SalesTech Star

SalesTechStar Interview with Liza Nebel, COO and co-founder at BlueOcean

Cutting through the noise during a downtime

Brands that stop talking about features and start talking about actual impact of their product and service will win big feels Liza Nebel, Founder, President and CEO at BlueOcean. In a world of constant choice, people care about the story and origin of even the simplest brands they let enter their home or the most completed solutions they integrate into their business. In this interview, Liza shares her tech startup journey and a few thoughts on succeeding through a global downtime.


Can you tell us a little about yourself, Liza? Tell us about the story behind BlueOcean and what it’s like coming out of stealth mode…

I have spent nearly 15 years building brands both in house and at agencies for companies like AT&T, Visa, Microsoft, Chevron, American Express, Barclays, Time Warner, IBM, and others. Throughout my entire career, the biggest problem I consistently ran into was the inability to receive real-time insights and recommendations to improve a company’s brand.

Rather I was always asking a brand if they wanted to spend lots of money to wait a long time for no guarantee of reasonably actionable insights. Typically brands are asked to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and wait months to provide this kind of competitive analysis and strategic recommendations. By the time these reports are delivered to a company, much of the information has already become outdated due to the speed and unpredictability of our world.

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Since coming out of stealth, we have seen tremendous interest in our product from the largest to smallest brands, and that is mainly a factor of the belief and reality that brand has never been more important. Now a days the CMO is like an acting CEO, being in charge of effective positioning of product, placement and promotion all while ensuring it’s delivered in a compelling narrative that hits key drivers of customer need and bettering society. Brand strategy and building has not necessarily changed in effort, which is herculean and incredibly thoughtful, rather its requirements for speed are mission critical to survive.

In what ways is your solution helping tech marketing and sales teams and what are some of the most in-demand features…what are some innovations you have planned for the platform for the near-term?

BlueOcean is helping marketing and sales teams by providing real time competitive intelligence on a company’s competitors, allowing them to outmaneuver their competition and win customers’ business and loyalty.

One of the key features brands have really zeroed in on lately is understanding how their brands communicate to customers, but most importantly if the brand is hitting the key concepts that are most important and how customers actually feel about them in regards to these concepts. This is driving messaging prioritization and positioning, partially when the world is shifting so quickly.

Two great features we are coming out with are;

  1. Always on creative review by channel. If you can believe it, it’s actually really hard for companies ato easily assess what their competitors are putting into the market. Our platform will have a feature were you can come and see your creative and your competitors creative that is inmarket in real time so you can assess how the market is responding.
  2. Always on brand content review. A great feature we are coming out with in the next few months is to also allow brands to upload their content that they want to publish to ensure it’s on brand, hitting the concepts that their customers care about and will be overall accretive to the brand’s desired position.

Given the current business challenges tech marketers and sales teams are facing because of the Covid-19 pandemic, what are some of the biggest brand building takeaways you’d like to share that can help?

After assessing over 5000 brands in just the past few months there are 3 key elements that make for a great, enduring successful brand:

  • Have a strong, consistent brand experience across touchpoints
  • Deliver positive customer experiences
  • Excel at storytelling. Narrative-first brands that tell great stories inspiring their customers. Today’s conscious consumers need more than price or accessibility to be the key reason to buy.

While remote work is still largely in place due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic even though businesses and economies are slowly inching towards reopening, what are some of the thoughts you’d like to share for businesses (sales and marketing) teams in general?

There is a lot at risk for companies as we chart into this uncertain reopening of world economies. Brands need to convey trust that they are being responsible and safe to their customers and employees.

Brands also need to take an extra step to make sure they understand what is happening today – not last week and not what they hope happens next month – to ensure they are not tone deaf in how they talk about their products and what they can do to make someones’ life better. We are finding consumers have rapidly moved through many stages of grief and anger over the last month, some coming all the way through reconciliation only to get launched back into a stage of grief. Resect these cycles people are going through and be there for them.

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How will the marketing and sales roles and their adoption of martech and salestech now evolve because of the ongoing pandemic?

I think this pandemic is driving the largest wave of enterprise technology adoption we’ve seen in history. One of our customers at Microsoft even recently said that the company has seen two years worth of digital transformation in the span of two months due to the pandemic.

Specifically for BlueOcean, this pandemic is driving significant changes to consumer preferences in extremely short periods of time. Companies that fail to adapt to this new norm are at risk of falling behind. BlueOcean is helping sales and marketing teams keep up and surpass their competitors during these turbulent times.

A few parting thoughts…

As a sales minded entrepreneur I live by the following “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” It’s hard to ask for the business. It’s hard to hear no. But if you accept it, you’ll be fine… and unstoppable!

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BlueOcean is co-founded by creative partners who spent 20+ years building the greatest brands in the world, such as AT&T, HP, Toyota, Samsung, Disney, American Express, Apple, Microsoft, and others by capitalizing on exclusivity of data and the scale to dominate markets. Their Brand Navigator tool is the GPS for brands and is already used by clients like Microsoft’s portfolio of cloud brands, Diageo (Smirnoff and Captain Morgan), F5, Bed Bath and Beyond, Wild Earth, Avalara, VW, Looker/Google Cloud Platform and others.


Liza is currently the COO and co-founder of BlueOcean, the first company to offer million-dollar brand audits in seven days for $17,000. Liza has spent the last 20 driving brand and marketing strategies for AT&T, Visa, Chevron, American Express, Barclays, Time Warner, IBM, and others. For her work, Liza has been recognized in SF Business Times’ Top 100 Women Business Owners.