How Avid’s Brand Purpose is Powering Greater Creators
Most CMOs “only” have to focus on businesses or consumers as their primary target. Avid, a multimedia tech company, actually markets products to both audiences, a challenge that CMO Melissa Puls relishes. For Puls, the buyer in either market is still a human, a person with creative ambitions. And while a giant TV network might be spending a lot more money on far more complex editing equipment, their end goals are often the same – produce awesome content and share it with the world. As such, Puls helped the company rally around a shared purpose of “powering greater creators,” an idea that also helped hold all their global marketing efforts together.
In our lively conversation, we covered virtually every facet of modern marketing, from what to do in the first hundred days to building a content marketing machine. Importantly, we spent a lot of time talking about the power of having a purpose-driven story statement that is unique, own-able, and inspires employees, customers, and prospects regardless of job or business size. Ultimately, Puls helped Avid recognize the humanity of all of its customers. Tune in to this week’s episode to hear about that, the value of balancing face-to-face marketing with digital, the importance of a collaborative leadership team, the number one most important thing a CMO needs to do in a subscription-based world, and much, much more!
Full Transcription: Drew Neisser in Conversation with Melissa Puls
Drew: Hello, Renegade Thinkers. My friend Brian Kramer believes strongly that there is no B2B or B2C, only H2H, as in human-to-human. In fact, he wrote a book on it (check it out). And while I agree that all communications are about connecting with individuals and there is much that a B2C marketer can teach a B2B marketer about human emotions, the reality is, with few exceptions, consumers don’t shop by committee, but buying committees are a reality for anybody selling into the enterprise. We know those committees have got ten, eleven, twelve people, and as a result, I’m convinced that it requires a different approach to marketing.
However, I could be wrong, so part of the reason that my guest today is on the show is that she, as the CMO of Avid, has both B2B and B2C in her target, and that challenges things. By the way, Avid makes high-end audio and video products. I went on the website and there’s a large range of these things and it’s gotten to the clouds and software. It’s used by professionals in huge media corporations as well as independent artists. So, Melissa Puls, welcome to the show.
Melissa: Thank you, Drew. Pleased to be here.
Drew: Before we get into the topic at hand, let’s talk about your background as a second-generation female marketer. Tell me about your mom and her career as a marketer.
Melissa: Thanks for asking, Drew. Back in the 80s, when it wasn’t common for women to be senior executives at high tech companies, my mom was one of the very early employees of Kronos, which is a time and attendance labor management company. She led marketing for them for many, many years. I guess I have marketing in my veins, if you will, because she would come home and talk about challenges she was facing or decisions she was making, and she would ask me for my opinion. My sister, who ended up being a school teacher—and I always say she could teach a tree how to read, she’s amazing—she leaned out to those conversations. She wasn’t really very interested where I would really lean in. She would ask me my opinion and I would give her my thoughts and it really inspired me to go on and become a professional marketer, if you will. Not only do I admire her for her conviction and being a strong woman who was going to do whatever she set her mind to, but also her creative sense of how it is to be a marketer.
Drew: Now, did I notice that you spent some time at Kronos, too?
Melissa: I did, yes. Yes. That is not a coincidence. She was actually departing Kronos as I came in and my first job there was as a fulfillment coordinator. They were spending millions of dollars to outsource fulfillment and they hired me for just a couple of bucks to come in and insource that and build a fulfillment center in-house. I literally would stuff the packages for inside sales, which I thought was the most important job in the company by the way, and I would take my mail cart down at the end of the day and ship the packages every day. It’s one of the principles I think my mom gave to me which is, no matter what job you have, you lean into that and make it the best possible position that you could make it. You’ll always shine if you do that.
Drew: It’s funny. Both of my kids who are now grown up interned at Renegade. One of them, my daughter, now works at Facebook so she’s second. But I also had a grandfather in the advertising business and my wife is also a longtime advertiser, so we had a lot of that in the house. It does inform a lot of the conversations and if the kids are paying attention they go, “What is that? That sounds pretty cool. You did that campaign for those folks? Oh, that’s cool.”
Melissa: Right. And I can even see that now with my own children. I have a blended family of five kids so it lends itself to lots of complexities but, you know, I can see the ones that are interested and engaged and the ones that will probably take a different path. And that’s all good. You know, wherever they want to go.
Drew: Yes, exactly. So, I’m curious. Your mom, being a professional in the 80s as a woman, probably had “Me Too” stories, probably confronted a lot of issues. Do you find that some of her experience informs some of your approach?
Melissa: Yeah, I think it did it in an interesting way. My dad was also a professional man; he was into politics for a short time, but he owned his own insurance agency and he really encouraged my mom to go out and do whatever she wanted to do, so she approached it with that mindset, and so did I.
I work with women a lot. It’s one of the things I love to do, mentor women in business, and I hear about the challenges that they face in the boardrooms and issues. It’s interesting. It’s not that I don’t acknowledge that there are differences with how women are treated in the workforce, because I understand that fully, but I have kind of taken the approach where I choose to not acknowledge it, probably because my mom never talked about that. It was a non-issue. It was like, “We’re going to do what we’re going to do and we’ll be treated as equals no matter what.” So, you know, I’ve really approached it in an interesting way, which is just to say, just assume. It’s like an assumption. I never thought any other way, which allowed me to be much more open-minded, and that’s a gift that she gave me.
Drew: Yeah. It’s funny. As you’re talking about mom, I have to mention this. As I’m doing this podcast, I often think of my mother who actually had a TV show on a local cable company in Newport Beach in the late 60s, early 70s. So here we are. This is the equivalent of local cable on Renegade Thinkers Unite. All right.
Melissa: Right. Right. Full circle.
Drew: Exactly. Thanks, mom. Anyway, before your career at Avid you had multiple CMO roles. Is there something that, when you look back at some of the programs that you did, you’re particularly proud of?
Melissa: Yeah, I think there’s a lot to be proud of. A lot of hard lessons learned also, as you could imagine. I guess you look back in your career and you have many moments in time that you remember and that shape you, and I think one of the moments was when I was working for a company called SSA Global, which was a $700 million enterprise application software company. It was a public company—I had taken the company public—and a company called Infor acquired SSA. Infor at the time was the same exact sized company and they were privately held, so we all thought we knew it all, right? The approach the leadership team took it in for was to bring everyone, all the key leaders of both companies, to Arizona in the middle of the summer and lock us up for two weeks and break down the two companies and build one back up.
It was like a real-world NBA and was also a game of Survivor, quite frankly. At the end of every day someone was getting a tap on the shoulder saying, “Thanks, but no thanks.” The big lesson that I learned through that experience is that change is inevitable, especially in high tech, and the best thing you can do is be open-minded, be around a table, leave everything else, the files of information that are in your head, let them go, and be open-minded to what’s sitting right in front of you.
I think I was just 30 so I was pretty young at the time and influential probably, but I had this instinct that said, “I’m not going to be protective of my budget or protective of my team. I’m going to come in and be open-minded to the possibilities for everybody.” As it was a game of Survivor, I didn’t even really realize it at the time because I was just so into the moment of building up this one company. And at the end of the two weeks, they ended up asking me to be the VP of Marketing for them, and it was just because of that open-mindedness, the willingness to think differently, be open to change, and be about the solution, not living in the files of the past. That’s something I’ve carried with me really throughout my career.
Drew: Interesting. I have this vision in this room that every day a few chairs were removed.
Melissa: Yes. It was very much like that.
Drew: And if you got tapped, I don’t know if that would have been a good thing or a bad thing.
Melissa: Yeah. But you know what? I also believe that everything happens for a reason, so a lot of the people that didn’t end up staying with the company ended up having awesome careers elsewhere.
Drew: Oh, it does. As we wrap up this section, I’m just curious, because you’ve had these intense but relatively short periods at Optanix and Progress. With those short periods, you have to really hit the ground running. Do you have a 100-day playbook that you use?
Melissa: Well, I think it’s “seek to understand and then to be understood.” That’s the first principle. Optanix was an interesting thing because that is a company that’s owned by Francisco Partners and it’s a small $20 millionish security company and they needed an interim CMO to put in some best practices for them. That was a really cool gig for me. I was working for a private equity, I came in and it was more like a consulting role, really identifying the issues, figuring out what the challenges were, giving them a playbook, and then I helped to hire the CMO. The permanent CMO was an awesome guy. So that was a really interesting and unique experience, almost testing out my future in marketing consulting.
That was really putting in that kind of understanding, but with Progress, I was there almost three years. I did my stint there and the most interesting thing that happened at Progress was we acquired a company called Telerik. Progress is a 30-year-old software company that has been in the business, has a lot of legacy customers, and the average tenure of folks at Progress is 20 years. You look around and there’s a lot of 20-year people there who are just awesome talent. And then Telerik, which was a Bulgarian based company that was an app developer tools company, had CEOs in their 20s, a lot of young up-and-coming superstar talent. What was so cool about that was bringing those two companies together again with one common identity.
Drew: Two weeks in Arizona with them?
Melissa: Not two weeks in Arizona. No, this one was not a fire drill. This was a very thoughtful process of understanding the differences between the two companies and then relating those two together and building a brand that’s really unified. Every situation I find is a little bit different, but there are principles you put in place. Like I said: seek to understand and then to be understood; always be looking out for measurements and metrics to see how marketing can really impact performance—I’ve got to be able to look in the eyes of my CFO and tell them that we’re getting a return on investment so we got to start there, and then really understanding how to build the talent that you need in a team to be hugely successful. There are always principles you put in place, but every situation is unique.
Drew: Got it. All right. We’re going to take a break and when we come back, we’re going to talk about Avid.
Melissa: Great, Drew. Thanks.
Drew: Okay, we’re back. My guest is Melissa Puls and we’ve been talking about the key principles of marketing leadership, and I love your quick list—seek to understand, get your metrics in place, and build the team. It’s funny, it somewhat follows the principles of good to great. It’s build the team, set the vision, and then put some metrics in place. Anyway, as long as the top three are there, you’re good.
Melissa: That’s right. They’re in there somewhere.
Drew: Let’s talk about Avid for a second. You’ve been there now over a year. What attracted you to this role to begin with?
Melissa: Great question. I feel like it’s come full circle. My first day of college, I remember one of my communications professors said to me, to all of us, you had to stand up and say what you wanted to do in communications. I said, “I want to go to Hollywood, and I want to be talent and I want to work in production” and if you think I talk fast and have a high voice now? You should’ve heard me at 18. He kind of squashed my dream and said, “Sit down, lower your octave of your voice by about 100, get rid of that Boston accent, and, you might want to go in another direction.”
Drew: “How about behind the camera?”
Melissa: Exactly. But I always had a passion for the media and entertainment industry I guess, is my point. I sort of took a path into high tech from always working in large high-tech companies, so when I saw the opportunity to have the worlds collide, of getting back into media and entertainment, it was a really fun and exciting industry to be a part of. The technology aspect, I really love understanding how the technology can really make an impact for our customers. And then, Avid, similar to Progress, is a company that’s been around a long time and needs an element of reinvigoration and new energy, of really deploying some new practices in marketing so that we can take this company for another 30 years.
The one last thing is the leadership team. To me, it’s working with a leadership team that is all in it together. We’re in it to win it together. There are no agendas, no know set notions. It’s everyone working together to make it happen. For all of those reasons, it just seemed like a perfect fit for my next step in my career.
Drew: Awesome. Entire episodes have been simply on the relationship between the CMO and the C-suite. I have yet to meet a successful CMO who doesn’t have a CEO who is fully behind him or her, as well as one who has built relationships with these others. Okay. Here you are. You arrive at Avid and I’m imagining you sought to understand. Let’s talk about any strategic observations that you made or changes that you saw needed to be made.
Melissa: In the media and entertainment industry, the customers that we have expect a high touch marketing engagement. A lot of face to face, a lot of in-person connections, attending the large events, and also having local events, which is really important to our industry and needs to continue. But at the same time not only is my role as a CMO to take care of and nurture our customers and keep them with us, especially in a subscription SaaS model, but also go out and acquire new customers. I like to call it the Avid pool, if you will. We have our pool of customers who are loyal, and we need to make sure they stay with us and feel connected, but there’s also this ocean out there where Avid delivers new products to market that we can use to go out and acquire net new customers.
We had to deploy a balanced approach between being face-to-face and engaging with our customers, but also having a digital-first, content-driven, scalable, personalized approach to generating net new customers.
Melissa: The challenge that I face and our team is now facing is within this same budget, how do you go out and continue to have the face-to-face engagement while transitioning to a digital content-driven approach to attract new customers, and ultimately getting the best return on investment for every dollar we spend? So I can have those great relationships with the CFO and the CEO and others. That’s our unique challenge.
Drew: Let me ask you a question. One of the things that is interesting to me is the way marketers often are faced with budgets. You say you have a fixed budget. Why? If you can prove that marketing drove more revenue, why wouldn’t you get more money?
Melissa: Well, you have to prove that first. My challenge or my opportunity, or our opportunity as a marketing team, because when you’re doing a more face-to-face event type of approach there’s a lot of influence, but you can’t necessarily show the pure ROI from that. How you get the return on investment, in addition to influencing business and accelerating, which is so important, that you can go out there and show a return on investment from attracting net new customers through a lead-to-revenue model. To the point that I can look in the whites of the eyes of our CFO and say, “Look, you give me another hundred bucks, I’m going to get you another $5,000. Invest that with me.”
This first year has really been about putting that infrastructure in place to ensure that I can get the increased budget. Because I’m with you because the buying patterns have changed so much in terms of how people are buying, and marketing has such a huge role in that upfront. What do they say? You know, they’re 80% the way through the buying cycle before they want to talk to a salesperson, which I believe to be true. Marketing has to have a greater influence on that and in order to do that we need budget to be able to make that happen. But for Avid, this first year has been about proving that out so that we can continue to increase our investment, so we don’t have to make tradeoffs. We can have it be incremental and that’s ultimately my goal.
Drew: I had Ann Lewnes from Adobe on the show, and she talked about when she first got to Adobe (listen here). She was like, “Oh, my God, we’re spending so much money on events.” Then, she went to these events and she saw what was happening at the events and she realized, “Oh, my gosh, we need to keep spending that much money on events.”
What’s interesting about the measurement of events and why it’s such a tricky thing is that I imagine that if I go to—and I was looking at some of the videos on your website—if I’m at one of your major shows and I’m a customer, I’m coming in and I have questions. I want to play with it, I want to look at the new gear, I want to see how I can do what I do better, I want to be with other professionals. So your community is there. The question becomes: could you find net new leads—as you describe them—at an event so that you could also have that same math in place that you can so easily predict with digital?
Melissa: Right. Yeah, I think that’s a challenge. Our community is always there, which is why we need to be there, and we need to continue to connect with them. But also, at Avid, we have over 500 customer meetings—one-on-one customer meetings. And many of them I attend. Maybe not500, but many, many so, you know, I’m with you. I believe that we need to be there, and we need to be connected. I think it is harder to show that those net new opportunities come from those events, but the wonderful thing about events is all the content.
It’s not just about the four walls of that event now, it’s about scaling that content outside of the four walls of the event and that’s where the new business comes from. It may not be the butts in the seats at the theater, but it certainly is about taking that content, amplifying it from the event and pulling people in through the digital aspects of the exposure of the content. And that is absolutely measurable to show a lead-to-revenue scenario.
Drew: Okay. I’m struggling with this statement and I’ve heard a lot of CMOs say it—in fact, one just said it on the show. It’s “don’t do it if you can’t measure it.” Do you believe that?
Melissa: I don’t. The average tenure of a CMO these days is like 18 months or something.
Drew: It depends on which survey. At Spencer Stuart they said it’s about 36 months.
Melissa: Yeah, yeah. Whatever. I think you hear CMOs say that because they have to be able to show their return. And in order to get more money and to drive return, they have to be able to measure everything. I look at it like this: the number one most important thing that CMOs needs to do today, especially in a SaaS and subscription world, is to ensure that your customers have an outstanding experience and that is measured by retention and customers staying with you. You need to understand from a marketing standpoint all the touchpoints that were there to make sure that those customers are renewing. But you can’t always measure the direct correlation between customer renewing and the marketing experience, so that’s where it’s gray and I’m okay with that.
I think where we need to show return again, in a SaaS and subscription model, is that we can go out and find those opportunities that sales is already working. That I believe does need to be highly measurable and you need to show how you can do that so that you can scale new pipeline creation and not keep adding sales reps to do that, but to scale that through marketing. So that absolutely needs to be measured and recorded and managed very closely, but there’s a certain aspect of the customer experience and influence that I think that it’s too strong of a statement to say don’t do it if you can’t measure it.
Drew: It’s interesting that you say that because I’ve been trying to come up with for my book, incredibly simplified metrics for three targets: employees, customers, and prospects. I feel like, with customers, I’m not happy with NPS because there are issues there. It doesn’t give you enough. Some of the math behind the original idea was problematic, but it is a number. So if you could sort of look at, say, NPS plus, let’s say revenue maintained or increased plus actual recommendations in some kind of percentage number, you would have a real strong sense of what true satisfaction looks like and loyalty looks like and the value of that. Do you track customer satisfaction from a metric standpoint and if so, how do you do it?
Melissa: We do. And I think we can do a much better job of that. The ultimate view of measurement in our world right now especially as people are moving from perpetual to subscription is that they continue to renew. They have options. Customers have options today, even the big enterprises have options. They’re not trapped. As much as companies would like to think—not Avid—but companies would like to think, “we got them, they’re with us,” even if they move from perpetual to subscription, I don’t believe that. I think customers have options and it’s our job collectively as an organization to make sure those renewal rates stay at the highest level.
That should really fuel every customer engagement that we have is to make sure that they stay with us. So I agree with you. I think there are lots of notions of different measurements, but at the end of the day, if a customer maintains being a customer with you, they see the value of what you’re doing, they are seeing a great experience and that’s the priority. Avid has more work to do in that area. There’s no doubt about that. Every company does. But I think there is a road to that. There’s a roadmap from an Avid perspective on making sure that we keep those renewal rates where we want them to be.
Drew: Interesting. I imagine that’s a testable thing, too, you can test various offers, programs, timing, even with your content.
Melissa: Absolutely. That’s right. Yeah. And we have a whole program that we’ve put together this year that really talks about renewals and reinstatements and all of these things that are leveraging. We implemented a new ABM platform, 6sense, so we can segment the customer base and, you know, serve up specific promotions to specific customers. We’re just starting that journey, but absolutely. I think that’s a marketing principle, to make sure that you’re focused on the renewal rate, especially as you move to a subscription model.
Drew: Very cool. All right. We’re going to take a break and when we come back, I’d love to talk more about customer retention for a minute. I know we’re going to talk about acquisition, but let’s talk about retention when we get back.
Drew: Okay, we’re back for part three of my interview with Melissa Puls of Avid. And I just want folks to get a sense, if you went to Avid.com and you looked at the videos, you would see the way editing equipment—when I started in this business, every single TV commercial was edited on an Avid machine and this was a vast machine with multiple monitors. This world has evolved tremendously and, as you said, used to buy equipment and buy the software that would make the equipment and that was that. But now you’re in this SaaS world, so renewals become essential because here’s the deal: if you’re an editor at a large studio or a production company, you need this stuff. It’s not a question; you need this to do your job.
Let’s talk about how you’ve approached renewals. I mean, you know, everybody’s name, you know how much you’re spending, you know what the lifetime value of the customer is, if renewed. If ever there was some math there, you know. Given the profit of the renewal, you could figure out exactly how much you need to spend to keep them.
Melissa: Yeah. I think there is a science to it. I’m not convinced we have the science down yet here at Avid. It’s a work in progress for sure. What we have is consistent outreach to our customers at different stages in the renewal process. We have nurtures that we put in place within certain periods of time. We’re serving up content to them that shows the value of our offerings and the new features and new functions, what it is that we’re doing not just 30 days before they’re ready to renew, but ongoing touchpoints to engage with them. The other piece that’s really important that we’re just starting to scratch the surface on, and you see some of it with the videos, but it’s the learning process, giving them the tools through eLearning to make sure they’re maximizing Avid to its fullest. And that’s really important. Again, you know, this is a journey we’re on, but we’re starting to deliver a lot more tutorials and a lot more content that allows them to maximize our content.
Also, having Avid days where we invite our customers, we’re out in the field and we invite our customers to play with the products and do some training out in the field, which is really important. It used to be like, you go out, find a customer, they buy, and then you service them when they have problems. Those days are long over, and I think you’re absolutely right. There is a way to measure every step of that. The science will come into play as we get better with the data on this, again, the breadcrumbs of data being left behind with the buying journey, and the beauty of marketing is to be able to scoop up all those breadcrumbs and use them as insights to serve up the right content at the right time, which we’re starting with Avid. We did a great job of that at Progress. So, yeah, I think there’s a science to it but I think the number one most important thing is that you’re consistently engaging with your customers in a way that they want to be engaged.
Drew: Right. It’s interesting. For the listeners, you did a great interview with Kim Whitler, who was on the show recently. We’ll just link to it in the show notes (read it here). If you want a description of how to build a strong demand generation engine, put it under the category of digital transfer. It’s all in that article so we won’t have to cover that here.
At the beginning of the show, I talked about whether or not there was a difference between B2B and B2C. I think we better cover that. Let’s talk about it because you have both. You have individual artists certainly in the music business who are just starting out and let’s face it, a lot of kids are getting their start on YouTube. There are lots of different ways that individuals can touch Avid, so how do you bridge these two worlds in your work?
Melissa: Yeah. It’s a really interesting scenario that’s kind of unique to Avid. As you said, some of the largest media enterprises in the world use Avid for their end-to-end workflows, and then we have individual artists that are coming up in the world that want to buy a single license and they do that via our web store. It’s interesting that you have a scenario where you have an artist come in, they buy through the web store, but then you have the largest of the largest having an enterprise selling model.
It’s a unique challenge, I think, that we face but there are two common denominators. One is all of our buyers are serious creatives. They’re people that want to make their career in serious tools that help them differentiate themselves from everybody else. That’s one. The two is that they all—whether you’re an enterprise buyer or you’re an individual creative—you’re a person. You’re an individual.
Drew: What? Really? I thought I was a target?
Melissa: And we all have our own likes and our own dislikes and we all have our own perspective on how it is that you want to buy, so I think some of the tactics or the strategies that we use for our B2C buyers, which are very personalized based on their behavior as an individual, can be applied also to our larger enterprise B2B-type buyers.
Melissa: I heard your podcast on personas, which I found very interesting because I agree with a lot of what you said. I think grouping a group of people as a persona is very overused because I don’t think it’s about a persona. I think it’s about an individual and in today’s marketing approach, again, there are all these breadcrumbs that have been left behind. As long as you don’t do it in a creepy way, because we don’t want to be creepy marketers, the way you avoid doing it creepily is to serve up valuable content that they want to actually look at based on what their behavior is. Marketers are becoming technologists and data analysts and strategists in terms of that, so I think it’s just becoming a blend between B2B and B2C.
Avid is a real use case of that because we use a lot of the similar tactics as we move into this much more digital content-driven personalized approach. Using technology to do that, we’re finding ourselves using a lot of the same tactics and strategies to market whether it’s our enterprise buyer or our creative buyer. The messages are different. If you’re an enterprise buyer, you’re really concerned about security and individual creatives care about security, too, but they want to know it’s reliable, that you can be secure. There was just the announcement with Disney and Microsoft moving to the cloud and the first workflows they’re moving are the Avid workflows. These big mega enterprises want to know that they can do that in a secure way. Maybe the individual artist doesn’t care about that as much, but the tactics and the way in which you go about marketing to them is about the individual, not about persona.
Drew: Let me stop you there. One of the points that I was making in my persona episode (listen here) was that, first of all, many of these personas are clichés of the job roles; therefore, they’re not that deep. I had Ian Howells from Sage Intacct on the show probably a year ago (listen here) and they do 50 interviews with what they call micro-targets before they even start, so they know so much more. If we’re talking about deep dives where you really do know, I get that. There’s some sense to that, but the bigger issue is that when a buying committee—and this is for enterprise million-dollar purchases—gets together, everybody had an opinion. And I bet you have some of this where you have CFO, the Head of Technology, IT, Security, particularly now that you’re dealing with the cloud.
Now, if you present different stories to each of those people and they get together, it’s like the blind men feeling different sides of the elephant and not knowing what they’re feeling. The key here is that the brand has to have a common idea that informs it. And that’s the difference. I do think that in many ways, as I looked at your website, I mean, on the landing page there’s “powering greater creators.” I wonder if that is the idea.
Melissa: That’s the idea. We just very recently went through what I call a refresh of our brand and what we stand for. The “powering greater creators” was the output of that. As I mentioned, there’s a common denominator: serious creators that want to make their career out of taking that creative energy. Even the IT people and all the big wigs, if you will, at these large enterprises, they know that they need to enable greater creators. That’s their job. That’s what they’re in it for and they have their certain skillsets to make sure that happens like we have the greatest technology on the planet.
We just recently went through that refresh of the brand so that we could have that common link across all of our audiences and I totally agree with you, that’s so important. You’ll see that more and more as our marketing goes forward, we have “powering greater creatives” and then we have our enterprise element of that and what means to an enterprise, then we have our individual artist element and what that means to them. It’s a hierarchy of messaging. You start with the “power greater creators,” and then you have the enterprise thread of that, you have the individual creative thread of that, and then you go down deeper and you’re now at an individual level. That’s when you start to use the data to tell the story of what you need to serve up to those individuals.
Drew: Right. Because what does “powering greater creator” mean to the independent DJ or the independent wedding videographer versus Disney?
Melissa: Right. A good example of this is a gentleman by the name of Angus Emmerson, who is one of the lead guys over Burnish Creative, which is a post-editing firm out in LA. They do America’s Got Talent and things like that. He’s Australian and he was in Australia producing videos using Media Composer and he was like, “Man, I differentiated myself by using Media Composer from everybody else.” Burnish Creative, which is a large enterprise, they have hundreds of licenses of Media Composer, saw his work. This is an enterprise that cares about being creative, they’re seeing his work over in Australia, they recruited him in, and now he’s in a corner office with the Hollywood sign. I went in and I talked to him when I first started and “powering greater creatives” is actually from one of my conversations with him and other customers. He was like, “You guys made it happen for me. Because of the tool that I used from Avid, I was able to stand out from everybody else that’s just using basic tools.”
I’m not saying that as an Avid pitch. My point is that the connection between the enterprise, which is the Burnish Creative who wants to power greater creators, and Angus, who is creating in a powerful, unique way. There’s a common thread there, but they’re applying it in different ways.
Drew: In Renegade Thinking vernacular, we would call that a purpose-driven story statement. What’s wonderful about this one is that it really does show that here’s a company that has a wide range of products that appeal to giant companies and individuals and you have found a language that is distinctive because the greater creator is kind of an interesting rhyming thing. And that’s part of this thing. It can’t be flat. It could work internally as well as externally and that gives the company a purpose. “This is what we do, folks. We’re helping greater creators. This is how we go to market, this is our reason for being, so any new feature we put in, any new thing that we provide, it’s always about that.” The power of having a statement like this is that it can get everybody on the same page.
Now, the question is, does that? And this is where I often see a breakdown. It’s when you say, “Hey, I got to do a demand generation campaign and I got to get new customers in the door, so I better do features and functions. I get how a feature and function story could be told under “powering and greater creators,” but it’s so much more interesting to just hear about the creators.
Melissa: Right. Yeah. I think Avid has an opportunity. We tend to be feature function product, to go right down to the guts of here’s what it is that we do so you need to be really excited about that. We’re actually raising our game in that area, to be much more connected to the real-world problems that our enterprises or our individual creatives are facing and have a connection by that, not necessarily the feature functions that we deliver. We stood up a global demand center over the last year. That’s a centralized demand center that has content and inbound marketers, and their challenge is to do what you just described. To work with product marketing, understand the features and the functions and what the product does, and translate that into a messaging framework and a platform that can really connect to new buyers. Then, you know, you hit feature functions when you get lower down in the buying cycle where you’re really trying to capture them to convert it. But yeah, I think it’s the challenge of marketers to be able to make that connection between the two.
Drew: Yep. Again, I do think it answers the question, why. The what, you’ve got a long list of products and greater creators, one could say. The how is to be explored. And that’s the thing. You don’t have to answer everything in every piece of marketing. You can let the website do it. One of the things that’s interesting is, as long as you allow me to drill down—if I’m an engineer, yeah, I do want to see the speeds and feeds—but I still want to know and have a sense that this is a company that cares about me, that understands me, that there are people like me somewhere in this vicinity.
Now, looking forward, what would you say, moving ahead, is your biggest challenge?
Melissa: I want to just circle back really quickly. I thought you made a good point about how “powering greater creators” also has an internal rallying cry as well. Tying that back to “what’s next” is that I’m working very closely with our head of HR because we believe, Diana and I, that there’s a really strong connection between the external brand and our internal values. The human capital and the marketing is just a complete collide similar to B2B and B2C. They’re coming together. I think your internal values and your external brand and how the people internally think about that is so important.
So, you know, we’re approaching this by getting the message out there from the inside out. We need to make sure our employees and our team members within the company identify themselves, relate to what it is we’re communicating to our customers, and that they’ve become that, or they are that. And then tends to push the customer experience and connecting with the customers. And then that drives renewal. It all is connected, and it starts with how we think about ourselves as team Avid and then how that then connects with our customers to drive a really amazing customer experience.
That’s what’s next. It’s continuing to push on that notion of the customer experience and leveraging the face-to-face events and the experiences we’re giving our customers while we’re driving the B2B/B2C integration between those two things and using the breadcrumbs of data that are left behind to attract new customers as well. It’s a very exciting time to be a marketer. I don’t think it’s ever been more exciting, actually, to be a marketer than it is right now, and particularly at Avid as we continue to make this transition.
Drew: Well, the audience might think that I paid you to say some of those things because when we talk about Renegade Thinking, one of the things that we first say is that your first target is employees, your second target is customers, and your third target is prospects. Because if your employees don’t believe in the program, your customers never will, and if your customers don’t believe in the idea, then your prospects never will. Getting the employee onboard is key.
It’s funny, in the research that we’ve done, while most CMOs will agree that that’s really important, less than I think 20% actually give more than a month or two to employee integration with a new brand campaign. But nonetheless, that’s okay as long as it’s on the agenda. All right. Well, we’ve had a wonderful conversation. I’m going to quickly summarize for the folks who somehow or other jumped ahead and missed some of that but I think that some of the things that you mentioned early on in terms of how you approach this job are really worth talking about.
One is, we talked about how you have to build a team. We talked about figuring out very quickly—and this is this whole world of setting expectations—you have to have some metrics that you agree on with the C-suite that will lead to “if we achieve this, we’re all happy.” That’s a basic entry thing. What I love about this conversation is that you heard tremendous passion for marketing itself and the role that marketing can play. We spent a lot of time talking about customers, customer engagement, and why that’s so important. And then lastly, on employees, how can you get any better than that? So, Melissa, thank you so much for being on the show.
Melissa: Thank you, Drew. It’s my pleasure.
Drew: And to all the listeners, this was a long episode, but I think there was so much there for you to gain. I hope you stayed with us all the way through and maybe stayed in the car to finish it even though your commute is over. Anyway, if you enjoy this show, do me a favor. Go to your favorite podcast channel. Rate the show. We always appreciate the reviews. You know that you can send me an email if you have any questions for follow up for Melissa. And as always, until next time, keep those Renegade Thinking Caps on and strong.