“So, a brand walks into a bar…What drink does it order?” And no, it’s not the start of a joke, instead, it’s a question that CMO Paz Macdonald asks when thinking about brand. When she joined Software AG in 2019, it was clear that the 50-year-old enterprise software company’s brand needed a massive overhaul—they had a great reputation but poor brand awareness. It was time to stop being the brand that would order a still water at the bar, and instead order a sensible, inviting cocktail with the confidence of a globally recognized brand that knew it was making a difference.
In this episode, Paz shares the story behind Software AG’s rebrand, and how a comprehensive brand audit, a completely new website, and an inspiring “living connections” message has built a well-oiled, marketing-driven organization. She also discusses B2B rebranding best practices with full transparency, like how much to involve employees, why companies should seriously consider using an outside marketing firm, and more. Check it out!
What You’ll Learn in This Episode
- Why Software AG decided to rebrand
- How Software AG built a new website and a new brand
- Best practices for any B2B rebrand
Renegade Thinkers Unite, Episode 208 on YouTube
- [0:29] Why Software AG Wanted to Become a Marketing Driven Organization
- [4:16] When Rebuilding a Website and a Brand, Start with an Audit
- [12:13] How Software AG Found its New Brand Messaging
- [19:37] Why Brands Need to Involve Employees in the Rebrand
- [26:10] Measuring Software AG’s Rebrand
- [30:33] How COVID Affected Software AG’s Rebrand
- [36:00] Wrapping Up: Lessons Learned, Next Steps, and Reaching Organizational Goals
Transcript Highlights: Drew Neisser in conversation with Paz Macdonald
[0:29] Why Software AG Wanted to Become a Marketing Driven Organization”We needed to be a data-driven marketing organization.” @PazMacdonald @SoftwareAG #RTU #podcast Click To Tweet
Drew Neisser: Hello, Renegade Thinkers! We are going global today. And why not? We live in a global economy during a global pandemic, and while we probably can’t solve those challenges on this show, we can address brand transformation on a global level and the challenges, what it takes from a planning standpoint and an execution standpoint, to get it right.
My guest today is Paz Macdonald, CMO of Software AG, and Paz is all the way in London talking with us today. Paz, Welcome to the show.
Paz Macdonald: Thank you so much, Drew. I’m super excited to be here.
Drew Neisser: Now you’ve had some great experiences working at IBM, HP, MongoDB, before getting to Software AG. What attracted you to this position?
Paz Macdonald: Great question. Why Software AG? I come from a startup, which was there for seven years, from a very, very early stage and through to the IPO and beyond. So why Software AG when I could have done another startup? Software AG because, purely, it’s gone through a massive transformation. This is a 50-year-old brand, hence a very old name. “Software” 50 years ago was a very, very cool thing to have in your brand name. The company has been growing. It’s got a great reputation. We’re a leader in Gartner Magic Quadrants and Forrester Waves. However, it was time to really start growing this organization. We’ve got a new leadership team, a new CEO, and he’s very focused on growth. So that’s what attracted me, this new challenge.
Drew Neisser: This is January 2019 and you’ve got a company that, as you said, is 50 years old. What’s hard is, a company like that, I’m imagining that it was a very engineering-driven company, that the people who wrote the code and wrote the product, they’re the founders of the organization. They’re the ones who created the culture. Was that true?
Paz Macdonald: Yes, very, very true, but I’m used to that. MongoDB, same thing—the product was created by the founders, very engineering-led. Very product-focused; features, functions.
Drew Neisser: You have a new CEO. What was your mandate? What did he say? “Here’s the story, here’s what I want you to do.”
Paz Macdonald: He was very, very clear. We needed to be a data-driven marketing organization. He wanted us to be globally recognized. It’s true that we do have very poor brand awareness of who we are and what we do. To shake off that legacy image because, visually we looked very, very legacy. Our website was atrocious. I can talk more about that.
It was fixing us up to make sure that we could go toe to toe with our competitors, but more importantly, people that wouldn’t think of buying from Software AG would do a double-take and think, “Oh, yeah. I didn’t know who they were. Yeah, I think I’ll go speak to them.”
Drew Neisser: So interesting. I’ve heard the term “become a marketing-driven organization,” and this is why I brought up the culture. That’s not a simple “Hey, let’s just change the color of the organization.” That’s a real fundamental thing. That’s a great mandate. Let’s become a marketing-driven organization; let’s get the awareness that we need.
[4:16] When Rebuilding a Website and a Brand, Start with an Audit“We're not just trying to play catch up, but to leapfrog the competition.” @PazMacdonald @SoftwareAG #RTU #podcast Click To Tweet
Drew Neisser: Where did you start?
Paz Macdonald: The first change that our CEO, Sanjay Brahmawar, made was to make sure that marketing reported directly into him. That had never happened before. Marketing reported to the sales organization in the past, but with my appointment, he said, “Marketing reports into me.” It was coming from the CEO himself. Sanjay gets marketing. I think actually he did a marketing degree. Maybe he should be more on the marketing side of things, but he gets marketing and the power of marketing, so that was the first big change, the cultural change there.
The second thing is that he is very open to new ideas. One of the first things, and probably the most expensive was, “Hey, go look at our website. It just looks so bad.” I’m sure some of your listeners will go back and try and figure out what Software AG’s website looked like before. It was impossible to find anything. It was like the Wikipedia of everything, an encyclopedia of everything we’ve ever done in 50 years.
He’s been very supportive of the investments that the company needs to make to really make sure—we’re not just trying to play catch up, but to leapfrog the competition. I think that it comes from the CEO. I really believe that.
Drew Neisser: I totally agree. In my first book, the first chapter is about setting expectations, and if you’re not aligned with your CEO, you don’t have a chance. I think the interesting part of what you said as well is that reporting to the CEO means you have a seat at the table. It means that you are influencing not just marketing, but in theory the entire organization because marketing touches the entire organization.
By the way, I did look at Software AG’s site on the Wayback Machine. If any of you are unfamiliar with Wayback Machine, you can look at any website from way back when. It’s a fun exercise, and it was old. These things have a way of becoming Jerry-built. Somebody says, “Hey, we need another room” and they just keep adding rooms in and there’s an architectural nightmare. Rebuilding a website is not a simple task. It requires not only architectural issues but in an ideal world, it requires brand understanding. How do you rebuild a website when you know you also need to rebuild a brand?
Paz Macdonald: It’s very easy with marketing to have that kind of gut feel instinct and emotion. It can be very emotions based, which is fine. We need a little bit of emotion in marketing. One of the first things we did was to take the emotion away. Let’s get a brand audit done. What do people actually think when they hear the word “Software AG?” We asked our customers. We asked people that were potential prospects, Gartner, Forrester, our board, our sales organization. We asked the entire field organization. We did a very detailed audit and the feedback, actually, it’s like it held a mirror up to us. You think, “I look great in this outfit. Don’t I look fancy? My hair looks great, my makeup, my clothes.” And then here it is, somebody holding a mirror up to and going, “Actually, do you see what I see?” And you’re going, “Oh boy. That’s worse than I thought.” That was the first thing. It was like, we’ve got a problem; we need to fix this.
Some of the imagery we were using was with millennials doing handstands and things. That’s not the audience we’re going after. We’re not targeting millennials; 20-year-olds don’t buy from Software AG. But we also saw our language was dated. We just needed to talk in a very, very different way, and Drew, one of the questions I ask about brands is, “If this brand walked into a bar and ordered a drink, what drink would it order?” I think the brand that we had at the time when I joined was probably a still water. No ice. Hold the ice.
Drew Neisser: Pretty Plain Jane.
Paz Macdonald: Exactly. And that’s not us. We’ve got great people, great employees, we get great feedback from our customers, Gartner, Forrester, like I said, so everything else was positive, but we were almost like a wallflower and we had to change that. We did the audit, we looked at changes in colors, we realized some of the colors were very similar to our competitors. We had employees liking and sharing competitor ads because they were getting confused.
Drew Neisser: That’s hilarious. Audit is a great place to start. Did you manage this internally or did you bring in an outside firm to help?
Paz Macdonald: Outside firm, yeah. We used a wonderful firm. They have offices in New York and London. They have helped Apple, they’ve helped Stella McCartney, they’ve helped Google. We used them. We thought, “Let’s use them,” and they were wonderful.
Drew Neisser: Who was it?
Paz Macdonald: Moving Brands. I hope they give me a discount for this for giving them a plug.
Drew Neisser: Exactly, for the nice plug, yes. Often, when doing these brand audits, it is important to bring in an outsider because, one, it doesn’t hurt them as much to hear the negative. How you ask the questions obviously matters, so to have someone who has done this before, it really helps. I’m curious, how deep did you go with employees?
Paz Macdonald: It was, for the field organization, very deep. What keeps you awake at night? How do you feel the brand is holding you back? I think we had almost 90% participation from the field organization, which is phenomenal given people on holiday, people might have forgotten. There was such a strength of feeling that groundswell that you know we had to fix this, and I think people were happy that they were consulted and part of the process to get things right.
Drew Neisser: Yeah, I totally agree. And oftentimes, if you skip that step, whatever rebranding you do, it won’t take. It just won’t take. We’re going to take a quick break here, but I want to sort of summarize where we are. A rebrand starts with an audit. There’s just no way around it. You have to talk to all your stakeholders to get a sense of where you’ve been and where you are. And while you’re doing that, you’re trying to figure out how where the opportunity is.
[12:13] How Software AG Found its New Brand Messaging“That was the messaging that united everything we do, because we decided that our essential role in the world was the pulse that keeps the world living and thriving.” @PazMacdonald @SoftwareAG #RTU #podcast Click To Tweet
Drew Neisser: You’ve done the audit, and one of the challenges with the audit is that there’s a massive amount of information and now you’ve got to synthesize it and simplify it. Talk a little bit about how that process worked.
Paz Macdonald: It’s almost like a Peloton. If you’re into the Tour de France or cycling, there were three threads that we had to bring together in this Peloton. One was a brand audit, which led to the direction of everything that we had to do. One was a decision that the website, which is our shop front, which was doing us a disservice, we had to change. We had to change the platform; we decided to go with Adobe on that. And then the last thing was actually the writing as well, the content, the words and pictures, and the design. Everything had to go together in this Peloton.
We took the audit. The audit said, “Look, it’s not clear when somebody lands on your website what you do.” So, boom, we knew exactly that the homepage had to change. Now, we’ve made many acquisitions over the years. We could have done a much better job of categorizing what those acquisitions are adding. They all add value. We’ve got lots of customers that are happy, but if you’re a new person coming to the site, you’re like, “I don’t know what they do.”
We had to be very clear, and on the homepage, we are primarily an Enterprise Integration, an IoT platform. What that means is that a lot of the stuff that we do, you can’t see it. When you book your flight (when people will fly again), a lot of the airlines use our integration technology. If you’re ordering your coffee on an app, Software AG is behind that. Wind farms that you see, Software AG. Animal conservation. There’s so much that we do in the background and you can’t see and touch what we do. That’s where this whole “living connections” thread came from. That was the messaging that united everything we do because we decided that our essential role in the world was the pulse that keeps the world living and thriving. If you’ve already your coffee and it’s not sitting there waiting for you with “Drew” scribbled on it, things are going wrong.
Things just work. We’re in the background, it’s just that you don’t know it’s us in the background. That’s how we came up with living connections. That was the thread, and everything fell into place. We simplified the homepage to help people find us and we focused on customer journeys. At the end of the day, we wanted to make it as simple as possible for somebody to find what they were looking for on our site, rather than this mass encyclopedia of absolutely everything we’ve done over 50 years.
Drew Neisser: Living connections. Did you see that language as purposeful? First of all, how did you get to those two words? What was that process like?
Paz Macdonald: Yeah. Well, I think it was the agency, and this is why I really recommend, if you’re doing anything like this, to strip the emotion away, to get an outside view and get an agency to help you. They did lots of brainstorming. They said, “Look, you don’t want to call yourselves the next digital transformation, blah, blah. Everyone says the same. It’s just so dull. It’s about what you do, the things that you allow, the fact that you were you began your journey in 1969 when technology helped put a man on the moon. You’ve been here a while. You know that you’re trusted. you’re independent.”
We do a lot of stuff with sustainability. We help a lot of companies with that. The whole “living” thing just feels more alive and, for a 50-year-old brand, it just feels like a little bit of a little sparkle. The “connections” is how the stuff you do does connect things together. Your coffee is waiting for you because you’ve got the app and there’s an integration technology underneath that to make that happen. They came up with this “living connections” and everybody loved it. We ran it past analysts that we work with, and they were like, “Yes, we love it.” That just brings you up to date with where you need to be.
I know it’s easy sometimes to throw away the baby with the bathwater when you’ve got an established brand. Everybody wants to work with cool trendy brands. I get that. But there’s something to be said for a company that’s 50 years old and still around and still growing. 50 is young.
Drew Neisser: You don’t have to pitch me on that. I think it’s interesting—so the agency comes to you, you start to shop it internally and externally with analysts. I think that’s an interesting checkpoint that a lot of brands don’t do, but it totally makes sense. You have this language—at what point do you say, “Okay, let’s go with this?” What was the confirmation that you needed to make it go?
Paz Macdonald: Remember, this company has not changed. No fault of its own, it was doing fine, but it needed to shake itself up. So, you know, I just got internal alignment with the board, with the executive leadership team. They were like, “Brilliant. Let’s do this.” We actually checked it with a few customers. Told them we were going to be changing our color palette, that things are going to be a little bit more vibrant. The imagery is going to change. You’re going to see swirls, these little—I call them churros, these swirly Churros. That’s all about living connections and a fluid flow of data.
The feedback from the customers is great. “Yeah, we love this. We’re really proud that we’re customers of yours.” And then the next point is to educate 5,000 employees on why we’re doing this, why these colors. Some people didn’t like the colors. It’s like, “I don’t like purple.” “Well, you may not like purple. That’s okay. But our current color is the same color as most of our competitors and we’re getting lost, so we have to find a new color palette that’s going to make us stand out.”
The thing is, when we launched a website, when we changed our visual identity on social media, on LinkedIn, there was a time over two months where we were adding 1,000 new followers on LinkedIn a week. That’s phenomenal for a 50-year-old brand. People are going, “Who the hell are these guys? Is that Software AG?” People started to notice us and that, for us, started to translate to more marketing qualified leads with all the other changes we made as well. For me, I think we’ve done all the right things that we could do to modernize this brand.
[19:37] Why Brands Need to Involve Employees in the Rebrand“I think all of those things just help make them feel part of the process because it's easy for marketing to forget about the people that are your biggest champions, which are your employees.” @PazMacdonald @SoftwareAG #RTU #podcast Click To Tweet
Drew Neisser: From the beginning of the audit to the employee launch—how long was that?
Paz Macdonald: Oh boy, so, the other complexity. Software AG also had lots of disparate sites as well. We had the main site, we’d made acquisitions, some of them kept their own sites. Some products had several websites because one’s not enough. We had to bring 15 disparate websites onto the new platform Adobe, bearing in mind a brand-new platform. This is like going from a cheap old banger to a state-of-the-art sports car which has lots of digital readouts and things. We went from that to that.
The audit was waiting for us. The audit had been done a while ago and we were smart. We connected Adobe with the agency, and everybody worked together. Nothing was done in isolation; everything was done together. The audit was done in May 2019 and then the website was launched on May 15th of this year.
Drew Neisser: In between that, how long did you spend educating employees about the meaning of this new positioning?
Paz Macdonald: Probably not enough, and we’re still educating. I think we could have done a better job. I was so focused on the external stuff. I was like, “Yeah, let’s get that done.” The whole thing of selecting Adobe and things like that started around May, so the audit took a couple of months and then we sat down, they told us, “This is what we see.” It takes a few weeks to kind of digest what they’re telling you. You thought you looked great in the outfit; you actually look worse than you thought. And then you sell that internally. I think, because of that, it took about a year with all the other moving parts that we had.
But I think that my advice to anybody, and if I could live my life again and do this again, I’d bring the employees on the journey with you because I think my mistake was when we showed the new color palette. Most people were like, “Yeah, cool!” but some people were like, “I don’t like that fluorescent yellow. Why that color? It doesn’t work on certain backgrounds.” I could have done a much better job there internally.
Drew Neisser: Interesting. I will say that from our experience and also from the interviews is that employees are often the most skipped step. We did some research among 200 CMOs both last year and this year. 95% agree that marketing to employees is really important when you’re launching a new campaign. But then when you ask, “How long did you spend doing it?” the answer is less than three weeks.
When I hear only two or three weeks, what it really means is, “This is a new thing we’re doing. It’s not going to change how you do business, so just go off. It’s a new color and new language, but don’t worry about it.” I contrast that with David Edelman of Aetna when they rebranded. They spent six months retraining employees to be aligned with the new positioning. There’s the difference.
It’s interesting. As far as getting employees all on board on the color, that’s a tricky one. I think it’s all about getting them on board on the new idea and the vision for the company. But either way, it takes time, and the point is that it’s helpful to bring them back. What I hear you saying is, if you would set the problem up a little better, if they had seen, “We look the same as everybody else,” then the solution would have been less “Oh yeah, we no longer do that.”
Paz Macdonald: Yeah, absolutely right. Big lesson learned. Even now, we still need to educate people by doing a series of explainer videos or “Hey, this is why we decided to do this and why this color palette.” We’re going to do these short little videos just to make sure people understand and see the full picture. We’ve got a fantastic brand portal so, again, everyone gets it now.
I think all of those things just help make them feel part of the process because it’s easy for marketing to forget about the people that are your biggest champions, which are your employees. Especially when new CMOs are like, “Let’s go do this!”
Drew Neisser: If we think about our target audience as employees, customers, and prospects in that order, you’re really going to be in a strong place.
[26:10] Measuring Software AG’s Rebrand“This is a brand now that fits our age and our stature.” @PazMacdonald @SoftwareAG #RTU #podcast Click To Tweet
Drew Neisser: You launched this thing in May. How’s it gone? What have been the positive signs that this rebrand has worked?
Paz Macdonald: Oh well, like I said earlier, there was a point where we were getting like 1,000 net new followers on LinkedIn a week. I mean, that’s incredible. I think we had, in 21 months, about 67,000 followers on LinkedIn. We crossed the 100,000 mark about a month ago, which is phenomenal. That pace was incredible. People were doing a double-take. The other thing was engagement on that. You can add loads of people. Anyone can add people; you can buy people. But what we were doing was the engagement on some of the assets because we started doing more animations, more fun things, a little bit of a personality.
We walk into a bar now; we’re going to order a sensible but a nice cocktail. Not something crazy with pineapples and umbrellas in it, but this is a brand now that fits our age and our stature. There was more engagement, more likes, more comments, people commenting more as well. That was one of the first external indicators.
Feedback from the employees, once they got it was like, “I just get it now. I really, really get it.” The website is performing very, very strongly. We had to bring it forward by month because of COVID, because our external events were being canceled. All these big trade shows that we typically rely on for pipeline were being canceled one after the other, domino effect. I was like, “Oh boy. I think we’re gonna have to bring that website forward by a month.” Again, my team just knocked it out of the park. Adobe were fantastic. They were like, “You do realize what you’re doing, right? But we understand,” and we brought it forward by a whole month.
We’re seeing better engagement of mobile users, up by 400% the same time from the year before. More people are hanging around, sessions are improving, all the metrics are going in the right direction. It tells me, given that we only launched a few months ago, that we’re doing really, really well. We just need to build on that now and check whether the journeys are working, that we’re converting.
The other stat is also the number of leads is increasing. We had to switch to digital. The website became a critical launchpad for everything we did. Marketing qualified leads, all the key metrics, everything was up, so I was like, “Boom. We’ve done it.” But, again, could we have done things better?
We bit off a lot, more than you can chew. Like Adobe said, this was intense. All these disparate websites onto one. It was a lot and I put a lot of pressure on Adobe; they’ve been a brilliant partner. With my own team, we had to change the content, rewrite everything, and we were guided by our growth marketing team and digital marketing because it was no longer about creating the same encyclopedia of content. It was about what the page should have, how do we optimize SEO? Everything was about optimizing and making life easier for people that find us wherever they’ve come from, whatever has their attention and gets them excited. It’s all about reducing the number of clicks.
I feel like we’ve done a lot with this and there’s more to do. We’re going to just keep evolving, but one thing is for sure—this is not going to end up being like a messy teenager’s bedroom where you’ve got old content, where the socks have been under the bed for a month. No. Old content out, new content in.
We’ve now implemented Adobe Analytics; we’re going to be adding Target. So again, we’re going to keep fine-tuning this Ferrari that we have now because we don’t have an old banger anymore. We have a Ferrari. So yeah, big changes. It’s such an exciting time.
Drew Neisser: I’m fairly certain that I’m going to have to get Ann Lewnes, who was on the show, of Adobe to sponsor this episode, but that’s cool to hear. All of those metrics sound good. There’s always a risk when you launch a new website that your SEO will tank because people were looking for that, but that’s all in the weeds. I want to stay big.
[30:33] How COVID Affected Software AG’s Rebrand“We had the book, it’s just that COVID made us get the book written quickly.” @PazMacdonald @SoftwareAG #RTU #podcast Click To Tweet
Drew Neisser: You are about to launch a new website. You’re doing all this work and then COVID strikes. imagining you already had the living connections idea. In your mind, you already knew you were going to do it and then COVID strikes. Was there a moment where you said, “Is this still relevant?”
Paz Macdonald: Never. No. I can understand where the question is coming from. We thought, if anything, we needed to have more of that language than ever before because it still is the values of who we are. A lot of the stuff is, like I said, behind the scenes and what we stand for. That did not seem irrelevant at all. All of it was ready to go. Just think of it as a book. You’ve got a book with blank pages, so the Adobe platform was the book with the blank pages and what we had was the storyline with living connections. The audit helped us define the main characters and what products we should be focusing on so that people got what we did.
My team had more structure in terms of using these kinds of images and then my product marketing organization, again, worked to get the words right. What happened was we had the book, it’s just that COVID made us get the book written quickly, faster with the words and the pictures and everything and the storyline.
It’s been phenomenal. I think we did quite a lot more than we could chew, but we did it. We pulled it off. When you’re driven, when you really need something done, I think COVID really forced our arm. It’s like, “What are you going to do now these big, pipeline generating events are being canceled one after the other?” We had to mitigate that pipeline risk because there’s nothing worse than coming in as a CMO making the shiny new website, but the pipeline’s tanking. You’ve got it to do that and make sure the pipeline is not tanking and that you’re building for next year so, yeah, we juggled quite a few big things at one time.
Drew Neisser: When COVID struck, it took us all a second to figure out, “Okay, what’s happening? What’s the ripple effect?” The ripple effect was, you had business continuity issues first, and now we’re looking at economic hardship.
Companies found themselves in one of two camps. You were either an essential business where you were in security, or you were in the keep the operations of the company going camp—you’re Zoom and you’re in the cloud-based economy. Or you’re everybody else. The tweaks that a lot of companies made to their websites post-COVID were to figure out how they either A) could position themselves as essential business or B) find a way to give something away so that they could plant some seeds now to monetize and in 2021.
Where did you find yourself in this continuum between essential and what I call the CF-No? Right now, the CF-No is saying, “If this doesn’t generate revenue tomorrow or save me money on a substantial level, you don’t get it. I don’t care whether it’s marketing automation or whatever.” Where did you find yourselves in that perspective?
Paz Macdonald: It’s a brilliant question. We called it “business as in usual.” What we wanted to make sure was that our customers, our existing paying customers, were fine. The sales team was on the phone to everyone: “Are you okay? What can we do to help?” It wasn’t like, “Hey, when is our order going to come?” It was like, “What can I do to help you? Are you okay?” That was the first thing.
We then realized that there are people that maybe never heard of us, that may be interested in some free solutions that we have. And again, it’s not about monetizing it for us. We do a lot of stuff in communities; we give a lot of our software away for free. We do a lot with universities as well. Part of our business is owned by the Software AG Foundation. Our founder created this foundation. We do a lot of work in the US and in Germany and other markets, too. There is that kind of genuine, not just cheap talk, but genuine giving back to community.
Our CEO picked up on that and said, “Right. Let’s think about how we can help people.” It could be changing processes, in which case we look to one of our products and how we could promote that, or IoT (Internet of things) like for remote monitoring—you can’t go into a building, but you can use it. We had a heap of offerings. It actually was a handful really more than a heap, but they were carefully thought through. For us, it wasn’t about monetizing. It was about how can we, given our foundation and our background, genuinely help?”
But I’ve seen loads of these—everybody jumped on the bandwagon. “Free this, free that” with the ultimate aim to monetize, but I’m so proud to say that I work at a company that doesn’t feel like that, that it doesn’t feel it has to do that because of the foundation.
[36:00] Wrapping Up: Lessons Learned, Next Steps, and Reaching Organizational Goals“We’re doing laps, which is great, but we're going to start accelerating those laps.” @PazMacdonald @SoftwareAG #RTU #podcast Click To Tweet
Drew Neisser: As we look back on this program—and I love the fact that you’ve been so honest about some of the painful lessons learned—let’s go through those and try to summarize. If you were to start again on this program knowing what you know now, what would you do differently?
Paz Macdonald: Get the entire organization involved, like the employees. I think it’s easier to sell, to say, “Look, this is what the brand audit says, this is what we’re going to do and why,” so that you don’t get surprised at the end when people might think, “I don’t like this.” I think that was my big learning for sure.
Drew Neisser: In terms of next steps and things that you’re looking forward to doing, what’s on the horizon for you?
Paz Macdonald: The big thing now is, we’ve got this Ferrari, this Adobe Ferrari and for us, it’s fine-tuning that engine. This is like revving. We’re doing laps, which is great, but we’re going to start accelerating those laps. Everything is pivotal. This system, we’re building everything on this, absolutely everything. We’ve just moved the blog across, which is wonderful, so that improves the whole SEO thing. That is a focus, and also, a lot of MarTech. There’ll be a big investment in marketing technology as well.
Drew Neisser: Got it. I think this is my last question: Your goal was to turn this into a marketing-driven organization, and in the process, to build awareness for the company, and in that process, to drive leads. How close are you to becoming a marketing-driven organization?
Paz Macdonald: We’re getting there. I think we’re 80% of the way there because nothing is ever done. My team who are not used to this pace and energy and new stuff have been great. They’re like, “Let’s do it. Roll our sleeves up. Let’s go with it.” I think the 20% now? It’s like fine-tuning the engine. We did a lot of the heavy lifting the first two years, so now it’s really fine-tuning things and being really data-driven. Everything is about being data-driven and you will hear me saying, “If it’s not in Salesforce, I’m sorry. It doesn’t exist.” I’m going to get a t-shirt made with that. I’ll send you a t-shirt, Drew. If it’s not in Salesforce, it doesn’t exist. It’s all about being data-driven now and continuing to fine-tune the engine.
Drew Neisser: Awesome. As I think about this program and what you’ve done and now it’s, gosh, 18, 19 months since you started—it’s a big deal. I want to emphasize that. If you’re thinking about a brand transformation, and this is both inside and outside, involving employees all the way through is critical. Why is it so critical? It’s critical because these folks are the brand ambassadors. If they don’t believe it, if they don’t feel it in their heart that they’re working for a company that has somehow changed in a meaningful way, it’s like, “Yeah, yeah, that’s just marketing. Yeah, yeah, that’s just brand. That doesn’t really affect my daily life.” Get employees involved in this process from the get-go.
For the CMO, this is also a really important part of thinking about your job. If you have three constituents—employees, customers, and prospects—and you nail it with employees, chances are you’re going to be more successful with those others. If you ignore employees, you probably won’t succeed as well. Alright, that’s enough for me on my pulpit. Paz, thank you so much for being on the show.
Paz Macdonald: I loved it, every moment of it. Thank you for having me, Drew.
Renegade Thinkers Unite is written and directed by Drew Neisser. Audio Production is by Sam Beck, Show Notes are written by Melissa Caffrey. The music is by the amazing Burns Twins and intro voiceover is Linda Cornelius. To find the transcripts of all episodes, suggest future guests, or learn more about quite possibly the best B2B marketing agency in New York City, visit renegade.com. And until next time, keep those Renegade Thinking Caps on and strong.