Sales Pipeline Radio, Episode 254: Q & A with Marne Reed @MarneReed

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If you’re not already subscribed to Sales Pipeline Radio, or listening live every Thursday at 11:30 a.m Pacific on LinkedIn (also on demand) you can find the transcription and recording here on the blog every Monday morning.  The show is less than 30 minutes, fast-paced and full of actionable advice, best practices and more for B2B sales & marketing professionals.

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This week’s show is called How to Orchestrate a Hybrid Experience for Your Customers and Prospectsand our guest is Marne Reed, Chief Evangelist, Brand Experiences at PFL.com

Join Marne and I as we talk about the things that create and maintain the PFL culture, the importance of the integrated experience between marketing channels and the body of work, the importance of having a personality as a brand, some best practices for enabling experience across go-to-market teams, plus more about hybrid experiences.

Listen in now for great insights and/or read the full transcript below or watch the video here:

Matt:     Well, welcome everyone to another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. My name is Matt Heinz. It is exciting to be back here. We’ve been dark for the last two weeks as I’ve been with my family in Encinitas, literally doing next to nothing. We did a lot of beach time. We did a lot of, we ate a lot of tacos. Surf and turf burrito’s. If you ever want a great carne Asada shrimp burrito, I got a top three in Encinitas, North County, San Diego. I can hook you up with the details. So we’re excited to be back and thank you everyone for joining us. For those of you joining us live on LinkedIn, Facebook or YouTube, thanks so much for watching us in the middle of your workday, here on a Thursday. We are here typically, every Thursday at 11:30 Pacific, 2:30 Eastern. And if you’re checking this out on demand, thank you very much for watching. If you’re listening on demand the podcast, thank you very much for downloading and subscribing. And boy, I think we’re close to 300 episodes of Sales Pipeline Radio now. Some of which are now on video, but all of which are available on demand and audio format at salespipelineradio.com. Every week we’re featuring some of the best and brightest minds in B2B sales and marketing. Today is absolutely no different. I had to look up the current title for our guests today because she continues to take on more and more responsibility. Chief Evangelists of Brand Experiences at PFL, Marne Reed. Marne, thanks so much for joining us.

Marne: Matt, I’m excited to be here. Thanks for having me.

Matt:     So, this is only a 20–25-minute show, and we’ve got a lot we can talk about. In the past we, I think we really, our relationship was built on a common, not fear, but I think a healthy respect for bears. I will never forget a dinner that we were both at, at conference and we were talking. Somehow we started talking about bears. We have a common interest in bacon. And I want to talk about hybrid experiences as well. But maybe just quick, introduce yourself who you are. And for those, maybe the two or three listeners who don’t know PFL, what PFL does.

Marne: Yeah, absolutely. So I’m Marne Reed. I’ve known Matt, what we’ve known each other for seven years? Somewhere around there-ish. Had some really fun dinners and fun conversations over the course of the last few years. I’m the Chief Evangelist at PFL of Brand Experiences and that’s really what PFL is all about. One of the things that we’ve created over the course of the last seven years, is just realizing that there’s a pretty significant problem in digital marketing right now. Which is, even in the last 18 months, it’s just gone out the window, out of control. And so, the problem that we’re solving for our customers is while digital has been on this massive increase, the fact of the matter comes down to the human attention span, doesn’t change. It’s a sparse commodity. I know it even feels like over the last 18 months it’s even become more sparse. And so what we do at PFL is, we combine the emotional power of offline marketing with the predictability of digital, to deliver that really one-to-one personalized at infinite scale. And we call this the hybrid experience platform that we offer to our customers. As far as my background, I’ve had an interesting path of career at PFL. I’ve been there just over 19 years, which sounds, makes me sound really old.

Matt:     It makes you sound loyal. I think that’s probably what it makes you sound like. I mean, it’s impressive. I know we want to talk about the hybrid experience being really important. I think we’ve learned a lot about what’s working and why it’s so valuable in the last year. Clearly we’re going to, as we face a tenuous fall schedule, I think we’re still leaning into that for sure. But I think you and I have talked in the past about my respect and admiration for the PFL culture.
Again, there are a couple of conferences you guys have done in Bozeman. You’ve taken some people on tours of the office. And it’s the things you guys do. Sometimes the little things to celebrate customers. To help employees be more successful. One of the things that I think, you gave it to her or someone else didn’t give it to her, neither of you pointed out my favorite part which was, as you walk into the print shop. Where you guys have these amazing, I mean, some of these amazing unique machines. There’s a sign above the door and it says something like, through these doors walk the most successful. So, these doors walk the greatest manufacturing professionals in the world. Something like that. And it wasn’t even pointed out in the tour. And so that tells me, you’re pointing out things you think are highlights and there’s all kinds of other stuff that you guys are just doing. And my sense in talking to you and talking to Andrew is that, it’s like Zingerman’s out in Ann Arbor. You didn’t intend to say, “Hey, let’s intentionally do all these things.” You just did the things that felt like the right things to do. How does that, how do you do that organically? What do you consider, having seen it over the years. How do you do that?

Marne: It started for me actually when I knew that I wanted to move to Montana. And Montana was not known as this high-tech sexy place, it’s farming and ranching. And I really, for me personally, I wanted to work in a great place to live. I wanted to have a career I wanted to thrive. And at that time there wasn’t very many opportunities. And so I think when we look at people who come on board with PFL, they’re very, I don’t want to say like-minded because we’re actually very different thinking people. But we all have a common goal, which is we love our customers. We want to serve our customers. And sometimes we’ll go to the nth degree to try to figure out how to solve the problems that our customers are experiencing. And so, when you look at the individuals that we bring on board, it’s just a very driven group of people and they’re very passionate. They care a lot. And that is and has been, what’s kept me at PFL. That’s a huge motivator for me. I don’t want to work with which a bunch of slackers. I don’t want to work with people who are, we have a value that it’s, we couldn’t figure out how to put a positive spin on it. But we don’t want people to have to be that gossipy, stabbing workplace. And so that’s something that we have consistently held to. And I have had no problems walking up to a person and just saying, “Hey, that doesn’t match with our values. And let’s just focus on the important things, which is our customers.”

Matt:     Well, and when you can enumerate your values in that explicit of a way, and when you cannot just say, it’s things like integrity, or excellence or things that anyone can say. But when they aren’t just said, when they aren’t aspirational, when they describe the culture you have, when they describe your best cultural examples, those serve as an attractor and a repellent, right?

Marne: Yes.

Matt:     Those serve as a means of, people that read those and say, that’s not me. But if that’s what the organization rewards and recognizes, then they don’t stick around for very long. You can put those values in front of people that are applying for jobs and say, does this sound like you? You gave yourself the time and energy of interviewing people that clearly don’t believe in those.

Marne: When they do the interview, that’s 100% right, Matt. I mean, as we’re actually going through our assessments, our interview team actually is evaluating on those values.

Matt:     That’s super important. So, let’s pivot a little bit to this concept of the hybrid experience. So PFL you’ve been there 20 years. Company started as a print for less. It was an online print shop. She put a print it in Bozeman. Then the cheaper print it in New York or whatever. And it has really pivoted to focus on software tactile experiences. And what started as direct mail and printed materials really is now this hybrid experience. What I love about that approach is that it’s not, hey, what’s your tactile? What’s your offline? What’s your direct mail? The most successful marketers I see today are not saying, what’s my email? What’s my social? What’s my direct mail? What’s my prospect experience? It’s not about the channels. It’s about the body of work. Talk a little bit about why that’s so important. Whether we’re still working from home or in front of our peloton and pianos or not. Why is that combined integrated experience so important?

Marne: Well, I could go on and on for hours on this topic. We want a human experience. I don’t even want a customer experience. I want a human experience. And I think, that has elevated over the course of the last several years. Where if not done right, it can, the same thing that we talked about with the values. It can become a repellent. So if I have someone who is prospecting to me or marketing to me and they don’t even know my first name, I mean, first of all, that’s like table stakes at this point in time. We have so much data at our fingertips to be able to know where someone is, in their buyer’s journey. What are they engaging with from a digital perspective? What are they consuming and how long are they consuming it? And being able to leverage that data. To then be able to engage them in the human world and the real world with these physical pieces, I think is critical now more than ever. I hate even using the phrases that are so common now, like the digital fatigue or the Zoom fatigue. People just are craving that one-to-one personal experience. There’s nothing better than being able to… I shop at Amazon and probably, it’s ridiculous how much money I spend with them. I still love to open the boxes. It comes to my porch, I open it up, it’s engaging and I already know what’s in there. Hey, I mean, it’s like, it shouldn’t be a surprise. But when you have that ability to understand where your audience is and then how you can help solve their problems and then be able to send them something that showcases that, I think is absolutely critical. And that is building a level of affinity with your audience, where they want to engage with you.

Matt:     I totally agree. Talking today on Sales Pipeline Radio with Marne Reed, a 20 year PFL veteran who is currently the Chief Evangelist in Brand Experiences. And I think you’re right. I mean, there’s a combination of that hyper personalization and that personalized experience you can provide for someone. But also there’s power in that integrated diversity of channels. If you send six emails to someone, like, what did they say in a MBA school? You had to have like seven impressions with someone before they started to pay attention. But there’s an acceleration of that awareness, if you would diversify the channels. I continue to see study after study. It said you send the seven emails versus a couple emails, a couple social posts, something in the mail, with a consistent approach and message. You’re going to accelerate the path towards awareness interest, in response with that diversified hybrid experience.

Marne: Yes, I also think that nothing’s linear. We don’t behave in a linear fashion. And so your marketing can’t be linear either. I need to know, like I said earlier, I need to know where you’re at and how you’re engaging with my brand in order to determine what am I going to send to you. Like ON24 is one of our great customers and they did their ON24 experience event recently. Even being able to have tied together that virtual experience with being able to send them a pre-event kit, but segmenting their audience too. They had their target accounts that they created a more of a VIP package for and I think that really creates that brand affinity, like I said, and just that level of engagement, but also like a strong call to action. You can’t just send swag in a box. That’s cute. It’s fun. People like it. But it needs to be something that really is engaging and showcasing your brand at the same time.

Matt:     Love it. Well, take a quick break. I want to recognize, before we continue here with our guests, Marne Reed from PFL. I want to just thank our sponsor Vidyard. Vidyard has been a friend of the show for a long time. Very excited to have them on as a sponsor now. Vidyard, for those of you who don’t know, easy to use video solution, making it very easy to create videos. Host and ad free. Share them with others. Track their performance. Whether you’re recording a video for one person or sharing it with the world on your website, it’s easy to manage your content. My assistant is addicted to Vidyard. She’s using it internally when she wants to explain something. She doesn’t write long emails; she uses videos to show us what’s going on. It makes it very easy.  It’s a great way to personalize, as we’re talking about here with Marne. The experience people have across different channels by using video. With great analytics integration with other tools, customize options and more. You can find them at vidyard.com. That’s V-I-D-Y-A-R-D.com. If you go to vidyard.com/pipeline, you can get a copy of their free high conversion, virtual sales playbooks.
So, thanks again to our friends at Vidyard. Tyler and the whole team up there. There’s something to be said Marne, for having a personality as a brand. Having people like yourself that can be the face of a company. Tyler Lessard of Vidyard does a fantastic job of this with all of his content. And look, I mean, I’m a print journalist. And I have a face for radio, as you can all tell by watching this. I’m good at writing, that’s what my background is. But there’s something to be said for the personalization or the personality, excuse me, you see from people in a multimedia format. Whether it’s video or in-person, or even embedding video into a direct mail package. So you can see the face behind the brand. Talk about how important that personality is, even in a B2B context.

Marne: Well, I think it’s critical, I don’t like boring. I think that’s one of the reasons I love you. It’s just your conversations, we get on the phone for 30 minutes and it’s like, okay, we got to go. But then these great conversations just keep taking place. And I think it’s, you have to have the personality too, people want to work with people. And so being able to have a brand that shows your people personality, I think is very important. And like you said, with Vidyard, I love that group over there, they’re so fun to work with. And being able to showcase a video, it shows your face. It’s like, people want to see that face to face communication. But I think you can also do that throughout your content too. And I’ve got companies who are using some really great LASS language. Which makes you, as you’re reading some of their content, that makes you feel emotional a little bit.
But then they come in to save the day to be able to say, “and this is how we’re going to help you.” I just, I think, it’s so important, I read sometimes, things where it’s just like, I’m about to fall asleep. It’s just not going to win me over. I want to work with great people. I want to be emotionally connected to the brands that are in my life.

Matt:     Yep. Well, I mean look, buildings don’t write checks. People do. Right? And so I think too often in B2B, we expect we need to speak to the benefit of the business and that’s true. The business has to benefit. But you’ve got a living, breathing person like you and I, that’s going to write the check. That’s going to use the product. That’s going to benefit from it some way in their career and or their life and it’s important to consider that.

Marne:   I think the fact of the matter is, is people don’t care about your company. They don’t care about your company. What they’re going to care about is people that they’re going to be able to have a relationship with. And that really comes down to that people topic that we’ve started off with.

Matt:     Amen to that. Okay. Well, so related to that, back to this idea of hybrid experience. So we can talk about seamless marketing channels. And I love that Mark is here, watching the show live. Thanks for joining us Mark. Says, reinforces power in the integrated diversity of channels. And if we think of that just within marketing, online, offline, tactile, digital, valuable. What if we now take that and say, okay, now I’ve got marketing and I’ve got sales, right? And I’ve got, for those bigger organizations, there’s greater integration between those teams than ever before. Marketing is working further into the funnel than ever before. Sales is engaging earlier in the funnel than ever before. That hybrid experience gets even more complex. Let alone talking about how to now localize that across different geographies or managing that across channel and direct sales relationships. But let’s start, I guess, maybe you focus just on that sales versus marketing relationships. What are some of the best practices you see for companies successfully enabling a hybrid experience across those go-to market team?

Marne: I think that the success that we’ve seen at PFL and even the customers that we’re working with, it’s just involvement. It’s bringing the teams together to have that conversation. Sales is at the forefront. They’re at the tip of the sphere. And they’re the ones who are talking to the prospects. They’re talking to the customers. If you’re not engaging them from a marketing standpoint, on what the messaging is and the problem that we’re solving, it’s going to fall on flat ears. Sales is going to look at you and say, you don’t have any clue what we’re doing on a day-to-day basis.
But at the end of the day, I still believe that marketing controls the messaging. They need to take the input from sales and then they need to create messaging that sales is going to connect to and be able to intelligently articulate. You can’t have them sounding like a robot in their sales pitch. They need to be sounding like they are consultants. And that they’re really educating the audience on what, again, the problem that we solve.
So, I think getting sales involved early is important. And then, we do something where every Monday and every Friday, we meet as a large organization and we’re sharing constantly what every single department is doing in order to be able to achieve our goals. I think that creates that sense of one team. And sales wants the field support. They need the sales support. They can’t, at one point in time, I was watching one of our sales reps create their own deck. I’m like, “No. This is not good. This is not what you should be spending your time on. So being able to alert marketing, “Hey, our sales team is creating their own decks. We probably have a problem in our sales process or in our messaging. Let’s sit down together and actually figure it out.” So, I think a lot of it is just, having the process and the structure to have those two teams to come together and identify what’s the common objective that we have. Instead of having marketing measured on sales qualified leads and having sales measured on close one deals. Why not have everyone measured on revenue so that we’re not actually working against each other, we’re working together.

Matt:     Just a couple more minutes here with our guests, Marne Reed from PFL today on Sales Pipeline Radio. And let’s talk about that brand experience because, and talk about that measurement component of it. Right? Because I think a lot of B2B marketers say, I got to drive pipeline. I got to generate new leads. I get measured based on pipeline contribution. Brand is arts and crafts. Brand is something that you measure via what? Share of voice. Share of market. Share of audience and how many times you’re mentioned in the press. I’m being a little facetious. But I think, it’s still a challenge for a lot of companies to justifying the balance, the brand investment versus straight demand. And yet I think for those of us who have been doing this for too long know, the investment in brand greases the wheels of predictable, scalable pipeline development. Talk a little bit about what you’re seeing at PFL, but also with the companies you’re talking to about that impactive brand.

Marne: Well, I actually have been having some interesting conversations with Braden over at SANDO. So I know you had Chris on the session maybe last week or the week before. And one of the reasons that we started having a conversation together is what we were hearing from our audience is, well, what’s the difference between PFL and SANDO. It’s like, okay, so we have confused, we’ve potentially confused the marketplace, if they can’t differentiate why our two companies are different from each other. And so that started conversations internally, but also externally. To actually go out and talk to our customers and say, what do you think PFL is?
And what we got back from them was not actually what was in our core messaging and wasn’t in our brand. And so that really made, it challenged us to say, okay, we have confused people and we need to take a look at everything that we’re doing and rebrand. So that people are not confused with the value that we bring to the marketplace. And I think we get too hung up on the name of our company. We get too hung up on the color of our logos. It’s just, it’s really important for us to be able to ask our audience. Do you understand what it is that we do? And if that is not the case, then you’ve got a problem.

Matt:     Love it. Well, we’re about out of time. I want to thank our guest today. Marne Reed, the Chief Evangelists for Brand Experiences. I’m going to get it right one of these times. And just thank you for your time. And I’m serious, you don’t meet bad people at PFL. Such a great company. A great culture. Attracts and retains just good people, but also good people doing great work and doing it the right way. So I continue to be impressed with your team and your company. And shout out to you and Andrew for really being the foundation of that.
If you like this episode and want to share this with some of your colleagues and friends, you’ll see it up on LinkedIn, on demand, as soon as we click stop. You’ll also find it on demand in a couple of days up at salespipelineradio.com and I encourage you to join us on future Thursdays, 11:30am Pacific/2:30pm Eastern. I want to thank again, our sponsor Vidyard, for making this possible. If you want to get their free high conversion virtual sales playbook, go to vidyard.com/pipeline. And on behalf of Marne and everyone else, my name is Matt Heinz. Thanks very much for joining us on another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. Bye-bye.

Thank you to our sponsor, Vidyard. Vidyard is an easy-to-use video solution that makes it simple to create videos, host them ad-free, share them with others, and track their performance. Whether you’re recording a video for one person or sharing it with the world on your website, it’s easy to manage your video content. The solution offers robust analytics, integrations with top enterprise tools, and customization options. You can find them at vidyard.com/pipeline for a free High Conversion Virtual Sales Playbook.

Sales Pipeline Radio is sponsored and produced by Heinz Marketing.

I interview the best and brightest minds in sales and Marketing.  If you would like to be a guest on Sales Pipeline Radio send an email to Sheena. For sponsorship opportunities, contact Cherie.

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