Nov 3, 2023
43 min
Episode 46

TOP CMO: Shane Murphy-Reuter, Webflow - 'Empower, Lead, Innovate'

Shane Murphy - Webflow  00:00

The idea is that you should be direct with care, right? So the bedrock of care for the person, but you're direct with them as a result of what they need to do. from a leadership perspective. That's something I think about day in and day. This

Ben Kaplan  00:10

is the podcast where we go around the globe to interview marketing leaders from the world's biggest brands, fastest growing companies, and most disruptive startups, great ideas, after a certain way want to spread, they want to be told us someone else's simple, surprising, and significant data to unlocking viral creativity is to make it rapidly scalable. This is TOP CMO with me, Ben Kaplan. today I'm chatting with Shane Murphy-Reuter CMO of Webflow, a website creation platform designed to enable you to build with the power of code without actually having to write any. Shane is no stranger to the tech world, having held senior leadership positions at zoominfo and intercom. Over the years, Chang has led large marketing teams, managed multimillion dollar budgets, and even shifted gears to invest in tech companies with his role as a limited partner at stage to capital. So what does it take to lead in such diverse roles? How do you balance team empowerment with self empowerment? And how do you adapt your brand positioning as the competitive landscape evolves, and you grow market share? Let's find out with Shane Murphy-Reuter. Shane, at Webflow, you're currently in a situation where there's been great success in the company, you've grown quite a bit. But you have the situation that you've described to me in the past where the market maybe perceives you in one way, that is not your intention. And you might have some advantages over other competitors that you're lumped in with. And you want to shift that perception in that story. Talk about that both challenge and opportunity that you face now. Yeah,

Shane Murphy - Webflow  01:56

so that that's exactly right. So Webflow is a visual development platform, it allows designers build websites from scratch, or the power of code that like you could get from developing in written code. But in a visual canvas, it is a completely new technology. When roughly launches the first visual around platform, now we still are broadly speaking, the the only one that exists. And so what happens is, if you're not really clear on your story, people have mental models have like categories of how the different products work. And so for visual development, it's not a thing. So if you go to somebody and say, Hey, Webflow helps you build websites, though, okay? They will use their existing categories in their mind of what what that means and put you in one of them. So either they'll put you in, oh, it must be like a coding platform like a GitHub, or your Squarespace or Wix. Our challenge is that predominantly we were being put on today, it's kind of outside of our core market are put in the wicks and Squarespace box of like, Oh, it must be attempted based, pretty lightweight. Website Builder, where in reality, like the key difference for Webflow is that allows you to break out of that you can have all of the power of code to build something from scratch.

Ben Kaplan  03:12

And just to paraphrase what you were saying, or use an analogy, it's almost like, you know, you haven't seen a movie yet. And your buddies telling about the movie, they're like, oh, yeah, it's like Indiana Jones meets Tootsie. And you're like, Okay, I have a cross dressing archeologists going out there, because that's your reference point, people need a shorthand, they don't know all the details, but the problem is shorthand. And particularly if you have a tool that's more powerful, or product that has more advanced, everyone kind of says they're advanced, if you're new to it, you can't really tell the difference. So the shorthand is helpful, because people want to figure you out. But it's also limiting if you don't craft, how that shorthand is communicated 100%.

Shane Murphy - Webflow  03:47

And actually, we'll come back to that front. A second one is the the examples of this I use a lot with my team. I love the fact that the iPhone is got the word phone in it. If you think about the iPhone, originally, my understanding is that it was actually the team that working on the iPad, it was a tablet, and they got repurposed to work to create a smaller one in your pocket. In reality, it's computer in your pocket. But the genius of it was to say like everybody knows they need a phone. So actually, let's visit the opposite virtual Web. Let's lean into that and say, hey, yeah, you need a phone. So we've got a phone and then help them reimagine what is in their pocket, what it can do what a phone is, and that's like a genius thing that Apple did. And so I do I use that story to say that there are times where certain technologies situations that it is better to use existing categories and to read and then read help people reimagine what you can do in that category. And so you should be very mindful of that. In Webflow situation, we're not in that situation. It would be really difficult for us to say hey, ya know, we're like a Squarespace and or Wix, but like more powerful because those brands Things are so thought of as a certain thing and like a, a serious website developer or designer wants to build things from scratch, they, they'll just dismiss you immediately. So we needed to really think about how do we carve out this new thing. And, you know, I think, I think typically, when trying to do that, there is one of two problems that companies face that I've done I've worked at, either actually, you have a pretty good story, just not written it down. And so nobody's like clear on it. And then when everybody's executing individual marketing things, or CEO is on a podcast, whatever, everyone's describing it in a different way, such that everyone is confused. So they just put you back in the box that they understand. And so that's like one one category of of problem. And I would encourage any CMO joining a new company to like, start with just codify what we think the existing story is, and likelihood is that it is definitely not written down in the fully formed way, it should be the second category, which is part of like regular kind of game between category one, category two, the second category is I know, we're pretty clear on our positioning today, we now need to shift our positioning because of we're going after a new market, or we're moving from being a single product company to a multi product company, in a way like for example, a Tesla are clearly on a journey of going from where an Eevee car company to we are an energy company, and they're going to go on that shifting shift over time. And so yeah, I think it's a combination of just making sure that you're really clear about your story all the way from your mission, down to the individual product. And then assessing whether or not you need to start to shift that story as as the as your product develops in the market develops

Ben Kaplan  06:46

in specifically for Webflow. And we've talked in the past where there was the sense of a real kind of democratic, accessible approach to website building, right, like, like part of the original think mission from the company. And part of it some of these things that make the company special is that you're trying to give superpowers to folks that might not be a coder, and they don't have coding superpowers, but they could have other web development superpowers there. So you go down a road of let's democratize this, let's make this accessible. Let's make this feel kind of like maybe consumer ish in its implementation. But then as you grow, and it sounds like where you're looking to go into the market, you need like, you alluded to this, like serious builders of websites to do this, who are not just you know, Bobby at Grandma's house working on this. And so that accessibility, would you say starts to work against you, or just the tone because we were like, Yeah, I don't want to use what person over there is building their first website, and it makes it really easy for them. I'm a professional, I don't use stuff like that. And it starts to work against you. Even though maybe one time it was an admirable kind of notion.

Shane Murphy - Webflow  07:51

You've absolutely nailed it. Yes, our workflows mission is to give everyone development superpowers to everyone the word everyone is in there. And even in turn in the company, people were pretty confused by that they genuinely thought that everyone meant everyone like my mother should be able to have development superpowers and build websites. My mom does not want to miss universe, she might want a website if she's got a hobby or whatever.

Ben Kaplan  08:14

Sounds like a lovely woman with many superpowers and skills. She's just not interested in building website.

Shane Murphy - Webflow  08:20

You might want need a website for like her. I don't know bridge, she plays bridge, I'm not being stereotypical. Group, I don't know. But she doesn't want to be a website builder. And so even that's a good example of even in our mission, when I joined was like, Wait a second, that people aren't clear on what this actually means. Let's do the work to like, clarify it. And when we clarified, it was like, No, it's everyone who wants to become a website builder. And so the difference there would be the difference between GarageBand and Pro Tools GarageBand is trying to make every musician should be able to just like record a song and edit it right? That's for everyone who's like a musician. Pro Tools are for professional sound engineers, and a professional sound engineer would not use GarageBand. And nor should a term you need to use GarageBand ever tried to use Pro Tools. And so if you think about even at the tip top of our mission that was unclear, it just flows all the way down through everything to our brand identity, the story that we

Ben Kaplan  09:15

tell it give us an example of where a team member might get tripped up, if that wasn't clever, because so many people think like, oh, this is a you know, this is a high level exercise is branding. Yeah, it's nice to have the brand book the Bible, you can hold up, it's good, but you know, it's like doesn't affect my day to day work where I just like, you know, to your point, I just need to like make a blog post that shows people how this use case of building a site. So where does it if you don't have that what does it like practically make a difference in your day to day marketing functions? If you don't have this clarify?

Shane Murphy - Webflow  09:47

Yeah, I'll give I'll give a tangible example. So when I joined our homepage, the story atolls was much more about you know, allowing pretty much everyone build a website and it was very simple. It was talked a lot about templates are talked a lot about like kind of drag and drop. And it's like that actually, you could be describing Squarespace or Wix. That's not our innovation. And then also when it from a brand identity perspective and the copy perspective, it was very, the brand was extremely like light and airy, it felt very welcoming and accessible. And if you go to our homepage now, and we're running the B test, but we upfront we're saying, we say you all have the power of code without needing to write it, right? build websites and all the power of code what happened, right, and we say to from where we are, and then we show the product, we show the actual so that you can see the power of it. And then even from a identity perspective on like our color treatment and all those sort of things, we've moved way away from those very light airy trollers to like being much more impactful of like feeling professional, so long, we're kind of black, clean lines. So it is literally every single part of our marketing is impacted by it. You ask a question on a blog post. So So I would expect my team now to be really writing content about how extremely extreme extremely technically challenging websites are built using Webflow, as opposed to like using write a blog post about like, how a customer may be built a simple website for a client. And so it really in everything we do it flows from there. Yeah. What's interesting,

Ben Kaplan  11:31

too, is that this isn't the first time that you've had to kind of reposition a brand. I mean, you come from sort of the term of SAS, but software as a service space, a lot of b2b brands, some of the places where you've led marketing teams include zoom info, which has a lot of kind of sales information for SDR teams intercom, which started as a chatbot, to talk with customers and sort of built up different products and tools and platforms from there. So what do you take with you from those experiences? Now, you know, this isn't your first sort of rodeo in this regard that allows maybe Webflow to save some steps or get to something that is a tangible result, maybe faster than you had tried previously? Yeah,

Shane Murphy - Webflow  12:12

I think there's there's two things, I actually started my career in consumer marketing, where the product isn't really that complex. Like if you're selling a pair of shoes, the shoes aren't necessarily better than any other shoes, it's more about the brand, it's more about the story that you're telling around them. And so I was trained in a world where like, the story is everything. And when I joined b2b, you have these b2b companies that are set up typically by pretty technical founders, right? Their product, people engineering people, and they create this technology innovation and it explodes. And then they fail to as they go into maybe beyond their sort of early adopter market realize that the other markets require a much more thoughtful story about your initial market get it because they're like, more and more technical, they're even more so like in the weeds of it. And so one of the big things that I took with me is the need to actually write down your stories that said, from a three altitudes, one is the broad level, which is like, Hey, here's, here's why we exist in the world. And then you know, kind of what we care about, then the solution of which is all about your story of olive oil versus new worlds, like, Hey, here's your old world of doing things like free intercom, it's like you're emailing your customers, the new world is that you have this conversation with spirits in the product, and then then all the way down to the product. And so I think the big thing is like, making sure that you have that story at those three altitudes. And that all ties together and that then you get your whole company trained on it. And so I think that's like the big one. I say the second one, and we can dig into that in a second. Why so the second one is, technology moves at a rapid pace. And so just because you do that, you're going to need to revise that every potentially six months to a year. Hopefully the stuff the mission at the top like doesn't change almost maybe ever but certainly dying, that sort of hierarchy is going to change very very frequently. So this needs to be like a ongoing thing that you're you're the team are working on and keep training the company on it as you sort of build new products and shift in market.

Ben Kaplan  14:27

Let's talk superpowers those unique skills and traits that make you you.

Ben Kaplan  14:39

Understanding your superpowers isn't just a feel good introspective exercise. It's a smart business move with real ROI. On the personal branding side, knowing your superpowers helps you carve out a niche making you the go to person for certain tasks or perspectives, great for your reputation and even Better for climbing the career ladder. But this isn't just about you, when you're clear on your own strengths, you can distribute tasks more effectively within your team, skyrocketing team efficiency. Imagine a team where everyone is working to their strengths. As a CMO, it all starts with understanding your own.

Ben Kaplan  15:32

And how do you think about expanding into markets, maybe expanding into a lot of markets, right? We're trying to grow but not watering down your story as well. You and I have talked before of example of like, you know, really big companies like the sales forces of the world that do a lot of things, and you have to abstract it so much, because, you know, you kind of have to be all things to all people and try to do that. Webflow isn't Salesforce yet, but is a multi billion dollar company and growing quickly, how do you temper like sort of ambition with markets and sort of balance it with the story you want to grow, but not get caught up in either a, we've got to be so watered down, that we sort of don't say anything more or be we've got to be different things to every people, every person. And to your point about training, our team does even know, oh, it's Tuesday, you know, who are we again? Right, Wednesday? Oh, wait, we're this? How do you manage all that in terms of the context of expansion?

Shane Murphy - Webflow  16:26

Yeah, I think what you're trying to find is water, the universal truths across your different markets. And then you're trying to like, center your story and your brand around those universal truths, or given examples. So the character, the center of our brand, which we've literally just been writing, as I mentioned, is this concept of the disempowered designer, they have to design and then you're handed off to a developer, and they're disempowered. And we turn them into these visual developers who can do it all themselves. Now, that character, the center of our brand, directly cascades in our core market to the freelancers and small agencies that use us. There's a perfect alignment between the character, the center, the brand, and that end buyer. We're not moving upmarket. So we have a lot of customers in more like enterprise like Orangetheory, fitness users, and companies like that. So there's a debate happening internally in like, our head of sales is like, hey, this character of the central brand, that's not the right character anymore, we should make the CMO, the central brand, we should make the head of marketing sentiment brand, because that's the people that ultimately will sign off using whether or not then you know, Why push? And I think that our head of sales now agrees with this? Well, no, actually, if you think about it, the core of the value of Webflow, even inside a larger company, is the designer that we're trying to empower that that no longer has to work with the engineering team. And even within a large team, that's still the person who will be your like, advocate in the company. And so that's still a universal truth, even as we go after those two markets, so we can still leave that at the core of our brand. And so you're trying to like maybe I'll give another example. Webflow we're debating right now what our ICP is, right? As we move up, Mark, well, what's the bullseye customer? And everybody was debating like, well, how big is the company? Like, what industry? Is it? And all those things as I actually know, wait a second, let's start with what are the needs? What are the needs of these customers? And if you start there, then well, yeah, that need could be both a larger company or a smaller company. And how do we find those common needs within that those like company sizes, as opposed to trying to do it all by ICANN, Democrat from firmographic information. So you just want to find this, like common common threads across all of your markets, that are universal truths that you can hook your your story to, and so that no matter who sees your marketing, it resonates. And then maybe the last thing I'll say is that that's like, obviously, for your marketing. That's what like above the line that everyone will see, if you put a billboard, the beautiful thing about marketing today is that a lot of the marketing channels now are more targeted. And so you showed that also have a cascaded message that is more tailored to those individual markets, that you then execute through specific channels targeting those, they need to sell tied to the overarching message. But that can be skewed and much more tailored to the specific markets and you're more like below the line targeted marketing

Ben Kaplan  19:28

one other issue or challenge that I think you've experienced disease, you've worked at a lot of technology driven b2b software companies, which usually those companies grow and if it's a founders vision, not because of they have the most innovative marketing of any one in their category. It's usually because there's some technical expertise, maybe there's some expertise with processes and systems they have a new way of looking at a problem and then you grow far enough and then you know, someone like yourself is hired and brought in to I sort of build out these other things. So how do you engage? And how do you think about that you've done it at least three times, with people that have a very strong technical vision, it's usually not a marketing lead company, it has to become more of incorporate those ideas to grow. How do you just get people on your side or get consensus or sell the CEO or the founding team? When it's not, you know, it's not Nike, usually at the core, or apple or something else? That is, I mean, Apple's a technology company, but very sophisticated marketing company, it's usually not that. Yeah,

Shane Murphy - Webflow  20:32

I think so first, first of all, I'd say one of the reasons I joined Webflow is that actually think because of the market are like marketers and designers like Vlad in the early founders, I fully get it. So it's so beautiful to work at a company like that. That said, like previous companies are using it for maybe as an example, Henry, the CEO of ZoomInfo, exceptionally gifted guy built a company from zero to a billion dollars, pretty incredible, you know, sales guy, very understood revenue, go to market, and how to like kind of build product for sales teams. So when I joined, I think the I worked up a essentially a pitch Oh, they had like, particularly where they were today, as they moved into Multi Product and multi markets, the need for investing in clarifying the brand story and then taking it to market. And I think she really resonated with decayed the logic of it, and using a lot of examples of other companies that have gone through a similar stage and why you need to do it. And then I think the other thing that really brings it to life, particularly if you've got like a CFO, who's part of that that conversation is showing the numbers, almost every technology company, at our stage gets probably more than half of their new customers through direct. And it sounds like direct, but in reality, what it is, is like word of mouth, and it's brand awareness. And so what you were typically happens at this stage is that starts to flatline and you're getting your new customer growth from paid, which is inefficient. So your your cost to acquire is going up. And so if you are in my experience, if you're dealing with maybe more commercial i the CEO and the CFO is in the room, showing also the need for it in the numbers to drive long term growth is also a great way to like make sure that like the the full exact team like get the need and are bought in

Ben Kaplan  22:21

I say and what you mean, is that either do you mean it in the context of a we're having to shift more into paid we better make our paid really work for us? Or B, do you mean it in that earned is sort of tapering? Let's reinvigorate it, because every customer we can get with earned media is way better for us than paid media. Which do you mean? Or do you mean both,

Shane Murphy - Webflow  22:41

but it's actually both? Okay, I use the analogy of I made this mistake, way back when as a Paddy Power where the brand, imagine the brand, like you've got a field, and the brand has like all the fertilizer you put down and it grows these crops got these crops, and then you get higher and ahead of demand gen. And they're like, oh, no, these crops, and they just like cut them all down. Right? They're converting all of that brand name market. And if you don't know, like rotate the field, don't refer lies. The first year they had a demand gen is going to kill it. highest yields ever. And the second year that conversion rates to your point Junghans to your second example, conversion rates start to draw what's going on competitors in the market are winning more than so you and the cost or cost to acquire increases. And it's because you've not invest in the core brand. And so it's really important, particularly as you're moving past that initial phase of like just explosive growth in a specific market that tapers off always. So how do you invest in the brand so that you're continuing that growth to happen so that you do two things one to your point, the earned are the kind of like word of mouth and branded traffic continues to grow. But also for your pay campaigns that they're much more likely to convert. So if somebody searches for web design software, and they see three results, and they know of Webflow, and they have a good oh yeah, I've heard about flutter good things, the way more likely to click and convert. So it's definitely both and it just go it's just like a cannot overemphasize the need to like, fix that. Otherwise, you will hit a wall at some point.

Ben Kaplan  24:25

How do you think about doing this in the context of macro economic conditions we're in now meaning certainly a lot of uncertainty about are we in a recession? Are we not in a recession? Certainly, there's companies maybe either spending less on certain types of things or maybe not looking to do a you know, transition to another platform. They're on something else. Now they've got to come to Webflow that takes some some especially they're a larger company takes some time and some thought and then other companies that really in the SAS space that maybe were much more of the School of grow at all costs, right no matter what it takes grow, and now there's a Little bit of like, no, no grow profitably, or, you know, make sure we can sustain. So does any of that impact, you know, this sort of effort? Just the conditions we're in now?

Shane Murphy - Webflow  25:10

Yeah, it does. I will say I do listen to the podcast. Was it a similar page, Judy said growth all costs. And I'm not to sort of disagree there. But maybe I'll just go ahead and disagree. I don't know what jobs I fit in. But I have never, ever been told grow at all costs at all. It's not like it zoominfo. What did the CFO is maintained, you got to keep them operating margin at 40%. And like, I did one thing one quarter, which like kind of dropped the operating margin to like 39.5%. And it was a massive deal. I've never worked in environment where it is, like, grown or close, because no matter what you are making relative investment decisions. So should we put money into marketing or to sales, that kind of whatever. And so there's always in need to improve ROI. So I'm not sure most marketers have ever been near total costs, environment. But regardless, I think it's fair to say that yes, are there the relative ROI that we're expected to achieve now is higher than previously. And so I think like a couple of things, one, it is as important to invest in building the brand to bring people into your, your site or into your product as it is to invest in conversion optimization that improves ROI. So when I joined, actually, at Webflow, we built a conversion optimization team. And we've been working on a lot of work to ensure that we have that side such that when we put someone in the funnel, it is as high, highly performant as possible. So that now when we go and start increasing our our spend is coming through at higher ROI. So we've managed to in the last year Webflow, like 5x, our new customer growth, while having CAC at the same time, that's by doing a combination of the lower funnel, work around conversion rate optimisation paired with the upper funnel, traffic generation work. So I think it's just really important to make sure that you're not you're not like over rotated on one area of the funnel is as a CMO. And

Ben Kaplan  27:13

one thing I think, which is interesting, which is if you don't invest enough in the brand, and the story, and you do go to other channels, and let's say you're a good growth marketer, meaning you're trying things out your AV testing, you're killing things that don't work, you're optimizing things that are good or not great. It's kind of like driving with the parking brake on and trying to move forward. Because, for instance, you may experiment with some channels and say, it's not worth it, can't do it. But actually, to your point. I mean, if you do what you just sort of said you did, which is like, you know, 5x Customer growth and have the cost of acquisition, then suddenly, you know, this channel that you thought didn't really pay off for you, now totally pays off. And it actually impacts the whole marketing mix that you have, and you didn't realize it, because if he had been driving around with his parking brake on the whole time, you would have killed that channel. And you don't have to kill the channel if that message is optimized to perform 100%.

Shane Murphy - Webflow  28:05

And I think I think the tactics that you've described, the other challenge at our scale is that they they tap out like there's only so many like, small little incremental gains that you can make if you want to maintain over 50% year over year growth, past 200 to 340 million. You've got to start investing in pretty big swings. And I think investment in the brand and investing in building your awareness using a lot of like more, maybe more traditional marketing tactics is a very big swing. I think if you don't do it, there is this risk that you just sort of mark like the marginal gains that you can get by doing small iterations tap out relatively quickly.

Ben Kaplan  28:53

In your leadership role, you've got to balance empowering your team. With keeping yourself accountable. You've got a talented team that needs room to breathe experiments and grow, handing them the reins not only boosts morale, but often leads to some pleasantly surprising outcomes. But wait, what about you? You've got key performance indicators to meet strategy to oversee and your own career ambitions to here's the secret sauce. When you empower your team effectively, you're setting up a feedback loop for success that actually makes it easier to hold yourself accountable. You become the guide on the side, not the sage on the stage, so to speak. Your role shifts from doing all of the heavy lifting to steering the ship adjusting the course as needed. By taking a step back, you're not relinquishing control, but fine tuning it. It's like being a film director who knows when to yell hot, and when to let the scene play out. So don't stress about losing your grip when you empower your team instead See it as gaining a different and often more effective type of control? Shane, as you think about just the role of CMO, one thing I've heard you comment on is, you know, the CMO is a decision making role to decision making the role in a decision making position. And I've heard you talk about, usually when you get to a certain point in your career, and you're a senior leader, you're pretty good on your feet, you're pretty quick to answer something, someone has a question, you know, it's pattern recognition, right? You're like, Oh, I've been asked that question in different ways. 20 times before I give you an answer, you know, so I'm in a meeting and someone's like, you know, it's hard to get a meeting with Shane. So I go, I got ya, let me ask you this question. Just take five minutes. And this will unblock this. And you could probably give a plausible or good sounding answer. But you've talked about that, it's probably not your best answer. And you've worked to create systems around yourself to make your decision making better. So talk about that, and sort of the role of the CMO as a decision maker. Yeah,

Shane Murphy - Webflow  31:02

like, I actually think every executive you think about really what we do, it's all we do is make decisions. Pretty much I think that's what I do all day. And so how do I make myself more effective by making myself better and making quality decisions? And if you think about it that way, if you think about almost yourself as a growth marketer, right? How would you improve next month, your decision quality by 10%? And if you start there, you start to realize, well, there's a very obvious thing you do. You mentioned, one of those things is off the cuff decision making was a big problem for me. Yeah, I can probably get a 75% decision quality off the cuff. If you give me a pre read and loom is great for this send me a loom beforehand. Like a little bit of

Ben Kaplan  31:47

like a quick video synopsis is a platform to do that, that kind of summarizes gives you some context.

Shane Murphy - Webflow  31:52

Exactly. So my team will record a video of them walking through the presentation, I'll watch it the day before, it'll sit with me, I'll thoughtful I might even send questions back to them in advance. So that when we get to meet and talk, we're no longer it's not about them, getting me up to speed. It's how I'm up to speed, let's actually spend 30 minutes debating the decision. That alone that one change alone has dramatically improved my decision quality. I think the other thing is like the other thing that that's important is I recognize that oftentimes, your job is to increase the likelihood that the recommendation that your team bring to you is the correct recommendation. If you're going into like I always say to my team, you have to make a recommendation, I don't care if you're 5050. On end, you have to make the recommendation, you can articulate how heart strong you feel about it. But you need to pick something. It's also a way to train them to ultimately become more senior. And so I'm often looking for how frequently is it coming to me and I agree with the recommendation versus not. And if it's low, typically speaking in one of two things is happening. One, maybe you have the wrong people, or two, there's a lack of strategic alignment. The team don't understand truly where we're, we're driving for as a business, how to like make trade off decisions based on that strategy. And as a result, they'll come to me, and using our example of the homepage before they weren't there presenting me a homepage, I'm looking at a guide. This homepage does not talk about the profession and how pro Webflow is where's that? Like, ultimately, that's on me. I'm like that's like not in that that started way of follow. And so like to to like, obviously don't make like track these metrics center impossible to track. But like, the two things I like to think about are number one, how do I prove my decision quality over time? And number two, how do I improve the percentage of times that that recommendation on my team bringing to me is accurate? Recommendation? In my view, obviously, like I assume that I'd like very wise, but in my view is my context? How do I do that? I think if you could do those two things as a leader, you make yourself 10x more effective.

Ben Kaplan  34:09

You talked about the second one. What about the first one? The first part of that, which was Do you have the right team? Do you have the right team and sometimes the needs of that team? It may change, right? You're reinstituting a new kind of positioning this like super powers for pros approach if I was going to summarize it, and either a not everyone may buy into that or to maybe like the precision of strategic thought, you know, it's a new requirement. And it wasn't a requirement for you know, maybe it's that's changed. So how do you think about team building to enable either better decisions or just having the right people who are going to be able to understand Ida and ultimately execute the new direction you have to go?

Shane Murphy - Webflow  34:52

Yeah, it's a big it's a big topic, any few things on it, firstly, at a certain scale, and I would say that I'm there now, you know, my team is, let's say 70 people at a certain point as a leader, you because you have to set up your teams such that it's effective, effectively, mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive of anything piece of work or decision comes in to you. So basically, you should set it up in such a way that anything that comes out of me, I have a natural delegation point. And it's clear to everybody that that's the delegation point. So that everybody has extremely clear, like, this is, you know, brought in my patch of land, this is my patch of land, of course, they collaborate. But you need to like set it up like that, such that the right folk are empowered to make the right decisions. And if you don't have that set up, when I joined, we didn't have it set up that way, what ends up happening is that you have the wrong people making the wrong decisions. I'll give you an example. Our homepage, product marketing should be the ones that are defining and responsible for setting our overarching story, the creative team and have a copywriter their job is to bring that to life and copy that engages. When I joined, what was happening is that, broadly speaking, the copy team, were writing the copy without the proper input from product marketing, and so we're getting the wrong because they didn't have the right like strategic direction. And so as I think about what leadership team, I need to make sure that they're all very clear about sort of their roles, responsibilities. Once you've done that, and you kind of figured out, okay, this should be my work structure, then the question is, do you have the right people in those swim lanes? And I think that, hopefully, the answer is yes. If the answer is no, hey, this person isn't quite there yet. You need to make a decision by whether or not, that's just because they haven't had enough reps on it, and I can train them. So this person is naturally pretty strategic, I'm gonna, like train them on this and get them there, or is it like a core skill gap? Is it something that like, hey, they're really, they're very, very operationally minded, they're gonna really struggle to like, thinking the way that I need them to think at that point, then it's figuring out around the change or potentially, like, sadly, that happens. People have to change companies they use make that hard call. But yeah, I think it's, I think it's those two things, making sure you have the clear swimlanes and then making sure that you have the right folk. And in each one, and

Ben Kaplan  37:18

finally, we've talked in this conversation, it's been far reaching. I mean, we've talked about how do you kind of like shift your positioning and your story to better reflect where you are and where you need to go? We've talked about how that flows through to yourself and team members and others. And, you know, we talked about superpowers for website development pros, but what superpowers would you like to have going forward? What do you think for yourself? It's a little bit of an introspective question to get to the next level at Webflow. And beyond, what would you like to improve about your set of skills that you could deploy that would make you an even more effective CMO, or, or another role CEO or anything else later that you might become? Yeah,

Shane Murphy - Webflow  37:57

I think a big thing that I've always worked on, and I think actually Webflow overall, we've been through with this, given our culture is the concept of ruinous empathy. I definitely skew ruinous empathy, meaning that I might sometimes shy away from having a hard conversation, because one of the categories is ruinous empathy, where effectively, you avoid direct conversations. And it's ruinous. Because then the person doesn't get the feedback that they need in order to become better,

Ben Kaplan  38:28

you're trying to be nice, so you're not being as direct as you could be. And ultimately, that's not being nice in the longer term thing, because people don't get the information they need.

Shane Murphy - Webflow  38:38

That's it. Yeah. But the other side of the coin is I can remember this word where like, people are just like, the ideas that you should be direct with care, right? So the bedrock of care for the person, but you're direct with them as a result of what they need to do. Much like a great coach would be with like a, you know, somebody that they're, they're teaching. And so I, you know, what the balance to find is like, how do you find the midpoint between not being just like, over a director, so they don't listen to you? And that is not coming from basic care. But how do you how do you find that balance? And it's a constant. It's a constant thing that I think about day to day is like, how do you find the balance between being direct, but also ensuring that people understand is coming from a place of care so that they hear and listen? Like that's a very as you say, introspective. One? Like, it's not like a superpower, I probably would love to just be a lot more creative than I am. I don't know. Like, I was like, from a from a leadership perspective. That's something I think about like, day in and day I like to challenge

Ben Kaplan  39:36

and how much do you spend on your time of empowering your team versus empowering yourself? What is your split of time? I'd be curious to know, because you put a lot of emphasis on sort of your efficiency and effectiveness in decision making. Yeah,

Shane Murphy - Webflow  39:50

I think in a perfect world thing and this is totally like perfect. He would be 100% and I've just empowered the team and I would have confidence that they can go and do what they need to Do the reality is dependent upon I think where we are in the planning cycle, my role is changes dramatically. So we're in the setting of the strategy and planning, I need to be in with them. Like working on that strategy to ensure that like, once we set the, once we open the gates and people start running, they need to be running the same direction. And then typically what happens is, once we're done with the planning, we the people are running, then my job is I compare the team, I'll steer, Yep, I'll definitely steer in case somebody runs off track a little bit, look back. But broadly speaking, the role shifted vary a lot between those two things. So typically, like, in a queue for when we're getting in advance of the next year, I'm very hands on with the team. We're doing a offsides where, you know, we're like defined in the plan and a list of things. And then into Q one and Q two, it's a lot more steering and empowering the team. And then you probably do h to replan. And so you kind of like I think he's a leader trying to find there's no one mode, your job, I think, is just figure out, not only where in the planning cycle, you shift between modes, but also with the individual person and the problem, they're having one mo ggbn, is this a throw them out of the nest? Because I think they'll be able to fly moment? Or is this like, hey, if I push them out of this net, they're gonna like crash land. And that's on me. So like, if I know that there's a project coming up that like the CEO has a very specific perspective on like, maybe how it should should be handled, I should be back channeling the CEO to make sure that like, I protect my team a little bit from those sort of things. So anyway, I think it's like, this is one of the key things of leadership, right? You're trying to fit you're constantly checking yourself on what altitude to be at the degree to which you're just like, you've got to, you know, team versus like stepping in into the trenches with them.

Ben Kaplan  41:51

According to Shane Murphy-Reuter, the journey to becoming an exceptional marketing leader isn't a solo challenge. It's a dynamic dance between personal growth and team empowerment. As Shane says, Know your superpowers in an era where personal branding can sometimes when a business goals, it's vital to not just know what you're good at, but know how those skills interplay with the skills of others undertake to drive overall business results. Shane thinks that so called ruinous empathy. avoiding those difficult conversations for fear of being too direct can be a roadblock under leadership path. Instead, strive for directness with care, the sweet spot where your team knows you care, but also knows where they stand. Leadership as he points out, is about understanding when to dive into the trenches with your team and when to take a step back and let them soar. The goal isn't just to get the best out of yourself anymore, but also to get the best out of your organization to help your team in turn, empower others. For TOP CMO, I’m Ben Kaplan.


This amazing episode was brought to you by TOP Thought Leader don't forget to rate review and subscribe.

New episodes will always updated regularly

Waste of resources our competitors are jumping the shark.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.