February 16, 2023

Digging into Digital Media Spend

How can B2B CMOs optimize their digital marketing efforts? 

Tune into this insight-packed episode with CMOs Ellina Shinnick of HUB International, Mika Yamamoto of F5, and Norman Guadagno of Mimecast as they share their approaches to digital spend—what’s worked, what hasn’t, and where they’re focusing when it comes to building brand awareness online. Don’t miss it!

What You’ll Learn  

  • How B2B brands are approaching digital spend 
  • Why attribution is so difficult and what to do about it 
  • Why B2B brands need to invest in awareness 

Renegade Marketers Unite, Episode 332 on YouTube

Resources Mentioned 


  • [2:54] Ellina Shinnick: CMO and linguist
  • [4:40] Digital media spend at HUB International
  • [7:03] What’s working, what’s not
  • [10:32] HUB x Madison Square Garden
  • [13:55] Mika Yamamoto: Building bikes at F5
  • [15:23] Digital media spend at F5
  • [20:22] What’s working, what’s not
  • [24:17] Norman Guadagno: From CMO to CEO to CMO
  • [26:01] Discovering Mimecast’s digital media spend
  • [30:24] Lessons from an agency CEO
  • [33:17] On CMO Huddles
  • [37:56] Aligning with the CFO and CRO
  • [42:27] Investing in awareness
  • [47:20] Attribution challenges & tools
  • [50:34] Optimizing digital spend in 2023

Highlighted Quotes  

“As we look at an economically constrained environment, people are less likely to go in and do business with someone net new.” —@mikayamamoto11 @F5 Click To Tweet 

‘If you’re going to be a great client-side marketer, getting some experience in the agency world sensitizes you to the reality of what they have to do.” —@ThinkTone @Mimecast Click To Tweet “Don't forget that buyers are people. They don't spend 24 hours on digital, and they like to consume content through different channels and textures. You can measure digital, it's critical, but it is not the end-all, be-all in the marketing… Click To Tweet

Full Transcript: Drew Neisser in conversation with Ellina Shinnick, Mika Yamamoto, and Norman Guadagno


Drew Neisser: Hey, it’s Drew. And I’m guessing that as a podcast listener, you will also enjoy audiobooks. Well in that case, did you know the audio version of Renegade Marketing: 12 Steps to Building Unbeatable B2B Brands, was recently ranked the number one new B2B audio book by Book Authority. Kind of cool, right? Anyway, you can find my book on Audible or your favorite audio book platform.

And speaking of audio before we get into today’s show, I do want to do a shout out to the professionals that Share Your Genius. We started working with them several months ago to make this show even better, and have been blown away by their strategic and executional prowess. If you’re thinking about starting a podcast or want to turbocharge your current show, be sure to talk to Rachel Downey at shareyourgenius.com and tell her Drew sent you.

Okay, let’s get on with today’s episode.

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: 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 CMO Huddles Studio. 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 Ellina Shinnick of HUB International, Mika Yamamoto of F5, and Norman Guadagno of Mimecast.

Okay, let’s dive in.

I’m your host Drew Neisser live from my home studio in NYC. Long-time listeners to my podcast and this show know I’m prone to rant about how B2B marketing has gotten ridiculously complicated in the last 4 years without a corresponding increase in effectiveness, particularly when it comes to where you spend your money digitally. Well, this is the show in which I’ll probably end up eating my words as our three highly accomplished guests share how they perfect their digital marketing mix.  

So with that, let’s bring on Ellina Shinnick, CMO of HUB International and star of episode 17. Hello, Ellina, how are you?

Ellina Shinnick: Hi, Drew. Thanks for having me. Good to see you again.

Drew Neisser: Yes. Wonderful to see you again. So now, where are you?

Ellina Shinnick: I am in Chicago.

Drew Neisser: Okay. All right. And now we noticed in our research that you are fluent in Russian and so we’re gonna have the rest of the show on Russian. So I just wanted to warn you in advance. And you speak Spanish. So how did Russian happen? And did you ever consider a career as a linguist?

Ellina Shinnick: Well, I’ll answer the last part first, I do think I’m a linguist. I think being a marketer requires you to be a linguist, right? You’re a professional who has to understand language, empathize with people be creative with word choices, right? So I do think that part of my brain and passion is being used every day.

I was born in Ukraine. I came here as a young child and grew up in the United States. And I was fortunate that my parents were relentless in forcing me to speak Russian because, as you know, when you’re a little kid you want to just fit in and not take part. But they said, “No.” So I’m lucky that I grew up speaking multiple languages. It was second nature. And with Spanish, I just happen to love all things Latin culture, Spanish culture. I have lived in Spain multiple times. Language comes easily to me, probably because I grew up in a dual language household. And so there it is in a nutshell, my love of language and my use of it every day.

Drew Neisser: It’s a great story for any folks in bilingual households. The opportunity, I mean, kids can absorb 4 to 5 languages without breaking a sweat. It’s really amazing. That’s sort of one and then the second thing is do have relatives in the Ukraine?

Ellina Shinnick: Thank you for asking. I don’t. My entire family immigrated to various parts of the world. My parents have some close friends they grew up with there. I don’t know anyone there personally. Fortunately, they are all okay.

Drew Neisser: Well, okay, good. Thank you for that. All right.

Let’s set the stage here. We’ve got this huge topic of digital media spending, give us an overview of how you approach it at HUB.

Ellina Shinnick: Sure, so at HUB, you know, we are a B2B brand. We focus on middle market business and we do have some In small business for us digital really continues to play today mostly top of the funnel. We’re not a D2C business Hub International retail. Now we just launched a brand in June called View by HUB that is a digital embedded insurance broker offering direct to consumer. And so that particular brand enables us to really deploy what you would call performance marketing in our world. And so that’s a little bit more specific, where we’re using channels and really looking at cost per lead acquisitions, etc.

On the HUB side, for us, digital is truly part of an omni channel mix where we position our brand for brand awareness. And the bulk of our dollars are really spent through targeted ads, as well as with specific endemic partners. So those would be industry publications. And the thing that has worked the best for us with those digital buys are usually kind of takeover. So take overs of their emails that they’re sending out to their subscribers. We use those primarily to focus on driving attendance and registration for webinars, which is a very effective channel for us for lead gen and engagement.

So those are the two where we’re really focused on the HUB side, LinkedIn, organic and paid. We also have organic through Instagram and the other properties. And then mostly moving into endemic buys with really niche publications that we know have a high return for us primarily in driving registrations to events, whether they’re in person or digital.

On the View by HUB side, that’s our direct to consumer brand, that’s a slightly different story. On that side, we focus very much on partners like lead aggregators in the insurance space, those have been very effective for us. And we focus quite a bit on paid search. We also did deploy paid social for our D2C, but we did not find that channel to be very cost effective for us. So in fact, we’ve pulled back. Right now our two primary optimizations are an aggregator space, and paid search.

Drew Neisser: Really interesting. And is there a sense that there’s a one two punch in any of this? I mean, LinkedIn organic and paid a type of LinkedIn? Or do you really look at—so I’ve got my LinkedIn activities. And then I’ve got these industry partners, and is there any sort of channel optimization going on there?

Ellina Shinnick: They work in tandem. So it’s usually a mix. But I would say LinkedIn really is an evergreen channel for us. It’s one of our primary brand building and community engagement platform. So LinkedIn, we’re deploying content multiple times a week the entire year. And that’s the channel we’re using to position new thought leadership, to talk about relevant content that’s important to our audience with respect to our value proposition, and that spans a lot of topics. So we have a number of things to talk about. So we do organic and then we do boosting. Because we’re in the B2B sales model that is heavily weighed through our sales force, our advisors, and our brokers. We also provide tools that help amplify them and their individual brand in the context of HUBs. So we use tools like Hootsuite Amplify, where we create content that helps them share through their personal networks. And that I really think is an extension of our digital play on the organic side, because we know customers buy from people much more than they want to buy from brands.

So we have our corporate handle, then we have tools like Amplify that enables our people to amplify the content personally. So we also do paid and boosting on LinkedIn to do highly targeted campaigns. So let’s say we do have an ebook for the agribusiness target market or segment, then that’s where we would do really laser targeted campaigns for those decision makers sharing a specific piece of content that is worthy of being gated that we might then put behind a wall, use that for lead generation, and so forth.

And then within the context of LinkedIn, we’ve really tried most things. We’ve tried DM style ads, conversation style ads that are powered by the bots and decision trees. They’ve been pretty effective. But we haven’t really gone to scale. We do things like LinkedIn live, and some have been effective, some have been less effective, but they’re only as good as the content and how compelling it is, and you still get a very niche audience. But usually HR related topics tend to do pretty well when you’re talking about people on organizational strategies. Those get really great pickup, not in all industries.

And then in tandem. Yes, it’s a one two punch, for example, when we’re promoting a major event, such as a proprietary webinar or an annual campaign. The content that you would see on LinkedIn organic, boosted, and paid will be similar to the content you would see in the endemic ad that’s published in that campaign time period. So we’re really thinking about having a very clean customer journey regardless of where they might find the content and engage with it.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, that’s one of the ways that these things disintegrate, right, is if you’re reaching the same people, but you’re telling them a different story. It’s a problem. So what I heard, in terms of what’s working, it’s obviously LinkedIn and verticals. What didn’t work as well is paid social, which gets us to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and so forth. And then in terms of organic content and things, again, it’s about the people when when you’re dealing with LinkedIn. All right, perfect, thank you very much that was great overview.

So you announced a partnership with Madison Square Garden, right? Let’s talk about that. Because I know that’s not digital. But I’m just helping put some context around how this sort of fits in, supports, and if at all, any of this has as a digital component.

Ellina Shinnick: Yeah. So actually, there are a few digital components with the partnership. So with our partnership, there are a number of things, I won’t go into all the details of the partnership.

So first of all, you know, epicenter of the world, Madison Square Garden, one of the most visited venues in the world, right? Most recognizable venues in the world. So our primary objective, as you can imagine, was to create a strong platform for brand awareness. Because over the last number of years, and through the growth of the company, our marketing organization has done a lot of work. But I would say still more focused on middle of the funnel with what we’ve been doing. And we haven’t kind of done those major brand awareness buys and investments that you may have seen from other companies in various categories. So that is truly the primary intent is to create the brand awareness we seek as we’re growing and continuing to position ourselves as one of the top brokers in the world.

In addition to there is a digital component. As part of the partnership, we are doing custom content with Madison Square Garden, the New York Rangers, and New York Knicks. We’re doing custom content series, we’re doing run of sight ads, and you’ll see our logo on several digital properties.

So we thought about not just creating brand awareness within the property itself, which does have high traffic, but also using their channels and access to their audience to amplify our brand and co-create stories that add more dynamicism to the HUB brand that you might not have expected otherwise.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, and I think this is so interesting. And putting it in context is there is this point in time where if you want to make a bigger leap, it’s hard to do it in digital. And I think that as effective as digital has been looking for a channel that can give you broader awareness like this, it makes a lot of sense.

Okay, awesome. Thank you for that. So now let’s  bring on Mika Yamamoto, chief marketing and customer experience officer at F5. And the star of episode 184 of Renegade Marketers Unite and number 7 and 29 of this show. Wow, a 3rd time guest! Hello, Mika, how are you and where are you?

Mika Yamamoto: It’s good to see you again, Drew, I am in Seattle today.

Drew Neisser: Okay, and dare I ask how the weather is out there?

Mika Yamamoto: It’s really strange I have to say. It snowed the last 3 or 4 days. And then now it’s blue sky. And I anticipate it’s probably going to snow in a few hours. So you just have to blink and it changes. Right now it’s sunny, but it was absolutely dumping snow and I when I drove into work this morning.

Drew Neisser: So I’m trying to listen to your accent and I’m not hearing any of the Canadian cues. But we did see you went to Queen’s University in Ontario and I’m assuming you hail from Canada.

Mika Yamamoto: I do. I’m from Calgary, Alberta in Canada. If my kids were listening to this, they would be shocked that you didn’t know I was from Canada, just because they feel like I wheel that out every chance I can get. So you’ll probably hear a few nuances in my language. I don’t say ‘eh’ but I say project and process. And so there’s probably a few things in my accent that you’ll hear now that you know that I’m Canadian.

Drew Neisser: Yes. Maybe a-boot.

Mika Yamamoto: Kind of house. Yeah, house.

Drew Neisser: Yeah. All right. We’ll listen for those. We’ll get a thumbs up on those. But I also saw that you were building some bikes with the F5 team recently. Talk about that.

Mika Yamamoto: Yeah. So at our company, we feel really strongly about what we do within community personally and then we do so professionally. And so for the first time in 3 years—as is the case for many of us—we had our sales and marketing kickoff a few weeks ago in San Diego. And we are bringing all the marketers together for which 60% of them had never actually gotten together live because we hired 60% of them during the pandemic. So they hadn’t met each other. We had a big team building exercise. We thought, look if we’re gonna get together and do team building exercise let’s do it to benefit the community as well. So we built over 25 bikes for kids in need in the San Diego area who wouldn’t otherwise have received gift over the holidays and whose parents are struggling. And so we got to know our colleagues a lot better that came from all over the world. And we got to give some kids a gift over the holidays.

Drew Neisser: What a great idea. It must’ve been so fun. And I’m imagining because there’s so many different things you could have done. We’ve been talking about this a lot in huddles is, the tendency now is when you bring people together was, well, let’s work, work, work work. And the irony is, that is the opposite of what you need to do. It’s like, you’ve got to build the team and the culture, the things, and those connections so that when you do go back to virtual all over the world, right?

Mika Yamamoto: Yeah, I totally agree.

Drew Neisser: So let’s get to the topic at hand and talk a little bit about your digital meeting spending and how you approach it.

Mika Yamamoto: You know, I mean, 3 1/2—I’ve been here 3 1/2 years—3 1/2 years ago, we actually had very little digital media spend. We were a hardware company and so we believed at the company much of what happens with customers happens in person. And so it’s a massive evolution to say, “Hey, let’s start spending on digital.”

And we’d initially started spending in digital in demand gen. A lot of just nascent, syndicated content, for example. And we’ve expanded that spend to be focused on what kind of buys do we need to do based on personas? You know, our company was born in driving load balancing for companies. So what that means is among most of the Fortune 500, what we do is we help them load balancer website.

So for example, when there’s a Black Friday sale, for  one of the leading retailers in the world. There’s tons of traffic that hits their site. We make sure that there’s uninterrupted access to their website, so they can keep buying when there’s a hot concert ticket that people want to buy. Not the one that we just saw with Taylor Swift. We make sure that people can actually get access to the system.

And what happens there is that there’s both load balancing and actually a lot of bots that go on and try to buy concert tickets, they try to buy shoes, they try to buy cache things that are in short supply. And so we make sure that the people are logging into websites are actually humans and not bots. People that are actually engaging in social media are actually humans and not bots trying to sway a public opinion during an election, for example.

And then we also make sure that people who are logging into a system are people who are actually in fact, the people who say are who they say they are. So they’re not going into, for example, a federal government site to say that this happened to me, during the pandemic, someone pretended to be me and started collecting 1000s of dollars of unemployment insurance, or they’re not going into a bank account stealing credentials off of the dark web and then logging in and stealing money.

And so because we’ve gone into this business of driving cybersecurity, but we used to just do load balancing for websites. We’re not known for cybersecurity as much as we are for load balancing. So we need to really target a new buyer. But it’s new buyers within existing customer bases. So it would be a new buyer within a credit card processing company like MasterCard, or a big retailer, or a social media company. And so we need to get to know more people within an account. It’s moving wider within the account, it’s moving higher within the accounts to more senior individuals. And so the way we are evolving from just doing blasts, you know, like sort of spray and pray content syndication type buys, removing to be a lot more targeted and looking at using 3rd party data and 1st party data to say who’s actually demonstrating intent signals to buy. And then let’s target ads, whether they’re paid social ads, or some display ads, let’s target those ads at either people that work in specific verticals that have specific roles, like cybersecurity focus roles, within specific company.

So we’re getting a lot more targeted and a lot more targeted  for our top accounts that we want to penetrate further, we are actually targeting at specific people and individuals and only those and prioritizing those companies that we do that with that are actually demonstrating, again, through 3rd party and 1st party data and intend to buy. So we’re being a lot more focused and intentional about our purchases.

Drew Neisser: Wow. Okay, there’s a lot to unpack there in all of that. But it’s so interesting, because almost the opposite in some ways of what Ellina was saying.

Mika Yamamoto: Right, I was listening to her story. And I was like, “Actually, we’re doing something different.” So it just goes to show that one size doesn’t fit all.

Drew Neisser: Well, the place I want to dig in because a lot of companies find this challenge, but we’ve never really talked about it in the show. We’ve talked a little bit about upselling and cross selling, but what you’re really trying to do is you’ve got an installed base, but it might as well be a different company in some ways because this cybersecurity person may not even know that F5 is being used in the organization, right?

Mika Yamamoto: They may not know about F5. In fact, they don’t. Very few cybersecurity people are aware of load balancing, and they don’t know that we exist or that we do load balancing or that we’re in the company. But they also don’t know that we do security. And so it’s either looking for a warm handoff between one individual to another by getting an introduction. Or it’s actually looking to say, “Hey, we do this within your company and we could extend and actually help you with from a cybersecurity standpoint in another part of your company.”

Drew Neisser: “And we’re already an approved vendor!”

Mika Yamamoto: Right, and that mattered a lot during COVID because people were more likely to do business with an approved vendor, even if they weren’t already themselves doing business with that company. And we’re finding that that actually is holding to be true as we look at an economically constrained environment, people are less likely to go in and do business with someone net new. Even if that net new to the company, even if they’re net new to that individual.

Drew Neisser: It just makes a lot of sense. So you know, we’ve been talking about this for recession planning for, really, 6 months in huddles, and it really is about expanding. 2023 is going to be about expanding partnerships and expanding customer relationships. And in this position, it’s so interesting. So now we’re saying, “Okay, I know the company, and therefore I can probably find that individual.” It feels very ABM-y and you also talked about intent data. So I’m imagining that there are tools that you’re using, that are helping you sort of do this, am I correct?

Mika Yamamoto: That is totally correct. So, luckily, about 3 years ago, we created an enterprise data ecosystem, we took all of our first party data and put it into snowflake, so that we could actually analyze and look at our data and determine what our customers were owning, what we weren’t owning. Before, it took weeks to be able to figure out what one customer actually owned end to end from us and what they didn’t own. And then we couldn’t possibly have 3 years ago had AI models and hire data scientists to be able to go through the data and derive predictive analytics in terms of what they would buy next. And now we have that data internally. We use that data and throw it up against 3rd party data that then shows richer intent data that exists outside of our F5 world. It actually is very complimentary and helps us on an aggregate level look at industries that are showing certain intent towards buying certain products more than a geographic area. Who has intent or, within a set or a list of accounts, who is actually demonstrating greatest intent so that we can drive more focus there. So it can be one to one if it’s a really big account worth driving one to one focus on. Or it can be one to many efforts vertically based or vertically focused.

Drew Neisser: So, clearly, this approach—and you’ve already said this approach is working—is there any aspect of your digital mix that you tested in 2022 that didn’t really work as well as you hoped?

Mika Yamamoto: Well, we pulled away—I mean, we’re using this intent data, etc, we’re just starting to do this. So it’s a lot more focused for us and early indicators that it’s actually a lot more effective just because we’re not wasting our money on it and efforts on people who don’t care. You know, the things that we dropped for—it’s not necessary that we experimented with it—but we dropped syndicated just really, really looking at how we’re going to invest in syndicated content. We found that it drove a lot of leads, drove a lot of traffic, didn’t drive much interest beyond that. So it really wasn’t paying dividends. So we amped up and instead of that amped up more by way of social ads, LinkedIn too, so that’s what makes me think of HUB. And I was listening to what Ellina was saying that they were ratcheting down social, and we’re ratcheting it back up. And so again, it just depends on the persona you’re going after and where you are in terms of trying to drive either awareness or trying to propel someone to the next stage in the pipeline. That matters a lot in terms of selecting what mix you’re going to go after from a demand standpoint.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, it’s funny, you mentioned syndicated content, because that came up several times over the course of the year. And what I get a sense of overall on that—and then we’ll bring on Norman—is that it works for a while. And then somehow it just stops working. It’s like there’s a 5% of the syndicate con people are actually real people and then the rest or who knows what. But anyway, it is funny that it seems to wear out.

All right, very cool. Thank you for that. We will be back to you. But now we’re going to welcome Norman Guadagno, CMO of Mimecast, and star of episodes 41 and 209 of Renegade Marketers Unite, and episode 6 of this show. Hey, Norman, welcome back!

Norman Guadagno: It is a pleasure to be back, Drew, so nice to see you. And to add to my string of well numbered episodes. That I was on. It’s always a blast.

Drew Neisser: Yes! So the last time we had you on the show, you were in-between. You went from CMO to CEO. And now you’re back with CMO job. So first of all, we’re excited about that. But you just couldn’t stay away from the best job ever or what?!

Norman Guadagno: It is true. It is the best job ever. Sometimes the worst job ever, as we all know. But the fact of the matter is that, you know, I went from CMO at a Martech company and had a really exciting experience there. I learned a lot. I had the opportunity to go back to the agency side and in fact, to go to a media agency as CEO. So a lot of what we’ve been Thinking about already today is exactly what media agencies do, which is find the right places to make those investments. And I really had a lot of fun doing that. I learned a lot from the clients that we had. But then this opportunity presented itself to get back to something that I’m passionate about, which is cybersecurity, personal security, and privacy business security and privacy. And in my sense, one of if not the most interesting sectors right now for the technology space. Because as Mika pointed out, there’s so much traffic, there’s so many opportunities for threats. And when the job here at Mimecast was presented to me and I said, “Yes! This is something that I can be incredibly passionate about!” So I can get back to the best job in the world as a CMO. Which is really only an excuse to get on CMO Huddles and Renegade Marketers Live.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, exactly. Exactly! Well, we missed you. And we’re excited to have you back.

So I know you’ve just started at Mimecast. So talk a little bit about now in assessment mode, and how do you approach looking at this from a digital media spending? And again, now you’ve had this newfound expertise—or it’s at least fresh in your mind because of working at the agency. So talk about your strategy in reviewing this?

Norman Guadagno: Yeah, it’s a great question, Drew. And thanks for noting that I haven’t been here long enough to say that I had any real impact. So I’m still in discovery mode. But that’s right. And I think that, you know, Ellina and Mika actually did a great job of talking about the broad scope of the types of things that we do.

What I’ve been trying to do is really understand every single component of how we touch our customer. That is going back to what are the customer journeys that we have to satisfy? Who are the customers? What are the interlocks with our partners and with channel providers? So that when we look at the way in which marketing shows up in the world, that it feels coherent.  And when I look at the numbers, the data, it’s starting it from the top down, what are we spending? And where are we spending it from top of funnel, middle of funnel bottle funnel? And then looking from the bottom up?, what are the types of attribution touches that seem to work? How many touches historically before somebody becomes an opportunity? And you layer on top of that, something really interesting Drew, which is I joined and the day after I joined, we introduced a brand new product to the market. And it had a whole new motion associated with it. With a free trial online. So I got to see that from day zero. And now I’ve been watching over the past 30 days as that’s been growing, and learning a whole new source of data and information for us as we plan our future. So there’s a lot to unpack as there isn’t any modern marketing organization.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, and it make sense to really go in there and try to figure it out. What’s interesting to me is, you mentioned attribution to get to sales qualified opportunity, or whatever term you all use, and how many touches that takes. I heard a number recently that after that point, there’s still another 20 to 27 touches to get to close!

Norman Guadagno: Yes, yes. And that’s actually, there’s a lot of touches, before it becomes an opportunity. Going back 9 months, a year, there are many touches after it closes. And to the point of this discussion, more and more of those touches are pure digital touches. And so you have to think about regardless of the type of customer you’re going after, they’re on a journey that always begins before you know who they are. And imagine projecting backwards in time to that customer when they’re first going to begin that journey. How can you think about the ways in which you’re going to roll back and try to intercept that. Maybe it’s at Madison Square Garden when they’re going to see a concert? Maybe it’s with content syndication? But as we talked about, that has its problems. That points to the fact that you have to constantly rethink the mix. You have to be dynamic, and you have to pay attention to this. And as I said, we just introduced a new product, which has a much shorter sales cycle than we’ve had in the past because we want people to try it and download a free trial. It is constructed in a way that we want to get quickly to be able to qualify them. But it doesn’t mean that they haven’t had many touches before they come and do that free trial.

Drew Neisser: So I’m now thinking, not everyone goes from what you were just doing digital agency CEO to CMO. And so I keep thinking that you must have a fresh bag of tricks that you have. Or at least a fresh bag of questions or things like, why are they doing this this way? And so forth.

And I’m just wondering, is there anything that you did for some of your clients in your last job, that really, really you thought, “Oh, my God, this is amazing!” And then anything that you saw that you go, “Oh, we won’t bother with that.”

Norman Guadagno: That’s an interesting perspective, I’m not going to tell you all the tricks, I will recommend people go talk to the agency I just left because it’s in good hands and they’re great people. But one of the things I learned even more so than I had as a CMO is in talking with some of our clients, how often they want to buy media, either only at the bottom of the funnel, because it’s performance marketing, and they can measure it. Or because it’s very, very top of funnel, ego media, as I call it, that it’s going to show up where their competitors are going to show up. And you can think of industry conferences and other places like that.

We had a particular example, an unnamed client who wanted to be at one of these big shows and insisted on doing all of these high price, high impact placements. The reality is that when you go to the actual show, there’s so much noise, so many high impact, high value placements, that they get lost. And in fact, we had a client that insisted on wanting to do graffiti style guerilla style street posters, right? They last about 20 minutes before the next guerilla poster comes by and posts over it. And that’s just reality.

So what I’ve learned to do is step back and say, “Are we trying to get to our customers? Or are we trying to satisfy ourselves or our board or competitors or our own ego?” Sometimes you have to do a little of that. But I actually like thinking that more often than not, we want to try to make sure we actually get in front of our prospects are great partners that we want to be able to share the spotlight with.

Drew Neisser: Okay, before we go to a quick little break, I have to ask you, are you going to be a better client now that you’ve gone back to the agency side for a little bit? Not that you were ever a bad one! But you feel a little more empathy for your agency, brotherin.

Norman Guadagno: I do think I will try to be a better client. It’s not the first time I’ve been on the agency side. I’ve been back and forth. I always recommend that if you’re going to be a great client side marketer, getting some experience in the agency world sensitizes you to the reality of what they have to do. I  recommend it to marketers all the time. If you get a chance to do it, go to the other side of the fence, get that empathy. Because that empathy makes you a better partner, honestly.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, exactly. Okay. All right. We’ll be back.

Okay, it’s time for me to talk about CMO Huddles. Launched in 2020, CMO Huddles is an exclusive community of over 100 highly effective B2B CMOs who share, care, and dare each other to greatness.  One CMO described huddles as a cross between an executive workshop and therapy session. And given how hard things are getting out there, who doesn’t need a little reassurance they’re not alone. Everything about CMO Huddles is designed to be a force multiplier, helping you to make faster, better, and more informed decisions.  Since no CMO can outwork this crazy  job, CMO Huddles is here to help you outsmart it.

Ellina, Mika, Norman– so are you on the therapy side or the executive workshop side?  I’m wondering if you could share a specific example of how CMO Huddles has helped you. 

Mika Yamamoto: I think it’s an even split, actually.

Drew Neisser: Oh, all right.

Norman Guadagno: I’ll take therapy anywhere I can get it.

Mika Yamamoto: Exactly. Exactly. I think it’s more therapy for me with

Ellina Shinnick: Mondays are workshops. Fridays are therapy.

Drew Neisser: Yeah. Oh, it’s so funny that you say that because we’re making our make good huddles now on Fridays. And the request was to put them away in the afternoon. I feel like we should call them the zombie huddle. Because everybody’s so exhausted by Friday—including myself as it’s going to be a challenge. I think you all know, you’ve been on the show, you’ve said wonderful things about huddles before I don’t need you to do it. But if you have anything to add at this moment that sparks you in terms of something you might have learned that you’ve used, feel free to share that at this moment. The stage is yours.

Mika Yamamoto: I think it’s less about what I’ve learned that I’ve used. Because I’ve done I’ve learned a lot and used a lot. It’s more an encouragement if you’re subscribing but not using huddles, or if you’re thinking about doing so, it’s that it’s a really great forum to be able to say what’s on your mind in terms of, “Hey, I’d like to know more about how people are driving trade offs in digital marketing between awareness and demand gen. How are people going back to the notion of events? How are you dealing with a hybrid workforce? …” And you can say a topic that you really are interested in talking about, and then get together with peers that, you know, again, it becomes therapy and workshop, but get together with peers who have ideas or have similar questions. And you don’t get to often in your own companies, you’re the CMO, you’re on your own, essentially, with your teams, of course. And so it’s a really great opportunity to be able to hear ideas, be able to exchange thoughts, hear what works and what doesn’t work. I’d encourage everybody to partake if you haven’t already.

Drew Neisser: I love that.

Ellina Shinnick: I’ll echo Mika’s comments. It’s a terrific community. I’ve met a lot of wonderful marketers from many different industries who have shared nuggets with me that I’ve used along the way. And it’s very energizing, even if it’s kind of just a way to hear something you may have thought about, resurrect an idea, validate what you’re doing. It’s always really good to just have a group of colleagues who understand what you’re dealing with day to day that you might not in an organization.

Drew Neisser: I love it. All right, well, thank you both. Well, we’ll get it and Norman, you’re welcome back.

Norman Guadagno: You know that I love CMO Huddles. Yeah, and to Mika’s point, and Ellina echoed this, you’re one of one as a CMO, and you want to work with your team, and you want to help them be sensitized to what you do. But you’re still in the seat. And you still have to be able to speak with peers in a way that they do understand the real challenge that you face when you are trying to make trade off decisions often, right?

The reality is that CMOs controll massive budgets, often one of the largest discretionary budget inside the business. And we have to be able to make trade offs. So we have to justify the expenses that we have. And we have to make sure people understand that. And it puts a lot of pressure on us and talking with other peers who face the same sort of pressure is is a good way to normalize it and to make it feel like, “Yes, I’m not alone.”

Drew Neisser: I love it. By the way, that’s a perfect transition to the next topic. But just in case, you were listening, and you want to say, “Ooh, what is this?” If you’re a B2B CMO can share care, and dare with the best of them, check out CMOHuddles.com.

Okay, so you brought this up, Norman. And I think this is so interesting, digital marketing is hard and complex and there’s lots of nuances in it. How much does your CFO or head of CRO play in your—How much education do you have to do? Do they get a vote? How does that work? I’ll start with you, Mika.

Mika Yamamoto: Well, ours votes with his checkbook. It’s a massive education for us just because, again, we’ve gone from being a very people driven, you know, literally man’s man type of combat in terms of how we build accounts, and build relationships to really an education to say, “Hey, the digital world is part of this world.” We saw that acutely when we cut over in COVID.

The CFO writes our checkbook, he’s actually really interested in knowing what works and what doesn’t work. And so being able to communicate the ROI of digital spend is important. The hard part that I’m finding, and again, this might end up being joint therapy, but it’s really, how do you drive that ROI in a model where—we have a hybrid model. So we actually, we don’t just exclusively connect digitally with our customers, we have digital connections and with the buying group, and we have connections in person, and so its marketing influence is definitely not directly marketing sourced. We run into this challenge of what kind of attribution model do you use to say, “Look, did this spend in this channel in social or unpaid? How did that actually deliver on even a meeting.” Like even if we don’t go to a closed one booking and we just say, “How did it drive a meeting?” Those attribution models are really challenging, frankly, I think they are. Just when you have this type of type of in person and digital engagement and then to know which ones work and which don’t because we definitely know what drives traffic to our website. What’s propelling someone to drive to the next stage, like what’s driving stage progression is somewhat more challenging. So anyway, so we’re looking to always evolve our ROI model, but our CFO has definitely been a great advocate and has been a really strong partner for us. But he definitely is there for the education and for the…”Show me the money!”

Drew Neisser: Right, I imagine what he really wants to do is say, “Show me that this span lead to revenue.”

Mika Yamamoto: 100%. And what’s the ratio? So if I spend $1, am I going to make $10? Am I going to make $7? Honestly, depending on the model you use, you get a different number, because we don’t again, we are not a pure digital, discover, learn, try, buy, because then you would have that direct pipe to be able to say, “Absolutely, we know that this delivered a deal.” It does lend itself to some challenge and really directing that straight line to say, “Look, you spent $1, you got $8. Or you spent $1 and you got $5.

Drew Neisser: And I imagine, Ellina, you have the same challenge.

Ellina Shinnick: Yeah, very much so. So on the View by HUB site, it’s a little bit more direct, right, because D2C. But on the hub side, that’s exactly it. It’s a complex cell, right? You’re buying benefits, you’re buying risk management, consulting, retirement plans. So our primary job is to get people to the site to validate that HUB shouldn’t be a broker that’s in their consideration set, and then we hand them off. So we do, we look at how many leads are we driving. But then we also look at marketing assist. And so I’m fortunate that I have a leadership team that understands the value of marketing, they look at the overall results.

But there’s, I would say some flexibility in the channel specifics because they understand the complexity of the sales, right? I mean, for our sales force, they have a budget for entertaining clients and getting prospects, right? And I don’t think people say, like, “Did this one dinner and this one beer, did that generate the $500,000 account?” Or, “Why did you not buy this beer,” right?

Drew Neisser: It was the 3rd martini that closed the deal!

Norman Guadagno: It’s always the Martini that works.

Ellina Shinnick: It’s kind of frustrating, and a little ridiculous to me, right? It’s like our colleagues spend money too and they’re testing. I mean, it’s a little bit of a joke, whether it’s the seafood platter or whatever, but they are, they’re optimizing and so safely, right? It’s like which social media posts is gonna drive. You know it’s a combination and the results are there.

So I would say unfortunate that there’s an understanding around the impact of marketing. I don’t always have to say this one post generated 3X ROI. But in totality, in the quarter, we met our targets, and we did it in a cost effective way within the budget. So yeah, because sometimes I’m like, really? Did you ask them about the seafood tower?

Drew Neisser: It was the chocolate mousse? I mean, clearly, that was really the thing. That’s the signal. That’s it. That is the one intent signal when they buy dessert. So this begs the question, on one level, they’re not aware of you, you’re not in the game. Right? Period. And so it feels like that has to be—and I’m wondering, do all 3 of you have awareness against your target measures?

Mika Yamamoto: Well, we just started to invest in awareness, because we’re trying to—we didn’t—actually, philosophically as a company, we believe we didn’t need to spend on awareness. It took 2 years to actually justify that we should spend on awareness. We couldn’t hire fast enough and we couldn’t make others aware enough that we existed to hire people. So that actually was the last straw to say, “Look, we really need to get out there to drive awareness.”

And we started to invest in awareness. I think something that we have to bolster is our paid search that drives a ton of traffic. But we’re also driving, you know, social and display to drive awareness. And really realizing that actually ratings and reviews, earned media, as well as thought leadership is actually extending our awareness to say, “Look, it’s not paid media as much as it is, what a 3rd party saying about you?” Including your customers. Driving a lot stronger customer advocacy, and driving a lot more thought leadership in the market. We started in paid for awareness in earnest in June of this year. We combined that paid with in person as we started to go back to events, we are actually doing classic 2010 moves of wrapping cabs and buying ads in airports.

But the compliment actually really, really worked. And it was probably because we were just coming back into physical events, where it was actually novel again, to see your brand and a physical space. We’re definitely amping up our spend on awareness to hire and retain talent to keep our partners actually realizing or relevant to keep our existing customers realizing we’re relevant and also to attract new.

Drew Neisser: Amazing. Yeah, and you can see it and you’ll see it both in terms of the performance of your search, because the more aware you are the lower cost per click it’ll be. Because more people will choose it. And you’ll see it in hopefully in other ways.

As you said, these are complex sales and so forth. So I’m wondering though, in light of all this and when we’re dealing with the world of marketing influence or marketing assess, both pre qualified lead and post, how are you deciding what’s effective either before or in the pre get to the lead part or the post close the deal, and how are you sort of pulling the levers? Yeah, marketing is every sale. I mean, they’re not going to buy without going to your website. Probably not going to buy without trying to look at a video on the website.

Norman Guadagno: So that question, Drew, is I think the essence of you can’t have a static plan anymore. You truly have to be moving along with the dynamics of the market. And mica pointed out the fact that coming back after the pandemic, it was great to go into out of home advertising because people weren’t used to it, they were back out in the world. But all of a sudden, everybody jumps into out of home advertising and then you become lost again. So you have to pivot somewhere else. And you have to keep your brand relevant because there are 1000s of new brands and every category being created every day. And they’re all vying for that top of mind top of funnel early stage awareness. So you have to play in that game. And you have to make sure as you guide them through that journey, it’s very easy to say, oh, yeah, this is this touch it work. We bought them to be or might they got over the line. But the reality is, and you pointed this out, like if all we did was calculate what works and we would spend 100% of our dollars on search, except search doesn’t work that way. But search always reliably gives you clicks. But we know not to spend 100% of our dollars on search because it misses everything else. And when we have to do is peel back from the we know that works really well. And I always look at it through the lens of search is sort of well known, you can lower your cost per click by making sure you have greater awareness and investing in it. But it works in a fairly predictable way, usually. And if you start to back out from what’s the actual minimal amount you can spend on search to get the results you want, you can start moving your dollars back to earlier earlier earlier stages. And thinking about the right level of investment in each of those stages to arrive at that well known easy to measure thing that happens right before they hit your website, then you take them on that journey post click as well. And you have to invest in more thought leadership more contact with people bots on the site. Those are additional post click things you have to think about.

Drew Neisser: So getting to this issue of attribution, which we talk about, and I’m curious, are any of you using a tool like Bizible, and does it work? Not to put them on the spot. Do you have a tool that you’re using for attribution?

Mika Yamamoto: We are using Bizible. Again, we’re just looking at the model just because we’re struggling with how much weight we put on any one of the touch points to say, “This was the touch point. It was this beer.” So I love that analogy, was it the beer? Was it the creme Brulee? Was it the moose? You know, was it the webinar? Or was it the fact that they downloaded this white paper? Was it the fact that they came to this physical event? And it’s probably yes, yes and yes. Right?

And so that attribution model is so hard that they attended, it’s hard to know that they attended a webinar and saw the whole thing where they did they watch it on mute the whole time. So it’s just so hard to know whether that was the thing that led to the meeting. And so we do use it, we’re combining that with—look, when people do come to a webinar, the percentage of people that then go to the next interesting moment or the next conversation. And so we’re looking at more of that, in terms of like if they came to a physical event, if they went to a webinar, if they read a white paper, how many of those people then went and did something else. And that’s how we’re actually generating a lot more value. In addition to information. Again, about Bizible in addition to information where we’re looking at the buying group. Not just the individual that’s buying that are sellers are connecting with but looking at whether we’re expanding the buying group or contracting the buying group, and how many people in a buying group actually is correlated to the size and velocity of a deal. It’s the attribution models themselves in and of themselves, I think are really challenging to be able to say “Yes, absolutely. This is what works.” I think,  for us, we need to look at a combination of data points.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, I mean, if we get to this world where there’s 27 touches after we’ve got a qualified opportunity, then you’re really at this impossible notion of which of those 27 mattered? Kind of all of them, right? So this is a difficult part of it, but I know we’re gonna get better at it. And I know you all have data people who help you get better at it. Because you have to make choices, right? We have to optimize and it is some combination.

I typically on the show, find a moment to ask, “What Would Ben Franklin say?” And he would struggle with this because digital didn’t exist at his time. But he was in the media business. He was a publisher and he sold advertising in the Philadelphia Gazette and other things that he published.

But he looked at spending from a personal finance standpoint and what I think he might remind us of is, “If you know how to spend less than you get”—in other words, your money and you make it—”you have the philosopher’s stone.” So this gets back to this notion of we’re spending a certain amount of money to get a 10x return or an 8x return. I think that’s what he would get us to think about

All right, well, we can’t have him here. But we do have 3 amazing folks who can help us think. We talked about optimizing a spend that’s very difficult to measure except for search—which Norman points out. So let’s talk about maybe 2 do’s and a don’t from each of you in terms of how are we going to optimize digital spending in 2023. I’ll start with Norman because you were last up in the beginning.

Norman Guadagno: I love it. I don’t know what Ben Franklin would say about this. But 2 do’s and a don’t…

Do make sure that you are really thinking about pulling back on the things that you can measure incredibly well, so that you don’t underfund the things that are less easy to measure, but still important.

Do make sure that you are showing up where your customers show up and are in the state of mind that are ripe for what you’re offering them.

And don’t mistake attribution for motivation, because you may know that they attended something. But you don’t really know what motivates them to move to the next step. That’s a tricky thing.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, it’s funny. So in today’s newsletter, for huddlers, it’s a recap from huddle that we had November. And one of the huddlers mentioned the FIRE methodology. Which is Fit, the customer’s fit, their Intent, the Recency, and then the E for Engagement. And trying to create this sort of measure, so that you can—and I’m wondering, and in my mind, I’m thinking, “Well, I wonder that’s got to fit into this or some similar model where you’re creating sort of scoring systems.” Okay, so next up, we’ll go with Ellina. What’s your two do’s and a don’t?

Ellina Shinnick: So do always set targets, even if you’re trying new channels. Have a benchmark or at least a moving target that you’re trying to optimize to. That’s number one.

Do work very closely with your sales organization, wherever your sales team may live. Whether they report it to you or Chief Revenue Officer, because ultimately, we should be measuring all the way through to the sale. And so driving the pipeline, and cost per lead is great. And those are KPIs that marketers directly control. But at the end of the day, you should really be thinking about the overall business goal and you should look at the end to end journey and bringing your sales organization and do look at the reports together end to end on a weekly basis.

Don’t forget that buyers are people and they don’t spend 24 hours on digital and they like to consume content through different channels and textures. So think about digital, you can measure it, it’s critical, but it is not the end all be all in the marketing strategy.

Drew Neisser: There you go. And I love that. And one of the things that we didn’t really talk about on the show, but it is so important is this that you’re not spending for your own health, you’re spending ultimately to drive revenue for the organization. And so having the CRO have a clear window into it. This came up in a huddle the other day where you no longer talk about him as sales qualified leads you put whatever your company name is, it’s “F5 Qualified Leads”, or opportunities. We no longer think about sales and marketing as separate things because in fact, they’re not. There’s pre and post and marketing is involved. Okay, Mika bring us home.

Mika Yamamoto: I plus one, Norman and Ellina’s thoughts as well. When you have targets do you use multiple data points. I mean, a target is a one number or typically several numbers but use multiple data points to see whether something does or doesn’t work. Just because it’s so hard to drive a complex sale and with multi touch attribution, you just need different types of ways to see whether certain investments are working.

Do be mean mindful that, you know Ellina to your point that you made just a second ago and earlier is that you’re dealing with human beings. They’re not just dealing with you in digital, they’re dealing with you in person. So make sure you’re consistent with your messaging and consistent across your journey in terms of the types of conversations you’re having with your customer versus having them be siloed.

And lastly is don’t assume that one size fits all, right? I mean just think about your personas, think about whether they’re an existing customer or a net new customer because one size and one approach doesn’t fit everybody.

Drew Neisser: Amazing. Those 3 combinations of things, I want to thank you. One thing that you talked about that I just want to put a big punctuation point is consistency across channels really does matter. It really does. Both on digital and offline. Okay, Ellina, Mika, Norman you’re all great sports. Thank you so much for being on the show. Thank you audience for staying with us. Que the music.

To hear more conversations like this one and submit your own questions while we’re live, join us on the next CMO Huddles Studio. We streamed to 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! This show is produced by Melissa Caffrey, Laura Parkyn, and our B2B podcast partners Share Your Genius. The music is by the amazing Burns Twins and the intro Voice Over is Linda Cornelius. To find the transcripts of all episodes, suggest future guests, or learn more about B2B branding, CMO Huddles, or my CMO coaching service, check out renegade.com. I’m your host, Drew Neisser. And until next time, keep those Renegade thinking caps on and strong!