CMO Insights: Michele Chambers, Former CMO, Anaconda

CMO Insights: Michele Chambers

June 26, 2018

This week’s guest on CMO Insights is Michele Chambers, former CMO of Anaconda.

In this video, Michele talks about:

  • Developing high value content that truly targets your audience
  • The importance of keeping the customer experience simple
  • Using MarTech to drive the demand generation engine

Learn more about Michele from her LinkedIn profile and follow Anaconda 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’m your host, Jeff Pedowitz, President and CEO of The Pedowitz Group. Today we have with us Michele Chambers, who is the former Chief Marketing Officer for Anaconda. Michele, welcome to the show.

Michele Chambers:

Thank you, Jeff. Great to be here.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Great to have you. And I know we’re in alignment today, cause you’re in Dallas, I’ve got the Dallas pictures in the back, we on this perfectly, right. So you’ve really had a fascinating career and working for all different kinds of companies. So what would you say has changed the most in marketing over the last five or 10 years?

Michele Chambers:

I think the big difference of what has changed is that the micro segmentation and understanding your customer at a level of intimacy is really changed. And the reason that that’s important is because content is King today. And in order to develop high value content that really targets your audience, you really have to understand what drives them, what motivates them, what interests them so that you can develop the right content strategy.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Okay. Don’t you, I mean, contents always been important to us as marketers though. Don’t you think it’s a different level of granularity?

Michele Chambers:

So, you know, we went from a broadcast era right. Where we were really talking about what was important to us as marketers. Right. As opposed to what was important for the customer in their buying journey, not our selling process. Right. And so that makes a huge difference. Right? So what, what you find today is that your customers, and I’ve always worked in the B to B marketing space that your customers know you extremely well before they engage with you. So they’ve done their homework and research and oftentimes that tried your product well, before they engage with you in a buying process, and what you want to do is you want to make it easy for them to purchase your product, right? Which means that we have to move from an era of, you know, there’s a lot of CMOs it’s still even today think about gating, their contents.

Jeff Pedowitz

Right.

Michele Chambers:

And gating just creates barriers and impediments for people to purchase, right? Because their natural behavior is going to be around researching your product. So you want to make it easy for them to get your content. You want to make it valuable to their buying journey. And so understanding what’s the sort of golden path of the optimized path for them to purchase this really important. Right. And what distinguishes, you know, do you need you know, three white papers as an example right. In their buying journey or is one good enough, right. For them to be able to make their decisions. And so in order to you’re going to have to experiment and do a lot more testing, right. To understand their golden past actually purchasing so that you can align your content strategy with your micro segmentation.

Jeff Pedowitz:

That makes a lot of sense. So you’ve been talking a lot about the customer and I know the buzzword these days is customer focused customer experience kind of funny that that should be a focus like, cause we’re all in businesses that are our customers, but how do you go from being a good customer service company where you’re responding and then you’re kind of managing the efficiency of customer service to truly being customer focused, operationally, strategically execution wise throughout the company. What are some of the things that that executives need to be thinking about?

Michele Chambers:

So maybe it would be easier if I told a little bit of a story of a company that I worked for. So I worked at a company called the Teza and the teaser came to market in a pretty mature market, which was in the BMR beyond market. And the founder chip sustainer, brilliant serial entrepreneur technology guy would lay down sort of these golden nuggets in the business for everybody to he was not a micromanager. He liked people to be self-managing. He loved entrepreneurs, wanted everybody to be their own little CEO and the business and make their own decisions. And so he’d light down these golden more stars for people to decide what to do on their own. And one of his mantras was about simplicity. And so that became one of the brand promises. So the lead brand promise was around performance.

So we deliver to a hundred times faster performance, but our supporting pillars were around simplicity and value. And most people when they’re developing brand promises think that they have to be unique in terms of, I promise, right? And the brand promise itself doesn’t have to be unique as far as matter of fact, hardly any of them are right. It’s how you execute on those. That makes a difference. So the simplicity one, what I found when I first joined, cause I joined through an acquisition was I found the custom movers for fans of BTSA. And I was really intrigued by this and trying to understand what would create that sort of emotional response about buying a machine, right? I mean, this was just a computer, right? And I just didn’t understand what people were so amazed by this company and the brand and the product.

And what I learned was people would buy us or the conformance, the lead brand promise that they stayed with us because of our simplicity. Okay. The simplicity made all the difference in the world. And so let me, let me make that very tangible. The simplicity was everything from initial engagement through the ongoing customer engagement. So if a customer came to us and let’s say you’re a large bank, large banks rarely want to write contracts based on your paper and your contracts. So normally there’s a lot of negotiation back and forth between a technology company and a large bank. We made it that simple. Okay. All our NDA was literally a one pager in da. That was a mutual NDA. So we would go to a client and say again, here’s our mutual NDA. If you don’t like that, we’ll sign yours because we have Howard our salespeople to know what were the one or two sticking points that if it did have those, we would absolutely sign it.

Okay. So it was very simple. When it came to doing the contract, of course we had our own contracts. Again, they were not 30 page or a hundred page documents. They were very simple, like five, six page kind of contracts. Then our salespeople, again, if the client preferred to do it on their paper, they knew what were the two or three points. And they could tell the customer that upfront. Right. And it made the negotiation process much easier. If a client had any issue whatsoever, we had multiple layers of support to help them. So we had what was called a technical account management team. We had an emergency response team. We had this amazing support team that wasn’t just reactive. Right. Which is what you normally think of as support, but it was proactive. So if you came up with some tip and you knew that this client could use that a support person would not have which one it was would proactively call the customer and say, Hey, did you know about this?

And you don’t see that happen very often in organizations. Right? And so it created this engagement with the client where the client new customer knew that we really cared about them really, really cared about their success. Right. that of case parents and commitment is key to keeping customers, does the cheapest customer you’re ever going to get, which most working people seem to forget, right. Is the one you’ve already got. Right? So you to keep them engaged and you want to keep them on buying more from you and you want to keep them satisfied, right. Because that creates your reference space.

Jeff Pedowitz:

No, that’s a great story. So if I, if I could summarize one, whatever your brand promise is, know what that is, and then find ways to empower your employees so that you’re fulfilling on that brand promise all the way through the customer life cycle. Cause I think at the end of the day, really in today’s world, it’s the customer that owns our brand. Right. Not us. I mean, we can only try and fulfill it, but they have a lot more control over us than we have. We’re not in control. So we’re really here to serve. Right. So technology has changed a lot too throughout your career. You’ve you talked about all different kinds of initiatives that some of your last couple of companies, how do you think about technology strategically and today’s day and age? I mean, whether some of the other approaches that you take to drive scalability within your organization.

Michele Chambers:

Yeah. So today, you know, I can’t imagine I’m doing marketing, but I’m more tech, right. And now, without having technology on fuel your marketing organization to me, Mark tech is really a way to instrument and optimize your demand generation engine. So I think about demand generation is a machine and very much an engine. And so if you want to have predictable, rather than you, you’ve got to set up your marketing operations and then just measure relentlessly. So you understand what you’ve measured, right? So if you don’t measure something, you’re not going to have clarity around it. So I’m giving an example at Anaconda, which was an open source company, right? We downloads was a critical number for us and the more downloads we created, the more opportunities we’ve had to convert that community to paying customers. And it’s a small fraction that actually will convert and open source companies.

But if you don’t grow that base, then you can’t grow your conversion rate. Right. so we focused on growing our downloads and we grew our downloads by 5.3 X from 3 million to 16 million in just 18 months. Two other critical numbers for us, for monthly recurring revenues and annual recurring revenues. Right. And we were able to also simultaneously increase our average selling price from 19 K to 73 K. And we grew our MRR by 5.5 X in our ARR by eight X. Okay. All was driving down cost by 4.9 X. These types of measurements, right. Could not have been done without having the proper MarTech behind it so that we were measuring everything right behind it, who could’ve done this all manually and we couldn’t have done it at that rate. If we didn’t have the proper measurements and more tech behind that you know, for us, part of it was also events were really big piece of our marketing plans and strategy because we had a process by which we had to fill up the pipeline with some smaller transactions, but also with some large deals.

And so for us in order to get six figure deals and B to B sales, we had to have some marketing. And so we had to know how to cost effectively not only drive demand through these marketing events. For me, the reason to have marketing is to drive sales. And I don’t really care about how much funnel you drive if you can’t do the conversions, because if you can’t, you have failed, right. And most, most sales executives don’t hear CMOs say that. Right. And so when they hear you saying that to your team, then all of a sudden you have the power of the entire sales organization behind you as well. Right. And they’ll figure out the line up behind you to figure out like creative campaigns to add to the next they’ll. They know the customers extremely well, right? So we have a radical really, for the most part perspective on customers and marketing. Like I’m not that way I go out and actually talk to customers, right. Because I don’t know how you do that job without talking to customers. Right.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Pretty amazing, actually. How many dogs?

Michele Chambers:

Exactly, exactly. And you know, you can watch once you see sales and marketing align and work together, that’s when you get velocity in your sales funnel and not, that’s like magic right. In an organization, all of a sudden everything, instead of it being a really arduous turn, the crank, all of a sudden, it’s just pulling you along. Cause everything just starts working so easily together. So, so it sounds like you’re running marketing like a business maybe. Yeah. So I have an engineering background and MBA, so I’m dangerous. Right. You know, so I put the combination disciplines, execution, and then figuring out how to do things in a business way.

Jeff Pedowitz:

There, there you go. So you had mentioned a marketing operation, so a little while back in the interview, so what role does that play as a function? Cause I, you know, I think for a lot of executives, they might not be aware of what marketing ops is. So what does it mean to you and how have been applying it?

Michele Chambers:

Yeah. So for me, marketing operations is all about the systems that are set up in place to manage guide and execute the marketing processes. So most people don’t realize that in marketing, just like in any other part of the business, there are processes and in today’s age the processes because of the micro-segmentation are a lot more complex. And so you have to have the right infrastructure in place in order to be able to execute on many different campaigns to be able to have segmentations and pads like essentially decision trees throughout the buying process, which means that your complexity has gone up. So you have to have the right software technology in place to support that. And it all has to be integrated. Right. Cause we, we have multiple channels. So even though like in, in most of the B2B businesses I’ve been associated with, we didn’t transact on a website, but the website is where is the outlet for most of the content.

Right. And so you have to be able to tie that then to offline type of operations. Well, so how our customers do when they came to an event. Okay. Did they follow up to going to your website? Right. So what was maybe that was the lead activity, the event, but then what were the secondary effects that come to your website? What is their path and how is that different from when you ran a digital advertising campaign, where people go to your website, what’s the type of content journey that they have in their buying process. And how is that different? You could not do that today without having very strong marketing operations behind that, that are nurturing all of those and tying all of those together. And unfortunately I don’t find me in what, I’m also a little bit of an analytics log snuck, right. I spent 20 years now in predictive analytics, advanced analytics. So I don’t find most of the tools from an analytics perspective all that powerful. But what we tend to do in any of the operations that I set up as we work with the data scientist or data science team to do some more sophisticated type of analysis but still utilizing all the, all the measurements that were created through the marketing operations.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Well, Michele, it’s very easy to see why you’ve been so successful in your career, but the stories, your discipline approach. Thank you so much for being on the program today. I know our audience is really gonna appreciate it.

Michele Chambers:

Well, thank you very much for your time today, Jeff. I enjoyed it immensely and appreciate your bet. Thank you.

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