4 “powerhouse” secrets of a tech marketing leader with Narine Galstian

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My guest today on 3-Minute Marketing is Narine Galstian, CMO at SADA Systems. Before SADA, Narine headed up growth marketing efforts for technology brands like Instant.ly and Nero AG.

Narine is veteran tech marketing leader with an impressive track record, so I wanted to understand how she knocks it out of the park so consistently. My question for her is, “What are your top 3-5 powerhouse secrets for marketing success?”.

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Show notes:

  1. Being first is more important than being perfect. Don’t spend months trying to perfect your campaigns — test, launch, iterate and gather feedback.
  2. Approach marketing with a mindset of serving, not selling. Customers won’t forget it and will become customers for life.
  3. What others say about your brand becomes your brand. Make sure you’re treating your customers/partners right and amplifying what they’re saying about you as a result.
  4. Develop a marketing strategy that aligns with your business goals. Don’t live in the marketing silo — think and report out with the whole business impact in mind.


– You’re listening to Three Minute Marketing, where we interview the world’s top growth marketing leaders and distill their knowledge into actionable, bite-sized insights. Now here’s your host, Chris Mechanic.

– Welcome, everybody, to another episode of Three Minute Marketing. Super excited to be here today. I’ve got an interesting guest, Miss Narine Galstian, who’s CMO at SADA. SADA is a very, very fast growing tech firm, global leader in providing business and tech consulting services that transform organizations through cloud-based solutions. Prior to SADA, Narine has been, well, she’s currently a member in chief. She is an #IAmRemarkable facilitator. She’s been at other tech firms in leading marketing roles, including Nero and Instantly, instant.ly, So, super excited to have you on the show today, Narine. Thanks for joining us.

– Thank you so much. Really appreciate the time today.

– Absolutely. So let’s have some fun. If you could, I know that you’ve been a marketer for many years now, I know that you’ve seen a tremendous amount. With guests like you, I like to keep it kind of just open ended and see where you go with things. So the question that I’ve got for you today, and then I’ll start the timer, is tell us about some of your marketing secrets to success. Like your top three or your top five just like powerhouse secrets that enable you to do what you do.

– Awesome. Thank you, I’d love to share. Really, my top five rules for marketing success include first and foremost, be first is more important than being perfect. So I come from the startup world and, really, first to market is critical to making an impression, to gathering feedback from customers. So you can spend months and months trying to perfect a campaign.

– Yeah.

– But, really, you can launch with good enough and be able to iterate, test, gather feedback, iterate again, and being able to really, you know, put you ahead of the competition is critical.

– Yeah.

– That’s number one. Number two.

– Yeah.

– Approach marketing with the mindset of serving and not selling.

– Hm.

– Helping can your customers solve for their challenges, especially when they need it most, for example, when the pandemic hit, right?

– Mm-hmm.

– We all had to pivot, if you will, right? The keyword for every marketer was we got to pivot.

– Right, yeah.

– So when you’re pivoting, you really have to think, “How can I serve my customers “to get through this very difficult, challenging time,” right?

– Mm-hmm.

– They won’t forget it. And long term sales will come naturally as a result of you helping ’em through their challenges, through, you know, a transformation that they need. How do I continue my business when everyone suddenly is remote and I don’t have the infrastructure to help them? Right?

– Right. How do I continue collaboration in this remote work environment?

– Mm-hmm.

– And now that everyone’s going back into offices but they have a hybrid model, how can you help me solve for that?

– Yeah.

– Right? So focusing on the mentality of customers for life and not just a quick sale, that is very important. Number three, what others say about your brand will become your brand. So how do you want to be perceived? Everything you say and do needs to speak to that vision, right? And being able to treat your customers, your employees, your partners and your community and ecosystem in a manner that reflects the brand that you want to put out there. They are your advocates and what they say about you matters, and it will be part of your brand for long time.

– Hmm.

– So make sure you’re treating them right, you’re communicating and validating the customers or partners or even your employees, right? And then being able to amplify that through editorial coverage, analyst relations, customer success stories, social media, employee advocacy and community participation.

– Mm-hmm.

– Number four, develop a marketing strategy that aligns with your business goals. You can’t function as a department siloed from the rest of the business goals. Success in marketing depends on how are you contributing to the overall business goals and success in numbers? How are you developing an attribution model that’s able to track your marketing contribution? These are important data points, not only for decision-making on like investments where, you know, you want to make investments on campaigns or events or tools, but also for your reporting to your CEO or your CFO and your board.

– Yeah.

– You got to track the right numbers that matter.

– Love it, love it. We’re a little bit over time, but there was a lot packed into that. And one of my favorite things was about your brand is what people are saying about you. And I don’t think a lot of people really think of it like that, but your other points were right there, too. Like, well, you don’t hear a lot of CMOs saying, you know, good enough is good enough. But I think that’s a really excellent point of be first to market, not only just, you know, to stake that claim, but, also, the feedback that you get is super useful. And then customers for life. Well, actually, customers for life really resonates with me quite a bit, as well as serve, don’t sell.

– Mm-hmm.

– And I’ve got a whole story that I can tell you about that, and I will. We’re going to wrap here, but if you liked this conversation, Narine and I are going to continue talking, and that will be included somewhere within the show notes or maybe a link to this video, or if you’re on the website, it might just start right now. Narine, let the people know where they can learn more about you and or SADA.

– SADA.com is really where we host all of our resources, information about what we do. We are the premier Google Cloud partner and we have additional infrastructure, modernization services, data analytics services and, really, overall transformation services for organizations who want to go to the cloud. Under our Insight section, there’s a slew of resources, videos, tips, white papers, e-books that anyone can go and have access to. It’s really how we’re able to, again, serve our customers by providing them the resources without asking for, you know, anything back. They’re just ungated content available to-

– Ungated.

– To, you know, train and to understand what they need to do to get on the cloud and then see the results and the ROI from it.

– Awesome. So make sure to check it out, SADA.com. If you liked this, drop us a like, a comment, a thumbs up, what have you. And stick around, ’cause Narine and I are going to continue our conversation. You should find the link somewhere around this video. So you did say a lot of interesting items, and I’m interested to understand a little bit more ’cause obviously you came up with those things from, presumably, examples from your own life. So I’m interested to just dig in a little bit deeper into each of those items and maybe tell us a story or just tell us like how you formed this particular insight. And with your permission, if you could, like, let’s start from the bottom up. So if we could start with formulating your strategy around the business goals and the organizational goals.

– Yeah.

– I think most people would consider like a general best practice, but how can we add some teeth to it? Like what’s an example of that or maybe something that’s happening business-wise at SADA that is influencing your marketing strategy on the ground?

– Well, I think as you, you know, grow from a startup stage, right, into a global, you know, organization, you naturally might become a little siloed from other departments, right?

– Mm-hmm.

– And not fully understand, you know, what are their goals? What is sales trying to achieve, right? What is customer success team trying to achieve? What is our professional services team trying to achieve? And so, you know, you can develop your own goals of like, this is what I want to achieve in marketing but it has nothing to do with the overall business goals. So you really have to spend the time as an executive team to develop what are those, you know, top line OKRs that you’re trying to achieve and then be able to then take every department to develop their goals that relate to that top goal. What am I doing on the campaign side that’s going to drive this business goal, right? And then how am I going to track it? So I think, you know, having the right tools in place to be able to attribute your contribution-

– Mm-hmm.

– To those top line business goals is going to help you. And that’s something we’ve made a significant amount of investments in the last two years to be able to do that.

– Hmm. So it makes a lot of sense when it comes to sales and marketing, you know, they work hand in hand, but are there things that you guys do on the marketing org that serve like the professional service team or the customer success team?

– Yeah, absolutely. I mean, when we’re, you know, launching new service as products, we want to be able to, you know, align with the professional services team. Is this resonating? Are the demands that the customers have from me, you know, reading our collateral pieces or coming to our website, are you meeting the expectation of that customer from how we have positioned it?

– Mm-hmm.

– ‘Cause that’s what you always want to make sure, is do our expectations align with what the customer the needs, right? And so being able to have that constant communication with the professional services team to say what do we need to adjust from messaging, from offers? You know, that’s going to, one, be able to address the challenges you’re facing with every customer that you’re talking to on a regular basis. And then two, from, you know, budgeting and a cost perspective are we aligning properly to meet those goals and is there an ROI in place with these offers? Because there may not be, right? You may be bringing leads into the funnel, but they’re not converting the way you thought.

– Yeah. So I want to take a slight side step, a little bit lower altitude, but you mentioned ungated, and there’s a raging debate, like to gate or not to gate. You seem to be on the ungated content side of the house. Is that a recent thing, or have you always been of the ungated mentality? And like how do you now measure it?

– Well, I was of the gated mentality for a long time.

– Yeah.

– You got to get . And don’t get me wrong, we still have content that is gated, you know, more in depth kind of, white papers, you know, type of thing. But the Insight section of our website really came to life during the kind of work from home pandemic.

– Mm-hmm.

– You know, close that happened. And we realized that a lot of our customers were struggling with this transition of how do I continue to, you know, utilize, in our case, the Google Cloud, you know, collaborative tools and services to then arm my employees with what they need working from home, so they can still continue to collaborate and work together and obviously, you know, produce what they need to, right? So these were things that we decided, no, we’re going to do these video series, we’re going to do these e-books, we’re going to do the how-tos and the customer stories and just leave it ungated so that our customers and then perspective target accounts and even partners can come and tap into that and not have to feel like they have a sales pitch coming at them.

– Yeah, totally.

– You know? And so, by doing that, we actually were able to really garner more loyalty from our customers and being like, “Wow, I really feel like I’m supported by SADA, “you know, without having to, you know, “ask me for dollars every time I need something.” Right?

– Yeah, absolutely.

– So that’s the critical. I think you have to look at it from a long term, you know, customers for life mentality. They’re naturally going to come back to you when they need something.

– Mm-hmm.

– That concept is going to come to you eventually, you just have to trust it.

– Yeah, absolutely. And it kind of dovetails into the serving, not selling piece.

– Mm-hmm.

– Which I think is too often forgot. You know, like in our world, like we work with many different clients and there’s almost always a talk about leads, right?

– Mm-hmm.

– But there’s very rarely a talk about like how can we genuinely add value to these anonymous visitors as, you know, soon to be customers’ lives? So I think that gets lost quite a bit of time, but it’s pretty easy and, I think, highly advisable to just take a step back every once in a while and say, “Are we creating value here? “Or are we just like generating leads?”

– Right. Right. And then it’s not only a one time value, right? To be able to continually nurture and bring value every single time. So when you have leads into the funnel, it’s not a one shot deal. You have to continually go back to them. So every time, we have an entire database and every time we come out with a new blog, a new customer story or a new video, we’re naturally emailing them and say, “Hey, we have something new for you that could be valuable.”

– Yeah.

– Check it out, you know?

– Yeah.

– And so we’re able to then track how many times are we engaging with these prospects, never expecting anything back from them.

– Yeah.

– Eventually, they want to talk.

– Yeah.

– I mean, and for us, for SADA, we’re in the service business, right? This is what we do. We provide services around your, you know, transformation. So for us, it’s a natural thing to continually service the customer at every standpoint. And then also the products, you know, the prospects, I mean. A lot of our partners became our customers. A lot of our customers became our partners.

– Mm-hmm.

– And that’s because we’re constantly thinking in that mentality of how do we continue to bring value to each other.

– Yep. Last question for you. I know we’re right around time here.

– Mm-hmm.

– But you guys are not a startup. You’re a large org. I know you have over 1,000 employees.

– Almost.

– I think.

– Almost.

– Yeah? Oh, I thought it was over 1,000 on LinkedIn.

– Uh uh.

– But, you know, there’s obviously different challenges associated with that. I think the smaller you are, the more you’re just like, “We need leads, we need leads, we need leads.” But I’m just curious, like, what are some of the challenges that you’re facing right now? Like some of the biggest, hairiest challenges at the larger org size?

– Well, I think the bigger challenges is tapping into talent, right? Growing the team and really getting access to top talent.

– Mm-hmm.

– And for us, you know, that’s critical in the tech world. Engineers have a lot of options these days. And so making sure that we have the right talent at SADA to serve our customers is critical. So that is a very big challenge, I think, a lot of organizations are dealing with right now. And that, you know, that whole concept of your brand is critical to attracting that top talent.

– Yeah.

– And then being able to keep that culture. You know, we’re not a startup anymore, right? But we very much want to keep that culture of not having red tape, not having a hierarchy, not being able to silo teams. How do we continue that collaboration that we used to have when we were 100 employees? You know?

– Mm-hmm.

– And being able to really connect people through this remote work environment.

– Yeah, yeah.

– So that is a challenge, and then that’s something that we invest quite a bit into from a culture perspective and talent recruitment. Ultimately, your people will serve your customers. So if you bring the right people and treat them right, naturally your customers will be happy.

– Very good. Wise words, Miss Narine, very nice words. So, hey, let me let you go here. I know that we’re at time.

– Thank you.

– But thank you very much. This was awesome. If you guys liked this, drop us a like, comment, share, what have you and check out Narine and SADA.com.

Narine Galstian

Narine GalstianCMO, SADA Systems

Chris Mechanic

Chris MechanicCEO & Co-Founder

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