B2B Growth: Your Daily B2B Marketing Podcast
B2B Growth: Your Daily B2B Marketing Podcast

Episode 2115 · 2 months ago

Achieving Clarity in Uncertain Times

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode, we talk to Dave King, Head of Marketing at Asana

Mhm Yeah. Hi everyone welcome back to be to begrowth. My name is Olivia Hurley and today I am joined by Dave King who isthe head of marketing at Asana Dave, how are you doing today? I do a greatOlivia, it's so good to see you. Thanks so much for having me. Oh my gosh! Ofcourse. Well you know we have all heard the sentence, we live in unprecedentedtimes, probably more than we can bear and while it has certainly lost some ofits gravitas, it hasn't, it still rings true. And so I think as marketers, youknow thinking about our conversation since we last talked, I think asmarketers were longing for some trailblazers to you know peer into thatfoggy future and make a way forward and Dave, I consider you and your team atAsana, some of those trailblazers and I'm I'm so glad that we get to unpacksome of what you have started to pave into the future today. Um and I waswondering can we just start at the very, very beginning? Can I just ask what isthe current state of work for marketers? Oh gosh! I mean you're right Olivia,unprecedented times. We saw all the TV spots and we've lived that reality overthe last 16 months. I think what people aren't talking about as much is thatthe reality of knowledge work really isn't that great right now there was agreat adam grant with this great piece in the new york times about languishingand it resonated with me because I think it put language on what a lot ofus are feeling, which is that blah of, you know, it's kind of the middle childbetween complete burnout and you know, thriving and being engaged in your work.And 16 months ago, all of us as marketers, we were asked to rise to theoccasion to take care of our customers, to take care of our business, to takecare of our families and that came at the expense of taking care of ourselves.And so, you know, I feel that duality myself of the current condition whichis, gosh, I I love my work. I've never felt more thankful to be able to havethat kind of uh the impact and the great feel grateful that I can do whatI get to do and dealing with the reality of Health issues across theteam, both mental and physical. I've been homeschooling three kids for 16months and just that that blah. So we actually um we just did this uh thisstudy that we call the anatomy of work index is one of the largest Uh studiesof knowledge workers across geography, ease. 13,000 knowledge workers inAustralia and new Zealand, japan...

Germany Singapore, us and UK. And whatthe study found was really consistent with Adam Grant wrote about languishingis people or people are struggling. And so a couple of the stats, 60% ofknowledge workers time is now being spent on work about work that busywork,who's doing, what are they doing at status meetings, email. That's justgotten worse during the pandemic. If you work in a large organization, over5000 employees, that increases to 63% is 2/3 of your time not doing marketing,but doing Doing busywork burnouts on the rise seven and 10 people haveexperienced it in the last year. Um We're working later, uh an hour ofadditional meetings per week. We're working an hour later per, per evening.And a lot of the tools that we really have relied on to stay connected, videoand messaging those have just kind of led to a greater sense of fatigue. Soas marketers, we feel this and I think it's up to all of us is marketingleaders is what can we do to create the conditions for our teams to kind ofmove from that languishing to thrive in. So that's what I've been spending a lotof time thinking about and experimenting with and and the team andI on how we can do that and we found a few things that are working. Yeah. Yeah,absolutely. Well, I'm curious you mentioned the importance of impact andI'm curious what that means to you. What do you need to be doing or feelingthat allows you to know that you are having impact. Mm. Yeah. I mean that'sthe kind of the sad reality that a lot of us feel is they were working harderthan ever. And yet the impact that we're having is the same or less thanwe had in the past and what we have found is the key to closing that impactgap is creating clarity, which is, hey, what is the thing that I am working on?How does that matter to the goals of the team and the mission of theorganization? So that's the first thing is like, do I know what I need to workon to really have an impact. And the second thing is, do I have the time andspace to actually do my craft or is my calendar so filled with all the busywork that I can't even work on it? So I think as marketers were in thisunprecedented time, it is going to. I think the only thing that we know forsure is that we're gonna need to adapt continually. And I think the key thingfor us is how do we create clarity for ourselves and our our teams? Do youthink that that is the next big step for distributed work? This idea ofpeople being just working on work and being remote and just the completelydifferent arena that we're now in, Do...

...you think clarity is the next move? Itwe're going through the, what I think is the largest workplace experiment inhistory of all these new models, totally remote work, hybrid work forday work weeks, distributed global teams. It's really exciting. It doesmean that that water cooler conversation and some of the techniquesthat we have relied on the past are no longer going to work. So the thing thateveryone needs, no matter what model they have, this kind of extreme clarityon what is my responsibility as an individual who's doing what, what arethey doing it and how does that connect with the goals of the mission? I thinkin doing that, there's kind of like most things in marketing, there's anart and a science to it and from a science perspective, these are kind ofevidence based methods that are really helped teams achieve that kind ofclarity I think, you know, I think there's really kind of three things, atleast that we've been focused on and the first is around the power of reallyeffective goal setting and using goals to move from being a micro manager to amacro manager. You know, it's funny during times of crises or times ofextreme change, there's often a tendency to want to micromanage, youknow, hey, we got to jump in and make sure everybody, you know, and that'sthe exact wrong thing that we should be doing and not many of us have livedthrough a pandemic. But there are other organizations that have a lot oforganizational experience in dealing with extreme uncertainty and themilitary is one of them and a couple of books that have been written that Ireally love. One is team of teams, the others turned the ship around and thesetalk a lot about how the command and control style of hierarchy just doesnot work when you have to work in extreme uncertain environments. And soI think we can borrow from that. And the key, the antidote to micromanagement is really effective goal setting. And so every marketing team,you know, of course, sets uh sets goals. They've got their targets and thestrategies to achieve them. The key thing that a lot of marketing teamsdon't do is do the bottoms up process of having each individual create andset their uncles that connect to the organization's goals and mission. Sowhat we do on our team is we have we have a few team goals, they're reallyclear and laid out. We then each of those goals has a couple, has a fewstrategies that drive to those goals and then every team member on the teamSets 1, 2, 3 personal goals and connects them to those team goals. Andthis does two things. The first is each...

...individual, a team is setting theirgoals on things they want to work on and they feel the agency and theautonomy and the accountability of of creating their own goals. Secondly, isthey share those goals with their cross functional colleagues and their manager.And what that does is it creates a license for them to focus on theirgoals and not and and to say no to those kind of what I call random actsof marketing that happened to come at you every single day. So it gives eachindividual clarity on what they're working on and it gives clarity to theother people on the team. So that's the first thing is really effective goalsetting and we all pay for service to it. And yeah, I think none of usprobably do it as well as we could. Well I love that. It's funny howsometimes simplifying down is the exact answer. And I think what you're saying,what it reminded me of is like little league soccer when you're all hyperfocused on your goal. But you each have your your roles and you just, you justescalate that idea up to like big stakes, marketing awesome endeavors.But it's still the same throughout life like having knowing what you areresponsible for and knowing that your other teammates are going to help youget there too. That's like that's like the the way to also infuse all thatwith passion. Yeah, I love that. My my daughters are soccer players and that'sa good, that's a good analogy. Could you imagine if you tried to direct asoccer player on where they need to be on the field at any given time and howthey need to know you, you lay out a vision of what you're trying to achieveas a group and then you trust them to figure out the best way to do it.Marketers are extremely creative and I find every time we give our team achance to solve a problem, they do it far better than I would. Oh man, I lovethat. That's so, that's so cool. So yeah, tell me more. Oh well, my secondkind of evidence based approach to clarity is to not reinvent the wheelbut to mass produce it. And I am still, you know, there there are theseworkflows that we do as marketers, probably dozens of them on, on everyteam that we do every single day. Um take, you know, creating, creatingcontent, managing the editorial calendar, conceiving of a content piece,drafting it, publishing it, promoting it, um, take an event or webinar.There's a series of steps and those steps, typically in many organizationsreside in the minds of the team member who's closest to that problem. Maybethey've documented a google doc or maybe they got some tribal knowledge,but in a world that's distributed in a...

...world where there's higher employeeturnover, where new employees are coming in all the time. How do youproduct ties those workflows? So Henry Ford didn't invent the wheel or theautomobile, but figured out how to mass produce it. And I think what we need todo is product ties are workflows, whether it is new employee onboarding,whether it's how to do a blog post, how to do a creative brief or set up acampaign or run a community event. So what we do is we use this on it forthis. But we, we have, we template ties these And create a series of tasks withrules. So if you're going to kick off a campaign, you click one button and yourwork back schedule is there and tasks are assigned to each member of theother way. And what's cool is we do, for example, we do a couple 100 eventsper year. We do several dozen campaigns at the end of each of those events orcampaign, we revisit the process. How can we make this better? We make thosesmall adjustments and we publish it back to the library. So a new member ofthe team, whether they're joining remotely or in an office, they can comein and go to the marketing library and see ah I can click this button tocreate a campaign, I can click this to kick off a blog post or to get thedesign team to do something all in one spot. So mass producing the wheelrather than reinventing them. I think that's genius and just absolutelygenius period. I all you know what it also makes me think of is a lot of jobdescriptions I have have this this line that says like doesn't need a lot ofhand holding for our ideal applicant is able to come in and just execute. Imean it's interesting, you know, the reality of getting to a new job thoughis you get so far and then you have a question because you don't know how todo something that's specific to the company or or you don't you know youdon't have institutional information or something like that and you end upfeeling like you need a little bit hand holding. Oh yeah. I mean marketing isone of the most functionally diverse departments in any company and let'ssay you bring in just some really terrific content creator, they're greatwriter, they should be able to focus on their writing. Not okay, how do I gofind the web dev engineer? How do I get the web project manager to teach me howto upload this? How do I go get a design? Let people focus on their craftand automate the rest. Oh my gosh, that's genius. And it means that whensomebody goes off to another opportunity, you didn't just lose allof that knowledge. Which is you know what you were saying at the beginning,which is like just terrible. You're like, I need you to come back and thisis a lot of the intellectual property...

...of the secret sauce on, you know, ofany marketing team is the way in which we do things. So if it's, you know, oneof our customers uber, what they're great at is how they roll out newservices in new cities. This is thousands of tasks. The ability totemplate is that product, by the way, there's no software that works forrolling out ride sharing services in new cities. But if you can templateties those and publish them, then you're right. Any individual moves on,at least that knowledge is collected. The third thing I think a lot of teamsare certainly with is just how do I have time to focus on my work and mycraft and this is where we really need to engineer our calendars for greaterfocus and flow. So we hosted a couple months ago, we we did we hosted thisfocus and flow of summit. It was really cool. We brought in some of the world'sleading researchers on human performance. These were folks like DrSahar yussef, who's a neuroscientist, Dr Michael drove a um Adam Grant fromWarton and we just got the latest on brain science and the conditions tomake humans successful. Let me share this with customers. The one of theinteresting findings was the human brain is a focused machine. It is notdesigned to multitask and there's huge cognitive impairment anytime we'retrying to do multiple things. But if we can have big blocks to focus and work,the brain is incredibly creative and productive. Now, what was kind ofhumbling in that experience was most of us, if we look at our calendar is atrain wreck, you know, it's And it got worse during the pandemic where we usedto have our meetings, but then we all got zoom fatigue. So we just shortenthe meetings. So now our days like 30 minute meetings, back to back to backuh messages, emails, we have no time to focus. So we designed and released awhole suite of features to help with focus and flow. And one of those, thekey is bringing your task list in your calendar into harmony. So if you have atask to work on, let's say you're doing some analysis on pipeline generation,great, you're going to need two or three hours to really get deep intothat. We introduced a smart calendar assistant where it will go and findthat block on your calendar. This is through our partnership of clockwiseand it'll even rearrange your calendar so that you can have three hours justdevoted to that task of doing your pipeline analysis. So one is,technology can help to is organizationally we've, we've createdum no medium Wednesday. So organizational wide, nobody can set upan internal meeting on Wednesday. So at...

...that time for just focus deep focusedwork and of course most of us need more than just Wednesday. So carving outthose work blocks throughout the week is a great way to engineer time forfocusing a marketer. You're probably brainstorming outside the box ideas toengage your prospects and customers working remotely and you've probablythought about sending them direct mail to break through the zoom fatigue. Buthow do you ship personalized gifts to remote decision makers? When you haveno idea where they're sitting at B two B growth. We use the craft and platformto send hyper personalized gifts to anyone working from anywhere. Craftingmakes it easy for your prospects and customers to pick and personalize theirown gift in real time and offers highly secure data capture. So decision makersfeel comfortable submitting their home addresses for shipping purposes to getyour own personalized craft and gift. Go to craft um dot io slash growth toschedule a demo and receive a complimentary personalized gift fromcraft. Um To claim your personalized gift, go to craft um dot io slashgrowth. I'm so curious about that. No meeting Wednesday. So on behalf of allof the people who are going to go, well, Dave like what if I need something oryou know, what if I what is your response to? You know, like emergencyflare ups are the marketing, you know, the invasive marketing tests or whatyou're referring to? What does that look like in practicality? Do thingsjust, do you find that that you are far more efficient because you have thattime block where things get delayed or what's your next client? They get donemonday, Tuesday, thursday and friday. And it's so funny the emergency flareups, how many things we think our emergency flare ups versus actually are,is dramatically different. So on Wednesday it is deep focused work. Nomeetings can be scheduled. Now, is there an occasional issue that couldget resolved on slack or on asana? Absolutely, of course. And people arestill are working in our responsive, but all those things are like, hey,let's just let's get on a 30 minute call because this is really 99% ofthose can wait for Thursday. I think that's so redemptive in some ways. Whatyou're talking about is deep diving into individual tasks, becoming anexpert, really, really owning your work. And I think I certainly have, you know,in many ways, like bought into the best way that I can do my work is thequickest. And I think that that's that's actually genuinely beautiful tome because I think like you said, the or dr Yousef said, the human brain is afocus machine, that's like I crave that and I am so excited that you guys aredoing that well, we have all mistaken activity for productivity for so long.You know, it feels it feels great to be needed to be constantly triaging andresponding and and putting out fires.

And yet when you look at the scienceand the evidence of our we actually more productive. I think what all theseneuroscientists have come back and study after study is No, we're not. Itmay you may feel that dopamine hit of working to put out the fire, but you'renot actually being the most productive. And as marketers, we became marketerscould we love the craft. So how do you create space to actually do the workrather than all the work about the work? I love that work about the work. Nowyou mentioned there's also an art to bringing about clarity to always alwaysare in science. Yeah, it's funny we do this naturally as marketers with ourcustomers but we often forget to do it internally with our teams. And that isusing the power of story to really move from managing work to leading work. Andand what I mean there is um storytelling has been around for about30,000 years. So around that time in caves around the world, they found allthese archaeologists found depictions of of story and it's largely believedthat this has been the primary form of knowledge transfer throughout millenniafor humans. If you believe the work of evil hariri and what he documents insapiens, people say this is our super power as a species, is to coordinatewith one another based on these shared myths or stories. So it's just peoplehave been around the campfire telling stories about how to coordinate to growcrops or find find food and coordinate with one another. That's been aroundfor thousands of years. Our brains are conditioned. You know, in contrast, theprinting press has been around for a little more than 500 years. Modernstatistics. A few 100 years. Data science a couple decades. And so wetell stories to our customers. We forget to do it internally. I'll giveyou an example. So we have started to tell, especially as team members havebeen distributed remote. We've made a point to not just share thedocumentation of things but to share a bunch of stories. And so we have thisuh, this great brand team at Asana and they're responsible for deliveringincredible brand experience. There's tons of rules and guidelines and thingson what to do and not too. And we don't share any of that with any Asana teammembers. What we do share is a bunch of stories. We share about a time that wehosted an event in Berlin in the middle of a rainstorm. We share how the weightour culinary chef plans the monday morning breakfast. We talk about howthe apple app store the, the app updates, why they're written in theform of rap lyrics. So these stories tell the team a little bit of thehistory of where we've come from, how we make decisions and informs them on,hey, how I might use my own creativity...

...to create that great brand experience.So we tell stories, you know, throughout the day, every all hands,every team meeting. And I think uh, those of us as marketers can be really,should be really conscious about what are the stories that we're telling toour teams and how can those keep us connected? No matter where we are inthe world? Wow. Well I think isn't that so true that catching a vision forsomething and you, you can just be all in. And I think that makes me think oflike, like kind of a, you know, a silly example, but like falling in love, youcatch a vision of what your life could be like. And I'm obviously just beenmaking analogies to what you're saying two things, but I think that isn't thatso funny that the things that work in all as other aspects of human life alsowork in business. And I love that, I love that you're sharing with your teamwhat the brand of Asana is by including them in it. Yeah, it's not the coloursof the fonts or what you can and can't do with the logo is these experiencesand the best way to communicate that is her story. There's another techniquethat we use on the team that was kind of an old technique is pioneered by byI believe it was abc sports, uh this this tv producer named Room, and Ithink it's really relevant to uh to us as marketers operating really crossfunctional and distributed environment. What room was doing in the 70's wasthey were starting to broadcast local sports events to a national audience.And you can imagine when they started doing this, they found that, hey,people outside those immediate cities where the events are, nobody cared,nobody cared about, nobody on the coast cared about what some midwesternbaseball team was doing. And what he did was really insightful was thepregame story or the pre event story. He'd produce a little segment thatwould just show what's at stakes, what's at stake in today's game. What'sthe history of these two teams? Why is this so important? What, what can weexpect from the, from this and why you should care. And the olympics arecoming up and, you know, we're going to see these across the board, whykayaking and skateboarding and all these new sports that nobody caresabout. They're they're gonna they're gonna in tv, they're gonna, they'regonna tell a story that makes us care. And I think this is really importantfor us as marketers. When we are working with our sales colleagues,we're working with our product colleagues, they're not sitting therethinking about what we think about all day long. So if we're going to go inand present a new strategy, we're going to present a new sales deck or we'regoing to share a new piece of data science that discovered the results ofan A. B. Test. We need to give the pregame story. We need to tell thataudience why this matters why what we...

...found was so unexpected, why it's sointeresting and why you should care why you should listen. And so with all ofour team members, when they are sharing something big and new, we always askwhat's the pregame story, It may just be a little 32nd preamble, but itreally gets people vested in what we have to share. And as marketers thathelps us move from kind of managing the work to really leading and inspiringand getting, getting our cross functional partners engaged. Oh wow,what is the pregame story? Oh my gosh, that's awesome. That can make anythingwonderful and worth pursuing too. And like you're saying local sports, youhear somebody's story and all of a sudden you're just so you're justrooting for them. You find yourself watching, you know, a Wichita stategame, you have never been to Kansas and you're like, I cannot get away from, Ihave to see the outcome of this game. So I will be watching the olympicsmostly for the brilliant storytelling that all these people produce and I'msure Whitewater kayaking is going to have the riveted, Oh my gosh, I love it.Well, if you find yourself in the market for a whitewater kayak then youknow, it's worked. If all of a sudden you're thinking about right, that'sright. Oh, another part of the art, you know that I think we have beendiscovering on the team is bringing some of those pandemic rituals back tothe office. We are returning our teams returning to the office in a we call anoffice centric hybrid. Most people spend about three days a week in theoffice and then a couple days kind of working from wherever we pioneered allthese great rituals during the pandemic. That it would be ashamed to leave thosebehind. One for us has been, We have a little weekly stand up with the whole,the whole team across uh four now, five continents and it is the most actionpacked fun. 25 minutes of my work week. It starts with music. It's got ourcommunity team running a little icebreaker. We welcome all of our newhires. There's some compelling guest speaker and then like an update on ourgoals and our key metrics and it is fun. I mean the chat is exploding with withcomments and the energy and the music. And so when we come back to the office,we are bringing that ritual back with us and we'll never go back. What haveyou found that? That the hybrid, the hybrid model just kind of going on atangent here works well with preserving some of the flexibility that comes withthat has come with the pandemic and one of the, you know, silver linings thathas come with it, but also like making sure that people aren't siloed andisolated. Yeah, this is where I'm just really excited for the next 18 monthswhere I think there's going to be all kinds of experimentation on new models.We are starting with, like I said about...

...three days per week in the office. Westill believe in that synchronous being on a shared whiteboard. You no ideawaiting on ideas and then having a couple of days a week where it is thatdeep focused work. But gosh, there's going to be every uh incarnation inbetween and I think it's gonna be really cool to see, you know, see whatworks we're going to iterate on it. I think the key thing though is thatteams need any clarity and they need connection and there's lots of ways tocreate that. But those things, no matter what model people adapt, it'slike how do we create that clarity so that we can be macro managers, we canfeel engaged in the work and how do we have these rituals in these storieswhere we feel connected to the tribe to the team and so we don't feel likewe're stuck at home isolated in our bedrooms, not working on somethingbigger than ourselves. Absolutely. I'm curious about the trust that comes towith having these hybrid models, but also in allowing people to as the headof a team. You know, allowing people, do you have like a little golden ruleor anything like that? For for being in this remote style of managing? Yeah.Gosh. I have learned so much over the past 18 months. A lot of how things Ihave done in the past have there were strongly held beliefs I have notrevisited. So one of those was I really value, I always wanted to spend a lotof personal time in person to really get to know and you know, to get toknow people on a personal level and I would travel a lot to our differentoffices and I just had that core belief of, hey, building trust andrelationship takes a lot of time and it is true. It does. However, it turns outyou can just ask people all these things that you thought used to takemonths and years, things like, hey, what do they value? How do they like tobe recognized? What are their preferences turns out you can just askthem up front. And so one of my teammates created this great entranceinterview. When people join the team, they fill out this whole questionnaireof foods, they like drinks, they like how they like to be recognized. Anotherteam member created a we call them kind of re entry interviews where there's abunch of questions to just ask your direct reports on a regular basis. Hey,when have you felt most fulfilled in the work? When was the last time youthought about quitting? Because you were so frustrated? What would get youso excited about the work? What would encourage you to consider a job outsidethe company? These things that we previously thought were taboo and hadto be built over many years of trust. Now we just put them in a task and aquestionnaire and we give it to everybody and people love it. They loveto to know that their their voices heard and it creates those specialopportunity for us to create moments of delight with with the team. So don'tdon't assume, just ask. Well I love that Dave if there were there were justsome key bullet points you'd want...

...people to take away implement or tryout from this episode, what would they be? Well, I love the craft of marketing.I think it's I think it's just one of most noble, one of the coolestprofessions out there. We spend so much time talking about the marketing thatwe deliver to our customers in our audience and sometimes we don't spendenough time thinking about the health of the team. So I think kind of keythings are right now. Knowledge workers and particularly marketers arelanguishing times are tough and we need to be sober to that reality asmarketers as leaders. There's a lot that we can do to create clarity, tocreate connection something that I've been working for us or the art andscience. Um, so I think let's see to recap a few of the big things. One isgoals, not just the team goals, but really enlisting each individual increating their uncles that they feel really bought into Two. Is product isall those workflows like that. That is the biggest soul sucking source offrustration is just that having to, the work we do to just coordinate all thatcan be Product ized assad is a great tool to do that, but there's lots ofother ways you can do it as well. Um Product is those workflows, engineer,calendar for focus and flow. You need those work blocks don't buy into themyth of multitasking and mistaking productivity for activity. And thenlastly, let's use those superpowers as marketers to create connections on ourteam. And chief among those is the power of storytelling and what are thestories that we're creating and telling and how can that compel us to having ateam that can go create the best market impossible for uh for our communities.Oh my goodness! Well this has been so informative. I'm so excited by what youguys are doing over at santa susana. My opinion is that to know asana is tolove asana and I'm so thrilled that we got to chat today. Thank you so muchfor joining me on B two B growth. Thanks so much for having me. Olivia.Really enjoyed it. Mhm. Mhm mm. Yeah. Is the decision maker for yourproduct or service at BBB marketer? Are you looking to reach those buyersthrough the medium of podcasting? Considered becoming a co host of GDPgrowth. This show is consistently ranked as a top 100 podcast in themarketing category of apple podcasts And the show gets more than 130,000downloads each month. We've already done the work of building the audienceso you can focus on delivering incredible content to our listeners ifyou're interested, email Logan at Sweet Fish Media dot com.

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