What is your business’s “why?” How does walking in your customer’s shoes help you focus on that “why?” How do you even get the opportunity to walk in your customer’s shoes? Jen Pockell Dimas—now the CMO at Qumu—joins me in this episode of Content Callout to discuss the process of uncovering your customer’s needs and finding ways your product or service can meet them. If you’re struggling to pivot in the post-COVID era or simply need to readjust your expectations, this is an episode you can't miss.
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Mark: Folks welcome to the Content Call Out, you've got Mark here. Fascinating discussion with Jen Pockell Dimas, she is the CMO at Gigster and for more than 20 years, she's led marketing efforts at high growth enterprise software companies like Demandbase, Plex, Ignites. And today we had a discussion about understanding your company's why. Why do you actually exist? What do you uniquely provide to the marketplace? We also got into a discussion about walking a mile in the customer's shoes and measuring everything. It was a fascinating discussion. I think you're going to love it. Enjoy if you do love it, of course, we'd love for you to give us a rating or review or both preferably on Apple podcasts, wherever you download podcasts, could be Spotify, wherever. And give us a shout out on social media, let us know what you think. Tag us at Content Call Out. We appreciate you all, enjoy. Jen, how are you?
Jennifer Pockell Dimas: I'm great, thanks for asking Mark. How are you?
Mark: I am splendid. I am so happy to be with you today. I know that we've struggled getting this on the calendar because you're busy and I'm busy, but finally, thank God we got you on the show. Thank you so much for being here.
Jennifer Pockell Dimas: Thank you for having me.
Mark: Right. Well, as we start off with every show, what are your three actionable tactics or strategies?
Jennifer Pockell Dimas: Okay. I thought about this for a little bit. So the three that I came up with are understanding your company's why, that's the first one. The second one would be walk a mile in your customer's shoes. And the third one is measure everything.
Mark: I love this. Okay. So I'm going to drive straight to the first one because I really want to understand that better. When you're trying to understand your company's why and why you exist and for whom, why is that super important for marketers to understand?
Jennifer Pockell Dimas: Well, I find that regardless of whether you're coming up in a growth stage company that has a product led history and strategy, or whether you're a massive enterprise company that's been around for a long time and has multistream go to markets and segments that their after, folks tend to over- complicate their messaging. And they don't look at it from the direction of their buying audience. And so the why do you show up every day is not because of the speeds and feeds and the bits and bytes of your product. And it's also not because of the offering that you have and what successes you've had. It's literally to solve a business problem that exists in the days of your buyer. And I don't think we frame our story well enough from that perspective, that's where everything should come from. We come to work every day to solve specific business problems, to make people's lives easier. And our messaging doesn't always start inaudible.
Mark: I find that a lot of us tend to get off track from understanding our customer's why, we are very us centric when we think about our marketing activities. And we talk about the bells and whistles of the product or the service that we have and wow, check out this great new feature, when really our customers don't give a shit.
Jennifer Pockell Dimas: inaudible It's about us. There's a lot of belly button gazing where people are like me, me, me. It's easy to do that when you spend all day thinking about a thing that you do, but that's part of what's wrong with everyone's go to market strategy and frankly, with their services strategy, like we should every day be thinking about the perspective of our customers and our prospects and the people that we're engaging with.
Mark: Yeah. And so we've got to start each marketing activity with the frame of what is this that's going to help our customers basic need and how are we going to fulfill the service that we're supposed to be providing to them, instead of just saying here's the new bell and whistle.
Jennifer Pockell Dimas: And another thing that ends up happening when you're doing this sort of inside out approach is you use a lot of gobbledygook language. You come up with acronyms or names of things that aren't not sold to people. And I feel like you should be able to say that whole explain it to your grandma situation. You shouldn't be able to say in human language is like, I know that you have this problem, this is a way that you can solve that problem better than you're doing it today. And just use regular language. I find it really complicated and not effective to make things overly technical, unless it's a very developer specific sale or something like that and that's what would work, but that's another pitfall that happens.
Mark: So that's a really great segue into my next question, which was around walking a mile into your customer's shoes. The only way that you're going to know what's really important to them is if you truly understand what their journey is like. Can you expand on that a little bit and why that's so important?
Jennifer Pockell Dimas: Yeah, I think I would tweak a little bit of what you just said. There's that idea of customer journey that is incredibly important, but the reality is the walk a mile in your customer's shoes, literally like how does this person, how does this role actually spend their day? And what hurts? What could you do that would make that better? What could you do that would make them more effective and efficient? And I think it's a little bit inside out to think that we understand that there's a constructed journey that happens. Of course there is I have an idea, I want to go research how this idea is managed in the universe and let me go talk to some other people that may also have this problem. And there is that, but I actually think it's really important to understand the broader context of the day that the person spends. I go back to some category creation that we've done where we presented a new paradigm brought up and we had to understand how people spent their day because we wanted to create a conversation that said, hey, we get it, but your day shows up in this way. It's complicated, it's hard for you to prove your value, but we have something new. There's a better way for you to work that you haven't considered yet. You should be thinking about things in this way. And then you have a really good brain to say, what if your world looked like this? What if you could do these things? And then you can get them to imagine a future that they haven't imagined yet and think of new solutions.
Mark: You get to the point where you're so familiar with your customer's day- to- day life that you can have those types of conversations.
Jennifer Pockell Dimas: That's a really interesting question because I've been so lucky to actually, for example, I worked Demandbase, I was selling to me. It was amazing. So in some cases you get that lucky where you understand so intimately your buyer, that you can sanity check your message and offer to say that is not something that would engage me in, so I'm not interested. However, I've also sold to manufacturers on the shop floor. I have sold to very technical developers. I have sold to enterprise IT leaders. So I don't think that it's outside of anyone's reach to get really intimate with people's day. And how do you learn that? You spend time with them, literally spend time with your customers. You need to go on a listening tour and there has to be some value exchange in it for them. They're not going to want to spend time with you and tell you about their lives for kicks. So you have to have something in exchange for them, but really spending time with them and understanding their daily pains and listening is important and it shouldn't be filtered through the voice of other people in your company who think they know the voice of the customer, because everyone's got their own filters. You really need to spend time with that customer understanding their days.
Mark: You go so far as to do site visits to really understand the business in a better way and really sit down with them?
Jennifer Pockell Dimas: Certainly have done that. I would tell you that I'm doing zero of that this year. I mean, for example, when I was at Plex, when I was telling you we were selling to shop floor manufacturing, I would put on safety goggles and a hairnet and go get on the shop floor and walk around and see how people spent their days. It's powerful for many reasons, not just learning their story. But another privilege that we have as marketers is to celebrate the success and the earnest effort that goes into our target. And so we got to do this amazing job at Plex, where we told a beautiful story of the people who make the things that we all use everyday. And they're not people who get celebrated often, so it was a real privilege that seeing them work allowed you to tell that story with more truth.
Mark: I think one thing that we struggle with, and I think this really ties into what your third point was, which was around measurements. We really struggle to, for a lot of us, tie results back to our effort and to see sort of end to end chain of here was the campaign or here was the strategy and here was the result that we had and here was the click- through and all that. It's much easier, obviously in a digital landscape. For a lot of us that are doing still fairly manual things, whether it's billboards or bus stops or whatever it might be, we still struggle with that. So when you're saying measure everything, how do we do that if we're not fully tied into a marketing automation system, like a HubSpot or a Marketo or whatever it may be?
Jennifer Pockell Dimas: Well, the measure everything does apply in demand marketing, it also applies in awareness you alluded to billboards and airport advertising and all that kind of stuff. It applies everywhere, not just the email. So of course, marketing automation solutions makes it easier for you to measure those digital tactics that you have. When I talk about what are the tools that I need, like the very rudimentary tools that you need to be successful, like basic table stakes, you need a website, you need a Salesforce automation solution, and you probably need a marketing automation solution. I think you need something. And then all the rest of it is gravy. And there's wonderful technology out there that allows you to do and understand all the things that are going on in much more depth and measure different things. But at the end of the day, you need to be focused on the right metrics and those metrics need to be shared across other organizations. So especially if you think about the world of SAS, marketing and sales alignment has to be table stakes, those organizations shouldn't have goals independent of each other. Yes. They have shared goals for icon creation and booking and new logos and cross sell and upsell and retention. Again, we get into the delivery organization we are knowing. Marketing is a team sport, so it should never exist independently of these other functions in the company and we should have shared top level goals. So the tiny things that you measure, which are very important, I don't mean to minimize them. So where did someone click on an email? Which call to action did they drive? What was your open rate? Those kinds of things, which search terms do people use? Those are all very important things, but at an executive level, you need to be aligned to much higher level objectives, right? So if we have a booking's target, it's not just sales, it's jobs that meet that booking target. They meet it then I get to celebrate success with them. If they miss it, I miss it too. So it's really important to see yourself as an integral part of the broader organization, you have to do three levels of reporting, right? You've got your managerial level path which of the things that we just talked about, the little tiny things that are very important for helping you tweak your offerings. And then you've got an executive level at the top level where you're saying this all boils up to me being able to increase bookings or increased retention or whatever these things are. And again, those should be shared goals, they shouldn't live just in the world of marketing.
Mark: Something that you said there I found super interesting, right at the beginning. You said, make sure you're measuring the right things. What do you mean by that?
Jennifer Pockell Dimas: Well, it kind of goes back to that three levels I was talking about. I think if I were to walk into a board meeting or even an executive staff meeting and talk to people about my open rate and click- through rate.
Mark: They're not going to care.
Jennifer Pockell Dimas: Or if they care, we're having a very strange conversation. But the person who sends the emails, they should care about. So everyone's got a different lens and everyone's got a different level of measurement that they need to kept abreast of. And I think we just need to be appropriate.
Mark: One thing that you've mentioned in our past conversations is marketing is about chasing the next out thing. What does that mean?
Jennifer Pockell Dimas: The next out thing. Oh, I know what I mean. Sorry. I was like trying to understand what I had been talking about. So if you measure something consistently for a really long time, you're never perfect. Like there's never a place where you're like, hey, I have attained Nirvana in marketing and sales and I'm a god, that's not a thing. So what happens is you need to manage everyone's expectations in that regard. So if I talk about one specific kind of measurement, if you talk about either account- based funnel, or if you talk about a historic waterfall and you have that measurement going, so you understand your lead flow and how those leads convert to pipeline and how that pipeline closes, there's always something wrong, right? Either you don't have enough leads, you aren't getting enough appointments, your pipeline isn't closing as quickly as you'd like, or you're closing the wrong deals and they're not upselling, there's always something out. So I guess what I was trying to get to in that is instrumentation and believability in the things that we are measuring across functions is important so that we can say, okay, today, our biggest problem is converting mid- stage pipeline to close, and that's what we're going to focus our energies together. For today, our biggest problem is no one knows who we are as a company, no one's coming to the website. Let's agree what the biggest problem is so we can address it now. And that's what I meant.
Mark: Amazing, I love that approach. So by the time that this gets published, there's going to be a lot that would have changed in the marketplace. I mean, just for the listeners, if you're listening to this right now, we are recording this September 17th 2020, by the time that you hear this, it's going to be totally different because all that we know in the existing marketplace today is that change happens every single day because of what's happened obviously with COVID and the economic downturn, all that kind of stuff. And so, one of the things that a lot of teams are struggling with is how to adjust to the rapid pace of change. And I would think that marketing teams in general are really comfortable, normally adjusting to change because that's sort of what they do on a day- to- day basis. But this is really different. I mean, the pace of change has changed so much and it's not uncommon every day to have a new thing that we've got to be focusing on. So when we're thinking about that, how do we as marketing leaders help our teams to be able to adjust to that pace of change.
Jennifer Pockell Dimas: It's a great question. And I live in a growth stage space, that's my favorite thing is to be in the building part of a business. And so COVID aside, that's a reality that I needed to be prepared for anyways. When you're figuring out how to build them scale, you're always adjusting to new information and learning new things. And so for me, that's how you always do it. Here today, it's just that we can't rely on any historic behaviors because everyone is in a new universe. The buyer is in a completely separate universe, their needs are different. And then what works from our perspective is also really different for the same reason. And so I think we need to build more light on our feet programs. If you think about it from the top level, you might want to build less heavy people program spend. You might want to have less in- house people, more program spend that's variable that you can adjust. You might need to think about ways that you don't have a bunch of committed expenses that you can't change around if they're not working out well. So I think the way that leaders structure their organizations from the top down will change. There are many companies who leaned into a customer centric strategy in COVID because they realized that the only place that they were going to be successful with selling into their base, that's an important thing to know. There are other companies that the only thing I have going for me in this moment is that people know who and what I am, and they leaned into their brand, or they led into a product led strategy. Everyone is sort of looking at themselves and saying, what am I good at? What is actually still relevant to people in this day? How can I still help? And I think just having a program that's flexible enough to allow you to adjust to that information is really important.
Mark: I had someone on the other day that said very similar thing to you, except they said, you know that business plan had last year, that marketing plan that you had, just burn it. Just go burn it right now and come up with a new strategy because everything that you have today is different than it was going to be. Right? So all of that planning, everything that you've done, you've got to keep it super flexible, to be able to know pivots such an overused word, but to be able to pivot, to changing needs and changing dynamics with what our customers are looking for and where they're looking for it.
Jennifer Pockell Dimas: Certainly if you hadn't created a flexible program, that's absolutely true. I mean, we did create a flexible program and we still had to make really severe changes. So we have an account- based strategy and we had to like instantaneously in March, look newly at our target list and say, hold on a second. These kinds of accounts, many of them are no longer in market. Some people are not investing in the kinds of things that we do, even if they should be. We have to say like, where can we most effectively place our energy to drive bookings and new customer engagement? And we tightened our list so unintentionally into the areas where we add the most value and where people still have the ability to invest,
Mark: For the listeners who don't necessarily know, what is ABM or what is account- based marketing?
Jennifer Pockell Dimas: For me, it's much broader than a marketing strategy, but the idea of an account based strategy, it is just that, it's a strategy. That says that you and your sales and delivery organization, that your company should focus its collective energies on those accounts most likely to become your next customer. So it's about creating efficiencies and coordination of effort so that you're not wasting any of those things, energy, time, money.
Mark: Love that. One of the things that you're passionate about is something called Women in Revenue. What is women in revenue?
Jennifer Pockell Dimas: I'm so happy you asked, it's one of my favorite things to talk about. I'm very proud to have been a founding member of this organization that came about almost three years ago now, we're planning our third year of existence. An organization called Women in Revenue, it is a nonprofit which exists entirely for women in sales, marketing, and customer success roles. And we're meant to just create a community that we can celebrate each other, help support each other. It is about half people who have like a lot of experience in their career and have people who are coming up in their careers. It is a place for people to ask questions, to engage, they ask about their own, how they show up at work, how they engage in conversation, how they can position themselves for their next step, even tactical business challenges that they're facing. We have a wonderful mentorship program that pairs people up one- to- one, one to few, one to many. We have quarterly events. And in this year we went virtual, so we're a boundary- less organization now, and we have newsletters with massive slack channel. And it's just something that absolutely was needed. We have grown to 3000 members in two years, which is so far beyond what any of us had expected. And we have plans to continue that kind of growth into next year and we're just putting together the plan, I'm really excited about it. I hope that your listeners who don't already know about us will go to womeninrevenue. org/ join to join the organization and become either a mentor or a mentee or both, I'm both and participate. It's really wonderful and helpful and I've had a ton of really valuable conversations.
Mark: That's amazing, 3000 members.
Jennifer Pockell Dimas: Every year we set these targets that we thought were crazy and then we've exceeded them every year. So next year we're setting our effort pretty aggressive.
Mark: That's amazing. For the listeners, just so that you know, any links that Jen talks about in this show, we'll make sure are accessible in the show notes. And Jen, just so that you know, we'll link out to it as well on our website, just so that everyone can get access to it. This has been an incredible conversation. I am absolutely thrilled with the way that this went. I think that you're amazing and that you're doing incredible things. How do people follow you online?
Jennifer Pockell Dimas: I mean, I have all the same social channels as everyone. So I'm jenpwkboxer, I'm on Twitter. crosstalk Yeah, that's one of those regrettable handles that I created a really long time ago that I inaudible.
Mark: I love it, I think it's great.
Jennifer Pockell Dimas: inaudible So there it is. I also am on LinkedIn, of course. I'm easily accessible through either of those channels and I'd love to engage anyone who has specific questions about the things that we talked about today.
Mark: Incredible for the listeners, just so that you know, again, all of the links and social profiles will be available in the show notes. Jen, thank you so much for being here. Thank you for sharing your wisdom and thank you for everything that you're doing for women in revenue.
Jennifer Pockell Dimas: Thanks for having me, it was really fun.
Mark: Fascinating discussion with Jen Pockell Dimas. Was really, really cool getting into understanding why we exist. Like why does your company exist? Why does your brand exist? What is the cornerstone of the marketplace that you plan to claim? A lot of us don't think about that. I was really taken aback by that discussion. It was really, really good walking. Walking a mile in the customer's shoes, actually understanding them, actually speaking to them, not just a survey, but actually having a conversation. Something that I'm hearing a more and more common theme on is to understand your customers at the most deepest level possible. And then measurement. How are we making sure that we are measuring things. Highly encourage you to follow Jen online, she is a fascinating person doing a lot of amazing things for women in marketing, which I think is very, very, very cool. Women in Revenue is the group that she cofounded. So I highly recommend that you check that. Also, if you enjoyed this episode, please let us know, tag us on social @ contentpullout. Also give us a rating or review on Apple podcast, Spotify, wherever you listen to music and podcasts. Thank you so much for listening. We appreciate you all. Have a great day.