Kirti Dewan, VP of Marketing at BugSnag on the most successful campaigns this year and pivoting to online events

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Episode outline

[01:18] Kirti’s background

[01:45] How Kirti developed work-life balance

[06:13] What Kirti learned from her consulting career and how she uses these lessons today

[10:35] Good habits that will positively impact your work

[12:32] How others respond to Kirti’s views on work-life balance

[13:13] 3 of Bugnsag’s best campaigns during the last 12 months and 3 that Kirti is excited about in the future

[17:22] How Bugsnag pivoted to online events and how successful they have been

[20:10] Kirti’s influences

Kirti’s Inspirations

Forward Thinking Founders Podcast

Connect with Kirti



All right. Cording is live. So to say, I am excited to welcome our guest. Kurthy Duwan onto the show. Hopefully I got that right. If not, you'll forgive me. Um, but so you have a fantastic background as a marketing leader. You were a director at engine yard after racks, um, or Batara, which was acquired by Google cloud.

And you've had your own consulting business for some time. And now you're the VP of marketing at bugs snacks. So really excited to dive into marketing and all things, uh, tech, leadership life. Great. Thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here. For sure. So I just want dive right into a topic that we don't talk about a ton on the show, but in our pre discussion, you know, you mentioned work life balance and how your experience in spending two years as a consultant.

Uh, helped you learn more about what that meant to you and, and kind of how to prioritize that for yourself. So that, that stood out to me. And so rather than starting in the typical, you know, like let's talk about, uh, marketing within these companies. We'll get there, but let's talk about that. Like how, how, um, you get to it, the point where you had these learnings, what were the learnings?

We'll jump off there. Yeah. Great question. Um, so I consulted for about two years and, uh, um, my last stop in the, in my consulting tenure was with work snack. Cause I joined them as a consulting VP of marketing and then converted to permanent. Um, I went into consulting purely for family reasons, just so that I could be there for the kids.

My husband used to travel a lot. Back then. And it made no sense that it both the, both the parents were. Uh, not available for the kids. When school ended, we would come home. I would go home at least by six or seven, um, in the evening after my commute. And so wanted to be there for the kids during that very important time of their lives.

So, uh, when I was consulting or rather when I had to do make the decision to go into consulting, it was, it was quite. A difficult one. Um, and to be honest, I fed that it was a, it was an identity crisis of sorts. I thought that I was losing myself. And if, how long would I do this for and what would become of me?

And, um, what if I lose touch with the industry and how do I stay, make sure that I'm. Still connected and involved in that things I love to do and be challenged with the everyday problems. And, uh, with all these starts swimming through my head, uh, the right decision to make some family came first. Um, I started, uh, getting good projects and really the, uh, landing some nice gigs and solving the.

No great problems that they had in working on these projects. It started dawning on me halfway through to that. Uh, this was actually a pretty neat thing. So not only did I get to be a good parent, but I thought that some of the takeaways and just the way it was helping overall with mental health, uh, work life balance, uh, developing good habits, um, Really making you ask the right questions on what matters and what doesn't matter.

And the prioritization was ski, you know, it's, it's in Silicon Valley just because we're surrounded by tech and IPO and this company is so great. And there's more during this acquisition and, you know, everyone's just talking the talk right. All the time. And so you kind of get caught up in that. And, uh, it was, it was only when I had.

Uh, when I had these consulting projects that I was able to reflect and I was able to introspect and I was able to really develop a pretty solid, uh, level of understanding as well as a very solid, uh, comfort zone with myself as to this is who I want to be. This is what makes me happy. This is my lane.

I'm going to stay in my lane. I don't need to lick over to other people's lanes because then we know what happens. We're just going to crash and, um, having, you know, having those key moments was, was. Really helpful. And, uh, I grew as a person and I, I really, I changed and I did think when I was going into consulting after all the turbulence that I had had in my head that, uh, this is what I would walk away with.

Um, So it was, it was super helpful. And, uh, I would encourage everyone who is contemplating that at whatever stage in their lives that it can work. And it's a great thing. At least it, it worked pretty beautifully for me. So I'd love to hear it with some of like tactically speaking. What were some of those learnings and then, which of those have you prioritized into your new way of being.

Going back in house. Um, so. Um, in no particular order, but I would say that the network that I was able to develop during the consulting years was pretty great as you know, very well in marketing. You know, you have to work with contractors and consultants and Parkland people and agencies, and, um, there's this whole ecosystem that lives outside the company.

Right. And it it's key. It's really key to the success of the marketing organization and therefore the company. And the two years that I was, uh, doing these are other projects. I was able to do forms so many such great relationships with people who live outside the companies that I was consulting at. And, uh, just Joel, it was a great way to get a beak.

At how different companies think they, what their best practices are, how they are achieving their success metrics and the ecosystem that they have to get them there to those points. So, um, you asked about, you know, how is that helping you right now when you've gone in house? So several of those folks are now part of the bug snag, external staffing ecosystem.

And I was really able to, uh, work with the people and bring whoever was a good fit for bug snag, uh, would understand our market and our audience. Well, I was able to bring them in and so that's helped greatly. Uh, the other thing I would say is that just, yep.

How do I say this? Um, it is not necessarily a marketing function. But what I came to learn doing my consulting days. And this is when I had to do my own business development is that cold calling works. And, um, you know, the SDR, the MDRP is auto sales of Bugsnag, but. Given that a work for me and people were willing to take it chance on me and they were willing to place their bets on me.

Um, I feel that as a company, if you position yourself the right way, then cold calling can work that way as well. Even if you just form a relationship, you don't necessarily have to convert that person into a deal, but just forming that relationship is such a win, win. What was the moment? What was the moment that you, I had that realization that it works, like what we described that moment.

Um, so I, uh, I would go to networking events or I would go to industry conferences. And, uh, if I saw a speaker who was, uh, who, who was impressive or he was saying, uh, he was talking about points that, uh, were resonating with me. I had the opportunity to go up afterwards and, uh, just Jack with them. And so I would introduce myself and tell him what I did and say, Hey, you know, happy to help out of anything.

That's come up. There were people who onstage would say, Hey, I'm here looking for people in these areas on my team. You're looking for full time employees. I would walk up to them and say, I cannot be for them employee. Uh, I have chosen to do contracting and consulting work at this point. But if you do ever need someone who can help you enhance and augment what you have in house, then I'll be happy to have a conversation.

And just following up with them over LinkedIn. Um, once that initial, that had been made. In person, uh, I, I will never respond to us and people would be willing to have that conversation. And that's when I realized that, uh, wow. I never thought that there was a, there was an opportunity here and there was a market for, uh, for the gig economy as they say.

Right. But I was experiencing it firsthand. Fascinating. Um, that's really cool. And what a great kind of sounds like almost a reset. Before going back in house to have those realizations. Yup. Yup. And, and just a whole, uh, you, the, I cannot emphasize enough the good habits that you really get reflect on the amount of sleep that you do, Mead and how.

Uh, the quality of sleep that you get does impact the type of work that you'll do the next day and how jazzed and stoked you are about the work that you are going to be doing. And, uh, Drinking water. This sounds really silly, but I, if I get into a zone, I forget to drink water.

Yeah, no, I became very conscious of that fact, very conscious of the fact. And so I would fill a water bottle every time I went into the car, like a big one, and that way I was hydrated and I still do that to this day. And I always remind myself. And then there was the volunteering as well. There's so much that goes on at school.

It's hard sometimes for both. If both parents work, it's hard to be present at school at all the different functions and events and, um, the parent time that they need. And, uh, it was, it was very nice to be able to give back to the school. Very nice to be able to give back to some nonprofits, um, And, uh, you know, you really go, I suppose, because of these things where you realize that this is the, you know, how schools dot, dot, where the whole child experience, this was really about the whole adult experience, right.

Really being this whole person, um, that you want to be. And when you, you realize that you are that person, so, and then work as just one component of that universe. That's a it's, it's maybe not popular for me to say this, but that's very like contrarian to the Valley's mindset of, you know, what do you mean?

Work isn't everything. But, um, no, I mean, I think that's such a, that's such a thing. Fantastic realization. Uh, do you, do, do people ever push back on some of these things or like peers, do you ever. Catch flack for it or is it, do people respect it? And they're maybe more curious than anything? Yeah, I think that they're more curious than anything as having caught any flatwork, um, and Bugsnag is quite a phenomenal place.

The culture is incredible. And so, uh, you can, I can really live all of this. At Buxton, I myself, just because a company embraces this and really prides itself on having a great culture. So, um, it's, it's worked out pretty well. Okay, so now let's talk marketing. Um, I'm curious, you know, you guys have been on it, crazy growth spurt, um, based on where you are in your revenue sprint, what have been some of the campaigns or initiatives over the last 12 months that you were most.

Happy with how they performed and the results they drove to deliver you to where you are today and what are then three or so that you're really excited about in the future. So three that that were just killer in the past, and then three that you're excited about. So, um, you said last 12 months, um, out of which, tell me, have you been in the dynamic now for six?

Uh, so the last six months of course have been interesting, but we've been quite fortunate at Bugsnag that, uh, things have been going pretty well. Of course we've had to change our tactics and strategies. Uh, so that was, that was quite the shift we had to do with the March April timeframe when everyone else in the industry was doing the same thing, um, overall, uh, conferences and events, and Greenville's worked pretty well for us.

And so we've made sure that even during these times, We are able to, uh, be present the virtual boots and the virtual conferences and have the presence, however, the organizers, uh, see best. And so we've been able to adapt to make the virtual conferences, uh, quite a thing for us as well. And, um, the other area that, uh, has been working for us is we do pretty, uh, pointed and, uh, concise.

Email campaigns and email programs. And so, you know, making sure that that continues to, uh, run even during the pandemic we've of course had to adjust a few things just because now everyone is at home. Um, and haven't been able to do that much of a direct mail piece. So we've adjusted our, uh, email messaging and positioning.

Uh, but that's been going pretty well as well in terms of the things that I am most excited about is, uh, we are gonna be, uh, hopefully fingers crossed. We are going to be, uh, launching grift. Uh, at some point and, uh, so I'm excited to see what success comes out of that. I know so many companies we all do in the industry that has seen quite a good level of, uh, success, uh, come out of that.

So hopefully our success metrics yield us, the ROI that we are looking for as well. Um, the other piece that I am excited about is, um, Building building art are continuing to build out our category of obligations, stability management. And if you go to our website, you see that that is a category that we promote.

And a monitoring is one of those things that you can do with stability management. Now we've barely scratched the surface in terms of. How much we can grow the category. Yeah. Just in terms of developing the category in terms of mind share, but also going out then and educating people on what this is and how it really fits into your tech stack and how it helps you address several pain pinpoints that engineering teams have.

So building out the category, uh, you can imagine is a huge diverse team, cross functional effort across the company. Um, it's awareness, it's messaging, positioning, it's sales, enablement, it's product. Uh, so that's going to be, uh, pretty fun too, as we continue moving in that direction. And, uh, It's just getting dine with that.

Just getting really, uh, focused about who our audiences and who are the types of companies that we want to be targeting. Um, again, a big diverse team effort. So really looking into that as well, moving forward in that as well. So I want to loop back on something that you mentioned a moment ago around a.

Events working really well for you. And then you said that, you know, you have embraced the virtual events in whatever format the hosts are now, you know, spinning them into, and that that's also been productive for you. Super curious about that. Like what, you know, inherently, there are a bunch of different challenges when an event goes virtual and you're not able to get that FaceTime and room the booths.

And, uh, how have you made that work? And are you seeing the same level of success or different? Like, let's dive into that as a topic. Um, so it is different just because of that. There's no substitute for invoice and interaction at the boots. Um, and the enforcement interaction has been quite valuable for us in moving conversations forward.

Uh, so sure what we've been doing is we have been setting up, we've tried demoing in our virtual booths. We make sure that we have a video going. We make sure, you know, we can get some ad placement. In these events. Um, so there's just so many different options that event organizers have are presenting nowadays.

Cause everyone's adapted so well. And so we got to see which ones will, um, make sense for us. So the, um, The in house, the, the in person is, is obviously not there, but we're trying to just see how we can engage with those who still pay us a visit. Um, so the video format and having, uh, In house technical expert be available in the virtual booth at all times is, um, I see how people respond pretty well to that.

Everyone's still actively asking questions and we've tried to keep it interactive as well. You know, wherever we can do a raise of hand or a, or find out from people as to what their current state is or what their pain points are. That's been helpful too. Um, and, uh, And we were just more well, and our style is pretty straightforward.

We're not a company who beats around the Bush or ever fluffing our marketing, not at all. And so, uh, when we do our follow ups, we're just being, you know, if, um, They're being as straightforward. If not more, the, Hey, you know, we met you at this, we met you at the watcher blue. Then you had said this until how can we help out?

You know, I would have loved radicular coffee, but that's not possible. Um, and so how can I address any more questions, uh, that you have? So that very direct line of communication is, uh, is helping us as well in, in followups. Nice. And then as we wind this conversation down, I always love to ask. And who are some of the folks who have been influential in your career thus far, either as mentors or peers or inspiration of some sort?

Oh, that's a, that's a really great question. Um, so I'm not, you know, this sounds funny. We have a book exchange in our company coming up on Wednesday and I participated in, I was like, Oh, why did I do this? I have no time to read books. Uh, so, um, I, uh, As I said, I am not able to spend too much time reading up and following books from some of the great folks out there, but I.

Love listening to podcasts as in when I have the time. And so it's a little bit of what you said here, a little bit of what someone said there. And so it's a mashup of all of that, which I think has, um, really helped me. And because I truly do believe that there is no single playbook. And so you have to do what's right for the company.

And our audience is pretty tough. You know, it's a mobile and a web developer. Engineering audience, uh, not that easy to do, put yourself in front of. And, um, I, I tend to listen to quite a few podcasts. I like marketing trends. Um, I've heard a few from you. Uh, I like the one from forward thinking, but they tend to be a lot more in marketing ops and dimension beast.

Um, and, uh, conversations on LinkedIn are super helpful as well. You always catch at least one good one every day. So I look up totally fantastic. Well, thanks so much for coming on the show. This was a really fun conversation. Oh yeah. Yeah. Great. Thank you so much.