Dropbox’s Victoria Chin on the Challenges of Changing Brand Perception

What’s it like to try to change the public’s perception of your brand? That’s the challenge Victoria Chin and the marketing team at Dropbox are up against in their quest to show the world that Dropbox is not just a file storage company but a platform for work and content-based collaboration. In our most recent Q&A, Victoria shared a little bit about how the team is strategizing, why their philosophy of failure encourages better work, and more.

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C5: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you ended up in your current role? 

VC: I moved to San Francisco in January 2016 to join the the Dropbox marketing team. I’m a relatively new marketer! Previously, I was based in Austin, Texas, and New York City, where I led customer success and support teams at Dropbox, Dow Jones, and Bloomberg. I transitioned into marketing because it offered the perfect combination of art and science, and I still get to connect with customers.

C5: What does your team look like, and how do you all work together? 

VC: We currently have team members in SF and NYC, and we are growing! Our mission is to drive revenue for Dropbox Business via integrated, multi-channel campaigns that can include a journey of awareness, consideration, and preference for Dropbox as an essential solution for work.

We each manage end-to-end campaigns or customer stories, and we partner with a variety of cross-functional teams within marketing, such as SEO and social, as well as teams across the org and external agencies. Working together isn’t always easy, but one of our core company values is “we, not I.” We place a ton of value in people really knowing each other, and we believe that the biggest challenges require intimate collaboration across teams.

C5: What are some of the brands that you and your team look up to? Where do you draw your inspiration?

VC: We’re constantly drawing inspiration from our customers. The Spotify ad campaign that showcased user data was everything you could possibly want in a billboard: eye-catching, engaging, and clever.

We also love the work Goodby Silverstein & Partners did for Frito-Lay. They proved that innovative and award-winning creative can also meet a client’s business goals.

C5: Who are your favorite storytellers?

VC: Mike Bloomberg, Meg Whitman, Pablo Neruda, Andy Borowitz, and Jason Gay.

C5: What is your team mainly trying to do right now? What are some of your brand’s unique challenges?

VC: My team drives the overall Dropbox Business campaign strategy—including messaging, content, and channels—to reach prospective customers and influence their decision to purchase.

Our biggest challenge is changing the perception of Dropbox from a consumer product just for file storage to a platform for work and content-based collaboration. Even though we have more than 200,000 businesses using Dropbox, we still come across people who don’t know we have a business product.

C5: How do you guys bake failure and taking risks into what you do?

VC: We’re really lucky to have a culture of innovation and experimentation at Dropbox. Another core company value is “aim higher.” We’re encouraged to think big, set audacious goals, and push limits. And it’s OK to fail. Within the marketing org, we share “fast fails” on a weekly basis to help our teammates learn from our mistakes.

C5: How are you getting people to change the way they think about Dropbox?

VC: One of our recent efforts has been publishing content for people in marketing and creative functions, to drive the association with Dropbox as a tool for work. A key part of this strategy is leveraging our customers and technology partners to help tell that story.

With customers, we’re highlighting specific use cases for marketing and design. Through our partners, we’re positioning Dropbox Business as the solution that plugs into your existing workflows while also enhancing the tools you already love. We’ve partnered with thousands of security and productivity solutions, like Adobe, Microsoft, InVision, and HubSpot, among many others. So we’re telling a story about how Dropbox works in nearly any IT environment, seamlessly.

C5: When it comes to communicating with your audience, where does Dropbox excel? Where do you feel like the brand/team has room to grow?

VC: We excel with product launches because our entire company comes together to make them successful. From the conception of a product or feature to the communication of its value proposition and development of go-to-market strategy, every product launch is a major cross-functional effort. Launches are also a great example of every team within marketing rallying around a common goal, to deliver a consistent and focused message across every channel at our disposal.

We still have room to grow when it comes to changing perception of Dropbox among businesses. We’re doing a lot of testing to understand what messaging, content, and channels resonate best with audience segments like enterprises and marketing teams.

C5: What’s the most exciting change you’ve seen during your time at Dropbox?

VC: The company has more than doubled in size since I joined, which has been incredible to watch. I’ve also loved seeing the evolution of Dropbox Paper. It started as a bare bones text editor that we used internally for real-time collaboration, and it’s become so much more. Every product update has made a tangible difference in the way we work—from the ability to embed anything from YouTube links and Google Docs to project management features like assigning tasks and due dates.

In the same way our company rallies around product launches, we all had a stake in the development of Paper. The vast majority of Dropbox employees are daily active users, and we regularly submit bug reports, feedback, and feature requests.

C5: How do you measure results?

VC: The primary goal for our team is to drive revenue, so we start with metrics like leads generated, pipeline influenced, and trial starts. We look at performance across the funnel, though, knowing that most tech buyers engage with several pieces of content before a purchase.

C5: Which marketing trends do you feel will be on the rise within the next year?

VC: We’ve seen thousands of new apps and tools for every aspect of digital marketing in the last few years. With so many apps available, people (including me) need guidance on what apps will make a real difference in their workflows. I have lots of vendors reaching out to me on a regular basis, and I think that’ll only increase. I’m hoping to see more creativity in how these companies market to marketers in terms of interactive content, insights-driven storytelling, and more granular targeting.

C5: What makes content great?

VC: It tells a compelling story that’s relevant and relatable to your target audience. Knowing your audience is key—we analyze user data, conduct surveys and focus groups, purchase analyst research, consult sales and support teams, and more.

Storytelling is a little less formulaic, and we’ve learned a lot from our customers here. Our latest customer story featured the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), an incredible organization that provides legal representation to refugees in a challenging environment. We initially approached this with our standard customer case study framework but quickly realized there was a much bigger story to tell. We decided to create two cuts of the video footage: a short film that focuses on the story of one of IRAP’s clients, and a more traditional customer spotlight that shows how the organization works together. In both cases, Dropbox takes a back seat to the mission and impact of the organization.

C5: What piece of advice would you give to anyone looking to build a career in marketing?

VC: For starters, subscribe to a few great marketing newsletters and don’t be afraid to download gated content. Opening yourself up to gated content gives you a real taste of how other companies are doing it, so you can see what works and what doesn’t on the receiving end.

My favorite source is HubSpot. They produce everything from research reports and step-by-step guides to customizable templates to help any kind of marketer do their job. LinkedIn has a great weekly marketing newsletter that features advice from influencers, how-to guides, and case studies.

Another tip: Test and experiment with everything—from messaging and email subject lines to content types and channels. The beauty of digital marketing is that everything can be measured and optimized.

Many thanks to Victoria for sharing her thoughts. For more wisdom from game-changers in content marketing and content strategy, check out these Q&As:

Of course, if you need any help with your own marketing, we’d love to chat.