Episode
15

Camille Ricketts

Leading Notion’s Marketing, Creating and Utilizing Templates Effectively, and Leveraging Community

September 13, 2023

Join Nate Matherson as he sits down with Camille Ricketts for the fifteenth episode of the Optimize podcast. Camille is the Operating Partner focused on all things marketing, brand, and communications for Emergence Capital, the longest-standing venture firm focused on B2B software. She’s also known for being Notion’s 10th hire, joining Notion as the first marketer when the team was just 10 people, and running content and marketing for First Round Capital, where she founded and built First Round Review.

In this episode, Camille and Nate discuss her extensive background from her time with First Round Capital to Notion’s 10th employee to becoming a member of The White House’s US Digital Service. Camille gets tactical, sharing strategies and tips for creating user onboarding and tutorial content, generating case studies, and leveraging cross-functional teams.

As a special bonus, Camille and Nate dive deep into Notion’s go-to-market approach, revealing insights into building successful creator marketing campaigns. Closing out the episode is our popular lightning round of questions!

What to Listen For

02:30 Camille’s background

04:49 The experience of being Notion’s 10th employee

05:54 Was content always a priority at Notion?

09:00 How do we create and distribute tutorial content?

11:34 Driving success with pre-built templates for users

13:30 What is a director of community?

15:15 Notion’s GTM strategy: influencer marketing

21:26 Where did SEO fit in Notion’s GTM strategy?

23:12 How do you get a customer to agree to do a case study?

25:35 Cross-functional teams drive the best results for content marketing

25:58 Camille’s White House experience (U.S. Digital Service)

27:38 Should VCs be creating content?

28:39 Lightning question round

Episode Transcript

Camille Ricketts (Speaking)

00:00

Folks who write in a lot to maybe your customer support or your customer experience channel and express some appreciation — maybe they had, like, a problem, but it was quickly solved, and then they have some goodwill generated from that. And then also understanding your own sort of ICPs. We created this matrix that had our ICP functional areas: so designers, engineers, product managers — now that's expanded obviously into, like, marketing, people management, et cetera. And then also at SMBs and startups, mid-market companies, enterprise companies. So you can imagine this kind of grid and wanting to make sure that we had an illustrative story in every single cell of this grid, so that if you were a designer working at an enterprise company, you felt like there was an example customer who was offering advice for you. If you were, you know, an engineering leader at a startup, you would also want to feel, likewise, that there were folks like you who were really getting a lot of benefit and sort of teaching you how to reap that.

Nate Matherson (Speaking)

01:01

Hi, and welcome to the Optimize podcast. My name is Nate Matherson, and I'm your host. On this weekly podcast, we sit down with some of the smartest minds in content marketing and growth. Our goal is to give you perspective and insights on what's moving the needle. Today, I'm thrilled to sit down with Camille Ricketts. Camille is currently at Emergence, a B2B-focused venture capital firm. And before that, she played a pivotal role at Notion, where she joined as the first marketing hire when the company was only 10 people. Camille ultimately became the co-head of marketing and brand, as well as communications, at Notion. And she scaled incredible content, influencer, and partnerships channels. Camille also spent time at First Round Capital as the firm's head of content and marketing. In our episode today, I'm excited to learn more about her experience at Notion and the content marketing strategies she has deployed, including templates, user education, community, and influencer marketing.

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Nate Matherson (Speaking)

Camille, thanks so much for coming on the podcast.

Camille Ricketts (Speaking)

02:20

Thanks so much for having me. I'm honored to be here.

Nate Matherson (Speaking)

02:22

So the first question I always ask is, How did you get into the world of content or growth marketing? How did that become, like, your career path and such an important part of your career?

Camille Ricketts (Speaking)

02:30

Yeah, great question. It certainly was not the path that I had anticipated when I graduated from college. I like to tell people that even though I was a history major, I was actually majoring in the Stanford Daily the entire time because I spent pretty much my entire life at that office and thought I was gonna be a journalist. Truly, like, that had been the path up until that point. I think when you're a kid and someone tells you you're good at something, you suddenly decide to double down. And someone had told me I was good at writing, so that's where I ended up, in journalism. Seemed to be a great way to take that the distance. So my first job out of school was actually at the Wall Street Journal in the London bureau — so really, like, got to do what I had hoped right away. And it was interesting to find, once I was there, sort of in the seat, that it was pretty different than I had expected in certain ways. And also, my career had kind of launched in the middle of large shifts in the economy — what it was going to look like to build a career. So suddenly had to kind of change and re-hypothesize what it is that I wanted to do. And one of the first opportunities I got to do that, which, you know, strangely enough how life works, was to join the Tesla Motors communications team, because I had been writing so much about that company — to the extent that the comms team there invited me to join it, which I know is not an everyday path. And that was really the beginning of the current journey that I've been on. So I learned a lot about how to tell stories from a company's point of view and … in order to mobilize users in a particular direction. And that followed me through roles at Kiva Microfunds, the nonprofit, and then eventually First Round Capital, which is where I'd like to say my sort of modern career era started. And that's where I really, like, doubled down, got really invested in creating great content with the First Round Review, which maybe some of your listeners are familiar with, interviewing a ton of startup operators and helping sort of relay what they had learned in their roles to a broader audience of startup. And so that kind of brings us up to date, and got into marketing from there, started advising a bunch of companies around content marketing, marketing in general. So yeah, I hope that that's helpful for some listeners.

Nate Matherson (Speaking)

04:32

Yeah, and then you started at Notion, and you joined at, like, an incredibly pivotal time in that company as, like, the first marketing hire. Like, I'm just curious, like, how did you get connected to Notion at that point? And then, like, what made you decide, like, you wanted to take a bet and be, like, that first marketing hire at the company?

Camille Ricketts (Speaking)

04:49

Yeah, so I fear that this is not going to be super tactical advice. The way that I got connected with Notion is that First Round had invested in the company. So I got the benefit of meeting co-founder Ivan Zhao really early on in the journey and just thinking that he was exceptional. And I think that he understood what it was that I was doing. And, you know, it was kind of a strange occurrence because I didn't have traditional marketing experience at the time. So I'm forever grateful to Ivan for sort of taking a chance on me. And that was what was instrumental in my decision to join was the fact that they were giving me the opportunity to not just focus on editorial or what I'd sort of been majoring in to date, but something more broad and a leadership opportunity. I guess that the advice that maybe comes out of that particular experience is to take those chances because they lead to, I'd say, the most expansive and quickest growth of your life.

Nate Matherson (Speaking)

05:39

And I know there are many different types of content to create and that you did create at Notion. Did you identify, like, content more broadly as, like, a really important channel early on at Notion? Was it very clear from, like, day one that this would be an important channel to the company?

Camille Ricketts (Speaking)

05:54

You know, that's what's so interesting is that even though content had been where I had spiked so profoundly, it wasn't the first thing that presented itself as being a priority at Notion. It was something that we definitely worked our way to, which I think is something that all marketers have to confront, is when they land in a new situation, can they survey the horizon and think, you know, “What are the unfair advantages that we actually have to capitalize on here and what will that look like?” And in Notion's case, it was most certainly community. We had already seen so many folks out there in the world start to express themselves via sharing Notion docs, get really excited about the new features that were coming out and how they were using them. So that's really where we leaned for that first year, I would say, that the team was working and my first hire was a head of community which is incredibly non-traditional but probably one of the most winning moves the company made over time. And then content really became the focus I would say in that next year when we hired Nate Martins to run that function and started really going deep when it came to customer stories and user education. And I'm happy to talk more about why those were the first two choices.

Nate Matherson (Speaking)

07:01

Well, I definitely want to talk about that. Why were those the first two choices that you focused on?

Camille Ricketts (Speaking)

07:06

Yeah, I set up that question. So I think depending on what you are trying to market — and I think that probably a lot of people listening to this are going to be marketing perhaps more complex products, B2B products, where they really need to bring their audience along in order to make sure that they are successful and that the amount of value that you can generate from whatever it is that you are providing to folks is really dependent on them knowing what they are doing and feeling highly capable with what you've built. And both customer stories and user education are really designed for that. So in our case, it looked like video case studies, as well as written case studies of customers that were already getting a lot of benefit from the product and really going deep into, like, the quantitative, but also the emotional experience of what they were gaining from using Notion. And then the user education was just a ton of tutorials. So whenever we saw — and this was an excellent choice on part of the company in general and customer experience. But whenever we saw that there were a lot of customers that were facing some sort of friction in the product — like, suddenly, you know, “Oh, they don't know how to create this. They don't know how to use this element.” We would create a tutorial around that to address it head on. I really recommend to any folks who feel like they're working in a similar space: Can you cultivate that social proof? And can you also just start answering everybody's objections and confusions with a piece of content?

Nate Matherson (Speaking)

08:27

I think a big struggle or problem, especially for early-stage companies, is they tend to have these, like, fairly sophisticated products. And I think Notion's always done a great job. Like, I log into Notion, I feel like I immediately know what to do. But for, like, a company that maybe has, like, a more technical product and, like, there's that opportunity to create these tutorials and how-to guides to get them started or go deeper into the product, how did you find or, like, how did you give the users this content? Like, what was the mechanism that you actually used to distribute those tutorials to that user to allow them to go deeper?

Camille Ricketts (Speaking)

09:00

Yeah, so immediately when you would land in the Notion product, there was a page that was a Notion page. So we wanted the product to demonstrate itself to a certain extent that went through just the primary functions that you would need to get a handle on in order to really succeed early on with the product or be able to start creating things that felt substantial and rewarding to you. So that was the first thing, and that was really considered within the realm of product marketing and content: like, what that page would say, how the page would differ for individuals using Notion versus individuals using it as a team, for folks who were starting a workspace versus joining a workspace — we wanted that all to feel very custom and tailored to folks. And then also being really wise and really discerning about where to place tool tips, which I know is always kind of a controversial thought process because you don't want to add so much friction that people are like, “Oh, things are popping up all over the place. Things are blinking at me. I don't like this. I want to just skip. I want to just skip through this entire sort of onboarding content process.” So you really want to be as meticulous as you can about where people are going to get confused. And a lot of this is just observing a ton of customers and where it is that they are running up against walls. And then being able to have that tool tip be unintrusive, but also allow people to dig deeper if they so choose. So if you look in Notion, a lot of the tool tips come with not just verbiage, but also an image. So the people feel, like, really anchored — like, ”Oh, I can see what it is that you mean. I can't — I'm not just trying to figure out what you're trying to say.” And then some of them also include links that go then to the help center that we spent a lot of time on.

Nate Matherson (Speaking)

10:32

That's a really great idea. We need to do that at our company because we do have a lot of tool tips. And I think linking someone out to either, like, a fuller guide or then video or template that goes deeper beyond just, like, one line of text and a tool tip would be a fantastic idea for us. I didn't mean to cut you off there. I just got really excited by that idea in general.

Camille Ricketts (Speaking)

10:52

Not at all, no. And then I would say that having marketing own the help center early on — which, you know, obviously it doesn't anymore — but it was in sort of the purview of marketing at the beginning. I think that that allowed us to, like, bring a tone of voice that had consistency between the product and all the documentation that also felt really, like, branded. That was another thing that I think was a perk.

Nate Matherson (Speaking)

11:13

Yeah. And I know that at Notion they've done, and you did, a phenomenal job with, like, prebuilt templates that customers could get started with. As far as, like, the templates that Notion created, did you, like, observe, like, what current customers were building on their own — and then ultimately that led you to, like ,the ideas for those templates to create? Or did you go about it in, like, another way?

Camille Ricketts (Speaking)

11:34

Yeah, it was a little bit of everything to be honest. And before I answer the heart of that question, backing up to your prior question about what content was really valuable for user education, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that the blog was just home to all of this incredible guidance material. And to your question about templates, we would embed those templates directly into a lot of those articles. So we would be talking about how to build something like an engineering roadmap, and then right there would be, like, “OK, now use it today; duplicate this into your workspace and start right away with it.” And that made a big difference. And then in our template gallery, likewise, we would aggregate the articles that mentioned that template, so that if you went to that template, you could also then click into any of the content that would really help anchor how to use that template. So there was kind of, like, this virtuous cycle and ecosystem between templates and content. And then shifting back to how we decided what to build, it was both observing what people were really excited to have out there in the world — and we were constantly scanning social media and the subreddit, which was suddenly taking shape and coming to life — about, you know, what were people really excited about? And then also thinking through our ideal customer profiles, which had really emerged to be designers, product marketers, and engineers, and thinking through what were the Notion setups or documentation that were going to be particularly helpful for those functional leaders, and building those setups so that they would have them right away at their fingertips. So something like a roadmap for an engineering leader, something like an asset manager for a designer. And we did that for those several functions that we were really focused on. That also really allowed us to, in onboarding, ask people which function that they were working in and curate a set of templates that were specifically for them when they dropped into the product, which I think was sticky.

Nate Matherson (Speaking)

13:18

I love that. And you've mentioned community a few times, and you also mentioned the director of community was, like, that first hire. What does a director of community do? Like, what does their day-to-day look like?

Camille Ricketts (Speaking)

13:29

So in this case, this is Ben Lang, who is one of the most remarkable people on the planet. Here at Notion, he really built just, like, such a — I want to use the word vibe, but I'm not sure if that's exactly accurate — but really brought together people who had such enthusiasm and such adoration for what the product was doing for them in their lives. And then spending the time to really learn from them what the mechanics of that was, why they felt that way, what they wanted to build, what they were looking forward to — their hopes and dreams sort of way outpacing, like, necessarily what was reality in the moment. but in terms of, like, what they wanted their lives to look like, what Notion could do to make them feel even closer to us. So I know he spent just a ton of time on Zoom with that first group of ambassadors, which is around 20 people who incidentally were just, like, across social media saying lovely things about Notion. They weren't necessarily people who had, like, massive followings to start, although many of them do now. And he just took the time to really understand what it was that they wanted. And out of that, was able to build some of these key programs that I think just, like, really got people engaged: AMAs with the executive team at Notion, early previews of features and the ability to share their feedback with us in really meaningful ways, support for running events in their local communities. And this all came out of his listening tour. So those are just a few examples. And of course, like, built on from there.

Nate Matherson (Speaking)

14:56

And you mentioned social media. I know that Notion did focus on, like, an influencer channel as, like, part of the go-to-market strategy. Could you walk me through, like, how you think about influencer marketing? Like, how has it changed maybe since, like, you first started down that path? Any key insights that you had in building out the influencer channel?

Camille Ricketts (Speaking)

15:16

Yeah, so community really did give rise to a bunch of other things for Notion. One of them was influencer, the other was consultants — so this entire group of people who wanted to help teach teams and other individuals how to be successful with the product; many of them are now doing that full-time. People designing classes around Notion, people who want to be, like, certified Notion instructors, certified Notion coaches, community sort of was the stem cell for all of that. And Ben really was the one who explored a lot of those avenues before handing them over to other leaders to then scale. And one of those was influencer, very much so. And, you know, we kind of stumbled into it. We saw this happening organically, that people were on YouTube — at that time, it was pretty much just YouTube — talking about what they were building with Notion. And when we started, like, really reaching out to them and being like, “How is this working? How could we maybe work together?” One of them said, “Well, you should really talk to my agent, Dave.” And we had no idea that folks like this had agents. And when we spoke to Dave, he was like, “Oh, yeah, I represent, like, you know, a number of folks who might be interesting to you.” And that was kind of a break in the case for us, and understanding just as we went, like what type of sort of sponsorship structure would lead to what type of content and what type of content was the most compelling. And then TikTok came in, which really changed the game for us and was a very efficient way to sponsor some creators and then reach massive audiences. And I think things have changed quite a bit, not just at Notion. Notion now has this exceptional influencer leader named Lexi Barnhorn that I think is running probably over a hundred different engagements a month. And when we started out, it was, like, two. But seeing sort of the macro trend overall, I think that people are much more excited about micro-influencers, and there's so much evidence out there that people are looking to folks who they relate to or are a little bit more vertically specific to who they are. So that social proof about product seems, like, really tightly focused on what they're interested in, or they feel like that person's a real person with real experience who might be a little bit more credible. We always worked with influencers that already had excitement around Notion, but that's not every brand. So if I had to make a recommendation, I would say that making sure that that actual authentic enthusiasm is there is still gonna remain probably the most compelling thing to do.

Nate Matherson (Speaking)

17:35

I wanna get a little tactical here. How much does it cost to, like, sponsor an influencer? And I know it, like, totally varies depending on the industry, but also their reach and their community they've built. But, like, what generally does it cost in order to work with, like, a micro-influencer or someone that might be a little bit bigger than that?

Camille Ricketts (Speaking)

17:54

Yeah. So please respect that I've been out of the game for a little bit, and things are changing so swiftly. So if this is sort of anachronistic, I apologize. But at the time that we were doing it, it was really dependent on how many followers or subscribers the person had, so their reach. But also, were they going to just mention Notion within a video that was going to be about something else? Were they going to do an entire video about Notion? If they were going to do a video, was it going to be for teams, for individuals? So all of that influenced the pricing. So something around, like, if you had, let's say, 300,000 followers, maybe between $5,000 and $10,000 to sponsor. And then on TikTok, you know, in preparation for this interview, I actually talked to Lexi, who runs influencer at Notion, and she provided me with some numbers to make sure that I was absolutely right here. But the efficiency point still stands. But let's say if you get 20 to 70,000 average views on a video, you probably, as an influencer, you can probably charge anywhere between $500 and $1,000 per TikTok. And then if you have something, you know, like 500,000-plus views on your content, you can charge something like $2,000 per TikTok. But what was interesting to me is that even though those were sort of, like, lower numbers, generally speaking, because of TikTok's algorithm, you could sometimes get millions and millions of views on something that was a fairly cost-efficient sponsorship.

Nate Matherson (Speaking)

19:11

And who creates the content? Like, I know they create it, but, like, how much guidance do you give them on, like, what to say or what not to say? Or do you approve the content beforehand or do you simply just, like, pay them and say, go — like, what's the best approach there?

Camille Ricketts (Speaking)

19:26

When we were doing it, we wanted to be pretty hands-off. We did not want to put words in anyone's mouth. What we did want to do is make sure that they felt equipped with all of the information in terms of, like, new features that may have come out, exciting things that we were seeing being built out there in the world that might be relevant to them and to their audience. But we didn't script anything. We didn't require anything. We didn't approve, necessarily, the content itself. Folks would sometimes send it to us in order to be reviewed, and we would do that. It may have changed now that there's sort of more formality around it and more systematic programming. But at the time we really wanted the actual experience and the love that this person had for it really shine through without anything sounding stilted or pre-prepared.

Nate Matherson (Speaking)

20:11

Yeah. And as far as, like, deal structure goes, was it, like, a flat-rate payment? Or was there some sort of, like, variable component there, too? Or, like, if someone sent a video to TikTok and it went super viral, they might have, like, an incentive payment for having that post gone viral. How did, like, the payment structures work?

Camille Ricketts (Speaking)

20:31

For a long time, it really was just flat fee, and we would negotiate a contract, and maybe that contract would include several videos. Maybe it would just be one, but there really was agreed-upon fee. The Notion affiliate program launched in 2022 and really focused a lot on publications and outlets that I think has now expanded to include some of this content. And that's more of a rev share sort of situation. And if folks are interested in sort of seeing how that's structured, I know that it's notion.com/affiliates. They really spell it out super explicitly. So it could be a good model for folks learning.

Nate Matherson (Speaking)

21:05

Yeah. And back to SEO specifically — that's what we talk about most on this podcast. I know you've created, like, a lot of content at Notion, like, the templates, the how-to guides, the user education material, the materials in the community. Was, like, SEO in particular something that, like, your team spent any time thinking about at Notion?

Camille Ricketts (Speaking)

21:24

So we did spend time thinking about it, but I would never say that it was a driving force. And there were a couple of reasons for that. Chief among them was that we were operating in a very saturated space. Definitely not the first piece of software that has done documentation, project management, wiki, all of that, meeting notes. So if you were to use any of that terminology, you would have kind of a brick wall facing you in terms of SEO. And so even though we would focus on some of those key terms, like, we saw ourselves creeping up sort of, like, the second page of results, and that's not necessarily worth a ton of investment when it's a team that could be succeeding in other ways. So we worked with some good firms and sort of kept chipping away at it, but it was not something that we were like, “Oh, this is the front and centerpiece of our content strategy.”

Nate Matherson (Speaking)

22:13

Yeah. And as far as, like, the content creation goes, did you create all of that content in-house as part of your marketing team? Or did you also work with, like, freelance writers or copywriters to help you in that?

Camille Ricketts (Speaking)

22:25

We definitely worked with some external resources. Campfire Labs is a great resource. They were terrific. This guy Hal Walling, who I actually think has gone freelance himself now, is just exceptional at understanding sort of more nuanced content that is still sort of scalable. And then we also worked with a firm called Animalz who helped us out on our SEO. So definitely there was sort of supplemental writers out there and editorial, but our in-house team then was really able to focus on that user education that was going to feel very close to the product, making sure that we were doing really high-quality experience interviews with our customers to create these case studies, and then also be able to innovate a little bit.

Nate Matherson (Speaking)

23:05

I have a quick question there on case studies. How do you get a customer to agree to do a case study? Or, like, what's the best process for asking them?

Camille Ricketts (Speaking)

23:12

You definitely want to ask happy people. That's always a good rule of thumb. So if you run any NPS surveys or anything along those lines that give you a sense of how people are experiencing the product, having a good time, getting a lot of value, you want to give yourself sort of a mechanism for reaching out to those folks first. Folks who write in a lot to, maybe, your customer support or your customer experience channel and express some appreciation. Maybe they had, like, a problem and it was quickly solved, and then they have some goodwill generated from that. And then also understanding your own sort of ICPs. We created this matrix that had our ICP functional areas. So designers, engineers, product managers — now that's expanded, obviously, into like marketing, people management, et cetera. And then also at SMBs and startups, mid-market companies, enterprise companies. So you can imagine this kind of grid and wanting to make sure that we had an illustrative story in every single cell of this grid, so that if you were a designer working at an enterprise company, you felt like there was an example customer who was offering advice for you. If you were, you know, an engineering leader at a startup, you would also want to feel, likewise, that there were folks like you who were really getting a lot of benefit and sort of teaching you how to reap that.

Nate Matherson (Speaking)

24:23

Does it ever make sense for a startup, maybe, like, an early-stage company to, like, ask for a case study in, like, the contracting process. Could you ever make that, like, part of the deal, or does that always need to come, like, separate afterwards?

Camille Ricketts (Speaking)

24:35

You know, we didn't when I was there. We were starting to move in that direction though, to be just honest about where I left off things. We were starting to talk to sales about whether or not that was something that we could embed. But mostly a lot of the best opportunities came from our customer success team. And we had this incredible customer success team led by this woman, Monica Perez. She's still there, where she really was so close to a lot of these customers that she had an implicit understanding of who was going to probably share the most instrumental things and then make those connections for us. So if you are a marketer who's looking into this, I would say befriending your customer success folks could be a really good tactic.

Nate Matherson (Speaking)

25:14

Yeah, content and marketing tend to be, like, very cross-functional channels, like, always talking with, like, the sales and then the support teams. Triadiation, I've often found it's a great way to come up with, like, new ideas for the content we need to create or should create. It sounds like you very often found yourself talking to the support team and also the sales team. Is that pretty accurate?

Camille Ricketts (Speaking)

25:34

Yeah, all of the time. And I think having those close connections is just super vital. If you are working at a startup where those teams are very nascent, making sure that you just have so much connective tissue between you and understanding of each other's roles. I think it makes such a big difference down the road.

Nate Matherson (Speaking)

25:50

And you're the first guest we've had on that's worked at the White House. What did you do at the White House? That must have been such an interesting experience.

Camille Ricketts (Speaking)

25:57

So truly, even though it's the White House, I worked in a building next to the White House. It was part of the U.S. Digital Service. So the Tiger team that Obama created to rescue healthcare.gov when all of that was in crisis kind of expanded out into this squad of Silicon Valley operators who were really excited to dig in and help government become more efficient and sort of parachute into all of these agencies and figure out where technology could make the most transformative difference really fast and then build that technology faster than it had ever been done before in government. And my role was kind of interesting. I actually landed in D.C. on October 1st, 2016, in my pantsuit and thought that the election was gonna go a certain way. I was so excited to help them document how everything had succeeded so wildly with the Obama administration so we could hand it over to the next administration and have that sort of be carried through. So I did get to learn just a tremendous amount about how these technologists had embedded in government and kind of helped create momentum where there hadn't been any, or helped the existing government workers who had valiantly been doing that job dig in and move faster the way that they had wanted to all this time. And so we did, we created sort of an operations manual and handed it off. And I know that there are people who are still doing that USDS work today, and I think that they are heroes.

Nate Matherson (Speaking)

27:13

And First Round: I think you were early on the side of, like, a venture firm creating content. I think it's, like ,a pretty popular thing to do now. Like, lots of venture funds have podcasts and blogs and newsletters and everything else. But it seems like at First Round, they were ahead of the curve in creating content. For, like, all the venture capitalists listening to this podcast, how should they be thinking about creating content? Is that important to do as part of their business? 

Camille Ricketts (Speaking)

27:38

You know, I think it depends almost entirely on audience. And there's so many different types of firms out there with so many different types of focus, trying to attract a certain type of founder. And that is your audience. You want to be able to create as much awareness as possible among the people who you want to invest in, who are gonna go build brilliant things. So maybe that doesn't require sort of broadcasting big content strategy. Maybe it's more about sort of concierge or bespoke outreach. So I think you really do have to just go deep and study your customer. And if content is the kind of thing that's gonna mobilize, let's say a bunch of folks who are building an e-commerce and you can deliver something that actually feels new — like, new knowledge to them and something that's non-obvious and it's extending their capabilities, then I think that that's great. There is a ton of saturation out there now. So also thinking through what form factors are actually going to resonate and be right for the people you're trying to reach. I think those are some of the key things to consider. 

Lightning Question Round:

Nate Matherson (Speaking)

28:33

Well, this has been such a great episode. I love how tactical we've gotten. I appreciate you getting in the weeds with me. And if it's OK with you, I'd love to do the rapid fire round. I'm going to ask you, like, five or six questions and you can give me, like, a pointed statement. Does that sound good? Sounds great. Emergence, you've just started there in this new role. How did you get to Emergence and what are you currently doing? Camille Ricketts (Speaking).

28:53

So I'm an operating partner focused on marketing. That means some of my time is spent helping the firm amplify itself, but most of my time is gonna be spent helping the portfolio solve any manner of marketing or comms or brand challenge. So I'm really excited to learn what they are out there working on. And the reason that I got here is I actually had a really dear friend, Tammy Han, who I worked with for five years at First Round. She's just been incredibly happy doing incredible work at Emergence for the last five years herself. And I wanted to be a part of what she was part of.

Nate Matherson (Speaking)

And what's, like, the biggest mistake you're seeing right now that B2B companies are making in their marketing?

Camille Ricketts (Speaking)

Ooh, I don't know if I would call it a mistake. I think that there are some forces here that are at work that are changing things, particularly consumerization of the enterprise. I think that there is more expectation for content that acknowledges the buyer as a human being, as opposed to just sort of, like, a faceless corporation. So can you create things that are more appealing to somebody's humanity than just sort of checking the boxes of what enterprise marketing has been to date? That's something to keep an eye on.

Nate Matherson (Speaking)

In B2B, are there one or two companies, excluding Notion, you think are doing a fantastic job when it comes to content?

Camille Ricketts (Speaking)

29:58

Excluding Notion. I'm going to shout out my … our sibling company, Figma. I think that they're doing an excellent job. They also have just leaned into community in such a beautiful way. They really know themselves. Like, their brand identity is so clear. And I think it's recognizable no matter where you are, where you see it.

Nate Matherson (Speaking)

30:15

If you could describe Notion's brand in one or two sentences, how would you do it?

Camille Ricketts (Speaking)

30:20

So I would describe Notion — it’s kind of a big question for me. But the two words that I would choose: first is “cozy,” because I think that even though it's a piece of software, it somehow provides this space for you on the internet that you can truly make your own. And there's just something that's really comforting about that. And I think that the brand reinforces that. And then the second word would be “creative” because it truly allows you to dig in and build anything you want and express yourself however you want.

Nate Matherson (Speaking)

30:46

This has been such a great episode. Thank you so much for coming on. And we will make sure to include, like, a link to your LinkedIn and the Emergence site in the show notes for all the listeners. But is there anything else you'd like to add or say to our listeners? Camille Ricketts (Speaking)

31:00

I just hope that this was useful. It's one of my favorite things to do to think about my experience and then offer whatever might be helpful to folks out there. So that's my hope for this. Thanks for having me on.

Nate Matherson (Speaking)

31:09

Yeah. Well, it was a great episode. Thank you so much for coming on. I really enjoyed doing this and have a great rest of your day.

Camille Ricketts (Speaking)

31:16

My pleasure. You too.

Ad Spot

31:18

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More Ways to Listen

Optimize Episode 015: Camille Ricketts on Leading Notion’s Marketing, Creating and Utilizing Templates Effectively, and Leveraging Community

Sep 13, 2023

Join Nate Matherson as he sits down with Camille Ricketts for the fifteenth episode of the Optimize podcast. Camille is the Operating Partner focused on all things marketing, brand, and communications for Emergence Capital, the longest-standing venture firm focused on B2B software. She’s also known for being Notion’s 10th hire, joining Notion as the first marketer when the team was just 10 people, and running content and marketing for First Round Capital, where she founded and built First Round Review.

In this episode, Camille and Nate discuss her extensive background from her time with First Round Capital to Notion’s 10th employee to becoming a member of The White House’s US Digital Service. Camille gets tactical, sharing strategies and tips for creating user onboarding and tutorial content, generating case studies, and leveraging cross-functional teams.

As a special bonus, Camille and Nate dive deep into Notion’s go-to-market approach, revealing insights into building successful creator marketing campaigns. Closing out the episode is our popular lightning round of questions!

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