How to Scale Authenticity with Meg Johnson of OpenView

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This is a podcast episode titled, How to Scale Authenticity with Meg Johnson of OpenView. The summary for this episode is: <p>If there’s one thing we’ve learned from today’s social media landscape, it’s this - people crave authenticity.</p><p><br></p><p>Meg Johnson, Manager of Creative Strategy at OpenView, believes that the key to building a genuine connection with your audience is through being vulnerable and building trust over time.</p><p><br></p><p>“The first step to resonating is creating some sort of connection over a shared memory or a shared story - a vision.”</p><p><br></p><p>Here are some highlights from the conversation with Meg:</p><p><br></p><p>🤔 3:12 - 4:59 Is authenticity scalable?</p><p>👩‍🔬 12:07 - 13:47 How to test and refine content</p><p>😎 25:09 - 29:18 Being confidently yourself with your audience</p><p><br></p><p>Resources:</p><p><br></p><p><a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"></a></p><p><br></p><p>BUILD with Blake Bartlett: <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">|-BUILD-21cbd466</a></p><p><br></p><p>PLG123: <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"></a></p><p><br></p><p>Weekly Walk with Casey Renner: <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"></a></p><p><br></p><p>Connect with Meg: <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"></a></p><p><br></p>
🤔 Is authenticity scalable?
01:46 MIN
👩‍🔬 How to test and refine content
01:29 MIN
😎 Being confidently yourself with your audience
04:09 MIN

Lindsay Tjepkema: Welcome to the Casted podcast. I'm Lindsay Tjepkema, CEO and co- founder of Casted, and I'm bringing you the conversations with the most innovative and forward- thinking podcasters in the B2B world. These brilliant marketers are harnessing the power of podcasting to reach their revenue goals, to rev their thought leadership engines and to amplify their voices in the marketplace. Let's dive in to this week's conversation.

Meg Johnson: My name is Meg Johnson. I am Senior Manager of Creative Strategy at OpenView Ventures, and we are a venture capital firm that invests in B2B software companies.

Lindsay Tjepkema: So Meg, thanks for being here again. We've done a few things together because you're doing some really cool things, and I really want to get into your role as creative brand builder and how podcast and video and this sort of rich, creative, more authentic content. How does that work? And I mean, where do you want to start as far as either what that looks like at OpenView or what that looks like for you? And let's get into some origin stories there.

Meg Johnson: So I believe everybody on Earth is creative regardless of their background, their occupation. I think everyone has creativity within them and it's really just about finding out what skills and sources you can use to really bring that out of the person. So I think of my role as the creative professional at OpenView as empowering creativity across the organization, highlighting different perspectives and allowing people to align on their goals and missions to further connect with each other and really resonate so that we can all strive towards our common goal of everyone chooses OpenView. It really reminds me of this quote that I have remembered since I was a little kid, which is, " Beware of artists, they mix with all classes of society and therefore they're the most dangerous." And I really like to think of marketers as the translators or the artists. My role is to really unlock how to harness people's enthusiasm into content that really resonates with their key audience. So that way you can create sustainable growth and you're not just hacking growth by algorithms and trends that are happening. You're truly connecting with the people you want to connect with. And so that will be sustainable and grow easier than if you're just following trends and not really being authentic to yourself.

Lindsay Tjepkema: Yes, because we talk a lot about it and I know you and I have too, where it's that human connection, despite if you're coming at it from gaming the system and algorithms and whatever hacking thing is the flavor of the week. What we're all doing is trying to connect with people. And so there's the authentic way to do that just like you do when you're meeting people and trying to make friends. It's human to human. Or you can go about it trying to hack the system and arguments for both. But podcasting, which is what we're talking about, there's something really beautiful in this medium, and this channel, and this approach, this strategy, because it takes something that's really authentic, it's two people or more talking and having conversation and turning that into something that can really grow a business and create authenticity at scale, which sounds weird and backwards, but in the most beautiful human way, that's what we have the power of doing with podcasting.

Meg Johnson: Yeah, I fully agree. I think people really care about people, they don't care about your brand. People are going to resonate with your people more than they're going to resonate with any sort of feature you're launching or event you're hosting. They really just want to get to know who you are. And truly one of the best ways to do that is through multimedia, whether it's video or podcasting.'Cause it's kind of a window into that person's world and it's kind of allowing people to see that at scale. And a question that I get a lot is, " Can you scale authenticity?" That's a really interesting question. And I actually saw a really funny LinkedIn post from our friend, Jay Acunzo, that was like, " Say your hottest B2B marketing take without saying the word authenticity." And I think that's really funny because I love talking about authenticity and people have really come back to say, " Well, what is authenticity and can you scale it?" And when I think about, " What is authenticity?" It really is just that your intentions are clear, you're coming across as you intend, and people really trust that. So it's really authenticity, trust, intent, and I think those things together are scalable because if you're being true to yourself, you're being true in your intentions, why can't you scale that? When you think about how to scale that, there is no one- size- fits- all answer. I think with any sort of personal brand or any product you think about, that viral growth loop of word of mouth and really getting something to spread authentically, naturally, sustainably is really going back to the intentions or the core of what is connecting these people. Like, what is the true value you're bringing? And so I kind of like to think about, not that people are products, but how do I solve that pain point or find that common experience or memory that we can connect on to build that relationship, so that way thousands or hundreds or whatever you want to say, followers down the road, they still feel just as included as the day that they subscribe to you, because it is a relationship that you're growing. It's a community you're building, it's not just a transactional, " All right, now you're subscribed. Now head to the back of the line, I need to get myself in front of more people."

Lindsay Tjepkema: Which isn't authentic. It's funny, 'cause as you're saying, we're talking about authenticity and if there was a one- size- fits- all way to do it, it wouldn't be authentic. If there was a formula, it wouldn't be authentic. If you were focused only on using authenticity for growth, that's not authentic. Like all these things, it's one of the things that I talked about early on, you and I probably even talked about, which is, " Where do we even start with a podcast?" Well, who is it for? And why are you doing it? And if it's to build real authentic relationships with an audience, stay there. Don't forget that. And if it is to grow and to scale and to just blow things out of the water, be true to that. Don't try to do both and don't try to pass off authenticity as something else. But on that note, that's a really great segue into, okay, who's it for and why are you're doing it at OpenView? So podcasting is not new at OpenView, it's something that you've been doing a while. Can we talk a little bit about what is the show, what is podcasting at OpenView? And then let's zoom out a little bit for how does that work? Podcasting in VC, authenticity and creativity in VC. Let's talk about that, because that's something I think you do really, really well. So tell us about shows, efforts, episodes, all the things.

Meg Johnson: We have multiple multimedia programs going on. Our podcast is called BUILD with Blake Bartlett. The host is a partner at OpenView who is extremely enthusiastic about product- led growth. And Blake interviews some of the most innovative minds in tech at some companies like Asana, Atlassian, Slack, to hear about what they're doing in their operating roles to support these companies through hyper growth. And it's been really interesting to get both sides of what are they doing tactically, what are their playbooks, what advice would they give to their younger selves? As well as to get a little bit of a human side of what they personally are interested in, too. We release a full episode, which is usually around 30 minutes or less, which really dives into a specific topic that that person is specialized in at their company. So recently we had Chris Degnan on from Snowflake to talk about selling in a recession. That episode performed really well with our audience because, obviously, it's very timely, topical and very actionable. And that's something that we really try to do with our podcast, is make sure that it's very clear within the first two minutes exactly what the person is going to get out of this show. And kind of zooming back out before we get into the nitty- gritty of each episode and what we try to do and things like that. We have about 200 or so episodes, the BUILD podcast. I joined in 2020, and so they already had a huge library of incredible episodes. I inherited this already good podcast and wanted to make it great. So first thing I did was make one consistent host and the effort behind that was with that and a video series, we would be increasing Blake's visibility and his personal brand by having two multimedia programs coinciding together. So March, 2020, we also started our other multimedia series, which is PLG 123, which is primarily a LinkedIn and YouTube based video series that's focused on product- led growth news and Blake gives his hot take every week, has really fun graphics and is very engaging. It's two minutes or less. Actually, we just crossed over a hundred episodes of the PLG 123, which is very exciting. And it's just been so cool to see how far we've come since our 10- minute- long episodes filmed on an iPhone to right now. I feel like we can look at the last maybe 20 or 30 videos and see our style and our voice really come through, which is exciting. And really the efforts of having both the PLG 123 video series and the BUILD podcast both being hosted by Blake, was to use the two mediums as a way to connect with the people he wants to connect with, but how they want to be connected with. So not everyone is on YouTube or is on LinkedIn wanting to watch a video, but everyone drives a car, or goes to the grocery store, or is mowing their lawn, and could use something insightful to listen to. And so I think that both podcasting and video, while a lot of people try to pit them against each other, I think that they're both really powerful levers and should be strategically utilized in a way to reach people how they want to be reached. We also have another video series led by our other partner, Casey Renner, who does a Weekly Walk on LinkedIn and YouTube. And what she does is she goes on a vlogging, holding- her- phone, weekly- walk style video where she interviews with three quick questions to a top CTO executive or CXO executive and getting to the root of what's on their mind that week, what should people in their position or below them, advice they would give them. And then also one really personal question, just to further humanize these people that we look up to as very serious, successful, powerful people. Just reminding us that they're humans too. They have interests in things that they're thinking about even just outside of their day- to- day job. So I think that all of these series, what they're looking to do, whether it's the BUILD podcast, it's the PLG 123 video series or Weekly Walk, it all comes back to creating that connection between the person who's hosting the series and the people that they truly want to connect with and using that to really understand the people they want to connect with too. Because it's really, even though broadcasting sometimes feels like a one- way street, it is a two- way street. In an ideal world, you are getting feedback from your audience and curating your content to better suit them without losing yourself along the way. If that makes sense?

Lindsay Tjepkema: Absolutely, absolutely. And so you made a couple mentions about when we were getting started and how far we've come, and one of the things that we're going to talk about in this conversation is this maturity curve that we put out about the evolution that most brands and the teams behind them go through as they adopt audio and video content. And you've made a mention of a few of them, like as you just get started it can be really scrappy and it's going from taking an idea from brain to recording, that's step one. And then it evolves from there into consistent recording and publishing and then building an audience and building brand. So tell me, if you will, and I know you have multiple series and efforts going on, but what does that look like from your perspective as far as where you are and how you've evolved from the start?

Meg Johnson: The first thing is getting buy- in from whoever is going to be a part of this creative partnership that you're creating by making this content. I think a lot of the time people just think, "Oh, we can just get anyone in front of the microphone. They'll read these questions, interview this person, and it's not really about them, it's about the guests, so it doesn't really matter," but you're missing a huge opportunity to really show how the people of your company connect with the people on your podcast. And I think that's just one of the greatest missed opportunities people do when they're first getting started, is really just not having someone who wants to be there. That's kind of like when you're on a team and the person is just sitting around at practice and clearly doesn't want to be there, you're like, " What are you doing? You're not helping the team," and they're probably not going to have a good game at whatever you're playing. That's probably the first thing, is getting buy- in from the people who you want to collaborate with. And then also if that costs time from someone and so you also might need to get buy- in from someone higher up to be able to dedicate time and resources towards this. But I would also say you don't need to bite off more that you can chew. You don't need to be putting together an Emmy nominated short film to put it on YouTube. I think a lot of the time people are way too precious with their work and when you're, again, I go back to building a product from my UXVI background, but you need to get out an MVP, you need to get something out there, have a proof of concept and learn from it. Because if you spend way too long making something precious, you're missing out on all the learnings of if you just put it into the world and see what people react to it. And it comes back to, I think also my art practice and being design thinker, you do a lot of iterations to be able to refine something into what you want it to be and your beginning sketches are going to suck, they're going to suck, and you have to be okay with sucking for a while. And I think once you get to a good spot, you're going to be like, " Oh my gosh, I can't believe how much we sucked. Why did we ever put that out there?" But then hopefully another year later you're looking back at that time and saying the same thing. And so I think if you're continuously, rapidly improving upon yourself, continuously connecting with who you want to connect with and continuously learning, that's really what I would say focused on at the very beginning, other than getting just buy- in and just aligning on the fact that you're going to actually commit this time to do it and the resources. Because I think that people often just think that content can be a really easy lift, that you'll just make a really quick podcast recap, blog post or something, and it'll just do the work because it's just like SEO, like it'll just take off. And that's just not the case. You really have to think about what value are you bringing. And sometimes a lot of that beginning work is just discovering what is the value. What is the value that the people that you're trying to connect with look for? And sometimes you're going to miss the mark and that's okay, but that should be something you're looking for. And that's a win in my book, is if you fail and you learn from it, that's still a win because now that gives you direction how to make a better decision in the future.

Lindsay Tjepkema: So one of the things that you just said, I think is really, really important that I find myself saying in all these interviews is, " It's really important not to compare your beginning to someone else's middle," right?

Meg Johnson: Yes.

Lindsay Tjepkema: And even in your own company, don't compare the Weekly Walk in its first weeks of walking to your BUILD podcast that's established totally and has been off and running for a while. And you know that, so that's one that I think is a big takeaway for listeners. Get started. And one of the things, the sub points of that, you said something along the lines of earliest days. You weren't looking for number of downloads, or a number of listens, or new and noteworthy, it was just, " Get it out there, get better." So pay attention to what you're measuring. Don't try to hit a million viewers or listeners in the first week, make your first week about getting it out there. So that's two. And another thing I heard you say is you're a creative, going back to the beginning of our conversation, I would imagine that-

Meg Johnson: But everyone's creative, remember, everyone's creative.

Lindsay Tjepkema: Yes. But you embrace it and you think of yourself that way, right?

Meg Johnson: Yes.

Lindsay Tjepkema: And I couldn't agree more. Everyone's creative. Working in a spreadsheet and thinking about how the numbers work together is very creative. But having embraced it and thinking of yourself that way and thinking of yourself as someone who is creative and artistic, what's it like to push through or take ownership of efforts like these of multimedia and authenticity and thought leadership and branding and podcast and video in an organization of people that don't think the same way you do? Maybe don't think of themselves as creative? There's, I'm imagining, probably some of that at least, in venture capital, in the finance world. I know a lot of people listening might be in very similar situations in organizations or in industries that don't see the creativity within themselves. How has that come to fruition? Do you feel like you are swimming upstream sometimes, or do you feel like you have buy- in? What does that look like as you are doing something creative in the midst of others that don't see themselves as creative as you do?

Meg Johnson: I think that's a really great question, and there's actually this really funny meme that I retweeted. It was saying, " What doing art professionally feels like." And it's this picture of Big Bird sitting at a conference room table with all of these tech bro guys on laptops, not looking, and Big Bird looks very scared. And I kind of retweeted that and said, " What it's like being a creative professional in venture capital," because I definitely feel like the Big Bird sometimes. I sometimes am in a meeting and I have this really wacky idea and I'm like, " All right, how am I going to communicate this in a way where it resonates with this audience, so they understand that the impact that I'm trying to make, and it's not just some really wild idea that I had." And it can feel definitely like you're swimming upstream at times, but I think there's also times where you see those aha- moments happen in other people, where it clicks, and you start to see their creativity start flourishing on its own because of maybe a conversation you had or a question you asked. One of my favorite things to do is ask dumb questions. Even though that's counterintuitive to maybe the imposter syndrome thing I was just talking about, about feeling like Big Bird, I've had to just come to the realization and just trust that asking the dumb question is going to make me actually appear smarter in that person's eyes, because that person knows that I'm engaged, that I am trying to learn more, I'm trying to communicate with them, and I'm trying to probably help them if I'm looking to communicate and trust them. And also I think it comes off as being vulnerable, which is a huge strength that is super, I think, underappreciated or maybe just under talked about in lots of tech and especially VC. I think it is a banker relationship industry. And so I think vulnerability is something that's a little bit scary to talk about in situations like that. But I would say, at the end of the day, businesses need art. Businesses need brands and brands that resonate, that people feel connected to. And I think the first step to resonating is creating some sort of connection over a shared memory or a shared story, a vision. And I think that's why some founders really dive deep into the brand and they feel so emotionally connected to the brand that they build, because it really is a story, it's an idea, it's a vision, it's a part of them. And I think that once you have that resonance and you have that story, that is something that you can continuously call back to and align on with your organization. And so I think being constantly, even though when you're starting to feel like you're swimming upstream and not going anywhere, if it feels like that, start going back to aligning on what it is you're both trying to do and then work backwards from there. Whenever I'm having a miscommunication issue, or I feel like I'm not being heard, or feel like I'm misunderstanding someone else, what I like to do is just go all the way at the top. What's the one thing that we agree on? Even if it's the sky is blue, let's start there. Let's start with the sky is blue, and then talk about how the grass is green and then talk about here and work our way down. Because I think that is a powerful way to communicate, and it shows that, authentically, your intentions are to communicate, and it's not, " Just listen to me, I just want to take this money and I want to make this cool thing." The more that you can try to hear each other out and meet each other halfway, the more success you'll have. And then also you'll see the more rewarding parts of it, kind of like I talked about, which is people start thinking and embracing that creativity in themselves, and then that only fuses out into the organization in a good way.

Lindsay Tjepkema: Yeah, that's awesome. And I love how it all comes full circle because it's being authentic with your audience and with your team, especially when you're being confidently vulnerable with saying, " Hey, here's something that I really want to try or need to better understand." That's all, you could relate to wanting to try something new, wanting to get creative, " hey, here's a thing I want to do." Perhaps it's resonating with someone who's listening to this conversation saying, " Okay, that might be how I could approach,'I want to start a podcast,' or, 'I want to grow the podcast.' here's a thing, I'm going to be vulnerable. I want to do this creative thing." Once you do that, there's pressure to deliver. And there's quite often this either lived experience, or even it's just a perception, that creativity doesn't deliver ROI and that creativity is one thing and ROI is another thing, and the two cannot go together. So I'm curious, for you, what kind of pressure have you faced in building this type of content and this podcast and video content and all this other multimedia stuff? As you put yourself out there and you get really creative and you're the Big Bird in the conference room, what kind of pressure have you experienced and what has to be delivered then? And then how do you get through that and overcome that or make it work for you and for the organization?

Meg Johnson: I think this is a huge challenge that I've faced at my career everywhere. And then especially at OpenView, we're very, very focused and goal driven. And so that has been something that I have really learned so much from people who don't think like I do at OpenView, which has been such a great opportunity. And I think what it comes down to in the very beginning, is people say that you can't measure brand. It's kind of what you were just saying, but it's very obvious the effects of brand because we get all this anecdotal evidence. And so in the very beginning, that was the early indicators. What we're doing is working. And even if I don't have a specific number that I can say X amount of growth was shown, at least I could be showing this anecdotal evidence of someone who reaches out to us saying, " Oh my God, I feel like I am Blake's best friend because I just listened to the podcast for an hour or two on my road trip." That stuff makes my heart sing. But to your point, that's not going to resonate with all audiences. So what do you do in that situation when you're like, " Ah, look it, the data or the stuff is right here. Why are you not seeing it?" And I can definitely tell it's really frustrating, and that's when it feels like you're swimming upstream. But what we try to do, and that was what the help of Casted really, especially with our podcast, was be able to not only track the growth of our podcast, how many listens are we getting? Is it increasing quarter over quarter? Genuinely, is the content resonating? Yes. But it doesn't matter as much if the end ROI of founders who want to talk to us is not increasing. And so basically that was the missed step there, is for a while, we kept saying, " How do we correlate these brand touchpoints, whether it's our blog or video series, our podcasts, with the prospect journey of someone?" Because we know it's happening, we just don't know where. Where is it happening? Because people are telling us all this anecdotal evidence constantly that this is really resonating with me. Or an associate might reach out to someone to try and break in and they would be like, " Oh, I know of OpenView from your content," but how do you track that, again? This is really hard. So what we did was, we actually connected HubSpot to Casted and we were able to track when people were listening to a specific podcast, and then now we can actually tag that as a milestone in the prospect journey. And so basically we can see that they are going from maybe unaware of OpenView to aware, and basically our prospect journey goes, one end of the spectrum is unaware, they don't know who we are, that we exist, to the complete opposite side of the spectrum, which is they're an OV champion, they love us, they are telling all their family and friends about us, et cetera. What we look to do with our multimedia programs and our blog content is to basically help people move along this prospect journey by providing really curated offers. And one thing that Casted helps us do with that, which is amazing, is by allowing that data of what people are listening to to connect to HubSpot, we're actually able to create curated lists. So if we see that this group of founders is really resonating with all of this marketing material, marketing podcast, blog posts, videos, things like that, we could serve them up and offer for our marketing E- book or maybe marketing office hours with our advisors. And then that's putting OpenView as again, a helpful resource that's curated. So it shows that we actually care about what you want. It's not just, " Hey, look at all of our blog posts. Give us views." It's not a transaction, it's very much like, " Oh, we want to support you." And so that's the overall gist of what we try to do, is really correlate our brand touchpoints with our multimedia programs, with a prospect journey. And in terms of what exact metrics we have, we're thinking about number of founders moving from one stage to the next. So going from unaware to aware, or aware to subscribed, or onward into the journey, into the prospect pipeline. And we've also thought about it from a geo- perspective of how many founders in one specific state or one country are resonating with this sort of content. And that's something else that, through the insights at Casted, that we're also able to see data into, which has been really fun. Again, just creating that curated experience just shows that you're truly trying to connect with these people, that it's not just broadcasting.

Lindsay Tjepkema: Well, and it goes back to authenticity. I'm hearing a lot of that from you, where it's put something out there that you think is going to resonate with your audience, be vulnerable, be creative, and try something. And then care enough and be authentic enough in your, who is it for and why are you doing it, to listen to what they're telling you. What's resonating? Who is it resonating with? Okay, if it's resonating with this group of people or these random people, how can we give them more of what they're telling us they want and authentically serve them with something that we think is going to be helpful? That is authenticity in marketing and in brand building. And again, it's something that you all do so well. I love it.

Meg Johnson: Thank you.

Lindsay Tjepkema: So takeaways for people who are listening who are like, " Okay, but still..." The thing that resonated most with me is the Big Bird thing. Like, "I feel like I'm alone. How do I do this? What do I do?" What are some of the takeaways that you would share to help them make it through and to be confidently vulnerable?

Meg Johnson: Oh, I love that. So I would say, going back to unpacking what authenticity is, authenticity is trust that the person is coming across as they intend. So their intentions are super clear. So whenever you're thinking about, " How do I scale this content that's resonating?" Think back to what was the intent and how did you build that trust with that person and really hone into what created that trust and then try to replicate that or expand upon that. And that there is an ability to expand and scale authentically through thinking about what is your custom personal product loop, so to speak. And that, again, personal branding is not broadcasting. Everyone has a personal brand, whether they realize it or not. How you leave someone feeling after you meet with them is your personal brand. And that could be in a meeting, that could be an email signature, that could be how you follow up with them after coffee or how you say hi to them in the hallway. I think all these things come together to create what a personal brand is and for everyone it's not just blasting out social media and broadcasting. So huge amounts of opportunity there to build an authentic, sustainable community that will really help you grow in a way that will actually benefit you in the long run and not just be following growth trends. So that's the first big takeaway that I would say is unpacking what authenticity is. And then I would say the other thing is, don't let distribution distract from the listener experience. I kind of started to get into this a little bit, but it's easy to get caught up in ways to share your podcast. So just like I was saying, it's easy to get caught up into the growth hacking and the trends of what people are doing to make your show have wider reach, so to speak. But don't forget the basics. Again, go back to your intent. Is your intro impactful? I think things like that where you can really focus on getting the key takeaways of the episode in the first minute or two really helps for listener retention. And I think more often than not, people are starting to look more at listener retention than just overall listens, just because of the way they're calculated. A podcast listen might be only a few seconds, or 30 seconds, or a minute or two of your episode, which could be an hour long versus if you're getting really high listener retention, that's a way better indicator to letting you know that what you're doing is working and that people really want to spend time with you or your brand. So my recommendations would be to add a teaser clip from later in the episode at the very beginning of the episode, to lure people in and hook people. And then Blake records his personalized intro after we do the podcast recording, so that way he can think about the entire conversation he just had, and then pull up the takeaways so that it feels like we're not forcing the conversation to fit the intro, but instead fitting the intro to fit the conversation. And I think the last thing that I would say is that, going back to your last question around proving ROI, anytime that you can connect your brand touchpoints to the customer or prospect journey, however you can connect that to them and whatever your shared understanding is at your company of what your goal is, and to look at yourself as the translator of varying perspectives and opinions, I think that is really the most powerful thing that any marketer can do, is allowing them to sit in that seat of the communicator and the translator. Because that really allows you to be in on a lot more conversations than you might not have been if you are only coming up with like, " Hey, I need this. I need X, Y, and Z." I think some of the best advice I've ever gotten in my career was really just to ask people more questions about their work, because I fully believe that you can tell so much about a person, about the way that they talk about something, even just asking them, " What's your favorite cereal?" Listening to you tell me about how Frosted Flakes is your favorite cereal, I could probably learn a lot about you and about your enthusiasm for sugary cereals. But I think, yeah, anytime that you can put yourself as a communicator, again, always come back to aligning on a constant mission or goal, that keeping that aligned is really the best way to keep up your momentum. Because being a marketer is not a sprint. It's not even a marathon. I think it's just a never ending run that just keeps going. Or maybe it's a dance. Let's say it's a dance, because dancing sounds a lot more fun. Marketing is like the never ending danceathon that you just have to keep yourself on your toes and you have to learn all the different types of moves to dance with a lot of different people.

Lindsay Tjepkema: Music keeps changing, you know.

Meg Johnson: Yes, exactly. But still got the moves.

Lindsay Tjepkema: Yes, absolutely. And everything that you were just talking about is so important to getting that executive buy- in, executive sponsorship, leadership buy- in, whatever it is, because again, feeling like, real or perceived, the Big Bird in the room, what's really, really important and what starts to change that is when you have that executive buy- in of, " Okay, I know this isn't Meg's thing. This isn't Lindsay's thing. This isn't a thing over here on an island. This isn't an experiment we're doing with podcasting. This is a strategic initiative for the business. This is important." And when you can flip that switch, it changes everything. And we see it with our own customers. We see it with the rate at which a brand will rapidly escalate and ascend through the maturity curve, changes completely when there's that executive buy- in. When it goes from one person pushing something creative, this creative boulder up a hill and they believe in it all day long, it unlocks money, it unlocks budget, it unlocks support, it unlocks resources once the leader sees the role that it plays in the buyer journey and the role that it plays in business impact, it changes everything. And so I think that whole, listen, ask questions, be vulnerable, but be confident. That makes all the difference. So I love your thoughts there.

Meg Johnson: Yeah. And I think sensitivity is a superpower as a marketer, that again, kind of goes back to that vulnerability, but I think sensitivity is a superpower that can allow you to really share different perspectives and help people align and see things in a way that they didn't see it before. So if you're ever thinking that, " Maybe it's just a me thing," maybe it's not.

Lindsay Tjepkema: So any final thoughts for anybody who's trying to get to where you are, sitting in that Big Bird seat?

Meg Johnson: I would say be patient and don't get defensive. I think it's really easy-

Lindsay Tjepkema: Easier said than done.

Meg Johnson: Easier said than done, for sure. I think it can also, again, feel like you're swimming upstream and you're like, " Didn't we already have this conversation?" Or, " I really thought we were aligned and now it feels like we're stepping backwards." But I think progress is never linear. I don't think there's like a finished line that you should be heading towards. I think it's just a relationship that you're building. We attribute ROI in a few different ways, like I said, with the podcast touchpoints, but we also have different popups that show up on our blog that say, " How did you hear about OpenView?" And one of the options is OpenView content. And that continues to be our highest answer in that experiment. So I think there are many creative ways that you can figure out and attribute ROI, you'll just have to get creative.

Lindsay Tjepkema: Thanks for being here, Meg. Thanks for sharing-

Meg Johnson: Of course, happy to be here.

Lindsay Tjepkema: ...your creativity with us.

Meg Johnson: Anytime.

Lindsay Tjepkema: Where can I find all of this amazing content that you're doing?

Meg Johnson: You can find OpenView on LinkedIn. Definitely check out Blake Bartlett on YouTube for the PLG 123 and our BUILD podcast videos. Also the BUILD podcast, BUILD with Blake Bartlett, on any podcasting platform you can find us on. Yeah, I think that's everything.

Lindsay Tjepkema: Love it. Thanks Meg.

Meg Johnson: Thank you.

Lindsay Tjepkema: Well, that's our show. Thank you so much for tuning in. And if you are ready to harness the power of podcasting for your brand strategy, make sure that you click the link in our show notes to subscribe to the Casted newsletter and all of our shows, and for all the latest content from our team of experts to yours. Until next time.


If there’s one thing we’ve learned from today’s social media landscape, it’s this - people crave authenticity.

Meg Johnson, Manager of Creative Strategy at OpenView, believes that the key to building a genuine connection with your audience is through being vulnerable and building trust over time.

“The first step to resonating is creating some sort of connection over a shared memory or a shared story - a vision.”

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