GTM 94: Mastering Branding, Pricing, and Customer Success for AI Startups with Holly Chen

Holly Chen is the Managing Partner of ExponentialX, a Marketing and Growth Advisory Collective for high-growth SaaS startups, advising companies like Miro, Loom, ServiceNow, Appsflyer in their growth journeys. She also guest lectures at Berkeley and NYU, teaches at Section and Maven, mentors at First Round Capital, and is an active angel investor. Previously, Holly was the Global Head of Digital Marketing at Slack, helping it grow $100M to $700M ARR and going public. She was the Head of Growth at Google Store and Global Head of Google B2B Websites. Holly also worked at Gucci, Deloitte Consulting. Kearny and the UN. In her spare time, Holly runs Ceiling Breakers, a group coaching program for underrepresented leaders. Holly lives in San Francisco and speaks Italian and Chinese fluently.

Discussed in this Episode:

  • Strategies for AI startups to differentiate, drive retention, and optimize pricing
  • The importance of strong branding and concrete use cases for AI market penetration
  • Evolving customer success models to maximize value in AI deployments
  • Transitioning from sales-led to product-led growth and key considerations
  • The rising role of influencer marketing in B2B and how to leverage it effectively

Highlights:

11:55 – Top 3 challenges facing AI startups today
14:33 – Differentiating in a crowded AI market
18:43 – Painting a concrete picture of AI use cases
21:42 – The importance of getting hyper-specific with AI applications
24:58 – Best practices for targeting personas and use cases
27:58 – Tackling the challenge of retention in AI startups
31:40 – Transitioning from B2C to B2B for better margins and retention
33:44 – The evolving role of customer success in AI companies
36:30 – Pricing strategies for AI: usage-based vs. seat-based
38:11 – Making pricing tangible by tying tokens to outcomes
43:54 – One thing revenue leaders believe to be true that Holly thinks is bull$***.
46:33 – One thing that is working for Holly in go-to-market right now.

Guest Speaker Links (Holly Chen):
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/holly/

Host Speaker Links (Scott Barker):
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/ssbarker/
Newsletter: thegtmnewsletter.substack.com/

Sponsor:

  • Brought to you by Demandbase.Demandbase helps B2B companies hit their revenue goals using fewer resources by using the power of AI to identify and engage the accounts and buying groups most likely to purchase. Their account-based technology unites sales and marketing teams around insights that you can understand and facilitates quick actions across systems and channels to deliver big wins. It’s flexible, scalable ABM built for you.

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Don’t miss The GTM Podcast dropping every Tuesday discussing true stories and experiences including trials and tribulations in the Go-To-Market world.

Before helping found GTMfund, Scott spent 4 years at Outreach as Director of Strategic Engagement. He was in charge of aligning key relationships with VCs, BoDs, ecosystem partners and community members to drive revenue and strategic initiatives across Outreach. Scott initially ran revenue/partnerships for Sales Hacker (which was acquired by Outreach in 2018). Prior to Sales Hacker, he led and built outbound Business Development teams at Payfirma and MediaValet. Scott also advises for a number of high growth start-ups and is the host/author of The GTM Podcast and The GTM Newsletter. At GTMfund, Scott leads all fundraising efforts and runs the media arm of the firm. He’s also responsible for assessing investments, team management, LP/community relationships and GTM support for founders.

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