CMO Insights: Brian Kardon, Chief Marketing Officer, Fuze

May 2, 2017

This week’s guest on CMO Insights is Brian Kardon, Chief Marketing Officer for Fuze.

In this video, Brian talks about

  • Today’s marketing professional and the ever-changing, often challenging skills needed to be successful
  • How Fuze is developing a centralized approach to marketing and sales to better scale process
  • The various technologies used within their MarTech stack necessary to implement sales and marketing initiatives

Learn more about Brian from his LinkedIn profile and follow Fuze on Twitter.

For more great CMO interviews like this one, please check out our CMO Insights Playlist on our YouTube channel.

Full Transcript

Jeff Pedowitz:

Hello, and welcome to Revenue Marketing Television. I’m your host, Jeff Pedowitz, President and CEO of The Pedowitz Group. Today, we have my good friend and Chief Marketing Officer of Fuze, Brian Kardon. Brian, welcome.

Brian Kardon:

Yeah, Jeff. Thanks a lot. Appreciate it.

Jeff Pedowitz:

No problem. So you’ve been in this game a long time. What, what do you, what is some of the biggest changes you’re seeing over the last couple of years in marketing?

Brian Kardon:

A couple of things are changing. I think people’s comfort with data is changing. So, you know, 10 years ago it was very much about creativity and running campaigns. And now it’s all about measurement and optimizing. I think timeframes are a lot shorter in marketing. So I think it was the end of the quarter. We’d look at all of our data. I’m seeing more real time analysis of campaign optimization of you know, SEM optimization. People are always changing messages calls to action. I’m seeing a lot more AB testing going on with websites. And I’m also seeing no absolutes, like for awhile, it was all only inbound or only outbound only account-based I’m seeing marketers are getting much more fluent in the full vocabulary, you know, of marketing and not just doing a few things. So I was talking to Mike Volpi the other day we were just talking about him.

You know, he went from HubSpot, it was all inbound and high velocity marketing and marketing produced about 80 or 90% of the leads. And that was at a company cyber reason where he’s doing account based thing. So there’s no high velocity, it’s high touch. So he’s, he’s mailing things out like $80 things to get appointments. And so he’s understanding that. Yes, exactly. Right. So it’s a very different language for him now. And I’m starting to see this more and more with marketers, understanding that we have a very rich palette of tools and you don’t always bring your, your toolkit, you know, with four tools to a job where you need a hundred tools or different tools. So people putting a playbook and sometimes the playbook is applicable to their particular case. You’ve gotta be much more flexible.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Do you think it’s harder to be a marketer today than it was three to five years ago?

Brian Kardon:

Yeah, I do. I think that people have very high expectations now of marketing and it’s gone up quite a bit. So yeah, the expectations are high when I joined the company and I’m at right now, we had no marketing stack. We had three people in the marketing team and I had a very large sales team that was very impatient. And so it took me a good six, eight months to build it all out, get it all working together. You know, you do this every day and it’s not something you can snap your fingers. And it works particularly if you want to collaborate with the sales team and talk about what tools and what business rules you’re going to use. And what’s an MQL and what’s an Sal and let’s agree on the service levels. So there’s a lot of work that has to happen. So I think people are very impatient of getting results very quickly. And sometimes I tell my team, you have to go slow to go fast. So building a strong foundation, going slowly and doing it right, allows you to scale, but some people, and you probably see this every day, they build a foundation very quickly and it’s not well configured and the house,

Jeff Pedowitz:

Right. So you talked a little bit about what your team’s doing now and the skills, how, how are you, what are you looking for I guess, and people that you’re hiring into organization today and how are you starting to structure your teams maybe a little bit differently to take advantage of this new mindset?

Brian Kardon:

So you know, marketing increasingly is becoming a, an area of specialization, a lot of specialists. And so it can be very challenging to think about people’s career progression. So what I look for in a marketing team is number one, people who have technical skills, but also very good collaborators. It’s definitely a team sport here. In the past, I’ve had some people in marketing who are extremely strong individual contributors, but they really create a lot of friction in the marketing team. So I really want people who can work very, very well together, who express gratitude, help they get out of their swim lanes and help everybody get stuff done. So I care a lot about that.

What I’m finding is, is that I have to create an environment where people learn a lot about marketing here. And so I’m starting to give people opportunities to go to conferences, you know, so you go to serious decisions or you can go to this meeting or meet other people. People want to be certified in Eloqua or our Caddo or something. People want the opportunity to go to other regions. So I have a team in Europe and a couple of those people want to spend some time in the U S so do the rotation program. So I found that I have to do lots of those kinds of things to create an environment where people are continuously learning, they’re developing their skills and they view this as really a great place to stay and build their careers.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Are you increasing your budget allocation towards education?

Brian Kardon:

Yes. Quite a bit. So everyone, so I have a pool of money for education, and I leave it up to each person on the team to come up with their own plan about what they want to do. And some people overspend, some people underspend, but I’m looking for people who are aggressive and always want to learn, you know, you and I sort of shared this idea that, you know, when we started our marketing careers, there were none of these technologies here. And so to stay fresh and current, we had to learn new things every day. And I think that’s true of all marketers. So there are new tools all the time and there’s new ways of thinking and new ways of measuring. And so keeping everyone’s skills, current is a big deal. So I have a lot more money allocated towards education and training.

Jeff Pedowitz:

That’s great. So what about some of the processes are changing to cause you mentioned, you know, we talked a little bit about my Colby and you know, obviously that’s a different process if you’re doing account based marketing versus top of the funnel demand generation, but what are some of the other processes that you find you’re focusing more time on today?

Brian Kardon:

So one is we’ve created a demand center and so we want to have sort of the center of excellence. And so whether it’s in Europe or Asia Pacific, we have one team that builds the campaigns that does the landing pages, the calls to action and handles all that. So I want my people doing the field to be much more strategic and working with the sales team and not be worried about execution. So I tried to centralize things to allow us to scale better. And that’s sort of one process that I put in here. I think at other companies I’ve had a more decentralized approach. We’re in a fairly regulated industry and I want to make sure that we have a lot of control over our brand or copyrights or messages and what’s working what isn’t a lot of the measurement. So that’s sort of point area for process. And then the other area that we’re doing a lot more is exactly what we’re doing today, Jeff. And so my team is traveling less. So we’re using tools like Skype. We actually have our own tool, that views that is video messaging and collaboration. And so we do a lot more of this. And so the team gets together for,

Jeff Pedowitz:

Well, letting me use your Skype today. I appreciate that.

Brian Kardon:

Alright. So yeah, Microsoft Skype is one of our our biggest competitors actually. And it’s mostly a free product. And so we charge at the enterprise level, but we love competing against Microsoft. It’s kind of fun, but so we do a lot more of this. And so we’re trying to reduce the travel, but we want people to spend a lot of time together and we find that the, these kinds of tools work really, really well. So those are two examples of process, less physical travel, much more digital communication through video in particular and sometimes videos on all day, you know, with team members, you know, people who use Google Hangouts or other things. So you can collaborate continuously during the day. It’s very easy to use. And then this idea of a demand center, having things at scale more than buying our media, essentially for the world and running our campaigns essentially.

Jeff Pedowitz:

So what’s, I mean, I guess one big conversation today is what’s your staff look like, right? So when you’re a demand center, what’s what’s in your MarTech stack. Nice.

Brian Kardon:

So we have about 30 technologies of, I’d say the area that’s a little bit different than others is we have a very robust sales enablement stack. So we’re using a salvo for sales enablement. We have, we just brought this product on called crayon that’s in the early stages, does competitive intelligence. You know, my product marketing team has to stay on top of all of these competitors like Microsoft, Cisco, Avaya, APA central, and they’re just too many competitors. And they found that the Google and Mazda alerts were not accurate enough. They were just too crude. They were coming in too late. So we’ve had a whole bunch of new tools around sales enablement, which is very important. And then we have a lot of data tools. So, you know, hot areas, this whole idea of predictive analytics. So we’re using several different predictive analytics tools and data tools.

One of the biggest challenges we have is getting accurate data, particularly in different regions of the world. So a good example is employee counts to route leads properly. I have to know how many employees are at a company because our insight team handles companies with less than 350 employees. And then our field team handles 350 or more. And so we looked at that at Brad street data and it was very inaccurate. And then we started crawling through LinkedIn and that, that was much more accurate except for certain industries, you know, you, and I think that LinkedIn is very accurate because we’re in these kinds of industries. So I felt like healthcare nurses are not on their airlines pilots and then flight attendants. Aren’t on their manufacturing, people who are blue collar, labor unions, aren’t on there. And so LinkedIn, despite a lot of bias, you understand this can be very inaccurate with employee counts in certain industries. So we found the data thing to be very, very challenging. There’s lots of promise from the data providers and that we find that it’s just a lot of hard work to find just the right vendors.

Jeff Pedowitz:

We we’ve had to use a multitude of tools. I mean, I think at best you get 50, 60% accuracy if you went across every industry. But I, you know, I agree with you. I think we’ve seen some of those same challenges, but it’s, it’s a, it, the problem gets bigger all the time. And this whole data thing is, is this something that everyone’s gonna think is trying to get their hands on top of

Brian Kardon:

One of the, one of the attributes that we find is very predictive for our business is a people who’ve signed leases to move. So when you’ve signed a lease to move, chances are you want to change out your PBX and your communication system. So we’ve actually found some vendors who have very good information on moving and you know, before you moved, you contact the moving company months ahead, there’s a corporate move. And then there’s some local things that you have to file. You have to notify like Comcast, Verizon, a few of their telco providers, way ahead. So some of those people actually do provide information on office moves. So we’re finding, it’s very specific about getting the data.

Jeff Pedowitz:

It’s like a business walk away, basically. So tell me about you talked a little bit about Couchbase marketing in terms of the customer approach and life cycle engagement. How are you starting to change in the marketing mix? Cause I know a lot of marketers, I talked to focus a lot on top of the funnel, but you know, you seem to have at the bow tie, I’m trying to get more ongoing customer engagement. What are you doing at Fuze?

Brian Kardon:

So we’re spending a lot more of our efforts in 2017 on customer marketing, which we didn’t spend much time on. And it’s not just the up sell cross sale and nurturing existing customers, but it’s deployment as well. So we’re, we just were doing like deployment party. So when you start using a product, we’re doing marketing inside of companies to help the HR and the it departments evangelize products within the company, you get, people feel really good about it. So we’re having these welcome parties, we’re having welcome kits and we’re a lot of things in our product itself to encourage people fully utilizing the product you talked about you know things like eloquent. Marquetto like most marketers using a fraction of what’s there. And so that’s true of our software as well. So we’re putting in a lot of sort of notifications and opportunities for people to try out features that they hadn’t tried before.

And so these were all sort of automated using intelligence, understanding your history of what you use, what you haven’t. So we believe that people, and we’ve seen it historically, people that are fully useless lies and the product use it more, are much more likely to renew and talk about it a lot more. So it’s both a software sort of thing that we’re doing to get people to use it more, these sort of welcome parties. And then we’re doing a lot of customer satisfaction work to understand what the challenges are. Very often we thought it was product we lump everything into product deficiencies, but in fact it could be about support, how it was deployed, people know how to do something. So we’re trying to understand where are the challenges with product usage and and, and product ease of use and so on.

Jeff Pedowitz:

So, I mean, within your product set, does it allow the opportunity for cross sell up?

Brian Kardon:

So yeah, yeah, we have that quite a bit. So for example, someone could be using voice and then we have a chance to upsell them on video conferencing or audio bridge or in many cases we’re selling into their office in Brazil and we have a chance to sell to Argentina and to, to England and to France. So we have geographic upsells as well. Other divisions, lots of opportunity for that.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Yeah. So what what are you being measured on as a CMO and then what are you measuring your team on?

Brian Kardon:

So we’re measured very much on sourced and influence pipeline. So internally we are looking at MQL and SALs and cost per MQL, conversion rates and also days between stage. But the, the biggest number that I produce that the board sees is how much of the pipeline is sourced and influenced by marketing. So the sourcing is using sort of first touch. Did we run a campaign that got someone new into the pipeline? And then the influence, is there an opportunity that we touch somewhere along the way? And our sales leadership has come to me and said, I love that you’re sourcing deals. How can you help me accelerate deals? And I love that question because it really uses up a lot of creativity and marketers should often think about that, how we can help, but I love that. 

And so we’re doing a lot of programs now to help accelerate deals. For example the sales team is only talking to one or two decision makers. And so we have a chance to digitally to run ads and LinkedIn, or to do campaigns against other decision makers in the database. We do that. We might do a champion building in Atlanta. We might, you know, take people out to a ball game or do a round table. We might make introductions to other CEOs in their region. So we’re doing, we have a pretty large menu now of things to accelerate deals and influence more deals to make them happen faster, which is really interesting for me.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Oh, that’s great. And so how often do you meet with sales?

Brian Kardon:

The our, our global head of sales is 10 feet away from me. So I meet with him frequently during the day we have these ATPs running regions. So we have a North American head and a European head and Asia Pacific head. So I meet with them continuously all the time. There are a weekly forecast calls that marketing participates in, I’d say at this company more than anywhere else. And I know it’s a cliche. I talked to sales all the time and I’ll give you an example of something that I’ve never had happened before. So we’ve identified target accounts in different regions. And we’ve said that each rapid to have 200 target accounts. So in some regions, we actually have a lot more than that other regions, we have less. And so we’re actually helping sales identify where they should put the next rep, what city. 

And so prior to us doing all this analysis the sales leadership would use tribal knowledge or intuition. Hey, put somebody in Atlanta puts them in an Nashville. We need some of the Denver, but now we can look at the map and say we have 10,000 accounts in New York city, but we only have five reps. That’s crazy. We can handle it. Other 12 reps there, or we’re ready at 20 reps in London, but we don’t have enough in Munich or Frankfurt. So I’ve never seen an organization where the sales team actually sales, leadership asks marketing, where should I put my next rep? Or am I do I have reps in certain cities? And I can move them? Where would you move them? So it’s a great example of marketing sales being so close together, but so often where you put a rep with solely in the, in the silo of sales and we’re very active in helping sales decide where to go.

Jeff Pedowitz:

I love that. That’s, that’s great. So we’re at a time for today. But as always my friend, I can keep talking to you forever, but thank you so much for giving us your time today. And I really appreciate it. So thank you, Brian.

Brian Kardon:

Thank you.

Jeff Pedowitz:

You bet.

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