B2B Growth: Your Daily B2B Marketing Podcast
B2B Growth: Your Daily B2B Marketing Podcast

Episode 1672 · 3 months ago

Stop Avoiding Brand in the Boardroom, with Drew Neisser

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode Benji talks to Drew Neisser, Founder of Renegade and CMO Huddles. Recently named on Linkedin's 2022 list of Top Voices in Marketing and Advertising.

Today we are destroying the myth that brand is "fluffy", clearing away the clutter around brand alignment, and providing actionable steps for marketing leaders to reinforce the importance of brand in the boardroom.

Conversations from the front lines and marketing. This is be tob growth. Today, on B Tob Growth, I am so happy and thrilled to be joined by drew niser. Drew, thank you for stopping by B Tob Growth. Sir, Oh my God, thank you for having me. It's amazing to be here and I am so grateful for any podcaster for what they do, because it is a lot of work. It's some work, but you have been putting in work. Let me list off your resume of sorts, drew. So you are the founder of renegade and CMO huddles recently named on Linkedin's two thousand and twenty two list of top voices in marketing and advertising. That's a pretty cool list to be on. So congratulations there. Thank you. It is and you know that. And I think about seven dollars will get you a cup of coffee at starbucks. But no, it's really an honor. What the coolest part is there's some amazing people on that list that I have a lot of respect for. So to be on the list, it all was like, Oh wow, that's good company. Yeah, yeah, well, one other thing I wanted to mention right here on the top. You recently came out with your new book, I got it right here, sit next to me, renegade marketing. We're going to touch on some of the twelve steps of building an unbeatable be tob brand in today's conversation, in both directly and indirectly. But a book is no small feet. I know you've done this, what a few times now. This is book number two. Book Number One was the CMOS periodic table, a renegade guide to marketing, and that was the book. That was a lot easier to write, because I had done a hundred interviews and someone said, drew, there's got to be a book there, and so I sort of this periodic table came as a way of doing it. This book was a lot more work. It was literally four years in the making. Who Well, we're about to get four years of wisdom in this one episode of BB grows. So everybody buckle up. But here's what we want to talk about today because, for a really a litany of reasons, something that I see happen in B Tob c suites is there is a word that almost I don't know if I would say it gets glossed over or it doesn't get talked about like it should, and the word is brand. The word is brand. And you had a conversation with a couple CMOS who had recently gone through an IPO process and when it came to marketing, they both had experienced some similar hurdles. Right. Would you kind of outline what those hurdles were for us through? Well, the interesting thing about an IPO is that it's the only moment in time and marketing where it's a you either win, as in you get the IPO, or you lose, and so that zero some game doesn't exist. I mean most of the time we might hit our sales targetter just miss it or exceed it, but here's the case, you either hit it or you don't, and so the result is that everybody in the leadership team has to put together a really clear and coherent plan to get there right, because there's no second chance. You either make it or you don't. And part of the interesting thing that comes up is what role will marketing play? Let's assume the IPO goes through. What role will marketing play in the growth of the the future of the company? And it's almost always we're underspending on marketing or we're not spending as much as we could if we had more here's the multiplier effect that we would get, which is, you know, we're doing a fundraiser to raise money for something, right. But what's so interesting is that everyone who's gone through an IPO as a marketer has really tight metrics, like underably tight metrics. And, by the way, the CFO agreed with them, the CEO agreed with them, the salesperson agreed, and so you have a unified moment, which is often rare, where you talk about here's the size of...

...the opportunity, here's where our brand is in relationship to that opportunity. But if we had more money and we did these three things, we could grow and it's just so interesting and it's one of those things where I kind of wish every CMO had to go through it, because if every CMO did, first of all two things would happen. One, the organization would be aligned and to CMO would have better metrics that were both on the brand and demand front. So longwinded answer, I think, to your question. I like the long winded answer at tell me, in your experience and in these conversations, you mentioned alignment and then you also mentioned these metrics. What are some of those key metrics that this process that, once they've gone through it, they're really paying attention to? So it's a combination of things and it really somewhat depends on where the brand is. But if you look at marketing and you say, all right, this is company x and there are let's say be to be and they're targeting enterprises, there might only be any given year a hundred, two, hundred, five, hundred, a thousand opportunities, for example. So first job is to figure out how many opportunities are out there, how many people are actually looking to buy the product or service that you sell, and then how many opportunities did you get within that buying group? And so you had there were a hundred opportunities, but you only got ten R of P's. You have a problem with awareness, right. It's a so you have a really simple but if you are an eighty percent of them but you're only winning ten percent of and then you have a closing problem and you have sort of this in between. So the first the other thing you have to do is in your metrics is figure out do we have a market place and are there people actually shopping for our product and, if so, how many of them are considering us? And and this is where you know it sounds so basic, but you'd be amazed how few do this in and the breakdown of this is if you're not focused. In my whole book is about focused. If you are not focused, you will fail, because marketing is it's too time consuming. Forget about any investment you make in terms of media. It takes so much time to get organizational alignment and get sales and everybody ready to sell against the marketing idea that you're putting in a market that if you don't have a clear target and a clear focus and understand Oh, we have an awareness problem or we have a consideration problem or we have that kind of problem, and chances are you're solving the wrong problem and then you're just sort of doing what we call the peanut better effect. You're just doing everything to see what sticks. HMM, yeah, that, man. How often are we guilty of that? Okay, so I got to tell you my background in was not in the be tob space. So I came into marketing. I loved like the design, the brand side and the creative right and then the last few years being more steeped in this be tob space, I've been, I would say, a little bit underwhelmed with how brand is discussed. I think it's a word that can easily be maybe avoided, and you see this too. How have you come to that realization? What are some of the the ways that you see this playing itself out right now? So about every six to eight months in Cmo huddles, which are these moderated round table conversations that you know. You you mentioned I founded this company. Anyway, when we start talking about brand, my first question is how many of you can actually use the word brand in the sea suite or with your board of Advisors? And now this is particularly true in the startup world, but it's pretty pervasive in B tob is. Less than half can actually use the word. And so they have these splsms. Oh we're doing revenue marketing, Oh this is air cover marketing. Oh this is some other thing,...

...but this is brand, a activation, it's active brand. I mean you know the makeup combinations of things. Sure, anything to avoid the word brand, because brand is fluffy, brand is color and logo. At least that's what people who don't know what brand can really be, which is the core of a company. You know, you brand starts with values and purpose and and where you want to go, and then it gets translated into design. So for those who don't understand that and see it as Fluffy, oh, I don't want to spend any money on that. I only want to spend money on demand generation. Like there could be demand generation with brand. I mean so, and a very simple example. If you are, let's say you're looking for a house painter, just for the and you go to the house painters website and you see pictures, very poor, loppy pictures of houses, you're going to say, Oh God, I don't know if I could trust that. You know that. Okay, later, right, it's just it's not there's a disconnect. So brand started, starts to infiltrate every aspect of a business and if it isn't well thought through and it isn't well designed, you can have a problem. But there's so much more to it than design. HMM. See. Okay, because it can be perceived as fluffy, yes, and because brand is a word that comes with some baggage, yes, probably needs some sort of raining in in a sense, and I wonder if you would just maybe walk us through what we're talking about specifically in this episode. Drew, when when we say the word brand, like what, what all does that mean to you? So let's start with some very basic things. And one of the things, the reason that I can call the book renegade marketing, is that I really try to flip things upside down. Most be tob marketers start with prospect then they go to customer, then they go to employ and I said that's wrong. Most sort of think about channels and and verticals and I said now we got to start. We got to start with strategy and then we got to start with employees, customers and prospects. So when you have a well defined brand, every single employee in the company can, in one sentence, summarize what it is that you as an organization, why they exist, everything I want them to do that. It is the absence of brand that has employees scratching their head saying, I don't know, I do we exist? Why? Why are we here? I don't know, it's a job, it pays me money, I come, I work, I leave. Brand is this sticky thing that allows employees to be emotionally connected. It's this sticky thing that gets customers to want to show up and act like a community where you you know you think of I think of brands like Marquetto or tableau, where they're the employee that customers who go to Marquetto nation they're identifying as like Marquettoites, as are they feel or Tabloisian's right, they're part of this community. That's when you know you've really brand exists as an idea with your employees and your customers with tremendous clarity. There's there's a unquestionable amount of I know what this brand, this company, stands for. HMM, okay. So in my head I go well, that sounds great. Why doesn't every company just want that? You know, and there's a desire for it, but I see a gap in the time waited to address it. So Oh, we'll put off marketing until this part of the processes complete. Until why is it put off in your mind?...

What are some of those common denominator factors that push it down the road and isn't something that we address now? Well, in the old days you couldn't really probably succeed without brand, but today you can create a minimally viable product, as they call it an MVP, you can put it out on the web, you can charge nothing for it, you can get a lot of people to use the product or service right without a tremendous amount of energy and without really having thought about that much what the company stands for. And it only gets a point where you can't get anymore you can get any more people to download it right, or you can't where the people oh now, or we need to get him to pay money for it, or and suddenly you can't just rely on Google search anymore, or you know keywords to drive your business and then suddenly sort of the folks in the organization realize Oh, or another place that happens is, and this is so interesting at this happened recently in one of our huddles. One of the CMO mention that they had won two businesses recently. This is an enterprise company based on a culture match, based on the the the buying committee looked at the culture of the company and said these are people I can do business with. The are people I want to do business with. Their values share and align with our values. And so you know, if you look at values and culture and then go straight from there to brand and you have a company that is winning deals not on price but because of, in this case, the culture. You have a brand, you know, and so the reason people don't do it is because they can get away with it to a certain extent without it. HMM. I think of even this idea of founder led sales as early on it's also founder led marketing without you realizing it, because the founder holds so much of the vision and the mission and all that. And so in those startup days, without knowing it, because you don't have a ton of founders who have a background in marketing, but they're doing some of that motion, and then there's like a handoff that needs to happen. In a lot of times it gets handed off the sales and then, oh well, once we prove out sales, then we'll add marketing. But you started missing a piece because that vision that was held in that marketing, that was in that founder, doesn't go to anybody for a while. Yeah, you're right. I mean in many startups the founder and the brand are inseparable. HMM. And that's good until the founder gets in trouble, as sometimes happens, or goes off the deep end, as sometimes happens. But I'm thinking about where this really you would think enterprise sale, where you're selling to a buying committee of fifteen people, and you would say, well, this has got to be about price and functionality. And it will blow you away to realize how many times deals are lost in this eighteen month sales cycle because there were inconsistencies in the story that we're told the the the CFO was told one story, the security guy was told another story, the operations person was told another story. When they all came together they were describing a different animal. MMM and and they couldn't agree on why it was that they wanted this product or service. And again, what that discipline of brand forces. And you know, what I try to do in my book is radically simplify all of this and say let's get our story, we call it a purpose driven the story statement, down to eight words or less. There you go, get it down to eight words or less. I give you a quick example. And then the book I tell the story of case paper. Case papers a seventy seven year old family run paper company. I mean this is literally they sell paper, they...

...chop it up, they send it to printers. It's is generic as it gets. The office is based on it exactly, almost and then they have a lot of fun with it. But what distinguished this brand is their sense of service, be above and beyond. And so the brand, the purposer of the story statement, is on the case, case paper, on the case. Now there's another element to it. They're funny company. They've always it's been funny. They're humorous, say they build relationships. They're a joker arc type brand. So on the actually sits on top of their logo. It's a heretical move. We broke the you know, the fourth wall. We put on the overcase and everything they do has a sense of humor. So now every single employee. You say, so what's our company stand where we're on the case? Well, what's that mean? While we're reliable, resourceful and responsive. And so those are the three things, those are the guiding lights. Game over. Everybody knows what we're doing. Yep, and and that's how simple brand can be. Now there are colors involved in this and there's, you know, there's the logo treatment and there's all sorts of other things, but at the core of this is a big promise to the market place. I love what you just did because you tied in, both external and internal, the power of alignment around brand right, because alignment is something, and this goes back to the beginning of our conversation with the whole IPO process. Alignment can be forced because it has to happen, or it can be something that you choose. Know, we're going to get our stuff together and we're going to do this thing and and misalignment is the enemy, right, we all know that in business. But again, just a simple phrase that we all have memorized or just that we can give away. Then people aren't confused, right, when you got to go to the whole buying committee, know, we know exactly what we do and we're communicating this clearly to you, no matter who you talked to in the organization. Yeah, and I'm going to step back further and so yes to everything that you said. The thing about employees as this untapped army of advocates is is so important. So if you're thinking about a rebranding process, one of the things in the book, and by the way, any of your listeners, if they want this chapter, I'm happy to send it to him. They can just hit me up on Linkedin. But is do an employee survey at the very beginning of whatever brand proper. You should do one anyway, on an annual basis. We list in the book all the questions that you can start with as as a way of doing it. It's so easy. But here's the thing. You're asking your employees for your opinion, for their opinion. They feel part of the process and when you come back to them with where you're changing things, so say, oh, that's cool, I knew it was coming, I was part of the process. Oh, and I can even see how some of the things that I said are showing up here. So this is this goal mine called employees. That marketer sort of forget all that's hrs to domain. That's our internal army. And then we once we do that, we go to customers and we say, Hey, we're thinking about this as our next brand idea. How does that align with the way you think about us? And hopefully you've already done your customer interviews before you rebrand anyway. But you get customer alignment, because the worst thing they can have is so first thing is you have a new brand. This happens and I no cases where it happens. You don't tell the employees about it. You go to market with employs as that's us. That's not us, that's not the company I work for. So it fails there. So you call the eight hundred number and say, Hey, I want to talk to you about being on the case. They go what, I'm not on the case. Yeah, you got the wrong company. Then you you go to customers with this thing and they that's not who I'm working with, they're not on that case. So have this disconnect. You don't even have a chance of getting...

...any new customers if your employees aren't on board and your customers on them aren't on board. I mean, and it's that's a simple idea, but I got to tell you, in the research that we did up to the book lesson sixty know, something like eighty percent of the bbcmos that we surveyed allowed less than a month for internal employee communications. And I'm going to harp on this for a second to take you one step further. In an ideal world, a rebrand is not a new logo, it is not six words, it is an organizational commitment to change behavior in a remarkable way. So if you're Etna and you say to the outside world you don't join us, we join you. You spend six months retraining employees on how to do that. HMM. So you're making a new promise to the market place and you've trained employees on how to deliver it. So, for example, if you call the call center at Etna and you say, Hey, I need to prove all on a knee surgery, they'll say okay, great, I got it. But also most people who do knee surgeries want to get PT afterwards. Now imagine what that did. Suddenly we went from I wanted approval to wow, you added value. Well, that was part of the retraining that goes with this thing. So you know, too much of the reason people can't use the word brand is it sounds superficial, and often is. When we talk about renegade marketing, we're talking about something that is incredibly substantive. It is a set of actions that ideally are a value to your employees, customers and prospects. It's so cool when it works. It is. It is very cool when it works and it's complicated because it's not. It's not as easy as throwing new colors on it and just doing the quote unquote fluffy stuff. So I wonder even there, with that that many rant that drew just gave us, what, when you think of retraining around brand, what are some of those crucial things you can do to kind of force that alignment internally so you're all sort of back on the same page, because some people have that quick sentence or whatever. But like, obviously alignment drips and shifts and all sorts of things and you have to bring it back. So one of the things that I talked about a little bit in the book of this idea called a plan on the page. And so we have our purpose, drive the story, statement of on the case, right, and in fact you can you can download on on unning Acom when you find the book. You can find a plan on a page for actually this one. And so let's say we want to get employees involved with on the case. So you do an on the case, a words program, and you let everyone employe. We're going to have the employee the month is going to be based on their ability to either be a reliable, responsive or resourceful or, ideally all three. Great. We're going to include some aspect of on the case in employee valuations. Right. So boom, all of a sudden I got to pay attention. We're going to do a fun little video to introduce the idea. Super Goofy, because we're a count you know. It is a joker brand, but a fun idea of going to the extreme to deliver customer service. So very funny little video that you did and a bunch of other things that get employees excited about it. We only need sex. Believe it or not, now it took place probably a year and a half to complete all of the employee and all of the customer activities, HMM, before they actually took it to the marketplace. Yeah, that work, that extra one. I mean it's time right like that. I think that's one of the main reasons why we have brand all wrong is because we think it's a quick sort of fix, quick problem solved, when in reality there's a lot of time involved actually get everything that's involved around brand properly sort of set up right. And then so often, will you know, is when I put my agency had on, we'll get a call and say hey, we need a new brand...

...and we have three weeks and will say, you know, buy the book, knock yourself out, because you really can't do a good job in three weeks because you can't do the employee assessment, you can't do the customer assessment, you can't do the market place, you can't do the homework that you need. And so the result is you're going to have you're going to get the executive committee together and you're going to ask so, what do you think? And what do you think, and what do you think? And you're going to get an opinions and somebody's going to say, I really believe in this. And so that's the brand. And and the thing is that in that moment in time you have defeated the idea, because it's like a house and and he's a really strong foundation, because otherwise it just, you know, you huff and you put your blow that sucker down really easily. So it is worth taking the time, if you're going to make a change, to get it right, because there's always time to fix it. But if you really shortcut this process, it's rare that you will get something amazing. When I think practically about what we're inviting listeners into and this episode and I'm thinking about all that's involved in brand, I mean there's a million sort of a house we could give people. Hey, try this or do this, but a lot of what it comes down to for for me, drew, is like I want people to have mindset shifts that they can carry forward with them. Right and no, that's the desire of yours as well. And obviously when you write a book and you have that type of medium, you're trying to do that in a longer for worm way. But what would you tell us as we start to wrap up this episode around maybe some mindset shifts or some house to practically approach brand and maybe a new way? So this is the so at the end of chapter one, which is called clear away the clutter, I have something that I call the clear away the clutter pledge, and if you don't mind, I'm just going to read it, because everything start here. So, and this is for the leader of the Marketing Organization, but we could do this for our personal brands. To I will focus relentlessly on a handful of strategic projects or priorities. Right. I will have the courage to say no, two distractions, no more. Hey, look, squirrel, we're not going to do that. I will delegate everything except the things only I can do that move the organization forward. I won't add am I to do list without taking something off of it. Thank you, Marie. CONDO. Bring in a new piece of clothes. We got to take one out, and I will block thirty minutes a day for thinking big. And the reason this chapter is so important is, again, it gets you in the mindset. We're not going to try to boil the ocean, we're not going to try to solve every single problem, but we have a path to success. By tightening up everything right, we're gonna get a little bit of focus and that focus is going to be incredibly liberating. Love a true has been a fascinating conversation. I mean you give away twelve steps in the book to building and Unbeatable Bee to be brand we there's no way we could have covered all twelve, but you did a great job of bringing in some of what we're considering when we think of be to be branding and all that goes into it. Any final thoughts as we start to wrap up here? You know I so in the book there's one. There's a framework called Cat's courageous, artful, thoughtful and scientific, and I like this framework for a number of reasons, because it is a progression and you got to start with a courageous strategy, because if you don't dare to be distinct, you're going to just be the same as everybody else. Artful ideation is just recognizing there is this element of design, there is the element of copy. These things matter and you can do this. And then we get to thoughtful execution. And what I like about thoughtful execution is we're not trying to get...

...your attention, we're trying to deliver things of value. That's the thoughtful part. None of us want to be sold to. All of us could welcome information that we either that makes this laugh or as helpful to us in one aspect of our life. And then, lastly, and here's the fun part of this world, you can be courageous, artful and thoughtful and still fail. And you could fail because you don't use the scientific method, you don't have a little bit of math, and I'm a lot of marketers go south on this one. It's not that hard. In the book I talk a lot about how you can create very inexpensive ways of monitoring your your success. So beat cats, be the cool cats of marketing and you'll kill it. We will be the cool cats. I love it. Well, drew thank you so much for stopping by be to be growth. For those that want to pick up the book you, I know you've mentioned it a little bit here in that the episode, but tell us how we can best connect with you, and then what renegades doing as well? Sure so you can can renegade on renegadecom. You can find the book there. Books also available and for formats on Amazon and I always welcome you know, hit me up on Linkedin. Let me know you listen to the episode. If you want a chapter of the book, I'm happy to send you one. Fantastic. Can connect with me over on Linkedin as well. Just Search Benjie Block and we're having conversations like this one that we just had withdrew all the time here and be to be growth. We love these conversations to help inform and our own innovation right in our marketing strategies. So make sure, if you have yet to subscribe to the show, to do that on whatever your favorite podcast platform is. We're releasing new episodes five days a week and so we really appreciate you subscribing to the show. Drew, thanks for being here on be to be growth. Men, Benjie, thank you, man five shows a week. It's incredible. Good for you, it's fun and I love I love getting to chat with you, and we know our listeners get a ton out of this. So to everybody listening, Hey, keep doing work that matters and will be back real soon with another episode. If you enjoyed a day show, hit subscribe for more marketing goodness. And if you really enjoyed today show, take a second to rate and review the podcast on the platform you're listening to it on right now. If you really really enjoyed this episode, share the love by texting it to a friend who would find it insightful. Thanks for listening and thanks for sharing.

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