The Marketing Transition of the Century ( Jonathan Martin, CMO of Pure Storage): Interview with Jonathan Martin

Glenn: Hi, everyone. I’m Glenn Gow, Founder & Advisor of Crimson Marketing. Welcome to Moneyball for Marketing where we talk about the incredible changes happening in marketing organizations around big data and marketing technology. We feature marketing technology insights from the top marketers in the world. The reference to Moneyball is from the story of how the Oakland A’s baseball team were able to win and win and win because they figured out how to use data and technology to their advantage. If you’d like to learn about how to use big data and marketing technology and marketing to help you win visit us at or email us at And now on to our podcast.
Today I am very pleased to welcome Jonathan Martin, the CMO of Pure Storage. Jonathan is responsible for all global marketing and brand. Overseeing all of marketing communications, events, demand gen, and field and channel marketing. So how does pure storage describe themselves. Pure storage is disruptive software driven all flash storage technology combined with a customer friendly business model, drives business and IT transformation for customers through dramatic increases in performance and efficiency at lower costs. So Jonathan it’s great to have you here.

Jonathan: Thank you Glenn it’s great to be here too.

Glenn: You and I were talking about how people are being overwhelmed with information and how there’s a real challenge for marketers because no one is listening anymore. Tell us your perspective on that and what we should be doing about that as marketers.

Jonathan: Totally. I think that obviously we’re a technology and b2b company. And we talk a lot in Silicon Valley about how we’re one of the biggest transitions as technologies people move off traditional client serve environments into a world that is consumed by social mobile and big data. Very obviously an exciting transition. But I think if you’re marketing we’re probably in the middle of an event bigger transition. I don’t need conjecture to say we’re probably in one of the biggest transitions in the last century.

Glenn: That’s a big statement.

Jonathan:It is a big statement, and a huge change for us. And to me that change is really in the way that the organization are doing marketing. I think in the last century or so everyone has really been doing something based around a single concept, and I’d call that the single concept interrupt. Which means I’m going to find a way whatever it may be for a moment in time to get you to pay attention to me. And in that moment I’m going to tell you something. And if I can tell you something, if I can get your attention for enough times during the day, if I can get enough frequency, and if I can interrupt enough people during the day, so if I can get enough reach, then slowly over a period of time my ideas end up becoming your ideas. So really everything that we’ve done for a very long time, decades is really just finding new ways to interrupt people whether that be in the email blast, whether that be telemarketing, whether that be trying to engage you at an event.

Glenn: So what’s the new paradigm?

Jonathan:The interesting kind of thing with that is that if you look at a lot of the newer marketing research around what’s going on here. People are beginning to see a chemical change in the brain. All this interrupters casing the fight or flight mechanism for the neuron scientists that are listening to the cognitive cycles, that fight or flight mechanism is being triggered continually. So what you’re finding is that because of that all of your marketing interrupters being screened out by the limbic brain and being stopped getting up to the neo cortex for further processing. At a presentation or at a conference I ask everyone in the room who watched television last night. And about half the audience will own up and put their hands up. And then I’ll say keep your hand up if you can remember the commercials. And everyone always apart form that one person who remembers the gecko puts their hand down. And that’s either because they’re screening through the commercials or the brain is actively screening them out. If you’re a marketing person that’s a pretty scary concept that a lot of the ways that we’ve done marketing haven’t been based on this interrupt are going to become less effective because the brain is screening things out.

Glenn: Right because we have too much coming in, and the brain can only process so much.

Jonathan: Yeah absolutely spot on.

Glenn: So tell us then, if interrupt marketing isn’t going to work what will work?

Jonathan: I think there’s a couple of things that begin to spin up, and a couple of other pieces almost to the story. So the next kind of piece of the story in terms of the challenges that face us is around things like the buyer’s journey. Again traditionally anybody that’s been to business school, anyone that’s study marketing, anyone that’s done sales would have earned about the sales and marketing funnel. This beautiful linear journey that buyers go on. And I’d probably suggest as most people do that maybe the journey has never really been as linear as we’d expect. But today I think whether you’re buying a consumer product or whether you’re buying a b2b product like one of the ones from Pure Storage, the way that you buy is changing quite significantly. There was a great survey this time last year from Google shopping who did some research on 3000 people buying an individual product, and they found those 3000 people finding 3000 different ways of purchasing that product. They’re going through the same kind of hubs; they’re reading the same product reviews. They’re checking out the same websites, they’re reading the same reports, but they’re stringing them together in a completely unique way. So the buyer’s journey is really becoming so complex that it’s becoming too complex for human brains to be able to model anymore. This is why you’ve seen the explosion in big data, this is why you’ve seen the explosion in analytics and predictive analytics to allow machines to help with learning and exploring that journey.

Glenn: Right because there’s so many different data points that happen in the buyer’s journey, and there’s so many different pathways as you’ve said. That’s pretty amazing that there would be 3000 different pathways for 3000 different people. So the numbers become to big now for a human.

Jonathan: Yes, for a human to model. And I think people are looking to machines and in particular to machine learning to help with modeling. So those are two of the big challenges. Probably which is number one, the traditional interrupt base methods are working less and less effectively. The second one is the buyer’s journey is becoming so complex. I think that the third challenge that we face today is really around our ability to control our message going into the market. So certainly for me the last 15 years of my career was relatively straightforward, or there was a well trodden path for how do you control your message going into the market. And that was really if you could control your message going to the media, if you could control your message going to the industry analysts, if you could control your message going to the investment community then effectively you were able to control your message going into the market. And then unfortunately this dumb thing called social media came along and blew the doors off of that. So today when you define these people turning up with huge followings with thousands of people who had very vocal opinions for both good and not so good if you remember on your products, your services, how you engage with the customers etc. So increasingly I think that the third challenge is for marketing organizations to reconfigure the way that they think about how they co-create a message with their audience and so that to find new ways to go and engage them. So those are I think probably the 3 challenges.

Glenn: I like that phrase co-create. I was thinking influence. But I like co-create better because there is influence, but ultimately whoever receives that influence communication from you has to absorb it and use it in their own way for it to really be effective.

Jonathan: Absolutely. And I think if you take it down to yourself, the individual, I’m a huge motorcycle guy and I’m very passionate about a couple brands of motorcycles. I love BMW motorcycles, and if they told me that if they email me, if they send me something on Facebook, if they Tweet me, I a going to read religiously every single one of those things. Despite the fact that I’m a motorbike guy, if Harley Davidson does that, then I’m probably not interested because it’s not my kind of motorcycle and it’s a different kind of demographic and a different kind of ride. And then I will take all of that information that I get from BMW and then I fuse it with my point of view and my perspective and my data points. And I then bring that into my conversation, so I then tweet about my thoughts, my feelings, my loves, hates, desires, and wants around those kind of brands of motorcycles. So I think the ability to influence the conversation, to engage, to give people data points, and interesting things, and then allow them to infuse them with their points of view, their thoughts, their ideas to evolve the story further and have them go evangelize that out to other people who are passionate about similar things.

Glenn: So let’s bring that into the realm of data and technology. So you talked about Tweeting, and you have used the phrase with me earlier digital breadcrumbs. That implies to me we can track things, we can understand digital things, how do you think about the way to track that data. And what do we as marketers do with that?

Jonathan: Yeah so I think that’s probably the silver lining. We’ve talked a lot about the things going sideways at the moment. I think one things that is most interesting is as you said, as people are engaging, as they’re going through their journey, increasingly that journey is digital. And people are going to your website, they’re kind of giving thumbs up and thumbs down on blogs, they are tweeting and retweeting and commenting. They’re going on review sites and giving things, a rating out of five stars. And the opportunity or marketing people is to take the data that you own, all your clickstream data, all your historical sales, your services data, your support data, and blend it with this very rich set of digital breadcrumbs. If you’re able to complete that in a certain way, it allows you to build incredibly rich deep psychographic profiles in a way that has just never been possible in the history of marketing before. So I think there’s a whole new kind of panacea, vista, and if you’re a marketing person or particular if you’re a CMO, I think this really changes your perspective on how you go about the role where you focus your time in the role. In the good old days, the CMO used to stand for the chief megaphone of the office of the organization, obviously being vocal, being out there, being creative are all still incredibly important to achieve marketing also. But I think getting a deeper understanding of customers, customer buying behavior, really becoming the advocate for customers within your organization will be a bigger piece of the CMO role. Now you asked also the second part of the question and that was really around what do you do with this data. I think that the equation that all CMOs all organizations over the next four or five years are going to be trying and solving is something along the lines of this. The first thing is you need things like context like where is somebody in the journey based on data, on profiles that you’ve seen of other individuals before, where do you believe this individual in the journey. Are they purely doing just education or research, are they in purchase consideration mode, are they getting references and referrals, like where are they in the journey. Secondly, once you understand the context of where they are, can you predictively determine what are they most likely to do next. Can you determine their intent? So if you can understand context, like where they are in the journey. If you can understand their intent, the thing that I am most likely to do next, and here’s the rub if you can do those two things in real-time the ability to do real-time or as near real-time processing super important over the next few years, that allows you to place highly targeted, highly personalized offers right in front of the person at the right time in their journey.

Glenn: Now that sounds like Nirvana to me given the story earlier about 3000 different pathways to purchase. So I would imagine that there’s a lot of machine learning and automation that needs to come into this. Can you talk about what you’re doing; what technologies you’re using to drive this?

Jonathan: Absolutely. We’ve done a couple different things in my career. I’d definitely advocate that everyone listening if they are vaguely interested in this, go look at building some kind of marketing science lab within your organization. So people talk about data scientists and bring in data scientists, and in my experience I’ve really found that a data scientist isn’t an individual, it’s two people. It tends to be that the pairing of a modeler programmer type of person, obviously you can imagine with what they might look like, and pairing that person with a statistician, and I think that once you build the model and program it together with the statistician, you’re able to get a data scientist. A data scientist is a pairing. So once you’ve said yes we’re going to get those two head count, go get the data scientist, the second one is beginning to bring the content. We’ve been around about 6 years, we’re going through incredibly fast growth at the moment, over the last quarter we grew about 160 percent year on year, but even for us we’re using kind of 18 to 20 systems. Salesforce, Marketo, Facebook, lots of different systems. And I always get a bit jealous of salespeople when I go to my business reviews and ask the salespeople so how di the quarter go. And they’re able to go to this one system called and are able to give you charts about what happened in sales. If you’re in marketing, then modeling and being able to report on the “what’s happening marketing” tends to be a lot more complex. Because the number of systems that we’re using.

Glenn: And because the data is often spread out amongst a number of different systems.

Jonathan: Absolutely many different systems. So I think for us in the kind of stage of evolution that we’re at, the first thing was to really cross the full marketing mix. Everything from Twitter all the way through to the number of impressions that our case studies, get an understanding of what the rear view mirror looks like. Can I correlate all of these different data sets? Bring them into one location, and be able to understand how the world was a week ago if not an hour ago if not a second ago. Traditionally you had to do that by building this huge set of infrastructure internally to do that. Increasingly there’s a number of third parties that are out there doing all of this aggregation of content for you, but the market is still early, but we’re working with a couple of organizations that allow you to do this aggregation of lots of different contents. They take away the pain of plugging all the pipework together, doing all the normalization of the data, making sure all the data is clean and allows us to spend our time on higher value activities like actually doing the analytics on the data itself.

Glenn: Good so tell us about doing some of that analytics to predict the future.

Jonathan: Yeah. Phase one has really being able to accurately reflect historically what’s happened. Phase two is really being able to use the data that you have to predict future buying behavior at future events. So how can you take the activities that 9 people exhibit allowing the data that you collect from those nine people to predict what intent it’s going to do. So increasingly this is where we spend our time more recently, being able to take all of this data and begin to build very targeted focused activities. So rather than doing the hundred thousand person spammogram to everybody in your database, how do we go segment the database down to maybe 1000 individuals. How do we go cluster those thousand individuals together around vary similar kind of buying behavior and buying criteria, and then how do you target them through all channels with very specific messaging? And the outcome is dramatically different. So it always makes me laugh that somehow marketing people have managed to convince themselves that a 2 percent success rate is success at all. And we’re all like high fiving and backslapping when we hit 2 percent. You’re a brain surgeon with a 2 percent success rate then I’d suggest you don’t be a brain surgeon. But in marketing we’ve managed to convince ourselves that’s alright. And if you being to use these more predictive techniques, you begin to do a clustering, you begin to do much more personalized offers, we’ve seen that success rate goes from 2 percent all the way up to 16 percent. So dramatically impactful. And also very cost effective because you no longer have to spend all the money spamming 100000 people if only 2000 are going to provide high return.

Glenn: We’re going to wrap this up but wanted to make a comment that we often mention to our clients that they should bring in fewer leads at the top of the funnel. And that’s often a very hard thing to think through. But at your point if I can get a 60 percent response rate, I’m going to be extremely targeted, I’m going to have put in a lot of effort to make sure my message is exactly the right message for whoever I’m targeting. That’s how I’m going to get a response rate. And ultimately my ROI is going to go through the roof.

Jonathan: Absolutely so totally counter intuitive, takes a little bit of a leap of faith, but ultimately the results speak for themselves.

Glenn: Well Jonathan thank you so much, this has been fascinating, I have learned a lot form you and I appreciate your time.

Jonathan: Great to be here thanks for your time.

Glenn: Ok, talk to you soon.

If you like this podcast, please subscribe and rate us on iTunes and tell your friends about us. You can also go to our website,, and sign up for our free monthly newsletter featuring the very best of our marketing insights, featured Moneyball for Marketing podcasts, and one of our favorite features called, “Bad Marketing,” or email me at Thanks for listening to Moneyball for Marketing from Crimson Marketing. Have a great week and let us know if we can help you in any way.