CMO Insights: Ardarth Albee, CEO and Marketing Strategist, Marketing Interactions

June 7, 2018

This week’s guest on CMO Insights is Ardath Albee, CEO of Marketing Interactions.

In this video, Ardath talks about:

  • Texting – a new trend for her company in 2018 – and how it contributes to big data
  • The importance of personas in Account Based Marketing
  • Learning the language of the business

Learn more about Ardath from her LinkedIn profile and follow Marketing Interactions on Twitter.

For more great CMO interviews like this one, please check out our other CMO Insights Videos or our YouTube channel.

Full Transcript

Jeff Pedowitz:

Hi, welcome to Revenue Marketing Television, the CMO Insights Series. I am your host, Jeff Pedowitz, President and CEO of The Pedowitz Group. Today we have with us Ardath Albee, B2B strategist, author, speaker, extraordinare, and a good friend of mine. Ardath, welcome to the show.

Ardath Albee:

Thanks, Jeff. It’s great to be here.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Thank you. And it’s great seeing you again the other week. So while we’ve been through a lot over the hour over so many years said lots of trends, lots of changes. So for 2018, what’s, what’s the big thing.

Ardath Albee:

Well for 2018, one of the big things for me is figuring out how to use texting as a marketing channel, text messaging. So it’s one of my most exciting projects that I’m working on with a client, and I’m fascinated by how mobile everything’s becoming and how to actually use messaging in a way that is engaging and relevant for people. And they’re all saying they want, would rather speak to brands through text. So mostly I’m seeing B to C applications, which is new and different for me because, you know, I focus on B2B. So looking at the B2B possibilities and the different ways to incorporate text messaging as part of the relationship, so kind of fun, a different take people are a bit scared of it. So

Jeff Pedowitz:

That, I mean, it’s, it’s interesting because texting has been around for why the good 14, 15 years now certainly on the BBC side, it’s found some earlier adoption, but also whether it, what would be some examples, how would it be to be marketer use text as a channel?

Ardath Albee:

Well, all kinds of things. And I think it depends on where it’s natural in the relationship. So for, from a marketing perspective, perhaps it’s event registrations or sharing your podcast, so it’s accessible easily on the device. Somebody has at hand when they’re commuting or something like that, it could be sharing information that is mobile friendly, right? So embedding video different things like that for educational purposes could be, as you’re onboarding a customer sharing product, use usage tips could be loyalty programs or, you know, getting uptaken usage of the product could be, you know, all kinds of things with sales. It could be meeting scheduling, it could be sending followup information. There’s a lot of different applications. You kind of have to figure out how best to use it. It’s like the social media conundrum, you know, how do you best use it?

But then again, the phone is a personal device, you know, it’s really personal to a lot of people. So how do you offer them something that is so relevant that they would allow you to send it to them on their phone, you know, versus email, which everybody knows is pretty much a dumping ground most of the time. So, you know, it has to be something exclusive, special, relevant, timely, you know, those kinds of things, which is a challenge I love love, because it’s all about the right story, you know, the right relevant communication. So it’s, it’s an interesting concept. It’s interesting to watch how B to C companies are using it, everyone from universities to engage students, you know, and recruit new students and for admissions and that kind of thing, too. We have a car driving company using it to interact with their drivers because they’re in the car all the time. So they have their mobile phone, right. But not access to other things. So they use it for that.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Interesting. This is fascinating, really. So now it is fascinating with, with texting. So one of the first things that comes to mind, not its efficacy as a potential channel, but the data and the silos that could potentially create because market is already having enough channel trouble with the other channels. So what would you say to a marketing executive that would want to try this, but how do they incorporate it in with the rest of their mix?

Ardath Albee:

Well, just like Marquetto is marketing automation that syncs with the CRM, SMS messaging platforms think automation for messaging sync with the CRM and my client’s case, it’s a native application available on the app exchange. You can use it right within Salesforce as a CRM or Zoho or what have you. So every message sent and received is upended to the contact record. So you’ve got your, your full data, your 360 degree conversational history, and you can also mine that data for analytics. And it’s really interesting to look at, what’s possible with AI to look at intent data. For example, you can use key words with texting, right text home to get your welcome kit or whatever, right? So you have words that you can invite people to use to get information they want. You can also use it for surveying and then you, you know, save all of their answers. 

And so hopefully the intent really is to get to closer to that one to one personalization type effort which, you know, also has a play with marketing automation, right? As you track behavioral data and those kinds of things and SMS messaging platforms can also integrate with marketing automation like Marquetto. So you could blend messaging and email. We have a client that sends a text to tell people to look at their email box, right. Because they send them something in email that wasn’t really suitable to opening on a phone. And they have increased their response rates and engagement because people go, Oh, I should go look, whereas before it used to kind of get lost in there.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Hm. So switching gears that the conference we’re at a couple of weeks ago, I think great conference, but it seemed like every vendor was talking about account based marketing. So what’s your take on just the whole movement towards campus marketing, how it’s being adopted, you know, w whether some of the trends that you’re seeing related to that topic.

Ardath Albee:

Yeah. Well, I’m kind of, I have a kind of different take on it. So, you know, I’ve been developing personas and doing content marketing strategies like forever. So for me, what everybody’s calling account based marketing today, I feel like I’ve been doing with my clients for years. And so I think the biggest difference is actually calling your list of accounts and saying, we’re going to focus on these 50 accounts or what have you, and dialing it in even tighter, you know, but for our, me, with my clients, we’ve been marketing to the buying committee, you know, although not specifically account-based, but, you know, persona based and driven.

So I think it’s really interesting. I think a lot of companies are wrapping themselves around the axle with account based marketing, because they’re either trying to get so specific that they can’t reuse anything, you know, as they hone in on accounts or that they’re not getting specific enough. So it’s not really making any difference than what they were doing before that. Right. So I find it really interesting. I still think that B to B companies have got to get to know their audiences better. You know, I really, really think they do. And every time I do a persona project and they’re assuring me, they know their audiences, we find out they really don’t as we work through the research and talking to the actual customers and prospects and really learning about what they find important

Jeff Pedowitz:

Is that, is that one of the biggest mistakes you see marketing executives make,

Ardath Albee:

Oh, absolutely. I’ve got clients who say, well, you know, personas would be really nice. We’ll do them, but right now we need to get content out the door. So could you just write content and, you know, help us get our programs launched. And I’m kind of like, okay, who am I writing for? What do they care about? Right. What kind of stories should we tell? What’s the narrative that’s going to hook them, you know? Well, you know, they’re this kind of executive right. For them. And I’m like, okay, well, they care about, you know, and so it’s

Jeff Pedowitz:

Just, just get it out the way it doesn’t matter.

Ardath Albee:

Yeah. So they tend to put the cart before the horse. And I, I really think that’s the biggest failing because they all have great intentions. They all have good stories. They could tell if they just knew how to position them, to engage the people they need to engage. But, you know, I find repeatedly that when I at a company’s messaging, their blog posts or content, what have you, they’re off just enough. Then they miss the Mark because they just don’t know their audience as well enough. And so, you know, for example, I’m working with a client right now where they have, they’re trying to take over a market and they have invented some phrasing and some terminology it’s really quite good, but they haven’t explained it in a way that their prospects care about. And so they have to continue to explain it all the time because they haven’t made the point clear and simple.

So that’s just an example. And as we’re building personas for them, they’re going, Oh, well, we could shifted this way a little bit, you know, to engage better. And it’s kinda like, yeah. You know, and so they are also marketing into an industry that is unquestionably a laggard risk averse hates change. So, you know, by leaping ahead with this big new idea, you can frighten people, you know, so you need to understand how to do that in a way that engages and guides people forward rather than having them go, Oh my God. No. You know, so it’s really interesting, I think, and there’s a lot of nuance involved in this kind of stuff

Jeff Pedowitz:

There certainly is. So do you think it’s harder to be a marketing executive today than it was say five years ago?

Ardath Albee:

Oh, I do. Absolutely. You know, and I think what I’m seeing the sh there’s a couple of shifts and you guys have always been about revenue. Right? Well, I’m seeing a lot of marketers who are now responsible for a percentage of revenue quota that they have to prove they’ve contributed to within the pipe. I’m also seeing marketers having to step up and be the custodian or the overseer of customer experience, which ranges across marketing sales and service.

Right. For the whole customer life cycle, not something they’ve been used to doing. Right. You get that lead ready for sales. You hand it off and then go, okay, I’m done. Let’s go find more. No. Now we have to Mark it all the way through the entire cycle. Right. And that’s something that I’m not sure a lot of marketers are prepared to do, you know, but it’s the reality somebody has to take over this entire experience. And as you know, consumers get better and better experiences from the brands they interact with. They expect the same thing from BBB and that’s, that’s hard to deliver on

Jeff Pedowitz:

Everyone wants the Amazon or Netflix Netflix experience. Right. So I think there was your everyone expects their last best customer experience, I guess, and their next interaction, regardless of where it is. So, yeah. And I think the

Ardath Albee:

Other challenge too, is that digital tools have enabled consumers to switch whenever they want. It’s easy to switch brands and companies, you know, it’s no longer, okay, you stick with the one you brought to the dance, you know, you can, there are all kinds of choices out there and it’s easy to switch. And so it becomes even more and more important, you know, for B to B companies to deliver a better experience because the people buying from them are also consumers. So they have those expectations as a consumer and they don’t disappear just because they walk in the office.

Jeff Pedowitz:

So if you were to give advice to an aspiring, younger marketing person that wants to become an executive, wants to run a marketing team, what would you tell him or her?

Ardath Albee:

The first thing would be to get to know your audience better than they know themselves. But the second thing which I think is hugely important is to learn the language of business. You have to be able to talk to your executive team in a way they care about in order to build your career as a marketer, because marketing is now involved in so much of the company process, right. And we deserve to be, but if we can’t talk about the things our executive teams care about, you know, they don’t care about clicks and views and whatever they care about revenue, they care about, you know, cashflow, I blend velocity, you know, post-market share all of those things and we need to learn how to talk about that stuff. You know, I ran companies for 30 years before I became a marketing consultant. There’s a big difference. And being able to talk to an executive team and understand a PNL and a balance sheet,

Jeff Pedowitz:

There certainly is well as always, your comments are spot on insightful and so great having you on the show. So Ardath, thank you so much for making the time today.

Ardath Albee:

Thanks for having me.

Jeff Pedowitz:

You bet.

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