Why Drift's Dave Gerhardt Changed His Mind about Marketing Ops

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This is a podcast episode titled, Why Drift's Dave Gerhardt Changed His Mind about Marketing Ops. The summary for this episode is: <p>Ever heard of a "boomerang" employee? Someone who left, and then later comes back to rejoin the company? We’ve had a few awesome boomerang stories during my time at Drift, but we just recently announced arguably our most significant one yet.</p><p>This week's guest is Dave Gerhardt (or DG), who just returned to Drift as our Chief Brand Officer. Dave helped build Drift into one of the most well-known brands in our industry, and then spent the last 2 years as CMO of Privy, which was recently acquired, </p><p>That’s a pretty good boomerang story. </p><p>In our conversation, we talk about how his views have evolved on Marketing Ops, how he thinks about measuring the unmeasurable in brand marketing, and which Marketing Metrics book is currently sitting on DG’s bookshelf.</p><p>Like this episode? Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️&nbsp;review and share the pod with your friends! You can connect with Sean and Dave on Twitter @Seany_Biz @davegerhardt @DriftPodcasts</p>

Sean Lane: One of the things I was thinking about was the last time that you and I recorded together was when we were recording the teaser for the very first episode of Operations.

Dave Gerhardt: Wow.

Sean Lane: And you probably don't remember this, but it has been embedded in my brain. Basically, I had this whole thing ready to go where I was like, " Yeah, Dave. Operations people are really bad at telling their own stories, and we don't have a good brand. And so that's what this show is going to be all about." And you were like, " Nah, I don't think so." Hey, everyone. Welcome to Operations, the show where we look under the hood of companies and hyper growth. My name is Sean Lane. Have you ever heard the people team or the recruiting team at your company talk about having a boomerang employee, someone who left and then later comes back to rejoin the company later? We've had a few awesome boomerang stories during my time at Drift, but we just recently announced arguably our most significant boomerang yet. In 2015, Drift hired its first marketer in Dave Gerhardt. During his four years at the company, Dave, or DG, grew to become the company's VP of marketing and helped create one of the most well known brands in our industry along the way. After spending the last two years as CMO of Privy, which was recently acquired, Dave returned to Drift as our new chief brand officer. That's a pretty good boomerang story, and so as you might've guessed, Dave is our guest on this week's episode of Operations. Now rather than talk about Dave's return, I actually wanted to talk about what he learned during his time away from Drift. In our conversation today, we talk about how his views have evolved on marketing ops and ops in general, how he thinks about measuring the unmeasurable in brand marketing. And if you stick around all the way to the end, you'll get to hear which marketing metrics book is currently sitting on DG's bookshelf. But to start, let's talk about how Dave's experiences led him to this shift in thinking on building teams and specifically on marketing operations itself. I found a tweet of his where he described that ops would now be on the top of his hiring list when he started a new team, when just a few years ago, it wouldn't have been. So what happened along the way to cause the change?

Dave Gerhardt: I was doing marketing at Drift, and then I left and I took a CMO job at this company called Privy. Privy is an app in the Shopify ecosystem. They just got acquired by a company called Attentive in June. And they have 500, 000 people using their product. They have a great business. So a couple things, actually. Well, so number one is as I'm getting older every year, I'm learning that it's okay to change your mind on things. And in fact, you'd be an idiot if you didn't. Us talking two years later, I should be the better version of Dave than I was two years ago, period, and in all aspects of life. That's kind of like my mindset. So with that, obviously, my views on marketing and doing my job and being a marketing leader, or doing marketing, all have also completely changed because not only have two years gone by, but I now have more context. And so before Drift really, I just was a very junior level marketing person, a cog in the wheel at other places. Drift is where I go to really own stuff. And then I went to Privy. And at Privy, we rebuilt the marketing team. We kind of reassessed everything. And so there was 70 people at the company, but we kind of restarted in marketing, and so I built out the team from basically zero to seven people, and had to come in as the CMO, my first six months there was really figuring out the systems and figuring out the teams, and figuring out where this data is, and where this... So I have more context now that I've done it twice. And the thing that hurt me as a marketer and marketing leader is in both cases, is just transparency and cleanliness of data because I love marketing, I think that I'm good at marketing. I love the creative and storytelling part of it. Marketing is actually not that hard if you have good data because all you're kind of doing is trying to go do more of what's working, finding more pockets of what's working, testing them. But that stuff becomes increasingly challenging if you can't articulate what's working. If you go and spend a ton of time on something that isn't driving... Everyone's always busy. Everyone's doing stuff, but we're not driving revenue. And so what I learned is at Drift, we did it a little bit later, and that's fine. We went through hyper growth at that company. I remember when you joined. You were like, " Oh, my God. This is a disaster." Every fast growing startup is going to be that.

Sean Lane: Of course.

Dave Gerhardt: And I think also, I was also just a little bit more biased towards the other stuff at the time, where I was like, " Let's just keep doing, doing more faster." More people are showing up at our store, let's not worry so much about where they came from, as opposed to the fact that they're here. And I think what I learned through that experience in Privy is that it just makes my job as the marketing leader so much harder, from a hiring, budget, planning, forecasting, modeling, all that stuff is predicated on having good data. And if you have good data, good analytics, strong operational foundation, relatively speaking, it is easy to forecast. It is easy. You're making more educated guesses. And so I think that plus just, I did this podcast and I talked to a lot of CMOs who were much smarter than I am. And Bill Macaitis, who was the CMO of Slack and Zendesk, and was a high exec at Salesforce, he's like, " The first thing I do anywhere is hire ops and analytics. Build that foundation first and then build from there." I think the combination of all those things is why I've changed my opinion on that.

Sean Lane: Well, I think too, all of the outputs that you described, making it easy to forecast, making it easier to make those decisions, all the inputs that you mentioned about having the good data, setting up those foundations, that's the stuff that actually takes the time and investment, where it doesn't feel like it's actually moving the needle when you're first starting, but then over time, I think that you get more of a yield out of it. When you're having those conversations with those leaders, and now that you have reframed your thinking on this a little bit, for people who are listening who want to work with leaders like you, and want to be good partners for folks like that, what do you look for now? If you were going back and maybe starting at the Privy role again, or being a marketing leader again, what are you looking for in those foundational marketing ops folks?

Dave Gerhardt: I think there's probably two buckets of marketing ops people. This is at least in my head, this is not right or wrong, this is just what I think it could be. And so let's assume they're both good. We're not talking about people who are not good at their job in some capacity. Right? These are good marketing ops people. Right? There's two camps, one of them is like they're just the systems Sean. He is going to set up Drift and Salesforce and Google Analytics, and he's going to do lead scoring and routing, and he's the plumber. That role I hugely, hugely valuable. That is the role. But I think the role that I would overpay for in hiring, for example, or if this was a free agent, I would overspend on you as a big free agent, is if it's someone who can also be in my ear about what to do with marketing because of those things. And so it's like, " Hey, this channel has slowed down. Or it's looking like it's slowing down." And there's almost even levels of that, by the way. There's the person who can call those things out. That's great. The even better version is, can call those things out and help you start to push you in directions of what to go and do. And this is something that you've done. I haven't worked with you in a while, but you're probably the better version of yourself. But you were good at, yes, we're going to get all the data wired together in the right way. But here's some things that I think we should go do with it. What about this channel? What about hiring? And so I think the more that the marketing ops person can also understand that strategy, and I have a relationship with a really good marketing ops person. And we were doing some calls over a couple months, just from a coaching perspective. He wanted to get into a marketing leadership role. And he felt like it was really hard to get into a marketing leadership role and to marketing ops. And I said, " Well, if you actually can own that strategy piece, the strategic stuff that I talked about, that would actually be the dream scenario to run marketing, is because you're influencing that." So I don't think you can do it if you only are the tactician, and only stitch together the systems. But if you can stitch together the systems and understand what the business needs, and how marketing or whatever ops, whether this is sales ops, CS ops, whatever, how your business unit needs to operate, that's the holy grail.

Sean Lane: It's so interesting how Dave's views on marketing ops and ops in general have evolved. First, he recognized that the value of data and systems and analytics as a marketing leader are important to him, and the pain that was presented to him when he didn't have those things in place. But what I think is even more helpful here is the way he breaks down the different types of marketing ops people that he's worked with. First, what he calls systems Sean, connecting the plumbing, the tools, the underlying data. Then there's this second category, and Dave didn't give this one a name, so I'm going to call him strategy Sean. And this is what the hyper growth leaders are looking for. If your team is big enough, you might be able to have folks on your team that can focus on each of these categories separately. But chances are, when you're starting a new team from scratch, you're going to need people who can do both the systems and the strategy side of things. Now it's not easy to do both, but that's the type of partner that DG and leaders like him are looking for. In the strategy bucket of work, when DG talks about having someone in his ear, it underscored for me the importance of understanding how the leaders you work with like to communicate. So how should operators communicate with our marketing counterparts?

Dave Gerhardt: I think everybody is different. So Mike Volpe, who is the CMO at HubSpot. He's the CEO of Lola. He's been my CMO mentor, coach, since the early days. He's someone who would prefer you don't send him an email. Well, maybe not so much now, but in his day, he would want the, send me the Excel file, or send me the whatever. And I think that's his mode of operating. I would say it starts with understanding: What is the path that marketing leader took? If the marketing leader, like the CMO of LinkedIn, for example, she came up through PR and comms, or like myself, I am more of a comms, brand, product marketing kind of, that's my thing. I'm more of a storyteller. I do love the channels and all that stuff, but I'm not going to be the one that you're going to send the Excel file too, and I'm going to slice and dice it and check your work. I'm going to hire you because we are way better than that than me. And so I'll give you an example. A guy that I worked with at Privy, Ryan Pinkham, he's now SVP of revenue, I think. He's amazing. His whole thing, a lot of these made up examples I use, I'm referencing him secretly. He would say, " Here are three trends that I'm seeing. And here are three different approaches for each." And so he was really good at taking time out and sending me a long email, or deck, or video, that's like, " Hey Dave, as we've been talking about, revenue is a little bit slow right now. I kind of had some time over the last week, and I got three things on my mind that I want to talk to you." And I love that format. I think so often, we get caught up in: What's the perfect way to deliver that? You're an expert, you're on this team. You know this better than I do. I want you to come to me and say, " There's some things that I found." It makes me sleep so good at night, it made me sleep so good at night knowing that someone as smart as that guy was thinking about what could be broken and what's happening. And so I love this... And I've seen CEOs do this well on company Wikis and stuff, just three things on my mind. And I've also seen this. This is a great way for people listening to begin to own your career a little bit more, is when you kind of do your work in public, early days for me at Drift on the Wiki, as just a marketing manager, I would be like, " Here's three SEO things that I think we should be doing. I don't know SEO that well, but here's some things. Here's two things on my mind." Be sharing that and you will bring other people in with you. And so Ryan would do a great job of that, but he wouldn't just flag problems because if you're a manager, your whole day is problem solving. I don't need people to flag more problems. I need people to point us in the right direction for solutions that I can hopefully help us solve as a team, whether that's with people, budget, whatever. And so he would say, " Here's three things that might be broken. And here's different options. Here's the no budget option. Here's the no time option. Here's the longer time option." Then I now have a readout that I can digest on my own, give my own opinions, and then we'll sit down together. And I might be able to read that email and make a decision, or I might want to break out more and spend more time. I love that as a template that anybody can steal in any role, really.

Sean Lane: Yeah. I really like the idea of understanding the path that the leader went through to get to the role that they have today because it's going to give you some really good clues on how they might view a particular problem, or the lens they might view a particular problem. And it's one thing to identify that, but you can also hopefully help them to fill in the blind spots that they might not be as well versed in as well because that's going to be the place where you can actually continue to add value on those topics that you're saying might be on their mind, or the biggest things at that particular moment in time.

Dave Gerhardt: In that same vein, another thing that I've learned just as a manager, marketing leader, team builder, whatever, it's like, " Damn. Does the pieces of the puzzle really matter?" Drift, the team that we built, it just kind of happened because the company was growing so fast. The Privy thing was so different because I went to... At Drift, I was there from zero, and we built it up. And at Privy, they already had a$ 10 million plus business when I joined. The difference there is, when I came in, I got to be more intentional in thinking about: What do I need to do as the marketer, but also, as a marketing leader, but also a marketing leader? Okay. If this is my skillset, who is the first person I need to bring on? Who is the second person? And I really was able to do this, luckily, but able to be more intentional about the skillsets of the people that we brought on. And so we had a very complementary six or seven people, as opposed to, I'm really strong in ops, and my right hand person that I'm going to hire is also really strong in ops. That didn't make any sense. I'm really strong on the brand and storytelling and comms part, and so the first hire that I made was Ryan, the super analytical, revenue, demand gen leader. And that was amazing to have that kind of fit. And I think it also led to treating the team as peers, not necessarily as, look, I want to hire, I want to bring in the best people at this stage. And the more you can understand the fit of the team and how we all work together really makes a difference. As a leader at any stage, you've got to know the team that you're surrounding yourself with. Where am I going to be biased to spending my time? And so I'm going to spend more time here. I need somebody that's super strong to be able to hold that part down.

Sean Lane: I love DG's take on building your team with each other's strengths and weaknesses in mind. We've talked about that on the show before within the context of the different roles within operations itself. But the same dynamic exists in the partnerships between ops and our go to market partners. DG and leaders like him are looking to us to be the experts. We can all take ownership of that expert role and bring things to the conversation that fit into those big themes that he was saying were on his mind. For example, one thing that I do each quarter in a one on one that I have with our CRO is ask him: What are the big themes on his mind right now? Not the tactical projects we talk about all the time, not the specific goals we crafted together. But what are the big moving parts of our business that he spends his own time thinking about? That way, when I'm bringing him updates, or pointing out insights, they always fall within these broader themes. Okay, back to Dave. He mentioned his journey from Drift to Privy, which as he mentioned, is an eCommerce business. When I think about my own blind spots, all of my career and most of the guests on this show have been in a pure B to B context. So I wanted to know what Dave had learned when he made that jump into the eCommerce world, both from a marketing perspective and from an ops perspective.

Dave Gerhardt: I had come from Drift, the Drift business has obviously become much more enterprise since early days. But even when I was there, it was 30 to 90 day sales cycles, $10,000, $20,000, $30,000, $40,000, $50, 000 contracts, whatever it was back then. Privy was free trial. Anybody can get in there, app store distribution play. And so 90% of Privy traffic and trials came from the Shopify app store, so completely different marketing motion than Drift. Right? And it was 15 day free trial, and the average sale price, the average customer is going to come in and buy for 30 bucks. And so it was very transactional. It was 14, 15 day sales cycle because that's how long the trial was. And so it was different, but I think what I learned at Drift is, I think we really understood the kind of fundamentals and the principles. And so I didn't have perfect benchmarks going into Privy, but had a good enough sense of, that seems really high, or that seems really low, or surprise, the sales team isn't touching all the leads. So it's interesting from that perspective. But it was also cool. It was a really satisfying mental thing to go and apply kind of what I thought I learned at Drift to a different business, and be able to find other ways to go about it. And I think those things translate. I think it's a different industry, but it still is B to B. We just are selling to small businesses. But it is much different, and a lot of it was touch- less, or one sales call and they close.

Sean Lane: I mean, the other thing that was obvious to me that you also took with you from Drift and applied was just the idea of you recognize that you needed that education and you just sought out role models. So as someone following along, you could see. Okay, great. I'm going to be incredibly open about the fact that this is a new thing for me. And I'm going to use podcasts or whatever as my means of saying to people, " Hey, you're smart about this. Teach me about it." That's something that you and me and everybody who hosts a podcast at Drift, we've been selfishly doing that for years.

Dave Gerhardt: This is an unbelievable hack. And I talk about this. To me, the super secret ROI of doing a podcast as an individual is learning. And so when I went to Privy, I launched our initial podcast, and I hosted maybe the first 30 episodes. And I didn't try to pretend like I was an expert in eComm, I pretended like I was a marketing nerd who thinks he knows a lot about marketing and loves that. And eComm is pretty, it's fun to understand. But I took the angle of, all right, Sean, so you're an expert in eComm. I just spent the last four years in marketing and B to B. Tell me about this. And so I got to go to this with a blank slate and learn through podcasting. And I got to do 30 interviews with some of the smartest people in the eComm industry. I don't think I've ever said eComm, by the way. And that was an amazing way to learn. I also found one or two channels to go really deep on. And so if you're going into a new industry, it's too hard to try to study everything. And so what I did is I asked Ben, the founder, I was like, " What's your number one podcast in this space?" And he's like, " Oh, this guy, Kurt Elster, has this podcast, The Unofficial Shopify Podcast." And I made that my habit. I didn't listen to anything on audiobooks, podcasts, for probably the first two months. Any workout, walk, whatever, I just binge listened to this guy's podcasts, and it helped me get up to speed so fast. Granted, it's not like I was going... It is still marketing. It's still SaaS. I was not going into cybersecurity, where I would be drowning and never be able to figure it out. But to be able to learn through them and learn that industry, that gave us a huge advantage, for sure.

Sean Lane: What I really appreciate about Dave is that despite all of his success, he still tackles new challenges, new industries, new topics, with the exact same approach as earlier in his career. He seeks out role models. He finds the experts, talks to them, and just acts as a sponge. Now if you follow Dave on any social media, LinkedIn, Twitter, the other thing that you might've seen him talk about many times over the years is how he loves to do things in marketing that you can't actually measure. And as operators, this doesn't exactly fly in our world. So while I had DG on the show, I had to ask him. Where does he draw the line between the stuff you should measure, and what you just can't?

Dave Gerhardt: Okay. So I think most of that is trolling.

Sean Lane: The truth comes out.

Dave Gerhardt: Yeah. I don't mean like let's take 100 grand and spend it on LinkedIn and not measure it. That's not what I'm saying. What I mean is there's typically, I would say this typically relates to things like content, podcasting, social media. It typically relates to some of the more brand channels, I guess, like non direct response channels. And what I mean by that is there are just some things that you can do because they feel like the right thing to be doing. And it's not like the whole team has to shut down what the... The things that you have to measure are, when you're spending money to get something back, of course you should measure that. That is obvious. Right? Or when the whole team... Or if it's not a direct response initiative like that, when the whole team is spending lots of time on something. And so we should be able to measure the impact of spending a million dollars and having the whole team spend half a year working on an event. We should be able to measure something like that, of course. Does the output always have to be pipeline? No. There are other measures. But I think there's a whole camp of people in marketing who kind of will only do the direct response things. It's more of the inverse of that, like we will only do the things that we can directly measure. Right? And so when you do that, you miss out on things like this. What is the ROI of doing this? Could you add up how much your salary divided by the hourly rate that it is, how many episodes you've done? And try to... That's never going to get you anywhere. Right? But what happens on those channels that are not direct response channels is they're so... You kind of feel little pockets of things. Right? I don't actually have a sense of the ROI of me being active on LinkedIn, but I know that it's helped me build a private community of 3000 members. I get messages all the time from people, investors, advisors, this job, that job. I don't know how to measure that, but I feel it because I see it every day, and I measure it by, I get a lot of inbound emails and messages. That's how I measure that. Right? Early days of Drift, we didn't know how to quantify in dollar perspective how much pipeline seeking wisdom our podcast was bringing. But we would walk through the freaking Copley Mall in Boston and people would be like, " DC." And they'd see him and want to wave. Right? Or I would go and speak at an event in Amsterdam, and three people, not speaking English, come up to me and tell me, and we had no presence internationally at the time, how big of fans they are of Drift, and they haven't bought it yet, but they love our podcast. And they're getting budget and they're going to buy. It's those pockets of things. And that is where I feel like don't forget the art and science of marketing. You got to be able to measure that. But there's these little pockets of engagement of audience feedback. And I think this is what is so powerful about social media and podcasting, is people talk about direct to consumer from an eCommerce standpoint, like Harry's Razors or whatever. But when I think of social media, the power of direct to consumer is, you can reach your dream customers or dream audience instantly anywhere online. You, Sean Lane, stood up a podcast about operations and have now created this community of operations people. That doesn't need to be 100,000 people big for that to be really powerful. Right?

Sean Lane: Yeah.

Dave Gerhardt: My friend, Erik Jacobson, runs this company called Lemonpie, where they do podcast production and stuff like that. And he's like, " We get maybe a couple hundred downloads of our podcasts every month. But the amount of great quality leads and business that we've got from that is multiple million dollars in revenue, and that's plenty for our small, little agency." So it also is relative. But I say this because I don't want people to miss out on some of the authentic responses and conversations that you can get from creating community if you just only focus on the hardcore direct response ROI type stuff.

Sean Lane: The thing you said about the art and science of marketing, that art and science applies everywhere across the entire go to market, even in the direct response world. Right? I have sat through endless conversations about: Do with have the exact right, perfect, multi touch attribution model to say who is getting credit for this particular thing? At the end of the day, if you don't have the right amount of meetings or the right amount of pipeline, all that stuff doesn't matter. Right? It might help you make better decision, but seeing the forest for the trees a little bit I think helps with problems like that. And so if that analysis paralysis is stopping you from launching your new podcast, getting this DGMG group out the door, that's the stuff that is just not going to be helpful. And you'll never actually ship anything.

Dave Gerhardt: Also, when we get so caught up in the marketing and the ops side of things, if you zoom all the way back out, in order to get people to buy from you, they first have to know you and like you and trust you, and believe that you're the right fit. And so we like to jump right to the tactics. Book a meeting, and meetings aren't working, and so therefore, this is broken. It's not that this is broken, it's like maybe enough people don't know you and like you and trust you yet. And so there's kind of all these little things, these little touch points that go into that bucket. It's just hard to measure. It's hard to quantify the... It's hard to quantify, that's what it is.

Sean Lane: Yeah. You can't really quantify if someone likes you.

Dave Gerhardt: We need to get 100, 000 people to know, like, and trust us in order to get 25, 000 people, it doesn't work like that. And so I just think you have to factor in, look, even if you want to look at this more quantitatively, the best benchmark that I've seen, you'll be shocked that I have this book, but if people on the Ops Podcast haven't read this book, Data Driven Marketing: The 15 Metrics Everyone in Marketing Should Know, this is way too much for me. But come on, this is what I do.

Sean Lane: I'm impressed. I'm very impressed.

Dave Gerhardt: This is what I do. Look it, this book, this is from a hardcore analytical operational person. If you spend 100% of your budget on demand gen, you're going to fail. You need to have a split of maybe 70% on direct response related initiatives. But guess where that other 30%, that 30% is spent in brand building to get people to know, like and trust you. And so you need the combination of both brand and demand. You have all of one, you're going to be in bad shape. And I think the 70/ 30 mix is probably right. And I like to have a lot of fun with that 30%.

Sean Lane: I don't know if it was you or DC who said this story, but the idea that when you and I go to work, we don't all of a sudden become B to B Dave and B to B Sean. Right? And so that idea of know, like, and trust, and building that with people, it's just with people. And that has to do with the expectations of our customers. But I think the same thing applies.

Dave Gerhardt: Your podcast is a perfect example. It doesn't matter to Drift if your podcast generates pipeline. It's a good thing to do regardless. However, I would bet that if marketing ops Mary, shout out to you, marketing ops Mary, is listening to your podcast, and she is leaving her job. And she's going to get a promotion and going to a new company, and at her new company, where she just got a promotion, she's super excited because she gets to own the marketing ops budget for the first time. And she gets to select the tools to build the marketing stack. If she listens to Sean Lane's Ops Podcast, and Sean Lane works at Drift and she obviously knows that, wouldn't you bet that Drift is going to be on the short list of things that she's going to go try? 100%. That thing is just hard to measure in a quantifiable, predictable way. And I have felt this. A lot of the marketing that I have done has been organic brand building type stuff. And that stuff is amazing because the metrics, the economics of that are amazing, the response it gets. But the CFO and the other people, they don't like it because it's not as predictable. We can't say, " Okay, if we spend 50 grand on Ad Words, we get this. If we get 60, spend this, 100." It doesn't work the same way. You can't... It's not as predictable as, well, if Sean puts out 20 more episodes next year, it just doesn't work like that, and so people don't like to think about it. It's harder to quantify it.

Sean Lane: Before we go, at the end of each episode, we're going to ask each guest the same lightning round of questions. Ready? Here we go. Best book you've read in the last six months.

Dave Gerhardt: Ooh, it's tough to pick one. You're putting me on the spot. Actually, I'll give you it. It's a book that I'm reading right now. It is called One Summer by Bill Bryson, and it's about the summer of 1927, which is... I love it because I've been really interested in history. And this is kind of like, it's narrative nonfiction, which I've learned is a genre that I could like, so I'm going to get more, where he's telling the story of history, what happened that summer, Charles Lindbergh, Babe Ruth, the Mississippi flood. It's a great way to learn history, but it's told through narrative, and I really like that. And I also think, given everything that's been going on in the world the last year or two, reading more history has helped me understand that a lot of what we're going through has happened in some way before. Even in this Bill Bryson book, I posted this quote, this tweet the other day. It was in 1922 when they first launched radio stations, the way that it was set up was so anybody could really create, I don't know how they did it, but anybody could stick up an antennae and create their own radio station. And it was exactly what podcasting is today. It's so wild. And so it's cool to study that. So I would go read that one, that's a good one.

Sean Lane: That is a good one. All right. Normally, I ask ops folks their favorite part about working in ops, so I'm going to ask you your favorite part about working with ops.

Dave Gerhardt: Nothing. Just kidding.

Sean Lane: And that's the clip for the episode.

Dave Gerhardt: No. I think my favorite part of working with ops is I think it is the most essential ingredient. You can't cook without butter and salt. You need that. Now that I know that, I think my favorite part about working with ops is I come from much more of the creative side of things. And I love having a partner in ops who, we are the yin to each other's yang. I like how ops can be the real business driver because at the end of the day, as much as I love the brand stuff, the thing that I'm trying to drive is revenue. The CEO only cares about two things out of marketing at the end of the day. Number one is the story and number two is pipeline. And you can argue about which order those things should go in. And I think that the more that marketing ops is a real strategic partner and peer to me in that role, that's the best part, no doubt.

Sean Lane: Flip side, least favorite part about working with ops.

Dave Gerhardt: It's tough. I think this is true with any team that is involved more on the technical side, where things just take time. And I don't always appreciate. This is not a knock on ops, it's just like I'm very much like, I have an idea, let's do it right now because it's hot. Let's go do it. And usually, there's things that just have to take time and have to be set up. And I think part of me is learning to be a little bit more patient.

Sean Lane: I'm shocked by that answer, Dave. I'm shocked. All right, somebody who impacted you getting to the job you have today.

Dave Gerhardt: There's three people that I think have had the biggest impact the last probably five or six years. Obviously, DC at Drift, we kind of have this marketing wavelength that it's kind of weird. But I don't know if anybody's replicated that. And we kind of are on that same wavelength together, and push each other creatively that way. The other is Mike Volpe, who was my boss at HubSpot. Actually, no, he wasn't. I reported to Joe Chernov at HubSpot. But Mike is somebody that kind of just helped me out once I went to Drift. And we've gotten really close after that. And then the last is Ben, who's the CEO of Privy. I've just been lucky as a marketing leader to have worked with two CEOs back to back who get marketing, who believe in marketing, who question the right things. But I always say, " Life is too short to work for a CEO who doesn't get marketing." And that's because there's so much... Marketing is hard enough as it is. There's so much internal stuff that gets in the way. To have worked for Ben, and have worked for DC, who want to invest in marketing, and are ready to do it, that's the dream scenario. And so I think a lot of credit goes to those guys, for sure.

Sean Lane: That's awesome. Last one. One piece of advice for people who want to have your job someday.

Dave Gerhardt: I don't know. The job that I have now is not a good comparison.

Sean Lane: That's probably fair.

Dave Gerhardt: I would say if you want to be a VP of marketing, a CMO someday, I think you have to become obsessed with how all of the pieces of marketing works. And you don't have to have a mastery. I think you need to have mastery of maybe one or two core skillsets like product marketing, like demand gen. But I think all of the good marketing leaders that I know, know enough about every single area of marketing to do it themselves a little bit. The benchmark that I use is: Could this person kind of plug this gap for a little bit while we find the right person? Or could we know how to hire the right person? So I think you've got to... If you're a marketing manager on a content team right now, but you want to be CMO one day, master your role in content. But also be learning from: How does demand gen do this? How does ops do this? How does PR do this? And so because you want to be able to be ready for that opportunity. And so all of a sudden, you're leading marketing. You got to go and hire a PR agency. And you've got to figure out analytics relations. And you've got to hire a designer, and you don't have one. You've got to do all those things. And so I think the more you can become... Think of marketing as a business unit, and you need to know the five or six core areas and know enough to be effective in each one of those places.

Sean Lane: Thanks so much to DG for joining us on this week's episode of Operations. Welcome back, DG. Thank you so much for being on the show. If you liked what you heard from DG today, make sure you are subscribed, so you can get a new episode into your feed every other Friday. Also, if you feel like you learned something today, make sure to leave us a six star review on Apple Podcasts, six star reviews only. All right, that's going to do it for me. Thanks so much for listening. We'll see you next time.


Ever heard of a "boomerang" employee? Someone who left, and then later comes back to rejoin the company? We’ve had a few awesome boomerang stories during my time at Drift, but we just recently announced arguably our most significant one yet.

This week's guest is Dave Gerhardt (or DG), who just returned to Drift as our Chief Brand Officer. Dave helped build Drift into one of the most well-known brands in our industry, and then spent the last 2 years as CMO of Privy, which was recently acquired,

That’s a pretty good boomerang story.

In our conversation, we talk about how his views have evolved on Marketing Ops, how he thinks about measuring the unmeasurable in brand marketing, and which Marketing Metrics book is currently sitting on DG’s bookshelf.

Like this episode? Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review and share the pod with your friends! You can connect with Sean and Dave on Twitter @Seany_Biz @davegerhardt @DriftPodcasts