Helping Organisations Thrive Podcast Interview: Developing Young People in Organisations

The Helping Organisations Thrive, hosted by Julian Roberts, aims to provide leaders with insights, discussions and robust strategies to help their companies thrive.  They recently sat down with Mike, Managing Director at Napier, who discusses his passion for recruiting and developing young people at Napier.

Listen to the full interview here, or via your favourite podcast app, and don’t hesitate to get in touch and let us know your thoughts.

Transcript: Helping Organisations Thrive Podcast Interview: Developing Young People in Organisations

Julian: Hello, and welcome to the helping organisations thrive podcast. This is your host, Julian Roberts. This podcast is to provide leaders with insights, discussions and robust strategies to help their companies thrive in these challenging times. We will be interviewing business leaders, owners and experts in the field of business resilience. Welcome to helping organisations thrive. Today I have the great pleasure of Mike Maynard. Welcome, Mike.

Mike: Julian, thanks for having me on the podcast. Yeah,

Julian: It's good to see you and get to have a conversation with you today. And I just got to tell the audience a little bit about you. You are the MD of Napier Partnership, which is a PR lead full service marketing agency that specialises in the b2b technology sector. And you say you're a self confessed geek who loves talking about technology. And you began your career as electronics design engineer working for companies ranging from GC, Marconi and DDA developing products from complex radar systems to Kim Wiles mixing this, which is really interesting. Whether we get onto that I'm not too sure. But it's certainly an interesting thing to talk about, as they ask everybody on the show, because I'm really nosy and curious about sort of why people do what they do. So what do you love about what you do?

Mike: So I wish I could say it's just so easy, you know, but actually, I think what I love is the challenge. Every day is different, every client is different. And the rate of change, I mean, you mentioned the fact that I'm a bit of a geek, I love technology, I love the way technology influences things, and probably, you know, marketing, and I think particularly b2b marketing has been more influenced by technology than almost any other industry.

Julian: And Have you always been a geek sort of technology wise? Have you always been interested in sort of the aspects of marketing? I mean, what where's this all come from?

Mike: So that the geek bit Yes, yeah, I mean, I, when I went to school, you know, I did the physics and maths, I did an engineering degree. So absolutely always been a geek, whether marketing thing came from, that's a little bit of a longer story.

Julian: Because it does feel a bit of a job doesn't go from an engineer to marketing. I mean, that's like a quantum leap.

Mike: It's, it's not that uncommon. But I can't really claim it was desperately planned. So I started off as an engineer, I was designing electronic systems, I didn't really enjoy a lot of the, the kind of bureaucracy and admin behind taking a product from design to manufacture. So you know, clearly, you need to make sure that everything was right, or the parts were listed, all that kind of stuff in it, it wasn't really my thing. So I looked around what I could do.

And I realised that the technical support engineers were coming to me had a company car, and at the time, you know, 30 years ago, that was a big deal. And very tax efficient way of having a car. So I thought, why quite fancy a car, I could help people. So I moved into a technical support role. I got myself a car. It was a lovely Astro GSI fantastic car, loved it.

And started doing technical support, worked on that for a while, moved to an American semiconductor company, and then eventually realised that really, the route forward in my role was to go to the States. And I didn't want to do that. So kind of looked around for the next logical career step and decided marketing was the thing I had an opportunity to move to become the European marketing manager for this, this company. And, you know, it had some great insights. So I spent 10 years with this semiconductor company moving really from that engineering to marketing role.

Julian: Okay, that's interesting. It was interesting. And obviously, you like that you enjoy it. Now, I know you've done it ever since?

Mike: Yeah, I mean, I love it. I there's a lot of similarity between marketing. And, you know, thank goodness, I'm doing marketing now rather than 30 years ago, because, you know, 30 years ago started the 90s. You know, it was almost still the Mad Men kind of era. It was all opinion. It was theory, there was very little data. Today, the world is completely different. You know, all of marketing revolves around data, and understanding whether things work and to be honest, that's kind of an engineering problem. Hmm.

Julian: That's interesting, actually. Yeah. And it's interesting because I've known a lot of marketers who've come from a science background actually. So it's very similar sort of logical way of problem solving, trying to work and navigate things through. So today We've had a conversation already about this before about, I know you've got a real passion for really bringing on young sort of people within the workforce. And, you know, we know that millennials now are becoming some stats that within 10 years, they're going to become a significant part of the workforce almost will be there now. And then we have the old Gen Zed coming up behind them now. And unlike ourselves, the Gen X slot will be sort of becoming a little bit less in the workforce. So it is changing this dynamic. And I just want to understand, what is it about the sort of younger sort of people that you're quite interested in and got a passion for? Because you do have a passion for it?

Mike: And that's a great question. I think that, you know, there's a few things one is, you know, surround yourself with younger people, you don't feel quite as old, most of the time until you talk about music, and then you feel really old. But, you know, a lot of that is around helping myself helping me be a better marketer by getting a wider range of views. But I think particularly one of the most exciting things is how fast you know, people can develop at the start of their careers. And I think this is always an interesting challenge.

You know, I remember when I started my career, you know, you leave University thing, you know, everything, you walk into your first engineering job. And, you know, the first thing you get told is right, you've got to understand the degree gets you in the position where you can start learning, the first important thing, you know, you don't know anything that's wrong, and very quickly realise that you pick up things really fast. And I think that's, that's always quite exciting. So we've seen, you know, younger people join the company, and really learn and develop very quickly. And so I really enjoyed that. I found that that really useful.

I think clients love to see, you know, people at their agency develop quickly. And it also brings some new ideas as well. And you know, some of them, some of them great, some of them maybe not so great, but it's great to see different perspective people from outside coming in and having a different approach.

Julian: And it's just a nature of your business. That is obviously b2b technology. And I don't know what an innovation or is did you make a deliberate sort of play for bringing in younger talents, or a combination of both?

Mike: I guess, I'd love to claim as a strategy. mean, ultimately, what one retrospectively is no is Yeah, we clearly, you know, looked and analyse the situation and worked out young people or right people to bring in to optimise our business. Although a cynic might say that being based in Chichester, there's actually very few senior experienced marketing professionals in the area. And that's honestly the truth. We very rapidly realised that in order to support our growth was we could get some senior people we couldn't get enough to grow as quickly as we wanted to. So we recognise we had to bring in younger people and had to train them up, it was the only option.

Julian: Okay, and how have you gone about doing that in terms of bringing people on board making sure that they are fits with your culture, and fit with where you're going as a business?

Mike: So it's a great question we've had, I guess, you know, two real different routes. I mean, one is bringing on people as apprentices. And we've had a couple of real significant success stories with people coming in as apprentices who've not done degrees, who've not got these marketing qualifications. And we've worked with just a college who've been fantastic in terms of helping us develop those people. And, you know, that's been a really successful way to bring in, frankly, you know, very young, very green people into the business and make them successful.

And the other, probably more conventional way is through sort of a more of a graduate approach, where we're hiring and graduates and developing them. And typically there, we might be offering them a CI M. So chartership marketing qualification. Because that's somewhat more practical than they would have gotten the degree the degrees are still, I mean, to academic to, you know, really let people hit the ground running. I mean, when you really do a degree, and I've lectured on some PR courses, you know, you're asking the students to think about strategy. You're asked him thinking at a very high level, and actually, you know, if you leave university as a graduate and move to Coca Cola, they don't ask you to decide the strategy for marketing for Coca Cola on your first day, you know, you're actually doing a lot of the execution.

So it is about, you know, changing that graduate mindset into execution and delivering tactics. And rather than having this big, overarching strategy, trying to think about very specific campaigns or activities and how to make them work,

Julian: And if you sort of focus, is it mainly our graduates or do you take anybody from a non degree background? I mean, what's your focus on that, obviously, is a lot to talk about. You don't need degree or you do need a degree and a lot of negativity towards degrees? I just want to get your sort of thoughts on that. Really?

Mike: Yeah, I mean, it's really interesting, you don't need a degree, you don't need a degree to join napeo, we've had people very, very successfully joined Napier, I mean, I've got, you know, one of our account managers now Emily joined, I don't know, five or six years ago, literally straight out of school, no experience as an apprentice. And she's actually got to the point where she's running, you know, some of our major accounts. And, frankly, you know, if I had, you know, some challenges around, for example, digital marketing, I mean, she's the person I want on my account, she's, she's brilliant, she's got some great insight into account based marketing, she's done tremendously well. But equally, if you look at people who've got degrees, they've had three years of training.

And as I say, it's not always what I call directly on the job training, but they actually come with, you know, something slightly different, maybe a more strategic outlook, certainly, you know, they're more experienced more mature. I think both are great ways to recruit people, I don't know, you can say one is better than another, they're just different.

Julian: So what is it you're looking for when you're trying to recruit somebody in that sort of sort of the younger people sort of brackets? What is it about them that makes you think, actually, they've got something they've got this potential that this spark has certain aspects that you sort of see,

Mike: It's unbelief, I don't know if any young people are listening to the podcast, but it's incredible, when people come and talk to us, particularly they come for interview, within two or three minutes, you know, if they're keen or not, you know, if they're enthusiastic. And what we're looking for are, you know, people who actually want to do the job. And that sounds crazy. But literally, that's what we want to do, we want to find people who are keen, enthusiastic, because they're the people who put the work in, and they're the people who develop really, really quickly.

And, to me, it's really interesting, because you'll have some, particularly the younger people coming in who maybe it's their first job interview, I don't know, it could have been Emily's first job interview. And, you know, they're nervous, and they're not, they're not performing at their peak, but at the same time, you can still see that sparkle, enthusiasm. And to me, you know, that's the most important thing is is somebody who wants the job, and wants to make it a success. And I think, as a business, we can give them, you know, what they need the tools and the training, to make it a success if they're prepared to put the work in.

Julian: And what you know, bringing in younger people, because I know you have to don't just have younger people, you have a wide range of, of demographics in your organization's Is there any challenges to other people in the organisation, when you're bringing in lots of younger talents, so to speak, I mean, or even pitfalls from sort of bringing young talents,

Mike: I hope those challenges, I mean, we'd love the younger people to challenge the older people, and we love vice versa, you know, older people to challenge the younger people. So from that point of view, you know, I guess there's always an underlying element of competition in any business. But we're not, we're not an outwardly competitive business. And one of the great things about running a smaller business, is you don't have this huge kind of corporate structure to deal with. And if I have someone who's brilliant, I can make them a job, and I can create a job, I can create a job title, I can, you know, I can even build a business around somebody who's got a particular enthusiasm for a certain area of marketing.

So I can absolutely, you know, make someone who's keen, enthusiastic, successful. So it's not a zero sum game. You know, I love the younger people to bring new ideas to, you know, frankly, push some of the older people on the importance of digital, equally love the, you know, the older people will look at it and push the young people maybe on quality. You know, and it's a very interesting balance, you know, younger people are perhaps more used to seeing marketing on Facebook, which is a little, often a little raw. Whereas, you know, if you've been in business for, you know, 30 years, I've been seeing that you've seen, like these, you know, pieces of content that have gone through 2030 revisions that have been perfected to the point of, you know, almost utter boredom. But you get to see these these kinds of, you know, really polished bits of content, and that's what you expect. So, you know, everyone can bring their own perspective and their own perspectives, always valuable.

Julian: And I guess, bringing that diversity readers sort of create that sense of thriving mindset and stimulation amongst the rest of the business isn't.

Mike: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I'd rather hire someone because they're good not hire someone because they're, you know, 45 or they've got 10 years experience or anything like that. I'd rather hire someone who's good. And, you know, the other thing, being a small business, it's much easier to have a, you know, a much stronger culture and I think we've really folk customer, a culture of people enjoying working together, you know, and I really hope people enjoy working with each other because we pick, frankly, we pick people that we as a management team want to work with, you know, that's what we do at the end of the day.

Julian: No, and I think I've talked to a lot of businesses where they're starting to think a bit more about hiring for attitude as opposed to skill, because you can always teach the skills, the abilities, as long as you got the attitude to, to learn and develop and grow. That's really important. So in the last 12 months, how have you found your business? Or how you found developing people in that time job or bringing new people on? I mean, it's been quite a challenge, I guess, was it not in might not be in your business.

Mike: For us, it's been a massive challenge. And we're still trying to work through why. But not having that face to face element makes makes training particularly where people are new to the industry or you know, baby have a new to work. It's really, really hard to do. So we are planning a move back to the office, probably as a hybrid kind of move. But we know, you know, one of the biggest drivers for us we know is training and improving the training. We are doing other things as well to try and make our training a little more formalised. I think this is probably one of the reasons why some people have been very successful. Some people haven't, we've had a very personal, you know, always individual training programme with everybody. And I think some companies that have had very standardised training programmes, have actually found it easier to train people when they're remote.

And I think the challenge is getting, you know, the benefits of that individual personalised training, people can focus on what they want to do and learn what they need, rather than having to learn everything, and then work out what's important. So you want to keep that, but you also want to introduce maybe a little bit more formality. So that's what we're doing. We, you know, we've spent a lot of this year where we've done training, it's all been video recorded, where we're, you know, we're building this library. So we're getting to the point where we've got that kind of training built in now.

Julian: Okay, I've been talking to a lot of businesses where they've liked yourself and a lot of stuff on mind, or they've onboarding people. It's been obviously quite a challenge. And I remember, I was talking to one sort of a CEO, where I think some of his direct reports were, when they they on boarded somebody on in terms of their teams, they would literally put an open room on a zoom. So they could just access them almost like a water cooler. They didn't need to ring them, it was just on all the time. And then they would just pop in and go Hello, can I assume? Have you done anything like that any ways of trying to create those water cooler moments, so to speak, and try to create that almost almost normality of dialogue without being so forced with a formal meeting?

Mike: Yes, we do a couple of things I mean, with with new people, particularly, we do a lot of like sheduled, one to ones. So that meet people that don't necessarily even directly work with just so they can get to know the company get to know the people. And then we've tried really hard to get some informal kind of elements to the business. So we've done the pop quiz, we're still doing the pop quiz. Not every week, but we're still doing the pop quiz, which I think is, you know, we must be one of the last businesses still still, I don't know anybody else is still doing publicly. I think this Friday, we've got a pop quiz on penguins, which is terrifying me. I feel I don't know enough about penguins. But, you know, that's how far we've got down the pub quiz route. So we're doing that.

But we also do a, like a couple of 15 minute morning calls that are, you know, a little bit of some good news from the business. So this morning, we had someone who'd just pulled in an extra 10,000 pounds of business we didn't expect. So bit of positivity. And we play a game we call throw and catch, which is we basically have a topic and we talk about that. And last week was jokes this Thursday, I think we need to talk about what are the three apps you really couldn't live without on your iPhone? I mean, just anything off the wall crazy kind of discussions, and it always is quite entertaining, you get to know people. So I think we've tried to try to have some of that, you know, follow on there, but it is it isn't as fun doing it remotely. I mean, that's sure.

Julian: Oh, no, not at all. I agree. And just just on that, and what are your thoughts on the sort of future of work? I mean, it's a big topic in itself, just from your own perspective, but also generally, how do you think people are going to navigate this niche next phase of, of a post pandemic?

Mike: And I think most people are going to navigate by guessing. And hopefully we'll end up somewhere that's good. I don't think anyone knows. You know, and I think there'll be a I mean, issue where we don't want to go back to the office full time, kind of, you know, people being a bit reluctant to go back. And you know, whether that's from safety health concerns, or whether it's from, you know, the benefits of working from home. And then suddenly, there'll be like, a bit of a rush back when people go, yeah, sure, I do want to go meet people at work with my friends.

And you know, and then there'll be a bit of a pullback, and I think it will be like these waves of people coming in and out of the office, and was settled. I mean, I think it's unlikely that we'll see businesses go, you know, everybody working remotely, if their office based or everyone working full time in the office, it, you know, it's this magic hybrid word, which is kind of like a classic British fudge, you know, we don't know what the answer is, it's going to be somewhere in between the two complete extremes, which I think is a fairly safe bet.

Julian: Yeah. And if you got any sort of principles, or how you're going to think that through and put it together, because it is, you know, I've talked to many organisations, and there's like, 5000 ways of doing this. And it's really difficult. But have you got any sort of thinking other core ways, you're going to know, we're going to approach it in this way, and base it on this to try and ensure we bring everybody with us and keep the communication going?

Mike: So think, in terms of principles, there are certain things that we know are more effective in the office. So if you ask people individually, are you more effective and efficient working from home? They'll go, yes. If you ask them, what about the rest of your team? They'll go, No. The reality is, is that individuals become more efficient at home, but teams become less efficient when they're fragmented, you know, and it's obvious, I mean, it's gonna happen. And I'm trying. So first thing is to explain that that's the problem is we're not trying to bring people back into the office, because we think they're not efficient at home, or we don't trust them, it's that the team doesn't work as well, if you're not together.

So we need to find what that means. And I have no clue what that means at the moment. But I just know that what we need to do is do things to encourage people to spend time in the office, because that matters. And ultimately, it increases their contribution to the business, you know, whilst individually, they may, you know, may have a bigger individual contribution. The team as a whole is less effective. And what matters really in the business is how well the team performs, not whether you've got one standout individual.

Julian: Yeah, and I think you're right, I think having that almost principle at the core about team is really important that I've been talking to a lot of organisations about, you know, making sure you keep those connections going. And those collaborations and collaboration is part of the team and you do that more effectively, it can be done remotely, because we've proved it, but more effectively in person. But through it all, making sure that communication is is is all the way through because there will be moments where how organisations do it where someone be in the office, or somebody at home is how you keep them connected on in the same meeting at that same time. And that people don't miss out on things that are going on, and almost be an inclusive without really just going back to bringing on young people and and try creating that sort of culture of focusing on that, because that's obviously where the workforce is going. What are the sort of pitfalls might there be bringing on somebody other straight from university, or from an apprenticeship sort of point of view?

Mike: I think the biggest challenge is not assuming that they know things. And I think that most of the problems we've had is we've assumed something. And the individuals never said, Look, I just have no clue. And I think we, particularly with younger people, they find it quite hard to admit they don't know stuff. And we keep saying it's fine, it's fine, you don't know just ask we'll fix it, it's fine. And they go where they go a compliment to the boss. I don't know that, you know. And it's very frustrating from our point of view, but it's also very understandable. So, to me, the biggest issue you've got is is really making sure that you don't make assumptions or if you do you validate those assumptions with the individual make it really clear and ask questions in a way that that are not you know, a direct Well, can you do this or not? Because there are definitely people, particularly younger people, not exclusively young people, particularly younger people are reluctant to admit, you know, something they can't do because they see it as a weakness. And as advice to younger people, it's not weakness, just be direct. And you know, you'll get taught it, you'll learn it and it will all be over very, very quickly. But yeah, I mean, that's the biggest challenge we have.

Julian: Yes, interesting point actually, because my youngest daughter, I think he works in a cafe and some things she found was found in difficult and I just say to say the only you don't I do. I can't do that. I can't do that. manner, I think it's okay to say, I don't I, you know, they've been shown, yeah, this works. And it's that sort of vulnerability, I guess, at the age where you feel like you need to know it all. Because otherwise you'll lose your job, which is obviously a concern. So what do you do besides that to ensure that there that you'll get success when you bring somebody in from that perspective, in terms of helping them to be successful through your organisation?

Mike: I mean, that's a great question. We've I mean, we've got an amazing HR manager, Debbie, who spends a lot of time talking to people and making sure that they're happy. I mean, she's the person we always send, you know, if we feel that there's a problem with someone not understanding something that she's the, I guess, the non, in a way than the non managerial person they can trust. She's, she's not nasty like us. You know, it's really about talking to people, and it's about communication. And I think there's, you know, there has been a challenge and without doubt, whilst people look at, you know, remote working and say, well, zoom is great, you know, it can replace meetings. Yeah, it can kind of replace meetings, it can't replace the Hi, how you doing chat when somebody is making coffee?

And I think, you know, it's those informal chats that we're trying to trying to develop to find the problems. I mean, to be honest, I think most businesses don't have an issue with solving problems, you know, if they have people who don't understand something, or, you know, haven't been taught something, or, you know, just never experienced it, it's easy to train people. But it's really hard to find the problem in the first place, that that's the real challenge. So, you know, that's definitely an area, I would love to do a better job on. I mean, I think it's something we're trying and, you know, we'll get there, but it's pretty tough. You know, and particularly with the dynamics of not everyone wanting to be completely honest about, you know, what they see as weaknesses, and we might just see, it's our training failure. Normally, it's, I mean, it's normally, you know, a lot of these problems are down to issues with training, you know, and we can look at it and go, yeah, I can understand that. Now, when I said to you, I understand that I saw you really didn't, but you said, Yes, I trusted you. And, you know, I was stupid, it's my fault, you know, and it often is, you know, the the senior people's fault for not picking up the issues.

Julian: Do they get assigned, like mentors, because I know a lot organisation work on that sort of mentor buddy system to help them not somebody who's not their direct reports, or their manager, sorry, somebody they can talk to an offload with and almost ask these stupid questions that perhaps they feel a bit embarrassed to ask their boss.

Mike: Yeah, absolutely. So we, we have a buddy system, which a buddy system for everybody, no matter how senior they are, when they come in. I got told recently, we shouldn't call them buddies, because senior people get offended. And I kind of thought, well, they're senior people, they can grow out of that. So we call them buddies. And it definitely helps in some areas, I think it doesn't cover everything. And one of the things is, is because you're not necessarily matching to somebody who's who's doing exactly the same job. I mean, everybody's doing something slightly different in the agency, because the clients are different.

Other campaigns are different. It doesn't always solve the problem. It definitely helps. I mean, without a doubt, you know, it's been a good approach from our point of view. But it yeah, it can be, it can still be a challenge. It's not the it's not the fix, you can't, as a management team, say, right? There you are, you've come in, you're new, give you a buddy, everything solved, we'd have to worry about it, I think you've still got to work and make sure you you deliver that training. And to me, that's the important thing, what we can do is we can we can expose people to far more than they'd ever see in. Even in a university course, we can get them to learn far more things. And it's obviously highly practical, as opposed to perhaps more academic, but, you know, the range of things we can get people to work on is huge compared to what you'd see elsewhere. So I think that the trainings really exciting and maybe that's another challenge is you know, the way marketing is going with with this increase in technology, it's so easy to keep throwing out new things to people who are just starting.

Julian: Not as interesting. And just just on reflection on the last year. What So one thing that you've either learnt or done as a business that you're going to continue to do going forward, whether you go hybrid or not. be interested to know, wow.

Mike: We've learned so much over the last year in terms of just all sorts of things from Like being a bit clearer with planning and sharing content and documents all the way through to learning that we don't have to maybe travel as much as we thought we did, I think I think one of the things we have learned is, and this is going to sound a bit strange, because not directly related the pandemic. But I think as an organisation, we've we've realised that we're working with very, very large companies. So we're working with several companies that are multi billion dollar companies. And sometimes I think being a relatively small agency, you don't feel confidence pitching to somebody that big, you know, you're, you're there, you're 30 people there 300,000 people.

And maybe it's a little less intimidating, because you're not going into the big corporate HQ, and everything, because you're doing everything we've seen, we've realised that, actually, we haven't good at this stuff. And we're really good at helping these big companies. So I think that's the one thing I'd probably take overall, and it's not necessarily a direct learning from the pandemic, but it's a result of, of perhaps not, you know, no longer being intimidated by these big corporate lobbies, and, you know, all the glitz and glamour that, that surrounds huge companies, because it's, it's just that it's just a bit of glitz. You know, and so, yeah, I think we, we will definitely be more will be more forward about how we approach some of our bigger target companies and a much more directed and when we do, you know, it seems to work really well.

Julian: Perhaps the, the pandemic is created a bit of a level playing field for you, which is great.

Mike: Yeah, I think I think it helps as well, you know, I mean, obviously, when clients, you know, again, go to visit a huge agency that's got hundreds of people in London, they can afford to have a very nice lobby area. And, you know, you can put the Koi Carp in there and have a waterfall or whatever else, you know, kind of floats your boat. But I think that that kind of has levelled things out a bit, for sure. But it's made it it's made it much easier. And we've had, you know, several really successful pitches with companies I, you know, I think a very aspirational, you know, company I really want to work with. And we've won it and, you know, we've actually found that we could do a great job. So, you know, the more we keep seeing that, the more we can keep pitching, pitching those, those very big companies. Brilliant,

Julian: That's really good to hear small companies doing some good stuff. Excellent stuff. Well, it's been great and a delight to have you on today, Mike. So if people are interested about what you do, if young people out there young leaders are listening and want to get in touch with you, how can they do that?

Mike: Well, absolutely Anyone is welcome to contact me on LinkedIn. Or they can email me Mike at Napier b2b Comm. Or they can listen to our podcasts. We've got a podcast that talks about marketing technology called marketing b2b technology, very simple podcast name. And lastly, if there are young people who would like a job in marketing, and like the sound of working in an agency and working on b2b, we currently have two vacancies open. So people can either email me they can go through the Napier b2b website. Or you can probably find, I think we're advertised them on places like indeed as well. So you can probably find them there. And we'd love some applications.

Julian: Brilliant. Excellent. Well, thank you for your time today. Much appreciated.

Mike: Thanks very much, Julian.

Julian: If you liked this episode, then please do subscribe to share with your friends, and do check out other episodes in the series. If you're looking for support and help your organisation to create a resilient culture, and please do get in contact with me on Julian Roberts consulting.com Thank you.


A Napier Podcast: Interview with Cassandra Jowett - PathFactory

In this podcast episode, we interview Cassandra Jowett, Senior Director of Marketing at PathFactory, a B2B intelligent content platform.

Cassandra shares how her passion for content marketing led to her joining the PathFactory team, and how the platform helps B2B companies connect content to their customers and create experiences to grow revenue.

She also shares how PathFactory takes personalisation to the next level, and the importance of understanding what’s in your content library.

Transcript: Interview with Cassandra Jowett

Mike: 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 latest episode of marketing b2b technology, the podcast from Napier. Today, I'm joined by Cassandra jowat, who's a senior director of marketing at path factory. Welcome to the podcast. Cassandra, thanks so much for having me. Well, thank you very much for joining us. You've been at powerfactory quite a while. But I'm interested to know how you ended up there in your career, I'm always interested to hear how people end up at marketing technology companies. So tell me, you know, how did you end up at powerfactory?

Cassandra: Sure, it probably started when I was in university, I went to journalism school and thought I was going to be, you know, a foreign correspondent changing the world with my reporting, but unfortunately, graduated into the recession in 2009, and just kind of fell into working for technology companies, startups here in Toronto, Canada.

And, you know, the most transferable skill that I had was the ability to write and create content and publish things online. And I didn't realise it at the time, but what I was doing was called content marketing. And, you know, I worked for a small startup here, and basically built the business doing that. And after a few years of that, I started to, you know, become aware of the concept of content marketing, and that it was a really strategic lever that businesses can use to attract customers, retain customers. And so once I started learning about that, I fell into, you know, just learning more about it and getting more involved in that community. And I ended up getting recruited to a company called influitive, which is an advocate marketing software company. You know, there's a lot of folks here in Toronto, who are from the original sort of Eloqua team, this is where aliquot was founded.

And so some of those folks were now working at influitive. And I was able to join that team very early on and be one of the first marketers there. And content marketing was a critical, sort of part of building that company trying to create this new category in marketing at the time back in 2013. And so I sort of got my start in martec, there spent four years there and, you know, met a whole slew of other amazing marketers, while I was there, and one of them was Elle Wolf, who was also a former aliqua alumni. And she was working at a company then called lookbook HQ, which was what we were called here at Packard before we rebranded in 2018. And, you know, asked me, if I wanted to join the company, I saw the product.

And as a content marketer, I was so excited about what it already did, but definitely about where it was heading, what the vision was, I felt like it was really solving a lot of problems that I personally had as a content marketer at a software company. And so I was excited to sort of be part of marketing that and helping marketers, you know, change the way that they, they bring their content to market and measure their content marketing, and, you know, try to have an impact on the business using content, which is basically how all b2b marketing is done today.

Mike: Awesome. And it's interesting, you know, I think one of the best things about elicker is actually probably the companies that spun out from the people who work there, you know, almost rather than the actual product itself.

Cassandra: Yeah, you don't have to look too far to find former eloquence here in the marketing community in Toronto, they're just sort of sprinkled out everywhere, different generations of them, and you're just sort of always stumbling across them. And it's a very small world, especially here, but I know, you know, they have they've had now have offices all over the world and part of Oracle. So it's just a huge community that is, is really interesting to be a part of.

Mike: Amazing. That's cool. So, I mean, you said powerfactory solved a lot of the problems you are facing as a content marketer. I mean, can you just explain what powerfactory does?

Cassandra: Certainly. So to put it really simply, we are a b2b, intelligent content platform that helps companies Connect content to their customers, create experiences, and use those to grow revenue. And, you know, the way I think about it is that the intelligent content side of things, if you put that in air quotes, kind of allows you to do three things outside of you know, just deliver content, which is sort of the most obvious piece, but the things that are happening under the surface is you can understand your company's content library.

So for example, what content types and topics do you have? How many of your assets are complete or incomplete? How many you're actually receiving traffic today versus not? Are you utilising your entire library of content that your company has invested in? Those are really important questions that you might need to answer as a marketing team.

You can also understand how your audience is engaging with that content. In my opinion, that's, you know, the most important piece content is great, but if no one's engaging with it, then it can't possibly have an impact. So can you figure out maybe that ebooks are generating more engagement than blog posts or that case studies are driving form conversions better than videos or that content about Topic X has a higher return visitor rate compared with topic why or that one is trending with an in one industry but not another, like there are lots of interesting insights that you can derive when you're looking at that engagement. And then the third piece is, you know, of course, attributing business outcomes to that content and to that engagement, which is something that so many content marketers in particular struggle with, because they're often sort of divorced from the demands, I think it's getting better. But sometimes they're a bit siloed, more like a service team.

And so, you know, together, the entire marketing team can come together and say, Okay, we're looking at this engagement, we're looking at this content, and we're seeing that, you know, opportunities in our pipeline where more than three visitors engaged with topic x for more than 10 minutes each have an 80%, close rate, you can kind of like, bring together the CRM data, the content, engagement data, and, you know, pull together some insights for your team to make sure that you're creating those optimal content, journeys of note, cards, content asset ABCD. Or, because a visitor spent more than four minutes with a certain content asset, he's more likely to be close one, like you can start to develop some of those insights and maybe even some predictions about, you know, what that engagement means for your business, and how the content will impact your business overall, you know, some of that stuff is not 100% in our product today, but it's what we're working towards. And we've done some really interesting early pilots with some of our customers on these things. And it's the kind of data that they're most excited about.

Mike: Amazing. I mean, I think this is a problem that a lot of people are trying to solve is, is making sure that you know, content gets used and determining which contents the best, you know, I think even eloquent, would say that they try and do a lot of this. So how would you differentiate powerfactory? from something like a marketing automation platform?

Cassandra: Sure. Yeah. So I mean, path factory isn't sending emails, it's really the destination for any click versus the mode of getting, like actually delivering the call to action. That's, that's the biggest differentiator. And, you know, there, we're using machine learning to analyse your entire content library to figure out what is there and understanding you know, how much content you have, what is about building some models around that, so that I can actually power recommendations on the other side when people are actually experiencing it. And then bringing all those different types of data together between, you know, things like your content repository, maybe your customer data platform, your marketing automation platform, your ABM platform, and then all the different channels that you might use the path factory kind of like sits in between those two sides of your, of your marketing organisation, you know, to be that content intelligence layer, giving you insights and also activating the content if you want to, but some people are also just using the content insights and taking care of the activation themselves.

Mike: Interesting. I love the term content intelligence. I mean, do you want to just unpack that a bit and explain what you mean by content? intelligence?

Cassandra: Sure, yeah. I mean, I think most people today, most marketers today are measuring the channel performance of their content, and they don't necessarily fully understand, you know, like the full picture of what's going on. So, you know, I talked a little bit about, you know, understanding what's actually inside of your content library, so that you can understand your coverage. Today, many marketers are doing manual content audits, and trying to make some assumptions about where there are gaps, you know, I, I have always done spreadsheet audits where I kind of have, you know, maybe different personas and different stages of the funnel, and I tried to slot in all the different content assets in there. But it becomes unreasonable at a certain point to do that manually. Because as marketers, we're just creating so much content, and especially at the enterprise level, you might have 1000s, or even 10s, of 1000s of website pages and content assets, PDFs, videos, all kinds of stuff that you want to understand.

And so you definitely need a machine to help you do that. So that's part of it is, you know, really understanding what content you have, bringing all of that like basically turning your content assets into data that then you can understand as marketers to figure out what you have. And then of course, the actual engagement. And this is omni channel engagement, you're not measuring like how ads are performing necessarily, or how emails are performing. You're looking at the you know, the individual visitor or the individual account, or maybe the overall visitor segment, if you're doing ABM, you might have a number of accounts within that segment, how are they engaging with the content, no matter where you're putting it. So it's sort of agnostic of the channel. And the experience that you're creating may also be agnostic to the channel, because, you know, people are going to be engaging with your content all over the place. So, you know, it's kind of using the data, the intelligence about the content, as well as the engagement, the data that sort of gets thrown off from there, and bringing in data from third party sources as well to sort of like fuse it all together, and make really smart recommendations about what people can can see next. So thanks Little bit complex. But I think once you think about, you know, fusing all of those different things and understanding that all of those different interactions and assets can be turned into data with the right technology, then it starts to make sense.

Mike: So, I mean, it kind of sounds like power factories taking data, which could be, you know, pages people have visited or, you know, perhaps IP address or something for a VM and using that to make the magic recommendation of the right piece of content that's going to have, you know, the most impact, is that a good understanding of how it works?

Cassandra: I mean, I would say it's less about their IP address. And it's more about, you know, what have they engaged with in the past, what have people at their account engaged with in the past, we're not necessarily saying like, okay, IP address, number, number, whatever, is this account. And so we are going to show them that although marketers can automate that they can sort of set up those kinds of, you know, responses in pass factory. But what's more common is, you know, someone lands, and if it detects, we have an integration with six cents right out of the box, or people might use demand base or something as well. You know, if we're detecting them from an account, then maybe we want to show them things that other folks that their accounts have looked at, because they all need to consume, you know, similar information in order to form a buying decision. Because we know especially on the enterprise side, buying committees can be absolutely huge.

And so getting them all on the same page is important. We might show them what's trending at their account, we might show them what people like them have worked out, but it's mostly based on their own engagement. If I haven't engaged with anything yet, then, you know, the recommendations might not be as tuned into them specifically. But as soon as they engage with even a single asset, it starts to form the recommendations and take them down a journey that's more personalised for them. And, you know, it's not just about like, did they engage with an asset? Yes, or no, it's also about the quality of their engagement.

So you know, if they only spend a second on something, and then moved on to something else, like, that says something, if they spent 10 minutes with it, though, you know, that sort of says, okay, they're really interested in this topic, they, they should probably see more information on this or, you know, see the next step in the journey. And, you know, the intelligence that you can get from that, as marketers, the insights you can derive from that data is really interesting as well.

Mike: Interesting. Can you just talk about how powerfactory makes the recommendation what it looks like when powerfactory is working on a website?

Cassandra: Sure. So it depends, you know, the out of the box, visualisation of those recommendations can look like, you know, similar to if you're visiting any blog, and they have, you know, check out these related blog posts at the bottom of the post, you can, you can insert those types of widgets into the website. And it just sort of populates those kinds of tiles or lists that you should see next, but it's powered by that content intelligence. There's also, you know, you can insert them across different web pages. Anywhere in the page, you can have something called Guide, which is basically just like a tooltip pop out that follows you around the website, and shows you what you should see next, or you can, the marketer can configure other things to show like, you know, what's trending overall, what's trending at your account, what's trending in your industry, so that people might see things that are more relevant to them.

And increasingly, enterprise marketers want to totally customise that and just use our API to create their own visualisations. So, you know, for especially the enterprise companies that really want full control over how it looks and feels. And I think that this is the direction that all marketers are probably going to go in soon. They don't want a widget, they just want something that looks completely baked into their website. And so that's definitely feedback that like I and other customers of ours have given our product team over time that, hey, we can't just like we're never going to come up with the perfect widget that appeals to all marketers, so we just need to give them the power to insert that into their website, however, they want to make it look however they like.

Mike: It's interesting is that I mean, people were very excited about personalization A few years ago, and now feels like almost the best practices to completely hide the fact that websites personalised and you just get the content you want, and don't quite understand that you're seeing something different to everybody else.

Cassandra: Exactly. Yeah. I think for so many years now. It's been no Hi, first name or Hello company, like a lot of the website personalization that you see on b2b websites today is still that just like, okay, we're gonna pop up the account name, and maybe the content below it will be personalised or maybe not. It's kind of unclear. And we hope that people will just be impressed by seeing their own company name there. And I just think that people are not impressed by that they're impressed by, you know, actually being helped and getting the right content at the right time to help them, you know, accelerate their buying decision. And so if you're not doing that, you know, showing them their own company name just doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things.

Mike: Definitely. You talked earlier about needing a certain volume of data to be able to personalise to individuals. mean, how much data does powerfactory need before it starts to become effective?

Cassandra: Well, you know, the cool thing is, is that as soon as you put your content into path factory, it already has a lot of data about the content. And so that's really the most important part. And so, you know, it could take a couple hours for for pass back through to, you know, ingest everything on your website and analyse it and that kind of stuff.

So you know, that that initial crawling can take a little while. But you know, really not. It's not like it's going to take weeks or anything. And basically, as soon as people start engaging with it, it makes decisions based on, you know, how it understands the different topics, and content types and the relationship between different content assets. And so you really don't need to have a certain number of visitors necessarily, like, as soon as one person lands on the website, it'll start personalising it for them. And, you know, really our overall. You know, overall data just gets better, the more people use it overall. But, like a lot of things, if, if marketers have to wait a long time for it to work, then that's a problem. So it really just starts working right away.

Mike: Cool. I mean, you said like a minimum number of visitors that that makes sense. So anything like that you talk to customers about?

Cassandra: Yeah, no, we use it on our website. And I would say our website does not have a huge number of visitors each month, like we're nowhere near the size of our enterprise customers, for example, who might have you know, hundreds of 1000s, or even millions of visits a day, you know, we're more in the 1000s per day, and it works really well. So I'm not aware of any minimum number of visitors or things like that. Because my understanding is that the initial data really comes from analysing the content, and then, you know, the recommendations are just based on the engagement that comes after that.

Mike: Interesting. And, I mean, is it really the simple you don't need anything else, you could literally point powerfactory at the website, and it would start working straightaway, or do you need to do anything to your website to make it work.

Cassandra: Um, so I think any website that has a lot of content on it is a great candidate for this type of thing. And this is more of our, our website side of things, a lot of our customers don't use Packer on the website at all, they just keep us to their, their, their marketing campaigns, they use the non intelligent version of fat factory, which allows marketers to just like, arrange their content, however they like, you know, which is still totally useful. And marketers get a tonne of value out of it. But it's not as exciting as the recommendations and the content intelligence side of things.

So yeah, like, I think some work that I've personally done on our website, for example, is we did not have a huge volume of content there, especially outside of the blog, we really had like a few product pages and a few customer story pages. And that was it. And so, you know, that means that you sometimes just see the same pages come up on the recommendations all the time, because there just aren't that many things to recommend. So I've slowly been building out the number of pages on our website, but no, I think the the customers of ours that find our website tools, module, the most useful are the ones who have large websites.

But it's not required necessarily. And I think most people forget how much content they actually do have on their website between blog posts, and press releases and product pages. And, you know, we are also working towards sort of marrying the two content pools between the content on your website and the content that lives anywhere else. And so that's what I'm really excited for in terms of the next step of what will show up on our website.

Mike: And when you say by that, I mean, what sort of things will that be, we will be pointing to people to content that that's PDF, so content that's not on the website at all.

Cassandra: Yeah, so it could be PDFs, it could be videos that are embedded, it could be third party content that, you know, is just relevant, if you want to sort of show off, you know, customer reviews on review websites, or positive press or you know, all the different things that can cut the podcast, you could have podcasts, you've recorded with folks. And that can show up. And so you know, having all of those different assets in your content pool to recommend to people is hugely valuable.

Mike: That's that sounds very exciting. You did say earlier, some people were not really using the smart parts of powerfactory. Is that because it's difficult to use?

Cassandra: No, it's just because it's newer. So our business was built on the, what we call now the paint tools. And really, that's the idea that marketers can build content tracks. And they can kind of curate the journey for for their visitors on any, any channel. And so there has always been a smarter version of that, that that is available to our customers that we call recommend. But it's not quite as smart as the new version for the website. And so yeah, most of our customers have just always Use campaign tools. And in the last year, we've come out with the website option with this sort of really, really smart content intelligence stuff. And also our virtual event offering.

Mike: Interesting. I mean, presumably, you need to integrate with a number of different systems. You've talked about different data sources and things. I mean, integrations, are they a big part of what you need to do to make the product work?

Cassandra: Definitely, yes. You know, it's definitely a red flag to us. If someone comes to your sales team and says, I don't have a CRM, I don't have a map, I really just have my website, like, you can use it, but it's going to be more challenging, and you're not going to be able to get as much value out of things. So, you know, we always say pad factory sits between, you know, all the different sort of systems of record you have, whatever your content repositories are, whether that's your CMS, your website, your dam, your video tool.

There's also you know, your ABM tools that again, success comes out of the box, but you might add, add additional success functionality, you might be a demand based customer instead, or Terminus customer, you can connect it to Salesforce, to show sales people content engagement data, right in Salesforce, of course, your marketing automation platform, you want to connect all those content assets to campaign to be able to measure them to power smarter nurture programmes do lead scoring based on content engagement.

There's all kinds of really, really cool automation and measurement, and just smarter ways of doing things that workers are doing already, when you're when you're bringing that content engagement data into the mix. And so you definitely need to integrate it with some things. And the more sophisticated you get, the more powerful, you know, the use of the data and the ROI and all those things can become.

Mike: Either the off the shelf integrations, or does it require, you know, some sort of engineering to get things to talk to each other?

Cassandra: I don't think it requires engineering. Again, I'm not, I'm not a marketing operations expert. So why understanding is that most of our customers get up and running in under a week, like that's what GPU reviews say, you know, most of our customers start twice as fast as our closest competitor, one week versus two weeks. So I think that's really, really fast to be able to get everything up and running. And you know, unless you, of course, things can sometimes get bogged down in larger enterprise organisations.

But you know, most of most of the integrations just use API keys, and then you can connect everything together that way, you know, sometimes you need to make changes around, you know, how are you going to incorporate the data into your lead scoring model, you obviously have to change your model. In order to do that, you might have to train your sales team on how to interpret the new data they're seeing in Salesforce that they now have access to through hassle free for sales, you might have to set up new email alerts for your BDR team to jump on to fast moving buyers who are consuming a lot of content, like there's lots of things that you can then set up. But the actual setup and integration process is really quite easy.

Mike: I think if if anyone's talking about enterprise customers, and they've they've got a deployment onto a website in a week, then it must be easy, because normally it takes about a month to do anything on a large enterprise website.

Cassandra: Yeah, I mean, of course, you need to have buy in from everyone internally, and everyone can be on the same page in advance before you before you go, if you know if things are slow, it's mostly because of herding cats, not necessarily because the integration is hard to cool.

Mike: Well, at least that's one headache. Nobody has to worry about. You talk about it, obviously being targeted as a b2b tool, which makes sense. But are there particular industry verticals that get the most benefit out of powerfactory, or particular characteristics of customers that get the most value?

Cassandra: Yeah, so I think that most of our customers today are very high tech organisations, they tend to be selling, considered purchase b2b software that you know, has longer buying cycles, or at least, you know, goes maybe from a free trial into a more sophisticated product. You know, it's not transactional stuff. It's not trying to be e commerce or anything like that, you know, it requires usually a larger buying committee longer buying cycles, many pieces of content to get to that buying decision. And also, you know, making sure different people in the buying committee are getting the content and the information that's relevant to them specifically in their role in the organisation.

And of course, in order for the company, the vendor to facilitate that marketers and salespeople and customer success managers, account managers need to have access to all of those insights on their end as well either, you know, to set up the right automation or to send the right personalised email outreach or to follow up with a customer at the right moment to upsell them. You know, there's all of those different reasons why, why our customers might use half factory to get better results from their marketing And so yeah, there's, there's a lot of different elements that go into that I mentioned the technology piece, you know, having a sophisticated Mar tech stack is definitely a good indicator that someone could get value out of a factory, because they're probably delivering content across so many channels already.

But if, if some things are missing, like, if you're not doing ABM, or you're not doing, you know, paid social advertisement or something like that, like, that's fine, whenever your channels are that you're using, if you're an IF email is your big work workhorse as a channel, then that's great. But if you're more diversified, or no, you're more into partners, like one of our biggest customer success stories is Cisco partner marketing, where they use path factory to deliver all their content to partners and understand, you know, what they're doing. So they kind of have a totally different approach where, you know, they, most of their company revenue comes through these partners, and they need to educate their partners versus the end users of, of the solutions they're selling. So you know, whatever that is, you can you can use path factory to deliver that content to the right audience, it doesn't necessarily have to be the end customer, that's actually buying the thing.

Mike: That I mean, that sounds brilliant, it sounds like the, the more complex the sale, and therefore the more touches you have, during that that sales process, the more impact per factory can have. Absolutely. Awesome. So with all these capabilities, I mean, does it make powerfactory an expensive tool? Is it is it something that is limited only to biggest enterprises, or, you know, how does the pricing work.

Cassandra: So the pricing is based on you know, which modules you buy, there's, you know, sort of a menu of different functionality that you can get, and, you know, the, the market for curated solution is going to be less expensive than the more intelligent solution. And if you only have a marketing team of three people, that's going to be a lot less expensive than an enterprise marketing team of 1000s, of marketers, for example. So, you know, it kind of depends which things you you add on, like, a lot of software companies know that that's how the pricing is built, the thing I always say is, you know, you need to have a certain level of sophistication as a marketing team in order to take advantage of path factory, and so, you know, we're not going to be great for or it's just not going to be possible for like, a solo entrepreneur, Tobias, like, we're not one of those, you know, free trial tools or freemium tools that people can just sort of like jump into, because it does require integration with all of those systems of record, and you do need that huge volume of content.

And those businesses are unlikely to have that. So, you know, our smallest customers, and some of them have been really successful with us are, you know, around 100 employees, I might only have a handful of marketers, but they've made the right marketing investments to make passpack very worthwhile. And then, you know, the other end of the spectrum, of course, is, you know, the Cisco's. And the Adobe is in the oracles who know, have 1000s of users multiple business divisions, and you know, they're, they're paying on that sliding scale. So, you know, definitely, if you're using a marketing automation platform in a CRM today, then path factory would be not as much as that, but in that ballpark.

Mike: Yeah, that sounds pretty interesting. It sounds like path factory can also really grow as an organisation grows from, you know, maybe 100, or a couple of 100 people up to becoming a large enterprise. So I think that that's, that's fascinating.

Cassandra: Yeah, I mean, often what our customers do is they will buy a certain module or a bundle of modules, but not the entire platform to get started to really prove the value, they might run, you know, a year long pilot to, you know, get things up and running, get used to everything, get it integrated as much as they can into, you know, their email nurture programmes, and that maybe their website and they can start to see the power of, of that content intelligence, that they get both from, you know, the analysis of their content library, but also, you know, just how that performs the engagement, all that kind of stuff, and then they start to build on from there. And I think, especially now that we have these really exciting sort of smarter website tools and that sort of stuff, people are going, Wow, that's really interesting. I can create these journeys just automatically without having to think about it. Like that makes so much sense. Because doing that is hard. And it requires a lot of thinking, it requires a lot of understanding of, of what content you have in order to create those journeys manually. So I think as you grow, it just makes a lot of sense to to upgrade to that, to that new, smarter way of doing things.

Mike: Awesome. I mean, it feels like we've, we've barely scratched the surface of all the capabilities of powerfactory. But we're coming to the end of our time. So I mean, is there anything else you feel we should have covered?

Cassandra: Not necessarily. I think I really appreciate having the opportunity to talk about path factory today. Hopefully people can tell that I'm really passionate about it. That's why for over four years, and why I continue to be excited about what we're doing. as a marketer, as I said at the top, it's just so exciting to see where technology is going and how you know, content in particular can become even more important in, you know, in b2b marketing and the role of the buyers journey, I don't think we're going to see that, you know, scale back after the pandemic, and it's just increased and accelerated faster and faster. We were already expecting large organisations in particular to sort of adapt and start to become more digital, and move to more digital experiences. But over the last year, it's just kind of exploded as everyone frantically ran to figure that out, especially if they were more reliant on sales people or in person trade shows and that sort of stuff. And so it's just been really interesting to see how quickly things can evolve based on world events, of course.

Mike: Yeah. I mean, if somebody is excited about powerfactory, or just feels, you know, they've got lots of questions about how it works, what's the best way to find out more?

Cassandra: Yeah, pathri.com is a great place to start, you can actually see our product in action across our website, which some people find really interesting. And you know, from there, we do you have regular, sort of like short demos, short live demos of different aspects of our product that our demand manager does each week. And, of course, you can always just go on and get a personalised demo, if you want to, there's no more than more than more than one happy salesperson who would be willing to take a call. But yeah, I think that's a great place to start. Just go to the website, we have a lot of great information there. And I'm also happy to chat with anybody if you don't want to talk to a salesperson yet. You just want to speak Margarita marketer. I think myself and anyone else in our marketing team would be happy to do that.

Mike: Great. And what best way to contact you through LinkedIn or?

Cassandra: Yeah, you can reach me on LinkedIn. Just search for Cassandra Jo and I should be pretty fundable or my email address is Cassandra at path. factory.com.

Mike: Nice Well, Cassandra, it's been fascinating. I mean, I think I could have talked for hours about powerfactory. We, I'd love to ask about all the details. But I really appreciate your time. Thank you so much for coming on. Thank you for having me. Thank you.

Mike: 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 favorite podcast application. If you'd like to know more, please visit our website at Napier b2b dot com or contact me directly on LinkedIn.


A Napier Podcast: Interview with Shea Castle - Terminus

In this podcast episode, we interview Shea Castle, Senior Customer Marketing Manager at Terminus, a leading Account-Based Marketing (ABM) platform.

Shea shares his story of how he became part of the Terminus team, and explains how Terminus and ABM flip the traditional marketing funnel, to deliver a full market approach to enable B2B companies to target the people that matter.

He also shares how Terminus is an orchestration platform that brings together first and third-party data points, and what the platform allows its customers to achieve.

Transcript: Interview with Shea Castle - Terminus

Mike: 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 marketing b2b technology, the podcast from Napier. Today I'm joined by shake arsal, who's the senior customer marketing manager at Terminus. Welcome to the podcast, Shay. Yeah, thanks. Happy to be here. Fantastic. So just to start, can you give us a bit of a background about yourself and how you ended up at Terminus?

Shea: Yeah, it's actually, you know, not to make too much of our production. But it's a funny story. So I started out in acting, and kind of through a process of developing a television show and going through some fundraising, I kind of took on the marketing persona, if you will, and running our social channels, and a lot of the PR, things like that. And as I moved out of acting, I was looking for a career path that, you know, a little more stability, but still had a lot of that creativity that I was looking for, and thought, Hey, you know, marketing is a little bit of what I've been doing already. So why not pursue that and after a couple of years, working in more corporate environments, had an opportunity to join Terminus, it's account based marketing is something I've always believed in as a strategy. And so it was kind of a no brainer for me to join the team and kind of work on supporting our customers.

Mike: Fantastic. I did notice, I guess, in between the acting and Terminus that you found, and that is a website called Shea hates everything.com. Are you really that grumpy?

Shea: Yes. So it's, it's funny in in college, I had a lot of friends, you know, where we were in acting programme and really passionate about entertainment, that sort of thing. And I was kind of always like, the super critical one. And that became a running joke that whenever we would go see a movie or go to a concert, like I bet she hated it, he hates everything. And so I kind of just despite them, when I was putting together a website that was just sort of reviews on you know, video games and movies and comic books and things that I was into, I just kind of leaned into that a little bit more. They're the critical attitude. So got to own the brand, I guess.

Mike: Fantastic. I take it you don't hate everything. And actually, you're quite enjoying your time at Terminus. Yeah, I don't think I hate everything. So So tell me, can you explain to the listeners exactly what Terminus does? What what is it that terms of setup today?

Shea: Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, coming from a background that was really focused on demand Gen, I kind of lived in the trenches of looking for leads, and passing leads to sales, and hearing, we're not getting enough leads or the leads you're giving, you're not good enough. And just feeling kind of cut out of the process through no one's fault. That's just kind of the way that b2b marketing has been done.

And so when I first heard about Terminus, you know, it's this idea around account based marketing, where, instead of boiling the ocean, trying to get those 1% of leads to convert into sales, why don't we flip sort of that traditional marketing funnel and start with the people that we know, we want to sell to our ICP that are showing us signals that they're ready to talk and ready to buy. And so that's really what Terminus does. It's, you know, an orchestration platform that brings together first and third party data points, various channels of engagement, like digital advertising, chats, email, and a lot of measurement and insights to kind of show the value everything marketing's doing to influence and create those opportunities and pipeline.

Mike: Interesting. So, I mean, how would you describe the difference between account based marketing and conventional marketing?

Shea: Yeah, I think it's really like that, that that funnel mentality, like that traditional funnel of let's get as many leads as we can, we'll nurture them through the funnel, hand them off to sales, and eventually some of them will close. And instead, starting with these are the accounts we know are a good fit for us firma, graphically, technic graphically, we know that they're showing signal in the market, they're coming to our website, they're showing, you know, levels of intent. They fit the firma graphics that we're looking for. And then really just focusing in on those accounts, engaging them everywhere they are on the internet, on our website, generating content specific to their needs, and working hand in hand with sales to really amplify all of that content to the folks at those accounts that matter.

Mike: Interesting. You talk about two things there. One is focusing on the accounts and the other is personalising the content. I'm interested to know whether you think account based marketing works primarily because you're focusing the budget on certain companies, or whether it's because you can do more personalization, or maybe it's a bit of both.

Shea: Yeah, I think that's the easy answer is that it is a little bit of both. It's about you know, from a financial perspective, it's about creating efficiency, and more, you know, pipeline that can be expected to flows versus like looking at a number of leads we need like, it's like backtracking, right? Like you start with, here's the dollar amount we need from that new business to keep the business going. And how do we back out of that to what's the quantity of leads, we need to hit that revenue. And instead, it's starting with the revenue, and the accounts that we know want to buy from us. And those things go far more hand in hand. And then on the personalization side, because you're focused on a much smaller number of accounts versus boiling the ocean, it lets you create more relevant content for those people as well as more relevant content to help sales and customer success make those customers successful. So I do think that it's both.

Mike: Interesting. And I mean, I guess from what you're saying, there'll be different levels of proficiency if you'd like for companies that are trying to do account based marketing.

Shea: Oh, absolutely. And like, account based marketing, we have a sort of a running joke internally at Terminus, that it was kind of a bad name, like we're too far along into this ABM thing to change it now. But it really it's more than just marketing. It's about a full go to market approach across your customer facing teams. But there's a tonne of variability in the sophistication.

And the reality is, is that most b2b companies today are already doing things that we would, you know, quantify as ABM, like, most companies have their whale accounts, right, like their top 10 accounts, their enterprise people that they're trying to close. And that's they have sales reps dedicated to those folks. They're running events that are private to those people there might even be generating content that specifically calls those companies out, running advertising campaigns, specifically to those people like all of that is ABM. And I don't think that there needs to be necessarily like a gatekeeping around, are you doing ABM or not, I think the bigger thing is that the approach is a strategy. It's not about any one solution or any one team, it's a full go to market approach that has changed in the past couple of years.

Mike: Interesting. So I mean, people, you know, more proficient and, you know, presumably will be reflected by your customers. You know, I'm interested in Terminus talks about, you know, having effectively three key elements that the software package, can you just explain how that works?

Shea: Yeah, absolutely. So the way that we talked about sort of our full platform, and it starts with data and insights into those of the things I'm talking about with, you know, first and third party data, bringing in intent data through a partnership with bombora, those types of things. And then we have all of our different channels of engagement. And that's how we're actually getting in front of the people you care about, through things like display advertising. You know, retargeting, our partnership with LinkedIn. And in terms of advertising, we have chats, email experiences, those sorts of things. And then on the back side, it's the measurement, which is really, really important not just to marketing in general, but especially especially when it comes to account based marketing. Because, you know, as we're talking about here, like we're talking about changing a strategy, and there are lots of expectations involved when that happens. So we just want to give credit, where it's due to the programmes that marketing is running, and sort of how they're influencing the pipeline, instead of tying everything back to Oh, this programme generated x leads, it's, oh, this programme helped create these opportunities to influence this pipeline and accelerated deals. It's helping with retention, getting back to the money metrics that matter. And that's a big part of what our measurement does.

Mike: That's interesting. And it sounds like a lot of what you're doing is interfacing to other marketing technology tools are partnering with them to get all this capabilities. Is that right?

Shea: Yeah, it's a combination. So Terminus has been around for a little over six years at this point. And we started as primarily a digital advertising vendor. So that was kind of like, if someone's looking to get started with capital letters, ABM, where do they start and account based advertising was and then a lot of ways still is the best place to start. And since then, we have grown our capabilities through partnerships as well as acquisitions. So just in the past year, for example, we acquired three different companies, or the year and a half apart three different companies that have different types of data, different types of engagement chat, for example, is one of them. So, you know, what we're looking to do here is build a platform. And it's something that would sit right alongside a CRM or a marketing automation platform. And to do that, and to build a one stop shop. And that way, you have to do it through organic growth, acquisition and strategic partnerships.

Mike: Sounds quite challenging to have to do the acquisition, the internal development, and also partner with people as well.

Shea: Yeah. And the great news is that I'm not responsible for buying companies or setting up all the contracting, I just get to tell our customers how cool all the new functionality is, so it's fine with me.

Mike: That's awesome. So, I mean, if we look at using Terminus you know, presumably somebody sat there, they've maybe got a marketing automation system, they've almost certainly got a CRM system for a marketing team or something, how they go about that deploying Terminus and starting to get value from it.

Shea: Yeah, it really starts from an integration perspective. So kind of to your point, you know, when we look at who our ideal customers are understanding that, you know, they have a CRM, they have some sort of Mar tech stack that we will sit alongside as well as, like sales tools. And it's really about how do we work with those things, and bring data back and forth. So you know, one of the primary benefits of Terminus in particular, when it comes to ABM solutions is that we are like, we can be a one stop shop for your data and your insights and your actions and your engagement channels. But it's also, as we have learned over the years, it's super critical that we're also able to bring that stuff back to what a lot of folks still consider their point that there is no single source of truth, which would be their CRM.

So the integrations is a huge aspect of that, and knowing where you want the data to live, where you want the measurement to live, and like, Where are your users and like sales, in particular, Where do they live is their workflow, because we want to give them all that data and all that insight, versus trying to train them to do a completely new process? So then secondarily, you know, as I mentioned, like ABM is a strategy and a lot of the work to be successful early with Terminus is done before purchasing Terminus, like, you know, do have you mapped out your ideal customer profile. And how did you do that? Is it based on data? Or is it based upon who sales says they want to sell to? How do you work with sales today? Do you have, you know, weekly bi weekly meetings with them, where you align on programmes that you're running? Or is it seen as like a fence in between where you're throwing leads over the fence to sales, and they work them or they're, or they don't like a lot of those process, things are really critical to having success with ABM early on more so than like the button clicky in the product stuff.

Mike: Interesting. So if you had someone coming to Terminus who was was really interested in ABM, they felt that they were ready to go and you looked at them and said, they just haven't done any of this kind of, you know, strategic kind of planning stage. I mean, how do you deal about that? Do you actually have ability to support them through it?

Shea: Oh, yeah, absolutely. I mean, so, you know, in particular, our onboarding team is phenomenal in really getting to the meat of what a customer is trying to do and how they're trying to do it, what they're doing today, and what the, in identifying what those roadblocks are. It's just something that like, especially in the sales process, we're getting better at identifying not not as a like a reason to not buy Terminus or to not pursue ABM, but really like, the reason that customers come to us is because they know what they're doing today isn't working, and they know there's a better way. And there are things internally that will prevent you from having success with that better way immediately. And so we're happy to partner with you strategically and just from a process perspective to build that out. I mean, we have over 1000 customers, like we've been around for a while, we, you know, know a lot of the best practices. So it really is just about understanding what those roadblocks might be with a particular customer. And then, you know, we'll help you battle through them.

Mike: And presumably, a lot of those prospective customers are very keen to get that knowledge. I mean, it's an almost Another benefit of buying terminals is the process expertise.

Shea: 100%. Yeah, and, you know, one of the biggest pieces, you know, I'm on the customer side. So I hear a lot of this too. And one of the biggest pieces of feedback that we always get is how supportive our customer success team, our onboarding team, our support team are and how customers really view them as an extension of their own team, that when they come across a process problem, or a strategy problem, or this campaign didn't work the way we wanted it to like what do we do to iterate and they feel totally comfortable coming to our team to get that expertise and that knowledge.

Mike: Awesome. So somebody's been through the kind of strategic stage, they've signed up to Terminus. So I'm really interested because Turner seems to do an awful lot from you know, finding out intent data and the insights, all the way through to pumping out the end analytics, the end. I mean, how, how do you deal with something that that is, you know, really quite complex, and add it to your marketing stack?

Shea: Yeah, so you mean from the perspective of like a buyer? How do they do that? Yeah.

Mike: How would How would a customer you know?

 

Shea: Yeah, yeah, I think the internal alignment is a huge part of it, and like getting the right people at the table. So you know, one of the big things that we always preach is like because ABM is a strategy, it's more than just, we're gonna have one person on our marketing team own Terminus, and that's how we're going to do ABM. And you know, my response to that is like, you're probably not going to have success because you need that executive alignment on new metrics for marketing and for sales. Like we're no longer looking at an M qL goal, the way that we used to what we're running programmes to support pipeline, which for a lot of companies is not a marketing metric, we're we're running programmes that actually tie back to retention, which is not typically a marketing metric. So it's about getting that alignment from a leadership perspective and buy in from sales to know that this is a different kind of support. You know, we talked about leads and a lot of ways, and I never want to, you know, make someone think that we hate leads, or that leads are completely valueless. But it's just a different way.

It's a different approach that we're taking here. And so it's important for sales to understand to write, like, the things that we're doing, the intent is to not generate leads for you. It's to support the accounts, you're already working and help you identify specific accounts that are in market to buy, which is so much more powerful. But the the challenge often becomes like the proof is in the pudding. Right? And so one of the things that I always try to preach to our customers that are just starting with ABM is get really buddy buddy, which is a handcuff a handful of sales reps, you know, do more work with those folks to show that success. And then those become internal case studies to prove the value of what you're doing to build that adoption.

Mike: Perfect. Now, that's really interesting that you talk about the fact that ABM is not just a different way of thinking but different way of reporting, you know, up to the board, which is, I think, a really important point. Yeah, definitely. So in terms of deploying Terminus, is there a particular you know, market or industry category, that seems to get the most benefit from this kind of product?

Shea: Yeah, b2b businesses. I mean, like, that's the truth, when you look at our total addressable market, it really is. Any b2b business, you know, that's where we're focused. But inside of that, there are things that we look at that make people a better fit for us. So I mentioned, you know, you have a CRM, there's a, you know, a metric for what your Mar tech stack actually looks like today, just to understand how we would work with those things. And to show us a little bit more of that sophistication, we find that companies that are like, you know, very, very small, one person marketing team, like just brand new startups, sometimes don't have as much success just because they don't have the support systems there.

But on the other side of it, I, you know, I have a handful of customers that I work with already that are super small, and they started with ABM, because part of this is, you know, it's a transfer transformational process. And so if you have a lot of processes in place that fight against an ABM strategy that can become more difficult. But if you're starting from the ground up saying like, this is our strategy, this is what we're doing, you can definitely have a lot of success with Terminus. And another thing I would mention, so, you know, we have a variety of different verticals as well, but we often find that SAS companies are really successful, just because of the approach of ABM fits pretty well into the SAS kind of mould.

Mike: And presumably SAS as well is probably easier to measure than some other b2b companies. Yeah, absolutely. So, I mean, you talked about working with very, very small companies. I mean, I think one of the perceptions of ABM is that you can do a certain amount of ABM, you know, as a small company with a limited budget, but but you know, these big tools like Terminus, they're really the preserve of, you know, global enterprises with huge teams. I mean, it's the product expensive, or can you actually really make it work in a smaller company?

Shea: Yeah, I think I mean, it depends on your approach, right? Like, and you can buy Terminus in a handful of ways with our different channels and different kinds of measurements. Sweet. So there's, there's certainly a here's how you get started option with Terminus versus like, the full on I'm gonna buy everything. It's really interesting to hear you know, ABM as sort of more of an enterprise approach, because for a long time, it was kind of the opposite, right? Like, it felt more so like small businesses and the mid market because there's those marketing teams are so much more nimble. And those types of companies have to work so much harder to build awareness of what they do and who they are compared to a huge enterprise company that ABM seemed more approachable for more of those smaller companies.

But I mean, specifically to the cost perspective, you know, I think that if you put us up against something like a CRM, then no, it's not an expensive solution. But if you're putting us up against a singular point of engagement channel solution, yes, we're going to be more expensive because we just have so much more to offer. And really our goal here is, let's stop marketers from having to have 10 solutions to solve one problem, and instead have one solution to solve that one problem in 10 different ways. And that's kind of the approach that we take.

Mike: Interesting, and I like to bring out this kind of solution that covers the whole range of ABM because there's certainly a lot of point solutions that may be you know, provide some of the insight or, you know, perhaps runs advertising or email campaigns and what one of the real benefits about having this integration? What do you see your customers doing that? Maybe they couldn't achieve with multiple point products?

Shea: Yeah, I think it's it's primarily about the orchestration and letting the data points and the engagement talk to each other. So instead of having to do all the backend work to have an email solution and the chat solution and the digital advertising solution, like where does that data live? How do those things talk to each other? And, you know, going back to the ABM is a strategy point, like, the goal of this is to create a full funnel experience that is comprehensive and personalised for your target customer, how can you do that if the individual systems that you're using aren't talking to each other in a robust way, and so we to solve that problem by saying everything lives with inside Terminus, like, you know, everything that you're doing from a chat perspective and a digital advertising perspective, you know, creating the audiences that you're going after all of that can live within Terminus and be measured within Terminus?

Mike: Interesting, could maybe you could give me some specific examples about you know, how people would approach campaigns or or use insights with Terminus versus using classic marketing, you know, sort of the whole broad market approach.

Shea: Yeah, so starting with the point of who we're going after, right, so so identifying, you know, we live within this market with these specific verticals are sort of our bread and butter, this company size is sort of our bread and butter. And that's how you would typically start with like a generalised ICP. And we kind of sit on top of that to be able to say, okay, amongst those companies call it 1000. Companies, amongst those, how many of them are already coming to your website, aka know that you exist, you can focus in on those people with a different type of message than the ones that are not coming to your website that need more awareness, advertising, for example, to tell them who you are and what you do to drive that website engagement. And as they're going through the funnel is really where you layer on additional channels.

So I mentioned our partnership with bombora intent data that lives with inside Terminus, to understand outside of your website, what are these accounts doing on on the internet? What types of things are they researching, to give you better insight into if they're also looking at competitors, if they're looking at solutions that you can add to, you know, to to as an expansion, opportunity, etc? What problems are they actually trying to solve that you can help them with to really contextualise that sales outreach to make sure that the content that's being delivered and the message that's being delivered is relevant. And then you know, once those accounts are continue to come to your website, you we you have, we have chat that exists where you can use that original account list to say when accounts that are within this list, come to my website, this is the chat message that they're going to receive, that points them to specific content that connects them with, you know, a BDR and ADR that knows what they're doing already online.

And again, can contextualise that conversation. And then once we get towards the bottom of the funnel, where more than one to one email outreach is happening, you can use our email experiences, which basically creates a banner and an email signature that points to content or it can point to chat, or it can point to a webinar or to book a meeting those things to help support that process. And then once they are a customer, using all those channels to sort of create a great customer experience.

This is obviously something you know, as I work on the customer marketing side that I'm super passionate about. We spend all this time and effort getting someone to be a customer, what are we doing after they become a customer, making sure we get that full journey experience and that they're being treated the same way post sale as they were pre sale. So you know, just from a high level, walking through and adding channels starting from that list that you built just as a quick example.

Mike: Interesting. That's great. I mean, I guess one question I have to ask is, you know, we're hearing a lot about, particularly Apple, clamping down on tracking and cookies and Google talking about eliminating cookies. And also we're seeing a lot of people working at home, and therefore presumably not necessarily popping up as having an IP address that that is owned by the company you're targeting. So is it becoming more difficult to do ABM or are you able to get around these challenges?

Shea: So to give the sort of competitive dig answer, I will say that it is becoming more difficult for some vendors to do ABM I do not believe it is becoming more difficult for us to do ABM because this is something we've been planning for for a while. So just just as a you know, as a quick example, you mentioned cookies. That's something that had been foundational to our advertising, which was different than some other vendors that were really focused around IP targeting. So when someone's in the office, they can get in front of them. us being able to track cookies on different devices we can catch you when you're at a Starbucks you're at home etc. as folks move to move home it became more difficult obviously from an IP perspective to get in front of those people where we saw far less of that challenge, as it go forward now that Google in particular is moving away from cookies, we actually just ran a really great webinar on this topic and kind of what our plan is.

So our acquisition of sr, who was an email provider that that we now have as a channel, as well as ramble who was a chat provider that lives with inside Terminus, both of those two platforms have really robust one to one data that they're able to capture because of the email because of the chat. And those things are the foundation of our go forward, like advertising plan to really understand those data points beyond what cookies could do. So really, in some ways, it's a boon for us as a forcing function to move forward with like the next stage of targeting. Because, you know, we're confident we're gonna see a lot of customers that will have much better ability to get in front of folks than they even have had historically with cookies.

Mike: That's amazing. That's brilliant. I mean, I have to ask, you know, we've talked about an awful lot of functionality and a single tool. I mean, is it difficult for people to use Turner's what was the kind of learning curve to go from being a customer to really getting value?

Shea: Yeah, I think a lot of it goes back to my earlier point on, you know, what you're doing Before starting, because that's where we see the most customers fall down is around those internal processes and in alignment. And I think that, you know, it really depends on what the business outcome is that you're trying to drive is, for example, if you're a smaller company, that is going after a couple of big fish, like we have 30 accounts, that if like, if we sold to those 30 accounts, our business would explode, there's a lot more front end work, you need to do around awareness to those companies, getting them to understand who you are, what the value is. And a lot of those companies might not already be in the market for a solution like yours. And so there's a lot of warming up and introducing of a problem that needs to happen before a sale.

So you know, if that's what you're trying to do, it takes longer to get that close one revenue, which is why we really focus in on are you driving those people to your website? How are they engaging with you? Are you at least creating opportunities to really show the success early of what you're doing, compared to a company who's more mature that, like, Hey, we we are going after 5000 accounts, we pretty much understand who's in the market today, we just really need to get this pipeline faster, you know, to close faster. And that's much easier to turn that around quickly and see those metrics because you compare compare it against historical data. So it really you know, not to give us the super fuzzy answer. But it kind of depends on what outcome you're looking to drive. The positive thing I would say is there are so many data points that show the value of the work that you're doing outside of historically, did we create a conversion? Did we qualify that lead did sales except that lead as really the only main touch points, we can look at much more contextual measurement of the success of what you're doing today?

Mike: I think I chose a great answer. I think you basically said that it's much less to do with how long it takes to learn the total is much more about the other factors around your campaign. So I think you very nicely said it's actually not a gating factor.

Shea: Yeah, I think so. I mean, learning a new platform, it can be a challenge for anyone and so that that will always be part of it, just you know, of robustness and understanding of how to navigate and like that's that's a problem for any software solution. But the real challenge is all the work that's done ahead of time.

Mike: Great point. I'm, we're just coming to the end. I mean, Terminus is such a big platform with so many features. Is there anything you feel we've we've missed that you'd like to cover or talk about?

Shea: Yeah, I mean, I mentioned that a little bit. But one of the things, especially over the past year, where businesses had to pivot so quickly from to a retention conversation. So like with budgets being slashed due to COVID, you know, a focus around how do we make our customers happier? How do we keep them? How do we expand within them? Got so much more light shone on it, then historically, and I think that, you know, working on that side of the house, that's certainly my passion in general, but it was kind of like a thank you moment for me to see so many more people focus in on their customers because we get it especially in like b2b marketing and sales. We get so focused on like, how do we just create more pipeline, how we close more deals, how do we get more people here versus focusing in on how do we make our existing customers really successful? And that's an area especially with ABM that we saw our customers lean into more heavily versus, you know, historically how

We create awareness at companies, how do we create more pipeline that's predictable? How do we engage with people throughout the sales process, and then once they become a customer, the ABM stops, the ABM is only focused on that pre sale. And so a lot of customers came back and we're like, Okay, now we're really excited to use these channels that we already have these strategies that we already have to make our customers really successful both to save them as well to expand within them. So that's just an area that I always want to hit on, when it comes to ABM, because it's always so thought of as a pre sale strategy. But the whole point is that it's a, it's about the full customer lifecycle. So the more that you can do there to support folks on the back end, the happier they're going to be, the more they're going to stay with you, the longer they're going to stay with you and the more they're going to spend with you. So that fits into ABM just as much as you know that awareness conversation.

Mike: Absolutely. So that's a brilliant point. I think look after your customers and an ABM is a great tool to do that. Yeah. And so if anyone's listening to the podcast, and they're, you know, either interested in talking to you or interested in learning more about Terminus, what's the best way to get in contact and find out more?

Shea: Yeah, I mean, terminus.com is best place to go just to learn broadly about ABM as well as how we fit into the market. tonnes of great content there, but I'm also happy to answer questions point you in the right direction. Anyone can email me Shay sh eae at Terminus COMM And that'll get in front of me.

Mike: Fantastic. Well, thank you so much. Your time has been fascinating, and I'm sure a lot of listeners would be interested to, you know, take their ABM to the next level after hearing this.

Shea: Yeah, really appreciate the time is a fun combo. So thanks. Thanks very much.

Mike: 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.


A Napier Podcast: Interview with Andrew Hally - Bynder

In this podcast episode, we interview Andrew Hally, Chief Marketing Officer at Bynder, a digital asset management platform.

Andrew shares how digital asset management has evolved over the last few years, and how Bynder helps companies 'scale-up', using DAM to power the digital experience.

Transcript: Interview with Andrew Hally - Bynder

Mike: 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 latest episode of marketing b2b technology, the podcast from Napier. Today I'm joined by Andrew Halley, who's the CMO of Bynder. Welcome to the podcast. Andrew.

Andrew: Thanks, Mike. It's great to be here.

Mike: Great. So, bynder is a company that does Digital Asset Management. But before we talk about the company in detail, can you tell me a little bit about yourself and how you ended up in this sector of marketing technology?

Andrew: Yeah, sure. Happy to my so I guess most importantly, I'm, I'm here in Boston. speaking to you from home, of course, as most of us are these days, after, you know, starting my career after school and consulting in venture capital for few years, the last, you know, slightly more than two decades, I've been doing software software as a service and marketing. I really my favourite stage, having done kind of, you know, raw pre product startup through larger public companies is, is the scale up stage right? When a company's figured out how to solve an important problem for customers. And it's all about, you know, scaling that up. So that's, that's what Bynders at that stage. About half my career has been in the mahr tech realm. Also, I really enjoy, you know, marketers are always happy to tell their stories. I love you know, that the technology of marketing. So it's been an industry that I've been in. So when, when Bynder was looking for marketing leadership back in 2019, it was a great, a great fit.

Mike: Fantastic. So what is it that Bynder offers what's the what's the product you offer

Andrew: Well, as you said, the the product category is digital asset management, which we deliver, you know, as software as a service. And, you know, in doing so that's the category, but put the label on the category, but to me, we've got a really important mission. And you know, the digital assets that we take care of, it's, it's the best marketing creativity, and we really see it as our mission to take that marketing creativity and really elevate it into the heart of digital experience. You know, marketing is very digital. Now. There's a lot of technology involved. But at the end of the day, it's really the spark, it's that the heart of that creative story that makes the difference. And we really want to make sure that's part of digital experience and help brands use that to build relationships with our customers.

Mike: Excellent. So I mean, a lot of things you're trying to help marketers do, but just to, to unpack a little bit, you know, digital asset management? What exactly do you mean by that? What exactly is the software doing for marketers?

Andrew: Yes, sure. It's, um, it's a good question. You know, at its core, digital asset management is the system of record, if you will, for marketing content. It's that single source of truth. And that's what it originally was, but but through its history, digital asset management, or dam, in short, has actually taken on a much bigger role, you know, so we really kind of see, Digital Asset Management isn't in the third wave, right, the first wave, you know, like most software, it was a software that the it organisation ran on premise. And it had a pretty narrow scope, it handled big media files for broadcasting and publishing companies. But bynders were one of the vendors that then came along and pioneered dam delivered as a service with user interaction that was really great, really well designed and accessible to all marketers and and dam became the system of record across the marketing organisation to place for assets and to management manage the content lifecycle.

And so that's been kind of the paradigm that's really seeing a lot of the the industry growth and Dan become very mean mainstream. But in the last year, so, you know, as the economy rapidly went digital, right, a trend that was already happening, but accelerated by the pandemic. market has shifted. And as we're in a digital first world, digital experience became really just mission critical for most marketers. And you really don't have digital experience without creative content. So the need to have create a content powering great digital experience, has a whole bunch of new needs that have really kind of started this third wave of dam where the dam is, it's sitting in the core marketing technology infrastructure, next to data next to analytics, and driving a personalised digital experience to touch points. So started out as the system of record for assets, but now it manages the complete asset lifecycle, including powering personalised digital experiences, so it's coming on Way enough in a couple of decades.

Mike: So I mean, that's really interesting. You've covered a lot of things there. And I just like to, to dig into a couple, particularly. So you talked about originally being the system of record for digital assets. So explain that to me, is that helping marketers make sure they have the right images, the right version of the images? What do you mean by by that terminology?

Andrew: Yes, you've you've put your finger on on the core of it. Maybe one way to think of it is when when customers first come to us first, get into the market for digital asset management. Everyone puts files somewhere, right? Even if you're just a start up with one person. And typically they're putting them on either you've got, you know, computers, they're an enterprise, your own servers, and you're storing things there. Maybe it's on SharePoint, or people are using Dropbox or Box is a service and it just dumping your files into folders there. But the problem with that is, it's these systems are designed to figure out, they're not designed to make it easy for people to find content, they're not designed to make sure people find the right content content through versioning, things that are approved, you know, things like that.

So, you know, the first time that dam buyer is usually solving the kinds of operational pains you're talking about of, you know, making sure people can find the right assets, making sure it's easy for people to find them so that the content team isn't kept busy just emailing things to people. The content team isn't worried about people using the wrong asset, because the only the right one is available. And then managing managing the workflow of creating content, you know, what's what's in working process, what's approved, what is revisions that are needed, etc. So that's some of the baseline things people buy digital asset management to solve.

Mike: And then you you talked about how it extends to actually serving content dynamically. So people pulling, you know, these digital assets, these images and other content directly from the dam using a marketing automation system onto their website. How does that work?

Andrew: Right. Well, so first, in, people are still absolutely no individual marketers are going to the dab and grabbing assets as needed, right. I mean, there's lots of things that are physical in nature, right? Like, oh, we need new uniprint new posters for the store. But yeah, the when it comes to powering the digital experience now, yeah, that's exactly right. Integration with the marketing stack has really become a critical part of what what what a digital asset management does. So we've digital asset management system does. And so you mentioned marketing, automation tools, that's definitely a critical one, you know, the the, the most critical integration point is typically with the CMS, or the the content management system that powers the website, or the digital experience, platform power powering the website.

Also integrations with with e commerce, right, making sure that the right product images are, are served, that are right for the device responsive to the type of device that are optimised to have a fast experience. And then, but there's also Mike, there's also integration upstream, for example, into the creative tools, that that that marketer that creative marketers will use to generate original assets and things like that, so that we're able to integrate with those things, bring those into the, into the life side asset lifecycle, we're able to take assets and actually help automate the process of creating all the versions and variations that modern market marketing typically needs. And then we'll also integrate into workflow tools, if a marketing organisation has, you know, a write a work front or something like that we can integrate with there. So it really integration is really the name of the game. You know, after you solve those initial kind of pains of just having the right asset available

Mike Maynard 

as that that's amazing. I mean, it sounds like the dam almost disappears, and it just becomes this resource that's available everywhere. And it's not seen as a separate system.

Andrew: I think I think that's the idea. Of course, we still got, you know, the dam administrators, right to just the critical work of making sure the system's running, you know, making sure that the permissions work, that the metadata that's used to categorise assets is logical and up to date. So you do have kind of a core group of folks who are the, you know, tend to the care and feeding. But yeah, a lot of that a lot of the the important than use of the assets happens machine to machine, if you will. Cool.

Mike: I mean, just hearing the range of capabilities. I'm interested in what drives a company to buy a dam is it is it because they get into trouble because they're, they've got people using the wrong versions or using you know, images that the licence has expired. I don't know something, or people buying dams with with this idea of creating, you know, a complete integrated system from day one

Andrew: Yeah, the answer is both I think we we at Bynder, we usually think of the problems we solve and the value we deliver is there's kind of three levels, if you will. And the first level is, is, is one of the things you mentioned that that operational pain of it just marketers are wasting time getting the right asset to people, people are using the wrong asset, out of date, assets, those sorts of things. And it's, it's kind of narrow operational pain, but it can be big. So, for example, one customer of ours, Akzo Nobel, you know, when you look at across organisation of every employee having difficulty finding things, they were wasting over 1000 hours a month in aggregate, just solving that operational pain can still have big returns for the business.

So that's operational pain. But the the second level is really around helping marketing teams achieve success with critical initiatives. So think, you know, big brand pivots, as we saw a lot, you know, in 2020, rolling out new products going into a new geography integrating an acquisition, or a rebranding. And so one example would be Nord a, as a customer of ours, they're a bank with a strong footprint across northern Europe had lots of different look and feel and the different geographies they covered, and they had a goal of rebranding with a, a geography wide, consistent brand. And they just realised that was going to be tough to be successful if people couldn't find the new assets that instantiate the brand. So by having a single season system of record, it was super easy to use, everyone across the company was able to get the right things, and that that rebranding effort was successful. So that's kind of achieving critical marketing objectives that second level. And then the third is the other thing that you mentioned, were really is company strategic value, right. And, again, being successful with digital transformation, having a digital experience that sustains and grows the business. That's that kind of third strategic level of value that we're that we're starting to see Dan play more of a role in.

Mike: Thanks, Andrew, that, I mean, that's great. I'm a, I'm interested actually, it sounds like people are buying dams with a relatively short outlook. Yep, dams have got all these integrations and, you know, potentially their complexity, is it hard to, to deploy and use a dam? Or, you know, is it easier than it sounds?

Andrew: So, when we moved out of the first way, when it was kind of software that it ran into the second way, that was one of the key things that happened, right is, you know, Bynder, pioneered delivering Damn, as a service, you know, software's a service, which, you know, one of its characteristics is, it's a heck of a lot easier, you don't need to do a lot of installation, you know, you're, you're basically logging in with a browser. So that made it a lot easier to deploy, there is to really get the most out of dam, there is some level of work that goes into it, and a lot of it's just around thinking through how you want your content, you know, to look at it, you know, what was that? You know, what does the metadata need to look like? What is the what is the ways, you're going to look at your library, if you will, and if you think about when you search for products, you know, in e commerce, if you go to like a an electronics, you know, vendor, you know, like Best Buy, or Carphone Warehouse, you know, you go there, and you can slice into, you know, these dimensions of, of home versus auto and, you know, speakers, versus cassette versus turntable versus CD, audio versus video, there's a number of these dimensions, right, that, that you want to kind of think through what are right for your content.

And so there, you want to invest a little bit in that, because that's then what makes it super easy for marketers and for employees, in indeed, at the end of the day customers to find what they're looking for. So you want to have a little bit of thought there. But you can get it been running pretty quickly for those basic work, you know, solving those problems around operational problems of finding the right asset, you know, the integration into the marketing stack does that that is something also that takes more time. That's, you know, your, your plug in software together. And even though we've got 50 odd, you know, pre made connectors, you still want to do that, right. And sometimes, you know, sophisticated large enterprises actually will, will code to our API to be able to integrate with their tech stack exactly the way they want. So kind of varies on the according to the scope of what our customer is trying to accomplish.

Mike: Great. I mean, it sounds like that there's just multiple levels of what you can do that it you know, introduced Obviously more complexity but more functionality? Definitely. I've got to ask this, you know, you've talked about all these amazing capabilities, and you know, some some very large customers, you know, a dam is expensive, and they just, you know, really for large enterprises, or can smaller companies benefit?

Andrew: I think one of the great things about the SAS model is it really does help even the playing field of companies able to access the very same software, regardless of the size of the company, right? You don't you don't need to have your own large IT department who can set up servers run servers instal software, right, it's delivered by a SAS, you know, Bynder, and other SAS vendors take care of all of that. So there's definitely a lot of the, you know, even of the playing field. And, yeah, we've got, we've got customers that run the gamut, right, from, you know, some of the largest brands in the world, all the way down to, you know, startups that are really digital first, and content is a huge part of their growth plans, but they're, you know, less than 100 people. So it really does, you know, run the gamut, I think thinking recently, right, we've got customers, large enterprises, you know, like Herman Miller in the furniture space. But then we've also got amazing customers like human scale, which is a smaller provider, but doing every bit as good things and able to, they've got to make the same sort of brand pivots, right? When the world backs away from the office and spin up, direct to consumer businesses spin up work from home categories, and they're able to do that just as well as multi billion dollar companies.

Mike: Interesting. I mean, you mentioned this, this move to direct to consumer, I can see, you know, how being able to serve personalised content would help. I mean, do you still see a big demand in in what I call, you know, the conventional, big b2b sector, so people selling, you know, large engineering products or something to other organisations?

Andrew: Yes, definitely. what we refer to as industrials, large b2b companies like that is one of one of our strongest industries in there. If you think about what they're offering, you can see how digital asset management's important, right? These sorts of companies are like, take Syngenta as a customer, they've got hundreds, or perhaps even 1000s, right of products, lots of technical detail about it that needs to be served up correctly. So there's a lot of kind of, you know, complexity in what the offering is that they've got, and it needs to be just right, because these are, you know, industrial sorts of products, you can't have errors in there. Sometimes it's regulated, right? In the case of like, you know, healthcare related things, pharmaceutical stuff like that. So, yeah, it's, um, that's one of our strongest use cases, a lot of complexity there that digital asset management can help tame a mare.

Mike: It sounds like you're saying that they're using bynder to make sure that, you know, for example, if somebody is interested in a product, they're serving up the right photo, and the right data and the right information, is that, is that how they're using it?

Andrew: That's right, that's exactly right. Yep. It's, um, sometimes it's integrated with other technology, such as Product Information Management, or Pam, that that's going to have a lot of that, you know, technical specifications around industrial products, and Bynder will serve up, you know, imagery, or perhaps documents related to it, you know, guides, how to videos, things like that.

Mike: Interesting. And one of the things I think a lot of people might be interested in is obviously, Bynder or another dam will serve up content, but how does that interact with, you know, following style guides? Is there a way to use a dam to ensure that you're, you know, observing more of the rules and regulations in a style guide

Andrew: Absolutely, that's a great example, Mike of some functionality that, that digital asset management has added, you know, as its evolved from its its early days, is just storing big media files. Yeah, and so, you know, initially what happened is, you know, brands will have a style guide, it's a static document. And that's one of the things that's actually in the dam, so you can go find the style guide. But, you know, in the last few years, it's become much more popular to actually have the style guide be more of a living. html based document isn't really even right word. It's a brand guideline. It's accessible. It's accessible online, and much more dynamic than kind of static PDF so things can change on the fly. You've got new logos there instantaneously updated, you're not worrying about some agency or business partner having an old style guide, you know, as a PDF sitting on their hard drive. So that's definitely one of the more popular, typically add on modules for digital asset management.

Mike: Interesting. So you presumably then have people with different access rights to be able to update different areas of the style guide, for example, or simply be able to read the style guide and not change it?

Andrew: Sure if that's right, a lot of times it's publicly available, right? I mean, like you say, That's owning the style guide is the the job of the creative team, the brand team. And then, you know, a solution like Bynder lets you have very fine grained access and rights, such that it could be made available to partners or you know, a lot of them. You know, like Burton, fully available, anyone can see it, they're, they're happy to have people see all the great stuff that they've got.

Mike: Great. No, I mean, that sounds really interesting. Um, another feature we touched on it didn't really go into any detail was was versioning. Does this mean that, that a product like Bynder can help people during the development of assets as well as serving finished assets?

Andrew: Yes, that's been one of the, you know, the areas that dam has grown into, you know, managing that whole content lifecycle. There's a there's an element of this kind of managing a creative process where, you know, okay, who's going to develop this one, which of the creative team, do they have a when they have a rev, who reviews it, who approves it? What comments are made, get incorporated, then finalise this kind of a workflow? element. But I think one thing that's really exciting and that kind of the value that Dan brings to the content creation process, is to automate and distribute a lot of the simple but high frequency changes that need to be made to content in a globalised digital world. So if you if you, let's take a hypothetical English brand British brand that's doing languages across the continent, maybe five different languages, they need to localise to, let's say that they're advertising across Google and Facebook. Google has 12, different IAB standard content sizes and formats they use, Facebook has five. And then let's say they're really ahead of the curve and tried to do a B testing for just about everything they do right to test their way to the most effective content. So for each ad, or each piece of digital content they want to create if they're doing all of that, that's 20, size versions, five different languages, and two different testing variations. That's about 200 versions of each piece of content, so a lot to be done way too much for individual creatives to do. But since those changes are very simple, straightforward, they're repeated, those are the kinds of things that damn can help us templates to share the work of creating localised versions, share these all these versions, or automate some of them in some cases, and really not completely overwhelm the creative team.

Mike: So that the dam is is effectively providing the template and then the team responsible for localization is perhaps just putting in the, the local language, is that is that how it's working? Or is it more complex?

Andrew: That's, that's essentially right. The only element I would add to that quick story is, you know, upfront the creative team, they are creating the template. So they're using their usual tools, you know, frequently something like Adobe's Creative Cloud, to create that initial asset. But instead of creating a final asset, they're creating something that's going to intentionally be turned into a template. Bynder takes that asset, and then allows the creative team to set the the guardrails, if you will of that template, you know, what are the things that the local marketing teams are going to be able to change? Maybe they could use, you know, only, only the colours that are in the official style guide. Maybe they're allowed to change the call to action copy, they can switch out the images, but only for ones that are, you know, approved for usage within the dam.

So the the creative team, you know, puts those guidelines puts those guardrails along around what is permitted for the downstream teams to do but then just as you said, then the local teams can can localise the copy for their language or, you know, if it's social media team, it's another big use case. They can change exactly what said the images right so they're relevant to whatever social media conversation is interesting for The day. And this can be done for images and video. But yeah, so it's tip like it's created dancers the template and then marketers are allowed to really much more quickly kind of take that piece of content and then do that last bit of personalization of tweaking of localization for their deeds on their own, much faster. And that's really how you can kind of scale content creation to support the volumes needed for, you know, modern digital experience.

Mike: And is that one of the driving factors behind you know, the, the growth of bynder and the use of dams is the amount of digital content, particularly if you want a B tests, and you want to localise is just getting huge compared to what it used to be, where people perhaps were doing, you know, more conservative digital activities, and perhaps a more conventional print?

Andrew: Absolutely, yeah, it's, um, supplying the volume of creative needed a fuel personalised digital experiences, absolutely, you know, just the, one of the kind of key growth drivers, I mean, that's one of the, again, it's, it's big enough that we think of it as this third wave of Damn, you know, it's it's the volume, but it's also the speed and the agility, right? Things happen fast digitally, you've got to, you can't be executing entire multi week workflows, if you're trying to fuel digital campaigns these days. So it's the volume, it's the agility, but it's also the productivity, we, we have to maintain bandwidth for our creators to still do what they do best, which is coming up with, you know, impactful visual storytelling that can grab an audience in that microsecond we've got when they view an ad online, right, and engage them and build the brand online. So we've got to accomplish all three of these and taken care of the digital drudge work, if you will, by having the damn help with that throwing software at that problem. I think that's the key to, to making it work.

Mike: Interesting. And I think everyone would, would love their creatives to spend more time on the real creative ideas and, and less time on the production and producing the variants. That sounds like a huge benefit. Absolutely. Well, thank you so much for talking about a bender and dams and how, you know, digital has changed the way we think about assets. I mean, do you feel there's anything I've missed or anything else you'd like to cover?

Andrew: You know, we got, we got to talk about what I think is exciting, right? The way, the way content is really acknowledged now is a critical part of digital experience for, for a lot of my career, we've talked about data, the analytics, machine learning, all those sorts of things, which is critical, but the end of the day, it's about having great content and putting it in front of the customer at the right time. And I really, it's great to see that creativity is kind of getting its acknowledgment and getting its Do you know, even though things are so digital, and so technology driven these days,

Mike: Perfect. I mean, lastly, I'm sure there'll be people listening to this, who will be, you know, thinking, well, I really need some of these benefits for my, my organisation or my marketing team. So if people want to get in contact with you, what would be the best way

for getting in touch with a company, you know, the website, b y, nd er, calm is straightforward. And we we have a lot of conversations, you know, through through chat on the website now. So that's, that's great. People can find me very easily through LinkedIn, or Twitter at Andrew J. Holly, h Ll y comm sorry, at Andrew J. Holly, or on LinkedIn love to I always love hearing from people. I I just think what we do is so interesting. And, you know, we're blessed to be able to do it and have somebody pay for it. So I'd love to talk to other like minded people.

Mike: Perfect. Well, thanks so much for your time, Andrew, I really appreciate it. It's been a fascinating conversation. Having joined us well, Mike, stay safe. Thank you.

Mike: 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 favorite podcast application. If you'd like to know more, please visit our website at Napier b2b dot com or contact me directly on LinkedIn.