited to have my friend and colleague Katrina Wong on from Hired. Katrina is the VP of marketing over at Hired. Katrina, how are you doing?

Katrina Wong:

Good, thanks Joe for having me on. I am super excited to be speaking with you.

Joe Hyland:

I feel like you and I have had this same conversation probably 20 times over a drink or over a coffee. So this is going to be super natural other than the fact that we have recording devices in our face.

Katrina Wong:

That’s right. That’s right.

Joe Hyland:

All right. Let me dive into your world and what you’re doing. And kind of throughout this discussion, I want to talk about the convergence that is occurring between B2B and B2C marketing. I think few companies have that happening within their own organization. So talk what you guys are doing at Hired and how that impacts your marketing because you guys are actually doing both B2B marketing and B2C marketing.

WHAT IS B2H MARKETING?

Katrina Wong:

That’s right. We are a two-sided marketplace and we really work on matching tech talent, primarily engineers candidates, with employers that are hiring the tech talent. So, on one end we are marketing to candidates and on the other end we’re marketing to companies. It’s been a fascinating journey. I really come from a B2B background. And one of the first things that I noticed was that you know, when I started leading the team was that we were very separate.

It was you were either a B2C marketer or a B2B marketer and you know, over time, I’ve been a huge proponent of you are just marketing to humans and it’s really not so much B2C or B2B, it’s B2H. Right. And there’s some other mega themes around that consumerization of, you know, business. We’ve been talking about it, but it’s been a great journey cause I’m witnessing this live and we now don’t have — I kind of took that away — we don’t have B2C marketers and B2B marketers we’re just marketers, one team. And we’re starting to see that the same campaigns really, really resonate with both tech talent as well as business decision makers.

Joe Hyland:

That’s interesting. So when you arrived, you’ve been at Hired for around a year, is that right?

Katrina Wong:

A year and a half.

Joe Hyland:

A year and a half. Man, time flies fast.

Katrina Wong:

It’s been about 18 months.

Joe Hyland:

Okay. So they were, in fact, separate organizations within marketing or within Hired. Did you have a like a B2C side and the B2B side?

Katrina Wong:

That’s right. They were separate organizations all within the umbrella of marketing. But really, I initially just led the B2B team and I barely even knew what we were doing on the B2C team. So a lot has changed since then and you know, we’re now fully integrated.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. Okay. That’s fascinating. And to me it makes a lot of sense, but I can understand why they were separated at one point. How do you guys look, how do you view the, how do you handle the personas for each? Because at the end of the day, people are all people, but they have very different goals and objectives and even backgrounds. So you guys have these two groups under one umbrella. Do you just treat them as different personas, different use cases? You’re trying to accomplish different things, like what’s that look like?

Katrina Wong:

Definitely further into the funnel. And especially on a B2B side, we do have developed personas and it is different. But in terms of just top of the funnel, you’d be surprised. We’re starting to do campaigns that are healthy start workouts and that’s appealing to candidates as well as to prospects. And there’s no real agenda other than start your day with a dose of cardio with Hired.

And what was interesting is in kind of today’s times, and we can kind of touch on this later, in such a metrics oriented, I guess, phase of marketing in measuring ROI, we’re getting the same ROI and all of a sudden I was like, “Huh, you know, maybe going to a fun event and it’s not so hefty, not a panel is just as effective as the traditional B2B tactics where we’re doing the data-centric panels,” for example.

THE CREATION OF A DIRECTOR OF MARKETPLACE OPERATIONS

Joe Hyland:

That’s kind of interesting, isn’t it? How do you look at measuring; and I promise you I’ll get off this topic, it’s just so fascinating to me, so I’ll get off of it in a second. How do you handle measurement for these two kinds of wildly different groups you’re going after, even if they might be trying to accomplish the same thing in some settings?

Katrina Wong:

Well, you know what? We actually created a brand new role. So we have a Director of Marketplace Operations. And so if you think about the funnel, it’s almost a double funnel on one side with candidates, on the other side we have employers. And this person is in charge of understanding where we stand from a metrics perspective every step of the funnel; but guess what, in real-time. And we’re matching supply and demand also in real-time. So, think of this person as, his name’s John, as an air traffic controller. Right? And at any one time, we’re having to really adjust our marketing efforts in real-time on the B2B side because of dynamics on the marketplace. And same thing on the B2C side. So we had to create a new position. So there’s somebody dedicated full time on this every day.

Joe Hyland:

Okay. Sounds like John’s got a pretty important role.

Katrina Wong:

Absolutely. Absolutely.

KATRINA’S PET PEEVES ABOUT MARKETING TODAY

Joe Hyland:

Okay, cool. So I have my answers particularly since I am living squarely within the B2B side even though I’ve seen convergence as well between consumerization and B2B marketing. I’d love to hear your probably somewhat unique perspective on some of your pet peeves for marketing today and totally your call if you want this to span B2B and B2C or just B2B. But I’d love to hear what kind of irks you and maybe keeps you up at night.

Katrina Wong:

We can talk a little bit about both. In the B2B sphere content marketing, we know that it works. And because the sales cycles are longer, the best marketers really use that window to educate, to share knowledge, and just provide overall value, right, to the audience. So one of my biggest pet peeves is when content is just created so quickly and it’s generic and it falls flat on its promise. And coming from a demand gen background, I know that creating pipeline is hard and sometimes you really are under so much pressure to offer up content quickly and frequently. But, ideally, you really do want to deliver value each and every time.

So there’s a lot of quality information out there that’s available to buyers. The bar is really high; it’s a good thing. And part of that bar of being so high is because on the B2C side of things it is easy to create fun, engaging, whimsical content. So that really elevated the bar for B2B marketers.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. I think that’s a great answer. I haven’t thought about this for maybe even the last four or five months. I think you’re right. So there’s this huge move to creating kind of short form, very consumable content. That’s great. I think what I’m seeing a lot in our world is a lot of clickbait, BuzzFeed, Ask content that says nothing. And it’s frustrating, right?

I’m pretty vociferous in terms of consuming content. I love it. I think it’s one of the things that’s important when you lead a marketing team. And I can’t tell you the number of times that I click on something and what I actually read has no substance and I don’t even know why I’m reading it at all, and 30 seconds in I just throw it away. But I feel like marketers are creating more and more of that content.

Katrina Wong:

I know. And that’s where, you know, on the B2B side, even though the content should be fun and once people engage in it, it has to provide value and so when the lines are blurred, even more these days, it is that fine line and it’s sometimes it’s hard to walk that fine line.

THE WOW FACTOR: INJECT WHIMSY AND HUMOR INTO YOUR MARKETING

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. Do you guys, how do you look at, you mentioned fun and whimsical a couple of times, and I have my own opinions on this, but how do you look at injecting humor into your marketing?

Katrina Wong:

One of the campaigns we did was a nice blend of that. So it was a B2B campaign, but they were a lot of B2C elements to it. So, last year we ran a campaign, we simply called it Nike Talks and we brought in customers to speak and prospects to attend. So it was your standard customer panel, but it was a VIP event at a Nike store. And then we started doing it in all the different cities.

And so the topic was it was about hiring, but the attendees got a gift card and we rounded out the evening with a dedicated shopping experience. So the fun, the whimsical, we call this the “Wow Factor.” So it’s not that common in B2B types of events where we’re combining two brands, it was power of the Hired brand plus drafting off of a larger brand, Nike. So it was the amplification of Nike on top of our brand. So that’s an example of the two spheres kind of coming together and that was kind of fun.

Joe Hyland:

That’s a fantastic idea. Is Nike a customer or did they look at this as like a little partner opportunity or was it’s more just that they were willing to lend out their stores?

Katrina Wong:

They were willing to lend out their store. But since then we’ve actually started partnering with larger brands because now we have this on video and we’re selling ourselves. So without giving too much away, we run an annual equal pay day campaign. So a staging for that, we’re going to be partnering with some larger brands.

Joe Hyland:

Wow. That is awesome. I love that. I love that campaign. That’s really creative. It makes, it makes me think of something that my wife went to a few years ago. It was, I don’t know if it was during Dreamforce, but it was during one of the big conferences. Salesforce rented out the flagship Levi’s store here in San Francisco. And it was a woman. It was pretty funny actually. It was, it was a Woman in Technology kind of event. And they held it Levi’s because, you know, they felt women love shopping. And my wife said to me, “I’m kind of offended at that. Like I don’t like that gross generalization.” But she still went and she came back and she said, “Joe was the best event I’ve ever been to.” I said, “what about the gross generalization on women and shopping?” And she said, “they gave out $200 pair of jeans, so whatever, I’ll take it.”

Katrina Wong:

Oh my God, that’s so funny. But see, right, like the appeal, the Wow Factor, right? She’s a business person, but as well as a consumer. So yeah. So anyway, it’s been, it’s been really fun. This a fun time to be a marketer.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. Well I think it speaks to something else as well, which is get creative. Like, you know, I think of myself as blurring lines on what’s what’s possible in a B2B world. And I would have never thought of doing something like that. So Kudos to you and your team. But you don’t have to do, you know, a roadshow at the W every time and have it be following certain rules and protocols for how you engage with customers and prospects like in a get out of the box and do something different.

Katrina Wong:

I really credit the fact that here at this company we have both B2C marketers by training as well as B2B marketers. So it’s been so wonderful working with this team and the synergies that — because once we kind of removed that artificial line the ideas just started flowing. Just started flowing.

Joe Hyland:

And you’re right in the B2C world, of course, you naturally think of that is in fact what you’re doing, you’re marketing for or with brands. It’s really interesting. I think as consumers, you know this has happened in the last 10 years, we’re all so used to finding our own information; we all self-research, all that bs that we’ve all talked about forever. We’re also used to a certain experience, a certain intuitiveness with products starting with whether it’s using our iPhone or Android, no one’s at least I haven’t looked at a user manual in what feels like five or ten years.

And so the old school way of developing business software is changing. And I think more and more technology is intuitive in the business world. But I haven’t, I’ve thought about it less on the persona and profile of marketers. And that’s a super-interesting point that if you have marketers who have been on the consumer side and they bring that thought process and experience of consumer marketing to the business world, that’s pretty cool.

Katrina Wong:

It is. It is.

BUILDING A BRAND VS BUILDING A HIGH GROWTH ENGINE

Joe Hyland:

Okay, cool, all right. Let’s, speaking of consumerization and the consumer side where building a brand is so important and I’ll push you a little bit in the B2B direction for a moment. Talk about building a brand versus building a high-growth engine, and not that they need to be mutually exclusive, but I think traditionally they have been.

Katrina Wong:

That’s right. I think these days the other super-high bar is measurable results, period, as a marketer. And I think that in past years building a brand was perceived to not be as measurable and that building high-growth engine was almost perceived to be kind of boring and it was just about the numbers.

These days with the tech tools out there you really can do both but at the end of the day if I had to pick one or the other, like I really hang my hat on being able to drive revenue for the business and that just does require the high growth engine, the rigor, the discipline and the tracking, honestly.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. I agree, I mean, you and I are cut from the same cloths and we both come from pretty strong demand-gen backgrounds, right? So, I wake up thinking about how to grow the business and that’s what I love. You’re the same way. Does that mean you then lean on other folks in the organization to have strong creative or brand leadership underneath you? Because I think one thing that I see a lot of smart leaders doing is knowing their strengths and what they naturally lean into and ensuring that you have strong people around you to kind of fill out or round out the entire sphere.

Katrina Wong:

Absolutely. I mean, you really can’t be an expert in everything. What’s worked out for this team, I mean, we don’t have someone dedicated to owning brand. And in terms of corporate marketing, just really being both mar-comm and visual design. But what’s worked well for us are just working sessions and brainstorming sessions and that’s where I bring everyone into the room. And it’s optional if you don’t want to brainstorm about a particular campaign, you don’t have to, if that’s not what you’re currently working on. And that’s kind of worked really well. So at our company, and the team’s about 25 people big it’s we’re all contributing to a brand creative brand ideas. Yeah, so it’s been another amazing part of the journey.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. I think that’s, I like that you just said that because I think a lot of people have a “needs to be invented by them” or by a certain group or team. We probably to a fault here at ON24 in our marketing team, we have a pretty similar size by the way, it’s about 25 people, we have these creative brainstorms. We just had our two-day offsite actually earlier this week. Yeah. It’s fantastic. We try to have this, this mindset of there’s no such thing as a bad idea and I think brilliant ideas come out through that creative brainstorming process where there might be someone on the demand-gen team who comes up with a really creative treatment for a campaign or we tend to have a really strong brand leader, so I’m lucky in that sense. But we have kind of an open source model as well in terms of coming up with creative ideas. A little similar.

Katrina Wong:

Yeah. And you know where I see the seeds just kind of growing in terms of creativity it’s certainly all over the place, right? It could be somebody on the growth side, it could be somebody on the demand-gen side, somebody super operational. It’s been interesting to really look at where the hands are being raised about an idea and we definitely don’t quite fall into the stereotypes. Some of the most creative ideas are coming out of groups that aren’t really tasked to do so.

Are Customer Engagement and Demand-Gen Worlds Merging?

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. That’s cool and that gets everyone engaged. Right? I think that’s a really smart thing to do within a team. Okay, so another area I’m curious to get your take on is we’ve talked about a lot of convergence here, so customer engagement and demand-gen and your Nike Talks event kind of makes me think of this. So I think a more traditional view of how to run a marketing team is there is a side of marketing that is doing customer engagement and kind of what happens after someone signs on as a customer, at least in the B2B world. And then there’s the demand-gen side, all they care about is prospects and bringing in new net leads and driving demand and pipeline, which is wonderful, incredibly important. Are you seeing those two worlds merge at all? And I bring this up after you talked about the Nike Talks event. Do you have events where you say, I want customers to be there and but I really want prospective customers to also come and participate or do you separate them still?

Katrina Wong:        

Oh, ours is blended because when possible, right, and you have customers there, they’re your best advocates. And when you mix customers or prospects with no prep, they naturally sell for you. Right? And I think it’s because they come to a Hired event, they’re going to get asked questions about our platform and so I’m a huge fan of mixing the two. Even on our panels, believe it or not, our whole customer panels, some of them are prospects and want deals that way.

PARTNER WITH YOUR CUSTOMERS TO BRING IN NEW CUSTOMERS

Katrina Wong:

We also have our own podcasts. And many of our podcast guests are not customers yet and we’ve certainly closed some business off of just simply talking about our craft. So it’s been amazing to me. I’m excited too.

Joe Hyland:

Yeah. I think that’s well said. Your last point is I think it’s, I think as marketers you’re really careful to not be too aggressive and talking about their product or offering a solution when trying to convert someone from being a prospect to a paying customer. Nothing sells like knowing their space or the space that you serve; nothing sells better than that. Right? So it’s a great point. You have people on your podcast, you’re probably not talking about how they can utilize Hired’s solution, you’re talking about the space and their challenges. Right? And maybe, in the end, they think “Boy, Hired really gets me and gets what we’re doing. We really should partner with them.”

Joe Hyland:

Good for you that’s pretty creative and I think smart. So my take is pretty similar to yours on this one. We see eye to eye on a lot of this stuff. One, I think your best marketing is done by your customers. That you are going to be somewhat biased about Hired, I’m going to be somewhat biased about ON24, but a Hired customer or an ON24 customer, they’ve got no skin in the game. It comes across as very authentic. And I think customers appreciate that. Some of our, not just in this role, but in past roles, some of my greatest advocates have been happy customers because they feel like they researched a space, they made an investment, they made a selection and they want to see that company succeed. So, if you can partner with your customers, man can they help bring in future customers.

CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT TO RETAIN HAPPY CUSTOMERS

Joe Hyland:

So what about, in the example we just talked about, it’s a customer kind of speaking on your behalf, helping you sell, even if even if that’s not the only goal. What about your team, how do you guys look at customer engagement to ensure that you’re retaining customers and your customers are happy and healthy and want to be Hired customers for the long term? I assume you have a services group, which of course that’s their day-to-day responsibility, but does any of that ongoing best practices or communications sit within marketing?

Katrina Wong:

Yes. Some of the believe it or not very transactional types of triggers from within the application currently sit in marketing. So this is also a borrowed concept from the B2C world of life cycle marketing. And so we within the life cycle marketing, we have two team members and Harley for example, is he works with the candidate side to really get engagement up. And then the other team member, Tai, what he does is he will do the same thing, but for the corporate customers, for our employers. So there’s a fair amount of marketing being done just to ensure that we have engagement and hitting milestones from within our application.

Joe Hyland:

I’m seeing a lot of that in many, many, many organizations where more responsibility on the customer side and customer engagements sits with marketing. I think historically that it just really hasn’t companies would hire a whole bunch of CSMs and cross their fingers and hope for the best throw bodies at it. We have a pretty similar model that we put a lot into our customer community the last few years, but less so on the life cycle. For me that’s a really big push is to ensure that our customers are getting the most out of our offering but it’s really an engagement play.

And then the other side is we call it awareness. I try to be really careful on upselling customers too much from our vantage point so we try to make sure that customers are aware of everything that they could use from ON24 without actually giving an aggressive push. But a lot of that sits in marketing now, whereas in the past it sat in our CS organization and our sales side. So we’re trying to own more of that customer journey, which I think is an exciting, an exciting venture.

Katrina Wong:

Super. Awesome to hear. One idea that we’re almost ready to execute on is yet another B2C concept with engagement. So, in terms of the signed-on and signed-off experience, how can we delight and wow them. So without giving all that away it’s been really kind of cool to kind of work on and I’ll drop a hand, it’ll feel like ecommerce and it’s kinda nice. And we’re going to use that as a vehicle to get more engagement within the app.

Joe Hyland:

That’s cool. Well I told you this would happen in a blink of an eye. We’ve gone through our half hour or so we’re at the bottom of the hour.

Katrina Wong:

I know, time flew!

Joe Hyland:

It did. Thank you. Thank you so much to all of our listeners out there, I think the days of a chasm between B2B and B2C marketing is coming to an end. So stop thinking of them as two wildly discreet universes and get creative. I love the Nike Talks campaign, can’t wait to hear what you guys are doing next. Creative marketing doesn’t have to just live in a B2C world it very much can live in both. So Katrina, thank you so much. I really appreciate the time.

Katrina Wong:

Thank you. It’s been great speaking with you, Joe. Until next time.