Podcast

Episode: 196 |
Ilana Grossman:
B2B Marketing:
Episode
196

HOW TO THRIVE AS AN
INDEPENDENT PROFESSIONAL

Ilana Grossman

B2B Marketing

Show Notes

Umbrex member and BCG alum Ilana Grossman, a marketing consultant based in New York City. Her firm is called B2Both, since she works with both B2B and B2C clients.

Ilana has been the Chief Marketing Officer at several rapidly growing companies, and we discuss

  • The role of the Chief Marketing Officer, and how it is changing
  • Key performance indicators in the world of marketing
  • And what it is like being an independent consultant focused on marketing

You can learn more about Ilana’s firm at b2both.com

One weekly email with bonus materials and summaries of each new episode:

Speaker 1: Hello, Ilana, welcome to the show.
Speaker 2: I will get to be here
Speaker 1: in Atlanta. Tell me some of the biggest concerns on the minds of the chief marketing officer today.
Speaker 2: Oh, great question. There’s definitely a range and the confirmed very for talking to startup, for example, I’d say the number one concern even for much with startups is growth, right? If we look at sources of growth, you really become even more expensive and they are Manny [00:00:30] limiting factors there. If we think about Google and Facebook, they call them trains. Two thirds of the advertising dollars and these are getting more expensive. It’s still number one for startups for sure. On the large company side, I would say the bigger critical sign is really there’s some distrust of traditional media buying companies and agencies. No lot of arts companies are green, meaning their media buying capabilities in house and [00:01:00] there’s much greater focus on a quality. They want their ads to be placed in front of real people from their target audience, a in an appropriating environment and have it really, uh, be delivered in a way that is measurable so that they can really connect to business impact. These are the two leading concerns that I can validate.
Speaker 1: No, you have had several times you’ve served as the chief marketing officer or the interim chief marketing [00:01:30] officer for startups in the, you know, mature size series d, series e 50 to 200 employees. Tell us what are the elements of that job? So if for a chief marketing officer at a company with 50 to 200 employees, what does that person do?
Speaker 2: Oftentimes marketing and startup is an afterthought, unfortunately. So even though companies, the series B, any, I did find my dad’s hair, I [00:02:00] still have the structure of team. That’s number one, right? In terms of scope, it entails everything from PR, which is also referred to with column all the way to the function of growth, which is acquisition, retention, segmentation, CRM, all the way to brand management. So that’s the typical Foose code that all is under these assignments. If I’m going to be on assignment and the brand will focus more on [00:02:30] some of these pieces versus others, but that’s usually the full scope of oversight.
Speaker 1: And let’s go through each one of those. In turn, I’d love to hear some of the things you’ve done and some some lessons learned that you have.
Speaker 2: Well start. They’re really focused on growth as you know, right? So I oftentimes, hello Highlander’s who hire me not to overlook the importance of branding. It’s interesting because the large companies, they’re big on branding. [00:03:00] There is no hesitation to reading vast and and in camping, but will provide wheeling, previous grant awareness, any of these man bred in startup, it’s really focused on acquisition and growth and oftentimes there’s waste of money because they don’t talk beforehand to really craft and then nail the brand positioning and the value proposition for the different segments. Right? So that’s one area that I typically, I ask founders left [00:03:30] to take a step back and align on this so that the dollars that are putting out position and demand generation will really work hard for us on a focused manner. That’s the number one area that really gas founders, I would stay awake at night.
Speaker 3: So let’s let, let’s, let’s stay on that one for just a minute. When you say you know, brand positioning and branding, what does that mean? How would you define that term? Explain what you know, what tasks are associated with that, what that, what that involves.
Speaker 2: [00:04:00] Many times the brand is trying to be everything to everybody, right? That positioning is big as the curly, a mental space that he walked through by in the minds of your customers and prospective customers, visas, the other competitors in your space, right? So your brand positioning, it’s never explicit. You’d only use that language in marketing materials. It’s even internal language, but your brand positioning would really associate [00:04:30] your brand with some core attributes and the plants are vacationing, cannot be to be defined by you. You can just find that and stretch that, but it’s really grounded on perception and realities of the marketplace, right? You may want to be another brand, but if your core attributes than the experiences that your customers have with your brand, don’t live up to that. It’s a few tiles undertaking, right? So you tried to really understand [00:05:00] the attributes of your customers [inaudible] when they think or Q when they interact with your brands and deal on that bake a little bit of, you know, aspirational thinking into it. And then Neil, a statement that basically define what should do to whom and how and how you’re different from other players in the field. That’s basically a positioning statement. And then based on that, every piece of communication that you develop, you can measure [00:05:30] against that positioning statement to see if it’s your concept.
Speaker 3: Yes. So, okay, so that’s branding. What are some of the other can areas of responsibility? You know, when you go in as a chief marketing officer,
Speaker 2: finding the right customers and make sure they come back and so growth, growth, growth, right? Typically, how many sign ups do you have every month? Managing your customer acquisition cost, making sure [00:06:00] your attack as we call, he’s below. Either you have customer lifetime value or whatever, a back period you establish, you know ahead of time with your CFO and with management. So the less they read your side that we’re, we make $100 out of customers on average in the first two years. And that’s what we’re going to find for acquisition. We’re going to have two years of feedback period. Right? So we [00:06:30] are willing to, it’s bad at $500 to acquire a customer. So managing that equation according to whichever parameters you establish with your management is very, very much a focus on startups that are focused on growth. It’s part of the growth reality. I’d say that’s the number two big area that we focus on that we can talk about retention if you’re interested.
Speaker 2: Yeah, that’s an [00:07:00] interesting part. Oh, so and um, Maricopa does make the big states really shy to market to the average customer. And the truth is, but that’s a wrong practice, right? Your customer base is very heterogeneous and once you acquire these customers, and in the beginning as the early phases, startups should really be focused on acquisition acquisition, right? But after you have two or three years of data and appropriate tagging and you can actually [00:07:30] map the interactions that these customers had with multiple touch points and their actual transactions, you should be a finding different customer lifetime values to each of them and bucketing them into cohort. And your marketing should really speak to the high value cohort, not for the average customer. And that’s a practice that many companies haven’t nailed that.
Speaker 3: Can you give me an example of that of uh, you know, [00:08:00] what that would look like to speak to your high value customers and, and not so much just the average.
Speaker 2: Yeah. For example, even the media buy, right? And how your value proposition to recurring customers who buy many time. So let’s take an example, right? If you’ll look at, you know, RNC, my, my, the time I had there, right? By art, it’s, it’s a pretty, it’s not a homogenous, uh, there’s no average customer, right? [00:08:30] Who has, you have a small subset that buys a lot and comes back, right? How much are going gonna spend to reach those customers? Which channels you’re going to choose to put your money on. If you’re marketing to the average person, you may end up drafting a whole marketing strategy that is going to put you in, you know, banner advertising and advertising across media. And the is most of the people we may attract may not end up becoming with customers. [00:09:00] And that is true for, I would say many premium categories, right?
Speaker 2: I know furniture has a lot of examples. Also funny tree industry has some case studies, um, of, you know, attracting the right customers and targeting to them. So if you’re talking about marketing to your high value customers, your TAC is going to be higher, right? Your customer acquisition cost, your channel mix is going to be very different. You’re probably going to be able to make it much more efficiently if you know who they are [00:09:30] and how you’re talk to them is probably different because they are looking for a different set of value propositions from a customer who may try one and not be sure if he or she will come back. Does that make sense?
Speaker 1: Yes, it does. So how would you compare, because you also, you do work with you know, startups, but you also do work with large companies. Yeah. And I think you told me that you’re currently working on kind of some large advertising campaigns and and [00:10:00] looking at the effectiveness of them. Could you talk a little bit about that difference between serving a kind of a startup company and the different concerns they have? What an in the marketing group at a larger company,
Speaker 2: so large companies right now, as I mentioned in the beginning, a lot of companies are revisiting their there meet a makes media buying approach then number of factories or that, right. Some large companies, not all of them, [00:10:30] definitely from startup. They really struggled to the path of some of the changes in technology, consumer habits. Uh, and one of the things that I love is like, oh thing is really being able to act as a cone have was the most progressive marketing practices from crown started companies, bring them to large companies, but also bring a lot of the excellence from large companies back to startup companies. But a lot of these legacy companies or some of them will give you few, they still in the era of big media [00:11:00] plans that they can multiple weeks to be crafted launching campaigns and sort of, no, I didn’t live trial mode delivering partial measurement of some branding campaigns.
Speaker 2: Sometimes you will get reports that we use, let’s say social media mentioned or social media needs man. And as an evidence of, in fact, and the truth is this is not an evidence of impact, right? Anyone running a large scale campaign today should [00:11:30] be able to coordinate their efforts with their ability to create and retain loyal customers. And that’s a big call star. And today in large companies, how do we get to clinic the upper funnel branding directly to transactionally fast. And some of these businesses, they have any entirely all lines. Some of them don’t. They’re not closed online. So that’s big challenge that set up by virtue of being predominantly digital, top to bottom. [00:12:00] Don’t face it was just one of them.
Speaker 1: Yes. All right, go ahead. Yeah. So um, let’s talk a little bit about that. I’d love to hear your perspective on, you know, how companies are measuring the impact of their, of their advertising campaigns.
Speaker 2: Many companies that standing up or final, why now changing their meeting. I work with a client, with a client today that is to be, to be very large B to B campaign. We’re gradually [00:12:30] shifting the focus of our campaign to really focus more, have a big component of what we call account based marketing. I’m getting the high value customers they have and high potential prospects. I’m mixing that with upper funnel and branding. We are evolving their campaign to really cut a lot of the waste in the turbine. So, for example, instead [00:13:00] of buying publishers just by the audience description that these publishers provide, what we’re really doing is we’ve had customers all the way from the advertising unit down to the interaction of that customer, from that source, from that creative unit with the content of the client’s website, right? And we segment them based on the level of [00:13:30] engagement that they present, uh, in that session and we score them appropriately.
Speaker 2: So we create a whole B2B funnel. So to see that allows leads and visits from other advertising campaigns to come to the website. We characterize, have multiple touch points and then become a lead and be scored appropriately and standing on the scoring and the stage that that lead and their readiness for the [00:14:00] sales department, we pass them on to sales. So building that fun always the way that we’re measuring that. But the clique that, the key thing there that is exciting is, and this particular engagement and I worked with uh, some of the internal resources to build a whole measurement dashboard that’s connect all the, what do you call it, pre click data or above the funnel data from the campaign with the little, with the funnel data, right? What happens? A lower funnel data or post-click data [00:14:30] to make sure we can attribute engagement on our site engagement with our content to specific sources of traffic. That’s really something that a lot of startups already do that, not all of them, some do, but a lot of the big companies don’t necessarily track things at that level when it comes to large advertising campaign.
Speaker 1: Now are we talking primarily about
Speaker 2: digital campaigns? Uh, cause how would you track the effectiveness of like television or print media? There’s nothing. Yes, [00:15:00] no, that’s, that’s true. Um, these are heavily digital campaign. You still have friends that typical the best practices, uh, in a camp capture the whole thing there, right? The whole impact. But you do can, you can put an vanity URL in each French unit in each ad and you know the soar if you’d get visits from there. Right. But there is a component of brand awareness that if that is one of the KPIs of the campaign and it should be otherwise it wouldn’t be buying media, you wouldn’t be buying [00:15:30] print or TV. The typical way to measure is through a brand lift study. So in addition to kind of performance metrics of like sign up and lead, you would bury it up with a pre and post survey that can be done by different publishers in we should buy media. But the right way to be done is really across the board with the right sort of customer base and you can see the brand lift in fact that the campaign had it, the awareness level.
Speaker 1: So [00:16:00] let’s take one level deeper on this, measuring the effectiveness. Could you get into kind of some of the specific KPIs and just go through that whole funnel again, you know, maybe a little slower and walk us through what are some of the KPIs that you look at at each stage. And you know, I’d love to hear the source of those, that data.
Speaker 2: So on the final and the KPIs a will vary depending on the brand, right? The brand will just find or [00:16:30] make time for them. So in the upper funnel level for brand is volunteering or running, um, an awareness campaign. What we would do is you are brand lift metrics such as brand awareness. Are you recognized as brand? Do you associate this commercial or this message? That brand, right? You would have typically then made his question or partially the question [00:17:00] with different brands there to see if the message, because the audience really attributes that message to the right brand. Right? And you would go with asking these prospective testimonials about intent. Would you be more likely to consider buying from this brand? Yeah. X interval of time. These are very typical KPIs and the upper funnel,
Speaker 1: how do you do that? Is that uh, an [00:17:30] online survey or are you stopping people in the mall? Like how, how do you actually ask those questions?
Speaker 2: Yeah, so they are to the line, but enable you to do that. They typically rely on their own proprietary pianos and methodologies of recruiting that are not necessarily perfect for a lot of brands. They’ve good for quick kind of checkpoint. But the large brands such as the ones I’m currently working [00:18:00] with would hire from plenty of like, and this is not an endorsement, but you know, come try new awards. Brown, it’s a WPP agency that only does that and they have panels that they put together from different recruiting sources that match your target audience. That’s why those, uh, those pianos end up being those weeds. The chapter ends ends up being like defensive. They usually serve third the survey online, [00:18:30] but two members of those panels that are intercepted through different, different sources. There’s only a bias in terms of people who agree to participate. Uh, but usually the design of the composition of the panel, that’s a whole other science in an off itself. And the companies have Leo Statisticians and, and, and true professionals that come up with the compensation in a way that is accurate. And we present that to have any give you results in terms of [00:19:00] lift and brand recognition and intent with the right statistical significance and confidence interval.
Speaker 1: Okay. So this is interesting to me. So it’s really kind of that survey based way of measuring it and not some sort of sophisticated way of measuring the person’s behavior of what they do afterwards online necessarily of their brand awareness. But, but, but keep going.
Speaker 2: Absolutely. Right. And that’s that. That’s basically where most brands have been, I feel very recently. Right. You couldn’t really connect [00:19:30] to the transaction, but that’s still how a lot of the brands in terms of, okay, now you put the theater mass message more with our products. Right. And it’s the lead to differentiate. Now the pressure that these big brands have today is to go farther down the funnel. So what can be cpis being back to your original question. Right? Okay. Um, when you have a more digitally had to campaign, which is what a lot of brands like only through today they’re really being foolish. Do [00:20:00] we between cream or digital share up your campaigns to a much higher one so that you can, yeah, some sort of attribution isn’t, is attribution, right? So usually you would design on drive to web campaign with multiple touch points.
Speaker 2: All of these stash points through different channels rather ab display or Facebook or Twitter or linked pan. If you are targeting specific to the account, [00:20:30] everybody’s sad. Do you interact with your content on those platforms and then they click through interact with your content in your properties and all of those interaction are pad and recorded and analyzed over time and based on those interactions. Neat. Do you fit needle core and for that visit to become a lead, what you need to do is really enable them to provide [00:21:00] their own definitely formation. I had a big issue today is usage of third party data. Nobody wants to touch it. This with GDPR in Europe. Yes. Coming version in California in 2020 you need to have first party data Atrius periods brand you would no longer nobody today if your CEO is brand new with market to people based on you know, names that you acquired it through a third party stores in as Catcheway so you would encourage people to sign up for something.
Speaker 2: It [00:21:30] can be a program, can be content, can it be for a Webinar can be to receive a coupon, the panning user of B to c business, right? You would offer a value proposition for that and in exchange for their personal information and based on their interactions is segment them appropriately and you score them regarding their full potential to become a thing customer or a high value customer. And from that point on, every [00:22:00] communication and touch point they receive is customized based on their value and the moment they covert meaning they really buy. That’s a whole other customer, right? A whole other segment.
Speaker 1: How are you doing that score? How are you doing that scoring? If they, let’s say the person’s giving you their name and email, like how do you evaluate their, their value as a customer? How do you score them?
Speaker 2: Yeah, it’s very much on a case by case. So marketing would get together with the business owner, [00:22:30] oh, that service, right? Or is it sort of startup? It’s a, it’s a, the product team. It’s a big company is you know, potentially the service line. And we would really say, we would say we’re going to have a point from zero to 10 or zero to 30. Um, if somebody signs up for a Webinar that’s at the highest value action, right? If somebody just download the paper that has, you know, lower value. [00:23:00] If somebody shares a piece of content of VFO show, you really assign points. It’s not a formulaic exercise and it’s done in conjunction with the business owners, Andrew, he was a marketing automation tool to really segment these people based on these interactions and forward them customized communications from there. Right? And these tools can be, you know, sailed through or my kiddo or hub spot Eloqua.
Speaker 2: These are all great tools that [00:23:30] allow you to capture lean, segment them based on their actions, then follow up with customized communications from that point on. So KPIs, there would be leads, how many leads are captured, right? And if you want to go really down to visiting facts, but you’re talking about is the holy grail would be in the cave. I would say a B to B operation. The holy grail would be, you know, an MQL which we call it, it’s a marketing [00:24:00] qualified lead and at that point where it’s marketing qualifies a lead you can fasten to sale sales people. Um, usually it’s these matching alterations for instance speak with salesforce and softwares alike. Right. And from that point on, sales people can call them from more personalized interaction.
Speaker 3: Fantastic. Switching gears a little bit, you know, in the world of independent consulting, you and I are chatting earlier how, you know, kind of marketing consultants [00:24:30] as independent marketing consultants. You know, there’s some slight, slight differences from someone who’s doing strategy consulting, let’s say. What would you say is different about being an independent consultant in marketing?
Speaker 2: I think it’s very dependent on execution to prove that. I also think because marketing you don’t necessarily see results in the short term and a lot of customers, one, you know, guaranteed results. I’ve had prospective clients call me like if I did this, what’s [00:25:00] the ROI? And I have to say like we don’t know, we haven’t done anything yet. It’s an experiment in marketing use experimentation. Right? So I spent a lot of time also in the forefront aligning with clients, with clients on an sow with paid metaphor, both with regards to profit deliverable because I think, um, due to the last concrete nature of the beast, um, it’s very important to manage [00:25:30] expectations and align before you started. So when short ethic, fast, long days man.
Speaker 3: Okay. And so have you seen kind of engagements go? Are they typically longer or what’s the typical duration?
Speaker 2: I have really tried to stay with customers for I believe six months. I’ve had one assignment that was three months long, but um, most of my engagements have really been Mochi. [00:26:00] Mine. I’m now running at like over a year with a client who thinks a lot of mean backed and wants to expand a lot of what you’re saying. So I think there’s actually these longer timeframe, a really important in marketing because you need to work with the client’s team also to implement. You don’t put alone. And those interactions, they’re not necessarily easy. You need to build trust, you need to build relationship, you need to get buying in through fusion. You need to equip your clients. [00:26:30] So salian internally, especially when the large companies they spell it and a lot of their times are, we need to turn on Phelan and socializing ideas. So longer engagement, timeframe, I’m more conducive to great outcome
Speaker 1: marketing is changing so quickly. How do you personally stay current with all of the latest tools and technology that’s available?
Speaker 2: It’s such a good question. Well, can I read a lot of blogs? [00:27:00] Um, if you asked me to pay Kwan, I remember Maus SCO, their blog is their content marketing strategy, which was basically the two that made them feel successful. If you wanna learn, search, follow their blog, it’s a great ad. So a lot of the startups that have offerings from reckoning have amazing content then they offer. I love to consume those. I find it very useful to kind of be in touch with the latest and greatest. [00:27:30] I would also say that fanning, kind of flipping between working with large companies and startups really gives me that breath of the best in class across a big range of marketing services, right? So if you’re working with a leading agency for a big brand part of a huge agents and app work, you’re going to see how they have refined all their programmatic offerings and measurement offerings and a scale that sort of cannot [00:28:00] consume and afford. So that’s very good as well. So working with a variety of customers is how I also stay in touch. I think if you just stay too, too long, even one customer type that it’s kind of limiting.
Speaker 1: Elana. Do attend any conferences or any other kind of events to, uh, to stay current beyond, beyond attracting the blogs?
Speaker 2: No, systematically really not systematically. I go for a [00:28:30] variety of conferences. Um, you know, PAC events in the city. There was second New York last year. It was interesting. Then there are major advertising conferences that happen every year as well. At Age has been, I haven’t been systematically or pending bills I do. However, is it a lot of advantages. The business school I attended to and the the events that they offer. For example, Wharton [00:29:00] hosted the work in Columbus, New York hosted recently professor Peter Fader to talk about his book in a customer centricity. It is fascinating and I’m solutely cutting edge off walk brands are dealing with and at the cutting edge and research wise when it comes to segmentation, focusing on the right customers, those that are very valuable and actually more valuable with them than a popular conferences.
Speaker 1: Elana for folks who want to find [00:29:30] out more about you, do you want to give a website or other link or what’s the best way to to find out what you’re doing?
Speaker 2: You can reach me@ilanaileasbtogo.com. My company. My company is called [inaudible], both in reference to B to C and B to B. You can find me there or visit Dah, Dah, Dah, w a bit of both.com
Speaker 3: and we will include those links in the show notes. Ilana, this has been amazing hearing [00:30:00] your tour through marketing with startups as well as larger companies. Thank you so much for being on the show.
Speaker 2: Thank you so much for having me. It’s a pleasure.

Related Episodes

jay-altizer-bain-alum-dallas-tx

Episode
440

Food Industry 101

Jay Altizer

Episode
439

Craig Beal on the Travel Business

Craig Beal

Episode
438

Rob Ristagno on Customer Segmentation

Rob Ristagno

Episode
437

Equity Research

Neeraj Monga