December 29, 2022

How to Sell the Selling Power of B2B Brand Strategy

B2B marketers know that brand sells, but how does a CMO sell brand? 

In this episode, three CMOs share the secrets to setting up your B2B brand strategy for success. Tune in to learn how to sell brand to the board, the C-Suite, and through data—to get the internal buy-in necessary if you want your branding efforts to succeed and propel business growth. This interview’s expert insights come from:

What You’ll Learn 

  • How to sell brand to the board  
  • How to sell brand to the C-Suite 
  • How to measure and track brand (without breaking budget) 

Renegade Marketers Unite, Episode 325 on YouTube 

Resources Mentioned 

Highlighted Quotes

  • [2:42] Pamela Hermann: Certified SAFe 5.0 Agilist
  • [5:40] Jdate and Progressive ads
  • [7:47] Pamela’s tips for getting the board involved in brand
  • [12:57] Jamie Gier’s early job at Sears
  • [16:35] Why it’s so hard to sell brand to the C-Suite
  • [19:18] What is brand?
  • [21:12] Johnny Smith Jr. on Encompass Health’s rebrand
  • [25:06] Lessons learned from rebranding
  • [27:03] On CMO Huddles
  • [29:10] Measuring and tracking brand
  • [36:13] Baseline brand studies for smaller budgets
  • [37:37] Final words of wisdom: Branding

Highlighted Quotes  

“For internal stakeholders that might not be very versed in marketing concepts, I like to start with something very relatable to everyone, which is sharing examples of brands from outside our industry that I just adore.” —@PamHerrmann @Ethisphere Share on X 

“I'm always looking to tie back to what matters most to my executive leadership team, and that's profitability, driving strategy, and growth.” —@PamHerrmann @Ethisphere Share on X 

“The reality is your customers own your brand. When we talk about brand equity, that is all based on the value that your customers put on your brand to begin with.” —Jamie Gier Share on X

“You need to really understand why you're doing the refresh to begin with, which is why the research aspect is very important.” —Jamie Gier Share on X

“Make certain everyone on the team understands the role that they play in the brand, that it is not just designers, not just content writers. Everyone has a major, major role in this.” —@johnnysmithjr @Roche Share on X 

“Don't lose sight of your most influential key stakeholders in the brand—your own employees.” —@johnnysmithjr @Roche Share on X 

Full Transcript: Drew Neisser in conversation with Pamela Herrmann, Jamie Gier, and Johnny Smith Jr.


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’s sharing, caring, and daring each other to greatness every day of the week.  

This time we’ve got a conversation with Pamela Herrmann, Jamie Gier, and Johnny Smith Jr. about how to sell brand to the board, the C-Suite, and through data. By the way, in the beginning, Pam shares a few of her favorite ads to bring to the board—if you want to see them, you can find them in the show notes on It’s a great discussion—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 charming Disney film, Encanto, the true peak moment for me and many others began with family members  breaking into song about a mysterious relative with the chorus, We Don’t Talk About Bruno. Well in B2B, there is an equally strange phenomenon, that involves avoiding a certain word in certain places – We Don’t Talk About Brand – because brand to some ears connotes fluffy wasteful spending, marketing activities that don’t accrue to the bottom line. For those who know the true power of brand this is complete silliness but for CMOs in the hot seat, who are on the hook for revenue contribution, it’s a bit of a magical dance – that sometimes involves deploying euphimisms for brand – anything to divert attention from an activity that can’t be directly attributable to demand generation. So on today’s show, we’ll be talking brand with three enchanting marketeers.  

With that. Let’s bring on Pamela Herrmann CMO of On Q Financial. Hello, Pam, how are you?

Pamela Herrmann: Great Drew. Good to see you. Good morning to everyone.

Drew Neisser: And I love your setup. And so where are you?

Pamela Herrmann: Coming to from Denver. Today’s high will be about 80 degrees. Traffic and weather on at 7.

Drew Neisser: I love it. Okay, now, I noticed on your LinkedIn bio, that you are a certified Agilist. And I’m thinking non marketers might mistake that for a type of yoga. So what is an Agilist?

I’m agile, but I’m not bendy. Those are two different things. So what is an agilist? Agile is a project management methodology that helps IT teams build and test and really short time sprints, which ultimately help them course correct quickly with reduced impact to their labor cost and delivery timelines. And you might be thinking, Okay, great, what does this have to do with marketing? Well, if you’re a marketer, and you work for a SaaS company, I would recommend you explore really learning the language of the people that work in the belly of the beast that you work for. And that’s specifically the IT teams. Your ability to translate the language of the user into the organization and also translate the language of it into marketing and sales messages will have a huge impact on your brand messaging.

Pamela Herrmann: So want a quick story to illustrate?

Drew Neisser: Oh, go for it, please!

Pamela Herrmann: Okay, great. So in a previous life, when I joined a SaaS company as their marketing lead, I first dug into their win/loss reports just to hear a little bit about the qualitative feedback. And one of the things was that our sales team talk to tech, and they felt that the customer or the prospect felt that we were talking over their heads. And that was our brand reputation. So I really wanted to understand why that was. And I quickly discovered that our sales team were really tight with our product team, and they were getting their talking points from them. I knew that marketing was on the outside track. So if product, sales, and marketing are a three legged stool, it’s really important for the brand to get aligned around those three different teams. And so to get marketing back into the game, I had to build trust with both of those groups and focus specifically on learning the language and the process of development our IT team was using. And that was Scaled Agile.

So with the certification, I was really able to support our product owners success by using user profiles and user stories. And those are really instrumental in bringing the customer experience with our technology deeper into our design and build stages. So we created these great persona videos that our DevOps folks really appreciated. They had a better understanding of how their work fit into the big picture of our deliverables. And it really gave their work more meaning. But more importantly, and this goes back to brand, the impact to our sales team was that they were then able to present our solution to prospects in a very differentiated way from our competitors. Because now they were talking in more relatable way. And ultimately, we became more memorable to our prospects, because we’re now speaking in their language. So it really successfully changed our brand reputation through this effort.

Drew Neisser: Interesting, okay. And then a completely different way of thinking about a methodology that allows you to build a relationship, that relationship then allows you to connect with the target audience in a better way. Fascinating, really interesting.

So you’ve been at On Q Financial for 9 months. And I know much of that time has been about building up a demand gen, because every CMO in the first 6 months you gotta be able to show that you can drive demand. But at what point could you start talking about brand, and how have those conversations been going?

Pamela Herrmann: So bringing the brand conversation to the forefront really was job one. And I had to tackle this from a couple of different angles at the same time. Number one, our website really wasn’t designed with the level of backend integrations across our entire tech stack required so that we could accurately track traffic or leads all the way through to a closed mortgage loan. It wasn’t optimized for SEO, all the forms went to one place with no attribution. And we couldn’t even start to think about demand gen until we had this resolved. But we’re lucky we’ve got a couple of great front end developers on my team. And they’re exceptionally knowledgeable at web dev and lead gen. So while they got to work on rebuilding the site appropriately and properly and connecting the data, I set out to educate the executive leadership team on the value of branding and sharing with them my vision as to how to stand out in a commoditized industry that is mortgage loan origination. That’s the space we’re in, it’s very price driven, and there’s gotta be a way to stand out really differently.

Drew Neisser: Well, and I think it’s interesting, and this is part of this conversation. One of the things that we talk a lot about is okay, that first 6 months, you got to build some credibility, SEO—because the thing is, you can have a conversation on SEO with a CEO or a CFO, and they’ll get it. You don’t have to even use the word brand even though we know that there’s a connection. And if you’re not getting the SEO that you deserve, that’s it—it’s not a quick fix, by the way. But it is something you can identify quickly, and you can build to address it. Same thing with a website, I mean, if you don’t have the right forms on there to capture the leads, you’re just missing out. To me, those go into that category of quick wins, or things that you can address as a CMO that you just got to look at really quickly.

Pamela Herrmann: Exactly, yeah, it’s all infrastructure at that point, then you can pull the lens back and say, “Okay, great. Now here’s how we drive the traffic.”

Drew Neisser: This is really important. You talked about educating the board and so forth. I’m curious, how do you do that? What kinds of things do you do so that they can see. I mean, one of my favorite quotes from one of the shows way back from Latin economies, there is no demand without brand. But you know, you can’t go there with boards because they don’t necessarily see it. They want to believe that I can spend $1 and get $1, back, maybe $5 back. What did you do to educate your board?

Pamela Herrmann: Well, this is a really good quick tip. So for internal stakeholders that might not be very versed in marketing concepts, I like to start with something that’s just very relatable to everyone, right? Which is sharing examples of brands from outside our industry that I just adore. Melissa, I don’t know, if you’re able to share that slide that I sent over to you. Basically, what I like to do is just show them illustrations of examples of brands that I really love and why I like them. So in both of the examples, this first one is Jdate. I love this because it’s clever, it’s got disparate concepts that are happening here in the copy and the imagery and what these folks do. Which is technology that matches people that are of the Jewish faith. And so I just love this whole concept. As soon as I saw it, it got me to stop. And I looked at it and I read the copy. And I just thought it was amazingly creative. So that’s an example of sharing with them disparate concepts, funny, clever, let’s do it very differently.

In financial services, we can get very stale, it can read a bit like Barron’s, super boring. I want to completely shake it up. This second example is within financial services, this is a Progressive ad that we’re all familiar. And you know, when you get to a certain age, all of a sudden you’re saying and doing things where you feel like your mom and dad. And I like totally have brand envy over that whole campaign. But these are the types of examples I would bring forward to them and say, “Okay, let’s get really aspirational as to where we see potential for our brand if we were to do something really different from our competitors.” And then I just give them one simple decision point. Do you see how this can position us differently than the other guys? This is my vision. And if you’re along for the ride, great, I’ll provide you with a roadmap on how do we can create this outcome. So it’s just a really simple indoctrination. You know, it’s not a fancy, highfalutin marketing speak. It’s just pretty plain spoken.

Drew Neisser: Yeah. And give them example and I you know, the progressive ads You’re so right. They just kill me. The way I becoming more like my father is I’m butchering names. Even though in my mind, I know exactly what it is. And our next guest is Jamie Gier. And she still had to remind me right before we get on the show, because I could butcher the name. And bless my dad’s heart at 95. You know, if he wants to mispronounce Toyota and avocado, it’s okay. But you kind of want to ask, how did he do that? How is that even possible? Anyway…

Pamela Herrmann: Some things are not to be understood, Drew.

Drew Neisser: Yes, exactly. I know you have to run. So before we go, give me one tip. I know we’ve talked about this. But one last tip, if you will—just in case you don’t come back—for making sure that as you’re getting this process going, that we’re getting our stakeholders involved in the brand process.

Pamela Herrmann: So I think it’s really important to pull the lens all the way out and go back to strategy. I know that sounds like marketing 101. But I do think sometimes we are so deep in the weeds with our approach. So I’m always looking to tie back to what matters most to my executive leadership team. And that’s profitability, driving strategy, and growth, right? So anytime I can connect the dots, to those points in everything that I’m doing, their heads will be nodding yes. So I would just say to be so so crystal clear on what drives the business forward. And that’s going to help you prioritize the work and ring the bell with some good successes.

Drew Neisser: This is what we talked about a lot in huddles. It’s about the language of the business, not the language of marketing and translating things and making it easy for them. And one of the things that we’ve talked a lot about is you have so many numbers, you got a lot of technology, you could just overwhelm them with everything. But what do they really want to know is predictable revenue. That’s really what they want. But if you can show how brand and this strategy will relate to Predictable Revenue, then you have a really good chance of getting their support. “Oh, I get it. Okay!” So we might have a higher conversion rate if more people are aware of us and understand and say, “We’ll have more opportunities because we’ll be considered more if more people understand our brand and appreciate our brand.” So okay, good. Put it in the language of the business, not in the language of marketing. Well, Pamela, nice to see you. Thank you for joining us.

Pamela Herrmann: Thank you, Drew. I appreciate the time.

Drew Neisser: Okay, let’s bring on Jamie Gier. Jamie, hello!

Jamie Gier: Hello, Drew. Yes, that darn last name.

Drew Neisser: Yes. No. I, you know, I always do now when I’m on somebody else’s show I remind the host it’s Neisser as in wiser. And I had a guest the other day who said it’s Evie as in Chevy, and i went, “Oh, thank you. I will never forget that!” Because I am butchering things like Laura/Lara. I mean, come on.

So, Jamie. You were the star of episode 22. Welcome back. I feel like we need to go back to high school or college. Was there a job that really tested you or one that you detested?

Jamie Gier: Ah, the job that tested me—and by the way, I’ve been working since I was 16. I was that kid that could not wait to get a job. Probably to pay for all of my gasoline for my car. But the job that comes to mind is I was a parts salesperson for Sears. So I worked on the opposite side of town in a warehouse and I had to learn everything about appliances and equipment and every part that went into building that particular appliance. And I was really committed to doing that. Look, I was a teenager. I knew everything about clothes and shoes, I knew nothing about parts and selling to farmers and mechanics and others. But I really went all in and I wanted to be that salesperson who knew every part by memory, it could simply plug that in or find it on the shelf. But it tested me to kind of get out of my comfort zone, learn something new, and put on that tool belt and become somebody else that I was not maybe designed to be but it was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed it.

Drew Neisser: Well,  first of all, it does train you for marketing. You learn a lot of things about a lot of different products. I mean I can think about any number of things. But I’m wondering if you had a favorite part that you went, “I just I love this part. This part is so cool!” Did you remember any of the parts?

Jamie Gier: No, but the the memory that I do have is that very angry farmer who came in and we just didn’t have the one screw out of millions of screws that we probably did have in inventory and he got very, very upset. And at this time Sears had—speaking of brand—the customer’s always right. And we had that sign up and he kept pointing to it as he was angry about the fact that we didn’t have it. And I had to tell him that it’s going to take 3 days. “I’m sorry, your tractor is not going to operate. I know you need to farm your land, but we just simply don’t have this one.” And he kept pointing to that sign. But he got very, very angry. And I had to learn how to handle customers like that, who just expected immediate access to what they needed to have. But I was trying to convince our manager at the time, “Can you please take this sign down? Because the customer is not always right.” Especially when they don’t treat you very nice.

Drew Neisser: Oh, my gosh, yes. So you were screwed over screws. Yes, okay. Well we’ll just move on. And that’s a perfect—I mean, Sears was the brand. I mean, at that time. I mean, really, it’s just amazing. And it is also amazing to think about how that brand lost ground.

Jamie Gier: Yeah.

Drew Neisser: And how easy that—and, you know, you would think about a brand that’s been around 100 years would have a hard time. But I think they just stopped making deposits in the goodwill bank, if you will. And you know, it’s kind of sad.

Jamie Gier: It was very sad, because that was a household name. And at the time that I was working there, that was your go to brand for appliances, equipment, lawn mowers, and everything else. And so it’s kind of sad to see that go away. I hope I didn’t have anything to do with that.

Drew Neisser: I can just imagine. I know I’m gonna get someone from is gonna say, “We’re killing it. We’re still a leader in this area.” And I can go, “Okay, thank you.”

All right.

Jamie Gier: I don’t know I don’t shop there. But…

Drew Neisser: You know, it’s fine. We can move on. And retail has its own issues. And we’re talking B2B here. And we’re going to talk about brand and Bruno. And why is it, in your mind, so hard to get CEOs and CFOs to wrap their minds around this idea that it isn’t just about spending money on search. Because I spend money on search and they click and that’s a direct response. And I can see that money, and I only want to spend money on things that will get results. Why is it so hard, particularly in B2B where long sales cycles, complicated things, buying committees for them to realize the role of the brand in all of this?

Jamie Gier: I think part of the reason, Drew, is that we have failed as marketers to show that the long term investments in brand actually feed the short term goals, performance, and numbers that we have to hit. It’s the long view really.

But the other thing too, is that I remember when we placed a lot of emphasis of brand with design, it’s your logo, it’s these things which did a real disservice to positioning brand as the DNA of your organization that it’s not just about design. Yes, your visual language is really important in how you express your brand. But the reality is, is we’ve put so much emphasis on that as opposed to what is brand represent, and how does that feed every aspect of your organization.

The other thing too, is that we simply were not speaking their language. One of the things that I talk to marketers about all the time is you have to understand the great game of business, the financing of business, the numbers and really be close to it, and how brand can contribute. So it’s making the bridge between market share and the health of your brand, which is why we’re now seeing even out on a lot of the financial publications, they’re actually covering the value of a brand to your business, the value of brand to your market share. And I’m really pleased to see that because I think now CMOs are partnering with their CEOs and CFOs to prove that out. And there are ways to do that. I’ve done a number of studies to make the link between and predicting market share based on the health of your brand. If you address market forces that may be dragging it down versus things that attributes that buyers look at when they consider a brand.

Drew Neisser: Let’s break that down. There are a lot of great points. I do completely agree that brand does not equal logo and design. And that’s often where the problem is. But these same individuals can look at their favorite B2C companies and they go, “Why did you choose this one over that one?” And you ask them and they’ll say, “Well, I just liked that one better.”

Jamie Gier: Yeah.

Drew Neisser: Right. It’s kind of a sort of irrational, emotional thing.

Drew Neisser: And so all right, we’ve got brand doesn’t equal design. So I wonder if— and this is really—I’m gonna put you on the spot.—but can you define if it isn’t design, what is brand?

Jamie Gier: I think brand is the perceptions that buyers have of your organization. So we put a lot of emphasis that we own our brands. The reality is your customers own your brand. When we talk about brand equity, that is all based on the value that your customers put on your brand to begin with.

Now, the thing about that, too, is that your product may not be unique. But what could be distinctive about your brand, in the minds of your customers, is something else that you do around service. Or maybe you’ve taken a position on a social issue and we know that people want to do business with companies that represent good in the world. We’re seeing that even more so today. But I think brand is largely around the perceptions that your customers have of your product, your company, your people, your service, everything that makes up that company.

Everything! It’s not just search, it’s not just your marketing, it’s how they feel. You brought up the emotional side of how people feel about your brand. Because yeah, there’s the rational aspects that motivate people to choose your product or your service. But a lot of it is the emotions that they have behind their decision making.

Drew Neisser: Everything.

I want to come back to all of that, and I want to come back to metrics. But I think I’m going to bring Johnny Smith Jr. on, introduce him talk and then we’ll come right back to you in a second.

Jamie Gier: Okay, sounds great.

Drew Neisser: So let’s welcome Johnny. Johnny Smith, Jr, Vice President of Marketing Services at Encompass Health and star of episode 233 of Renegade Marketers Unite, and episode 20 of this show, Johnny, which means you’ve been on episode 20 and this is 40! So obviously, you’re going to be on 60 too.

Johnny Smith, Jr: Let’s go! Let’s do it, Drew.

Drew Neisser: Let’s do it. Anyway, welcome back. How are you?

Johnny Smith, Jr: Thanks for having me.

Drew Neisser: We’ve been talking about brand. And I know that you guys just launched a new brand at Encompass Health. So maybe you can give an overview of the process that you went through to develop the work?

Johnny Smith, Jr: Yeah, definitely. Just a quick overview, Encompass Health is the largest rehabilitation provider in the country. We have about 150 hospitals in 40 plus states, and we care for the baby boomer population, average age is around roughly 77 years old. And those are individuals who were suffered a stroke, brain injury, illness, etc. And our goal is to rehab them back to independence.

So when I joined the organization, I shared this and the change management playbook episode. And Drew did a fantastic job of breaking down the pieces of it. When I joined the organization, I quickly realized that we had this best kept secret. And healthcare in general is a low interest category service is what I like to say. Meaning a lot of people don’t just think about a health care provider, they’re not just saying, “Oh, let me just get on the website for Encompass Health and see what’s going on here. I mean, it’s not that type of a service. However, when you need us, we’re the most important thing in your life, because we’re going to help your loved one get back to what they love most. So when I joined, I knew it was this best kept secret. And generally consumers weren’t that aware of who we are and what we do. So we went on—to use your words, Drew—a listening tour. And did extensive extensive extensive research, and also audience prioritization as well. Because remember, I was creating a new marketing department. So we hadn’t prioritized those key audiences in the ways that we needed to enable, to impact change. So we prioritize our employee population, and we talked to them about the brand. We’ve talked with our referral sources, which are acute care hospitals across the country, we talked to various caregivers that have been past caregivers. And caregivers are those who make all the health care decisions for our patients. And our patients in some circumstances as well.

And then once we really talk to them, we needed to understand what makes us different. What’s our story? What’s the customer’s experience with Encompass Health? And then we to dive into that we also knew—and I called the Fair into the last discussion—what’s the value that this brand can create to the organization? And how do we hold ourselves accountable from a measurement standpoint? So those are the steps we really took. It took a lot of time, research, researching, listening, listening, listening, to really define who we are, and really define the level of care that we deliver. Because we are not an acute care hospital, we’re not a primary care provider, we’re not a surgery center. We are rehabilitation hospitals, and we provide a specific purpose to helping that population—our population, get back to what they love to do most.

Drew Neisser: So from start to execution—because I did watch a couple of the videos—how long did it take to get from, we’re going to do this, we’re going to rebrand to figuring out all this to execution?

Johnny Smith, Jr: I would say—and remember, all of this was in the midst of completely transforming and creating the marketing department. It went relatively fast. You probably won’t believe me, Drew, but it took about 7 months.

Drew Neisser: That is fast!

Johnny Smith, Jr: That we did. We did a lot of that. And you know, there’s a lot of lessons learned because there are some details hopefully should have slowed down a bit. But you know, when you’re new and you’re eager, and you’re a leader in a large organization with +40,000 people, you want to make your impact immediately and you know that your work can truly truly influence the lives of hundreds of 1000s of people across the country. So you know, I pushed my team and I also learned that sometimes let’s make certain that we were doing it right and effective as opposed to just fast.

Drew Neisser: So if you were to sort of go back, what are one or two lessons of things you know now that you wish you knew at the beginning of the process.

Johnny Smith, Jr: Yeah, I think one thing that I would definitely say about, you know, kind of I’ve already reflect back is making certain everyone on the team understands the role that they play in the brand. That it is not just designers, it’s not just our content writers, it’s not just—I mean that we’ve got project managers, we’ve got brand marketers, we’ve got a print services team, everyone has a major, major role in this. And not only make a certain understanding, but pausing a bit, and helping them understand how significant this refresh of the Encompass Health brand is.

And really taking that time to help people truly understand that. This is the first time in our company’s history that we truly refreshed our national brand and roll it out in national campaigns. And this is a large, large, publicly traded organization. So this was if I can take it back. And I’ve learned from it, and we’ve launched other campaigns since then, and I take those time to celebrate, I take those time to win, I take that time to ensure everyone fully understands the size and scope of what we’re doing, and specifically the role that they play. I mean, this is not done. I get that pleasure of sharing this with you today. But there were, you know, hundreds of people who made this possible.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, I mean, I think that’s the thing that you know, Jamie, sort of in her definition is branded is how the people at the company behave. It’s not just the logo, it’s not the visualization, it’s not that final thing. And so yeah, it makes sense to me that that lesson, even within the marketing department, helping them understand because you’re right, every person has a role, then they sort of say, “Well, my role is this.” And helping them understand their contribution to the bigger part. Makes a lot of sense.

Okay. I’m going to talk about huddles for a second. So I’m going to give you a break and then I’ll bring you right back. It’s time for me to plug CMO Huddles, we 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 almost every day, everything about CMO Huddles is designed to be a force multiplier, helping you to make faster, better and more informed decisions. Where one inspiring hour a month delivers 10 hours a perspiration save. Since no CMO can outwork their job, CMO Huddles is here to help you outsmart it.

Okay, let’s bring Jamie and Johnny back. You’re both huddlers. Anything you want to share any updates from your perspective on huddle since you were on this show last?

Jamie Gier: Sure I’ll give a plug. CMO Huddles is a fantastic group to belong to. It truly is a community. And there’s a lot of value in talking to your peers, sharing ideas, problem solving together, getting recommendations even on talent. There’s a lot of chitchat on our channel around open positions, and then how to attract and retain. But it’s been a very great group to get close to the community feel and just having those that you can go to when you’ve got questions.

Drew Neisser: Awesome. Thank you. Johnny, anything?

Johnny Smith, Jr: I will say this, it’s that resource of peers that you continuously lean on. I know I’ve been a significant beneficiary of CMO Huddles. I’ve sent out request and my peers have responded within hours saying, “Hey, this is who we us.” Or, “This is an opportunity that maybe you should look at.” Or, “This is a service that you might do.” And I feel obligated to do the same. So it is truly a peer group that we continue to kind of lean on each other because we’re going through the same challenges and we’re all trying to, you know, accomplish the same objectives or whatever it might be depending on the industry, but it is a truly a sharing and caring group.

Drew Neisser: Love it. Okay, for anybody watching this show later on, you know, feel free to check out We just added a nifty little explainer video.

Okay. So over the course of it, we’ve established what brand is, we’ve talked a little bit about the process of developing it. One of the things that I think is really interesting, and also tricky is the whole metrics of measurement and how we sort of get at this and why that is so important.

So Jamie, when you think about brand and measuring brand, what kinds of things do you have in place when you are at Ceros, or some of the other companies that you’ve worked at. How do you measure and track changes in brand?

Jamie Gier: This is really important when I was at Ceros and even at Dreambox actually use the same brand strategist to do a baseline brand strategy research project to really understand sentiments and attitudes towards the brand. Yes, we were tracking things like aided and unaided recall, but it was all also really about understanding what are the attributes that buyers evaluate your brands and consider your brands against the alternatives. So you have to really understand what those brand attributes are and simply ask the marketplace. In addition to that is understanding the market forces that might work against your brand like pricing, for example. And when you take into consideration those unique attributes or reasons to purchase versus the market forces that might turn somebody off from your brand, you can start looking at where you rank against your competitors and establish the baseline for going back out a year from the time of the report to then see if there’s been any traction. But what’s happening during that window of time is you’re having to make some material changes to your brand.

Drew Neisser: And before we leave you and get Johnny’s perspective on this because we’ve talked about this a little bit in huddles, and a couple of other CMOs have mentioned this notion of a predictive model. You’ve got to be working with a very sophisticated research firm to get that kind of thing. This is not something where you could just field a research study where, you know, you go out and talk to x 1000 customers or prospects and sort of baseline it. You need a model, right?

Jamie Gier: Now, this isn’t just about positioning, this could be addressing things like your pricing strategy, it could be a new feature that you need to roll out. So there’s a lot of decision points to be made in how you take action on that. The studies that I’ve been involved in, Drew, have been able to predict purchasing behavior based on changes you might make against those market forces or really elevating the attributes or the reasons that people purchase. This gets back to our original conversation on how do you make brand relevant to your CEO, CFO so that they get its link to market share and revenue. And I think you have to put the time and investment in doing that research up front and have that baseline dashboard that you can then go back and track and measure over time.

You need a model. And those models actually exist. So yeah, there’s an algorithm behind how you predict that market share. And you involve statisticians and others who really understand data modeling and insights. But it doesn’t require going to big agency. In fact, I’ve used small teams of people to do that work, they just happen to understand the algorithm, the models and how to derive the insights from that. It does require understanding who you need to screen to participate in the data input mechanism. For sure your buyer, your marketplace. But it doesn’t require, you know, relying on a big team of people, you just need the right smart people who understand those things.

Drew Neisser: As always the right smart people. All right. So Johnny, in terms of measurement of brand and tracking, what do you want to add to this conversation?

Johnny Smith, Jr: Yeah, definitely. I think comments were definitely well stated there. I mean, from our perspective, we really prioritize the caregiver audience, because those are the individuals that are becoming more and more influential in their health care decision for post acute care, which is the business that we’re in. We really defined it and I tried to really simplify this from a standpoint of brand marketing and performance marketing.

On the brand marketing side, we just looked at awareness and preference, and it goes back to the previous comments, I had to be able to articulate something that our senior leaders would easily understand. What I didn’t want to do is geek out on a bunch of different measures and metrics and things that us marketers know and only us know with a lot of buzzwords and just truly confused everyone. So really getting more discipline in those respective areas. We looked at a lot of things from, you know, not only going back to all the research we did up front, but then going back and we even did some qualitative work to see how people perform. We have different agency partners in place that we work with as well in our see. So there’s a really, really extensive model that we use. We have a dedicated customer and mom within marketing services. And the young lady in our team Deidre Kyzer leads this work and she’s fantastic and uses so many different tools and techniques and research to make certain that we’re truly capturing the essence of how our brand is performing. And the great thing is, is that we really started with no baseline. There was nothing there to start from because we had never really measured the effectiveness of the brand, let alone launched a campaign. So everything we were sharing is progressing in that positive trend line. So now in 2022, we’re starting to slowly compare it to 2021’s campaign. And things are definitely looking in the right direction. But again, really introducing this great brand that many people were aware of from a consumer standpoint, and helping them understand the level of care that we deliver and how our outcomes get their loved ones back to independence.

Drew Neisser: Got it. Okay, a couple of things that I heard. And I put my small business hat on for a second. I met a startup CMO and I might be thinking, what Jamie described sounds pretty sophisticated what Johnny described—but I also just want to say self servingly in my book, there’s a whole chapter on how to do this cheaply. Because you can. As Johnny and Jamie said you need a smart person or two, who know how to look at the data. But I think the key point here is if you don’t have a baseline, and you’re going on at Brand exercise, you’re making a huge mistake. You’ve got to have baseline metrics. And you can try to create surrogates for awareness. And one of the things that we often do is we’ll sneak in awareness questions in research studies. Because let’s say you’re going to do a research study for marketing purposes, you can ask some aided and unaided awareness, and you can ask sort of preference questions, and just sort of sneak those in under another guy’s. Because one of the challenges— and some of the listeners might say is, “I can’t have a discussion with brand with a CEO or CFO right now, they think it’s fluffy. So how do I get them to do brand tracking? Because they don’t believe in brand to begin with.” So sometimes you have to be a little stealthy here.

But I know, Jamie, you wanted to sort of do this on the cheap, what’s the cheapest way to do baseline study on brand awareness?

Jamie Gier: My philosophy is, even a little bit of data is better than no data. And there’s ways that you can do this if you don’t have and, by the way, most of the studies that I’ve conducted have been with midsize companies. So it’s not as though we went out and contracted with an agency and dropped to half a million dollars. You can do this well below that amount. But you can use that research to feed other data points that you might need about other aspects of your company. But if you can prove that it’s going to have a material difference, that data on, say, product roadmap or service offerings that you might want to launch or activate, you can start seeing the value of that from a holistic business perspective. But if you don’t have the budget to conduct something, just reach out to your own customers. I mean, just begin there. If you don’t have a customer advisory board or user group—well, number one, you should. That doesn’t require a lot of money. But that’s a great way to not only get some of that initial data for bench line, but for online tracking, and measuring over time. You’re gonna want to do that and it’s a very inexpensive way. But I start with the premise that even just a little bit of data that you can evaluate and look at is better than none.

And then the other point I just wanted to make real quickly before I lose my thought on this is that coming back to the topic of a brand refresh, you need to really understand why you’re doing the refresh to begin with. Which is why the research aspect is very important. And really understanding the purpose behind it. If it’s because you’re just simply bored with your own brand, that’s not a good reason to do it, you need to understand the reasoning behind and then involve your customers on that.

Drew Neisser: Which is a great tip. And it’s perfect as we’re running out of time. So Johnny, one other tip as you’re sort of orchestrating a successful brand relaunch or refresh one tip for our audience.

Johnny Smith, Jr: Don’t lose sight of your most influential key stakeholders in the brand and that is your own employees. We have 40,000 employees here, yes, we reach hundreds of 1000s of patients every year in 40+ states. But their most invested individuals, your true ambassadors, advocates, whatever way you want to describe them, are your own employees, make sure you’re engaging them, make sure they fully understand and make certain that they’re truly advocating for you and you’re giving them the necessary resources to do so.

Drew Neisser: God, I couldn’t agree with you more. To me, that’s the first target in all of those programs. All right. Well, Johnny and Jamie, thank you for joining us. Thank you, Pamela Herrmann earlier for joining us. You’re all good 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.