CMO Insights: Ruth Stevens, President, eMarketing Strategy

CMO Insights: Ruth Stevens, President, eMarketing Strategy

December 21, 2018

CMO Insights: Ruth Stevens, President, eMarketing Strategy

This week’s guest on CMO Insights is Ruth Stevens, President of eMarketing Strategy.

In this video, Ruth talks about:

  • Teaching a course about using data to manage the customer base of a firm like a financial asset
  • The trend of more conservative buying behavior in B2B marketing
  • Executing account-based marketing within sales and marketing environments

Learn more about Ruth from her LinkedIn profile and follow eMarketing Strategy 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 industry icon, author, President of eMarketing strategy, Ruth Stevens. Ruth, welcome.

Ruth Stevens:

Thank you, Jeff. So happy to be with you.

Jeff Pedowitz:

So you’re a busy woman. You’re you’re teaching here in the States now from my understanding you’re going to be teaching over in India. So what an exciting opportunity.

Ruth Stevens:

Yes. I was really thrilled to be invited to teach at the India Institute of management in Bangalore, and I’m going to teach a marketing elective that I’ve taught in at Columbia business school at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Business School, and also at NYU distern. And so of course, that you’ll really appreciate Jeff it’s called customer acquisition and retention, and it’s really about using data to manage the customer base of a firm like a financial asset. So it’s really fun. I include not only data sources and uses, but direct response communications, calculating lifetime value retention strategies, acquisition strategies, acquiring a customer at a positive ROI to deliver shareholder value, everything that you know, through, you know, osmosis and through your career boiled down into, you know, 20, 20 or 30 hours.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Yeah. So I think one of the coolest things about your programs is you’re always teaching the current, right. I guess, compared to, let’s say with a lot of college students deal with the university that are still teaching the four piece. I think they’re probably still have the same books as maybe when I was in college. What do you do? I may too, but well, how do you have you stay current? I mean, where do you get your material from? And it must be pretty exciting, but challenging, constantly developing new new courses to reflect where marketing is going.

Ruth Stevens:

Yeah, that’s a great question. There are really three sources. One is, I’m a consultant in my field, namely B2B marketing. So I actually have current experience. I don’t actually execute much. I’m more of a strategist with my clients, but I am on the ground. And then the second source is reading. Believe it or not, there is a ton available of great information online and in not only the academic environment, but mostly in, in the marketing trades and industry publications, I, I can learn a lot. And then the third of course, is that I’m talking to people all the time. So whenever I write a new blog article, I’m usually interviewing people, finding out what they’re thinking, what they’re doing and try to keep up that way.

Jeff Pedowitz:

So with all these changes, in your opinion, over the last five years, what’s changed the most.

Ruth Stevens:

Well in my world, the business to business world, the big changes buying behavior, that’s been influenced over the last five to 10 years by the availability of information on the internet, which means that the business buyer is doing his or her own research in advance of ever calling in a salesperson. So you putting that cynically, you might say that the sales people have lost control of the relationship, putting it positively. You would say, well, marketing needs to step in when they are doing that research and take that relationship back and, and not only generate it, but more likely nurture it and build it and deepen it so that when they are ready to look at a short list of vendors that, you know, were one we’re on that list. So marketing’s role in the world of B2B marketing has B2B sales and marketing has expanded, or it should expand if the company is thinking about it properly, in my opinion.

But there, the other trend that’s so interesting is that companies are getting oddly more and more conservative in their buying behavior. The group known it, you know, the buying circle, the buying committee, the buying group, whatever you call it is getting larger and slower. So this means that we have to craft relevant messaging for each member of that buying group, based on that person’s agenda, which might be about productivity. It might be about saving time and money. It might be about ease of use and reliability kinds of, of issues, but when we’re trying to steer them in our direction, it’s a long and complex series of communications to

Jeff Pedowitz:

No, it’s interesting that cause I think all of the B to B marketers understand is personas and buying cycle and individual content. But to think that they understand how to put that together in the context of a buying center. I mean, I think they develop different campaigns and they go after these different personas and segments, but within the context of strategic account marketing how well do you think they’re doing it actually kind of organizing and honing it in around a specific customer?

Ruth Stevens:

Well, this is where account based marketing comes in, which was the buzz in B2B last year, maybe the year before. And I was just at a conference on this subject earlier this week and or last week, and was very impressed at how the, how ABM has become a thing. And people are really embracing it and figuring out how to execute it within their sales and marketing environments it’s really become standard. And what I also recognized or appreciated is the recognition on the parts of the sales and marketing teams that it you, you can’t just abandon lead gen and the funnel and go whole hog in, into account key account marketing, but you have to have both, but key account selling has been a fixture of B2B for decades, centuries. It’s the way salespeople sell, especially in, in large enterprise. So developing integrated sales and marketing programs into target accounts is where you can really get that insight into the nature of the buying circle and how to contact them in a logical way instead of spray and pray, which is sort of what you were, I think, alluding to her, right.

Jeff Pedowitz:

I think that’s where it happens. Come full circle. You know, when I started my career, that was before the internet, before email my first job as a marketer was in catalog marketing for a bank and you know, this cost a lot of money to send out even one single catalog. So you had to really know your audience, you had to get it right too, because it was too expensive to, to make a mistake. And then of course, channels like email and other things came along and then people just started ignoring traditional marketing, marketing things that we should wait. That’s been part of our profession for so long. So I guess like how styles too, right? The longer time goes on and the more things kind of come back and vote.

Ruth Stevens:

So dark mail is making a big comeback based marketing.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Yeah. I mean, I think doing nonconventional marketing of marketing, our contrarian marketing is, is just an effect of a strategy because if everybody’s going left, why not go right? You know, whether that’s direct mail or some other types of things, how do you think that affects just trade shows and events and which is long, of course, a staple of every B2B marketer. Do you see things changing? They aren’t how companies are using that as a channel.

Ruth Stevens:

Hmm. Interesting question. When nine 11 hit so it’s been about a decade that was a real kind of perfect storm for the event industry regrettably. But it was th th the decline in trade shows and conferences after nine 11 was really going to come along anyway because we all know that business events are the single most expensive cost per touch in the marketing toolkit now in the sales toolkit, they are the cheapest cost per touch versus putting a salesman on a plane and sending them out to, you know, make a sales call. So they’re, they still have an enormous role to play, but marketers, I think, are getting, I hope getting a bit smarter about it.

The, the thing that has really interested me in the marketing world is the decline of the traditional show that was organized by a professional association or a trade group. Like the direct marketing association let’s face it. And the rise, the concurrent rise of the company managed show used to be called a client conference. And now they are expanding into prospecting and really you know, the, the marketing service providers are becoming show organizers in their own, right. It’s an amazing development. And the same thing is happening in other industries the same way that, Oh my God, an amazing shows. If you’ve ever been to Dreamforce, it’s remarkable.

Jeff Pedowitz:

You even call her a show. It’s more like a, it’s a happening it’s a show would not begin to carry again, do it justice.

Ruth Stevens:

Yes, it’s fantastic. Yeah. Right in the eye, when I went to Dreamforce a few years ago and Hillary Clinton was a keynoter, I noticed that all of the sessions were in surrounding hotels. They didn’t even have room in the Moscone center for sessions because the exhibit halls were so rich,

Jeff Pedowitz:

Not even a place to sit down, but it’s just goes to show ya, it’s a, if there’s demand, right. They, they do, they do a great job for sure. So there’s a lot of marketers doing a lot of good things, right. What do you think are some of the things that you’re seeing people get wrong?

Ruth Stevens:

Hmm. Well, your point about email earlier, it’s still a, a big problem. I I’ve, I’ve written that email makes us stupid. It’s really the low cost of email that makes us think a whole lot less than when you were sending out a $5 catalog, like you know, your example. So that that’s a problem and I’m, I’ve secretly been, you know, hoping that bill Gates is early threat that he would figure out a way to charge marketers for email deployment would come, come to fruition so that we would all get wiser about it. I’m also worried about ad fraud. This is an area in digital marketing that for some reason, especially on the consumer side where the real volumes are marketers, don’t seem to want to pay attention to the waste that is represented by robots and, and really fraudulent, shockingly fraudulent behavior.

That’s an area of worry. And it, the, the other one I would point out is data and the proliferation of, of really dubious and untrustworthy data providers today. You know, the data industry has always suffered from reputational, you know, issues, but today it’s just a free for all. And marketers are, are challenged about where to capture data and how to manage it properly in the B2B world. I’m just appalled at how many companies are using Salesforce, automation tools as a marketing database. It’s like, Whoa, that makes no sense that tools are not structured for that. You can’t query, you can’t do what if analysis they’re there. They’re just not set up to support solid data driven marketing. So complaints.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Yeah. No, and it’s interesting that companies still, even though they recognize that data is a problem, like it just won’t spend money to fix it. They they’ll spend money to get more data and new data, and then even trustworthy sources like LinkedIn, like I know people on there, they haven’t had that job for two or three years, but it’s still listed on their profile as their latest job. So it’s just another example. And then that’s another channel. I think that’s also starting to see a lot of spam too. People were trying to sell and then reach out. And so you always trying to find that balance, right? Maybe we need our own version of GDPR here in the States, a ticket to get people to wake up a little bit. Oh, we need something. I mean, just because it’s when we were joking about the data was providers too, because they must’ve got a hold of my company’s domain name.

 

Cause we’re all getting crushed now with, Oh, I have this list for this show. I had this list for this show. And right now we don’t want that. We don’t want any of that. But yeah, I, I agree. I think data is a, is a problem. I think email is still definitely a viable channel when you use properly. I still think people see it though as a way to source demand versus nurture demand. You know, especially if people are not giving you their address willingly, I don’t know how you think that you can buy a list and all of a sudden you’re driving demand through it through email. I mean maybe cross sell up, sell.

Ruth Stevens:

No, I agree. It’s not right for cold prospecting, but it’s still the number one channel for cold prospecting and B2B today. I addressed it boggles. I, I I’m, I can preach till the cows come home, but I, I, people are still using it as a cold prospecting tool. Makes no sense.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Well know, I think also just most marketers are, they’re typically understaffed. Right. And they have so much to do. And so sometimes it’s just, what’s the least path of resistance that they can just get things done and email doesn’t make it easy, but it doesn’t make it right. So I wish wish marketers would slow down a little bit more. So we went out five years from now. What would your new career, what would your curriculum look like then?

Ruth Stevens:

Oh, Hmm. Well, I think there always going to be new media channels coming along. I mean, I look at what’s happened in the last 10 years. Social media didn’t exist 15 years ago, the internet didn’t exist. So something will, will arrive there. I hope that some consolidation will be taking place in the world of MarTech. We I’m sure you keep an eye on Scott Brinker’s mega fast growing infographic. And he’s now at close to 7,000 point solutions. I said last year, this, when it was 5,000, I said, this is an industry ready for consolidation, but it hasn’t happened yet. So I’m still, still hoping. And the, the, but the other thing that really resonates with students is case analysis and case studies. So naturally I’m, I’m hoping that marketers will still have great stories to tell so that students will pick up the ability to think strategically about a problem and, and also apply that thinking to a future problem in their careers. So that’s what I would say is my hope for the future.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Well, I think that’s a great hope. Well, you’ll have to keep us posted on India and maybe we can do part two and you can share your experiences best of luck

Ruth Stevens:

That country is filled with really, really clever and brilliant marketers. So I’m expecting to learn a lot over there two and a half months. Wow.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Wow. Yeah, that’s a, that’s going to be an experience for sure. So, ah, Ruth, thank you so much.

Ruth Stevens:

Thank you, Jeff. Great pleasure.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Best of luck in all your continued pursuits.

Ruth Stevens:

Same to you. Thank you.

Jeff Pedowitz:

You bet.

Ruth Stevens:

Bye.

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