Welcome back to the latest episode of “3-Minute Marketing”, where we talk to the greatest minds in the marketing game today & share their most actionable insights with you.
Today, I’m speaking with my friend Drew Neisser, CEO at Renegade Marketing & CMO Huddles. For those who don’t know Drew, he’s a well-loved, 40+-year veteran of the B2B brand marketing world. He’s the guy who came up with the name for the Panasonic “Toughbook”, among other famous brand marketing wins.
Drew’s dropping a new book titled Renegade Marketing: 12 Steps to Building Unbeatable B2B Brands on October 5th. In line with the theme of his new book, I ask him,
“What are the top 5 mistakes B2B marketers are making today & what should they be doing instead?”
- Mistake #1: The “peanut butter effect” — trying to do too many personas, channels, messages, etc. Instead, create a simple story (8 words or less) & tell it 18 different ways to customers, prospects & employees.
- Mistake #2: The targets are backwards — most marketers prioritize prospects, then customers, then employees. Reverse that, because if employees & customers don’t buy into your brand story, you’re dead in the water. If they do, they’ll be your best advocates.
- Mistake #3: Rebranding without changing the product or service — marketers who do this are putting a coat of paint on an old barn. Instead, first make sure the product or service lives up to the new brand promise first.
- Mistake #4: Spending too much on Martech — Martech is NOT marketing, it’s just tools. Automate attentively, get Martech spend under 10% of total budgets & figure out what piece of tech you can remove for each one you add.
- Mistake #5: Retreating during a crisis — too many CMOs focused on furloughing staff & cutting back during the pandemic. Now they’re scrambling. The winners realized that crisis is an opportunity to shine by reinvesting, leaning into their customer relationships & showing they were essential.
- To tell your story effectively, create a purpose-driven story statement — 8 words or less that encapsulate everything about your brand. Then make it real for your employees, customers & prospects.
- To measure the effectiveness of your brand, have some basic brand health measures in place. These could include a blend of customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, acquisition & awareness.
- Just evaluating marketing on CAC is problematic because the brand drives metrics like speed-to-close, frequency of inclusion in RFPs, etc.
- 20% of your marketing budget should be in experimentation at all times.
- Consider using Pollfish, Propeller Insights,. SurveyMonkey panels or Wynter for B2B surveys & panels.
- Your purpose-driven story doesn’t really mean/do anything until you execute against it & fulfill its promise over time. And in doing so, you effectively become a new (better) company.
– [Chris Mechanic] Welcome, everybody to another episode of Three Minute Marketing, where we interview the world’s leading growth and marketing experts and condense it down into three minute value bombs for your listening and your snacking pleasure. I’m your main man, Chris Mechanic, it’s great to have you here. If you like this show, if you are loving it, please like, subscribe, leave a comment, we listen to each one. Super excited today to be talking to Drew Neisser. Drew Neisser is pretty much like the king of B2B marketing. I mean, he’s one of these guys that’s kind of hybrid, strategist, writer, promoter, he’s got a massive network of CMOs, he runs the number two, maybe even number one podcast for CMOs at this point, but very, very talented, very well networked, knows B2B cold. When Drew talks, I listen, and I’m excited to have you here today.
– [Drew Neisser] Hey, Chris. Thanks for those very kind comments. I don’t know if any of them are true, but I’ll try not to let you down.
– [Chris] Well, one thing, so Drew and I have known each other for some time, you know, in real life, not just podcasting life, but one thing that I just learned about you from your website, you actually were credited for the naming of the Toughbook, Panasonic’s Toughbook, which has probably done over a billion dollars in sales by now.
– [Drew] Yeah, it has and I love that, and it’s just one of those rare opportunities where they bring you a heavy notebook computer and say, hey, help us come up with a name for it, and it turned out that this magnesium casing was what made it strong, and we actually named it and then they developed a product that was incredibly tough. So, it was just a wonderful moment in one’s career.
– [Chris] That’s awesome, man. That’s awesome. All right, well, let’s get going, you know we only have three minutes. I want to talk B2B today. Probably a good 30 or 40% of our business is B2B so we know it well and it’s evolving quickly, just like the rest of the space, but I got a question for you, if you are ready.
– [Drew] I am ready.
– [Chris] Cool. So I want to know, from your perspective, what are some of the top mistakes that you’re currently seeing B2B marketers make? Say, like the top five or top three, or however many mistakes, and what they ought to be doing instead? I’m going to start the timer now.
– [Drew] Okay, so the five biggest mistakes that we’re seeing that B2B marketers are making. Number one is what we call the peanut butter effect, they’re trying to do too much, too many targeted personas, too many channels, too many messages, and they think that this micro-messaging is actually going to work, but Gartner research shows it’s the opposite. You’ve got a buying committee, you send different messages to each one of those, you’re 2.2 times less likely to get the sale. And our research shows that only 40% of CMOs can describe their brand in eight words or less, so the trick to the peanut butter, fighting the peanut butter effect, simple story, tell it 18 different ways to customers, prospects, and employees. Okay, number two, the targets are backwards. Most marketers think prospects, then customers, then employees. We want to reverse that and say, employees are your number one target, customers are number two, and prospects are number three. Employees, if they don’t buy your new brand story, you’re dead in the water. But if they do, they’re the greatest ambassadors that ever existed. Same with customers, if they don’t buy the story, you’re done, why bother? But on the other hand, they become your best advocates. So, you know you got it right when your employees are really proud of the company they work for and your customers are part of a community and feel like they’re part of a community. Okay, number three, rebranding without changing the product or service. And this one really drives me crazy, a new CMO comes in, say, hey, we need a new logo and a new color and a new website and they don’t do anything, there’s no material change to the product or service. And so, all they’re really doing is putting a coat of paint on an old barn. So, if they can change the promise but if they don’t change the service behind it and educate employees on how to deliver on this new promise, then they’ve not only put old paint on an old barn but they didn’t tell the farmer and the cows who are getting covered in paint and it’s all bad stuff. Great marketing is not about fluff, it is about service and selling through service. Okay, number four, spending too much on MarTech and this one drives me crazy. And you will know this, too much tech, not enough staff, not enough marketing, there’s a confusion out there. MarTech is not marketing, it’s just tools. And Forester estimated that they’re overspending 18 billion on this stuff. In the book I talk about how to automate attentively, get that budget on MarTech under 10% of what you’re doing and most importantly, if you add a tool, think about what you can take off, just don’t keep adding tools. All right, and the fifth one, and this was a big one in March and April of 2020, which is retreating during a crisis. Many CMOs gave budget back, they furloughed staff and now they’re scrambling. Others recognized this was a crisis and a moment to shine, that takes courage. I know CMOs that contacted every one of their customers. A big thing that happened in this crisis, you could prove you were essential. If you proved that you were essential, you really stepped up. And one of the things that came out of the crisis for us was CMO Huddles, we founded it during the pandemic because it was a way of helping our customers. It’s now a business. That’s what we mean by not retreating during a crisis. All right, that’s what I got. Five tips.
– [Chris] I love that. I mean, that’s so much knowledge and wisdom all into one. Just to summarize what I got, peanut butter effect, doing too much, too much segmentation, trying to personalize too much, backwards targeting. I’ve never heard that before, I like that though, employees first, then customers, then prospects. Don’t rebrand, don’t just slap a coat of paint on a rebrand without changing the engine parts out. MarTech. Everybody, you know, B2B and B2C alike are just kind of seduced by the latest and greatest in MarTech and it’s not a problem-solver by itself, it’s just a tool like anything else. And then keep spending, keep spending through a budget. We saw that the clients of ours that spent well and continued spending, gained market share, and the auctions were just cheap while everybody was pulling out. So, I love that. Let’s close, ’cause it’s three minute marketing, but stay on the line. I know that you have a book, I’m excited to read it, personally. I hope you’ll send me a copy. But if you’ll make a few copies available to our audience, I’m sure that they would love it as well, we can include that in the bonus material. And Drew and I will keep talking, so there should be a link somewhere to a longer video, but yeah, Drew, why don’t you go ahead and let people know where they can find you or how they can claim a copy of your book.
– [Drew] Sure, you can find everything on renegade.com. We also have a microsite for the book, renegademarketing.com. And if you’re a B2B CMO and you can care, share, and dare with the best of them, feel free to check out CMOhuddles.com as well.
– [Chris] Love it, love it. Okay, thank you very much, everybody. If you liked this, please like, subscribe, comment. We read every comment, we love your comments, let us know what you liked, what you don’t like, what you’d like to hear more of, what topics you’re interested in, and we’ll talk to you next time. I love it. I think that, I mean, just going through some of your topics, like I love the peanut butter effect. I think half of the time, personalization attempts just go wrong, you know? The targeting is not perfect, the data set’s not perfect, you’re trying to personalize. And so, most times when we engage with a new client, we look at their whole project and task queue and we’re just like, let’s just stop doing 80% of this stuff and just zoom into that 20% that works. But, I’m interested in your concept of like, tell the story briefly in 18 different ways. So like, how would you do that in real life? How would you operationalize that? Like, you send a different version of the story to the financial buyer versus the technical buyer, or the user buyer?
– [Drew] So, the first part of this comes down to really understanding your brand and being able to create what we call this purpose-driven story statement. Eight words or less, it encapsulates everything about your brand and allows you to tell the story. And so, that step, you know, once you have your purpose-driven story statement then you can come up with six ways to make it real to employees, six ways to make it real to customers and six ways to make it real for prospects. So, one of our clients we’ve worked with for several years, their purpose-driven story statement is on the case. The company is called Case Paper, they have a punny personality so this is even a pun bit built into it, but they created all these programs for their employees, set on the case awards and recognition programs that were about that. For customers, they did the same thing, they created on the case awards and they made it about- They transferred that idea to their customers and said, you’re on the case for your customers. And then for prospects, they were able to also say why this was good. And there’s a component here that you don’t see, which is brand personality and, you know, one of the ways to tie things together is with arc types. It happens that on the case had a history of comedy and funny storytelling, so we chose the joker arc type for them and that became a unifier. So, everything they do has this sort of dad humor thing to it, and it works for their brand. And most brands don’t have the chutzpah to sort of be funny and take that chance, and so these guys have just found, in an incredibly difficult marketplace, have found a way, as a paper merchant, to cut through.
– [Chris] That’s awesome. Yeah, and I think that’s one of the biggest weaknesses in B2B is that people are, for some reason everyone wants to be boring in B2B, like everyone wants to be real buttoned up and real, just prim and proper, and I think a little bit of humor, a little bit of personality can really go a long way. ‘Cause I mean, whether you’re a procurement person or a CFO or whatever, you’re still a person, you still like to have fun, probably.
– [Drew] It’s so true. In the book I talk about sort of branding and logos, and Dave DC was working for this company called Trust Arc and they put in their new logo, plus he changed some other things ’cause the company was changing, they put a little dolphin fin in their mark, and then they started giving away dolphin plush dolls at trade shows, and they thought it was going to be a one- People loved them. And it was silly, it was like, if ever there was a case where it’s a trade show and we’re serious, it’s like, no, we’re people and we have kids and we do things and so, yeah, Boring to Business is not what B2B should stand for. It really, you know, it’s got to be interesting and there’s so many ways of making it interesting if you’re committed to it.
– [Chris] 100%. So I’m interested, because I think you and I come from fairly different worlds in that I’m a performance marketer by training, you know? So, I’m all up in Google ads and LinkedIn ads, I’m buying clicks and trying to convert them, so everything’s all about measurement for us. I think you listened to Udi’s episode where he was like, you know, measure, yeah, but like, don’t be so obsessive about it, and he told the story about their super bowl commercial and how they couldn’t measure it, but it worked. Do you find your clients, like, ’cause a rebrand is something that, in my view, you can’t just test it, you can’t put it in the market quickly and see how it responds, like you got to go all in or go all out. And then measurements seems to be a hairy scenario, like, do you hear a lot of CMOs calling for more measurement around the effectiveness of rebranding efforts? Or is it kind of just like, hey, let’s go with it and anecdotally say, you know, it’s working or not.
– [Drew] So, there’s a couple of things in there, they might sound contradictory. One is that the CMOs are famous in the C-suite as reporting on too many metrics. And so this is all about, you know, in the book I talk about clearing away the clutter and radically simplifying it, and for metrics, that matters as well. And let’s face it, you know and I know, that a click is useless. Measuring a click is ridiculous. And even measuring, for example, how many downloads did somebody do? Because if it was that one person who read that one document that closed the million dollar sale, you know, so attribution and all that is really, really difficult and there’s arts, and you know it better than I do. But what we encourage is, let’s make sure that you do have brand health metrics in place. And in the book, I talk a lot about how you don’t necessarily have to spend, expense a lot of money on a brand tracking study, although that’s a smart idea, but you have to have surrogate measures for brand health, you absolutely have to do it, and it’s not that hard to do it. But if you think about it, a blended metric, where you’re looking at customer satisfaction, you’re looking at employee satisfaction, and then you look at some kind of acquisition number and some awareness number, you can create this blended brand health number. And one of the things that we encourage all CMOs to do when they do their first round of research, whatever it is, is ask an aided and unaided awareness question. You get that, benchmark it. Because then you’re going to know, and you can at least see six months from now that you did move the needle on some of these more intangible things like awareness, which we also know really matters. When was the last time you brought a product or service that you hadn’t heard of?
– [Chris] 100%. Yeah, and in my world, we might use brand search volume. So we might look at how many people are searching for Panasonic Toughbook today versus six months from now versus a year from now.
– [Drew] And that’s a great metric, and that’s one of the ones that I think you could use in a brand health metric, because you can look at that number as a percentage of say, pick two other competitors, right, and look at that number. What’s your share of that? And is it changing? And so, if you see an incremental move from you’re getting 20% of the searches to 30% of the searches, that’s good stuff and you can include that in your brand health. And so part of this is just being, rather than looking at that metric alone and five other metrics alone, create a blended brand health metrics that includes something like that, and that’s the one that you feature on your dashboard with your executive suite.
– [Chris] 100%. And one thing that I’m noticing more and more is that, you know, especially some larger brands, they have their performance marketers, which are judged based on cost per acquisition, and then they’ve got their brand marketers which are more so in charge of like showing up in the right places, like they’ll find those communities of practice and buy media just to be there, or they’ll like, they’ll run the event and the sponsorship stuff, and they’re not so much held accountable on cost per acquisition but just being in the right place where your brands are. But I’m seeing some of the most savvy brands, and those two kind of live in their own worlds, usually, like they’re both in the LinkedIn account buying ads, but like, you have your campaigns and they have their campaigns. And sometimes there’s very siloed and limited communication, but we’re seeing an emergence, have you ever heard of performance branding?
– [Drew] Yeah, I mean, there’s lots of, so we’ll call it euphemism because nobody wants to use the word brand with PE and VC firms, so they have to come up with other terms. Right? But I think the point that you were making is really spot on, and this is where the problem begins when I talked about the peanut butter effect is, you’ve got the demand marketers who are measured on one thing, and you’ve got the brand marketers who are measured on another. That’s ridiculous. There’s one goal, which is keep customers, increase lifetime value, right? And attract customers. That’s sort of, if we look at that and I’m skipping employees, but those have to be together and you can’t have separate metrics for separate departments, because otherwise they’re working across purposes.
– [Chris] Yeah, that’s true. But I kind of like this concept of performance branding because even if you added some degree of measurability, like if you blended the overall cost per acquisition and you judge both of them or you measure both of them accordingly, that’d be great. But even adding some additional layers of measurement, some additional layers of accountability and just like, efficiency and effectiveness metrics to the brand side of the house, I think could be really valuable in that executives could basically see some tangible figures coming out of it.
– [Drew] No, I agree. I think you have to have this combination of a brand metric and you obviously- Look, every CMO needs to be able to say, we’re contributing to pipeline and they need to know what that number is. And you could talk to Jamie Gilpin at a sprout social and she’ll tell you, 90% is marketing attributed, which is killer, right? And then you’ll get to other brands where that number might be 15%, but whatever it is, that is really important. They’ve got to be making a contribution to pipeline. My point though is, if you’re making a contribution to pipeline, brand is playing a role in that. And you see, here’s where brand is going to play a role, it’s going to be in the speed of close, right? It’s going to be in the number of times you’re included in an RFP, and so this is why just looking at CAC is problematic.
– [Chris] 100%. And I mean, brand plays a huge role. Like, I’ll tell you a B2C story real quick is we had one of the nation’s largest window installation companies and they were just going market to market, expanding. Their home markets where east coast based and we were buying Google ads for them, and basically for every dollar that we spent, the general consensus is like, buy your brand ’cause it’s the cheapest clicks. That’s the last thing, you don’t want your competitors to get a hold of those clicks right? So, defend your brand is rule number one. And those clicks are usually cheap because there’s a lot of relevancy, Google can see that you are this company, you’re not just some imposter. So in our home markets, up to 50% of our spend would be this brand and the cost per conversion was like $15 or something, but even the non-branded cost per conversions where like say, 100. But when we went into a brand new market, like say even a west coast market where nobody had heard of them, the portion that you were able to spend on brand was minuscule, and the cost per was way higher, like to the tune of double or triple, because they didn’t have the benefit. This company had been running radio, and print, and like all these things, just banging it hard for 10 years, here, and it was a very stark difference over there. And we kind of knew that, but we saw it so clearly then. And then, so what they did was they turned on some of that brand spend and pretty quickly we saw branded search volume coming up, as well as CP, overall cost per acquisition coming down. So there is absolutely an equation and absolutely an argument to be made, and making that argument I think is important but sometimes difficult, especially for performance marketers like us to just say like, hey, let’s buy some radio ads and hope it helps.
– [Drew] Well, but this is part of the thing that I would say to anybody listening to the show is, 20% of your budget should be an experimentation. And what you just described was a wonderful experiment that is easily done, right? You can take two markets and you can say, we’re going to run localized radio in one and we’re not going to run radio in the other, and we’re going to look at our performance marketing aspects of it. And you know, the story you told, it reminds me of a story that- Years ago, Travelocity was spending 70% of their dollars on search, and they got to the point where they couldn’t spend another dollar effectively, right? So then they flipped their budget and they spent 70% of their budget on television, and suddenly their search improved so much that they could spend more on search, right? And they could spend so much more efficiently. So the correlation between, and this is the thing that everybody forgets is, without awareness, there is no brand search.
– [Chris] Yeah.
– [Drew] Period. And without awareness, you’re going to be paying more for search, and that matters in B2B or B2C. It’s true for both. It’s so funny because awareness doesn’t hit home to a B2B CEO till he goes to his country club and he says where he works and they go, oh, I’ve never heard of that. Uh-oh. We need awareness, right? So anyway, there are a lot of ways to come to this realization, but really testing, and testing to triumph as I say in the book, is key, and people forget.
– [Chris] Yeah. So I wish we had more time, but I know Google surveys, like in the B2C space you can do Google surveys that basically is a very inexpensive way you can get a thousand responses in any market, and it basically says, have you heard of this brand? Or like, which of these brands have you heard of? And your client will be listed among them, right? Do you know of a B2B platform that does something like that?
– [Drew] Yeah, Pollfish you can do that. We’ve done it for a couple of brands on Pollfish, we worked with another company called Propeller Insights, it’s not as cheap as Google Survey. And I believe actually SurveyMonkey also has a panel, a B2B panel that you can tap into, and that’s the great thing is that there are these panels now that you can do this research. So there’s almost no reason not to, , do an employee survey, a customer survey and an awareness survey. There just isn’t. No excuses, guys.
– [Chris] There’s an interesting platform that I’ve found recently. Well, actually, it’s my buddy Pep from Conversion XL started, but it’s called Wyntr, W-Y-N-T-R. And I don’t think it’s like an awareness surveying platform, but it’s more so just really high quality panelists where you can run your messaging past them, basically. And it’s not cheap, like on a per response basis, but the quality of responses and the titles and the individuals in there is like really high quality. But that’s one way to potentially just kind of litmus test your eight word story for different audiences.
– [Drew] And I really struggle with that. It’s funny ’cause I talk about that in the book and my personal struggle. Here’s the reality of any kind of purpose-driven story statement. It doesn’t start to have meaning till you do all the things that I talked about, you know, the six things against employees, the six things against the customer. So a line, in and of itself, just sort of sits there. And there’s an example for my career I wrote, and it’s probably the best line I ever wrote for Family Circle, it’s where family comes first, and it was on the spine of their magazine for 19 years. I mean, it was crazy that that was there, but it never became real in the sense that they didn’t do the things that we said. You know, you ought to have a family first conference, you ought to own that on an annual basis with research, you ought to have a family first policy, right? All these things that you could do, and so my point is it was great language and we might’ve gotten good feedback on it, but it never quite got to the place it could’ve because there wasn’t execution. So, the risk of exposing an idea like that is that they’re just reacting to the words, not the actions. So if you have to, if somebody insists that you do it, you do it. But you know, in my mind, what you really are looking for is if I have this on the case idea where family comes first, can I come up with 18 ways to execute against it and then commit to doing that over a year to two year period?
– [Chris] Yeah. I mean, that sounds a lot like, basically, don’t just slap a coat of paint on it, change out some of the parts. Is that what you meant by that? Like, operationalize these six things, start a conference, is that what you meant by that? Or did you mean literally like a new product or service or change the offer?
– [Drew] It depends on the thing, so I’ll give you an example. So, Aetna came out with a line which is, we don’t serve you, you serve us, or something like that. No, we serve you, right?
– [Chris] I was like, what? That doesn’t make sense.
– [Drew] Yeah, yeah, yeah, I got their line wrong, but they spent six months retraining their employees on how to handle customer complaints and issues. So, for example, you call up and say, hey, I’m going to have knee surgery. And so, normally what the person would say is, okay, you’re approved to have that surgery. But what they were trained to say is, oh, you know, people who usually have knee surgery need physical therapy. Would you like a list of therapists that our insurance covers? Big difference, right? That operationalize that. Another thing they tried to do was say, they made it a policy that they would know the customers, so they had to re-change their whole database configuration so that everybody on customer service could access everything that was needed, so that when Drew called they could say, oh, hey, Drew, how’d the surgery go?
– [Chris] Right.
– [Drew] So that’s the ideal scenario. You have a new positioning, but it’s so big that it forces you to change something in your operations or something in your product that makes it real.
– [Chris] I love that. You just actually changed my perception of rebranding because, you know, as a performance guy, I’m always like, why are you guys going to spend half a million dollars to rebrand? ‘Cause I just consider it to be a coat of paint, but when you add in and operationalize things like you just described, then you actually kind of become a new company in a way. That’s meaningful to me, even as a performance guy, you know?
– [Drew] Yeah, and it gives you more to talk about as a performance guy, it gives you more focus, and this is the thing is that rebranding is a huge opportunity not to be wasted, and it happens so regularly as lipstick on a pig and barn paint, when it could be something meaningful. And if you really have a purpose-driven story statement, there are going to be operational changes that are needed to be made, because you’re suddenly purpose-driven when you weren’t before. So, that’s the idea.
– [Chris] Well, there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Oh, sorry. Go ahead.
– [Drew] No, the last thing is, I really believe marketers can make the world better. I really believe that. And they can do that by bringing purpose to their organizations, but they got to make it real.
– [Chris] I love it. We’re going to have another one about purpose, but there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Drew Neisser dropping knowledge and just literally changed my whole perception of branding, from like those fru-fru, useless, aesthetic activity to like actually something meaningful and useful, so let’s rebrand.
– [Drew] Let’s rebrand. Yeah, there you go.
– [Chris] But hey, I really appreciate you, Drew. I appreciate your time today, your partnership in general. Let’s stay in touch. Let me know if there’s anything I can do for you.
– [Drew] Same for you. I love what you’re doing with the show and you know, it’s been easy to work with you. We keep a vendor of program going on CMO Huddles, and several CMOs are already working with you and they highly recommend you, so keep up the good work.
– [Chris] Absolutely. Thank you very much. We really appreciate you and we’ll be in touch.
– [Drew] You got it.
– [Chris] All right.
– [Drew] All right, thanks. Bye.