Episode 099 : “How to Re-Purpose Your Marketing Efforts Using Data to Enhance CX” with Bill Bice

Bill Bice has always been an entrepreneur, starting his first company at age 14, putting on road races with corporate sponsors. At 18, he started ProLaw Software, the first integrated ERP for law firms. After selling the company to Thomson Reuters, Bill became a VC as a founding partner in the Verge Fund, investing in high tech, high growth companies in the Southwest.

One of the core things that Bill has learned in building and investing in companies is that the go-to-market is always the hardest part of growing a business. He got so frustrated in trying to get great marketing for his companies that he decided to tackle the problem. A programmer at heart, Bill founded boomtime, tackling marketing as a technology problem. It turns out that when you follow the data, really good things happen. That’s why boomtime built the world’s first marketing-as-a-service platform: fuse. boomtime’s marketing strategies follow the data: they already know what will work. Instead of reinventing the wheel, boomtime applies proven marketing techniques at scale.

Questions

  • Could you share with us a little bit about boomtime and what boom time really does? What do you mean by following the data and marketing as a service? And how can it really help a business owner? What does that translate into?
  • Could you share with us maybe one to three mistakes that companies typically make in their marketing efforts?
  • Could you share with us how it is that you believe marketing can be more integrated with customer experience design?
  • Can you share with us maybe two to three things that the data helps you to improve on decisions that will enhance experience and bring more business? But how can we really use data to drive our decisions? What are we using the data for? What kind of data should we be looking at?
  • Can you share with us how do you stay motivated every day?
  • Could you share with us maybe one online resource, tool, website or app that you absolutely cannot live without in your business?
  • Could you share with us maybe one or two books that have had the biggest impact on you? It could be a book that you read recently or maybe a book that you read a very long time ago, but it still had a great impact on you.
  • Could you share with our listeners where they could find you online?
  • Could you share with us maybe one thing that’s going on in your life right now, either something that you’re really excited about to develop yourself or even to develop your people?
  • We have a lot of listeners who are business owners and managers who feel they have great products and services, but they constantly lack motivated human capital. If you were sitting across the table from that person, what’s the one piece of advice that you would give them to have a successful business?
  • Could you share with our listeners where they could find you online?
  • Share with us maybe one quote or saying that during times of adversity or challenge, you’ll tend to revert to this quote, it kind of helps to keep you focus, just remind you of why you’re doing what you’re doing and it gets you back on track.

Highlights

Bill shared that what you’re really doing is focusing on this very old school form of marketing, word of mouth, which sounds like this thing that just happens. But the great thing about us all being digitally connected is that there’s all kinds of ways that we can amplify the effect of word of mouth now. And so, that’s really what they’re doing. And so, if you’ve done the really hard work of coming up with a great product or service and you take care of your clients, you’re getting referrals today, just you probably want more of those. And so, they’ve just put scale and efficiency into how you do that and they found that following the data is one of the best ways to do that, because they’re running the same kinds of campaigns across several hundred small businesses. And therefore they see what’s happening much clearer and much faster than you can if you’re doing it just in one company at a time.

Bill shared that he really likes to focus on just the two challenges, the two biggest mistakes that he sees over and over again. And the first one is talking about yourself, which it seems kind of counterintuitive because marketing is all about getting the word out about what you do. But the truth is your audience doesn’t care about you, what they really care about is the challenges they have in their life, their career, their business. And so, if you just flip your marketing on its head and you start talking about those challenges and providing insight and perspective on how your ideal prospect can address them, suddenly your marketing gets vastly better.

So, it’s this kind of the 90/10 rule….

Most companies have 90% of their marketing about themselves, we just need to flip that around and make it make it 10% about you and 90% about the issues that your clients are having.

Bill Bice

And then if you do that, then the biggest problem that they’re going to see over and over again is the lack of consistency. Most companies do what he calls random acts of marketing; it’s just like this sort of series of things that comes one after another.

How to Make Your Marketing Effective

If you really want your marketing to be effective, then you need to pick a strategy that you know works, the best way to do that is to pick up on something that’s already working really well for other companies like yours and then stick with it because there aren’t any miracles in marketing. The thing that makes this so difficult is that you start to see really good results, you see early results like 6 months in and you see good results 12 months in and then 2 years in is when it just starts to really transform your business if you do this right.

Me: So, marketing is also very much tied to the customer’s experience and I would say in recent years I’ve seen companies not taking such a silo or individual approach. But now they’re really merging together the marketing strategy along with the customer experience strategy, because they’re very much aligned. You can market and advertise the problems that you are trying to solve. But in trying to solve those problems, if my experience is poor or really bad, then I’m likely not to return and I’m probably going to use that same word of mouth advertising to blast you on social media and tell people this was terrible, I had to wait so long, the team members were not knowledgeable, they didn’t know what to do to fix the issue, I had to wait so long, the list goes on and on.

Bill shared that he absolutely agrees with that, and the way that he often talks about it is that if you haven’t addressed those issues, a lot of times people make the idea of brand into this really complicated thing, but really your brand is just that it’s the customer’s experience and working with your company and no amount of marketing is going to fix that if you don’t have a good customer experience.

Really great marketing is this loop where the feedback comes from your customers, it drives product development, it drives the messaging, it drives what you’re communicating with your audience that then brings more customers in, which gives you more feedback to work off of. Marketing when it’s done really well is the flywheel of the business, it’s what drives everything.


Me: So, basically taking definitely a more integrated approach, as you said, taking the feedback from the customer and possibly even using it to drive your product design or even service design in terms of what the customer journey will look like so customers can actually have a more hassle free experience.


Bill shared that he thinks it’s one of the huge advantages that a smaller company has. So often you go in and talk about marketing within a large company and it’s just what you’re describing, it’s a siloed experience that is really disconnected from the real problems your clients are having, the experience they have in working with your company. This is a huge advantage that you have as a smaller business, that you can choose to fully integrate these things and make the customer experience the primary driver for your marketing, because every moment you spend to making the customer experience better is going to pay off 10x in the effectiveness of your marketing.


Me: So, we spoke a little bit about marketing and we spoke a little bit about customer experience. I know that sales is also very important to businesses and seeing that a lot of us are being impacted because of the pandemic that’s going on globally, how is it that you recommend organizations stand out right now especially in this time. Those who weren’t even in the digital space and have now moved into the digital space, people are being bombarded with lots of webinars and marketing initiatives and it’s a lot of information to consume. In all of that, how is it that you make yourself stand out and still be able to maintain sales with those challenges being faced with?

Marketing and Data Trends


Bill shared that to some extent, depending on your business, it may not be realistic to maintain the same level of sales, and that’s what creates a real challenge, which is that this is actually one of the best times to invest in marketing, because even though with everything you just said is absolutely true, the amount of engagement and the amount of attention that is available right now is much higher.

We look at LinkedIn, which was already on this huge growth path and then the moment this crisis hit, engagement went up 55% overnight. And so, if your audience is on LinkedIn, you’re doing something in B2B, then you want to be in front of that audience, connecting with them, building that network because they’re paying more attention now than they ever have before. So, the way that you break through, there isn’t a secret to it, it’s irrelevant to your audience and be consistent.

His goal is never to create the one breakthrough campaign that goes viral and everybody sees it, it’s everyday viral. How do we create a steady flow of content that gets in front of the right people that are actual prospects that we care about and does that consistently week in and week out, over and over again, because these days your prospects are so much better educated. They can go online and find out anything they want to and if you’re not part of that education process, that works if you are the dominant player in your market and you can be an order taker, but if you’re a smaller company, you need to compete, then you need to be out there sharing that unique insight and perspective that you have because of the niche that you operate in. And that’s the kind of marketing that breaks through right now, the things that are really helping people solve the problems that they have right this second.

Bill that the problem is really that we have too much data now. It used to be the opposite problem. You spent money on marketing, you really had no idea what was happening, that that old quote of I know half my advertising wasted, I just don’t know which half. Well, now we have too much data, we’ve got to turn it into information and the way to do that is something you mentioned just a couple of minutes ago about the customer journey.

So what he really wants to see is analytics around the marketing that captures the customer journey. So people that we reach via email and bring them to the website, how are they going through that customer journey and learning about the company? Same thing with people who pulling from LinkedIn or somebody who just finds us on Google, by taking each one of those channels and understanding what the customer journey is across them. That’s how we really understand what’s working in our marketing, what’s creating the engagement that we’re looking for, where do we really put the focus?

And the easiest thing you can do to make your marketing more effective and spend less money to get better results is stop advertising until you’ve built the foundation. Most companies have to have this flipped around. We all want leads and so we think, “Well, we’re going to spend money on ads because that’ll drive leads.” But if we don’t have the marketing foundation built in order to understand that customer journey to a really good job of bringing prospects from the top of the funnel down to the process, then that money and advertising is just going to be wasted.

 So, let’s build the foundation first, make sure that we’re capturing every lead and referral that’s coming to us now, following up on every single one of them, building our own audience that you own and control, that’s most undervalued asset in every business, the audience you can talk to without paying a third party media company to do so. You build that foundation and then the very last step is when you spend your first dollar on paid advertising, because then you’ll really know what’s happening with that money and how effective it’s being.


Me: So, really needing to own your data, ensuring that your leads or your prospects, you’re capturing your information and having a strong foundation. So, you really should have a good idea of what the experience is based on the different channels, how long it takes for people to get through, are they getting the right information, do they just drop off at one point and have to go start somewhere else or they did drop off and you have no idea where to end up before you actually put yourself out there to do this massive marketing campaign. And then people come into the loop and they drop out.


Bill agreed and shared that specific example of that is, so we they do most of their work in sort of high value B2B. And so the number one thing he wants is to capture the email address of a prospective client, because the 15 seconds they’re going to give you on your website, which assumes you are successful pulling them in for even that long, you’re never going to get your full story across.

And so, you’ve got to capture who they are so that you can then talk to them, build a drip campaign that tells them your story over time, keeps pulling them back to your website over and over again. And so, the most common challenge that he sees and looking at that customer journey is so if you’re in this kind of high value area, the second most visited page on your website is always the about us page. People don’t want to work with you if they don’t know who’s behind the company. And yet most of the time you go to a company’s website and they make it difficult to figure out who they are and who’s behind them.

 And then if you do find that page, it’s this enormously boring set of bios. You scroll down to the bottom of the page and there’s just nothing there, you’re leaving it up to your prospect to figure out where to go next. Well, you want to control that journey; you want to put a big button down there that takes them to the next part of the story so that you’re controlling that customer journey.

When asked how he stays motivated every day, Bill shared that he loves what he does because he gets to help businesses grow, he gets to work with entrepreneurs to hopefully make new mistakes and not all the mistakes he’s already made.

So for him, it’s if you’re not doing the thing that you love, then you have to find motivation. But if you are, then it’s just inherently there. He gets up in the morning and he wants to go do this.


Me: So you’re intrinsically motivated because you really enjoy doing what you’re doing….


Bill shared that capitalism has brought more benefit to more of the world’s population than any other system we’ve ever found, it’s absolutely imperfect, but it has this amazing power to improve the lives of people. We just have to choose to use it and make that happen.

Bill shared that a great one for free marketing is a form called GrowthHackers, one of his mantras in marketing is, “There’s no reason for you to go test and figure out what works when you can find somebody who’s already, already done it, already been there. Learn from that.” That’s a great resource to find it. That’s what they do. They look at what are the larger companies in a given market, they’ve always spent millions of dollars figuring out what marketing works. Let’s take that, figure out how to scale it so that a small business can use it and put it to work without having to spend that same amount of money.

GrowthHackers, it’s just a community of marketers who tend to do really detailed studies and follow the data and see what works and share that with everybody. And that kind of resource can be invaluable if you put it to work.

Books Bill Recommends

When asked about books that have had the biggest impact, Bill stated that he’s going to pick two books from Simon Sinek. So, the first one, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek, he thinks is the core of what makes great marketing, because the best way to attract the right clients to your business is for them to come to you because they believe the same thing that you do. And it’s easiest way for a small business to stand out relative to your large competitors. That’s really what made Sinek famous.

And his most recent book last year, The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek, really talks about the right approach to capitalism. And so many people operate a business on the sort of short term timeframe of how much money we’re making this quarter, when really if you play it as the infinite game, it creates the thing that we all want, which is to be part of something much bigger than ourselves. And that’s when you really create a huge impact from the company that you’re building.

Bill shared that this ties very much to what they do. We’re living in a world where everything is just suddenly been accelerated, he thinks of it as we’re all living the equivalent of a decade in one year, because whatever trends you are following have just all been immensely sped up because of this crisis.


And that’s amazingly positive for the type of marketing that he’s talking about, because we can’t rely on conferences and trade shows and in-person meetings anymore. So we have to go online in order to do this. So we’ve seen this sudden acceleration in adopting our approach to everybody’s connected digital form of marketing. And of course, that’s a really exciting place for us to be.

Bill’s Recommendation for Motivated Human Capital

Bill shared that it was really about hiring. So, he has always believed that you hire for attitude and aptitude because business is changing so much that you want to hire somebody who has the ability to learn very quickly and adapt to whatever is going to happen. So he’d rather get the right person with the right attitude and aptitude than somebody who maybe has the perfect skill set and the perfect experience, because that first person is going to be able to grow with the company for so much longer.

And the corollary that goes with that is when you wake up in the morning and say, “Well, would I hire this person again?” If your answer is no, then the likelihood that you’re going to be able to fix that and changes is extremely low. And it’s better for the company and it’s better for that person to find the right match. And so making that classic, right person in the right seat on the bus decisions is what’s going to drive the rest of the culture in the company.


Me: So basically, the advice that you’d give to that person is focus on your recruitment and ensure that you get the person with the right attitude, even if from a technical perspective they are the most brilliant person. But if they have the wrong attitude, then it’s best to go with somebody who has a right attitude and then build the skill set on them.

Bill shared that this is a classic problem in sales where you have a high performer who is delivering results but yet is the bad apple in the group and is actually bringing the performance of the whole team down. And it’s so hard to make that choice to let that person go. But for the long term health of your company, you just you just have to.

How to Find Bill Online

Bill shared listeners can find him at –

LinkedIn – @billbice

Website – www.boomtime.com

Quote or Saying Bill Uses in Times of Adversity

Bill shared that there’s a great quote that he’s going to recall that is about the unreasonable man, which is a George Bernard Shaw quote, and it goes something like, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” And maybe that’s the excuse for being difficult. But he thinks there’s a real truth in that, that you really have to embrace as an entrepreneur, you are undoubtedly trying to do something that is difficult. And you just you just have to stick with it and you realize you’re being unreasonable, that’s the only way to make progress.

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