Why Customer Awareness Spurs Content Creation with Paramita Bhattacharya, Ep #36
Mark: Hello, everybody. Welcome to the Content Callout. You've got Mark here. Our guest today is the amazing Paramita Bhattacharya. She's a chief marketing officer, a business mentor, adviser, Forbes contributor, and industry thought leader with over 20 years of experience working in Fortune 500 and privately held companies, the likes of Adobe, Hitachi, Nokia, Blurb. She knows what she's talking about. Let me tell you, we had a great conversation about understanding that your customer must be the center of your go- to- market plan, building your customer journey and mapping with the right content. We talked also about going to where your customer is and being where they are and being multi- channel marketing machine. We also spoke about how data can be overwhelming and trying to derive the right insights from data to inform actions. We hope you enjoy this amazing conversation with Paramita Bhattacharya. Paramita, how are you?
Paramita: Doing good. Excited to be here, Mark.
Mark: I'm excited to have you here. We're going to have a ton of fun today. I am really impressed with all of the accolades and awards that you've received lately. I feel like I'm sitting with royalty.
Paramita: Mark, you're way too kind. You're way too kind, but thank you.
Mark: Yeah, no, it's very, very cool. And the listeners are going to be really excited to get your thoughts on everything that you've been going through because you've seen a lot of transitioning that's happening, especially with this COVID world that we're living in. So before we get going into the conversation, tell the listeners what actionable tactics or strategies we're going to be talking about today.
Paramita: So I would say sort of three actionable strategies that I can rattle off right away. One is your customer must be at the center of your go- to- market. It really doesn't matter what business model B2B, B2C, whatever you have, but mapping your customer journey is more important than ever. And putting your customer at the center of your go- to- market versus your business model or your sales model, or your sort of marketing organization becomes really critical, especially the fact that we are going through a year that has seen a lot of changes, and we continue to see the changes in the next 24 months, as most analysts are predicting. I would say the second strategy is a lot has gone in and where the customer has gone, or the consumer has gone depending on whether you're in B2B and B2C, but in both cases, I would say your mix is such that you have to see where they are. Are they more on digital because of what has happened in the year 2020, or are they in a mix of places? And so it's really important to be very effectively sort of orchestrate what your multichannel looks like, which channels are you focusing on? How much? And if it was something 12 months back year over year, it may change now and that is what you have to keep your eyes on. And then the third I would say, and this has been happening for awhile, but I think it got accelerated, but the COVID continued the trend. Data is big. We all know that. We are all looking for insights as much intelligence, but to sort of make it actionable you have to inform yourself with, I would say, cohesive multiple source information. And so you obviously, as any company, you are elected to have first party data and you will have some third party data. You may have some industry research. You have your sales teams, you have your customer service teams that are directly in contact with the customer. When you are looking at data and you're looking, especially at 360 of a customer, or you're looking at making changes or you're gleaning insights, be very deliberate about how you're developing those insights, taking into account, all of them. And data is only meaningful if we can develop the right insights and then take the next level of action. So I would say those are the three things I am really focused on, and I'm sort of talking about it to other marketers and business leaders to focus on.
Mark: I love the way that you set this up because I think it really ties all together. I want to start off with the first thing that you mentioned, which was mapping the customer journey, but then making sure you have the right content for the right parts of the customer journey. And this is a thing that I think a lot of people really miss on because it's not just about the funnel, it's about the journey through the funnel. So let's maybe talk to people about how they could figure out first of all, how to map their customer journey. And then when we're talking about the customer journey, why is it more appropriate to have some content at certain stages versus others?
Paramita: Yeah, I think you brought up the funnel and I would say, yes, the customer journey is connected to your funnel. But I think the biggest thing a lot of companies may not be doing or may have done it and then stopped it is, understand who your customer is, what are the various segments your customer is broken down in. And then for each of them, what are the stages? And typically your stages will be your funnel. That's how it normally is, but it may not be. But in any case, do look at your awareness to liquidate consideration, do look at, if you're in e- commerce like me today, you'll be looking at retention a lot, you'll be looking at onboarding and welcoming and especially if you're in SAS, into that, and then you'll be looking at renewal and loyalty. So but your customer journey and your funnel journey while being very comparative, is not the same because your funnel likely is what your company has and your customer's journey is what they have. And you also have to account for the fact that no customer... Think about it, Mark, you and I when we buy something, we are not a linear process. We will do some research. We will look at reviews. We will inaudible to. And then somebody might give you a better offer. And then you might go in there. So take into account in that aspect of journey. And that's why it's different from your funnel. And then from a content perspective, I would say that determines what questions are you answering? If you know, obviously all customers are in some sort of research in the beginning of their process. What are those intent words? What are the phases? What is typically what they're looking for versus if you want someone to buy again from you, what is something they would be looking for? So the content needs to look different based on where which level of customer, and ideally this is where if you have enough data and enough handle on things, you would be able to build cohorts of customers, right? Customers that are in your awareness journey, customers that are in your consideration to conversion journey, customers that be a retention journey and you'll totally talk differently to each one of them, not to mention you do different strategies and different offers and different kinds of incentives.
Mark: I think for a lot of people, when they're thinking of this though, the whole process of content creation, according to the customer journey, and then the multi- channel approach that you might take, can feel very overwhelming because it's a lot. So how could we help the listeners to break down into chunkable steps, how they should think about it? So maybe we'll start from the top of maybe we could chat about developing the ICPs and then developing the buyer personas for each ICP and then breaking it down from there. Can you help people with that journey?
Paramita: I would say, one of the things is take baby steps. I have been in parts of my career, really suggested and backed up away from doing content based on buyer personas, because I felt like we were not ready at that point in time or that the team didn't have resources. So I would say define for the company and for your business based on business goals and strategies, how much streamlined you can keep your buyer groups and whether you really do need to get into the personnel level if you don't have that level of sophistication and resources. And in doing that, do broader chunks. And when content development, the content strategy to me, one of the best successful ways that I feel it can work is build bedrock content, meaning you have your awareness and you're answering certain questions, right? There are certain channels that are running your awareness. Let's just take an example like that. You build two or three maximum bedrock content. These are big content. This is like either a big ebook or this is a bigger campaign. You're saying something. And then what you essentially do is not break that down. Essentially, you do not then say," Oh my God, I have to do each kind of things here for three channels that are running." You basically repurpose the key salient points out of that into multiple channels that are running your awareness. So you're essentially doing big bedrock content, reusability, taking nuggets out and then fitting it well, inaudible running so lift from their website, pull some things from there. You might have an 11 page holistic content piece, and then you're breaking it down into one pagers and small bites. You probably can do a little thought leadership with that. You can do a Q& A question answer. You can have somebody on your team do a webinar with it. You can really repurpose and reuse it because, in practical terms you can build all the content that somebody needs.
Paramita: That's just not possible. And even if it was possible, believe me, your customer probably either would not get their hands on it or they would get confused at some point of time. So I think I would not say less is more completely, but I would say optimize yourself.
Mark: Yeah. I love the idea of having that bedrock content or that pillar content to then repurpose and reuse, because I think a lot of people approach content the other way. That's a big mistake is they start small and then they try to build up and then they realize," Oh my gosh, this is way too much. I can't handle this." Instead, start with that content and then build up.
Paramita: And I would say the other part of the complication is you are answering customer question. That's what your intent is for that stage of the journey, but you have a product line, right? And you have brand messaging. You basically have to have a hierarchy of messaging. Where does the brand positioning and messaging state then where are your product messaging lie? And then how does content basically roll in product features? Are they in consideration because they are talking a lot about what does the product do? What sets your brand and elevating your brand through your awareness campaign. So you also have to have a very strong eye into your product messaging, your brand messaging in building that bedrock content. Then it will accurately work. And similarly your customer testimonials, if they are down the funnel or down the stages of journey, if you think," Oh, my customer testimonials are really for people who are my repeat customers, who are either going to renew or who are going to purchase multiple times from us." What is the kind of storytelling you are doing? That has a lot to do with what you are talking about in terms of the next round of features that are coming in, because you're trying to have them purchase from you again, right? So that's sort of the other layer of complication is, answering customer questions, but then you have to weave in your brand and product messaging. And then you have to look at how much content can you create and tackle that by doing that pillar content or bedrock content, and then going down from there.
Mark: I love that. One of the things that I think a lot of people are now realizing with the way that we're integrating data into everything that we do is that the amount of data that we have is insane. It's just massive. It's gargantuan when you look at it and it's very easy to get lost in the data and follow metrics that may not necessarily be meaningful for your business. How do we get away from the data overwhelm, drive the right kind of insights to be able to help us do our business better? What's the way that you approach that?
Paramita: It's a discipline actually, because you have all the systems that are capturing all that data, right, Mark. So it's almost a discipline of building that dashboard. And I will say that it's ground up in some ways, but I think it's more top down. So I'm always first looking very closely at what's driving my P& L, what's driving my business objectives, what exactly are the inaudible that needs to happen? And I am then setting up the marketing and customer oriented metrics and KPIs that roll up very, very direct. If you're in e- commerce, they'll be absolutely into the P& L. If you're in a B2B, they might be sort of showing revenue contribution. But that is my first layer, is to really connect to the business goal and revenue contribution. Now brand can be one goal and you may not be able to do a revenue contribution, but then you'll set something for it, whether it's movement through some survey you're doing, or some other kind of... And then you basically do what I call inaudible of metrics and tertiary layer of metrics. And that would be then going into the levels of channel specific metrics.
Mark: That's also driving through levels of the organization?
Paramita: And that's also levels through to the organization, because if you have the world dashboard at the top level, and it depends... In every company it's called differently. It could be a marketing dashboard. I run customer service in my current goals. So everything from NPS to inaudible goes into that dashboard. And then there is a level of metrics that are deeper metrics. That's the metrics that every team is working on, with the monitor the business, right? If search is running, they are looking at everything from ranking to click through email, click through rates, conversion rates, website conversion rates. So then that level of data is coming in and then the third layer, and so I am very deliberately with my teams breaking up by data and sort of aligning it to different level of scrutiny so that we are not looking at all this data together. And what I do is, and it doesn't work for every business, so everybody has to sort of think through themselves. Some, I look at only monthly. Some, I look at quarterly and then some might look on a weekly basis because your needles are running very weekly. Your search is very weekly versus your revenue contribution or your email conversion inaudible contribution could be monthly based on what level of traffic you're driving. And then the revenue metrics are all quarterly because we are doing QPRs at the quarterly level. So I also sort of look at it that way.
Mark: I love that you said that because I think a lot of people, when they look at the data, they're starting to look at it every day, right? And there are things that you should be looking at every day, but like you said, there are things you should be looking at weekly, monthly, quarterly, whatever it might be, because I think people miss trends that they should be seeing over a longer period of time. Over a shorter period of time, you're not necessarily going to get enough of a full picture of the data to be able to make a decision.
Paramita: Yeah. And I think the other thing that I have over the last few years, I think I've gotten a little better at it, I wouldn't say I'm quite where I want to be. I do set targets because if you are in a business that has been measuring themselves, you will definitely have year over your data, you'll have month over month data and you can set up trends. So for example, going through 2020, right after COVID hit those early months, you're over your inaudible count because year over year had thrown out of the window and that meant that we then started to look at our own trend. Oh, what is June compared to how May was? And so the trend data is important from that perspective. It's important to have a target against which you're measuring yourself. Because the other thing is, if you went up to your CEO and you said," I had traffic," a million and a half impressions, what does that mean for anybody? Nothing.
Paramita: Right? Or for that matter, if you said incremental lift, I can understand. But if you said," Oh, for four thousand, we did this as a revenue contribution." That also means not much, unless you can say," Last month it was this and this month it was this, our target was this." So I've started to inculcate the discipline to my teams and myself to say," Let's set targets for everything that we can. And then we will see when we are looking at weekly basis, monthly basis. Where it did become." Because forecasting, I think is an art. The more you forecast, the more you will sort of get deeper into your own metrics.
Mark: Mm. And the better you get at it-
Paramita: Yeah, the better you get at it.
Mark: This helps you to manage objectively as well. Right? Like, I mean, as a leader within the organization there's a certain amount of objective management that you need to take. I mean, especially during the turbulent times that we're in right now. There's so much going on and so much changing. These kinds of metrics are going to help you manage that team's progression as well.
Paramita: That's right. That's right. It tells us if you're launching a new campaign, where did you start? Where was the target then? And six months later, where is it today? And what targets did you set or what the six months. Then you can really talk about your success accomplishments, because there may be still whatever they are, but that's the target you set. And if you blew past your target, you obviously did well.
Mark: Right. Given how this helps us to manage, there's another part to management that I'd love to discuss with you that I think is really important right now. And as we progress for the listeners, if you're listening right now, we're recording this end of 2020. When you hear this, it'll be beginning of 2021. And my assumption based on the data and the information that we've received is, we'll be pretty much in the same spot. So as this progresses, this whole mess that we're in right now, how are you approaching leadership and management through these turbulent times?
Paramita: I would say, let's take leadership from a leadership perspective. I think there was some trends. And I think, Mark, you are closer to this as well. We all know leadership was evolving. Leadership was becoming very inclusive. This really established a couple of key things and I am pretty confident we never go back. It's not like even if 2021, end of inaudible whatever the timeline is when the world comes back to whatever the new normal is, I think this will not go back. Empathy and compassionate leadership is here to stay. I have no doubt prioritizing the safety and wellbeing and caring for employees, customers, vendors, partners is going to remain. Employee communications is going to be one of your actually key objective pillars because a lot of data now is showing that all of that increases productivity. So taking care of your people, which I think was organic in many ways, is an established, I think, pillar of leadership now. I think the other thing that has happened, Mark, is I want to say there's a level of business clarity that is being asked of leaders because of the turbulence. But I think that then will become the norm. Clarify what really is the direction, clarify where really people need to go, clarify what should not be done anymore because we can't do everything. It's as important to get people to do the things as it is to have them not do the things because you want to be able to set a clear set of priorities. So I think prioritization with the next 24 months I'm going to say is so critical that as a leader for you to drive that prioritization, you have to be really communicating back to inaudible
Mark: Hmm. There was one thing that you said there that I find super interesting and I think this is what people struggle with. I agree with you that empathy and understanding your employees and being that kind of empathetic leader is here to stay. And I think that people struggle with balancing that against building resiliency in their team at the same time, because at a certain point you also have to say to your employees," Okay, you're a big boy. You're a big girl. You can handle this, right? Like pull up your socks. Let's go." How do you balance those two things?
Paramita: So I would say, first of all, I want to characterize empathy as not mollycoddling.
Mark: Okay, fantastic. I'm glad that you made that.
Paramita: Yeah. When I say compassionate leadership, I mean a leadership where your EQ IQ and multiple other Qs are running together for you to understand where the team is. Because any leader who has outcome and outputs from a team needs the best out of the team and that usually is a mix of multiple things. So in an empathic leadership place, if you really apply that accurately, all it means is you are very in touch with that. You are in touch with that your teams are working really a lot over the 60 days of holiday e- commerce and what do they need before they start gen planning? And how would you enable that to happen without letting the business fall apart in that way? I'm sure there are multiple ways of describing the empathetic relationship, but I do think the [ inaudible 00:00:21:14] is the other thing that a leader has to build. There are two streams of thought. I look at business agility and marketing resiliency and sort of put them together. And that means everything from resourcing, becoming nimble with what you can do in- house, what you need to be pulling from elsewhere. And sort of being in that mix is really critical. Upskilling the marketing talent with data analytics and anything that's a short gap. Those are the things and again, you do that under the umbrella or world to compassionate leadership. You can do that because it's not in conflict. It's not in conflict for you to clearly understand there's a portion of your teams that need upscaling their marketing talent. In order to be able to really address the objectives you are laying in front of them to be able to... for me as a leader, it's critical to recognize that I have to make the right kind of investments so that these people, my teams, are able to really get to what I'm asking. We talked about dashboards, we talked about customer journey. These things require a lot of investments of different kinds to be able to do that effectively. So I think part of the game plan, I think at least for me, is definitely having a much more awareness driven, compassionate leadership of people going through what they're going through and being able to compromise in the right places and at the same time building the resiliency so that it actually magnifies the impact of that compassionate level. If you give your people the right things, if you give your people the right talents and skills, if you help them resource the right way, you are doing a lot of things right for them and with them and you will benefit out of it. You don't even have to tell someone," Oh, take the day off because you are tired," or whatever. That sort of falls within the element of that. To me, that's sort of where... and I think it's important to be honest, it's right now, superbly important to build that resiliency because you cannot be business agile otherwise.
Mark: I've heard it said that, I think it's both. Kind of giving you the answer of what I feel before I even ask the question. But do you think there's a difference between building the right person or the right people within your team and finding the right people? I've heard it said that you don't make good people, you find good people and make them better. How do you feel about that statement? Or is it a combination of both?
Paramita: It's true. Interesting thing, Mark, that you bring up. I want to say it is a combination, but it is probably, I think, your assessment will be that some people will be in that rotation of the can't be made and then-
Mark: Or they're just not a fit.
Paramita: Just not a fit, right. They're just not a fit. And if you're a compassionate leader, you will recognize that pretty quickly and you will actually be doing the right thing by taking the right kind of action with those people.
Mark: I agree with you.
Paramita: You're not doing anybody favors by letting-
Paramita: Exactly. So I think you asked a very interesting question as a leader, so really critical to recognize, but it's a hard one. It's really-
Mark: Very difficult.
Paramita: If you want to give people the time to get to where you think you want them until you say they probably are not going to ever get there. And then what do you do? What kind of plan do you work out for them?
Mark: Yeah. Someone said to me the other day," Don't send your ducks to eagle school." And I thought-
Paramita: I'm going to use that.
Mark: That's really insightful. Right? You need ducks. You have to have ducks. Don't send them to eagles school.
Paramita: Yeah. I think the other thing we should all realize is you can't have a team of all eagles or all ducks.
Mark: That's right. You can't. If you had all eagles it would be chaos.
Paramita: It would lead to chaos. Can you imagine the noise level there?
Mark: That's right.
Paramita: So you also have to understand the curve of your team, how you are driving that car, how many people ask... And I never want to use traditionally leadership classes will always have the A team, B team. That's not a terminology I use. It's a question of how is your team in the different levels of skill sets, different levels of maturity, different levels of aptitude and expertise? Where do these things lie? And usually I will set some goals in that development. Let's say, I want to goal that's is everybody should be at least be proficient in driving Tableau and understanding how to get into Tableau and look at the report. Let's say I just do that and that could be the baseline of everything. And then from there it becomes a situation of, what do I want different cohorts and what kind of expertise? Does 20% of my team have the expertise to be excellent dashboard data analytics reporters? And that's enough then for the team, for the rest of the team? Then that's what I'll go after. I'm not going to try to get everybody to be that.
Mark: That's right. Yeah. Well said. I think that's fantastic. Well, listen, as we close off today, is there anything final that you'd like to share with the listeners about... I know that you're involved in a lot of women led organizations, women leadership, diversity and inclusion. Is there a group that you'd like to be able to promote today?
Paramita: There are two groups in general. Let me say that I love the progress and advances that corporate world is making towards diversity and inclusion. And I think we have inaudible. There is a group I'm based out of the Silicon Valley in Northern California, San Francisco Bay area. And there was a group that's doing a lot of work and did a lot of work to the California law that is mandating gender representation, women representation on boards, and it's called How Women Lead. So those of you who are interested listeners who want to go and check that out, please check them out. I've been involved for about two years with them and they have a variety of programs, including I just recently became a limited founder with them for a small investment fund that will fund only female founders and startups that are led by female leadership teams. And then there is another one that I recently last year joined as a founding member. It's called First Ford and the goal inaudible is also to increase representation of women on boards. And so love to see a lot of momentum happening from people on an individual level and also on group level. So Mark, thank you for bringing that up.
Mark: Yeah. You bet. We're going to link out to those in the show notes as well. If people want to talk to you after this, what's the best way for people to connect with you online or on social?
Paramita: Oh geez. My LinkedIn is absolutelyopen. Please absolutely connect with me on that. Feel free to also tweet. I'm on Twitter at Paramitadigital and I'd be more than happy to expand my network.
Mark: Awesome. It was so great to have you on. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom. We really appreciate it.
Paramita: Thanks Mark. Great to be here.
Mark: Well, I learned a ton from that conversation with the amazing Paramita Bhattacharya. I hope you did as well. I'm sure you did. What did you take away from it? That's what I want to know. Let me know. Comment on the social posts that we have or shoot us an email. Shoot us a message. I want to find out what you enjoyed and if you enjoyed it, please do share it with your friends, family, anyone that you know in marketing. Give us a rating and review. Thank you so much. Have a great day.
Your customer must be at the center of your marketing. This isn’t a new concept to any savvy marketer. You have to map your customer journey and put the customer at the center of your marketing versus anything else—your business model, sales model, or organization. How does Paramita Bhattacharya—the CMO of Blurb—handle marketing and content creation? Listen to this episode of Content Callout to learn more.
Outline of This Episode
- [1:36] Actionable strategies + tactics
- [4:07] Mapping the customer journey
- [6:44] Breaking down content creation
- [11:23] Overcoming data overwhelm
- [17:22] Approaching leadership and management
- [23:28] Building or outsourcing a team
- [26:20] Organizations Paramita supports
Resources & People Mentioned
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