The antidote to treadmill marketing with Susan Ganeshan

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Welcome to another episode of 3-Minute-Marketing, the world’s most binge-worthy marketing podcast, offering the highest value per minute. We talk to some of the leading marketing minds in the world and ask them for three-minute chunks of brilliance.

Today I’m super excited to have Susan Ganeshan with us. Susan is a superstar CMO in B2B circles and is currently with Clearwater Analytics. She was previously with Granicus and has served as fractional CMO for several B2B high-tech software companies.

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My question for Susan is, “what’s the antidote to treadmill marketing?”.

Show notes:

  1. Almost every organization has a “gravitational pull to events”.
  2. Salespeople will often ask for one-off custom pieces and they truly believe that every client’s unique. This is treadmill marketing: you’re running really fast and producing pieces for the sales team, but you’re going nowhere.
  3. Tranisition your team from a simple campaign into a series of premier campaigns. Instead of going to one event, hoping you find some leads, and not following up, you can transition that into a premier campaign.
  4. In every marketing plan, there’s room for premier campaigns and simple campaigns.
  5. Start with the sales team, asks them what’s working, what challenges the customers have, and what themes they’re going to march at for the next six months to a year.
  6. Partner with organizations like Webmechanix, or even people within your own organization that know what the customer’s struggled with, to surround the premier campaign with a cornerstone asset, which all the other tactics are placed up against. This includes social posts, paid media, infographics, etc.
  7. Pepper simple campaigns in between premier campaigns to keep the lead flow going.


– You’re listening to “Three Minute Marketing” where we interview the world’s top growth marketing leaders and distill their knowledge into actionable bite-sized insights. Now, here’s your host, Chris Mechanic.

– [Chris Mechanic] Hello again, everybody. And welcome to another episode of “Three Minute Marketing” I’m your main man, Chris Mechanic, your host here today. “Three Minute Marketing” is the world’s most binge worthy marketing podcast, offering the highest value per minute. We talk to some of the leading marketing minds in the world, and basically ask them for three-minute chunks of brilliance. Today, I’m super excited to have Susan Ganeshan here with us today. Susan is really kind of a superstar CMO in a lot of B2B circles. She’s done this four different times, currently with Clearwater Analytics, but previously with Granicus, and also has done some fractional CMO work. So Susan, we’re super excited to have you. Welcome to the show.

– [Susan Ganeshan] Thanks so much for having me, Chris.

– [Chris Mechanic] You started not too long ago at Clearwater, but you know the drill. You’ve seen this before, you’ve done this before, four times in a full-time capacity and then with many other organizations I’m sure fractionally. Could you talk to us a little bit about just what you’re seeing across these organizations? Are there any commonalities or any common errors that folks are making? And what’s your go-to playbook when you arrive on a scene?

– [Susan Ganeshan] What I see in almost every organization is what I call a gravitational pull to events. Salespeople will often ask for one-off custom pieces. So they’ll say, “Hey, I’m going to go sell to AIG, “or I’m going to sell to Bank of America.” And they’re so unique that I need this one-off custom multipiece. And they truly believe every client’s unique. I call this treadmill marketing because you’re running, running, running really fast, producing all these pieces for the sales team, but you’re going nowhere. I’ve been able to transition many of the teams from what looks like a simple campaign into a series of premiere campaigns. So instead of going to one event, showing up at the event, hoping you find some leads, and not following up, you can transition that into a premiere campaign. But I think in every marketing plan there’s room for premiere campaigns and simple campaigns. So the way I work it is I start with a sales team. I ask them what’s working in their market, what themes, what challenges those customers have. We come up with that set of themes we’re going to march at for the next six months, maybe even a year, that consistent message. We then partner with organizations. We’ve partnered with WebMechanix before to help us write some content. I’ve partnered with a variety of different organizations, even people in my organization who just know what the customers struggle with. And then we surround that premiere campaign with what I call a cornerstone asset. And that asset then is what we put all the other tactics against. So we will do social posts, we’ll do paid media. We will use it on the invites to the event that we’re inviting our customers to, or our prospects to. We’ll slice and dice that piece into infographics. We’ll post those little infographics on social media. We’re hoping that those social media posts come back and get them to download the whole piece and or show up at our booth at that event. We use it for retargeting, and then we use it ongoing for nurturing. That’s why the theme, that’s why starting with the theme, getting alignment on that theme with the sales team. And then stop that market confusion by staying with a particular topic. In between those premiere campaigns, pepper simple campaigns. Some salesperson says, “We have a little topic on the latest industry standard “that everybody needs to follow. “Can we have a campaign on that?” Yeah, sure. Pop in a webinar, or maybe do a CTE credit-based training. And just do that one thing. You might do a little bit of advertising around it, you might do an email push, but you’re not doing a massive program around it, just that simple campaign. And that will keep the lead flow going. You will always have that goal if you surround these premiere campaigns with some simple campaigns.

– [Chris Mechanic] Well, I think that makes a lot of sense and it really marries a lot of the different needs of the organizations, like at the investor, and the board and exec level, you start with with that model, the ROI model that you were talking about. But then you’re looking at the market forces by interviewing the salespeople, aligning with them, which satisfies their needs, that they know that they’ve got a great marketing team behind them. And you’re really taking an asset-based approach. That premiere campaign, I think of it like an asset-based approach. It’s got a longer life span, you can use it in many different ways. And then you’re also solving for the one-off needs of a sales team, or the ebbs and flows of the natural business process where you can just put a simple campaign out real quick to just drum up some business in the short run.

– [Susan Ganeshan] That’s right.

– [Chris Mechanic] So I like that a lot. I like that a lot. Let’s continue to unpack that. We’ll end the episode now just because we’re a little bit overtime. But Susan, we really appreciate you. Please tell everybody that’s listening where they can learn more about you and or Clearwater Analytics.

– [Susan Ganeshan] Yeah, of course, it’s We would love to hear from you. We are an organization that sells to investments accountants who need to reconcile and keep track of all of their investments. So corporations insurance and large asset managers. And we’re really proud to serve the market in a really unique way with very high quality. So we’d love to hear from you.

– [Chris Mechanic] Love it. Okay, thank you so much, Susan. Stay on. Susan and I are going to continue talking a little bit to unpack some of those concepts. If you’d like to hear the rest of our conversation, there should be a link to a video either in the show notes, or right beneath this recording, wherever you’re listening to it. And as always, if you like this, please drop us a like, a thumbs up, a comment, a share, whatever it is on your platform so that we can keep the love flowing. Thanks very much, everyone. I really like this concept a lot and it blends into a framework called, well, that’s dubbed, the content factory, which my buddy, Dennis, you came up with. Dennis, he was former Yahoo analytics guy, kind of was the head of product over there long time ago. But he’s basically a visionary, but the thesis of that is basically you create a long-form piece of content with the idea ahead of time that you’re going to break it out into a lot of smaller pieces of content because micro-content is all the rage. Who wants to watch a 30 minute video if you can watch a one minute video? But then he goes through this pretty rigorous process of taking these individual snippets, posting them organically on their social channels. And the ones that do well organically, or the ones that do best organically, he’ll boost. And if they continue doing well as a boost, then he’ll make it an evergreen just regular campaign within the ads manager. So it’s a cool concept and it’s something that you could probably bolt on to your concept of premiere campaign. And you already do it to some extent like the social posts.

– [Susan Ganeshan] Yeah, no, I love that idea of boosts though, because we go out there and we spend some money. And if the money seems to be working, then we keep going, but you could try it out first in the free social, right?

– [Chris Mechanic] Yeah. So can you walk us through an example campaign that you’ve done either recently or just at some point in your career, just to kind of give us a sense of, what was the theme? Or how long did it actually play out? Or how many leads were you actually generating? Or what’d you see in terms of, I know Vista, we’ve worked with a couple of Vista companies, they call it MOBs or Marketing Originated Bookings. And it’s got to be 30% or higher, right?

– [Susan Ganeshan] Well, it’s got to be actually in some organizations even much higher than that. So one of the things that might be useful is when you’re talking about leads, when you’re generating those leads, how many should sales accept? And Vista has some really impressive standards on this. I’ll just tell you what I think they should be based on my experience with some Vista companies plus the others. So when you’re producing leads, if they’re really great marketing qualified leads, I would expect the BDRs and or the sales team to accept 85% of them. So that means you’ve got your targeting right, you’ve got your rules and your scoring locked down. And what would be that way to start, but you got to get there. Then when you’re moving from, one sales accepts those leads and they start to work them, a full 50% of them should turn into meetings. There should be a meeting where we’re qualifying that lead, where we’re potentially giving a demo. We’re talking about our product at some level. And then of those meetings, I’d say another full 50% of those should turn into opportunities. Standard B2B win rates are 33%, but I’ve seen much much higher, including at my current company. So don’t go for below 33%. But if it makes it to opportunity and your sales team is doing their job, you should give it 33%. Anyway, those numbers help you write your own calculator, and determine how many leads you need. And then once you know how many leads you need, it’s about looking at that campaign, that premiere campaign and saying, “Okay, the content itself “is actually not going to produce that many leads.” It’s what you do with the content. It’s the webinar you run. It’s the ads you place. It’s the speaking engagement you secure at the next event on that topic. And so every company I’ve been at, you asked, “Give me an example of a campaign.” They’re very specific to the companies and to the markets I play in. So at Clarabridge, for example, we’ve our customer experience. So we did customer journey mapping, which is not customer experience, but it’s very tightly related. And the people who want to do customer experience need to do journey mapping first. So it was, what’s their problem before they get to us? Let’s go solve that, tell them how to do it. So ask yourself that question. “What is my customer’s problem before they get to me? “I’m going to tell them how to solve that.” I’ll give you another example. When I was a new CMO, the first thing I did is I needed to figure out a budget. Where’d I go? I Googled it. Who came back? HubSpot. HubSpot gives you sample budgets. So is HubSpot a budgeting tool? No. So what it did for me is it solved a problem before I got to the potential of using HubSpot. So think of it that way. In my current company, our campaigns, the accountants using our software need to know about taxes and they need to know about compliance. They need to know about risk and performance. So I look, okay, what are their challenges in the world of compliance? Well, there’s five different standards they need to follow. So when we run a premiere campaign, it’s around one of those standards. What are the changes that are happening? How does that impact their business? When do they have to implement those changes by? And here’s the advice on how to do it in our system or any system. And then hopefully that builds so much trust with them that they go, “Well, why wouldn’t I use Clearwater?” Right?

– [Chris Mechanic] Yeah. I personally love industries or spaces where there’s regulations or compliance requirements that are named, like Sarbanes-Oxley, or these different things.

– [Susan Ganeshan] NAIC or IFRS, or our standards.

– [Chris Mechanic] Because that’s just like a search edge of marketers paradise, because you know that if someone’s searching for that, they’re not just any Joe Schmo, they’re probably having intent and our quality. Is there any reason in a space like that where there are regulations that never go away? Could a premiere campaign be evergreen and just run almost constantly, just keep updating as the regulations update?

– [Susan Ganeshan] Yes. In fact, with NAIC, which is a insurance standard, we do that. Every year, we go to the event, we dissect what the new compliance and regulations are, and we bring that back and we do webinars. And we’ve just, as an organization, sort of before I got there, they thought about it as a one-off like, “Oh, it’s time to do NAIC. “Let’s go do it.” They would go to the event and they’d do one blog and one webinar. And now I’m like, “No, no, no, no, this is year long.” This is slice and dice and put up ads and show people the benefit of moving to that new regulation is. And let’s keep it going. Let’s keep that volume up.

– [Chris Mechanic] And from a search marketer’s perspective, it would be sick. So think of a campaign like an asset that you’re willing to invest in. Do a Google search on NAIC requirements. Look at the first couple of listings. And then create a page that’s genuinely better than that for SEO purposes. But if that page could be created also in a way that it converts well, for instance, instead of looking like a landing page, it might look like a long-form content piece and require just an email address, for instance, a lower friction kind of gate. So you’re ranking organically, getting leads organically, but then you can buy those terms for cheap because you’re going to have really good quality scores if you’re sending traffic to the page that’s already ranking organically. You see what I mean?

– [Susan Ganeshan][ Yeah.

– [Chris Mechanic] Then you could do retargeting. That’s actually just brilliant. You might take all five of those regulations and link to each of them from your homepage and just make those five pillar pages that are updated more regularly than the others, that are higher quality than the others, they’re designed better–

– [Suan Ganeshan] We call them dictionary pages, and I’ve done dictionary pages in almost every company I’ve been at, and it is. Figure out what that thing is, in this case, it’s regulations we’re talking about, but what are those key phrases that people might search for? And then get those dictionary pages going. And you will absolutely rank number, at Granicus, we went from no rankings at all to in the top five for all of the key phrases that we wanted to rank for, and we also did ads on them once we did.

– [Chris Mechanic] That’s great. That’s awesome. Well, Susan, you are a badass. I have a lot more that we could talk about, but I want to be sensitive to your time. So let me let you go for right now, but come back again sometime.

-[Susan Ganeshan] Awesome. Thanks for having me, Chris. I really enjoyed it.

Susan Ganeshan

Susan Ganeshan CMO

Chris Mechanic

Chris MechanicCEO & Co-Founder

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