START FREE TRIAL
Login
Blog Home

Episode #182: Creating Your Company Narrative, with Michelle Chiantera

Grad Conn

March 15, 202238 min read

Share this Article

We all say we put the customer first, but what does that really mean? What actions are you actually taking that show the customer how important they really are? In today’s episode, Michelle Chiantera, CMO at Corel, talks with me about the stories we tell to our customers, and how those stories can translate into real action.

You can follow Michelle on LinkedIn.

All podcast episodes

PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Grad 
Alright, so welcome to show. We’re at the unified CXM Experience and as always, I’m your host, Grad Conn. I’m CXO, or Chief Experience Officer at Sprinklr, and we have a guest today. And we managed to trick someone onto the show. I don’t know how it happened. But we’ve got a wonderful, wonderful guest today. So Michelle Chiantera, who is the CMO at Corel, yes, that Corel, we come back to that in a second, is joining us. And we’re going to talk to Michelle about Corel, what they’re doing today. And, you know, just dig into some marketing stuff, and have some fun. So, Michelle, welcome to the show.

Michelle Chiantera 
Awesome. Thanks so much for having me, Grad.

Grad 
So let’s start with two quick things. One thing that’s always really helpful is people love just knowing like, how did you end up at Corel? Where were you before? You’ve got a very calm job history, the average tenure of a CMO these days is like, two years. And I think 18 months I’ve heard floating around recently as being the new, you know, extra-long tenure of a CMO. So, but that’s not really true for you. So your career has been pretty interesting. I’d love you to describe that really quickly. And then let’s talk about Corel because I’m from Canada, as you can probably hear, and, you know, Corel was something that was a really big deal in Canada. And I’ve kind of followed it and sort of kept connected to it over the years. But, I think, for most people, the Corel of 2022 is very different from the Corel of 2002, which may be what most people are thinking about. So let’s start with your career. And we’ll go from there.

Michelle Chiantera 
Well, Grad, I’m really close to the border of Canada, so I might sneak it an ‘eh’ or two.

Grad 
Oh, great. Do ‘ehs’ sneak across the border? So I trained them out of my language. I replaced the word ‘eh’ with ‘right’. But it’s not always appropriate. So I’ve noticed that I made a substitution, but it isn’t always right. And the reason I found out is that I’m now engaged to an American. So for the first time in my life, I’m living with an American. And I say a lot of stuff, I thought I was fine. I thought I completely assimilated, no one could even tell. Every other sentence, she’s like, “No, no that’s not the right way to use that word. What are you talking about? What’s an eavestrough?” Like, it just goes on.

Michelle Chiantera 
Okay, so a bit about me. So I actually started my career, ironically enough in venture capital. And very often times I yeah, I refer to that experience that I had, it was almost like I was getting my MBA, because there was a small group of us; eight total, two partners, I was doing marketing communications. And I was really forced at a very early part of my career to really understand business, right? These guys were making big investments. And this was in the mid 90s, where it was the internet going up, not down, I’ll come to that point in a minute. And it really was an amazing experience for me as a marketer, but to have so much visibility into how business is done. Well, I did what I thought was something really smart. And that was to follow the CFO to a startup, again, we are on this internet wave, and I went to a network management company, a software company. So a couple of fortes into my career today. And I was actually hired to build their partner program. So indirect selling models in the tech space are obviously critical. And I have to be honest with you, I did not know what an indirect selling model was when I was hired at this software company. But I figured it out. I stayed there for about a year, got some solid experience on how business is done in tech. But decided that I wanted to take on a bigger company to get in there and really ingrain myself and grow from within and I joined Cisco in 2000. I didn’t experience the stock splits. I’ll date myself. When I joined, the stock was at 40, March of 2001. I’d been there for about four and a half months. I married in March of 2001. The stock was at $13.36. So you’re talking to one of the Cisco people. But I spent almost 21 years there. I played almost every aspect of the marketing discipline that you could imagine. But what I would say is my real superpower was being in that sort of go-to-market, marketing motion, getting that proximity to customers, partners, and sellers and in 2020, I celebrated my 20th year, and took a pause and said, “Alright, what’s next?” and I aspired to be a CMO. I saw where the technology industry was going, this as-a-service thing is very real, consumption models have shifted drastically. And albeit Cisco is certainly offering software and as-a-service, but I wanted to get ingrained in a real software as-a-service company. And you know what, I wanted to go back to some of my roots, I wanted to get into a smaller company, I was looking at VC backed, and PE backed companies, along came Corel. And like you, I went, “Corel, hmm, can’t remember what they do but they sound familiar”. But landed the gig as the CMO and here I am. And you’re right on. This company, what it was 30 years ago to where it is today has drastically changed. I won’t walk you down memory lane, but just give a little perspective in the last handful of years. About three years ago, KKR, private equity firm out of the Bay Area, made a sizable offer and purchased Corel. And what I’ve heard from the KKR guys is grow, albeit might have some challenges as it relates to recognition. I won’t say brand recognition, its recognition because the company has been around for a long time and has transformed. But it is a company that has assets that are incredibly valuable to the knowledge worker, helping knowledge workers be more productive. You’d even be surprised, Grad, we actually have a virtualization offering. And that’s ultimately what has changed Corel’s face over the years, we’ve been known as CorelDRAW. But really, we own a portfolio of software products. We’ve got CorelDRAW, we have MineManager, a mind mapping software platform, we have WinZip, does that one not take you back in time? And we have Parallels, as I said, we’re in the virtualization space.

Michelle Chiantera 
And we’ve got kind of two paths that are incredibly relevant right now, know what’s going on around us. We’ve got desktop virtualization, and we want to be able to choose what device we want. I happen to use a Mac, if I want to use Windows, Parallels allows me to do that. And we also have a remote access server. So we’ve got On-prem, the ability to do virtual desktop infrastructure, and to stream applications. So the company is incredibly diverse. Probably one of the biggest challenges, if I can be candid, that I face as a marketer is each of the audiences are different. And that is absolutely enabling us to have many conversations within a company. But as we’re thinking through, “What does the future Corel look like?” We’re really challenged with how we tell this narrative that shows how robust Corel is because that’s very important, but yet tells a cohesive story that all our US marketers strive to do.

Grad 
It’s super interesting. So did I see, mostly you have Word Perfect?

Michelle Chiantera 
Word Perfect is still alive and well. Governments and law firms love it, having that ongoing document, so yep, still alive, and well.

Grad 
Isn’t that something? Okay, so I do have a couple of questions about your career for a sec, just before we dig into this branding issue, which I think is fascinating. Maybe you can just sort of brainstorm a bit around that. But as you’ve made this leap, I think what a lot of people will be interested in listening and hearing is how you made the leap from a very large, sort of Silicon Valley based tech firm. I know you were working in the New York office, but you know, Cisco, you seem to think Valley, classic Valley company. You’re there for 20 years, which is, by the way, amazing, like, congratulations. I worked at Microsoft for a long time. And working in a company like that, for that long is a real testament to a whole bunch of things about you. So grit, intelligence, determination, political savvy, like it’s very impressive. So, John Chambers is actually on our board at Sprinklr. And so I’ve gotten to know John, I don’t know if you know Carlos Dominguez. But Carlos is a good friend of mine, is also on our board and was president at Sprinklr for a long time. And Diane Adams is our CHRO and gotten to know her obviously, very well. She’s a peer of mine. Anyway, there’s quite a Cisco contingent at Sprinklr and I’ve got a fairly good appreciation of how amazing that company is. So, like, that’s great. Now, the one challenge, and this is absolutely not in any way, shape, or form, a slam at Cisco because this would be true if you worked at Microsoft for 20 years, or IBM for 20 years, or Oracle for 20 years, like any of these great companies, it is sometimes hard to get out. Because people tend to go, you know, recruiters will be like, “Well, you know, you’re probably really good at working that system. But you know, can you live in and work somewhere else?” That’s kind of the first piece. And then you’re working in a system where there’s a lot more levels and a lot more support, all that kind of stuff. And so would you be able to adjust to a new environment. So that’s always, I think, a challenge. And then CMO was a new, technically speaking, a new title, although probably not a new set of responsibilities, and probably not a new workload, but a new title. That title thing is a big deal sometimes, too. So, if you can, tell me, how did you make that leap because it’s a bit unusual to be able to pull that off? How did you make that leap from Cisco to Corel from? What was your last role at Cisco? What was your last title?

Michelle Chiantera 
I was leading America’s Field Marketing segment and Industry Marketing, Global.

Grad 
VP Field Marketing or something like that, or? So how do you go from that to CMO? Just walk me through kind of how that all played out for you? And what advice would you have for a lot of people who are thinking about making those kinds of changes themselves right now?

Michelle Chiantera 
It’s a great question. And everything that you just listed was literally my interview experience. I can’t tell you how often I was faced with the question, “How are you going to make the transition from this big company that has all these things that you have access to, to get your job done to going in working in a company that is probably a bit more scrappy?” And you know what? The answer that I gave every single time was because this is the time for me to make this transition, I have learned so much from Cisco, and I’m so grateful for everything it’s taught me as a leader, as a marketing professional. I wanted to make a move so I can take all of that, and actually see the investments being made result in doing something amazing for our company. And I understood sort of the practical application of you know, taking, as an example, Field Marketing, we had actually evolved Field Marketing in Cisco, probably two or three times while I was employed at Cisco. And it’s kind of like a company within a company. So just being able to practically understand how you transform an organization and applying it to how you’re going to do that in a company and take all your learnings and value that you can bring. So it was definitely about timing for me. And also the value that I could add to Corel because Corel actually was standing up a B2B sales and marketing practice. As it relates to the transition itself, I’ll tell you, Grad, that it was not easy. It was not easy at all, not from the sense that everyone told me like, “Oh, you’re not going to have all these resources, or this big giant budget, or you know, all these bells and whistles”. The transition was how do you go from a company culture that is so deep, and start operating in a net new company, and Cisco, one of the beautiful things about the company is it’s definitely about people and relationships,

Grad 
The whole family ideology was what John really started there. I would say what I think the very first company to really talk about family, which is somewhat controversial, and not everybody agrees with that and there are pitfalls in that approach. But John lived it so deeply and so genuinely, that he pulled it off and created an entire culture around it. So I can only imagine how challenging it is to try to go somewhere else.

Michelle Chiantera 
And you leave a company, and you bring all these ways of doing things to your new company. Now I did some natural things like I set up one-on-ones with a bunch of people to get to know them. But it’s funny, I’ll tell you, I’ll tell you a hilarious story. This is not a knock-on Cisco; you probably had this experience at Microsoft. So it’s the first like month I’m there, and I set up a bunch of one-on-ones and I did what I did at Cisco is I came prepared to the meeting, because I needed to show up with conversation I wanted to have, what I wanted to get out of the meeting and what are next steps.

Grad 
I feel this one coming. It’s like a balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade but keep going. Okay, gotcha.

Michelle Chiantera 
It says Microsoft on it. So I got my PowerPoint presentation out. And literally, someone says to me, I won’t say their name, “Why are you presenting to me? We’re just having a conversation”. And you know, you so under appreciate going from where there’s just ingrained ways of working to, that’s just not important. So it took me time. It really did. It took me time to make that transition. And, and I had to really recognize and honor that there’s things that I’m going to take from Cisco, that are going to help me do my job at Corel. But there’s things that I just need to just forget, not cause they’re bad, but because that’s not how it’s done it at Corel. And I’d say it was a good three months before I actually felt like I can now say I work for Corel, right versus, “Wait a minute, hold on, who do I work for?” But it’s been a massive learning opportunity. I’m completely humbled on a daily basis. Because I don’t know everything.

Grad 
That must be fun, actually, like to be on a fast-learning curve and kind of makes you feel young again, like your brain’s kind of more plastic suddenly, right, because, you’re kind of pulling new stuff in. It’s great. Huh!

Michelle Chiantera 
Absolutely. Oh, Google’s my dictionary. Sometimes. I’m like, “What was that? Oh, that’s a software term”. And I’m like, “Oh, hold on a minute, like, erase my hardware brain”. So yeah, I’m learning every day.

Grad 
Well, congratulations. It’s really a great story. It was very funny, by the way. Okay, now let’s go to that branding issue you kind of teased at, at the beginning. I think it’s a really, really interesting challenge. Oh, you did say that. Most of the products have knowledge workers in common. When you said virtualization, you mean like a competitor to Citrix? Is that the? Absolutely. You’re going all the way from kind of the almost IT stack end of things all the way to, you know, artists using the Visual products or lawyers using WordPerfect. So it is that’s a pretty, pretty wide map. So what do you How are you going to pull that off? What’s your idea on how to make the Corel brand relevant across that many different audiences?

Michelle Chiantera 
So we are dead in the middle of this. So I’ll talk a little process because I think there’s an appreciation for that.

Grad 
You’re not the only one with this problem, by the way. So a lot of people’s ears are pricking up right now and going, “Okay, what’s Michelle going to do here?”

Michelle Chiantera 
They need to send me a message on LinkedIn when they have something brilliant when they have something brilliant to offer me, I would appreciate it. So number one, we want to anchor our brand in the company strategy. Right? I mean, that is what good marketers do. But the company’s strategy is evolving. So as I said, the company has been built on acquisition, I know, we haven’t made our last acquisition. So as we continue to start to shape what the future state of our offerings looks like, how do we run in parallel, and start to build out this brand? And when I say brand, I’m using that very loosely. I’m talking about the company narrative, I’m talking about potentially the company name, I’m talking about values, purpose, going down the list. And one of the things that we know that we absolutely want to anchor on, and our CEO says this all the time, she says we sell things that make people’s lives better. Now, don’t walk away thinking that’s the tagline or anything. But we need to anchor on some bigger purpose. So any of these applications that we sell, there is an outcome behind them. I was just talking to a customer on Monday, about our mind mapping software, MindManager, and this particular customer runs quality assurance at a health care software company. And they use mind mapping to take an incredibly complex process around software testing, and they put it into this visual chart. When I asked her, I said, “Tell me the emotion that that you’re tackling here” and she said, “The emotion is that my team is not as frustrated because they’re not dealing with this cumbersome process. They can visualize it. They’re actually having a better experience at work”. So my manager, making it better for that company and then the lives of the employees. So we’re really anchoring on this higher purpose to tell our story. I do believe, Grad, that we’ll have, in fact, we’ve planned this out, we’ve released our first narrative, and we’ve softly put it into the market. We’re going to be releasing our second narrative, let’s call it the March timeframe, where we’re actually going to start to shift how Corel visually appears. If you go out and go to corel.com, you’ll see CorelDRAW. But if you look for Parallels, you might see a radio button to click to the Parallels’ website, or MindManager to click to the MindManager website. But all of our brands are kind of distributed, we are a house of brands, not a branded house. So we want to start with our online experience and our online presence, start to change the face of Corel. So be on the lookout in the late March timeframe, you’ll see an evolution of our narrative. And you will see visually a very, very different Corel.

Grad 
That sounds amazing and really super exciting. So one thing that’s become pretty popular, potentially, some may argue a little too popular, but there is a book that was written a few years ago called Play Bigger. Are you familiar with this? It’s an easy read, they start repeating themselves after page 50. So if you can just read the first, I think maybe a quarter, of the book, you’re in pretty good shape. But what the basic thesis just for anyone who hasn’t read Play Bigger is that the path to riches, fame and fortune in the software industry is to create a new category. So virtualization was a new category when VMware created it, and VMware has gone on to sort of dominate that. And the iPhone created a new category of smartphone, etc. There’s, you know, not a massive number of examples, but some pretty solid examples out there. And the research shows that, I might be wrong on this number by a couple percentage points, but my memory of it is that the research shows that the company that invents a category, or dominates a category reaps about 83% of the value of that category, maybe not the unit sales, but in terms of profit and value. And so everyone’s running around creating categories now. And, that’s where, just like everything, mimicry is often a pale imitation of the real thing. And so a lot of these categories aren’t real categories. And some are and it’s just kind of interesting watching everyone trying to create categories. But there is an actual category called employee experience management, or EXM. And it’s sort of the flip side of the coin to CXM, which is a category that Sprinklr lives inside, and our version of it is Unified CXM, so we are CXM, but our twist on it is that we are unified platform. So you can get a more cohesive view of the customer, sort of similar to how Salesforce went into the CRM category, but they were Cloud CRM, so they modified and created their own category. So as you talk about what you do, and as I look at your portfolio, it does feel like at the end of the day, Corel is very focused on employee experience. Are you thinking about attaching yourself to EXM? Or are you thinking about, I’ll just say, unify, because that’s what we did. So I’m not suggesting this would be the right thing for you necessarily. Are you thinking of a Unified EXM? Or, you know, I don’t know, graphite powered, or like, whatever sort of set of words, so modifier of EXM? Or are you not worrying about the category so much and just focused on just the Corel brand or whatever that brand should be long term?

Michelle Chiantera 
It’s a great question. I think we’re doing something in the middle. I don’t know that we quite thought out this notion of the employee experience, but what I do know, we are thinking about is how do we create applications software, as I said, that make people’s lives better? How that comes to fruition and how we tell our story is soon to be told. I can tell you when we look at the actual user, that is the employee. The buyer might be someone that sits in the IT department. Now we can create a great experience all day long for that IT buyer, as an example, it’s going to be the experience they have buying from Corel, but if we’re not thinking about that user that has actually got their hands on the keyboard, using MindManager, CorelDRAW, we’ve failed. So when we start to think about our laying out our audiences around our brand work, we have to think about the markets that we’re in, the buyers, and then the users. And that user experience is ultimately, which is an employee. Now, there are some hobbyists to your point earlier, if their experience is not positive, I mean, just any software company. So we are indirectly thinking like that. I don’t know that we’ve connected to that category, per se, but I think it’s something to think about, and you’re giving me something to take away.

Grad 
Well, so let’s kind of keep going on that path but I’m going to sort of tease into this other challenge you have, what may not be that big a challenge because you know it so well but setting up a B2B selling motion is kind of where I want to head but I wanted to join these two threads. I had a fascinating conversation with someone two or three weeks ago, who was running a packaged goods type of business, old friend of mine. And I started in packaged goods. I’ve been sort of on both sides. I’ve been kind of B2B and B2C, almost 50/50 in my career. Currently I’m in a B2B environment at Sprinklr. And this friend of mine is like, he goes, “Yeah, do you feel like you’re kind of losing your B2C chops, because you’re in B2B. And I was like, “Ah, blah, blah, blah. People use this kind of thing, human to human”, like all that kind of stuff we tend to say, but there are obviously fairly significantly nuanced differences between the two. And then I said, “Well, what about you, how are you thinking about your B2B side of the business? And he goes, “What B2B side of the business?” I said, “Well …” He said, “We’re a B2C business”. “Are you?” I said, “You know, like, yeah, your end consumer” this is your point a second ago, “your end consumer, check, that’s B2C. So it’s your pole. But if Walmart doesn’t put you on the shelf, you’re not going to be selling anything. So isn’t Walmart, Target, you know, the list goes on, we’re familiar with them all, aren’t they really your real customer? And isn’t that a massive B2B selling motion? And how heavily tooled are you for that?” And it was a really interesting watching this epiphany roll over his face. And that was, I think, something P&G did really well, where we actually called our customers were the retailers. And then the end user was the consumer. And that differentiation was very powerful. Because we ran separate motions against them. So as you think about your branding challenge, and maybe a business challenge as well, I think you sort of talked about this a minute ago, you’ve got your end users who have to love that using experience. And you’ve got the say, IT manager or the CIO or whomever, who has to be sold to in a B2B motion. So you kind of have kind of a B2C to end users and a B2B, to the providers. Because if you know, if the CIO doesn’t set up WordPerfect, no one’s using it and that’s a pretty interesting challenge. You look more like a packaged goods company in that context than most traditional software companies where they’re more monotheistic against a single user profile. So I’d love to talk about that a little bit, then in the context of that, how are you thinking about setting up a B2B selling motion because it doesn’t sound like Corel had heavily invested in thinking about the IT team and the CIO.

Michelle Chiantera 
Yeah, this is probably a two-hour podcast. So Corel is a fascinating company, in the sense that (I’m going to give you round numbers) 40% of the business runs through an indirect selling model. Our salespeople work with a partner. 60% of the business is transacted online. Now, if you were to operate in the old world, to buy technology, even if it’s software, you’re buying software from Best Buy, could be a channel, you’re buying software from a reseller, you’re going and downloading it from a website. These motions you could pinpoint between, “Alright, this is a business-to-business customer that’s buying it to deploy these applications across our company here’s a hobbyist that does photography work and just wants CorelDRAW to do some fun things”. In today’s world, that doesn’t fly. In fact, when you look at how our E commerce business is transacted, we might be selling to 5, 6, 7, 8 individuals. But the reality is those 5, 6, 7, 8 individuals are part of a small business that wants to be treated like a business-to-business customer. So if we make the mistake of, I’ll give you a great example, a friend of mine, he is a diehard CorelDRAW guy. And he’s like, “Michelle, I wait. Every single quarter, you guys win a promotion every year, you win a promotion, and I wait for it to come, and I click buy”. We don’t connect those dots across the board, we’re creating conflict across our entire go-to market. I love how you said it. It’s the buyer and the user. And yes, I agree. It’s like packaged goods. But the opportunity is to neutralize that. Because, Grad, you know, this selling software. If a customer wants to transact online, why would we stop them? If a customer says I don’t want to transact online, I’m going to go to my local reseller who manages my IT top to bottom. So I think our opportunity is to get smart across all the different buying touchpoints, to understand their behavior, and how they want to transact. I think very often, and Corel has definitely made this mistake, we think, how do we want to sell. And once we figure that out, I think to your kind of undertone, B2B, B2C, it’s buying, and we are based on what the customer actually wants to do. And this is the kind of thinking we’re starting to bring to the forefront. It’s unnatural because you’re buying motions historically have been very linear.

Grad 
Yeah, that’s great. Well, the new rallying cry, I think I hear from everyone I talk to, is we’re going to become a customer-centric company, or more customer-centric, or the customer is the most important thing. I struggle to imagine a time in my career when I didn’t hear that, like I can recall meetings at Procter and Gamble in the 1980s, where the customer was at the center of everything we do, like, for customers, number one, like that’s a campaign from I think, the 70s. It’s very rare that a company would say, “We don’t really care about our customers”. Like, I really don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say that, right. But it’s kind of the ‘faddy’ thing right now to say that, and my curiosity is piqued by that a little bit, which is, “What is that? Why are people saying that right now? What are they feeling that they’re not doing? And how do they think they’re going to behave differently?” And I think you may hit the nail on the head there, where you talk about this linearity of channels, starting to create sort of this sense of ‘this is the way we do things here’. And your comment is, ‘Why?” like, if the customer wants to do it a different way, why wouldn’t you do that? Do you see that as a cultural challenge? Or do you see it as a business challenge? Is it a silo department challenge? What kind of dragon are you trying to slay here?

Michelle Chiantera 
So I think it’s all the above, but I will tell you this is so I believe when somebody says customer first, I literally asked the next question, which is, how do you do that? What actions do you take? Great question, give me examples of actions. Great. I love it. I’ll tell you the action. This is one piece of it. But I fundamentally believe in, in B2B, this is at well, in companies that have B2B and B2C, this is the rub, the rub is who’s going to get paid. Now, I don’t mean to suggest compensation models, that’s not my business. But if you do truly do what I said and neutralize the buying process, you have to compensate people differently. So I mean, that’s when you got a sale-driven motion it’s what money goes in their pocket. So that would be an action if somebody said to me, “You know what, I’m no longer going to pay my salespeople on commission. I’m going to pay them on hitting certain business metrics quarterly, making that up”, and I’d be like, they’re actually serious because they want to take the competition out?

Grad 
Have you read the new Frank Slootman book Amp It Up?

Michelle Chiantera 
No. Should I?

Grad
Yeah, in the first quarter of the book, there’s a story about when Frank arrived at Snowflake, he’s the CEO of Snowflake right now. So when he arrived at Snowflake, he talks about exactly what you were just saying. He talks about how the pay and commission structure; the sales team was misaligned with the goals of the company. And I remember a little bit, but they were basing it on bookings, and not consumption. And so they would sort of like, book it, maybe oversell it. So it’d be a down round on the next renewal. But they kind of like, say, sayonara, and then move on to the next thing. So he changed it to consumption based. So the sellers are really having incentive to keep that customer going, keep them consuming and that’s obviously been a great accelerant to their growth. So I think you’re on the exact right issue. And he talks about this quite a bit in terms of alignment between the different groups in the company. He’s also super-duper negative on management by objectives, MBO. He actually says as soon as he arrives in the company and sees MBO, he dismantles it immediately. Because he sees it as a way of misaligning teams by giving them like their own thing to run, as opposed to having everyone aligned around the same thing. It’s actually quite an interesting book. I mean, my understanding is that part of the reason he wrote it is that people take bits of Frank Slootman advice, and they implement that, but often it’s maybe the dysfunctional part about making employees work harder and faster. And they don’t do any of the other stuff he does that makes people want to work harder and faster. And so he said, “This is like the five things I do in total. And let me describe them in more detail”. I think, the paper thing, the dead tree version is not out yet. But I got mine on Kindle. I’m a quarter way through it. And I’m whipping through it pretty fast. It’s a really breezy read, it’s really fun to read. And there might be something interesting or helpful in there. So can we just have some fun for a second with Corel? Do you mind if we sort of switch gears a bit on the brand? So, as you think about the brand, you know, this branding challenge is an interesting one. The last brand that I saw try to say, ‘you think of us this way, but we’re actually this way’, was Radio Shack. And it didn’t work out for them; there’s a good example too, by the way, so I’m going to do two examples Radio Shack and wrong stuff. I’m going to do Radio Shack first. So Radio Shack ran a Superbowl ad, and I don’t know how many years ago; it wasn’t a million years ago, it was like maybe 2014 or something. And the problem is Radio Shack was deeply undercapitalized. And it was almost a little too late for them to get to the point of fixing this. But they ran this amazing ad, where they had all these icons of the 1980s, including a DeLorean; which actually I own a DeLorean so that’s why I was pretty plugged into this ad, and they have all this stuff gets loaded onto the top of the DeLorean, which, if you know anything about DeLoreans, they’re gull wings, so you don’t really put stuff on the top of it. But anyway, so they put all this stuff on top, and then they drove it away. And the way they did it, though, they just showed the stuff from the past. And so there was some kind of tagline at the end, which is you know, “Radio Shack is new and different” or “It’s not the way you remember it” or whatever. But it was like 99% of the drama, and all the visual interest was around all this cool stuff from 1980s. And all you’re left with is like, “Yeah, Radio Shack, they are so 80s. That was really where they left you. So, that’s probably a good sort of cautionary tale. Then the one that worked extraordinarily well was one that Rolling Stone Magazine did in the early 1980s where Rolling Stone magazine, which was originally started as kind of like rock and roll and you know, kids getting high and Woodstock and that was sort of their origins. All those people had, you know, woken up one day, realized they needed to start doing stuff and making money and they got married, that was kind of what the 70s were about and then everyone started having families and then next thing you know, it’s the 1980s and people have established careers and they’re wearing suits but they still went to Woodstock or they still wished they’d gone to Woodstock or whatever. There’s a great stat out there – how many people say they’ve gone to Woodstock versus how many people were at Woodstock. I think there were like 400,000 people. Yeah, I think there were 400,000 people at Woodstock – still a big number. I mean, I’m not trying to slam it. Pretty impressive. Right? And it was like really just up the road from where we were when I was a kid but I think when you do a random survey and then extend it across a population, something like 15 to 20 million people say they were at Woodstock.

Grad 
Anyway, so that’s an aside. So Rolling Stone had this reputation as being this ‘kids’ and rock’n’roll’ magazine. But their actual audience were pretty wealthy, successful people who had kind of grown up. And they did this great campaign where they said, ‘is how you think of us. This is how we really are’. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen this campaign but was mostly in magazines. And it was extraordinarily successful in rapidly changing the image of Rolling Stone because it was new information, they did it with data, mostly did it with facts. And the drama was actually not about ‘remember how cool we were in the 60s’, the drama was, ‘you didn’t know that most of our buyers drive Mercedes’ or something like that, right. And because it was surprising, the data stuck really well, because I feel like I learned something I didn’t know that was surprising to me, and very intriguing. But I couldn’t go on for hours on all the different people to try this. It’s actually a fairly limited list. So as you’re thinking executionally on this, do you feel like you need to challenge people on their conception of Corel? Or do you feel it’s more just like moving forward and you’re kind of what’s behind me doesn’t matter, kind of quote? How are you thinking about this in a branding and execution and advertising way?

Michelle Chiantera 
So one more you should look at is Polaroid. That’s another good (one) where they made something. 80s cool again; they didn’t take the Radio Shack page out of the book. But anyways, so I think that it depends on the product honestly. If you take the product that everyone knows, CorelDRAW, frankly, we’ve got a massive challenge ahead of us. Because if you take the Rolling Stone thing, you look at school aged kids, college students, they’re not using CorelDRAW for their graphics needs. If you go up the stack, our demographic is much older. So if we don’t do something forward thinking and different to show why. And I’m going by brand here to just say why would you not use Canva, which is this up-and-coming thing, or Adobe, which these are a whole other conversation if you know, there’s not, these are not apples to apples, they’re apples, oranges, and bananas, but for the user, no one’s thinking that. So we’re probably going to have to make a pretty drastic shift. You take a brand like Parallels in the VDI space, Parallels is very well known, it’s known for its ease of use; it’s known for its the ability to scale. You know, we just might get lucky here with this thing around Citrix that was announced last week with them going private. And so I think we’re going to have to go brand by brand and then anchor the Uber brand, right? The, I don’t like this term, by the way, but your the holding company brand; we don’t want to be a holding company but when you’re going to look across multiple brands, what’s that bigger story?

Grad 
Master. Master brand, so that’s Nabisco, right?

Michelle Chiantera 
Yes, yeah, interesting. We got to work on this.

Grad 
So interesting. Can we check in like in the fall? Would you be okay with that? I cannot wait to see where you play this out because this is one of the most interesting branding challenges I’ve seen in a while. So I’m excited for you. Hopefully you’re excited for you too. But I think it’s really interesting. I’m sure there will be days where you’re not that excited for you. But it is a really cool challenge. It is a really cool challenge. Well, Michelle, we’ve got a little over. And I really appreciate your indulgence because it’s just such an interesting job you have right now. And I really love how thoughtful you are about this. So it’s just really inspiring to hear from you. And I’m sure you’ll get a bunch of people asking you to connect with them on LinkedIn and stuff like that, and maybe they’ll give you suggestions. And by the way, on the Polaroid story, I totally get that. I’ve kept buying Polaroids. I have a massive collection of Polaroids because when they went under there was a group of people that bought the last factory and created something called The Impossible Project and kept producing the film. And then the new Polaroid company hatched from that. And now they’ve got little mini cameras and all sorts of cool stuff going on and it’s like a completely new thing. But it’s a really interesting story of a group of fanatics essentially keeping it alive long enough for it to revive itself, which is not quite the situation you’re in for sure. But it is another interesting story about brands, right?

Michelle Chiantera 
We could recruit some Corel fanatics, I’m up for that.

Grad 
Corel fanatics, we love our fanatics. Alright, so I’m going to wrap and so Michelle, anything else that you want to add? Um, what I’ll do is, if you got any last thoughts, I’ll let you throw it in now. I’ll do a quick close on it, and then just stay on for a minute or two, after we finish the show. And we’ll complete the upload, but just anything, any last thoughts or bits of advice or pithy statements for the audience?

Michelle Chiantera 
My only closing thoughts would be, you know, there’s many challenges that I’ve teed up here. And certainly none of us have it all figured out. But as a as a marketing community, the way that we can help and solve for each other is the community that we need to be tapping into. So I do hope that many of you connect with me on LinkedIn, I always respond. I might not do it the day you do it. But I would love to hear your thoughts and comments, even if you hated what I said. Let’s just keep a marketing community going. So Grad, I appreciate you doing this.

Grad 
Okay, well today we’ve been talking to Michelle Chiantera. She’s CMO at Corel and had a storied career at Cisco, and it’s fantastic having her on the show today. And for the unified CXM Experience, I’m Grad Conn, CXO at Sprinklr, and I’ll talk to you … next time.

Unified-CXM Experience
Share this Article

Products

Modern CareModern ResearchModern Marketing & AdvertisingSocial Engagement & SalesUnified-CXM PlatformEducation ExperienceCitizen Experience

Services

Our ServicesTrainingPartnersAgencyDeveloper Portal
PrivacyCookie PreferencesModern Slavery StatementIndex EgalitéTerms