Get ideas for rebranding, consumer research, and choosing the right spouse, by listening to episode #39 of the How I Made It In Marketing podcast. I had a great discussion with Radhika Duggal, Chief Marketing Officer, Super.
Listen now to hear Duggal discuss skills acquired at startups and large companies, home life infrastructure, and a failed (so far) PR campaign.
This article was published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.
“Make the object of your headline the psychological driver of the offer,” Flint McGlaughlin taught in Headline Examples: 3 ways to load your predicate with value.
I thought of this lesson when my latest guest told me about her marriage, and how her husband was her most important career choice.
It struck me that I’ve learned a lot about marketing from marriage (and vice versa). For example, my wife may have very different psychological drivers for a decision or a choice, and I have to understand hers, and make that the object of our conversation. (It seems obvious when I type it up now but seeing something from another person’s perspective is one of the hardest things we do because we are so blinded by our own perspective).
So, I asked my latest guest what she learned about marketing from marriage as well. You can hear that lesson and many more lesson-filled stories as Radhika Duggal, Chief Marketing Officer, Super, shares what insights from her career.
Duggal currently manages a team of 30 people at Super and has managed budgets of $100 million in her career.
Super is an AI-driven platform that helps consumers save money. It is backed by Inovia Capital, Lion Capital, NBA star Steph Curry, and several other venture capital firms. It has raised over $100 million in funding and surpassed $1 billion in sales.
Listen to my conversation with Duggal using this embedded player or click through to your preferred audio streaming service using the links below it.
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Some lessons from Duggal that emerged in our discussion:
That's not true because all businesses are made of people – and people are the same regardless of the environment. In her experience across Deloitte, Pfizer, CommonBond, and Chase, the challenges and the skills needed to overcome them have been the same:
Skills Needed to Rise to The Challenge
As someone who has worked as a management consultant, at Fortune 100 companies, and at startups, Duggal wholeheartedly disagrees with the idea that different skills are needed.
The skills you need in any environment are:
In marketing in any size company, there’s this constant push and pull between the need to build awareness and consideration vs. spending that money on pay-for-performance acquisition marketing that is infinitely more measurable
There are countless everyday examples of how a supportive partner has enabled Duggal to build her career – even before they had kids. From splitting childcare duties down the middle to supporting her when she returned to work early from maternity leave, her partner has been one of the driving forces behind her career in the past 15 years.
Having a supportive partner who is solution-oriented and as ambitious about your success as you are is even as important as working hard and making sound decisions, she says.
There’s an emotional piece of this, but realistically, there’s just a logistics piece of this as well.
On the emotional piece, Duggal’s partner is the person in her life who understands the pace and environment she works in the best – even though he doesn’t work at a startup, he has an equally demanding job. When she is down and he tells her not to quit or he gives her advice, he’s one of the few people she knows has lived what she is feeling, so she trusts his advice. And he’s usually right.
On the logistical piece – this is very much a symptom of having a child, but every day requires 1,000 micro-coordination decisions:
You need someone who is going to be focused on the thousand details (and take half of them).
Duggal also shared lessons she learned from the people she collaborated with:
via Imtiaz Patel, CEO, Baltimore Banner
Duggal began her career as a management consultant at Deloitte and her first project was a Store Operations Assessment with a large toy retailer.
One of the first pieces of her role was to stand outside these toy stores and conduct quantitative market research – survey research – in person focused on:
She was a new college grad, doing this in the dead of summer in her business casual outfit and heels thinking… “Why in the world is this the right use of my time?” Clearly, she had a bit of an ego in her first job.
Well, her first Senior Manager (Imtiaz Patel, now the CEO of the Baltimore Banner) sat her down and explained “your customer is your most important boss.” Essentially, he was saying that your customer’s voice and opinion is the primary one that matters because your business literally lives or dies by their opinion.
She realized he was 100% right, and she carried that lesson forward with her in every role she had after that:
The biggest lesson she has learned in her career is your customer is your boss. And you need to know who they are, what they need, and be able to articulate how your product and service meets that need. And the minute you deviate from that, you’ve gone off course.
via Lorraine Hansen, CMO, Chase
Duggal became pregnant and had her daughter while she was at Chase.
One of the most meaningful conversations on balancing motherhood with work came right after she told her boss that she was pregnant.
Hansen knew that Duggal was ambitious in her day job but also enjoyed a few “side hustles” – she is an adjunct professor at NYU and authored a consumer behavior textbook which gets update continuously.
Hansen’s advice wasn’t “do less” because Duggal suspects Hansen knew it wasn’t going to land.
It was simply – be open to not knowing how you will react. And if you continue to feel that your work fuels you, make sure you have the infrastructure in your home life to enable that.
And Hansen was right, and because of her, and because of their privilege and resources, Duggal and her husband have said they’re going to spend an outsized amount of monetary resources on this infrastructure – in the short term.
School, nanny, backup daycare – even considering a full-time daycare slot because she never wants to worry about her daughter being in an environment she doesn’t feel is right for her daughter. And Duggal simply doesn’t feel like there’s a lot of slack for being that woman who always has to take care of her kids.
But she doesn’t worry – she knows her daughter is taken care of. Duggal knows she and her husband can focus on work when they are working and on their daughter when they have time to do that.
The intense structure is really helpful for them, and Duggal has doubled down on this since learning this from Hansen
via Satish Duggal, CEO, Twin Tier Hospitality
Satish is Radhika’s dad. He was often told “no” in his corporate career. He worked at Corning Incorporated for 20 years and was frequently passed over for promotion or not given the credit he deserved.
But he had conviction in his ability to perform and succeed. So, where he had conviction, he took calculated but significant risks and hustled to build a business that employed thousands of people.
She applies this often throughout her career, but never is there a more relevant example than in her current role, right now, at Super.
As part of their launch, they “rewrote the rules to The Game of Life” (the board game). If you look at the 2021 version of the rulebook some of the rules simply don’t make sense, she says. Everyone starts off with a car, a pet, and $200,000.
What they did is for each of these examples that are simply out of the norm, they scratched them out, rewrote a more appropriate rule, and backed it up with data.
So, for that specific rule, they created the following…
Creative Sample #1: New rules created for the Game of Life board game by Super as part of PR campaign
Admittedly, this isn’t getting traction – they’re not getting the press pickup that they thought they would, it’s just not catching on.
But Duggal has conviction that this is exactly the type of content they should be putting out for both press and investors.
She feels this way because it’s authentic to their mission which is to enable consumers to make the most of their lives. And too many people don’t understand the day-to-day lives of underserved consumers; press and investors have the power to help change things by sharing the day-to-day realities (press) and investing in companies that can help to solve this (investors).
The team believes in this and hopes the press will see this content and the reasoning for their conviction around it, too. Maybe they're not because Super is small, but the content is solid and showcases helpful education, necessary callouts and sheds light on important issues, so they're going to continue to be the advocates for it.
Customer Experience: Take risks, fail early, and learn fast
Marketing Career: You must be your company’s corporate conscience
How I Made It In Marketing podcast
This podcast is not about marketing – it is about the marketer. It draws its inspiration from the Flint McGlaughlin quote, “The key to transformative marketing is a transformed marketer” from the Become a Marketer-Philosopher: Create and optimize high-converting webpages free digital marketing course.
Not ready for a listen yet? Interested in searching the conversation? No problem. Below is a tough transcript of our discussion.
Daniel Burstein: Look, I've got an ego. I'll admit it. I certainly do. Hey, I'm in content and marketing two high ego industries, but I've learned this lesson in my career. So much more is possible when I can get that darn ego out of the way. So I loved hearing my next guest talk about how she learned the lesson. Your customer is your most important stakeholder.
Now, anyone can say that, of course, but she backs it up with fascinating stories of how she very humbly, very diligently, has lived that lesson and had to shove that ego out the way a bit probably. So joining me now to share that story and many more lesson filled stories. Please welcome Radhika Duggal, Chief Marketing officer at Super. Thanks for joining us, Radhika.
Radhika Duggal: Thank you for having me.
Daniel Burstein: So I'm going to just cherry pick from your LinkedIn, from your past career real quick so people know who I'm talking to you. You're a Manager of Deloitte Consulting. You were a Senior Marketing Manager at Pfizer. You were Managing Director and Chief Marketing Officer of Growth Financial Products at Chase. You've been an adjunct professor at Baruch College and Yeshiva University, and right now at NYU. You've managed budgets of over $100 million. And right now you are Chief Marketing Officer at Super, where you are managing a team of over 30. And for those who are uninitiated, Super is a Thin Tech company that helps consumers save money. It's backed by Novia Capital, Line Capital, NBA star Steph Curry and several other venture capital firms. It has raised over $100 million in funding and surpassed $1 billion in sales. Billion with a B. So that's a lot right there. What is your day like as Chief Marketing Officer at Super? What does this mean for the marketer?
Radhika Duggal: Well, thank you for that introduction. I'm going to say what so many others on your podcast have said before me, which is, no two days are the same and that's the absolute best part. So I tend to wake up very early, I wake up at four in the morning and I use the quiet time to write documents that require real thought. We have a prolific written culture where we actually take time to write our thoughts out so that when we go to meetings, we're prepared. I use that quiet time in the morning to review some of the documents my team creates or review creative.
And then I spend the rest of the morning with my daughter taking her school, getting her dressed. I chat with my mom every day and then I head back into my bedroom where I spend the morning and the afternoon, typically in back to back meetings. And I actually prefer that because I like having the time in meetings and then the quiet time to do work. And the time with meetings these days, especially in my role at Super, is filled with some really exciting projects.
So as I've mentioned before, we are renaming and rebranding the company. We just launched a product called Super Cash, which is essentially a credit building card for literally everyone. And I spend my time in those meetings helping my team get unblocked, reviewing creative, working with cross-functional stakeholders to make sure our products or our brand are what we want them to be. And then I try to have at least 2 hours at the end of the day again, quiet time to work before spending some time with my daughter and my husband.
Daniel Burstein: I love that prolific written culture that is so cool. And like the prep you put in for meetings to talk to someone the other day and they said, Hey, I didn't go this meeting, they said you should have been. And I'm like, Well, what was on the agenda? They’re like an agenda didn't even go out and like, how many meetings does everyone have on their books now? There's not even an agenda. You don't even know what’s covered. So I love that prolific written culture where you're thinking through your day and your team is like, Okay, how are we going to make the most value out of this day? That's great. We need more of that reflection in our lives. I think Radhikay.
Radhika Duggal: I tend not to go if there's not an agenda.
Daniel Burstein: That's a great. Yeah, that's a great lesson. What are we talking about? Why do you need me there? Well, let's look at some of your very, very interesting crew. Let's look at some of the lessons you've learned from your career, from some of the things you made in marketing. And first, you say people think you need vastly different skills in startups versus large companies, but it's not true. So tell us why you think this isn’t true. I know you have backgrounds in both.
Radhika Duggal: Yeah. And you know, I wouldn't even attribute this to one particular person. I would just attribute this to the different experiences I've had. But I've worked across management, consulting, Fortune 100 companies and startups, and what I've learned from all those experiences is the skills you need to be successful are actually the same. So some of the skills you need, the ability to influence without authority, for example, even if you come in with a title like I joined Super as the CMO back in January, your title doesn't matter. You've got to come in every day and you've got to prove that you're worthy of that title, especially when you're new. People don't know what they're capable of. So you get quick wins, you demonstrate your capability whether you have a title or not. Influencing without authority is critical in any environment.
The second is really having a genuine desire to see others point of view and consider them, really consider them, and then respectfully be able to articulate your point of view. That is so important, whether you're a consultant talking to your client, right? You're in the meeting trying to disagree with your client or you are in a startup trying to bring your big company perspective into the meeting. And you're going to have to articulate, well, why is that antiquated, big company thing, something that's important? Well, big companies are big for a reason, right? They get there for a reason.
So really being able to consider other's point of view and being able to respectfully articulate yours, genuine care for people. Right. I feel very strongly that if you understand and care for the people you're with, you're not only going to enjoy work more, but you're going to be better at it.
And then the last is just like hustle and grit and determination and being able to push through and figure things out. And so if you take a step back, if those are the skills, well, why is it the same in every environment? It's just because every environment is made of people and people are the same everywhere. And in every environment we have the same challenges. We have limited time and money. We all have our own perspectives almost every industry I've worked in has been highly competitive. The problems are the same and the people are the same, so the skills aren't vastly different.
Daniel Burstein: So I agree. I think there's a lot of good points and you know, we talk about I've worked in B2B for a long time now, but these organizations are B2B and business to business, and it’s really not right. It's their organizations. But there are people in there. That's who we are talking to. But let me ask taking the other view, too, are there some things that people who have had a career in large companies, it would help if they worked in a startup or small company and vice versa if you work in a small company, yeah, but it would help if you had this large company experience.
I'll give you two my own experiences , I want to hear of yours. But, one I was interviewing on the How I Made It In Marketing podcast at Julien Rio, the Assistant Vice President of International Marketing at RingCentral, a big multibillion dollar company. And he said having a startup experience is incredibly valuable. And he told a story about working for a startup, didn't have budgets, so he would just go out on the streets, beat the streets, have leaflets, hand them out. And he really learned to interact directly with people, and he wouldn't have done that if he had that big budget.
Now, it's interesting because some of your stories, you did that for a very big company, so that doesn't stop you. Then also, just from my own experience, you know, having to work with very, very large companies, one thing I really learned is navigation, right? So I started my career in an agency. Agencies, you know, they're smaller not as big. And I worked with some with Fortune 500 companies. And as a contractor, as a consultant and having them as a client. And I really had to learn how to navigate, which is something I hadn't realized previously. I had been talking directly to decision makers, right? Matrixed organizations. There's decision makers, there's a company organization, you're working in marketing, there’s sales, there is so much involved there, I think that's paid off. You know, for me later in my career when I even again worked at smaller companies. But you always are working probably with a bigger company or with a smaller company. So knowing how to navigate within those partners, within those vendors helps make you better at working with those.
I just wonder your thoughts like absolutely very good points we’re all people. These people skills are critical, but is there something specific? If there's someone working at a large company, their whole career where it’s like go in a startup because you need to learn this, or they've worked in startups all their career. Just take a two year break. Work in a large company, you're going to get this out of it.
Radhika Duggal: Yeah, you know, I would say maybe three things. The first is I have been very intentional about making sure I've had both experiences in my career for exactly what you said. I actually thought that I would develop vastly different skill sets in these two places. And I was wrong. What I feel I have figured out how to do by having these different experiences, what I hope others have the opportunity to do if they do work in different environments is learn how to build from scratch and build for scale. That is something that is very different, right?
When you're building something in a start up in your employee number 40 or 20 or something like that, you are really building something from scratch. You are the person keying in your own Facebook campaign, pulling the data in Google Analytics. When you were at a larger company, you not only can be building from scratch as I've had the opportunity to do, but you are not building from scratch for 5000, 10,000, 20,000 users your building for 5 million, 20 million users. So I do feel that having both of those experiences is incredibly important. So I would encourage everybody to go work in these different types of environments because I think it is really beneficial.
But I want to comment on your point about well one of the other guests you've had on the show has said. When, you get the opportunity to work directly with people at a smaller company. I think this is just the personality that you get the opportunity to work directly with people if you want it, and you can figure out how to do it. So I'll share an example of a time at a big company where I've had this opportunity.
So I had the opportunity to work at JP Morgan Chase in the Chase Consumer Bank. I had the opportunity to work on the launch of a banking product for underserved consumers called Chase Center Banking. And as part of that, I said, Well, I'm not an underserved consumer, quite frankly. I'm probably an overserved consumer of banking products. So I wanted to put myself in the shoes of the consumer, and we did great market research and we had great support from research teams, but I didn't feel like enough. I wasn't getting to interact with the consumer. I wasn't understanding.
So I live in New York City. I stood outside Western Union's and Pay-O-Matics and asked customers of those institutions, Why are you here? What is the benefit of being here? Hey, do you know you can get this service at a bank? I really just wanted to understand why people made the choices they made what they needed from that institution. And I was so able to take that knowledge back to my work at Chase and figure out how to work that into either the product with our product team or the messaging. And I just think you can do that regardless of the institution. And by the way, you should be doing that. If we get to it, I'll share how I've actually been able to take that lesson of really putting yourself in your customers shoes. In my current role at Super, we asked the entire company to do that and we spent a whole day doing that together in Las Vegas because that is so incredibly important.
Daniel Burstein: Well, let's cover that real quick, because that's a great point. You know, it was funny, I had I thought of that question, I had written because I thought of this interview. And then later I saw from some of the stories you shared, I was like, wait a minute, she chose to do this. She didn't have to. She was working at Chase. She chose to do this. Which is fascinating, does bring up the point, even though we don't have to do certain things, we can certainly choose to do them.
But I want to ask you about it because, you know, a famous example from GM, for example, famous example, you know GM was known at the time for lesser quality than Toyota. Well GM's executives supposedly had special cars, they weren't just regular cards that came off the line that special cars made just for them. And they were not having the quality issues that the general consumer was having, right. They specifically because of working in this big company, being a big executive, they chose to separate themselves from their consumers. In hindsight, maybe a big mistake. They didn't really understand their consumer experience.
So what are you doing? Super. How are you trying to get in the customer's shoes? We'll get into this later. As you mentioned, this is also I think you're targeting sometimes maybe a less affluent group, a different person than yourself, always different to put yourself in the customer shoes in that case. So what are some of the things you're doing with your team?
Radhika Duggal: That's absolutely right. And I think the notion that we're targeting a group that's different than many of our employees, not all, but many of our employees, is the grounding point in this story. So we are targeting a less affluent consumer and we are hoping to make a meaningful difference in their lives. And I feel very strongly that in order to do that, you have to understand what their life is like. And I'm going to be honest with you, I haven't been a less affluent consumer in quite some time, and so we did two things.
The first thing we did at Super is just flat out try to understand who our customers were. So we did qualitative and quantitative market research just like you do at every company. 3000 folks in a survey to get statistical significance, 75 qualitative interactions with video diaries and focus groups that we got to be a part of and we got to watch. And we created a beautiful deck that said, Who's your design target and who's your consumption target? And had lots of facts and figures. And then we presented that deck and it resonated with some folks and it didn't resonate with most folks. Like, let's be honest, it was a piece of paper. Because people couldn't put themselves in the shoes of their customer.
So what we did then to kind of take that a step further is, and kudos to our co-founders for pushing us to do this, by the way, and what we did is we said, okay, we're having a whole company offsite. We had this offsite in August of this past year. We all went to Las Vegas, 200 plus people in Las Vegas from Super and we took 8 hours. We took 8 hours to walk in the shoes of our customers. We created a Google Sites website, a little bit janky, created by yours truly and a couple of folks on the team.
And one of the pages of that site was, Okay, put yourself in this person's shoes. This person was a persona from our design target. It was a woman who had two children who had $40,000 household income, which was $737 a week post-tax. So we said, here's who you are. And we said, build a budget with your $737, build a grocery list and meal plan to feed your family of three. And we created these activities very intentionally. We gave each group that was doing this activity a paper check and said, go to the check casher and cash this check and then go to Walmart and buy groceries with that cash. I'm pretty sure many of us had never been to a check casher. Many of us in the recent past haven't used cash to pay for their groceries. Many of us hadn't experienced you only have this set amount of money, so you have to make trade offs and you're going to run out before you can, I'm making this up, buy your child the shoes that they want. Then you're going to have to have that fictitious conversation.
What was so powerful about that was not the 8 hours spent, but the debrief afterwards. We spent about an hour to an hour and a half afterwards, if I remember right, with people open mic forum, all of us in a room together just talking about what did we not know prior to this exercise and what did we learn and how did we feel? And I got to tell you, coming out of that exercise, I no longer hear things like, oh, we should make this feature, or we should say it this way, because that's what resonates with me, or that's what I think. People understand who we're solving for, who we're building things for, and who we're writing copy for. And we're all laser focused now on making an impact.
Daniel Burstein: That is beautiful. That is beautiful. And tell you why. Because, you know, I think maybe that would be the knock on consulting, right? That consulting background is like beautifully researched PowerPoint. Yeah, thoroughly researched. All this info being delivered in a gorgeous conference room with catered food and everyone flowing in and all of these things, right. And so it's so disjunctive between who the customer is and your ability in experiencing that.
And I would say too, so everyone diving in like that is really helpful, even a small, minor lesson. A small, minor way to do that is this is some knock I've always gotten you. I started my career as a copywriter, so I would write sometimes these, you know, long copy ads. And then the designers would be like, well, I would never read that long copy. Like, No, that's just cut it. It doesn't look good in the design. But I always have to think of, you know, my retort would always be, I don't care if you would read it. You're not the customer. And that's the brutal thing we have to say when we look in the mirror or to our teams, I really don't care how you would feel. You're not the customer. Let's put ourselves in the customer's shoes. And in the long copy case or in what you're talking about probably also in some, you know, are you going to use Discord or apps or whatever the latest thing is on the fastest phone because that's what we care about.
You have to give that knock and say like, well, if you're the customer, if you're struggling through let's say your refrigerator broke this morning, well, then, yeah, maybe you do care about refrigerators and want to read a lot of long copy. Or again, if you're that all new bank, consumer, poor consumer. Well, maybe you don't have the newest phone in the fastest phone. And, you know, we don't want to give him the latest app or the latest network. So there's no better way, like, yeah, we can deliver this beautiful presentation that says that, and we can kind of think it, but there's no better way than, my gosh, you gave me 8 hours to live it. That is fantastic. You give me 8 hours to live it well.
Radhika Duggal: And what's so important is that it's in every decision you make, actually. It's not just marketing, it's not just product. It's every operational decision you make. If you can get every person in the company to think like your customer or realize what would your customer do in this scenario? Then you can start to build every interaction for the right person.
Daniel Burstein: That's great. Let's look at one of your next lessons. And when I first read it I got to admit, I thought you were talking about vendors. And when you're talking about vendors, you know, your marketing agencies or tech platforms, whatever it was still a great lesson. But when I actually got into, I love that you kind of went into your personal life. Yeah. So you said your partner is your most important career choice, so this isn't a PR agency. What are you talking about here?
Radhika Duggal: Oh, no, I'm not talking about an agency. I'm talking about my husband. So I feel very strongly that over the past 15 years, the most important choice I've made in my career was marrying my husband. And this probably only applies if you choose to have a partner, by the way. If you don't, then perhaps this is less relevant.
But for me, because I made that choice, what I found is there are two sides to this. Number one, there's an emotional side, and number two, there's just a functional logistics side. On the emotional side, I have the benefit of having a partner who works in an incredibly demanding job, likely is similarly demanding to mine. He really understands what my life and job is like every day, and he's actually the only person that understands both those things. What my life is like every day and what my job is like every day. And so, you know, all of our jobs are somewhat of an emotional roller coaster. We have some wins, you have some losses. Sometimes we have three of each in the same day.
And when he tells me, Hey, take an L for the day and you'll figure it out tomorrow or don't quit, think of it this way. His advice has credibility. He's actually understands and knows what I'm going through, and I think he's probably the only person that has that kind of credibility. Other people have good intentions and they have a sense of what you're going through, but they don't understand both sides. So from an emotional support perspective, there's nobody with more credibility. And by the way, he's usually right. I should listen more.
And then on the logistics piece, this is a function of having a child, the prior piece is not. The biggest change, at least in our lives, of having a child is we now have like a thousand tiny little logistical decisions. Our daughter needs a flu shot. She can only wear these three colors to school, so let's make sure she has enough pants. There are these three colors. Silly, tiny little decisions. What I found is because I am not solely responsible for the thousand tiny decisions and there's someone to share the load with. I can be laser focused on work when it's my time to be laser focused on work and when it's my time to be with my daughter, I'm able to do that as well.
So just from being the emotional support, as someone who understands it or splitting the work, right, like being a family takes work, having a supportive partner who has held my hand every day for the last 15 years has been just invaluable.
Daniel Burstein: That's so true. The cognitive load, I think, is what it's called a cognitive load. So I agree very much with you about both the emotional and logistical part. But the thing that actually struck me in my relationship is also the relationship part. So what I've learned about marketing from my relationship to my wife or what I've learned, you know, from marketing to have a better relationship with my wife.
And so for example, we have a free digital marketing course and in the headline example section, Flint McGlaughlin teaches make the object of your headline the psychological driver of the offer, right. So very true. And we're kind of getting into some of the psychological drivers of what you're talking about at Super.
But then when you kind of think about it like, okay, I'm having a conversation with my wife, we've got a big decision to make. Well, it's true. I kind of have to think about her psychological drivers too, right. Which might be very different from my own. And do that thing we talked about. Put yourself in the customer's shoes, which does not come naturally in a relationship either. It's one of the hardest things to do because we're so, at least me, I won’t say that about anyone else, I see the world as I see it and I'm so set in my ways.
So kind of learning that lesson. make the object of your headline the psychological driver of the offer. It's true for our marketing copy, but my gosh, it's true for every conversation I have with my wife about an important choice as well. So I wondered that relationship aspect, is there anything you learned either from your marketing to be a better spouse and partner with your husband? Or is there anything you learned from that relationship with your husband? To be a better marketer?
Radhika Duggal: You know, one thing is provide context every time you tell a story. So in COVID and prior to COVID, we would see each other on the weekend only basically. In COVID we got to be in the same apartment every day, all day for about two years. And so we would by nature and we had our daughter in COVID. So by nature we would talk more, maybe those two changes kind of related. And what you learn really quickly when you're talking to someone outside your work life and you're explaining a work challenge or problem is they need more context. So it was a really good mental reminder to take back to work.
Now when I'm talking to my head of growth marketing about what our creative team is doing, or what our creative director is considering ask from our product marketing team. Being able to bridge the gap between the different functions on the team and provide the context for what each person is doing or thinking is invaluable. Because that's actually what helps people to understand the why, to get rallied around a specific cause or piece of creative or thing that we're making. And without that context, things fall down and they take longer and they're just less effective. So definitely one of the lessons that I remembered that came out of my personal life, that influenced my work life is just context was a critical thing because people understand the why, why once you explain it to them.
Daniel Burstein: It's so true. And I also think you get the best thinking from your team because sometimes they're like, why the heck is the organization making that decision? It makes no sense, you know? Then when they get the context of like, Oh, okay, you know, and maybe we add this or maybe we add that or, you know, very good points.
So we talked about some lessons from the things you made marketing. I want to talk about some of the lessons from some of the people you collaborated with because collaboration is so key to what we do. And this first lesson comes via Lorraine Hansen, the CMO of Chase. And you said your homelife needs to have the infrastructure to support your work life. So how did you learn this from Lorraine and how did you build up this infrastructure?
Radhika Duggal: Yeah, so Lorraine is the CMO of the consumer bank at Chase, and she was my boss when I worked at Chase for the bulk of the time. And I became pregnant when I was at Chase and I had my daughter during my time there. And one of the first conversations I had with her about parenthood right after I told her I was pregnant, was about how you create the infrastructure to make yourself successful both at home and at work.
And we were sitting in her office, I remember in midtown in New York, and I had just told her that I was pregnant, that I was going to have a little girl. And we started talking about how she manages it all. Because she has a family and she had obviously a very large job and she was very successful at it. And what she told me is, hey, look, it's incredibly important to know two things. Number one, know that you don't know how you’ll react when you become a parent. Perhaps your priorities will change and feel comfortable that you can't predict it.
And the second was, if your work continues to fuel you, make sure that you have the infrastructure at home to let yourself be fully immersed in work when it is your time to be doing that. And I really took that to heart because as much as you and I can multitask. One of the things that, some tiny bit of foresight I had about parenting before I became a parent was I'm pretty sure I can't multitask with like a child and a job at the same time, that just intuitively felt very difficult. And I know lots of parents were forced to do it, particularly in COVID.
But because of her advice and understanding that to be true from the beginning of our daughter's life, we have maybe created more infrastructure than needed so that we have a backup to the backup. So our daughter goes to school, we have a nanny, we have the benefit of backup daycare and the benefit of that is I'm typically not required to cancel things at the last minute because something has fallen through from a childcare perspective, I'm typically able to be laser focused on my job and pay attention because I know my daughter's in the right place. I'm not worried about her. She's learning. She's surrounded by kids. She's living a better life probably than I am, right, doing wonderful kid things and I feel really good about that. So, you know, I got to publicly say thank you to Lorraine because she really was the catalyst for setting me up to figure out how to do that and to make space for being both a parent as well as a marketer.
Daniel Burstein: Yeah, I love that. I mean, that infrastructure is very true at home. It is true at work too. And I think the biggest benefit, look I'm not perfect, I'm actually probably pretty bad at this. But the biggest benefit when it's working well for me is, like you said, that laser focus, because we notice this more with our kids. Like I know my daughters can tell, like if you are not focused on them, if you are not present in the moment, they can tell.
And if you're distracted with something else, especially about work, they can tell. And you're not really getting the most from that moment. And it is this drive to productivity that makes us want to be like, okay, well, I think I can have a conversation with her about school while I'm going through my email, right. But I cannot, you know, and so and I think that's it's true work, too.
The more I found, the more you can really lock in and focus on something the more helpful is because at the end of the day, as marketers, I don't think we're really measured by our productivity and the volume of our output. And I think this is a kind of a legacy idea we have from the days when the economy was mostly driven by manufacturing and farming and some of these things where it's like, how much output can we get that day right? If we can get ten out instead of nine out it’s a better day.
We are driven by the originality and creativity of our ideas, and that takes focus. That takes your 2 hours in the morning where you're writing. Maybe you don't even have a device, right? That takes that focus. And the same is true with raising our children. I got one of the best quotes I heard from a friend after going through COVID is realizing how much focus raising children really took, you know what I mean. And he said, there's a lot of things where, you know, I was just multitasking. I wasn't, you know, just I wasn't locked into them. But in COVID, I really had that time and I said, okay, I'm working here and wow, totally focused on them. So I love what you said. And I'd really bring in that any time someone can just lock in and focus, whether it's on a concept at work, on a client, on a issue that an employee is facing on your children, on your family, you're going be way more productive. We're not as good multitaskers as we think. That's said. don't stop from listening to this podcast while you're jogging or while you're commuting that you can multitask. But other than that, focusing in on those ideas.
And the other thing we should focus in on is, as you mentioned previously is that customer. Like I love when you went out and actually we know we're physically with customers when you try to put yourself in your customers shoes and that brings up this great lesson. Your customer is your most important stakeholder. You learned this from Imtiaz Patel, who's now the CEO of Baltimore Banner. And how did you learn this from Imtiaz?
Radhika Duggal: Yeah, so Imi was my first Senior Manager in my first job right out of undergrad. So imagine 21 year old Radhika, newly minted college graduate, new Deloitte consultant. And our first project together was a store operations assessment at a major toy retailer. And what I was tasked with doing in my first few weeks was standing outside these toy stores and literally surveying people.
I was the market research mechanism, for lack of a better way of putting it. And I would stand there with my clipboard and my pen and I would ask people questions. But it was the dead of summer, like 100 degrees plus. I'm dressed like a management consultant, wearing like a scratchy skirt and high heels because that's what you wore in 2005. And I a little bit of an ego about me. I was not pleased to be standing outside as a newly minted college graduate. I was a little bit like, why is this my job? And Imi and I had the opportunity to fly back from somewhere together and we drove into the office together. And I vividly remember this day and what he said to me is your customer is your most important stakeholder. Your company literally lives or dies based on their opinion. Because their opinion drives purchase. It drives word of mouth whether they share something negative or positive. And your business will go out of business or your client's business. In the case where we were, if you don't really understand what does a customer need, why will they choose you and what can you do to be different for the competition. And I got to tell you, he was 100% right.
And to this day, every job I have worked in, I have championed the use of data and research to really understand our customers. So I shared an example from my current role at Super, where we all literally took a full day to walk in the shoes of our customers. I shared an example from Chase as well.When I worked at Common Bond, which was a student lender, we created a market research discipline in a very small company. We were at the time easily under 100 people, and we had a robust research discipline that powered the product decisions we made. Simply because we wanted to make sure we were making the right choices that actually met the needs of our customers. Not building products because we thought it was just a cool feature or this was a cool tagline. We're going to use that to market our products. So I cannot, you know, this is one of the things I bring with me in every role and quite frankly, any time I take a job, understanding leadership's focus on the customer is an incredibly important criteria for me. I don't even want to take a job if there isn't care or thought to that question.
Daniel Burstein: So I want to keep an eye on something you said about the product decisions. And if you have any advice or thoughts on when marketing should get out of its lane, so to speak, in terms of just in the marketing department and get involved with other departments to make sure we're serving the customer well, I interviewed Cynthia Phillips, who is director of marketing at Rivet Software, and she put it this way. She said, marketers must be your company's corporate conscience. She advocated participating in matrix teams, getting involved in product decisions.
So as marketers, I feel like we are the ones communicating the value prop. We're the ones communicating the brands. I feel like it's on us to make sure that brand delivers that we're communicating the right value proposition to do those beautiful things you talked about, to really get to know and understand the customer. But, have you had any experience, big companies, small companies doesn’t matter of getting involved, of kind of getting outside your lane and how to effectively do that with your peers in other departments.
Radhika Duggal: Yeah, I think that Common Bond example is a great one. So we literally stood up for research discipline, doing professional quality, quantitative market research and maybe mediocre quality qualitative research, in-house producing 5 to 6 studies a year simply because we wanted to make sure as we were innovating, we were creating the right products. And we did this with the agreement from the product team that understanding and hearing from our customers really didn't matter. So part of the stepping outside your lane is having alignment from the beginning.
The second thing that I've learned in my current role from our Head of Product at Super is also how you do this right. Really, really matters the tone of voice you use, the specificity in the examples that you give, the data you provide also really matters. And what I've learned from both of those and other experiences is really if you can come with data, if you can come with that open mind we discussed earlier, and if you can come with specific examples or specific need, everyone is typically in it to solve the same problem. And folks are receptive, particularly if you're coming with those three things because we all want to get to the same end point, the same solution.
Daniel Burstein: Well, let's talk about that role at Super for a minute, because you did something that really does involve, I think, in an ideal world, getting the entire company involved. And that's rebranding, right? I think it was Snap Commerce you brought to Super. And so I want to get into that like how you involved customer understanding, how you involved the rest of the organization and also how you settled on what you would rebrand to.
Because, you know, as I mentioned, it struck me as kind of funny the name Super. You know you bought Super.com. you own the URL, but it's a general name and there are certain struggles with general names. Like on the one hand it's great, it's that traditional brand building we're going to build around Super. This is perfect. On the other hand, for example, we have a publication called Marketing Experiments. There's great keywords, is a great name, but it’s a general term, there are certain practicalities that are difficult. It's hard to find name mentions, it's hard to find social media mentions unless people actually mention us. So I wonder kind of what some of the thinking went in there. How did you get the rest of the organization involved and yeah, if we can kind of jump into some of that.
Radhika Duggal: Yeah. So I think you asked three questions and I can answer each of them. Your first question was…
Daniel Burstein: So thorough, listen how thorough Radhika is, right? Because I'm just mumbling on here. And she broke down exactly what I was asking. I could see the success from Deloitte to here, but go on, go on.
Radhika Duggal: There are a lot of folks that taught me how to do that at Deloitte. So three questions, right? The first was how did you get the rest of the organization involved? And this is the point where we should take a pause and I should just very clearly say every single person at Super was involved in our rebrand and it's not possible without that. And I shouldn't speak about it in the past. That's because we rebranded last week and there are things, right, that we are all troubleshooting every single one of us together. And so how do you involve the rest of the organization is a good question.
So I think you involve the rest of the organization in a couple of different ways. First, declaring a vision for what a rebrand is and sharing the process. So what is the outcome and what is the process is something that we have been doing all year at Super. We've been sharing with the whole company and our full company meetings. What do we want the outcome to be and what are the steps it takes to get there? And making sure people actually understand that, I think is the first step.
Then getting really tactical with different groups of people is really important. So we had a really strong project management kind of cadence in office run by one individual on the product team who kept us on track and kept us together, and made sure every team and every person on that team knew what their role was within that bigger mission and knew what part of the outcome they were supposed to drive.
So renaming a company particularly a company that's not ten people and $1,000,000 in revenue. So renaming a sizable company really does take the full organization. It takes vision, it takes communication and it takes a very clear tactical organization. The second thing you ask is…
Daniel Burstein: Okay, before we jump into that, so give us just a sense. Three months, nine months, like how long was this project for?
Radhika Duggal: We started January 25th and we rebranded October 18th.
Daniel Burstein: Okay, great.
Radhika Duggal: Were we ready to rebrand? We were ready to rebrand, call it two’is months earlier, probably. But we wanted to couple our rebrand with our amazing product launch, and that was the right decision for us. So rebranding is not a quick process. And one of the things that's so interesting is, you know, the process to pick the name and to create the verbal and visual identity is one kind of thing.
But to actually transition to that new brand and be that new brand, you know, transition your email addresses, transitioning your domain, transitioning your paid marketing, make sure that your Crunchbase profile says Super and Snap Commerce. The thousand little details that's not going to be done for a long, long time. So there are always new kind of things that we're finding. And very tactically, what we do is we have a spreadsheet that I believe is named rebrand feedback. And every day, twice a day I have 10 minutes on my calendar and I go in the whole company inputs feedback into that spreadsheet I triage and I say, okay, person X, please help me with this one or Oh, I can solve this one let me go do that. And we're still doing that because this is going to take some time and to the point of the whole organization being behind us, we're going to need every person's help because some of these things require different skill sets.
Daniel Burstein: Absolutely. So that's important of the project management part. And thanks for thanks for bringing that in. But let's talk about that creative part. How do you settle on the name? So, you know, I was joking, it seemed like there was a movement like, okay, we're going to make up these words. There's Altria, there was Accenture, right? And now there's movement to kind of move towards more general words. And then the traditional brand building behind there.
And I was joking, I think, with your team that if Apple were named today, I think the SEO consultants would say, Wait, Steve, Steve, Steve. That's the wrong semantic keyword. Google is going to think where, you know, a produce company. And so there's this other, you know, approach you take where it's very, very keyword driven and we're going to own these right keywords. And so I want to ask, how did we get to Sper? Because Super, again, is a very general term. You've got the URL now. We went from Snap Commerce to Super. How'd we get there?
Radhika Duggal: Yeah, so we took a couple of different steps. The first thing we did is, by the way, we worked with a wonderful agency that helped us to come up with this. And the first thing we did is with them. They helped us create guidelines for what a name that we would like and move forward with could be.
Now, remember, I'm probably in month two while we are doing this, so in this moment in time, it was very clear to me that this wasn't my baby and this was the baby of our two co-founders. So making sure that the two of them were the ones that were actively creating the guidelines and had a clear voice in that process was incredibly important.
But with our agency mapping out what are the guidelines, an example of a guideline, by the way, like what does that mean? An example of a guideline is is it a real word that already exists today or is it a word that we make up? Is it one syllable or could it be longer? Is it a person's name or is it not a person's name? Right. Just very clear technical guidelines. And we had a list of maybe five of them. One of those guidelines. By the way, to your point was it was a real word that already existed. Our co-founders both felt very strongly about that. They wanted people to know how to pronounce it and they wanted people to know how to spell it.
After we had those guidelines with the agency, we had several rounds of ideation, I believe they did three rounds of ideation. We opened it up to our whole company and folks provided their thoughts and suggestions and importantly, the why behind their suggestions. And then we did research. We did both quant and qual research, and we really just wanted to understand what consumers think and what feeling or emotion do these names evoke in our consumers?
And ultimately, we chose the name based on the results of the qual, the results of what the results of our two co-founders really felt, what they ultimately also liked and felt like they could kind of stand behind. And I got to tell you, the outcome I really like, because the outcome is, is the way we want our consumers to feel every day when they use our product.
We want our consumers to feel super. And by the way, that is the unmet need. Consumers don't feel every day. And we want to be the one to help to bridge that gap. And I really like being able to say that out loud. I think that's a very easy, very simple to understand story. And it clearly places our role as empowering them to feel that way.
Daniel Burstein: That's great. I think that's a great explanation of really the art and the science that are involved in a rebranding, right. There’s the quant qual data in stuff. At the end of the day, like you say, you got to be on board. You got to want to talk about it. You got to have the founders on board. Let me ask about one specific guideline. You have Super.com now, you own it now. Was that mandatory for the name that you had to own the dot com? Or did that just kind of come along with the rebranding?
Radhika Duggal: No, it wasn't mandatory. And in fact, we talked about it a little bit and we said it wasn't mandatory that the dot com was available. Over time., once we had landed on Super, we were building out the verbal, the visual identity. We were trying to figure out how to obtain the dot com and just trying to understand if it was possible. And what we started to realize is, if we could be the Super, the one that had Super.com, it would lend us a tremendous amount of credibility.
And that credibility would match the history that we had as a company. We didn't start last week, we just rebranded last week. And being able to say that we are Super.com, you can kind of see it in the eyes of investors, in the eyes of journalists. Even a consumer, like a potential consumer has had said to me, oh, your Supeer.com? So that means something.
Daniel Burstein: Let's talk about next lesson now, which I can tell you're living in the way you talk about the rebranding but it applies to many things, have conviction and then don't give up. So you learn this from Satish Duggal, who is your father, who is a CEO of Twin Tier Hospitality. So how did you learn this from your dad?
Radhika Duggal: Yeah. So I think my dad taught me this every day for the last 39 years. But it's so interesting. He came across this lesson in his career. So he is someone who spent about 20 years working at a big company, Corning Incorporated, and he felt he was frequently passed over for new opportunities or promotions or credits that he deserved. But he had real conviction in his ability to get things done and to be successful and to make the right decisions. And because of that, he took calculated but substantial risks to start his own business, and that business wound up employing a couple thousand people. And it led to good success for him and ultimately powered our lives as a family. And one of the things he said to me using that example, hey, I believed in myself, I knew I could do this. So I went out and did it and I never gave up.
And I really draw on that. And I have a number of times throughout my career. A great example is now here at Super. So by the way, you can't have conviction in everything and never give up on everything because your life wouldn't it wouldn't work. You don't have the mind space for that. But the one or two or three things you really care about, those are the things I really don't give up on.
A great example is what we're doing today as part of our rebrand. So we have created what we call the rewritten rules of the game of life. I'm going to take a step back. If anyone's a parent, you may have played the board game, the Game of Life, and if you've recently taken out the rulebook and taken a peek at it, you'll realize that it may not be grounded in reality of everyday life. So, for example, in the Game of Life, every player starts with $200,000. Close to 70% of Americans have less than $1,000 in the bank. This is readily available research. So certainly the Game of Life is not grounded in reality in some ways.
So what we did is we took that rulebook, the digital PDF. We scratched out the things that didn't make sense. We used real data and facts and we annotated the rulebook to say, okay, close to 70% of Americans don't have $1,000 in the bank. This one's wrong. Or one of the decisions is about choosing to go to college and or choosing to get a job and having equal outcomes. We scratched out that and made it very clear what the real data is and we rewrote all the rules. And the goal of this is to get journalists to open their eyes to this problem and use their megaphone as journalists to scream from every rooftop possible that things are unequal and disparate in our country. And we've got to focus on solving some of these financial problems.
And I got to admit, it's not working in the way that we wanted it to. And that's okay. I have conviction that this type of content that helps to amplify the problem we're trying to solve is the exact right content for our brand to be creating for press. Because we need them to help explain the problem to other consumers, to other VC’s, to other groups that can help partner with us to solve the problem. So what are we doing? We're not scrapping this thing and throwing it away. We're doubling down on it and we are figuring out how do we pivot, what are new channels we can use to distribute this, what are different ways we can get consumer eyes on it? What are different ways we can get press eyes on it? I think this is the right content for us. I have conviction that this is what is going to help us open the eyes of journalists and others to the problem we're trying to solve, and that ultimately will help us get further, faster. So we're doubling down on it. And I'll let you know in a quarter or two how it goes.
Daniel Burstein: Well, good for you. I think one of the challenges in the digital world is we move so fast. We also kind of give up so fast. I mean, like when I earlier my career and I talked about was more print advertising, these bigger budgets, these things that naturally took a longer time frame. And you kind of had to just stick to it longer. You just naturally had to because it was this long arc you're looking at. And with digital information, digital PR, just digital advertising. We get such quick information and feedback we can sometimes pivot too quickly. And I was interviewing earlier on the podcast the CMO of Dashlane, and he talked about being on eBay and making this decision. I think it took two or three years before it paid off, but he just hit it and hit it because he knew it's the right thing, and kind of seeing that to fruition. So good for you, I think it's a lesson we can all learn from of sometimes even though we're getting that early data, we have to decide what is that value proposition we want in the world.
And that's kind of what I want to ask you about is it seems like what you're talking about Super is a mission driven company, right? It seems like there's a certain value proposition, a certain mission. So what role does that play in the communication you're putting out there, right? Because what you're talking about now, this is a very high level PR story. It's a bigger story than your Super.com and you can save money. So what role does that play in how you balance your budget, your investment, your communication to get the mission out there versus to get the direct response conversion out there of getting more monthly active users?
Radhika Duggal: Yeah. So I'd say you have two types of resources. You have people time and you have money and you have different audiences, by the way. So consumers are our most important audience. Then we have press, then we have investors, then we have employees and not stack ranking the importance of different groups. I'm just listing them and there's probably others as well. And The way I like to think about this is you have to think about which of your two precious resources should be deployed, against which audience and what is the right message for every single one of those audiences.
So for example, for consumers, we do have a really strong direct response practice and we try to reach consumers through that type of marketing, and it works. For Press however, we don't focus on throwing a lot of money at press. It's just a different game, right? The message is different, the tactics are different. And the investment? The investment is the investment in people time. For employees, for example, it's the same thing, this isn't necessarily a high cost game, but the message is different for employees than it is for consumers and the investment is different.
So I think it's really important when you think about balancing, messaging, and audience, and resources to really map out who are your primary audiences, what are the resources you have to devote to each, and what is the investment level of each? And then what is the messaging? It actually is different. If you make that table, you'll find that all of those levers are levers you can pull to get to an end goal with each audience. But it's different for each.
Daniel Burstein: And does the customer journey, kind of the overall funnel fit into that because I'd imagine, you know, if you just go straight to the boom monthly active user there's probably a message there, right? You can save money. But is there also thinking of that overall funnel of like, okay, it needs to start where before any change can happen, before any transformation can happen, people need to picture the ability or the possibility of that. And then we're driving down to like, okay, here's how we actually pay it off with a product.
Radhika Duggal: Yeah. And actually you mentioned the customer journey. I think there's a different message for every single one of those stakeholders at different points in their journey. So how you might speak to a reporter that you've never met and that you're trying to form a relationship with is very different from a reporter that you know, that you are simply trying to get them to write something about a timely topic or how you might speak to a candidate tat's for the first time learning about Super, the company that was named a week ago, is really different than how you might speak to a candidate who you've been nurturing for some time. So I do agree with you. I think that where someone is in their journey really does impact the message. It impacts the way you invest your resources as well. But it's not just specific to consumers. It's any audience that you're trying to reach.
Daniel Burstein: Absolutely. They can all be customers, investors are possible customers. You've got internal customers. I totally agree. Well Radhika we covered so many different things about what it means to be a marketer, both in our professional lives and in our personal lives. Thanks for being transparent there. So if you had to break it down, what are the key qualities of an effective marketer?
Radhika Duggal: So I think couple of really important things that an effective marketer needs to have. Number one, they need to be data driven, actually one of our overall company core values. So I'd say actually, regardless of your profession, be data driven. The second is care for customers and a desire to understand that. You've heard me talk about that countless times over the last call it hour. I cannot say that enough care about who you're solving for. And the third is understand the goals of the business and make sure every solution you put forth, whether you are a first year analyst or you are the CMO, is grounded in the reality of the business.
Daniel Burstein: Well, thank you, Radhika. Great advice. I've learned so much over the past hour. Thanks for being with us today.
Radhika Duggal: Thank you so much for having me.
Daniel Burstein: And thanks to everyone for listening. I hope you learned a lot as well.
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