October 17, 2022
Article

Marketing, Communications, and Pricing Leadership: Business must have a relentless focus on ROI, which includes marketing (podcast episode #35)

SUMMARY:

Get ideas for managing your margins, ROI, and performance dashboard by listening to episode #35 of the How I Made It In Marketing podcast. I had a wonderful conversation with JD Dillon, Chief Marketing Officer, Tigo Energy.

The West Point grad and U.S. Army veteran discussed how he manages one-on-ones with his team, why he got called “CM No,” and what marketing can learn from the military.

by Daniel Burstein, Senior Director, Content & Marketing, MarketingSherpa and MECLABS Institute

Marketing, Communications, and Pricing Leadership: Business must have a relentless focus on ROI, which includes marketing (podcast episode #35)

This article was published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.

“Too often, our campaigns and their messaging are dominated by a social dynamic rather than a science dynamic. Our collateral suffers a ‘designed by committee’ process and thus speaks with the disjointed voice of compromise,” Flint McGlaughlin taught in Customer-First Objectives: Discover a 3-part formula for focusing your webpage message.

I thought about this lesson when our latest podcast guest shared a famous Yogi Berra quote about theory and practice. That “science dynamic” Flint mentions, or the “practice” that Yogi mentions, usually translates into data-driven marketing in our industry. When I asked him about what role data plays in his decisions as a marketing leader, he told me…

“I've got a dashboard that's got my three strategies that I mentioned at the beginning – thunder, lightning, and structure. I've got four tactics under each. So that's 12. And I've got three-ish metrics – sometimes two, sometimes four or five – for each one of those tactics. So, I've got a pretty extensive dashboard, and that dashboard tells me directionally correct. I don't get hung up on 3,862 is 112 off of our plan. That is not useful. Just directionally correct.”

That guest is – JD Dillon, Chief Marketing Officer, Tigo Energy.

Here’s some quick info so you can understand our guest’s credentials. And then scroll down to listen to and/or read the top lesson-filled stories from his career.

Tigo Energy announced a $20 million round of investment last year, led by Energy Growth Momentum. With over 40,000 installations in over 100 countries on all seven continents, Tigo systems generate more than 1 GWh of daily solar production.

When I asked Dillon about his biggest career accomplishment, he told me that the stock of Enphase Energy rose from 72 cents to $200 while he was Vice President of Marketing & Pricing. He also noted that this happened during the Trump administration, which he called out because the administration was known as not having policies that favored the renewable energy industry.

Listen to our conversation using the embedded player below or click through to your preferred audio streaming service.

Listen on Apple Podcasts | Listen on Spotify | Listen on Google Podcasts

Stories (with lessons) about what he made in marketing

Some lessons from Dillon that emerged in our discussion:

“Hit it where they ain’t” – “Wee Willy” Keeler (baseball player from the turn of the century)

Dillon finds under-utilized resources and turns them into a competitive weapon for companies. At Cypress, as VP of Marketing, he gathered the two dozen inside salespeople, put them under a strong woman hungry to succeed, and gave them a vision and turned their jobs into a career.

“In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.” – New York Yankees great Yogi Berra

Applying this concept to business, execution is everything. Dillon believes in action. When he arrived at Tigo Energy in 2020, he quickly determined that marketing had to be all about driving revenue. He had the team deploy ON24 for webinars and in the first half of 2021, brought in 2,400 webinar attendees. They have since worked on lead qualification and efficient processes, but the first step was execution.

“If my uniform doesn’t get dirty, I haven’t done anything in the baseball game.” – Baseball stolen base leader Rickey Henderson

That holds true in the business world and Dillon saw that when he arrived at Enphase Energy and gross margin (GM) was 13%. When he left, over three years later, the GM was 41%. As VP of Marketing & Pricing, he focused relentlessly on every penny, reviewing every single quote for the first year and a half and famously getting called the “CM No” (a play on words on the CMO title) by a customer at dinner. To change things, get dirty.

Stories (with lessons) about the people he made it with

Dillon also shared lessons she learned from the people he collaborated with:

The most important professional skill is getting things done at your company by pushing boundaries but also operating within the culture of the company.

via Dan McCranie, Board Member at Cypress Semiconductor

Dillon had quarterly 1:1’s with McCranie when he was at Cypress, and after two years, McCranie did not even know Dillon’s title. He knew what Dillon did. And that’s all that mattered to him. When he told Dillon that, Dillon was floored.

Regardless of job title, use your unique skill sets to accomplish mission critical tasks.

via Ralph Schmitt, CEO and Director at OCZ Storage

Six months into Dillon’s tenure at OCZ, it declared bankruptcy. The company was in trouble. He volunteered to lead an 8D (eight disciplines) problem-solving process to fix the company. He proceeded to lead a six-team initiative to identify 19 root causes and 59 corrective actions that successfully resulted in an asset sale to Toshiba.

Business must have a relentless focus on ROI, which includes marketing.

via Zvi Alon, CEO and Chairman at Tigo Energy

Alon absolutely believes in spending money, but the team does not spend lavishly on marketing swag or vague advertisements. They measure views and clicks on press releases and tradeshows turn a revenue ROI of 10 or they do not do them at Tigo Energy. Everything has a dashboard metric.

Related content mentioned in this episode

Public Sector Marketing and Communication Leadership: Multi-directional learners, multi-colored spiky hair, and wearing multiple hats (podcast episode #31)

About this podcast

This podcast is not about marketing – it is about the marketer. It draws its inspiration from the Flint McGlaughlin quote, “The key to transformative marketing is a transformed marketer” from the Become a Marketer-Philosopher: Create and optimize high-converting webpages free digital marketing course.

Transcript

Not ready for a listen yet? Interested in searching the conversation? No problem. Below is a tough transcript of our discussion.

Daniel Burstein: What do you do? Have you ever gotten this question at a dinner party or other social event? For me, I could use my title, I guess. I am the Senior Director of Content and Marketing. But what does that really mean? You're not your job title. My next guests podcast guest application really grabbed my attention because he highlighted the need to think beyond job title.

Discussing the lesson. Regardless of job title, use your unique skill sets to accomplish Mission Critical tasks. We'll hear the story behind that lesson, along with many more lesson filled stories from JD Dillon, the Chief Marketing Officer of Tiger Energy. Thanks for joining us JD.

JD Dillon: You bet. My pleasure.

Daniel Burstein: So let's take a quick look at your background, a very impressive background. So always interested in a guy who didn't start in marketing. And for you, you graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a degree in Electrical Engineering. Then you went on to be a Captain of Defense Air Artillery in the US Army. Very cool. Thank you for your service.

Then let’s look at some these really cool marking roles. You got Vice President Marketing of Cypress Semiconductor, Vice President of Customer Operations, Sales and Marketing at OCZ Storage Solutions now at Toshiba Group Company Vice President of Marketing and Pricing at Enphase Energy and also a volunteer as a baseball umpire for Little League International. We're going to see that level of baseball l in your lessons. But now you're the Chief Marketing Officer at Tigo Energy. Last year, Tigo Energy announced a $20 million round of investment led by Energy Growth Momentum with over 50,000 installations in over 100 countries on all seven continents, Tigo systems generates more than one gigawatt hour of daily solar production. So what it's like letting the people know about the company you're working for. But then I asked JD, well what should we know about you? What's a good data point we can use? And this is what he gave me. He said, Enphase Energy. Remember, he was a Vice President of Marketing and Pricing. When he started there it was at $0.72. When he left, it was at $200.

And he mentioned this was mostly during the Trump energy. Keep in mind, this is a renewable energy company who shot through the roof during the Trump administration. So I think we're going to learn a lot from you. JD But let's start before we get into any of your stories or lessons. What is your day like as CMO for Tigo Energy?

JD Dillon: Well, I start early. You mentioned earlier, I've been in the military, I've been an early guy. I delivered papers when I was a kid. So I was a paper boy back when they had those. So I get up very, very early, but I come in about 5 a.m. and I spend my day on essentially three things. And I think of it in terms of physical attributes, thunder, lightning and structure.

So I tend to start my day working on thunder and my CEO calls that making noise in the market. So that's letting people know who you are. So that's press releases, that's videos. I spend my time on that because in my opinion, that's a little bit more creative. And then I move on during my day to lightning. And to me lightning is more focused and lightning is demand generation and sales enablement.So that is often a little bit more technical, data driven demand gen. What lead techniques are working? What messaging is working? So I spend time, I lightning and then towards the end of the day, I spend time on structure because our company is an adolescent company. We're in the growth stage. We act a little bit too much like a startup, like a lot of companies do our size and we don't want to become too bureaucratic. So we're in that little adolescent. And as a man with teenage children, I can tell you sometimes those are difficult times. So we're trying to add a little bit of structure, but not too much.

Daniel Burstein: Makes sense, so I'm going to go back to very early in your career because I was a paper boy, too, so I actually I worked for an afternoon paper back when those were things. I was like, I didn't have to wake up early. But here's one thing. Here's one thing I notice that I think is lost, that that really taught me things when I was eight years old. I get the newspaper now and it's like billed to my credit card directly. I don't know if you had this experience. I had to go every week. I had a book, a ledger, and I had to go to every house every week and collect in cash the you know, the cost of the newspaper. And it was nice because I got tips, too. But as an eight year old, nine year old, ten year old, I had to go and actually collect on my account. So did you have that same thing you had to go through or was it just billed through someone?

JD Dillon: You bet. I had the little stubs that you had to tear it off and you hand it to them and you tell them you paid for this week. And this person gets just Saturday and Sunday. This one gets every day. So it's a $1.25 vs. $2. And I remember it vividly. You knock on the door and you see all the lights on, but nobody's answering because they know it's you. They don't have the two bucks to give you. You're like, Come on, it's two bucks.

Daniel Burstein: There is no better business lesson than actually having to collect on the value you deliver. So as an eight year old, I learned that well. Let's start by talking about some more interesting stories, some stories about the things you made. And I mentioned you as a Little League Baseball Umpire, because for your lessons, you use quotes from famous baseball players, which was a lot of fun.

So the first one is from “Wee Willy” Keeler. He was a baseball player from the turn of the century and he said, hit it where they ain't. So how did you learn this lesson, J.D..

JD Dillon: So at Cypress Semiconductor, I  was just out of the military. So I was new in the corporate world. I was a little bit older than my contemporaries. And what I searched for was areas of the companies underutilized resources and turned them into a competitive weapon. So in that role, I actually saw about two dozen inside salespeople spread around the world. They were in every office, every sales office. And I thought that they were not being utilized to their full potential. They were generally the most junior person or the most inexperienced person or just on the rank. There was like four salespeople two application engineers and the inside salesperson. And that person was often a woman and they were often treated to not the best experience and not utilized to their full capability.

So I gathered them up under me, put a strong person in charge. She herself used to do that. Very strong woman, great person. Her name's Tamara. She was hungry to succeed. She gave them a vision and turned their jobs into a career and they became a competitive weapon out of the inside sales role spread around the world.

Daniel Burstein: So let me ask you, you talk about going from the military into marketing. Do you notice any similarities or differences or something you learned from there? Because one thing I see all the time is as marketers, we just love using military language. I don't even think we know we're doing it like a campaign that comes from a military campaign, right. We talk about air cover, we talk about targets. We talk about all these even you said competitive weapon. So I wonder, like from your experience in the military, like jumping into marketing, what did you see? I mean, that's one great example of these underutilized resources. But there are other like similarities or differences. You noticed.

JD Dillon: Competitive analysis. There is an entire job in the military. It's called the S5 or the G5. That that oh my goodness, yes S5 or G5. It's been a while since I've been a military. That they, they S2 oh my goodness. If anybody out here is from the military and they're angry right now, it's been 30 years for me.

So the S2 to that person's job is to analyze the battlefield from the competitive perspective. So you're basically saying during the war game meaning before the battle, how is the enemy going to come at me? Are they're going to use AR, are they going to use artillery? Are they going to do a flanking movement? What are they going to do?

Well, we do that all the time in marketing. What is our competition going to do? Are they going to cut prices? Are they going to focus on a problem we had in this region and then talk about it in the other region? That is competitive intelligence and market intelligence. And in this case, enemy intelligence. It's very, very similar.

Daniel Burstein: And is that where you play like your war game? If I was this leader, here's what I would do. I would do this and this and this and this and then see how you defend it.

JD Dillon: Absolutely. And if you really wanted to get geeky, I don't personally use this, but I've got friends that do a lot of game theory. And that is if we're going to raise the price due to the supply challenges right now, is a competitor going to cut the price and say, see, we care about the hurricane torn area, right? So that would be an example of what do you do if they do that in response to you?

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, I love that. I think that's a great strategic leadership move. I think sometimes I've seen what I'll call a rah rah leader, right? I mean, maybe they came out of sales or whatever where it's like they just always make like we're the best in the competitors words. I was starting with the start up ones. And, you know, startups sometimes have to have this mentality because, you know, how much energy and time and treasure you have to put into being a startup.

They're like, okay, if you come on board, you have to realize this one thing we have to ground through, you know, breakthrough technology and nothing else can compete with us. And, you know, we're going to just dominate this market. And I said, really, I have to think the opposite. I have to think who cares about this? And why is everything better? Because that's what every investor and customer is thinking. So I love that mentality of having that person, the devil's advocate, whatever you want to call them, S2 on the team. That's like, okay, no, no, it's not about this is our team that their blue team, red team, we're better than them. It's let's think strategically like they are because we can't have all that same group think in this realm of like, yeah, we're the best or whatever.

Alright, well here's the next. I love this quote car. This is one of my favorite quotes. It's from New York Yankee great Yogi Berra. In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is. So how did you learn this lesson in your career JD?

JD Dillon: Execution is everything. I believe very much in action. When I was at Cypress Semiconductor, I remember I was sitting in the ballroom at a hotel, and there was about 40 senior people in there. And I had just come on board as a marketing person. And one of the engineers said, we have to find a large market with high profit margins and not very many competitors.

Wow, that's impressive strategy there. And it was an idiotic statement. And it's why the person was an engineer and I was in marketing. And so as marketing, I believe execution’s everything, whatever you come up with what I just described as a foolish, you're not going to be able to execute that's dumb. So when I was at Cypress as VP of Marketing or excuse me, when I came to Tigo Energy in 2020, I determined that marketing had to be about driving revenue.

So I showed up here and I was focused on that first sales enablement, but I realized that we had to switch to demand generation. So I wanted to rather than give the tools to the salespeople, I wanted to give them the leads and give them the hot leads. And 2020, we're talking about in the middle of a pandemic, of course. So I deployed ON24™ for webinars and I happen to believe, I don't have this  amount for a paid endorsement or anything, but I think they're a great platform and I use it. So ON24™ for webinars and in the first half of 2021 I brought in 2400 attendees.

Now my goal was to just get butts in the seats, get them in the door, figuratively, get them online, get their names, get them interested. And we've since worked on getting more lead qualification and efficient processes, but execution was everything. Get people hearing our brand, hearing about how to use our product and get them interested in more. So the execution.

Daniel Burstein: So what content did you create to do that though, right. Because, you know, again, going back to this quote, in theory, there is no difference between theory and practice and practice there is. So anytime I hear, you know, people talk about content marketing who are not experienced in content marketing, it's kind of that idea. We'll do content marketing, right? In theory, it sounds good. Okay, we'll do webinars. Well, a webinar is just an empty box, so it's great to do a webinar if you don't put the right thing in the box, you're not going to bring people in. So how did you figure out what content to do, where to get the subject matter experts for the kind of how would you actually bring in those 2400 people? Because I'm sure on ON24™, it's a great platform, but ON24™ didn't do it. You did it, right?

JD Dillon: Right. So the answer to your question is trial and error. I executed first, strategy later. As a matter of fact, my CEO asked that exact question, what are you going to do for content? And the answer was, we're just going to start developing what we have and talking about it. And if it doesn't work, we’ll change it. And I had one in Australia that had three people that was comedic. We had four people on there from our team and three customers. Well, that was a great one. And on the other hand I did one down in Brazil, in Portuguese that had something like 280 of them and it went for 90 minutes. Now, interestingly, that 280 and 90 minutes, nobody was interested in buying. They're just coming to learn.

So that's nice. But it's a little altruistic. The three people in Australia, they probably logged in by mistake. So I worked on the content and settled on a focus on the middle of the funnel, if you know the funnels which I assume your listeners do, not top of the funnel, we're not going to introduce people we are Tigor here us roar, not bottom of the final they are ready to buy. It’s okay when I do an installation, what are the pros and cons of doing rapid shutdown? I'm using an industry term, but the point is, that's something that installer who's our primary audience would understand and they'd say, okay, I know what Tigo does. I know a little bit about MLPE. It's an acronym that of a product that we do, so it's a knowledgeable person to educate them in the middle of the funnel to make an intelligent decision. But I  didn't start there.

Daniel Burstein: Well, I think it's important you mention that too, because when people start with webinars, I think sometimes they start, you know somewhere at that bottom of the funnel, the end of the funnel, they have this idea, they look at this data, right? And they're like, okay, we see if someone looks at a demo, then they're 80% likely to buy. So let's just do a bunch of webinars with demos, right? And they're kind of missing the whole point that one, that person probably was just very likely to buy. So they track down your demo and found it but before they even saw their demo, right. But two, you know, you're not building that audience by doing that, right? You're just getting the people that you probably already have anyway. So I think that's very strategic to hit the middle of that funnel.

JD Dillon: And in the top was the example that I mentioned about Brazil. These were all people that just wanted to learn about solar energy. And again, much as I like helping the people of Brazil  we got to get money, right?

Daniel Burstein: So yeah. So that brings up another question when we talk about this quote about theory and practice, is the use of data in decision making, use of data in decision making. So, you know, theoretically a lot's going to work, but we only know what works when we put in practice when we look at the data. So for example, we have a free digital marketing course and in the section on customer first objectives, Flint McGlaughlin teaches to often are campaigns and their messaging are dominated by a social dynamic rather than a science dynamic. Our collateral suffers a design by committee process and thus speaks with the disjointed voice of compromise.

So what role has data played in your decision making, in your marketing and leading your teams? When you're in those rooms and there is just you know, kind of all that committee there is saying like, oh, we're the best and everyone else is the worse. Like, how have you used data to make decisions?

JD Dillon: It is absolutely huge. And I'm going to mix metaphors because we're talking baseball, but I'm going to talk football,  data gets you into the red zone. But then I find that gut feel gets you into the end zone. And for those listeners who don't follow football, that basically means I've got a dashboard that's got of my three strategies and I mentioned at the beginning thunder, lightning in structure. I've got four tactics under each. So that's 12 and I've got three’ish metrics, sometimes two sometimes four or five for each one of those tactics. So I've got a pretty extensive dashboard, and that dashboard tells me directionally correct. I don't get hung up on 3862 is there's 112 off of our plan that that is not useful directionally correct.

For instance, our video views were going down and down and down. We said to ourselves, is video part of our brand strategy to make noise? The answer is yes. So we adjusted and did more videos in addition to the webinars. And so that was an example where data guided the decision making and then there were some gut feel, okay, now we're going to do more videos now what's it going to be in? And we asked some questions. It got a little bit more qualitative from the quantitative.

Daniel Burstein: Right, making sense of the data at the end of the day. Right? Then you can get lost in the numbers if you're not careful.

JD Dillon: Sure ,you bet.

Daniel Burstein: So here's the next lesson. If my uniform doesn't get dirty, I haven't done anything in the baseball game. That's from baseball  stolen base leader Rickey Henderson. He's probably played for like 12 teams, but we'll just say he played for the New York Mets because he played for them for like a season or two. So, how do you get your uniform dirty JD, how have you gotten your uniform dirty, so to speak?

JD Dillon: So getting into data is generally half of it. The other half is talking to people. So when we mentioned before at the beginning, when I got to Enphase Energy, the gross margin was 13%. It's a public company, so that's knowable fact you could look it up when I left three years later, the gross margin was at 41%. So as VP of Marketing and Pricing, I focused on every single penny. Everything mattered. Once I sat next to an installer and I had dinner with him and the installer said, Oh, you're the CM-NO. And so he thought it was funny. He had had a couple of drinks. He thought it was funny to say that I say no to everything. And in marketing of course they want us to give away the farm. And that was needed to turn around our gross margin. Following every single penny.

Great example of one of the things I did in marketing is we looked at the paper that the instructions that went in the box that shipped with the products to the installer that they would then install on the roof. So it had an instruction guide, the paper, we made it thinner and then the paper we made it black and white instead of color in order to cut costs. We overcorrected for cost because it turns out in electrical diagrams color has meaning. So we made a mistake and we had to add that cost back in.

But the point there is digging into the details, acting and then quickly realizing we made a mistake that is getting your uniform dirty. That is a marketer,  I wasn't a CMO is was VP of Marketing, but I was the head marketing guy, getting into the nuts and bolts of the details so you can make intelligent decisions.

Daniel Burstein: I think one other thing about getting your uniform dirty and getting into the nuts and bolts, I see this really well in your career. Some people, if you're not careful, I think there are those marketing leaders where they have a specific skill set and when all you have is the hammer, everything looks like a nail, right? If content, marketing is your thing or database marketing or direct or whatever it is, every role you go, that's what you're looking for and you're trying to hit it on.

So we've already talked about three examples and it was three totally different areas of focus you had. Inside sales, essentially content marketing with the webinars that you're getting into the actual fulfillment of the product here when you're talking about it. So I think that's very notable and something for really everyone listening to learn from is it's so easy again to just have our, our thing, our little niche in marketing and that works when you're kind of lower on the totem pole or you know, when you're kind of lower in the organization. But as you grow in the organization, as you really become a leader, you have to be able to understand to your point. Like, what are those key movers? We're the levers I can pull and I can change here. That's beautiful.

So in the first half of the podcast, we talk about lessons we can learn from the things you made. The second half, we talk about lessons we you can learn from the people you collaborated with because that's what we do as marketers. We build things. We make things, like the teams you made and you talked about the webinars you made, but we also make them with people. Collaboration is so key, as I assume it is in the military as well.

And the first lesson you have here is the most important professional skill is getting things done at your company by pushing boundaries, but also operating within the culture of the company. And you learn this from Dan McCranie, a Board Member at Cypress Semiconductor. So how did you learn this from Dan?

JD Dillon: So I was benefited by spending time with a member of the board. So I was a Senior Director of Marketing and then I was Vice President of Marketing. And it's so funny. It's easy to get hung up on titles. I thought everyone knew I was VP of Marketing and Dan knew what I did, and at the company, I was in charge at the time of Net Promoter Score, Pricing, Forecasting, which is funny because as you hear those three things, you'd say, Wait a minute, but you were VP of marketing. That doesn't really sound like marketing. And I had Product Marketing as well. So those were the functions I did and I thought that's what marketing was.

And after two years of one on ones with Dan where I got all kinds of great information, he actually said, What is your title? And I was shocked I said, VP of Marketing. He said, Oh, really? I didn't know that. Now this is a guy who's very powerful man. He's been a multiple boards, he's been CEO at a couple of different companies on semiconductor, is pretty well known in Semiconductor, he was on the board there and he didn't even know what my title was and he didn't care. He knew what I did. He heard me in the boardroom, he knew the actions that I took care of. And so he wanted to help me, which is frankly an honor. And he didn't even know my title. It doesn't matter. As you said, I've done all kinds of different things and the title really doesn't matter in the end to the people that matter. And that was amazing.

Daniel Burstein: So let me ask we're going to ask about one of your specific examples in a bit, but let me ask how you manage your team and how you work with job titles for your team. Because you said about not managing to leaders. You know, from my experience, sometimes it really matters to the people on your team. And for example, I interviewed Ariel Glassman, she's a Director of Marketing at Sage Communications. I interviewed her earlier on the How I Made Up Marketing Podcast, and she said flexibility and agility are key components of a successful collaboration. And she was telling the story of a project where, again, they had specific roles, but at the end of the day, they had to do the things they had to do to be successful and weren't kind of, you know, just fit so tightly into those roles.

So when you're managing a team, you know, how do you manage your team with job titles and how do you communicate to them their need for flexibility and agility?

JD Dillon: Title is one of the levers to influence people. Some people care more about money and they couldn't care less about title. Some care about title, some care about the cube that has a view of the window, which is amusing because oftentimes the window looks out into the parking lot. You're like, Why you do want to see the parking lot? But you know what? That's not you. Every person will be motivated by something different. And you've got to figure out what matters to them.

So a great example. I just was hiring for a Sales Development Rep and the person didn't want to have the people we hired, two of them didn't want to have sales in their title, so we hired them as a Marketing Associate. The job's the same. The job description was identical. They do things that I think in my head an SDR does put they're called Marketing Associates and that makes them feel better. So, so be it. Who cares?

Daniel Burstein: Yeah, I think there's a great lesson there too. As we talked about in your career, you finding the key levers within a company. It's the same too within a person, understanding. You know, that's a tough lesson to learn when you start managing people. I think the first fallacy is everyone's like me, right? And you try to manage them like they're like you. And I think getting to that point, we understand. no, no, they're not like me they're like them. and have to understand. And they're all different, too, especially if you're managing a bigger team with different discrete sales skill sets on it.

JD Dillon: Tat’s the truth, but it's parenting. Parenting is the same way.

Daniel Burstein: Ohmigosh, that’s and you think they read from your DNA. You think they would be like you, but no.

JD Dillon: No.

Daniel Burstein: All right. Well, talking about job titles. You've got a great example from your career. You said the lesson you learned was regardless of job title, use your unique skill sets to accomplish mission critical tasks. And you learned this from Ralph Schmidt, the CEO and director at OCZ Storage. So how did you learn this working with Ralph?

JD Dillon: So just a quick sidebar on the company, pretty interesting. I showed up continuing my baseball analogy. I thought when I got there the stock was at a buck and I thought I was going to get a double, turns out I got a walk. The company went bankrupt six months into it, we actually missed payroll. That is quite an experience to have to go through and then got bought by Toshiba in an asset sale.

So right after we got bought by Toshiba, it was an asset sale. So they had very low expectations of us. But of course we wanted to as a company exceed the expectations. I happen to have developed a strength eight D problem solving, which if you do a little bit of research on eight D problem solving, it happened at Ford Motor Company started in 1986, it's a method of approaching the eight disciplines is what the D stands for, and it's a systematic way to fix problems. Well, this has nothing to do with my job. But I led a six team initiative where I had multiple teams around the world. We eventually identified 19 root causes with the corporation and 59 corrective actions. And the asset sale, which was contingent upon hitting certain milestones and they could have canceled at any time so it was very precarious as a company. Went through, and I would contend that part of it was due to the eight D that I conducted.

Now, you say to yourself, VP of Customer Operations, what does that have to do with eight D problem solving? Nothing. It's a skill set I had. It's a skill set they needed, skills that we needed. And the CEO who, by the way, was at Cypress with me before knew I had the skill set and chose me for this great task.

Daniel Burstein: And now are you doing the same in managing your team? Like when you’ve managed teams over the years, you're saying, okay, maybe this person is in this role now know some of the best opportunities I've had to give people advancement stuff is not necessarily the exact thing they're doing. And you said, well, there's an opportunity here for a person.

Of course, I have to stretch, you know, have to meet a stretch goal. They have to get there. But there's an opportunity for this person that sometimes they don't see in themselves. So have you kind of done the same thing when you talk about looking at underutilized assets, looking across your kind of team portfolio and saying, hey, where can I put this player to play better? Put Rickey Henderson in this picture, you know.

JD Dillon: Nah he used to steal. I absolutely have. And I actually have a wonderful example right now. A gentleman over in Italy who was doing a lot of different things in Italy, and he was applauded for his operational skills. But he is a musician and he's a creative genius. He wanted to do more of that and he actually kept on getting pulled back into areas that others wanted him to do, but he wasn't getting professional and personal growth and fun out of it.

So he now does creative. He's doing a great creative campaign for a product rollout. He's having fun. He records the guitar licks behind our videos. So he gets to go in the recording studio and he got all the guitars and he's having a blast.

Daniel Burstein: So what's your structure for identifying that now? Because, I mean, like so many of us work remotely, it's not seeing people over the watercooler. Obviously, you're not in Italy. Do you have weekly one on ones, monthly one on ones. What do you do to make sure you're connected enough to your team to be able to identify those skills?

JD Dillon: Weekly one on one is absolutely the most important thing on the calendar. I absolutely try my best to never cancel them for any reason whatsoever. I will move them around sometimes three or four times to make sure they happen. And I tell folks, because this is what I learned from my boss many, many years ago. The one on one is their time with me, not vice versa. One on one with me, with somebody that works for me is not the time for me to go through their to do list. That is not appropriate. It's the time for them to share with me and I always have them if they have people, start with people. So that reinforces by example. And I do the same with the CEO, by the way, my boss.

Daniel Burstein: Well, speaking of your boss, you said you learned business must have a relentless focus on ROI which includes marketing and you learn that from your boss, Zvi Alon, CEO and Chairman at Tigo Energy. So how do you learn this from Zvi?

JD Dillon: So at the company when I started here, I got it's funny, I got an office here. So for whatever reason we're set up in offices. So I have an office right next door to this recording studio. None of the furniture matches. And it's funny, I brought my mother here. My mother came to visit and I brought my mother and she says the furniture doesn't match and I say ya who cares Zvi doesn't care, the customers not going to see my unmatching furniture. I don't care. So why spend the money on it?

Everything has to have an ROI. When I go to a trade show, I can tell you I'll avoid the exact numbers. But the first half of the year I reported to Zvi the exact amount we spent on trade shows and we went to nine of them and the exact amount around the world we spent, the exact number of leads we generated the exact number of customers we met with and revenue that was attributed from these trade shows. And the answer was a 10 to 1 ROI. So if someone comes in and says, we need to buy a bunch of hats and hand it out to. Sorry are we going to get an ROI on the hats? No..

Daniel Burstein: Well, let me play devil's advocate for you, but let me wear the other hat in this conversation. So are there things that are difficult to manage a direct ROI for, but they matter? Is it branding in an industry magazine where you can't get that exact ROI? But then because of that, when someone shows up at the trade show, they see Tigo, they're like, oh, yeah, I've been seeing ads, you know, in this industry magazine for the past six months, and I know who they are and I want to talk to them. Like, are there any of those things where like it's not quite measurable.

JD Dillon: I would contend no. I would contend everything is measurable. It's not always measurable with revenue or profit, but I believe it is measurable and it is still worthy. I can tell you, for example, we're very big on press releases, which is very, very old school. But I can tell you that in Q2 of 22, I did five press releases. We had 1183 business wire views, 3375 links, like clicks on links. And I can tell you how each one of them performed versus each other and that's continuous improvement. And a businessman who's not kind of pedantic and annoying about it, and my CEO is a great businessman, he knows that matters a lot. So he says, what are you doing to increase the number of views you get? And we talk about that, right? So what can we say how much revenue have we gotten because of press releases? No. But I can say, 100,000 people had a look at our press release.

Daniel Burstein: And you mentioned the dashboard earlier. So let me ask, how does this all roll up into your dashboard? Is this something you've got eyes on daily, weekly? Like, how’s it all working together?

JD Dillon: So I clearly wasn't, well not clearly,  I wasn't doing what I just said off the top of my head. I actually called up the dashboard as we were talking and I looked at the exact number.

Daniel Burstein: Perfect.

JD Dillon: And the answer is each of these rows, I look at it every month. I've been at companies who looked at it every week. That's too frequent. You get caught in the noise. Every quarter is how I report out to the Board and the CEO. And in the month to me is a quanta of time that you can adjust fire, look at that I used a military term. It's the time that you can actually say oh we're going down into the right we need to be up into the right.

Daniel Burstein: And you're reporting it out quarterly to the Board and CEO. Is there anything you're doing internally with the team? Is it up on a wall, does everyone go into SharePoint and see this or is this just something you're looking at?

JD Dillon: Once a month in my team leader meeting, we actually look at it so the person who's assigned to it brings it up and we go through each and we actually discuss each one of the metrics. Then I will read it over the subsequent week and then I will put it up with some suggested actions, and then we brainstorm the actions.

So do we need to do more videos in Australia? Do we need our webinars to be, oh my goodness, it's been a long time since we did a webinar in Poland, etc.. So that's where we talk about actions to impact the dashboard.

Daniel Burstein: All right, great. Well, we talked about a whole lot of things, what it means to be a marketer. We even talked about other professions like the military and baseball and newspaper delivery boys and how that factors into being a marketer. So if you had to break it down JD What are the key qualities of an effective marketer?

JD Dillon: Number one is think like a P&L Manager. I have never been at an agency, but internally you must market marketing and as a CMO at a company, I think in terms of I'm selling my services to help the company, Tigo in this case now, and help the Board and the CEO achieve their goals and their goals are mine. My goal is growth. I told you about gross margin at that company at that time. At Enphase Energy, gross margin was the top goal more important than revenue? That's where I focused everything. So which meant marketing to the high gross margin customers, for example. So I look at my job as a P&L and if someone paid me for all my dashboard metrics, am I making a lot of money?

And that to me is number one. Then there's two kind of subjective ones is curiosity and listening, I think are very important. A lot of people will talk about those, but I think the P&L one might be a little bit different than others would do.

Daniel Burstein: It’s a business at the end of the day, right.

JD Dillon: Oh yeah.

Daniel Burstein: Thanks so much for your time JD. I learned a lot.

JD Dillon: The pleasure is all mine and go Mets. Hopefully we'll see them do well this year in the playoffs.

Daniel Burstein: We can only hope.

JD Dillon: Hope. We can only hope.

Daniel Burstein: Thanks to everyone for listening.


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