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AMAs

I love being part of building companies that are impacting innovation, progress and our personal lives. I am a mother, a gardener, a sister of 8 siblings, and a lover of travel.  I find myself drawn to and driven by the future, by growth, and by being part of building great teams  - which means I am open to doing all sorts of things, and have had the wonderful opportunity to contribute to organizations as a financial analyst, auditor, sales VP and chief marketing officer. 

Today, I am the CMO of Rapid7, a company that is disrupting traditional notions of security and helping organizations use data and analytics to design, build and deploy technology securely. Previously, I was CMO at LogMeIn and Unica Corporation (acquired by IBM), where I was part of the teams that took these companies public. Prior to that I was VP of sales for Shiva Corporation (acquired by Intel), and began my adventure in sales, marketing and finance at Lotus and GE. 

I have had the privilege of participating in 4 IPOs and helping to create billions of dollars in investor value. Today, I also have the honor to serve on the boards of directors of Emarsys and MineralTree, and as an advisor to DUO Security, SocialRep, and WordStream.  I also serve as on the Graduate Professional Studies Advisory board for Digital Marketing and Design at Brandies University and on the board of the Women's Network for the Boston Chamber of Commerce.

You can follow me on Twitter: @CarolJMeyers

I will be live on Nov 17 starting at 930 AM PT for one and a half hours during which I will answer as many questions as possible.

  • SE

    Sean Ellis

    4 months ago #

    Hi Carol, awesome to have you doing an AMA with us! I have a million questions I'd like to ask you about the LogMeIn days, but I'll save that for a 1:1 conversation. Hopefully we can connect for a coffee when I'm in Boston in February and exchange LogMeIn war stories.

    My question for you centers around goal setting. Do you think it's important for marketing teams to have specific short term goals? If so, how many simultaneous goals should a marketing team be managing at any one time? Any best practices around setting and achieving growth/marketing goals would be appreciated. Thanks!

    • CM

      Carol Meyers

      4 months ago #

      I will definitely take you up on the offer for coffee when you are here next year – that will be fun!

      Thanks for your great questions. I think goal setting is important but it can be hard and when monetary incentives are wrapped around goals, it can lead to some interesting behavior.
      I think it is important to have a mix of short term goals that feed into longer term goals. I usually set monthly or quarterly goals that tie into more annual and even longer range (mission, vision of company). But I often feel the time frame is a bit artificial as it’s dictated by the fiscal calendar rather than the natural cadence of projects and initiatives.

      For me, when goals get beyond about 5, they seem to be more of a checklist of things to get done rather than true, prioritize goals. So, I try to press people to think about what they are trying to achieve – how what they do will have impact on the customers, the business and mutual success. The longer list of items to be “achieved” likely are means to achieving the larger goal.

      I also try (not always successful!) to give people something tangible that they can clearly do, but ensure it ties to the end game. For example, in longer sales cycle B2B, marketers are often tasked around leads. But even with good metrics for quality, it can create odd behavior if the marketer isn’t thinking about and feeling responsibility to see all the way through to sales.

      The one other thing I personally like to do is to encourage everyone to have at least one development goal. I think it’s helpful for them to remember that being part of our team should not only benefit the company but should enrich them personally in some way – such as building skills, letting them try something they are curious about and want to explore, find new talents, etc.
      I’d love to hear your take too.

      4 Share
      • SE

        Sean Ellis

        4 months ago #

        I really like this answer Carol - especially the part about short-term goals feeding into longer term goals. I also agree that more than 5 short-term goals can be a problem. I like to cap short-term goals by the number of people that are dedicated to growth/marketing roles full time. I personally don't assign myself a short-term goal, but instead mentor and help my teammates achieve their goals.

        I also really like the part about personal development goals. I hadn't really thought about that as part of the goal setting process.

        One mistake I think I made at LogMeIn was that I really didn't set short-term goals but rather was always in continuous growth mode (always shooting for a higher number). After 5 years of grinding on growth I was definitely burnt out.

      • CM

        Carol Meyers

        4 months ago #

        Thanks, Sean. I like the idea that short term goals are more useful for those who are in growth / demand oriented marketing roles. It can be really challenging for some others who are working on much longer lead times.

  • RA

    R Ahammed

    4 months ago #

    Hi Carol, Nice to see you here. What 3 things a SaaS Startup should do before 1 month of launching?

    • CM

      Carol Meyers

      4 months ago #

      Hi R,
      This is a great question.

      Here are the things I think are most important. How one goes about these things and how “buttoned” up one needs to be is related to the solution, the customer and the buying process. (for example, how easy or hard is it to iterate on the product)

      1. Solution/Product market fit. I know that term can make some people crazy but I think it’s important to have a clear sense of the ideal customer, have tested out that the product/service meets a real need that the customer wants to solve, have effective/tested messaging, and a good sense of how you can best reach/attract the customer. Yes, you'll likely still make changes as you learn along the way, but a good start makes a big difference.

      2. A solid Go-to-Market plan. It may not be perfect and you will likely need to tweak (maybe even re-architect it) but be sure it’s in place and ready. For example, ensuring sales people have what they need, you know how you will support customers, etc.

      3. A good sense of your key metrics and “sign-posts,” and clear ability to track and measure your progress against them. This is about the ability to get fast feedback on what’s working, what isn’t and how you can adapt to improve your chances of success. You need to know where to invest more and where to pull back.
      That’s what comes to mind for me.

      4 Share
  • SK

    S Kodial

    4 months ago #

    Hi Carol - thank for being here

    Now that you've participated in 4 IPOs could you share what you've learned about:
    a. what it takes to get to that point
    b. actually making it over the "finish line" and
    c. the most common challenges once you're past this milestone

    • CM

      Carol Meyers

      4 months ago #

      Thanks for the questions. I really love doing IPOs.

      A). Every company approaches IPOs differently, especially deciding when to go. Usually, its a board level decision and it involves a sense of IPO market conditions, industry conditions, current size and sustainability of the company, and vision for the future. Some companies like to stay private as long as possible. Others look for the first window they can -- and some of that is driven by the investors involved. But to have a successful IPO requires proven success, a good story and market, and a vision for the future that people can buy into.

      B) Once you decide to go, it's a ton of work! But it's also a ton of fun and often leads to strong bonds with your peers. There's a whole that goes into, especially from the investor relations and financial side, but marketing needs to play a big role in helping to get the story right, and creating a lot of the assets that help tell that story.

      C) The big challenge post IPO is to be sure you deliver for investors. This requires good fundamental systems and processes that give you visibility into your markets and performance. It means great communication across the company - and keeping everyone excited and committed to the vision. I haven't seen an IPO radically change a company - it's still fun and fluid with tons of growth opportunity.

      2 Share
  • SD

    Steven Dupree

    4 months ago #

    Hi Carol,

    It was a pleasure working with you at LogMeIn and Brandeis! My question for you: how do you balance the (sometimes opposing) demands of brand "above-the-line" marketing with performance "below-the-line" marketing in an organization?

    For example, suppose your performance marketer deems that a blue button has a 2% higher conversion rate, but your brand marketer wants a green button because it matches the logo and style guide. As CMO, what do you do?

    Thanks,
    Steve

    • CM

      Carol Meyers

      4 months ago #

      Hi Steve,
      So glad to "see" you here!
      Ooooh - this is a good one. In terms of high-level balance, I am always trying to balance short-term with long-range and that tends to drive my split in terms of investment and focus between above and below the line. I think by nature, I gravitate to things that I think drive demand and are reaching my target audience. I believe I probably miss opportunities for going broader - because I am pragmatic by nature and also really love metrics. So, sometimes I need someone to challenge me on that.
      In terms of buttons, well, I tend to go with what works. But I look at the subtleties (as in is it a big difference, and how does it impact conversion all along the funnel). So, if it's a small difference (at the bottom of the funnel), and I think green is a better user experience, I might go with it. But usually, I think the users are telling us which they like better based on their actions. So I'd go blue - and perhaps encourage the designer to try a design that goes better with blue! (but doesn't reduce the results)

  • GS

    gery slov

    4 months ago #

    What do you think makes a good Growth Hacker?

    • CM

      Carol Meyers

      4 months ago #

      HI Gery -
      I’ve heard people use the term “growth hacker” in a number of ways – lately, it’s been used quite a bit with “growth engineers” which are developers who focus on creating interesting free tools or experiences to engage prospective customers.

      But let’s stick with growth hackers as part of marketing or focused on driving top of funnel.
      What I look for in a growth hacker is:

      1) A strong understanding of the prospective customer, the buyer journey and the buyer funnel. I think it’s important to focus on the full funnel because it can be easy to focus on one aspect the funnel to detriment of others. Understands CAC

      2) Curiosity – I love to have someone who is very curious and always asking questions. I love to have someone who asks, “how can we do this better?”

      3) Analytic capability and an understanding of how to run experiments that are sound, statistically relevant and predictive. Curiosity should lead to lots of testing and I need someone who understands how to run tests the right way.

      4) Creative - thinks about the challenge in a different way (works well with curiosity!)

      5) Good at math

      6) Bonus if they can write HTML, do a bit of design work and write some good copy…
      Those are my thoughts. I’d love to hear what you and others think (and we can always look at resources on Growth Hacker)

      2 Share
      • AA

        Anuj Adhiya

        4 months ago #

        Is there a way you've found to be able to interview for such a person that give you confidence that you've found a quality (potential) growth hacker

      • CM

        Carol Meyers

        4 months ago #

        Hi Anuj,
        I wish I had this down to a science. What I typically do is look for examples of the qualities I am seeking. So I may ask, "What has fascinated you in the last year? And how did you go about satisfying your curiosity? " (I also pay attention to how many and what questions they ask me). I may ask, "tell me about a problem you noticed. How do you go about solving it?" (I look to see if they have a process for getting to "root cause" and then forming solutions).

  • RB

    Ry B

    4 months ago #

    Hi Carol,

    Thanks for being here!

    1)How do you look at hiring? Can you talk about some of the mistakes you've made hiring (and also seen others make)? What have you learned about hiring A+ talents?

    2)What are traits a manager needs to bring out the best in their employees?How do you go about empowering employees at Rapid7?

    3)How do you look at competition, specifically when you're going up against bigger, and better-funded competitors? How does that affect your strategic plan, if it does at all? What is your mindset when you go to compete against the 800-pound gorillas in your space?

    Thanks

    • CM

      Carol Meyers

      4 months ago #

      Hi Ry, thanks for your questions.
      Q1) The biggest mistakes I have made in hiring are:
      1) “Settling” – this happens when a role is open too long and I start to talk myself into candidates who just aren’t right for the role or company. These never last and I am back on the market looking for a replacement – and I have negatively affected someone else’s life
      2) Not having a clear sense of the role, skills and personality needed. This sometimes happens as a company is growing and we always feel like we are looking for a “purple unicorn” or someone who is good at everything.
      The thing about “A” talent is that it’s less about the specific roles they have had and much more about aptitude and attitude. I look for people with “smarts,” who have shown that they have the ability (and desire) to learn new things, use that learning in new ways, adapt to changing situations, and work well with others. Cultural fit can’t be underestimated either – so I focus on people I think can thrive in our fast-paced environment.
      In a startup, in particular, employees are very likely to encounter problems they have never seen before, opportunities they have no experience with, and a need to change course. I need people who can succeed and will thoroughly enjoy the journey!

      Q2) I try – and emphasize try – to hire great people, share the vision, context, and goals, and then get out of their way!
      If I am hiring the right people, and we fully understand the goals and what success looks like, I know they know best how to get it done. My job is to provide the environment, help eliminate roadblocks, and help them prioritize.

      Q3) Rarely have I been in a market without stiff competition! If you are, you have to wonder if you are just so brilliant you see something no one else does (it happens!), or if you are fighting a losing battle.
      I try to think from the customers’ perspective about why we are a better choice and focus on making that message clear and compelling. We have to get everyone in the company engaged and onboard with that belief. It’s so much about belief. Then, I work my tail off to get in front of the right customers, engage them, ensure we deliver on the promise, and grow my business.
      I also choose my companies wisely. I look for a team that is up for the challenge and understands the importance of delivering on the differentiated brand promise. Passion, energy, and stick-to-it-ness are key. And a little bit of creativity and audacity don’t hurt.

  • SA

    Shaker A

    4 months ago #

    Hey Carol,

    Thanks for doing this AMA.

    1) What are the most valuable lessons you've learned in your career?

    2) In your opinion what are things early stage startups have to do to not only survive, but thrive? Conversely what do you see startups messing up that they can't afford to, and how do they fix them?

    3)What are the biggest challenges you've faced growing Rapid7 (and your prior companies), and how have you overcome them?

    Thanks

    • CM

      Carol Meyers

      4 months ago #

      Q1. Wow – this one requires deep thought. They are so many things I have learned – sometimes, I have been able to apply the lesson better than others 
      I think I will cheat and give you two: 1) Feedback is a gift to be cherished. Seek it often, listen intently, and be grateful for it. 2) You don’t have to have all the answers. You don’t need to have a clearly designed career path – be open, be interested and keep growing.

      Q2. Things I think are key to thriving are:
      1) Hiring the right people
      2) Creating a winning culture
      3) Understanding your model and the metrics for success, listening to the market, learning fast, and adapting. (You need to be able to know if you are on the right track)
      4) Knowing whether what you are selling is going to be worthwhile for people to invest in. No matter what you sell, there’s not just the cost of buying but there is also the cost of thinking about, deciding and adopting and if you don’t solve a meaningful enough of a problem for people to command that investment, you won’t win enough of them. You may be able to make a compelling ROI statement on paper but it may not be a problem enough people think is worth solving.

      Q3. Everyday is a new challenge – especially in a growing and expanding business. It’s hard for me to think of one big one. When I joined Unica, way back at the beginning of 2000, we had just introduced a new product to beta, were facing many competitors with venture dollars flowing into marketing automation to fund new ones, and the industry analysts told us the market was already too crowded and didn’t need something new. We had an enterprise, costly solution and we needed to go get new customers fast.
      So I talked to a lot of people, brainstormed, and figured out which industries and companies were most likely to have a problem that was important enough for them to solve and take a chance on a new, unproven startup. We went after them with very targeted marketing and did everything possible to make ourselves look bigger and more successful than we were (to reduce some of the risk prospective customers might feel). And we won many – so many that we went from no revenue for this new product to many millions in the span of one year. It was a fun year.

  • AA

    Aldin A

    4 months ago #

    Carol,

    Great to have you here at Growth hackers.

    1)What, in your opinion, are the top qualities founders need to succeed?

    2)How do you look at balance in your professional and personal life? When it comes to work, how do you decide what you have to work on today (I'm sure you have a lot of fires to put out every day)?

    Thanks

    • CM

      Carol Meyers

      4 months ago #

      Thanks for the questions, Aldin.
      1) This is an interesting question – on the surface, it seemed simple and a few eternal qualities jumped to mind. But in the end, I have seen all kinds of different people succeed to different levels as a founder. For some success is quickly having the company acquired and gaining a return for him/herself and their investors. For others’ success is having their product or service wildly adopted, loved, disrupting industries, and becoming a significant market player. What’s needed to succeed at these various levels varies.
      But in general, I think it takes a passion for their idea, tenacity to see if through, problem solving to overcome obstacles every day, seeking out opposing ideas and constant feedback, listening well, willingness to take risks and experiment, learning fast, and a humbleness to know when one is wrong. I also think founders need to be able to rally others to their vision and the best are great at making others feel part of the success.

      2) I would be bet my family would say I wasn’t always the best at balancing and I think that’s true. There are only so many hours every day and how we use that time does say something about our priorities. I think balance means different things to different people and it really goes back to life goals and what is personally important for you. For example, for some people being able to be at every soccer game for their kids is important and so they need to find roles that enable them to achieve at work with the flexibility to be out of the office as needed. For others, work is such a joy, it becomes the most important thing, and they don’t necessarily feel unbalanced.
      For me, it goes back to goals and knowing what we are trying to accomplish. I think about the strategy of the company, what I think is most needed right now to achieve that, and try to focus on those things. Doing what’s important both short term and long term. One thing I have learned over the years is to focus a bit more on the “people issues.” Sometimes giving candid feedback doesn’t seem urgent, but it can pay big dividends long term.

  • JD

    James Dunn

    4 months ago #

    Hi Carol

    Having had so many different roles across organizations what would you say was the toughest one and why?

    • CM

      Carol Meyers

      4 months ago #

      Hi James,
      Being the head of sales is definitely a challenging role. While it takes all parts of a business working together to win, it often feels like the weight of the world is on sales. On the flip side, it's really easy to measure your success - and while you can't control everything - you do feel a good sense of command for your own success. Plus, sales is often considered one of the most important teams in a company and you feel empowered.
      I think CMO is a tough role in many ways. I think marketing is often misunderstood and many CEOs and other executives in the company have completely different points of view about what is most important and what success for marketing looks like. Not quite as "cut and dried" as sales.
      But overall, I guess I have loved all the role -- each one has been terrific in its own way.

      • AA

        Anuj Adhiya

        4 months ago #

        "I think marketing is often misunderstood " - can you talk more about this?

      • CM

        Carol Meyers

        4 months ago #

        Hello Anuj,
        What I mean by misunderstood is that different people have a different POV of what marketing is, what its goals are and how it should be measured. For example, I often come across people who think it's about events and branded give-away items, or its about press releases, or only about lead generation. Often people's point-of-view is shaped by how marketing personally impacts them and their role - they don't always understand the full realm of what marketing is trying to achieve for a company. And all of that is perfectly understandable -- I think everyone's POV is shaped by their own experience. It's just one of the things marketers need to be mindful of.

  • JF

    Javier Feldman

    4 months ago #

    Hi Carol! Thanks for doing this AMA. Here is my question:

    From your time at Rapid7 what would you say it is about online security that most people still don't understand - at a macro level and at a personal safety level?

    Cheers!

  • DO

    Danielle Olivas

    4 months ago #

    Hey Carol,

    Thanks for joining us today!

    Given that you serve on the board at Brandies, can you talk about what they are doing to prepare their students for the rapidly changing face of marketing and growth? Also, have you seen any other similar efforts of note in other universities?

    Looking forward to your reply.

    • CM

      Carol Meyers

      4 months ago #

      Hello Danielle,
      Thanks for asking about Brandeis. They started the new Graduate Professional Studies program I am involved with specifically to try to address the changing needs of business across a number of disciplines - including marketing and cyber security. They have experienced business people as board members for each of the graduate degree programs such as the one on digital marketing that I am involved with. In fact, Steve Dupree, who was a big part of the early success at LogMeIn, is the chairperson of this program. We review the required courses in the program to ensure that the students will graduate with the skills and knowledge we feel are important to success.
      I can't speak for other programs as I haven't looked into them as much but I love what Northeastern does, too. Their internship program is excellent. We hire 2 to 5 interns each year and give them real, meaty jobs for their six month assignments. It give them meaningful experience and a chance to explore where their real interests and talents lie.

  • GH

    Glen Harper

    4 months ago #

    Hi Carol, thanks for being on the AMA today! I, too, was at LogMeIn "back in the day", and I'm wondering if you could speak to the relationship between Marketing and Sales. How has it changed over time, what lessons were learned and what new challenges/opportunities exist in today's world. Thanks!

    • CM

      Carol Meyers

      4 months ago #

      Glen, always great to meet LogMeIn alum!
      I think the marketing and sales relationship is absolutely key to success. If the two teams aren't aligned on how we are going to market, what they expect from each other, and how we message about our company and products, so much time and energy is wasted. Aligning goals, making sure marketing feels invested in sales success and that sales appreciate and give feedback to marketing are key. I also think good personal relationships, regular get-togethers, and an open communication are musts. Knowledge and exposure usually breeds trust and trust is the bedrock of good relationships. I try to bring together sales and marketing leadership a few times a year for candid conversation, team building (fun) and dinner.

      2 Share
  • DH

    Dani Hart

    4 months ago #

    Hi Carol,

    Wow, 8 siblings?! Are your siblings younger, older or both? I can only imagine that helped shape you the rockstar leader you are today.

    As someone that has seen 4 companies to IPO (wow!), what's your take on the evolution of the marketing field. From your perspective, are there any characteristics that make teams successful in a landscape where channels are constantly evolving and consumer preferences change regularly?

    Can't wait to hear what you have to say. Thanks for your time!

    Cheers,
    Dani

    • CM

      Carol Meyers

      4 months ago #

      Hi Dani,
      Yes, I feel very lucky to have such a big family. I am smack in the middle - #5 with four older and four younger.

      I think the key characteristics for success are all about attitude and aptitude. Having smart, capable people is great. But having smart, capable people who love to learn, aren't afraid of change, and who love to collaborate with and challenge each other -- I think are critical for succeeding in a fast-paced, ever-changing high tech company. I do also think that marketing people have to be much more comfortable today with analytics and being held accountable to metrics.

  • AK

    Alexander Kehaya

    4 months ago #

    Hey Carol, As a CMO what has your experience been with building referral marketing programs? What tools have you used and what advice would you give to Startups looking to leverage referrals?

    • CM

      Carol Meyers

      4 months ago #

      Hello Alexander,
      I think you are asking about online referral marketing programs? If so, I haven't had much experience with those. But if you mean getting customers to refer my product or brand, I have worked on that.
      I believe that the best referrals are those that occur naturally because a customer just loves my product or service. Don't know if you have read Dan Ariely, but I think he's got some good experimentation around this.
      I have been using review sites more, and encouraging our customers to review us. You have to take the positive with the not so positive, but I believe future customers appreciate the honest feedback.
      Lastly, I think happy customers are often happy to refer. So I suggest recommending that your sales force ask happy customers if they know other people who might benefit from your product or service and whether they would be willing to make an introduction, tweet about it, share on facebook, etc. Good luck with it!

  • AL

    Arsene Lavaux

    4 months ago #

    Bonjour Carol,

    Thank you for doing this AMA.

    I have a simple question for you:
    What fascinates you most in growth marketing?

    Merci!

    • CM

      Carol Meyers

      4 months ago #

      Arsene,
      I think what I love most about it is the opportunity to learn. Trying things, and seeing if they work, is always fun. I also like that it's measurable. I can input effort and then see the results of that. Lastly, I am always enthralled with the creativity I see in others - whether they have a new idea or a twist on an old one. For example, Dropbox's free storage for referrals was clever (and effective for them)!

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    4 months ago #

    Hi Carol - so cool to have you on.
    On your twitter bio it says you love marketing experiments.
    Can you talk about one or two of such experiments that lead to some big wins or deep insights (at Rapid7 and/or earlier)?

    • CM

      Carol Meyers

      4 months ago #

      Hi Anuj, thanks for joining the AMA. Hmmmm…let me think of some big ones. There have been so many small wins along the way and many things that have stuck with me.
      One experiment I think of when I think of digital marketing and conversion is homepages. When I first joined Rapid7, we featured our free downloads very prominently on the homepage. We wanted it to be as simple as possible for people to get our products and start using them. All a visitor had to do was click on the button, complete the form and off they went (we experimented with download first, form second, too). As we grew, added new products, and repositioned the company, featuring the products this way didn’t seem to be the best alternative. We wanted a different experience but we were so afraid of getting rid of those lovely “Try it!” boxes because they drove sales. So we experimented and tested removing them all together. And guess what, we learned they didn’t really matter. Not only did we see no change in “quality” downloads, we didn’t see any change in volume at all. So, we made the shift and never looked back.
      Another more costly experiment was lead scoring. We decided to be an early adopter of predictive lead scoring. We weren’t sure how good it would be so we tested it. We didn’t reveal the lead scores to our BDRs (they follow up on marketing leads) during the experiment as we didn’t want them to alter their behavior during the test. We discovered that the lead score was incredibly correlated to the leads that converted at the highest rates. We now use this to get rid of leads that are just a waste of our BDRs’ time and to have them focus on those most likely to yield results. This has greatly improve our productivity and ROI. We can also use the scoring to identify better prospects for outbound marketing and outbound sales.

  • AA

    Anuj Adhiya

    4 months ago #

    One more:
    Have you ever learned something from the companies you've advised over time that you've been able to apply at any of the organizations you've been at? If yes, could you talk more about what that was (or were, if it was more than one thing)?

    • CM

      Carol Meyers

      4 months ago #

      Anuj,
      What a great question - I learn so much from the companies I engage with that I sometimes feel guilty. I am supposed to be helping them but I am learning so much. I get a much better sense of what it is like to be a board member and I try to incorporate that perspective into my presentations for my board. I could do better! I get good ideas for new tools to try in our growth marketing, I learn about ideas for how they run their planning meetings, and I make new contacts that I can connect with for advice on an ongoing basis. Being a part of so many young, growth companies is one of the biggest privileges I have. Thanks for asking.

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