TheNextCMO’s latest podcast is with Charlie Ungashick the CMO of Validity. Charlie is a serial-CMO with over 10 years of experience working for companies such as Applause, PTC, and Globoforce. In this podcast we discuss their upcoming digital event, The Summit; a cant-miss email event, the importance of data for customer engagement platforms, and how to improve your overall marketing strategy.
Kelsey Krapf 0:00
Welcome to the official podcast of The Next CMO hosted by Plannuh. The next cmo is a thought leadership podcast for those that are CMOS or want to become one. My name is Kelsey Krapf, and I'm the senior marketing manager.
Peter Mahoney 0:15
And I'm Peter Mahoney. I'm the founder and CEO of Plannuh, and welcome to the next cmo podcast.
Kelsey Krapf 0:35
For this week, we have Charlie Ungashick on the show the CMO of validity as our guest, Charlie has 10 years of experience as a CMO at other companies called applause, PTC and global force. How are you doing today, Charlie?
Charlie Ungashick 0:48
Hey, how are you?
Peter Mahoney 0:50
We couldn't be better, Charlie, this is awesome to see you. our listeners don't especially see you but, but good good to reconnect. I should tell our audience that Charlie and I were sort of parallel peers CMOS. Back in the day, when I was at nuance. And in Charlie was at PTC, similar sized companies shared some more stories here and there, in some similar cultures in some ways, so interesting places. And now you're at a really cool place. And, and I thought we'd start by by talking about but before we got into that, one of the things that's fascinating about your background is that you're one of those serial CMOS, who, who entered the CMO life from a non traditional place. It's funny, I went through your LinkedIn background, because I never went back to the beginning until I did a little research for this thing. And, and I realized that you started out your career as an engineer. But I went back even further. And it was fascinating to me, because I've realized your education is you have a double major in French in political science. So what series of accident happened to make you to make you be a multi time cmo? And did that background help you at all through your journey?
Charlie Ungashick 2:13
Well, Peter, it's a thank you for having me on the podcast today. Yeah, my circuitous journey towards becoming a head of marketing went through some unusual hops, for sure. But I always been a computer nerd since I was a kid. And in fact, when I was in seventh grade, I used to teach third graders on shared Apple, two computers inside of a third grade classroom. And when I was an undergrad at Fordham University, and then hadn't pursuing a law degree, that's political science major, I was took them took, took a little sorry, took a look around Manhattan, and realize they really didn't want to be a lawyer. Ultimately, the only skills and passion I really had were for computers and software. So that's why I ended up in it working at at AIG down on Wall Street, I purposefully signed up for the International division. So I could fly around the world, and take the systems that we were building on Wall Street and deploy them out into the wild to various countries. And I just love international travel. And so that was why I was able to, you know, manufacture my destiny. By doing the things I wanted to do international travel and computers at the same time. And I was very lucky to be able to parlay those into sales and product roles that ultimately marketing.
Peter Mahoney 3:30
Yeah, well, I'd say it's actually a really interesting set of experiences to take on the CMO role. I always tell people that to be a CMO these days, one, you need to be analytical as well as being creative. You need to be a great writer, and I'm sure you had to do a lot of writing in multiple languages. To with with your education, you need some a broad cultural perspective. So I think your world travels were probably helpful, and you need to be a little bit crazy. So I think you've checked most of those boxes, I won't weigh in on which ones you have stronger than others. But, but that's great.
Charlie Ungashick 4:06
I think I think it's exactly right in marketing is very much an art and a science. So I love marketing posts on LinkedIn that talk about sweating every word of coffee, it's entirely true. The tone that you use to be to come across as conversational and genuine not buttoned up in corporate, especially today. But it also needs to be analytical. I mean, you have to be able to measure your impact and prove your ROI to the business and getting the blend of science and artists is can be difficult.
Kelsey Krapf 4:40
We have the saying to be a scientist, not a promoter. I guess that's in our new book. But talk to us a little bit about validity. I mean, it's a fascinating story. And you know, one of the biggest marketing technology companies and a lot of people really haven't heard about it. So can you tell us a little bit about the story of validity and how the company came to be?
Charlie Ungashick 4:58
Yeah, you bet. It's no surprise that people may not have heard of validity. But chances are any of your podcast listeners have heard of products like demand tools for Salesforce or return path for bright verified for email. Those are actually all validity products. The company was only started two and a half years ago, when silver Smith and other Boston based investment firm came together with my CEO Mark Briggs to start a new company. And in that initial evolution, they bought CRM fusion, which was the makers of demand tools. And that set off a journey to build new products and acquire other companies. And I believe we've acquired five companies, since the since the early days of the company not that far ago, we're well over 100 million dollar company, we are a fast growing and highly profitable tech company, which is I look at the public markets, many of them are fast growing, they're not necessarily profitable. So, and the company today plays in, you know, several markets, but two key spaces. One is around data management, and primarily for Salesforce and CRM systems. And the other one is around email optimization. So if you definitely need to get that message to your user in their inbox, and ensure that that user engages with your email, then and of course, now more than ever, with everybody going to digital Boy, you need good CRM data. And you certainly you need the email channel to be rock solid. So fortunately, we're in you know, we're in some great markets and doing very, very well. We're headquartered in Boston, the 22nd floor of the JM hug john Hancock Tower, I cannot wait to get back to you because we have a great view. And we have offices all around the globe. So you're right, it has been an unusual journey. we've acquired several companies, we've brought several different companies and cultures together. But we, you know, we've turned it into again, one of the fastest growing tech companies on the planet.
Peter Mahoney 6:58
Yeah, it's super exciting to see. And, and I know you've got some, a really great team, Jeff Foley, who you brought onboard as an awesome product marketer. He's a rock star absolute. Don't anybody
Charlie Ungashick 7:10
look him up on LinkedIn?
Peter Mahoney 7:15
Exactly, no, it's very exciting. And I can tell you from from my experience, at it nuance where we acquired 100 companies during my tenure. And I know you did a lot at PTC, too, obviously. It's, it's a little tricky to do this roll up strategy sometimes, because you often get sort of what's available in what's left. And in one of the things that is unique and differentiated about what you've done at validity, is you've been able to somehow source really top tier products in each of the segments. So I guess the pickers, how in the world, did you do that? Right that How did you find all these things that were available that fit together into the right solution
Charlie Ungashick 7:55
is really very, I think it's a confluence of things that I've never seen happen before, which is why every day I come to work. And just I'm delighted I get to work at this, this rather unusual company. Firstly, we have amazing investors who have our backs. Even when we make bold moves, including bold acquisitions, our m&a and corporate development team are phenomenal at sourcing deals. We also take very, you know, very diligent, thoughtful about how we onboard these companies. So we're not just you know, big bad, you don't come across like a big bad acquire or whatever. Like we care about people, we care about their their careers, their future, their families. And so I believe we've done a good job there. And it's not just acquiring companies, like we take these best of breed products. But if you go to any of my product listings on GQ or trust radius, that they're all like five stars, and, you know, dozens and hundreds of great reviews, which is a marketers phenomenal, but we take these products, we also combine them in ways that never happened before. So like for example, if you're updating CRM records, using demand tools will follow. That's great. But now we plugged in right verify. So you can update records and also simultaneously verify your email list on the fly. We've been able to cross innovate the products that we have acquired and also build new ones around that.
Peter Mahoney 9:13
Oh, some real real synergy, right? You talk about that a lot in the process of of acquisitions, but it's it's rare for it to be truly realized. It can you tell tell us a little bit about the the target customer and is that target customer the same across your entire range? Or do you see some variation because of the different product families
Charlie Ungashick 9:34
it's, it's by and large, different buying centers, which is great as a tech company, you have cross selling opportunities. We bought we primarily sell to the sales and marketing personas. Again, many of the people probably listening to this podcast who have heard of these. So if you're using digital marketing, chances are you've heard of 250 Okay, return half of right verify my products that have all come together into a whole new platform called Everest, which we're watching in an event coming up, as well as on the CRM side of our business if your business runs, so chances are you've used either my grid buddy products, or demand tools, some, some bought, you know, some operational people like marketing ops or sales ops use all of those products, which are great. But typically, it's the sales and marketing buying centers.
Peter Mahoney 10:22
Got it. So we should talk a little bit about about the summit that's coming up. Because it's it's timely, obviously. So before we get into the details, tell us a little bit about the summit. It's on the 21st of October. So who should be interested in attending? And how did they find out some information about registering?
Charlie Ungashick 10:42
Yeah, so if you so if you're in digital marketing, or you're just curious about digital marketing in general, or specifically, if you're, if your role in an organization is around email success, you should definitely come to the summit. If you go to validity comm you'll see a promotion for it. This is not a marketing event. There's no marketing Bs, I'm not here to build see no no in depth product demos, or people giving accolades of the products, we want to actually put leading email marketers and cm chief level marketing executives in the two different panels to talk about what their email strategies have been this year, and what they're doing to succeed at the back half of the year and coming into 2021. So we'll have some lively panels around email innovation, as well as email engagement meeting the engagement of email programs for the customers. We also have a keynote speaker in Ed v stirs and has climbed Mount Everest several times. He's a well accomplished person. He's a phenomenal speaker. And Ed plans to talk about big goals, but achieving them by smaller milestones that you take every step of building your track up to that summit. And he's going to talk a lot about how we, during this 2020 that we all know, have had to go through our own different trials and tribulations to get there. I can't wait to see his presentation, but also to hear from these leading brands like Pinterest and Verizon media, and TCF Bank talking about how their email strategies are evolving and how they will evolve further.
Peter Mahoney 12:22
Yeah, one of the reasons that I reached out was that I thought it's such a relevant topic right now, as you said, people are really trying to figure out how to wring performance out of out of their their own lists in email in general. And it's, it's it's an important topic, especially as the competition gets hotter and hotter for for the share of inbox for people. So I think everyone would be would be interested, do you think now these are big impressive brands? Who obviously No, no, a lot. If you're a smaller marketer from a smaller enterprise, do you think it's still get learn something from Pinterest as an example, or Oh,
Charlie Ungashick 13:02
yeah, hundred percent. It's amazing what kind of b2b insight you can get from the b2c world. And when it comes to email, it's it's actually harder as a smaller mailer. To get through to get through the spam filters to get through the inbox versus Pinterest has an army of digital marketers that all they do is email, optimize everything from the subject line to the pixel placement to everything and everything in between. So yeah, and as I said before, it's not a marketing event, I think it will be something for any anybody who it lives and breathes, lives and breathes digital marketing.
Peter Mahoney 13:36
Know that that's great. And I know that having in my past lives, when I worked in this multi divisional company, we had consumer divisions as well as b2b divisions. And it was actually really helpful to have the experience of large at scale targeting email targeting as an example. And understanding how to do that optimization across different sizes and sectors of audience was super valuable for people. In one thing that's sort of at the center of it, I think, really, differentiating for what validity does is your focus on data and data quality. And that really piqued my interest. I know that the that I I had many projects over the years trying to figure out how to, to clean and keep clean CRM data so that we could actually do something non embarrassing with it when we tried to personalize emails, which is always a little bit tricky. So can you talk a little bit about the importance of data for these kinds of customer engagement platforms?
Charlie Ungashick 14:39
Yeah, I mean, now more than ever, it's funny. Yeah, as a marketer, you know that every every field we put out a form even you add another one, your decreases your fill rate by like 10%. And I was talking to my engineering team because they wanted to add phone number on the field. And I was like, Yeah, that's great, but which folder They use because we're very few of us are working in offices right now across, you know, professional services industry. And so data, customer data now more than ever is paramount. Because one is you want to understand where to where to engage that customer, which channel social is a phone number is an email, chances are some combination of them. In terms of engagement, when is really important, like when you actually send emails matters. My wife is an author, and most of the people who read her emails is 7pm. On Tuesday, I don't know why. But in that 10 graphic for her, that's the sweet spot of when to send the email. And Curiously, data privacy, I think, back in 2018, when GDPR came out, the reaction from most marketers was okay, party's over, you know, I've got to, you know, scrub my database and follow these rules. Well, actually, a curious thing happened, by having better data, and by only marketing to the people that want to hear from you, you actually get better results. And I think that was counterintuitive for a lot of potentially less technical marketers, because you know, that many of them is to buy lists, and you know, spray and pray whatever and hope to get the best results based on open rates or whatever. Actually, marketing is much more sophisticated. And as a result, with good data marketing is actually much more intimate. Your relationship with your customer can be more intimate with the accuracy of the validity of your data.
Peter Mahoney 16:30
That's probably where the name came from, isn't a Charlie?
Charlie Ungashick 16:34
I think I just dropped that in the you did
Peter Mahoney 16:36
that with that was clever. Yeah. So obviously, data is a big piece of that. And in content is huge. So it's really interesting that there are there, these things that seem like they're obvious when you say them, but they have such a dramatic impact on performance overall, data, obviously, so that not only you sent to the right people, but can personalize with a level of confidence is incredibly important. The content is is incredibly important. And the the offer is the is the quality of the offer, is it compelling to the audience that you're trying to reach and things like it? Again, these are the basics of marketing. But if you can do them correctly, in with high quality at scale, and you're going to have a much different kind of performance than you might otherwise.
Kelsey Krapf 17:24
And truly, how many CMOS Do you think actually have a real handle on their data assets?
Charlie Ungashick 17:32
It depends on which kind of data you mean, if you're if you're if so my business, for example, runs on Salesforce Marketo plugs into Salesforce sales force is the system of record. My type my IT organization owns the quality of the data, and they use demand tools, my product to do so which is great. There are some organizations are different, right? Some sometimes sales ops does that function. So it really depends on the organization. What I found, though, is the best companies that have the best data have a data governance or a shared, you know, SLA around, who maintains the data, who is allowed to enter data, you know, monitor it and change it and that sort of thing. And and organizations that are collaborative, yet deliberate, and how they you know, how they run that operation are the ones that succeed the most. When it comes to email, I find that many marketers rely on their, their email service provider or their marketing automation platform. And they trust the open rates that they get, they trust the click through rates or whatever. And very unfortunately, they're there. They don't have all of the data, believe it or not, when you send an email to your subscriber, the the mailbox provider, whether it be Google or Microsoft, or Verizon or whatever, may tell you, yep, it's been delivered. And in fact, they just throw it away, because they know that your emails are they suspect that your emails don't get open, they don't get engaged. They'd rather not pass that along to the user. And they'd rather tell you and your email service provider all good. So when it comes to email data, I think that's a, you know, an area that more sophisticated marketers find more tooling around to make sure that it's good.
Peter Mahoney 19:15
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. If you look out, try and lean back strategically for a minute, related to these big questions like, like data. I mean, we've obviously come off a really interesting year in 2020. I know you guys have grown pretty dramatically through this, which is exciting. But as a CMO as a leader in the field, if you ran into a CMO on the street somewhere and what would you think what would you tell them their top priority should be looking into 2021 for for their overall marketing agenda?
Charlie Ungashick 19:53
Yeah, so um, you know a few different things is one is you know, if they're not any In a business or a company that is thriving in this digital only, or digital first world, then I would from a just overall career perspective. You know, think about, you know, their career from that vantage point, as I mentioned, validity plays in the CRM data and email worlds. And we're very, very lucky from that perspective. I would say number two, the number one thing a table stakes for any CEO cmo in any year is growth, and being able to prove the return on investment through smart campaigns that engage users that drive bookings and bookings results. So you know, that's, you know, there's a lot that goes into those things, of course, but you know, if you're able to go to a board meeting and present logically and confidently that you are providing those results, then, you know, hallelujah, the last one, I think that's come up more and more is the relationship that you you, as a CEO, cmo, have with your CEO. And and some See, he owes our product people, some CEOs or sales people, not to, not to overgeneralize, but some are engineers, right. And so understanding how to translate the art and science of marketing into the understanding that you have for the CEO and what she or he is trying to accomplish for the business, and ensuring that you have that symbiotic relationship that fosters two way information and ultimately trust that you're doing a great job.
Peter Mahoney 21:30
Yeah, it's interesting that you bring those things up, I think they're, you know, that getting your head around digital and digital transformation is huge, of course. And proving the value of marketing is incredibly important, as well as being able to be aligned in your interest with the generalized business interests. Those are pretty consistent themes that that we hear, it's, it's been interesting, we just rolled out in our platform, a new sort of metrics management capability that we're really excited about. But we find that it's, it's often new to a lot of people to think in terms of really the kind of metrics that that make a big difference in telling the talking about the effectiveness of marketing. So you know, we start with things like cost per outcome. In what what is a good cost per outcome? in what's a good cost per lead? What's a good cost per opportunity? What should you pay for $1 of revenue, etc, in you realize that, that marketers haven't consistently made themselves Think about that. And so I think that's important that of course, figuring out ROI is really challenging for some people. Because what they struggle with is, even if they can figure out the R, they can't figure out the AI, because there's no good way to sort of measure the total true cost per campaign. Because your financial systems typically don't organize your spend by campaign, they organize by
Charlie Ungashick 23:07
job the most, you're actually right here. And that's one of the most challenging thing as a marketer is I call it the swivel chair, right? You You go analyze your Google Analytics to understand your web traffic, then you go over to Marketo, or whatever your system used to run your campaigns and monitor those. Then you go over to Salesforce, you see all the campaign members that are coming in. And the last thing is the budget right? But the budgeting the financial systems are usually a two headed monster. One is the marketers view of it in Excel, or something, hopefully, a whole lot better. And then the finance use of the invoices coming in and no idea how to correlate you know, and it's even that last piece is hard just to be able to stay on track with your budget, stay on, on track with your campaigns and then prove that ROI. I mean, it's I didn't even cover anything like messaging and win loss analysis and PR and all the other places your chair as well, too. But budgeting and financial metrics are, you know, the ones that beyond growth is you have to be you have to know that stuff cold for sure.
Peter Mahoney 24:08
Yeah, it's interesting. We just wrote our book right the next cmo a guide to operational marketing excellence. And, and it those operational issues are ones that a lot of marketers struggle with, you know, some other are great messaging, some are great creative, some are great digital marketers, but when it comes to running the business of marketing, I think those those are emerging skills that I think are going to be really important for for people
Unknown Speaker 24:36
Kelsey Krapf 24:37
I'm Charlie, I know we're about to wrap up on time here. So just wanted to ask one of my favorite questions, you know, what advice would you give to people that are CMOS or you know, aspiring to be one?
Charlie Ungashick 24:53
Yeah, so, one is,
understand the relationship as I mentioned earlier with the CEO, of course, But that also extends to the peers that are on the executive team, I always found that my most the best roles I've had in marketing, were ones where I had phenomenal relationships, both with sales and product. I love making like I can't I've met one of my favorite projects is actually the internal kickoff, right, making the product leader and our products is look amazing on stage so that everyone who wants to go sell that product just leaves room going, Oh my gosh, I cannot wait to just crush my quota with with this product. Same thing over and sales, like you know, if I can give them you know, I'm a b2b company. So the most qualified leads, I can give him that noise that you know, you have slows them down. As long as those two relationships are there. And then of course, then you have the backing of finance, as long as you're tied up with your budget, and you're not being second guessed, for every t shirt you buy. I'm wearing my amazing validity t shirt today, then that's always that's always really, really great. The the one last thing, the ultimate thing is, the more that you know about your customer and the market, the better. I always try to be on as many different customer prospect calls just listening in. And by the way, if you have a if you have an inside sales team or a BDR team, and they're recording their calls using something like Gong, like just put those on your phone, listen to them on the subway, or when you're biking or whatever, like you can learn so much about the market just by how your prospects talk to the sales people who are you know, engaging with them?
Peter Mahoney 26:30
Oh, that's, yeah, that's that's fantastic advice, Charlie. So I think we need to wrap it up from here. But one last time if you can tell people where to find information about validity, but also Most importantly, the the summit that's coming up this coming next week.
Charlie Ungashick 26:47
Yeah, if you go to validity calm, and you click on the summit, the summit event is taking place. It's just a 90 minute live event. It's free for anyone to attend. It's October 21, at 12 noon, Eastern. And I hope to see you there.
Kelsey Krapf 27:03
Well, thank you so much for your time today, Charlie. We'll make sure to include in the show notes below where to register for the event. And make sure to follow thenextCMO and Plannuh on Twitter and LinkedIn. And if you have any ideas for topics or guests, you can email them to firstname.lastname@example.org Have a great day everyone.
Peter Mahoney 27:23
Thanks Charlie. Thanks, guys.
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