Using Your Personal Brand to Build Your Company Brand
What do we talk about when we talk about a CMO’s to-do list? Usually, items are along the lines of “integrate sales and marketing” or “ensure proper metrics are being examined.” And, yes, those are usually, among other things, crucial to making sure your marketing machine is firing on all cylinders. However, if you add things like “Dress as Korean mega star Psy and open for Bon Jovi” and “Set up online video series centered on food and marketing” to your list, it might start to look a little more like Dux Raymond Sy’s.
On this episode of Renegade Thinkers Unite, Drew talks with Dux, CMO of AvePoint, to better understand symbiosis between personal brands and company brands, how social selling and employee advocacy can be crucial, and much more.
You won’t want to miss this. Dux’s interview will keep you on the edge of your seat— listen here.
What You’ll Learn
Building complementary content helps AvePoint reach a broader market
One thing AvePoint does to produce marketing leads is position their company as an industry advisor. As a company, AvePoint builds software based on Microsoft. To become an industry advisor and get leads, Dux shares that AvePoint produces content based around the Microsoft programs his company works with – they do not produce content that competes with Microsoft but instead complements it. All content produced is very use case driven and specific, and it helps AvePoint become a trusted advisor to the public. This also organically boosts SEO by putting content online tied to AvePoint, so AvePoint’s content shows up when Googling “SharePoint” or “Office 365.” Dux mentions that this content is also being published in every language his company services. They are not only reaching an American market but worldwide.
How Dux’s personal brand helps grow AvePoint’s brand
Dux has a great personal brand. He has opened for Bon Jovi, singing in Vegas at a Microsoft conference. He can also be found in many marketing videos online. Prior to working as the CMO, Dux was a Chief Technology Officer. He is not just a paid actor, but a real-life person who knows what he is talking about. He understands code and the technical side of the products. Dux currently is featured in multiple AvePoint video series that explain product features and uses. By appearing in these videos, he has humanized the content. However, he says that it must be substantial first, not just full of great video edits and snappy sound bites.
Getting your employees on board with marketing
Dux creates videos for AvePoint to explain products, offer tips, and much more. These videos are shared through social media and regular newsletters to clients. However, AvePoint also has an internal social selling program. It allows employees to join in and help build their own brand as professionals at AvePoint. Dux’s company encourages employees to post AvePoint content on LinkedIn and awards employees whose Social Selling Index on LinkedIn score is the highest. AvePoint has seen that the conversions from employees’ posts are much higher than that of paid ads, and employees do not mind posting these videos because they don’t appear to just be selling a product.
- [4:24] Dux’s Renegade Rapid Fire segment
- [9:53] The key indicator that shows Dux is on the right track
- [12:00] What to do to get marketing leads
- [15:33] How Dux got into marketing
- [18:54] Becoming a trusted industry advisor in a Microsoft ecosystem
- [22:18] Partnering with Microsoft
- [26:09] What helps AvePoint cut through the noise of the market
- [29:22] How Dux’s personal brand helps grow AvePoint’s brand
- [36:10] Two do’s and one don’t for new CMO’s
Connect With Dux Raymond Sy:
Resources & People Mentioned
- “reDux” series
- Another in the “reDux” series
- ChewNChat series
- Another in the ChewNChat series
- “Dux Quax” series
Connect with Drew
Full Transcript: Drew Neisser in conversation with Dux Raymond Sy
Drew Neisser: Given only two words to describe the top priority for B2B CMOs in the next year, my two-word prescription would be to unravel complexity. Not to be Debbie Downer, but you’d need to have blinders on not to see the economic storm clouds on the horizon, and frankly, even if they get pushed back into 2021, smart marketers will use the general uncertainty to batten down the hatches. So yes, let’s unravel complexity. The idea here is to streamline every aspect of your marketing plan from the overall brand story to your communication channels, from employee engagement to customer retention, from testing strategies to the metrics used for measurement.
In fact, why not see if we can get your brand story down to five words or less and your marketing down to a single page. We’ll talk more about that later, but just to put a finer point on the complexity of marketing today, imagine for a moment you are the CMO of a brand that operated in the ecosystem of another brand. Now not only do you have the challenge of communicating with employees, customers, and prospects, but you also have this partner—we’ll call it alliance partner—whose every move can impact your destiny. To get some insights on how to thrive in such a complex circumstance, my guest today is Dux Raymond Sy, CMO of AvePoint, a software company that supports over 15,000 organizations that use Microsoft’s SharePoint platform. Welcome to the show, Dux.
Dux Raymond Sy: Thanks for having me. Boy, it’s such a treat and a wonderful opportunity, Drew.
Drew Neisser: Well it’s fun. I’m happy—we’re recording video too, and although we typically don’t use it for the show, I see that you’re wearing some of your cool glasses and I noticed that in every video it seemed like you had different glasses on. Is that a signature thing for you?
Dux Raymond Sy: Yeah absolutely. I mean, look, I live in this complex ecosystem and somehow, I have to stand out, so my glasses have to match with my shoe, so I do have a lot of glasses.
Drew Neisser: Wow. The folks in Luxottica are like, your best friends. Second question: you mentioned that you get up at 4:30 in the morning in a video, are you still doing that?
Dux Raymond Sy: 100%. I wake up 4:30 every single day including weekends. In fact, that’s my most productive time. That’s a sacred hour for me but I still do that.
Drew Neisser: 4:30 to 5:30 is your sacred hour?
Dux Raymond Sy: That’s right.
Drew Neisser: What time are you going to bed in order to accomplish that? If I can ask.
Dux Raymond Sy: I generally would be in bed right around 10:30 or 11:00.
Drew Neisser: Okay, so you’re not getting a lot of sleep.
Dux Raymond Sy: Sleep is relative, right? I get enough.
Drew Neisser: All right, you get enough and you’re one of these people who can function well. The third thing is, I’ve never even heard of the language Tagalog and then I see that you speak this language, and you also speak German and Chinese talk. I mean the Tagalog is spoken by 24 million people, mainly Filipinos. Tell me a little bit about that.
Dux Raymond Sy: That’s right, Tagalog. I’m originally from the Philippines, born and raised. I love the 7,000 islands and rich historical diversity and background. The Filipino primary language is Tagalog. There are some elements of Malay and elements of Spanish in there, so yeah, I speak Tagalog and yeah, I’m among all those 24 million that you mentioned.
Drew Neisser: Amazing. Okay, so we’re going to shift now to Renegade Rapid Fire. Let’s see how far we can go. Oh my gosh, I forgot to start my timer. What’s your definition-—and I’m particularly interested in this as a former CTO—what’s your definition of marketing?
Dux Raymond Sy: My definition of marketing: marketing is something that drives business demand, facilitates customer success, and inspires colleagues to grow the business.
Drew Neisser: What’s your top priority right at this very second?
Dux Raymond Sy: Right at his very second is to align marketing closely with our sales organization through data-driven metrics.
Drew Neisser: Okay. A lot of folks talk about alignment between sales and marketing. This is something that has been on your list for a while, something you’re working through, this is something that ABM is sort of forced upon you. How did you get there right now?
Dux Raymond Sy: When I took over this organization, my prior role was CTO. I’m sure it’s very similar to a lot of organizations where marketing is doing a phenomenal job, but I noticed that it’s operating in its own silo. Certainly, marketing is pushing the message of our products or services, but then it’s a hit or miss if marketing can truly help drive our business targets and sales targets. When I took over the organization, that was one of my top focuses. How can I align marketing from a sales target perspective and more importantly, how can I incent my team to focus around that?
Drew Neisser: What would you say is your proudest accomplishment so far?
Dux Raymond Sy: I think my proudest accomplishment is assembling the next generation of marketers that are very talented and also a global team. My team spans across North America, Europe, and Asia and, boy, forming this group of people across different cultures and time zones and businesses, it’s just phenomenal. I’m very happy about that.
Drew Neisser: When you say next-gen, what do you specifically mean by that? Because I’m sure it’s not just an age thing.
Dux Raymond Sy: No, it’s not an age thing. Well, I don’t know if it has to do with it, it just so happens a lot of them are much younger than I am. But it’s the mindset, right? It’s the fail fast, growth mindset where people are just willing to try. They would come up to me—”Hey, why don’t we do this meme or these viral videos?” which is unheard of in the software industry and I’m all for it. Look, I tell my team, “If you think you have an idea that will help the business grow, as long as nobody gets arrested, I’m in.”
Drew Neisser: There’s a lot within that. What do you think is the most renegade thing that you’ve done in your career so far?
Dux Raymond Sy: The most renegade thing, I think personally, regardless of my role today as a CMO or even to my prior roles, is I was up on stage and I opened up for Bon Jovi in the name of marketing and brand recognition and thought leadership.
Drew Neisser: Okay, you’ve got to give us more details on that. How do you open for Bon Jovi?
Dux Raymond Sy: So, look, in this industry, I’m notorious for that because in my past life, I didn’t have a big large company or tons of budget, so I figured out ways tastefully to be front and center. One of the things I do a lot when I’m up on stage doing a technical presentation, I would be very creative. I would rap, I would sing, I would dance, and it’s all out. Microsoft had this conference called SharePoint Conference back in 2012, and they reached out to me, they said, “Hey you know this industry, you know the audience, we’re going to hire Bon Jovi to be the evening event. Would you mind opening for him?” I go, “Heck yeah!” And then they’re like, “What do you need?”. At that time—I don’t if you remember—this Korean singer PSY, he did Gangnam Style—I dressed up as him, they got me back up dancers, I did a full-on show, and then I hung out with Bon Jovi in the backstage and opened for him.
Drew Neisser: You became a star overnight! Who is this guy?
Dux Raymond Sy: That was my most renegade thing that I did.
Drew Neisser: Now, how many people thought you were the actual PSY?
Dux Raymond Sy: Actually, a lot of people. This was in Vegas, everybody was already having a good time drinking, and people wanted autographs and selfies with me and I gracefully accepted.
Drew Neisser: Early on in the show, in episodes 1 through 20, I used to ask people what their superpower is. I’m wondering, is your superpower imitating PSY, or do you have a broader superpower?
Dux Raymond Sy: Among those things, but he’s not as popular anymore. For me, I have this innate love for language, so I speak multiple languages, and that doesn’t include C++, Java, .net. But I love cultures and languages.
Drew Neisser: If we add the software languages to the four other languages that you speak, are you in double digits?
Dux Raymond Sy: Absolutely.
Drew Neisser: All right. You’re the man to come to for the technical crosswords. This is sort of a weird question that’s very specific—but do you have one metric that you can rely on as a leading indicator? Sales is always a lagging indicator. Do you have a leading indicator that gives you a sense that you’re on the right track?
Dux Raymond Sy: When I first took on this role I looked at—obviously, in marketing there are a lot of different indicators and metrics. But one of the things we’re really getting good at, thanks to my team, is how much business is sourced directly from all the marketing activities we do— campaigns we do—that drives our business. It’s still tied to sales and there are other secondary and tertiary indicators that we look at, but one thing that’s on top of everybody’s list is how much business do we source from marketing. And then secondary things like, on the flip side, how much are we helping in terms of retaining customers, driving customer success. And to your point earlier, that’s where things like ABM comes in and all that. But again, all this is heavily tied to business growth.
Drew Neisser: On the show, some of the guests have actually revealed what their marketing sourced is and sometimes the number is 20%. It’s been as high; I think I’ve heard one say 65% and then in a private meeting someone said as high as 80%. Just curious, where do you fall in terms of marketing sourced leads?
Dux Raymond Sy: I would say we’re in between 30% to 60% right now.
Drew Neisser: Do you think it’s conceivable that marketing could get that number as high as 60%?
Dux Raymond Sy: Absolutely.
Drew Neisser: You know you’re in a good position when marketing is actually driving the business and being able to drive revenue takes the uncertainty out of the role. What do you think are some of the key things that you’ve been able to do or will do that can get you to this place of 50, 60% marketing sourced— we’re not calling them leads—let’s call them marketing sourced business, right? Because that’s what matters.
Dux Raymond Sy: Absolutely. I can share two very specific initiatives that, as a team, we’re able to put together and pull off. One of the things from when I had the privilege of taking over the team is—one of the big things we did first is to be industry advisors? A lot of companies out there, especially in the software world and the enterprise software world, while a lot of companies produce information and education from white papers to e-books, webinars around their product, it’s primarily limited to that. You spoke about our partnership with Microsoft. As you mentioned, we build software on top of Microsoft SharePoint Office 365, but one of the things we do a lot, consistently, is produce very practical content around SharePoint and Office 365 technologies. Teams, Groups. We don’t conflict with what Microsoft produces, but we do things like for example: “Microsoft Teams etiquette—how to use Teams so you won’t piss off your colleagues.” “How can salespeople take advantage and grow their pipeline using some of these tools.”
Very use-case driven, very specific, and, boy, in the last two years of doing this, not only did it help our positioning as trusted advisors but things like SEO organically helps us because if customers go out there and say, “What is SharePoint?” or “What is Microsoft Teams?,” other than Microsoft content popping up, our content is coming up as well. Then we also do this not only in English, but we also provide these thought leadership types of content in languages that we have business in. So, in German, Japanese, Chinese, Spanish. Again, that helps us set ourselves apart from everybody else. That’s one thing that I think the team has done a phenomenal job with—from thought leadership content that certainly ties into our value proposition on the technologies we provide.
Drew Neisser: Cool. We’re going to take a quick break and then we’ll come back and talk about all sorts of things that follow up on what you’ve talked about, and we’re going to unravel complexity. Stay with us.
Drew Neisser: We’re back. My guest is Dux Raymond Sy, who opened up for Bon Jovi once. That is a claim to fame that no one on this show has or probably ever will be able to say again. Dux is an unusual individual in the sense that you were a CTO before you were a CMO, and the good news is you know the product inside out. You know it, you could code it, you could really help the customer that way. But you don’t know marketing, or you didn’t know marketing, so how did you get this massive transfusion of what the heck marketing is and how to pull the right levers?
Dux Raymond Sy: Prior to joining AvePoint—I joined our point as a CTO of our public sector business—but prior to that, I had my own business. I had my own, small consulting organization and when I started out with my former partner, it was just the two of us. We were both very technical. We were both very good at what we do, but we realized, for our business to thrive, there are other elements of the consulting business other than the technical aspect. We had to learn sales. We had to learn marketing. And just like any small business, we didn’t have budgets to put ads or set up booths in conference events.
As a result of that, I dug deep and looked at how could I do guerrilla marketing, how could I do influencer marketing. And boy, I learned so much. As a result of that, I’ve written books and certainly, I share a lot of good information but that was my ticket, if you may, for people to know me, and then I went on the speaking circuit. Then, through that type of organic and—as people call it today—content and influencer marketing, I learned my way around marketing. When I joined AvePoint, I served as CTO public sector for about two and a half years, and when our former CMO moved on, our CEO talked to me. He was like, “You’ve done this before, right?” and I went, “Yeah, kinda!” So, he said, “Until we find the next CMO, why don’t you take over marketing, and then we’ll figure it out.”
Drew Neisser: What was the biggest surprise about the role for you?
Dux Raymond Sy: Taking on this role for a much larger organization, for me, I think the surprise was that I was actually shocked in the way that the ecosystem worked. While marketing certainly is a big part of this business, I feel like everybody or most of everybody would still have a very traditional marketing mindset. It’s not bad—but I feel like it’s not enough. I feel like, especially in this day and age, a lot of organizations haven’t taken it to the next level. For example, in the industry today, especially in the enterprise software industry, sure, traditional marketing methods like show up at events, have white papers, make sure you show up in the Magic Quadrant for some analysts, all that’s important and good, but there are still ad hoc things and, frankly, inexpensive things that marketing in an organization can do to continuously drive brand, customer success, and also help grow the business.
Drew Neisser: I think I get that. I want to go back to a couple of the interesting things that you said earlier about your success—one of the things was becoming trusted industry advisors. I’m curious—within this Microsoft ecosystem, how does that work? How do you actually make sure that your content is additive and different than what Microsoft is doing, and complementary? That’s got to be a little bit of a complex challenge.
Dux Raymond Sy: It is. That’s a great question. It is a complex challenge. Microsoft has all kinds of products and services in business. We only fall into the spectrum of what’s called their “modern workplace business,” which includes SharePoint and Office 365 and all the technologies around it. So, for example, today Microsoft does a fantastic job producing general content around their technology, general use cases. But what we do then is we look at what they have and, more importantly, we take customer feedback.
Like you said, we have over 15,000 customers around the world from government organizations to financial services to nonprofits, and they would come back to us and say, “Hey look, I love this thing from Microsoft. They have this content. But what about this? What about that?” As a result of that feedback, not only does it allow us to produce content that complements what Microsoft has, but it also allows us to think about our products. In fact, a lot of our products are built as a result of customer feedback.
Drew Neisser: Interesting. This is a part of the good news/bad news with a partnership like you have, in that, my guess is, and correct me if I’m wrong but—your customers already are Microsoft customers, right? They’re not going to sort of say, “Oh, let’s hire AvePoint, and then we’ll become SharePoint customers.” It doesn’t work that way, right?
Dux Raymond Sy: Right. Primarily that’s the case. They have Microsoft Investments already, they have SharePoint, they have Office 365, but there’s still a need that the existing investment that they have doesn’t fulfill. That’s where we come in.
Drew Neisser: Exactly. So you have the software but you still need to optimize it. It’s no different than a lot of platforms and ecosystems. They have these sorts of partners, but some are more independent and will work with any of the platforms. You are really only focused on Microsoft, so that defines your universe. The way you can grow your business is either get more Microsoft customers and/or sell more things to those Microsoft customers. I imagine that you’re a two-pronged business strategy, right?
Dux Raymond Sy: 100 percent. And frankly, there’s still a lot of business to be taken. I’m sure you’ve seen left and right that Microsoft is doing a phenomenal job as a business. They’re competing with Apple and Google as the most valued companies, so there is that. We see a lot of organizations adopting more—Microsoft Cloud, Microsoft Office 365. And today, I believe the last stat I saw, there are over 150 million subscribers to Office 365. That alone is plenty for us to go after.
Drew Neisser: For the record, Renegade LLC is a subscriber to Office 365 Cloud.
Dux Raymond Sy: There you go! It sounds like I should sell to you, Drew!
Drew Neisser: Yes exactly! That’s gonna happen next. But we’ll put that off for the moment. We operate within the Microsoft ecosystem—from an alliance partnership standpoint, do you go pitch together? Do they help you identify “here’s our universe?” Or do you have to show up at their events and then get people to identify? I mean, how helpful are they as a partner? And I know that’s a really tricky question to answer because you have to always remain in their good stead.
Dux Raymond Sy: That’s a great question. So, to answer it, it’s both. I can share two perspectives. When I started my own company prior to joining AvePoint, I was a two-person shop. Was it hard to engage and connect with Microsoft at that time? Yeah, it was. They didn’t want to talk to me, and rightfully so—why would I spend my time with a two-person shop that has no customers vs. some other partner that could draw customers to us.
But since then they’ve done a good job coming up with different partner tiers and how to engage with partners, so truly they’ll be in lockstep with you from a messaging standpoint, and these days we’re very grateful that around the world not only do we work with Microsoft corporate on broad messaging marketing, but also on the regional teams. For example, our team in Germany works closely with the Microsoft modern workplace team in Germany, and Singapore is the same, and Japan is the same. Local teams work hand-in-hand but at the same time, we do invest in Microsoft events, webinars because they draw certainly a lot of customers to attend those and participate.
Drew Neisser: I’m trying to imagine the scenario. Microsoft Germany—are they in a sense pitching a company on SharePoint and they’ll bring you along as an advisor, so you come as a bundled solution? To say, “Hey it’s not just about this but here’s also these folks that can help.” Is that what we’re talking about in that kind of partnership?
Dux Raymond Sy: Sure. Yeah. For example, a good example is, especially with government organizations. one of the important things with government today is ensuring compliance, data governance, and security. When Microsoft, for example, will go pitch and say, “Hey, you guys should go to the cloud, go to office 365.” If customers come back and are like, “Sure we love it. And I know you guys have solutions for compliance and security in Office 365, but we also have on-premises investment.” In scenarios like that, Microsoft will bring us in—”Hey, no worries! We have a partner, AvePoint, who not only can help you with your own premises, but they can give you this one-stop-shop so you can ensure your data is protected on-premises and in the cloud.” We complement and extend what they already have.
Drew Neisser: Interesting. So you can work with those things. Ultimately, do we imagine all business goes to the cloud? I mean, the notion of having this stuff localized feels very antiquated.
Dux Raymond Sy: I know, right? Fast forward I would say, two years, and I think so because unless this is your core business, unless your business is hosting, there’s no reason why not. The economics make sense. More importantly, especially from a security perspective, it’s actually far more secure in the cloud. But I can also understand for organizations that are highly regulated, things like health care or defense, where certain data has to be stored locally, they can’t move it. I can see scenarios where most of everybody’s in the cloud but there are a handful of organizations that may go hybrid. It’s a mix between both.
Drew Neisser: Right right right. Again, I’m trying to get a sense of the marketing that you’re doing that you think is particularly innovative. The thought leadership as you described it yourself, let’s face it, everybody does events and everybody does the analysts things and obviously you have to have your content online and show that you’re smart and so forth. What do you think you’re doing that is really helping you achieve this to help you cut through?
Dux Raymond Sy: Another example: one of the things we tested out recently—it’s actually working really well. We’ve invested a lot on short videos. And while we still produce more formal case study-like videos or product-related videos, we’ve been doing a lot of informal, very short, say up to two minutes, so that we can spread online. A couple of things we have.
Dux Raymond Sy: I have this thing called Dux Quax. Essentially, I drive in a car with somebody and I do the interview in the car. We just drive around and it’s so different than having that interview done in a conference room. But people like that stuff. We have another series called Re:Dux. It’s fully animated with me explaining a concept and it’s worked really well on LinkedIn, and then the most recent thing we’ve done, and it’s doing really well, it’s called ChatNChew. I love food, so I’ve been trying to connect food in our business. Every week I would be eating something and connecting it with what’s trending in our industry. All of those would have a call to action that drives customers to our page to convert, be it a webinar, an e-book, or trial download of our product.
Drew Neisser: Okay. We’re going to take a quick break and when we come back we’re going to find out your favorite restaurants. No, seriously, we’ll talk about how these pieces fit together. Stay with us.
Drew Neisser: We’re back. My guest is Dux Raymond Sy, who is the star of Dux Quax, Re:Dux, and ChatNChew. Those are three interesting video concepts. ChatNChew very much reminiscent of, what is it, Coffee with Comedians, the Seinfeld one where he drives around (Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee). They’re fun ideas.
Dux Raymond Sy: Actually, I have to correct myself. It’s actually ChewNChat. It’s relatively new, so it’s #ChewNChat.
Drew Neisser: ChewNChat. okay. The first thing that I was thinking about in this is, a lot of this is centering around you and your brand and helping that to grow the AvePoint brand. I thought that’s a very interesting fine line for you. How do you balance that out without making others in the c-suite go, “We’re doing a lot to build your brand, how are you doing building the AvePoint brand?”
Dux Raymond Sy: That’s a fantastic point. One of the things, especially for next year is we want to scale. The last thing we want is to have the Steve Jobs situation. I think, how all this kind of naturally evolved is, even prior to AvePoint, I’ve been out there. I have the industry credibility around technology, not necessarily specific to AvePoint, but just this ecosystem, so people know me. Certainly, that helps AvePoint as well, and people do know I work for AvePoint. In a lot of these small series and segments, I do some thought leadership or learning or educational-type conversations. It’s really about how I tie it to our capabilities and what AvePoint brings to the table. Thus far, all my colleagues in the c-suite will tell me, “Better you than us.”
Drew Neisser: Yeah. No, that’s good, and somebody has to step up. What I like about it is it humanizes the brand, which is very hard to do in technology. You are an unusual character in that, if it was just an actor, there’d be no substance. You have the substance behind it because you could actually get in there in code if you needed to and that does make you unique.
Dux Raymond Sy: And Drew, that’s the most important point. Going back to your earlier question around the opening for Bon Jovi. That’s the exact comment that when Microsoft talked to me, it was like, “Hey, would you mind opening for Bon Jovi? Because we can hire a front act, but you actually know this stuff. You can talk about this stuff. People know you and it so happens you’re just going to open for Bon Jovi.” I think that’s a big differentiator.
Drew Neisser: Yes. For those CMOs who are listening and are sort of jealous about the brand, the personal brand that you built along with building your company brand, I think that the perspective of that is—substance first. =And you can build upon that. Establish yourself as an expert in the industry in the sense that you did it first. So that’s cool. That answers that question. And those are all these bite-size videos, lots of conversation about creating that, but you have to market the marketing. You can’t just create those videos and get viewers. How are you making sure that these videos actually get seen by the right people?
Dux Raymond Sy: A couple of things. Certainly, we have our corporate mechanisms to promote it. So, from social, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram—there’s that. Certainly, we push it through our regular newsletters that we push to our customers as well. The other thing that we’ve been doing, and we’ve started doing in the last three months, we actually have an internal social selling program. As a marketing organization, we’ve instituted internally not only to our sales team but pretty much anybody in the company—we’ve gamified it. We’ve been teaching internally on what social selling is, why it’s important to the company, but more importantly to build your own brand as professionals at AvePoint. And then our pitch is, “Look, you’ve got to establish yourself as thought leaders in this space and we have all this content for you.”
It’s up to them to push and we hold contests quarterly, too. For example, right now we have an ongoing contest. It ends in mid-June. Whichever AvePoint employee that increases their LinkedIn SSI score the most gets an award. That’s how we skill, and then frankly, from my perspective, we find that conversions are much better if driven that way compared to our traditional just paying ads on PPC or putting ads on LinkedIn. I mean we still do that, but the value of these conversions and ROIs is much higher if my colleagues would do it as well.
Drew Neisser: For the listeners who don’t know what an SSI score is—if you do an employee program, social selling program, and using LinkedIn Navigator, LinkedIn Navigator gives you a score that rates you on four particular dimensions. If you’re sharing a lot but have a small network, you don’t get as many points, but it is interesting to watch this evolution as employees get involved.
A couple of other things that I just want to point out—the great thing about these videos that you’re creating is they’re human and they’re engaging, and as a result, they are more likely for employees to put out there because they don’t feel like they’re selling. I’m just guessing here but, those types of things are getting shared more than say, a white paper, or some other heavier product-related content.
Dux Raymond Sy: I’m sure you can see this too even in larger organizations. I mean we talk about Microsoft. Look at—especially the executive leadership—all the videos. I’m sure Satya has a whole posse and crew doing production, but the videos he puts together are very personal. It’s him. He’s not suited up. He’s in his office talking about a customer or a new innovation that they’ve done. He’s not really selling, “Oh you’ve got to buy Office 365,” but it’s much more effective. I’m sure this is intentional as well. As you talk about humanizing—look, we’re in a software company, we’re in IT—now being able to humanize that, to tell stories on how we’re changing and improving customer’s businesses, and in some cases improving people’s lives, I think that’s really powerful.
Drew Neisser: We’ve talked a lot about the AvePoint brand and a lot of the things that you’re doing, and they feel disparate a little bit. I’m curious if you can describe the AvePoint brand in a few words.
Dux Raymond Sy: AvePoint helps customers with their digital transformation journey, and what that means is we provide solutions that can help customers migrate, manage, and protect their data throughout their journey to the cloud. A lot of customers are heavily invested in the Microsoft ecosystem and we’re there to help support them.
Drew Neisser: Let’s think about in terms of—you’ve been CMO now for how long?
Dux Raymond Sy: I would say a little over two years.
Drew Neisser: What do you think—we have a group of new CMOs that are listening. Two dos and one don’t for them.
Dux Raymond Sy: I think, for me, top of my to-do list: you have to be a learn-it-all. For me, I come from a tech background. I didn’t come from a marketing background. I had to learn a lot about marketing, had to figure out what people are doing, so you’ve got to be a learn-it-all. It’s constant learning. I’m in the tech world, I need to constantly learn. That’s number one.
Dux Raymond Sy: Number two to do is, you have to reach out and get mentors. I know in Episode 99, I think Greg was talking about having a personal board of advisors—100%. The mentors you get don’t necessarily have to be all marketers, but I would say folks that are experienced, executives, and people who’ve been through the trenches and they can share their words of wisdom. To me, I have this support system that I’m truly grateful for.
I would say the one don’t is, just never assume. Never assume that certain people know something, and you know better and vice versa. Always listen. Never assume and, yeah, just always be open to listening and learning.
Drew Neisser: Very cool. Those are great and I appreciate your reference back to Greg’s advice because I think that’s so smart and having a personal board of advisers. I happen to be on a startup advisory board, and I was just so impressed, one, by the young folks that are running the company, but the advisory group that they put together you just went, “Wow.” It really just builds a lot of confidence that they’re going to be able to succeed.
Drew Neisser: If I were to summarize this show really quickly for the listeners—I am so grateful that you stayed with us thus far— is a couple of things. We’ve talked a lot about the personal brand of the CMO and I just want to make sure that we’re all clear that that is built on your expertise. If you’re just sizzle without substance it isn’t going to work, and I really appreciate that. I love, however, all the sizzle that you’ve brought to your job with these videos, with the introduction of Bon Jovi, and I admire your chutzpah, as they would say in Yiddish, for putting yourself out there on the line. I think that takes a tremendous amount of courage, and courage is one of the big words that I use a lot when talking about the traits of a successful CMO.
Dux Raymond Sy: Drew, one of these days I get an award for that, right?
Drew Neisser: What’s that, an award for courage or just opening for Bon Jovi?
Dux Raymond Sy: Opening for Bon Jovi. You said no CMO has ever done it.
Drew Neisser: Yeah exactly. Well, you’ve been shouted out already on Renegade Thinkers Unite. Thank you so much, Dux, for being on the show.
Dux Raymond Sy: Thank you, Drew, for this opportunity. And boy, I would love to connect with everybody. Hit me up on Twitter @meetdux.
Drew Neisser: Perfect. All right. Well, we’re already connected on Twitter. I made sure we did that. You have a lot of followers and you present some very fun content. For the listeners of Renegade Thinkers Unite—thank you. As always, you can care by sharing. You can share this with your friends. Put this up on LinkedIn Navigator with all those AvePoint folks. That’ll be much appreciated. And until next week keep those Renegade Thinking Caps on and strong