Sept. 11, 2022

How to build a powerful marketing machine | Emily Kramer (Asana, Carta, MKT1)

Emily Kramer led and built the marketing teams at Asana, Carta, Ticketfly, and Astro (acquired by Slack). These days, she’s the co-founder of MKT1, where she helps founders and marketers build and scale their marketing functions. Emily is also a well-respected angel investor and writes my favorite marketing newsletter (MKT1). In today’s episode, she shares her insights on when to hire marketers, how to determine which type of marketing hire is best for your team, how to best work with marketing, and what red flags to look for. Emily shares actionable templates and some incredible frameworks that are sure to expand your marketing knowledge.

Where to find Emily Kramer:

• Twitter:

• LinkedIn:

• MKT1 Newsletter:

Where to find Lenny:

• Newsletter:

• Twitter:

• LinkedIn:

Thank you to our wonderful sponsors for making this episode possible:

• Amplitude:

• Lenny’s Job Board:

• Athletic Greens:


• Building an efficient marketing machine: the fuel & the engine:

• The GACC Marketing Brief:

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference:

Crossing the Chasm:

Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable:

All the Light We Cannot See:

The Daily podcast:

• Stream Yellowjackets on Showtime:

CODA on Apple TV+:

• Ashley Mayer’s LinkedIn:

• Kevan Lee’s LinkedIn:

In this episode, we cover:

(03:44) Emily’s background

(06:08) Hiring a marketing team

(11:26) Examples of fuel and engine in marketing

(16:00) What is a product marketer?

(18:20) Why you should start with a marketing generalist 

(20:30) The difference between a growth person and a product person 

(23:57) What to look for in a product marketer

(26:58) When to hire a marketing person

(30:45) The role of a brand marketer

(33:24) Marketing for PLG startups

(36:22) What is product-led growth?

(39:23) How to get product and marketing to collaborate 

(43:38) What is the GACC framework?

(47:58 ) How to know if your marketing team is effective

(54:33) Why founders need angel investors with functional expertise

(1:00:23) Lightning round

Production and marketing by For inquires about sponsoring the podcast, email

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Emily Kramer (00:00:00):

Forget the product marketing content partner, demand and growth, forget all of it, and just think of marketing as you need a fuel and you need an engine. And goal is like all the things that you're creating. I mean this should be obvious, but it's the content, it's the word, it's the design in some regard. All the things that you're making, all the things that are going to add value. An engine is how you get it out to the right people. And all of the tracking of that and sort of the ops work I put under engine, everyone needs an engine.

Emily Kramer (00:00:28):

And the question is, where do you have the biggest challenge right now? Or where do you think if you did more, you would grow faster? Is it on fuel side or is on the engine side?

Lenny (00:00:37):

Welcome to Lenny's Podcast. I'm Lenny, and my goal here is to help you get better at the craft of building and growing products. I interview world class product leaders and growth experts to learn from their hard one experience building and scaling today's most successful products. Today my guest is Emily Kramer. Emily led and built the marketing teams at Asana, Carta, Ticketfly and Astro, which was a startup acquired by Slack. She's one of the first marketers to be hired at all four companies, and has been instrumental in helping these companies build their marketing function, grow their products, and build their brands.

Lenny (00:01:11):

She also writes my favorite newsletter on marketing, MKT1. And the best compliment that I can give her is that she's a marketer that thinks like a product manager. In our chat, Emily shares a ton of concrete advice on what to look for in your first marketing hire, what the different archetypes of marketers are, and who you should look for based on your business model. How to work with marketing effectively as a product team, and also what red flags to look for that tell you that your marketing team is not doing a great job.

Lenny (00:01:39):

Emily is super specific and incredibly concrete with her advice, including sharing a ton of templates that you can immediately use that we link to in the share rooms. I always learn a ton talking to Emily and I can't wait for you to hear this episode. And so with that, I bring you Emily Kramer. I'm excited to chat with my friend John Cutler, from Podcast Sponsor Amplitude. Hey John.

John Cutler (00:02:01):

Hey Lenny. Excited to be here.

Lenny (00:02:03):

John, give us a behind the scenes at Amplitude. When most people think of Amplitude they think of product analytics, but now you're getting into experimentation and even just launch a CDP. What's the thought process there?

John Cutler (00:02:14):

Well, we've always thought of Amplitude as being about supporting the full product loop. Think collect data, inform that, ship experiments and learn. That's the heart of growth to us. So the big aha was seeing how many customers were using Amplitude to analyze experiments, use segments for outreach and send data to other destinations. Experiment in CDP came out of listening to and observing our customers.

Lenny (00:02:35):

And supporting growth and learning has always been amplitude's core focus, right?

John Cutler (00:02:39):

Yeah. So Amplitude tries to meet customers where they are. We just launched starter templates and have a great scholarship program for startups. There's never been a more important time for growth.

Lenny (00:02:48):

Absolutely agree. Thanks for joining us, John, and head to to get started. Are you hiring or on the flip side, are you looking for a new opportunity? Well, either way check out lenny' If you're a hiring manager, you can sign up and get access to hundreds of hand curated people who are open to new opportunities. Thousands of people apply to join this collective and I personally review and accept just about 10% of them. You won't find a better place to hire product managers and growth leaders. Join almost 100 other companies who are actively hiring through this collective.

Lenny (00:03:25):

And if you're looking around for a newer opportunity, actively or passively, join the collective. It's free, you can be anonymous and you can even hide yourself from specific companies. You can also leave anytime and you'll only hear from companies that you want to hear from. Check out lenny' Emily, welcome to this podcast. I'm really excited to be chatting with you.

Emily Kramer (00:03:50):

Yeah. Thanks for having me. Looking forward to chatting with you in depth here.

Lenny (00:03:53):

So if I remember correctly, we first met in the first round Angel Track program maybe two years ago, and then since then we've invested in a bunch of different companies together. I'm also just a big fan of your newsletter that we're going to chat about. So just to settle little context for folks, can you just give us a quick high level overview of your illustrious career and then also just plug your newsletter so folks can find it.

Emily Kramer (00:04:16):

For sure. And theme of my career has been building out marketing teams at B2B startups. So early in my career I was in advertising, went to business school. But after that I started doing the startup thing and I was at Ticketfly, I was like the second marketer. And then I went to Asana where I was the first marketer when they were about 30, 35 people and built up that team and led the team for just under four years. And then I went to a small seed funded company, help them raise rates and eventually went to Carta, which was about 300 people when I joined-ish give or take, but didn't have a marketing function at the time.

Emily Kramer (00:04:49):

So built that function up from scratch. Much like Asana but at a very different stage in the company's life cycle. And then since then I've been advising and investing full time and now have a small fund where we invest in early stage B2B and help them build out marketing. So building marketing, that's what I do.

Lenny (00:05:07):

I love it. Okay, so plug your fund and your newsletter real quick just so we can cover that.

Emily Kramer (00:05:11):

Oh yeah, sorry about that. My newsletter is the letters and my fund is Market 1 Capital. You can pretty much find most of these things on Links to all the different various things that I'm doing so I can remember, because there's lots of iron in the fire. So got to keep the website up to date so I don't lose track of all the things that are going on. I also have a job board and a bunch of other things. You have more things going on but I have a number of set of things.

Lenny (00:05:42):

Awesome. And we'll link to that in the show notes and everything. I don't think I've told you this but many founders have mentioned you as one of their most helpful angel investors that they've had on their cap table. It just comes up often when we co-invest. And the things that you help them most with as far as I understand is marketing advice, go to market advice, hiring marketing people. And so, I'd love to spend most of our time chatting through, basically the advice that you give founders around marketing.

Lenny (00:06:09):

And the first area I wanted to dig into is hiring marketing people. To non-marketing people it's such a mystery of just like, what is a marketing person? What do I expect from them? How do I hire them? How do I find them? How do I interview them? What should I avoid? So my first question is just like what mistakes have you seen founders and teams make when they're thinking about marketing and hiring marketing people?

Emily Kramer (00:06:33):

And just to add to that, it's even hard for marketers to hire other marketers. It's even confusing for marketers to know where they fit in. And if they haven't been hired yet exactly what world they should be looking at or exactly who else they should be hired on the team. While it's very confusing for founders and people who haven't kind of been in a larger marketing team to understand all the different function, like also confusing for marketers. And I think that's just because there's so many different sub functions of marketing and there's so many different things that marketers could do.

Emily Kramer (00:07:01):

And there's such a range of being a deep specialist. You have people that are just deep SEO specialists or deep paid search specialists or writers and they love to write and they write long form content and that's definitely a part of what marketing does, but it's a specialty for sure. And then you have people that are just very much generalists and can handle all areas of marketing. So a couple of mistakes that I see is just hiring people that don't cover the area that you need most as a startup. And that kind of comes for two reasons.

Emily Kramer (00:07:33):

One, is like you don't know as a founder or someone else doing a marketing hiring for the first person, you don't know what you're going to be doing in marketing. You don't know what your big levers are going to be, you don't know what's going to work. And so you hire a marketer thinking they're like smart, they've done this before. But really they haven't done the thing that you need to do before. So I see that especially with business model where I think having the right business model experience is almost more important than having industry experience or experience with that audience.

Emily Kramer (00:08:05):

And I think often people are like, I need someone who is marketed to HR or marketed to construction or that specific. And my response is you, you're going to really narrow your set up people with that, and also it doesn't matter as much because great marketers learn the audience and learn the product quickly. And sometimes that fresh set of eyes is helpful and you have other experts in house on the audience. But the business model really dictates what marketing does in a big way. And by business model I mean more like, are you doing top down sales? Are you selling the enterprise?

Emily Kramer (00:08:39):

Are you doing bottom up product led growth or have a free version? Or whatever it is. Those types of things matter a lot. Because the set of marketing activities is just wildly different which I'm sure we'll go into. So to kind of summarize here, what I'd tell founders is I usually start when I talk to founders about who you need to hire in marketing. Because usually the question is, I think I need a marketer, who do I hire? And my critic question, let's try to nail this down because there isn't one answer. It very much depends.

Emily Kramer (00:09:10):

There's usually some common archetypes. But the first thing I say is forget all the sub-functions that you've heard about in marketing. Forget the product marketing content marketing partner, demand and growth, forget all of it and just think of marketing as you need fuel and you need an engine. And the goal is all the things that you're creating. I mean this should be obvious, but it's the content, it's the word that's the design and some regard, it's all the things you're making, all the things that are going to add value.

Emily Kramer (00:09:37):

An engine is how you get it out to the right people. And all of the tracking of that And of the ops work I put under engine. So you still need an engine. And the question is, where do you have the biggest challenge right now or where do you think if you did more, you would grow faster? Is it on fuel side or is on the engine side? Typically, if you just think about it logically, you kind of need the fuel first. And sometimes what I see is people just build an engine first and they're like why isn't this working we're sending so many outbound emails? And it's like, well you don't have anything valuable to put in those, you have no fuel so this isn't working.

Emily Kramer (00:10:07):

Or you see the flip side where they're making a whole bunch of things, they're writing a bunch of blog quotes or making a bunch of content and they're like, this content doesn't work. It's like, we'll, have you tried distributing it? Because if you're not distributing that and getting mileage out of it's a waste of time. So this is a big problem in marketing overall, getting the balance of fuel and engine rate. But I like to start from what do you think is going to help most and what skillset does your team not have? And typically, if a team is sales driven top down, they might have an SDR or at least two at this time.

Emily Kramer (00:10:37):

Usually that comes first in top down. And so the SDRs are kind of an engine. They're an imperfect engine, outbound shouldn't be the only thing you're doing. And if they're just reaching out and asking people to schedule meetings, it might not be that effective but you have a little engine going on. So maybe now you need some fuel first. On the other side of it, if you're a product growth or bottom up, you might have a situation where just nothing is optimized. Your website's conversion rates are terrible, people are dropping out of the funnel all over the place.

Emily Kramer (00:11:06):

And you really need someone who can build up these lifecycle email touches, work in product instead of work with a product or a person as well. And you really just need more engine because people are already finding out about your product or it has someone made virality and you're just not capturing enough of that. So I kind of like decode, what's going to help the most right now? And then ideally you get someone, so move back to an engine first.

Lenny (00:11:27):

Can I actually jump in real quick because that's a really cool framework that I haven't heard before, this idea of fuel and engine from a marketing perspective. To make it a little more concrete, what are a examples of, it doesn't have to be exhaustive, but when you think about all the things that could be fueled, and all the types of engines, what are those lists?

Emily Kramer (00:11:47):

For sure. Yeah, I have a diagram of this stuff in my newsletter.

Lenny (00:11:50):

Awesome. We'll link to that.

Emily Kramer (00:11:51):

So when I think about fuel and engine and what goes on either side, it's important to recognize that some things are fuel or engine and that some things are both fuel and engine. Let me start with an example of something that's fuel and engine. If done well, your community, let's just take for instance, let's keep it simple because community needs 75 things. If you have a Slack community that should be tool and engine. If you have people creating content in there that maybe you can then use in other areas. Like you do this well, you take what's going on in your community and you do your community wisdom parts of your newsletter.

Emily Kramer (00:12:24):

So you're using that as fuel but it's also an engine because you have people in your audience that you can distribute out content too. So there's some examples like that. But to go back to the question of what fuel and what's an engine. Fuel is like the copy on your website, it's the blog posts that you had, it's the templates that you've created. It's the video recordings of the webinars or the podcast. It's basically content, but also to include some of the copy.

Emily Kramer (00:12:51):

And I think people have this limited view of contents where they think blog posts and blog posts are still one part of content. Content should be tools, resource, assembled like calculators, those kind of things do better in all the cases.

Lenny (00:13:04):

And positioning I imagine is a fuel.

Emily Kramer (00:13:08):

Yeah. That's some of the product marketing steps. So product marketing is this weird thing and we'll talk about it that's kind of in the middle. But yes, product marketing, doing any positioning. Again, like the web copy which is of the first manifestation of your positioning and messaging, or it should be the source of truth for all of that. But you're positioning, you are messaging the words, the words are the things you're creating, that's the fuel, things that add value in that way. The engine side is what people tend to call marketing growth or demand jam or things of that nature.

Emily Kramer (00:13:37):

That's really the distribution channels. The email copy itself is fuel, but how you've set up the email and the segmentation you've used and the rules for that drip email, that's the engine. The SEO content is fuel, but your SEO sort of keyword list as a technical FTO and that kind of stuff is sort of engine. Social media, you got to have good fuel but you also have to nail it exactly what channels you're using and all that stuff. So a lot of things have both sides of it. So most projects or activities or initiative have some fuel and some engine.

Emily Kramer (00:14:08):

I also consider marketing ops work, the setup of HubSpot or whatever it is you might be using. That's engine. It's really instructing the engine, but I kind of put it in that bucket. Because people who are usually good at executing on email or executing on ads or things like that, usually have some working knowledge of the ops work and the reporting work because you have to be optimizing. I guess admin paid is also engine.

Lenny (00:14:34):

Awesome. Okay. And so coming back to your original piece of advice here is before hiring a marketing person, you want to figure out which of these buckets is the biggest constraint to your growth, right?

Emily Kramer (00:14:44):


Lenny (00:14:45):

You talked about this briefly, but is there any simple heuristics to give you a sense of it's probably fuel, I need more great content, maybe some website updates versus I need to figure out how to get this out. How do you think about that high level?

Emily Kramer (00:14:58):

Yeah, I mean, it's kind of simple. You can just ask what are your top performing pieces of content or what's the top performing page on your website or things of that feature. Who is your product for? Why is it better? What are the benefits? How does it compare to competitors? If you don't have an answer for those questions, you don't have top performing content and you don't know your positioning and all that stuff, you got a fuel problem here. Oh, you wrote this really great piece of content and I saw it on your website, how are you distributing that? What are you doing?

Emily Kramer (00:15:24):

And they're like, I shared it on social, they didn't really go anywhere, you got an engine problem. Or if I say, do you know what your final stages are? You have two sales people now, how does the marketing sales handoff go? They're like, they share a list and block off everyone they should reach out to. I'm like, well, you have an adventure problem if this isn't going to scale. So it's just these basic things. Are you doing these things or not? And sometimes founders are really great at making the original sort of content and writing the early positioning.

Emily Kramer (00:15:52):

And they're the best suited to that and they just need someone to help them get that stuff out and that's when they need an engine person. So that's basically how you figure it out. And normally when you ask vendors that question, they get it pretty quickly. They're like, "Okay, I think this is my problem, I can kind of identify it." And then it's like, okay, from here, well, what exactly do you need and what exact type of marketer do you need? And that's where everyone's answer is always, I think I heard from investors or I've been hearing from other founders that I really need a product marketer.

Emily Kramer (00:16:20):

And the question is, well what do you think a product marketer is? And you get a different answer every time. In fact, when I was at Asana our COO, his question that he liked to ask all the marketers or all the product marketers that we were interviewing was just, "What's product marketing?" And that's the scariest question you can ask a product marketer. It's like no scarier question for a product marketer then hey, what's a product marketer? They're like, "Oh, shit, I have no idea. Just my job, it's me. I'm a product marketer."

Emily Kramer (00:16:48):

But really a product marketer, they understand the product, they understand the audience and they understand the market in which you're operating. And from there they can figure out how to communicate with your audience about the right things at the right time. So they're kind of laying groundwork. And then they're also doing some work too. They're also doing a lot of the copywriting and the actual messaging and handling sort of launches and sometimes writing copy for things like emails and helping set the content strategy and things like that.

Emily Kramer (00:17:16):

And people think they need product marketers. One because it's like a fake people say, but two, because product marketers tend to shadow this line between fuel and engine. They're more on the fuel side, but particularly they've done a lot of launches in the past. They have a general understanding of channel strategy and what channels do at what time and that sort of end and stuff. But product marketers aren't really specialists in writing and producing content. They're not specialists in building out marketing ops or doing FDO.

Emily Kramer (00:17:44):

They're definitely more of the generalist function. And so sometimes that's a great answer. You need a product marketer, but sometimes you need someone that's scrappier in different areas. Another one of my frameworks is we start with doing these seal engine, what are the biggest problems? What are the biggest things that if you did, you would drive growth? And then we talk about the three typical subfunction that you would hire, which would be content, community type person, a growth demands and type person and a product marketer. And we kind of talk about what those three things mean.

Emily Kramer (00:18:16):

And kind of align based on what you're saying, based on the fuel engine thing, probably in this type of person. And then from there, what I tell people when you're hiring your first marketer and probably even your first several marketers, you're more want to hire generalist than specialists. This is probably true for anywhere at the early stage startup, but specialists are great to hire. It's great to hire contractors that are specialists. Like the FDO contractor, even the contractor who can write the marketing ops contractor. But you want someone who is pretty much a generalist.

Emily Kramer (00:18:49):

And the way I describe that within marketing, usually you you are like hire a T shape person that bites in one area and has working knowledge and try to crop all of them. But I use this thing that I made up which is you one up higher pie shaped marketers, not pie like dessert, but pie like 3.14 where the pie symbol has two vertical lines. So like a T but it has an extra line. And it's because you want the first marketer to be an expert in one of those three areas that I mentioned, product marketing, content marketing, growth marketing.

Emily Kramer (00:19:21):

And you want them to be proficient in another one, the second T. But you want them to be able to set strategy and know how to hire contractors across all of them. And so the promise land of hiring a first marketer, they are a pie shape marketer. And so then you could hire a content and product marketing pie shape marketer, product marketing growth pie shape marketer. But it's like what are those two spikes and what's the one that you're going to worry less about that they need to work knowledge of?

Emily Kramer (00:19:45):

The last thing I'll say on the pie piece is that it's really hard to find someone that's a content marketer that's also really good at growth. Like that pie shape marketer exists a lot less frequently. Maybe it's someone who is really amazing at content distribution or really amazing at FDO, but they don't really exist. Because the content side is like one side of the brain and the growth data stuff is a whole other side of the brain. You don't find those people very often. So you are usually looking for that product marketing, growth marketing pie shaped person or the product marketing content marketing pie shaped person.

Lenny (00:20:21):

Wow, okay. This is great. So I was going to ask you about-

Emily Kramer (00:20:22):

Sorry this is dense, this is a lot of marketing window, so hopefully we're breaking it down.

Lenny (00:20:29):

Yeah, we're getting there. So let me try to summarize and see where we go. So I was going to ask you about the archetypes of marketing people and it sounds like there's these three is the way you think about it. There's basically a content community person, there's a growth person and then there's product marketing which is kind of like in the middle. And I guess, one question I wanted to ask is there's also just the growth function, product growth, growth PMs, things like that. Do you see that as the same thing as this growth marketing person or is that a different type of person and a different role?

Emily Kramer (00:21:01):

In top down sales businesses it is 100% different. A growth person typically probably called a demand gen person. There's a whole other rabbit hole we can go down on what's the difference between growth marketing and demand gen. And demand gen is probably more top of funnel and growth marketing is probably more full funnel at its simplest form. But it's definitely different there. In a product led growth business, the growth marketer and the product grows sort of role or the hybrid growth role, sometimes it can be the same person depending on the skill.

Emily Kramer (00:21:31):

But typically the difference would be that the growth marketer is doing more of the top of funnel sort of inbound side and the product growth person is doing more once they actually get into the product, but can be collaborated with that growth marketer. So it can be the same person in extremely data driven sort of person that kind of has the working knowledge of both marketing and product stuff. It can be one person in early stage PLG companies.

Emily Kramer (00:21:56):

But I think typically, and I'm sure you've seen that at larger companies as you get bigger, you're going to have some people that come from more of that marketing perspective and you're going to have a little bit come from more of that product perspective. But the question is, is there ever one person that does that?

Lenny (00:22:09):

Okay, so to make this a little more concrete even for startups, thinking from a startup perspective, when you're just thinking about hiring your first say marketing person. When you think about this set of buckets that you talked about, there's content marketing, growth marketing, product marketing, plus to your point there's at larger companies or maybe later stages separate from a growth PM type person. What do you generally think is the right role to hire/architect to focus on? Or is it really dependent like you said on fuel versus engine versus something else?

Emily Kramer (00:22:45):

I mean it's highly dependent on, again the business model, what you need more of, what you already have in place, what's going on. But the most common archetype that I say you want to hire is a product marketer. Even though I joke that everyone says you need a product marketer. But it's actually understanding what that is first, that understands growth marketing as well. So they probably work somewhere early on where they've had to have some exposure to that. So they understand all the channels they're working with, understand what they can do with those channels and maybe they need to work with contractors on some of those things.

Emily Kramer (00:23:17):

Also product marketer needs to know how to write. All marketers should some working knowledge in writing, but they need to know how to write. They are the copywriter for a long time. Tests that they can write, make sure they can write well, short form and long form. They're not going to be necessarily as good in writing as say a content person, but they need to be able to write. And product marketers just tend to have that ability to write and that ability to understand what channels they can use to reach their audience so they're in the middle. So often that's the case.

Emily Kramer (00:23:44):

But I mean, sometimes I find that I'm recommending hiring that growth person first because they maybe already have a couple of really great contractors and they have a couple of really great pieces of content that can just be gifts that keep on giving if they keep distributing them and repurposing them.

Lenny (00:23:58):

What do you look for in this product marketing person? You mentioned ability to write is really important? What else? When someone's scanning LinkedIn or just later talking to them, what do you find is important to focus on and look for?

Emily Kramer (00:24:10):

This can be hard to find, but I think I want to see that they've worked on a team that's early enough where they are not siloed into their specific role. Because what happens at leader stage companies or at public companies is when you're a product marketer, you don't see what's going on in the rest of marketing at all. You have a very siloed view of it, maybe you're only working on product launches as a product marketer, which the positioning is already set, the audience research already done, they haven't done any of those things, or the channels are all built out.

Emily Kramer (00:24:38):

It's just different. I think that's the case in a lot of roles at startups. But building it from scratch is different. So that doesn't mean that if you're a series A company hiring your first marketer that you need to hire someone that's worked at a Series A company. But it usually means you're hiring someone that's worked at least at a growth stage company where they have exposure to a bunch of various marketing. Also looking for, have they seen what great looks like? So whether they joined us startup up early and it did really well, or whether that's they had a stint at a later stage company and then earliest in their career, they're a big company then they went to some big smaller.

Emily Kramer (00:25:17):

Do they know what high quality sort of great looks like? It doesn't always have to be, you don't have to have been at a startup that everyone thinks of as like, they're really great at marketing, but it is helpful. And there are some people that just have a really high quality bar and really understand what great marketing looks like even if they haven't worked in those companies. But I like to say has worked somewhere early enough that they could set strategy across all of marketing. And do they know what great looked like? That's something I'm scanning for. I'm also scanning for your first marketer, you don't want to go out, I see this mistake all the time.

Emily Kramer (00:25:47):

You don't want to go out and hire someone super senior who's only worked at a public company. That's the wrong person. And often VCs or sort lead investors that aren't in a certain niche. when they refer candidates to startups, usually the fail I see is they're like, here's someone great from Google. And I'm like, I'm sure they're great but they're not great for this role and that's the mistake I see all the time. Oh, we just fired our first marketer. I'm like, "where did they work?" They're like, "They only worked at Salesforce." I'm like, well, yeah.

Lenny (00:26:15):

Why is that not a good fit?

Emily Kramer (00:26:16):

Just because they don't understand how all the marketing works together and they don't understand how they built the foundation. It's much different marketing something that already everybody knows what it is or everybody knows the brand even if they don't know the product and they have a built in customer base, than building something up for scratch from scratch is just a very different marketing motion, and you need to do a lot of things. You need to do a lot of things yourself, you need to be a doer.

Emily Kramer (00:26:38):

So you're really looking for most roles or most lead of function roles at startups, they need to be both strategic and of scrappy enough to get the work done. You're going to be doing it all. And in marketing you're often going to be the first marketer for a little while and you're going to be doing everything. And so there has to be some sign that you're going to be comfortable with that.

Lenny (00:26:59):

Awesome. When do you find that it's usually best to hire your first marketing person?

Emily Kramer (00:27:05):

I mean stage wise you're looking at some nice people hire at seed depending on their business, but usually it's in Series A or you hire one sort of more junior person at seed when you're coming into raising or Series A and then you know have two people right after your Series A. But really, I think it's helpful to have some sort of semblance of product market fit. Maybe you're not 100% sure, but maybe you have definitely some successful customers. It's not like we're working with a design partner to build this out and we have a couple pilots. Marketing is really good at accelerating growth and doing that scale one to many.

Emily Kramer (00:27:46):

So if you're still in the very well spoke founder led sales, founder led marketing, like I'm doing discovery with each of these potential customers and have to modify my product for them, that kind of thing. You don't need one yet. Founders can do a fair amount of stuff and they can use some contractors. I think you need them earlier in product growth models because you're not going to hire a salesperson then. So it's more thinking about go to market holistically and saying, do I need one or two people here and why is that? And so if you're a top down model sort of enterprise sale, you're probably going to have a couple sales people before you hire marketing, but that might not be the case.

Emily Kramer (00:28:26):

And these are more self or product led growth models, you just don't need the sales person. So having the marketer is helpful. So again, the business model affects this a lot, but usually the general rule of thumb is, if you had a marketer what would they do? And I often help people try to figure that out. What would they do and if they stepped on the gas and did all this stuff really well, would you be able to handle all those people that came in? Is it even a good time to bring all those people in to your product?

Emily Kramer (00:28:52):

So are they going to be held back by where your product is or where some of the discovery on exact business model is or things like that. And that's the case. It's just not a good use money when they're kind of just sitting on their hands. I can't spend any money on paid and we don't even have any idea what to say on the website because we're selling four different things. It's just kind of hard to hire someone in that case.

Lenny (00:29:19):

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Lenny (00:30:35):

All you have to do is visit Again, that's Take ownership over your health and pick up the ultimate daily nutritional insurance. Just to set context, most of your experience is B2B, so I guess we should just let people know this is probably mostly B2B advice.

Emily Kramer (00:30:53):

Sorry. Yes, mostly B2B advice. I think a lot of this holds, I think the fuel engine stuff holds for B2C. I think the roles pretty much hold, but you might hear the word brand marketing thrown out a lot more in B2C and that's what we're going to be talking about, the fuel stuff and maybe that's going to be what they hire before they hire say like a product marketer. But it's kind of the same set of functions. But most of my experience are B2B and most of the startups I work with are B2B, but some of it holds.

Lenny (00:31:19):

Yeah, I was going to ask about brand marketing, that's like another bucket, right? We haven't talked about that as a type of skill or does that fall into one of these that you've talked about?

Emily Kramer (00:31:27):

To me, brand marketing is a combination or has some of the work that happens by a product marketer and by a content and community marketer. But maybe they also are more influential on the design side of things. And so brand marketing is another one that needs 75 different things. Sometimes it means you literally manage designers or you're a trade up producer, and sometimes it means you are more doing work on what are the stories that we're trying to tell and you're doing more of the content stuff. And sometimes it means I'm doing the positioning work, sometimes it means I'm working on the website or branded paid stuff and consumer.

Emily Kramer (00:32:10):

So it means a lot of things too. But usually in B2B, the person that kind of owns the brand is the positioning story side of brand is owned by product marketing. And the design side of brand is either just owned by the product designer on first or working with a brand designer or if the marketer has skillset set there could be owned by them as well. So it's a little murky at first, but eventually on B2B teams when I've grown teams plus 10 to 15 people, I'll have a brand person that is working really closely with the designers and kind of making sure that everything that we're producing on the content side of things is up to... They're acting as sort an editor there.

Emily Kramer (00:32:58):

They're making sure everything ladders up to the overall story. So they're helping tell the story, they're helping make sure the design is right. And in some instances I'll have a brand person that's kind of working on these larger brand initiatives. We did a huge data study when I was at Carta and the person that kind of ran that whole initiative and the events and it was sort of a separate initiative that had a lot of different parts was my brand marketer. They were kind of working on these larger sort of big data project that's made across all of marketing.

Lenny (00:33:25):

Awesome. Well you talked about the growth PM role kind of adjacent to all this. For the typical say PLG startup, in your experience, do you find folks should hire more of a marketing person than a growth person that focuses on say, conversion or optimizing the funnel or SEO or paid or anything like that? What's your experience there?

Emily Kramer (00:33:47):

For PLG I think you want to have a marketer that is responsible for getting people into the product, that's a marketing profile. That's using all of these channels that's driving inbound, that's focused on web conversion, making sure your website converts, that's a marketing skillset. Because it's really likely you have to work with to get this done is really how I think about it. And you have to work with the people that own the website which is marketing for all of these sort of inbound stuff you are going to work with a lot of people on the marketing team. So that piece is really a marketing piece.

Emily Kramer (00:34:16):

The product experiments and the product test, that's a person with a product skill set because they know how to work with other PMs, they know how to work with engineers and marketers don't. And then there's these gray areas like the onboarding experience or when you first get into the product. And that is an area where there needs to be a ton of collaboration. So my view is that if you're going to have a growth PM, it's probably helpful for them to have EM experience or product experience, but they should be paired as soon as they can be with someone that also understands that top of model piece.

Emily Kramer (00:34:50):

Or maybe that person isn't in a full-time growth role, but know who on the marketing team is going to work with them on these areas of crossover like onboarding or that first use experience. And making sure that the signup flow from filling out something on the website to getting in the product is really consistent. Because that area of I'll fill out a handoff, we talk about the marketing to sales handoff all the time on the go to market side, but there's a marketing to product handoff. And that's the handoff that's really important in PLG. And that feels weird to a user, it's two different teams inside of a company.

Emily Kramer (00:35:24):

But if that that feels weird to a user, you're going to notice that all of a sudden feels extremely disjoined. Or if I'm getting a bunch of product transactional emails while I'm getting a bunch of marketing drip emails. So that handoff or that experience needs to be ironed out or consistent or there needs to be tons of collaboration there. So however that is done, I don't really care what the teams look like. Lots of different companies have different versions of how they do this. But the idea is that experience needs to feel consistent and you need to have collaboration across people that have those skill sets and you need to have a clear process for how that looks.

Emily Kramer (00:36:00):

And so it's just getting that marketing sales handoff in my opinion. It's like how do you get the marketing to product handoff right? And if it means you have someone that owns onboarding, it's in a hybrid role, then great. If it means there's a committee sort of situation with one person at the DRI, that's great too. So I think my answer is, I don't think there's one way to structure it, it's just highly dependent on the company overall. And I think you need both skill sets.

Lenny (00:36:22):

You touched on an area of tension that often comes up between marketing and product. I imagine many listeners hear you saying, marketing should own the website and conversion and net flow. And thinking about the idea of product led growth. The idea that is product will grow our business and oftentimes PMs do that work and oftentimes they're really good at it. And so I guess the question is, in your experience, do you find that it should be marketing more than product or product people?

Lenny (00:36:58):

Is it depending on the person, maybe they're called the product person, but they actually are really good at marketing. Any insights there? And then we're going to talk about just collaboration between the two functions.

Emily Kramer (00:37:08):

So I think that product led growth is a misnomer. I think people will do anything they can possibly do not call marketing marketing. I think we always see this. And so I think that product led growth really means not as much sales, which means product plus marketing. And so that's probably a hot take. But product led growth is just another name for what we like. I mean, product led growth is a little different than premium or sales server, these things. But you are being handheld by the product, you aren't being handheld by the sales team.

Emily Kramer (00:37:37):

So really to me, and you can have a sales assist with product led grow as well. But typically what's more at odds in my mind is product led growth means you are going to have a huge sales team early on. It doesn't mean you're not going to have a huge marketing team early on. In fact, to me it means you are going to have a bigger marketing team early on because you're not going to have those sales. Sales is not communicating with customers. So I think it comes back to what are these teams typically good at? And marketing is typically good at the communication piece of one to many. That's what they're good at.

Emily Kramer (00:38:07):

And so they're usually good. They should be good at figuring out all the channels to have a funnel to communicate with people. And product is really using product as a channel by which to communicate with customers prospects, et cetera. So that's one way of thinking about the difference. On conversion, conversion also means lots of different things. There's top of funnel conversion, getting on the website and filling out some other form. There's conversion once you're in the product becoming an active user or inviting people. So it's like, well, which part of conversion? Web conversion, I typically think of something that's owned by marketing because usually product doesn't want to own the website.

Emily Kramer (00:38:46):

Early on products will sometimes own the website because marketing wasn't there. But the website is something that's going to need to be updated like 5,000 times and it needs to be on Webflow preferably at this point or DMS that's easy update. And if it's built into the code base that's like it, or it's on a headless CMS or it's not touchable by marketing, that's a huge problem. When it comes to once they click the signup button, who should be mostly involved in that process? I think again, there needs to be, I think there's lots of ways to handle that.

Emily Kramer (00:39:16):

And I think if it's product it kind of has that skillset and the testing skillset and there's enough volume that you can be doing a bunch of tests, maybe that's the person that owns that. But I think there's still going to be a lot of collaboration on the exact words that are used and things like that. So I think it's just whatever it is, make it clear where the handoff is. And so maybe it's not marketing on the entire website because maybe they don't own those flows, but there's this gray area. And I think the other big thing is sometimes the forms, the literal forms that are used are built in your website and sometimes they're built in the product.

Emily Kramer (00:39:47):

And I think that also drives a lot of it because it's who do you need to help you build these things? And if they're built into the product, then the product team needs to own that. But it shouldn't to me like this, let's not argue about it, we're trying to move this and here's the things that marketing is going to do and here's the things that product is going to do, and here are the areas of overlap. But I don't think products should be in the business of owning the whole website and all the top of funnel messaging and all of that stuff. That's not the best use of anyone's time really.

Lenny (00:40:18):

I know you had a lot of success with marketing and product working together at Asana, and kind of double clicking on the same thread. What have you seen to be an important part of this collaboration and making one plus one equal three, when product and marketing and working together at a B2B company?

Emily Kramer (00:40:36):

And look like there were definitely ups and down marketing working with product at Asana as well. But I think overall we did a good job because of some of the systems that Asana had in place. Which is and we talked about this before but something that Asana did well is they had this list in Asana of course, everything at Asana was in Asana through Asana by Asana. But we had a list of areas of responsibility which is just who owns what, it's not your job title. It's what are the things that you are the DRI for? It doesn't mean you're not going to collaborate with people on those things. So what are you the directly responsible individual for?

Emily Kramer (00:41:11):

And this made it really easy to know who to go to. I'm just going to use DRI because I can't keep saying directly responsible individuals. So the DRI on tests on the onboarding experience is Jennifer the PM. But the copywriter for that is, I don't know, I'm sure who think of exactly who the person was, is Devin on marketing. So we broke it down that's simply so you knew who to go to. Because often what happens with product is they're like, I'm doing a launch, I don't know, especially when there's 15 marketers, I don't know if I'm supposed to go for this product launch or to figure out if this is a launchable feature, so I'm just going to skip it.

Emily Kramer (00:41:49):

So it's really helpful to say the product marketer owner for this part of the product is this and to just have this list. So just having clear ownership is what this comes down to. But it's one thing to have clear ownership but it's quite another to for other teams to know who that clear owner is. So I think having a clear list beyond titles and just like who owns what is really helpful. And then as you hire new people, you can break down those, the list kind of gets longer because you're going to break things down more. It goes from Emily owning all of marketing to me breaking that down and not owning all of it.

Emily Kramer (00:42:22):

So I found that really helpful. I also found at Asana we did something called Roadmap Week, which was before every quarter. Where we had of open meetings, sometimes they were open and sometimes they weren't. But we had cross-functional meetings to help plan for what you were going to do that quarter on your team. So I could sit in on the product road mapping for X as the head of marketing. And that was really helpful to just get a sense for what was going on. And sometimes there'd be people in those that were silent participators, and then adopting that would be made so you could see this.

Emily Kramer (00:42:56):

And maybe it doesn't scale forever, but it worked really well early on for people being able to be looped on things, to have these sort of out loud landing meetings where you were talking through here are our biggest decisions. Here's what we're wrestling between and getting input, kind of knowing what was going on. I think another thing that we did well was also having clear review processes. And all of this sounds like a lot of process, but once you actually make an AORs list, it kind of runs itself. Someone new gets hired, they're excited to put in their AORs or someone gets the new responsibility and they're stoked to take it over from the head of marketing or whatever it is.

Emily Kramer (00:43:32):

I finally have handed you the master managing editor AOR and it becomes a big deal. The other thing that I think we did well from a marketing perspective is another newsletter that I have is this framework that I use called the GACCS or the GACCS. Which GACCS sounds more fun to say than the GACCS. But this is just a marketing brief that I recommend you do before you make anything big in marketing or do any big projects. And it's just what are the goals? What's the audience? What's the creative or unique end goal? What's this thing? I guess what's going to make it different and stand out from other companies?

Emily Kramer (00:44:17):

The second C is the channels or how this is going to be distributed. How are you going to get the word out about this? Deep thinking there. And then the last few are the stakeholders. Who's the DRI and who needs to weigh in and who's going to be the helper? Who are the contributors? And that's where you can include some product people and you can share this before you start doing any work. So for instance, if you're doing a product launch, product manager communicates with the marketing team. Maybe you have a meeting, maybe you share some brief from the product guide or you share sort of what's being built.

Emily Kramer (00:44:43):

And then marketing comes back to you with the GACCS. And you can kind weigh in on, here are the channels that are going to be using. The creative C has maybe the highest level messaging. And you get buy in early on and then you can go much faster. And then you're not just sharing with product, here's a blog post that I wrote for the launch. And you're like, what? This is the wrong audience, the wrong thing. You just save so much time sharing these types of things up front. So I find there's a handful of different practices that need to be in place, but it's sharing the right information at the right level of information at the right times and having a culture of doing that.

Emily Kramer (00:45:21):

And it needs to go both ways. Product needs to loop marketing and they are like, here's what we're working on this quarter here are going to be some of the things that we're launching or any of these interesting that you want to double down on and do what public launch for or whatever it is. Or we really think onboarding needs to be approved. Let's put together a group that's going to work on this quarter and let's kind of have a spring plan that's cross-functional. It's a lot of that. So a lot of this happens in a planning process. So if you as a company don't have a good planning process, you're not going to have good cross-functional collaboration, especially between product and marketing.

Emily Kramer (00:45:55):

And I think the last thing is just a respect for the skillset. Recognizing you are good at this or you have access to engineers, you know how to get them to do things. I don't want to do that as a marketer. I'm good at storytelling and I know how to get people in the door in the funnel. And let's respect what each person is good at and let them go do their thing. So those are just some of the tactical practices and things that we did in Asana that I thought worked well. But it's hard.

Emily Kramer (00:46:24):

I mean, everyone wants the other team to be doing something a little bit differently and that's always going to be the case. And those tensions in some cases are good because that's why you have the benefit of having different teams and different perspectives. But it gets out of hand when people are just working in silos and aren't communicating with each other, aren't looping people in on things that they're experts on.

Lenny (00:46:43):

Awesome. All the templates and frameworks that you mentioned we're going to link to in the show notes. One of the things I love about is you're like a PM minded marketer where you make everything super concrete and templated and assigned.

Emily Kramer (00:46:56):

I like a framework, I like a framework and I like a template. And I am pretty PM minded because I'm pretty well rounded when it comes to the marketing skillset. I don't really consider myself a growth marketer or a product marketer or a content marketer. I just consider myself a marketer who builds teams and that's a different mindset. And I also love goals and planning. No, I don't love annual planning processes that companies do and overdone OKR exercise. It's where you're making this crazy cascade that then nobody can follow.

Emily Kramer (00:47:31):

But basic sort of simple planning so that you kind of go a little slower up front so then you can just fly out getting things out the door. That's the kind of teams I like to lead.

Lenny (00:47:44):


Emily Kramer (00:47:44):

It's like upfront buy in and then move back, do what you need to do.

Lenny (00:47:48):

I love the sound of that. We're also working on a guest post that may come out before this comes out or after around a lot of this templates. So I'm excited to get that out the door. Coming back to this kind of tension that often happens between PMs and marketing people. Tell me if you agree, but I find that product teams are always often very skeptical of marketing and find that there's just all this time, energy, resources put into marketing efforts. And it's hard to measure who knows what's happening there.

Lenny (00:48:19):

While the product continues to evolve, you can tell what it's doing. It's often driving most of the growth. And so my main question here is, as a product person, what tells you that the marketing person and team is good and awesome and you should trust them and they know what they're doing, versus maybe they're not amazing and we should try to push back? Any advice there?

Emily Kramer (00:48:45):

Yeah, I recently did a talk with my friend Jenny, who was the head of content at Asana and now is the head of content in Palms at Clear Lake. And she was sort of joking. We were coming up for the name of the talk and she was like, "I want to call it content splatergy versus content strategy." And I was like, "We'll work that in, but maybe that won't be the title, splatergy is really weird word." But it's true. But I think it's funny because a lot of what marketing is that splatergy not strategy, meaning it's just like you just throw a bunch of stuff out there.

Emily Kramer (00:49:17):

And if you're doing a bunch of work and it's like a lot of busy work and you want to look busy, but it's not impact focus. The best marketing teams are impact focus. They can tell you of all the things they're doing, what are the core things that are of driving that linear growth or just keeping the lights on. They can tell you what their big bets are. What are the things that we are doing right now that we believe can cause step change, top of the funnel growth? Or step change growth on signups or whatever it might be? What are those things? What are the big bets that you're taking? And then what are the foundational pieces of marketing that aren't done yet that might be taking up time?

Emily Kramer (00:49:54):

We would love to be able to move faster here, but we're like, we don't have a good lead scoring system or we're working on this. We need to redo our website and here's why we need to get it into Webflow and then we'll be able to move faster. So they should be able to break down. Here are the core things we have to do. We're measuring that the core work is working by these TBIs and it's sort of a full funnel view. And we are working on these big bets and here's the foundational things that are broken. So if you ask a marketing lead and you're like, What are their big bets? And they're like, I don't know.

Emily Kramer (00:50:26):

You can't grow at the rate of venture back startups, you grow by just continuing to do incremental things. That's the same as product I would imagine as well. So they need to have this sort of framework going on. And the other thing that I think is a sign that you're not being impact focused or you're not being effective as a marketing team is this is my favorite thing to pick on And I see it all the time. And I understand why it happens, but don't do it. If our goal is to write 10 blog posts this month. And I'm like, no, that's not a goal, that's maybe a tactic. But the goal should be traffic and the conversion rate from that traffic or the signups that come from that.

Emily Kramer (00:51:02):

So you shouldn't have activity goals, you should have impact goals. And so the best marketing teams are focused on these funnel metrics. They're not just focused on a certain number signups or qualified leads. They're focused on that number plus maintaining or improving the conversion rate that comes after it. So they're focused on signups with a conversion rate to activated user of the same or better than it is now. Because I can get a lot more people to sign up for a product, but they might be really shitty quality. So you need to have sort of that other threshold. So these are some of the things that I look at to say, is marketing team impact focused?

Emily Kramer (00:51:40):

And when I talk to companies or work with marketers and look at what are they doing and what are their projects, these are the things I usually point out. You need to be more impact focused and here's what you need to do. So that's the big thing that's like are they doing a bunch of busy work or are they doing a bunch of things that can actually lead to tangible growth and what metrics are they using to track that? The other thing is if they're not tracking to my point about not just looking at the raw numbers at each stage of the funnel, but looking at the conversion rates.

Emily Kramer (00:52:12):

If they're not looking at conversion anywhere at all, there's a huge problem. Because again, I can throw a bunch of people into a funnel stage but they don't convert to the next one, it might not be helping anything. So their focus on conversion not just at the stage of the funnel that they own, but throughout the entire funnel, I think also is a good indicator on if they're being successful as marketers or not.

Lenny (00:52:33):

Yeah, these are great. I feel like everything you're saying is music to every PM's ears. That great marketing people should be impact focused, have clear goals in KPIs. You also talked about how it's important to DRIs, like who is responsible for what, being really clear about that, communicating really clearly and often. And then there's this piece about just setting the foundations, like a strong foundation that helps make all these other things successful. This is great.

Lenny (00:52:57):

I imagine every PM would be like, This is exactly what I want from my marketing team. And your point here is, if your marketing team and lead is not doing these things well, maybe there's an issue and maybe it's not the right marketing person.

Emily Kramer (00:53:09):

Yeah. And look, if it's not the team lead, because sometimes you do have, especially at a larger company, you have a team lead that's either on the, you could have someone that's extremely sort of creative and on the brand side of things. But they need to have someone that's working with them that is really good at all of this stuff. It's almost like we need marketing PMs then those tend to be the product marketers or the lead. Because there's so many different projects going on and lots of different things happening. And it's hard to put it all together and say, what are we doing as a marketing team that's moving the needle.

Emily Kramer (00:53:40):

But I think the other thing about communicating often, it's also communicating at the right level. I find that marketers, even though they're often good at communicating with the audience, they're not good at communicating internally. And I think I've struggled here too as they move to leading larger teams and being on executive teams which is like, what level of information do you need to communicate? And you need to educate people about what marketing does. Because one, marketing often has a bad reputation and so you need to be like, here's what we're actually doing and moving.

Emily Kramer (00:54:06):

And two, there's a lot of jargon in marketing and you got to separate that out and communicate the right level of information at the right time. So I think that's hard too. And so that's why I like things like the DAXs framework and other things like that. And what exactly am I communicating about and at what level. It's hard to get right there too.

Lenny (00:54:25):

Amazing. One last question before we get to our very exciting lightning round.

Emily Kramer (00:54:30):

I can't wait.

Lenny (00:54:30):

You've been waiting all week. So you mentioned that you're a full-time investor basically at this point and the newsletter is a part of that. You've become a really active angel investor and it's really cool to have seen the way you've turned your experience in this really smart way of getting into great deals and supporting founders. And so I'm curious if you have any advice for folks that are thinking about becoming angel investors in the future, just how to leverage their expertise to become successful in investing.

Emily Kramer (00:55:03):

I think there's a big need for investors that have functional expertise. In traditional VCs. They don't necessarily, maybe they founded companies, maybe they've always been investors or sometimes VC and they really come from sales roles or PM roles. But for me and for marketing and maybe for some of the roles of other people are in, there's not a lot of investors or even advisors from that function and they need help there. And so I think more and more founders are seeing, instead of having advisors or even hiring someone at a function early, it's like, let me lean on angel investors for that.

Emily Kramer (00:55:37):

And so I make it very clear when I talk to founders, this is how I'm going to help. I'm going to help you build your marketing function. I'm definitely going to help you hire, or I'm going to help you shape the job description of the process. I'm probably going to refer you some candidates. I might even refer the candidate that you hire which has happened a bunch of times. And then I'm going to work with that person to make sure that they're setting the right strategy and doing the right things. And so being that clear on here's my exact value add is incredibly helpful.

Emily Kramer (00:56:04):

And I mean, we get into every deal that we want to. We being I have a business partner named Kathleen, that I do all this with and we can get into any deal. Which I think as an early angel investor, I'm like, why are people saying it's hard to get into a deal? I don't have this problem. And that's not me tapping myself on the shoulder. It's just showing there's huge shortage here. So your skillset might be really valuable to founders and even if you feel like, I don't understand how everything works at a company or things like that, your skillset could be really valuable and they might not see it.

Emily Kramer (00:56:33):

It's also when you have a unique skill set and a unique way that you help well articulated. We're going to help you build marketing, it's easy to understand. It makes me easier for other people to bring you into deals. Versus here's another generalist investor that's just going to help. So it's almost like you got to product market yourself. What's the product that you're offering? And then it's so easy, you know Lenny to bring me into deals where they might need some marketing help and there's tons of investors that do that which gets us to deal flow that we need.

Emily Kramer (00:57:00):

So I just think if you have a niche or you have an area where you're particularly skilled, you can really leverage that into being a sought after angle. Now, if that makes you a good investor, I'm not sure, there's lots of other things you need to get up to speed on to actually be a good investor. But from the standpoint of helping founders and getting into deals, that can be really helpful.

Lenny (00:57:19):

Awesome. And the other part is you actually have to deliver because then people share more deals with you. And as I said earlier, I've heard so often how helpfully you've been to founders and so that's an important element.

Emily Kramer (00:57:30):

Yeah, you definitely have to deliver. And again, I think that's where it's really helpful to say where you're going to deliver. So they're not necessarily expecting you to deliver on every little thing. They're expecting me to help them hire their marketer, hire contractors in marketing, fill in gaps until they have the marketing team that they need. And so they know when to come to you and then you respond. I think that's also like when people have full-time jobs, I think it's hard to be able to do that full-time jobs that aren't this, it's hard to be able to just tap in and do this kind of stuff.

Emily Kramer (00:58:01):

So it's like don't go overboard because your reputation really, really matters and that's how we've always seen it. We want to be the most helpful angel investors or now we have a small client, but the helpful sort of most helpful investors that you have in your cap table regardless, not just within marketing but within everything. And we do that because we can go really deep on an area and we're always responsible on those areas. And it's good to hear it's working because that's what we're trying to do is be really, really helpful.

Emily Kramer (00:58:27):

And the other thing too, the last thing I'll say on that is each founder probably thinks, maybe they don't, that it takes us a lot more time than it actually does to be helpful in that area. I had the same conversations over and over again about how to hire a marketer. I can do it in my sleep. So me having that conversation with you and dropping knowledge that you haven't heard, this is what I do all day. But it feels really new because they don't have a lot of people talking to them about marketing. We just have a bunch of candidates that we talk to and our newsletter generates candidates that we talk to.

Emily Kramer (00:58:57):

So anyone can go on our website and get on our list of candidates that we're referring. I talk to one or two candidates a week from that to just meet more marketers. So I have a list of marketers I can refer and say, it's really easy when clients ask me for referrals. So it starts to scale pretty well if you have that niche where you help.

Lenny (00:59:16):

Yeah, I was actually going to add that it may sound scary to feel like you commit to all these startups as an investor, you have to help founders all day. I can say I've invested over 150 companies at this point, which on the surface could feel overwhelming. Like holy shit, all these founders are probably asking you for advice all the time. But I find it's not that, most founders just leave me alone, I'm good.

Lenny (00:59:39):

Or maybe once a quarter, here's something I could really use help with. But it's not as much time as you think and when it is it's really powerful, but it's not an overwhelming amount of time commitment.

Emily Kramer (00:59:53):

The other thing there too is if you refer someone that a company hires, they're going to lobby you forever. You remember that because you sit there and you look at that, I mean, you're maybe not anymore looking at them in an office, but you see and are aware of them every day. And you remember, they came from this person. So one of the most valuable things you could do is refer candidates. And so that's where I think you can add a ton of leverage. You're just referring the right people. So if you have a network and a bunch of people that you know in a certain area like that scenario where you can really do a lot of good for a startup.

Lenny (01:00:25):

Absolutely. Speaking of doing good, we've reached our exciting lightning round.

Emily Kramer (01:00:31):

Oh, great.

Lenny (01:00:32):

So I'm just going to ask you five questions real quick. Whatever comes to mind, let me know. First question, what are two or three books that you've recommended most to people?

Emily Kramer (01:00:41):

I like the classic marketing book, maybe because I think if they're not a classic and they're recency based, marketing changes so fast, like most things in startups and technology. It changes so fast that I like the things that have stood the test of time. And those are things like The Tipping Point and Crossing The Chasm. And I like Seth Godin's Purple Cow, which is just having something that makes you stand out. So those are the classic marketing books and I think every marketer or some of them should have read at some point. I think April Dunford's Obviously Awesome is sort of becoming one of those books that every marketer should have read on positioning.

Emily Kramer (01:01:16):

It's really helpful even if you're not a product marketer doing positioning, I think it's really helpful. And then the book I read most recently is not related to marketing at all. I read is my partner's favorite book and she was always like, I don't think you're going to like this book, I don't think you'll like it, but it's her favorite book. And it's All The Light We Cannot See about World War II which is of a depressing topic giving all of the tumultuousness in the world. But I thought it was just a very beautifully written book.

Emily Kramer (01:01:42):

And when you read a lot of business writing a lot, it's kind of nice to step back and just read really beautiful pros on a really heavy topic that isn't just startup marketing. So it was kind of fun to go back and read sort of a older book that was really beautifully written. Next one, Lenny.

Lenny (01:01:58):

Next question, okay. What's a favorite podcast for you?

Emily Kramer (01:02:02):

Besides yours, obviously. No, I mean, you're doing a great job for someone who's just started off doing podcast. You go deep with people which I think is good, it's not just the service level stuff. Look like the podcast I listen to most is like every night when I go to sleep, I listen to The Daily, the New York Times Daily just gets me to know what's going on. I also like some true crime podcasts but I won't talk about that because maybe that's a little embarrassing and basic. And I think for just getting understanding founders and startups over the years, I found How I Built This to be really helpful.

Emily Kramer (01:02:33):

And I think the main thing I learned from How I Built This is that most startups are really happy. And so if you feel at the beginning if you feel like, we're are just a mess, we're doing everything wrong, that's kind of common. So it's helpful in that regard too. It's like, it's not just me. But I think there's really interesting founder story and hearing how things are built is always helpful. So those are some that I like.

Lenny (01:02:55):

Favorite recent movie or TV show?

Emily Kramer (01:02:57):

My favorite TV show from this year was Yellowjackets on Showtime, which is kind of Lord of the Flies, which had a bunch of women. Lord of the Flies meets lost. It's really good. So it has Christina Ricci in it, the person who was in Casper and now in [inaudible 01:03:14] if you were a girl that grew up in the late 80s and 90s, you will know who Christina Ricci is, or a guy, any gender. I really liked Yellowjackets. I think it's great.

Emily Kramer (01:03:24):

And it was the first show in a while that I've been watching it where I like for the first couple of episodes, I wasn't on my phone half the time. So that's like my measure for, is it good? And then the best movie I've seen recently was we watched CODA, which I think it won some Oscars or something.

Lenny (01:03:39):

I think it won best picture.

Emily Kramer (01:03:41):

Oh, okay. So it wasn't the Oscar. So I'm really original in my picks here. I'm like, I just watched the Oscar Best Picture, I thought it was great. No, but CODA was like, I think I cried, or at least I almost cried.

Lenny (01:03:54):

No, I actually cried. Yes.

Emily Kramer (01:03:55):

Yeah, it's about a family who can't hear and then their daughter can hear and they become really interested in music. And there's the story of a family and they're a family of fisherman in Massachusetts, which my brother is a clamor in Massachusetts that's his job. Not his only job, but one of his job that he clams. So he doesn't quite have that fisherman vibe, but somewhat relevant. Yeah, really, really good movie.

Lenny (01:04:25):

And that last scene, powerful. Too much, I'm going to start crying.

Emily Kramer (01:04:30):

It's a good one, it's a good family story. Lenny is crying right now. He's just in tears remembering the movie CODA. Lenny is going to spend the rest of the day weeping. You won't get a newsletter next week. It's just because he is rewatching CODA.

Lenny (01:04:42):

It's going to be an emotional newsletter. Speaking of that, what's a favorite interview question that you like to ask?

Emily Kramer (01:04:49):

Oh, there's so many interview questions that I like to ask. I mean, one of the basic interview questions in marketing that I like to ask is just the company that you're working on, what's the product? Why is it better? Who is it for? It's the most basic positioning question you can ask, but a lot of people can't answer it. So that's a good one. And also if you're writing positioning at your company or if you're on marketing your company and you can't tell me what the product is, why it's better, who it's for, go figure that out if that's what the home page of your website should cover. In fact, the hero of your website and so many don't.

Emily Kramer (01:05:23):

A fun question that I like to ask. It's a mix of getting to know you but also seeing how you communicate is describe something, and I didn't come up with this question, but I really like it. Describe something complicated that you know well that others don't and describe it as simply as you can. And it's just interesting to hear what people pick. Most people pick things related to cooking which is really strange. I ask that question every interview for a long time just as the final question because you learn something about people. And so many people pick cooking.

Emily Kramer (01:05:57):

And I'm like, that's a good choice because I find cooking really complicated and I have no idea how to do it. So describe these various aspects of cooking to me. But that's always a fun one. There's other questions that I always ask like walk me through a project you've done recently from start to finish and I'm listening for things can you tell me the goal? And can you tell the audience? But those are more boring, so I'll stop there.

Lenny (01:06:17):


Emily Kramer (01:06:18):

What's your favorite interview question Lenny?

Lenny (01:06:19):

Oh no, I'm asking you questions here.

Emily Kramer (01:06:22):

I know I wanted to flip the lightning round back on you. Have you ever done your own lightning round?

Lenny (01:06:27):

I haven't but I'll answer the question I met away. I'm finding the most popular answer to this question is that second one you just gave which is teach me something I don't know. That comes up a lot in these answers.

Emily Kramer (01:06:38):

Yeah. Teach me something I don't know. This is a variation on teach me something I don't know. Because it's really about how simply can you communicate it. Teach me something you don't know comes across as a little, I don't want to say pretentious, but it's like it's overwhelming.

Lenny (01:06:53):

Well, I'll add a little flavor to it as they often say, you have a minute to explain something I don't know, something interesting to you. And so it kind of forces you to be simple about it. But I like the framing.

Emily Kramer (01:07:05):

Yeah. It's a complicated framing. And then sometimes what I'll do, especially if they're going to be someone that's going to be writing is I'll be like, okay, make it simpler. And then I'll have them describe it to me again simpler. And I've probably done that in one interview, I've probably done it four times. Which that part isn't super fun but it depends on the person. If I think they can handle kind of joking around, make it simpler. And if I think the topic's interesting, of course, and I'll like want to hear about something so over and over again.

Lenny (01:07:32):


Emily Kramer (01:07:33):

Yeah, I mean it's good to have interview questions that maybe teach you something about how they're going to do at the job, but also learn something about the person. And in a way that's not just tell me about yourself.

Lenny (01:07:47):

Final question, who else in the industry do you most respect as a thought leader?

Emily Kramer (01:07:51):

The word thought leader here is getting me down but I'll answer the first part of your question. As marketers, we love to paint the phrase thought leader. Some of the other marketer that I think are doing interesting things beyond just marketing is Ashley Meyer is someone who is a marketer who also has a fund now. She was comms at Glossier as well as she used to be at Box and things like that. And is big on Twitter, but she's just someone else who is a marketer in return fund manager. So it's always nice to have other people like that to kind of compare notes with.

Emily Kramer (01:08:22):

I think that Arielle Jackson from First Round is an amazing support system to founders and marketers at startup. So if you're a first round company, she's a great resource and I think she's just a great resource in general. I also think Kevin Lee, the head of Marketing and Oyster, he's an LPN in our fund, he puts out a newsletter and has a full-time job growing a rapidly growing marketing team. So I have a lot of respect. He's coming to speak to the people in a course that I'm running next week. So he's top of mind. But those are some people that come to mind.

Emily Kramer (01:08:51):

But I mean, I have a lot of marketers that I admire. I'm lucky that in our fund we have over 50 marketers so I have a pretty big arsenal of people I can go to just from that as well. So I lean on the people there for a lot of different things.

Lenny (01:09:05):

Emily, this was everything I was hoping it would be and more. I feel like we've helped a lot of founders understand the fog of marketing and I think we are probably going to help a lot of PMs and marketing people work together a lot more effectively.

Emily Kramer (01:09:21):

Hopefully. The fog of marketing, marketing is the San Francisco of functions in a company.

Lenny (01:09:27):

Karl the marketing fog.

Emily Kramer (01:09:28):

Karl the marketing fog.

Lenny (01:09:29):

Two final questions. Where can folks find you online if they want to reach out, learn more? And how can listeners be useful to you?

Emily Kramer (01:09:35):

Yeah, I am on Twitter and LinkedIn just Emily Kramer, my name, pretty simple. You can find links to the courses that I run, to the newsletter, to our job board, to talking to me about angel investing as a marketer on our website And that should set you off in the right direction. And we have lots of things going on to help marketers build out their teams and help founders build out their marketing teams. So if that's you and you're in a situation where you're mostly at a B2B company trying to build out marketing, get in touch with me through my website or through Twitter.

Lenny (01:10:10):

Amazing. Emily, thank you for being here.

Emily Kramer (01:10:12):

Thanks for having me. This was really fun and I'm looking forward to also having that guest newsletter come out with you and just getting Lenny Lennyaised. It's a weird phrase, I won't use that again.

Lenny (01:10:23):

Let's move on.

Emily Kramer (01:10:25):

We're going to move on. All right. Thanks Lenny.

Lenny (01:10:28):

Okay, thanks Emily. Thank you so much for listening. If you found this valuable, you can subscribe to the show on Apple Podcast, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app. Also, please consider giving us a rating or leaving a review as that really helps other listeners find the podcast. You can find all past episodes or learn more about the show at lenny' See you in the next episode.