A Former CMO-Turned-CEO’s Approach to Strategic Marketing

Guest: Rob Chen Chief Executive Officer, Brightlink

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SMS SOS — Text-Enabled Business, and Marketing With Your Own Solution.

When you have to reach out to someone quickly, what do you usually do? Exactly! Send a text. So why aren’t more businesses text-enabling their phone lines? That question is at the center of Brightlink’s text-enabling solution, designed so that company phone lines—usually reserved for saying ‘no’ to pesky cold calls— can handle informative text conversations with prospective clients. Given the nature of their product, Brightlink has also been able to utilize it as their own marketing tool, a simultaneous demonstration and use case—a real situation of killing two birds with one phone!

On this episode of RTU, Drew chats with Rob Chen, Brightlink’s CEO, and a former CMO. They chat about how Rob’s marketing background informs his current role, how to put their technology front-and-center in their marketing, and why a clear company culture is king.

Be sure to listen in – this is a valuable conversation!

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What You’ll Learn

Using your own technology as a marketing vehicle

Rob is a believer in drinking your own champagne. To that end, Brightlink currently uses its own technology of text enabling any phone number as a marketing vehicle. The company is able to override and enable any phone number to receive text messages, which is an extremely beneficial feature for the millennial generation. Brightlink is currently taking a traditional email campaign and offering the customer the ability to respond back by phone, by email, or by text. Through its own technology, Brightlink text enables sales and corporate phone numbers. Using key-word prompts, the sales team at Brightlink is able to respond via text to answer questions, provide solutions, and much more. Not only does this connect the Brightlink team with customers, but it also highlights the technology they can provide. Listen in to hear more on how Brightlink uses its own product as a marketing vehicle!

Your target audience affects your marketing

Rob shares that Brightlink utilizes different strategies depending on whether the primary target is a small business or large enterprise. For a small businesses, Brightlink focuses on co-branding and a partner with the ability to add value. They rely on a partner who knows the needs of each small business because use cases tend to be more specific. This allows Brightlink to market to and speak to the individual needs of small business. For large enterprises, Brightlink takes their product directly to the company because their needs are broader and many times the entire product is used.

3 key lessons for CMOs

Guest Rob Chen and host Drew elaborate on 3 important lessons for other CMOs.

  1. Have one key, very focussed story. Know what your company is about, and be able to say that succinctly.
  2. You have three target audiences: employees, customers, and prospects. Make sure to have your employees on board with core values and your product. They will be advocates for your brand and remain loyal. Create content that is valuable to your customers, and it will also be intriguing to prospects.
  3. Simplify your plan. It is hard to do everything. Brightlink’s plan is integrated around its own product. It is a demonstration and a use case at the same time!


  • [1:55] Rob Chen: Bridging the gap from CMO to CEO
  • [5:40] What Brightlink is and does
  • [10:47] How to use technology as a marketing demonstration
  • [18:36] Who Brightlink targets in its marketing
  • [22:55]  Successful marketing examples
  • [26:33] Key lessons from a CMO turned CEO

Connect With Rob Chen:

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Drew

Meet the Guest

Rob serves as CEO and Board Member for Brightlink. Rob has a strong track record that includes more than 20 years of executive leadership and general management experience across several industries.  Prior to Brightlink, Rob was the Chief Marketing Officer of CEB (now Gartner), where he had global responsibility for the company’s strategic marketing efforts and played a key role in launching CEB’s talent management business. Before CEB, Rob was a Senior Vice President at First Data, where he transformed and implemented go-to-market strategies for numerous product innovations leading up to its IPO.  During his career, Rob held a number of executive roles with Visa Inc. before and after its IPO, including Head of Global Client Strategy, Head of Commercial and Processing Marketing, and VP of Small Business Marketing. He has also served in senior management roles in several leading technology companies in Silicon Valley, including Siebel Systems (now Oracle), Edge Dynamics (a venture-funded startup), and Salesforce.com.   Rob holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from University of California at Berkeley.

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