Johanna Flower, CMO of CrowdStrike, Offers Tips and Tactics for Marketers

by Jackie Davis

Today, the cybersecurity space is more competitive than ever before. With evolving threats and targets, cybersecurity companies are looking to their marketers to help them stand out from the crowd. One marketer who demonstrates her ability to do this is Johanna Flower, CMO at CrowdStrike. Under Flower’s leadership, CrowdStrike not only connects with customers by using traditional marketing tactics but also with thought leadership. By sharing their expertise in the public sector, CrowdStrike is able to connect engagement to demand by first sharing their ideas in an article, and then analyzing who engaged with it. Using this tactic and others outlined below, CrowdStrike joined the “unicorn club” in 2017 as one as the few startups valued at more than $1 billion.

In a recent interview with CMO, Flower dove into her strategy at CrowdStrike and shared her expertise with marketers both in and out of the security sector. “A very important aspect of the modern marketing role is bringing that differentiation and value proposition and positioning of the company to market,” Flower said. “In addition to that, the expectation of taking market share and growing very fast means it’s vital to really understand how to go into the right markets at the right time to capitalize on the opportunity to drive business growth. I see those two things merging together into the CMO role.”

Flower outlined a few key marketing tactics that helped CrowdStrike achieve a market value of over $2 billion and connect with customers on multiple levels.

1. Align tightly with sales

“The skillset within sales and marketing are different and complementary but I believe it’s one department,” she said. “Being very aligned with your sales organization, where you plan together, agree on go-to-market together, build a tech stack together, and your marketing campaigns so they’re integrated with a sales process and enabled, is absolutely critical. It’s even more critical when you’re still growing your brand, as people are still figuring you out and learning about you. If you can have a truly aligned sales and marketing plan, strategy, and implementation, it’ll go a long way.”

2. Make culture the brand

“There was this feeling of a mission already there when I joined the company; our people were building technology in order to protect other organizations against the bad guys,” she said. “When I asked the CEO for a mission statement, he said it was to stop the adversaries. There was a feeling of pride and determination, more than just selling software. I saw that as an opportunity to make that part of our brand, and therefore our culture.”

3. Customer-centric marketing design

CrowdStrike is using customer feedback to build a stronger connection.

“A lot of work now is creating a customer-centric marketing program. We have a series of things we do, such as the welcome pack; we run advisory boards, such as a technical and strategic advisory board, where we invite people in every six months. We take those very seriously and really outline our thoughts on where we need to prioritize new capabilities and modules, but we’re asking for their input. We use that information to help shape our roadmap.”

4. Evolving the marketing function

Every year, every month, really every day, marketing evolves.

“When I think about all our company initiatives, there are very few marketing is not involved in. One way or another, we get involved – whether it is employee brand for talent and recruitment, or advisory boards to get feedback on product roadmaps,” she said. “That’s important. The company benefits from having marketing people involved, as we have a lot of strengths in engagement, communication, and branding. Also, that means we are learning more as a marketing org, which means we can apply that to marketing efforts and investment.”

5. Foster collaboration

Collaboration across teams, peers, and executives goes along way in delivering visibility and building trust.

“That also helps us build trust and looking at initiatives more holistically,” she said. “You always need someone to take the lead, but more often than not, if it’s a truly strategic initiative, it touches more than one part of the organization.

“I do believe as marketers, we have a critical role to play here as we’re naturally project leaders. We can help shape how that can be pulled together from the variety of departments to make it an even greater success,” said Flower.

To learn the rest of Flower’s marketing tactics, read her interview with CMO here.