In our latest episode, on Napier’s Marketing B2B Technology Podcast, Mike, Managing Director of Napier, interviews Clive Over, PR veteran and Director at Napier, who shares the biggest differences he sees between marketing in the US and Europe.

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Transcript: Interview with Clive Over – Director at Napier

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Clive Over

Mike Maynard: Thanks for listening to marketing b2b tech, the podcast from Napier, where you can find out what really works in b2b marketing today. Welcome to the second Napier podcast. Today I’ve got Clive over joining me Clive is a experienced veteran of the marketing industry in Silicon Valley who has recently joined Napier. So Clive Welcome to the Napier podcast.

Clive Over: Hi, Mike. Thank you.

Mike Maynard: Well, I guess the first thing I should ask you is, why did you decide to join Napier?

Clive Over: Well, it’s lovely to be talking with you. I am experienced with Napier over the last 30 years. As Napier was an agency that I worked with when I was a very young marketing graduate. out of college I went Southampton University moved close to London, I got a job with IDT. And at the time as IDT Napier was our PR agency. So I very much cut my teeth on the requirements of how PR was done in Europe and how PR sort of integrated itself into the rest of the marketing and sales function. And that’s indeed actually where we met Mike. So stay in touch with you has been a pleasure. And now having the opportunity to work with you and the team. Now I have some more experience under my belt in having worked in Silicon Valley and travelled extensively about the world for various firms in our industry in the tech industry. I’m really excited to bring that experience to Napier. And be based back in the United Kingdom, of course.

Mike Maynard: Well, that’s great. And although it did take me about 20 years to persuade you to me. I’m delighted I’ve managed to do that. And so, um, you actually moved across to America when you’re working with at&t, is that right?

Clive Over: Well, I did, yeah, I packed up 22 small white FedEx boxes and left Balam London and went over to Santa Clara in Silicon Valley, into a corporate apartment for a couple of months. And then I found my way, essentially, through the valley, I lived in Santa Clara Menlo Park, Mountain View, and then ultimately up into San Francisco, which was a plan of mine to get to know the city and then commute down into the, into the valley for work. So yes, it was a really interesting experience, because I felt, you know, I was working in a small sales and marketing organisation, we were responsible for about 100 million dollars worth of business. So sort of a smaller section of the of the global business that IDT was doing. And so our group was very to gather, I mean, sales, marketing, engineering, field engineering, finance, and HR all on the same floor. So moving from that environment, you know, over to Silicon Valley, where I was going to sort of one of four buildings, where the marketing department itself had half a building, it was a real eye opener to me, and quite the learning experience, amazingly, say, it’s very, very different.

Mike Maynard: Sounds great. But you know, after what, 20 years in the valley, you’ve decided to move back to Europe, why we decided to come back?

Clive Over: Well, I know there are two two reasons, I think one on the professional side is that I really want to bring my experience on the client side to to the agency side, and essentially represent an agency that’s an expert in public relations and and business marketing business to business marketing, and present that to a number of different clients. So to go for more of the variety of a healthy client mix. And taking the approach from the agency perspective, something I’ve been hungry for, and just waiting for the right moment to find you know, a good agency I like the people are very much like the accounts and see really good business opportunity to go ahead and do that. So that that I think is that on the professional side. And on the personal side. I must admit that I am wanting to be a little bit closer to family and friends who’ve been coming to visit me over the last 20 years so I have been to Alcatraz six or seven times. I have been to Death Valley a few times, and also a few other spots, to name one, a few of many. But yeah, I think going back to Europe, is something I’m really keen to do. And I do have two small kiddies, who I feel should certainly get the European vibe before they’re too big. And so I’m really keen to take my holidays and you know, go see what England has to offer. And also, you know, the rest of Europe. So I’m excited to do that for them.

Mike Maynard : Amazing, and what your daughters think about the movie, they really understood what’s involved. Yep.

Clive Over: It’s funny, someone asked me that yesterday. So my seven year old is getting an idea of, you know, will she be able to make friends in England? or will she, in fact, make friends ever again, if she were to leave? You know, her school here in there in Alameda, which is close to Oakland? And I think so I’m tackling that as a question, very relevant question, but I’m sure we can fix that. Now, my four and a half year old is really just saying to me, well, dad, so long as I get a bunk bed, I’ll move wherever she’s already began the process of negotiation. And she’s pretty spot on for four and a half year old, I think she’s going to be a very good negotiator in the years to come.

Mike Maynard: That’s scary. I’ve got visions of coming up against those purchasing agent, and I’m ready. Yes. Brilliant. It’s really good that, you know, they’re, they’re thinking about it, hopefully, though, they’ll have a great time when they come across. And I mean, you saw some differences when he moved from Europe to the US. But that was quite a while ago, what do you think of the biggest differences in the way? You know, marketing is done in Europe, compared with the US today?

Clive Over: Well, so I think one thing that hasn’t changed, and then I’ll then I’ll touch upon a couple of things that obviously have, but the one thing that hasn’t, that is still an eye opener for me is that with smaller organisations, so essentially, I would say, within the Asia Pacific Rim, and also Europe, for American organisations, because the individuals working in the firms are sitting closer together, is still, I think, helpful for marketing teams to get together and get the insights from sales and the insights from, you know, engineering, as to some of the key problems that customers and clients are facing. And also some of the key applications that the customers are addressing with the solutions, you know, that they’re building. And so in doing that, you then find that the campaigns you run are often very effective, and also very relevant to the needs of the customer base.

So I find that, that I’ve seen when I’ve worked with organisations in Europe, in Asia Pacific Rim, that that will often be the case. Whereas in the United States as the department’s, well, it’s really much more important to communicate and to find effective ways to communicate and ensure that everyone’s on the same page. Because the campaigns are just bigger, you know, the target audience is bigger, and sometimes budgets, but very often, budgets are bigger. So I think finding a balance between those two approaches, is ultimately a key to doing really good marketing and communications. And, and so there are strengths on both sides. And I think, you know, individuals who are open to understanding where those strengths lie, stand a really, really good chance of building some great campaigns, some really nice integrated marketing campaigns. So that’s one thing that still remains, I think, quite consistent for me over the years, things that have changed and I think it’s, it’s amazing what has gone on here over the last 20 years, certainly for me. And in in our trade, we’ve moved from sort of gut feel advertising, and, you know, handing over sales leads, you know, almost physically, you know, as piles of paper that was shifted around to this distribution network, you know, colleagues and have net arrow and such receiving information from us, has now moved, obviously, through to marketing automation and full on, you know, platforms that allow companies to do better research to do better.

You know, advertising, A/B testing webinars, you know, online events, all the way through to the automation platforms that sit behind websites, you know, that will help from the awareness, through consideration, loyalty and repeat, you know, purchasing all of that is amazing to be able to use and, and essentially show a business how marketing, communications, public relations are really enhancing the business and affecting the business and adding value, which makes the position of CMO, you know, far more powerful within an organisation. And I think in the United States, I’ve seen that go on and be very involved in building those campaigns and reporting on them. And that’s how I feel, you know, has changed just amazingly. And I think, certainly what I’ve seen in the United States is that, you know, conversations are had around that that and details presented. And so your arguments can be won and lost, and cases can be made very powerfully to invest more in campaigns, because the company is going to see far more in, in business returns. So that that has changed phenomenally over the last few years that I’ve been here in Silicon Valley. And I suppose, because there’s such a concentration of companies and individuals, it’s amazing to drive around the 20 square miles of Silicon Valley. You see, everyone, every single company in tech is represented there. So you can bounce around, ask questions be very connected. And it’s quite the environment to be in. It’s extremely dynamic.

Mike Maynard: That’s really interesting. I mean, do you think with, you know, modern communications now, that physical closeness is still as important?

Clive Over: Well, so. So, sort of bearing in mind here, what I what I mentioned, in terms of something I have have seen, not changed so much over the years, I would say that, and I’m actually happy to say that that physical sort of one to one or one to many, is still super important. Even with the incredible tech of having obviously, for example, you know, zoom or Skype, allowing individuals to see one another as they communicate and really understand that, you know, the points they’re making thinking in, I do see the quality has gone up through the roof. But all of that said, there still seems I mean, it’s still really important to be able to get the human connection and ensure people meet with one another and engage creatively and there is more that can be achieved with people creatively, then just relying on tech to do so I would say.

Mike Maynard: So that’s interesting. You think that is that creative process that that really struggles remotely? Whereas perhaps more function? I don’t put words in your mouth, but perhaps more functional? cooperation is easier?

Clive Over: Yes, I know, I would say you’ve summed it up exactly what I was thinking. Yeah.

Mike Maynard: I would agree. Interesting is a great point. That’s, that’s, that’s really good. I’m, I mean, from my point of view, I think I’d like to take this opportunity, because you’ve obviously been client side for many, many years. I’m interested in your view of agencies. I mean, how valuable Do you think agencies are? You know, and where do you think they add value? And where do you think they make mistakes?

Clive Over: So I would say, that’s the key to any good relationship, particularly agency client, is that both companies need to spend equal amounts of time understanding one another’s business, I think, and for a client to see an agency, obviously make efforts to understand the business and get to know you know, the various players within the client is really important. And I think that the client can see that if an agency is doing so. So a tip for obviously, agency folks would be that they have to make efforts to read around the subject, understand the company, understand the culture, understand the product and understand the markets, and then proactively go in with suggestions and do the work. on the client side, though, I believe a good client, you know, should take the time to understand a little bit about agency dynamics and and what it takes to pull together a team and keep that team engaged, incentivized and, and and inspired because in doing so, you are managing personnel, they might not be your direct reports, but they are your personnel on on your dollar or on your pound or euro. So, so I feel that certainly the engagement I’ve had on the client side have always been more fruitful if I’ve spent some time getting to know how an agency works, and what the dynamic dynamics are looking like, for example, you know, billing and time management, and understanding that makes for a really fruitful engagement. So I’d say that that sort of one observation from your client side cert agency, and back again that does that answer your question, Mike?

Mike Maynard: Yeah, I think that that’s, that’s fascinating there. I mean, one of the things you said that I think agencies always struggle with is the idea of being proactive. We’re always, you know, we always like to think we’re proactive and good at suggesting ideas. But equally, sometimes we’re a little too worried about being seen to be pushing for business. I mean, how would you say an agency should should overcome that concern about, you know, being seemed to be selling all the time? Yeah, when they’re making suggestions?

Clive Over: Yeah. So I think that in terms of keeping an eye on the markets, and providing a level of insight as to what the agency sees, that’s going on right now, just as part and parcel of the overall relationship, maintenance, I think that if a client sees notes coming through, you know, Hey, did you see this, oh, this is interesting, or, oh, I heard so and so left this company and went somewhere else, particularly analysts, you know, moving around the valley or moving around the world, these kinds of little tidbits insights, really help the clients essentially understand the marketplace they’re in because, you know, they can’t be everywhere, all at once, particularly in tech, which moves a million miles an hour, I mean, at amazing speeds. So those kinds of insights and help that just help an individual feel comfortable in the in the job they’re doing, and help them, you know, essentially look good at the job they’re doing or, you know, help support them, you know, in, in essentially showing that the work they’re doing is adding value to their overarching business, and the discussions they’re having with colleagues, then if you build that relationship, and I sincerely believe that the business will come, because ultimately, I believe a client will say, Oh, you know, what, that was a good idea. Now I’m putting, piecing together how we could actually insert ourselves in this conversation, or influence this area of a new vertical that we’re going after, by the way, oh, Napier, could you help me out? You know, in doing that, or any agency that supports it’s, it’s, it’s kind in it in a proactive way? I think that’s also fairly visible by a client, a client will be able to see that if an agency is taking that approach.

Mike Maynard: Cool. Okay. Um, I mean, another thing again, picking your brain really, if I look at the states, I mean, there’s certainly seems to be much less enthusiasm around trade publications, either in print or online than there is in Europe. I mean, what lessons Do you think Europe can learn from the US? And are we right? Or is America right, and our trade publications becoming less relevant?

Clive Over: I mean, naturally, over the last few years, publications across the business, so not just trade, but business to have absolutely wrestled with the idea of how do we make money from online publications. And so you see the subscription model coming in, you know, Forbes Wall Street Journal. And then when you do that cascades down to the trades, you know, how the trades wrestle with that? And then how do they balance also paid content, you know, advertorial against true editorial, I think it’s okay for editors to get involved in the business of their publication, to the degree where I mean, the Americans would talk about church and state, and that it’s important to stay unbiased. I actually feel that, that magazines, if the editors are involved in the business and understand the business of the magazine, then they’re going to end up. I think being sensitive to where the magazine needs to go and be involved in decisions as to which target audiences they need to go off the and make themselves more relevant to, to their target audiences. They can’t just sit back and say, well, we are the church, have PR people come to us and pitch us. So so I feel that there was a little challenge there in terms of with that, that sort of the siloed effects has actually impacted the trades quite quite heavily. I feel so Who does it best, I do still think it’s a balance. You know, it’s a balance of making money. Plus just making this information available. And knowing that if it’s available, people will still come, you know, cancer will be Gators.

Mike Maynard: But I mean, that’s interesting, because, you know, certainly historically, and when you and I started, it was hard to get hold of information. So making information available was was simply the way to make money, because that was inherently valuable. You differentiated making money from making information available. I think that’s interesting. He just didn’t expand on what you meant by that.

Clive Over: Well, yes, so So in terms of making the information available, we know that mean, publishing resources now are more and more helping individuals do their jobs better. So certainly in our industry, that the education medium is really, really important. So I feel that if publications, do more education, and move towards that model of Well, here’s the information where, where you’re really going to make it available to educate you on it help you with the work that you do, then I think engineering and managing or management are going to come to those publications more often for those educational resources. So it’s, it’s it’s really sort of spending one’s valuable time and walking away, not only with the information, but also how to use it, I think is what I mean by making information available. And the business side of it has had to change in terms of well, it’s not just about having people get this info, and making money off it. We actually now it needs to mean editorial, certainly, there was spin going on with regards to how is this information interesting to you, the readers. But now I feel it’s not only how is it interesting to you, but how can you learn from it? And take the time that you spent reading his publication on this website? And actually going back to work and being more successful at the job, Ed?

Mike Maynard: Great. No, that’s, that’s really interesting that tying the publication to making people who read the publication more successful, I think, if publications could do that, that that would be an amazing. Yes, aim. And hopefully, as PR professionals, our role will be to help those publications ultimately raise you know, support their readers. So

Clive Over: Yes, great. I agree.

Mike Maynard: Well, the plans you’re working with Napier. But staying in Northern California until the end of March. Is that right then moving over at the start of April?

Clive Over: Indeed I am. It’s all about my kiddies and then being able to move over during a school break. So yes, that’s the timing is, is around them. And of course, I will be looking forward to going to embedded world Nuremberg in February for sure. And then moving my family and beautiful little ones over to the UK in March.

Mike Maynard: Yes. Amazing. I feel I should feel guilty about the fact that your not coming to the Christmas party, but we’ll go to a better world

Clive Over: But well, I spoke to our wonderful HR manager, Debbie. And she’s going to FaceTime me in so I can at least have a drink with you and where a census has although I’m going to be having a drink at about I think it’s gonna be 11 in the morning, whilst you are all around the Christmas tree at about seven.

Mike Maynard: Yeah, but I feel that’s kind of English to start drinking 11 you’re just getting into the European feel.

Clive Over: Yeah, right. A little bit. Yeah, indeed.

Mike Maynard: Well, it was great talking to you is really good. And we’re really looking forward to you. moving across and working with you, you know, was Drew, you’re based in San Francisco. Um, is there anything you feel I should have asked you that I haven’t covered?

Clive Over: Well, I think in terms of one thing that I’d like very much to bring to Napier, that, you know, I think about as as I speak with you is that I have certainly in the companies that I’ve worked for in the valley always taken great efforts to try and integrate the public relations function into the supporting or complimentary marketing function. So really the true definition of integrated marketing. And I’d have to give us a shout out for two gentlemen Buford bar Chuck buyers, who I spent many a day talking to along the way at events and other industry functions, and they both work at the University of Santa Clara teaching integrated marketing to to new students. Who are coming through, you’re learning about business and learning about, in their case, your marketing communications. So just a shout out to them. And I think what I’d very much like to do is bring sort of a lot of what I’ve learned there, in talking with highly qualified gents like, Chuck and to bring that with me to Napier, and help, you know, train sort of new generations, as well as folks are coming out of university to really tackle b2b marketing. Because when I did my Chartered Institute of marketing Diploma in 96, there were 20 people in the class, and only two of them, were going into b2b, the rest were going into work for Nike, Coke, and a number of other you know, consumer brands. And I think, and that’s really changed now, in terms of the other marketing function for b2b really having, you know, a lot more understanding and support. So this is all stuff I’d like to, you know, bring with me tonight. And I’m really excited to do that. So looking forward to working with you, Mike.

Mike Maynard: And you can also work we’ve got some great younger people in the company who’ve joined us both as graduates and also as apprentices. So, you know, even brighter than that are doing some great things I think you’d be, you’d be really impressed in it once you see what they can do. So yeah, that’d be great. That’s awesome.

Clive Over: Fantastic. That’s an exciting night. Thank you.

Mike Maynard: Thank you ever so much for your time Clive. And, obviously, if anyone wants to contact you, the easiest way is to go to the Napier website, b2b dot com. And as I say, have a great, you know, last quarter based over in California and so, we look forward to welcoming you back into into Europe when the weather starts improving.

Clive Over: Yeah, Thanks, Mike. I appreciate it.

Mike Maynard: Thanks, thanks so much for listening to marketing b2b tech. We hope you enjoyed the episode. And if you did, please make sure you subscribe on iTunes, or on your favourite podcast application. If you’d like to know more, please visit our website at Napier b2b dot com or contact me directly on LinkedIn.