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What are your SaaS company's current growth marketing challenges and wins?

July 11, 2023

Leveraging User Research to Level Up Your Marketing and Balancing Remote Work and Motherhood with Cari Murray of Marvin

Jeanna and Cari discuss why user research is so important to product design and marketing as well as how to manage a global remote team while being a mom.

Cari Murray is the Director of Marketing at Marvin, a user research platform that helps businesses simplify customer research. With a strong background in content marketing, Cari has spent most of her career crafting compelling messaging for companies across industries, including Outreach, Limeade, Make-A-Wish Foundation, 3M, T-Mobile, and Microsoft. 



Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn: 

  • How Cari transitioned from an office extrovert to a remote leader
  • Why customer-centric product design is critical to the success of a company
  • How Marvin helps teams collaborate with and learn from their customers more effectively
  • The challenges and benefits of leading a global remote team
  • How to balance work and motherhood while working from home
  • Tips for building authentic relationships with your coworkers while remote
  • How to tap into the power of user research to improve your marketing strategy

In this episode…

Instead of connecting directly with customers, many companies rely on internal assumptions or opinions to drive their product roadmap. But talking to your customers and prioritizing new features and updates based on their feedback is essential for creating a product that truly meets the wants and needs of its users. It's also crucial to bring conversations with customers into a single research repository that’s accessible and shareable with everyone in the company, so marketing, sales, and customer success teams can also benefit.

In this episode of Remotely Cultured, Jeanna Barrett chats with Cari Murray, Director of Marketing at Marvin, to discuss the value of user research in product design and marketing as well as how Cari manages a global remote team while balancing motherhood. Cari shares how she uses Marvin to level up her marketing strategy and messaging and reveals her favorite #workfromanywhere tips and tools.


Resources mentioned in this episode:



Jeanna: Hey, everyone, Jeanna Barrett here. I'm the Founder and Chief Remote Officer of First Page Strategy and the host of Remotely Cultured, where I talk with entrepreneurs, marketing leaders and remote employees across the globe about the work from anywhere movement, the culture of the countries they're working in, cool projects at the forefront of marketing and tech, and the culture of remote work. Today, we have with us Cari Murray, who leads marketing for Hey Marvin, a user research platform that makes it super simple to talk to your customers and build products they love. She has spent most of her career telling stories for companies across a variety of industries, including healthcare, tech, communications and AI. She lives a life of luxury in Seattle, Washington, where she spends her free time cuddling dogs and reading highbrow literature. And Cari is kidding. She's pretty funny. And you can usually find her rolling around with her two toddlers and reading the same children's books over and over again is what's really going on. Hi, Cari. 

Cari: Hi Jeanna. Thank you. 

Jeanna: How are you? Where are you calling in from today.

Cari: So I am in Seattle, Washington in the United States. In my home office.

Jeanna: Nice. With some of the podcasts listeners won't be able to see this until they put the video together possibly with the podcast but with a very beautiful dog flower wallpaper, which is makes you smile every day you go to work, yeah? It's so great. 

Cari: Thank you. I share my office with two dogs, so I had to make sure they felt welcome in my office as well. 

Jeanna: Yeah, possibly the biggest perk, one of the biggest perks about working from home, is the constantly being able to have your dogs in the office. Right? I live that life also. And how long have you been working remote?

Cari: So I have been lucky. In my career, I have had the flexibility to work from home almost whenever I've needed to, but permanently working from home as of March 2020. And I think everyone knows that move very well. 

Jeanna: So you're a COVID remote work casualty. 

Cari: Yes. And honestly, I hated working from home before I liked having the autonomy and the luxury or the flexibility to do it. But I am an extrovert who I always felt like the magic of what I could bring came from communicating with my peers and watercooler conversations and building relationships. And it was always a struggle for me to come home. I feel like I didn't have the right office setup. I didn't have somebody I could bounce ideas off of and had to just totally flip that script when I moved home in, you know, COVID times. And now I can't imagine going back. I think sometimes I'd like the option to like go cowork with someone. My company is entirely remote, and I'm the only one in Washington State. So it's really only an option when one of us travels to the other's hometown or we're at an event, but I literally roll out of bed and come downstairs and start working. And I can't imagine going back to the you know, 30 to 60 minute commute.

Jeanna: Yeah, let's spend a little bit of time there because I think that's such a fascinating point that you made. I've heard this a lot. And I have my, you know, rebuttals and opinions about this as a remote founder. But a lot of people do think that if you are extroverted or you want to make friends at the office, or you want to spend time with people that working from home is really isolating, really lonely, and that you won't be able to, yeah, create those friendships you do in the office. So how did you kind of like shift away from that mindset and what do you do now to be extroverted and like build your community when working from home?

Cari: I love that question. And I think it is a great point. So when I, when I moved home I was working with a team that I had been working with for two years, I actually ended up changing jobs within a month or two of that time period. And so I knew I had to consciously like build out new patterns of getting to know my coworkers. We were spread out all over the place. And at the time, I was a content marketing manager. And those of you listening know that content, marketers need to be very closely involved with the ins and outs of the company. And so I set up a list of people to have one on ones with, I made sure that I was connected with leadership, both on the marketing team as well as executive leaders. And then I would ask others, like, hey, who should I talk to? Who do you think would have a strong opinion on, you know, our marketing strategy, or just in general, be a really great person to connect with? And so I was able to set up virtual coffees with people.

Jeanna: I love that so much.

Cari: Yeah, and I set up a regular one on ones with people who I knew I'd have to work with closely, but did try to make sure that it wasn't all like business and serious all the time. You mentioned I tend to be a person who's like, what you see is what you get. And so I want to make sure that people know that, like, I want to build an authentic friendship and relationship with the people that I'm working with. And so I think starting from that as my motive versus like, what can this person do to help me get ahead. And I think most people, you know, positive intent, most people aren't looking at it that way. But I do feel like just coming into it knowing that communication and collaboration has been the key to my personal success was something I needed to bake into my onboarding plan. And then I have since changed jobs again, which, you know, I can't believe COVID has been long enough to change careers a couple of times. And my current company is spread across the globe. Our product team is based in India. And so there's a 12 and a half hour time difference that has been a bit of a challenge to overcome. And, you know, with that, I'm still trying to do the thing where I'm setting up time with our lead product manager, our lead designer, and I had a call with our design team this morning, and it was 8:30 my time, but 9:30pm their time. And so it really does, it does become a timezone juggling as you probably know.

Jeanna: Cool. So basically, you're just really focusing on like, dedicated one on one video calls with people to build relationships at your company. What about outside? Do you have enough of a network, like with friends and family locally that you haven't felt isolated? Like outside of work?

Cari: Yeah, I think I am very lucky. My partner is a marketer. So and we kind of do the left brain, right brain sort of marketing where I can bounce ideas off of him. We randomly moved next door to a former chief marketing officer in the tech space, who has become a great confidant. And so yeah, and then I just stay close with several of the people I've worked with before. And so I'm not actively going to meet ups or anything like that. I do still, I you know, maybe my extroverted-ness has become a extroverted behind the Zoom camera, I feel like I'm still having most of my marketing connections virtually. Which is kind of funny.

Jeanna: Yeah. Um, there's something that I can't remember where I heard it or read it, but it has resonated with me. And I think I've probably repeated it like 20 times since I read it. But there's this idea that I think is super interesting when people use that kind of, you know, I didn't want to work remote because I would feel isolated. I wouldn't, you know, have people to hang out with in the office, I missed the office environment. And I was reading an article, I think it was last year about the whole like Google not being remote, going back to office thing and it was like we have to stop looking at the office as our way of being social. Like when you're not in an office, you have so much more time to spend with the actual people that you want to build a connection with when you have the time like your friends and your family and your neighbors. Instead of like these forced office relationships with people you would have never chose that you're with like eight hours a day. So I just love that perspective so much.

Cari: That's such a great point too, because I am choosing to do things like workout with one of my friends who's not in the space or go to dinner with one of my friends who's not in the space. It's almost like I have more of a delineation in my social life because I'm not having to go into the office and focus all of my activities around what's happening in the hub happy.

Jeanna: Yeah. Cool. Let's shift a little bit and talk about being a mother and working from home. This has been a topic we've touched a little bit on in the podcast, because it is, you know, obvious, for obvious reasons helped a lot of females and careers, being able to work remote with their families. And that new transition when you're a new mom, so I know that you're a relatively new mom with two toddlers, right? A three year old and a two year old and, tell me, how do you separate work Cari and mom Cari while you're at home?

Cari: Well, I have my my dog office, and this is honestly, my space. I'm not gonna show you, but if you look around, there's like all sorts of quirky things that are very much me and no one else in this household. At five o'clock, or whenever, I leave the office and I leave my laptop in here. I try really hard to be in the moment with my kids when they're here. I mean, I'll have my phone on me and I'll have the casual, or the informal Slack conversations, or maybe scrolling through LinkedIn. But for the most part, when my kids are home, I'm with them. I think that the other thing that has shifted is, because my team is across the world, sometimes I have to log back in or come into my office after the kids have gone to sleep. And I don't think I ever would have done that previously, I would have figured out a way to be like, we'll figure it out when we figure it out. I also wasn't leading a team at the time. So there is that sort of, you know, I there's a bit more accountability that I have. But in general, I try really hard to just keep the two separate. And that said, it doesn't always work that way. My kids love coming in here and watching goat videos on my laptop. I think they think that's what I do for a living. And, you know, there's something to be said there about knowing that their mom does work, enjoys work, has to, you know, like, is supporting the family and cultivating, you know, good work ethics for them.

Jeanna: Yeah. So do you have childcare? Like, you have a separate space that you make, like your work office and mom's space and you have child care at home? Or do they do they stay at home all day with you?

Cari: This is a great question. And I think it's a really important point that I acknowledge the privilege I have here, I live very close to my in laws. And they they help out whenever they can. And so what that looks like on a regular schedule is Monday through Wednesday both kids go to a daycare that we really love that's nearby. And then on Thursdays and Fridays, my mother in law actually comes and stays with us. She gets here bright and early. She takes the kids to the park so that I can have calls and podcast interviews. And really, she feeds us. She cleans. All these things never asked for but I know that I'm truly, truly lucky to have in my life and I read something recently that was like no one talks about the secret to parenting being living next to relatives. And that's 100% it.

Jeanna: The whole like it takes a village.

Cari: Exactly. And you know I think it's like a little bit more it's like living next to relatives who want to take on the caretaking responsibilities because that is you know there are other friends of mine that I know don't have that luxury even though they might live next door to their mom or something. And so yes, we we definitely it takes a village. I think that's the the key to feeling like I have anything balanced.

Jeanna: Yeah, I love that. So it sounds like you have some work from home remote mom tips that might be like set up a separate space. Shut off your laptop and you know be present with your kids after hours. And live next to your laws. Is there any other like work from home mom tips that you would share?

Cari: I think the biggest thing that I would say is this truly is the hardest it will ever be. You're in it right now. And it feels like you'll never get out of it. And so with that, like give yourself grace, I had someone use that line with me. And it I don't always think that but when I when I do remember it it's such a have a deep sigh, almost like okay, yes, that's right. I am doing a lot right now. And I think a lot of people whoasked themselves the question of how do I balance it? How do I stay ahead of my career? You're probably already ahead of it. If you are concerned about how you're showing up at work, you are probably someone who already dedicates 100% of your time, like your 100% is probably exponentially higher than anybody else's 200%, or whatever it happens to be like, you owe it to yourself to take care of yourself, like put on your own oxygen mask, or whatever that saying is. But like, one of the things that I always joke about is I'm not a guru for working from home because I'm the person who will take a break and go take a nap. Like, people be like, oh, you got to get up early, and you gotta get your smoothie and you gotta go for a run. I'm like, I'm gonna sleep as long as I can. My key is sleep and coffee.

Jeanna: Yeah, that's great. And, you know, I think that that's kind of like the nature of women really, is this intense pressure of doing all the things whether it's doing all the things when you're a mother, and there's a lot of like, judgment between mothers or towards mothers, but the same goes in your career, you know, like, I've always felt like, I have intense pressure to exceed and tarry all the things and juggle and it's like, I don't know, it's just the women. It's women's condition. I think a little bit, and so the idea of like giving ourselves grace is so important. 

Cari: Yeah. And I think that goes for any, it's a great, every woman should give themselves grace. Like, it wasn't that long ago that I was not a mom. And I wasn't sure if I wanted to be a mom and I felt intense pressure to work longer than someone who might have to log off early or, you know, preconceived notions of is their kid really sick again? Yes, yes, they are. And if the kid's not sick, mom's sick. But I do think the other area that I wasn't really expecting is my social life, I always really leaned in and cultivated my female friendships, my relationships outside of outside of my job outside of my home. And unless I work with someone, or live next door to someone, or have kids that are the same age as mine, I'm really not as in deep with that friendship as I used to be. And that is so guilt inducing. And so I think it's another area where, you know, my friends who don't have kids are like, that's fine, I can come to your house, you know, or my friends who have older kids are like, that's okay, I remember what it was like. And so my next tip is one for women in general is ask for help. If we don't say what we need, or we don't say how we're feeling, nobody knows what you're going through. And so, I have definitely had that where, you know, I've reached out to best friends. And I'm like, I'm so sorry, I haven't texted in a while. It's okay, can I do anything? And I'm like, no, just like, just saying that you can is enough for me. And yeah, I feel like I'm more active on like, Instagram than I would have been previously because I'm like, oh, I haven't talked to so and so in a while, but she just posted a picture. So I'm going to comment on it even though I don't really have anything new to say.

Jeanna: I feel like I've really figured that out in the, in my personal life, or in my career as well, like, yeah, there's so much pressure on myself. And then I really leaned into asking for help in my career of like building my company, because I'm like, I can't do this. I'm way in way over my head. And the biggest change that I had to my company was like bringing in coaches, an agency coach that sold agencies before, a marketing coach that's been a CMO, a financial coach like to help me map out forecasts like it's like life changing once you ask for help. All right, let's shift gears and talk about Marvin. I would love for you to tell our listeners a little bit about Marvin's mission and what you do for Marvin.

Cari: Awesome. Well, thank you, Marvin is a company that helps make it easier to do research no matter what your role is. And so what I mean by that is most people within a company are talking to customers, their users, but those conversations don't really get pulled together into one place. And so Marvin's goal is to really bring everything together into a research repository that's incredibly accessible and shareable with everyone in the company. Our target audience is typically designers and user researchers or product teams. But ultimately, when I was interviewing for the job, I was like, I want this tool. I'm in marketing, I'm talking to users or I want to listen to more conversations. And I was like, can I see a demo, and the product itself was in its infancy, we launched in 2022. And it was one of the best products I had seen in my marketing career. And I've, as you mentioned, upfront, I've worked for several different tech companies. And I think a part of the, the experience being so, so great is that our founders are, one is a researcher and entrepreneur by trade and the other one is design our product leader by trade. And they essentially built the product they wish they had always had in previous companies. So it's the like, they know what the end user wants. But they also know, we need to talk to the users to continue iterating and building something that's usable and fun to use.

Jeanna: So give us like a really quick 30 seconds about like the workflow and Marvin, like, how does it get started? How do you get your customers to give you feedback kind of thing?

Cari: That's awesome. So I would say if we're recording on Zoom, you integrate that call with your Marvin account, and then you're automatically recording directly into Marvin, you have access to an AI note taking tool. So I could say like Jeanna said this at this point, and just give myself a note, at the end of the call, you'll get an automatic recording plus an automatic transcript, which is built not just off with like Zoom transcripts, but off of several different models that we put together so that it's highly accurate. And then it timestamps those moments that you marked within the conversation. And so I can go back, and I can say Jeanna had 8 million wonderful things to say. But there were those eight points that I want to make sure are shared with the team, and they're already time stamped, I can then create a highlight reel of those quotes, and I can share it with my team immediately. Like, listen to this five minutes, you don't have time to go back and rewatch the entire customer interview. But you likely have time to watch these five minutes that give you everything you need to know about how they're experiencing the product, and some of the feedback that they might have for you. Yeah, I could go deeper. But if anybody's listening, it's a 45 minute custom demo. So that's my highest level.

Jeanna: So you guys classify yourself as an AI tool, right, which is like all the buzz right now?

Cari: Exactly, exactly. And it's one of the areas we are seeing, you know, we're small, so we can move fast. But we also because we launched in the, you know, the post COVID years, we were built for remote collaboration. A lot of the product conversations that were happening previously had to happen in an office. And so user interviews required inviting actual users into your office and talking to them in person. 

Jeanna: I remember those days. And everything we do now is done online. And so it makes it much easier to collaborate with your teams who happen to be across the world or the country. And yeah. Why does the Marvin team or the founders think that customer-centric product design is so important?

Cari: So I love that question. And I would say they, our founders, came from a background of like, HCI, Human Computer Interaction grad program. That is like a very technical way of saying, like, how do humans interact with computers, and vice versa. And I think as we are now in this new, like, AI centric world, we are finding that the best AIs are the ones that are actually informed with putting humans first, like, you're always going to need a person to tell the AI, what's most important. AI is, you know, running on mathematical algorithms and equations, and it can only do its best guess with the data that you put in. And I think, when you focus too much on the on the quantitative aspects of research, you miss out on what humans really, really feel. And so when when you're building out a roadmap for your product, if you're not talking to your users, where are you getting the inputs from? Well, you're probably getting them from, oh, we need to make this faster, we need to we need to do this new feature because we think it's cool or and it might not be something that actually benefits your user, it might be something they didn't ask for. You see it all the time, as I think companies get bigger and bigger, and they lose some of the innovation. And it becomes, you know, I don't want to say political, but I will like there's there's conversations that are happening internally where you're making your best guess, versus asking your customers directly. Hey, how do you interact with our product? Show me what you're doing. Tell me how you feel, and really getting at the heart of some of the the emotions that that people are feeling when they interact with your product. I think that's essentially it. Like, we also talk a lot about our customers that are happiest with us are teams that have a dedicated research roadmap that informs their product roadmap. And so yeah, so the research informs what's being built, the research helps you decide, hey, actually, this thing we thought was going to be really great isn't, so maybe we postpone it, we focus on this instead. And this is where Marvin can come in, where you can actually elevate the voice of the customer. Like it's not just me, Cari saying that I think this will be better. Here's a highlight reel of 12 different users who said the exact same thing in the exact like, quote that I'm using, and you see this, like, yeah, you see this real, like 12 people saying the same thing, it's a little harder to argue with no matter if you're a CEO and a company or not.

Jeanna: Yeah, that's so important. I have been at way too many tech brands to count either as a client of ours or in my past career that do no user research. And it is just a founder and a product team making decisions and you know, prioritizing a roadmap based on what they think is most important. And I remember being really frustrated by that as a marketer, because as a marketer, you do come across like feedback, whether it's on social. Well, mostly through social that, you know, product requests or things that people aren't happy with. And they're often in my remember in my career kind of being a disconnect there about what was building we were building versus what people wanted to see. And then obviously, in the last however many years, like the whole UX and testing and user research has really scaled, but it's shocking how many companies still do not ask their customers for feedback before making product decisions. So how do you guys like reach the companies that need to involve this in their process but not doing it yet?

Cari: Yeah. Well, I would say that is that is the hardest part of marketing as you know. I would say we've seen a lot of our success from word of mouth and customer referrals. We have gone to UX events or partner events where they already use a certain product, and we integrate with that product. Pendo and user testing come to mind. And we have found it's really easy to have the conversations with people who already have user research top of mind, I think the harder piece and nut to crack is making sure everyone understands the value that this research brings. And I think that we overcomplicate research, and I'm putting that in air quotes for people who are listening, research sounds hard research sounds like I need buy in research sounds expensive. But honestly, you just need to talk to the people who are in the space that you're in. And this is my first time in the UX space. And I have been so overjoyed with how welcoming everyone in the space is, I have learned more in the last year than I have in probably my almost 20 year career, because I have been invited into conversations I wasn't a part of before. And I think because of that, it's been easier than ever to sell the value of Marvin, because I'm already talking to people who feel very passionately about what they do. And I think as we focus more on products, I think it's less that people don't understand the value and more about they're doing so many things. And so we have also seen some success with bringing in some of our product leader customers who have already seen the value that we can bring how we speed up some of the some of the pieces of research that have been intimidating in the past, and really finding those thought leaders in the space who understand, we don't know what we don't know. And so we need to ask the people who are using our product. And again, just talk to them, listen to them, and you can't make everyone happy. But if you start to distill the themes that you're hearing...

Jeanna: ...trends, yeah. Yeah, it's such an important piece to building the right tool or product, which I know like every founder or entrepreneur or product leader out there is interested in, and yet some of them still aren't probably doing those steps. So use Marvin. Ask your customers what they want to see. 

Cari: Or, you know, I'll say one of the other things I love about my CEO is he will tell you, you don't have to use Marvin, but you something, talk to your customers, and then put those conversations somewhere that everyone has access to. That is where you start. Don't feel like you have to go buy expensive tools. We're not that expensive. But just get started. Because the longer you go without having these conversations, the harder it is, and the further behind your competition you are.

Jeanna: Yeah, that's great advice. And how often do you because the companies I have worked with who have decided to do user testing? It's like a one time thing like they interview, maybe the marketing team, does it, the ones that I've been involved in, because we've like, you know, facilitated it, and they asked 10 customers things once a year, and then maybe do it again in two years. But like, what is the cadence of needing to interview your customers? Is that an ongoing, like, all the time throughout the year thing?

Cari: I would call it ongoing. For sure. I think that there are also areas when you're when you're looking to build out specific new capabilities, it becomes more project focused and and then you would want to work with a user research to actually establish like, what is the questions we're going to ask and then, you know, set up a, I'd say time based model, but it doesn't necessarily need to be I think there's definitely room for doing research that is specific to certain capabilities. But then there's also like, for those of us in the marketing world, I think anytime you can get a customer on the phone, take it, take it. I did not in previous roles have access to customers in the way that I do now, and I am better for it. On the days that I don't get a chance to talk to a customer, I'm listening to our sales calls or our customer success calls. And it really is, I mean, from a marketing perspective, it's the easiest way for me to create messaging and content that resonate.

Jeanna: Or to understand your personas pain point. Might be marketing jargon for people that aren't in marketers listening. But I mean, the number one thing that we do before we create any sort of marketing tactics or execution or anything in any channel, we understand a brand's customer and their pain points because you can't create marketing or any messaging or any content until you know what people need to find online. Right.

Cari: And then you know, you know to it doesn't end after you launch that message or that ad or whatever you you then have to test it and then you experiment with it. And so we don't yet have a customer advisory board. But I do have a set of customers that have raised their hand and said, I love using this product, let me know what I can do. And it's so powerful to know that you can talk directly to your customer and get the feedback you're looking for. 

Jeanna: Love it. And one thing I've struggled with, like when working with different brands on trying to get customer feedback, is actually getting the customers to want to give you feedback. Yeah, the whole incentivization thing, right? Do you guys have any tips or advice on how you get your customers to actually participate in feedback calls or feedback chats?

Cari: This is like the number one question we hear. I think it's actually the number one pain point that exists for people who are doing research because you're asking for time. And time means different things to different people. I would say we've been lucky in that our product feedback calls are relatively easy to get in that we are literally building based on their feedback, and they can see it in that time. So almost anytime we have had a customer give us product feedback, we've been able to build out the enhancements within a couple months. I mean, our roadmap is very short, our product team is one of the best I've ever seen, if not the best that I've worked with, and they move fast, and they move mountains to like incorporate that customer feedback. When customers see that their voice matters, they're more willing to have conversations with you.

Jeanna: Yeah. Love that. That's great advice. Cool. Okay, switching gears a little bit, just to our last topic on the podcast today, before we wrap this up. Let's talk about your career path a little bit. It's one that I personally have admired. I've known a Cari for I don't know too long to embarrassingly, we went to college together. But I know you started out as a journalist, copywriter, copy edited or you've gone through some writing roles, then you really focus deep on content marketing, and your role at Hey Marvin is your first like holistic marketing leader role where you're owning all channels instead of content writing. Can you talk to me a little bit about this evolution? And like, how you ended up in this head of marketing role? And how the content like set you up for success?

Cari: Yeah. So I was at a point in my career, as I think many millennials have felt at some point where they're like, is this is this what I really want to do for the next, you know, the second half of my career? And you and I actually spoke 

Jeanna: Are you calling me a millennial? 

Cari: I'm calling you, yeah, or Gen X. But we, I was just really feeling stuck. I had just had my second baby, that COVID stuff was still happening. And I was personally not feeling the growth that I expected to feel in, you know, at this stage in my career, but also I was like, do I want it? Do I really want to do what it takes to become a VP of comms and contents at a big company?

Jeanna: Which is a real question. I've been there. It's the burnout.

Cari: It totally is. And I had been like, do I still want to do content? Do I even want to do marketing? Do I want to be a stay at home mom? Which is something I never imagined questioning. And I like the timing was perfect. I had someone introduced me to probiotic, my, our CEO at Marvin, and he or the person who introduced me was like, listen, I know you're not really sure what you want to do next. But I think you should talk to these people who are building a really cool product, I think they need someone with your background. And what he meant was, we were coming into a space that is pretty nascent, but we weren't the first ones to do it. And so we do have some competitors in the space that have a leg up on us in terms of brand recognition. And so we needed to create a brand that differentiated itself and this is I'm again gonna plug go to heymarvin.com not because I want you to buy the product but because the brand itself is so cool. 

Jeanna: It's really up there. Yeah, I agree. They've done an amazing job. It's so fun.

Cari: So fun. So amazing. The name Marvin actually comes from the paranoid robot from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. We, they had a brand personality before I ever even set foot in the door and I was interesting to me. And they wanted someone to help tell the story. They wanted someone to be a little weird. And I had never in my career had someone say, let's be weird. 

Jeanna: That's honestly every marketer's dream. Yeah. It was like, weird, crazy, like witty marketing, fun marketing. I don't want to be corporate. I don't want to be buttoned up, like, give me give me like a long leash here, people. That's so cool.

Cari: Yes, yes. And, you know, there I still think we haven't gone as weird as we were originally talking in those conversations. But we have been able to push some things in a way that I never would have been able to in other roles. And I definitely, I'm still growing every single day, I think I understand the storytelling and the content marketing. I know it like the back of my hand. But then there are pieces of marketing that I am learning on the go or to your point asking for help from people I have seen do it well, performance marketing, demand generation, product marketing, I have informal partnerships with people who can help me in those spaces. And I think the other the other thing that having a content background has helped me with is that, you know, you need good content to fuel any of those other aspects. And so now that we figured out our story, we have to figure out how to, you know, flip the channel, flipped the switch on other channels and make sure we're distributing that content in a way that reaches our audiences. And so that's where, when you asked how do I reach the people who don't know, they need to be doing user research, I'm figuring it out as I go. Which is, you know, it's fun.

Jeanna: I just, I'm just so impressed by that approach, though. Because as a marketing leader, I like I think every company I've been to, they have not figured out their brand, before they cared about growth. So I understand it, right? Because when you sometimes are, you know, you might have a board, you might have, you know, some tough growth goals you need to hit and so everybody's like, what revenue? How would we get revenue and users up in traffic? But nine times out of 10, I've had to take a step back and tell them like, look, guys, we need to spend some time on branding here. We need to define who your user is like your brand persona, like what you offer to the market. What is your value proposition? What are the reasons to believe in your brand? Which a marketer really needs also to be successful. So I'm just really impressed by a startup founder and a company that was thoughtful enough to flip it on its head and go slow and start almost like the right way before pushing and going out to market. Because yeah, usually we have to turn around and start over with those things.

Cari: Yeah, and I will say now that I'm a year in, I'm probably sounding a lot more confident than I would have three months into my tenure here. Because, right, like the CEO does have to answer to the board. And content, content, marketing, thought, leadership, SEO, all those things take time. And you're an early stage startup in the middle of a weird financial crisis. It can be hard to say, please, just give me another month, please.

Jeanna: Yeah, well, I'm excited to see where everything's at in a year. I'm sure we might have to have you back on podcast to talk about how you figured it all out. Okay, three final questions to wrap this podcast up for our listeners. What is your one #workfromanywhere tool or item that you could never live without? 

Cari: Well, coffee is the baseline. But that's boring. So I would say access to Spotify. I need something to get in the zone.

Jeanna: Yeah.

Cari: Depending on my mood.

Jeanna: Yeah, I love that. We actually give Spotify Premium subscriptions out to team. Yeah, it's like a little perk that's like inexpensive, but goes a long way. Because yeah, people love to listen to music while you work. So yeah, I love that answer. And if someone wanted to learn more about Marvin, where should they go online?

Cari: heymarvin.com. would be great. 

Jeanna: Don't forget the Hey. heymarvin.com.

Cari: Hey, as in H-E-Y, not the horse hay.

Jeanna: And is there a mentor, a colleague or a partner of yours that you wanted to give a shout out to and share their best advice for our listeners?

Cari: Yeah. So I, again have been so lucky in my career. I've worked with so many incredible people, and I will say so many incredible women. And I had a hard time narrowing down where I wanted to go with this. So I think I want to give a shout out to Lindsey Peterson, who is the Founder of Ironclad Brand Strategy. She's also the author of that same book, I believe by the same title. She and I met several years ago. When I was working for a company called Mighty AI, she was our brand advisor. And so we connected through through that role. And she helped me understand like the discipline of brand, like how, how it does matter to final ROI. And then after a couple years, she and I reconnected as she was thinking about branching out into a coaching business. So she actually helped me with some coaching. During the pandemic, as I was transitioning jobs, I mean, give yourself grace, comes from Lindsay directly. But another, another line that she she said that, that I really value is being emotional is your superpower. And or being sensitive, like sensitivity is your superpower. And I think a lot of times, again, coming back to this women in the workplace theme, we tamp down our feelings, because we don't want to be seen as hysterical or overly emotional. And I am a very emotional person, I cry at everything. And that has been something that has been really frustrating to me, because I'll cry when I'm angry. And she is just somebody who reminded me that it's okay to feel your feelings. And if somebody doesn't, if somebody doesn't recognize that that is a superpower that you can connect with other people, then that might not be a person you want to work with or work for. And again, it's that idea of giving yourself permission to take care of yourself and your own needs.

Jeanna: Such amazing advice really, truly I didn't learn that enough earlier in my career. And I really failed and made some mistakes in terms of like being a marketing leader and coming in and thinking that I needed to go one direction away, you know, kind of the ying and the yang, right, like the balance of female and masculine energy, I really overcompensated into the male masculine energy thinking that my female energy wasn't accepted and appreciated in the workplace. And I really struggled with my personal identity and my career identity for a while until I kind of had a chance to leave my career and restart and start First Page. And now I will say 100% that I attribute like my success as a founder to being compassionate, and sensitive to how people are feeling because people show up at work based on what's going on in their personal life and having those conversations first, getting to know people building out like a personal conversation and being compassionate and sensitive and emotional, really goes a long way to build a culture that allows people to be vulnerable, to be human, to show up tired because you were up all night with your kids, or your grandmother, you know, had an accident or whatever it is like so much stuff happens to us as humans. So, yeah. That's great advice.
Yeah. Knowing that you can, can connect, knowing that you're in it with people who are also human. It means so much like we're all, we all have the same goals at the end of the day. Let's just lift each other up versus feeling like we have to shut ourselves down.

Jeanna: Yeah, totally. Cool. All right. Cari, thank you. So much, great advice, from Marvin to marketing to working from home as a mom, thank you for your time.

Cari: Thank you, Jeanna. I loved being here and seeing you.

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