By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing
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This week’s episode is entitled “How to Accelerate Growth Through Customer Intimacy” and our guest is Laura Patterson, President of VisionEdge Marketing and the author of Fast-Track Your Business: A Customer-Centric Approach to Accelerate Market Growth.
I ask Laura to talk about marketing performance management and helping to drive and measure marketing accountability– what that means and why that’s so important.
A lot of marketers are either not measuring the right things or measuring things that tell a different story than they intend to. When we talk about marketing accountability and measuring the marketing’s impact on the business, it’s not just a scorecard. There’s a story behind that that has to speak to a business result of the marketing, not just a marketing result. Laura shares what that difference means and why is it important. This and a lot more! Listen in now or read the full transcript below.
Paul: Hey, welcome back everybody. Time to put your board shorts on, swim out into the sea and see if you can catch a wave as that sales pipeline starts curl up. Not many people at the beach out today, Matt.
Matt: Well, you’re down in Southern California. Apparently in Florida, maybe Georgia soon, like the beaches are back open.
Paul: Kind of crazy.
Matt: Maybe an abundance of caution, maybe still needs to apply a little bit. But how are you doing?
Paul: Well, you know it’s interesting. That’s the question of the day. Your guest was kind enough to ask me. I mean she really sounded like she wanted to know, “How are you doing?” I think that’s what everybody wants to know. How’s everybody doing? I’m deep in the bunker. I’m not sticking my head out ’til I hear the all clear signal. So I’m playing groundhog.
Matt: I think that’s a smart way of doing it. We’ve got a special episode of Sales Pipeline Radio today. Not only with our guests but also this live from the Heinz come school/kitchen.
Matt: So we’re doing this today. Working from home is very real. My wife is also working. Kids are doing what they’re doing and it’s 11:30 here, so I’m working on making lunch. So this is either going to be the most interesting episode of Sales Pipeline Radio ever, or the biggest train wreck of Sales Pipeline Radio ever. It might be a little bit of both. We’re going to find out.
Paul: Are we going to hear a school bell go off in the background when they go from class to class, from room to room?
Matt: No, thankfully it’s recess right now. It’s Heinz Home School recess, while the daddy, the headmaster, works on a little egg salad BLT. By the way, you’ve never had a BLT with a little layer of egg salad in it?
Paul: No, no, no.
Paul: I thought you were just strictly a PB&J man, peanut butter and jelly.
Matt: That is good as well. At our house usually it’s either peanut butter and honey or peanut butter and with chocolate, which is a little bit of Nutella put on that as well.
Paul: Oh wow, kind of wild.
Matt: But you see now I’m getting hungry. Now I’m glad I’m making lunch. But anyway, let’s get started. Thanks everyone for joining us on a very special potentially train wreck episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. We are live at 11:30 Pacific, 2:30 Eastern every Thursday. We are having more and more people listening to us live on the Funnel Media Radio Network as they work from home, breaking up the monotony of their day a little bit and getting a little sales and marketing advice as well. So thank you very much for joining us. If you’re joining us through the podcast, thank you for subscribing. Thank you for listening. Another record year. I mean it’s been interesting Paul, to watch cloud podcast numbers continue to grow.
Paul: Unbelievable. Yeah.
Matt: Yeah, I thought that they would actually go down in this time. There’s fewer people commuting, but I think as people get outside and get a little exercise, more people out walking and listening to their favorite podcast. So thank you very much for joining us.
Paul: They’re hungry for content. I’m hungry for some of that Nutella there. So if you could just pass, I can hear the knife in the jar there. So if you could just pass a little over to me.
Matt: I was wondering if you could hear, I was literally turning bacon in the frying pan a minute ago-
Paul: I can hear something.
Matt: I’m doing that as well. Multimedia Sales Pipeline Radio. If you like what you hear today, it’s a little different, but we’ve got over 200 episodes with some great speakers, some great authors, some great experts on B2B sales and marketing, on salespipelineradio.com.
Very excited today to have my friend and guests and author of the new book Fast Track Your Business: A Customer-Centric Approach to Accelerate Market Growth, Laura Patterson. Laura, thank you very much for joining us today.
Laura Patterson: It is my pleasure. It is always a treat to have a chance to speak with you Matt.
Matt: Well thank you. I know we’ve been planning on this for a while and then we had to reschedule a couple of times. I’m really excited we finally made this happen and I mean I appreciate you asking about Paul as well, but how are you doing? How was Austin doing?
Laura Patterson: It’s a beautiful day here in Austin. We are doing well, thanks for asking. We feel very, very fortunate and for the most part everyone’s holding up. Although I think I am on the verge of being ready to emerge.
Matt: Yes. I think we all feel the same way. It’s funny, I had to drive out yesterday to run some errands and it’s amazing how much better I felt just getting out of the neighborhood. You don’t realize, aside from less frequent visits to the supermarket and maybe to pick up prescriptions and walking around the neighborhood, we just don’t leave. So I’d be able to get out and see other parts of the world for a minute…
It’s amazing how we tend to take that for granted. I know you travel quite a bit for your job as well. Not having that to do, it’s been a little bit of getting adjusted, but how are you doing on sort of whatever that new normal looks like for you?
Laura Patterson: Well, we’re really fortunate and I have to say, two things. One, is I am so grateful for all the technology that we have available today. But I have to be honest, I have done more Zoom meetings in the last six weeks. I feel like I’m tethered to my chair and if I’m not careful, my hair is going to start growing into the chair. So I feel grateful for that.
Our company has been a virtual company since 2001, you know when 9/11 hit and the dot com bust hit. We made a conscious decision then and we put the infrastructure in then. So we’ve been able to be helpful to some of our customers who are going through this transition for the first time. And just in terms of what best practices we learned, what pitfalls we had that we wished we had avoided, what technologies we’ve used or those that we discarded. So we’ve tried to be helpful in that way.
We’ve also just made ourselves very available. It’s probably one of the reasons we’ve done more Zoom meetings is I just basically said, “If you need help, call me, pick a time on the calendar, we’ll Zoom. I’ll give you 20 minutes or whatever you need. Don’t let money be in your way right now. Let’s just make sure you’re here when we’re on the other side of that.” And that has been really well received.
Matt: I love that. That’s such a good approach. I think it’s nice to see a lot of people, I mean not everybody obviously, but a lot of people kind of leaning into and just saying, listen, not everyone’s going to be able to buy something right now. And I used the analogy earlier this week, tomatoes aren’t going to grow in winter. Some people just aren’t at a place where they do can do business. But you can still provide that. You can still be useful and be valuable to those folks.
Something you’ve been doing for a long time. You’ve been president of VisionEdge Marketing for over 20 years. I really enjoyed getting to know you and also reading your blog, Measure Up Marketing. I know a big part of your focus, and what I want to talk about the book in a minute, but a big part of your focus has been around marketing performance management and helping to drive and measure marketing accountability. Talk a little bit about what that means for you and why that’s so important.
Laura Patterson: I’m glad you asked. And it is one of my personal passions and also a key focus and core capability of our company. So when we started VisionEdge Marketing in 1999, we started it on the premise of a couple of things. One, we needed to help our customers be better at using data to drive business decisions. Two, our customers needed to be better at figuring out what is and isn’t working and using measures and metrics to guide their decisions, particularly their marketing investments and activities. And three, we wanted our customers to be customer-centric in the sense that they were always looking at things outside-in from the customer’s point of view. And so that’s really the three primary legs of VisionEdge Marketing.
Matt: And can you talk about some of, I won’t say pitfalls and that’s not the right word. I think a lot of marketers are either not measuring the right things or measuring things that tell a different story than they intend to. When we talk about marketing accountability and measuring the marketing’s impact on the business, it’s not just a scorecard. There’s a story behind that that has to speak to a business result of the marketing, not just a marketing result. What does that difference mean to you and why is it important?
Laura Patterson: You are so right, Matt. And this is one of the reasons I think we’re very in sync with each other on this. So one of the things that certainly has occurred over the past couple of decades is that we all have more data than ever. More sources of data than ever. I’m not sure we’re smarter with it. That’s one of the concerns I have. We can talk about that. And I think that the recent crisis is an indication of where if you don’t have the right data, good data, it’s hard to really make good decisions.
We have more data, we have more tools and yet in some ways marketing’s measures which are by the way highly prolific, are not as good as they were maybe even 20 years ago. Because I think we’ve gotten mired down into things that are cool measures but that we haven’t been able to help the leadership team, we haven’t selected the measures that help the leadership team see the direct connection between the work of marketing and the results produced. And that’s the real question I always ask every marketer when they start telling me about their numbers, I’m like, “Well which of these connect marketing to the results, and which of these help your business leaders make better decisions for the business, for marketing, for money, for customers,” all those kinds of questions. And you’d be surprised even in today’s highly data oriented measurement oriented culture, that’s still a really hard question for a lot of marketers.
Matt: Seems like, based on what you just said, it seems like the more data we have, the worse our reporting gets. Isn’t a matter of not selecting and prioritizing the right metrics? Is it a matter of just throwing all those metrics up on up on a dashboard and confusion and a lot of people that are trying to figure out what it means?
Laura Patterson: Yes. And it’s also a result of some of our tools that have a little button on the tool that says dashboard, and they click on it and they think that they’ve got all the measures. But what that dashboard is, is information, right? Data that has been quantified in some way relative to the data inside that tool. And so being able to connect the dots between, here’s what we were asked to produce and the results we were asked to drive. And unfortunately, again, a lot of marketing organizations, we have a lot of conversations around drive this much revenue. But you have to be a lot more specific than that. We don’t market to buckets of revenue, we market to customers.
So we have to have clarity around where we’re placing our bucket. Which customers or segments or markets do we need to acquire or keep or grow. And what’s our strategy to do that? And based on that, what’s marketing expected to do to help achieve that? How will we know that marketing did? And that is the very beginning of our measurement journey. And if we don’t have that information, then we’re probably going to miss the mark on our measurement journey.
Matt: And it’s possible too, we’re talking today on Sales Pipeline Radio with VisionEdge Marketing, president Laura Patterson, and we’ll get to the book here after the break as well, but it’s possible that we don’t have all the metrics we need and that we may never have all the metrics we need. I mean the complexity of many B2B purchases, not only the longevity of those sales cycles, the multiple channels there’re involved, the buying committee and the different people that have different stages of influence. I don’t know of any tool today that can measure all that. And I don’t know that we’ll ever get there. So in the face of ever more complex B2B marketing and sales scenarios, how should marketing leaders think about building their dashboard? Like how do you measure marketing’s influence and impact on revenue?
Laura Patterson: That’s a great question. And so the way I try to help our customers do it, and I’m sure there’s other people out there that can chime in on the same topic, is first and foremost understanding the key and incremental steps that customers take in their process and how the marketing and sales and company processes are synced up to that. Making sure we understand those chains, those linkages, and what marketing then it does to tie into those chains and linkages so we actually have this sort of what we call a metrics chain between what we’re trying to accomplish at the end, going all the way down to the things that we’re going to do, and then being able to identify the appropriate categories.
So I have always told our customers that a good dashboard, a good marketing dashboard, before I jump into what a good marketing dashboard is, we hear people use dashboards and scorecards very interchangeably and they’re not the same thing even though people use them interchangeably. And we have a great post that people have been loving on dashboards and scorecards. What is the difference and purpose of each. Dashboard help you understand why you got the score you did on the scorecards that you’re presenting. That’s a key differentiator.
When people say, “What should be on the dashboard?” My question becomes, well it’s probably categories because if you think about golf, there’s going to be key things that affect your score. That might be your driving distance, it might be putts per hole, greens and regulations… There’s various things on the board that you’re monitoring. And same with a dashboard for marketing. There’s probably some key things, key areas around related to customers acquired, related around engagement with customers, are related around how you stack up against the competition, where you are in terms of growth in your category, where you are in terms of adoption of your products or services. Those are some basic kinds of things that you might look at.
So for example, we have a customer right now that thought that the big problem was at the front end, but when we started really digging into their data, we found out that their conversion from trial to customer, is not where it needs to be in terms of the industry. And so even though marketing could get all the people they want to trial, if those people are not converting because there’s a problem in the trial experience, that’s a problem. And so that has to be fixed in order to get the numbers that you want. Being able to look at that and say, “Oh wow, trial to paying wasn’t going in the right direction.” That means you need to look and dig deeper into what is the problem, root cause of that problem.
Matt: Absolutely. Absolutely. We’re going to take a quick break. We’re going to pay some bills. We’ll be right back with more with Laura Patterson, and I want to get into talking about her new book, her fourth book, Fast Track Your Business. Talk a little about her circle attraction framework, but we’ll be right back. Sales Pipe Radio.
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Paul: Back with Matt Heinz and his guest and could ask her one quick question before you guys jump off onto the, the rest of your topic here.
Paul: What do you think is the proper role right now. You talked about connecting with your customers, checking in with your customer, “How are you doing?” all that kind of stuff. Or is it already preparing to accelerate growth the minute they all emerge from their homes here? Are we trying to hit the ground running or are we trying to just stay connected and build a relationship during this downtime?
Matt: So I’ve got an answer to that, but I’d like to hear Laura’s answers first.
Laura Patterson: Yeah, I don’t think those are mutually exclusive. In fact, I think if you haven’t got the relationships with your customers, it’s going to be really hard to hit the ground running, number one. So we should always be staying connected with our customers. We did a series of emails last month and this month that were called, Didn’t See That Coming. And it was really with all the people we have great, great connections with. We didn’t see that coming. We know that things are tough. Here’s some things that we’ve been sharing in these 20 minute free consultations that you might want to be doing.
And then we’ve just started a new series. Not through an email campaign. These are one-on-one emails to key customers and we’re calling that, Preparing For The Light at The End Of The Tunnel. So you got to shift into gear. What does that look like? I don’t think they’re mutually exclusive. Matt, what do you think?
Matt: I would agree with you and I think you have to understand where your customer is. I think it’s always be asking them how they’re doing. I also think most of your business have probably gotten past the initial shock of all that’s going on. I mean, there was a period of four weeks ago when we were looking you’d refresh the news every 10 minutes and there’s like a whole nother bomb went off somewhere. This is canceling, that’s canceling, this is shutting down.
And there was a period where it was just shell shock. No one was thinking about anything. And I think it’s easy to still sort of be in that moment. It’s easy to still say like, I just want to hunker down. I don’t want to put on my pants. I just want to stay home and pretend this goes away. It’s not going to, and I think that if we just sort of hunker down and hope that it goes away, we’re not going to do our part to get out of this.
So I think that there are a lot of companies and for us that we have a lot of clients that are like, “Okay, we don’t know how this is going to end. We don’t know where this is going, but we need to plan right now for the rebound. We need to start planning right now what we’re going to do to drive our business forward. It may be a different way of doing marketing. It may be a different way of selling. It may be a whole new go-to-market program with a different product or different service.”
I think the companies that are being proactive about understanding what their market is going to look like short and long term and making adjustments and having a plan to get going, those are the companies that I see a lot more energy. I see a lot more optimism. And yes there are companies that are more negatively affected than others that I think may need to be still in hunkered down mode or their markets aren’t able to come back as quickly. So you have to look at that on a case by case basis. But I agree with you. I think we have an opportunity to be empathetic, but I think we also have an opportunity to help people think through the hard problems to get through this.
I know we only got a few more minutes here with you Lauren, I want to make sure we get the chance to talk about the book. Your fourth book is Fast Track Your Business: A Customer-Centric Approach to Accelerate Market Growth. A really fun read, super valuable, super practical. Talk a little bit about why this topic and why this was so important to get published.
Laura Patterson: Oh, okay. Thanks Matt for that. So speaking of the time that we’re in right now, and you said that so well a minute ago, when you need to make shifts, adjust, pivots, whatever the right word might be inside a company’s culture, you want to do that within a context. The context of where your customers are, where the market is and where you are. And so Fast Track is actually perfect right now in terms of timing.
So Fast Track shares what we call a framework called The Circle Attraction. That is a framework we’ve been using with our customers since we started. We crafted it in 1999, and essentially starts off with it’s a wheel that sits on a hub. In order for a wheel to turn it needs a hub or an axle or a shaft, some way to turn, and it starts with you need to really be customer-centric. And what does that mean? You need to have the right kinds of insights and data. And that is the starting point for being able to grow, but to grow organically.
Once you have that information and you can then begin to establish your business outcomes and your targets. That allows you to think about your strategy. And the strategy leads to innovation. It leads to your marketing plan, your operational plan, all your plans, the execution of those, how are you going to measure those, to performance management of those. And then that gives you more insights, makes you ask more questions and so forth and so on and the wheel turns.
Essentially it takes you from the upstream aspects of your business all the way through the downstream. And in order for the wheel to turn and get faster and faster, it has to have a good hub, or axle as I said, and that is like the structure, the processes, the culture, the data, the tools that you have in place to help the wheel turn. That’s essentially the essence of the book. Taking every reader through the wheel so that they can use this to help their company.
It’s really a how-to guide. Very pragmatic, lots of kits, good examples. It’s not very high level. I mean this is not a high level book but it’s not in the weeds either. It’s a really good, in my opinion, staple for the shelf kind of book and… I’m hoping it’s going to be timeless. So that is the essence of Fast Track.
Matt: I love it and I think it’s certainly very timely. Someone earlier this week said, “Most businesses when they think about their processes, when they think about how they do marketing innovation and how they execute it, it’s a combination of complex, valuable, but with slow ROI. And the new normal, at least the current normal is requiring a process that is simple, essential and with a fast ROI.” And so I think you know, what you’re describing in the book and with the framework really allows people to think through problems with a level of agility that might better match the changing nature of the market and the speed at which it’s changing right now.
Laura Patterson: Yes. So being nimble, being agile, this does take good processes. You have to invest in processes. And when you get to a point where you’re going really, really fast, sometimes you don’t have any processes, you’re just going. So to your point, it is important to have good processes because that allows you to identify where you can make and become more efficient.
But what I worry sometimes about is whether people are sacrificing effectiveness as they try to get more efficient. So doing something faster and doing something wrong faster, that’s not a good thing. You want to be able to fail fast and adjust quickly, but you also want to pick at the beginning the right direction, in the very beginning. Otherwise, if you head fast in the wrong direction, course correcting can be really challenging.
Matt: Absolutely. Well just have a couple more minutes with our guest today, Laura Patterson. This came up at a board meeting last week where everyone on the board and sort of answered the question. And I’d love to ask and get your feedback on this as well. In the last four plus weeks, however long you’ve been hunkered down and doing sort of the new temporary normal, what’s one thing you miss from the old normal? From the beginning of the quarter and maybe what’s something that you don’t miss that you didn’t expect maybe to not miss in these adjustments?
Laura Patterson: What a great question. And I actually just had the same conversation with some folks. So first of all, as I said, we work very remotely anyway, so it’s not the remote part that’s a challenge. But there are things I miss. For example, I really miss my yoga class. Even though I can do yoga alone and even though they’ve done some virtual classes, it is not the same. From a non-work perspective, I miss that.
But from a work perspective, I do believe that even though we are doing a lot well with tools, there is something to be said for that shoulder to shoulder work. So I’ve noticed I struggled a couple of times because I needed to write something like I would on a whiteboard or on a flip chart and have the other person with me and those tools are out there, but they’re not the same as standing in front of that whiteboard together. I do miss being able to do that if necessary.
I also find, personally, that while one-on-one with technology is okay and you each can look at each other and have a cup of coffee in your hand and have a coffee meeting, for example, much harder to do at a group level effectively. To have like a group working session or anything like that. I am finding that personally challenging.
Matt: Yeah, I would agree with that. Paul, what would your answer to that question be? What’s something that you miss, and something you don’t miss.
Paul: Something I don’t miss, the traffic, in Southern California.
Laura Patterson: You know what Paul? I agree with that.
Paul: You know, it’s amazing. I mean the traffic in Southern California, I’m here in Orange County, it’s actually flowing now. I know that’s not going to last forever.
Matt: That’s true.
Laura Patterson: You know what Paul, before you answer the rest, did you know that one of the things that’s happened in Austin is there’s been a huge increase in speeding tickets.
Paul: Wow. Really? Why?
Laura Patterson: Because people can go.
Paul: Yeah, that’s right. I wonder if it’s just because the police have nothing to do. I noticed the police were pulling over a lot more people and how are they pulling people over? There’s fewer of them out there, but maybe they’re just going faster because they can.
Laura Patterson: Yeah, I think when you can go, and you’re not used to going, you don’t realize you’re going.
Paul: Yeah. Right. I miss the connections. I’m an old school guy. As much as I live in an online world and do podcasts and stuff, I miss going out to bars, to restaurants, to church, to all those places here. So I do miss that. And I think a lot of us are hungry to go out and back and connect with people again. But I wonder if I’m just an old Ludite, and people are going to learn to connect more online than they ever have.
Matt: You know, I think that certainly there’s some of that. I think we see some backlash on Zoom a little bit because even though we’re seeing each other, it’s just not the same. I don’t think there’s anything that is going to replace the value and intimacy and just sensory elements of being in person with each other. But I think that the nature of how people work, the nature of how we think about nine to five and even around we think about whether we have to be in the office to get work done, that will shift. I already talked to companies that are growing, they continue to grow, but now are thinking very differently about how they use their office space. Do I need to have a desk or a cubicle or an office for everybody?
Matt: Can we do this more efficiently that supports people’s work-life balance and supports reducing traffic during rush hour. That supports reduced expenses. So, this is not fun, but there will be silver linings we continue to find.
Anyway, I know we’ve got to run, we are out of time. Thank you so much to our guests, Laura Patterson for joining us today. If you liked this episode, want to learn more and get a link to her great new book, you’ll find that at salespipelineradio.com and all of our past episodes, and future episodes up at salespipelineradio.com as well.
Matt: For my great producer Paul, this is Matt Heinz from the kitchen. This as been another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio.
Paul: You’ve been riding along in the sales pipeline again today, right here on the Funnel Radio Network for at-work listeners. Like you.
Sales Pipeline Radio is sponsored and produced by Heinz Marketing on the Funnel Radio Channel. I interview the best and brightest minds in sales and Marketing. If you would like to be a guest on Sales Pipeline Radio send an email to Sheena.