November 9, 2022

Corporate Social Responsibility & Fiberglass Alligator Bites with Peter Wheeler

by Breaking Through in Cybersecurity Marketing

Show Notes

We’re joined this week by Peter Wheeler, Senior Manager PLG - Partnerships, Startups, Nonprofits at Auth0, to find out just what makes him…the most interesting man in the world! After years as a serial entrepreneur, Peter joined Auth0, powered by Okta, to positively impact nonprofits, charities, and for-profits working to benefit social issues. Peter talks with us about product led growth, giving back even when you don’t have the budget, and caring about customer advocacy before it was cool.

 

Timecoded Guide:

[00:00] Founding businesses & joining the Auth0 team during COVID

[07:01] Making a conscious effort with cyber to give back for greater good

[12:18] Diving into cybersecurity special audiences & product-led growth

[19:42] Understanding customer advocacy & reducing verification friction

[27:40] Collecting anecdotal and case studies from self service customers

[33:11] Being bitten by a fiberglass alligator & biting down on some brisket

 

What advice do you have for cybersecurity companies that would want to have corporate social responsibility, but are either too small or don’t have the funding? 

Instead of hiding behind the excuses of not being big enough or wealthy enough, Peter believes that cybersecurity companies all have the potential to give back to nonprofits and startups. Peter says, when in doubt of what to do, think simple. If your company is interested in equitable product access for companies with limited budgets, consider offering mentorship or training opportunities, or engaging your staff by offering time off for volunteering. 

“You can never be too small. We can all volunteer independently, we can all sit on a board, we can all show up. That's it, just show up. You can mentor. Yeah, you might not have enough money. You can avoid that, you can skip that. Just simple things, it doesn't have to be a lot.”

 

What are your “strong opinions” on special audiences, now that you work with them? 

Many of the audiences Peter works with have not made a budgetary allocation mentally, nor financially, towards things like cybersecurity. Part of his work with Auth0, because of this unaware audience, has involved implementing training and educational processes for these businesses. Showing them why cybersecurity is so important and teaching them to implement good first steps like stronger passwords is vital for marketing efforts and product led growth. 

“In nonprofits, in startups, there's a big shareholder footprint, stakeholder footprint, people that are affected by what the organization does. Educating that audience is good. Making them understand what cybersecurity truly is is good, so they implement at least the simple things.” 

 

How does Auth0 implement product-led growth? 

Auth0’s freemium, self-service product can satisfy just about everyone. The secret sauce of their success? Increasing customer advocacy and refusing friction. Good documentation, strong outside of network customer support, being active with customers, and having your staff invigorated about your product all contribute to a more satisfying and therefore more trustworthy environment, which keeps companies coming back for more.

“If you're building community, you're working with developers, you're working with individuals, you're working with smaller organizations, and you're putting a free or cheap product in front of them, whether it be discounted enterprise or freemium model, you're developing that trust.”

 

What are you doing for this user so they feel like they're being treated like an enterprise, even though they may be a team of one? 20:13

Self-service customers are rarely given the same treatment as enterprise customers in most companies, Peter explains, but Auth0 works hard to provide the documentation and ease of access needed to make things as frictionless as possible for those users. Additionally, validating an organization’s startup or nonprofit status can take time and create friction, too. Auth0 works with third-party organizations to quicken and simplify this process as well. 

“Reducing customer friction to come on is key. Somebody signs up, don't make them verify their email, skip that step. Let them play with the dashboard. Let them build something, because guess what? They're going to verify their email at some point.”

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Links:

Get tickets for our upcoming CyberMarketingCon 2022

Spend some time with our guest Peter Wheeler on LinkedIn and his personal website

Lend your ear to Peter’s podcast, Hey, Good Chat!

And of course, who could forget Peter’s theme song? It’s My Life by Bon Jovi

Check out Auth0 on LinkedIn and the Auth0 website

Learn more about Okta on LinkedIn and the Okta website.

Keep up with Hacker Valley on our website, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter.

Follow Gianna on LinkedIn.

Catch up with Maria on LinkedIn.

Join the Cybersecurity Marketing Society on our website, and keep up with us on Twitter.



Transcript

Gianna 00:00
Hey, before the show starts, we want to let you know that the Cybersecurity Marketing Society's annual conference, CyberMarketingCon 2022 will be held this year, November 16 through 18th in Arlington, Virginia, and yes, there will also be a virtual option.
Maria 00:16
You really don't want to miss it. We'll have two days jam packed with cybersecurity marketing
strategies, ideas, metrics, insights. It's going to be the place to be. Visit
CybersecurityMarketingSociety.com and click on "conference" to grab your ticket. We'll see you there.
Gianna 00:31
Welcome to the Breaking Through in Cybersecurity Marketing podcast.
Maria 00:35
Where we explore the hottest topics in cyber marketing, interview experts, and help you become a better cybersecurity marketer.
Gianna 00:52
Hello, and welcome to another crazy good episode of Breaking Through in Cybersecurity Marketing. I'm one of your hosts, Gianna Whitver.
Maria 01:01
And I'm Maria.
Gianna 01:02
And we are here today with Peter Wheeler, one of the most interesting men in the world, I think.
Peter 01:07
Why would you say that?
Gianna 01:08
Because we're going to ask you your background and you're going to tell this insane story, which is the story you told us. We were so impressed with you Peter, and we can't wait to hear about it and everyone will agree with us that you're one of the most interesting guests we've had on the show.
Peter 01:20
I gotta write this down.
Gianna 01:21
Don't make that face.
Maria 01:25
As we see Peter's packing up his microphone and leaving, like, this was a bad idea.
Gianna 01:31
Alright, this is going well. We have Peter Wheeler. He is the Senior Marketing Manager for Product Led Growth and Special Audiences at Auth0, not Autho, which is an Okta company, and we are so excited to have you on. Peter, thank you for being on.
Peter 01:48
I really appreciate it. And while that's my role, I do want to say that anything I express here is not an opinion of an employer past or present. This is my life, my experience that I'm talking about, and my philosophies. So, there we go. Thanks for having me.
Gianna 02:04
Thanks for being on. Editor, if you can, can you splice in, the "it's my life" song right after he talks.
Peter 02:12
That's gonna haunt me the rest of my life if you do.
Gianna 02:17
Alright, so, Peter, tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
Peter 02:21
I'm a serial entrepreneur. I've been founding businesses since I was about 16 years old. Started off in car stereo, was a drop shipper in the late 90s, early 2000s, doing online retail. I'd like to think I was an innovator. The bubble did not affect me because I didn't make enough to even count, but at least I had that experience. I got into development not long after that, Flash and ActionScript are my formal education. As of last year, I'm officially retired, I've been forced out, it's nice to outlive technology you're trained in. I ended up doing some work around many industries, built car dealerships, did Dolby’s first consumer facing campaign and a very long time. Gave birth to a beer for Miller Coors. Any of this stuff, if you want deeper details, I want to save time for the show. If you want deeper details, hit me up on LinkedIn or Polywork and look at my portfolio. We'll have fun. Anything specific you want to talk about? Kanye West? Cybersecurity?
Gianna 03:19
Yeah. How did you end up at Auth0 and Okta?
Peter 03:22
So, how did I end up at Auth0, powered by Okta? I ended up at Auth0 because in 2016. I had sold off and lost portions of my last entrepreneurial endeavor. My fiancée at the time, after many, many, many, many years said, "Get a real job and then, we can set a wedding date." So, I agreed to those terms and I started working for a geospatial firm named Boundless. It was acquired by Planet Labs in 2018. I was an independent contributor/interim head of marketing for a couple years with them, until we were pushing into acquisition. I brought in a king of king’s marketer, you need to have that name when you're doing an acquisition, you really need to have that energy and that oomph and beyond that, stellar marketer, name's John Updike. Love the guy, and he helped reset some areas of my career path and made me really think, "Oh, wow, working for somebody is pretty cool." Acquisition happened in 2018, got room to have some time off, do consulting, practice entrepreneurial marketing again, and be a stay
at home dad. I had kind of forfeited some FMLA and some moments with my daughter and COVID hit. So, I decided, you know what? I'm really going to be a stay at home dad for a while and did a lot of consulting and part of my consulting promise was to do at least half of what I was doing pro bono and for nonprofit organizations. I really fell in love with the space. I got hooked up with some really cool organizations. Nest, which helps artisans around the world, has been my favorite because they work with other organizations and they basically dole you out as an asset, to execute campaigns or do different types of specialty work for the smaller organizations. So, if you're looking for a volunteer opportunity, BuildANest.org. So, COVID was kind of clearing up, we found a great school for my daughter, they were masking, like, we were feeling comfortable about me getting back into the world, and Auth0 had this intrapreneur role open to do product impact for social enterprises, being like, the good guys is how you would kind of phrase it. So, not just nonprofits and charities, but organizations that are doing positive things in the world, even if they're for-profit. A lot of people think like public benefit corporation or B Corp, that's just touching the surface of how these organizations work. So, I've been doing that for two years, my team, we fall under the VP that runs our self service product, our product led growth product for customer identity and access management. So, I've been able to expand my purview beyond social enterprises and social impact organizations to also focus on our startups program and our product led growth and our interaction with developers and strategic partnerships. If you're looking to be a partner, hit me up. So, yeah, that's kind of where I'm at right now.
Gianna 06:12
You also have a podcast, don't you?
Peter 06:14
I do have a podcast for other corporate social responsibility professionals. It's called Good Chat. It's at HeyGoodChat.org. We haven't moved the domain yet, but we have a lot of amazing people that have positions like mine, where they work with nonprofits, maybe they have a special offer, maybe they're doing employee engagement and volunteering, or they run the DAF, Donor Advised Fund. A lot of them operate with Pledge 1%, where the company gives up 1% of its equity towards good causes. We just interview a lot of great people, my hope is to inspire everyone to take part in doing something, whether it be volunteering or moving from the private sector to the nonprofit space, or whatever it may be. So, yeah, it's just a great time and thanks for letting me do a plug.
Maria 07:01
This sounds amazing. I feel like a lot of marketers would love to have this special department within their cybersecurity company, or at the very least as part of their growth strategy and giving back. What advice do you give for cybersecurity companies listening that would want to do something like this, but are maybe either too small, not enough funding, not enough internal buying? What are some things they could do?
Peter 07:27
I guess, first, we'll just move off the excuses. You can never be too small. We can all volunteer
independently, we can all sit on a board, we can all show up. That's it, just show up. You can mentor. Yeah, you might not have enough money. Donations are very hard to come by, you run into nonprofit organizations that do these things called pay to play. So, like, to volunteer, you actually have to give them money. You can avoid that, you can skip that. Just simple things, giving your employees volunteer time off. We're always trying to figure out better benefits to give people, it doesn't have to be a lot. It can be one hour a year, could be 40 hours a year. Just whatever you can do, whatever you feel you can sacrifice, and that's the important term. It's not just letting it happen, you really should make a conscious effort to contribute to the greater good. In my personal case, at Auth0, my focus is on product impact. So, we have discounts and Auth0 has always had a free plan, so we we had to rule that out, but we do have very dramatic discounts for nonprofit organizations and charities around the globe, to help them do identity authentication, access management, all the things that you really want to do for any professional enterprise, especially someone that is handling individuals who are at risk or needing that program help, but also that have a lot of cash flow because of donors. It's not important for them to sit on money, or have big payroll, it's important for them to get out and do programs. They're an ideal audience. So, if your organization has something for startups, or different types of discounts and breaks, you can look at product impact. You can do things like having a donor advised fund, where you put aside revenue, whether it be stocks that are sold off by this donor advised fund, or just cash that helps build that fund, think of a 401k for charities that is sponsored by your job. That's the easiest way to put it. Those are simple ways to contribute. Even matching donations funds is a perfect way to do it, give employees $200. Imagine. Simple, simple things. So, there we go. It's all I got.
Maria 09:38
Love that. All amazing ideas.
Gianna 09:40
If you want to build some of this into the campaigns that you're doing, too, I can touch upon at least three examples I know of cyber companies doing work around charity, or have done work around charity and charitable giving. So, at the beginning of the pandemic, Axonius launched a website to offer free services to companies, small businesses and a bunch of cyber product companies joined that website and people could come, because it was such a hectic time, we were all moving directly to remote from not being remote. Everybody was remote. It was such a massive headache and honestly, a terrible situation for a lot of IT and security teams. Axonius launched that for teams of companies all lover the country. I know Serena Raymond, and the people over at DNS Filter raised a lot of money for Ukraine recently, and I'm saying like, hundreds of thousands of dollars from cyber companies, and they've all given that to support Ukraine. And then, at Votero, what we did recently for RSA was instead
of buying swag and giving away junk at our booth, if you came and spoke to us at our booth, we would actually donate money to the National Wildlife Federation, and it was beneficial to both the Wildlife Federation and the company, and I love all the ideas you gave, Peter.
Peter 10:54
It's really cool, because it sounds like none of these organizations have a formal program to begin with. They just stepped up, and that's really part of modern employment culture. Everybody wants that type of opportunity, and thank you for making an effort to end trash and trinkets.
Gianna 11:13
So, this is a great segue into Strong Opinions by Peter, which is what I'm calling this segment.
Peter 11:17
Perfect. Are you going to do the video? Can they see that I actually have a throne from a church for my pulpit behind me?
Gianna 11:25
I think we should do the video.
Peter 11:27
You don't have to do the video, but you can certainly just do whatever the plug was, but yeah.
Gianna 11:31
We could do a little crown on you, too.
Peter 11:33
If you want, I'll go in the other room and get one of my crowns.
Maria 11:36
Oh, grab your superhero cape, too, while you're at it.
Peter 11:40
And my megaphone. My wife calls me Gaston, and a couple of people that I've worked with say that I'm Gaston with the life path of Forrest Gump.
Gianna 11:54
Oh, my gosh.
Peter 11:56
All this and more at Good Chat. That's HeyGoodChat.org.
Gianna 12:02
We'll put that up in flashing font on the screen. We absolutely will link to all of these things in the show notes, so you can contact Peter afterwards. So, Peter, what are some of the strong opinions that you have around PLG, marketing to cyber, and about the tofu model? Where do you want to start?
Peter 12:18
Let's talk about special audiences. When I'm talking about social impact organizations, when I'm talking about startups, go to market is an important thing, but so is product marketing. We all, whether formal education or tinkering around, are familiar with different frameworks and concepts and everything else. Eugene Schwartz said something a long time ago about the different stages of awareness, and one of the things that's been adopted in the past decades, has been abandoning the unaware audience. That's been very important for the audience's I work with, who have not made a budgetary allocation mentally, nor financially, towards things like cybersecurity. They don't exactly understand what the point of it is, especially in a product like ours, where it's more about the login process, when you're outside looking in, than about anything to do with cybersecurity.
Peter 13:16
I think everybody that's listening here faces to some level of that reality. We're the people at family dinners who don't really talk about what we do, because we just don't have the time. So, when you're thinking about your audience for that, that's the unaware audience. In nonprofits, in startups, there's a big shareholder footprint, the stakeholder footprint, people that are affected by what the organization does. Let's just leave the organization itself out of it. Educating that audience and having them demand an enterprise level experience from everyone that they operate with is good. Making them understand what cybersecurity truly is is good, so that they implement just the simple things. Password locks on their phone, good WIFI passwords, not using USB chargers that are sitting around at airports, just the simple, simple stuff. Part of what we've adopted it Auth0 is teaching that. We have these great cybersecurity checklists for home and work. If I was hard pressed for a business case, and I hope nobody from work is listening to this, I can make one, based off of this stakeholder argument, creating awareness, making co-branded materials. But if you wanted to direct tofu business case, that does not exist, because we're not talking about our product. We're talking about what elements outside of our product make our product important. And so, for me, that is facing the unaware audience. I'm getting nods, which means I rambled.
Maria 14:47
No, I was wrapping my head around the audiences, the product lead growth, and this tofu model that either works or doesn't work in some of these strategies and I'm wondering: Are you saying that it also wouldn't work with special audiences that happened to be bigger businesses, or maybe enterprise?
Peter 15:06
So, I wasn't even covering product led growth, I was just covering product marketing concept. So, I was still on social impact and on startups, where you've got these organizations where people are wearing many hats, you can guarantee that they don't have a CTO, in most cases. Maybe they're doing shared services IT, shared services development, they have somebody that they pulled off of Upwork. It's those organizations, you want to work with everybody that touches that organization to get that initial stakeholder appeal, and that helps with that whole argument of like, everybody is like, "Where does it go in the CRM, how's this tofu work?" And then, we have that whole scenario of dark social, and you really have to think of dark social as community. It's not just like, unattributable results, it is actually participating in communities. I discovered you through LinkedIn, not through any media. Being on podcasts like this one, I got my message out. Can I attribute it? No, you're not gonna put a UTM parameter on every show note link.
Gianna 16:12
Yeah, we are. Just kidding, no, we're not.
Peter 16:14
Sorry. We're all professional marketers here, we have to toss UTM is on thing. Telegram, Discord, we're all floating around in something. Becoming credible and becoming irrelevant are two very important things in modern day marketing. Okay, so, special audiences aside, let's talk product led growth. Like I said before, we have our freemium model, our self-service product, and it can satisfy everyone. Let's say you just have a WordPress website, and you want it to be easier to log into, you can set up social sign on with a WordPress plugin and a free Auth0 account, and you're good to go. It takes like, 45 minutes, if you're not a developer, very simple to understand. So, when you're looking at product led growth, when you're looking at freemium models, and I think we have like, 29 permutations of self-service beyond that point, you're then adding the features. You're scaling up to enterprise, you have to develop your pricing model that aligns to it. And this is where we kind of break tofu, is that your leads that are coming in from product, and we have those scenarios like product qualified leads, I think is the most acceptable term these days, that goes into a different stage than somebody that does a form fill. That goes into a different stage than somebody that was at a trade show, that goes into a different stage than our renewal, because it is someone that grew up with you, or that aspired to be an enterprise customer, or that stuck it out as they grew, to be your enterprise customer. They have to be treated as such. That's really what product led growth is. So, if you're building community, you're working with the developers, you're working with individuals, you're working with smaller organizations, and you're putting a free or cheap product in front of them, whether it be discounted enterprise or freemium model, you're developing that trust. You're using community, aka dark social, to enhance that trust. Good documentation, good outside of network customer support, just being active, having your
staff invigorated, maybe with some volunteering, to do cybersecurity assessment threats for individuals and organizations that they're close to. Just simple, simple, simple stuff, and you develop that trust. I think we're in a zero-trust industry, it's about developing that trust.
Gianna 18:28
Oh, I don't know. I've never heard that before.
Peter 18:29
We're working towards permanence, dating and then marrying, that's where we're at. You want these true brand champions. When you're looking at the audience's that I vet, founders are founders of multiple things. So, startup people hop over and people that work for startups usually like working for startups. So, when an organization gets too big, they cash out and they move. Nonprofits, I think the average tenure of someone at a director level or higher is 16 months. If you're maintaining your reputation, you're maintaining your brand, you're maintaining these things outside of an account-based tracking, and you're actually doing it and you're their account. Who is your guy? Oh, I have a dude that comes in paints my house. Oh, I have this landscaping company I love. You've got to become that
referral, and referrals are worth more than research ever will be.
Maria 19:25
Yeah, I mean, opportunities close at a much higher win rate when they come from referrals anyway, so
forget about that funnel model at all when you have that.
Peter 19:34
No one here said forget about the funnel. My XDR team members out here, continue making your phone calls.
Gianna 19:42
Peter, you said something when you were describing this special audience of a person who is trying ta PLG product and you're trying to build trust into the experience and you're trying to treat them like an enterprise, right? You said they grew up in the product. What are you doing to make it special for this user, to make them feel like they're being treated like an enterprise, even though they may be a team of one doing the part-time IT at a startup nonprofit or something, while juggling a million other things?
Peter 20:13
There are two scenarios there, and they can both be satisfied by one concept: customer advocacy. When you're dealing with an enterprise customer, you know how it is. They have white glove service, they have TAMs, they have SEs, they have rapid response times, guaranteed SLA, all this stuff that is not necessarily given to a self-service customer. It's not necessarily promised, both in the deliverable product, features are removed or counter reduced, but then, also just in the experience of obtaining it. Something that, and again, this is my personal opinion, something that I love about where I'm at is they're renowned for documentation. Like I said, that WordPress, install in 45 minutes if you're not a developer, and I think the manual, including screenshots is like 10 pages long, and you can do it and
it's done. So, document, high quality documentation, if you're doing a PLG product, not everybody can do product led growth, not everybody has a product that you can just sell online, e comm style. Some things require enterprise. But yes, documentation, ease of access.
Peter 21:32
With our nonprofits, it's kind of complicated. We have to verify that there are nonprofit. We use a couple of different third-party organizations to do— the technical term, the industry term is validate the organization. Are they a 501c3? Are they flagged for adverse media, for hate speech? What do their financials look like? Some people do that, not everybody does that, but you want to make sure that they're viable, and that they are who they say they are. So, you make that investment in time to do all that. Startups, it's a very similar way. What funding round are you looking at for cut off? What headcount? What minimum ARR? Reducing customer friction to come on is key. Somebody signs up, don't make them verify their email, skip that step please. Let them play with the dashboard. Let them
build something up, because guess what? They're going to verify their email at some point, there is a process for that. They shouldn't have to do it first thing. Walk a mile in their shoes is all I can really say. If you were someone who was pressed for time, who couldn't incur tech, meaning that it's not just the purchase, it's not the purchase price, it's: How many people have to be trained? How long does that take? How long does it take to do initial configuration? Is it set it and forget it? Or, is there maintenance required? What would a maintenance contract look like? Are there professional services firms? Are there managed service offerings? Like, just that list I rattled off, it'd probably take an hour to answer every single one of those questions. That's an hour that many smaller organizations and hobbyists don't have, but the product that you're making in product led growth is designed for those individuals. So, reduce the friction, make it easy, make it accessible, and document it as beautifully and concisely
distilled, but accurately as you can.
Gianna 23:22
Now, we'd like to take a moment to thank our sponsors and producers, Hacker Valley Media. Chris Cochran and Ron Eddings run an amazing studio here, which produces not only the Breaking Through in Cybersecurity Marketing podcast, but a bunch of other shows that you're gonna want to listen to as well. So, all these shows, plus more and then, on top of that, probably even more coming soon, are available to look at, listen to, and sponsor at HackerValley.com Make sure you go over there and say, "Hey, Gianna, and Maria said I should come check out your website to listen to your shows and sponsor a podcast or two."
Gianna 24:05
It's interesting, because you do have to do extra steps for the nonprofits and potentially the startups if you're offering a cheaper version, right? So, for example, in our world, HubSpot, right? HubSpot for Startups, you have to validate via your VC firm, that you're an eligible startup, to get access to HubSpot. But at that point, when you're verified and whatever, you do get the full access to all the product. So, is there something you do, Peter, to make that verification process more frictionless and seamless for your special audiences?
Peter 24:40
This is something I'm very proud of, and it's documented in various blogs, that this customer journey advocacy element is very important to me, especially in the validation space. Taking this process because you're verifying that they're an agent of the organization, that the organization does this and that, and that they are who they say they are, both the organization itself and the person purchasing or implementing on their behalf. That can take many, many, many days, 20 to 30 or 45 days, and if anybody's touched a commercial sales cycle, that's a lifetime. That's them moving on to somebody else. Now, if we're talking public sector, that's like, the fastest contract time you'll ever have.
Gianna 25:22
Maria knows that.
Peter 25:23
I don't really miss the Pub Sec space. But I missed the Pub Sec people, if that makes sense. So, one of the things that I was able to do was bring on different types of validation partners, where one might be slow, but it's the big, big, big organization in the space and they allow individuals to set up accounts and organizations to set up accounts so that the process is faster. You were talking about the VC firms for startups, that's a credible source, a credible source of truth, they are who they say they are, the person that you're talking to actually does represent the organization. Boom, done. It takes that time to live, or time to action to hours. When you're dealing in a self-service product, that's super important because people are buying these things at 3am. We've all bought a domain for some great idea we've had at 3am. Imagine if somebody was standing there in the way validating your idea. That's how we'll
approach it. "Is this a good idea? How many years have you had? What problem is this solving? Is this worth your 11 bucks to purchase this domain? Will you ever use it?"
Gianna 26:26
Do you want to have "butts" in it? Or like, should you choose a different word?
Peter 26:33
So, you want to reduce that timeframe. We went with multiple vendors to accomplish that. There was another one that operates with an on-the-fly database, so they proactively validate and this is the scenario where I can't even think of an example, but what they do is they have the IRS database, 1.2 million organizations, and then, they have this global database and they go out, they make the effort in the first place to do all this validation work, so that when you have your self-service customer come on board, they can just click, click, click. Yes, this is me. Yes, this is me. Yes, this is me. Oh, yeah, my email address is the same domain as the organization I'm applying for. Okay, done. No extra steps, it's clear, there's no handwork on your side either. I will plug that organization because, on the product led growth side, their origin is in allowing organizations to— the company is called Percent, and they are at WeArePercent.com, great group of people, Stefan and Henry, look them up on LinkedIn and harass them, please. On Instagram, too.
Maria 27:40
Peter, do you get to benefit from branding or co-marketing opportunities with some of these self-service customers? And if so, at what point in their PLG journey do they feel like, "Okay, I want to be your champion. Sure, I'll do some cool marketing with you, or case studies, or whatever?"
Peter 28:02
They are my favorite case study. In PLG in general, you've got such high volume that you're not looking at that. You are looking at really cool tools that can help you figure out who your champions may be, who your high growth organizations are. Anybody shopping for a tool, I think Correlated is kind of the cool thing out there right now, like the really great platform to use. When you're looking at a smaller audience, I'm gonna fall back into social impact and startups. You're not doing the same kind of volume, but you're doing a lot more touch point. In that touch point, you're getting my favorite kind of data as an experiential marketer, anecdotal. That's where you can start really analyzing your customer journey. Was it great or was it horrible? You get to analyze your product. Are the features appropriate at the levels that they're purchasing? What can you remove? What should you add? Then you can deal with your pricing team, your councils, whatever it may be to figure that out. That's where you get your
best line of sight. You think of it like evolution, where if enterprise contracts have these year-long lifespans, whereas sell services often month to month, so you get that month to month feel a lot of everything, you get a higher volume, so you understand evolution a lot better and a lot quicker. Theyare my favorite case studies.
Peter 29:15
I have a couple organizations that are top of mind right now. Every.org, which is a donation platform for nonprofits, actually took part in both programs. They were a startup organization, and then, they moved into nonprofit work. They won a prize last year, and it was one of those things where like, we found it and we said, "You should go up for this." And so, they applied and they won it. It's really cool having that kind of like, personal relationship with an organization. On the inverse, NCBI, the National Council for the Blind of Ireland, they were up for 5 Spyder awards, and one of them was relevant to their use of our product. That was really cool for them to do for us, and where did that relationship expand? We did a minor case study on them, and we started focusing on a major. In the meantime, they wrote a case
study on their usage of our product. In the meantime, they had us on their podcast to talk about both their implementation and what we see for the future of accessibility. In the meantime, they had a discussion with me about how to format and formulate documentation and documents in general, whether they be marketing documents, or internal pieces, to be more accessible. I learned a lot about the tech and it was great. It's like, "Okay, I'm really moved by this."
Peter 30:33
So, it's not just, I like to use the term "swagger jacking," where you ride on the coattails of another organization, or you affiliate yourself with somebody that's a little bit more popular, but like, this mutual growth and this really cool accountability. On greater product led growth, that's not always there, but when you're focusing into a more specific, special audience, and you can be passionate about that audience— Like, if you hate organizations that are struggling to pay their bills, you're probably not going to want to be in the startups category. If you don't want people to thrive, if you hate puppies, if you wish the environment would go calamitous, I would avoid the nonprofit arena, and I'd also seek other types of help. But like, being able to have these one-on-ones, and work with these organizations is really, really cool. That's where the benefit comes from. It's not just, "We have this really cool case study." That is a side effect. "We have this really cool case study. Everybody loves us. Everybody loves
this organization that we worked with, we see the value that the organization found, we see how youvbent over backwards to make it work for that organization. We want to work with you. We don't expect that same kind of treatment, we just like affiliating our brand and our ideals with a company that showing ethos with individuals in a company that are showing ethos, Oh, wow. 50% of your staff takes part in your volunteer time off. Amazing. I wish my company would do that. I just want to be affiliated with you. I'd love to be a customer because that makes sense." Like, this is the modern business environment. That's it.
Maria 30:33
Yeah, it's definitely contagious and I love that. I think it's the exact opposite of what a lot of us
marketers experience when we try to get close to a customer and try to get them to come on record to talk about our relationship, their experience, either on our product or their experience with our people, during implementation or PLC or whatever. We get a great deal of "no"s for a lot of reasons. Obviously, they don't want to disclose whatever, but to see that it is possible on the other side, but still within cyber and the relationship with customers. It gives hope to someone struggling still.
Peter 32:11
And I will advise against corporate social profiteering. Do not attach strings, don't attach strings. Don't say, "Well, if you're gonna get this discount, you have to do a case study and a testimony and we have to be able to use your logo and six of your people have to show up at our trade booths this year." No, you just do it because you're supposed to do it and the rest will follow you. That's going back to community. Do it because you're supposed to do it.
Gianna 33:11
Awesome. Maria, do you want to ask about Richard Branson's alligator?
Peter 33:15
Oh, no. No, that's not even a funny one. But yeah, sure. Ask about Richard Branson's alligator.
Maria 33:21
Peter, tell us about Richard Branson's alligator.
Peter 33:24
So, they're referencing a picture on the wall behind me. The way that I got into experiential marketing. The whole start of it all was that a very good friend of mine, who was a nightclub promoter, who was very well connected, had a phone call from some Brit at a British office. I ended up hanging up on my phone call because I thought it was a prank, but we ended up doing a TV series block launch for country music television called Adventure Country. And part of the campaign was carrying around alligators in a suburban. I was conscripted, I wouldn't say I was a volunteer. I was a tribute to drive these around. Now, embellishing they were fiberglass alligators, but I also learned that fiberglass alligators maybe are far more dangerous than the real thing. In moving one, I just sliced my arm wide open. It's a scar that I've now had for 15 years, and that is the boring story about the alligator.
Maria 34:21
But tell us about Richard Branson. What does he fit into this whole story?
Peter 34:25
It was all released by Virgin; the call came out of his office. Yeah, so, the short story is Richard
Branson's alligator bit me and then, the long story is very boring. We prefer the short story.
Gianna 34:37
Well, I think that we're gonna have to dig up that adventure country show and add links to it in the show
notes. I'm sure it's on YouTube somewhere.
Peter 34:46
It's probably on YouTube. Gator 911 was that specific show. One of the things I really loved about that campaign, I'm going to go completely off to just marketing geek land. Google Voice had come out at the time and yes, I'm dating myself, I don't care. Google Voice had come out and one of the people in the organization that I was with, this was before I was an agency owner or had any of the cool contracts on my own, I was just a worker. They had this great idea of making a bunch of fake businesses and setting up business card racks at restaurants and hotels and all these different places. When you call the number of the business, it will just tell you about the TV show block, that was the voicemail message, but the businesses just completely stand out. My favorite one and I have a card of it still was for a casket repossession service, so you're like, totally motivated just to figure out what kind of business this is. The casket repossession of all of those was my favorite. I think the firm that put that on has dissolved since now, but there were some really brilliant people on it and I love the experiential space just because you can get paid to launch a business that does casket repossession, a faux business, and put up business cards.
Gianna 36:00
A logo and everything.
Maria 36:03
I'm surprised MTV didn't spin off a reality show on that, where you see actual trucks go in and
repossessed caskets.
Gianna 36:10
Oh my god, Maria, what is this? Coffin slough, this is terrible.
Peter 36:15
I think you found your gas fire job. You can now retire early. That's it. Pitch it.
Gianna 36:23
Alright, I think instead of playing our game, because I think it'll be too difficult, I think we should just ask
Peter the question. What do you think, Maria?
Maria 36:30
Let's do it.
Gianna 36:31
Alright, Peter. So, before we end the episode, we're gonna ask you to tell us, if you were not doing your job today, or any of the previous jobs you have already had, what would you be doing in your life?
Peter 36:46
Honestly, I love what I do. Do I wish that COVID didn't happen and I could be spending more time with my kids in really cool places? Yes. Do I wish that we were in an environment where I could do really awesome experiential campaigns and not worry about being a semi spreader event? Yes. But there's also opportunity. I'm loving doing this podcast. I'm loving talking to people like yourselves. I'm loving being able to find a soapbox and a pulpit to operate from. I love all this kind of stuff. So, what would I be doing? I'd be doing work I enjoy, which is the kind of work I'm doing now. I'd be doing a lot more mentorship than I've been doing. I probably would be camped out in front of a smoker, which I've got right outside my office door, cooking something and just staying busy and happy and enjoying time with my kids. Can I just say that that's the statement? What I'm doing now, a job I love, mentoring people, being brazen, my regular guest non-self, and having fun, attainable hobbies that, even if they're expensive, I can say, "Well, it's just our most expensive appliance. Oh, well, I made dinner tonight." You know, just simple things like that.
Gianna 37:56
What's your favorite thing to smoke in the smoker?
Peter 37:59
Brisket is always a good time. It depends on the type of equipment, but there's something very zen— There was this Netflix show and I was finally able to explain to my wife. The woman that was doing the smoking, she had a regular job but she was out at like, 1am to 6am just gently shoveling coals and moving things around all by herself in this huge space with these glowing coals and you can say like, ribs or burgers or chickens or anything like that, those are pretty quick. Those are one to eight hours. To do a brisket, you're looking at 18 hours. You don't make brisket for lunch. It's just not a thing that happens. So, you're starting at 10pm, you're there at witching hours and you're alone and it's dark and there's just the right kind of wind and the right kind of everything. It is so romantic. It's so zen. It's just very peaceful. It's one of the few areas I can find like, true peace for myself. I'll still get some god awful song stuck in my head. Like, I think what you threw on during my initial announcement about myself, it's in my head right now. Thanks so much. All I have to say to you is zig-a, zag-ah. Enjoy that.
Maria 39:09
And with that, everyone, what a wholesome way to end this episode. Thank you. You really had me picturing myself actually smoking on a nice cold fall night, I love that. Thank you so much, Peter, for joining us today. What an awesome conversation. If people want to reach out to you, where can they find you?
Peter 39:27
JPeterWheeler.com has all my links. You can find me on HeyGoodChat. org. If you ever need to tune a car stereo, I've got an app on the App Store called Educar. Got a magazine, Educar Magazine, also car stereo stuff, can't leave that industry. Linkedin.com/in/JPeterWheeler. I got a lot of places I can be found. I'm not really a private person. Don't Google me though.
Maria 39:49
I love it. Thank you. We'll definitely make sure, but okay, do not Google the guy. Just find him on the places where we tell you on the show notes. Again, thank you so much to our listeners for joining us today. Remember a new episode drops every Wednesday. Remember to give us 6— no, 7 stars. Tell your friends, family, and enemies about this podcast. And if you want to be on a podcast, tell them, Gianna, what they need to do.
Gianna 40:18
They need to send an email to Podcasts@HackerValley.com
Maria 40:24
See you all next time.

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