Drew Neisser
October 1, 2021

Renegade Marketers…Unite!

Guest: Drew Neisser - Founder & CEO, Renegade & CMO Huddles

Wait, wait, wait… Renegade MARKETERS Unite? You heard that right. After 259 episodes, we’re re-establishing a little bit more loudly and clearly what this podcast really is—a hub for renegade marketers. This is a podcast that records and celebrates fascinating stories from visionary B2B CMOs, a very specific brand of renegade thinkers in the B2B world.

The name change falls right in line with Drew’s new book Renegade Marketing: 12 Steps to Building Unbeatable B2B Brands out Oct 5th, compiling insights gleaned from 450+ CMO interviews, research studies of 200+ CMOs, and years of torture testing the prescribed strategies. In this episode, Drew the host asks Drew the author some hard-ball questions about the book, like why you should read it and what you can learn from this valuable marketing resource. Don’t miss it!

What You’ll Learn in This Episode

  • All about Drew’s new book, Renegade Marketing
  • What it means to be a purpose-driven B2B brand
  • How B2B marketers can benefit from reading Renegade Marketing

Renegade Marketers Unite, Episode 260 on YouTube

Resources Mentioned

Time-Stamped Highlights

  • [0:00] Cold Open: Introducing… Renegade Marketers Unite!
  • [1:00] Why B2B Marketers Should Read Renegade Marketing
  • [9:15] The Difference Between a Tagline and a Purpose-Driven Story Statement
  • [14:05] A Purpose-Driven Story Statement Done Right: “On the Case”
  • [19:53] Recording the Renegade Marketing Audiobook
  • [21:44] The Value of Simplifying your B2B Brand

Transcript Highlights: Drew Neisser in conversation with Drew Neisser!

[0:00] Cold Open: Introducing… Renegade Marketers Unite!

Drew Neisser: Hello, Renegade Marketers! If you’re a regular listener, you know there was something weird about that. Yep, we are changing the name of the show after 259 episodes to Renegade Marketers Unite.

It used to be Renegade Thinkers. The reason for that is, one, I have a new book coming out called Renegade Marketing: 12 Steps to Building Unbeatable B2B Brands, and we wanted to be consistent because that is one of the things that we prescribe. “Doctor, heal thyself,” and we have. So… this is Renegade Marketers Unite.

[1:00] Why B2B Marketers Should Read Renegade Marketing

“I wanted to write a business book that lots of people would really enjoy. That was interesting. That was fun to read.” —@DrewNeisser @CMOBooks Click To Tweet 

Drew Neisser (host): Hello, Renegade Marketers! You should know I’m not a “gotcha” kind of interviewer. Instead, I help B2B CMOs tell their stories in a way that can be instructive to other marketers. But on this episode, I’m gonna be a bit tougher on the interviewee because I won’t be offending anyone except for me, since I’m interviewing myself.

Yep. It’s time for another Drew-on-Drew one-on-one, and this subject is my new book—look—Renegade Marketing: 12 Steps to Building Unbeatable B2B Brands, which goes on sale October 5th.

So, brace yourself as I pull off the gloves and face what may be my toughest interview ever. If you’re watching this goofy show on video, you’ll see I have two mics. This is Drew the interviewer.

Drew Neisser (author): This is Drew the author.

Drew Neisser (host): Alright, so here I am. Okay, Mr. Two-Time Author… why the heck does the world need another marketing book?

Drew Neisser (author): You know, I asked myself that question before I wrote the book, and here’s the truth: B2B marketing, particularly B2B branding, is incredibly underrepresented. Let me explain.

Raja Rajamannar wrote a wonderful book called Quantum Marketing. Guess how many chapters he had dedicated to B2B?

Drew Neisser (host): Okay I’m game, how many chapters?

Drew Neisser (author): One. You see, that’s the issue. There hasn’t been a lot written on B2B. Most marketing books treat them both as the same or B2B as a poor stepchild. I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to really go after B2B marketing. The other thing is…

Drew Neisser (host): Okay, what is it?

Drew Neisser (author): Yes, the other thing—thank you for asking—is that our research identified a big problem in B2B marketing in that in the last 2, 3, 4 years, it had become ridiculously complicated but not more effective.

We have a lot of research on why that was the case, but it turns out: Too much data, too much technology, too many personas, too many messages, and very little cohesiveness. We said, “All right. Well, maybe there’s a process that we could develop that could fight this.” So, long before we wrote the book, we developed a process.

Drew Neisser (host): Wait a second. What’s going on here? Explain what you mean, you created a process.

Drew Neisser (author): Fair enough. We actually looked at B2B marketing and said, “What could we strip out? How do we simplify this thing? What could we do?” We developed this process, and then we continued to torture test it with our clients. We created a purpose-driven story statement and a way to get there. We created a single Plan on a Page where you target employees, customers, and prospects in that order all in service of the larger purpose-driven promise.

We did this a number of times and we refined it. And then I kept interviewing CMOs—as you know, I’ve interviewed what, 450…

Drew Neisser (host): Okay, stop bragging.

Drew Neisser (author): The process we kept testing and testing and testing until we were fairly certain it would work, because we have proved it had, and then the pandemic hit.

Drew Neisser (host): Okay, so why does that matter in the course of this story?

Drew Neisser (author): Well, the pandemic kind of interrupted just about everything. I had actually finished the book in February 2020 and when the pandemic came, I put it on pause. I said, “I don’t know if this if this process is going to hold up and we’re going to need to keep testing it.”

But what we did do, which is kind of cool, is we took the 44,000 words of the book and stripped it down to 15,000 words and put that on our website.

Drew Neisser (host): Wait you put 15,000 words on the website? This is the world of small, short, pithy articles. How the heck did you get away with that?

Drew Neisser (author): Well, we weren’t sure, but it was certainly a way of testing long form content too and seeing if the ideas that we had in our 12-step process would resonate.

Drew Neisser (host): Did they?

Drew Neisser (author): Yeah, in fact, they did. If you actually just Google “B2B branding” or “B2B brand agency,” remarkably you’ll find that report. We still get 200 to 400 organic visitors every single day because of that report.

Drew Neisser (host): Okay, that’s cool, but let’s get back to the book. You don’t even like business books, why do you expect anybody to read this one?

Drew Neisser (author): Fair question. No doubt. I’ve admitted on this show I would much rather be reading historical fiction, frankly, a lot of different kinds of fiction, or about my man Ben Franklin, or just history in general.

Drew Neisser (host): That’s long-winded, but do you ever read business books?

Drew Neisser (author): I do. I admit, I do. But I wanted to write a business book that lots of people would really enjoy. That was interesting. That was fun to read.

Drew Neisser (host): A business book that’s fun to read?

Drew Neisser (author): No seriously. I think it’s really pretty fun to read. There’s a lot of great stories. I use a lot of the Drew alliteration, a lot of punning. It’s fun. It’s kind of like the podcast, but better written.

Drew Neisser (host): Fine. Let’s go on to the next question. Your first book, you had a publisher—what, you couldn’t find one this time? Nobody would buy the book in advance?

Drew Neisser (author): It’s not like that. No. After the first book—so here’s the story. When I published my first book, The CMO’s Periodic Table: A Renegade’s Guide to Marketing in 2015 I worked with a division of Pearson. Well, two weeks after the book launched, they closed that division.

The book didn’t get a lot of support and what I realized then—and it’s still true today—is it’s really up to the writer, the author, to do all the marketing anyway. So I kind of scratched my head and figured out, what the heck would a publisher do that I really needed?

Drew Neisser (host): Did you figure it out?

Drew Neisser (author): I did. There’s a lot of things that a publisher does behind the scenes, so I found this company called Girl Friday that did all the things that I needed a publisher to do like, edit it, create the index, proof it, proof it again, do the book design, and then get it up on to Amazon and set us up with a deal with Ingram to do the printing of the book. So that’s what I did.

And the publisher of this one is actually CMO Huddles. We’ll talk about that in a little bit.

Drew Neisser (host): Okay, that sounds pretty cool. You got the book written. But I’m a little confused because you went out of order here. We just talked about how you got the book done, but what happened between March of 2020 and finally getting to publish this thing on October 5th?

Drew Neisser (author): Well, we kept testing, as I said earlier, the 12-step process and kept refining it. And I did another 50+ CMO interviews and in that time, some of these were so helpful in helping with how do we simplify the metrics of this thing, how do we build an employee survey that will really serve as a benchmark? And that survey, by the way, is in the book.

A lot of these things that I needed to really tighten up the book and add more color to it, all the stories—which we, by the way, stripped out of the 15,000-word mother of all blog posts.

[9:15] The Difference Between a Tagline and a Purpose-Driven Story Statement

“Really get your marketing plan down to a very specific purpose-driven story statement of eight words or less.” —@DrewNeisser @CMOBooks Click To Tweet

Drew Neisser (host): You mentioned that there are a lot of practical tips in this thing. Or if you didn’t, you should have. What kind of stuff is going on there and what’s all this Renegade Marketing stuff?

Drew Neisser (author): Fair enough. One of the things that we really wanted to do was equip you to be a Renegade Marketer by reading this book, so that you could actually do this yourself for your B2B business.

In the book, we have some kind of radical suggestions. One is: Simplify everything. This is the Marie Kondo of marketing organization. You’re going to throw out all the stuff that doesn’t bring you joy in your marketing plan, and really get it down to a very specific purpose-driven story statement of, very simple, eight words or less.

Drew Neisser (host): I have to call you on that. A simple story statement. Isn’t that just a tagline?

Drew Neisser (author): I’m so glad you asked. Let me tell you a story about a great tagline that could have been a purpose-driven story statement, but it wasn’t. Years ago, I was in the first meeting with a team from Family Circle, and they’d asked us to think about repositioning the magazine and helping them develop a marketing campaign for advertisers, which is the B2B part, and that would have some spillover to the consumers.

It’s the first meeting and they’re describing the situation to us and the magazine and what it does and how they’re changing things. I literally, just like a half an hour into the meeting, I wrote down four words.

Those four words were: “Where family comes first.” And I have to say, as taglines go, it was one of the best taglines I ever wrote, and it actually ended up on the binder of Family Circle for 19 years, which is a pretty good run for a tagline.

I wrote those words down—by the way, I couldn’t share them right away because you just can’t do that in the first meeting even if you had the idea.

Drew Neisser (host): Why not just tell them that and get it over with?

Drew Neisser (author): You know, I know there are a number of creative people out there who’ve had that same experience, where you had that idea the first moment. But what’s really important in marketing—and I talked a lot about this in the book—you do need to build consensus.

Even if you fall in love with an idea, you need to make sure that there’s a strategic foundation behind it. I wasn’t sure. I mean, I wrote it down. It was great language.

We presented it four weeks later after we had done our due diligence. They liked the idea, but they weren’t positive about it, so they asked us to come up with a couple of others. Anyway, long story short, they ended up going with that.

Now, when we presented that idea, we also came in with a bunch of ways that they could execute that idea. They could have created a family first internal employee program that would have changed the way the industry worked. They could add a better family leave policy. They could for advertisers created a family first summit.

They could have, even from a publication standpoint, a product standpoint, they actually had a chapter in the magazine called “Family.” We said, “Let’s put that first!” They didn’t. So, there were any number of ways that they could have taken this tagline, which was a clever set of words, and turned it into a purpose-driven story statement. “Where family comes first” was really an interesting and profound idea.

That’s what the big difference is, and there are many cases in the book where I talk about how other companies have taken what could have been taglines and turned them into purpose-driven story statements that really became the organizational thread for all of their marketing, whether it’s to employees, customers, or prospects.

Drew Neisser (host): That’s kind of cool. I get it. All right, let’s take a break. I’m going to take a second and plug CMO Huddles.

Show Break: CMO Huddles

Launched in 2020, CMO Huddles is an invitation-only subscription service that brings together an elite group of CMOs to share, care, and dare each other to greatness. One CMO described huddles as timely conversations with smart peers in a trusted environment, while another called it a cross between an expert workshop and a therapy session.

If you’re a B2B CMO that can share and care with the best of them, please visit CMOHuddles.com or send me an email to see if you qualify for a guest pass.

[14:05] A Purpose-Driven Story Statement Done Right: “On the Case”

“If the employees don't deliver on it, you're done. It's over. It's just a veneer, a coat of paint on an old barn.” —@DrewNeisser @CMOBooks Click To Tweet

Drew Neisser (host): We’re back with the show. Drew, what’s the deal with you and CATS? I mean, you’ve been using that since your last book came out. Couldn’t you find another acronym?

Drew Neisser (author): Fair enough. Here’s the story behind CATS—and first of all, it stands for: Courageous, Artful, Thoughtful, and Scientific as the four characteristics that any CMO needs to be successful. And we found this over and over and over again.

It first came up after I wrote the first book, and in the first book, there were 64 elements. It was kind of hard to cover that in speeches about the book, so people started asking me: “Drew, boil it down. Get it down to something.”

That’s when I figured out CATS. Courageous, Artful, Thoughtful, and Scientific. And in this book, CATS becomes the framework for the 12 steps, so there are 12 steps and four sections. Each section: Courageous Strategy, Artful Ideation, Thoughtful Execution, and Scientific Method.

Within that framework, there are three steps, so it really became the organizational principle of the book. And it makes a lot of sense when you read it.

Drew Neisser (host): Maybe you could give an example of a purpose-driven story statement that is not just a tagline, but actually an organizing principle for all the marketing.

Drew Neisser (author): I love that you asked that question. That was a nice softball question. Thank you. I’d love to talk about Case Paper, and I’ve talked about them on the show but I’m going to bring a little more to it this time, and we talk about it quite a bit in the book.

So, here’s the situation. It’s a 75-year-old, family-owned business. They sell paper. They’re paper merchants. Their customers are primarily printers—that’s who buys paper, right?

They’ve solved a lot of problems for printers who are getting squeezed right and left, so they deliver paper precut, pre-measured, exactly on order, and they keep the inventory so that the printer doesn’t necessarily have to buy reams and reams of these giant rolls of paper. They have a great niche, but there’s a big challenge, which is, it’s a tough marketplace. As we got to know the business, there were a couple of key things that we realized made them special.

Drew Neisser (host): I’m hoping you’re going to tell us that. You’re going to get to the point, right?

Drew Neisser (author): Yes, yes, I am. So, Case Paper. What are they really good at? Well, this is perhaps the most customer-centric, most customer-oriented company that, honestly, we’d ever found. We thought about the business a lot and went through the process and came up with a purpose-driven story statement: “On the Case.” It’s a pun! On the Case. Case Paper.

There’s an important part of this process and I talked a lot about it in the book and brand voice. We use are archetypes. There 12 you can look them up. I provide a reference for that renegademarketing.com for the book, you’ll find the links to how you can assess the personality for your brand via archetype.

This brand, Case Paper, had a long history of humor. They’d done very funny ads in the 60s. They’d produced this almost like an almanac for printers. It was like the Printer’s Home Companion. It was very funny.

The archetype that fit this brand the best was The Joker, which is the archetype of humor. What we did with On the Case just to sort of cement this thing is we actually did something heretical. We put “on the” above the “Case” in the Case Paper logo.

We literally messed with their logo by putting “on the.” So now you have, literally and figuratively, “on the” is there. Now you have an interesting sort of lock up, but the key thing with all of these things is how do you activate first with employees, then customers, and then prospect.

We created a Plan on a Page. In fact, you can download that Plan on a Page from renegademarketing.com. In it, you’ll see six ways of bringing this idea to life among employees, among customers, and among prospects.

The reason that we emphasize employees so much is, you take a new brand promise like “On the Case,” and if the employees don’t deliver on it, you’re done. It’s over. It’s just a veneer, a coat of paint on an old barn.

We actually helped them articulate what does On the Case mean? It means we’re being reliable, resourceful, and responsive. We created an awards program that recognized those characteristics in a fun and humorous way so employees got it and were talking about this idea of being on the case. And it wasn’t just about delivering really quickly.

It’s about delivering smartly, too. Being on the case means that if a customer calls and says, “I want this type of paper,” you can say, “You know, I’ve got one just like that but I can save you some money because we have it in inventory. It’s already cut.” You’re on the case one step further.

So, on the case for employees, on the case for customers, meant awards, meant all sorts of other good things, and ultimately taking it to the marketplace. And that’s the way we prescribe it in the book. Employees, customers, and prospects.

[19:53] Recording the Renegade Marketing Audiobook

“I have so much more respect for professional narrators and what an amateur I am.” —@DrewNeisser @CMOBooks Click To Tweet

Drew Neisser (host): Let’s move on to the next area. Drew, I noticed that you recorded this yourself. What, you couldn’t afford a professional narrator for the book?

Drew Neisser (author): That’s a fair question. I was thinking that I have a podcast audience, and you all are sort of used to listening to my voice actually through this microphone. It just felt like, well, maybe I should be the narrator. I’d actually listened to a couple of authors who had narrated their own books and I thought, okay, let’s give it a try.

But oh my gosh. It is so much harder than I expected. I have so much more respect for professional narrators and what an amateur I am. So, if you do by the audiobook, let me know how it goes because out was hard.

And one of the funny things about recording an audiobook if you’re not used to it is you end up swallowing a lot of air. That was weird, and I ended up burping all the time… anyway, probably enough that you didn’t want to know that.

But there’s another advantage of recording your own audiobook. And this is something the audio engineer explained to me, which is, one, you get to read your book again. But two, you find the typos. You can’t believe it—even though you have a professional group of people looking at it, there are going to be typos.

The audio engineer told me that he’s never had a book read that they didn’t find at least one typo. That was a good side benefit of it. I got to read it again. And I went, “Ah, that was a good phrase; that was a good sentence.” It was a fun experience. Just so you know, it was six, 90-minute sessions to record the book.

[21:44] The Value of Simplifying your B2B Brand

“It took courage to actually narrow the scope of their business.” —@DrewNeisser @CMOBooks Click To Tweet

Drew Neisser (host): I want to go back to one of the things that you talked about early in the book about the need to simplify and focus. So… got an example?

Drew Neisser (author): In fact, I do I’m so glad you asked. A story that I tell in the book… many years ago—not so many years ago—I was on the co-op board of my building for 14 years and about halfway through, we decided it was time to renovate the hallways. None of us—the seven of us—had ever been on a project like this, so we were starting quite ignorantly. Our managing agent brought in three contractors. We met with the first one, and we said, “So, tell us about yourself.”

Well, they said, “We do a lot of different types of construction jobs, co-ops, condos, restaurants, big lobbies of office buildings, all sorts of things.”

We go, “Okay, that’s reasonable. And tell us about your process.”

“Well, we start at the bottom and work our way up.”

“Anything else that we should know about your firm?”

“No, we’re just… we’re good at what we do.”

“Okay.” So, that was interesting. Second one comes in and says pretty much the same thing; they do a wide range of stuff. Third one comes in. It’s John Marino from JMPB, a construction company. We say, “So John, tell us about your firm.” He says, “Well, we only do hallway renovations for co-ops and condos.”

We pause and go, “What!? Really?”

He says, “Yeah that’s all we do. And by the way, here are the 10 emails that you’re going to want to send to your co-op owners because there’s a lot of issues with these kinds of things. I will give you one example. We put 10 percent of our budget into cleanup. We have sanders that actually have special dust catchers because the biggest complaint, the single biggest complaint in hallway renovations is dust and dirt.”

“So, wait a second. You have 10 emails for us to send. You spend a lot more money on that, and yet your bid is lower than the others?”

“Well, yeah. Yeah, we’re more efficient at doing this than our competitors.”

So, by the way, a couple things. One, it was the easiest decision we ever, ever made on the co-op board because he really reframed the conversation. Suddenly we realized we weren’t in the hallway renovation business, we were in the complaint mitigation business and he was the guy and his company was the one that was going to help us manage this project most effectively.

So afterwards, I cornered John and I said, “So tell me, have you always only done co-ops and condos?” He said, “No, we initially were a general contractor. We did everything and we decided one day we were going to focus.”

I said, “So how was it?”

He said, “Well, at first it was really hard because we were turning down business. But now we get invited to 70 percent of the jobs done on co-ops and condos. 70 percent. And we win a huge percentage of them because we’re so darn efficient. We can charge less than our competitors and we always have crews available.”

So, the coda to this story is we actually didn’t do the door handles and the locks with these guys and that was the only part of the project that wasn’t perfectly done. Focus was definitely his friend.

Drew Neisser (host): Drew that’s a great story, and I appreciate the fact that that this gentleman had taken a chance. It took courage to actually narrow the scope of their business. Do you have other examples in the book about courage?

Drew Neisser (author): Funny you should ask. There are many. One of them was from Bank of the West when they decided to divest from businesses; not take the money of folks that were involved in oil and gas and fracking. Literally a billion and a half and assets.

Drew Neisser (host): Whoa, whoa. That’s big-time courage. It was. But did it help their business at all?

Drew Neisser (author): It did, yes. In California and Colorado, their business grew dramatically because suddenly they had a way of differentiating the brand.

Drew Neisser (host): All right, Drew, it sounds like there are a lot of great stories in this book and I feel like I’m gonna let you off the hook here. But is there anything else that someone should know about this book and why they should just rush to Amazon right now and pre-order it on hard copy or wait until October 5th to read it?

Drew Neisser (author): You know, I just think it’s a good book. I do. I think there’s so much good information in here. I’ve done a lot of research to get to this point. It’s all practical tips that you can use right away to grow your business.

I think if you’re a senior marketer, you’re going to find a lot of things where you’re going to nod your head, but there’s going to be that moment where you’re going to read it and you’re going to go, “Oh, I didn’t think of it that way. That’s interesting.”

And in addition, the tips also talk about strategies for selling this stuff internally, which is often the biggest challenge that CMOs face. They know the right thing to do, but they can’t always get agreement, so the book includes a lot of strategies and recommendations for how you get this kind of transformative approach to marketing through your organization.

Drew Neisser (host): Alright, Drew, you’ve been an amazing guest. I really appreciate you taking this energy to record yourself in your own show… You’re a nut job.

Alrighty, well that brings us to the close of the first episode of Renegade Marketers Unite. Yeah, you got that right. Renegade Marketers Unite. We decided to change the name after 259 episodes. It aligns with the book. It makes a lot more sense because we just talked about marketing on this show, and we are all on a journey to become Renegade Marketers. So thanks again for listening, and here we go with the wrap-up.

Show Credits

Renegade Marketers Unite is written and directed by Drew Neisser—wait, that’s me. Audio is by Sam Beck. Show Notes are written by Melissa Caffrey. The music is by the amazing Burns Twins; the intro voiceover is Linda Cornelius.

For past episodes, more information on my new book, visit renegade.com or renegademarketing.com and check it out. Check out the agency, check out our research services.

Of course, if you are interested in CMO Huddles, you can find that at cmohuddles.com. And until next time keep those Renegade Thinking Caps on and strong.

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