October 27, 2022

B2B Marketing Mix-ology

Allocating your marketing budget but don’t know where to start? 

Begin with the end in mind. That’s where we start in today’s episode with Mary Leigh Mackie of AvePoint, Sue Holub of OnSolve, and Suzanne Reed of LBMC, three marketing mix masters with tons of hard-earned wisdom about how to spend money wisely with a limited budget. 

Tune in to hear each CMOs approach to their marketing mix, working backwards from who they target to how they spend to how they adjust their marketing mix along the way. This is both a timeless and a timely episode—don’t miss it!   

What You’ll Learn in This Episode 

  • How 3 CMOs approach their marketing mixes 
  • How to optimize your mix  
  • Which metrics should drive your marketing mix 

Renegade Marketers Unite, Episode 316 on YouTube 


Resources Mentioned 

Time-Stamped Highlights 

  • [3:33] Hey Mary Leigh, who are AvePoint’s targets? 
  • [5:09] AvePoint’s marketing mix 
  • [12:44] Hey Sue, who are OnSolve’s targets? 
  • [14:11] OnSolve’s marketing mix 
  • [22:02] Hey Suzanne, who are LBMC’s targets? 
  • [23:32] LBMC’s marketing mix 
  • [30:15] 3 CMOs on CMO Huddles 
  • [33:10] When to adjust your marketing mix 
  • [36:27] Which metrics drive your marketing mix?  
  • [41:31] Marketing mix partners 
  • [45:17] CMO Wisdom: How to Optimize your marketing mix! 

Highlighted Quotes  

“We start at the end of the revenue mix and work backwards based on conversion points and conversion rates.” —@mlmackie @AvePoint Click To Tweet “I have my personas and the messaging and that ideal journey I’m going to take them through, but the bias has to be towards action and getting something out there with a specific objective in mind.” —@mlmackie @AvePoint Click To Tweet “Marketing operations and automation is very much underplayed; it doesn't get the hero welcome that it deserves. If you don't have the right systems and data in place, it's pretty hard to scale.” —@sueholub @OnSolve Click To Tweet “If content is king, collaboration rules the kingdom.” —@sueholub @OnSolve Click To Tweet

“Get the people up to a certain level so that they can understand the business well enough that they're able to really leverage their knowledge and the tools to get us much more for our dollars.” —Suzanne Reed @lbmc_pc Click To Tweet 

“Double down on what's working well and continue always evolving and testing.” —Suzanne Reed @lbmc_pc Click To Tweet

Full Transcript: Drew Neisser in conversation with Mary Leigh Mackie, Sue Holub, and Suzanne Reed


Drew Neisser: Hello, Renegade Marketers. Welcome to Renegade Marketers Unite, the top-rated podcast for B2B CMOs and other marketing-obsessed individuals. You’re about to listen to a recording of Renegade Marketers Live, our live show featuring the CMOs of CMO Huddles, a community that sharing, caring, and daring each other to greatness every day of the week. 

This time we’ve got a conversation with Mary Leighh Mackie of AvePoint, Sue Holub of OnSolve, and Suzanne Reed of LBMC all about how to manage your marketing mix. It’s a great show. Let’s dive in.

Narrator: Welcome to Renegade Marketers Unite. Possibly the best weekly podcast for CMOs and everyone else looking for innovative ways to transform their brand, drive demand, and just plain cut through. Proving that B2B does not mean boring to business. Here’s your host and Chief Marketing renegade Drew Neisser.

Drew Neisser: I’m your host Drew Neisser live from my home studio in New York City. Today’s episode is about the choices marketers make when budgeting. There are just so many options, so many different ways to spend money – on people, on tech, on media channels, on events, on swag, etc. And the more options you choose the harder it is to measure direct outcomes particularly when the components impact your targets in different ways. All of this begs even more questions – how do marketing budgets get built and how are the allocations determined? To get at these questions and more, we’ve got three marketing mix masters lined up to share their approaches and hard-earned wisdom.

Okay with that, let’s bring on Mary Leigh Mackie, CMO of AvePoint. Hello, Mary Leigh!

Mary Leigh Mackie: Hi, Drew. Happy to be here.

Drew Neisser: How are you? And first of all, where are you?

Mary Leigh Mackie: Yeah, I’m doing well. I’m actually currently visiting London in the UK. So you all may be able to tell I’m not originally—not usually based here.

Drew Neisser: You don’t quite have that English accent.

Mary Leigh Mackie: For a couple of weeks, it was a nice excuse. I have a friend getting married just after the Easter weekend. And so it was a great time for me to come over and visit some of my team members here in our London office and visit some old friends considering I’ve lived here for like 6 or 7 years just until last year. So always happy for an excuse to come across the pond. And very appropriate for gin tastings!

Drew Neisser: Perfect! And you’re gonna have to do a rendition of “I’m getting married in the morning.” I know it’s not you, but you know, it is a song that was sung in London from My Fair Lady. Anyway, that’s very cool. And our producer, Melissa, is in Ireland so we have an international show going here. So for folks that are unfamiliar with AvePoint, can you give us a one sentence summary?

Mary Leigh Mackie: Yes, absolutely. So AvePoint, we’ve been around for a long time. But we essentially are really excited to offer an integrated platform, a SaaS platform for ultimately SaaS and data management. And what that means is organizations that are heavily invested in Microsoft 365, using Microsoft Teams, even Salesforce, Google workspace can better migrate, manage, and protect their data to secure collaboration and optimize all their operations. So a lot of tech, a lot of cool tech, very critical to ultimately how we work today, and making sure that we’re all doing so safely and securely.

Drew Neisser: Okay, so given that—I mean, we’re in the software, a lot of businesses could use your services—primarily, as I recall, Microsoft shops—but talk about your targeting priorities. 

Mary Leigh Mackie: Yeah, absolutely. We’re a B2B SaaS software, for sure. And that’s always interesting for us, because Microsoft provides these great platforms that are highly customizable and can be highly tailored to organizations based on their industry. And they absolutely have different programs that help communicate value to the different buyer personas, or even user personas. And so it’s interesting for us because coming from a tech shop, we very much started in that kind of back of house. Supporting tech teams, and technology teams that wanted to just better manage and migrate and protect data. 

Over the past several years, we’ve really evolved because technology spend as we all know, is not just in the tech side of the house. Business decision makers are actually dictating tech spend. So for us, our targeting priorities have definitely expanded over the years. Ultimately, we know we’ve got to get that core tech audience but we also now need to really appeal to a multitude of buyer personas, and even user personas that are ultimately going to be engaging with our technology and software as we go. So it’s been interesting, for sure and especially now like security is even more so top of mind as of late. And with that we’re able to respond very quickly and understand where those priorities might live. But it definitely keeps us on our toes as market changes and shifts. And as we introduce new solutions into the market.

Drew Neisser: You’ve got tech people, you’ve got business people, right? And then you have this ISO right? Those folks. Talk a little bit about marketing mix and this broader kind of weird question that we’re trying to tackle in this show. What’s your approach?

Mary Leigh Mackie: Yeah. So I think as with anything, we kind of want to start at the end. What are the targets? And where do we see those targets really coming from? This is really where we’ll bring in sort of the sales leaders, the folks acting as a CRO and really talk about our corporate vision and goals. AvePoint listed last year on NASDAQ is back. And so we have published a lot of those targets and we’re able to essentially start there. Then we’re kind of working backwards from the top down to understand where that might come from. Which regions where we exist, which product mixes and product lines are probably our best bets based on market trends and where we’re seeing growth. Then we also have the bottom up, right? Like in region, we have our filled marketers, we have our sales teams, and they also want to make sure that they’re filling their pipelines and looking at their pipeline coverage. 

So essentially, we start at the end of the revenue mix. Work backwards based on conversion points and conversion rates. We are essentially doing that first allocation that way, just based on the top down. I also try to stay a little bit up to speed and try to benchmark ourselves against what other technology providers—especially product marketers are doing. And I think the latest Gartner reports that I’ve read, have said, you know, pretty much thirds between people technology and programs. I’ve seen a lot of different data points, that always depends on which is technically marketing technology versus sales technology. But I think those baselines are always a great place to start. And then obviously, if we are trying to break into a new market, we have a high growth segment that we’re trying to capture, that’s always gonna merit a little shift if you will

Drew Neisser: Right, because you’re going to need to invest more, because you’re not as well known. 

Mary Leigh Mackie: Absolutely

Drew Neisser: But let’s go back to the people tech and then just spend. If you do 1/3 1/3, 1/3 on that, you really only have a third of your budget going to something that is driving revenue. I wonder about that, it came up in a huddle, and well—first of all technology was but it was sort of 50/50 people and spend, they talked about this notion that—and I remember specifically one CMO saying, “If you have too much spend, you don’t have enough people to execute. And if you have too many people, you don’t have enough budget to keep them busy.” So finding that balance. But this feels like spending a 1/3 on tech, just off the top. Really? That’s benchmark?

Mary Leigh Mackie: Yeah, it’s interesting. So that was what they said as of 2021 insights. But I think also the differences is like what you categorize. Like who takes the CRM budget? Like CRM technology can be very expensive per user and if you’re looking at customer data platforms, or anything else. So definitely the things add up. And the idea is, is that if you’re spending on tech, than potentially you’re capturing automation, which requires less people, it requires different types of people, for sure. But that’s I think the idea for sure, is how you’re actually executing and optimizing those programs. The more you can automate, the more you can invest in the data and technology, the ideas to hopefully achieve.

Drew Neisser: I’m gonna challenge that for a second. Wait a second, let’s just say you have 25 technologies in your stack, how many do you actually think save you time and don’t require enough people to take advantage of it?

Mary Leigh Mackie: Yeah, it was interesting to me as well, because I thought like the way a we’d spend it’s like, we are definitely not at that benchmark. But I was also thinking about the chargeback, right? Like we use Microsoft 365. We use Dynamics CRM as people. So what are the baseline technology costs that it requires for a user to operate in the enterprise and work not just like the marketing technology. So I wasn’t sure where they drew the line, it was really interesting. And obviously, marketing gets charged back with us with how much we use maybe the CRM system. And there’s definitely a lot of split costs. 

And I think this year, it’s interesting for us, because we’ve been investing in customer data platforms and thinking about these things very differently. And so I think anytime you do that, you go through these digital transformations, there’s a heavier load on people, a heavier load and spend on technology, or maybe even consulting to get it implemented the right way. And then you can kind of shift back towards programs. And what was interesting, though, over the past couple years is the big ticket items that we also used to spend kind of all at once in one bucket, obviously might show up to a massive conference. And it wasn’t just the conference, it was the swag, it was the giveaways, with the travel. It was the brand awareness trying to like lead up and let people know that we were going to be there. So now that that was taken off the board this last year, I think it’s been interesting seeing how that’s resulted in a lot more inefficient digital spend with a lot of people initially, just as we all were competing in the same spaces and going after the same platforms or media providers. So it was interesting seeing off the back of that how that sort of had to shift our approaches across the board. 

Drew Neisser: Totally, and I think what a lot of folks—so it’s funny because I remember back to Huddles right at 2020, the beginning of the pandemic, and some CMOs just walked back to the CFO with the event budget and said, “Here, you do it, because they wanted to have less obligation for deliverable.” And others kept it and put it into digital. And by last fall digital fatigue was so real webinars weren’t performing, everything was down.

Mary Leigh Mackie: Categorizing things based on what do you spend by certain platforms? It’s like, do you need to drive brand awareness? Like, what’s the business goal, right? Is it really about high growth targets? What is it? Do you need to drive awareness? Do you need to drive demand? Do you need to reduce your turn rates and focus on customer experience and customer success? And so I think that’s really where that rubber meets the road a little bit when we’re actually putting plans in place, especially at the regional level and deciding what we’re going to take and own at the corporate level. And where we start to have to draw those boundaries and lines. Because obviously brand awareness is typically going to be more expensive. And it’s really hard, like very hard to prove ROI. So for that, it’s about how many impressions do we need to drive? How much do we need to grow our website traffic by so that the demand teams have something to convert into opportunities in the first place? What audiences do we need to go build?

Drew Neisser: I gotta stop you there. Because there’s so much that I need to unpack. And we have to move on and bring this back. But I do want to circle back at some point, and just get to how we’re spending that 1/3 of the money that isn’t being spent on people and tech. But we’ll come back to that. And so now we’re gonna move in and bring in Sue Holub, who is the CMO of OnSolve. Sue, how are you? 

Sue Holub: I’m well, Drew, how are you doing today?

Drew Neisser: I’m doing great. And where are you?

Sue Holub: I am in Alpharetta, Georgia, which is just north of Atlanta.

Drew Neisser: I know where that is. Yeah, I think many years ago, we had some billboards there during the Atlanta Olympics. Okay, so one sentence on OnSolve. 

Sue Holub: Yeah, so OnSolve is a SaaS leader. So we’re in the software space. And we help organizations mitigate physical threats, and remain agile and resilient during a crisis. That is basically what we do. So think of it as an AI powered SaaS platform that enables enterprises or SMB organizations, or even government entities to detect and anticipate and mitigate those physical threats that we’re hearing about, unfortunately, every day.

Drew Neisser: Okay, so we’re in the land of cybersecurity. And so we know a primary target is going to be the security people, the CISO type. But let’s talk a little bit about your targeting priorities.

Sue Holub: Yeah, so if you think about it, there’s kind of two buckets to think about roles and maybe ideal customer profile. So from a roles perspective, we would look at personas like security, IT, risk, business continuity, disaster recovery, roles like that. And those can even roll up to certain seats, like the COO. We’re seeing CISOs. We’re seeing Chief Risk Officers now. So those kinds of organizational roles. And then from company perspective, organization perspective, honestly, it’s less about the type of company because we can serve as anybody from a university to we have half the Fortune 100, to hospitals and health care organizations or government entities, city of ___, town of ____, state agencies. But it’s more around large employee bases or geographically dispersed, frequent travelers, executive protection, employee safety, population alerting, and warning during a tornado. Those are kind of the more common use cases a lot during COVID. And pandemic related communications, for people to get vaccines are the kinds of things people come to us for.

Drew Neisser: So I’m imagining that this is not an easy sell, that this is a long sales cycle. And a lot of people are involved in the decision. So when you think about all of these targets that you just mentioned, how do you set priorities?—and maybe that’ll help get to this conversation that we’re having on marketing mix. What’s your approach?

Sue Holub: I think similar to everybody else, I’m gonna begin with the end in mind kind of person. So it depends what you’re solving for. And that honestly changes over the lifecycle of the company’s growth. So for me, pipeline has always been king as a priority from a marketing perspective. You could ask for of your marketing function to do a lot of things. But at the end of the day, if it isn’t driving sales, driving in software’s case bookings, other company’s overall revenue, then you know, it’s kind of a nice to have not a must have. So I always kind of begin with that end in mind and work back from the dollars. But other things that you look to the function to do or things like awareness, it could be retention and churn. It could be engagement, customer engagement. Or even things like reference ability, can we drive NPS scores and customers recommending us to others as prospects in a sale. So those are a lot of the areas where we focus on is priorities. But for me, pipeline, sales work is always gonna be number one.

Drew Neisser: So pipelines are number one priority, but we have to drive pipeline and that’s the language that you use. So talk about the marketing mix that gets to pipeline.

Sue Holub: The challenge with marketing is it’s always looked at as the popery function, right? It can be everything from I need swag and pens to please get me into enterprise level seven figure deals. And all of those things don’t drive equal value. So when you start with what the priority is—so in our case, let’s say it’s pipeline, we focus first on what does organically have to happen, I will echo the second sentiment that marketing operations and automation is very much underplayed, it doesn’t get the hero welcome that it deserves. If you don’t have the right systems and data in place, it’s pretty hard to scale. And so I do think marketing automation and operations, which is costing more these days, just like all technology is, is a huge foundational element, along with digital and content. Those for me are kind of my 3 basis ones. And then you can scale up lots of different campaigns and programs and targeting and ad spend from there. But if you don’t know how to ingest it, and measure it, and do those ROI calculations, or that targeting, then you know, it’s a little bit more shotgun and rifle and on something that you’re trying to achieve.

Drew Neisser: And do you have a rule of thumb when it comes to budgeting of people, technology, and spend programs?

Sue Holub: Yeah, I think so you touched on it earlier, everybody always talks about the perennial favorite of 50/50. And that’s generally a good guardrail. I’ll be honest with you, I haven’t really put it to percentages, but I always over index on people, which is not a common path. But I do that, because I have found in my experience—and we’ve both been at this for decades—that if you can find the right shoulders to stand on, from an expertise and a team culture and a high performance perspective, then as budgets ebb and flow—and invariably they do Drew—then you’ve got people who can make the most with what they have, I don’t care if it’s $20,000 or $2 million in the hands of the right people, I found that you can really maximize the value. And so for me, I always index a little bit more on getting the right shoulders to stand on in the people department, then on necessarily program dollars.

Drew Neisser: And of course, we know people are costing more right now a lot more.

Sue Holub: They are. They are indeed.

Drew Neisser: I wonder in that part of this calculation is, of course, what you’re doing in house versus outsourcing. And, you know, if you have a really large content team than I get, because content becomes the marketing that is driving your pipeline. So I get how you could spend more on people than you might on programs, for example. So do you have a really large content team?

Sue Holub: It’s interesting, I don’t. So it depends on how you count a large content team. So one of the things I do whenever I joined an organization—and I’ve been with OnSolve, for years now I joined in 2018.—but I look at kind of what’s in house and what’s out of house. And most of the time, it’s usually backwards. So I find, for example, my content team structure today, I have 2 dedicated full time people in content, and 1 director of content and creative, and the rest of it is out of house. But you have to have that process. And that kind of editorial checking process that brings the work in and out, packages it up, farms it out, gets it back, checks it for brand voice, talking about the product correctly, accuracy, etc. And if you can get that kind of content factory built, it’s very scalable. So you don’t have to in house everybody, you don’t have to out a house everybody. For me, I try and work in kind of blended hybrids of maybe 1/3 in house of whatever the capability is digital content, what have you, and then the other 2/3 out of house.

Drew Neisser: It’s so interesting. And this again, makes this so challenging, because there’s so many different ways of doing this, and trying to figure it out. What I really hear from you loud and clear is that at the center of this thing, the marketing ops thing is just so crucial even to have a conversation about marketing mix, and sort of know what’s going to work you have to have this good marketing operations team and, you know, technology in place. So I’m gonna go to this other side, and I’m just gonna say, “So 45% of your budget is for programs.” Last question for you before we move on, is how do you then—I mean, I know we say pipeline is king but the 45% right now is being spent in sort of what kind of buckets broad based?

Sue Holub: The lion’s share of it is spent in content and what you think of as more traditional campaign level spend. Our number one lead source here is digital SEO, so organic, and you can’t go buy more SEO, right? You achieve SEO, as we’ve all explained to our executive teams and boards, many times your content is what is your last, you know, leading indicator, your SEO as a lead sources, you’re lagging indicator. And so starting there, and then starting with other digital paid, we do events, trade shows, we do database marketing, email marketing, again, which goes through your marketing automation platform, kind of your classic mix of paid social, strategic comms, things like that. So it’s a pretty traditional mix. But the percentages are different across the board. We’ve shifted a lot from events because of COVID and tripled down on digital and have found that that’s been really successful for us. And that’s where it brought the content piece along. So we’re continuing forward with that. And seeing the results just from 21 to 22. We’ve literally doubled the pipeline at the company across all sales teams.

Drew Neisser: That will bring smiles to the boardroom.

Sue Holub: We want to keep optimizing that, but always looking to experiment and test new things to like ABM, we put that in and 21 as well. So it’s never stagnant. It’s never static.

Drew Neisser: Okay, we’re gonna move on, but we will be back. So let’s welcome Suzanne Reed, CMO of LBMC, and star of episode 22 of this show, and Episode 275, of calling all compelling content. So Suzanne, welcome.

Suzanne Reed: Thank you.

Drew Neisser: Great to have you back. So first of all, where are you?

Suzanne Reed: I am in Nashville, Tennessee.

Drew Neisser: Wow. All right. Well, we’ve got 2 southerners and a couple people across the pond. Okay, we’ve been talking about LBMC. And a couple shows. So is this service firm that provides accounting, advisory, auditing and more, but it’s a lot, right? And so I’m imagining that with all those services, you have a wide range of targets, right?

Suzanne Reed: We do, I would say our targets, much like Sue and Mary talked about, we start kind of with that end in mind. But our targets are all—there’s some similarities across our seven companies. And so we look at that holistically. And we kind of start with that in mind, but it is basically the C-Suite. It is the decision makers, you know, all the way from the CISO, the CTO, the CEO, the CFO, the COO, and even the CHRO or CPO depending on how they’re doing with their talent. So in our targets, we do everything from as Sue talked about cybersecurity, to the traditional, I’m going to do your taxes. We also deal with high net wealth individuals where we have family offices where we’re actually working with them, you know, in their succession planning, they’re generational wealth planning, it is a lot, it is a lot. So to your point, you know, talk about thinking about marketing mix and thinking about marketing budgets, it’s very challenging.

Drew Neisser: Do you have someone calling you for more advice on marketing mix?

Suzanne Reed: How bout that? 

Drew Neisser: Exciting part of a live show, and now and I having worked with large and actually medium sized companies like yours, offices and partners tend want their own, they have their own solutions. They want their own support, that kind of thing. I’m wondering how that impacts your strategic priorities and marketing mix thinking?

Suzanne Reed: Great question because it could notch and in many of the roles I’ve had, there’s always that local level. And then there’s the corporate level, if you will. And then there’s my pet projects, the way we have kind of wrangle that at LBMC. And it has worked very well is we have a strategic initiative each year discussion. And we really put a lot of emphasis on kind of that go to marketing strategic efforts. And that is where we really talk about, we’re going to put our spend, our time, our resources. And of course, you’ve always got a little bit of a set aside for that small local thing that you want to do. But for the majority of our marketing dollars, we look at it from a true go-to-marketing perspective and set up our budgets based on our initiatives that are tied to that. So examples, private equity is huge for us. We’ve got to go-to-marketing strategy around private equity. And so with that, then we’ve determine what our marketing mix will be within that and a little bit like Sue, I am very bullish on people and love to do like to get the experts the people up to a certain level so that they can understand the business well enough that they’re able to really leverage their knowledge and the tools to get us much more for our dollars than we would get if we were just doing programmatic things one after another.

Drew Neisser: We’ve been talking about this question of people versus tech versus program spend, do you have a rule of thumb when you look at it?

Suzanne Reed: I don’t have a rule of thumb. But if I look back at my numbers for the last couple of years, and just kind of think in my head, I am probably about 50/50 when I can people, programs, but I would tell you, that is because my CRM expenses, while I own that system, they live in IT. I’m not being looked at for those 100%. So that’s a positive, even though I’m the decision maker, and I am actually the system owner, those are considered IT expenses. I have a marketing ops team. But again, that’s where I’m bullish on people to leverage that automation and leverage that knowledge and data. But I don’t look at it from that perspective, we consider the CRM a core critical system. And so then again, I’m not having to fight those battles as far as those dollars consistently.

Drew Neisser: So those are sort of just spread out, and they don’t necessarily hit, you know, it’s okay marketing, you’re taking 100% of that, which makes sense, because in theory, a CRM is the whole company, from acquisition to retention, let’s just take one of your—let’s take private equity, because you brought it up—or you pick another one—and just talk about the marketing mix for that kind of program.

Suzanne Reed: Absolutely. And so big, a lot of what it starts with, as many of the others have talked about as content, I mean, contents came, it’s what starts the conversation, it works with digital, it works with traditional email, it works with person to person, and we’re doing all of those things. Big focus has been to be around really going right to those targets. And so we’ve done what we’ve called roadshows. And so you know, that’s a little different, you might put that in a kind of a BD bucket, technically, but we’ve put that in the marketing budget as well, you know, we have a playbook, we create kind of a packaging, and we go to market and we have, you know, four or five of our, our leaders that come with us. And they will set up 1618 meetings in a one or two day period, and give this there’ll be MC story, talk about our services. And then we have a follow up plan. And so that’s a very targeted, very specific BD effort that we kind of include in our marketing mix. And then we will also follow that back up with campaigns that will be soft campaigns with content that will actually see if we get any engagement from that. And then from there, so the traditional kind of funnel, things then kind of become engaged at that point. And then we’re kind of looking at the, you know, the the supporting elements of that, we’ll do a little bit of brand ahead of that, if we’re headed to New York, we might do a little bit of digital in the New York area, in a pitch book, you know, publication, trade pub kind of perspective, and really get very targeted. And so I think Sue and Mary both also said it, my marketing mix changes dramatically, you know, for private equity, very targeted, very bullish very one on one, you go to one of my other segments, we get a little more mass, and we go back to some traditional print ads sponsorship of a trade show that we might know that our decision makers are going to be at, you know, if you think about the cybersecurity world, we we show up in some of those security type events, we might also showcase a speaker or host some type of webinar, a lot of times my CPAs, accountants tax people, I’m probably not going to do a lot of webinars with them. So again, my marketing mix switches up depending upon not only my target, but also my content providers, as well as what we’ve proven in the past to be effective lead generators or conversion tactics. And that’s kind of how we position each of our programs and each of our marketing mixes for the go to market teams.

Drew Neisser: I’ve sort of one last question because we haven’t really talked about this as part of the marketing mix. I’m just thinking because as a firm that has so many different services, I got to imagine there’s a land and expand in there too. And does that fall under your marketing prerogative for?

Suzanne Reed: Again, based on our segments, we have a what we would call cross servicing instead of cross sales, cross servicing, and an element of that is exactly what we call it, whether our shareholders bringing in a brand new client, or whether we have a business development person bringing them in, or whether they’re current clients, and we are just trying to cross service. A perfect example during the COVID times when we many people weren’t out there and many of our efforts were around. Here are some things that would be helpful to you as you’re debating PPS P dollars, or as you’re debating, you know, where your next growth efforts are going to be coming from or how you want to optimize tax or if you’re having to put in this new lease accounting rule was so we did quite a bit of what I would deem kind of that cross service that expanding of that current relationship. chip with soft selling and then we would have our client partners who own the clients go back in with a follow up of how else might we help you? How’s your business going and kind of having those business conversations? So that’s absolutely within our purview.

Drew Neisser: Okay, so at this moment in the show, we’re gonna I’m gonna talk about CMO Huddles. And this is a program we launched in 2020. It’s an invitation only peer community that brings together an elite group of CMOs to share care and dare each other to greatness Seriously, that’s what we do. One CMO described huddles as timely conversations with smart peers in a trusted environment, while another call that across between an expert workshop and a therapy session. So you know, Merrilees Sue Suzanne uvala. You know, you’re pretty new to huddles, but I will it’s not trade truce. Suzanne, you’ve been with us a while. Anyone want to comment about their huddles experience? I’ll give Suzanne, you’ve been at this for a bit. Any thoughts?

Suzanne Reed: I mean, Drew, I think you have created an environment that feels very safe. And that does have some stellar minds that people are very, very willing to share in the timeliness, I’m amazed that when you just reach out and ask a simple question, how fast the respondents are willing to jump on, give you that information, and you know, kind of network and that, you know, you just don’t get that in all of the groups that are out there.

Drew Neisser: That’s awesome. Thank you for sharing that. i It’s funny, because we were talking about this yesterday in a huddle. And just the circle of trust that we’ve been able to build is really very gratifying. I know that, you know, like Mary, sue your brand new titles, but I don’t know if you have any thoughts about that you want to share if either of you want to share

Mary Leigh Mackie: so far, so good. So honestly, I’m, I’m also a relatively alcohol, newly minted CMO. So only for the past like year or so. So honestly, it’s been incredible to get this level of resource just right, sort of as I’m embarking on my journey and prioritizing and great to have mines to pick, I think I rely on my personal professional networks as well, people that my friends that are ahead of growth, and so it’s nice to have those counterpoints of you. But I definitely I have a very technical background. And so I don’t have a lot of that CMO in my kind of organic network, if you will. So honestly, this has been just really wonderful to be able to, As Suzanne said, just pick brains of really amazing and quite sharp people.

Drew Neisser: Awesome. Well, Sue, I don’t want to put you on the spot. But if you have anything feel free.

Sue Holub: Yeah, definitely. And but the first thing I was gonna say was, you know, Mary Lee, you’d never know that you’re a newly minted CFO. From your answers earlier. Good on you there. But I would say it’s very meat and potatoes is one of the most efficient meetings I’ve ever been a part of. And I love that. I mean, we deal with very specific topics. We provide each other very specific answers that are actionable, they’re useful, they’re helpful. And so there’s, there’s a time in place for those kind of more ethereal, you know, broad philosophical things. And that’s great. But I’ve found the engagement so far to not only be very high energy, but just very actionable. Very focused, usable information.

Drew Neisser: Love it. Okay, we’ve talked about sort of the aiming of this spending ratio and things. But I want to get to how do you figure out when you’re overspent somewhere, and what are the indications? Because I mean, you sort of get to this point where you’ve got, you know, you’re making your numbers and you say, Hey, we’re fine. We’re making our numbers and what is it that you do? So you mentioned experimentation, but how are you adjusting your marketing mix as you go along? What are some of the indicators?

Sue Holub: The first thing I’d say is, is know what a reasonable ramp is. So for example, like SEO, I think people think of it like some sort of light switch, ABM, somewhat similar. And, you know, they’re not faucets and light switches. So to even start to see sustainable results in something like an SEO or an ABM is six month ramp. And so if you, if you kind of set realistic expectations, then you know, when to start tinkering with levers, knobs and dials. And so I think knowing by tactic or by program, what that reasonably would be maybe, for example, if you’re getting into a new persona segment, okay, it’s gonna take you longer to have the awareness and the engagement and the impact there than it is at a place you’ve been marketing to for 10 years. And so those kinds of things do matter. But once you’ve achieved those timeframes, and obviously, we’d love to hear from Marilee and Suzanne on this, but if you’re not seeing the ROI, start to scale it back or at least diagnose why he started to do maybe different pocket tests of things and say, Is it my content? Is it my subject line? Is it the wrong persona? Is it my offer that I attached to it is wrong? Is it I’m showing it with the wrong show? I mean, you’ve got to start creating science experiments, so to speak, to kind of diagnose and control the variables.

Drew Neisser: Okay. And I want to now follow up with that and maybe Mary Lee or Suzanne, you can sort of so we’re saying that There’s ROI, which assumes that there’s some kind of attribution modeling. And we’ve all talked about pipeline. So I’m curious when you hear that word ROI. And we’ll start with you, Mary Lee, what are you looking at?

Mary Leigh Mackie: Yeah, so I want to look at… So ultimately, you have to look at revenue. But especially when you’re in a company where sales cycles could be 6-9-12 months, it’s like, well, that’s a little long to wait. So then what I’m doing is honestly keeping a really good eye on my funnels for each programs. Anytime we set up a campaign or a playbook credit setup as campaign playbooks, if you will, I have my personas as part of that. The messaging that I’m going to take them through and kind of that ideal journey. But honestly, the bias has to be towards action and getting something out there with a specific objective in mind. So persona objective, and then for that persona objective, are they hitting my website? Am I building that audience? Is my database of that profile growing? So I think if you have those kind of checkpoints along the point, then you can understand if you’re doing a good or a bad job. Honestly, a lot of look back is going to be critical. It’s kind of manual. But honestly, by looking back where the past stuff has come from, what’s been most effective is always a great starting point. I think, look back, unfortunately, can be very manual, we’ve seen this where maybe you have some data in CRM, some data in Marketo, some data that’s that. So we’ve obviously invested in our data lake, but it’s still kind of in its very nascent stages of rollout. So bringing together all the touch points is is difficult. So you kind of do need to deal with a manual look back. 

Drew Neisser: Right, and so you do and so but that’s first touch, right, which is just one part of this thing. And ultimately, what you get to is this weird numbers game, right of the, well, I did my job, and I got the pipe full as much as I could. And then we got the opportunities. And then you know, we got the demos and all those things. And I want to believe that there’s more to it than that. But it might just be that I’m curious, Suzanne, and they’ll come back to you to what drives a marketing mix change for you from a metric standpoint?

Suzanne Reed: Well, it’s not an it depends answer. But it is a well with depending on what we were trying to achieve on the out front. So not all of my metrics are that direct linkage to pipeline may be there, we’re getting engagement, and then we’re able to move on to the next level. But I think where we start to, you know, we do a little bit of ABM, we’re kind of playing with it. I think a few others said that to what we try to look for is movement forward and continuing engagement. And if we don’t see that, we almost take an attitude of I don’t know if anybody does lead scoring for their salespeople, but we have a little bit of that mentality of if they attended an event, they engage with our content, you know, we’re gonna give them you know, X, X points, or whatever. And it’s a little bit of that attitude with our attribution, if you will, with the ultimate goal being the pipeline, we’d like to say that, you know, marketing can get them all the way to the pipeline, but we can’t convert them from the pipeline on that. Typically, rescore acquires the end person, the end expert. And so for our world, it is very much about getting them to that pipeline. So we try to look at the pathing along the way in different ways. A little bit like Mary Lee said also about the look back, we take a couple of really strong use cases each year of new clients we’ve brought on or clients, we’ve landed and expanded and look at where they were touched, and what moved them down the path and try to replicate if we can. And so that’s another way for us to kind of get a feel for where we are as far as our current activities, and where we might need to shift. It’s a little bit of science and art.

Drew Neisser: Right. Mary Lee, anything else to add on that? Yeah, no,

Mary Leigh Mackie: I think this is really interesting and kind of gets down to at a tactical field level where your best investments are in people and resources. And so I think we talked about in one of the huddles, like what’s a great pipeline buffer like do you need 3x, do you need 5x. And like 5x is a heck of a lot of pipeline to build up. My guys are only going to close 20%. So are my people sorry. But that’s interesting, because that also might mean that we might shift to more of that customer success centric things, or what are the more tactical workshopping things that we might do that are more hands on to just improve that sort of buying experience later stage, if we feel like we have pipeline coverage, but we’re maybe missing in the win rates, or, you know, competition is getting a little fierce later in the sales cycle. So ultimately, I think to Sue’s point earlier of having great people that can pivot and understand what the business needs, you hit that territory targets. That’s when ultimately marketers are the most effective because we can say, look, we got you through x pipeline, but I see your win rates, your deal sizes, like aren’t there. So how can we maybe help tactically there for this next quarter? While we continue to do the things that we’re going to build longer term pipeline, that’s when you need I think a flexible person that can be a little product marketer if you need to, or or think about how to build an audience from scratch.

Drew Neisser: So I am so looking forward to the next six months, nine months of huddles where we actually solve this problem 5x to 3x. We spent a super huddle on that, that really helped Think this through because having 5x coverage just means that 80% of the time your salespeople are failing. And so that’s a problem. It sort of creates turnover, it creates all sorts of issues. But ultimately, it means that really, those weren’t really the opportunities that we thought they were. So there’s a qualifying issue, there’s a time wasted issue in my world, there’s a 3x, because you’re only dealing with the people that really are at the point where they’re genuine opportunity, and they really are. And so you didn’t have to fill as many people in there. So marketing and spend more time doing what you were talking about Mary Lee, which is improve the win rate. And I think marketing can have an impact. But this is, you know, this is me on on my high holy, but there’s a wishlist here. And I think it’s an interesting one that we’re going to solve this year through lots of other experimentations. 

Okay, this is the moment in the show where we ask what would Ben Franklin say? And why do we ask that question? Because he was America’s first Chief Marketing Officer, he marketed a revolution to a king. That’s a really hard challenge. And he succeeded. So what he would say is, in this context better, is a little content, then much with contention, that kind of speaks to what I was talking about a second ago, which is, let’s refine and try to get few or better things. I think that’s what he was saying. But I can’t be sure, because that was two and a half centuries ago. 

Okay. So we’ve zipped through the show. So let’s talk about what role if any, does your CF o play helping you with this marketing mix? Or is there another person, whether it’s a CEO, or a CRO that really has their finger in it with you, and we’ll start with Suzanne,

Suzanne Reed: Yeah, so we do not have a CFO. But I, my group that I look to, to kind of bounce these things off of is we have shareholders who are responsible for individual practice lines. And then I also have four CEOs. So I’m going to the four CEOs of the companies, and I’m going to my segment line leaders within my one company, looking at that holistically again, because I’m doing if I go to market, they are helpful, because I’ve started with the end in mind, which is basically our financials. Where are we going to end up at the end of the year? And where is marketing going to play? What can what needles can we move versus, you know, where do we need to pull back and not do any activity this year?

Drew Neisser: And oh, CFO. Okay. So Sue, I want to come back to this thing. You mentioned testing. And I wonder, in my book, I talk about making sure that you have 10 to 20% of your budget allocated for testing? How are you approaching that specific aspect?

Sue Holub: Well, for me that, you know, the the most important role in my experience, that’s been, you know, the tailwind in the sales from marketing has always been CEO, if your CMO is not aligned with your CEO, everything else is just a domino waiting to fall. And so when it comes to things like testing to answer this specific question, it’s the idea of saying, you know, here’s what we’re doing that’s tried and true. And so de risking the concept of a pilot, which I call everything a pilot, is, you know, why we’re gonna go ahead and try this, we’re going to try this new tactic or this new investment or what have you, here’s why we’re doing it. Here’s what we think we’ll get from it. Here’s how we’ll know. But the base business that you rely on the function for is in safe hands, right? So this is should be a creative to that or I’m taking out an underperforming investment. And I’m slotting this one in, and so framing it in context for whoever the stakeholder is a CRO a CFO, etc. Our CFO doesn’t get that involved in those kinds of things, just making sure I’m staying in my, my lane, on budget and things like that. But definitely my CRO, because you’ll get a lot of feedback from the field have, I got to be at this show, and you’re trying to make those dollar stretch to I want to try this new investment. And you only have one pot so that level of alignment among the CRO and the CEO always has to be there.

Drew Neisser: Got it. Okay, Mary Leigh?

Mary Leigh Mackie: Yeah, no, I like all great answers. I think where our CFO comes in is we we definitely have a future end state in mind of actually getting to a point where you’re like with this investment, what’s the return look like? And what’s my ultimate model look like for inputs and outputs, which is everyone’s like, you know, desired Golden State, for sure. So they’re a great kind of partner to think about what like how we ultimately get there. But I think to Suzanne’s point, it’s like parting with the CEO sitting down with a vision. And then partnering with the territory heads that kind of own those regional numbers to make sure that there is like a sufficient plan to support them. But honestly, one of my best partners and a lot of us and just helping weed out what is and isn’t working and identifying what might be great testing opportunities, and then designing those tests so that it’s true, like statistically significant, and relevant tests and a control ESCA. I told as possible, but environment is my analytics analytics team and my kind of analytics officer so I don’t go anywhere without them. I’m a big proponent it internally sort of market them to other people where if you’re going to try something, like if you don’t involve them, you’re trying it not testing it. And that’s not really useful.

Drew Neisser: What’s got it, they still want to get final words of wisdom from each of you starting when when it comes to optimizing your marketing mix. Suzanne, last words of wisdom,

Suzanne Reed: Double down on what’s working well and continue always evolving and testing.

Drew Neisser: Perfect. Okay, Sue?

Sue Holub: Find the right shoulders to stand on. And while Suzanne said earlier, content is king, I think the collaboration is rules the kingdom. So just making sure each of the teams in the function are are moving forward in the same direction. All right,

Drew Neisser: I love it. Okay, so Mary Leigh?

Mary Leigh Mackie: Yeah, for me, it’s all about leaving opinions at the door and being open minded to just have those controlled experiments. And go double down on what’s working but being open minded as far as what that could possibly be. And in high growth you got to trust, test again every couple of years and tweak it because what worked then might not work again and always being open to what’s next. For sure.

Drew Neisser: I’d love it. Okay, so there it is. We’ve got you’ve got people, you’ve got testing, and you gotta you gotta keep trying, but go with what works and then experiment. All right. Well, thank you very least, Sue and Suzanne, you are all wonderful sports. Thank you, audience for staying with us.

To hear more conversations like this one, and submit your own questions while we’re live, join us on the next Renegade Marketers Live. We streamed on my LinkedIn profile, that’s Drew Neisser, every other week.

Show Credits

Renegade Marketers Unite is written and directed by Drew Neisser, hey that’s me! Audio production and show notes are by our friends at Share Your Genius. The music is by the amazing Burns Twins and intro voiceovers Linda Cornelius. To find all the transcripts of all episodes suggest future guests or learn more about my new book and the savviest B2B marketing boutique in New York City. Visit renegade.com. I’m your host, Drew Neisser. And until next time, keep those renegade thinking caps on and strong!