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Rebecca Corliss is VP Marketing at Owl Labs, the creator of the smart, robotic and ever-friendly Meeting Owl. Rebecca was hired to launch the product and company in 2017, and today there are thousands of Meeting Owls in the wild.

Previously Rebecca was one of HubSpot's original marketing team members, joining the company in 2008 when there were fewer than 50 employees. By the time she left, HubSpot had reached over 1,500 employees, 23K customers and 270M in revenue. In her free time, Rebecca is a serial “aca-prenuer” after founding two Boston-based a cappella groups, including her current singing group, The Eight Tracks.

Follow her on Twitter as @repcor.

She will be live on May 10 starting at 930 AM PT for one and a half hours during which she will answer as many questions as possible.

  • SK

    S Kodial

    about 1 month ago #

    Hi Rebecca

    Has there been any marketing experiment that stands out as a big win or insight (recently or in any prior role) that you can share details about?

    • RC

      Rebecca Corliss

      about 1 month ago #

      In a way everything feels like a experiment when everything you try is something new for the first time. :)

      A few specifics that come to mind ...

      - Sponsoring Inside.com was a major experiment. I need to be very picky about my budget, and so it's scary to think you could be throwing money out the window. In this experiment, I wanted to sponsor the newsletter and co-create content with their team that would be the feature of the newsletter. Specifically, we did a 2017 tech review video with Jason Calacanis and their team, and they used the Meeting Owl to record it. That video was what they then promoted in the newsletter.

      Long story short, this campaign was the most successful to date. It was the right audience, it was good content, it featured the product in a natural way, and it was a great use of budget dollars. I was really pleased.

      2 Share
  • IG

    Igor Gorbenko

    about 1 month ago #

    Hey. Anything comes to mind when it comes to product rebranding?
    That's what I'm currently working on and was wondering if I may be missing something.

    We're all set on traffic migration process and basic stuff.

    If you had any experience with it and have an advice to share that would be great.

    Thanks.

    • RC

      Rebecca Corliss

      about 1 month ago #

      What a question. Well first, I have never rebranded a product before! :) My closest experience is likely when HubSpot was going from a marketing-only software company to a sales + marketing product company.

      From a positioning standpoint, that was the moment when we had to evolve our product story to make room. We were no longer teaching people about how to transform their marketing exclusively -- we needed to evolve into a company that helped people transform their entire business. That's when we started using "inbound" as an adjective to define **any** function that was evolving to today's consumer expectation. Now we had inbound marketing, inbound sales, inbound customer success ... you name it.

      Now, how this relates to your new rebranding opportunity? For us focusing on a story was important. This may or may not relate to your current situation, so feel free to give more context and I can try to reflect.

  • BI

    Benjelloun Ibrahim

    about 1 month ago #

    Hi Rebecca,

    Thanks for doing this AMA,

    According your prior experience on Hubspot what are the main lessons learned in marketing scaling from 50 employees to over 1500 lastly?

    • RC

      Rebecca Corliss

      about 1 month ago #

      This is a great question and one I could write a book on! The best way to explaining it is that as the team and priorities evolved and became more sophisticated, the team reorganized to match that. For example ...

      Stage 1: Stay Alive: VP Marketing + Marketing Generalist (2 People)

      Stage 2: Stay Alive & Grow Audience: VP + 2 Marketing Generalists + Content Person (5 People)

      Stage 3: Focus on Stages of the Marketing Funnel: VP + Traffic Team + Leads/Sales Marketing Team (25 People)

      Stage 4: Double Down on What Works & Add Experiments: VP + Traffic Team (SEO, Social, Content, 2+ Blogs) + Leads/Sales Marketing Team (Email, Nurturing, Sales Support) + Product Marketing + Brand (30-50 People)

      Stage 5: Go Deep to Scale: This was a big team that had the structure above with people owning very specific programs in each category. For example, a person owning a single blog with a full staff of writers, a full in-house brand agency with designers and video people, people dedicated to supporting specific sales verticals, and all the management and mentors to support it. (100-150 people)

      Also, marketing at HubSpot consistently stayed about 10% of the full employee size the entire time I was there. I think this is a bit bigger than most companies but is a function that we *HAD* to get marketing right and stay ahead.

      2 Share
    • BI

      Benjelloun Ibrahim

      about 1 month ago #

      Thanks in advance

  • MD

    Mark Anthony de Jesus

    about 1 month ago #

    Hi Rebecca

    What would your recommendation be for who your first marketing hire should be as a Head/VP of Marketing? Why?

    • RC

      Rebecca Corliss

      about 1 month ago #

      I am not sure if you're asking what are the ideal qualities of a VP of Marketing or a VP of Marketing's first hire ... so I'll answer both!

      VP Marketing - assuming this is a startup, your ideal person is equally good at strategy and execution. Sadly, this is hard to find. Most people are one or the other. A person who will likely have these qualities have had substantial previous startup experience where she/he progressed from being an operator to a strategic leader, and so the person can play both roles. The person knows how to get in the weeds, and also knows how to get into the clouds and dream about what needs to get done.

      First operator hire - complete marketing generalist, with at least one super power. Ex: someone who's pretty good at reporting, pretty good at a handful of the marketing channels, and AWESOME at writing. Generalists give you flexibility when you need to be nimble. Your strategy could change by the week at a startup. You need someone who can take on whatever is thrown their way. This person should also have a lot of the "intangibles" that you need in a startup and can't teach - hustle, grit, passion, sense of urgency, and a big open mind/heart for feedback. I would take someone with these intangibles over someone with experience any day.

      2 Share
  • TN

    Tri Nguyen

    about 1 month ago #

    Hey Rebecca
    Why is "Buy Now" the primary CTA on the site vs "Request Demo"?
    On a related note, I was really surprised to see a 'Request Demo" form at the bottom of the product page - I've never seen that before.
    Intuitively this felt backwards to me so (ie get the demo first, then click buy vs click buy and then ask for a demo) so I'm very curious to learn more about why this is the case.
    Thanks!

    • RC

      Rebecca Corliss

      about 1 month ago #

      Fun fact, the majority of people buy our product without attending a demo. :) We've found that there are some people who need to see the Meeting Owl experience first hand in order to decide if it's a fit or not, but at our price point and 30-day return policy, the first purchase often *IS* the demo. (To reflect back on the previous question about marketing + growth, this is another reason why it's so important that Karen and I work so closely together.)

      I'm going to give you a secret ... I am working on a project that will hopefully simulate our demo experience without requiring a signup at all. If I get it right, now that will be cool.

      And because I'm a marketer, you can see the Meeting Owl experience here. No form, just a video to watch if you're curious: https://www.owllabs.com/meeting-owl/experience

      • AA

        Anuj Adhiya

        about 1 month ago #

        Can't wait to see this secret project :).
        And this is really interesting that most people buy without a demo.
        Can you talk more about why that is the case?

    • RC

      Rebecca Corliss

      about 1 month ago #

      I'm not sure I have a full understanding, to be honest. Our visitor to first sale conversion is exceptional. (Can't share, but trust me it's quite excellent.) Perhaps this is a new thing for me to dig into further. :)

  • DH

    Dani Hart

    about 1 month ago #

    Hi Rebecca - very excited you're here!

    1. How do you measure retention for Meeting Owl?

    2. Is your primary focus to sell to individuals or teams (ie >1 product bought)?
    In the case of individuals, is there any pattern as to how or how long they use it before they will refer someone to the product?

    • RC

      Rebecca Corliss

      about 1 month ago #

      1. Continuous usage. Does someone continue to have meetings with their Meeting Owl week over week? Also I want to give some context and a big of a humble brag. We're likely the first video conferencing hardware product that is even capable of measuring usage because we're a wifi-connected product. We also give this usage data back to our customers as well!

      2) Awesome question. Our most successful customers got there with a bit of a ground swell.

      1) It starts with our marketing message - We want to attract the leader who is looking for solutions to support her/his team. Jane the remote engineer is not able to hear or see a thing during team meetings, and that's a problem. The team lead Roger is ready to fix it.

      2) Roger buys a Meeting Owl and starts using it for his teams. Team Lead Maria joins Roger's meeting and says ... "WHOA! What is this?" She buys it for her team because the group often works from home.

      3) One day the company makes the call to make the Meeting Owl the conference room standard. Employees everywhere rejoice!

      We are tracking at how long that takes, and as you can imagine it depends on company size. We have a lot to learn here as we continue to understand this pattern.

  • JF

    Javier Feldman

    about 1 month ago #

    Hola Rebecca,

    1. How did you'll arrive at $799 for the price of Meeting Owl?
    Can you talk about any frameworks or user research you'll did to arrive at this price point?

    2. In the same vein, are there any experiments you'll have tried around pricing that we can learn from?

    • RC

      Rebecca Corliss

      about 1 month ago #

      1. Nailing down price is hard. So hard. We looked at a few things:

      A) BOM/cost to make.
      B) Margins we needed as a business.
      C) Competing product prices.
      D) What will our target market likely be able to afford, considering the fact that the best experience will be an office that has Meeting Owls in every room.

      For C) the space was really interesting. The old school tech that is extremely expensive to make can be thousands of dollars. (Literally, the next closest product to the Meeting Owl that has a somewhat similar experience costs $5-6K. Crazy right?)

      However, for D) we knew our target customer wasn't buying that pricey product. They were likely buying "conference cams" in the $500-1000 range.

      2. Which brings us to your second question. So we landed on $799, but we wanted to get some sort of data and confirmation that this was right. Our test was to ask our 50 or so beta users if they would buy what they had been testing at $799 given their experience thus far. Many did, and here we are. This last test was crucial.

      2 Share
  • PD

    Porus Daruvala

    about 1 month ago #

    Hi Rebecca

    Someone has asked Karen about Owl Labs biggest growth challenge - that was 8 months ago.
    Has that changed, and if yes, what is it today?
    If it hasn't changed, why is that the case?

    • RC

      Rebecca Corliss

      about 1 month ago #

      Looks like Karen's answer 8 months ago was: "Our biggest growth challenge is that we are a startup that no one has every heard of. We need exposure!"

      Interestingly enough, I don't think this has changed yet -- however, for a different reason than what drove Karen's answer.

      When Karen answered, very few people knew about our product and company. We were getting modest traffic, and we needed to educate the market that there's a new product available to fix a very common problem. We needed to introduce ourselves to the market.

      Today we've doubled traffic. Awesome! While measuring our funnel (Traffic, Conversion to Sale, Repeat Rate), we also learned that our conversion to sale is quite high for an ecomm business. That's a huge opportunity, and means that our best method to grow sales today is not to focus on selling more of our current audience, but growing our audience faster. With that, our #1 priority remains exposure (or I would say, traffic) because we know the sales machine we've built works.

      2 Share
  • DO

    Danielle Olivas

    about 1 month ago #

    Hey Rebecca!
    What from your time at HubSpot did you take away that you've been able to apply at Owl Labs?
    On the other hand, what from your experience and learnings there don't apply any more (other than the obvious software vs hardware difference) and why?

    • RC

      Rebecca Corliss

      about 1 month ago #

      1. Consumer-style, emotion-driven, beautiful marketing can be applied to B2B. In other words, you can market to the person at the desk the same way you market to the person sitting at home. Interesting for us, in our market (office tech, video conferencing), not a lot of companies do this yet.

      With that, I wanted to make sure our content and marketing was really focused on empowering the team and the remote people. Everyone deserves to feel included in a team meeting. Just because you need to dial-in from home does not mean you should be put at a disadvantage. We've all felt this way! This priority should be telling this story vs. overly focused on the nuts and bolts.

      2. Here's a funny lesson learned. I really, really wanted to do my best to question what I did at HubSpot to make sure I didn't recreate the same strategy just because it was easy or natural to me. I really wanted to question my judgement to make sure I did what was right vs. what was familiar. One of those strategies was content. I didn't prioritize our blog in the beginning. I didn't prioritize thought leadership. I thought that other type of content would be better, and I'd do that first. Well the fun fact is that I've since made quite the 180 and now we're trying to make up for lost time by ramping up content now. Why? For SEO. SEO is a huge channel for us, and content is the way to play there. So our style of content may change from HubSpot's, but need still stands. Live and learn!

      2 Share
  • JD

    James Dunn

    about 1 month ago #

    What acquisition channels are working best for you?
    Could you share something you're doing within that channel that is different or unique in some way that is contributing to its success for you?

    • RC

      Rebecca Corliss

      about 1 month ago #

      We've done a lot of sponsored content that's worked great. We've worked with the fine folks at Inside.com sponsoring their fantastic newsletters. We do some smart and strategic PPC. These are good for quick wins with very strategic CTAs.

      PR, when it works, is extremely impactful. I truly believe this article is what launched our company: https://www.theverge.com/2017/6/21/15840504/owl-labs-robot-videoconference-camera-andy-rubin-playground

      We also have done content from a data driven standpoint, specifically via a report we did with TinyPulse called the State of Remote Work: https://www.owllabs.com/state-of-remote-work (Super proud of that one, if I do say so myself.)

      Comarketing has also been stellar. I approach a company with a shared and symbiotic audience and say ... "What goal are you trying to hit? And what's something you don't have the time to do today that would help you hit it." I then use that information to think of what content would mutually serve both of us, which would then be an opportunity to introduce the Meeting Owl to their audience.

      That strategy is how TinyPulse and Owl Labs created that State of Remote Work report above. They wanted PR. I wanted traffic. We designed the study together. They promoted the survey. I created the report and the content. We launched the study together. Everyone won!

  • JP

    John Phamvan

    about 1 month ago #

    Hi Rebecca

    Do you use any tools that are different from what Karen users to manage/report on your efforts?
    In either case, can you talk about why you use the ones you do?

    Thanks!

    • RC

      Rebecca Corliss

      about 1 month ago #

      We do, and that is primarily because Karen has a whole software engineering background when I don't. We have our own homegrown system for measuring customer success and other metrics, and she uses python to build her own reports. Color me jealous!

      My reporting tools are some of the typical - Google Analytics, HubSpot, waterfall sales charts I build in Google Sheets, you name it.

      While we're here to talk about reporting efforts, I want to double down on the power of the waterfall. For those not familiar, it's a report type that you can update by the day (or by the minute if you're crazy like me). It shows you what you need to achieve by day in order to properly track to your goal, and if you're on track or not. These are my favorite charts in order to communicate progress with the business, and light a fire under the team if we're not where we need to be. It's like your check engine light in reporting form.

      **ALL** marketing teams should have this. It's a helpful and very impactful motivation tool.

      2 Share
  • GH

    Glen Harper

    about 1 month ago #

    Thank you for joining us today, Rebecca.

    Can you share what your lead qualification/scoring process look like?

    • RC

      Rebecca Corliss

      about 1 month ago #

      We don't have any lead qualification/scoring. Since anyone can choose to buy our product via the website on their own, we don't have the typical concept of a lead that a B2B company with a sales team might.

      I won't leave you hanging though. When we were at HubSpot, we received tons of leads and thus scoring was essential. We looked at a handful of components including company size, role, tech they used today, need, etc. We also could predict what leads had the highest probable close rate based on our previous sales data. I didn't build this, so I can't speak to it more thoroughly than that. I will say it was a very cool investment in order to help our sales team prioritize effectively.

  • JM

    Joshua Maddox

    about 1 month ago #

    Hi Rebecca,

    Looking back at your career trajectory, what are 2 to 3 skill sets you wish you would've better cultivated or concentrated now that you're in a leadership role?

    • RC

      Rebecca Corliss

      about 1 month ago #

      Operator related: There's a few pieces of marketing I never dug into in my previous roles, like PPC. I think I did every marketing-related role at HubSpot EXCEPT that. Today as a leader, I just need to fess up that this is not my strength, I just use my resources, and learn. You're never too far along in your career to keep learning.

      Leadership related: I wish I spent more time with the product team in previous roles. I always knew what was going on, but I didn't always know why. Now as someone with a seat on the table, I'm in self-learning mode to make sure I understand PMF and the product development process enough so I can have an impact from my point of view.

      2 Share

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