#56: Marketing Executive & Respected Thought Leader, Bill Kong, on Major Marketing Disruptions and Zi “Perfect, Modern Marketer” (Part 2)

Bill Kong is the CMO of Rover, the world’s largest marketplace for pet services like walks, boarding, daycare, grooming, and more. The mission of Rover is to make experiencing the love of a pet accessible to everyone, regardless of how busy you are.

Bill, originally born in China, moved to the US at a young age and studied computer science at UC Berkeley before starting his career as a product manager in Silicon Valley.

While working for companies that were ahead of the curve in enterprise SAAS (Vantive, Metreo), affiliate marketing (Amazon), and behavior targeting (AudienceScience), he realized his passion for marketing and it’s ability to interweave closely with product management and operations.

Bill ultimately ended up at Drugstore.com (now Walgreens), managing the profit & loss of the online store which brought in revenue of over $0.5 billion and turned around the direct-to-consumer lenses business, Vision Direct, a profitable element of the business that raked in over $100M in revenue.

After leaving Drugstore.com, Bill headed to Sears to become their Chief Digital Marketing Officer and branch the company into e-commerce while leveraging all digital marketing channels (SEO, SEM, affiliate, display, and paid).

In recent years Bill has developed expertise in marketing successful direct-to-consumer brands like Commerce Hub, Vital Choice and Rover. Vital Choice Wild Seafood is particularly cool, an online ordering marketplace for the highest quality salmon and other seafood you can find.

Bill holds an MBA from Kellogg School of Management.

This conversation was so fun. Bill distills marketing principles down to the essentials so anyone can understand and start leveraging them immediately.

We talked about the need for a new generation of marketers who are data scientists + technologists + artists all in one to be effective in today’s world, his appreciation for affiliate marketing, an often poorly perceived (and misunderstood) marketing channel that has incredible power for any brand that taps into it.

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Show Notes

  • What’s a way that a startup can build trust? [0:44]
  • The marketing industry is going through some disruptive changes [5:38]
  • Is the short tenure of CMO because of a lack of ability to be a performance marketer, brand marketer, and analyst? [9:04]
  • There are many growing pains going on in evolution of being a CMO [10:18]
  • If I’m a startup, and I’m 3 people big, how do I make sure they have data analyst skills, performance marketing skills, and brand marketing skills? [11:23]
  • Why is it important to hire deliberately for a young startup? [13:18]
  • What do you mean by lifetime value of the customer? Why is this so important? [15:34]
  • How projected customer LTV is different during COVID-19 time [17:14]
  • Do big companies think about LTV of a customer, like small companies do? [18:22]
  • What is Vital Choice? [21:45]
  • Besides Vital Box, what did marketing for Vital Choice look like? [25:03]
  • What’s your perspective on marketing channel testing? [27:54]
  • How marketing still requires “marketing intuition” (and an example) [29:11]
  • How junior marketers become more skilled and “the why” becomes as clear as “the what” with experience [31:19]
  • Where can we find you? [32:40]
  • Do you have any asks of the audience? [33:05]

Links from Episode

What was your favorite marketing nugget you learned from Bill? Comment below!

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