Episode 5: Jason Oakley, Sr. Director of Product Marketing, Klue.

Jason is an experienced product marketer with a passion for product, SaaS, and entrepreneurship. Starting off as a marketing coordinator in 2008, he is now building his third marketing team. In this interview, Jason talks about his experiences in product marketing and using content to build communities that support your product.



  • Joe: Any kind of fundamentals that you’ve picked up when it comes to product marketing, like how to do it? You take, say, the launch of a product, any keys to success that come to mind?


    Jason: Keys to success for launch of a… I think one of the big things… I’m going to sound like a broken record. But a lot of people think it’s, “Oh, you need a big splash with a product, and it needs to be…” With product launches, I think a big thing is understanding is not every product launch is the same, so understanding that. If you just make a big splash about everything, then not all of it will resonate. If everything’s a big deal, then nothing’s a big deal. So knowing The tiering of product launches, and the process of how you go about launching product. I think one thing that makes a successful product launch is how product marketing works with product, and ideally earlier on in the process.

  • Joe: Let’s kick off with, if you can introduce yourself and what you do. Just talk about those three companies that I mentioned in my email.


    Jason: Yeah. Sure. Okay. So just get into the whole thing. Yeah, cool. Well, I’m Jason Oakley. I’m the senior director of product marketing at Klue. Today, I’m at Klue, but I’ve been in product marketing now for, I would say, six, seven years. I’ve been at SAS, I’ve been working in SAS for my whole career, basically. Before I got into product marketing, I’d gotten to have roles where I was in, like an account executive. So I was in sales, I was in customer success. As you know, Joe, we did kind of entrepreneurial things along the way too, start a couple small companies and stuff like that along the way, where you do a little bit of everything.


    Jason: Yeah, about seven years ago, I started product marketing, a company called Uberflip, and it’s been a process of just understanding, learning about product marketing since then. It’s awesome. So really enjoying the space of product marketing. The stuff that you get to work on as a product marketers, it’s really interesting. Interesting overall for anyone who’s kind of curious about product marketing. It’s one of those worlds now where it’s a ton of fun. You get to really kind of touch a number of different areas of the business. You have a lot of strategic impact. I’m happy to talk more about that. But tell you a little bit about the last three companies that I’ve worked at. I’ve started as a solo product marketer and built out the teams from there.


    Jason: Today, I’m at Klue. If anyone’s familiar with Klue, it’s a Canadian company based out of Vancouver, mostly. But again, like everyone, there’s people from all over Canada working there. But Klue’s a competitive enablement company. So when you think today about obviously how much competition’s out there, like how fast markets can move… Someone in another garage can upend a market category so easily. Competition is just growing, growing, growing, and companies need a better way to, one, stay on top of competition, but also enable their team, for example, a sales team to be able to just deposition a competitor, or just have the tools and information, knowledge available to just compete and win more effectively. So, Klue essentially allows you to monitor everything that your competitors are doing, source intel internally, and centralize everything that you know about your competitors, and then create content to actually enable your teams to compete. So that’s what Klue does.


    Jason: Before Klue, I was at a company called Chili Piper. Chili Piper essentially was solving the problem of… When you go to someone’s website, you want to book a demonstration. The Book a Demo page, a lot of SaaS companies, like any SaaS company, would have that. You’d be surprised how much people are leaving on the table by not responding to inbound leads fast. So Chili Piper solved the problem of, someone comes to your website, they want to book a demo, qualifying that lead and booking the demo right on the spot, and actually doubling, on average, people’s conversion rates there. Yeah. Chili Piper’s a really, really cool company. We had talked about this earlier, just fully remote from day one, really interesting kind of culture too. That was an interesting place to work.


    Jason: And then before that was Uberflip. So Uberflip’s where I started as a product marketer. Company based out of Toronto, and they were building a content experience platform, content experience being this idea of… You think today, there’s so much content within an organization, like blog posts, videos, eBooks, white papers, video, all kinds of content, and a lot of it goes unused. So Uberflip was solving the problem of centralizing all the assets that you have, and then making it really easy to build out these kind of front end web experiences that are very contextual. So pick some curated content, build out a front end web experience for, say, a prospect you’re trying to target, if you’re a sales rep. It could be your resource center, put on your website. It could be a microsite, an event site, stuff like that. Yeah, those have been the last three companies I’ve worked at and have done product marketing at.


    Joe: Cool.


    Jason: Yeah.

  • Joe: What’s the big lesson that you learned across different experiences? Uberflip, what did you take from that, if you were to boil it down, your experience there?


    Jason: Yeah. Uberflip was interesting because that was my first look at category creation from the lens of actually being the person to work on it. It was very much like a crash course in, “Okay. What does it take to actually build a category?” It is a very tough thing to do, this idea of category creation. So instead of finding your niche within an existing category, what if you can create your own category, become the king, and then with that, the whole flywheel of making you the… Just kind of being the one to create a category, become the king, you will win that category. About 70% of the value in a category goes to the category king. So it’s like, “How do you create that, that category? What goes into it?” It’s a ton of thought leadership, a ton of content marketing. There’s so much that goes into actually building it. It’s a huge company-wide effort, Everyone has to be on board, everyone has to be aligned. You need to do it continually, like repeat and beat your drum in the market.


    Jason: That was one of the coolest things about Uberflip, is just the idea of trying to create something new, like this new category, and kind of take on some of these existing leaders like WordPress, for example, and try to show why we’re different, why people should care about doing it this way. And so everything from creating their own conference to writing a book on it, like all of that stuff that everyone’s kind of doing now, Uberflip was doing some of that very early on, five, six years ago sort of thing. It was very cool to be a part of that. There’s things that I’ve taken from that today, that I’m like, “Yeah, this is…” With Klue, we’re also trying to create a new category here of competitive enablement. A lot of the things that I learned at Uberflip, I’m able to take here too. That’s definitely one of the big things that I took from Uberflip.


    Jason: I think too, just one of the things that I love about the companies that I’ve worked at, like Uberflip, it was like a demand-gen platform based around content and how to make the best use of your content, so what I was able to take from that is… There, I worked at NCS, and then I transitioned into product marketing. But just kind of understanding content marketing, understanding demand-gen. Those are things I didn’t work in, but being able to talk to those people every day, and build a product that solves their need, and to have to be a subject matter expert in that, I learn about it. So I’m able to pick up different things from all of my companies, just from the people that I work with and who we sell to.


    Jason: It’s interesting now. When I do think of new companies that I go to, it’s like, “Am I interested in the buyer? Am I interested in the problem that we’re solving? What can I take from that?” Because with Uberflip, I learned about content marketing, demand-gen. Chili Piper, you learn a lot about sales operations, and just also inbound lead generation, and again, demand-gen there. And then with Klue, learning so much about competitive enablement, competitive intelligence and all that, and all of that factors into my job. So it just kind of makes me better in the process too. That’s been like a bonus of it all.

  • Joe: And just to wedge this question in there, any advice on content marketing, if you were to boil it down?


    Jason: I think the big thing today is, that you just see, it’s all about community building. It’s so hard to kind of spend ad dollars effectively. You think of doing display, like paid advertising on Google, and LinkedIn, and Facebook, all that, it’s so saturated and it’s so hard to kind of break through a lot of the noise. I think with marketing today, content and community is so important, like what you’re doing here with this podcast, this is… I mean, today, everyone’s starting to catch on. So you’re seeing so many people create a podcast. But it’s kind of like, I think, what you’re seeing in marketing, and there’s so many interesting people to follow, Chris Walkers of the world and stuff like that, who are talking about this idea of a dark funnel and things like that.


    Jason: There are so many touch points that someone has. They might watch your podcast, and then go to LinkedIn and click on an ad. And you think that the money that you spent on LinkedIn is what actually is driving that lead, but it’s all the touch points that came before it. Maybe a call from a sales rep. Maybe they watch your podcast. It’s so hard to measure attribution that I think people are just kind of… Marketers always want to measure everything. And I think that what they have to get more comfortable with is this idea of, “There is a dark funnel. There are things that…” More like brand plays and content plays, and building a strong community. If you can build a strong community, whether it’s a customer community, or you build adjacent to your company, a community just for that persona, there’s so much benefit that comes from that, but it is harder to measure. I think that that’s why people like things that they can measure and track attribution on.


    Jason: But I just think that it’s the people who are investing in just good quality content, good quality events, good quality podcasts, like video series, like people who are building programs and not looking to be like, “How many X demos did this actually generate?” And knowing that there’s a dark funnel in there that’s happening. I think that’s one of the big things that I’m seeing in marketing, and it’s not my day-to-day. Luckily, I’ve been able to work in that space, whether it’s supporting them being my customer, and just also part of marketing. I’m so fascinated by what content marketers and demand-gen marketers are doing. It’s awesome.

  • Joe: Yeah. It’s true. With this initiative, there’s a bunch of different reasons for doing it, but the things that I really like about it… Hopefully there’s folks out there that watch a clip or listen to an interview from this and come away with something that they can apply, or it’s in the brain. But for me, it’s kind of, in a sense, like passive professional development, I would say, like just taking the time… Me, Joe Coffey, taking the time to have a conversation with somebody, and dig into a topic, it’s like we don’t do enough of that, I think, as professionals. I like how this just makes that happen. The other thing that we see is, when, when we post clips of this stuff on LinkedIn, for example, you get very few likes, you get basically no comments.


    Jason: Yeah.


    Joe: Of course. We’re not putting a ton of effort and resources behind this, but what we do see is, every time we post things, you see a significant uptick in visitors to your company profile and… Excuse me. That sort of lurker that they talk about, who’s not liking or commenting, but they’re watching, you have to keep that in mind too with it. These types of things, and building that community, I think is something that everybody should be doing, regardless of how many demos were booked. Right?


    Jason: Totally. Yeah. I think one of the big things too, to your point of you put it on LinkedIn, you do see some results from it when you look at the big picture, but you might not see likes and comments, but it just goes to show, you also have this… Whether it’s a 30 second snippet of this interview, that you’re going to stick on LinkedIn, that is an asset that you shouldn’t just use on LinkedIn. Stick that on an email campaign, or put that on… The distribution side of content, I think, is where a lot of people… Still today, people are just like, “Churn out content, churn out content. New, new, new.” There’s just so much. You can go back in your archives and just repurpose old content, but it’s all just about distribution. The fact that you can take a big pillar ebook that you might have written, split that into 10 different LinkedIn posts.


    Joe: Right.


    Jason: Or you could take content from that and go on a Quora or whatever communities or whatever people are on, and you just repurpose all that. “Get more value out of the content you’re creating,” is another thing that… If you’re sitting back and you’re not just creating new things, it seems like you’re not doing your job.


    Jason: But the distribution side and how to actually leverage the content is so important too.

  • Joe: Just talk about Chili Piper, just the big thing that you walked away with there from a marketing perspective.


    Jason: With Chili Piper, the problem that they solved with their product was one of the things where it’s like an aha moment of how fast you can follow up with a lead, how that actually matters. There’s a number of stats of, “Average company, it takes 48 hours to follow up with a lead.” Just things like that where you’re like, “How is that still the case today?” A lot of people would come into the company, and of the demo requests on their website, they would convert maybe 40% of them to a demo, and they’d be happy with that. But then you make it instant, where right away, they fill out your form and they can book a meeting, and then that becomes the increase to 70, 80%. It’s like, “Wow.” It just shows the speed. I think that’s one thing today.


    Jason: It’s just the buyer experience, it’s so important. You take for granted things like how fast you can follow up with a lead. It seems like common sense, but a lot of companies aren’t doing it. That’s definitely one thing that really drilled in my head, is this idea of how fast we follow up with leads, make it instant. Response times and all of that really factors in. But at Chili Piper, I do think the one thing that I saw is this idea of brand, and your company’s personality, and just building that community. There’s so many good things that the team at Chili Piper does where you talk to a prospect and they’ll say something like, “I’ve just seen you guys everywhere.” This idea of “it’s things that you can’t necessarily measure.” You can’t look at like an attribution spreadsheet and be like, “Boom, that brought in that demo.” But there’s so much of that that influences people.


    Jason: I think one thing that definitely I saw a Chili Piper is this idea of, your voice and your presence on social media is not just the responsibility of the marketing team. So you got a company of 150 people, that’s 150 voices out in the market that everyone should be… They all should be talking about things that your customers care about. Everyone should be active. You should look at your employees as an opportunity to promote your brand, and to just embody your company’s personality and stuff like that. I think that’s one thing that I saw at Chili Piper, which was awesome.


    Jason: I remember that I came in. The sales, they had a spreadsheet, they were just tracking it manually. I think it was every week, the sales team, each of them, had to make a post. They would all just track how many likes, how many views, how many comments, things like that. It was a simple leaderboard, there was nothing else, no awards or anything given out. But it was just a way to be intentional about, “Hey, we got to be out there every week, just beating our drums,” sort of thing. Not just talking about your product, but about stuff that your audience cares about.


    Jason: For us salespeople and sales teams, we’re a target audience for Chili Piper. And so it was cool. A lot of the plays that we ran at Chili Piper stick with me, and I’m going to bring them with me everywhere we go. Right. Also too, just appreciating customers. So not thinking too much about, “Oh. $25 gift card, we’ll send that to this customer for doing a testimonial or a case study.” Our community manager made an effort to get really personalized. Yeah. He gifted people bathrobes, or just things knowing more about the person, and things that are just… You give someone a piece of swag with your company logo on it, it doesn’t really mean much.


    Jason: But he was actually going on that extra step to really do things that people remember and make them feel something about your company. We created our own hot sauce.


    Jason: Where’s the camera?


    Joe: Oh, yes. Yes. I saw that. Yeah.


    Jason: Yeah. So it’s just cool things like that, light of fire under your SaaS, and it’s cool. Show the personality of the company too.

  • Joe: Love it. Yeah. Yeah. We tried a lot of things, let’s say email marketing over the last year and a bit. What you find with it, it’s so tough to stand out.


    Jason: Yeah.


    Joe: How do you overcome that? Something I’ve been doing with… Honestly, it’s still early in the… But great results so far, is when I’m doing a follow-up. Instead of a big, long email, I’ve been doing these video intros where I’ll just record a Zoom call type of video, introduce myself, why I’m calling, why I’m reaching out.


    Jason: Right.


    Joe: And man, I’ve been getting great responses, people saying, “Hey, love the personalized…” Because I’ll say, “Hey, Jason.” It’s not a copy paste thing.


    Jason: Yeah.


    Joe: Instead of looking at, “We need to get in touch with 100 contacts this week,” it’s like, “We’re going to get in touch with four companies, and we’re going to do a great job, and a personalized job of getting in touch with them.”


    Jason: I love that.


    Joe: It’s way better. Yeah. It just reignites your enthusiasm to even do that work. Right?


    Jason: Yeah, totally. Yeah. You’re using something like a video or Loom or something, and you’re just recording a video and shooting it over as a link?


    Joe: Yeah. Literally just open Zoom, get it running, hit record and it takes me five minutes.


    Jason: Yep. Yeah. It’s funny how people think, “Oh, I got to create this video. It’s going to take me all day.” Maybe initially, because you’ll just be awkward on video and you got to get that. But eventually, it’s easier than writing.


    Jason: You know what I mean? Writing an email sometimes takes me forever, and I can fire up a video and… I love the idea of asynchronous video or pre-recording things this end, because I do that all time internally too. If I got to explain something to someone internally, I just fire up CloudApp, is the one I use, and I just record a video. It’s awesome.


    Joe: Yeah.


    Jason: Do you remember when we were in the INCO building and you made that voicemail?


    Joe: Yes, me and Mike.


    Jason: Well, I remember you were on. It was you in a war zone or something.


    Joe: Yes. Yeah. Yeah. Mike, he was doing some sound effects in the background. Yeah.


    Jason: I remember. You did that, and you had so many people who actually left a voicemail on your answering machine and were like, “This is amazing.”


    Joe: Well, dude, that’s something I came into this year, really determined to start being Joe Coffey again.


    Jason: Yeah. That’s cool.


    Joe: You get sucked back into doing all the conventional, formal stuff, and I realize that it’s like, “Man, all you do is blend in with the masses.”


    Jason: Yeah.


    Joe: So thank you for the reminder about the voicemail.


    Jason: Oh, my God. Well, I think that’s one of things, is, Joe, you always had that personality. That voicemail is the perfect example of the Joe Coffey personality, and it showed too when… I remember the early campaigns you were doing with Subaru and stuff like that. Yeah, I do think it’s one of those things where you got to… We just get so used to the LinkedIn, just the way that everyone does everything, what you’re seeing in the market as like, “Oh, this is the way people speak,” and all that. Even just the idea now of… I think they call it BroPros. You looked at LinkedIn, everyone writes LinkedIn posts similar way.


    Joe: Right.


    Jason: It’s a very short copy, one line, one line, ends up being the whole page when you expand it. Everyone talks like everyone else eventually, until someone finds the new way to stand out. Yeah, I think that was one of the things you do well, is stand out, and be funny, and genuine. When you could get that with a brand and in marketing, I think those are the companies that do really well.


    Jason: Obviously! I think that’s one of the reasons I like SaaS so much, just because it’s just very… B2B SaaS, I think it’s just a market that’s very open to that sort of personality, and a little bit of cheekiness sometimes, and stuff like that.


    Joe: Totally.

  • Joe: So moving on here, let’s talk about product marketing. You’re clearly enthused about product marketing. Just take us through it, talk about it, what it is. What are the keys to it? And what do you enjoy about it?


    Jason: Yeah. When I first got asked to be a product marketer, I was in Uberflip, I was a CSM. I’d done some entrepreneurial stuff where I was forced to be a marketer. Growing up in university and stuff, I just picked up skills as I went. When I started in SAS, I was in sales. And then when I started at Uberflip, I was in CS, account management, but I always took on extra projects that were more marketing related, doing customer presentations, or building out a pitch deck for the CS team, or doing videos, that sort of thing. I knew our product really well and our customer well. So I was kind of lobbying internally to try to do customer marketing like, “Hey, could I be a marketer within the CS team that does XYZ?”


    Jason: We had one product marketer at Uberflip at the time, and then they left. The CMO came to me and he was like, “Instead of customer marketing this, what do you think about product marketing?” And at the time, I had really no idea what it was. I just assumed product marketing like, “I’ll just do marketing about the product.” But in a product company, the lines are very blurry. I didn’t understand, and he was like, “Ah, deals mostly with go-to-market.” I had no idea what go-to-market meant. So I feel like, ever since then, it’s been a journey of just… At the time, six, seven years ago, product marketing was a function. But I feel like since then, product marketing’s become so much more understood, and there’s communities out there. For anyone here who’s interested in product marketing, check out the Product Marketing Alliance, Product Marketing Community.There’s a number of these communities out there.


    Jason: I just think education around product marketing, and the status of product marketer within a company, is starting to just grow, they’ve become more strategic. But when I think about what a product marketer does, when I think about product marketing, it’s almost the earliest form of marketing that you could think about. Before there were things like paid ad campaigns and before, marketing was basically like, “Okay, who are we competing against? Who’s our buyer? What do they care about? How do we position this in the right way to say why we’re different from the competition and why they should care about our product?” For product marketers, that’s a big part of our wheelhouse, it’s positioning and messaging. So it’s understanding competition, it’s understanding our buyer, understanding what they care about, and then trying to say, “Okay, for this buyer who has this problem…” Understanding their problem, defining the problem really well. It’s like, “Our product is best positioned to solve your problem because it’s different from all the competition in this way. If you use it, this is the value you’re going to get.”


    Jason: So it’s like all of that is positioning and trying to tell the world why you’re different and better than the competition. And then messaging is really the next step down from that, which is, “How do you arm your marketing team, your CS team, your sales team with the message? How do you arm them to go out and say this to the market? Because when you think about your website, is one thing. Your email marketing is one thing, but when you think about… Especially super for a SaaS company who has maybe a 30-person CS team, and a 50 person sales team of SDRs and AEs, it’s like your SDRs are making 40 calls a day. Your AE team is doing five discovery calls a week. They’re spending probably 20, 30, 40% of the week on calls. Your CS team is doing about six half hour customer calls a day. A lot of the engagement that your customers have is through calls with members of your team. These people are such a big part of your voice to the market.


    Jason: A big part of product marketing is not just saying what should go on your website, it’s enabling these teams with the message and with information on insights on your competitors, telling them how to actually win against the competition. That’s why I love Klue so much, because Klue’s all about, “Hey, we’re going to watch your competition. We’re going to help you keep track of what they’re doing.” But where the rubber meets the road is when you can provide insights, and messaging, and what to say to your sales team, to your CS team, so that you make sure that there’s not all these mixed messages to your customers, and to your prospects, and in the market.


    Jason: Yeah, product marketer really kind of owns the message and what’s your story, because one of the things that’s so cool about product marketing is, a lot of product based companies will go out and they compete on features, it just becomes a game of, “Here’s this feature and this feature,” and it just becomes a feature thing. Say you’re doing a product release, and you can take something that seems like a simple feature, but you wrap it in a story and you explain the value of it. If you could tell a great story around that, it becomes so much more impactful and people resonate with that so much more. So when I think of big part of product marketing, it’s the storytelling, and arming people with the story in your company so they can tell it too.


    Jason: And then more tactical stuff is, we handle product launches. So you’re releasing a new product, or maybe there’s a feature release. It’s like, “What is the go-to-market for that? How are you going to tell the world about it? How are you going to use it to drive demand to the business? How are you going to enable these teams with how to talk about it? Because no one knows about this new feature. What’s the value of it? How do I explain it to a customer in a way that they care about all that?” That, in its core, is the job of product marketing, but it’s also just one of those jobs where you touch so many parts of the company. So product marketers are really at the center of, “You work with product, you work with sales, you work with CS, you work with marketing, you work with the executive team in many ways.” Yeah, it’s a fun role, for sure. Anyone who’s interested in it, let me know. Ever since getting in product marketing, never looked back. It’s been awesome.


  • Joe: What’s the difference between, say, product marketing and then the marketing team that you’re working with? What are they doing?


    Jason: Product marketing is part of the marketing team. In some companies, I’ll say, it lives under product in some cases and stuff like that. Again, talking about SaaS companies, when I think of a typical marketing team in a SaaS company, you’ve got content. They’re the ones who are creating content. Yeah. They’re out there mostly thinking about, “Okay, at the top of the funnel, how are we using content as a way to build community, and to increase our awareness in the market, and drive leads, and things like that?” But it’s like, “How do we use content, and create content and all that?” Content marketing’s responsible for that. We work very closely with content marketing because we obviously can help guide the messaging and what our message is. They help us, because we have to create content too, to enable the sales team. And so there’s a lot of overlap there.


    Jason: Another team is like demand-gen, typically, or growth marketing or anything like that. But they’re responsible for, “How do you drive leads? How do you drive if your demo request is a big thing for you?” It’s like, “How do we move buyers through the funnel?” Of those that come in on top of the funnel, whether it’s creating drip campaigns or nurture campaigns, “How do you nurture and convert those leads and drive demand?” Again, this so much overlap where demand is also very interested in a podcast. What things are we doing in the market to drive leads? And so they’re very concerned about, “What does our funnel look like? How are we driving leads? How are we converting them?” That’s demand-gen, and then product marketing. And then social for us, it’s under content.


    Joe: Gotcha.


    Jason: But again, thinking about all that content that you’re putting out in the market. But I think of those as the three pillars. And then ops, which is handling all the plumbing and the tech that- Making sure all the systems work within marketing.


    Joe: Right.

  • Joe: Any kind of fundamentals that you’ve picked up when it comes to product marketing, like how to do it? You take, say, the launch of a product, any keys to success that come to mind?


    Jason: Keys to success for launch of a… I think one of the big things… I’m going to sound like a broken record. But a lot of people think it’s, “Oh, you need a big splash with a product, and it needs to be…” With product launches, I think a big thing is understanding is not every product launch is the same, so understanding that. If you just make a big splash about everything, then not all of it will resonate. If everything’s a big deal, then nothing’s a big deal. So knowing The tiering of product launches, and the process of how you go about launching product. I think one thing that makes a successful product launch is how product marketing works with product, and ideally earlier on in the process.


    Jason: At Klue right now, we’re working with the product team to really try to establish, “What does that process look like? So when are we looped in? After they scope what a feature might look like, are we looped in at that point to help really nail… Make sure their messaging is right, and make sure that there is a good story to tell about this feature,” and how we tell it, and then having us just kind of looped in on the process so that… Ideally, the goal is that just not like boom, one day you walk in and there’s a new feature in your lap, and they’re like, “Surprise,” and you have to go now and market it. That’s what you don’t want. There’s much more to launching a product than what you see on someone’s website or in social and stuff.


    Jason: And then the other is enablement, because everyone in your company… A lot of a product launch is just internal education. It’s just making sure that everyone in your company knows what it is, knows how to use it. If someone’s demoing it, it’s like nothing worse than a sales rep who kind of opens up their demo and it’s completely new. So a sales team can be confident in the way they sell it. There’s so much of the internal side of product launches that a lot of people don’t think about, and it’s hard to do because it’s easy within your… So many people just think about the things get the most attention, and it’s what’s out in the market. But so much of the internal stuff and the education is a big part of product launches. Yeah.


    Joe: Cool.

  • Jason: Yeah. Are you working with… Sorry, Joe.


    Joe: Yeah.


    Jason: Are you working with SaaS companies? Do you work with SaaS companies or-


    Joe: Yep. We have.


    Jason: That’s cool. Have you worked with any of them on product launches and stuff like that?


    Joe: Yeah. One of them would be MetricAid based in Ontario there. Our core business really is the company. They came to us, they said, “Our brand needs to be refreshed,” especially when it comes to their website.


    Jason: Yeah.


    Joe: They were struggling with how to talk about their different service tiers. They’d added kind of a lower tier, like sort of an economy version of their premium service.


    Jason: Okay.


    Joe: “How do we talk about these?” And so we did all that work, which got rolled up in a new website. We did key marketing materials, like explainer videos, and sell sheets, and different things.


    Jason: Nice.


    Joe: And then the B2B marketing campaign piece, we worked with a… Well, they hired a digital marketing kind of expert to lead that part. On campaign work like that, we’re supporting somebody like that with the creative that they need and so forth.


    Jason: Yeah.


    Joe: ClearRisk, last year we did a revamp of their website, and helped them with similar things. That’s kind of the scope of… When we’re working with SaaS companies, that’s the type of things we’re doing.

  • Jason: What’s your take on when it comes to how to position and having message, like how you actually… What your message to the market is, or the story you tell about a product? I guess it sounds like you’ve been involved in that process of like, “Hey, what is our story for, say, ClearRisk’s new website or anything like that?” I guess, what have those conversations been like?


    Joe: I mean, we talk about value creation, that that’s something that we go to, to say… Really try to put a face on the person that is going to really benefit from this product, and make sure that we’re also really understanding the decision makers that would be above that beneficiary, if I could call it that, to make sure that we understand what information they’re going to need to bring to those decision makers about why this is the right product or service to purchase.


    Jason: Right.


    Joe: Value creation, it’s easy to get caught up in just features and benefits.


    Jason: Yeah.


    Joe: We need to go deeper than that to get into, “What is the intrinsic motivation?” Or we call it self-actualization. So for example, with ClearRisk, it’s like buying a software that tracks incidents in the business for a risk manager. Yeah, there’s a bunch of time savings, and organization benefits and different things, that come from having that software. But ultimately, if you dig down into it with that person, really with them having a more efficient way of collecting and interpreting data, now they’re able to bring insights to, for example, the CFO that say, “Hey, I looked at this data and here’s a trend that I’m seeing. It’s a risk for us. It could cost us X amount of dollars down the road. I think we need to change course.” And so now they’re in a leadership position where decision makers are listening and leaning in about kind of the insight that they’ve identified. We want to make sure that the marketing and the key messaging and so forth is speaking to that self-actualization, make sure that’s included. Not to say that we get rid of features and benefits. Of course you don’t. Right?


    Jason: Right.


    Joe: That has to be woven in there as well. I don’t know if that’s your question, but that’s the thing we try to dig into. I still think there’s nothing better than customer interviews, like qualitative research.


    Jason: Yeah.


    Joe: Have a conversation with four or five risk managers, or the types of people that you’re dealing with. Just get them on the phone, talk to them. If you do enough of those, I have found, once you go past, say, 10 interviews, the data starts to repeat, and you know, “Okay. There’s an insight here.” That, to me, is the most powerful way to really make marketing real and to get to the heart of that target audience.


    Jason: Yeah. I love that. I think one thing that makes me think about is a company that we use at Chili Piper, and our demand-gen marketer’s a big fan of it, it’s called Metadata. But the guys at Metadata are really good. They have a small marketing team, but they’re just like… Or at least at the time it was. The quality of the stuff they were doing was awesome. I just think the way they thought about marketing was really good, and it still is the same team.


    Jason: But one of the things they did is, when they were doing their new website, they drafted it all up, and they put it in a word doc, and they sent it to 10 or so of their customers. And they just said, “Tear it up. Write comments on it, say whatever. Tell us what you think of this.” I think it’s so interesting when you can get that qualitative data on… And get it from your customers, the ones that know your product the most. I agree with you. The qualitative side of it is so much bigger. I think marketers, and just people in general, like to have data and quantitative stuff when they can. But I think it’s where you get the real insight, is qualitative.


    Joe: Yeah. You’ll perfect that information over time, and you’ll add to it and optimize it. But it can give you a really strong starting point really quickly and cheaply. From the beginning, that’s been my instinct, is to go straight to that human being and gather the information there. Right?


    Jason: Yep.


    Joe: Excuse me.


    Jason: I agree.


  • Joe: Yeah. You’re an Atlanta-Canadian boy, I’ll say. Man. And in the big city now, and working with these large organizations, which is really cool to hear about, and just the sophistication that they have in their marketing teams, and how it all comes together. What would be your advice? Or I could put it this way. If you were going to start a SaaS company in Newfoundland, how would you go about that? Or what would be the advice you’d give to somebody trying to do that in this part of the world?


    Jason: Yeah. It’s interesting because I moved to Toronto. Now I live in a town called Collingwood, smaller than St John’s, maybe 30,000 people. I couldn’t stay in the big city forever. But anyways, we’re in a small town now, my backyard and all that. I think the remote… You talked about it. When you first went remote, it seemed kind of odd, and now it’s just normal table stakes. Every company needs to be remote. For a place like Newfoundland, that’s amazing. The fact that you don’t need to be hopping on flights all the time to go out and visit customers, just the ability to do business remotely, is huge for anyone who’s not in a major hub. I think for that reason, it’s leveled the playing field for so many people, because you can find talent everywhere. It’s got good sides and bad sides, because it means you can find talent everywhere, but it means your talent that you used to have in your back doors can also find jobs everywhere.


    Joe: Right.


    Jason: Right. I think the job market’s become a real… It’s kind of like a job seekers market sort of thing out there, which can be challenging. But I just think the remoteness of everything is just huge for, in my opinion, a place like St John’s or Newfoundland in general, where you’re trying to start a startup and there’s a couple big names in town that take a lot of the good local talent. It’s like, “You can find people everywhere.”


    Joe: Right.


    Jason: I think that that’s like a big thing. I think if I was going to start a software company in St John’s… And I’m sure that a lot of startups are doing this where you’re not just looking at your backyard anymore for talent, and I think that that’s a really important thing. Going to… I don’t know. Coming to Toronto and just working at these companies who are selling everywhere, and even just my time at Verafin, you’re not just selling within Newfoundland, obviously. You are not even selling within Atlantic Canada, you’re selling everywhere. I think just the idea of looking globally, it’s like, “Hey, we’re building a product that people can use everywhere.” It’s not just selling a product, or a SaaS product or whatever, to people within a geographic area or somewhere close by, I think is like a really big thing.


    Jason: Yeah, if I was to start my own SaaS company in St John’s right now, it’s an awesome question. I think I would build a shed, like you did, and I would work out of my backyard. I don’t think I would have an office space. I would do it remote, for sure. I think that’s one big thing. I don’t think I’ll or go back to a full-time office. I think in terms of the strategy I’d take, I would just want to build a really strong community. I think I would start early and I would look a very… The whole idea of focusing on a niche. Say two years from now, I’ve been able to build a following in product marketers, for example, it’s like, “What is a very specific pain?”


    Jason: If you can build a community before you build your product, and be able to understand, “Hey, there’s…” Even if it’s, 100 product marketers at the ready that I can tap to be like, “Hey, do you all have this problem? Is there a specific problem that you’re all struggling with? What if I made a solution for that? Would you pay me X for it?” It’s like going about a data approach versus… I’ve even made a mistake in the past where you haven’t validated it enough to know that there’s an existing… You built it today, people would buy it tomorrow. I think that so many of the good software companies who bootstrapped and have been able to do that, did it where they built the community first, and then they found a product they could sell to them.


    Jason: It’s such a great way to do it where you don’t need a pile of VC money. You know what I mean? You can grow more organically, and you can do it, and you can be confident in what you’re building, and the fact that you can build a business around this, is really cool. I think if I was going to go that route, I would probably do more of the, “Start small. I’ll start with the community, grow more organically and try to do it that way.”

  • Jason: Yeah. It’s a good question. What would you do? Obviously, I know you have your own company, but if you were to start over again-


    Joe: You put me on the spot, Jay.


    Jason: Yeah.


    Joe: I would just start over.


    Jason: It’s a tough one because it’s… yeah.


    Joe: Yeah. Well, I more so think about the… I’ve been at this 16 years now. I do like the small agency size. That is something that I would still try to maintain. You know what I mean? If I were to start over, that would still be my vision, is not to build a huge company. I more so think about the last… I don’t know. Five to 10 years maybe of getting away from your authentic you, and just falling into conventional business speak and process. When it comes to how we market ourselves, making sure that that persona is a business, that uniqueness is always kind of at the center of our marketing, our communication.


    Jason: Yeah.


    Joe: That’s a regret that I have. It’s something I’m working now to change and get back to.


    Jason: Yeah.


    Joe: Yeah. Going remote, it changed our perspective as a team. We’re working with freelancers and partner companies literally all over the world. I think when you’re a remote company, that happens more naturally.


    Jason: Yep.


    Joe: You’re not as closed-minded to the idea of working with somebody on another continent.


    Jason: Yeah.


    Joe: Yeah, I think starting remote, maybe that’s something I would do differently, is start that way. I think it’s got a powerful way of changing your thinking.


    Jason: Yeah.

  • Joe: Is there a framework that you would apply now to assessing whether or not we really need that?


    Jason: That’s a good question. I don’t know. I think it’s understanding if that makes sense for you to offer. I do feel like for a company like that, it does make total sense. Yeah, it makes a lot of sense for them to offer that because their competitors offer it, and it’s just a thing in the market. Yeah, it just makes a lot of sense. I think knowing whether it makes sense is one thing, but the execution of it is just so important. It’s taking the time, and thinking through it, and just having just the ability to execute on it.


    Jason: A lot of companies will create a separate startup within their company that handles that sort of thing. I feel like it has to be a very specific initiative that has a big dedicated effort around it, and a team that is fully focused on it. I think that just being able to kind of add it in is just the same as a new part of the product or a new feature, something like that. It has to be so completely separate. And be given that attention. Yeah. That’s definitely a learning for sure.

  • Joe: So the final question is, what would be your advice to Atlantic Canadian businesses when it comes to growing their business?


    Jason: Yeah I look at companies in St. John’s, obviously stay on top of what’s going on in St. John’s, and just seeing the success of… So many new startups that have kind of popped up, it’s awesome to see. I look at Atlantic Canada, I think what’s happening in the world, and just remote and everything like that, it just means you can create a successful company anywhere. And it’s always been the case too. We know, seeing the success of Verafin, and CoLab, Mysa, all of that is awesome. I guess all I’m saying is, having come to like Toronto, there’s no different. Same talent, same people, everyone is capable of doing all this stuff. It doesn’t matter where you live, especially today. Yeah. It’s just the reality. To anyone who’s starting something in Newfoundland, it’d be a lot of stuff, same stuff I said today. Focus on building community, focus on your story. What makes you unique? Focusing to your point earlier, it’s like, “Focus on the pain, focus on how you tell your story in a way that people really can feel it.” Right?


    Joe: Mm-hmm (affirmative).


    Jason: It’s more emotional. I think competing on features, like features and benefits, it only lasts so long. We’re starting to see this. There’s a lot of really smart people out there talking about this all the time, but it’s just competing on brand, and competing on your community that you’ve built. Competing on the way that you see the world as a company, it’s just one of those superpowers. I think the companies that do it well are just killing it. That would be my biggest advice, the stuff we’ve kind of been talking about. Having your personality being different, not just in your product being different, but your company being different, and your message being different, that would be my biggest advice.


    Joe: Yeah.

  • Joe: All right, my friend. I know you’re busy, so really appreciate you making time for this.


    Jason: Yeah. This was fun, Joe. Anytime, man. I love it. I love catching up.