SurveyMonkey SVP says her drive to tell stories is the reason she went into marketing
Get to Know SurveyMonkey SVP Marketing Communications Bennett Porter
After a yearlong rebrand endeavor, SurveyMonkey launched its “Power the Curious” campaign in mid-July — an effort aimed at taking the survey-platform to a new level.
“We wanted to set a playbook for business change, define our next stride, and identify that magnetic characteristic that galvanizes people around a common mission,” says SurveyMonkey SVP of Marketing Communications Bennett Porter. “We found out that SurveyMonkey means much more than research results: People were using our tool to unleash creative thinking and move beyond the assumptions that often get in the way of innovation.”
Porter says this “aha” moment was a revelation for the organization that resulted in a complete overhaul of its brand.
“We made visual changes to the brand to materialize and capture the essence of curiosity. A rebrand isn’t just redesigning a logo, developing a new messaging platform or ad campaign. It’s leveraging the opportunity to revisit our products, processes, and procedures.”
According to Porter, the new direction has opened the company up to new products beyond its well-known survey offerings, including a new “People Powered” platform.
“Today, there is no shortage of data coming from countless sources, but there is less understanding of the why behind the data.” This lack of understanding behind the data is powering SurveyMonkey’s next chapter, says Porter.
“Helping companies understand why their sales numbers or customer satisfaction scores look the way they do. We can do this by turning voices and opinions of the people that matter to a company most into actionable insights.”
Porter says when she first joined SurveyMonkey, the brand was democratizing market research. In her current role, she oversees all brand strategy and marketing communications.
Previously, she served as VP, Marketing for Yahoo’s Emerging Markets and also managed the Yahoo Buzz Marketing team. Porter graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English from The Colorado College and earned an Masters from the SI Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse.
What was the first thing you checked on your phone today?
Which apps do you use most often for work?
Definitely Slack. Our teams use it throughout the day to discuss projects, collaborate, and even launch quick SurveyMonkey polls to vote on ideas.
What was the last thing you shared on one of your social networks?
An announcement of SurveyMonkey’s extended bereavement policy: We’ve recently extended our existing policy to give up to 20 days’ paid leave to grieve an immediate family member and up to 10 days to grieve an extended family member.
A member of my team shared a very personal story in the post explaining why this policy and offering employees time to grieve and heal after a family member loss is so important: Bereavement: we’ve got to go through it.
I’m proud of our forward-thinking policies that set an example for other leaders in the tech space and make it easier for employees to spend time with their families, like the 16-week parental leave.
What’s the first thing you tackle when you get to the office?
Emails that are marked as VIP. Usually messages from my directs or our CEO, Zander Lurie.
Take me through your typical work day.
I get to the office at 9:00 a.m. and spend most of my days in meetings helping different team members review creative or solve challenges. We discuss strategy, brainstorm ideas and update each other on what’s happening with parts of the business.
I then pick my kids up and make dinner at home, which I try to do at least five out of seven nights a week. Once the kids are in bed, I do some writing, catch up on emails and prepare for the next day.
How much of your work-time is actually completed in your office?
Two-thirds (and the remaining third at home).
What’s your favorite martech?
I’ll have to name our own tool because it’s making our job so much easier and helps us answer so many questions: SurveyMonkey Audience. Lots of great brands like GoPro, Chobani and Clorox use it to capture voices and opinions of customers around the world, and we’ve just made it accessible to even more businesses in 60+ markets, supporting over 30 local currencies, and fueled by global panels in over 100 countries.
We use it all the time to feed people’s curiosity and storytelling, and it can be leveraged in many, many ways: for brand and market research, great content, strategic decisions and planning.
For example, people are struggling with content marketing and coming up with great stories, be it for their own blog or PR. This is an amazing tool to create content that enlightens your customers and readers.
We recently used it to gather consumer opinions around the launch of Samsung Galaxy Note 8 in partnership with one of the top national dailies. We’ve researched which companies millennials are most excited to work for with another media partner, and we regularly use it to test marketing ideas.
Do you have a sentimental item that you keep on your desk or in your office?
It’s a special Patron Tequila bottle covered with Swarovski crystals. I got it as a “thank you” after one of our Yahoo Buzz marketing events.
We busted it open and celebrated our win at the end of the event. It’s a tradition that I’ve continued since: We have a shot of tequila at the end of marketing milestones with my team at SurveyMonkey.
What work challenge keeps you up at night?
There’s always too much to do. SurveyMonkey is growing globally so quickly. We have seven offices around the world, and continuously launch new features and products. So there’s just not enough time to do it all.
The challenging part is picking and choosing what we do as a team and consistently keeping that crystal-clear focus on what’s most important and drives most value for the company as we grow.
Can you tell us about a campaign or work project you’d like to do over?
We didn’t do anything to celebrate our 15th birthday, and I wish we would have. It’s a missed opportunity whenever you don’t celebrate big milestones in the company’s history, and it’s important for customers and employees.
One of our core values is to “Celebrate the Journey,” so we are definitely making some plans for our 20th anniversary that’s coming up in 2019.
What has been the most pleasantly surprising thing that’s happened to you in the past year?
We’ve brought in a bunch of new people on our team over the past year, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised with how people feel lucky and honored to work at SurveyMonkey.
I’ve always thought this is a special place, with a culture of true belonging and value for a person’s total well-being — inside and outside the office. People have also been inspired by our new mission to power the curious. It’s a big, meaningful mission to champion curiosity in business. It’s gratifying how much people tell me they feel that they are working in a very special company.
One example I can think of is how our company came together to help one of our summer interns make his dream come true by performing in a concert. He did an interview about it after and talked about how special SurveyMonkey’s culture is.
What marketing leader do you most admire?
Kathleen Kennedy, who’s now the President of Lucasfilm. She’s a producer with over 60 films under her belt, including some of the biggest Hollywood blockbusters, like “ET,” “Jurassic Park” and “Indiana Jones.”
I’ve never met her, but I’m in awe of her products and leadership.
How do you de-stress or clear your head when you’re away from work?
I clean (did I mention some of my favorite cleaning brands already?). I do love to clean, organize and scrub things. With three kids, my time for it runs out very quickly, but it really helps me clear my head
Can you tell us something about yourself that your team would be surprised to know?
I’m an amazing cook. I love to cook Southeast Asian food, different curries, etc. — the food I grew up on.
Cooking and cleaning is not very exciting, is it? Okay, here’s one — I also have an engineering patent for a digital billboard!
Why did you go into marketing?
I always knew I wanted to tell stories. Since I didn’t have the luxury of taking an unpaid or barely legal wage in TV or film, I started in marketing and advertising.
What did you want to be when you were young?
An architect because of their angled drafting tables. I thought those were the coolest!
What’s the last thing you read that impacted how you think about marketing?
Sheryl Sandberg’s recent book, “Option B.” The impact that it had on me was about the importance of resilience, not only in your personal, but also [your] professional life.
It’s a muscle that can be built, and it’s important to teach that. I try to apply this in working with my team now and use it in dealing with adversity and challenges.
It’s important to show the team how you build resilience for those moments of crisis, and it builds up little by little every day when you face your everyday challenges with an open mind and heart, quickly overcoming the small disappointments that you have.
Where is the best place you’ve ever had to travel for work?
Turkey! SurveyMonkey became available in Turkish in 2014, so we traveled there for the launch.
The digital ecosystem and startup culture was very interesting and vibrant. It was a true East-meets-West experience.
Outside of your company’s efforts, what ad campaign caught your eye recently?
TV2’s video, “All That We Share.” It’s about putting people in certain boxes too quickly instead of getting to know them — the opposite of being curious.
This video goes back to the value of asking questions, talking to people who have different points of view. Because you won’t know until you ask. This piece of marketing moved me, especially since we’ve spent the last year researching curiosity and working on our new brand that embodies it.