MKG Marketing MKG Marketing Logo Quotation Marks
Podcasts > Tea Time with Tech Marketing Leaders

Achieving Business Goals with Eric Martin, Senior VP of Marketing at Stack Overflow

Kerry Guard • Wednesday, December 13, 2023 • 56 minutes to listen

Subscribe to the Podcast or listen on...

Spotify iTunes Anchor

Join our weekly newsletter

We care about the protection of your data. Read our Privacy Policy.

Eric Martin

Senior Vice President, Marketing at Stack Overflow


Welcome to "Tea Time with Tech Marketers," where we delve into the dynamic world of tech marketing with industry leaders. 

In today's episode, our host Kerry Guard sits down with Eric Martin, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Stack Overflow, to explore the significance of setting aspirational goals and cultivating a supportive team environment. Eric shares insights from his extensive career, including transformative experiences at SalesLoft and his current role at Stack Overflow. Together, they discuss the evolving landscape of marketing, the impact of AI on go-to-market teams, and the importance of building trust and transparency within a team. Join us for an engaging conversation filled with valuable career insights and marketing wisdom from seasoned industry professionals.


Kerry Guard [00:00:04]:

Hello. I'm Kerry Guard and welcome to Tea Time with Tech Marketing Leaders. We are live. Thank you all for your patience as we got up here and running. We're so grateful that you're here with us. If you don't by the way.

Eric Martin [00:00:16]:

 My fault.

Kerry Guard [00:00:19]:

Eric, I was covering for you, man. If you are here with us, we'd love to hear from you. Drop a hello in the comments, and then we look forward to your questions because this is going to be a very awesome topic. Perfect timing for it heading into 2024, a new year, a new dom. We get to redefine where we wanna go and what that path looks like and this is going to be a wonderful pathway to lead us there. So it's gonna be great. Before I dive into the topic, today, I have Eric Martin with me, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Stack Overflow. Hello, Eric.

Kerry Guard [00:00:56]:

Welcome to the show.

Eric Martin [00:00:57]:

Great to have you.

Kerry Guard [00:00:58]:

So excited to have you. Eric has an extensive background with over 20 years of experience, having settled into demand generation marketing at Stack Overflow for the last 2 years. Before that, he was at Salesloft for an impressive 4-year stint, at Catapult Inc., for 4 years, and at BCM, before that for 4 years. There's a pattern here, Eric.

Kerry Guard [00:01:33]:

And we're gonna unpack that because I think there's a reason for it, and I can't wait to get there. And while this is all great information, That's fine. That's all fan-finish and dandy, but what we really want is the story of how you got here. These are all sort of the behind you know, like, the painting of the picture, the scenery of the backdrop of which you were on. But what was the journey for you going through those backdrops? Bring us along.

Eric Martin [00:02:00]:

I'm originally from up north, originally from Vermont. So the green mountain state. Always be a Vermonter. But, you know, they don't have much of a summer up there. They don't have much warmth. And, my wife and I definitely wanted to settle down south. The journey down here has been interesting, and extensive. My wife's and my careers have taken us down here.

Eric Martin [00:02:29]:

So grew up in Vermont, went, went to college in New Jersey, and I'm at a a university called Fairleigh Dickinson University, which, is pretty small, but, a great, small biz business school, with a big international presence. Some people like to joke that it sounds like a fake university name in a movie, which I think is pretty funny, and fairly big Today, university, like, you guys even imagine, like, an intro to that, coming through. So, a great school. Really enjoyed that. It was about a half-hour west of New York, in Morristown, New Jersey. And, loved New York. Loved traveling there, going to the city, got to go to a couple of Yankees games, and fell in love with it. After, school, graduated with a, well, graduated with Business Management information systems, degree, and, became a data center decommissioning and migration consultant for investment banks.

Eric Martin [00:03:27]:

Pretty, pretty exciting stuff. Hold on to your hat.

Kerry Guard [00:03:32]:

Very very niche and, complicated right out of the gate there.

Eric Martin [00:03:36]:

Yeah. Well, I did I had a couple of, smaller positions before them, but that was really the 1st career that I settled into. I think a lot of the origin of that was that I'm just kind of geeky by nature. The first, you know, the 1st computer I had, I had when I was 6. It was the Texas Instruments TI 99A. It didn't even have discs. It had a big cartridge that you stick into the front. You plug it into your TV.

Eric Martin [00:04:00]:

Yeah. The big tube that made the noises when you turn it on and all that stuff. So that was my first foray into technology and really fell in love, with everything from there on out. So, you know, I lean very hard into the technical aspects of my career and my skill set right after school. And frankly, it was a great time too. It's just when the beginning of the move to the cloud starts to happen. The late, the late early aughts. You know, 2009, 2010, that's when that shift really started to become more seismic.

Eric Martin [00:04:34]:

So, really interesting and great experience. Right? Here I am, fresh out of school for a couple of years, and I'm presenting to the Head of global technology infrastructure at Merrill Lynch. I'm like, woah. You know, in the top 4 of the building. 

Kerry Guard [00:04:48]:

Right in the deep end.

Eric Martin [00:04:49]:

People who are a lot more important than me, around me, and all so it was great,  my role was mainly project manager, making sure that stuff happened on time. And, I worked for a firm that, that assisted, those banks. And it was a really great experience interacting with senior technology leaders and understanding challenges at every level, from the head of technology all the way down through, the different levels of engineering, and architecture. So that was a great kind of initial experience for me. Now what it didn't scratch, the itch it didn't scratch was the creative, side. Right? So, that's that was, you know, I found myself, in data centers with no windows and, you know, no humidity, you know, and, and very, inventorying things and server racks and, you know, just in general, a very kind of, a very highly technical field. So but I didn't I knew that I had a creative outlet, that that I wanted to have more of that. And I felt that marketing might be the way to go in terms of a way that, leverage the skills that I already had.

Eric Martin [00:06:04]:

I had learned how to, write HTML, CSS, and some basic JavaScript back in the day. And I, you know, started making websites. I think when I was and even when I was 15, I made you know, like, the movie where I'm gonna date myself again. The movie where those 360-degree cameras kinda go around, and, like, everything freezes, and everything kinda goes around like that. You know what I mean?

Kerry Guard [00:06:31]:

Yeah. Yeah. I know what you're talking about. I can't remember Yeah.

Eric Martin [00:06:33]:

Yeah. Yeah. So I went through the I've developed a website when I was 15 for a company that made those cameras and setups in Vermont. So I was exposed to a lot of creativity when I was younger and had that chance. So this is a long-winded way of getting to my 1st startup experience, which was at BCM which was called Backchannel Media, in Boston. And, This was a piece this company made a piece of software that sat on a cable box, that was written for cable boxes that would allow you to interact with what you were watching on TV. So, let's say, they would pass a small piece of data, right? And that small piece of data would go through, the signal.

Eric Martin [00:07:22]:

And on this cable box side, it would pick up a little that signal and it shows a little icon that would say, hey. You wanna learn more about this content, this product, and this service. So pretty interesting. Right? When you think about, you know, hey, I wanna click on my remote, get some more information about a product, you think the product's cool. So yeah. Mind you, This was being developed and rolled out, and we were rolling it out right about when the iPhone came out. Oops. So if you can think of disruption, right,  I that was that was disruption defined, you know, pretty much.

Eric Martin [00:07:59]:

And, you know, luckily, the technology that we had, kind of other use cases that were developed, and it was, kind of interesting and valuable other companies. So, that company never really hit kind of that scalable revenue, function, or status level. But, so it was a real for a start-up, it was definitely,  a swing and a miss.  But that's that's how startups go. That's how you learn. Yeah. Work.

Eric Martin [00:08:28]:

It didn't discourage me. The company sold the IP. I got a little, you a little parachute to work with from that, so that was good. And, you know, what I did was I found myself after that company, I was sold in New Jersey with my wife saying, hey, you know, where do you want to go? You know, where do you what do you want to do? You know, she had a very portable career at the time. Nehemiah was pretty portable too, tech, you know, fairly as long as they're not, you know, back then a little more geo-restricted than things are today, of course. They're overall pretty portable. And I did some research on one of the growing markets and growing, you know, geographies that are seeing kind of tech growth and that are seeing these kind of great tech communities emerge. And Atlanta was at the top of the list.

Eric Martin [00:09:14]:

It was at the top of the list for all. And this was back, Boy, the heyday of the beginning of Atlanta Tech. We're talking, silver pop and, AirWatch And, a Pardot.

Kerry Guard [00:09:31]:

Oh, yeah. Mhmm.

Eric Martin [00:09:33]:

So Tons of of really, impactful companies are being born. SalesLoft, of course, was also, born earlier on. So, you know, Atlanta was a great, great place to land. I did an email campaign about myself, wrote a website about myself, Did that, you know, pretty much did the Airwizard marketing campaign, got a bite, and, joined Cannibal, and joined as the 1st nonfounding employee there. Walked into, an office with 5 programmers, and they gave me a laptop and said, hey, marketing guy. Here you go. Start marketing. Built that from the ground up.

Eric Martin [00:10:10]:

And this is my 1st kind of pure SaaS, b to b to b SaaS play, which was great. And I got the I got the awesome experience accountable of building everything from the ground up. So this was all the technology, all the lead generation, the website, the content mapping, and development, then, you know, everything. And then, also, I met, my now friend and mentor, Kevin O'Malley, who was brought in to, be the marketing leader there. Now, you know, there’s a life experience where, you know, okay, someone was brought in over me. Right? I wasn't given that chance to Step up into the VP role. The leadership there felt I wasn't ready. And the spoiler alert was, that I wasn't.

Eric Martin [00:11:00]:

But it was awesome to have Kevin come in and really help take on supporting my development., I had great bosses and great managers in my past who were helpful and supportive, but he really challenged me, and he was the 1st person who really challenged me to step back and think about what I really wanted to do. What do I enjoy? What do I do, How can I because, you know, when I join a company, my quest is to generate value for the company as soon as humanly possible. Right? How can I do that? Enjoy myself and create a great place to work for The people on my team. Right? I wanna have a team. I wanna have a team of people. I wanna be a good leader, and I wanna have them work in a place where they enjoy working And feel like they're delivering value to people. They're not just trying to fire away to hit a conversion rate number. So that was, that was a great experience in that.

Eric Martin [00:11:59]:

And I think that was probably the position that I had was one of the most formative for my development. Just learned a lot, had the opportunity to build a small team, work through things like performance challenges, You know, budget challenges, resource challenges. And, you know, I think that you know, one thing that I have had no shortage of in my career is adversity. Challenging, You know, startups with new disruptive business models, new disruptive technologies. Catapult was a mobile application development provider, that created a low-code mobile app development Platform. Was it pretty cool? Yes. Was it too soon for the market? Yeah. Yeah.

Eric Martin [00:12:43]:

It was. Yeah. Now they're just becoming a little more interesting, and that's kind of becoming a more space. But now there's AI

Kerry Guard [00:12:50]:


Eric Martin [00:12:51]:

So how is that gonna evolve that market? And how is that going to shape, you know, a low-code environment when someone else is doing the coding in the 1st place? So, so that was a that was a really good part of the part of the, the journey per se was was that, at Catapult. Now Kevin, during that time, had left Catapult a little bit before me, and he went over to SalesLoft. And I had, I've been doing a little bit of consulting, for SalesLoft on the side. I was very in touch with a lot of folks, there. And, yeah. Oh, you get it? So Kevin brought me over with SalesLoft, and I joined SalesLoft, as the director of demand general. Had a team of 1, I'm over there.

Eric Martin [00:13:39]:

And, this was right when SalesLoft was getting rid of their Prospector product and moving over to their Cadence Solution which was their, you know, kind of, their more popular solution, obviously, that that became the one that really found traction. And I was brought in primarily to help us level up into the enterprise. That's what I worked on primarily at Catapult a lot. Like, Cabot's customers were not small businesses. They were generally medium-sized to large-sized companies. And that's really been the theme throughout my career of media when I was working with large broadcasters, content providers, and cable companies, these are very long sales cycles with very, you know, with a lot of constituencies, a lot of disparate interests, and trying to get everyone on the same page and make deals happen. You know, Kadavol, you know, similar in that regard. Just with larger organizations that had Big IT teams and big development teams.

Eric Martin [00:14:39]:

You know, SalesLoft was all about, you know, big sales teams and big companies, and how could you scale? I could just scale faster. They had a lot more of it in a stronger SMB, contingent, but that's why I was brought in. You know? What do we need to do to help grow, the enterprise, how do we change the way that we run campaigns? What's the mess what are the messages that we send? And How do we prepare our sales development function? And how do we enable them to be successful as we move up the market? We obviously can't use the same tactics that worked, you know, in the SMB or or the mid market lower end segments. So, you know, went to SalesLoft, walked in the 1st day. It was awesome. Some, you know, hip hop on the radio, people tossing beach balls around, scooters, kombucha in the fridge. The whole, like, start-up vibe was great.

Eric Martin [00:15:27]:

Awesome company. Great team, very supportive and driven executive team. Really, really invested in its people, formal leadership development programs, and just an awesome place to work. And really a fantastic, and the most formative, role, in my career, I think not only because of what they invested in me, but also That investment in me and my development, really, I think, raised the importance of what I was trying to achieve.

Kerry Guard [00:16:02]:

Yeah. What do you mean by investment in you? What

Eric Martin [00:16:05]:

like like, you know, bringing executive coaches and taking managers at a certain level like director level plus, bringing in executive level coaches that would normally counsel the c level, the SLT, the ELT, you know, the strategic leadership team or executive leadership team rather. So, you know, that, Those resources being pushed down too, you know I was a manager at the time, not even, you know, not, not even leading a department or anything that was awesome. Getting that level of investment and exposure and an opportunity to interact and get coaching and mentorship from those folks was incredible, and really powerful. And

Kerry Guard [00:16:46]:

We offer something similar here. We have,

Eric Martin [00:16:49]:


Kerry Guard [00:16:49]:

It's, Not necessarily just leadership coaching. It's more about her whole person coaching and helping people really find their way through their career up into leadership, But working you gotta work where you are and then build up.

Eric Martin [00:17:02]:

Yes. That's a great’s a great way, and I think an inaccurate representation of of ours as well. There's a heavy Personal component, understanding where you are and where you wanna be. Analyzing scientifically, and taking tests and assessments to help you identify those areas that might be blind spots where you wanna develop, working and identifying other peers that have these blind spots and areas for development. And working with them and knowing that you're not alone and that you have folks that you can work with, and you have these peer groups that can help you be and feel supported.

Kerry Guard [00:17:37]:


Eric Martin [00:17:38]:

Yeah. That's pretty That's amazing.

Kerry Guard [00:17:39]:


Eric Martin [00:17:40]:

It is.

Kerry Guard [00:17:40]:

 I totally agree. I think it's absolutely,  it is something I'm you know, we had a bit of a bit of a crunch this year, and I, like, protected it with everything I had to say, this is nonnegotiable. We are we need to keep this. It's so it's just so helpful in helping people really understand where they are, where they wanna go, and building those career blocks. I've seen, like, amazing transformations of people really stepping up and stepping in and mentoring others and, like, finding their, Like, what they love about their job and getting into their zone of genius and, like, leveling up through it. All thanks not all thanks, but in a good portion, thanks to coaching. It's powerful.

Kerry Guard [00:18:24]:

Absolutely. Yes to that. So you're at Stack Overflow now. How's it going?

Eric Martin [00:18:31]:

It's It's going well. It's, you know, when I learned about, the opportunity at Stack, I was immediately interested because it's a website that, frankly, I used a lot when I was when I was growing up, you know, and kind of learning, well, I was pretty grown by the time it came out. But, you know, it's honing my skills. Stack is something that you, often might be interacting with and you don't know it. There's not only Stack Overflow, but the Stack Exchange network of websites where, You know, folks like it's not all developers, folks like electricians and, other folks and, you know, you know, that that require that kind of expert level, you know, question and answer can provide some insight. So a great, you know, a great opportunity to work for a great brand that I respected. When I, was brought on at Stack, it was to grow our team’s product, which is kind of the b-to-b SaaS Stack Overflow teams. The private b to b SaaS version of our community and public platform, which we, provide to organizations that are looking to you know, I think organizations that benefit from Stack Overflow for Teams are those that have large development organizations, large development teams that need to collaborate, that have complex issues, that need to record institutional knowledge.

Eric Martin [00:19:52]:

Right? So you have a lot of folks coming and going at a company. How do you keep that knowledge inside your company? Right? Mhmm. You know, do we want folks going to Stack Overflow and asking questions about their programming issues? Yes. Absolutely. Would we rather folks take those questions if they involve proprietary or, you know, private company information to their own company instance of Stack Overflow for Teams? That's even better because that provides a level of, you know, security and value to that organization. And also, frankly, it's It it belongs, you know, it's an important component of growing a technology function. Documentation, Onboarding, training, ensuring that that the the developer the developer experience is a great one, when they come to work, at a company.

Kerry Guard [00:20:43]:

And in a tool they already know.

Eric Martin [00:20:45]:

Yeah. Yeah. A tool they already know. I mean, every one it's there are no brand awareness issues, for Stack Overflow, when we talk about us. So it's been very, it's been very interesting and very fun to kind of just, you know, be a part of the organization and understand how we're serving our customers and hearing the stories of how successful they are and how we help global organizations, you know, be more productive and connected and collaborative, for sure.

Kerry Guard [00:21:19]:

I was wondering how this is how you made the leap from SalesLoft to, Stack Overflow, but it sounds like all your worlds sort of collided here in terms of helping a company go to enterprise again. Mhmm. Taking your SaaS experience from previous companies, now you get to build a team. So it sounds like this is sort of the perfect spot where, like, all your favorite things come together.

Eric Martin [00:21:43]:

And it's a bigger challenge too because it isn't just about Stack Overflow's public site and Teams. There's also an advertising business, that includes, you know, traditional brand advertising as well as an employer branding offering. So, you know, there's a there's also our self-serve kind of product-led, growth motion, which is awesome, which is our self-serve offering for the Stack Overflow team. So it's not just that b-to-b SaaS motion. It's got me, you know, comfortably uncomfortable in a region where, you know, I've got a bunch of different kinds of businesses that I'm working with and understanding their needs and trying to grow accordingly. And, it's been really, awesome. There's a tremendous community here. We have very passionate, very passionate customers.

Eric Martin [00:22:34]:

And, yeah, it's been great to kind of, you know, not only take what, like you said, like, take what I've learned, but also continue to, build on, on those different levels of experience.

Kerry Guard [00:22:49]:

Oh my gosh. Yes to all of that. I feel like we could have an entirely different podcast around going from the SMB small business and medium-sized business world to then help you at the company level up to enterprise. Okay. I think I'm gonna have to I mean, I might need you to come back later to do that because I have so many questions. Mhmm. Especially when you talk about, like, the sales sales cycle is so different. So yes.

Kerry Guard [00:23:13]:

But I'm gonna put a pin in that and put that topic over here for a second. I'm sorry, folks. I know. I know. But we're gonna come back to it. I promise. I'm gonna have Eric back. It's gonna be awesome.

Kerry Guard [00:23:22]:

For this conversation, before we we dive into the heart of our conversation today, I do wanna ask you because we're all human and life is hard, and it is q four, the struggle is real. What's happening for you right now, Eric? What's a challenge you're currently facing? What's hard?

Eric Martin [00:23:37]:

I think that in terms of, one of the bigger challenges that I think, frankly, we share with a lot of, go-to-market organizations Is, how do we be more, how do we do better at delivering value with less noise? Right. One of the things that one of my philosophies about marketing and demand generation, in general, is that Our challenge is to deliver value in some way. What does value mean for people who are viewing marketing? Right? Yeah. For, you know, value might be sparking a thought. Right? Or making a connection Or, or, you know, challenging challenging someone's assumptions. Right. Demonstrating and teaching people. We have a tremendous amount of data.

Eric Martin [00:24:37]:

So so, you know, for instance, our dev survey had one of our biggest years of participation in everyone, 90,000 participants to our, dev circle. It comes out every year. You know, what are the insights that we can derive for the community from there? And how do we effectively disseminate that? So for me, it's We've got a lot to talk about that's great at Stack Overflow. How do we talk to new people who care about what we are what we're talking about, things that are relevant to them, things that help them with their daily life that help them deal with what's hard? Right? They're therein lies the value. Right? It's how we help folks deal with their challenges. So if we're doing that, then we're doing our job.

Eric Martin [00:25:29]:

I think that the, you know, The old days of vault heavy volume focused prospecting are coming quickly to a close. You know, I think rethinking the sales development function, how it operates, how it, that cadence of activity and how those teams mature and grow and really that space in the go-to-market organization, how we as marketers and demand generators collaborate and serve that team. Right? Mhmm. We collaborate so closely. It feels like we're 1 team even though we're different teams at Zach, so that's a good thing, and I think that's where Yeah. A lot of folks wanna be. Right? But, you know, so that applies to sales development, demand gen, the marketing campaigns that we have, the campaigns we have through social channels. So overall, that's what's hard for me right now is not weaning off of we've we've been very effective at doing that.

Eric Martin [00:26:31]:

It's, How do we just get better? How do we how do we how do we get more relevant, more, more valuable to our audience? That's that's the challenge. That's the big thing that I'm that I'm doing right now.

Kerry Guard [00:26:45]:

I also like what you said about the noise. How do we not create more noise at the same time while trying to cut through what's already there?

Eric Martin [00:26:56]:


Kerry Guard [00:26:56]:

Because you can't quiet everybody else around you, but you yourself don't want to contribute, I think is a really powerful statement and something we all are thinking about of back to quality, back to creating relationships instead of having to hit our activity numbers. You know, we're sort of Going we need to slow down.

Eric Martin [00:27:18]:

Yeah. Maybe it isn't about having a happy hour with 100 people there that all fit your target audience, maybe it's about that dinner with 10 people.

Kerry Guard [00:27:27]:

Right. Maybe that really matters.

Eric Martin [00:27:29]:

It's not about that at all. Maybe it's about, you know, delivering thought leadership. You know, maybe who knows? It's either way, it's  different for different folks. 

Kerry Guard [00:27:42]:

And it depends on the audience.

Eric Martin [00:27:44]:

Yeah. Yeah.

Kerry Guard [00:27:44]:

And it also depends on if you have and your resources. Right? Do you have people in the cities in which you serve, that you can have those in-person dinners? Right?

Eric Martin [00:27:55]:


Kerry Guard [00:27:55]:

So it’s this balance this beautiful, never-ending Tetris and balancing act of, you know, the budget, the resources, the people resources, and what your audience really needs. And, I think taking even though AI, it makes it makes it feel like we can go faster, it's actually a good point to say actually. We as humans can slow down knowing that AI is gonna help us deliver faster, but we can be more intentional and thoughtful in what it is that we're doing to begin with Instead of feeling like we don't have enough time, we're gonna run out of time, and we're up against the clock. And so  I love what you're saying, and I'm tripling down on it super hard because I think it's a message we all need to hear right now as we're winding down 2023 and heading into 2024 and thinking about how we need to Reapproach how we do everything. The audience has changed, and, we have been very slow to change with it. 

Eric Martin [00:28:51]:

 So Yeah. I mean and I don't know if you've heard of this whole, AI thing, but there some definitely some implications there, for go-to-market teams in terms of how they interact with folks, you know, the different types of solutions that are gonna Solutions that are frankly gonna come out to combat noise.

Kerry Guard [00:29:10]:


Eric Martin [00:29:10]:

Right? Which are already happening. They're already coming out. So, you know, there's a lot of technological, you know, kind of wins from a lot of different directions I could sway things, in a different way.

Kerry Guard [00:29:25]:

Definitely. Ah, yes to that. Well, let's talk about, our topic today. One of the themes I mentioned in your resume was that you had stayed at these companies for 4 to 5 years, which is frankly unheard of in our unless you're like me, and you build a company that takes you 10 years plus to do.

Eric Martin [00:29:46]:


Kerry Guard [00:29:46]:

You gotta kinda generally speaking, it is very It's very unusual. I think I jumped around you know, before I started my company, I jumped around. I don't think I stayed anywhere longer than a year and a half. Right? That's just that's just how you had to build and grow. You had to you had to jump to get to that next level and to do that next thing. It sounds like you had a very different career path in that and that you could stay at these companies and you could grow your career. And I also  I wonder too is when you're building the teams. Right? So it takes time, to your point, you know, you started out of a lot of these companies as, like, the first here, marketing guy.

Kerry Guard [00:30:19]:

Here's your computer. Right? So it takes time to build all those systems and processes to get the website up and all those things and then bring the team in behind it. Am I on the right track here? That a contributing factor to why you were able to stay at these companies so long is that you got to build from the ground up and you got to build teams in in some ways.

Eric Martin [00:30:41]:

Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. And I think that's I think it's a big driver, especially, earlier on. Right? I think there's also an element of I joined these and my first two kinds of tech startups. Right? Very, very early. You know, either the business like Backchannel Media had a different business, and it Pivoted to something totally different. This, a kind of clickable TV product.

Eric Martin [00:31:03]:

You know, Kadible, I literally walked in, was the 1st nonfounder employee. Doesn't get much earlier than that without being a a founding employee or the founder themselves. And SalesLoft was a little bit different in that, it was a mature organization, but it still was kinda fit into that, that first Example where they had an existing product with Prospector. They launched a new product with Cadence, and they were shifting over to Cadence being the platform, and forum. And, which eventually just became SalesLoft. And, you know, that's the product. Like, the Prospector product never would have been an enterprise marketing or sales challenge. Right? It wasn't a fit for that type of company or organization or persona, but SalesLoft was.

Eric Martin [00:31:53]:

So you've Yeah. I think there's an element of me just being early, you know, to a new challenge, to a new product, to a new effort, and just getting in on that ground level and really being, tasked with with building something from the ground up. I think Stack is probably the 1 company that has bucked the trend a little bit, just because there are so many different Businesses here, but it kinda still fits into that whole, you know, we've got these different types of businesses, but we've got this one, You know, we've got this one really huge, business that's delivering a lot of value to customers that we really want to invest in and grow. We're gonna really pour a lot of our resources, into growing that. And so I think there's a matter of timing. I also, you know, I will say this. I  don't know if this is tooting my own horn or anything, but I don't like giving up. A lot of folks, you know, can't take a bad quarter or 2.

Eric Martin [00:33:03]:

And bad quarters happen. Yes. Right? You know, bad months happen, bad days happen, bad quarters happen. You know, things get tough at companies, and there's adversity. And, I think what I've tried to do in my career is lead from the front. And when I detect it, try to acknowledge it, come up with a plan, come up with a strategy to, to deal with it, to grow, to keep growing, to sustain the momentum. And that's that's really what's, I think helped me to stick around. But, the thing that really keeps me around, frankly, are  our great cultures.

Eric Martin [00:33:55]:

I think that's even more so for the latter half of my career. You know, earlier start-ups, it's it's, you know, scaling culture is less important. Right? It's about hustling, getting the work done, you know, delivering value to customers, getting revenue growing the company. You wanna have a good culture, and you wanna have good leaders, and you wanna be, you know, you want that. But, when you're a larger organization and you have a large team and, you know, You wanna be able to develop folks, and I think that, those companies, especially SalesLoft and Stack, have really invested a lot into me. And that really does tend to keep me around, you know. And by investing, it isn't just Providing coaching and opportunities, it's giving new challenges. Challenging with new responsibilities.

Eric Martin [00:34:46]:

Right. Giving the opportunity to try to level up. You know, that's a really important and critical piece just as as any employee, any level of any profession that I would want in order to advance in my role.

Kerry Guard [00:34:59]:

I do see. Yes. Having the next challenge and feeling challenged is definitely something everybody needs to keep going, which is why I think people tend to bounce because they don't get that quite quick enough, at least earlier in their career. And then once you can sort of settle in and find a path through and up, then people are more likely to stay for sure. I also wonder if, you know, looking at, like, a lot of the layoffs and things that are happening, our CMOs the CMO turnover is insane. And I  think it's a good conversation to have because it sounds like you're very lucky and that your, leadership teams trusted you to turn the ship around. And I, unfortunately, don't think that everybody gets that same shot.

Kerry Guard [00:35:38]:

So, yes, hats off to you in weathering those storms and that adversity I'm getting out in front and creating a plan and, also acknowledging that, sometimes, unfortunately, the CMO takes the fall for whatever reason and then is let go and never given a chance to weather the storm. 

Eric Martin [00:35:58]:

So I think that's a that's whole another podcast Stop it.

Kerry Guard [00:36:01]:

That is a whole other podcast. I just wanna call attention to it for those folks who might be listening.

Eric Martin [00:36:06]:

There's folks that have been dealing with that, for a a much longer time than

Eric Martin [00:36:10]:

I have That that would be able to provide a lot more perspective. But, I completely agree. That one's a puzzling one for me too. I've read a lot about it, and how it's evolved. And I feel like it's not going in the right direction even now. Just based on what I'm, you know, what I'm seeing out there. But, You know, there lies the challenge. Yeah. 

Kerry Guard [00:36:31]:

But I think it's good for founders, and CEOs who might be listening to the show to take note of, like, somebody who has been able to weather the storms. If you can you let your c your CMO stick it out, let them figure it out, give them a give them a moment to get through the storm because the storm, chances are, isn’t just happening to you either. Look at the market. Look at the bigger picture. Like, there's a lot of factors, And, I, you know, I think it'd be great if we could help even just type if there's even just 1 CEO listening who is in a is having a moment, like, That I would consider that a win, but we will move on because you're right. It's a whole other show. It's probably a roundtable, quite frankly.

Eric Martin [00:37:16]:

We want some different

Kerry Guard [00:37:17]:

I'm gonna take note of that. Let's do that. Look at all this content we're building, Eric. This is so fantastic. We're gonna have another podcast around going to enterprise. We're gonna roundtable around, you know, weathering the storm. Yes to all.

Eric Martin [00:37:29]:

Send you the invoice for all these ideas. Don't worry.

Kerry Guard [00:37:32]:

I'm stoked. In terms of building a team, one of the things that you mentioned you love to do is helping people Sort of find the roles and responsibilities within an organization. And So let's start at building let's start at building trust because I feel like before you can do anything

Eric Martin [00:37:54]:

Oh, yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Kerry Guard [00:37:55]:

You're the new guy on the block. So how do you go about Helping people, like, figuring out, like, how to bring people along before you can even tell them, you know, sort of before their start of a sort of direction laid?

Eric Martin [00:38:11]:

So, as a leader, I wanna come in and I wanna set the tone for, I do as I say. And I do it on time. I want to, set the expectation that people can be vulnerable with me, that they could be transparent with me, and that they should be able to be transparent and vulnerable with each other.

Kerry Guard [00:38:41]:

How do you that's, like, that's Incredibly important? Yes. As leaders, we definitely want people to feel that way, but it's it's a steep mountain to climb, especially being new to the organization.

Eric Martin [00:38:53]:

Takes time. It's a steep it's a steep mountain that cannot be climbed with a slide deck, you know, or a presentation. Right. You can't just get on the monthly marketing meeting or biweekly or weekly or whatever you have and say, okay, everyone. Remember, Be vulnerable and be transparent. Thanks for coming. You know, like, that's, that's not that's not how it works. It's It's about, really training people how to do that and challenging folks, You know, when there's a cross-functional disagreement or misalignment, challenging folks to create that level of trust between, those parties so that they can get stuff done.

Eric Martin [00:39:36]:

It doesn't just stop with your team. A team that interacts Internally in a healthy way with vulnerability transparency and trust will function cross functionally at a very a much higher level. Because they know that this is this team is great to work with. When I work with this team, they say they're gonna get what they’re gonna get done, and they get it done on time. If there's a problem, they come to me and they ask, and they ask for help. 

Kerry Guard [00:40:08]:

So clear expectations, it sounds like across the board.

Eric Martin [00:40:11]:

Exactly. Yeah. Exactly. Clear expectations.

Kerry Guard [00:40:17]:

So, is this a challenge in terms of, like, the overpromising, underdelivering sort of mentality that we all sort of fall trap to.

Eric Martin [00:40:26]:

Yeah. You're Lena. 

Kerry Guard [00:40:27]:

You could easily when we.

Eric Martin [00:40:28]:

The other element is that always lean toward under. Right? But, I mean, I think folks can kinda detect when you're doing that.

Kerry Guard [00:40:34]:

Yeah. Totally.

Eric Martin [00:40:35]:

So I try not to do the whole under promise, over deliver. I try to just kinda hit the mark as close as I can from that.

Kerry Guard [00:40:41]:

Yeah. Realistic. Great.

Eric Martin [00:40:43]:

Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. Real is a great is a great way to put it. It's just just make sure that things are grounded in data and reality and not Assumptions and anecdotes. Assumptions and and anecdotes are critical. I'm not gonna say that they're not. But you have to have the other 2 elements to make them work.

Kerry Guard [00:41:03]:

To go with it. Yep.

Eric Martin [00:41:04]:

The context.

Kerry Guard [00:41:05]:

You will remember stories, not data, but you need the data to tell the story.

Eric Martin [00:41:08]:

Exactly. And then, you know, you know, then it all makes sense. So, Yeah. But vulnerability, trust, and just, you know, but it starts with the leader. Starts with leader number 1.

Kerry Guard [00:41:19]:

So how do you show up and create vulnerability and transparency every day And make people feel like they can do the same?

Eric Martin [00:41:37]:

I think it's wow. It's a great question. It's I'm I'm trying not to have, like, too Meta of an answer. I think  just being direct, and being open and saying things that people wouldn't normally expect you to say, catching people off guard, with honesty, with, with kindness. Right? Surprising trying to surprise and delight your team.

Kerry Guard [00:42:23]:

In what way? I love surprise and delight. Well, how do you

Eric Martin [00:42:26]:

Yeah. I mean, you know, by, you know, sharing, telling telling stories of accomplishments. You know, when when you can't extend, you know, kind of fun stuff, having those moments of of of fun and interaction. Not losing sight of the of the little the little things that add up, the human interaction. Treating people with respect. Not being evasive, not regurgitating the company Line line for line, but understanding where our part of the whole mission is and conveying, like, yeah, you know, I could read off the corporate strategy and all the initiatives that roll up to it, and that's all really important. That's why I'm here. Right? I'm here to help us as a team achieve these company goals.

Kerry Guard [00:43:21]:

How do we fit into that, right, instead of how to do that integration? And where are we today? How does it apply today? Whenever I do the all hands for our company, I always go over the values because it's a nice reminder of why we're here. But I always bring it back to back to right now, where we are. So if I were to do the all hands today in q four, I would be talking about people first from a team oriented standpoint and grace, right, of the, you know, between sicknesses and time off and the holidays. Right? Like, how we need to give each other a bit of grace right now. That would be one way that I would do that. And I totally agree that that's you don't wanna be a talking head of just reiterating, like, what the leadership team is, you know, saying and just being a mouthpiece of that. So yes to that. I love that.

Eric Martin [00:44:08]:

I know it's a cliche, but I try to be the leader that I would wanna be led by. And I try to, I try to really make sure that, that everyone's understood and heard and valued. And, if everyone isn't, then I can do better.

Kerry Guard [00:44:28]:

How do you define the right goals? So is that by role? 

Eric Martin [00:44:35]:

Yeah. Are you talking about individual goals? Or

Kerry Guard [00:44:38]:

Well, yes. People working towards the right goal.

Eric Martin [00:44:42]:

Probably one of, I think, the most important functions of any marketing leader, is being able to take a company objective and really translate it into what this means for our team. If we are a company that has a really powerful demand channel, and we wanna open up another demand channel. Looking at this, the one that's dry. Let's say this one's generating 80% of the revenue. This one's 20%. Understanding, how how we wanna break those investments up. Taking a big company objective and saying, okay, so this is how much pipeline that we need to generate for this business to grow. So okay, segment leaders, you are responsible for this, you're responsible for this, you're responsible for this. And, you know, I just don't wanna give you these numbers.

Eric Martin [00:45:30]:

I want you to develop a plan on how you want to achieve them. So I don't prescriptively Push down project plans to folks.

Eric Martin [00:45:40]:

You know, I don't tell them what to do. I tell them what the goal is. And I work with them to make sure they have the resources to do what they feel is right and that I agree is the right approach For our team. So it's really about empowering folks.

Kerry Guard [00:45:58]:

Yeah. They feel more invested, right, in doing the work with us?

Eric Martin [00:46:01]:

They feel much more invested. You know, nobody likes a micromanager or folks like Autonomy. When you  mean, this goes to any even cross-functional thing. Right? Like, you No. If we're gonna do a marketing campaign and we don't bring SDR to the table and get their feedback, then we're not doing it right. You know, like, right, you know, are we you know, so we we need to really understand, the needs of the entire go-to-market organization to make sure we're filling them as well.

Kerry Guard [00:46:30]:

Yeah. I think that's a really important point to bring in that cross-function. Has anybody ever pushed back on you and said that this is impossible? These goals are impossible. Sure.

Eric Martin [00:46:39]:

Sure. Yeah.

Kerry Guard [00:46:41]:

And how what's your response to that? Is it figure it out? Is it Why?

Eric Martin [00:46:45]:

Stop figuring it out like that.

Kerry Guard [00:46:47]:

Good. Good. I didn't think so based on that.

Eric Martin [00:46:49]:

I wouldn't have figured it out. No. Yeah. I think I think the response to that is, and this was, you know, this is very common with Stack and SalesLoft and many other companies. It's, don't forget to set aspirational goals. Right. So when I set goals for folks, when I don't set goals first, would work with folks to set their goals. I like to have a mix of, kind of, the, you know, operational improvement.

Eric Martin [00:47:16]:

Like, try to constantly continuously improve on the things that we're doing On an everyday basis. Right? But then there's also, you know, what, what are the crazier ideas? More bold ideas? What are the things that we want to try that are aspirational? You know, if we've got this goal for a campaign, why don't we make it, you know, 50% bigger goal? Success is a smaller number, a smaller portion of that goal, but maybe we'll learn more, or we'll get more value from that test or that experiment or that project or that campaign. Does that make sense?

Kerry Guard [00:47:55]:

Yeah. I love that. No. So it's okay. People have a chance to learn versus just doing what they can do to improve.

Eric Martin [00:48:00]:

On what they're doing today, And give people a chance to stretch and do something that they weren't doing today, tomorrow.

Kerry Guard [00:48:12]:

To do, but by making it a goal, then you create the capacity to get it done.

Eric Martin [00:48:18]:

Yes. And then our job as leaders and managers is to ensure that there's the support, Or the coaching and guidance to be able and the resources, frankly, to be able to make that job done.

Kerry Guard [00:48:27]:

Yes. Absolutely. Goal setting is so important. Do you do that on a quarterly basis, annually?

Eric Martin [00:48:36]:

We do, like, Semiannual, kind of like a 1st annual cut, and then like a semiannual kind of, you know, take a look at the goals, make sure they're all right. You know, 6 months is a long time. And so understanding, you know, one of those goals is still applicable, adjusting, going from there. So yeah.

Kerry Guard [00:48:54]:

Yeah. Especially when you're dealing with the sort of long lead cycles and those sorts of things. It sounds like you're doing a lot of Yeah.

Eric Martin [00:48:58]:

Where there's no shopping cart abandonment and stuff like that. These are very long, Gee, projects, that are big bets.

Kerry Guard [00:49:06]:

Yeah. No. But I think that's so important that you're giving space and time to see if things can work. So many times we pull the plug too early. Mhmm. And it's just that we didn't quite crack the code on it, but we were on to something. I always like to talk about progress. As long as progress in some capacity is being made and we haven't taken any huge steps back, then let's keep pushing forward and see where we go.

Kerry Guard [00:49:28]:

We haven't hit the goal yet, But we're on to something, and something is happening.

Eric Martin [00:49:33]:


Kerry Guard [00:49:33]:

So I like the idea of progress. Yes to that. The last thing you mentioned well, we touched on all 3. So creating the Correct expectations, setting those deadlines, and hitting them. People work towards the right goals and then create a place of vulnerability and transparency where everybody feels They can be, as my coach likes to call it, heard, seen, known, and accepted. Mhmm. And so Good

Eric Martin [00:50:01]:

way to

Kerry Guard [00:50:01]:

put it. I love that. My last question to you on all of this is, how is this impacted? You know, at the end of the day, we all have to strive towards outcomes, and we mentioned the goals. Have you seen a difference In the teams you've worked with where you have this and you don't in terms of the culture and the deliverables and the and outcomes, Is there a clear difference?

Eric Martin [00:50:29]:

Oh, yeah. A 100%. I think that one of the biggest differences is what you end up with Now one of the most important things about setting goals is not setting them in a vacuum. Right? So I think it's really important across even internally within a marketing team because marketing isn't like sales in a lot of ways. You don't have an AE, an SDR, a CSM function on your AE 1234, or SDR 1234. Yeah. It's very different disciplines, very different types of people. Developers.

Kerry Guard [00:50:56]:

Teachable. Organic too.

Eric Martin [00:50:57]:

Yeah. All different kinds of disciplines. So, you know, what, What I think we are trying to or what I think it is important is, I think it's really important that we understand that, that there are people around you that can help you hit your goal. And if you work with them and help you And help them understand your goals, then you'll have not only you'll have a supportive environment of people around you. If you have goals that are achievable,  you can, and you can feel that sense of achievement that actually generates Positive business results for the company. And if you have goals that are aspirational, you feel like you're growing. Right? So you have a good team, a good environment. You've got the sense of accomplishment in getting things done, and then you've got that sense of growth.

Eric Martin [00:51:52]:

And when you combine those 3 things, what I feel like you have is you have not only a good, highly operating team, we have a better, you know, more highly operating organization in general, where people Are just working better together.

Kerry Guard [00:52:08]:

Yes. So that. Oh, I there’s Such a different vibe when you're in an organization where you're there you know, I've worked at both where you're an island Mhmm. And everything's on your shoulders, and good luck to you. And as long as you're doing well, we'll keep giving you more to a detriment. And on the flip side, where you are part of a bigger organization, I remember sitting at The, in Seattle, I was at MEC, Wonderman in working on the Microsoft account, and there was, It was a huge open room and the desks were all together. And our VP was sitting just 3 seats down from me. And we had, you know, these cubicles, but it was Open, you could see right over them and talk to people.

Kerry Guard [00:52:48]:

And the camaraderie in that room of how we all work together was just You could feel it when you walked in the room. Like, it you had those things. You had clear goals. You had aspirational goals. You felt very seen, heard, and accepted. I turned to my, this other senior that I was working with. We would banter all day, like, sort of have these mini arguments about Why things are working the way they are or aren't working, and what's going on, and, like, spiritual debates. Not spiritual.

Kerry Guard [00:53:20]:

Yes. Anyway, these wonderful debates that I live on today. But, yes, I agree. There's a different definitely a different feel To those teams that you can get a sense of, just by just by being in the vicinity. So yes So that this was wonderful, Eric. I'm so grateful.

Eric Martin [00:53:38]:

Yeah. Thank you. Thank you. Appreciate it. And, you know, I'll try to minimize my real-life distractions. Working. Yes. Have it.

Eric Martin [00:53:46]:


Kerry Guard [00:53:47]:

Life. This is what's what happens when you're alive. Welcome to the show. Eric, where can people find you if they wanna learn more about what you're doing, Stack Overflow, and how to build great teams?

Eric Martin [00:53:59]:

Yeah. Stack Overflow, I think, great place to go. stackoverflow.codot SEO is our product site. You can learn more about our b to b products, and services. And if you want to get in touch with me, I'm very accessible. Just Hop on LinkedIn. You probably saw Carrie's post, but, feel free to connect or direct message, and, I'm there. Look forward to it.

Kerry Guard [00:54:21]:

Amazing. Amazing. Eric, I'm so grateful. And thank you to our listeners for joining. If you like this episode, please like, subscribe, and Cher, this episode was brought to you by MKG Marketing, the digital marketing agency that helps b to b brands grow via SEO and digital ads, measuring it with analytics end to and the full customer experience. If you wanna be a guest on the show, I'd love to have you. DM me. Let's hang out.

Kerry Guard [00:54:46]:

Let's, let's tell your story. Look forward to it. Eric, thank you again.

Eric Martin [00:54:50]:

Thank you. It was fun. Appreciate it, Carrie.

This episode is brought to you by MKG Marketing the digital marketing agency that helps complex tech companies like cybersecurity, grow their businesses and fuel their mission through SEO, digital ads, and analytics.

Hosted by Kerry Guard, CEO co-founder MKG Marketing. Music Mix and mastering done by Austin Ellis.

If you'd like to be a guest please visit to apply.

Join our weekly newsletter

Get industry news, articles, and tips-and-tricks straight from our experts.

We care about the protection of your data. Read our Privacy Policy.