Dave King is the Head of Marketing at Asana. Specializing in B2B enterprise marketing and growth, Dave oversees Asana’s global marketing efforts, including product marketing, communications, analyst relations, sales enablement and customer marketing. Prior to joining Asana, Dave led the marketing teams at Percolate, Highfive and Salesforce. Dave received his B.S. in Cognitive Science from Duke University and MBA from Stanford University Graduate School of Business.
This episode features an interview between Ian Faison and Dave King, CMO of Asana. Specializing in B2B enterprise marketing and growth, Dave joined Asana in 2017 to oversee global marketing efforts after having previously led marketing teams at Percolate, Highfive and Salesforce.
On this episode, Dave breaks down Asana’s unique, hybrid demand gen strategy that starts with a core belief in an exceptional product experience. Dave discusses how to add value, engender trust, and deliver such a remarkable experience that your customers become your greatest advocates.
- Word of mouth marketing is the future and is still largely untapped. More people hear about Asana from word of mouth than from any other advertising or marketing tactics. Think about how to create an experience that’s so remarkable that people want to share about it.
- Demand gen has to be tailored to your audience and the needs of the business. You can’t take a demand gen model that works for company X and apply it to company Y. The first and most important thing you need to do is figure out what you need demand gen to do for your organization
- Asana customers can use the product for free and see the value from day one, which aligns everybody’s incentives in a powerful way, and is a huge driver of word of mouth.
“We like to say great marketing is about education and delivering an experience. So how do we help people be better at their jobs, and how do you make it an experience that people want to talk about?”
“Helping people be better at their jobs rather than selling features is a shift that’s happening across our craft...We view ourselves as community organizers more than as professors.”
“I think that the scarce commodity in society right now is trust. We make emotional decisions, and we make them based on trust. That’s ultimately what a brand is: How do I deliver trust?”
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(4:43) Asana Demand Gen is Built on a Hybrid Go-to-Market Model
- Unlike many other SaaS companies, Asana has a self-service engine and a direct sales engine
- The self-service engine gives away the product for free, which has helped Asana scale to millions of customers. This allows customers to see value from day one and is a huge driver for word of mouth.
- The direct sales motion feeds from the self-service momentum. The sales team takes a consultative selling approach to help self-service customers get even more value from Asana.
(7:49) A Marketing Team Aligned to the Customer Journey
- The Asana marketing team is organized by stages of the customer journey.
- Growth marketing team: Focused on driving visitors to asana.com to sign up for the free product. This team operates on a massive scale and includes paid acquisition and organic marketing.
- Revenue marketing team: This is the more traditional demand gen team, which includes integrated campaign managers and regional teams. This team is responsible for driving pipeline, and their number one goal is ARR.
- Engagement marketing team: This team builds strategies to help customers get value from the product, including how to educate and engage existing customers. This includes the lifecycle email marketing team and community team.
- Product marketing team: Responsible for ensuring Asana has great product-market fit.
- Corporate marketing team: Generates awareness and crafts Asana’s story
- Brand team: Delivers an elevated brand experience and ensures brand consistency across the entire customer journey
(10:32) How Asana Drives Revenue from a Self-Service Free Model
- Identified that Asana’s core persona is a team lead or project manager who is responsible for coordinating work across an entire team
- Asana’s self-service motion is catered to them, and then the direct sales motion narrows in on key departments (such as operations, marketing, sales, and account management) by providing consultative guidance on how they can optimize workflows and expand their Asana usage.
(15:38) Asana’s Success is Based on a Consultative, Community-Based Approach
- Every team at Asana uses the Asana product. This enables them to experiment with new use cases and share learnings and successes with customers.
- Asana created a community where they facilitate connections between companies and teams with similar use cases to share successful strategies
- Some of Asana’s most creative ideas come from what they see in the community
(20:37) Dave’s Uncuttable Demand Gen Budget Items
- Free product: Drives significant word-of-mouth impact. Even if a free user never pays Asana, the research shows that this audience is still a huge influence on brand awareness and reputation.
- Paid marketing: Search and review websites
- Brand: PR, analyst relations, advertising, community programs
(21:23) How Asana Accelerates Building Customer Advocates
- Asana maniacally instruments and tracks NPS. This helps them measure their success in building a product that customers find remarkable.
- They’re also heavily focused on customer education. They actively think about how they can help people be better at their jobs. This is brought to life this in several ways, such as giving away Asana Academy curriculum for free, facilitating connections in the community, and building delightful experiences that make people feel good (for example, when a customer completes a task, a magical celebration flies across the screen)
(28:08) Marketing Tactics that are Diminishing in Value
- Dave is finding that big ad platforms are starting to peak in their payoff. They’re still successful, but he believes they’re approaching the height of their influence.
- What’s emerging in influence are podcasts and internet radio. These create a more intimate experience for a targeted audience.
- Dave also can’t wait for the end of asset gating. It’s intrusive to the customer experience. Soon marketers will adopt ways to eliminate gates, deliver tailored customer experiences, and still benefit from gathering data on the backend.
(30:34) How Dave Prioritizes Asana’s Website
- Positioning: It’s important that when people visit Asana’s website, they instantly know who they are, what they’re all about, and what they stand for. This must be very clear and above the fold.
- Performance: Their website is the front door, so they need to make it as seamless as possible for visitors to sign up.
- Education: Deliver learning journeys catered to a variety of visitors, which extends beyond potential buyers to prospective employees, community members, and investors.
(31:49) How Asana Built a Demand Gen Campaign in 48 Hours
- When COVID hit, Dave and team launched a campaign called “Asana is here for you”
- The campaign had three pillars...
- First, it got Asana in the hands of any team that was working to slow the spread of COVID (i.e. humanitarian organizations, hospitals, medical research labs, and churches)
- Second, it helped teams adapt to remote work. The sales team stopped prospecting activity and offered free consultations to any team that needed help adjusting to remote work.
- Third, it provided economic relief to any team that needed it. Encouraged teams that were heavily hit to continue using Asana when they needed it most, even if they couldn’t afford it.
(37:56) Quick Hits: Getting to Know Dave
- Favorite podcast: “Pivot” with Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway
- Current TV show: Watching “Treehouse Masters” with his three kids. In every episode, they build a treehouse
- Alternative career: He would love to teach at a community college
- CMO advice for someone trying to figure out demand gen: Demand gen has to be tailored to each company’s unique audience and business needs