031 | What 2020 Has Taught Us About Marketing and Technology | Studio CMO

Podcast by | November 25, 2020 Interviews, Marketing Strategy

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The Episode in 60 Seconds

2020 has been the year that will not end. 2020 has also been a schoolmaster pushing business leaders to new lessons, risk, and creative solutions. In this episode, Golden Spiral CEO and Chief Storyteller, John Farkas, reflects on six major lessons 2020 has taught B2B Tech companies. He explores:

  1. The Nature of Technology
  2. The Weight of Marketing
  3. Creativity and Risk
  4. Virtual Events
  5. Customer Experience
  6. Tracking and Reporting
  7. Critical Alignment

“When pressure is applied, technology businesses look for ways to do things better.” — John Farkas

Our Guest

John Farkas LinkedIn HeadshotJohn Farkas has always worked to bring creative projects together. After working nearly two decades as a creative director for two large organizations, he turned his focus toward leading Golden Spiral, a B2B tech marketing consultancy and agency that harnesses the forces of media, technology, and community to create compelling brand narratives that empower clients to soar in the post-digital, experience-centric world.

John reflects: “Great stories cut through our defenses and imprint us at our core. Tell someone a great story — at the least it will leave an impression — but it could change the course of their lives.”

John, a 1988 University of Wisconsin graduate, enjoys creative writing, exploring the outdoors, building and remodeling houses, and riding his bicycle.

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Seven Lessons Learned in 2020


1. The Nature of Technology Exists for Moments like 2020

The transformative solution that produces greater efficiency, when things get pressurized, people want the solution more.


2. We Feel the Weight of Marketing in Moments like 2020

We can’t do what we used to do. Marketing is absorbing the weight of all of the old stuff.


3. Creativity and Risk are Necessary in Moments like 2020

GS - Episode 028 - Podcast Card - Blog


4. Virtual Events Fueled Marketing in 2020

Virtual events have required extraordinary creativity and hard work from those who’ve pulled them off.

Don’t just create not just a better webinar, but a virtual event where you’re engaging on a number of different fronts, bringing a number of different point of views together to really create a contagious and interesting experience for people who want to engage with you and your solution.

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Issues to Consider When Creating a Virtual Event

Speakers – how do they present on camera for a virtual audience?

Topics – how do they fit in with a more segment-able, micro-casting opportunity?

Production – what do you want the event to look like on screen?

Connective tissue – what ties the experience together—digital hosts? [Ursula goes into great detail about finding hosts to tie the event together at 16:30]

Platform – what software can manage the registrations, video streaming, recording storage, visitor interaction, VIP connectivity, and social engagement?

Interactivity – how will you facilitate connection—breakout rooms, chatbots, information exchange?

Budget – if transitioning from live to virtual, reallocate the funds along the lines needed to produce a great event.


5. Customer Experience Took Center Stage in 2020

In our virtual world, we want to experience the brands we care about. How do we help people who are new to our brand to understand it and experience it? How do we take prospective and existing customers deeper into your world? How do we treat existing customers, move them to talk about us and engage the market on our behalf? Through our Customer Experience (CX) efforts.

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6. Tracking and Reporting KPIs Became More Essential in 2020

Chris Loki Experience Data i.02.001-1

Do you have a clear picture of what all of your marketing activities are yielding? What framework are you using to report to the board or your C-Suite?

GS - Episode 029 - Podcast Card - Blog

Six KPIs Every CMO Should Report to the C-Suite

  1. Net New Revenue from Marketing-Generated Sources
  2. Percentage of Contribution from Marketing to Overall Revenue
  3. Qualified Pipeline Generated Leads (MQLs)
  4. Length of the Sales Cycle vs. Win Rate
  5. Sales-Qualified Leads
  6. Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)

Blog_Card_Horiz_alt@1x KPI


7. We Can’t Move from 2020 without Alignment Among all Departments

It is critical for sales, marketing, product development, customer success, and other departments to all be aligned and moving forward together. It is possible.

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Mark Whitlock (00:05): Welcome to Studio CMO. You’re listening to the podcast that is the home for real-life conversations around the issues that marketing leaders care about. The most. John Farkas, the CEO and chief storyteller of Golden Spiral is our host. John, welcome to this special edition.

John Farkas (00:22): Hey Mark, and greetings everybody glad to be here. I’m smelling the sage already.

Mark Whitlock (00:30): We’re taking a few minutes here during Thanksgiving week to look back on 2020: the year that would never end and hasn’t yet. And there are a lot of lessons that have come down the pike and businesses have had to shift gears. They’ve had to learn new lessons. They’ve had to gain new flexibility and let’s take a look at, at some of the things that we’ve seen, we’ve observed over the course of the year.

John Farkas (00:57): It is absolutely been a year of transformation in so many ways. I mean, how we do life has fundamentally transformed and that’s about as cliche and very apparent a comment as you can get right now, but sorry for that. But it’s had real implications in the world of technology and technology marketing. I was scared, obviously still am scared a little bit about what’s going on in our world, but when the pandemic first hit, when we first saw the impact of things shutting down and the fear and, and all the things that occurred, what happened in our business, what we saw happening with our clients was this very quick pullback, uh, you know, a retreat into a defensive posture. We don’t know what revenue’s going to look like. We don’t know how business is going to move. We don’t know all, you know, there’s so many questions and everybody just hit this collective pause button or a lot of people, hit this collective pause button, uh, just to, to renegotiate the lay of the land. And that happened, it was real. And it was a, it was a moment when we were all collectively looking and saying, okay, what is this new landscape gonna gonna mean? Well, one of the things that happened fairly quickly in a lot of the areas that we look at, because we’re dealing with technology companies, because we’re dealing with companies who are automating functions, who are increasing efficiencies, who are bringing solutions to the market that allow people to do things virtually and, and do things in ways that are better than had been before. They found themselves with opportunities that they hadn’t seen, especially when we think about areas like healthtech, right, where we saw this major movement in how people were engaging with healthcare and healthcare systems who had traditionally been very staid and very reluctant to adopt new ways and frames of engagement.

John Farkas (03:04): All of a sudden, we’re in a “have to” mode. If we are going to have any engagement, we have to find ways to do it remotely. We have to open up telemedicine channels and there was legislation passed or was regulations lifted that transformed and rapidly accelerated how these solutions were able to be applied and brought to market. Um, it w it was, uh, and it opened a lot of doors for a lot of conversations that had not been, uh, that not been able to be had to that point and fintech. We saw an incredible increase in demand for customer service people calling their banks, trying to understand what the picture was going to look like. Navigating loans, navigating stop gap measures, to keep their boats afloat and putting on precedented burdens on customer service needs for these institutions, that they were not equipped by any stretch to handle.

John Farkas (04:06): And so they were forced into looking at ways they could increase their efficiency, they could increase their engagement. So what we saw was this really significant surge in demand for automation, right? In one form or another to try and help facilitate this virtual world that we all of a sudden were forced into. And the reality of that is it’s hastening change. That was already in motion that was already happening, but people were reluctant to fully implement. We were forced to fully implement it. Now this is not new news. This is a story that’s told all the way, you know, in, in all sorts of different channels across our world right now, what has it meant for marketing? Well, it showed us that in times of stress in times of transition in times where pressure is applied to business, people are going to naturally look for ways to do things better.

John Farkas (05:09): And nature of technology is we are helping do things better. We are helping people move from an old way of doing things to a new, more efficient, more automated way of making things happen. That’s good news. And so that means when things get rough in most cases, and there’s always exceptions and there’s things that we need to look at where it might be appropriate to pull back. But in most cases, when we’re looking at helping people save money, when we’re helping, looking at ways to help things be more efficient, there’s a good case, no matter when we are in history to push forward and to make your case and to engage the market because people are looking. I mean, if I learned one thing from that moment, it’s that I wish we were able to convince our clients, that we were able to look at ourselves and say, this is a time to make hay because we have to stay engaged.

John Farkas (06:09): We have to push forward because people might be in a moment of confusion. The clouds are going to clear. Things are going to start moving forward and people are going to be renewed in their, or, or engaged in the search for ways to do things better. Unlike what they’ve been before. So it’s the nature of technology. It’s the business that we’re in the opportunity to take the opportunity when stuff like that happens is real. And so that’s certainly a lesson learned. The other thing that we saw that was a really strong import was the weight of marketing. All of a sudden our normal sales channels or what had evolved into what we would call the normal sales engagement flow was severely disrupted. There is not an opportunity to meet in person with people. There wasn’t an opportunity to attend marketing events where you made connections and started conversations with the people in the industry that you’re trying to engage there.

John Farkas (07:14): Weren’t the trade shows that provided a natural and very important channel of engagement in various industries, all of that was removed. And so all of a sudden, and a lot of companies, the eyes turned towards marketing and said, okay, we don’t have the normal mode. We need to invent some new virtual modes. And you guys in marketing are kind of the experts at doing things indirectly with customers. So what does it mean for us to take a step towards being more effective? And so all of a sudden the funnel got very focused on the marketing channels and the importance and critical nature of sustaining activity through strategies and tactics that belong in the marketing house.

Mark Whitlock (08:04): So John, these companies have had to change a lot this year. They’ve had to change the way they look at product and the way they get their product to the market. We’ve had to change marketing how that they take on this weight of marketing. Like you said, you’ve talked with a number of leaders in the B2B tech space over the course of this year, constant conversations. What have the most effective leaders done to lead change? How have they done that effectively?

John Farkas (08:31): You know, Mark, the biggest thing that I’ve seen there is the willingness to take risks, to be creative, to jump out of the box and say, okay, we’re going to go for it because going forward is what we have to do right now. And so it really is about what it means to be willing, to jump out there, take a risk and make something happen. And Horner the executive vice president for global marketing for symphony talked about that. He talked about the struggle between the standard way of doing things and the way creativity was necessary this year, let’s listen to what he had to say from episode 28.

John Farkas (09:16): You said you do with your team that actively foster, that conversations that you have mechanisms you have in place that are encouraging that kind of rapid iteration that change the risk-taking explorations.

Andrew Hoerner (09:31): Yeah. I’m sure one of the things that so tempting during these times of just almost sheer chaos in some ways, right? In terms of the external, the internal, all that, it’s really easy just to go to the lowest kind of common denominator, get the basic job done business as usual and what exactly. So what I’ve tried to give my team, the mental Headspace on is creativity because creativity is critical to marketing, but it’s the first thing to go, right? Basically I’ve set up brainstorming sessions, I’ve set up meeting free Fridays for the teams. They can just kind of think through and process and have some mental space. I can’t architect all of it, but I can give them just a little bit of breathing room to really generate that creativity. That really is the lifeblood of what we’re doing at the end of the day. But again, it’s so easy to bypass that and you’ve got to just give people the mental space.

John Farkas (10:30): The key thing here is when we’re in times where things are a little unsettled, the tendency is to want to go conservative. It’s wanting to be safe, right? It’s it’s wanting to take a sure-footed path and it’s not the time to do it. It’s the time to jump out of the box. It’s time to get creative. It’s time to bring unexpected energy into the space so that you can th that you can get the attention that you need to move conversations forward. And that is so critical. And I’ll say the B2B technology space. I mean, when we’re looking at healthtech, when we’re looking at fintech, when we’re looking at these areas that are so traditional, so staid already, okay. There is plenty of room for creativity already. When we move into times where it’s a little more pressurized when we’re moving into times where, where the amplitude and the, and the volume is already turned up in the market, whether it’s people’s tensions, whether it’s the basic news flow, whether it’s the activity in the, in the markets whatever’s going on, that’s catching people’s attention.

John Farkas (11:36): It’s time to get creative because you need to rise above it. You need to do something that is pushing past what people are normally expecting to see in the channels that they’re living in. That’s the time. They need to make the changes. They need to have the innovation that you’re bringing, get their attention, do what it takes. And that’s really critical.

John Farkas (11:57): One of the things we saw emerge super clearly in this time was virtual events. This is another area for extraordinary creativity. We, you know, webinars have been a part of the Canon for B2B marketing for years now, exactly the chance to up the game, the chance to transform what that looks like the chance to expand it and create not just a better webinar, but a virtual event where you’re engaging on a number of different fronts, bringing a number of different point of views together to really create a contagious and interesting experience for people that are wanting to engage that are wanting to find channels and ways to expand their understanding of what’s going on. Events are a great way to do that. And we’ve had some terrific conversations about that over the last few months.

Mark Whitlock (12:49): Ursula Ringer and Rachel Miller from SAP, they’re the influencer marketing heads over there. They had a big task on their shoulder this year to take SAP’s massive live event called Sapphire and take it virtual. And we had them, we did an entire episode, uh, with them about those virtual events. And we’ll share that from the show notes here, let’s listen to some of what they had to say.

Ursula Ringham (13:13): And have your typical customer just talk for 30 minutes. That’s going to be boring. As Rachel said, we had to have this snackable entertaining content. We had to bring in a digital host. We have to bring in people that could bring out the story. These were people that maybe are TV, personalities. Maybe they’re an influencer that has a specialty on this specific topic, and they’re gregarious. They can talk in onscreen. They look good because they can, I don’t know, they’re maybe their hands or there, they have a funny personality or whatever it is they’re expressive. And so that was the game changer. And traditionally, we’re there to find like these influencers and thought leaders to help augment, um, you know, maybe it’s a podcast or a video series or a blog series or whatever it is. And we pivoted on a dime and we said, let’s expand.

Ursula Ringham (14:07): And so what we did is we went out and were like, let’s find the celebrities and thought leaders and influencers that can complete this whole story, because basically we ended up deciding as a team, let’s have a host for the entire event, kind of like, you know, a news program, right. That you’re having an event, um, you’re having this host and then you’re going to dig into each different topic and maybe have a sub host there, what our team does, which I love our team and how we do this. Rachel, is we get in there and we’ll meet with each of the topic leads of these channels. And we’ll say, okay, what’s the story you’re going to tell. Um, and then what kind of persona do you want? Um, and then our team goes out and, uh, we do our research. We use a lot of different software applications out there, um, Google too.

Ursula Ringham (14:50): And we just search and find all of these influencers and thought leaders and celebrities. And then we create these lookbooks. And it’s really funny. This is something that I have our team do is like, it takes a lot of work, but then what happens is you come to these teams and you’re giving them all a cart menu. These are great books that have an overview of the person. It has, uh, features their work that they’ve done. And we have to pay attention to what’s the work they’ve done during COVID, especially with video, because we don’t want someone that, like we found a video they did two years ago. It’s like, no, no, no, this has to have to be relevant in the moment. And then we present this to the team and they’re like, Oh my gosh, like, this is an added benefit. This is a help because now they can look and they can say, Oh, from these 10 people, you love these three. And then we can go after them and we can then start to negotiate and find out, you know, how much is it going to cost? What’s their availability, what they can do. So I like to say that word, this internal influencer Bureau within the company, that we’re there to help tell that story using external voices.

John Farkas (15:55): So jump out of the box, do some things that are going to engage at a different level than what you’re accustomed to. It might involve entertaining. It might involve bringing in some people that people wouldn’t expect to have conversations about things that are related to your area. It takes the willingness to jump out of the box.

Mark Whitlock (16:17): And Andrew Horner’s episode. And the SAP episode on events are excellent. If you’re wanting to bring about a virtual event for your company right now do listen to both of those we’ll link to them from the show notes here at Studio CMO, uh, in the SAP interview, which is episode 22, uh, Rachel and Ursula go through seven things that you’ve got to think about seven essentials for how to make our virtual event powerful. And we’ve put that list in the show notes for this episode. But again, link out, listen to everything they have to say, because it brings some really great life lessons.

John Farkas (16:54): Events are all about helping people who are interested in what you’re doing and interested in your brand and helping people who are new to what you’re doing and new to your brand, have an experience about your brand, how many experience that leads them into a better understanding, an ex haven’t experienced that leads them into a new way of doing things or approaching their business. And that’s all about customer experience. And so in this virtual world that we’re in looking at how we experienced brands, how we treat existing customers, how we turn existing customers into people who will talk about us, who will, who will engage the market on our behalf, that’s all about customer experience. And it’s a super important underscore that we’ve seen increase in weight and importance over this last year.

Mark Whitlock: (17:52) Mary Drumond is the CMO for Worthix and their whole mode of operation. Their whole business is to help you do customer experience better. Here’s what she had to say during our episode.

John Farkas (18:04): Customer Experience used to be this kind of little quaint subset of customer service, right? So existing customers making sure that they’re okay, but it’s expanded past that. I mean, it’s moved into the sales universe because we’re seeing experience as a consistent thread. So it’s moved into sales and now moved into the marketing sensibility and pull that thread together, kind of help us understand how customer experience starts and where it goes and why that understanding is important.

Mary Drumond (18:44): This is one of my favorite questions to answer normally, because I have really different answer than everybody else. Um, the whole idea of customer experience has been going on for like 20 plus years. There are several different trains of thought that led to the conclusion that customer experience is important. Where does it overlap with other practices? Where does it get kind of muddled with customer service, customer care, customer success, et cetera. What I like to say is customer experience is a lot more macro than these individual things, because it has to do with the way your customers feel and perceive and live every single moment with your brand from before they do business with you, when they’re just observing you in the market to way after post-purchase or churn where you still exist in the same universe as they, and they may come back to do business with you at any given time.

Mary Drumond (19:42): So it’s every single way that the customer experiences your brand throughout their entire lives, actually, especially with some brands that have been there since forever. So it doesn’t really ever stop. One thing that you said, which is really interesting is that it used to be kind of this cute little idea or concept, but that concept didn’t actually lead anyone anywhere. And it was really pretty and it was really nice and it was great and inspiring to hear about how we should put our customers first and we should value them. And, you know, you had a lot of speakers and a lot of consultants preaching this message, and it was great. And I think what happened is that some executives and some boards got on that bandwagon and decided that they were going to invest in customer experience. And what ended up happening is that you had this big push towards putting customers in the center, listening to your customers and providing the company with metrics that proved that you were somehow making your customers happier.

Mary Drumond (20:54): And it resulted in absolutely no difference to the money that was put in the investment of creating these customer experience programs. And I think that even more tragically, there was no correlation of those programs with company numbers. So the profit didn’t go up, customers didn’t buy more on paper and they didn’t churn less on paper. That’s a big problem because why would any executive invest in a program that costs time, money, and effort when ultimately the results just aren’t there. And that’s when, what I like to call customer experience 2.0 was kind of born with that idea that your customer experience efforts have to tie into your ROI. Somehow they have to be linked to your profit and they have to be used as a growth strategy. And if that’s not how you’re doing CX, then you’re not doing it right. So that’s a message that I focus on. And I really try to hit over the head all the time. If you are not able to prove to your executive board, to your C-suite, to your leadership, that the work that you’re doing with the customers is actually resulting in more money for your organization. You’re going to be canceled. And if I were the CEO, I would cancel you, too, because it’s not a smart business decision to continue investing in something that has no proven right.

Mark Whitlock (22:28): I love what Mary had to say in that clip. She talked about, if you’re not able to prove to the executives that what you’re doing with customer experiences resulting in more money for your organization, you probably have a short tenure ahead. And that leads into the point of having to prove what you’re doing through the C-suite.

John Farkas: Yeah, it’s all about demonstrating. And this is an area as, as more eyes are being turned to marketing, as we have to, uh, do more to educate on the methods and tactics and ways we are looking to engage the market. It’s really important that you come up with a very clear picture of what that activity is yielding. And that’s all surrounding the idea of coming up with clear KPIs. And we had just a terrific conversation with Mark Donnigan, who led us into a point by point understanding of how to approach KPIs for most marketing organizations. It’s extremely useful framework that I think can be transposed into nearly every situation, give a listen to his primary points of how to approach KPIs and reports.

Mark Donnigan (23:40): There are six that, regardless of whether you are in a more high velocity, SaaS type sales environment, where maybe it’s a pretty heavy mix of self-serve and some inside sales, or if you swing all the way to the other side where it’s pure account executive, you know, multi-year, multitouch, you know, very heavy duty. Most of these can apply, but let’s start out with marketing sourced, net new revenue.

Chris Turner (24:13): The idea here is that at the level of sophistication, that most of these organizations are going to be operating. They have to be able to grab this data. The data again is just a tool in your toolbox until you make relationship with it. A lot of the market sourced net revenue will come from looking at, like you mentioned, any marketing automation, like a HubSpot, like a Salesforce.

Mark Whitlock (24:36): All right. So the first KPI we need is net new revenue from marketing sources. Okay. Mark, what’s number two.

Mark Donnigan (24:44): Then I like to report on percent of contribution. So marketing’s contribution to total net revenue. Is it static? Is it declining where I think we’re going to really get into the meat of reporting is in the qualified pipeline. So this is kind of the third metric, uh, not necessarily there an order, but, uh, this is the third one that we’ll talk about. Qualified pipeline generated is what I think most people would call an MQL, except in my observation, most MQ Wells are, I got a name, an email address, you know, hot dang. I got me an MQL, you know, let’s chalk one up remarketing. You know, we generated 3000 emails and, you know, we’re rocking this month, you know, and, uh, come on hit. Most of it’s junk. They’re not even real emails. It’s like, you know, like, so this is why I really like using the word qualified pipeline.

Mark Donnigan (25:42): And the way I define qualified pipeline is obviously I have to know who they are. So I have to have at least a first name and an email address. If I have more data, that’s great, you know, more information, but I have very high confidence that a, they can be a customer, um, that they really could be a customer. Now, I don’t know if they will be yet, you know, it’s a marketing qualified lead, but they could be a customer they could use, they could benefit from what we have to sell from our product or service, whatever that is.

Mark Whitlock (26:11): So let’s recap here. There are six KPIs, every CMO should report in their C-suite number one, marketing generated net new revenue, number two percentage of contribution of marketing to overall revenue, number three, MQL, or what is a qualified pipeline generated lead.

Mark Donnigan (26:30): Now let’s talk about the fourth, uh, reporting, you know, metric or KPI that I think is very useful to use, and this is sales cycle length and win rate. Um, and if you have, uh, you know, multiple channels that you’re really investing in, um, then you really need to break this out by channel. Now there’s two things I like to think about relating to this, and that is efficiency and effectiveness. You know, these are very interesting KPIs that we just talked about, but now let’s get into how we calculate costs specifically. I’d like to start with SQL and then we’ll go to CAC. Let’s just look at SQL first. So one of the traps that’s easy to fall into is looking at too narrow of a window and not taking into account your sales cycle length. You need to take into account the period of time, um, your investment in marketing over the period of time that it really takes for that prospect to make a decision.

Chris Turner (27:38): So Mark, once they’ve defined this and they they’ve got a CAC and they’re presenting that to their board, or they’re presenting that to the CEO and one of these relational conversations, how should the CEO interpret that CAC

Mark Donnigan (27:51): Observe that there are basically two types of CEOs. There are CEOs that fundamentally believe in their core in their soul, that marketing works. There’s the other type that is anywhere from, they don’t believe in marketing or their experience is not maybe as complete. They’ve not seen it work it depending where that CEO is on this spectrum is how the CMO needs to apply this data.

Chris Turner (28:22): I’m a big movie guy. So I was going to say, Loki in one of the last Avengers movie said, experience is experience. It doesn’t have a color. It’s an experience and data is data. Again, it’s, it’s part of the tool set. It depends on how you look at the data that determines if it’s good or bad, all data is data. It can be good. You can use those failings or the lack of performance, but you have to know that it’s a lack of performance. And when you’re reporting that back up to the C-suite, that’s going to help them drive the ship. You know, that’s going to help them direct the path. And I think it comes back to an ethical understanding that even when it’s bad performance, by making sure everyone knows it’s bad, you’re preventing them from going down a path that will ultimately end in ruin. And so, you know, not to go that way. And I think in some cases, when you’re reporting false hoods, when you’re saying, Oh, look at all these SQLs, look at these open rates. And you’re not saying this was new business generated by email you’re you’re, you’re creating the division between sales and marketing, but also a division between success and failure of your company. And if you care about your company, you care about winning new business.

Mark Whitlock (29:28): And the other voice you heard in the list of six key KPIs, every CMO should be reporting to the C-suite was our own Chris Turner and Chris lives eats and breathes those KPIs for us and for all of our clients every day.

John Farkas (29:47): All this is pointing to what has been evolving over a number of years, but now, because of what we’ve been through in the context of the pandemic, has it been accelerated like a lot of other change has, is the critical nature of sales, marketing, product development, integration, alignment, and movement together. That is all possible. As, as we are able to do a better job reporting is we have better visibility on all aspects of what our marketing efforts are providing the ability to communicate the ability to, to move things forward together is better than it’s ever been. And Nicholas Holland, HubSpot’s VP of their marketing hub spent some time talking with us about that very thing.

Nicholas Holland (30:39): And I’m not even being dramatic. Most of the marketing leaders, I know today spend very little time thinking about the current customer and how to really leverage those. And I think that that’s what we’re ultimately trying to push into the market. And it’s hard. Listen, that one of the reasons why other people don’t want to do that, you know, what are you going to do? Go over to somebody and be like, Hey, service team. Let’s try to wire up your random NPS survey system with your help desk system, with your knowledge based system. Let’s wire all that up so that I can then have a shot at maybe remarketing to these people, et cetera, not it’s just a nightmare. So people try to stay in their silos. Here’s my world that I can control. I can control ad span. I can control SEO. I can control marketing automation, good luck sales team, good luck service team. And that’s, that’s what the flywheel is all about. Yeah.

John Farkas (31:29): So how have you seen that adoption as HubSpot’s put that forward, as it, as it’s worked in with your client base, and as you’ve interacted with people in the market who are coming into the HubSpot understanding, how have you seen that play out?

Nicholas Holland (31:46): Now, we’re seeing a bunch of things we’re seeing thematically pre economic crises and pandemic. Um, we’re seeing good uptick, you know, whenever you’re thinking about a natural innovation adoption model, you have early adopters, and then of course you moves mainstream. Then you have laggards for seeing kind of that same thing from a results standpoint, in terms of the cost to acquire customers and LTV and things like that, extremely strong. Um, one of the things that’s unique about HubSpot, um, that I hope to keep with me, no matter what I do going forward is that they dog food, all of their own software. So everything that we build, um, our own team uses. And so of course, we try to hire the best marketers in the world so that we can then hear them. You know, when they’re upset about the marketing platform, same thing with service, et cetera.

Nicholas Holland (32:37): But I think what’s is we still see a ton of people really still just struggling. I know it sounds crazy, but just marketing automation.

John Farkas (32:47): like workflows.

Nicholas Holland (32:48): Yeah. Just like workflows. But I think at the CMO level, what I mean is we see a lot of CMOs still struggling with things like, I mean, this is the most simple one. Can I sit at the revenue table with the sales leader? And can I show the points I’ve put on the board? That’s it. And that’s it. You want it, you want to crack open a CMOs brain, ask them to sit down and have a Frank discussion about how much revenue they should get credit for versus the sales or versus the surface or who maybe is also, you know, doing stuff. Uh, very difficult. That’s kind of the ultimate thing. And so what I think we’re saying as like a fascinating trend is some are struggling with marketing automation, not just trying to set up some email, drip nurturing, but I mean, marketing automation so that effectively you have done excellent segmentation of your base. I mean, marketing automation. So that effectively you have seen a lift in your numbers because you have automated things at the right time, the right place, et cetera, automation, and that you’ve moved beyond email into now you’re conducting a journey across how does the website change automation in terms of, are you doing things in social and understanding selflessness? Are you doing things in ads? And like, are you able to touch people across conversational marketing, across email, across browsing and unknown stuff? And if you go back about five, six years ago, I remember when I was looking at some of this stuff to build a solution myself, you’d hear a lot of people say like, Oh, Omni channel integrated, you know, all that stuff. And they were right. They were right by the way they were right.

Nicholas Holland (34:24): It’s just a bunch of fancyass words that no one could understand at the time. And what I guess I’m saying now is remember how I told you all those marketers are just continually getting more and more sophisticated. Those people who were talking about that omni-channel stuff back then were right. The reality is though you needed an Accenture, you needed a Oracle or an SAP, and you needed a couple of millions of dollars to pull that off. And that’s just not the vast majority of businesses that are out there. And so now coming all the way down, we still see a ton of CMOs, et cetera, that just struggle with yeah. Multi-touch revenue attribution. We see a bunch of CMOs that simply struggle with governance. I mean, how do you keep Team A and Office A from screwing up team B? I know this doesn’t sound like rocket science, but if you’re all basically playing in the same swimming pool, you know, it’s very easy to basically create problems.

Nicholas Holland (35:23): And so having a really clean governance, a really clean data set to be able to do multi touch revenue, attribution, AKA, it has to be tied in to, with your CRM data. And we’re also seeing a bunch of marketers struggle with ABM. That’s another thing that we recently came out with and that I was really actually one of the people that were against ABM for a long time, because to get that subset of customers say, if we’re going to work on a hundred customers together to get that most people couldn’t answer, how do you get that hundred customer contact stuff? Because you’re not getting it legitimately. A lot of times at times, you’re scraping LinkedIn, you’re getting business cards, you’re tricking receptionists. And what I found out over the last couple of years, there’s some really awesome ways that you can actually build target sets without being a black hat marketer and things like that. So anyways, all that being said, I think for the CMOs, the core is can you have a Frank discussion about how much revenue you’re driving? And if you can’t, that’s where I would put a relentless amount of energy.

Mark Whitlock (36:26): That was Nicholas Holland from HubSpot, from episode 13 of studio COO. If you come on over to studio, cmo.com and click on the episode of lessons learned, you can click out to that episode and listen to more of the great content that Nicholas offered for us. So, so John what’s going to happen is a lot of the folks who listened to our podcast are going to come back from this short break and they’re going to be staring 20, 21 in the face. They’ve already been doing it. They’ve already been thinking about it. They’ve already been trying to plan for 2021. If you could give them an encouragement, what would, what would you tell them? What would you tell these marketing leaders at these B2B tech companies, these health tech companies about how to approach finishing out 20, 20 strong and beginning 2021? Look, the reality is we are all in some form or another tired.

John Farkas (37:20): It has been a rough slog these last few months, and your ability and efforts toward bringing a new and fresh energy in the market are going to be welcomed because people are looking for somebody that they can borrow energy from, that they can latch onto that they can work with. Who’s going to energize their process. If your solution is going to bring energy into the ecosystem, that you’re a part of, talk about that. Talk about how you can move things forward. Talk about the hope, the light, the movement, the momentum, the money that you can save your advantages, get creative about how you are going to lift their load, how you’re going to make their lives better, how you’re going to increase their profits. Because if you can clearly make that argument with a lot of energy, with a lot of creativity and vitality that is going to get noticed right now.

Mark Whitlock (38:22): And John, we’re grateful for the fact that you do that for us every day here at Golden Spiral.

John Farkas (38:27): I try.

Mark Whitlock (38:31): We’re grateful. Trust me. So we’re looking ahead and we’ve got great guests plan. We’ve got great recordings already in the can ready to bring to you here at studio CMO, but we’re missing something we’re missing you. We would love to have you subscribe the studio com and be on our team. You can go to the bottom of anyPage@studiocmo.com and subscribe on your favorite podcast app. You can also become an early insider. If you go to studiocmo.com in the upper left hand corner, you’re going to see an opportunity to become an insider. We’d love to have you on that list as well, because we want to let you know about the guests who are coming. We want to let you know about how we are bringing encouragement about the real life marketing decisions you’re going to have to make moving forward. We thank you so much for being a part of Studio CMO so far in 2020, and we look forward to seeing you around the bend.

John Farkas (39:25): Hey, and let me make this invitation as well. We know there’s a lot going on. We know that it can be a lonely place and lonely moment to try and figure through some of these equations. And if you’re in a position where you’re just a little bit stuck and you don’t know exactly how to make your next move, and you want to be able to bounce an idea or talk to somebody about it, or, or just, uh, you know, get some input on where you’re going, give us a call. First of all, we’d love to get to know you were relational people over here, and it’s fun for us to hear what’s going on out there. This is not an obligation thing. This doesn’t mean that we’re going to jump in a contract. We just want to be able to help. And, and our belief is as we do that, it comes back.

John Farkas (40:14): So if there’s something you’re wrestling with and you’d love to get some input on, or, or if you’re looking for some resources that we can maybe help be a conduit to connect you with, we there’s a lot of folks, we know there’s a lot of ways. We’ve done things we’re happy to, uh, to make that happen. So reach out, let us know you’re there. Let us know what you got going on. We’d love to talk with you about it, and I’m gonna make that really easy for you, John. Uh, if you come to studio cmo.com/zero three zero studio, cmo.com/zero three zero, scroll down, and you’ll see, have a meeting with John there in the show notes, you can click on that. You’ll find a time on your calendar and John’s calendar that works. You can book it and have a phone call, uh, right there, uh, from the show notes page.

John Farkas (41:00): It’s just that easy.

Mark Whitlock (41:01): And before we go, let me just give you one final reminder. As we say, at the end of every episode, the main thing we want you to walk away with is that you need to understand your buyer’s problems and lead out of that empathetic understanding,

John Farkas (41:18): And as always make your buyer, the hero and Happy Thanksgiving.

Mark Whitlock (41:23): Happy Thanksgiving. We’ll see you next time on Studio CMO.

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