Get ideas for innovation, motivation, and consistency by listening to episode #45 of the How I Made It In Marketing podcast. I had a dynamic conversation with Tami Cannizzaro, Chief Marketing Officer, Thryv.
Listen now to hear Cannizzaro discuss the difference between large brands and growth companies, weekly results as a motivator, branding consistency, and so much more.
This article was published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.
“The Marketer needs meaningful work and meaningful relationships,” Flint McGlaughlin teaches in Above-the-Fold Energy: How to engage the prospect’s mind with a carefully crafted opening (McGlaughlin is the CEO of MECLABS and MarketingSherpa).
I thought of that lesson when our latest podcast guest shared a lesson of her own, “Teams that are steeped in data and conversion numbers are the strongest at the craft.” Which means, we marketers must have meaningful relationships with data scientists and analytics managers. So, I asked her how we do that – after all, creatives aren’t exactly dataheads and sometimes speak very different languages from their more analytical brethren.
Hear that advice, along with lesson-filled stories earned during an impressive career, from Tami Cannizzaro, Chief Marketing Officer, Thryv, on this episode of the How I Made It In Marketing podcast.
Thryv is publicly traded on Nasdaq and recorded $1.113 billion in revenue in 2021. As CMO, Cannizzaro manages a team of 50 marketers.
Listen to our conversation using this embedded player or click through to your preferred audio streaming service using the links below it.
Some lessons from Cannizzaro that emerged in our discussion:
Cannizzaro said she could write a book about all the differences between these types of companies. She spent 15 years in IBM Marketing in various roles. During her last five years, she landed in a new incubator division with over 10 growth companies under $500 million in revenue.
She worked for IBM, Oracle and Computer Associates. These companies had a large established brand and large sales force. Marketing was mostly a function of PR, product marketing, and field marketing to support sales.
Over the years, as she has shifted to growth brands, she has found the opposite is true – marketing is about driving revenue, period. You need to fight for every dollar of growth. Nothing comes easy and the team needs to build a powerful 360-degree plan to attack the market and gain entry.
Paul McNulty drove this lesson home from her in a discussion about media buying after UNICA was acquired by IBM. There were simply different scales of budget for a company of UNICA’s previous size versus the giant organization they were now a part of.
This is one lesson that can be hard to get behind as a marketer, but Cannizzaro finds is critical. She has hired marketers from Salesforce and they often will say in the interview – “I was bored there. Nothing is new. Everything is a template and a consistent format. I want to come somewhere I can build and innovate.” Internal teams often get bored of their advertising, their message, their campaigns. This is a dangerous phenomenon.
Consistency is the name of the game. Showing up with consistency of message, brand, voice, tone etc. is a key component of a strong marketing program. Cannizzaro has learned not to get bored and shift strategy for the sake of it. A great brand is often shockingly consistent, and the marketing team has found the winning formula and sticks to it.
In a digital world, Cannizzaro has found the smartest person with the best opinion tends to be the person who sees conversion data and understands at a deep level what will convert. Back when she worked with Softlayer, their analytics manager would claim he could almost get inside of the minds of a Google searcher.
Cannizzaro also shared lessons she learned from the people she collaborated with:
via Nathan Huey, CMO, SoftLayer
Huey didn’t believe in agencies and made decisions real time in what Cannizzaro called a digital lab. The media buyer, search engine marketer, UX designer, and demand teams sat at a table crafting messages, campaigns, and content. She often found marketing teams to be siloed, which makes for a poor customer experience.
Teamwork is critical for providing different perspectives on campaigns. For example, Cannizzaro remembers when Michelle Killebrew pointed out that a campaign Cannizzaro created looked too good, design-wise, and thus might not resonate with programmers.
Huey also pushed that you need to be provocative to break though. She told him IBM would never approve his ‘Let’s kick some SaaS’ campaign idea. But then again, IBM didn’t need to worry about breaking through.
John DiLullo, SVP Sales, Forecepoint
DiLullo led sales and marketing and his philosophy was not to set a plan, but to focus on week-over-week growth. It was an incredibly powerful tool and Cannizzaro uses it today with her teams.
via Sandy Carter, IBM VP
Cannizzaro was early into social media, influencer marketing, content marketing, etc. because Carter was always asking the question, ‘what’s next?’
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.
If you would like to apply to be a guest on How I Made It In Marketing, here is the podcast guest application.
Not ready for a listen yet? Interested in searching the conversation? No problem. Below is a tough transcript of our discussion.
Daniel Burstein: I started by writing ads in the newspaper and brochures, and I still have a special place in my heart for print. And I will argue till I am blue in the face the value it has for building trust with customers. However, as a writer, I can't help but acknowledge digital marketing and its advantages and one that stands out to me most strikingly that I love as a creative, as a writer, is that instant feedback loop from your audience that digital can provide that insight into your audience from analytics, our latest guest shared a similar lesson in her podcast guest application.
She worded it this way. Teams that are steeped in data and conversion numbers are the strongest at the craft, I even love the usage of the word craft. When we're talking about data and analytics, I look at marketing as a craft as well. Here to share the story behind that lesson, along with many more lesson filled stories, is Tami Cannizzaro, a Chief Marketing Officer at Thryv. Thank you for joining us, Tami.
Tami Cannizzaro: Thank you, Daniel. Happy to be here.
Daniel Burstein: Well, Tami, I was looking at your LinkedIn. You have a long and illustrious career. I'm just going to pick off a few of the top roles here, but I could go on and on. You were Vice President of Marketing for Cloud at IBM, Head of Marketing at eBay Enterprise, Vice President and Head of Marketing for North America at Oracle. Vice President and Head of Global Demand at CA Technologies, Chief Marketing Officer at Comodo. And right now you are the CMO at Thryv where you manage a team of 50. And Thryv is a publicly traded company on NASDAQ and recorded $1.113 billion in revenue in 2021. So, Tami, tell us, what is your day like as CMO at Thryv?
Tami Cannizzaro: Well, you know, it's exciting because we’re you know, we’re targeting SMB. And SMB is, you know, rather than being a single cohort, it's, you know, many, many cohorts, right. There is a difference between, you know, professional small businesses like doctors and lawyers who have small local businesses and then plumbers or contractors or roofers. So it's been a fun exercise in terms of targeting SMB. And the other interesting thing about SMB is that they act like consumers. So I kind of consider thrive at the Intersect of B2B and B2C. And so it's been exciting, really working to build ourselves as the category leader for this, you know, for this set of businesses.
Daniel Burstein: Well, great. So I think anyone listening can learn a lot from you today. There's B2C, B2B marketers listening. There's folks that target SMB. As we talked about, you've worked for some of the biggest enterprises on this planet. So I think we can all learn a lot from you. And actually your first lesson kind of goes along with that. You said, there is a dramatic difference between marketing for a company with a large established brand versus a company building a market presence and entering a category. So how do you learn this lesson, Tami?
Tami Cannizzaro: Well, I first noticed this phenomenon when I was at IBM. And, you know, I really grew up in marketing at IBM. And IBM obviously having a very large recognized brand. Maybe ten years into my career at IBM, my General Manager started a new division and it was 100% made up of small acquisition. And so I had a chance to work with these CMO's from, let's say, sub $500 million SaaS companies, newer brands that weren't as well recognized in the industry. And there was a dramatic difference between the marketing style at IBM for an established brand and the marketing style for these smaller, what I call growth style companies.
And, you know, there were there were pros and cons, but I really was able to tell what a what a dramatic difference there was in marketing between the you know, between the two different types of companies. You know, the power of the brand. And also a very large sales force made it, you know, made digital marketing not, you know, not as mission critical, right. You know, IBM wasn't going out of business if we didn't get digital right? If we didn't get social right. Whereas these businesses, you know, literally needed to, you know, to make revenue. And they were dependent on that marketing team for that breakthrough thinking to build themselves, you know, into a category.
Daniel Burstein: Yeah. Let me ask you this, this is one major difference I notice between big brands is small brands. So a lot of small brands, they'll see a big brand. What they're doing, they'll try to copy, they'll see what Apple is doing and try to copy it or IBM, right. But to your point is, it may be that technique when we're they don't have that big brand behind it. And I thought here's one example where I thought. So when I when your PR Rep first reached out to me and I saw your name Tami Cannizzaro like I said it, I kind of remembered it in some way, right? I'm like, I think I knew her in some way. And then, you know, I searched our names together and I found out, oh, yeah, I did a panel in a Marketing Sherpa Summit in San Francisco ten years ago. You were on that panel, I kind of remember, had a good experience. And that gave me kind of more of an impetus to want to reply to you, right? That brand sticking out and actually you're asking about my name. I think this is an upside for names like mine and yours. I got to know about you. And I was a kid. Daniel Burstein, I wanted him to be Bob Smith, right.
Tami Cannizzaro: Same.
Daniel Burstein: You know Tami Cannizzaro, I love it, but it doesn’t roll off the. And so, you know, but now in this era, I'm glad. I'm Daniel Burstein. And you mentioned if I go by Daniel and I do, because there is a Dan Burstein who's an author, there is a Danny Burstein who is on Broadway. So I am Daniel Bursstein. So people can find me on social media and whatnot. And I would say for anyone listening, it's a quick branding lesson for yourself. I always use the example of David Meerman Scott here. He's Dave Scott, right? But if he was Dave Scott, no one remember him. So he's like, Ah, I'm David Meerman Scott. So brand yourself. Tami may have naturally done it but if you have a common name do it yourself.
But anyway so back to my question. You know, I see like a lot of those small brands that always want to mimic the bigger brands and they'll do the same marketing techniques. But to your point, they don't have the sales force, they don't have the brand recognition. And so you can look at something that would work perfectly well for an Apple, for IBM, whatever, is going to blow up in their face. So have you found that as well? Am I off on this? What do you think?
Tami Cannizzaro: I completely agree. You know, many product managers over the years have said, you know, I really want like Apple. I want people lining up the doors for this product launch. You know, it's sort of a little bit night and day, right? Because, you know, it's just a very different phenomenon. And one of the things I learned early on from these growth style brands is that you do need to be more breakthrough. You know, when you're an established brand, you can afford to just kind of get the fundamentals right and have a nice brand, run some nice commercials. You've got a big sales force. You know, you get the product messaging and the products halfway decent. You're off to the races. You know, in some of these smaller brands, it's a dogfight.
There are, you know, when IBM purchased Unica and Coremetrics, they were in such a dogfight out in the market that they didn't want to sit together at the same table, you know. Because they really felt that their brands were fighting against one another. And I do think you really need to, you know, be maybe a little bit more aggressive in your marketing tactics.
When the CMO of SoftLayer came in, he showed me this new ad campaign and it was, We're going to kick the SaaS out of you. And I said, Oh, my God, you know, Nathan, this is never going to fly at IBM. You know, we have these very strict brand guidelines. And, you know, this is not going to fly. And he said, well, you know, timing and need to be breakthrough. We can't run these, you know, sort of, you know, lukewarm, you know, sort of feel good ads we really need to break through in this category. And it just was a very, you know, very different type of thinking.
Daniel Burstein: And with IBM, with that huge salesforce, it's like, well, we just now we bought this. Now if you could just introduce it into some of your accounts, I mean, it would probably make our numbers for the year.
Tami Cannizzaro: Exactly.
Daniel Burstein: It brings up the other point. So as a marketer, how have you felt working at some of the biggest brands like IBM and Oracle? You know, you don’t have to say anything good or bad by anyone specifically, but versus getting to work at some of these smaller brands. Because I know me, personally, I worked as a contractor for IBM, I didn’t work directly for IBM. I was a contractor, I was in a software group. It was one of those acquisitions. It was Rational Software, you know, and I'm like, wow, what an experience. I mean, first, their sales methodology is second to none. And the people they had in there was my gosh it was fantastic. But also, I worked on an internal sales enablement team, right? So I worked on like this little, you know, little bit so I could like changing an internal Lotus Notes newsletter was a major accomplishment that took a month. And, you know, like an SVP or someone to get involved, you know. Versus when I've gotten to work with smaller brands where you are I mean literally sitting there with the founders or the discovers and helping figure out the value proposition and the business strategy and you know, and so, you know, I'm not saying one is right or wrong. It probably depends on the person. But what has been your experience like? What is your advice for other marketers of working in those global you know, enterprise companies versus working for those smaller brands?
Tami Cannizzaro: Well, one of the beautiful things about working for IBM was that they moved you arround every year and a half. So and they would move year round without any experience. So I'll never forget running social media for one of the brands. And I had never been on social media, you know, just kind of dating myself. But that's the truth, you know?
And I really had to learn it. And I, you know, I started tweeting and I started building a follower and I started meeting with influencers and asking them, you know, to help me, you know, understand the game a little bit more around really using influencer marketing and social media marketing. Those early days, I got lots of influencers together and I think because I was from IBM and I had a fairly large budget, I was able to reach out to, you know, influencers and run major marketing programs and build categories at IBM.
That said, you know, I think the you know, the real growth marketing and really building a category for a brand and driving digital inbound marketing for me is more exciting, you know Because you know, at IBM, you're sort of, you know, I don't know, you're adding a few cents to the bottom line, right, of a massive company. Where as in when you're in these growth brands, you're really you know, you're really at the table. And just I found folks just passionate about, you know, we're not only coming to report for a job, we're building a company. And to me, that makes it really exciting.
Daniel Burstein: Yeah. Part of the team and part of the impact. Well, your next lesson really goes in line with branding and you say stay consistent. So stay consistent. How did you learn this lesson?
Tami Cannizzaro: Well, you know, it's funny. A lot of times you'll notice that people internally will run campaigns or run advertising and folks will get kind of bored with it, like, oh, you know, we ran that last quarter, you know, and want to constantly change. And in these larger campaigns, you'll see product marketing has a style and the web team has a style and the campaign team has a style and the brand team has a style and it looks like ten different companies.
And, you know, I think one of the core you know, the core, you know, pieces about really building a brand is that consistency. And, you know, I noticed one time when I was hiring somebody from Salesforce, I said, you know I was at Oracle at the time, and I said, you know, why are you coming from Salesforce to Oracle? What is it that interests you? And she said, well, you know, I understand that you're you know, you're really starting to build the first campaigns and you're, you know establishing the brand. And there's a lot of creativity going on. And at Salesforce, everything's cookie cutter. Every video looks the same. Every demo looks the same, every ad looks the same.
And the road has been paved and everything has a formula and it's 100% consistent. And it really occurred to me, you know, while that might be boring, it's the best brands right. Are really true to that brand and true to that consistency even sometimes I think at the expense of, you know, innovation. And, you know, I do find I have to watch that. That, you know, internally, folks will get tired of a brand or an ad campaign, you know, and just have a natural tendency to want to change because it keeps their jobs exciting. But the reality of building a brand is that, you know, consistency is just absolutely, you know, absolutely critical piece of that.
Daniel Burstein: Well, the reality, too, is the audience or the customer hasn't seen it nearly as much as we have, right? So like even working on one video, the amount of times you have to watch that video in the editing suite and hear that song over and over, by the time it comes out, you're sick of it. Like the audience hasn't seen your messages at any time, right.
Tami Cannizzaro: Exactly.
Daniel Burstein: But speaking about staying consistent so it's hard enough. Like you said, it's hard enough to stay consistent within one enterprise. Then when you work in, like you said, acquisitions and when you work in partners like channel partners, like have you learned anything in terms of value proposition messaging or anything that to keep that consistency, you know, across partners or when you're bringing on, you know, a new acquisition.
So for example, I wrote a case study about a company called Grasshopper Mowers, they sell lawnmowers and they sell them through, you know, local dealers. And they were able to increase online lead generated sales 80%, 80% by improving the consistency of the path. From the website of Grasshopper Mowers to those local dealers. Right? Because people are like, what's going on here?
So, you know, have you learned anything in your career? How do you keep that consistency? Like you said, it's hard enough within the company. How do you keep it across your partners, your channel partners, those acquisitions?
Tami Cannizzaro: It's hard. I mean, it is hard. And I think, you know, sometimes you know, there are kind of subbrands within a brand and sometimes you make that conscious decision to do that. But I do think you really have to be a little bit you know, maniacal about really managing that and making sure that you are just not allowing folks to, you know, just because it gives you visibility kind of take your, you know, take your materials and, you know, do with it what they will and really be very, you know, very direct about the brand and a little bit precious of the brand.
You know, one of the things I loved about the idea that was interesting, somebody recently said, oh, let's put the brand on napkins or on, you know, on paper cups. And one of the things I learned at IBM is you never put the brand on something disposable, right. Because, you know, you don't want to all of a sudden be walking by, you know, a garbage can at a conference and the whole garbage can is filled with your brands, you know, the discarded cups, right. And so, you know, I do think it's really making a point of really limiting exceptions, you know, is really critical. And also, I think, you know, I think sometimes using agencies can be difficult because sometimes the agencies, their work will look like that agency as opposed to look like your brand. And so really making sure that, you know, that brand is clear.
And even if you use different agencies or contractors or outside resources that you know, there's a real, you know, very strong brand style voice look and feel that is, you know, consistent, no matter whether you made it in-house or used an agency or had a partner develop something.
Daniel Burstein: Well, that's a lesson I never heard before. It's a great lesson. Don't put your brand on something disposable. I like that. Let's talk about another lesson you learned. Teams that are steeped in data and conversion numbers are the strongest at the craft. I love that. How did you learn that?
Tami Cannizzaro: Again, I would say this was another a bit of a distinction between some of the you know, the larger, more established brands and the smaller growth style brands. You know, when you have a smaller marketing budget, you're counting on every single dollar. And that, you know, getting the ROI out of that dollar. Because you better believe someone's going to be asking how much money did you spend and how much you know, how much did we get?
I think at some of the larger brands, there's probably just a little bit more room for ways. I remember Paul McNulty was a CMO of Unica. I remember one point early on I was working with him and he said, Tami why are we paying double for what anyone else would be paying for these you know, media buys and ad campaigns. You know, because when you're at a smaller brand, that ROI, you know, is precious because you're trying to build and scale. And so it's so critical for you to understand what your cost per lead is. So you can understand, you know, how to scale it and make sure that you're bringing in profitable business.
Daniel Burstein: Let me ask you, you know, when I came into marketing, I was a creative. And like I said, I started in print and, you know, we didn't have as many, obviously, we had results, but not as many metrics, you know, not as much analytics. And people come from other areas business to sit on these areas. I wonder if you have any advice for working with data scientists and analytics managers for marketers who skew more creative or business.
Because we have a free marketing course and in it Flint McGlaughlin teaches the marketer needs meaningful work and meaningful relationships. I think there are many meaningful relationships with sales, that's one, for example. But definitely, as you said, with these data folks, these analytics folks, if we're going to do what you just said, so do you have any advice on kind of building those relationships, learning from them, working with them?
Tami Cannizzaro: Well, I have and I've done this and maybe for the last five years, maybe a little longer. I have a war room every Thursday. And I sort of borrowed this concept. One time I heard someone one of the early founders of Netflix, talk about when they were building a company that they would have a one page sheet and the company had gotten a little bit too big for them to get in a conference room. So they would go out in the parking lot and they would stare at the Netflix numbers. And it was basically, you know, how many it was back in the day, right? So how many, you know, CDs were mailed and they would look at the numbers and they would all you know, it would orient them how the company was doing every Friday.
And I've kind of modeled it toward along those lines where, you know, a lot of times I'll come in, you'll see, you know, the social team is trying to do social media and drive clicks, and the Web team is worried about, you know, the website and time on site, and the content teams worried about great, innovative content. But if everyone's not oriented towards those same numbers, then, you know, you potentially could be at odds in terms of what you're trying to accomplish, you know?
So, you know, that's nice that we got lots of clicks on social media, but you know how many demos did it drive, how many sales did you drive? And so if every person on the team understands that we're all after really the same set of metrics, I think that there's real power in that. So I bring my data scientist in and every Thursday I have a war room and we look at all the numbers and we look at them together. And I think that also gives us this kind of collective intelligence on what's working, what's not working, because a lot of times these things work best together, you know, in practice as opposed to, you know, in isolation. You know, even looking at events and web online and offline and looking at them all together and how they're interacting, I think there's real power in that.
So I have a scorecard that I come and I line the entire team on the scorecard, and then we look at it once a week. And I do think there's real power in that. And then I report that, you know, up the chain in terms of I get buy in as well from my CEO and, you know, peers in terms of what we're trying to accomplish. And there's power in that as well because we're all aligned in terms of what the goals are. You know, there's a lot written about, right, CMOs fail because they're not in alignment with their, you know, their CEO about what their target was in the first place. And I think as well, making sure that you've set the goals and then you're you know, your data is, you know, showing you how you're doing against those goals, both for your you know business leaders and then also for your marketing team.
Daniel Burstein: Yeah. So I am totally onboard with you about having your entire team see how a smaller thing they're working on fits into the bigger goal and obviously reporting the goals around the organization. What about actually understanding the human beings that we call customers better? I mean, this is something metrics and analytics and don’t give us to actually understand those people better. Everything from our branding campaigns to our social media campaigns.
You had mentioned that you work with an analytics manager at SoftLayer who said he could almost get inside the minds of a Google searcher. So either from that experience or if you're kind of how you bring the team together now, like how do you how using those numbers actually understand those human beings better?
Tami Cannizzaro: Yeah. Well, you know, I loved that, you know, because at SoftLayer, I think they really they made a science out of really understanding who their customers were and understanding them better as a cohort. And so over the years, I've worked to refine, you know, my ability to go after prospects that are in the marketplace. So I do use very, you know, and this is probably a little old school, but I do use research where I hire a research team to actually interview folks in market for my product.
So, you know, for Thryv, we interviewed ten businesses. They weren't customers, they weren't prospects. They were in the market. They were, you know, our core cohort ideal customer profile. And interview them and really get an understanding about what was their problem, what you know, what was their need and what was the solution that they were looking for. And I think sometimes, you know, too often we kind of go to the product, right? Like, Oh, here's what we're selling and here's the value prop.
But it really all starts with the problem, right? And the solution that they were looking for in the first place. And I think that's a really important lesson. And I learned that from one of my one of my startup folks. You know, you really need to even your keyword research from your paid search to the content that you're creating, you need to make sure that it starts at the beginning of the journey. You know, not meeting them halfway in and talking about a solution. You really need to understand that. And so I think that's a really important piece of it in terms of getting kind of inside the hearts and minds.
And so, you know, doing that research, you know, kind of setting a premise in terms of what you think they're looking for and then testing that. And again, I kind of go back to the war room where we look at, you know, which keyword stats are converting, you know, what solutions that our, you know, customers are looking for are actually converting into closed run revenue.
So like I could tell you today for Thryv for the most part, they're having trouble with people not keeping their appointments or they're having trouble with scheduling and invoicing and things like this because they don't have the technology to do it. And so, you know, we're really hit hard on that in terms of our, you know, the paid search, our SEO that we're driving, our content that we're creating, you know, ten ways to, you know, keep scheduling, you know, easier for your small business, you know, that kind of a thing. You know, to really to really find those watering holes where our folks are looking for solutions.
Daniel Burstein: Well, and this is where I always wonder about a CMO's role in an organization, too, like how far do you get into product development? Because what you're saying is some great customer wisdom that we will lose if we just looked at clicks on a page, or sometimes we look at win loss reports, right, with a sales team. Win loss report that to your point, that person got pretty far through your funnel versus the people who don't maybe even know about your company or product or if you just had that extra feature, you'd pull them in. So as a CMO, that's a lot of business intelligence. Do you use that to work with actually building some new features into the product?
Tami Cannizzaro: We do. We do. In fact, you know, when we do that research, I did the read out together with my Head of Product Management to stare at that and say, you know, what is it that they're looking for in terms of an overall solution? And, you know, are we hitting on all these all these cylinders or, you know, can we not provide the full solution to, you know, as to what they're looking for or, you know, are there watering holes that we're seeing that our product doesn't potentially pay off?
Like one of the major issues I'm grappling right now is a lot of times folks are looking for a vertical solution, but the vertical solutions aren't as powerful as a horizontal solution. So, you know, how do you go after those prospects with a solution that's horizontal when they might actually be looking for, you know, plumbing software, right. But that's not really what they need.
So, you know, you need to sort of make sure that you meet them where they are a little bit. And so sometimes leaning into that in the way you position the product, I think can be very, you know, very helpful. And it's it's not necessarily that they need a specific product feature. It's that you need to make them understand that this is for them. And sometimes that segmentation turns into hyper segmentation where, you know, instead of two or four or five, you need, you know, 30 different segments where you're talking to them in a different voice and addressing a different problem or solution.
Daniel Burstein: Yeah, I mean, that little tweak can make the biggest difference from small business marketing software to plumbing software, right? Because they're probably not searching for small business marketing software.
Tami Cannizzaro: That's right.
Daniel Burstein: Okay. So you talk about war rooms and now we're going to talk about lessons you learned from people you collaborated with. I think that's the two things we do as marketers. We get to make things. That's an exciting thing. I've always thought of as a marketer. I've never been like an actuary or podiatrist. But we make things, we make brands, we make campaigns. It's a lot of fun. We make them of people.
So let's look at some lessons you learned from the people you made it with. You said it is critical for it all to work together seamlessly. I’m sorry, it is critical for all to work together seamlessly. Via Nathan Huey CMO of SoftLayer and you talked about your war room. I wonder if you got this idea from Nathan because you talked about him having a digital lab. So what did he do? What do you do? How do they relate? What did you learn?
Tami Cannizzaro: Well, you know, SoftLayer was a small enough company and they were all in the same office. And so they had the you know, the paid search expert was sitting next to the person who was designing the website, who was sitting next to the BER, who was calling out on the calls, who was sitting next to the, you know, marketing person who was building the campaigns.
And so they would all meet every day and they would discuss the strategy and what was converting and what wasn't converting. And, you know, what I realized was, you know, in my organization at the time, we were so large and running so many programs that we really didn't have the connective tissue that we needed in order to make sure that we had that feedback loop all the way from sales to the you know, the first touch on the website, what was happening.
And so, you know, I kind of said to Nathan, this feels like a digital lab to me. I wonder if we can bring this concept into IBM. And rather than having lots of different teams working together and maybe you'd have a meeting once a week or something like that, could we actually all get in a studio and at the time it was pretty cool because IBM was working on these they were working on these innovation lab concepts.
And so I pitched it as a as an innovation and they gave me a studio. And that's what we did. We, you know, I, you know, name someone, the scrum manager. And we worked in an agile work group where we said, okay, you know, we're going to set the what we're going to do for the month. And then, you know, on a daily basis we would kind of work together and take stock and inventory. There was a data scientist on the team and there was a strategist and a scrum master and a media specialist and a designer, you know, that kind of thing. And we would build these, you know, these demand campaigns. And then at the end of the week, we would, you know, come together and we would do a jury. And there were other labs and lots of other folks there. And at the end of the week, somebody would do a readout and say, you know, okay, here's my campaign and we have this new campaign. And, you know, it was really great because you got to have a jury as well on that campaign.
And so I'll never forget one time I had this beautiful campaign and I really I was so proud of it and it just really looked fantastic. It was a digital campaign and a woman standing in the back of the room. I'll never forget Michelle Killebrew, raised her hand really strong digital marketer. And she says, you know, I think this is going to break your heart, but I think it's actually too pretty because you're going after, you know, developers and they hate stuff that looks like marketing and this really looks like marketing.
And as she said it, my heart broke because I knew she was completely right. But, you know, sometimes is, as I think is a demand marketer, we are trying to, you know, put programs into market. You really do need someone who hasn't been so involved to stand in and really critique your program and be ready for that feedback. Good, bad or indifferent.
Daniel Burstein: You know, it's funny when you talk about everyone sitting in that same room together at SoftLayer, I wonder if you have any advice for distributed teams. A lot of people working in distributed teams now because IBM even I mean, I worked there like in the mid-to-late 2000s and even back then I worked from home and almost everyone did and we didn't have video like this.
So a funny thing I always do is I would hear someone's voice, you know, in the conference calls and I would picture in my head what they must look like. And then you'd meet them at software university or something and be like, okay, was I accurate? Was I not accurate. So I mean, now we have video, which I don't know if it's better or worse. I know Thryv is distributed. But how do you take that, you know, kind of in-person collaboration and make a war room or a digital lab when you have people working perhaps at home or in different offices throughout a region, throughout the world and any lessons there.
Tami Cannizzaro: It's really tough. And honestly, for the most part, let's face it now, you know, post COVID, almost everybody is now working remotely. And, you know, we travel sometimes to be together, but for the most part, on a daily basis, most teams, I'm going to say, I don't know if that's too big of a generalization mission. Are fairly remote. And you know what that gives you is access to talent all over the world, which is fantastic. But what you lose is that, you know, in-person daily collaboration. And so, you know, we do try to create these you know, I create these little, you know, little hubs where we'll have, you know, media working sessions and web working sessions. And, you know, then we've got our war room at the end of the week. But it can be difficult. You know, it really can be difficult.
We also have different tools, you know, that we use that keep us you know, we use Miro and Slack and, you know, where we kind of, you know, touch base, I would say, on a daily basis. But, you know I do actually think it makes building a practice a bit more difficult, being remote.
Daniel Burstein: Yeah. Let me ask you about this next lesson. This also might be something you communicate remotely to your team through a dashboard or something that. But you said, weekly growth is a high bar and a strong motivator. And you learned this from John DiLullo, SVP of Sales at Forcepoint. I could see a sales guy wanting to look at weekly numbers. Well, how did you learn that?
Tami Cannizzaro: Well, you know, it's interesting. John came in and we said what are our targets? What are our goals for revenue? Because everyone's used to working that way. And he said, I just want you to improve every week I want you to improve. And that seemed like, well, okay, you know, we could improve once a week, but there's going to be no plan. And people were sort of very unsettled by that. Well, how can there be no plan? We can't operate without a plan. You know, and what I realized was just getting a little bit better every week was actually a harder bar. And it really showed you your progress. And, you know, it wasn't like you had to wait for the month or for the quarter to find out whether you made the quarter or not. You really once a week were able to see that you were growing the business. And it's very powerful. And I found that also gives you the ability to kind of keep folks actively building momentum, right.
So if you look at every channel once a week, you know, all of a sudden, I don't know, three weeks go by and you've noticed that the, you know, traffic from I don't know, from Web casts or from email has slowed down. You know, you kind of dig a little deeper and you realize, oh, well, maybe, you know, Sally moved on and took a new job. And, you know, actually there were no web casts. You know, you were able to really understand at a tactical level why you're having these dips or why you're increasing momentum. You know, really by looking at what we did last week, I find sometimes it's hard if you look at that on a monthly or quarterly basis to really pin it to what did we do last week and what did that result in this week?
I think it's much easier for people to connect the dots in terms of, you know, what were the levers that we pulled last week and how did they work? How much traffic did they drive to the website? How many empty wells did we drive? What kind of momentum did we see? And I do think it's very powerful to look at it that way, you know, and it sort of keeps you as well on your toes.
Like if you're, you know, if every week, you're going toto look at, you know, how many MQL’s were driven from your space. It's sort of, you know, keeps the fire on a little bit like, okay, you know, every week we've got to show some value. We've got to contribute to the pot to make sure that where, you know, we're increasing and we're growing our business.
Daniel Burstein: So obviously I see the value in that. But let me play devil's advocate for a second, because how do you avoid just running around and just having, you know, the long term strategy of the week and just pivoting like crazy? And because, you know, there's been a lot of pushback, you know, at a macro level for the stock markets and quarterly earnings reports, people like Warren Buffett have said, hey, these quarterly earnings reports, they're really killing businesses, being able to build sustainable businesses.
And from my own experience, I mean, there's a difference between working for a public company and one that isn't. And I had a chance to work on earnings calls at one point and getting to work on earnings calls. It's like, wow, like the Head of Sales and the CMO and CFO would be beat up if they grew at like 12%. But the analysts, you know, thought they were going to grow up 14%, like 12% was pretty good growth for that quarter. And the analysts, are getting all heck on this call because they fell a little bit short and that's quarterly, you know. And so how do you keep from not doing that? Like we talked about, having that big brand ultimately will help. And if you're, you know a startup, you know, building that kind of momentum in industry is important. But you're going to get pulled into that sales team needs constant leads, we need to hit our revenue numbers. So those weekly reports are good but how do you balance like keeping a long term growth trajectory going?
Tami Cannizzaro: Well, you know, ideally, you want to get to a point where a dollar in equals three out, right? So you can say, okay, we've got our little, you know, engine running here. And if we put, you know, 20 more dollars in, we're going to get X out. And it becomes a bit of a science where we really understand our cost per lead. And you're able to scale with, you know, with a good amount of confidence that if you add more money into that, you know, into that marketing budget, that you're going to drive X more leads.
And so I you know, I do think, you know, often you'll see that a marketing program isn't quite there, right. Where you're putting money in and you're not getting a dollar back and then it's not profitable. But once you get to profitable leads, you know, ideally you're looking at scaling internationally, scaling your programs in terms of the amount of budget allotment. And so, you know, in my mind, it's almost, you know, it might seem like once a week that it feels like maybe, you know, that could scatter the team to worry about weekly results. But I think, you know, I actually look at it a little bit differently that I think it kind of you almost want it to, I think of a what are those things called like what is called a metronome, right.
Daniel Burstein: Oh like for a piano player. Yeah, yeah.
Tami Cannizzaro: Yeah, yeah, yeah. You know, it becomes this, you know, sort of this, you know, very steady state where you're actually able to understand, your, cohorts and how they're going to interact with your your ads and your marketing programs. And that scaling becomes actually much easier once you have the formula. Right.
Daniel Burstein: Well, and where does branding fit into that? You know, because you said, I totally agree with the cost per lead and you're kind of building to these numbers. But even if you're not putting it on a napkin that gets thrown out, we shouldn't do that. I agree with that. But, you know, just putting that print ad in The Wall Street Journal, that's just going to, you know, kind of get your brand out there. So then when people actually see the ad on LinkedIn for your webinar, they'll be like, wait I heard about that company, I don’t remember where, right? And then they click and they go through and they get that lead. Like, how do you balance branding in that mix?
Tami Cannizzaro: You Know it's interesting. I don't know. This could be a controversial statement, but I do think if you have enough money for advertising like big major media advertising, which you know, to do in the United States right now is very, very expensive. You know, good for you. And life's going to be a lot easier, right? But often what I find is that you don't have the advertising money to say, all right, you know, all right, you know, Mr. Business owner or Mrs. Business owner, you know, we're going to you know, spend this huge chunk on advertising. And that's, you know, what you're going to get from that is share of voice, you know, unbranded, you know, unaided brand awareness, you know, and they sort of look at you like you know.
And so I tend to like content marketing programs, you know, regional marketing programs, events and webinars and syndicated content and, you know, a little bit of guerilla marketing, you know, as opposed spending these huge advertising, formula one type buys or Wall Street Journal type buys.
And I think, you know, from that you're able to tie it a little bit more to the top of funnel, middle funnel, bottom funnel. As opposed to saying, I've got this whole separate brand advertising budget over here that's buying me those awareness points. And then I've got demand over here. I actually try to tie the two of them together. So that cost per lead includes what I'll call top of funnel buys as opposed to as opposed to brand awareness. And you know, in theory, right, over time, that leads to this broader brand awareness.
Daniel Burstein: Well, let's talk about one last lesson from a company that can buy those Formula One ads and those Wall Street Journal ads and the Super bowl ads. This you learned from a Sandy Carter who is a VP at IBM, constantly push to be innovative and be on the forefront of a new trend. So how did you learn that at IBM?
Tami Cannizzaro: Well, you know, back then, digital, I'm going to say it was actually really just becoming much more sophisticated, content marketing, influencer marketing, really brands getting behind social media marketing and, you know, activating their employee base to be driving content and social. There were a lot of trends back then where staying on top of the trends was I think, really important being a first mover. You know, we were we drove one of first big influencer programs and one of the first tech conferences from a brand that was out of 20,000 people in Vegas. And then we activated the employee base and just the math on 300,000 employees getting activated on social was really market moving. And I've always thought if you can get you know, these all of these tactics have a bit of a hype cycle, right. Remember LinkedIn, you read every single message because it was from somebody you knew and we were connected and oh, great to meet you on LinkedIn. Now my LinkedIn, it's full of spam, right? It's you know, I can’t keep up with the connections that I get and then I feel guilty because, you know, later today you'll try to LinkedIn messaged me and then you're behind 700 vendors that were trying to sell something.
So, you know, I do feel like trying to stay ahead and figure out my head is always around what's next, what's next? How do I essentially how do I break through all of the noise that's out there? Because there's so much noise. I mean, even content marketing. I mean, I think some horrible statistic about how much more content there is than there was, you know, ten years ago. And so it makes breaking through just that much harder. And then it was static contend and well now you need video content, now it’s LinkedIn live just launched and that's a new platform. And so I do think being an early adopter on some of these new platforms is critical in terms of being able to get your voice through as a brand.
Daniel Burstein: Yes, I want to ask about that. So I remember. You said you learned this from Sandy Carter at IBM. I remember when I was at IBM, second life was a big deal. That was going to be the future, right. And maybe it was still good for them because, you know, they had programmers and type of people that were on there. And now like Meta and Facebook really just seemed to be copying them. But I also don't think really second life panned out. I would guess how IBM thought it would or anyone else thought it would.
So I love this this term hype cycle. So how do you determine on where to invest or which of these to go into? And also, how do you not overlook, tried and true tactics that might not be as hype filled, but still work? And I just remember real quick, Vine, that's another one where, oh my gosh, you all got to get on Vine.So did you have anything you've learned over the years of, okay, how do I kind of avoid the hype cycle, for lack of a better word, and figure out what is worth my investment and what's not and not overlook the tried and true?
Tami Cannizzaro: Listen, as you mentioned, I was on both of those.
Daniel Burstein: So did you own an island on second life did you own some real estate?
Tami Cannizzaro: Yes, I did. Yes, I did. I’m going to admit it, you know, and they failed. But I think that's part of being a good marketer. You need to not be afraid of failure and be, you know what, I'm going to jump into it and, you know, maybe it's going to pay off and maybe it is. And, you know, and some of them, and some of them aren’t. Tik Tok took off, whereas Vine it was sort of dead on arrival. And I don't know that there's maybe someone that was brilliant could forecast which ones are going to live and which ones are going die. But I, I would rather try to test those platforms, get on them early, understand them, and then be ready to get off if, you know, if you think you know what this is, this isn't working. My audience isn't there. But for the most part, you know, I like to try. I rarely would tell someone on my team who came to me and said, Oh, we want to try something new or innovative to say, no, no, we're not sure that's going to take off. You know, I love to hear that that people are seeing new trends and seeing emerging trends and want to hop on them. You know, it's really with a massive investment, right? It's often with a pilot. And I, you know, I applaud that type of bravery.
Daniel Burstein: So you mentioned Sandy Carter was the one that really pushed you early into social media, influencer marketing, content marketing. As a CMO yourself, is there anything specifically you do with your team to try to keep on the cutting edge? Like, you know, some teams it's like use 5 or 10% of your time to just focus on emerging things or, you know, some teams it's, you know, testing or, you know, something else. Is there anything you doing with your team to really kind of kind of keep them pushing that emerging edge and learning those new skills?
Tami Cannizzaro: I would say I encourage them to make sure that they're doing outside reading on marketing, studying our competitors. Alot of times within a category we probably have, I don't know, you know, 30 different point vendors in our category. So, I'll often talk about what the different brands in our category are doing and say, have you seen this? And I audit them, and I'm probably in 30 trials at a time where I do software trials and I see how they market to me and understand. So I think understanding the competition is really critical, but then that's not going to get you better than the competition, right? So I think I would say I kind of do it by example.
I'm constantly looking for marketing success stories and understanding trends in marketing. And I'll regularly send my team. Have we check this out? Should we think about this, you know, ChatGPT just came out. Are there marketing implications for it, you know, whatever the heck it is. And I think, you know, I like to think that by sort of suggesting and pushing that they sort of, you know, when I'm new to a team, I often I think they think, oh, wow, you know, we have to we have to jump on this right away. And I think they realize that I'm just constantly going to be, you know, suggesting, why don't we try this or that or the other thing? And sometimes they'll just, you know, we'll say not a priority. We're going to pass. And then sometimes they'll start a project or a pilot. So, you know, I guess I'd like to think it's a lead by example where, you know, I'm always looking for innovative or new and, you know, would really like to reward the team for trying new for trying trends or trying new innovations.
Daniel Burstein: Have your eye on anything in particular. Now you mentioned the ChatGPT, artificial intelligence machine learning. I'm going to put on my outlook in 2033, ten years from now to listen back to this episode, Tami and see how well you predicted. So no pressure. No pressure.
Tami Cannizzaro: Exactly. Yeah, we're right now, you know, a big thing right now is using AI for media buys. And so we're testing some and it's kind of worth it because you know the vendors that are selling these platforms will actually give you a free trial and they'll say it'll save 15% on your, you know, 50% improvement on your ROI from ads. And so, you know, the downside is pretty limited of trying it and, you know, and seeing if it works. So I think that's a pretty major trend right now. AI for media buying because I think that's gotten pretty sophisticated. And you know, I'll say machine driven for lack of a better word. That's one piece.
Another piece that we're I mean, and this isn't necessarily so new, but we're really trying to do so much more with video and live and influencers. AndI it's not that it's so new, but I do feel sometimes that's difficult to get scaled. And really, you know, get that production to a point where you're leaning more into video than you know, then you are on to other types of content. And so that's something that I'm always pushing for because I think you're competing with I don't know, how many eBooks are out there. You know, that it's all the blogs, the eBooks. And so I think trying to lean more heavily into influencers with following and videos and live is something that I think can just give you a little bit of an edge in terms of how you're showing up as a brand.
And then now with COVID, dare I say, I mean, this isn't the most innovative comment. But getting back in person. I think just pushing people like to get back out there in person because I think people right now want to be in person. They're thrilled to get invited to a dinner or an in-person event because it's just it's been a while. I think digital has gotten a little bit crowded and we're actually seeing really good return from live in-person events.
Daniel Burstein: That's a really good point. I mean, sometimes things swing back the other way where the classic becomes the truly innovative, you know? So all right Tami, we’ve talked about so many different things from knowing the data to trying to innovate. So what do you think? If you could break it down, what are the key qualities of an effective marketer?
Tami Cannizzaro: Wow. So the key qualities of an effective marketer, I mean, I think one of the things we talked about, I think is really being ready to understand that you might embark on something that's going to fail and not be afraid to do that. So a little bit of bravery in terms of what you're going to put in to market and what you're going to go after and trying to be a little bit provocative or progressive in terms of the programs that you're going to try.
You know, sometimes folks want to be safe. They're worried, they're worried about trying something new. And so I would say that's a big one for me, someone who's ready to sort of try something new and and push the envelope a little bit. Two, I think someone who's very data driven, right. You really understand that especially today marketing is very measurable, right. It's less subjective, I would say, than it was back ten years ago. It's really very measurable. And so you really need to understand. No matter what it is, if you're running an event, if it's digital, social advertising, you really need to be ready to say, here's the program I’m going to run. Here's the results I think it's going to drive. And by the way, here's what it drove. And it either failed or it succeeded. And really be very numbers focused.
And then I think someone very collaborative, the programs, all of marketing takes such collaboration today that I think it really does take a collaborative individual who's not sort of a lone player, but can really understand that this is one plus one equals three. Where if we can really partner together on a marketing strategy and execute it in kind with one another, it's likely going to be much more successful than if you try to go it alone.
Daniel Burstein: I love that. I think you may be the first guest to have said bravery, I like the bravery very nice. Well Tami, thank you so much for joining us today. I learned so much from this conversation.
Tami Cannizzaro: Thank you so much, Daniel. I enjoyed it as well. Thank you.
Daniel Burstein: And thanks to everyone for listening.
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