Our economy is currently in a state where there is a need for speedy recovery. For this to happen, entrepreneurs and CEOs need to think strategically about bringing customers back to their businesses and create an actionable plan of execution. In this increasingly digital world, that means more emphasis on smart marketing strategies that will put your company on top. Karen Hayward has been helping mid-market CEOs to accelerate growth by building and executing strategic marketing programs for six years as Managing Partner and CMO for Chief Outsiders. Listen in as Terri Levine picks her brain for some marketing tips and tricks that will help you grab a larger share in the recovery economy.
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Coming Out Strong In the Recovery Economy Through Strategic Thinking With Karen Hayward
I want to put a word out there that showed up for me. The word is the word peace. Some people think peace but I’m going to give you the word piece. You come here to get a piece of something. Something that you specifically need to know from one of the amazing guests that I have. I’m going to encourage you to read for what is that piece that you’re here to get? I know it will be revealed in this interview. We’re looking at business and CEOs are always recovering from any cash is king. We are in a state in our economy all the time where we need a speedy recovery. We always need to find a way to have more customers, bring more customers back to our business and any cash is not necessarily king, according to my guest, which I want to delve into that. She says, “Unless CEOs have a set strategy and a plan for being the first to the recovery market, their companies lose,” but they don’t have to lose. You stand by because she’s going to reveal that with some good news. What she says is that they can grab a larger share of the recovery market by applying some hints, tips and tricks, and actionable recovery strategies that she has. My guest is Karen Hayward. She is a national bestselling author and international speaker. I can’t wait to delve into some of these tricks and tips. Karen, welcome to the show.
Thank you. It is a pleasure to be with you.
I’m excited to have our conversation because as I’ve been in business for many years, there always is something that happens. It’s a cyclical thing. One day, it’s the dot-com crash. Another day it’s the stock market crash. There are many different things that have happened in the world. A CEO sets about to recover as you say which I like. Where is this philosophy of any Cassius Cain? Where is that heading people?
When I started thinking about the topic, it was that many CEOs focus their energy on running their business. When you think about growing a business, you have to have a different mindset. The mindset is all about looking outside the window. When you’re running your company, it’s like a bicycle. You’re bicycling harder and harder. You’re doing that within the context and the confines of your business. When you think about growing a company, you have to look outside the window and you alluded to a lot of those things that happen, the economic, regulatory issues but there are other things your competitors and they’re not sitting still. You have to figure out how you can recover quicker, recover faster, how you can position yourself better, and what market opportunities can you take advantage of. I liken it to in the bicycle metaphor, adding gear to your bike.
I like that bicycle metaphor. I’ve never heard that before. I’m curious, what has been your journey? What has led you to be in a position where you’re helping people with these tools and strategies?
I’m a Canadian who grew up in Montreal and moved to Toronto and had my business career. I look at my journey in three parts. There was growing up in Montreal and then having my business career in Toronto with Xerox Canada for many years. I went from a sales rep to vice president of marketing. I quit and I decided I needed a bigger pond. I moved to the United States and settled in Silicon Valley. The next years of my career were all-around working for mid-market companies and startups. I got to the point we had sold the last company I was working for and I thought, “I don’t want to do this anymore.” I want to take everything I’ve learned and figure out how to right-size it for the SMB market. All the best practices I learned in Xerox Canada, all of the mistakes I made in startups, and in the subsequent companies that I worked for. How do you take that learning and package it up in a way that doesn’t cost a lot of money that CEOs can take and apply to their companies?
Our backgrounds are similar in terms of taking all that past experience and then saying, “How can I take it in a way that can help and serve other people?” What do you find is the number one problem, issue or challenge that CEOs have? What keeps them up at night in your experience?
There are a couple of things I could answer to that question but I want to start with the one that I’m most passionate about. These entrepreneurs started their business because they had some kind of insight. There was some niche they could fill in the marketplace. Things evolve, grow by referral if it’s a B2B, and then they get stuck at a revenue level. It’s breaking through whether it’s $3 million to $5 million, $5 million to $10 million, $50 million to $100 million, but they tend to plateau because what got you there isn’t going to get you to the next level and they start doing random acts of marketing. It’s like, “We’ll try this, we’ll try that,” and then they get frustrated because they can’t quantify their investments the way you want to be able to do as a business later. They tend to have an over-reliance on sales because that’s quantifiable. In nowadays market, the buyer’s journey is done much more digitally. Turning to sales at a time when you ought to be investing in marketing and digitally in a quantifiable way is the road to success. The biggest issue I see is random acts of marketing.
Sometimes I have said to my client family members, “Stop throwing spaghetti against the wall.” You have ever heard that if you throw spaghetti and if it’s al dente, it sticks to the wall and it’s done. I see people doing everything. It’s like, “Somebody’s blogging, so I should blog. Somebody is podcasting, so I should podcast. People are spending money on Facebook Ads, so I should do that.” The word of advice that I say more than anything is stop, take a moment and let’s do some smart marketing. I like how you talked about the random acts of marketing. That is an issue that I also see is people are doing marketing and they’re not keeping their eye on the return on investments. What do you have to say about how to help them focus to make sure they’re getting an ROI?
It starts by thinking about how do you build your commercial engine? I would say your commercial engine has three gears. I’m going to start with the last gear and that’s execution. It’s all of those things that you do in the marketplace to drive leads, activity and purchase. It’s your website, public relations, logo, lead generation, sales, collateral, your social media, but all of that should be supported by a strategy. Your strategy is what are your offerings? What are your distribution channels? How are you differentiating? How are your market positioning? What’s your pricing? What’s your market segmentation? What’s your messaging? All of that, your strategy is supported by insight. This is the biggest scare that entrepreneurs miss.
Why do we exist? What is special about our company? What are our strengths that we can leverage into the marketplace? What do we know about our customers? How much customer intimacy do we have? What do we know about our competitors? What opportunities lie in the competitive space? You have to think about it. Your competitors are changing all the time, yet we don’t take enough time to look at the market insights that informed the strategy that drives good execution. Because they all start on execution, it’s not backed up with the strategy and the insights. The ROI is random.Many CEOs focus their energy on running their business. Growing a business needs a different mindset. Click To Tweet
People seem to want to do action items. It’s like, “Give me the action item. Let me go do the action item.” It’s exactly what you said. They’re doing all of this without a strategy and plan. It’s costing them a lot of time, energy, and more importantly, money while their competitors are doing the research or gaining market share.
I think they get frustrated. When we go into work with a CEO, it’s not because everything is going well. They say, “We tried this, we tried that and marketing doesn’t work in our business. Our business is different.” They’re not different. They’re all the same.
I love when people say to me either, “My business is different or we’ve already tried that.” I was chatting with somebody, they said, “Facebook Ads don’t work.” I said, “Really?” They said, “We tried them and they didn’t work.” I said, “What if you didn’t do it correctly? What if you got to the wrong audience? What if it wasn’t the right ad? What if it wasn’t the right message?” They said, “What?” How would you handle someone who said for example, “We tried Facebook Ads, they don’t work. Karen, next?” What would you say?
I would say, “Let’s go back and figure out what’s the goal. What are we trying to do here? Who are we trying to get to? Do we understand our ideal customer?” I saw a statistic that a lot of companies spend 50% of their time, their salesforce is trying to sell to the wrong customer. Taking the time to ask the CEO, “Who is your customer?” “Let’s go find out where those customers hang out.” “They’re all on Facebook because they’re 50 years old and they’re chasing their grandchildren.” “Isn’t that interesting? I wonder how we could get to them on Facebook. Our message maybe wasn’t relevant or our geographical segmentation was not done correctly. What do you think?” You can do an AB test and spend a tiny bit of money. You don’t have to break the bank on Facebook always.
Can you give a case study or an example? Maybe a company that you’ve worked with and you’ve shown them how they can grab some market share, recover from whatever’s happening and get some influx into their business.
I’ll pick a cybersecurity company we worked for. It was interesting. I’m passionate. One of the tools that are in everybody’s toolbox that doesn’t get used enough is win-loss analysis. People rely on their salespeople for customer insight as to why they won or why they lose. Most salespeople will say they lost on price because that’s the easiest answer for the customer to give you so that you will go away when they’ve selected another buyer. We were working for the cybersecurity company who had a good product. They were $15,000 more than their competitor. They got a new market entrance. Dell had come onto the market with a cybersecurity offering. The salesforce came back and said, “We’re losing our price. We’ve got to lower the price.”
The CEO was getting beaten down. He said to me, “I think we ought to lower the price.” I said, “No, time out. We don’t have any data, facts or insight.” “Yes, but the salesforce is giving us all this loss analysis.” “That’s one data point. Your salesforce is one input.” We did a win-loss analysis in an independent third party and said that a confidential interview is done by whatever. We did about a dozen of them. What we learned was the clients liked our product better. They loved our features. We didn’t have a product roadmap and Dell was selling this great product roadmap that said, “We’re going to take you into the future and beyond.” Going with that company is risky because they knew we didn’t have a product roadmap. That tiny little insight changed everything because we could quickly mobilize our CTO, we could get videos made, we could get a white paper written, we can train our salesforce, and pre-emptively set the stage where we have this fabulous product roadmap, insight and here’s what we’re doing. Win rate went way up, we didn’t reduce our price, we left it as a premium solution in the marketplace and we were able to recover and drive our market share.
I’m glad I asked you because that was such a great story. I constantly think that businesses pivot because they don’t have enough data and they go, “That’s it.” They’re down on some other rabbit holes. I love how you get them to stop and slow down. I’m curious, how could people find you, get in touch with you, follow you? I want those who are ready and saying, “I’ve got to learn more about Karen to find out how they can do that.”
I’m at KHayward@ChiefOutsiders.com.
They can buy your books I’m on guessing Amazon?The deliberate CEO pivots according to the customers’ needs and takes time to understand the competition. Click To Tweet
You can buy my book, Stop Random Acts Of Marketing, on Amazon. I also have a telephone and I do answer it. You can call me at (650) 823-4292.
I want to make a point of saying that. The phone is the most under-utilized tool. It amazes me that people think everything has to be done on either Zoom, in-person, emails or social media. I’m a huge person like you on the phone. I’m an advocate of the phone. I love my telephone. I love it when my telephone rings and I get to talk to a new person. I love to talk to people on the phone. Sometimes for me, taking away the webcam feature and allowing myself to be in-tune, be present, hear what someone is saying, and listen underneath the words without distraction can make a big difference. Thank you for even giving out your phone number. I want to go a little bit deeper. Let’s say I’m the CEO of a company, I’m reading, I’m interested, and at the beginning that any cash is king may not be exactly correct. What do you mean by that?
CEOs ought to focus on a strategy to grow their business. I’ll give you one simple example. We worked with a mid-market company selling industrial equipment. Every CEO should do this especially if you’re B2B. If you look at their customer base, you take your biggest customer all the way down to your smallest customer and you chart them across the X-axis on how much potential do they have to grow with you. You find in this lower left-hand quadrant, all these little ankle-biter customers that are getting the same customer service as your big opportunity accounts that are consuming more customer service. They don’t have the ability to grow and yet we’re spending all this time. They’re more needy typically than even some of the bigger clients.
Segmenting your customer base allows you to see where your market opportunity is. You can take actions on the small customers that can’t grow with you. You can raise your prices. You can give them your new trainees for customer support, you can milk them. You can put growth strategies in for the ones that are still smaller but have the potential to grow. Your large clients on the upper right-hand side of that quadrant, you can say, “I’ve got to do two things here. Those are my biggest, best clients. What do I have to do? I have to protect them. I don’t want to rely on a single salesperson to own that relationship. What do I do there?” There are all kinds of things you can do to mitigate a single face in front of your biggest and best clients. When I say cash is different, all that time you spend on that lower quadrant with no opportunity to grow, you need to take a price increase. You can take big price increases with those clients and then invest that money into the accounts that can grow. Be thoughtful, deliberate and strategic.
It’s not only thinking that’s logical, but it is also a strategic thinking. It is the kind of thinking that I believe we need because many people, for whatever reasons, are in a place where they need to recover. They need to get their business back, rebuilt, get it relaunched, or they may even need to rebrand it. The time to do that is immediate. However, what I see most people doing is taking actions without any strategic plan or a process laid out and they’re taking a lot of action. I’ll share it with you and see what you think about this. My concern is all of these businesses are all of a sudden thinking, “I’m going to advertise everywhere. I’m going to take all of these marketing actions without a plan or strategy.” That is going to use up cash faster and may not be able to recover. What do you think about that?
You’re spot on. There are two mindsets at play when you talk about recovery. There’s the mindset I’m going to hunker down. I’m going to get through this. Things are going to get better. Things are going to get them. There’s the other CEO who says, “Where can I pivot to a customer need that is not being met? What are my competitors doing?” Let me give you an example. I want to leave your readers with some good tools. There’s a tool called Spyfu. It allows you to go in and look at what’s happening in the digital landscape with your competitors. People are shopping more digitally now. It used to be, we would go into a car dealership and buy a car. Nobody goes into a dealership until they know the car, the make, the model, the price and every feature they want then they go to the dealership. All of our research is being done online. Businesses need to know what is going on online.
What do they do? They look at their own Google Analytics. If you get 100,000 visitors to your site, Terri, and your competitor gets a billion, even though you grew 10%, you’re not even in the game. You have to know where you stand relative to the people who have other choices. Understanding your competitors, where are your competitors getting their traffic from? To your Facebook question, I would say to that CEO, “Our biggest competitor is getting most of their traffic to their website from Facebook data.” You get the digital landscape and you start to understand how you’re fairing with your competitors. You can steal all their strategies, you can see what’s working for them, and you can start to build your own plan going forward, “I’m going to improve this much. I need to move more from paid ads to organic search.” That should always be your goal is to have strong organic growth in your website. Another tool that your readers can use is called Website Grader. It’s Website.Grader.com. It’s a HubSpot tool and it’s free. You can go on there, get a complete analysis of your website, how it’s performing, and get the structure of your website. Is it secure? Is it mobile? At the bottom of that report, it will tell you all the things you need to do to fix your website.
I have to say thank you all the way around. Thank you for being here. Thank you for the work that you do. You’ve given so much value, tips, tools, secrets and hints. I appreciate it. Tell people one more time where they can find you, hang out with you, call you and pick up a copy of your book, please.
My book is on Amazon, Stop Random Acts Of Marketing. You can reach me at KHayward@ChiefOutsiders.com. You can call me at (650) 823-4292.
Thank you. You have been a wealth of information. Whenever someone is reading this, this is that piece of information that they didn’t even know they needed that ease. Thank you for joining us, Karen.
It’s my pleasure. Thanks for having me, Terri.
You’re welcome. To sum-up for our readers, I started by saying there’s a piece of something that you need and I’m going to add the word peace. I’m going to add it differently this time. You can be more at peace with yourself, your business, your business growth and cash, as long as you are constantly feeling in alignment with your business. Am I feeling that I’m taking the right actions based on data and knowledge? Do I still feel passion for what I’m doing and serving the customers, the clients, the patients that I’m serving? Take a moment out of your day-to-day and ask yourself what did I get here? What missing piece did I get? How can I and my business have greater peace? Thanks for joining us. We look forward to seeing you next time.
About Karen Hayward
Karen Hayward relocated to the US in 2000 after two decades at Xerox Canada. From her beginnings selling photocopiers door to door, she rose through the organization to Vice President of Marketing. Having worked as a sales trainer, sales manager, marketing manager, and VP roles running sales and Marketing, she has taken best practices and right-sized them for the SMB market.
Before joining Chief Outsiders, Karen worked for 2 mid-market companies, where she specialized in Software as a service and technology.
As a Managing Partner for the last 6 years with Chief Outsiders, She helps CEOs accelerate growth by building and executing strategic marketing programs while driving sales and marketing alignment to deliver breakthrough revenue. Passionately following the voice of the customer, she ably transforms customer insights into effective product positioning, sales enablement and lead generation programs. In December, Karen published her first book “Stop Random Acts of Marketing” and has been speaking on the topic internationally.
Karen and her husband Rick are based in Mountain View California.
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