506: Category Design (and When Your Company Needs To Do It) w/ Jennifer Johnson

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode we talk to Jennifer "JJ" Johnson, Chief Marketing officer at Tenable.

There's a ton of noise out there. Sohow do you get decision makers to pay attention to your brand start a podcastand invite your ideal clients to be guess on your show, learn more atsweetfish media dotcom, you're, listening to the BEA Tabeegrowth show a potcast dedicated to helping bee to be executive, achieveexplosive growth, whether you're looking for techniques and strategiesor tools and resources. You've come to the right place, I'm James Carbury andI'm Jonathan Green. Let's get into the show before we get into the day'sinterview. I want to tell you about another pod gassthat. I think you'rereally going to love. It's called the marketing book podcast and it was namedby Lintan as one of Tin pod casts. That will make you a better marketer andtoasted by my friend Douglas Burgdat, who he'v had on the podcast in the pastand Douglas does weekly interviews with authors of best selling marketing andsalesbooks according to a dobe survey of marketers. Seventy six percent ofthem said that marketing has changed more in the last two years than in theprevious fifty. So when you subscribe to this pod Gass the marketing book,Podgast you're, going to be able to keep up with the quickly changinglandscape of modern marketing in sales th. One thing that is unique about this-that I think is really interesting. Is that Douglas reads every single bookbefore every interview, and you can tell that in the engagement that he isable to have with each of the authors that he interviews you can just tell heknows this content because he's read the entire book. He hasn't just readthe cliff notes, so Hehas done over a hundred interviews, I think they're atone EPISODEO, one thirty, four right now by the time you're hearing thisthey might be at one hundred and thirty five, but I want you to head over Yoalready in the PODCAST AP had over and search for the marketing book. Podcastget subscribe, download a few episodes.

You can check out the website atmarketing, but PODCAST DOT com. You can follow them on twitter at MarketingBook T. I really really really want you to subscribe to this fi gas. This isone that I get a ton of value from it. I think you will as well welcome backto the bee to be Gros shew. Today we are joined by Jennifer. JohnsonJennifer is the CMO at Tenabol, and I actually read recently that she is thefirst chief marketing officer in the company's history. So this is an extraexciting episode. Jennifer woke into the show tank, you very much Jonathangreat to be here its a pleasure to have you here. You Um dustit off the oldSCIP account to join us here, which is fantastic, so we're getting a chance toto connect today and we're going to be talking about category design. Beforewe get intoday's topic, maybe you can tell our listeners a little about whatyou and your team at tenibl or up to these days, yeah sure. So, just quickbackground or me, and by the way everybody calls me Jj. So please feelfree to use that I have been in Silconvalley and enterprise softwaremarketing for the last twenty years worked for a variety of companies fromsmall startups to HP the hps of the world. So I've seen kind of every stageof company even worked on the BCSIDE for a little wild Endreson horrowetsand was first CM CIB security company called Tanium prior to tenable, so I'vekind of seen I've seen the Gamit one thing that to not- and the topic ofToday on category design is something I'm very passionate about. Is I had thepleasure of working with three CMOS between my time, Attaniam antenable M,a firm called playbigger, and I highly recommend that you go out and read thisbook, so they basically wrote a book on category design. These are former CMOSwell known, Siamos in the valley, and they started an advisory firm to helpcompanies define and dominate market categories. So I got a a chance to kindof sit with them in the driver's seat...

...and see first hand how the process isdone and we're actually w just m did the first phase of it. attenable soreally excited about where we're going with our own category and happy toshort my peals of wisdom. Here, that's fantastic, so juge I you know, I alwaystake a perverse delight in bringing on guestsof the show that are smarter than me and that's basically, all of them. Sofar, so you know, even if we can just talk a little about you know whatcategory design is, because I I sort of have this idea that you know you'reyour creading and monotizing new markets, but it's not anything. I havea serious familiarity with, and so, if we can just kind of start there andthen and then take it away yeah so I mean the concept of market categories,everyone as a consumer in this world, everyone should be familiar with what acategory is right. There's categories of toothfaste of phones of you knowanything right a and I think in the world of F, especially the world oftechnology and and enterprise software. There was kind of this vacuum of real,an understanding of really how to kind of think differently and carve out newmarkets, and I think, there's kind of stums from a couple f things. One isthat a lot of companies when they start they're, technically driven engineeringfounded, there's real eningeneering D N, A and a lot of tech companies, and,while that's great for many things, I think there're sometimes is aprevailing wisdom of well. The technology will just sell itself rightif you build it, they'll come and, as we all know, it' it's easier than everto start a company. Now the market is more and more crowded and every marketsegment and enterprice software. As warmmore crowded you look at like CIsecurity, the industry I'm in I mean there's literally five thousand vendorsin the space and new one's popping up every day, and so the need to carve outa new space. So you don't just kind o get you know, sucked into the noise ofeveryone else and sound and look and walk and talk like everyone else, andreally, when you're doing that, what you're doing is you're walking into anagenda that somebody else is set, and so it's it's come upon us, as you know,sales and and marketers, to really cut...

...above the noise and think differentlyand really prescribe a different way, not necessarily a better way. 'cause. ABetter Way, I usually is were fat, aster, we're cheaper speeds and feedsright, but really changing the agenda and prescribing anew or a different wayof of working and living, and that's really what category design is- and youknow say that most of the enterprise technology market segments out thereare extremely crowded. Today I work in CIBER security. I don't think there'smuch more of a crowded segment than cyber. I mean, there's literallythousands of companies in the space and new ones popping up every day, and soeveryone sounds the same, and you know that's. One of the reasons that I wasso excited to join. Tenable is because not only did they they believe in thisprocess of category designed, but they were committed to hey. You know what weneed to. We need to change the game. We need to reshape the market and create anew agenda out in in the market to to really help our customers right, solvethis really serious problem and not just sound like everybody else, 'cause,no one wins right. I mean the K Ow, helping the people who are trying toprotect all of us as consumers and keep our information safe as marketers inthe cyber industry. I take that very seriously. It's upon us to help peopleclearly understand an and clearly you know we need a new way to think aboutcyber. So that's kind of the notion of category design is thinking about a newway to work or live, and is there judg? Is there a distinction between the ideaof sort of providing a new product of service versus just marketing it in adifferent way, or is that not even a factor when it comes to category design?Yeah? It's a great question, so I think the danger of going into a an existingmarket is you die by definition, going into a market where there's incumbents,who maybe market leaders and who have a lot of the market share already, whohave made of Alveay setthe agenda in the market with customers with theindustry. Analysts like the Garteners of the world, so you N W it's a fairstrategy and in some case, as it does...

...make sense going, and what what I wouldcall reviving a stagnant category like if there hasn't been innovation in acategory N in a while. You can successfully use that as a categorydesigned strategy as to go and reimagine in existing category, but insome cases it makes sense just to go chart out a new category, and thattakes time d. We can talk about that, but that might I, in some cases that isthe better strategy, is to go and actually create and define a tat newcategory. So all right, if, if you're sort of h charging forward you'returning out and designing a new category, you know why is is somethingthat companies should do in the first place. I mean, if is this onlysomething that works for companies that are struggling business, also workd forfor the incumments that we were talking about earlier? It absolutely does, andI think that there's always this interesting balance of you know smallercompanies, it's a strategy smaller companies can use to. You know end,though the market in the right way, so you know it it's harder to get mind,share it's harder to get air cover when you're, smaller, so category design canbe a useful strategy to chart out a new course from the beginning. On the otherend of the spectrum, the uncombents they usually have the customer base, AFthe mind, share and they're considered thought leaders in the industry, so itwould be. They've already got the pieces to actually go out and reshape amarket. It's a lot of times, and I've worked in these big companies.Sometimes you can't get out of your own way and internal politics andbureaucracy, and too many cooks in the kitchen, so to speak, sometimes hinderinnovation and Andact the same for category designed. But you know, Ithink one of the main, the most important things to understand aboutcategory design is that it's at a marketing strategy. It's a companystrategy and CA category design done right is going to transcend your entirecompany because it's a rallying it's a rallying cry that will help shape yourcompany culture. It's a container if you will for your product strategy. Sothis will give you a category.

...doneright will take years to define,and so this becomes your multiyear company strategy. It helps it helpsactually provide a north star for what kind of products do we build? Who? Whatdo we partner with? Because no one company alone is going to be able tofulfil the entire category vision by themselves? So you're goingto needpartners and if you are the only one that can fulfil it, then I'd say yourcategories too small right and then of course, there's the you know: RevenueImpact and the petent. You know obviously you're going to be in theenterprise software world. You want to sell as high as you can. You want tosell as much as you can. You want to get sticky and and renewals and upselland Crosselan. This provides a framework for all of those things towork in concert together, K got it and you know you. You had made the pointoffline and I I think, sort of as you're explaining h some of the newonts to category design. You know you had said: There's no real one size fitall I mean it does. Does that exist or does it not? No, I think it's it'sthere's. No cookie cutter, I mean there's a framework and a process thatevery company that's embarking on. This should go through and I would encourageeveryone to go and get the play bigger book. It's literally called playbiggerand it's all around category design, and in that book there is a processframework for how you would take a company through the category definitionand design journey, but how you get it's KINDOF that here's the guide toget to the right answer, but what the right answer is is going to bedependent on the company. What space they're in what the market andcompetitive landscape looks like it's, O variety offactors, the most importantthing is: Do you have commitment from the entire executive team, startingwith the CEO to go and Bark on this? That is actually the biggest success orfailure critteria, because otherwise, what's going to happen, is the CMO willgo and quarterback this process internally? And then everybody Kinda,if they're not bought in they're, going...

...to lose interest with the next shinyobject, come belong and then it dies in a couple of quarters and it becomes amarketing campaign. That's what you don't want right or you don't want theproduct seem kind of going off and building something. You know that's notin parallel with the category, so you have to get like internally. It's it'sas much about internal mobilization as it is actually what you're going to goexternally talk to the market about yeah. That makes a lot of sense, a andso Ja. My one immediate question that is, that is springs. Mind is, as I'vehad. We've had guests on the show and varying degrees of doing one thing anddoing that really. Well, because that's whatyou're, good at and versus you know, expanding your value proposition doingdoing multiple things I mean. Is this a fact, th R, that you need to consideras you're? Maybe thinking about expanding into you know this newcategory design? I guess you're trying to maybe break into some sort of newmarket, or you know, are there times when you have to hold back and thinkyou know what we should really focus in on on what we're good at and focus inon where we are now yeah. So, like I'll, give you an analogy to answer thatquestion salesforce right so I'd say: Sales, forest and Mark Bennyoff isprobably one of the best category designers of all time and what he did.Is He? If you look at you KN W sales forse, hence the name of the company.You don't do Crm, which is in cloud CR. I'm really the category that he definedto deposition the seaples of the world right at the time, and if you look atwhat crm? Is it it's about connecting marketing and sales and customerssupport into this whole notion of customer success and a life cycle thatspans across all those functions and sales? Forte has products that sit ateach one of those they have their marketin cloud. They have theirservicecloud, they have their sales cloud, but the heritage of the company and Whatevevery single person that in every company that enbarks on Crm, they allstart with salesforse autimition bit.

You don't get to CR m withoutsalesforse automation. So I think the analogy there is and the message thereis. You should understand what you're really good at, and you shouldunderstand what core problem that you're solving and you use that as thebase or the Onran to this broader. This broader category right, like I, don'tknow how you could ou s, rm without doing sales, forse autimation s as anexample Yo yeah. I love that J J you K W are there any then, as our audiencstuning in D and sort of thinking about category design and where they may wantto take that? Do you have any acsionable pieces of advice like thingsthat they could take back to their company? You know take a look at this or you know. First,things. First have a conversation with your CEO? U, what's what's kind of ajumping off point for people yeah. I think that it's always a good exercise,and this is just good marketing best practice in general for a CMO, two gothrough a positioning and point of view, exercise with the executive team andfocus not on the solution but folcus on the problem that you're solving,because if you can get clear and by the way, you're probably going to get tenvariations on the problem. You're solving, if you ask ten people in thecompany right so getting the company clear on the problem, you're solving isthe first step, because, if you're clear on the problem, then you framethe answer to that problem and you're the only one that can solve it right.So that's just good have a clear point of view as the company that's like stepone and then from there it's like okay. Well, we know what problem we'resolving and we can frame it so that we're the only solution to it, then, is:What is the category that honors that problem right and what you'll likelyfind is when you can get to the answer of the problem. You're solving you'llrealize that the category that you're playing in today is not big enough, andso those things kind of go hand in hand and look even if you don't get pasthaving a provocative and compelling point of view, having a provocative andcompelling point of view is probably...

...better than ninety percent of the othercompanies Yau're competing with ou yeah yeah. That sounds great well Jja. Ithink this has been some tremendous content. I'm learning a lot from thisconversation, and so I love that. I hope, certainly, that our listeners arelearning a lot as well and if they have any maybe followi questions you knowthey want to find out more about today's topic or even find out what youintennable are up to you moving forward. What's the best way for them to go aboudoing that yeah, I feel free to reach out to me on Lington and connect withme, I'm Jennifer Johnson. I also have some articles I posted on there that Iwrote about category design in addition to the playbigger book, so feeel freeto reach out on that on twitter, 'm, J, J, underscor CMO. So if Yoll free tofollow me and communicate with me that way- and you know thesare- probably thebest ways to reach me and everyone go out and read that play bigger book. Itreally is it's life, changing prfect! Well, cange, thanks, againt, somuch for your time to dame as a pleasure having you on the show.Alright. Thank you. So much prabving me to ensure that you never miss anepisode of the B to B grosth show subscribe to the show in Itunes or yourfavorite pod cast player. This guarantees that every episode will getdelivered directly to your device. If you'd like to connect with be to beexecutives from all over the world make sure to join our private facebookcommunity. There are some incredible conversations happening inside thisgroup to join visit B to b growth show tcom, slash FB. Thank you so much forlistening until next time.

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