Most people think of Mark Organ as a successful serial entrepreneur. Organ, after all, founded marketing automation pioneer Eloqua (acquired by Oracle for $871M) and is now the founder and CEO of Influitive, the company credited with creating advocate marketing. Before those entrepreneurial successes, however, Organ was an academic at Northwestern University with intentions of earning a PhD in, of all things, neuroscience.
Looking back, Organ says little of what he learned in that environment translates to his life as an entrepreneur. But there is one academic platitude that he believes categorically applies to building innovative software companies. “One thing academics do extraordinarily well is come up with unique ideas,” Organ says. “The reason why is that if your idea is not unique, you can waste years of your life and not get a single paper published. So you better be good at coming up with unique ideas.”
Organ says the same is true for software founders — particularly when they’re building a business in a completely new, untested category. Watch the video below to learn why Eloqua invested (and Influitive now invests) heavily in intellectual development and thought leadership, and why those investments have made creating a category (and driving growth at scale) a much simpler, more scientific process.
“We took thought leadership very, very seriously at Eloqua. As part of being a category creator, you lead as much or even more so with your ideas than you do with your technology.”
— Mark Organ, Founder of Eloqua and Influitive (Tweet This)
How One Unique Meeting Sparked Eloqua’s Growth
- The monthly meeting that helped turn Eloqua into an industry giant. Every month, Organ and Eloqua’s leadership would gather a sampling of the company’s employees for what it called Intellectual Capital Development (ICD) meetings. The goal of those meetings was simple: To discuss exciting ideas or use cases that were percolating inside and outside of the company, and pick one or two to experiment with.
- Encourage customers to build the category for you. Another interesting thought leadership tactic Eloqua created was the Academy Award-like event for marketers it called “The Markies” — an idea that continues to live on at Oracle, which acquired Eloqua for $810 million in 2012. “We wanted to shine a light on this category of quantitative and process oriented marketing, so we hired the same company that designed the trophy for the Academy Awards and we made it super posh,” Organ says. “It was huge for helping create the category because all those people (we honored) started buzzing about it.”
- You lead as much (or more) with your ideas as you do with your technology. As much as marketers and product developers would love to claim responsibility for creating a category, Organ says it often has as much to do with listening to (and acting on) the ideas of the really special people who use your product. “Those are the people who define the category for [you],” Organ says. “[Your job] is just to shine a light on it and use advocates and users to help develop that.”
Learn more about Organ’s story in the full interview: Eloqua and Influitive Founder Mark Organ on the Secrets to Creating a Category
Photo by: normalityrelief