November 10, 2022

Branding in the B2B Big-League

There’s a lot to be learned from the enterprise brand. 

They’ve reached a status that many strive for, and it’s pretty clear from today’s episode that an emphasis on brand and an eye on the future are the reasons why. Tune in to hear from Rebecca Stone of Cisco Meraki and Peeyush Dubey of TheMathCompany (he was at LTI at the time of this interview) about why to go big on brand, as well as how these mega-brands are looking at things like CSR, Web 3.0, the metaverse, and more!

What You’ll Learn in This Episode 

  • How big B2B companies think about brand 
  • How to measure brand 
  • What big brands think about CSR, the metaverse, Web 3.0 +++ 

Renegade Marketers Unite, Episode 318 on YouTube 

Resources Mentioned 

Time-Stamped Highlights  

  • [2:08] Rebecca Stone on working from home
  • [7:54] The role of brand at Cisco Meraki
  • [10:16] The dual-brand issue: What’s a Meraki?
  • [14:20] Peeyush Dubey, chocoholic
  • [15:39] 46K LTI employees = 46K LTI brand ambassadors
  • [18:05] Culture for employees that never went to the office
  • [21:34] The role of brand at LTI
  • [25:28] Behind a +23 NPS
  • [27:36] On CMO Huddles
  • [29:47] Measuring brand health
  • [31:48] Selling brand in the C-Suite
  • [35:20] CSR: Corporate social responsibility
  • [40:21] Are big brands in the metaverse?
  • [42:13] What about Web 3.0?
  • [45:44] B2B ads on Smart TV?
  • [46:16] Making the case for brand-related spend

Highlighted Quotes

“Everything that you do has an element of brand, and everything has an element of demand. If you can't carry that brand message from start to finish, you're not going to be successful.” —@rlstone33 @Meraki Click To Tweet “The brand is not just about what you're putting out into the market, but it's also the experience that a customer has when they come to you.” —@rlstone33 @Meraki Click To Tweet

“Brand-related spending is an absolute requirement. You absolutely need to do it. And the best way to start is to start with what you have, track it, and expand from there.” —@rlstone33 @Meraki Click To Tweet

“The need for marketers to rethink how they’re branding is immense.” —@ThePeeyushDubey @themathcompany Click To Tweet

“Web3 is also the advent of Marketing3.” —@ThePeeyushDubey @themathcompany Click To Tweet

“Awards are low hanging fruit. Marketers trying to get started in brand marketing should look at awards for the companies that they're working for, for the leaders who are there.” —@ThePeeyushDubey @themathcompany Click To Tweet

Full Transcript: Drew Neisser in conversation with Rebecca Stone & Peeyush Dubey


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 superstar CMOs, Rebecca stone of Cisco Meraki and Paige Dube of LTI at the time, and now CMO at TheMathCompany. They’ve got a ton of insights to share about how large enterprises are approaching brand. And looking to the future. I think you’re gonna love the episode 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 NYC. In the last 2 years, most B2B brands had no choice but to invest in digital marketing and the martech to support it because physical events we not an option. This led to an explosion in content creation and what we now call digital fatigue, in which many forms of digital marketing like webinars, virtual events, display ads and paid search began to show diminishing returns. It also made it easy to keep the focus on demand generation and not the things that might be called brand building. 

But  now that physical events are returning, we renegades can’t help but wonder if digital will be dialed back (at least momentarily) and more traditional modes of brand spending may see an uptick. This is but one of the big questions we plan on exploring in today’s show with our big time guests.

And with that let’s bring on Rebecca Stone, CMO of Cisco Meraki, and SVP CSM and star of Episode 134, Renegade, Marketers Unite and episode 12 of this show. Hello, Rebecca, nice to have you back Hijra.

Rebecca Stone: It’s good to see you again.

Drew Neisser: So how are you? And where are you?

Rebecca Stone: It looks like I’m actually sitting in the Oval Office of the White House. But this is just my background so that you don’t know that I am actually in the laundry room.

Drew Neisser: I know that you’re in your large room.

Rebecca Stone: And I have been for 2 years.

Drew Neisser: Yes, we have enjoyed and sympathize with you all through the pandemic, from your laundry room. And the good news is you can multitask with the best of them. So we’re mixing things up on this show. And maybe let’s get a little personal. So we’ve already talked about the laundry room. But could you share one thing you’ve come to appreciate about working from home? And one thing you won’t miss at all?

Rebecca Stone: Yeah, I think maybe it’s the same thing, which is being with my kids. I know when they get home from school. Which I think I maybe got to do 2 or 3 times in the 2 years before the pandemic. And now I know every day when they come home from school. And every day, the first thing they do is make as much noise as humanly possible and run into the room and decide to say hello to everybody who’s on the call. So I both love being able to say that and I kind of like dread the loudness that comes with them coming home.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, well, it is definitely one of those things that everybody’s lives just sort of seemed to blend together. And so it’s kind of funny that we now know if associates have young kids. We know who they are and we’ve spent some quality time with them too. 

Rebecca Stone: Exactly. 

Drew Neisser: But you know, in many ways I feel like that is one of the things that sort of helped us get through this.

Rebecca Stone: It is and like I said, it was, it’s a completely different experience than it was in the beginning of the pandemic. Like I was sitting there and listening to all of my daughter’s calls with her teacher when they were on Zoom school or virtual school. And it was a totally different thing to actually be able to be immersed and understand the challenges that the teacher had every day and some of the challenges that my daughter had with school. It was it was a much more intimate understanding of that than I would have had any other opportunity. And I think that was interesting. And I learned a lot from being able to hear that but it was also about a huge balancing act to be able to manage everybody in the house trying to do things all at once.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, the blending of the 2 it’s like work and play—or work and family just never stopped. 

Rebecca Stone: Yeah, there’s no good balance on a good day. So on one of these days, it was complete chaos, for sure.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, I just can imagine and so grateful at this moment that our kids were out of the house when this happened and didn’t have to do online school. But I also imagine that, you know, we’re 2 years into this, it’s not going to be easy if you suddenly had to go back to the office 5 days a week. That would also be incredibly difficult.

Rebecca Stone: Yeah, and so luckily, Cisco is phenomenal in supporting a hybrid work style. They’re not requiring that anybody go back to the office, like permanently, there will be no requirements that you go back to the office. They’re encouraging people to go back to foster that in person communication and those types of things. But it’s going to be very different than it was before. And as somebody who had an hour plus commute one way, you know, I get time back in my day to like, go to the gym, which is awesome. And so I’ve started going back once a week, and we’ll be going back, probably twice a week, when we’re fully all the way back into that process. And I’m excited, there are pieces that are missing. But I think that that gives that balance of at least 3 days of the week, I’ll be home and know when the kids get home. And 2 of the days, you know, they get a break from mom being here and having to be quiet while they’re home.

Drew Neisser: Interesting. And I mean, it’s funny, and we’ll get to a lot of these other topics. But as I think about it, the one big challenge that nobody’s really sort of addressed is okay, we’re getting together because the idea is maybe we collaborate when we’re working together. But if the right people aren’t there that day that you want to collaborate with what’s happened?

Rebecca Stone: So we’re trying to tackle that with the encouragement of our—at least for my team, what we said is like, “Nobody’s going to be required to come into the office any day of the week. But if you do come in, let’s try and make those days that you come in—like Tuesday, Wednesday—and if you are planning to come in just one day of the week, pick a Tuesday or Wednesday for you to come in.” And the same for actually traveling. So when travel from out of the area picks up again, if you are going to come in make it one week out of the month. So what we’re saying is make it the second week of the month that you plan to come in. And then everybody who’s there, you know, locally, if you’re planning to come in, make sure you come in Tuesday, Wednesday, so that we have as many people in that area as possible who are together to ensure it. So again, I keep telling my team, this going back thing is going to be as much of an experiment as the whole, like shoving us all into working from home was. We’ve adapted quite well in 2 years and so that’s what I keep telling my team is now you know, there won’t be another time of adjustment that we’ve started to move into. And 2 years from now we’ll look back and it’ll feel totally natural to us. 

Drew Neisser: There you go. All right. Well, the topic at hand is sort of bigger and better B2B branding. And when I thought about all the conversations that we’ve had, over the past few years, it’s almost always been about demand gen and tech stacks. And just a shout out, Rebecca was really helpful with my book when we got to that area. She was like my sensei, so I am very grateful for you for all of that. But we’ve never talked about brand and so I’m really curious how you are thinking about the role of brand right now for Cisco Meraki?

Rebecca Stone: Yeah, I just can imagine and so grateful at this moment that our kids were out of the house when this happened and didn’t have to do online school. But I also imagine that, you know, we’re 2 years into this, it’s not going to be easy if you suddenly had to go back to the office 5 days a week. That would also be incredibly difficult.Yeah, I think for Cisco—and for Meraki, specifically, within the Cisco organization—it’s different because we have an parent brand. We have the Cisco brand that is a phenomenal brand. It’s a fortune 100 company, and it’s very well known within the IT sector that we sell to you. And so it’s more about how do we fit Meraki within to Cisco overall. So I think that’s one. I think the the thing that’s really important to remember is, I believe everything that you do has an element of brand and everything has an element of demand. PR is just the first step in a demand funnel, you know, like your brand, and your brand look and feel and your brand messaging is a core component of demand. If you can’t carry that brand message from start to finish and make sure that your salesperson is aligning with the brand that you’re trying to sell with all of the traditional brand deals kind of things (like advertising and PR), you’re not going to be successful. So I think that brand has to be infused and in the same way and I think is probably less popular of an opinion is that demand has to be thought of when you’re thinking of brand as well. And your comms strategy should be as tightly aligned to the demand gen strategy as the demand gen strategy is aligned to comms because they have to be part of a whole they have to be part of a marketing strategy. And I don’t think that you can have one without the other.

Drew Neisser: I think you’re right. You know I think you’re right. The question though is that there are things that aren’t, you know, when you think about measurement, you think about leads, you think about funnel and brand is a little squishy-er. It’s hard to tell. It’s the reason that you may have been part of an opportunity or not. 

Well, let’s talk about what’s a Meraki? And how do you sort of build that? Because Cisco is so well known, how do you make sure that people see it as a distinct part of the Cisco offering?

Rebecca Stone: Yeah, and I think so part of that is we have a tightly aligned closed loop funnel. And so the brand is not just about, again, like what you’re putting out into the market, but it’s also the experience that a customer has, when they come to you. So how do the sales teams show up when they are talking to a customer? How does the customer service team show up? And what are they known as and how are they defined? So we have a lot of alignment, not just with our sales organization, and with the traditional brand things that you need to think about. But we have a CX squad, we call it, where I meet with our head of CES, and we are running joint programs to be able to align how we show up to our customers with an experience that I think is tightly aligned to the brand because the experience that a customer talks about. Then gets out by word of mouth marketing, it gets out by what they’re putting on the forums that they’re in. And so that’s just as important to making sure that it’s aligned. I think that that’s one, is how you think about that closed loop. From start to finish of that customer journey, the customer experience and how you make sure that that aligns and stays true to the values that you hold as an organization. 

The second thing I think, is that we are really thinking about how we differentiate. We have quite a few programs that we’re working on with other business units within Cisco. And I think segmentation is actually one of those things that is really key. And segmentation in the sense of you understand who your buyer is. And so if you are working with a partner organization, or in our sense, like a partner, who is another component of Cisco, really understanding why the customer cares from the perspective of both strategies that are happening. So that I know, “Hey, this is my customer, and it’s the same as your customer. But what differentiates us is that maybe they’re buying this product from us and that product from you.” And so how do we come at it from the same perspective and tell the story in a way that aligns, but is very clear who the person who’s sitting on the buying committee is and how you talk to that person on the buying committee, so that they understand what we do versus what the other organization does. And so that’s really messaging and brands, that’s not a strategy of like, “Hey, here’s the emails that I’m gonna send, and here’s the conversion rates that we’re gonna get.” It’s very much a how do I talk to the customer and in what way to make it as crystal clear as possible. Where we are differentiated from the rest of the Cisco portfolio, and how we—actually even more importantly—aligned to the broader portfolio strategy.

Drew Neisser: Okay, just before we move on, from a closed loop—because it’s funny, we’re doing a bonus huddle coming up on hang ups. And closed loop comes up as a conversation as part of measurement. But talk—just define that for me a little bit. So is it just complete touchpoints from prospect?

Rebecca Stone: I think that this is one of the things that has to do with working as part of a bigger organization is that there are marketing there’s a corporate demand gen team and then there are also demand gen teams that work within the business units. And we have one of the teams within overall Cisco that all of the aspects of marketing from product marketing through to demand gen PR comms included all sit within the Meraki business unit, as well as sale we have a sales team that’s dedicated to Meraki it’s just like working in a you know, a startup company or a smaller size company than Cisco you would expect everything to be alive at the head of CES, the head of sales, the head of marketing, the head of product are all working in aligned towards one product or suite of products that you’re selling. Within the Meraki business unit, that’s the case for Cisco. Which is not necessarily what you can assume for all of Cisco or all of many companies.

Drew Neisser: Got it, okay. All right, we’re going to bring on Peeyush Dubey, who is the CMO of LTI and star of episode 269 of Renegade Marketers Unite. Hello Peeyush. How are you? 

Peeyush Dubey: Hi, Drew, I’m doing good. How are you?

Drew Neisser: Excellent. Just great. Enjoying my standing desk today. Now Rebecca and I had some personal chats here. Perhaps you could share one thing about yourself that others might find surprising.

Peeyush Dubey: Sure. So Rebecca talked about spending a lot of time with the kids. That’s what I do as well, and I’ve been doing over the last 2 years. And one good thing that has happened to me during this time is that I figured out all the places where they keep their chocolate. Now they have to hide their chocolates from me. So as a chocoholic, that’s what I do. In fact, the March chocolate tasting was something that I missed because I was traveling at that time. But love for chocolates is something which everybody who knows me knows.

Drew Neisser: Oh my gosh, did we send you the chocolate anyway? Did you get it?

Peeyush Dubey: Of course you did and I ate all of them!

Drew Neisser: They were amazing! I have to say, I really look forward to just one of the little slices of the wheel every day. Okay, so your kids, no luck for them in terms of hiding chocolate, that is hilarious. 

So LTI is a huge company. I mean, 43,000 employees all over the world. One thing that just occurs to me as I think about that kind of numbers is potential brand ambassadors. And I’m just wondering how marketing to employees fits into your overall brand building activities.

Peeyush Dubey: Actually, it’s 46,000 employees now. Since last year we’ve been growing very fast. We added lots of LTI employees and brand ambassadors during this time. So more than 46,000 employees across 32 countries. And it’s extremely important for the marketing team to look at our LTI as the brand ambassadors. And all the more difficult as well, because these are the employees, around 60% of our employees have joined in the last 2 years after the pandemic began. And many of them have still not even seen the offices. So they have never been in an building with LTI written on top of it. Therefore, it is so much more important for the communications team, for the marketing team to get them to understand the brand to get them to talk about it better. And that’s what we have been focusing on. I cannot say that we are masters of it. But that’s what we have been trying to do. 

So a few things that we strive to do is that we want to create more viral moments. We study what are the areas what are the things that employees as brand ambassadors would like to share on LinkedIn on Instagram or with their other friends. And we created more of those moments, we try and create more of those moments. For example, it’s always great for employees to see their colleagues, their peers on the social channels on the website. And so we have spent a lot of time in trying to showcase those moments. So we first work on the internal contests, whether it’s a photography contest, or whether it’s a Women’s Day celebration, and then we share the same things on our social media platforms. And that’s when things go viral. And we have set certain level of engagement rates that we strive to do. We create content that is easy to share. Recently, we launched a data product called phosphor and we had an internal event called illuminate LinkedIn. Phosphor is all about discovering the undiscovered so we created this illuminate LinkedIn campaign, and we shared simple messages that all the employees could share easily. So extremely important, and definitely something that we focus a lot on 

Drew Neisser: A couple of things to unpack. The first thing, you start to get into this area and the fact that 60% or higher in last 2 years have never physically been in an office. And even though you’re a consulting company that I imagine a lot of the folks spend time on the client, in the client offices, offices in in the world of technology and so forth, really were the place where culture came to life. So you talked a little bit about creating viral moments. But I want to step back to this notion of for those 60%—I mean, beyond social sharing, how do you really view the culture and values so that they have a sense of what this company is about?

Peeyush Dubey: Number one, it’s difficult. But some of the ways in which we try to do that, is have more one-on-one interactions. So for example, there’s one program that we have where anybody who has been with the company for some time, people like me and others, just spend half an hour with somebody who has joined over the last 2 years with absolutely no agenda. We have a coffee chat and we just go we talk. So where did the person join from? What is she working on these days? What does she like about LTI? What’s causing some pain right now? And that’s probably one of the best conversations that I have in my month. 

And the more we do that, the easier it gets for everybody to join. Thankfully, over the last 2 months, we are encouraging—just like Rebecca mentioned—we are encouraging more and more employees to come to office and pick up a day that they can be there and just like Cisco Meraki it is the Wednesday that we choose. And so Wednesdays are abuzz in the office. And so we are spending a lot more time together. 

But one more thing that we’re doing is we’re finding more moments where we can have fun casual interactions with each other. In the earlier episode, we talked about the whole idea of Shoshin and Ubuntu. Ubuntu is the African word, which means, “I am because we are.” And so we say that, “Hey, let’s just spend time together.” We make each other successful and let’s have more casual interaction. So these are more evenings that we have together whenever we can, more and more gatherings as dean. And that is what is helping a lot.

Drew Neisser: “I am because we are.” I just love that. I love that language. It’s just means so much in an economy of words, but it is the kind of thing that you really need a forcing function. Like people being in the office or doing an event together. I love the coffee chats. And I love the fact that it spreads out. We talked a lot about that in CMO Huddles in the early days, just different ways that you can have random interactions, because that’s what we’re sort of missing. Everything is so force. So you mentioned social and viral moments. And that feels like that’s a big part of employee engagement. And I just want to make sure that there’s nothing that you’re marketing sort of feeds that social channel as a means of it. Are you using it like a software to manage that?

Peeyush Dubey: Yeah, all the standard software for Twitter, for LinkedIn. But it’s an amazing team. And I know they are they are online even right now because we are live on LinkedIn. And actually, I’m always surprised how they do it. We have 2 million followers across all channels, and it just happens.

Drew Neisser: All right. Okay, we spent a lot of time last time we were together about new product that you had launched in the early days of the pandemic. But we really didn’t talk about LTI brand. And I’m just curious how your thinking about the LTI brand has evolved over the couple of years, and maybe just talk about it from a strategy standpoint. And then we can talk about it from an execution standpoint.

Peeyush Dubey: One, I think the need for marketers to rethink how their branding does events. So much has changed over the last 2 years. And so much keeps changing all the time. I recently heard the episode that you had with Ross Graber of Forrester, and I was surprised yet not surprised about the fact that the number of interactions has gone up from 17 to 27. That’s the field that marketers are now navigating. And so branding plays a tremendous role in that. 

Some of the things that we are doing within LTI to rethink how we go to market and how people look at the brand. One, we focus a lot more on to their bunch of stakeholders. To stakeholders that we said we need to have inordinate focus on during the pandemic, especially the clients and the employees. And we will say okay. So as long as we will focus everything on the clients, as long as we can keep the SLAs intact, we have to make sure that we do what we have contractually obliged to do for our clients, as long as our employees are safe, and they are happy. And so with that in mind, we set out to do all the things to work on LTI as a brand. That changed the NPS of the brand through our Customer Satisfaction Index we found went up by 23 points in 1 year. Which is as you would understand a significant rise as in we never saw in the last 7 years that I was here never saw that kind of rise, it was inching up slowly but never saw 23 points rise. And so we thought what is it that we will do more? We are spending a lot more the canvas a product that that I talked about on the earlier episode definitely helps in getting the clients to rethink the brand canvas and think of it in a way that they can use it in their own projects as well. 

On the employee front. Once again, just like Rebecca mentioned, a lot has changed and hybrid is here to stay. And so our yin yang model, which is like the future of work. And we say just like yin and yang, these are the two different aspects of work and home have to come together to form that entire shape of whatever work is all about. And we said, Okay, so there are times when you would like to be home but we are a team sport. And there are times when you would like to be with your colleagues, discuss, brainstorm, plan, collaborate. And there are times when you would like to be on your own when you are thinking, when you are writing something, when you are getting deeper into an area. And so these 2 aspects of the brand. And in fact that helped a lot, even in our hiring metrics. Because almost everyone is looking for companies where they can have this this right balance between work from home and work from office. So these are some of the changes that we have done. And one final thing that is very important, which I think came out in the episode with Ross as well, the clients and user technology buyers are not just looking at what they’re buying, but also looking at who they’re buying from. Therefore it is extremely important for the brand to have that community responsibility. We always had that thing in us, but I don’t think we were communicating it that well. Now, we said that, okay, this is an important aspect because in all the communities that we are working in, it is important that we show that we are the responsible neighbor there. And so that’s another aspect in which the branding has changed, especially for the brand LTI over the last 2 years, and which I believe will sustain as we go forward.

Drew Neisser: And a NPS that goes up 23. So first of all, I want to step back before I even get to that, which is one of the things that I observed early on during the pandemic is that those that really hugged their customer in a moment of need, had forever endeared themselves to their customer. And there were a lot of different ways that that companies went about it. But the pandemic was all about how strong are your customer relationships? And what can you do to help them get through the pandemic? What do you think was behind a 23 point bump in NPS? I mean, that is enormous by any standard.

Peeyush Dubey: I think customers have truly appreciated the fact that we can actually help our clients stay safe as well during this time. Especially when the pandemic started sometime early in 2020. In May or June, when everybody was bewildered, nobody was able to go to offices. That was a time when our clients really appreciated the fact that we are helping them stay safe as well. We took on a lot more responsibilities, not just because they were we quickly redrew the contracts. And we said, “Okay, there are areas where you will need help. And we are here for you to do that. Here are other ways in which we can support you.” As you rightly mentioned, most of the LTIs have to be in the in the clients offices at times. Our clients were very apprehensive initially when they realize that there will be no contact with the consultants that they will have. They were very pleasantly surprised when they heard the platforms like canvas, which allow for collaboration in this new way where people are not together. Let’s say okay, if we can do it that way. It’s faster, it’s cheaper, it’s as effective as it is maybe even more, why don’t we do it that way. So that ability to innovate for our clients and at the same point in time keeping them safe, and also showing them that it is possible to meet the SLAs in this new world. It definitely increased their belief in what LTI can do for them and it is now seen in the NPS scores.

Drew Neisser:  That is really interesting. 

Okay, we’re gonna take a little break, because I am going to talk about CMO Huddles for a second. So CMO Huddles was launched in 2020. It’s an invitation only subscription service that brings together an elite group of CMOs to share care and dare each other to greatness. One CMO described huddles as timely conversations with smart peers in a trusted environment, while another call that a cross between an expert workshop and a therapy session. So we’ve got Rebecca and Peeyush here. I’m just curious, since you’re both huddlers, feel free to share your experiences. Rebecca, you’ve been here a long time.

Rebecca Stone: I was one of the first ones I think Drew.

Drew Neisser: You were!

Rebecca Stone: So I would say I have found it incredibly helpful. I think just from an opportunity to interact with other huddlers, I would say that I have created some friendships out of this group, which I really appreciate. As well as just the like, very strategic, but tactical day to day kind of questions that every CMO has. Like, what do you think of this product? What is the struggle with this kind of tactic? The slack group that has been created has been really, really beneficial for just getting answers to those quick questions, but that also lead into those longer conversations that you can have with peers that have been through the same thing. I really appreciate that.

Drew Neisser: I love it. Thank you for those comments. Peeyush, you’re relatively new to huddles, but I don’t know if you want to share what your impressions have been so far. 

Peeyush Dubey: Yeah, I’m new here, but really enjoying it. I’m warming up to be a part of this community. I think I have joined 2 or 3 sessions and they were all amazing. What I really enjoy are the emails that you send after each session. They’re so detail that many a times as much as you would have wanted to join each session, but if you somehow miss them, you get everything. And my teams definitely must be thinking something is going on with this guy. Because every week, he just comes up, “What’s this new thing? How is it that I don’t know about this?” You’re definitely helping me and not helping them in that way.

Drew Neisser: Oh, yeah. No, I know that syndrome. All right. Let’s just talk about brand health and how you all are measuring it and tracking it for your businesses. Rebecca?

Rebecca Stone: Sure. I think we talked a little bit about NPS, which is one of the core ones that we use to track how our customers are seeing us. We’ve also started to work with a couple of measurement platforms to measure how we are being seen out in the market, which is another one. And then one that is—I don’t know how traditional it is, but we are covered quite heavily with the Gartner magic quadrants. And so we use that as another way to track our brand health. Part of what goes into a Magic Quadrant from Gartner is they are including customer reviews in that session. And so by the number of 5 star Gartner reviews, things like that that leads into a higher Magic Quadrant rating is one of the key metrics that we’re tracking.

Drew Neisser: And from a measurement platform, are we talking about things like the serious decision index or…?

Rebecca Stone: No, so we’re using a measurement platform to measure our outbound. Like how many times we’re showing up in coverage? How often we’re showing up? What are the clicks that were driving? Things like that.

Drew Neisser: Okay, got it. And Peeyush how are you measuring brand health?—besides NPS?

Peeyush Dubey: So yeah, so definitely everything that Rebecca mentioned, Gartner, Magic Quadrant, or average peak metrics, Forrester waves are all important. How some of this has changed with more of word of mouth tools, like the Gartner’s peer review—which Rebecca mentioned—or the Jeetu, or kaptara, these are all good ways to look at that. One more thing that we do is that we do have a brand valuation consultancy, that kind of measures, the value of the brand kind of gives the real value to the brand as to what LTI is value as a brand as once a year. And we track that whether this is going higher or lower?

Drew Neisser: Is this an in house tool? Or is this something you’re working with a 3rd party on?

Peeyush Dubey: It’s a 3rd party, it’s a brand valuation consultancy. 

Drew Neisser: There were a couple of major branding firms that do that. We’ll include those in the show notes. 

Okay, that’s cool. Now let’s get to do you still find yourself in debates about the value of brand with your peers in the C-suite? And if so, what’s the thrust of the argument or has it changed at all over the last couple of years?

Peeyush Dubey: I wouldn’t say there’s any resistance to branding. But at the same point in time, it’s not like go do whatever you want kind of freedom as well. The fact that a strong brand reduces friction to sales is very well established within the C-suite now. I think I heard it in one of the huddles, in fact, but I always use the analogy of thinking of vitamins versus the pills kind of thing. And it’s good to have that strong brand as your vitamins on a day to day basis. Rather than having to go for pills at some point in time. And this whole notion of a strong brand, helping the company move from lead gen to demand gen is great to reduce more of the outbound to get more of inbound, where the deal velocity is faster, where the deal size is slowly getting larger as well. So we don’t feel that resistance anymore. And the debates on the brand investments are not as many as I would have faced many years ago.

Drew Neisser: So is it as simple as—and Rebecca you can add—so inbound in the volume that is a reflection of brand strength, brand awareness, is it that easy?

Rebecca Stone: I think that to your point Drew about how you tie word of mouth marketing to a an inbound lead, it’s hard to to draw those conclusions. But I would say they see a jump in inbound, when you have better branding. And you can show it especially I think, to Peeyush’s point, if you have an organization that has historically been focused really more on that. And I think there is a nuanced difference between lead gen and demand gen. I have a lot of C-suite that doesn’t maybe understand. But when you start to see that, hey, I can put a little bit more towards the brands aspect of it. And all of a sudden I get in those names without as much of the work. It is a great story to tell and is one that when you start to see that shift is pretty easy, once people understand it. But you have to be able to show that there’s that shift there too, I think at the buy in sometimes.

Drew Neisser: So as I’m thinking about this, I mean, one of the other ways that salespeople notice brand is when they knock on a door or make a phone call and somebody hasn’t heard of you. Air cover is obviously another term that is used to describe brands, but both of you are coming from companies that have really large footprints. So  I would imagine there isn’t a single customer you could call, Rebecca, that hasn’t heard of Cisco.

Rebecca Stone: Yeah, yes. I think from a Cisco perspective, it would be very hard to find a customer who hasn’t heard of us. But what we do have the challenge with is Cisco has historically been known as an enterprise brand. So it’s big, it’s expensive. Some customers believe that it’s overly engineered if I’m a small customer. And Meraki is really targeting that smaller customer and/or has historically targeted that smaller customer. And so getting the customer to readjust their own definition of what they know about the product to be something that is incorporated and inclusive of their type of business is sometimes a shift and something that we have to work on both internally and externally. Internally, we’ve been known as the small business company and we’re trying to change that to being that we can be enterprise too. So we have different dynamics of like how to balance between internal expectations and external expectations.

Drew Neisser: Yeah. And this is the dual brand issue that you face. It’s interesting. So how does CSR fit into this as we think about brand and your overall marketing strategy? I mean, Rebecca, you and I have talked about this in huddles occasionally. But I’m curious—and again, you have a complicated thing, because they’re Cisco and then there’s Meraki. Does Meraki have its own CSR activities?

Rebecca Stone: Yes, we do. And I think we do because we have a Meraki brand. We have our own website, we have a brand look and feel that is distinct from Cisco. So not every business unit within Cisco has that but we have and that’s partially because we historically went after an audience that was different than the traditional Cisco audience. Which is what the answer to the other question was. So that’s how I think about it. 

Drew Neisser: So specifically, CSR, connect a CSR activity to brand because you say you connect brand and demand and there’s gotta be this through line. Can you do that with CSR, too? 

Rebecca Stone: Yeah, I think so. Because Cisco itself has a broader CSR strategy. And then within Meraki the products that we build, depending on how we build them and what they’re doing, we have a specific story that we’re telling. We’re going to be launching, I think in a couple of weeks, actually, some of our initiatives around the carbon footprint initiative. But we’re definitely closing the loop and we’re able to do that within the Meraki products if that makes sense. 

Peeyush Dubey: So one thing Drew and Rebecca, which you probably may know, but you may find surprising is that for companies that are listed in India, which LTI is, the companys have to invest 2% of their net profit into CSR activities, which is huge, right? For 2% of the net profit. With that kind of investment, we partner a lot with the CFO, with CSR teams at multiple levels. So one is at the company level, where we have the one step initiative where we say that okay, the three E’s, which are environment, empowerment, and education, how do we support each one of them? And how do we communicate? How do we tell? 

Now at the other level, is that we also support the initiatives that our clients are interested. And so I talked about the importance of social responsibility and being a responsible citizen in the communities that we are operating in. And so whether it is the forest fire in California, or when it is COVID, in the countries and cities where we all the affected communities, how we will support them? Marketing does play a role in deciding those platforms, and then communicating them as well. And finally, at the level of marketing, as well, we believe that we have a responsibility. So for example, the holiday gifts over the last four years, we changed all the holiday gifts, only two, we call it tree-tings. And we say every year the LTI tree-tings we will plant 2 trees in the name of our clients, 1000s of them and they get their QR codes and then they can watch how their trees are growing. And some of them have kind of witnessed over the last 3 or 4 years now. So we do those initiatives, whether it is the gifts or swag or the tree-tings how do we reduce waste? We are thinking about it right now as we are going back to all the trade shows and conferences and we are thinking what is it that we can do whether it is the gifts or swag bags at those places. Or our own boots, how do we reduce waste? 

Drew Neisser: And Peeyush, how does CSR fit into your brand strategy?

Peeyush Dubey: So those are the things. One more example that I’ll share, which is very close to my heart is that when COVID first became as big as it became and masks… We never knew all of us had never known about wearing masks. And at some point time mask was like an important paraphernalia for whatever you did. And so we actually worked with a displaced community where the women artisans used to make beautiful things with all the cloth, and we change all of them to 1000s of masks that LTI bought and gave away and I wear it even now. So I think some of those things have been part of the brand. And I believe it’s extremely important for marketers to keep thinking about that as an important aspect of what we do.

Drew Neisser: I always learned little phraseologies from you. And I love the three E’s of environment, education, and empowerment. And that really sticks with me. And one of the things why I was excited to have this show is there are a lot of choices that you all have. And of course this is the moment where we ask, “What would Ben Franklin say?” In the show. And I was thinking about as a bigger brand strategy is about saying “no”, it is about you have so many choices. So the line that I have for Ben to quote today is, “To succeed, jump as quickly at opportunities as you do at conclusions.” So there you have a jump as quickly at opportunities as you do to conclusions. And of course, we don’t jump to conclusions, not on this show. 

All right, let’s get into the future now a little bit. And you know, there’s a lot of conversation about the metaverse how it could shape customer engagement, and maybe even how we work together and collaborate. Are you all looking at those areas at all for anything in the near future?

Rebecca Stone: I wouldn’t say it’s the metaverse, but we are doing some VR type of explorations for our events, Drew. And so I don’t know how much that falls into the line of either doing. But one of the cool things which actually is related to our CSR events is we just have redone one of the offices in our New York Cisco office, which has a heavy influence from the Meraki organization. And a lot of that has to do with how we treat  the sustainability in the office. And so at our Cisco Live Events, we’re looking at potentially exploring like a virtual tour of that office and talking through some of the experience of a customer might have and how we are doing some of the things by using our products. So there are potential tie ins I think to CSR and how you demonstrate that to your customer base in a forward looking way.

Drew Neisser: Peeyush, what about you in the end? How are you thinking about the metaverse?

Peeyush Dubey: I’m pretty much the same boat. I think there’s this tremendous interest. And we are doing what teams should do more POCs something very exciting that we are working on. As we said, let’s just change case studies to case stories. And we are working on 3 case stories, which are told in the metaverse and call it Metaverse or call it just the VR headset. But more stories 2 to 3 minutes within that. We are also looking at the central and which is pseudo Metaverse, let’s say I agree. But looking at the central and trying to open an office there now. So some of these small little things is what we’re working on. 

Drew Neisser: Now that we’re talking about the future, what about Web 3.0? And a a world without cookies? Or 3rd party data? Rebecca, what’s your thinking there?

Rebecca Stone: I think it’s realer now than it was even 6 months ago for sure. We’re definitely starting to see a change and a shift in how the companies that we work with are even thinking about it. Those companies who are traditionally in a cookie world and now have to move to a cookie list or indeed a buyer. Is a result of some of the things that are going on in privacy rules around the globe. I wish I had a better answer. We are trying a bunch of different things to go after that we’re looking at more account based targeting than we had previously. And just doing kind of blanket account based targeting. We’re looking at things like more of those hand raisers and being in places where hand raisers can be rather than trying to go out to them and get them to align. And I think we’re gonna be testing out a couple of different things that are not necessarily ready for primetime to talk about yet, but that we’re trying to get that information ourselves. We also have the benefit of being part again of a very large organization that has a pretty large first party data footprint. So how do we use that more than we have in the past as well?

Drew Neisser: I got to believe that physical events are just going to come back in like the biggest way possible. Because it’s like everybody wants to come out. Certainly for customers, there’s no doubt in my mind that physical events are going to be part of the answer to this data question, because that’s how you’ll get first party data again, but also get engagement. But I’m curious, Peeyush, did you have some thoughts on Web 3.0?

Peeyush Dubey: Yes, in fact, I wrote a LinkedIn article on the whole idea of Web 3.0 last week. And I believe that this is also a Web 3.0 is also the advent of marketing 3. Just like the Web 1.0, Web 2.0, Marketing 1.0, Marketing 2.0, this is Marketing 3.0 for us, and we got to be ready.

So a few things that will change for marketers, number one, there is new avenues for branding, which we all know more NFTS. The ownership of content, which has always been an issue and we have always been thinking about that, that is very clearly going to be defined in the world of Web 3.0. So, the content managers will be thinking in very different ways and they will be having many more content creators rather than just 2 or 3 or few that we work with. And that relates to the value equation because the value equation right now, which is always of course, there are intellectual property, but then when it is clearly defined and when it is at scale. Some of that we currently see in Patreon and few other tools now think of it in the crypto world in the blockchain world and it just scales up tremendously. New forms of communities in terms of Dows which are coming in. Influencers that we have been working with, even in Marketing 2.0 or Web 2.0, influencers have become so important. And think of how influencers will become somebody who has a board a and is making a t shirt out of it. And you will say, “Okay, this is the one that I want to now brand as an LTI t shirt as well.” So that that whole thing, the influencers will change. And finally, I think Rebecca talked about privacy as well, in the permissionless blockchains. How we look at privacy, Twitter is now sold today. So I guess there’ll be a whole new debate of free speech, once again, in that debate, privacy becomes even more important. So that will be another area that I think we need to. So Marketing 3.0 is almost here. It’s pretty much the advent of next 10 years, which will be extremely interesting for all of us.

Drew Neisser: Okay, real quick. So I noticed and this happened a couple of huddler brands are on television for the first time or buying stadium rights. I mean, it feels so retro to me, are either of you putting some money into a stadium or television?

Rebecca Stone: No stadiums, but we did run our first TV ad on Hulu last week.

Drew Neisser: So there you go. All right. Peeyush, naming a stadium anytime soon?

Peeyush Dubey: No, not naming and I think yeah. But smart TV, I think it’s a great idea. I definitely think we have not been there yet. But definitely look forward to trying that soon.

Drew Neisser: All right, so now we have 1 minute left for final words of wisdom for CMOs looking to make the case for brand related spending. Rebecca?

Rebecca Stone: I would say it is a absolute requirement. You absolutely need to do it. And the best way to start is just to start with what you have and start to track it and expand from there. 

Drew Neisser: All right, we’re gonna track it and make sure Okay, Peeyush what’s your tip there?

Peeyush Dubey: My tip would be to look at awards. Awards are low hanging fruit, everybody loves winning awards and awards definitely give a big fillip to the brand as well. So marketers that are trying to get started into the brand marketing should look at awards for the companies that they’re working for, for the leaders who are there, the CEO award, the CFO award, and that will definitely help create more followership for the brand and also for your own ideas.

Drew Neisser: I love that idea. You might even find that in Renegade Marketing: 12 Steps to Building Unbeatable B2B Brands. Who knows!? Okay, thank you both. You’re both great 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 is by Sam Beck. Show notes are written by Melissa Caffrey. The music is by the amazing Burns Twins and intro voiceover is Linda Cornelius.

To find the transcripts of all episodes, suggest future guests, or learn more about my new book and Renegade visit I’m your host, Drew Neisser. And until next time, keep those Renegade Thinking Caps on and strong.