CMO Insights: Michael Bailey, Vice President: Digital and Acquisition Marketing, FleetCor

July 11, 2017

This week’s guest on CMO Insights is Michael Bailey, Vice President of Marketing Operations for Fleetcor.

In this video, Michael talks about

  • How data has evolved to become the most important part of tracking marketing revenue success
  • Taking a very nuanced approach when it comes to building out their MarTech stack
  • The importance of being a technophile with a constant curiosity to be successful as a marketer in today’s digital climate.

Learn more about Michael from his LinkedIn profile and follow Fleetcor 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:

Hi, welcome to Revenue Marketing Television. I’m your host, Jeff Pedowitz, President and CEO of The Pedowitz Group. Today on CMO Insights, we have Michael Bailey, who is Vice President of Marketing for FleetCor. Michael, welcome to the show.

Michael Bailey:

Thank you very much. Nice to be here.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Oh, definitely glad to have you. So I’m not sure if everyone’s familiar, what we’d Gore does, but maybe you could take a quick minute introduce us to your company.

Michael Bailey:

So FleetCor is really famous for providing payment solutions to fleets across, across the world. Really we’re an international company. We have a series of products, both with our direct issue stuff, which is our fuel map proprietary network, where we look for businesses who are either moving their goods across the country or moving their people to where they’re getting, where they need to go to do their work. And we also do that for some of our private partners as well.

Michael Bailey:

So we have agreements with BP, with Speedway with a handful of petroleum marketers across the North American market, as well as in, you know, our UK market and some other sort of interesting things going on in South America we’ve recently. No, not recently. I guess it’s been a couple of years now acquire another company called Comdata. Comdata has the tracking platform, which does the same kind of thing. As well as corporate payments product. So really trying to help businesses in the financial space, get to the products that I need, get the purchase and products that they need and really try and empower that or business really across the globe at this point.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Fantastic. So you’ve been doing this for a while. So tell me a little bit about, you know, how you’re approaching marketing in 2017 versus say five years ago. What’s, what are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen?

Michael Bailey:

I think the biggest change really is data. I think data has come a long way in terms of its reliability and its utility for an organization. One of the big things that I’ve done really at any company that I’ve been at, but specifically there, if the court is look at the data that’s available to us to drive those marketing decisions, whether it’s better targeting, whether it’s a better product offering, whether it’s a better cadence of communications to a customer, or really just trying to get a very high level of scalable understanding of what people need. And people will tell you all kinds of things. If you ask them the questions that will give you the answers, a lot of times they think that you want to hear, but if you look at what they do and how they use your product or how they behave or how they speak to each other, when they don’t think that you’re listening, you get a lot better intelligence on what it is that really will be successful in the marketplace.

And I think that the data that’s available to us both through social media or through online behavior, or really even through some of our call centers. If you, if you take the time to look at that information and listen is really a powerful tool. And I think that, you know, as our measurement models become more sophisticated and our tools become more real time it will only get better. It’s a really interesting time to be a marketer.

Jeff Pedowitz:

No doubt. And I think you would get every executive to agree with you the importance of data. So, but I think everyone’s struggling to figure out how to harness it, and because it’s siloed and disparate. So what are some of the things that you’re doing at FleetCor to solve it?

Michael Bailey:

So really you know, I think was like every other big company we have, especially a financial company, we have a lot of data and really trying to pick through, to figure out what is the most important data is really the challenge. And a lot of that has to do with bringing really smart people. People who understand data who understand marketing and they go understand how to bring those two things together because they are a little bit, or at one point were a bit of a disconnected discipline. They’re very heavily overlap now. And really end of the day, trying to get an understanding of what is it that we need to know and order to drive our revenue results. And I think that, you know, marketers can sometimes get a little lost in the, in that themselves, when they’re trying to figure out he wants the impact on people.

I need to build awareness. I need to build brand equity. I need to build these things at the end of the day, especially in B2B, you need to build revenue. That’s really the, the, the challenge and that’s really the onus on us. So if you’re going to go get a piece of information, the first question that I challenged myself in any of the marketing leaders that I work with to ask is if I have this information, what business decision and what business question am I going to be able to answer differently because of it. So for us, that means really starting with our digital behavior. And now we, we accept applications for our products online. We have a lot of wealth of information for our websites that will tell us, you know, what, they’re looking at, how they’re interacting with the, with the pages, but at the end of the day, really what I want to know is, you know, for us, it’s how many gallons of gasoline did they pop?

So we can start to put markers in the experience, sort of it’s top of the funnel and say, all right, we’re going to put these here and we’re going to measure those, but we’re going to measure those downstream performance metric. So we’re going to literally measure this in revenue production or a gallon production as we call it in the core world. So I think it really tying any of those activities downstream from as far as you can, and really creating the algorithms and creating the data path underneath that, to support really what you’re doing helps you get more efficient with your data, with your ad spend. It helps you get more efficient with the direction to your digital teams. So I think that’s really what we try and do is keeping our eye on the prize, which ultimately for us is revenue.

Jeff Pedowitz:

That makes a lot of sense. So tell us a little bit about you work customers, and then, you know, from a marketing standpoint, how much of your marketing is divided between acquisition and onboarding versus full life cycle where you’re trying to drive cross sell up, sell, and renewable activity.

Michael Bailey:

Yeah. So I think, you know, for us today, a lot of our onus is on acquisition. So that’s really where, you know, we’ve got a lot of opportunity. Most companies don’t think of themselves as fleets. They think I not, I’m an electrician. I don’t have a fleet. I’ve got six months. Okay, well in our world you would be a fleet. So I think that really sort of measuring customer language versus equally language has been a bit of the challenge. And I think we’re getting better at that as a marketing organization. And because of that if you think that people who are either in their vehicles or on their way to, you know, to, to work or on their way to deliver a service to a client or, you know, delivering goods on behalf of us to clients, I think that that’s really where we want to go and that’s really the audience that we want to reach, but that’s not a segment that’s not in any dun and Bradstreet lists.

There’s no vehicle dependent business unit that’s out there. There’s fleets, you know, some of the big guys, but the small business play, I think is really where we are. We’re, we’re very successful. And I think we’re very successful because there’s a market need. It’s just not an easily defined market. Second, there’s no SIC cookie lists. So I think that’s really where we’re focused and where we’re, we’re doing a great job, getting more information out there and learning the way that our customers speak to each other, the language that they use and really infusing that into our marketing into our marketing efforts. So that’s, it’s actually the downstream stuff is a little tougher. Mostly because we’ve got a part product. If you got an art car product, you’re in it, we’re adding some things over time to that portfolio. But those things I think will be a little bit longer. And it’s like the last hour where we’ve been focused traditionally. I think that’s probably the next in the next two years.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Okay. let’s let me change direction a little bit in terms of technology. So, you know, obviously you said a lot of your marketing is aimed at acquisition, but what what’s your staff look like and how are you using technology at scale?

Michael Bailey:

So it’s interesting right now we’re under, we’re going to go to the tech, the tech stack review. And you know, we rely heavily on Google analytics today. Mostly because, you know, like I said, information is King for us. We have a lot of internal proprietary systems that we’ve built. Some things that are the core is bread and butter, sort of our secret sauce. The thing that lets us be powerful and scale quickly into markets is the same thing that gives us information that on customer utilization, the customer utility of that product. So if they’re on a card platform, we get a lot of information about what they’re buying, where they’re buying it, how often they’re buying it as well as giving that control back to our customers. So that technology, which is so critical for our customers to have control over their financial behavior as a customer really also gives us a lot of insight into what are they using and what are they needing. 

So feeding that system back into our marketing automation platforms and our digital our digital efforts and really our bid platforms for our PVC and for our Google and Bing spends it’s really starts to tie the whole piece together, but it’s not one platform to rule them all. I think one of the, one of the bits of a challenge has been a lot of companies really were trying to get to this one, mega things, one bill to pay that gives me everything that I could possibly need. And what we’re finding is it’s really not practical because in a lot of cases for us, we need a slightly nuanced version of this and a slightly nuanced version of that. And really the technology roadmap is let’s get the best things that we can that ties the most together. And then we’ll customize where we need to, or we’ll build something in sort of the Bridgepoint or a middle step where we need to in order to really get customer experience and a data experience and the marketing experience for our marketers, that makes the most sense and is the most accurate and most actionable. I think that’s really part of our strategy today is really do we have the right systems in place where we do we’ll keeping them or enhancing them or where we don’t, we’re going to replace them with something that’s going to pull little bit alarm a little bit more now.

Jeff Pedowitz:

I think that’s a very pragmatic approach. I know everyone would like to use just a simple set of tools or one single platform, but it doesn’t seem like it really is one that can do it off. What, what are you being measured on and what is your, what, what are your bosses expect out of you in terms of outcomes? And then what do you hold in your team accountable for?

Michael Bailey:

I’m a genuinely it’s double digit growth. Fleetcor has enjoyed it quite a healthy stretch of growth in the last several years. And we don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. So our marketing team has a revenue, grew up, has a revenue goal. We have revenue components to everything that we do, and we really do try and keep our eye on what is going to move the business forward. What is going to grow that revenue number and what is truly going to allow us to scale by either tapping into new markets or getting more out of the markets that we’ve already attempted to. And I think that’s really that is our sole focus. And I think if you look at it, you know, the numbers we were, of course the street, if you look at the things that we are doing for our customer base and the ways that we’re trying to enhance the product utility for them, that really is that it really is what we live and breathe here. And so

Jeff Pedowitz:

And so are they accountable for the same thing? And do they have a revenue number?

Michael Bailey:

Yep. Yeah, so our sales and marketing channels are actually really heavily aligned. And as far so far more so than I think probably many companies that I’ve worked for in the past. We do joint plans. We do joint execution. We have weekly calls with sales and marketing leadership, but they can help the sales and marketing teams, like all the way down from the very senior level, all the way down to the guys on the floor and the guys on the phone. And so I think that’s, that’s really important for us because it really does keep marketing accountable to revenue. And it really helps us, especially in a B to B environment, understand what is it that we’re trying to do? You know, my biggest marketing channel is my outbound Salesforce, which is crazy. Cause I spent a lot of money in PPC and Google, but my sales state man, they are they’re tenacious and they will get in the head of a customer and they will get in front of a customer even more noticeably than a Google candle. They don’t tell people that would be sad.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Yeah, of course. So, you know, with your team, if you continue to build them out, are there, are there skills or certain type of fit you’re looking for as you build out your culture, you know what what’s changing now in 2017 versus a few years ago?

Michael Bailey:

I think it really, what we’re looking for are people who understand customer experience, who understand customer need and how to listen for it. And really you know, especially in marketing, they, you’ve got to be a technophile. You’ve got to love technology, you’ve got to be comfortable with it. You know, we’ve got a lot of digital natives on the team who grew up with an iPad in their hand and don’t know anything different. We’ve also got some slightly more senior folk who maybe didn’t grow up in that environment, but haven’t had to do for four and they love it. And I think really that’s part of the culture that we’re looking for. We need people who are constantly curious, who are constantly willing to adapt and learn and be more comfortable with information. Data can be overwhelming. And I think that we need people who aren’t intimidated by a giant problem.

We need people who are excited about it. And I think that’s the type of person that we’re bringing into the organization. People who can see the future in the clouds. And I think that’s really you know, I think it’s really what has contributed so much to the success of LI-COR as we’ve we found those people. I think that we’re doing, you know, we’re, we’re empowering them to do great work and we’re work basically. You know, our methodology is get people who have a really firm understanding of how the, how the internet works and how the universe works and how digital works. And then let them go, just let them go and tell us what it is that we should be focused on because they’re close to it. And we should trust them.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Nice. So from a process standpoint, what are some of the things that you’re working on today to scale the business?

Michael Bailey:

Well, we have, we’ve got a couple of product launches in the, in the queue right now. So that’s really where my focus is. I’m really trying to get a better customer experience through the product loans. And I think that’s, that’s a lot of the team’s work right now and getting the infrastructure set up to create a new product experience, something that’s a little different than anything we’ve done before. And we hope better. We don’t know better yet. We can look at it and say, this is objective, the better. This is one thing. These are all problems that we’ve heard about it and we’ve solved all the problems here. So it must be, it must be better. I’m pretty jaded. So I think that even if I, as a marketer or marketing person, as a legal person, to think that it’s better, I want to see how the market actually responds. Marketers, you know, what is it, the famous step that marketers get it wrong, 70% of the time that towards the end point club. So I don’t trust my own intuition. What I do is I trust my data. So we’re making sure that we’re putting the right data in place to measure the problem is that we’ve got coming out in 27.

Jeff Pedowitz:

No, that makes a lot of sense. So if you were gonna give advice to an executive that was approaching transformation for their team, what would you tell them?

Michael Bailey:

Trust the data, even if it says you’ve tells you a story you don’t like it’s hard to do, you know, I’ve, I’ve created a few things in my time where I thought this is really, really brilliant and it’s wow. And the reason I knew that flopped was because the data came back into it and we all felt good about it when we put it into market. And we all felt like this was going to be, you know, the next great thing that our marketing team that you would attributed, but at the end of the day, it didn’t work. And I think knowing that and owning that and being okay with that is really a hard thing for executives to get their heads around. But it’s important. It’s important to one really believe the data that’s in front of you and not sort of do this confirmation bias thing.

It’s like, well, it says this, but it can probably, it probably means these things and start reading into the tea leaves a little bit where, you know, there may not be truth. And then secondly, give your, give your marketing team spring to fail. People need to be able to experiment in this environment. Life moves very quickly, the internet emptied even faster. So I think that we need to give our Argentina’s the air cover to say, Hey, I want to try this thing. I want to go out. And I want to see knowing that they’re probably going to get it wrong every now and then. And that’s okay because when they, it, right, it goes right in a huge way. And I think all of those little, you know, small failures that you can get, get a target, but we get some learnings come back at re retool, get back out into the market. 

You’ve got the tech stack to do with that. If you invest wisely, you can in market very, very quickly with a brand new idea. You can still be out with market very, very quickly with a bad idea. So I think that’s sort of freedom and having that confidence in your teams and letting them go and play and really like enjoy this you know, capture that curiosity and that sort of that innate Teper that you got on your marketing teams and let them go tinker because when they do, you’ll find something really powerful and it’s, I think the most, the most critical step to any successful marketing organization.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Great advice, Michael, thank you so much. Really appreciate you being on the show today and sharing your insights with us. So best of continued success at FleetCor.

Michael Bailey:

Thank you very much. It was a pleasure to be here.

Jeff Pedowitz:

You bet. Thank you.

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