Stop Trying to Take Credit for Everything w/ Nate Skinner

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode, we talk with Nate Skinner , Global SVP of Marketing for Oracle Advertising and CX.

Check out this recent article from Nate:

Celebrating the Contributions of Women in the Workplace Every Day of the Year

Mhm. Welcome back to be to be growth. We arejoined today by Nate Skinner. He is the global S. VP of marketing at oracleadvertising in C. X. Nate. I'm really, really excited to chat with you today.Yeah. Thanks James. Thanks for having me. Yeah, this is gonna be a funconversation as we were talking right before we hit record. I tossed aquestion to you that I like to ask in a lot of our pre interviews and it wasyou know, what's something around B two B marketing that you've evolved yourthinking on or even changed your mind about over the course of your career.And your answer was really interesting to me. You said there's all this talkaround marketing really being a servant to sales. But you said, I think thething that I've changed my mind about is around this idea that marketingactually needs to truly, truly partner with sales. Can you elaborate on thatidea a little bit and tell us how you landed there? Yeah. I spent the 1st 10years of my life in sales. In my software life, I should say. Uh and thelast kind of 12 or 13 in marketing and the evolved thinking was around whatthe definition of a partnership, like if anybody who has a significant otherknows a partnership is equals both people respect and care about theothers opinion, they debate and argue things, but they keep it respectful andlike look for the best path forward. And when I was a seller, I thoughtmarketing's job was to give me leads, that's their job. So I don't think anymore leads and I'm sure there's sales out there, the sellers out there thatfeel that way. And as I got into marketing, I realized that although Itake that background with me and I'm very empathetic to my sales peers andcounterparts on sales teams, there's a tendency to have it be almost like aservant relationship where marketing is in service of sales. Actually, we'reboth in service of customer success and we're both in service of generatingawareness for our business, such that customers can find value in what weoffer and that means we have to do this together. They have the end of thefunnel to kind of deal with right, getting customers over the hump on. Yes,I think that solution will work and yes, I'd like to buy it of course, that'shard and that's a job that they have to do and our job is to go find thosepeople that will engage with us to have that conversation and move them throughwhat we would call the funnel and you can't do one of those and not the other.You can't do one better than the other. They are literally a partnership. And Ifind it, you know, my my thinking has evolved over time because there's alittle bit of a legacy, at least in enterprise software of, you know, saleskind of demanding marketing doing this or doing that. And I don't never hearmarketing demanding sales to do this or that. And that's not partnership. Andso that's, that's where I I tend to advocate on behalf of sales withmarketing teams. Hey, look, their jobs hard. Let's pump the brakes and thinkabout the challenges they're facing. And I advocate with sellers on behalfof marketing to say, look there, working as hard as they can. Clearly wehave more to do, Let's solve the problem together and stay aligned. Whatare some of the things you've been able to do, either in your team at oracle orin previous company is to really broker that partnership, create a truepartnership there? Yes. I mean there's two really major ones that I think ofwhen that question. One is field marketing. I mean, I know more thanmaybe the average marketer who hasn't spent as much time as I did in sales.How valuable it is to connect the marketing activity down on the groundto the sellers. And so at Oracle, for instance, on my team, we've invested alot of our energy and our money, our headcount kind of resource capacity tofield marketing, literally putting in place the marketers that take themarketing effort and translate that into sales programs on the ground, kindof rubber hitting the road. Um, that's,...

...that's one very specific way. We'veinvested a lot of time and making sure we put marketers in region, in countryin state and city to support those sellers on the ground. And we've seentremendous results from that. The other is we launched an innovation program atOracle's. Since I've been here every quarter, we do releases. It becameclear to us that our customers weren't necessarily hearing about them in aholistic way. And so in partnership with our product team and are sellingteam, we created a regular scheduled innovation summit that every quarter weupdate the web page, record demos, kind of list out the innovation that we'rereleasing and launching and then share it with the world. And actually what'shappened is analysts and customers and the press have started to expect thatfrom us every quarter and we only started last february. So, um, that's,that's one of those ways where it's, look, we can't do this on our own right.We need marketing, marketing needs to drive the programming and put togetherthe show flow and get the web page bill. But we need product teams toparticipate. We need the sellers to send their customers to it and it's asymbiotic relationship that's driving great value for us on behalf of ourcustomers. Another thing we were talking about a few minutes before wehit record, you you mentioned that there's still a lot of people in B. TwoB marketing that somehow think that B two B marketing is grossly differentthan B two C. And what you said, you said they really kind of downplay theemotional connection that both BTV brands and B to C. Brands have tocreate between their brand and the buyer, whether it's a buying committee.You know whether it's you know how many decision makers that are involved inthe purchase decision at the end of the day. Like you need to create anemotional connection. Nike has obviously done that masterfully well,you see, you know, all these PV brands that do that masterfully well, but Ithasn't really translated to a lot of B2B brands. Why do you think that is?What's the disconnect, what's keeping B2B brands from embracing this idea?That brand actually matters a lot. I think it's a few things that contributeto one is just in the nature of attribution. I mean, of course, B two C.Marketers need to attribute the expense for the campaign, the programs they runto revenue direct to consumer revenue. You know, those Nike ads need to resultin surging sales of shoes or where or whatever. And in B two B marketing,we're all trying to attribute credit or find attribution for the funnel at thevery top, because it's not a direct to consumer purchase. So we have thisconcept of the funnel, everybody on your program understands and gettingtraffic in and turning it into SQL and SQL and sales. And that I thinkcontributes to the problem because somewhere along the line, we'veforgotten that at the other end of that marketing offer a human being isengaging with our company. And that doesn't change in B two B. Right? Butyes, we're selling to accounts oftentimes. And so there's more peopleto engage with, you know, the buying committee, but there's still people.And so if you're not creating an emotional connection, if you're notkind of aligning using their language, what I what I call internally, my teamhears me say this all the time doing outside in marketing, not inside outwhere, you know, we tend to have this and be to be land. For some reason westart to talk like everybody knows what we mean and they don't. So we got to gooutside and say, well, what what are the problems customers are trying tosolve? How do they describe those problems? How do they search for thesolution to those problems and then translate that into an experience thata human being will engage in? And that's the most important thing that Ithink we lose sight of. And it's a big contributor to because it becomes thisamorphous account thing is supposed to...

...those are all just people. You'reyou're also telling me earlier that marketers B two B. Marketers have tostart thinking beyond the funnel, which is what, you know what you're gettingout there. Uh you have to start thinking about post sale experience asbeing equally uh important, at least equally important to the top of funnelactivity that you're focused on. You told me something that, that your teamhas been doing an oracle that I thought was really interesting. You know, you,you guys have an integrated demand jin team now that is solely focused oncustomers. People that are already have already bought a product from oracle.Can you tell us a little bit about about that team and what they're doing?Yeah, for sure. And like, just to set that up, I think that everyone wouldagree and I'd be happy to debate this with folks at any company, butmarketing needs to be the driving force of the customer experience at yourcompany. You know, HR is not going to do that. The sales team is not gonna dothat. Product is not gonna do that. Marketing has to be the kind ofquarterback of the customer experience from the very top of the funnel to eventhe sales interaction and the conclusion of a sale and post sale. Andwe have the ability to kind of look across that experience and say whereare their opportunities to increase engagement, to increase stickiness ofour solution, to increase awareness of the customer with what they just bought.And in service of that, we set up this installed based campaign team. Theirentire remit is helping educate and inform customers who are already in thebuilding about what it is they own and how to get more value from it so thatthey can feel great about their renewal so they can feel great about theengagement they have with us as a company and that that marketing is notawareness marketing, it's education, it's often it's more about, you know,did you know, heavy tried, you know, some examples and we don't have to godo that out in the broad based marketing effort. We can do that. Weknow who these customers are, we can do it at an account based level and um,that is bearing a lot of fruit, not just for us when it comes to retentionand churn reduction, but with our customers who are saying, wow, this isactually valuable and your users out there and probably had this experiencein their own lives, right? You and I talked about, I have nest thermostat inmy house, you buy the nest, you put on the wall and then what happens? Well,mess, send you monthly, you know how many leaves you one or how you comparewith your community and your neighborhood or your zip code. And thenit becomes kind of a challenge to me to kind of get more leaves than everybodyelse. But guess what? You could. You know, you're not crying my nest out ofmy cold hands, right? I mean, it's like a really valuable thing that I love.That same emotional connection can be created for customers in the BBlandscape. But they have to feel like, you know what they're dealing withbeyond just you bought it and then you go away. Marketing can't just be aboutgetting the SQL handed over and then clearly, you know, walk away. We can doa lot to help at scale. Automate the education and information for ourcustomers on their behalf. And the downstream effects are dramatic andlifetime value customers improved the customer's experience is better. It'sjust a virtuous cycle. And what I love about what you've done is you'reactually putting people in a position to do this instead of what we hear somany. We just did it some research and we interviewed 100 B two B marketers.And all of them are saying that they're they feel like they're having to juggle18 different things all the time. And what I like about this is you have adedicated team that is solely focused on existing customers. Can you speak tosome like Maybe the structure of your marketing team and what are some othereither bets that you're making or some things that you've done as youstructured your team to focus on the areas of marketing that you thinkreally need to be focused on in a 20, landscape. Yeah, I mean look, I thinkthat's a really important question...

...because for many companies that are midmarket and kind of below or mid market and above even large companies,marketing budgets are no uh infinite. And so you can't just throw bodies atthe problem. Right? And I think what I'd say to answer that question firstis when we thought about this and consider the creation of this installedbased campaign team, we knew that that was going to mean that something elsewas going to go away, right? Because we don't, we didn't just say, oh, welllet's just add 10 people. Like we just don't have the ability to do that. Sowe have a philosophy that is ruthless prioritization. We know exactly whatour top five or six strategy kind of pillars of our strategy are. What arethe most important principles that we're trying to achieve. And one ofthose is customer retention and increase customer lifetime value andultimately the experience customers have with us and the products we sellthem. And so that meant this is important. It was important enough tosay this group, you should go do that and that alone and nothing else. Andyour metrics are different and how were measured are different. And it's notabout funnel and you know, it's about this customer metrics. Uh, but that man,we have to stop doing other things. And so in some cases we had to make harddecisions about what we were not going to find. We'd love to do all kinds ofstuff, right? I'd love to fly balloon over the top of Times Square and do allthat. We can't do all those things because we're focused on the thingsthat matter the most. And so that's I think an important thing. It's not, I'dhate for someone in the audience on your show to say, oh well that's oracle.You know, they just threw a bunch more bodies. That actually that's not at alltrue. We have just as much fiscal responsibility and awareness of theneed to be frugal as we do what we're doing in a product engineeringorganization, right? This is a product lead company that we need to doeverything we do within the constraints of some type bounds. And so I don'tknow if that answers the question, but to say for us it was a priority and wemade it a priority and we definitely gave people the space to focus on that.And I think that's the last thing I'll say, I'm a big believer in ownership.So who is the human being that is responsible for that thing? And carvingout the team to say that's your thing and this person is responsible for itmakes it clear that they own it and that others don't and that's okay,right? Like I'm gonna participate, but I don't know. And so that makes thingsmove much faster. Are there some things that are top of mind that you can thinkof that you have ratcheted back and dialed down because you know, in theprocess of ruthless prioritization. Yeah, I mean big kind of awarenessthings, right? Uh you know, we're not buying tv ads. Um we're not doing outof home buys in major cities. You know, our team doesn't have a bunch ofPatagonia jackets with a logo on them. I mean like those are the things wedon't do those things. We use those dollars to invest in the things that weknow we need to invest in and knowing that we are constrained. Um, we're not,you know, infinitely resourced and I don't think anybody is. And so, um,yeah, we've done a lot less events. Uh you know, I think about obviously Covidand the pandemic have reduced in person events whether you wanted to or not,but you can still do virtual events. You can turn those out overnight allthe time. We actually decided we were going to focus on some very specificevents and investments in those and not do the quantity game, do more of aquality game. And so that freed up capacity. So those are some examplesintroducing the safety management show the podcast that shares the insidestories on safety management from experts in the trenches. On this show,you'll hear interviews with safety directors from the podcast hosts atsafety services company. We talked with veteran safety professionals working inall sorts of industries from construction to manufacturing totelecom and transportation, even some who manage safety and uniqueenvironments like amusement parks and zoos. You'll hear engaging storiesabout their safety management journey,...

...the lessons they've learned along theway and actionable safety management tips that you can implement today.Don't believe me here for yourself. Do you want to be compliant or you'rereally looking out for? I understand you're looking out for the well beingof your employees and what the expectation is of the type of tradesmenyou want on your project. But unfortunately you're right. It justchecks. The compliance box. Doesn't check anything else for more subscribeto the show wherever you listen to podcasts. Let's get back into the show.You're really passionate about diversity, diversity, about equality.And as we were talking off line, you mentioned, you've actually written anarticle about this on linkedin. Um, there are some very specific thingsthat we can do specifically as men um, to really be allies to our femalecolleagues. Can you share, uh, some things from that article, some thingsthat you've seen that have been really effective um as as we as men attempt tobe more, more allies to everybody on our team. Yeah, yeah, very, veryimportant to me and to our team. Generally speaking, I would say thateveryone on my team is super passionate about this subject. It's interesting toI've been invited to participate in oracle women leadership seminar, whichis an oracle network of women leaders as an ally because of the stuff thatI've done to kind of educate and share on what it means to be an ally. That'sthe article you're referring to. And a couple of things that I remember andwould focus people's attention on a literal takeaways. One is beingproactive, proactive in meaning even in a zoom world, you can tell whensomeone's trying to talk, you can see their body language change or you cansee they kind of a mute themselves and if you're actively participating,especially as a leader and you see those nuances be the person that says,hey, did you have something you'd like to add and make the space for people?Because too often in business it's dominated by the overly aggressive kindof a type personality which oftentimes is a man. And so men take the time torealize that you're being overbearing and missing out on the opportunity tohear a much more diverse point of view. If you open up the floor and hear fromfrom everyone, a very specific one that I I talk about all the time is inrepresentation of the opportunities to help others shine. So in the article Iwrote, the number five was step aside and create opportunities for women to,to shine. And it's and B two B marketers are all familiar with events.I'm doing this one right now with you, Jason James. Sorry, There are lots ofopportunities to have people show up and do demos or do keynotes or do videovignettes of like ads or whatever. And oftentimes because it's a maledominated world so far, those people tend to be met and what we can do isman and say, hold on, you want to do what now you want to do this or that orwhatever. Well, there's three other people that are perfectly qualified todo that that are not me and invite them to do it. And I said this to you in thepre show is like oftentimes, the feedback I get is, well, the title, youknow, they don't have the title. When was the last time anybody on your showwent to go to an event and said, oh, I'm not going to attend that sessionbecause that person's title is not sufficient. Like that doesn't happen.What you care about is what they have to say. Can they say it in a way thatgets you to think differently? Hopefully take away some lessonslearned and go be a better person and that can come from anywhere. And sothat's a very specific one. I've gone as far as making up people's titlesbecause I just don't care about that, what people want. And by the way, it'snot even about what I care about what is best for the audience they want tohear from the most qualified people...

...with the most energy and the mostenthusiasm for the subject, whatever that might be. And those people existin your organization, all over the place up and down the order chart, findthem and pull them up and give them these opportunities. It'll change therecareer, potentially. And why do you need to be on the thing? You know, Imean, honestly, James, if I could have had somebody else do this, I would haveand you did actually, what's funny is like you're, you're not just preachingabout this when we reached out to you, you actually said, hey, uh, you shouldalso talk to Heidi Eisenstein who leads field marketing in oracle. So we dothat episode is uh, will have gone live before this one because I talk to Heidia couple weeks ago and that came because you're not just a talking headsaying this is what you should do. Your actually walking this out and you do itso often that you didn't even remember that you did that, which I think isawesome. Um, so, so I, I am uh, yeah, I am completely on board with thisthinking it's something I'm trying to do more and more of people, You know,ask me to talk about what we're doing on linkedin or like what we're doingwith podcasting, whatever. Hey, there. Are there other people on the team thatcan speak to this? Uh, and inevitably there are, I mean, uh, so do peoplewant to hear from the founder of the thing? Like there's some element tothat, like, okay, but but you probably actually will get more value hearingfrom the person who actually leads are linked and evangelist program. She canspeak much more intelligently to it than I can. And it gives it gives heran opportunity to your point, uh, advance her career. Give her a piece ofcontent that she can put on her linkedin profile. It's helpful to herand it's more beneficial to the audience as well. So I think we're veryaligned in our thinking there Nate. Um Hey, I've got another question. I waslistening to an interview that you did on another podcast and you were talkingabout how demand gen leaders don't spend enough time with messaging. And Iresonated with that so much. Um just because I've seen as, you know, as afounder that is very passionate about marketing. I I sometimes maybe get alittle bit too romantic about the messaging and probably bottleneck someof the things that campaigns and stuff that we're trying to run because I careso deeply about it. But can you speak to either how this has played out atoracle or maybe it's some other companies where you've led marketing,How do you get demanding leaders to inject themselves more into messaging?Pay attention more to messaging? Why is I I think our listeners honestlyunderstand why that's so important. But how do you how do you actually do that?Yeah, I mean 111 exercise I've run before and I've run it. Um more thanone place is it's almost like a homework assignment around yourfavorite movie or your favorite book. Everybody said, you know, I love thisshow, I love Shits Creek, right? I love Shits Creek. What is it my work, Homework is what is it about that that you love? And if you get people to writedown, like literally pause and say right here, they created a newnarrative for, you know, I forget their names now. But on the spot for David,right, the narrative is shifted. He was here and now he shipped, we'll writethat down. Right, okay. Well, this one moment where David's soon to be fianceis serenading him in their show floor. Why is that so touching? Why do youfind yourself fighting bacteria? What is it about it? It's the words of thesong. It's the setting is where he's standing. Well, what you realize isthat all of that is messaging. It's all storytelling in a narrative format thatpeople can identify with without you explaining it to them, right? You don'thave to explain who these characters are for you to know that that'smeaningful and that's an exercise. I've done what I tell the same with the book.Like what makes a great book, great book. You know, what makes it great foryou may not make it great for me. Why? And what you find is that people get tothe point where what they're really saying is that message resonated withme. And then you can start to tease out,...

...well, what about what, Why, what wasthat? And what did they say? How did they say it? When did they say it? Andso you start to back up to what is basically blocking and tacklingfundamentals of effective marketing, concise, clear language that people canunderstand without you having to explain it to them, right? We're notwhat is marketing ultimate value? It is scale its mass reach. You know, I I usethis not not a great metaphor, but in a military context. The marketing is theAir Force, right? It's like out in front, way over the top, kind ofcreating opportunities in space for everyone else to do their job and youdo that better if you get people to understand what you're saying withoutexplaining it to them. And that usually means very simple language. Very clearlanguage don't use don't use fancy words and fluffy words and things thatpeople don't really understand. Yeah. I I think touching on that point, there'sanother note that I took when I was listening to your other interview. Wetalked a lot about voice of the customer and how marketers need toeither. Like they need to understand the customer's voice better than what alot of them do. Um How do you go about doing that? Is it as simple as justtalking to sales on a more regular basis? Do marketers need to actuallydirect directly speak to customers? Like how do how do you lead this withmarketers? Yeah. I mean I think there's nothing that substitutes for actuallytalking to a human being that is the customer. But even more nuanced thanthat. James don't just talk to customers. Customers are already biased.Like you as a marketer, you're talking to someone who's already got the koolAid or they get the vision, talk to someone who doesn't know anything likemy neighbor is actually an orkin uh, guy like the organ truck, you know theterminator, the bug bug exterminators. I have literally had so manyconversations with him about where I work what I do. And it's fascinatinghow quickly he'll say, I don't know what that is and I'll be like, okay,well I'll try to kind of say and I'm like, oh, you mean like, and that'swhat people do, right? They say, oh, you mean like they do association sothat there's nothing that is better than that. And I would, I would sayeven create goals around it for your team, especially product marketers, ifyou're not actually talking to people who are your audience that you want toconvince to buy your product about how they describe the problem, How theydescribe the ideal solution to that problem. How they describe where thatproblem fits in their priority list. If you're not having those conversations,you're not doing your job. And I think you got to find those opportunities,whether it's your neighbor or at shows events, even user groups. Although Iencourage people not to just go get a bunch of customers to go to thembecause there's bias get actual users with people that are doing theprofession of the thing. You're selling them, but aren't customers don't haveno awareness of you and you'd be surprised. I always found, sorry I'mgonna tangent Now one of the funniest things I discovered in my career waslike research about customers. We talked to 1000 customers and they allsaid this, Well, those may be the customers that we've had for years orfor months or for decades. But are they the customer we want next year or nextfive years and maybe we're pivoting. Maybe we're changing. Maybe our futurecustomer is slightly different. And so if all you're doing is talking tocustomers who are in the door, you're missing an opportunity to re imaginewhat the next customer might need. That's different. This has beenincredible. I want to I want to close with a question that I like to ask, aska lot of our guests. What's something that B. Two B. Marketers should startor stop doing? Uh That's a good one. Um Stop trying to take credit foreverything. Uh I think that we have grown up in a world where B2B.Marketing, we need to show attribution and marketing generated pipe versussales generated pipe. And that's all important. I'm not suggesting it's notif you're if you have entire teams of...

...people that are doing nothing butchurning through data to try to create a vision of marketing contribution, yougot to move further upstream than that. You've got a different problem. Theproblem is like your systems aren't working or your dashboard isn't right?Or there's a there's a much further upstream issue than than that. Uh Andand honestly, if you're spending that much time energy focused on takingcredit, how much time and energy are you actually able to dedicate to theexperience of your customer through that journey? Like we said earlier,even through post sale, you can't, it's the bucket has water that goes out ofit on both sides, Right? So I think that's one. You should definitely stop,stop trying to create credit or take credit. Remember the partnershipcomment we made and like line up around the objectives you have for the companyand your customers and rest usually takes care of itself. This has beenawesome. Thank you so much for your time today. If there's anybodylistening, I want to stay connected with you. What's the best way for themto go about doing that? That's good. My email is Nate dotskinner at oracle and on twitter, I'm at Rennes my last name in reverse, uhrednecks and I think it's at six and I just realized I didn't know that one bymy heart. Let's see. Yeah, at Lenox. And so it's my last name reverse withmy first initial awesome. Thank you so much for your time today. This has beenincredible. Yeah. Thanks James. It's great to be here, appreciate you havingme. Yeah. Is the decision maker for your productor service of BB marketer. Are you looking to reach those buyers throughthe medium of podcasting? Considered becoming a co host of GDP growth. Thisshow is consistently ranked as a top 100 podcast in the marketing categoryof apple podcasts, And the show gets more than 130,000 downloads each month.We've already done the work of building the audience so you can focus ondelivering incredible content to our listeners if you're interested, emailLogan at Sweet Fish Media dot com? Yeah.

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