Episode 5

How To Transform Marketing WITH Your Company, Not TO Your Company

It’s every CMO’s complaint: “Everyone thinks they’re a marketer.” With so many people outside of marketing weighing in, this can make the CMO job challenging. Our guest today shows how you can harness the emotional investment that others in the company have. 

Our guest is Justin Steinman, CMO of Definitive Healthcare, the healthcare commercial intelligence company. Justin joined the company to help fuel a scale-up to the $500MM mark and went through an IPO already. He shares:

  • What it’s like to do a rebrand, a marketing transformation, and an IPO all at once
  • How to do a marketing transformation that actually leads to the rest of the org respecting marketing
  • How to acknowledge and embrace the emotional investment in the brand that people outside of marketing have
  • Why a CMO should never use the phrase ‘my marketing budget’
  • How to tell whether a company that has not traditionally invested in marketing is ready for it
  • How to bring in practices from big companies to companies that are scaling up… without overpowering the business
  • How one particular interview question will reveal a lot about someone’s view of marketing and their ability to structure their thoughts

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Key Links

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Hiring great marketing leaders is not easy. The Get is a podcast designed to inspire smart decisions around recruiting and leadership in B2B SaaS marketing. 

We explore the trends, tribulations, and triumphs of today’s top marketing leaders in B2B SaaS.

This season’s theme is Solving for the Scale Journey.

The Get’s host is Erica Seidel, who runs The Connective Good, an executive search practice with a hyper-focus on recruiting CMOs and VPs of Marketing, especially in B2B SaaS. 

If you are looking to hire a CMO or VP of Marketing of the ‘make money’ variety - rather than the ‘make it pretty’ variety, contact Erica at erica@theconnectivegood.com. You can also follow Erica on LinkedIn, or sign up for her newsletter at TheConnectiveGood.com

The Get is produced by Evo Terra and Simpler Media Productions.

Transcript
Erica Seidel:

Hi, you're listening to The Get, the podcast about finding and keeping

Erica Seidel:

great marketing leaders in B2B SaaS.

Erica Seidel:

I'm Erica Seidel, your host.

Erica Seidel:

Almost every CMO has the same grumble.

Erica Seidel:

"Everyone at my company thinks they're a marketer.

Erica Seidel:

Everyone has an opinion, even if they are not in marketing."

Erica Seidel:

But what if that's a good thing for everyone to have an opinion?

Erica Seidel:

Our guest today makes this case.

Erica Seidel:

What if you acknowledged that people across the company have an emotional

Erica Seidel:

investment in the brand, and what if you embraced it and actually harnessed it?

Erica Seidel:

Today, you'll hear from Justin Steinman.

Erica Seidel:

Justin is the CMO of Definitive Healthcare, the healthcare

Erica Seidel:

commercial intelligence company.

Erica Seidel:

Justin joined the company to help scale to the $500 million mark

Erica Seidel:

and went through an IPO already.

Erica Seidel:

You'll hear about what it's like to do a rebrand, a marketing

Erica Seidel:

transformation, and an IPO all at once.

Erica Seidel:

You'll hear why a CMO should never use the phrase 'my marketing budget.'

Erica Seidel:

You'll learn how to tell whether a company that has not traditionally

Erica Seidel:

invested in marketing is ready for it.

Erica Seidel:

You'll find out how to bring in best practices from big companies

Erica Seidel:

to companies that are scaling up without overpowering the business.

Erica Seidel:

And you'll hear one particularly revealing interview question that

Erica Seidel:

you will probably want to start asking all of your candidates.

Erica Seidel:

Justin, I am delighted to have you on the show.

Erica Seidel:

You are pretty fresh off of an IPO for Definitive Healthcare and I would love

Erica Seidel:

to jump right into this and just ask what are lessons for a CMO following in

Erica Seidel:

your footsteps and facing an IPO journey?

Erica Seidel:

Can you share a definite do and a definite don't?

Justin Steinman:

Sure.

Justin Steinman:

So first off, Erica, thanks for having me.

Justin Steinman:

I'm really happy to be here.

Justin Steinman:

Looking forward to a fun conversation today.

Justin Steinman:

I wouldn't say that anybody's going to follow in my footsteps, right?

Justin Steinman:

I mean, everybody goes on their own unique journey and does their own, and I

Justin Steinman:

wouldn't be so presumptuous as to say that I have anything figured out, much less the

Justin Steinman:

whole pathway to an IPO, let me tell you.

Justin Steinman:

There's no such thing as a definite do and a definite don't aside from

Justin Steinman:

probably one thing, which is definitely remember that you are part of a

Justin Steinman:

team and that no man or woman is an island that can do this on your own.

Justin Steinman:

There are a million and one t hat are part of an IPO and it's going to feel

Justin Steinman:

crazy and it's going to feel like it's a rollercoaster, but you've got to

Justin Steinman:

remember that you're on a team and there are people to help you along the way.

Erica Seidel:

Was there something surprising about the experience that

Erica Seidel:

sticks out to you when you think about going through that whole process?

Erica Seidel:

Like a moment that, you know, is just very iconic of that time?

Justin Steinman:

So, there are all sorts of things that

Justin Steinman:

are significant from the IPO.

Justin Steinman:

I mean, we went public on the NASDAQ, and probably for us, the most iconic

Justin Steinman:

moment was seeing our brand new brand, our logo, visual identity, and color

Justin Steinman:

scheme up on the advertisements in Times Square on the big NASDAQ Towers.

Justin Steinman:

Things that I would recommend that you never do is I'd never recommend that

Justin Steinman:

any CMO do what we did, which is do a complete visual identity - in fact, more

Justin Steinman:

or less complete rebrand of the company at the same time as you are doing an IPO.

Justin Steinman:

It's just too crazy.

Justin Steinman:

And, you know, we did everything from who our core foundation is, what's our

Justin Steinman:

core identity to voice and tone, to vision, mission, about us, wordmark,

Justin Steinman:

logo, color scheme, website, you name it, product naming hierarchy.

Justin Steinman:

And to try to rebrand that entire company and create - also we created

Justin Steinman:

a category, too, just for giggles, Healthcare Commercial Intelligence.

Justin Steinman:

Trying to do all of that at the same time as you are going through an IPO

Justin Steinman:

and writing an S1 with the bankers and meeting with potential investors and

Justin Steinman:

doing a road show video and everything.

Justin Steinman:

There were days when we would literally finish the product naming

Justin Steinman:

architecture, and then two hours later, I was on the phone with the bankers

Justin Steinman:

telling them, hey, put this name, put these new product names in the S1.

Justin Steinman:

Much less, we didn't have a couple hours for it to sit, much less the several weeks

Justin Steinman:

that you would need for it to kind of sit.

Justin Steinman:

But without a doubt, the most iconic moment of all was after we rang the

Justin Steinman:

bell, we went out into Times Square and we saw on those massive towers our new

Justin Steinman:

slogan "Discover Opportunity," logo, wordmark, everything in bright colors.

Justin Steinman:

And to think that was on a drawing board, you know, six months ago, I

Justin Steinman:

guess my laptop monitor, six months ago, as we are debating the finer

Justin Steinman:

points of it with our advertising agency and our branding agency.

Justin Steinman:

And so that was a pretty crazy experience.

Justin Steinman:

It was very surreal, if you will.

Erica Seidel:

That sounds awesome.

Erica Seidel:

It's quite a moment.

Erica Seidel:

So, a lot of what you've done at Definitive Healthcare is

Erica Seidel:

a marketing transformation.

Erica Seidel:

And this is kind of your signature sauce because you and I have

Erica Seidel:

known each other for a while.

Erica Seidel:

We've talked through various jobs that you've had.

Erica Seidel:

And you seem really good at getting an organization to appreciate marketing,

Erica Seidel:

both from a budget standpoint and a reputational standpoint internally.

Erica Seidel:

Can you talk about steering that shift and that part of the

Erica Seidel:

transformation and how you unlock and evolve others' view of marketing?

Erica Seidel:

I'm very curious to get very specific here.

Justin Steinman:

Yeah.

Justin Steinman:

So there's a lot to unpack in there.

Justin Steinman:

You know, I'm going to date us both here, Erica, and say that I've known

Justin Steinman:

you probably for a decade at this point, and I will never forget having

Justin Steinman:

lunch with you when you said, "Jus, you need to work on your LinkedIn profile.

Justin Steinman:

And I think you should put that you're a senior executive with a

Justin Steinman:

flair for business transformation."

Justin Steinman:

And I think that flair for business transformation is actually on my

Justin Steinman:

LinkedIn profile still to this day.

Justin Steinman:

So kudos to you for that.

Justin Steinman:

So, I do love a good transformation, if you will.

Justin Steinman:

Looks, it's good to love a good transformation.

Justin Steinman:

And so one of the things that I was brought into Definitive Healthcare to

Justin Steinman:

do was really to up level the marketing.

Justin Steinman:

It was - marketing, historically, had not been an area that

Justin Steinman:

Jason, our CEO had invested in.

Justin Steinman:

He's a very, very great product guy, and we have one hell of a sales engine here.

Justin Steinman:

And Jason really built this company on product and sales.

Justin Steinman:

And having taken private equity from admin back in 2019, and then going through an

Justin Steinman:

IPO, basically the feedback was, what got you to $160 million in revenue,

Justin Steinman:

isn't going to get you to 500 million.

Justin Steinman:

And one of the things that you need to do is really up level marketing.

Justin Steinman:

And so I had met Jason through a serendipitous introduction, actually, my

Justin Steinman:

nextdoor neighbor introduced me to him.

Justin Steinman:

And, you know, things went pretty quickly and I wound up, it's been

Justin Steinman:

a little over a year at this point.

Justin Steinman:

And so when I walked in the door, Jason gave me a lot of rein.

Justin Steinman:

He said, hey, look, we don't really know a lot about marketing here at Definitive.

Justin Steinman:

We've just done a lot of inbound, a lot of website, we've got a hunch that

Justin Steinman:

there's a lot more, but we need you to help us frame that out and teach us.

Justin Steinman:

And the thing that I've always thought about marketing, it's a

Justin Steinman:

really interesting job in any company.

Justin Steinman:

Because every single person is a marketer at some level and thinks

Justin Steinman:

they know about marketing, right?

Justin Steinman:

We all watch TV.

Justin Steinman:

We all see advertisements.

Justin Steinman:

We all surf the web.

Justin Steinman:

How many ads do you see on a given day?

Justin Steinman:

You're being marketed to.

Justin Steinman:

And at the same point in time, marketing represents the ethos

Justin Steinman:

of the company out to the world.

Justin Steinman:

So everybody in the company is emotionally invested in marketing.

Justin Steinman:

And, you know, we really felt this acutely in our brand.

Justin Steinman:

Whether we pick Microsoft, Azure, or the Google Cloud or Amazon Web Services, I'm

Justin Steinman:

not emotionally invested in that, right?

Justin Steinman:

That is a decision that our CTO and his team of engineers make and

Justin Steinman:

whatever they go [with], I go great, you guys are the experts, I trust you.

Justin Steinman:

Conversely, those folks are emotionally invested in what our brand is and

Justin Steinman:

what our tagline is, and what we stand for, and how we look and

Justin Steinman:

present ourselves to the market.

Justin Steinman:

And you know what?

Justin Steinman:

They have every right to be emotionally invested in that.

Justin Steinman:

And they have every right to weigh in on that.

Justin Steinman:

And so, to be a good CMO and get people to appreciate the value, you have to

Justin Steinman:

not only acknowledge that emotional investment, but you have to embrace it.

Justin Steinman:

And you have to bring people on the journey.

Justin Steinman:

And you have to hear people out.

Justin Steinman:

And you have to not let it get personal when you put, you know, the

Justin Steinman:

new brand out there and somebody from sales who's been here maybe two years

Justin Steinman:

says, "I really don't like that.

Justin Steinman:

It's not who I think we are."

Justin Steinman:

Well, you gotta hear that person out.

Justin Steinman:

Now, the trick in all this because if you listen to everybody, you're going

Justin Steinman:

to wind up with a brand of mish-mash and you're not going to stand for anything,

Justin Steinman:

which is the worst thing of all.

Justin Steinman:

Because if you make everybody happy, you're going to make nobody happy.

Justin Steinman:

So the real trick here is to do pattern recognition and to synthesize a bunch of

Justin Steinman:

data points that may at first seem random into a comprehensive view where you can

Justin Steinman:

get a real true brand architecture and message and story to the marketplace.

Justin Steinman:

That's a little bit about how you start to get everybody in, and you've got to

Justin Steinman:

bring people on the journey and never let it get personal for you because

Justin Steinman:

it's personal for everybody else.

Justin Steinman:

And that's really important, I think.

Erica Seidel:

That's so great.

Erica Seidel:

I love this idea of acknowledging and embracing the emotional investment

Erica Seidel:

that the rest of the company has in marketing because I think a

Erica Seidel:

lot of people run away from it.

Erica Seidel:

They're like, oh, everybody's going to have an opinion.

Erica Seidel:

And like I interviewed somebody recently who said, "Other people come to me

Erica Seidel:

and tell me they have a background in marketing, and I tell them, 'Well,

Erica Seidel:

I have a foreground in marketing.'"

Erica Seidel:

And so it's a little bit of this fight back and forth.

Erica Seidel:

But you're, it's like a jujitsu move or, like, going with it as

Erica Seidel:

opposed to, you know, pushing against the opinions of other people.

Justin Steinman:

You really have to embrace it because people care.

Justin Steinman:

And you've got to accept and appreciate that people care.

Justin Steinman:

Honestly, the worst thing in the world that you could do would be to

Justin Steinman:

launch a new brand and have people say, "Eh, I don't really care."

Justin Steinman:

Right?

Justin Steinman:

That's terrible.

Justin Steinman:

I got - not to pat my team on the back here - but I got like love notes from

Justin Steinman:

various people across the organization, saying, you know, Justin, you and

Justin Steinman:

your team have managed to put what I've always felt about this company

Justin Steinman:

into our website and into our story.

Justin Steinman:

One person was like, I honestly got choked up reading the new vision

Justin Steinman:

and mission cause it's really who I think Definitive Healthcare is.

Justin Steinman:

When you get those messages, like I started to get choked up.

Justin Steinman:

I'm like, oh my god, these people care so deeply about this company.

Justin Steinman:

Cause they come in and they put their heart and soul in every day.

Justin Steinman:

If I can pivot a bit, it's not just about brand.

Justin Steinman:

One of the things that I know you and I have always joked about over

Justin Steinman:

the year when I talk about marketing budgets, I never ever, ever use

Justin Steinman:

the phrase "My marketing budget."

Justin Steinman:

Never.

Justin Steinman:

It is our marketing budget.

Justin Steinman:

It's my job as the CMO to be the best spender, best investor, best

Justin Steinman:

utilizer, use that budget in the most efficient way to generate the best

Justin Steinman:

return on investment for the company.

Justin Steinman:

But it is never my money.

Justin Steinman:

It is ours and it's collective.

Justin Steinman:

And I really view myself as the steward for spending that.

Justin Steinman:

And then, in order to generate the trust that you need to spend that money, you

Justin Steinman:

need to have, again, radical transparency.

Justin Steinman:

I publish, for anybody who wants to see it as an Excel file on our

Justin Steinman:

SharePoint that has no permissions on it, our entire marketing funnel.

Justin Steinman:

And you can see by segment, we have six segments we compete in, how many NQLs

Justin Steinman:

we've generated, what their conversion is to a marketing sales qualified

Justin Steinman:

leader, MSQL, to wins, to dollars of pipeline generated, to cost per MQL,

Justin Steinman:

cost per SQL, so that everybody in the organization, if they're curious,

Justin Steinman:

can see how we are performing.

Justin Steinman:

And then once a month, as part of our monthly KPIs, I walk our senior

Justin Steinman:

leadership team through all of our metrics in marketing and say,

Justin Steinman:

hey, we decided we're going to go and double down on a specialized

Justin Steinman:

campaign doing upsell for biopharma.

Justin Steinman:

This is how it worked.

Justin Steinman:

This is what we learned.

Justin Steinman:

We crushed it over here, and over here, that campaign really didn't resonate.

Justin Steinman:

And let me tell you why, and here's what we're going to do differently.

Justin Steinman:

And I don't know, because I don't work in a lot of other companies, how many

Justin Steinman:

CMOs come in and really give that radical transparency so everybody feels like ok,

Justin Steinman:

I know where Justin's spending this money.

Justin Steinman:

Because if you're not in marketing, it feels like a lot of money coming out.

Justin Steinman:

Your CFO's like, oh my god, I'm just giving this check to marketing.

Justin Steinman:

What am I getting again from them?

Justin Steinman:

I don't really know.

Justin Steinman:

You gotta really, we're a very, very data-driven company.

Justin Steinman:

So giving that data and that transparency, I think gets people comfortable with how

Justin Steinman:

they work with marketing and that they are getting a good return on that investment.

Erica Seidel:

You know, you said that Definitive was very focused

Erica Seidel:

on product and sales initially and had grown quite nicely with that.

Erica Seidel:

How do you know, as a CMO, whether a company that has traditionally

Erica Seidel:

not focused on marketing is really ready for that transformation and

Erica Seidel:

is something worthy of your time?

Erica Seidel:

Like good putty in your hands to shape versus, oh god, stay clear

Erica Seidel:

of this because they say they want marketing, but they might not.

Erica Seidel:

What are those signals?

Justin Steinman:

Well, so at the end of the day, it's

Justin Steinman:

people more than anything else.

Justin Steinman:

You could have the most talented marketer in the world, and I am not that person,

Justin Steinman:

you could put the most talented marketer in the world in a company where the CEO

Justin Steinman:

didn't give them room to operate and was micromanaging them and thought that they

Justin Steinman:

knew more than that super-talented CMO.

Justin Steinman:

They wouldn't be successful.

Justin Steinman:

And so, you know, when I was looking at Definitive, it really

Justin Steinman:

came down to conversations.

Justin Steinman:

I spent a ton of time talking with Jason, and I really understood.

Justin Steinman:

I mean, Jason's a founder and CEO who started this company in his spare

Justin Steinman:

bedroom in Holliston a decade ago.

Justin Steinman:

And he's still here and he's that rare CEO who's been able to scale with his company

Justin Steinman:

from $0, literally, all the way up to our standpoint we're 160 million in AAR today.

Justin Steinman:

He's still here and working eighty hours a week.

Justin Steinman:

And so I spent a ton of time with Jason, really understanding why

Justin Steinman:

he was ready to do this, what had changed, what his plans were.

Justin Steinman:

True story, Jason told me that we were planning to go, he was

Justin Steinman:

planning, if everything went well, to go public in the fall of 2023.

Justin Steinman:

And I said, Jason, you know, based on my understanding of your market, you need

Justin Steinman:

to build a demand generation engine, you need to fix your brand, we need to

Justin Steinman:

- he had one product marketing manager.

Justin Steinman:

We gotta build up product marketing.

Justin Steinman:

And Jason's like, Justin, dude, you're going to have two years to come and

Justin Steinman:

build this thing, plenty of time.

Justin Steinman:

I trust you.

Justin Steinman:

Go and do it.

Justin Steinman:

And, you know, I've been here for forty days and the board calls us up and our

Justin Steinman:

first, literally, my first board meeting, and they're like, all right, so we're

Justin Steinman:

going to target going public next summer.

Justin Steinman:

And I'm like, huh, what do you mean?

Justin Steinman:

And Jason was like, hey, we'll figure it out, man.

Justin Steinman:

So we figured it out.

Justin Steinman:

But I spent a ton of time with Jason.

Justin Steinman:

I spent a ton of time with Joe, our head of sales, really understanding

Justin Steinman:

if Joe's team had the appetite to work with marketing and what they needed,

Justin Steinman:

and if they were ready for that.

Justin Steinman:

They wanted next generation marketing tools if they were going to be good

Justin Steinman:

partners and, you know, tell us what marketing collateral they needed if we

Justin Steinman:

were going to generate leads with it, were they prepared to follow up, and did

Justin Steinman:

they have a nice ISR motion to catch them?

Justin Steinman:

The answer to all of that was, obviously, yes.

Justin Steinman:

And we have a tremendously tight partnership.

Justin Steinman:

I talk to Joe, like, five times a day.

Justin Steinman:

I talked to him three times today and it's only 1:30 or 2:00 here.

Justin Steinman:

And I talked to Kate, our head of product, quite extensively to

Justin Steinman:

understand her attitude and her desire to work with product marketing.

Justin Steinman:

And she listed a whole bunch of things that she needed from marketing,

Justin Steinman:

couldn't wait for us to get in the door here, like MRDs, market sizing,

Justin Steinman:

competitive intelligence, strong product marketing collateral, and

Justin Steinman:

all the good stuff that you would want your head of product to say.

Justin Steinman:

And then I spent some time with the board.

Justin Steinman:

I think I met with four board members one-on-one each for an hour plus,

Justin Steinman:

really to understand if they were ready to invest in marketing and grow.

Justin Steinman:

And to a person they all were like, yes, and here's where we see the opportunities.

Justin Steinman:

These were all people from, you know, Spectrum Equity, 22C, and Advent who'd

Justin Steinman:

invested in the company, and so they put their money where their proverbial

Justin Steinman:

mouth is to invest in the company.

Justin Steinman:

So if I didn't have that level of board support, I wouldn't have been able to come

Justin Steinman:

in here and do what we needed to get done.

Justin Steinman:

So it really comes down to making sure that your CEO, your board,

Justin Steinman:

your head of sales, and your head of product are all aligned and

Justin Steinman:

ready to make that transformation.

Erica Seidel:

I like how you were asking particular questions and getting

Erica Seidel:

a sense of, you know, is what they want meaty or does it need a shift?

Erica Seidel:

And sometimes the CMO has to kind of educate on what they can bring to an

Erica Seidel:

organization, and I guess it's like some roles have more education than others.

Justin Steinman:

One of the big changes that we've made here

Justin Steinman:

was this was a company that was built on the back of free trials.

Justin Steinman:

And it was basically organic search results driving people to our

Justin Steinman:

website, where you'd give us your contact information, and then we'd

Justin Steinman:

get you on the phone for a free trial and/or a Zoom call or anything.

Justin Steinman:

And because the product is so freaking compelling, the number of people who

Justin Steinman:

closed deals, it was ridiculously high.

Justin Steinman:

But at some point you peter out in terms of where you top off in terms of

Justin Steinman:

where it gets hits from organic search.

Justin Steinman:

We had never done an outbound marketing campaign.

Justin Steinman:

The company had an occasional webinar here and they'd had a ton of people show up

Justin Steinman:

and none of them had ever been qualified.

Justin Steinman:

Well, you know, every marketer listening to this podcast knows, tell me how

Justin Steinman:

many people you want on the webinar and if you don't care if they're

Justin Steinman:

qualified or not, I can get them.

Justin Steinman:

It's getting the qualified people on the webinar and we didn't

Justin Steinman:

have any lead nurtured, right?

Justin Steinman:

So we were basically, historically, before I got here, only capturing

Justin Steinman:

people who were in the buying cycle and we were converting them.

Justin Steinman:

The trick in marketing, particularly as we wanted to increase our average deal size

Justin Steinman:

and go after more enterprise accounts, was we wanted to get people who were

Justin Steinman:

not in the buying cycle into the buying cycle and then nurturing them throughout.

Justin Steinman:

Frankly, that's more expensive than just doing organic search and

Justin Steinman:

having free trials come in, right?

Justin Steinman:

And so there was a lot of, yeah, we know we need to do this, but we're

Justin Steinman:

not really sure it's going to work because this is where we got it.

Justin Steinman:

Justin, we're gonna hold our breath and jump off the cliff with you here,

Justin Steinman:

but I'm going to bring a parachute cause I'm really not sure that I

Justin Steinman:

trust this is actually going to work, but can you please prove it to me?

Justin Steinman:

And so we jumped off the cliff together this year with that, and I put together

Justin Steinman:

our first real outbound campaigns and they've delivered tremendous results.

Justin Steinman:

But there was a lot of healthy skepticism because we'd never done that here before.

Erica Seidel:

Let's talk about the team that's behind you.

Erica Seidel:

Can you talk about - well, first, is leading a marketing team for a

Erica Seidel:

newly public company significantly different than for a private company?

Erica Seidel:

Like, how you switched the organization post IPO?

Justin Steinman:

I'm happy to say that there's been absolutely no change

Justin Steinman:

to the marketing team after the IPO.

Justin Steinman:

If anything, it's refreshing.

Justin Steinman:

So I've got a tremendous team that works with me, just tremendous.

Justin Steinman:

And I really had to disappear for large chunks of last year, working with our

Justin Steinman:

CFO or general counsel, the bankers, to get all of the stuff ready for the IPO.

Justin Steinman:

And so my leadership team really ran marketing day-to-day, kept the business,

Justin Steinman:

not only running, but frankly, growing, even knowing that I was gone for days

Justin Steinman:

or not as engaged as I would like to be.

Justin Steinman:

The best part about being done with the IPO is I'm back in my job and

Justin Steinman:

I love my job and I put my hard hat on and you know, it's all right.

Justin Steinman:

We're back to building our next generation of demand generation campaigns.

Justin Steinman:

We're updating our messaging.

Justin Steinman:

We're going deeper down in.

Justin Steinman:

We're putting in new ROI calculators.

Justin Steinman:

I've got a list of improvements a mile long we want to do on our website.

Justin Steinman:

We're launching our own podcast called Definitively Speaking.

Justin Steinman:

We're doing all sorts of stuff.

Justin Steinman:

Really just kind of good old marketing.

Justin Steinman:

And it's fun to go back and do that.

Justin Steinman:

About the only change that's really impacted me, and it hasn't

Justin Steinman:

impacted really the rest of my team, is I share responsibility for

Justin Steinman:

investor relations with our CFO.

Justin Steinman:

We outsource investor relations to a third party, and I handle the

Justin Steinman:

marketing part of investor relations.

Justin Steinman:

Our CFO, obviously, handles all the financial part of it.

Justin Steinman:

And so I've had to take on that additional responsibility.

Justin Steinman:

And, you know, that's like working on earnings call scripts,

Justin Steinman:

keeping the IR website up to date.

Justin Steinman:

All of that type of stuff has been added to my plate, but that's been a great

Justin Steinman:

learning experience and a lot of fun.

Justin Steinman:

But the rest of us just kind of going off and, doing good marketing

Justin Steinman:

and helping the company grow.

Erica Seidel:

That's great.

Erica Seidel:

Good old marketing.

Erica Seidel:

I like it.

Erica Seidel:

And you made, as you were saying, like a transformation of marketing

Erica Seidel:

and the view of marketing within the organization, was there any particular

Erica Seidel:

organizational decision that you made that turned out well, or not well,

Erica Seidel:

to support the business for scale?

Justin Steinman:

You know, it's funny, I like to joke that everything I learned

Justin Steinman:

about marketing, I learned from John Dragoon ten years ago when I was working

Justin Steinman:

at Novell, or even longer than that, god.

Justin Steinman:

John Dragoon was the chief marketing officer at Novell when I worked there.

Justin Steinman:

If John were to walk in the door this afternoon and ask me for an org chart

Justin Steinman:

of what Definitive Healthcare marketing looks like, it would look exactly

Justin Steinman:

like what he was running a decade ago.

Justin Steinman:

All right.

Justin Steinman:

I got three teams.

Justin Steinman:

I've got a product marketing team, a demand gen and marketing ops team,

Justin Steinman:

and a corporate marketing team.

Justin Steinman:

It ain't innovative.

Justin Steinman:

It doesn't need to be innovative.

Justin Steinman:

The structure works.

Justin Steinman:

It's all about getting the right people in the structure.

Justin Steinman:

And so none of this existed when I got here.

Justin Steinman:

When I joined Definitive, there was like a digital team and then

Justin Steinman:

there was like a content team.

Justin Steinman:

And the people on the digital team were doing content and some of the

Justin Steinman:

content team were doing digital.

Justin Steinman:

And no one was really thinking about like demand gen cause

Justin Steinman:

everybody and nobody owned it.

Justin Steinman:

There was one person here doing product marketing.

Justin Steinman:

There was someone, a former consultant, who was sort of, kind of doing

Justin Steinman:

competitive intelligence, but not really.

Justin Steinman:

And so what we did was we put that, almost immediately, put that structure in place.

Justin Steinman:

And I brought in three VPs to run that each, one of those, and then

Justin Steinman:

built out the teams underneath them.

Justin Steinman:

Of the roughly twenty-five people that we have in marketing here, twenty

Justin Steinman:

have been hired in the past year.

Erica Seidel:

So, one thing that sometimes makes search hard for me, as

Erica Seidel:

you know, a client is saying like, okay, we're at, whatever, a hundred million

Erica Seidel:

and we want to get to 200 million, bring us people who have done that

Erica Seidel:

arc before, who have done that climb, and people who want to do it again.

Erica Seidel:

And that can be challenging.

Erica Seidel:

And then you find yourself in these inane conversations, not inane, but you know,

Erica Seidel:

these like, oh, how far have you scaled?

Erica Seidel:

Oh, why wasn't it higher?

Erica Seidel:

Well, oh, okay.

Erica Seidel:

The company got bought on the way up.

Erica Seidel:

Or, oh, okay, that's impressive.

Erica Seidel:

Or, you know, oh, the company grew through acquisition.

Erica Seidel:

Is that better than organically?

Erica Seidel:

And so I've been thinking a lot lately about the difference between hiring

Erica Seidel:

somebody who has scaled versus hiring somebody who has worked at scale.

Erica Seidel:

And I think of you as somebody, from your previous experiences,

Erica Seidel:

you've worked at scale, but you haven't done this exact climb that

Erica Seidel:

you've done a Definitive Healthcare.

Erica Seidel:

You haven't done that before.

Erica Seidel:

So how do you think about that?

Erica Seidel:

That scaling versus working at scale and how does it come across in the blend

Erica Seidel:

of people that you hire on your team?

Justin Steinman:

You're right, I'd never done the scale journey.

Justin Steinman:

I've operated at scale.

Justin Steinman:

I mean, Novell was this, before coming to Definitive Healthcare, Novell was

Justin Steinman:

the smallest company I'd worked at.

Justin Steinman:

You know, we were about $850 million in revenue.

Justin Steinman:

Then I was at GE then Aetna, and then Aetna got bought by CVS.

Justin Steinman:

I've lived at scale, some of the largest, most successful companies

Justin Steinman:

in the world where I've just been a tiny cog in those organizations.

Justin Steinman:

So I've seen what good looks like.

Justin Steinman:

I've also, because of those organizations, seen what bad looks like, right?

Justin Steinman:

Those, I wouldn't say those organizations are perfect, no organization is.

Justin Steinman:

And so what you've got to find is you've got to find the people who

Justin Steinman:

know what scaling looks like, but want to go on the journey to get there.

Justin Steinman:

And the biggest trick in all of that is knowing what to let slide.

Justin Steinman:

I could come in here on day one and, let's be honest, GE had some

Justin Steinman:

of the best marketing operations reporting I've ever seen in the world.

Justin Steinman:

It was marketing reporting like you wouldn't believe.

Justin Steinman:

Amazing doesn't begin to cover it, okay?

Justin Steinman:

I could come in here and say, I want marketing reporting at

Justin Steinman:

Definitive Healthcare just like GE cause that's best in class.

Justin Steinman:

And I could need, I'd need twenty people just to do that.

Justin Steinman:

That doesn't make a lot of sense.

Justin Steinman:

So what did I do instead?

Justin Steinman:

I literally built out an Excel spreadsheet that dealt a demand generation funnel,

Justin Steinman:

taking kind of what I saw, the best of what I saw at GE, and scaled it down, if

Justin Steinman:

you will, to work at a company of the size of Definitive and said, all right, here's

Justin Steinman:

what I want our funnel to look like.

Justin Steinman:

Here's how we're going to calculate it.

Justin Steinman:

And we're going to report on it weekly, and we're going to roll in, we're moving

Justin Steinman:

off of HubSpot and onto Marketo, and we just moved on to Acquia for our

Justin Steinman:

website, and we're using Salesforce.

Justin Steinman:

And so we're putting the systems in place to start that reporting.

Justin Steinman:

I know what a scaled product marketing organization looks like.

Justin Steinman:

You should have MRDs, competitive battle cards, market sizing,

Justin Steinman:

positioning documents, decks for every single segment, customer facing

Justin Steinman:

decks for every single segment.

Justin Steinman:

You know what?

Justin Steinman:

When I got here, we didn't have a single positioning document.

Justin Steinman:

We didn't have a single MRD.

Justin Steinman:

We had no competitive intelligence.

Justin Steinman:

We couldn't do all of that.

Justin Steinman:

We didn't have a team.

Justin Steinman:

We had one person.

Justin Steinman:

So we built out a team and then we said, okay, what's the most important thing?

Justin Steinman:

We need positioning documents.

Justin Steinman:

That's the most fundamental, that's customer facing.

Justin Steinman:

Everybody will get that.

Justin Steinman:

You get your biggest bang for your buck.

Justin Steinman:

So we did a round of positioning documents for all of our products and our solutions.

Justin Steinman:

We haven't even touched MRDs yet.

Justin Steinman:

I've been here a year.

Justin Steinman:

This is the first time in my entire career I haven't had MRDs.

Justin Steinman:

You know what?

Justin Steinman:

I don't have the capacity or the people to write them right now.

Justin Steinman:

I know we need them.

Justin Steinman:

Maybe we'll get to them middle of next year, praying that we can.

Justin Steinman:

But I don't want to kill the organization, have people writing MRDs on Saturdays

Justin Steinman:

and Sundays, like that's just miserable.

Justin Steinman:

And so the trick, as I said, is to figure out when you've seen these best in

Justin Steinman:

class marketing organizations operate at scale, how do you pick the most impactful

Justin Steinman:

things based on where you are in your company's journey and you get them?

Justin Steinman:

If you want to shift to talk a little bit about people, which I know is a

Justin Steinman:

pretty big passion of yours, Erica.

Justin Steinman:

I always talk about putting people together as a puzzle.

Justin Steinman:

I wanted some people who have worked at scale, right?

Justin Steinman:

So, you know, our head of product marketing came from Wolters

Justin Steinman:

Kluwer, our head of demand generation came from PTC, but she

Justin Steinman:

previously had worked at Imprivata.

Justin Steinman:

Those are all large companies.

Justin Steinman:

Our head of corporate marketing came from an ad agency in Cambridge,

Justin Steinman:

where there was eighty people.

Justin Steinman:

We have hired product marketing people from Cardinal Health, all

Justin Steinman:

the way down to a small, hundred person medical device startup.

Justin Steinman:

If you look at our demand gen team, we've hired folks out of Athena Health,

Justin Steinman:

again, who have worked at scale.

Justin Steinman:

But our head of marketing operations is someone who's on their first

Justin Steinman:

job still working at Definitive, who grew up with the company.

Justin Steinman:

He's an immensely talented guy.

Justin Steinman:

And so it's really that combination of blending the right skills,

Justin Steinman:

attitudes, big and small, to go on that scaling journey together.

Erica Seidel:

I love that.

Erica Seidel:

I like the analogy of a puzzle.

Erica Seidel:

I think of it that way too.

Erica Seidel:

Because sometimes when I do a search, it's like, oh, we need a CMO and then

Erica Seidel:

we need, you know, three people under them and should we have the CMO that

Erica Seidel:

focuses on brand or on performance?

Erica Seidel:

And whatever it is, they're going to have to hire somebody around them.

Erica Seidel:

And I always tell people, it's like a puzzle, you know, you put in one

Erica Seidel:

piece first, maybe it's the more junior person, maybe it's more senior

Erica Seidel:

person, and then the rest becomes a little more clear over time.

Erica Seidel:

You can't Einstein it too much.

Erica Seidel:

Let me ask you a topic that you and I have discussed before, but I just, I love this.

Erica Seidel:

Can you talk about your favorite interview question that you

Erica Seidel:

ask when you hire somebody?

Justin Steinman:

Yeah.

Justin Steinman:

And so now we'll see who listens to your podcast when they prep for an

Justin Steinman:

interview at Definitive Healthcare.

Justin Steinman:

Because the wily listener out there will say, all right, I heard this and I know

Justin Steinman:

if I'm going to get in front of Justin, I'll have my answer prepped and ready.

Justin Steinman:

I've asked the same question for a decade now.

Justin Steinman:

And I've asked it, I kid you not, in every single job interview I've done.

Justin Steinman:

And I've interviewed two, three hundred candidates over the past decade.

Justin Steinman:

And I love it.

Justin Steinman:

And the question is simply, "Pick a product you think is

Justin Steinman:

marketed well, and tell me why."

Justin Steinman:

About two years in I put a limit on it.

Justin Steinman:

I said it can't be an Apple product because they were starting to answer

Justin Steinman:

Apple and I got really tired of it.

Justin Steinman:

So I've added the don't make it an Apple product.

Justin Steinman:

I have had people answer this question about John Deere tractors,

Justin Steinman:

Porsche, Tesla, Gillette shavers.

Justin Steinman:

Somebody answered it recently about Johnny Walker.

Justin Steinman:

You get all over the place.

Justin Steinman:

Someone answered it about their Sony television one time.

Justin Steinman:

And I love it.

Justin Steinman:

The reason why I love this question is because it enables me to think about

Justin Steinman:

the value of your marketing skills, but you set the ground rules, right?

Justin Steinman:

So first off, it's a surprisingly abstract question.

Justin Steinman:

But you have to immediately create a structure.

Justin Steinman:

So, can you walk me through the categories of marketing?

Justin Steinman:

Do you know who your end buyer is?

Justin Steinman:

What's the awareness strategy, demand generation strategy, channel strategy,

Justin Steinman:

positioning, pricing, packaging, all those kind of key factors of marketing.

Justin Steinman:

You can come up with your own framework.

Justin Steinman:

Then you've picked the rules and I'll talk to you about whatever product you want.

Justin Steinman:

And then you have to say, okay, well they understand their buyer,

Justin Steinman:

their buyer's needs are this.

Justin Steinman:

They positioned it this way.

Justin Steinman:

They price it to go after that way.

Justin Steinman:

Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom.

Justin Steinman:

And so can you evaluate and explain to me why that product is marketing well?

Justin Steinman:

I've seen people go up in flames.

Justin Steinman:

They thought it was fantastic interview up to the point, and then they can't answer

Justin Steinman:

that question and they don't get the job.

Justin Steinman:

And I've seen people in an interview where I thought there's no way in the world I'm

Justin Steinman:

going to hire this person, and then she comes in and just blows me away with an

Justin Steinman:

answer to the last question, and I'm like, wow, I must've missed something here.

Justin Steinman:

So it works really well.

Erica Seidel:

And do you guide them as they go along and say like if somebody

Erica Seidel:

takes a sentence rather than, a paragraph or two or three, do you say look, I'm

Erica Seidel:

looking for you to structure it and, take some time to take a beat if you need it?

Justin Steinman:

Yeah, of course.

Justin Steinman:

I also engage with them.

Justin Steinman:

Look, I'm a marketing nerd.

Justin Steinman:

So if you want to talk about Coke and why Coke is marketed well, I'll geek

Justin Steinman:

out with you and we'll talk about that and talk about Coke channel strategy.

Justin Steinman:

And, you know, I'll dive down into it.

Justin Steinman:

It's actually more fun when people pick consumer products cause everybody

Justin Steinman:

has an opinion on a consumer product.

Justin Steinman:

But I've had people talk about Salesforce.com, which I think is a

Justin Steinman:

very well-marketed product or service, and all different types of stuff.

Justin Steinman:

So yeah, I will dive down and nerd out with you on marketing.

Justin Steinman:

And if you can nerd out with me on marketing, you're

Justin Steinman:

probably going to get the job.

Erica Seidel:

That's awesome.

Erica Seidel:

And do you do that at the beginning of the session or well at the end?

Justin Steinman:

Always the last question.

Erica Seidel:

Oh, why?

Justin Steinman:

If I asked you that question at the beginning,

Justin Steinman:

I'm going to throw you off.

Justin Steinman:

And if I throw you off, you're never going to have a chance to get an impression.

Justin Steinman:

Look, interviewing is like dating, right?

Justin Steinman:

So I want to get to know you.

Justin Steinman:

If I hit you with that question beginning of an interview, it's going

Justin Steinman:

to rattle most people cause it's not at all what you're expecting.

Justin Steinman:

And look, the majority of people interviewing for us probably

Justin Steinman:

will not listen to this podcast.

Justin Steinman:

So they won't be expecting that question.

Justin Steinman:

If I knock you off at the beginning, I'll never have a chance to get to know you.

Justin Steinman:

Hopefully by the end, when you've established rapport over twenty minutes

Justin Steinman:

or so when it hits you with this, you go, okay, I can roll with it.

Justin Steinman:

The smart candidates always say, "Hmm, give me a minute to pick a product."

Justin Steinman:

That is always the best thing to do.

Justin Steinman:

Because otherwise, you just jump in and you answer it you're going

Justin Steinman:

to get in all sorts of trouble.

Justin Steinman:

And ultimately, and this is really important, I'm not

Justin Steinman:

the hiring manager, right?

Justin Steinman:

My team's the hiring manager.

Justin Steinman:

So, there are very few candidates by the time they get to me

Justin Steinman:

that I put the kibosh on.

Justin Steinman:

I do put the kibosh on some, but if you're gonna work in my organization,

Justin Steinman:

I interview a hundred percent of the people who are going to work

Justin Steinman:

in Definitive Healthcare marketing.

Justin Steinman:

In fact, I'm usually involved, no matter what organization I'm in,

Justin Steinman:

even if you're just thirty minutes.

Justin Steinman:

Cause there's nothing more important than getting the right people.

Justin Steinman:

But I'm going to give my feedback back to the hiring manager and be

Justin Steinman:

like, hey, look, I wouldn't hire Joe over here, but it's your call.

Justin Steinman:

And you know, at the end of the day, I'm going to hold you accountable, Mr./ Ms.

Justin Steinman:

Hiring Manager, for the results and your team.

Justin Steinman:

And if you think I'm wrong and you want to hire Joe over here, go for it.

Justin Steinman:

And if Joe delivers results, I'm more than happy to be wrong.

Justin Steinman:

True story, there is someone in my marketing organization today, I'm

Justin Steinman:

not going to give you the name, but this person bombed this question.

Justin Steinman:

And I didn't want to hire this person.

Justin Steinman:

And I told Randy, the hiring manager, I said, don't hire this person.

Justin Steinman:

And he said, I'm going to disagree with you.

Justin Steinman:

I'm going to hire this person.

Justin Steinman:

And this person's going to prove you wrong.

Justin Steinman:

And I'm happy to report that actually told Randy the other day, "I was wrong.

Justin Steinman:

This person did bomb the question, but it's turned out to be a fantastic hire."

Justin Steinman:

Let's pivot a little bit since we are running out of time.

Justin Steinman:

I would love to hear you, looking ahead to 2022, are there any trends

Justin Steinman:

that you foresee for B2B SaaS marketers that are in scale-up mode?

Justin Steinman:

The biggest trend that I see right now is it is wicked difficult to hire.

Justin Steinman:

That's the Massachusetts guy in me coming through.

Justin Steinman:

I wish the hiring market had been like this fifteen years ago

Justin Steinman:

when I was a product marketing manager coming out of B school.

Justin Steinman:

My god, I could have written my ticket instead of, you know,

Justin Steinman:

praying for getting a job and doing tons and tons of interviewing.

Justin Steinman:

Many more doors slammed in my face than offers that I got.

Justin Steinman:

I think the war for talent next year is going to be every bit, if not more,

Justin Steinman:

brutal than it has been this year.

Justin Steinman:

And so when you've got a winning person on your team, you got to

Justin Steinman:

keep that person on your team.

Justin Steinman:

I think that's the big one.

Justin Steinman:

Second trend I see, and this is, again, kind of in the "no kidding"

Justin Steinman:

or, "thanks, genius" category, you got to continue to be able to measure.

Justin Steinman:

And I think a measurement is going to be really tricky because of

Justin Steinman:

all the changes that are going on with, you know, the mobile devices

Justin Steinman:

and the tracking and Apple's new privacy policies that are going on.

Justin Steinman:

I think most people know this by now, but Google has actually shifted

Justin Steinman:

its rankings to be mobile first now.

Justin Steinman:

So if we are in a world where we're all trying to market to people on their

Justin Steinman:

mobile devices, and then we've got the conflicting challenge of Apple and more

Justin Steinman:

and more privacy regulations going on, how do we get the right metrics and insight in

Justin Steinman:

a world where we can make good decisions?

Justin Steinman:

Marketing over the past ten years has been way more data-driven.

Justin Steinman:

And so, as a result of being digital, we're all used to

Justin Steinman:

having all this good data.

Justin Steinman:

I don't know what kind of data we're gonna be able to get next year.

Justin Steinman:

I mean, I'm sure we're gonna figure it out, but that trend

Justin Steinman:

worries me a little bit.

Justin Steinman:

I think those are probably the two big things that are on my mind right now, are

Justin Steinman:

kind of top of mind or I'm thinking about.

Erica Seidel:

That's great.

Erica Seidel:

It's interesting the first one about hiring.

Erica Seidel:

You're making a joke about coming out of B school and, like, being

Erica Seidel:

happy to get whatever job you got.

Erica Seidel:

It's making me think about the abundancy mindset versus the scarcity mindset

Erica Seidel:

and somebody coming up in their career now, they're likely going to have more

Erica Seidel:

of an abundance mindset and that might stick with them over the course of

Erica Seidel:

their career versus people who came out, you know, during more of a recession

Erica Seidel:

and were building their careers then.

Erica Seidel:

So that's, I think that's a really interesting extension.

Justin Steinman:

It really is.

Justin Steinman:

And you know, the other question is the grass might not always be greener, right?

Justin Steinman:

People are saying, oh, I'm going to leave a job.

Justin Steinman:

And I'm going to make $10,000 more.

Justin Steinman:

And yeah, $10,000 is a chunk of change.

Justin Steinman:

Don't get me wrong.

Justin Steinman:

But if you're going from a place where you have a tremendous work-life

Justin Steinman:

balance, you really like the people that you're working here, and so suddenly

Justin Steinman:

you're making $10,000 more, but you're working every Sunday, is it worth it?

Justin Steinman:

And I think people right now are chasing a little bit of the money because the market

Justin Steinman:

is so frothy without thinking about the other components that go into the job.

Erica Seidel:

Yeah, it's gonna be interesting to see just

Erica Seidel:

the effect of this over time.

Erica Seidel:

This is awesome.

Erica Seidel:

Thank you so much for joining me.

Erica Seidel:

It's so great to talk with you about scale and scaling and having

Erica Seidel:

scaled and your hiring and your organizational kind of decisions.

Erica Seidel:

It's great to get a lens into the world of Justin Steinman.

Erica Seidel:

So thank you so much for joining the show.

Justin Steinman:

Thanks for having me.

Justin Steinman:

This was a lot of fun.

Erica Seidel:

That was Justin Steinman, the Chief Marketing

Erica Seidel:

Officer from Definitive Healthcare.

Erica Seidel:

Justin had great tips on boosting marketing's contribution and

Erica Seidel:

reputation and transparency.

Erica Seidel:

Next time on The Get, you'll hear from Cynthia Gumbert, CMO of SmartBear,

Erica Seidel:

about scaling a SaaS business in the product-led-growth era and how to

Erica Seidel:

build a business first, marketing second mindset on the marketing team.

Erica Seidel:

Don't miss it.

Erica Seidel:

Thanks for listening to The Get.

Erica Seidel:

I'm your host, Erica Seidel.

Erica Seidel:

Hiring great marketing leaders is not easy.

Erica Seidel:

The Get is designed to inspire smart decisions about recruiting and

Erica Seidel:

leadership in B2B SaaS marketing.

Erica Seidel:

We explore the trends, tribulations, and triumphs of today's top

Erica Seidel:

marketing leaders in B2B SaaS.

Erica Seidel:

This season's theme is Solving for the Scale Journey.

Erica Seidel:

If you liked this episode, please share it.

Erica Seidel:

For other insights on recruiting great marketing leaders, what I

Erica Seidel:

call the 'make money' marketing leaders rather than the 'make it

Erica Seidel:

pretty' ones, follow me on LinkedIn.

Erica Seidel:

You can also sign up for my newsletter at TheConnectiveGood.com.

Erica Seidel:

The Get is produced by Evo Terra and Simpler Media Productions.

About the Podcast

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The Get: Finding And Keeping The Best Marketing Leaders in B2B SaaS
Your inspiration from the best marketing leaders in B2B SaaS today... from hiring, getting hired, leading, organizing, and more!

About your host

Profile picture for Erica Seidel

Erica Seidel

Erica Seidel recruits the marketing leaders of the 'make money' variety – not the 'make it pretty' variety. As the Founder of The Connective Good, a boutique executive search firm, she is retained to recruit CMOs and VPs in marketing, digital strategy, marketing analytics, and marketing technology. She also hosts The Get podcast. Previously, she led Forrester Research's global peer-to-peer executive education businesses for CMOs and digital marketing executives of Fortune 500 companies. Erica has an MBA in Marketing from Wharton, and a BA in International Relations from Brown. One of her favorite jobs ever was serving as the Brown Bear mascot.

You can find her on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/ericaseidel/, or on her website/blog at www.theconnectivegood.com, or on Twitter at @erica_seidel.