Marc Kidd, CEO of Captivate, lost sleep thinking about the lost foot traffic in office buildings when the pandemic hit. After all, his company specializes in programming the video screens in elevators. But, this son of famed NCAA football coach, Roy Kidd (as in Roy Kidd Stadium), is not one to panic at fourth down. In our conversation for Epi 43 he shared how Captivate evolved its Digital Out of Home (DOOH) offerings to include home and play locations, with an upswing in results for sales and marketers alike.
“There was a high stakes game on a really bad weather day and I said, ‘Dad, it’s raining, the wind’s blowing. What decision are you going to make about the coin toss?’ He said, ‘You don’t worry about the things you can’t control.’ It has always reminded me that there are things in life you have no control over … like a pandemic.”
Marc is not a stranger to having to pivot. Hear what happened when his college plans to work alongside his dad got waylaid… and he briefly considered accounting for a career! Luckily, he found his footing in sports marketing…then broadcasting, giving him the foundation for a storied career that included helping create the NCAA corporate partner program and the Breeders Cup’s World Thoroughbred Championships, WAC corporate partner programs and iHigh.com.
Now at Captivate, he had some tough calls to make in the past two years for the greater good, but like all boats when the tide rises he ultimately helped the elevator advertising business stay the course through more innovation.
Listen and learn about:
How Captivate transfigured awkward social spaces!
The evolution of DOOH (Digital Out of Home) itself and its use in brand and awareness marketing
The guiding path to advertising effectiveness and strategizing content
QR codes and other ways of building real attribution
How COVID-19 disruption prompted forward-thinking repositioning
Captivate’s 2022 plans, including re-engineered programmatic platforms
Staying in the game by evolving through crisis
Why Marc can twirl a baton!…
Attribution Tactic Resources mentioned:
Social Media Links:
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Podcast pro Steve Pratt, VP and Co-Founder of the multi-award winning Pacific Content, told me his company no longer makes branded podcasts. They haven’t for a few years. They make “original podcasts with brands.” And win awards doing it for brands like Ford Motor Company, Rocket Mortgage, Morgan Stanley, Slack, and Red Hat.
The difference? These are no “thinly veiled infomercials. Instead, Pacific Content works together with their partners to “make a show that’s designed as something that only that brand can make; you give a gift — or create a significant amount of value — for the people that the brand wants to have relationships with.” And that, says Pratt, is how and why a brand makes a show that solves for their specific business problem, AND makes them into “media companies,” too.
But don’t forget about the marketing. Good content that isn’t salesy has to go hand in hand with good marketing that doesn’t just try to “interrupt.” So, excuse me (!), but marketers should listen to this informative conversation all about connecting the dots between business objectives and audience preferences via podcasting. Steve should know: his company of “50 passionate podcast nerds” is focused exclusively on original podcasts that promote brands with authenticity and without compromising quality.
Steve and I also discuss:
How Dell Technologies’ podcast, Trailblazers with Walter Isaacson, became a “masterclass” on disruption and innovation, and sold listeners on Dell without selling products (and you can hear Dell Global Marketer, Rachael Henke, talk about this in Epi 6 from 5/20!)
Creating a branded podcast strategy like a Venn Diagram between business goals and listener interests
How podcasts drive loyalty
Opportunities for “brands as media companies”
Branded podcasts vs. Advertising in another podcast: What’s the litmus test? (And when Steve suggests brands call Bart Roselli at VeritoneOne, per episode 41 on effective ad campaigns!)
Establishing marketing effectiveness in podcasting
Success measurement tactics and KPIs
And, since Pacific Content gives good content themselves, don’t miss Steve’s own musings on the future of podcasting, how he did on his 2021 predictions made in our friend James Cridland’s show…and what he’s projecting for 2022!
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A milestone! It’s Episode 40 of Insider Interviews! And for that, who better to interview than Cadillac’s Global Chief Marketing Officer, Melissa Grady Dias, who is, herself, marketing a milestone: the launch of what will be the first all electric line of luxury brand vehicles (EVs), starting with the Lyriq!
This episode was recorded in September, and since then the new Lyriq has sold out of pre-sale reservations. So how did it get so popular? Why is Cadillac “the maverick” of the GM brands, and how does its marketing deliver on its corporate parent’s promise to be the most inclusive company in the world?
For the past two years, Melissa Grady Dias has held the key. She is a marketer’s marketer, a master of math and of insight-driven creative. With a heart. That “brand and demand” combo (as I’ll write more about in The Continuum) is what’s helped infuse those corporate cause-oriented values into everything from gaming tie-ins to 6-second ads, to experiential marketing with Michelin-rated chefs. To hear Melissa be moved by the definition of equity and inclusion is to understand what “drives” (sorry) much of the brand messaging, but messaging that is always backed by data.
As she explains:
“I try to understand how and where my audience is consuming media, and how they’re entertaining themselves. Then I try to be in those places, but to do it in a different way, so that it really breaks through.”
While always in pursuit of an advertising career, (“I used to watch Who’s the Boss and I loved Angela and I wanted to be like her,” she confesses) Melissa almost took a wrong turn. But discovering Database, Direct, and e-Commerce studies in a Masters program led her to expertise in performance marketing and technology. Her passion for good creative added the rest of the fuel.
After discussing how she “followed her career north star to OnStar” we took some deep dives into how she is marketing the 125-year old brand, including:
- What it means to “show up differently” and how the Cadillac marketing team approaches the funnel differently, too (hint: upside down!)
- With GM looking to go all EV and towards a 0, 0, 0 world (zero emissions, zero crashes, and zero congestion) how Cadillac, historically an innovator brand, is at the forefront of that effort:
- Just why Cadillac overall — from the Escalade to the XT6 — is like the maverick of GM brands, while still infused with corporate cause-oriented values.
“Cadillac is also a bit of a maverick and we’ve always stood for those people who really have big dreams and bold ambitions, but really they’re the change-makers.”
- Melissa’s reaction to CEO Mary Barra’s statement on making GM one of the most inclusive companies in the world, and how they’re doing that — on social, in a campaign or in how they’re spending money;
“Equity is treating everyone the same and fairly. So if there’s a dance everyone’s invited to the dance. Inclusion is being asked to dance.”
- Campaign development:
“When Regina King heard the brand manifesto, she could relate it to her story. And …it inspires me to be a better person, too. That’s how the “Never Stop Arriving” campaign was born: it’s about hitting a moment, celebrating yourself and then thinking ‘Now, how do I keep making the world better? How am I going to keep moving forward?’”
- How they identify prospects and find them, starting with addressable and digital then filling in as they go up the funnel, right to tentpole events like their Oscars™ or PGA sponsorships;
- Melissa’s perspective on audience demographics “I’m never saying, ‘where are the 25-54 year olds with a certain income’” and feelings about linear TV to podcasts…even their innovative use of gaming and AR and VR as part of the sales process;
(Note – Take a look at Cadillac Live for a unique view of how vehicles can be experienced in our showroom and supply-chain challenged times! And fun fact: More test drives happen on YouTube than in a car dealership! So hear how Cadillac Live deployed a takeover with a “first” on the video site!)
- Hear how data is handled and respected and leveraged;
- How experiential comes to life in unexpected ways, like finding inspiration in the Lyriq grill for food recipes!;
- How future CMOs can follow a similar path to success? Melissa shares a three-point plan of action which, of course, starts with follow your passion.
Finally, hear why my heart was pounding – as with most people who experience Super Cruise for the first time – but in my case just from watching their effective long-form celebrity videos about the hands-free driving option! Melissa has described this as the “let go” moment.
As voiced by Tiffany Haddish in the video, “Sometimes you gotta grab the wheel and sometimes you just have to let it go.” It’s trust that you’ll get where you need to be. Melissa, who makes it a point to meditate daily, thinks her personal mantra – ‘I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be’ – “ties into that idea pretty well.”
Easter Egg Moment: Insider Interviews aims to give you the “insider scoop” on media, marketing and advertising, along with the personal side of execs. And you’ll catch a very human moment around 20 minutes in…. But do enjoy all 40 minutes of this informative and jam packed conversation!
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When I met Pearl Servat three years ago, Visible was brand new in the world of wireless carriers, and Servat was generating content about it. Now she is fairly new in an elevated role as Head of Brand Marketing and Demand Gen for the disrupter division of Verizon Wireless, and gives good content herself in our conversation about driving customer connections.
Servat honed her PR chops in the entertainment and brand world under the mentorship of marketing heavy hitters like Pat Kingsley (PMK-BNC), but made the switch, as they say in the world of carriers, to helm “brand and demand” marketing. In Epi 39, she discusses both her own evolution, and that of Visible. Hear how she leverages partnerships with like-minded brand ambassadors and ensures the first all-digital wireless carrier in the US doesn’t forget its mission of kindness and transparency:
“I essentially sit at the intersection of where I’ve always loved to be. Between brand building and conversion and acquisition, driving and growth.”
Mission First, Marketing Next.
- Servat explains that Visible’s mission drove her to lead efforts to connect people during some of the scariest days of the pandemic.
- Hear how a simple email campaign that Visible sent asking how customers were holding up during the pandemic had unexpected impact.
- Staying true to its DNA, the brand launched the #VisibleActsofKindness campaign and garnered over 2 million organic interactions.
- Hear her perspective on the importance of both brand and demand marketing, as her title implies, AND experiential marketing — such as when they turned Los Angeles bus stops into mock living rooms, and even ski lifts settings giving customers a tactical connection with the all digital brand in lieu of physical retail locations.
“It’s beyond just retaining the consumer for us…We truly try to be as intentional as we can at every touch point with the brand. So, it doesn’t just start and stop with marketing.”
Partnerships that Matter
- Partnerships and brand ambassadorships help extend the reach of the brand.
- Servat emphasizes the importance of partnering with people who live by the same mission as the company.
- Potential partners have seen the work Visible is doing and reached out to the company, interested in collaboration—the mission drives these kinds of partnerships.
- Staying on trend? Servat credits her team, modestly saying she’s not “nearly as hip and cool as they are.”
- And on working with marquee names like Kevin Bacon and Dan Levy? Well…
“When it comes to talent partnerships, we do a significant amount of research…And we only work with talent who walk the walk when it comes to social impact, what they stand for on an ongoing basis, [and] how they connect with their own communities.”
To hear more on the early stage Visible marketing efforts, listen to Insider Interviews Epi 10 with then CMO Minjae Ormes.
Connect with Servat and Visible
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Not many people – or brands — love change as much as Joe Jackman. The CEO of Jackman Reinvents has been a valued advisor to major retailers like Staples and brands like Flow Water, to B2B companies and to private equity partners. In this episode hear how he uses insights about trends and human behavior to drive change – or reinvention – and why that’s essential for a brand today.
Jackman believes that moving from town to town as a kid with his retail exec dad emboldened him and taught him relationship skills. To the envy of any who have experienced “imposter complex,” Jackman has confidently embraced change professionally, moving from creative to CMO to CEO, admittedly making it up as he went along at many of the stops along the way. Learn what’s needed for companies to thrive, and the consequences for those that choose to emulate ostriches.
This 40-minute conversation is filled with insights – or, as Jackman calls them when working with clients, “nuggets you can actually hang a strategy off.”
I encourage a full listen, but here are some unmissable elements and Jackman Takeaways:
- Change has been coming fast and furious for many years, but the pandemic has compressed the need for speed to do things differently now; not just in people’s lives, but in the dynamics of the marketplace
Jackman Takeaway: “If you’re not changing and evolving, you’re stuck. That would probably be the best scenario. But the more common scenario is you’re moving backwards or, in business terms, you’re waning or dying.”
- Joe Jackman explained his personal path and how an appreciation of change took him from creative director to business owner after stints helping launch brands like Joe Fresh (no relation!).
Jackman Takeaway: “I said, why can’t I be a brand strategist? What do I need to know? Who do I need to learn from? And then, eventually, I just thought, ‘Why can’t I shape strategy at the very highest level?”
- That attitude led to becoming a “reinventionist” – and the definition thereof:
Jackman Takeaway: “It’s a word I made up, but basically the definition is to just be really good at making change happen and to great benefit. The world needs more people with the skills and in the mindset of making change.”
- Learn which immutable law of marketing he adopted from Al Ries and Jack Trout and built his agency on.
- Jackman’s concept of reinvention is tied to “invention,” and a brand’s transformation is intrinsically tied to its DNA.
- We need to collectively “reposition the entire idea of change in our minds as a positive force, and essential. It should be seen as creating the next best, most powerful and relevant version of you or your company.” (He literally wrote the book on this: “Reinventionist Mindset”with a set of five principles for change.)
- The status quo – especially when paired with success — is a killer. Business model life cycles, executives’ tenures, the length of brands’ relevance, are all compressing. So, since “the future arrives daily,” brands need to figure out step-by-step how to evolve and “get pro athlete good at it or you have it done to you.”
- Learn how Jackman helped Staples create trial stores that were hybrid workspace meets product sampling; and transformed Rexall, including being the first drugstore in Canada to start offering flu shots.
Jackman Takeaway on Retail: “In a world of choice, which is what the internet did to retail, retail was relatively slow to adapt…. There are exceptions, but retail generally sat and was lacking innovation… A lot of disruption was enabled by that sense of ‘oh, maybe one day we’ll evolve, but stores are the thing now…’. If retail leadership was prescient in reading what’s happening, Amazon wouldn’t exist. Casper wouldn’t exist. Netflix wouldn’t exist and there’d be a streaming service called Blockbuster.”
Big Jackman Takeaway: “There’s probably only one rule in all of this work in transformation: That you must deeply understand who your customers are and what they care about most. …beyond function, into the world of emotion. Most marketers focus on the means. Understand what the end is.”
- Jackman gives his definition of a brand and why adopting that helps drive trust.
Jackman Takeaway: “A brand equals purpose elevated to experience, delivered consistently. Most companies haven’t got that very well defined, and, and yet, if you look at the evidence, purpose led companies tend to outperform their peers.”
- Cohesive messaging and linkage between ideas and all advertising is essential to continue the brand message.
- It takes balance and a strong foundation to leverage both brand awareness and demand marketing (and he explains how it relates to dating!)
Jackman Takeaway: “Performance marketing today is important — because it’s data centric and it’s measurable and we can adjust it — …as long as it ladders up to a higher order of purpose. If there’s no red thread that links to that, that’s not good. You can’t build trust. …And today’s measure of success is if I truly have a relationship with the brand.”
- Trust, and being in a Values Economy is greatly affecting brands right now.
- Sustainability and similar values are amplified more now in our pandemic context and impact how consumers make purchase decisions…There’s a lot of de-selection going on today.”
- Jackman also explains the only two consumer choice tiebreakers
Jackman Takeaway: “I’ve helped well north of 50 companies, and along the way I noticed we’re wired as humans to behave in certain ways. One of the things we don’t love is change. … But I observed ways of thinking and doing that enabled success to come faster… I got them down to five. … For example, the first one is ‘seek insight everywhere’.”
- Learn to understand cultural currency and even reinvent the old marketing maxim of: ‘I need to pay attention to the customers that I do the most business with.’ (Hint: that’s fine, but you also “don’t want to be a brand or a business that’s like a great aunt: you know, fondly thought of, but never visited.” [That hit a little close to home for this host! Just sayin’.] So, learn to have relevant conversations with the up and coming set of customers [and with, note to self, the nieces and nephews.]
- Understand how DEI dovetails with cultural relevance and brand values… and what Jackman would change most about our world. (Note: Hat tip: Maryam Banikarim)
Finally, what brand would Jackman reinvent next?
“What do I want to reinvent? The next company that interests me or has lost its way. And there’s so much of that. How wonderful to spend a career on just figuring out the next act of whatever! And, since climate change is real, and we have to start to make a real difference, those are the kinds of opportunities I’m gravitating towards now. And I’m super excited to be at least part of the solution as best I can.”
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Today’s episode could be a lesson plan about B2B Marketing because my guest, Ruth Stevens, has been teaching business to business marketing at NYU, Columbia, and B-schools around the world. And that’s in between being one of the foremost consultants in the space. So, Stevens calls BS on certain approaches to B2B we all better sit up and listen. Hear about the “fails” AND the best practices for what makes customers sit up and listen, too!
Stevens went right from business school herself to TimeWarner’s Book of the Month division, “thinking that I was joining one of the great book marketing companies in the world. I learned I was actually in one of the great direct marketing companies in the world.” After seven years of getting schooled in DM she mastered B2B first at Ziff Davis then IBM, simultaneously writing columns as well as teaching others at night.
In one example of her “no BS advice” articles, which appear everywhere from Biznology.com to HBR.org, Stevens says, “Don’t Be a Jerk on LinkedIn”, and advises sellers everywhere not to jump to the pitch. (“Building relationships on social media is hard. People get lazy and go straight to being the seller, and skip the personal establishment part. They’re also just sorely tempted by how easy it is to just make a mass pitch using LinkedIn Sales Navigator.”)
And, heed Stevens when she notes:
Today the ability of the salesperson to guide a purchase in their direction, but also to understand more deeply the needs of the buyer, has been eroded. So the marketer needs to step in and provide the educational content. This has driven the huge rise of B2B content marketing to allow that researcher better understanding of how to solve a problem or how your solution can be helpful, and to guide them toward calling you.
Companies’ approach to client retention is also in need of schooling:
Another area where I see B2B companies failing, or sub-optimizing, is retention marketing and it just drives me crazy because this is where the bulk of profits arise. Most companies organize it to be the responsibility of someone called ‘account management’, which is an important function, but marketing is not being asked to support it.
Stevens feels for the challenges faced by marketers and sellers these days in getting to know or reach know the buyer and ever-expanding buying groups — especially in enterprise purchasing:
Marketers need to try to replicate that old relationship building aspect by identifying the members of the buying circle and either find out through outbound calling, for example, or social listening, or infer what their agendas are, because each member of the buying circle usually has a different agenda, different need. And then try to serve those needs on a one-to-one basis. And despite all of our wonderful MarTech and data, it’s really hard to do.
That’s also why events (especially virtual events) have taken on an even larger role — as a place researchers can get their questions answered. So, Stevens points out, we need to be even more active at business events than before, and to create our own opportunities, webinars and meetings to build those now more elusive business and sales relationships.
The trick there, as with everywhere, as you’ll hear in this episode, is how one shows up at those events or in that content. No pants on a Zoom aside, business presence still needs panache and empathy.
You’ll hear many tips and lessons from “Professor Stevens” in this episode, including:
How creative still needs to be about education, but in a context that captures attention and builds trust.
How and why we stumble when we try to apply traditional consumer creative strategies to B2B and risk sounding “tinny or irrelevant” — but why storytelling is still a “watchword” for B2B.
Why it’s wrong for the brand power to be measured by if it helps the salesperson get a meeting: “Asking marketers to base their entire value proposition to the firm on sales results unfairly puts the sales piece of the puzzle into the marketer’s metrics kit. If the marketers are handing good quality leads and generating interest and a perception of value in the marketplace, and the sales team can’t close the deal, then marketing shouldn’t be taking the hit for that… We need other metrics to help marketers understand what they’re delivering and help management.”
And, since Stevens also wrote the book on data-driven marketing (literally) she suggests looking at such metrics as cost per lead, or cost for qualified lead. While lead-to-sales conversion rate shouldn’t be marketing’s, “we need an awareness metric. Or maybe a trust metric, that can credit marketing with all of the earlier pre-lead stuff.”
Why the goal of B2B marketing is to communicate that “We are experts in the problem that you have, and you can trust us to help you solve the problem”, but needs to get that across without saying as much and still creating an emotional connection even though you’re buying for business purposes.”
Hey, her words, not mine, but: “this is why the B2B agency function exists in the world because they know what they’re doing and they can come up with messaging strategies that grab attention and deliver the message and in a way that makes sense to the business buyer.”
Finally, as I’m also Editor of The Continuum, a publication about brand and demand marketing, I had to ask if there’s a difference in awareness and performance marketing for B2B vs. B2C. The professorial answer?
“No, it’s the same concept: you need brand and demand for both B2B and B2C, but down on the ground, we’re talking about a very different buying process: B2B is more complicated. It’s longer. It involves more individuals, all of whom have to be engaged with and influenced… such as when it comes to raw materials, professional services, technology, and other business process oriented purchasing, which typically involve a large number of people. So the whole sales and marketing function needs to support that.”
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