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

Episode 1661 · 6 months ago

Broad Offerings Simplified with Chris Lynch

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode, Benji interviews Chris Lynch, Chief Marketing Officer at Mindtickle.

B2B marketers are constantly trying to simplify complicated, broad offerings. Honing the craft of distilling the complex into plain English is top of mind for many of us and today Chris imparts his learned wisdom providing a way forward for us to do exactly that.

Conversations from the front lines and marketing. This is be to be growth. Chris Lynch, welcome in, to be to be growth. Where honored to have you here on the show. Thanks for having me. Happy to be here, absolutely so. You are the CMO at mine tickle. But I'm going to hit you with like a massive rewind real quick and let's talk about your path before being a chief marketing officer. You went journalism back in the day and then to some product marketing and then into this chief marketing officer role. So, Chris, tell us a little bit of that, that journey and what led you to where you are now. It's hard to know where to begin sometimes because I feel like if you had asked me when I was twenty three if I'd be CMO of a company of any size, I would have been like what, what's a CMO? But really what ended up happening was I went to school for Journalism and then, at the time it was still in vogue back then if you were in journalism that you wanted to get into like, you know, politics or sports or some of the more like sexy topics that we all kind of consume daily. But I was really interested in technology. So I was like well, let's go see what's happening in that world and I was working for a company called IDG, International Data Group. They owned a variety of tech publications and I eventually moved to San Francisco and at the time you had companies like twitter, facebook, Google. They weren't they were big, but they weren't like the behemous they are now. They were more sort of in their nascent stages, and so I started getting into that world and just by observation started making a lot of different sources in the community. Came very close to one of my first mentors again, named Ross Mayfield, who basically convinced me to come in and do marketing at a small startup, and it was again something that I was like wow, market, I never even thought of doing that before. There were probably the practical realities of I was a starving journalist living in San Francisco, which even back then, the cost of living being what it was, there was maybe some practical realities of getting into marketing, but I got in and you started to realize that a lot of the skill sets from journalism are much more broadly applicable and marketing than one might have thought. Hmm, give me one that you think maybe people don't realize but has been a huge value ad for you. Well, the one that I can kind of think of emerged really on day one of my job. So I got into my first marketing job and the great thing for me as I sat in the bullpen with sales, that was my desk. They put me right in the fray, right and I'm listening to them cold call all all day where they're just hitting up prospects, hitting...

...their pitch. I remember see next this Guy Scott Shnars, who has now gone on to a really great successful software career. Selling career already had been successful at that point, but listening to him hone his pitch, you could hear him evolve it as he was kind of going through and so on one hand I'm thinking, I'm looking at thinking like the art of the pitch and like messaging, articulation and like that whole side, which is obviously super critical to marketing. Then I would go spend another portion of my day talking with engineers and product people and it was a world that, while I was not a technologist, because I had covered technology, I got fairly adept at asking what might have sounded like dumb questions, but I just didn't have that hang up mentally and but figuring out that people didn't think they were dumb questions at all and would be all too happy to impart a here's how an API works, here's how you know this technology talks to this other technology, and I would take notes just like I would as a journalist. So then as I went to start writing my first marketing collateral, we're talking little one page PFS, like very tactical stuff. I realize that I had a n act for it. I had a NACT for talking to the technologists but putting that into something that was very plain English for the go to Market Organization at the company to understand but, most importantly, are customers to understand. And that was really like what kind of barred me on the path from hey, marketing's kind of interesting to getting into product marketing specifically. Wow, what? Honestly, that leads us right into a big time problem I see in B tob because companies can often have a ton of offerings right. They have this like array of services. They've developed products that are useful in segments, but these broad offerings, I mean we have to somehow clarify it, we have to somehow have a voice, and you are able to do that rightight by distilling what was maybe jargon and asking the question that other people would be maybe afraid to ask or think, all it's dumb. If I ask, then you realize like, oh no, if I can put this in plain English, I'm I'm adding a ton of value, you're clarifying your voice. So you've experienced that now in numerous different companies and roles. Tell me a little bit about how you've seen that play out since then and maybe other other companies you've worked. For sure, this is one of those other happenstance things, right. I for never thought that I'd get into marketing, number one, and then the kind of follow onto that was. I never even after that, probably wouldn't have imagined that my specialty would come in portfolio marketing, which it kind of has. So really where that kind of emerged. My first really big management role was at Oracle and I ran product marketing for the marketing cloud business n at there, and if you've worked a lot of your listeners you know probably can kind of remember where those advent of the marketing cloud wars between adobe...

...oracle sales. Course they're scooping up, gobbling up all these companies. I was doing that a oracle part of the business unit, bringing in things like Eliqua responses, Blue Ki, a lot of great companies that have been doing interesting things in the MARTECH space. While all that's coming in, you have sales teams coming in, you have marketing teams coming in, you have product teams coming in and they've spent their whole time up and to that point convincing the market that their singular product is the best thing in the world. Can do all these different things and they're bringing that to the table and suddenly my job was to almost be first like the arbiter of saying, yeah, I get that you can do those twenty things, but in the context of this larger portfolio, I really only care about that one pick. We need to one, maybe two things right, and because I'm basically going in and picking out like the one or two things that I thought were the most substantive about that product. So number one, I think no matter how big your portfolio is as a marketer, you really have to kind of have a little constitution and stand tall around saying I get that you know those other things are important, but we really have to push hard into this one area because that has the most value for our customers. Secondly, I'm a big believer in having a really thoughtful approach to how you build out messaging frameworks. I think most messaging frameworks it seems like such a boring exercise to a lot of marketers. I think they kind of think of it as a really academic kind of ivory tower exercise. So what you should do is not make it that. You should actually make it hyper creative. And what I did at Oracle eventually did this decision, which also was a buy acquisition where I was that was my first CMO job and that was a highly acquisitive company. And then my tickle, where we've built a lot of solutions out. I've basically created very plain English frameworks right where you kind of say hey, out of all these different technologies, they basically do three things. Right at Oracle it was like they either unified data, they engage your audience or they help you analyze performance. And suddenly we could kind of take all of these different puzzle pieces that we had and you just threw them into those buckets. And it just cuts so clarifying. Yeah, it just creates it. And first it quates clarity as a marketer because you're like, oh, finally I can figure out how to even just talk about this stuff. But then what ends up happening is that stuff gets operationalized around like the entire organization, like suddenly they're looking at all the sales consultants are building stuff off of that, the sales managers are thinking about, well, this person index is really well here in these areas, so I need to train them up more in this other bucket. HMM.

That I think is super critical is I'm a big believer in those framework should be very direct and get at the core of what each of one of those things do. HMM, as you look across this the Sass landscape right now, give me some examples of companies that offer an array of services and options and maybe you're watching them and your thinking they're just doing a great job, like is there, is there someone that you are going for all that they're the complexity that they're managing, they're doing a fantastic job at messaging and being clear on the key simple ones. A few years ago I would have said that sales force was in that category. I not to be critical of them because I think they do some amazing things as a company and I think the the bones of that company are still really strong in terms of all the other things they do outside of the commercial side of their business. I want to be very careful any time I talk anything that sounds negative about sales force, but I think their portfolio has become very complex and they have a lot of like Oracle and I sap like problems in terms of how they do messaging. Now it's they still kind of have, you know, they've gone this sort of route with like the cartoon and the all that stuff that kind of keeps everything light, but if you actually get into the mechanics of their website and some other things, I think it's become very complex. So a company that I think is doing a good job. We're continues to do a good job, although they'll be tested as they get into more known, as is adobe. HMM. I think adobe. You know, they've gone into a lot of stuff now because they have like the PDF and kind of docusign competitive business. They had the kind of core creative cloud business, which is like in their bread and butter forever, going back to when they were, you know, warn the consumer realm primarily right as their only business. And then you have everything that I've been doing with marketers. But even that one is a little bit could be made complicated by the fact that they're kind of also into e commerce, which had a lot of companies. Is a slightly different buyer than the CMO. And so I go to their site and it's just so darn clean. They yeah, they still do a very serious life across the good of just like if you're in marketing and commerce, come this way, if you're in creative, come this way, if you're interested in that PDF stuff, come this way and HMM. And I think that that's a really it'll be hard for them to maintain. That's why I said I think sales force was still kind of there a while ago where it was sort of like hey, where we've expanded into sales, called marketing, cloud service, COD etc. But I you know, they've, like any company that when you the more stuff you bring in, the more complexity you bring and it makes doing these a lot harder. So I sympathize in any context. Yeah, there's there's just so many tensions as something scales and grows and the size complexities are there and sales forces a great example of that, where they're doing some...

...things just extremely well, but they're also having to manage some tensions because of the size of the getting to what are some of those other common tensions? You see threads that companies that scale and then it's like, oh my gosh, we have so many offerings. Now they're starting to do it poorly. We don't have to give a specific example, but tell me some of those common tensions. So I think the common tensions with multiple offerings is for all, we go to so many marketing conferences. We go to and we read all the literature. We talked about customer Centricity as a community in marketing. Yet the reality is is the way that we in scent compensate and manage objectives for a lot of go to market teams in the sales, marketing and business development functions is not always completely aligned with doing the right thing for the customer. So what I mean by that is like, if you're as these portfolios grow, what ends up happening is, okay, we just acquired this thing and now we want our sellers to go start attaching it to all of their deals and then you'll have like an overlay team that comes in and they are just it's not even that veiled that they are going to be comped relative to how much this product is attached to deals. So then suddenly you're in this position where you're positioning products industry cur and sales motions that may or may not make sense for that customer to consume. I will give you one example. I don't think it's any secret right like. So, as an example, when we bought responses at Oracle, great product, fantastic product. It really, in my mind, was like the gold standard for consumer, retail and travel industry. Email marketing just really effective at doing that. We also brought but Blue Ki, which was really more around at that sort of stage in the AD tech world. How do you manage all this audience data for activation across all these different paid media channels? Now, at the go to market level, you have all of us big brains in the go to market org saying, AH, well, it's retail and CPG. There's like this great overlap between these two companies, but the reality is you go and talk to like the crm marketing or email marketing person their world was like very far removed from the person who's managing audience data and paid media. Now the natural conclusion, you know, is to say, oh, will go to there, but both their bosses eventually the same boss. Right. Sometimes that was true, by the way, sometimes it wasn't. And what I'm getting at is, like we would start building messaging on like how those two things should work together and like an observation I had pretty quickly was like yeah, like, technically speaking, the way these two products could communicate with one another and deliver more value for the customer. Yes, like hypothetically that works. The question...

...is is, like does that person really need that right now? And I think that we sort of realized that there were some challenges when we go and have those conversations, and I think our customers did a great job of keeping US honest and making sure we went back to the drawing board and came back with something that was meaningful. But that's just an example of where things can get a little murky in those areas. As you're saying that I'm we're coming off the NBA trade deadline. I don't know if you're a basketball fan, but I totally see a basketball like a reference in my head, because at the trade deadline all these things are going through and you don't know if those, in this case, those products, will actually work together. In that case, players will work well together. You see it hypothetically exactly like you said, but in reality, once they get on the court, it's completely different. Right, like the execution of that and having the right people around the table to analyze how these things can actually work together is is a huge piece of the puzzle and and if it's going to actually be valuable long term. So I see that tension. Okay, so revenue is going to be a key factor and how you position and what you position when you have a lot that you could offer. Right, but outside of revenue, what are your thoughts on like, what are you taking into consideration when you're trying to position this broad array of potential products? So one of the things that is similar about a good marketing strategy for portfolios that is similar to products themselves, is to take what I call an integrated but modular strategy to your messaging. In other words, I have a vision that I want to build and often when I'll do is I'll start by writing out that entire vision and I won't actually even burden myself with a ton of product realities. I'll keep I'll be pragmatic a little bit. I'll keep some of that in the back of my mind, but in general, kind of right out the whole vision and say to myself, okay, if that's the vision of like what Nirvana looks like for all those things to work together, then let me break down or back into that what each component could do to kind of fill out that vision and make it a reality. Well, we could put this thing under this part and we could put this thing under that part, like and, and sort of map that out and do so in a way where, again, you can move things around, but you look at it and say, okay, in the totality, all these things hooked together to build that larger vision. But then you're not done. The next thing you have to do is go and break a part off and say, if I broke this part off and handed it to somebody, could this also work as its own standalone thing?...

And that's how you sort of mitigate some of the revenue considerations of well, we want to drive discreete panls towards certain products, but we also want to sell the vision of what it would mean to buy everything together, and so typically what I mean by integrated but modulars that this the message should work as an integrated story, but you should also be able to easily pull it out into modular parts that can kind of work on their own and create their own value. That is a harder piece. As you what you can find is you can build a vision and then you find out when you start breaking the pieces out it falls apart quickly. So that means you didn't get it right exactly and so you kind of have to go back to the drawing port at that point. Hey everyone, if you've been listening to be to be growth for a while, you know that we are big proponents of putting out original, organic content on Linkedin, but one thing that's always been a struggle for a team like ours is easily tracking the reach of that linkedin content. That's why we're really excited about shield analytics. Since our team started using shield, we've been able to easily track the reach and performance of our linkedin content without having to manually log it ourselves. It automatically creates reports and it generates dashboards that are incredibly useful to determining things like what content has been performing the best, what days of the week are we getting the most engagement and our average views per post. Shield has been a game changer for our entire team's productivity and performance on Linkedin. I highly suggest checking out this tool if you're publishing content on Linkedin for yourselves or for your company. You can get a ten day free trial at shield APP DOT AI, or you can get a twenty five percent discount with our Promo code be tob growth. Again, that's shield APP DOT AI and the Promo Code is be, the number to be growth. All One word for a twenty five percent discount. All right, let's get back into the show. That is a harder piece. Has You what you can find is you can build a vision and then you find out when you start breaking the pieces out it falls apart quickly. So that means you didn't get it right exactly, and so you kind of have to go back to the drawing port at that point. On this integrated yet modular system, give me, and I it may be an example. Have you had a time where you you thought you had it right and then it was like, Oh, back to the drawing board? I think that I can't think of. I'll say this. I can't think of a place I've worked where I haven't evolved it based on where it started totally. So, yeah, I think that as an example. When I was at Scigeon, so decision was a really interesting company to work for and they they're still doing some interesting things in market. What we were trying to do there was take some of the...

...same like digital marketing practices that are happening everywhere and paid and owned and start applying them to the world of earned media. So we were looking at things like a lot of companies use, like subscribe to a database where they can basically understand who are all the journalists in the world. Oh, here's Benji, he does the Bob Growth podcast from Austin. You know, all these different kind of dimensions that a PR team might use. Then we would bought press releases through PR newswire. We bought that service which, like a ton of companies, thousands of companies, use across the globe to distribute their press releases and their news. MM. We bought a company called Falcon ioh which is Social Media Fu listening. Yeah, and so you can see how all those things are related. You can also see how they're a bit discrete. One of the learnings I had there was, well, we have like a pretty good framework in place around understanding influencer data for for communications. That was like one kind of level. Another was how you engage people out in market. That was suitings like social engagement, the press releases, and then again, analyzing how you did. I did have to sort of revisit some of it because there's certain products that you can buy where you find just an incongruence in terms of how it's consumed. So in that case, like press release of is, even though we were moving towards selling them more and like a subscription model, it wasn't like normal software in a capacity, in that capacity right. So we had to kind of rethink how we talked about the tie out of all those things together, and that's so that's an example where we kind of had to we came up with one story, we tested it in market and then we kind of evolved it a bit to make sure that we're giving enough discreet storytelling to that one area. Evolution is such a key part of this process and that's why what's so nice about it is it's all testing right, like we can figure out how the puzzle fits together, but you've got to like you might have to go back to messaging. You might have to there's several levers in a sense that you might end up pulling to get that right congruency. So you're you're pretty relatively new to mind tickle. You had a project recently of a website redesign that you've had to navigate kind of all these offerings and with all we've just talked about. I was wondering if we sort of brought it into that project, what you've found to be most important to you as you're actively working and thinking about these things right now. I think for me, well, number one, with be tob sites. I feel like people often over complicated and you see sort of two really error prone approaches to be to besides. One is to the kind of shove product down everyone's throat kind of approach, which is, you know, just it's...

...the big old catalog of everything you do. Let me kind of consume it. More like the corporate marketing or brand approach is to just put all this platitude value messaging everywhere that like not only could you swap out for any of your competitor sites. You could like probably swap out for like ninety percent of the world a robot road it. It's everywhere. Yeah, like it's just like that's like the other one where it's just like man, that value statement is so broad that like it's hard for me to understand right. So, number one, I think you got to figure out your equilibrium around that, but for me what was most important was coming back to that integrated but modular approach, meaning on the home page in a couple other areas, I want to have the ability to tell that the totality of this big story, which is what is sales readiness. That's like sort of what we kind of talk about as our main kind of thought leadership concept, and then let the rest of the site kind of talk more about the subcomponents of everything that kind of ladders up to sales readiness, and so that I think we were able to accomplish with the site and something really proud of. It's always gratifying to when you start seeing the traffic increase and all those other good things start to follow. How do you showcase the offerings without being really convoluted in your messaging, because I know that that's a pain point always and the I mean what you said about value statements very true, but it's wonder if for you, how do you showcase those offerings not being real convoluted in your messaging? Visuals are very important. So, and I think I've gotten religion about this, maybe later in my career than I would have liked, maybe because I'm a writer, so I always kind of have felt like the written word should speak for itself and I've had to be more selfaware or self effacing that that's not how a lot of people like to consume things. So I feel like, like it's in the software industry, which I work in right like I feel like screenshots are often just such a throwaway thing. People don't even think a lot about a screen shot that they put on a site, whereas now, I've learned, you got to think very deliberately about every single thing on that screen shot. Does it actually communicate a story on its own, even if you weren't reading all of the text over to the side? So that's number one. Is just getting the visual component's right. Videos and other example of that. The other thing I would say is that I think would like some of the larger messages like the headlines and things like that just are on the side of playing English. Like I know we have to write for the robots and Seo and organic a lot, but for me what a bigger miss is often when you drive traffic to a site in yeah, people scroll down that page and the kind of I don't I don't really understand and it's very and that...

...happens. I mean I go to a ton of sites like that as someone who also has to buy other things in the industry, and I'm just sort of like, I'm not quite sure if this is right for me. I never want people feeling that way. So I always sort of air on the side of strong, clear headlines and action oriented. You know, just really pick good verbs, good let's act. As we start to wrap up here, like I'm a new hire to your marketing team, Chris, and you're you're teaching me how to keep clarity in my messaging. You're trying to reinforce that. Where would you start? What's the what's most important for me, as the new hires, to understand? So I always think that we over complicate the role of marketing and what it's supposed to do because there's so many different places we invest, so many different things we do. I generally like to say your job is threefold. First, help us make it super clear to people what we do, to make it super clear why it's valuable to them. And three, as much as possible, tell our customers or prospects something interesting. I think, I personally believe that we've sort of moved from the world of like if you if you lump marketing all into the world of sales generally. That I know that would make some marketers that you know, they like to create this separation. But if you just look at it all in the world of sales, right, sales went through this sort of progression right. First it was like the relationship sale. That was sort of the time of like the three Martini, lunch, golf, all that stuff. Sounds Nice, yeah, yeah, then sounds so bad and then, you know, you get into the early two thousands, right, and you'll you'll meet some of these folks in a lot of organizations. Well, I'm all about value from the value seller, and that's fine. I think that's an improvement of saying I'm going to add more value to the customer than, you know, just buying the lunch. But I actually want to show how my products, my solution, can do all these wonderful things for them. But I don't even think selling value is enough anymore, because I think so many industries product functionality commoditizes really quickly and I actually think, I think prospects actually care. Can you tell me something interesting that I don't already know or that I thought on you about? But you're getting me to at least change or flip my thinking in a way, and I think that's what I want on my marketers to like. I want a piece of content to be interesting, not just because it fills, you know, some Seo vacuum or it's just sort of a box check relative to some campaign plan we had. Like tell prospects or customers something in interesting and we will earn more conversations with them.

If you just make it throw away, don't be surprised when you see all that stuff just start tapering out of your funnel. Good point that I we talked a lot here at sweet fish about commodity content and it feels like it's sort of evolving with the Internet right like at because we did what was rewarded for so long as marketers. We wrote the Seo piece because it would get us ranked first in Google. After a while everyone's trying the same thing, so we all start to sound the same. You, you lose your point of view in some ways. So when you come back to this where it's you're going to help bring clarity, you're going to be valuable and you're going to be interesting. Those, those are very tangible things that hit to use the word value again, but you're adding immense value to the potential customer and it's done in such an interesting way. Yeah, I know, and I believe in value. I guess what I'm saying is is like I think value is derived from learning something new. It is I don't know, it's simply derived from, well, I can get this done for you. Yep, because a lot of things, a lot of the stuff we're selling in the Bob Sasspace, like someone else can can sell you something that will basically get it done. That's a great way to think about it. As we're as we're starting to wrap up, help provide clarity, valuable and tell him something interesting. Chris, anything you want to add here before we close it out? I think that, just going back to the topic which I really enjoyed around larger portfolos and and and product marketing. I my advice to the listeners is really hone in on the most important thing, stay true to that and try to kind of tune out a lot of the noise as you're building your strategies and building your plans. I think it's if you're eager to please, it's kind of easy to start spreading yourself really thin by saying, oh, will also pursue this, and will also pursue this and will also pursue this. It's not that you shouldn't revisit or relook at things that you've built. That's just good practice and good marketing. But I do think you have to give things the opportunity to work and to resonate and to go and market and I think a lot of times now, maybe because of the availability of message testing and all these other tools available to us, we sometimes pivot or course correct maybe faster than we need to sometimes. So that would just be my kind of final word on that one. Can you tell us a little bit about mine tickle, and then also where people should connect with you and stay up to your work and what you're doing? Sure, so my tickle we're sales readiness platform. So we're really focused on providing a central place where sellers can build and develop knowledge or sales management can define excellent months for what a...

...great seller looks like and then, finally, a place where we can also analyze their performance in the real world. So, in addition to kind of core sales training and enablement capabilities, sales content, making that all available, we've also added conversation intelligence capabilities that allow you to kind of look at, okay, how did the seller bring a lot of this forward in a meeting, looking at themes, trends, topics, etc. Because if you do that then you can be much more informed about the enablement programs that you build for them. I came to mind tickle because I kind of believe that marketing spends all this time, money and effort on content and they really under invest in what it means to drive that from a behavioral standpoint with their sales organizations. And it's not just having a nice portal where the contents made available to pull down. Think a lot of marketers look at that and they go enabled and they kind of send it off to the salesperson, and I learned the hard way that that is not how you enable sales people and that's not how you build credibility with sales people. So my ticklecom you can check out everything that we're doing. We're really in the blog and resource section. I'd encourage you to go because it's not just we're not just slinging product on our site. We have a lot of great topics across all the things that I think revenue leaders are thinking about today relative to their sellers, because the last thing I'd leave you with is most be to be sales orgs. You know, twenty percent of the sellers are doing eighty percent of the revenue and I very much think that every sales and marketing leader should find that offensive and I think that there is such a better way to drive more productivity out of the sales organization and there's a great partnership between sales and marketing and Crocmo relationship that can happen. They're well. Thanks for sharing that. We're excited for people to check out my nentackle. Chris, where can people reach out to you? As linkedin best or what do you prefer there right now? Right now, Linkedin is best. I feel like I used to have like a functional website in blog. But who has the time for that nowadays with all the other media and with your lives? So yeah, linkedin's great, fantastic. Well, thanks again for joining us here on B Tob Growth were we're always having conversations like this one. Super insightful and want to help you continue to grow and innovate in your B Tob Sass company. So never miss an episode. You can subscribe to the show on your favorite subscription service. Wherever you're listening to this, connect with me on Linkedin as well. Just Search Benjie Block over there and keep doing work that matters. Will be back with another episode real soon. Chris, thanks for joining us. Thanks for having me.

We're always excited to have conversations with leaders on the front lines of marketing. If there's a marketing director or a chief marketing officer that you think we need to have on the show, reach out email me, ben dot block at Sweet Fish Mediacom. I look forward to hearing from you.

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