October 7, 2021

How to Serve Your B2B Customers When They Need You

Of the B2B brands that became essential post-COVID, ABM Industries sweeps up. Literally. No, this isn’t a show about Account-Based Marketing per se; it’s about a facility services company that stepped up during a time of need to ensure that employees, customers, and customers’ customers were safe.

Tune in to this fascinating interview with ABM CMO Cary Bainbridge, where she shares how the company relied on the experts and adapted in real-time to help customers through a time of need. This is a lesson in pivoting under pressure, with great insights for marketers into co-branding, developing essential services, and more.

What You’ll Learn in This Episode

  • How ABM stepped up during the pandemic
  • How ABM launched and marketed a new service offering
  • The value of B2B co-branding

Renegade Marketers Unite, Episode 261 on YouTube

Resources Mentioned

Time-Stamped Highlights

  • [0:00] Cold Open: Get the First Chapter of Renegade Marketing
  • [1:04] How ABM Industries Stepped Up During COVID
  • [8:42] Ensuring ABM Employee Safety During COVID
  • [13:49] Launching and Marketing ABM’s New “Enhanced Clean” Service
  • [19:26] How ABM’s Marketing Approach Evolved
  • [25:22] On the Value of Creating Newsworthy Content
  • [31:15] Analyzing ABM’s Marketing Metrics
  • [37:00] Lessons Learned: Wielding the Power of Digital

Transcript Highlights: Drew Neisser in conversation with Cary Bainbridge

[0:00] Cold Open: Get the First Chapter of Renegade Marketing

Drew Neisser: Hey, it’s Drew. You may know that I have a new book out called Renegade Marketing: 12 Steps to Building Unbeatable B2B Brands that’s now available on Amazon in paperback, eBook, or audio.

Crammed with wonderful stories and game-changing insights I’ve gleaned as both an interviewer and practitioner, I can’t wait for you to check it out. In fact, for listeners of this show, I’d be happy to share an entire chapter for free. Just email drew@renegade.com and we’ll give you Chapter One: Clear Away the Clutter and our 12-step Cheat Sheet. Okay, let’s get on with the episode.

[1:04] How ABM Industries Stepped Up During COVID

“It was about disinfection of the spaces and making sure people were certified and trained to be able to do it properly.” —@cbainbridge @ABM_Industries Click To Tweet

Drew Neisser: Hello, Renegade Marketers! On past episodes, I’ve highlighted how the pandemic separated businesses into two categories: essential and everyone else. If your business is deemed essential by your customers, then most likely business has been good or very good. If your business isn’t deemed essential, then you’ve had the pleasure of meeting the CF-No, I mean, CFO who says, “Not now. We’re fine with what we have.”

One business category that you probably don’t think a lot about but was at the tip of the spear when it comes to pandemic fighting is the cleaning industry. Now I don’t want to say they cleaned up, but in fact, the demand for industrial-strength cleaning of offices, hotels, shopping centers, and transportation hubs like airports has never been greater. And one brand that has been at the center of this is ABM Industries.

Founded in 1909, this Fortune 500 company employs 140,000 people in over 20 countries. That’s a lot of cleaners and cleaning jobs, jobs that got a whole lot more complicated with a pandemic. To learn what happened on the front lines and how ABM upped its game during the pandemic, today’s guest is Cary Bainbridge. Cary joined ABM 18 years ago and became CMO in 2017. Hello, Cary, welcome to the show.

Cary Bainbridge: Thank you for having me.

Drew Neisser: So first off, where are you?

Cary Bainbridge: I’m in Atlanta, Georgia.

Drew Neisser: And that’s where the company is headquartered?

Cary Bainbridge: Actually, ABM’s headquartered in downtown Manhattan.

Drew Neisser: Oh, you would think I knew that since I’m here from my home studio in New York City. Anyway, let’s go back to 2020, when it first became clear that the pandemic was really going to change things for ABM and your customers. Do you remember the moment?

Cary Bainbridge: Oh, I remember the moment. I was in New York. I remember the moment when we realized this was getting serious and we needed to respond quickly.

Drew Neisser: Talk a little bit about—what were some of the things that happened in those early days for you? Because I’m imagining, for so many companies, it was a moment of… how is this going to happen? I mean, we’re sending our employees home. But what else? How long is this going to be? There was this immediate pullback by so many CFOs, CMOs, CEOs, but what did you all do? And how did that go in the early days?

Cary Bainbridge: Right away, we put together a cross-functional operational response team, and we knew that our customers were going to be looking to us for guidance. Leveraging the web was one of our immediate steps in terms of creating a COVID Response Center. So, what to do, what the guidance was, and how we were going to be able to help respond quickly to the immediate guidance that the CDC was putting out.

Drew Neisser: Right. I know that lots of companies put things on their web pages about COVID guidance. I remember that old period where, you know, it became the primary banner for so many companies. But in your case, this was really the business.

Cary Bainbridge: This is what we do, right? You said 112-year-old company. Cleaning is what we do. And clients—traditionally cleaning has been a very budget-sensitive operational expense. This really became for our clients, “Now, what do we do? What do we do in terms of protocols, supplies? How do we think about what we need to change to keep people healthy and safe and feel like they can go back and enter not just their office, but get on a train, go to the airport?” What to do next?

Drew Neisser: Yeah, I mean, the way this touches our lives in so many different [ways] is phenomenal. The evolution of the thinking about what it means—I was just reading an article in the New York Times today, how various studies have shown that dividers, like plastic dividers at grocery stores or even in classrooms are problematic because they might trap these germs if you will.

And I thought, “Oh my, well, that was state of the art a year ago.” That also has to have added a lot of complexity to what you all have gone through, that the guidelines have changed so much too, right?

Cary Bainbridge: It changes every week, Drew. And I think one of the unique challenges too is, so much is changing state to state, so a lot of the challenge in all of this is tracking the guidance that’s also being given on the state level. This became not only a story of adapting, but also trying to play offense while the rules continually change on you.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, the complexity of the challenge, both in just the notion of cleaning and then of course, you have this thing of, “We want to market the business of cleaning and we don’t want to be ambulance chasers and feel like this.”

But this was a moment for you all too, right? Because suddenly what you do when from, as you said, a cost that was budgeted and really all about price to: “Whoa, this is something that we really need to have front and center as a policy for our employees, for the way we do business.”

Cary Bainbridge: Right. Like I said before, cleaning isn’t new to us. And our purpose, to take care of people, spaces, and places that matter to us, had been elevated in a way that never mattered more. Traditional cleaning methods weren’t going to work anymore. It was about disinfection of the spaces and making sure people were certified and trained to be able to do it properly. And essentially bringing what we do in healthcare to commercial spaces.

Drew Neisser: Right. And I guess that would be an interesting thing. So, in many ways, your product, if you will, or your service had to change and had to change really, really fast. And you had to do it in a way that was, I guess, both whatever the guidelines were, but also that you’d need to certify. You really transformed the company in some ways.

Cary Bainbridge: Really elevating the role of our cleaning teams and elevating the role that they play every day. Leveraging our experts, because so many products were hitting the market, our clients were not sure how to make sense of it all. It not only elevated what we did on the ground, but it also elevated the conversations that we were having on how to ultimately reduce risk and control infections in any space. It wasn’t just how we went to market with the product with this product offering, but it was also how we empowered our sales and operations teams to be able to guide the conversation with our existing clients.

[8:42] Ensuring ABM Employee Safety During COVID

“Our brand, they're in an ABM uniform, they represent our brand every day.” —@cbainbridge @ABM_Industries Click To Tweet

Drew Neisser: One of the things that, as you were talking it, it also occurred to me that your thousands and thousands of employees were still at the office and still working and still exposed. I’m curious, that must have been another big, big challenge. They’re still going to work. They’re still riding the subway. Even though people weren’t at the offices—this is an interesting question—offices still need to be cleaned at least some level, right?

Cary Bainbridge: That’s right. Either you have to shut down the space altogether, but if there is a potential that even one or two people walked into the space, it still has to be disinfected and cleaned.

Drew Neisser: Right. How did that impact your internal comms in the sense that you’re saying, “Hey, folks, what you do is really important. You got to keep going to the office even though everybody else is staying home?”

Cary Bainbridge: That’s right, like that’s what we do. Our business is at our clients’ sites. And our number one priority is keeping our team members safe. The internal operations response team that we put together was, number one, focused on what’s the guidance we’re going to give our employees.

For example: What are the masks that we’re going to provide them? What are the safety protocols that they need to be following to keep themselves safe so then they can keep our clients and their customers safe?

Drew Neisser: Those must have been some really hard… There must have been some attrition. There must have been some challenges that went with that because it’s just: “Wait, I’m doing what?”

Suddenly, what was a pretty job where you weren’t really exposed to the public, you weren’t really exposed in any way—and not necessarily, there was no glamour to the job, but it was important. Now suddenly, the nature of the role changed for them. I know I’m getting lost in this area, but it’s important because today, a lot of those people aren’t going back to work. I mean, just in general, that type of worker isn’t going back to work. I’m just wondering how you handled it last year impacted your retention rates this year?

Cary Bainbridge: Well, I think we’re all experiencing incredible challenges in the labor market right now, whether it’s in the facilities industry or the restaurant industry. I think that’s apparent. And that’s continuing to be the case.

You know, it’s really about working closely—and we set up a pod structure to work really closely with our operators so we could get the communication cascade out to those frontline team members on what the safety protocols were, making sure that they had a two-way where they could also submit their questions or concerns, so we could be agile in the guidance that we were giving them. So, they did feel comfortable reporting to work every day.

Drew Neisser: I mean, I think it’s one of those interesting things. I always emphasize the importance of employees from a marketing standpoint for any number of reasons, but here is a case where there’s this give and take that’s happening. And I’m wondering, as you’ve gotten through it, those employees that stayed with you probably in some sense feel closer to the company than they ever did.

Cary Bainbridge: Yeah, no, I agree. Our brand, they’re in an ABM uniform, they represent our brand every day. But really, it was a close partnership with our clients too because they’re going to their client buildings, not to an ABM office. So there is that affinity now, I think, where they felt supported and it wasn’t just always reporting to the client, but it was really the client and the employee leaning on ABM during this time, more than they ever had before.

Show Break: On CMO Huddles

If you don’t mind, I’d like to plug CMO Huddles for a second. Launched in 2020, CMO huddles is an invitation-only subscription service that brings together an elite community of CMOs to share, care, and dare each other to greatness.

One CMO described huddles as timely conversations with smart peers in a trusted environment, while another called it a cross between an expert workshop and a therapy session. If you’re a B2B CMO that can share and care with the best of them, visit http://cmohuddles.com/ or send me an email to see if you qualify for a guest pass.

[13:49] Launching and Marketing ABM’s New “Enhanced Clean” Service

“Our entire marketing strategy was fueled by the message of this idea of safety you can see.” —@cbainbridge @ABM_Industries Click To Tweet

Drew Neisser: We were starting to get at the fact that you essentially created a new product and service to address. It’s now supersized, industrial-strength cleaning that buildings can put forward: “Hey, we got this. You can come on back and feel safe.” So, talk a little bit about the new product.

Cary Bainbridge: Well, the enhanced clean offering was really a prescriptive three-step approach that could deliver healthy spaces using a certified disinfection process backed by experts. What was unique about it is we developed an expert Advisory Council made up of industrial hygienists and epidemiologists helping guide the development of our program.

Drew Neisser: It’s interesting. It’s like the ADA for toothpaste. It’s like you’re the ones who certify dentists, right? And so, you needed to create your own because it probably didn’t exist.

Cary Bainbridge: No, it did not exist. And we wanted to bring the experts in, lean on them because there were not only so many conflicting messages out there on guidance that we’re changing constantly, but also products hitting the market that were just overwhelming for our clients and for us to make sense.

So, we leaned on our experts, and then really looked at that to create certified processes and then training that we could roll out across our—gosh, we’ve trained now and certified over 3,000 enhanced clean facilitators and disinfection specialists that then we could put into our client sites to then train others on how to use hospital-grade disinfectant and specialized equipment like electrostatic sprayers for those hard-to-reach areas quickly. That was really the basis, and before we got into some of the evidence-based testing that we could then do later on that really validated that the disinfection was working.

Drew Neisser: Did you see this as a premium offering that you would bring to the market? Or was this something that would, “Hey customers, this is the new way we’re doing business”?

Cary Bainbridge: No. I mean, it was more premium in the sense that disinfectants cost more money, right? Disinfectants cost more money. We were investing in the expertise and the training and the development of the program, so there were a lot of intangible investments there on the back end.

Then also, as a company of our size, we had to look at the demand for not just staffing but for supplies. Everybody remembers when you couldn’t find toilet paper early on, right? And you couldn’t find disinfectant wipes. Well, ABM, given our size and our footprint, we had access to resources, and we had the ability to prepare and pre-buy a lot of those things so that we could take care of our client needs.

Drew Neisser: Right. Yeah. All of this stuff is so interconnected. Now I’m wondering a little bit about… So, there’s a famous—way back when, when Tylenol had a terrible situation where somebody had poisoned their pills, and they took all the product off the market. They went back with what they call triple sealed. It was triple protected.

And part of it was, they didn’t need it, but they had to change perceptions and they had to do it in a way that really, like, “Oh, it’s triple-sealed, therefore it is safe.” And I’m wondering somewhere in this, for building owners in particular, there is a perception of clean and a reality of clean.

I mean, the reality of this—my understanding is, airflow is probably the single biggest issue in inside buildings, right? If the airflow is good, if there’s a certain amount of fresh air, if the flow is going through, the space is going to be a lot cleaner. Safer is a better term than clean. So how much of what you’re doing is about giving the buildings and your customers the perception of triple-sealed?

Cary Bainbridge: Absolutely optics and perception is an important part of this, right? Our facility managers, our property managers, they want to have that visual assurance in the spaces that the disinfection of high touchpoint areas is happening. They want people to see that. Whether it’s the visibility of our day staff, right?

Think about cleaners used to clean at night. We’re increasing staff during the day in a uniform. They want that visible. They want that front and center. They want the signage front and center.

But then there’s a key part of enhanced clean that’s unseen. And that’s those certified processes and the training and the staffing and supplies; and ultimately, the testing that the disinfection is working. Our entire marketing strategy was fueled by the message of this idea of safety you can see.

[19:26] How ABM’s Marketing Approach Evolved

“We chose channel partners and platforms that were proven to drive efficient consideration and conversion for this digital effort.” —@cbainbridge @ABM_Industries Click To Tweet

Drew Neisser: Yeah, that’s such a good… “Safety you can see.” That, I think, really that does sum it up. And suddenly, of course, you used to be the unseen brand. Now you’re the seen brand. Let’s talk about how that has evolved your overall approach to marketing and when did you launch this enhanced clean and how did you do it.

Cary Bainbridge: We did it in three waves. Obviously, the first two waves were really starting because we didn’t know where the pandemic was going to go. It was starting with our top 100 clients, and then our next 200 clients, because we needed to make sure we had the supplies that we could take care of—with the staffing that we had—to take care of our existing customers.

So, it started there with the sales enablement materials to be able to guide our sales and operators through those conversations, and really positioned ABM as the trusted expert.

And then the third wave was really going big, going broad, and leveraging all owned, paid, and earned media, all tactics and channels, to really take our message broad to all clients, all prospects, and really amplify that.

Drew Neisser: Let’s focus on the third wave. When did that launch?

Cary Bainbridge: Last August. August 1st.

Drew Neisser: Talk about the story that you were telling and how did you tell that in the biggest way.

Cary Bainbridge: One, it was about building brand awareness and credibility for who we are as a company. And then two, really introducing the value of enhanced clean and the service offering in itself.

Drew Neisser: That’s a lot to do.

Cary Bainbridge: That is a lot to do.

Drew Neisser: ABM was not a brand that I had heard of before. And of course, among marketing worlds, you have that whole confusion about what ABM is as a tactic in marketing. So, you’ve got to build awareness, you’ve got to build credibility, and then you’ve got to tell them, “Hey, we have this new product.” This must have been a bigger campaign then you’ve probably done in your career.

Cary Bainbridge: Oh, Drew. I mean, the speed and the scale. One, the speed. The speed at which we were moving in a very unstable environment in general that we were all in, not knowing where this was going to go… We used our internal marketing team for the bulk of waves one and two.

We knew in terms of the speed and the scale that we wanted to move into with the broader launch, we had to engage our outside partners to help us do that. And it wasn’t just about the competition that might have been out there, but it was really building that customer confidence. We chose channel partners and platforms that were proven to drive efficient consideration and conversion for this digital effort.

Drew Neisser: Let’s talk about your channel partners. Give me an example of one or two of those and what you did with them.

Cary Bainbridge: So, our channel mix was heavily focused on very targeted display advertising and publisher partners like The Wall Street Journal specifically and several of the industry trades.

Drew Neisser: And what did you do with the journal?

Cary Bainbridge: We did some co-branding with The Wall Street Journal to really give us that broad awareness and credibility with, like I said, with relevant industry penetration, so that we could strike a good balance giving a halo effect of exposures.

Drew Neisser: When you say co-branding, give me a specific what does that look like, what were some of the components of it.

Cary Bainbridge: Sure, yeah. Co-branding on all of their digital assets and feeding a lot of our content through The Wall Street Journal that they displayed through their web channels.

Drew Neisser: Okay, so I go to wsj.com, I’ll see something like an advertorial headline that’ll say, “Advanced cleaning…”

Cary Bainbridge: That’s right. In the real estate section.

Drew Neisser: In the real estate section. Okay. It’s targeted to building owners and owners of offices as well, because it’s not just the building owners that do the cleaning services.

Cary Bainbridge: That’s right. And in some cases, we were right on the main page, really, really trying to get at that halo effect of exposure, like I said, to not just even the investor community, but the C-Suite and business decision-makers.

Drew Neisser: You were using—was this primarily video? What’s the story that you were telling? And was there a summary of that story like a tagline?

Cary Bainbridge: Yeah, it really, again, centered around this idea of safety you can see and what offerings like enhanced clean were going to be able to enable America to get back to work. That came in the form of an article, a bylined article, or one of our enhanced clean videos. We used a mix of both.

[25:22] On the Value of Creating Newsworthy Content

“Our enhanced clean video that we launched with had over 5 million views right out of the gate when the highest views we had ever gotten before was 18,000!”—@cbainbridge @ABM_Industries Click To Tweet

Drew Neisser: And just out of curiosity—and we’ll get to metrics in a second—but what aspect of this part of the marketing, like partnering with The Wall Street Journal was sort of surprising? And how would you describe it worked?

Cary Bainbridge: I would say just the exposures that we got from The Wall Street Journal in such a short period of time was exciting for us because we hadn’t done anything at that scale. So just in like, an eight-week period, 75 million impressions was something that we had never seen before. Another data point for you is, even our enhanced clean video that we launched with had over 5 million views right out of the gate when the highest views we had ever gotten before was 18,000!

Drew Neisser: Yeah, that’s sort of a different magnitude, isn’t it? When you suddenly get into the big, big media world. I would have thought—and before we take a break on this—I would think that if ever there was a message for the moment, where this isn’t about selling, this is about information that people really need right now because they have a real urgent problem… I’m going to use the word opportunistic, but it was like this is your moment!

Cary Bainbridge: This was our moment, and it was: What is enhanced clean? How does it work? Why do you need it? How is this going to help you to reopening or ramping back up? And heck, in some cases, we had facilities that never shut down. When you think about manufacturing and distribution, in those cases, how was it going to help them stay open? Keep their production running to be able to get those test kits out into the local market

Drew Neisser: You’ve mentioned enhanced clean, and I just want to make sure… Do you consider this a sub-brand? Is it ABM enhanced clean? I’m just curious, from a brand architecture standpoint, how does that fit into the business?

Cary Bainbridge: Yeah, so it does fit in our brand architecture. ABM being our master brand, we provide services as a single offering, but enhanced clean is part of one of our solution sets. So, various solution sets that are branded where they might either be an enhanced version of what we might traditionally offer or a bundled offering of multiple services.

Drew Neisser: Okay. Right. I’m already a customer… enhanced clean is an upgrade.

Cary Bainbridge: That’s right.

Drew Neisser: Okay. I’m a new customer… enhanced clean is the reason that I want to talk to you.

Cary Bainbridge: That’s right.

Drew Neisser: Okay. And I think that this is—as we’re thinking about it, and I know this is very specific to your industry, but I’m going to pull it back for a second for the marketers listening. Here’s the most important thing that I’m getting out of this so far.

One is: Brands need news no matter what. Now, it happened that this news was right for the moment. And ideally, you always have news that is right for the moment based on a need that your customers obviously have. But for you to get ahead of the market, you needed to literally rename, repackage, redefine what it is that you did, in order to solve a major problem for the customers, which is: My people are not comfortable coming back to the office.

And again, I’m going to pull it back and say, as you look at your marketplace, Mr. Marketer and Ms. Marketer or Person of Interest listening to this podcast, what news could you bring to the table? How could you find a third-party or create an authority that could define the problem and the challenge and the solution in a way that your customers go, “Yeah, I hadn’t thought of it that way. That makes a lot of sense. Thank you for bringing authority to this. We need to talk.”

Because what you also did was, it was an urgent moment, and you responded with an urgent need. All right, I’ve put a lot of words in your mouth. We’re going to take a break. And when we come back, we’re going to keep going on this and how all of this applies to the rest of the world. We’ll be right back.

Show Break: B2B Market Research: Partner with Renegade

Have you thought about doing some market research but didn’t have the manpower or expertise on your team to make sure your research was methodologically valid, insight-rich, and newsworthy? Research that can be a tentpole for an entire quarters’ worth of marketing activities? Research that your BDRs and SDRs can use to help move a lead into a genuine opportunity?

It’s a lot to ask for market research, which is why more and more B2B marketers are coming to Renegade for help in this area. Renegade will help you craft the questionnaire, field the research, analyze the results, and even write up and design the report if your in-house team is too busy. If you’re a B2B CMO, even thinking about market research, do yourself a favor, visit renegade.com, and set up a time for us to chat.

[31:15] Analyzing ABM’s Marketing Metrics

“In the first half of this year, we saw a 50 percent increase in just leads coming in.” —@cbainbridge @ABM_Industries Click To Tweet

Drew Neisser: We talked a little bit about The Wall Street Journal and the video and so forth and the views. How has this translated into business metrics?

Cary Bainbridge: Yeah, you know what’s really exciting? Because we had this massive shift from in-person events to digital, we have those metrics now. Those in-person events have always been historically incredibly difficult to measure, so we learned through this process we were still able to sell and to create engagement through this hard shift to digital 100 percent.

Webinars was a big surprise for us during this journey where the engagement in webinars from not just existing clients but prospects was a really nice exciting surprise to see that we’re going to continue to do now on a much more regular basis in terms of that engagement that we were creating in that channel specifically.

Drew Neisser: Talk a little bit about how—I’m just imagining if you had 5 million video views and you had a huge number of impressions, that your pipeline of leads would be larger than it was before the pandemic. I’m just guessing here. And therefore, there’s all sorts of other challenges that come with it, which is qualifying them and so forth. How has this rapid increase in awareness or at least exposure resulted in how you’ve had to change the way you the marketer or managing lead flow and other things?

Cary Bainbridge: It’s been significant. In the first half of this year, I mean, really year-over-year, we saw a 50 percent increase in just leads coming in. Now we’re looking at, how do we really start to tighten up the funnel for the leads that are going to be in the segments that we know we can deliver on? And really get our lead scoring mechanisms tightened up? Because it was great. Like you have all this lead flow and going, “Okay, now how do we prioritize that?”

Drew Neisser: Right. An irony is, like, “What we really need are more leads” and then “What we have is more leads, but we can’t score them and we can’t process them!” I’m imagining things like your marketing ops people or your investment in marketing technology, in order to help you with that to process all these leads, because there’s nothing worse than getting a bunch of leads and not being able to do anything with them.

Cary Bainbridge: That’s right. We’ve been really tightly—we’re really strongly aligned with our sales organization, number one. And that includes our inside sales team. It’s been ongoing conversations and really breaking it down by each of our businesses and looking at that lead flow, where are we in the qualification process, what do we need to recycle back into a nurture campaign if they’re not ready, and then really continuing at a local level with our regional sales leaders to shine a light on what activity is happening with these to make sure that we keep them moving through that funnel as quickly as possible?

Drew Neisser: And was there any point in time where these leads are coming so fast that we have to turn, throttle back the media bit?

Cary Bainbridge: We did. Like I said, we went out with the big awareness push and prospecting across search, YouTube, and a lot of email outreach. Then, really phase two of the campaign was throttling back in terms of prospecting. And then really zeroing in on retargeting for those that were engaging with us regularly.

Drew Neisser: Yeah, it’s a case of be careful what you wish for, right? “We want more awareness! Well, we got it. Wait, here it comes! Whoa, it’s an avalanche!” Again, I can just hear the listeners going, “Yeah, that is a tough problem here. How are you going to deal with all those leads?”

Yes, it’s an amazing situation to be in, in a very serious and challenging way. But you know it’s important. And I have to say, I’m really glad we got a chance to talk about this subject, because I do believe that businesses are going to have a competitive advantage that do bring back their people to work a certain period of time. The face-to-face collaboration that will happen, to human bonding that will happen, all of these things—and it’s going to happen in the office.

Your role in making the office safe, both on a proceed basis on a real basis is really, really important stuff. You should have more leads.

[37:00] Lessons Learned: Wielding the Power of Digital

“Digital can work for us in a typically traditional industry.” —@cbainbridge @ABM_Industries Click To Tweet

Drew Neisser: As we wrap up and you think about this—what do you think are the biggest lessons that you’ve learned from the last year and a half?

Cary Bainbridge: You know, I think the lessons I’ve learned, and probably one of the biggest ones is, digital can work for us in a typically traditional industry. We don’t have to be in person at events and put so much focus on that, especially in B2B. I know we’ve proven that digital can work. And through that process, we’ve also shown internally within our organization that it can work. There’s an internal education, and just knowing what additional opportunity we have and what channels are going to produce for us in the future for other product offerings.

Drew Neisser: Excellent. Yeah. It’s amazing. Every industry has been transformed. And certainly from a marketing standpoint, traditional industries that relied on events have all figured out that that virtual… Now I think you’re blessed in the sense that we’ve seen certainly in CMO Huddles that there’s a lot of webinar fatigue. In fact, we just had a huddle yesterday where we talked about what people are doing to combat it.

But I think the difference here is, you are still in a situation where your customers are still in a crisis mode. And as long as that exists, the demand for your webinars and your content and your information is not going to abate. Yeah, the challenge on your end is simply going to be to keep delivering in-the-moment best practices, right?

Cary Bainbridge: That’s right. And a challenge that we’re facing right now is that all companies—and you see it in the headlines—are continuing to kick the can on getting back to the office. We are all starving for that collaboration, and so really it becomes a segmentation exercise where, “Okay, if we’re not going to be back in the office, if we can’t continue to bear new fruit in commercial real estate, if we’re going to now look at maybe January as a return.”

But we know schools are going back, right? We’ve had to also look at it by industry and understand, in this moment, where is the biggest demand for our offering right now where maybe in other segments we need to pause for a minute. In all of this, the other new thing for us is we did our first TV commercial this year. We talked a lot about brand awareness and we learned also that in TV, there is a place for us in the facilities industry to really help bring light to companies like ABM out there making some really big moves with this wellness movement before us.

Drew Neisser: Love it. Yep. All right, well, Carrie, it’s really been a pleasure talking to you and going down this what has obviously been a transformative journey for you, your company, and the ripple effect that it has on all of our lives. So thank you again for joining us.

Cary Bainbridge: Thanks for having me. This is really exciting. Really appreciate it.

Drew Neisser: For the listeners, I hope you enjoyed this episode. If you did, do me a favor, go to your favorite podcast channel and give us a review. Five stars is always welcome. And of course, share the episode with a friend.

Show Credits

Renegade Marketers Unite is written and directed by Drew Neisser. Audio production is by Sam Beck. The show notes are written by Melissa Caffrey. The music is by the amazing Burns Twins and the intro voiceover is Linda Cornelius. To find the transcripts of all episodes, suggest future guests, or learn more about quite possibly the best B2B marketing agency in New York City, visit renegade.com. And until next time, keep those Renegade Thinking Caps on and strong.