Hello, I’m Kerry Guard, and welcome to Tea Time with Tech Marketing Leaders.
Have you checked out my conversation with John Steinhert on what a marketing career can offer? If so, this conversation with Matt Dynan will bring that to life as Matt has a very cool story on how he kicked off his marketing career. After Matt shares his story, we dig into what it means to build a category.
Matt is a digital marketing manager at Jellyfish.io. He is a B2B digital marketer with experience owning SEO and paid media programs at high-growth SaaS companies. He focuses on building consistent digital experiences across channels that enable brand awareness, prospect education, and customer acquisition.
Here's my conversation with Matt.
Kerry Guard: Hi, Matt. Thank you for joining me on Tea Time.
Matt Dynan: Hi, Kerry. Thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here.
Kerry Guard: I'm excited to have you. Before we dig into our conversation, tell us about your story. What do you do? How did you get there?
Matt Dynan: I am a digital marketing manager at a series-c startup in Boston called Jellyfish. Jellyfish is what we call an engineering management platform. It's a software that integrates with tools like Jira and GitHub to give engineering leaders visibility into their engineering teams. They know where they're spending time and ensure you're aligned with business goals. I've only been at Jellyfish for about four months. Before that, my career hasn't been a long one so far. I've been fortunate to have had the opportunity to do many things in that time.
I graduated in 2019 from a small business school outside of Boston called Babson College. I think that's important because Babson emphasizes entrepreneurship, not just starting your own business. However, that is a big focus, and they make first years take a class where everyone creates their own business, which was great. Then the rest of the curriculum talks a lot about the entrepreneurial mindset. You can be entrepreneurial even if you're not technically an entrepreneur by creative problem solving and having this can-do attitude, just being a self-starter. So that was valuable for me.
My intro into tech marketing was actually at an internship. I went out to San Francisco after my junior year and worked at a company called Upwork, or freelancer platform, and I was an event and field and marketing intern. That was my first time in tech, and I instantly fell in love with it. Not only just the culture but loving that people were wearing hoodies to work instead of business formal. Upwork always talked a lot about creating the future of work and this big grand vision of fundamentally changing something we do. We felt like something I could get behind and something I could be excited about. It wasn't just selling a product but rethinking how we do things.
I went back to Babson for my senior year, and then upon graduation, I started at a cybersecurity company back in Boston called Rapid7. I loved the position, and I got to Rapid7. It was in the growth strategy rotational program. It was an 18-month program where I rotated through various go-to-market teams. I started doing customer success, and they started all of us there, the nine people in my program, and a credit to Rapid7. This was intentional because they wanted us to gain this customer lens and promote customer-centricity. I was on the phone with customers for the first six months, trying to book renewals. Then I was also doing a lot of work with two people in the program. I’m looking into why customers churn, so we were doing customer interviews, data analysis, and competitive research, and the result was I had this well-rounded view of the customer and the problems they had and how we solve it, which I didn't even realize it is happening to me at the time. I just looked back and said, “but that was valuable.” And then did digital marketing. This was my return to the marketing world. I was focused on SEO and immediately fell in love with it, and I’m pretty sure that that's where I would be after the program. I got along really well with a manager, and then the other two rotations were customer experience, where we focused on streamlining the onboarding of Rapid7 customers. I also did UX research, where I got to do customer calls and product research for a new cloud security arm, which was cool to work directly with the product.
That was the program I ended up coming on as a digital marketing specialist. That was a turning point for my career, and I did that for about a month. And then, my manager ended up going on maternity leave for four weeks, leaving me to be the only digital marketer. And with only four months of experience in SEO, I guess, five months, and then only a month doing paid media, all of a sudden, it was all on me. It was very stressful, but I tried to view it as an opportunity. He ended up coming back for a couple of months, and then he left the company for good. It was all on me for about the next six months. I just tried to lean in and take ownership even though I had a lot more responsibility than I thought I would have at that time. Right around then, Jellyfish was immediately bought into their mission and opportunity. And I was excited about the opportunity to build digital programs from the ground up, and maybe it was that entrepreneurial itch coming back. I didn't know if I was prepared to have that much responsibility either. One thing I learned last year was to step outside your comfort zone and choose the growth path. In four months, I think I made the right decision, and I'm happy with where I am at jellyfish.
Kerry Guard: That is a very tight journey.
Matt Dynan: Yes. A lot happened in a short period of time.
Kerry Guard: Which is a similar path I can relate to. It does make us well. It's crunch, and it's hard. It does. My second question is, what's one challenge you're currently facing? You've only been at Jellyfish for four months, but I knew you're getting your feet under you. What's something that's gnawing at you, keeping you up at night? What's hard right now?
Matt Dynan: The biggest challenge for me was I knew I was coming in to build up these digital programs. There are a lot of resources out there to help and stuff. We're currently creating this category of Jellyfish. There's no playbook about what to do, no predefined like ICP, or any golden keywords in this space. We invented what our product category is. It's not just about the challenge that touches; everything I'm doing across all the channels is that we're not just spreading Jellyfish; we're trying to create demand for this type of product, which takes a lot more thought and intention, and you just need to have a deep understanding of the customer and understand what outcomes they're looking for, how you can solve it, and how you can help them get to those outcomes. And then, how do you communicate on the digital side, and where are your prospects hanging out? That's like the overarching theme that plays into everything I'm doing.
Kerry Guard: There isn't a playbook, like the standard. There's a new standard, and I feel that demand gen is creating a new standard of lead gen, even before lead gen was more around. I mean, it was all lead gen; however you want to define it, but lead gen was the way, and now demand gen is more around bringing back old marketing ways before being able to measure through lead to now saying, “Okay. Let's marry these things to the top of the funnel by surrounding our audience to drive them in through the intention of what they need and being there for them as they make this journey and decision. Part of your challenge is defining when you're describing a category. It's uncovering a problem.
Matt Dynan: We're solving a problem that a lot of people don't know that there's a solution for. It's a problem once you've discussed it, but there's no defined category with a defined problem. And that's what we're trying to define as the problem and the first step. The next step is not only defining the solution but convincing people that Jellyfish is the right solution, rather than one of the many competitors. You always have to be thinking in two steps there.
Kerry Guard: First, it's convincing them they have a problem.
Matt Dynan: If they don't have that problem, they don't buy the software. I'll take a step back, and we do a ton with content because it's more empathizing and saying, “We get that you have this problem.” And that's a way to make prospects be like, “Yes, I do. Thank you for realizing that.” Rather than just saying, “You do have this problem. We empathize with you. We see this issue, and hey, look, we have a solution for it.
Kerry Guard: How do you get there? I know the product exists because somebody identified a clear opportunity for this. But then, as you discovered your audience, you were very clear, and working with Rapid7 was the first thing you did. Is that what you did here? Did you sit down with existing prospects and discover what the turn was, why they chose jellyfish, or why they decided to leave jellyfish? How did you apply what you learned from Rapid7 to this?
Matt Dynan: 100%. It didn't have as many opportunities, and I'm not in a position to be conducting user research. But thank God that I came in, and we had all of these gone calls that I could listen to. We already had a marketing playlist, and we listen to these calls because we see the pain points and our messaging resonates with people, and that's the biggest way I learned about it because I'm not an engineering leader. I don't have problems with my engineering teams.
For the first month, I went for walks, listened to Gong's calls, took notes, and looked for patterns. I don't think you can effectively create a category if you don't understand the voice of the customer.
Kerry Guard: I think I know what's happening, but you just can’t…
Matt Dynan: Gong is another boss and company. It's a software that records sales calls. But not only do they record it, but they'll also break it down. You can see who was talking; here's when we talked about discovery, here was pricing, and here's when there was a screen share. We can look in a playlist and see the discovery call between Jellyfish and whatever company. I can listen to that, which is there are a ton of benefits for the salespeople because they can train. They can look at patterns on what works, but it's invaluable for people like me who just want to learn.
Kerry Guard: I have zoom, and it records all my calls, but it just dumps them into a single recording. I don't know.
Matt Dynan: It is organized, and I'm not as familiar with the sales side. You can say people who spend this much time in discovery when X percent of deals.
Kerry Guard: You listened to all these columns, and you took it all in this. How did you identify? Did you find anything new that maybe anybody missed or didn't have a different perspective? Did you catch anything that would be a great way to make our marketing go in this direction? How did that take you to the next step?
Matt Dynan: When I started coming in, it was like engineers. You can use this to gain visibility. But I think the biggest thing for me was listening to the different levels of engineering leaders with many problems. An engineering manager will be looking to solve different problems than the VP of engineering. They might be in the weeds and want to know exactly where the time is being spent, what the VP might be thinking, where the money is going, and how efficient we are looking at that macro view. So from a marketing perspective, that's valuable because you need to. It will be completely separate messaging to these different personas, and they will not resonate with the same content or messaging. So that was the biggest thing, and just like that, getting down to that next level, a little bit more granular, was helpful for me. I'm still learning, and I gain a little bit more every time I hear things from customers.
Kerry Guard: It's almost like a brand study, or was it just simply some messaging key points?
Matt Dynan: Maybe it's not even as defined as it needs to be for me yet. I'm just hearing it from the voice of the customer. I was also lucky. When I came on at Jellyfish, I got to interview the founders, who are all former engineering leaders. They were telling me about these problems, so I believed them. But it's just been figured out, getting more granular and not knowing that these are problems, but understanding them. And then we're still working on how to take this understanding of the problem and turn it into a solution.
Kerry Guard: You had the luxury of working with Rapid7, cybersecurity and technical client, and the company. But I imagine that Jellyfish are very different. When you're talking about these tech companies, what was the learning curve for you that needed to jump in? You're the developer audience, we're good to go, and it's a different persona that you're talking to. How? What's the feeling there?
Matt Dynan: A little bit of both, to be honest. I do think it helped me come into Jellyfish that I had been doing B2B marketing to a technical audience. There are some crossovers in customer behavior; what channels do you want to use? But you're solving completely different problems; those spaces are the cybersecurity space. Engineering management and software spaces are in two very different places.
A cybersecurity leader knows they need a vulnerability management tool or detection response or whatever it might be that demand is there. But trying to market to an audience that will make the similarity between the cybersecurity audience and the engineering leader audience is no one likes to be marketed. But at least the cybersecurity audience knows they need specific software for this problem. The new challenge that I have not figured out, and we're still trying to figure this out, is an audience that doesn't like to be marketed and doesn't think they need your products. It must be very authentic because you don't want to spook anyone or make anyone you do not trust.
Kerry Guard: Developers definitely have their everything; they're on their own. I'm married to one, and he has an ad blocker. He does not. It's a huge challenge to figure out this audience. What are you finding right now? What's that next? You did your customer research and listened to all these Gong videos. You have some messaging pillars you're talking to between the VP and the managers, and who might need but what's next then? Is it revamping the website? Is it actual marketing? How's this helping you shape it like it's a new category? Are people even looking for you? What's the next step?
Matt Dynan: What you said right there is one of my biggest challenges and a new category. Are people even looking for you? The short answer is no. I'm in charge of doing paid media, as well as SEO. I think it's challenging when you're creating a new category because when you're in a category that we're calling engineering management platform, the term has a monthly search volume of 10, then you can't just put that on a web page, and then hope it ranks. It's not starting there; you need to start deeper. I work closely with our product marketing and our content teams. Because it's about I'm really focused on creating great content that will help people and resonate with the audience, but then also optimized so that we are being found by ranking in terms of the problems that people are looking to solve. And that's not just putting these buzzwords on a page. It's now that I understand who the audience is, building content and being authentic on the site, not trying to be flashy, just getting down to say that this is a real issue, and we know that, and we can solve it. We use your paid channels and things just to get our brand name in front of people. Hopefully, we can get that recognition. But it is more profound than that and more intentional, and organic is the key to that. It's not as quick, it takes a lot of legwork, but it pays off because people find you when they're looking for you.
Kerry Guard: How do they know to look for you?
Matt Dynan: Well, I guess they're not. They find you when they're looking to have their questions answered. If that makes sense, they're not looking for Jellyfish. What are the Dora metrics? How do I find engineering dashboards? And then you're answering their questions. It's about a lot of optimization on the webpage, giving them other options to click through. Our first challenge is just getting people there. I should rephrase that they're not looking for you; they're just looking to solve their problems.
Kerry Guard: It's interesting because it sounds like you ought to be if they don't. It feels a little counterintuitive. It feels bottom of the funnel in terms of being very intentional, but it also feels very top of the funnel in that the content you need to create is very high level. If you're just doing some Q&A, that has nothing to do. I don't say anything, but it has some relationship to do with your product in a very problem solution way, but not in the way of having a demo; catch our free trial; here are the questions people are asking the universe with what we do, here are the answers you're looking for. That feels very top of the funnel. But it's so intentional that it can impact the bottom of the funnel. Are you finding that? I know you've only been there for a few months. Is that your initial plan?
Matt Dynan: It's very much of a full-funnel game. It was the same at Rapid7 in the cybersecurity space. Many people find you, and when they see you, they are not ready to purchase. You'll lose them as a prospect if you try to force them in that direction. We always ensure we have this awareness and educational content. There is no buyer intent just yet. You can utilize retargeting or email, or maybe they keep coming back because they see you or you're gaining that trust over time, and it's not something that happens right away. I believe a lot in this top educational middle of the content and the funnel content. I think that's the key to building like these categories.
Kerry Guard: You mentioned in our initial call that you felt like there were some competitors.
Matt Dynan: Yeah, there are four or five main ones we see which category creation. It's annoying because if we're, we're bidding on each other's keywords. Everything will be more expensive, but knowing that there are competitors, legitimizes the category if it was just us. I would be a little bit nervous, but seeing that other people see this opportunity, legitimizes it.
Kerry Guard: Do you all solve the same problem the same way? Or is it cybersecurity where there's this clear cybersecurity insanity of things? And there are a million different products that solve it in a million different ways. Is that happening in your category? Or is it that you're all after the same thing, that it's a single problem, and we're all trying to solve it on the same day?
Matt Dynan: I wouldn't say it's as broad as cybersecurity, but we're all thinking about it. There are a lot of differences in our messaging. And it comes back to personas. Some people might be talking to that manager level, some people might be talking to the VP level, and everyone knows what the other is doing. We have a lot of intel on that stuff. It's not as vague, but there’s a little nuance. There is no correct answer yet. Everyone thinks we think we're doing this the right way, but everyone's coming at it from a different angle.
Kerry Guard: What does that mean when you're saying full funnel? You mentioned SEO in content and email. I mean. Is that content piece really being top of the funnel where people find you? And then that retargeting and then that email, is it more complex? I'm not judging here. I'm all about simplicity. If it's that simple, there's power in that. I'm just curious if I caught it all.
Matt Dynan: I hope it's that simple. But I don't think it is. It's just about having something there. You need to have content, or it'd be just content vaguely, for any point that someone is in the funnel. It's a little bit complex because there is no linear journey to purchasing. It's not just, “oh, you find us organically, then we send you an email, and then you fill out a form.” Everyone's going to have a different path to get there or not. You just need to make sure. I'm big on ensuring we are there for every step if they want it, and you're not forcing anyone into anything. It can be that simple, but it rarely is.
Kerry Guard: I feel that ABM would be an opportunity. Is that something you're thinking about? or is it not this audience? Am I really off base here?
Matt Dynan: We think it's an opportunity. We're thinking about it. It's a test-and-learn approach. We start small and then see what works 100%. We believe that could be something, but it hasn't been a key ingredient for us. I think that can be, especially with this full funnel. If you can make sure a target account is seeing what you want them to see, that's invaluable.
Kerry Guard: I'm just curious about how this content piece works because it feels that everything's hinging on this for you. Having enough content is a lot of work. Where's all this content coming from? You mentioned the product team. How much content are you producing regularly to map to your vision of being where people are looking for you?
Matt Dynan: We'd love to create as much content as possible, but we're still a serious startup. But we're lucky that we leveraged the people who do it in our company. Our founders are the people that identified this problem. They will have blogs written by people on our engineering team, our data scientists, the people that know the problems, and our product team and marketers are always writing stuff. It's not a big organization just pumping out content like a machine, but we leverage the power of people who know our audience, which would be in our audience if they didn't work here. And that goes back to what I was saying about authenticity. If Matt, the digital marketer, were writing content for engineering leaders, it would not land as well as our head of engineering writing content for heads of engineering. It's just utilizing your resources, and then we are big on its evergreen content, repurposing what works and making sure it's all out there and findable.
Kerry Guard: I know what evergreen content is, but for our listeners, what's evergreen content mean to you, Matt?
Matt Dynan: I think content is always relevant. It doesn't matter. How you find this can be relevant to someone at any time. Our evergreen content isn't always based on our products. It is based on the engineering and software engineering industry's leadership. These are big problems that there are no answers for yet, and just taking sides, and writing opinions.
Kerry Guard It sounds counterintuitive considering technology is.
Matt Dynan: Evergreen and technology is a little challenging, but you do your best.
Kerry Guard: The idea is that it's not like the news where you get a two-week cycle for something and that it's dead in the water. It's this thing that I'm still revamping content on our website that I wrote five or six years ago. The content is still relevant, and the context of the content needs to be updated.
Matt Dynan: It's challenging to create this category because there's less evergreen content. Whereas in the cybersecurity world, if you Google what vulnerability management is, you'll have all of the big players that all have just one piece pretty much all saying the same thing. It's all optimized because people are always wondering what vulnerability management is, which is the definition of evergreen content. We don't have that. If you search what engineering management is, you get a bunch of colleges offering courses for engineering management. There's that challenge of covering everything,
Kerry Guard: A whole different challenge. Competing with universities. It’s their authority already when it comes to SEO.
Matt Dynan: You must understand intent because we can write optimization for that term. We will never rank if people aren't looking for software when they search. It would be a waste of time and resources. You've just got to understand what you're writing.
Kerry Guard: It was a company collective. Do you know how they got to this keyword? Why? If there's already competition in that area, it's like trying to battle universities for any intent matters. But that's a tall order to try and rank against.
Matt Dynan: I wasn't working here when we decided on this name. I do the name for the category, the engineering management platform. I would have done some organic research myself to see if there's volume around anything or low intent. But we're going to run into a form of that no matter what we call it because it's not that there was a category, and then we decided to name it something different like everyone is calling it something different. And no one has a high search volume around those terms. I think it's a waiting game. We have content around it, and it's just the bigger category. We just have to hope that intent will switch to what we want it to be and monitor and adjust if we need to.
Kerry Guard: Oh. No, I'm excited. I'm going to pay attention because I was watching a movie. Yesterday, I saw them like, "How is this going to pan out?" This will be a thing, and I'm on the edge of my seat. I'm super. I'm such a nerd. Before I get to my people's first questions that we close out here, I am curious because you're only four months in. This is a new category and a new product. This is really exciting. There seem to be a lot of opportunities here. What are you personally most excited about in this role of yours, and where is Jellyfish going?
Matt Dynan: I'm excited to be a part of a company that I believe will be extremely successful. We've got some great funding rounds over the past couple of years. But, when I joined, we didn't have the most recent one. I believe in the idea, and when I joined, I remember the message I got was, "What we're trying to do for engineering is what Salesforce did for sales." So, just completely changing the game, giving you want to be this household name you need in your tech stack. Being a part of that is exciting for me. But then, more personally, I've said this position is exactly what I wanted to do next. It just got here a little bit earlier than I thought. I'm just focused on nailing this and building this category out, but what excites me as well is that there's a lot of ambiguity and a lot of options for the path forward, whether it's down that growth marketing path, down the digital strategy path, or moving to something such as product marketing. I'm just excited that it's not predefined just yet.
Kerry Guard: The world is your oyster.
Matt Dynan: Once jellyfish makes it, we'll make decisions.
Kerry Guard: Awesome. Oh, this is fun. Before we close out that, I think you're onto something in terms of how SEO will be pivotal in this. And I love how I mean, and I think you're early on enough that you can establish the category thoughtfully in that evergreen content. I could feel that it was exciting. I'm excited for you.
Matt Dynan: Thank you. That means a lot.
Kerry Guard: Before we close out, I have my three people's first questions. Are you ready?
Matt Dynan: I'm ready.
Kerry Guard: The first one is, have you picked up on new hobbies these last two years?
Matt Dynan:I don't think it's a new hobby. I've been running competitively since high school, and when the pandemic started, we were sent home. I started training for my first half marathon, which I've run a couple of times, and I'm currently training for my first full marathon in June. Running isn't new, but finally taking a crack at the big one is exciting and takes a lot of my free time.
Kerry Guard: I am not a runner, but I am. I'm surrounded by them. They seem to either be working or running or eating.
Matt Dynan: Those are the big three.
Kerry Guard: Awesome. Have you ever met your team in person yet?
Matt Dynan: I have. A couple of times. I've been lucky enough.
Kerry Guard: It sounds that you're all in Boston. Either imagine a time when you just were with them, or maybe you will get together soon, and you're all going to be together. What song would you want playing overhead to set the vibe of the meeting or the gathering? What would you want to play?
Matt Dynan: Good question because I want to say something we're big on being in a Jellyfish company. We're big like the ocean puns, so that's what I want to go to. Any low-fine music just makes me think of the team now because if you ever check out some of our videos, our product marketer always has it in the background. It's nice, calming, low fine music, and he was also playing it in the background at our sales kickoff a few weeks ago. Even when I'm working, I always have a low fine. It makes me think of a team.
Kerry Guard: You can send me a track that you love. I'll add. Start to feel the vibe, and maybe that's what they'll be turning into when they say, “Yes, well do.” Last question for you. If you could travel anywhere in the world without any restrictions, flow tests, vaccination cards, or flights being $100,000 roundtrip, where would you go and why?
Matt Dynan: This question has come up a few times in the past few months, which is weird. I've had the same recommendation from multiple people: to go to the entire Nordics region and Europe. I've never been there. I've only been to a few places in Europe, but what keeps coming makes me think that it has to be my next trip and where I'd go if I could go right now.
Kerry Guard: Matt, thank you so much for joining me. I enjoyed this trip down the category lane and am excited for you and Jellyfish. I'm going to follow your journey and can't wait to see where you go.
Matt Dynan: Thanks so much for having me. This was was awesome. I love talking marketing and Jellyfish, so this was great
That was my conversation with Matt Dynan and I'm so inspired by how Rapid7 brings on new marketers to have new hires experience sales, product, and marketing and then choose their adventure after nine months, allowing each person to decide their career paths after having tried each. And once they do choose, then they have clear visibility and empathy into how the other functions work. Fascinating! I love it.
Thanks for joining me Matt and for sharing your story. If you'd like to learn more from Matt about building a category or his journey on Rapid7, you can connect with him on LinkedIn, link is in the show notes.
In my next episode, I chat with Alyssa Maker where we discuss what demand gen marketing means to her. Stay on and autoplay will take you there.
This episode was brought to you by MKG Marketing - a digital marketing agency that helps cyber security and data management brands get found via transparent, measurable digital marketing. It’s hosted by me, Kerry Guard - CEO and co-founder of MKG. Music mix and mastering done by Austin Ellis.
If you'd like to be a guest, please visit mkgmarketinginc.com to apply.
Matt Dynan is the Digital Marketing Manager at Jellyfish.io. He is a B2B digital marketer with experience owning SEO and paid media programs at high-growth SaaS companies.