Now more than ever, people want simplicity. They’re looking for simple solutions to complex problems, simple language to describe complex ideas, and simple experiences in an increasingly complex world. That’s why this week’s episode, recorded pre-COVID, is so poignant. Mika Yamamoto, the CMO and CXO of F5 Networks, joins us to share the ways she has transformed how they do business by asking one simple question: “Does this remove friction or add delight?”
Mika discusses the advantages of combining the CMO and CXO roles, they’ve given her a unique end-to-end perspective that has ultimately led to innovative, measurable changes for F5’s employees, customers, and prospects. With the battle cry “code connects us all,” tune in to hear all about how to best measure customer satisfaction (spoiler, it’s not NPS) and how to align your employee’s day-to-day interactions with the larger goals of the organization.
Full Transcription: Drew Neisser in conversation with Mika Yamamoto
Drew Neisser: Hey, it’s Drew. I recorded this episode on March 3rd. I typically don’t tell you the date I record it, but it’s amazing what’s happened between now and then. The episode is with Mika Yamamoto, who is the CMO and CXO of F5. I think it’s still an incredibly relevant conversation.
We talked a lot about the power of those two roles working together, and how that enabled Mika and the team to remove friction and increase delight. She talked about how it helped align sales and marketing, got the values together and brought shared metrics between sales and marketing. She talked about creating a specific Customer Effort Score instead of NPS, which means that they could measure how hard it was for customers to do business with F5. We also get to her purpose-driven story statement, “code connects us all,” and how that language helped bring together all of their marketing activities. In the end, it’s a conversation about simplifying and being human. Two things that are timeless and powerful. Enjoy the episode.
Drew Neisser: Hello, Renegade Thinkers! I am very fond of saying “simple is hard.” Yeah, I’ll repeat that for you. Simple is hard. Any number of times in my career, I’ve seen presentations where senior executives on the client side have offered suggestions and they’ve worked their way up the chain in an attempt to add value, but what they were really doing was adding complexity to whatever project we were engaged in.
Now, let’s think about the apps that you use most on your phone. Almost all of them started by doing one thing that felt magical, not one hundred things. Think Instagram, just that flick of the picture. Think Google Maps, you found it or ways you got to where you wanted to go. The ones that you don’t use typically try to do too many things or are either too hard to learn or simply forgettable. When it comes to marketing campaigns, the more messages, the more confusion. As Michael Porter famously stated, “the essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.”
But how do you keep things simple? It’s so easy to say, but how do you align an organization with a common vision and values, especially if that company is in transition from being known for one thing to being known for another? Well, these are a few of the not so simple questions that we’re going to tackle on this show with my guest, Mika Yamamoto, who is the Chief Marketing and Customer Experience Officer of F5, a Seattle-based tech company with over 5,000 employees. So, Mika, welcome to the show. It’s great to have you here in New York City.
Mika Yamamoto: Thank you, Drew. It’s great to be here.
Drew Neisser: We have to start with the first thing, which is, you have the CXO title, and I will say that maybe two or three CMO that I’ve interviewed out of over 300 have also had that title. Most of the time it was because they complained about the customer experience and they said, “Well if you’re so smart, fix it.” How did that come into being, how did you end up with both of those titles?
Mika Yamamoto: I knew I was going into F5 with a transformation at hand. The whole company is going through a transformation. As you’d said, we’re moving from one product set to an entirely different way of selling a different product set, and marketing is within the crosshairs of that. But often, when you’re moving from one business model, one product set, to another, it actually isn’t a marketing feat, it’s a feat of the entire company, so knowing that that was ahead of us, I was very cognizant of the fact that it was going to require an entire lift from a customer experience standpoint end-to-end, and I thought that if the company was going to be most successful, this is the type of role that was required. It’s a little bit of “be careful what you ask for,” it was like, “Okay, well, then why don’t you come on and do you both? Why don’t you be marketing officer and customer experience officer?”
Drew Neisser: It’s a hard job being a CMO. What gave you the confidence and the courage to take both of those roles on?
Mika Yamamoto: I previously come from Adobe. I was president of Marketo when we were acquired by Adobe, so I went from being Chief Digital Marketing Officer at one company, which has a functional depth, to President, which essentially requires you to drive the tradeoffs among functions. That gave me an incredible appreciation for making tradeoffs among functions and really impacting a marketing message or the customer experience. That does require that end-to-end view.
As altruistic and as amazing as the leaders are for each function, they do think for their individual function and unless someone has the responsibility to look end-to-end, it’s really challenging for one functional leader to do that. I got a perspective and an appreciation for that end-to-end view and the tradeoffs while president owning multiple functions, and I realized how much was required from an end-to-end view standpoint to really change and transform a company. That’s where that recommendation was born for F5.
Drew Neisser: What’s interesting is that you had a general management role which gave you a broader perspective, which enabled you to see that you can’t solve a lot of problems that companies have with marketing. They’re more fundamental. A lot of the time—and this is an interesting one—CMOs will take a job where they know there is an experience problem or there’s a product problem, and often they’re the same in-service organizations and they get stuck. They can’t do it. But I imagine there’s a different skill set. To fix customer experience is very different than fixing marketing.
Mika Yamamoto: It’s definitely a different set of experiences and I think that the key from a customer experience standpoint to rally the whole company is to think outside of marketing jargon. I will go into a meeting and say, “Okay, I’ve got my customer experience head on” and we’ll use business terms and terminology and talk about shareholder value and customer experience and customer value and customer satisfaction, terms that are entirely different from how we would talk about marketing. Frankly, I think that marketers do themselves a disservice by using marketing jargon that only marketers understand versus real words that business people understand. It is a different mindset and a different viewpoint, and rallying across multiple functions to truly be impactful to affect the customer experience requires a common language or taxonomy, which most officers at a company or senior leaders will understand shareholder value, customer satisfaction. It is having that different conversation that’s required in order to motivate and inspire the other leaders within the company to join forces and do something about customer experience overall.
Drew Neisser: Part of that is implicit in keeping things simple. Jargon complicates things, and I also think that, often, jargon is used as a substitute like PowerPoint. They’re used as substitutes for thinking and it’s like, “Oh well this just add another bullet” as opposed to actually writing a sentence that has a noun and a verb, an adjective or not, that actually explains and advances the story. So, you have these two titles. You’ve eliminated jargon. Let’s talk about an example of things that you could do or tackle to try to improve customer experience from the ground up.
Mika Yamamoto: If we think about having a common view for the customer, we need to have a common perspective of that customer. At our company specifically, up until a few months ago, we had 36 data stores of different sets of customer data. It’s the old adage of, what part of the elephant are you touching? I’m touching a tree, I’m touching leather, etc. and everyone is touching a different part of the relationship for the customer, but it only gave them a partial view of what the customer was really experiencing. The opportunity we have is to link all those pieces together, to get a holistic view, to understand the implications of how pushing one button might sub-optimize or might make another thing in another room happen that you may not know, and until you link all that information and drive insights end-to-end, you don’t quite realize the implications of what you’re subjecting your customers to. This enables us to be able to see the whole relationship and appreciate all the things that we’re doing to delight our customers and possibly friction points that we are driving to put some speed bumps in the way of our customer experiences.
Drew Neisser: I have a couple of thoughts. First of all, you snuck in there the notion of what’s causing friction and what’s causing delight. In our pre-call, it really struck me, the ability to reduce customer experience to those two things is a magical moment. We’re going to pause, if you’re driving, don’t pull off the road, but everything about the customer experience should either make it easier for them or it should provide some level of delight. I think that’s fascinating. Did you bring that from somewhere else or has that been a perspective of yours for a while?
Mika Yamamoto: I think that’s been my perspective for a while because that’s what I think our role is. It is making things simpler for people and in doing so, hopefully there are some points of magical delight. Even if we’re talking about a B2B instance of engaging with a customer—and it could be marketing, it could be with a product—at the other end of those products are still human beings. I feel like, as B2B marketers, we often decide that we can be really creative and inspiring with B2C type marketing and consumer-based marketing, but B2B has to be drier, more “jargony,” more technical. But yet we’re still dealing with the same human beings who are inspired by the simplicity of an application or the heartfelt messaging that may come from a consumer message.
Why can’t we do that with our own messaging and our own approach to experiences with our customers? It has been something that I’ve been driving a lot in former roles, whether it’s been in marketing or general management roles, it’s just saying, “Look, let’s boil this down, look end-to-end and think about how we’re adding delight. The flip side is you’re complicating things and making people really sad. We do that really well, not intentionally, but we do that by looking at your own individual function, by solving something that might be a moment of delight in that small individual function, but it causes a roadblock down the way. So, unless we look up and unless we look end-to-end, we may be inadvertently causing more harm than good from looking in a siloed or myopic way at the customer experience.
Drew Neisser: If I think about it on a personal level it’s, “know me, know that I’ve done business with you and know how I’ve done business with you.” I’m curious, what were some instances where you took what would have been a negative experience and turn it into a positive one? Can you think of an example of a situation?
Mika Yamamoto: Absolutely. Where we had all our information, we knew what companies owned certain products, but we didn’t have the contact information linked to those companies in the same database. We knew what products people owned and we knew there were certain products that were actually going to end-of-life and end-of-support but we couldn’t proactively reach out to those companies in a simple way, so in some cases, some companies reached the end-of-life of some of their products, but we didn’t proactively give them a heads up. That was a moment of sadness. That certainly was a moment of complexity versus simplicity and delight for saying, “Hey, heads up, this is coming, what decision would you like to make?” The ability to link the ownership experience the contact information and the foresight to say, “Hey, let’s start driving alerts for customers within x days of something possibly happening to them.” I don’t love surprises that are negative, most people don’t, so this helped us to link the information and then proactively put in an alert that says, “Hey, let’s get in touch with our customers before this happens to them so they have a choice and they can prepare.”
Drew Neisser: Awesome. We’re going to take a quick break and when we come back, we’re going to continue to explore this simple but difficult process of either removing friction or increasing delight. Stay with us.
Drew Neisser: We’re back. I’m always thinking about it on a personal level. One of the things that drives me crazy when the cable company knows that the modem that you have is three years old, which means that the speed that you are getting is much worse than you should be getting, and they don’t proactively do anything about it. That was an interesting point. It sounded like you were proactively reminding your customer, but it was also in your interest to do so, right?
Mika Yamamoto: Yes, it’s in our interest. Absolutely. Most companies out there that are publicly traded are for-profit companies that are there to serve their shareholders. The serendipitous element here is that if you treat your customers well, turns out they’ll be more loyal, they’ll be happier, they’ll continue to purchase and invest and tell other friends to invest with you. It’s virtuous all around. You’ve got happy customers; you’ve got happy shareholders. One leads to the next and I find that if you’re very focused on customer experiences that drive delight or remove friction, you can achieve both goals.
I think the key and the complexity for us is picking which one. Every individual function will have an idea or a notion of what simple looks like. Some people don’t all define it that way and if you talk about the relative benefit to the customer and the business, they’re not all treated equally. I think that the advantage to having a function that looks at customer experience across the board is that you’re able to look across the board at the benefits and tradeoffs of investing in one area versus another because all companies, regardless of their profit margins, have finite time, people, and money and you should do fewer things better. That’s a notion of simplicity, doing fewer things better typically lends to simpler ways and focus, so I think that that’s an opportunity for all of us to prioritize across functions.
Drew Neisser: Totally agree. We’ve talked about how you want to improve the customer experience, but you aren’t in control of the day-to-day activities of every employee that might touch a customer. I’m curious, what things did you do to make sure that there was alignment? If, for example, everybody in the sales organization is only compensated for new customer acquisition, then nobody is going to be thinking about current customers. Were their comp changes? Were their evaluation changes? What did you do to realign if that was necessary?
Mika Yamamoto: Great question. We did three things. Number one, we did do comp changes, but comp changes around shared metrics would be number two. We share metrics across functions so that multiple functions have accountability, but different accountability based on their functions. Ability to contribute to that metric, so opportunity creation, which is what we all are motivated to do as B2B companies: create opportunities. But if we pulled the number across functions and we’re accountable across functions, that only works if you’re compensated well or not if you meet your number. Marketing functions typically aren’t compensated on a variable compensation model where based on the performance of the business and based on your own performance from a financial standpoint, does your compensation shift. We made that shift.
The third really important element also was to shift a definition of our values. We’re in process of doing this now, looking at all of our values and talking about the actual behaviors that we would like to see out of all those values that would truly demonstrate that you’re focused on the customer. We hope that all people are great people and want to live by our values, but we actually have part of the variable compensation component hinged on people demonstrating values. In some organizations, if you triple your numbers, it means that you would get all of your bonus or even more. If you triple your numbers but don’t adhere to our values, you are guaranteed to not even make 100% of your bonus. How you do your work is very much tied to the work that you do, which includes how you treat each other and then how you treat our customers.
Drew Neisser: It’s so interesting that comp drives behavior. If you look at the metrics and you look at rewards, it does. This has always been a problem in sales organizations where you have the superstar jerk salesperson, but everybody puts up with him because he’s a really good hunter, albeit a really bad person. And if you reward that behavior, you’ve sent a clear message to the organization.
But I also thought it was interesting, cross-functional metrics are so important in this day and age, and the notion that one department would be measured by one measure, it’s kind of ridiculous, but it exists. I would say it’s the predominant way companies operate, so that’s a really interesting thing. I imagine there was some negotiation involved in this too because each of the departments are saying, “Well I can’t really impact have an impact on that area, so why are you holding me accountable to that?” Talk a little bit about how you got to those shared metrics.
Mika Yamamoto: What we’ve decided to do is have a finite set of metrics for which every single individual, from admin to me, the Chief Marketing and Customer Experience Officer, is beholden to a set of five key objectives or goals. Those are the parent goals, if you will, and there are child goals, subgoals that go with that, but everything ladders up to the core five. Every single human being on the team, contractors included, have goals that ladder up to the broader goals so you can see your straight line and your path to that goal, because everybody does drive an impact and if you don’t see that path, then you won’t drive that path. We need to help people define their roles and drive accountability so that they do see that path. They’re in comms, they’re in the creative studio, or if they actually are driving our Marketo instance or our search engine marketing, which is a clear path to driving the result.
I think on the receiving end and, with us, the key partnership is with sales, the other partnership that’s with support, is actually trust. You typically see in B2B organizations, especially ones that have been around for 15-20 years, is a very traditional stance of “you in marketing, you help with pictures and fonts and logos, you don’t add value from a business standpoint so show me the numbers.” That building of trust is something that definitely is required to make sure that the opportunities we create are opportunities at the business, in fact, values and does something with. We have metrics that show, “look, we brought this opportunity in and this is how it closed, and this is its value.”
I care not to get much credit for marketing influence because it becomes a very squishy number that no one believes outside of marketing. That’s not one that we’re going to litigate at all. We’re going to track it inside marketing because it’s important, but outside of marketing, it becomes a fictitious number: “Well, they attended an event, and you can’t really directly say that you brought it in.” The agreement we had was that I would rather lay claim to three things than 3 million things and categorically be able to say those three things are things that, if we hadn’t existed, they wouldn’t have been delivered because that is true incremental value. That is where we are placing a lot of our emphasis on the marketing source pipe and the shared number for opportunity create.
There’s recognition in the company that the influenced component of our world from a marketing standpoint does add value, but we’re not going to put that on a financial metric just because no one really believes it. No one really hangs their revenue or their bookings number on it. The sellers aren’t going to look to hinge their probability of retiring quota on that number and if they’re not, it doesn’t matter to them. It’s not worth convincing anybody that it should matter. We just know it does matter and it does drive influence and impact, so we drive that as marketers, but we really focus on the marketing sourced pipe, which is something that we’re very, very focused on making sure that if it’s created and handed over to sales that there’s a very explicit contract that something’s going to be done with it in a timely manner. But there has to be some trust that is actually worth doing something with.
Drew Neisser: I was talking to an individual recently who was very proud of the fact that they had gotten up to 40% of marketing sourced pipeline. Would you be proud of that number?
Mika Yamamoto: I think that I might be. The question mark I would have is if anyone else is proud of that number and if anyone else is actually relying on that number, “anybody else” meaning the sellers. If they’re not excited by it, then it’s not really exciting for me because it’s self-congratulatory somewhat. Then I would be curious to see whether that 40% of marketing influence pipe actually closed at a higher rate or if it was of greater value. I would not want to see the pipeline itself, but I would want to see the impact of that pipeline on bookings and if I can lay some claim that says, “We influenced this part of the pipeline and we didn’t this pipeline, but of what we influenced, those deals are bigger and those deals close faster or they close at a higher rate, then I may be proud.
Drew Neisser: All right. We’re going to take a break. And there’s lots more to talk about. Stay with us.
Drew Neisser: We’re back, and we were talking about metrics. In our prep call, you talked about looking at customer satisfaction as a metric and you were talking about NPS, but you also had Customer Effort Score, which I thought was so interesting. Can you talk a little bit about that and how you measure it and what that means?
Mika Yamamoto: No problem. Net promoter score is the score showing likelihood to recommend. Customer Effort Score is a point-in-time score, put in the simplest of ways if you think as a consumer, it’s the smiley face, sad face, neutral face that you can press when you leave an airport bathroom, for example, which we’re never going to touch again, not even with your knuckle. You should not touch that. But it is a very simple way that you actually end up getting, through simplicity, more engagement and more sample size of people actually providing you feedback.
If you take a step back as a B2B company, you want more of your customers to tell you how they feel. Surveys are onerous, but if you can make it simple and meaningful, during meaningful or after meaningful moments that matter, you can gauge a general sentiment. It’s better to have a sentiment of I’m very happy, I’m very sad, or I’m kind of ambivalent about this than it is to not get any feedback at all. We’re looking at the notion of Customer Effort Store to ask, “After you did this, were you happy, sad, or neutral?” It helps us understand because if we feel like after a trial of a product that people were sad, that’s a good enough indication that it’s worth deep diving into and actually looking at how we can make people less sad.
The intricacies of having, in the case of NPS, a 200-point scoring mechanism that takes a long time to administer to very small sample sizes is great for certain things, but a Customer Effort Score during moments that matter that allows you to get a very quick pulse of how your customers feel is a really great way to understand how they feel in the moment. Then you can dive in and actually improve those moments that matter in a very agile fashion.
Drew Neisser: I’m really ambivalent on Net Promoter Score. I love its simplicity and convenience, but I often find that there isn’t as much of a correlation. You can have a high Net Promoter Score and you’re not getting any referrals. What really matters to me is, among those folks that gave you a nine or ten, how many actually recommended you. And then, the second thing that B2B brands really suffer from is not having enough case histories, so what percentage of your customers that gave you a high Net Promoter Score will let you talk about them? That to me is a real indication that they’re happy. If one-third of your customers are willing to talk about you in public, that’s a bankable number.
The other problem with Net Promoter Score is, so you have a score, now what? What made up that number? What’s good? What’s bad? How do you fix things? All you know is it was a moment in time and you really don’t know what it means, but that’s an argument for another day. Now, you talked about a values journey that you were going through and when we talked before, you came up with some remarkable language. I think that will be good because it’ll help us talk about what F5 does because we’ve spent 27 minutes talking and we haven’t talked about what the company does. I seem to recall you had some language, “code connects us all.” Do you have a purpose?
Mika Yamamoto: That was the question that got us in our pre-call, and we do. We have this belief that code connects us all. We have an incredibly complex set of products that do incredible things for the planet, and those incredible things are helping flights take off and land on time. Those incredible things are helping diagnose patients that are coming in as stroke victims and increasing the probability of them being able to walk out and being able to talk when they leave because of how fast the diagnosis is. It’s being able to protect people’s credit card balances, gift card balances, making sure that no one hacks into your cell phone account and goes into the Apple store and picks up a phone on your behalf, then ships it off to China and resells it and makes a hundred bucks and you just paid for someone else’s new phone.
Those are things we do on this planet, but explaining it from a technology standpoint is really complex and there’s a lot of people that need to understand that, but from a customer standpoint and from a purpose standpoint, putting meaning behind the impact that we have for people on this planet is really important. That’s through our technology, but for us, it’s how we do our work. We are firm believers that you can drive incredible economic value for your show holders by still being great people to each other, and that means us, that means our partners, it means within the community. You can drive incredible results while still doing that and that is something that we pride ourselves on in terms of being good to each other as colleagues, being good to each other in terms of our partners and our customers, and being good to the community and giving back to the community and using technology for good.
That component of having this incredible impact through our technology on this planet, but also doing so as really good humans and giving back to the community, is our purpose. We believe that code connects us all, both in the ones and zeros that make up an application that helps you find a ride in the rain here in New York, or helping with a medical diagnosis, and even the code in terms of our genetic code and our code of ethics. We aren’t going to do things at all costs, and we are going to do the right thing always. If it means walking away from a deal, we will do that just because it isn’t driving shareholder value at all costs.
Drew Neisser: I often run meetings with a group of B2B CMOs and I will ask them to describe what their company does in eight words or less. It’s usually when they’re at the 25th word, we have to hit the gong because they’re all technology companies. So, you would be able to do that and you probably need a couple of other words besides “we’re a company that creates code that connects us all.” But that’s still six words, so you’d pass that challenge quite nicely. It’s beautiful language, it’ clever, it’s got layers that you can build on, you know, it’s an empty vessel that needs to be filled. How and what are some of the things that you’re doing or planning to do to make this very powerful idea come to life?
Mika Yamamoto: We started to create an internal movement. I’m a firm believer that exceptional companies are exceptional because their employees believe they’re exceptional companies. You can’t just state that you’re an exceptional company and hope that you’ll be an exceptional company. Exceptional companies are exceptional because the employees that work for those companies truly believe in the impact that they have on their customers and on the planet, so we started the internal movement to really demonstrate to our own employees that this is what you do every day, this is the impact that you have. When you put this product out into market, you’re protecting a school in Poland, making sure that kids can compute and have their identities protected. That’s a big deal.
We want to make sure that we inspire our own employees, so what we did was, we started talking about the notion of code connects us all and started describing what that means. Then light bulbs started going off. I had a woman come into my office and say, “Hey, I’ve worked here for eight years and I finally feel this connection with what I do and the impact that I have. I finally can explain and feel the impact that I have on our customers,” which is really amazing. We started going around the company and recording people’s stories about how they felt like code connects us all, whether it’s how they connected with the community because they volunteered and at an F5 event to help feed the homeless or whether they put in a security measure for a school in Poland to help protect their identities.
We started this movement internally and then we started sharing it externally and it was amazing to see the people’s reactions. I’ve shown a video of these testimonials by our own employees talking about the impact of code connecting and allowing Pandora to stream without interruption or being able to have a sports team stream their games without interruption so you don’t miss the winning goal. It’s amazing to see the emotional reaction to people hearing about that impact from our own employees and our own personal stories. How we plan on doing that ongoing is having our customers be able to start telling that story alongside us as well.
Drew Neisser: I love that story. One of the things that we do, because we do a lot of B2B brand strategy over here at Renegade, is insist on doing an employee survey upfront. One of the things that’s always so interesting to ask is, “Do you believe that the company has a brand purpose?” Then, ask them open-ended, “What is that purpose?” It’s fascinating because you can tell the difference between companies that have them and don’t. What happens is, most employees will define it based on the department they’re in and the function they perform until you give them really clear words. This is why we believe that the words need to be carefully crafted, it can’t be a strategy statement. It needs to be words that are elevated that will move you in and have multiple meetings or have some intention or are inspirational because if you don’t, they’ll never remember them. They don’t know how to make them their own.
It sounds like you did all that and the other great thing about having a presurvey is that once you have it in market, in addition to the anecdotes, you’ll be able see that reaction. I also love the fact that you did it internally first. That’s so important, because if you don’t, again, if employees don’t believe it, then why bother? Then you start with the customers. I imagine that they didn’t think of it that way either. They thought of it on a more functional level, “Oh, you helped our app do this or that.” And they go, “Oh, it’s about connections. It’s about bringing us together. Oh, that’s cool. How do we participate in that?”
Mika Yamamoto: Absolutely. It’s nice to be able to go to a company and say, “Hey, will you engage with us in this way?” If you’ve ever tried to get a customer evidence piece out of a customer, it’s usually a negotiation, but if you say this is what we’re going to do with it and this is how we’re going to feature it, you’ll almost see a Grinch-like moment where the corner of their mouth smiles and they’re like, “Oh, that totally resonates with me, it’ll resonate with my employees,” and it actually elevates the people’s jobs to help implement our technology.
Those are typically the unsung heroes. They’re the people that don’t want a phone call because if they’re getting a phone call, something really terrible has happened. They actually are the unsung heroes of companies. Applications go down, things stop working, you can’t process credit cards, you can’t deposit at a bank, you can’t make a cell phone call if what we do stops working. It helps drive a little inspiration on our own customer’s behalf to say, “Yeah, I do do that for my company” and it provides their own meaning around what they do, which is exciting.
I think the other piece is that we haven’t called it a brand purpose. There’s a connotation to what marketing does and doesn’t do at our company because it’s a product hardware company historically, so we’ve talked about our company rally cry. This is about the company, this isn’t a marketing movement, it’s a company movement that has engaged more engineers and more support people and more naysayers who would be like, “Bah it’s just marketing.” This is our company and we need our company to believe in this.
Drew Neisser: Yeah, I hear you. And it is one of the reasons why we won’t engage with a client unless the CEO is on board because they have to be part of it. They have to believe in it. We call it a purpose-driven story statement because the idea is that it becomes the hero, the center of all the stories that the brand can tell. But you’re absolutely right that it has to be perceived as something that is bigger than marketing, so calling it a rallying cry is perfect, yes. Code connects us all.
There’s a number of lessons learned. I don’t think that many of you CMO listeners are necessarily going to want to rush and become Chief Experience Officers but make the case for why they should.
Mika Yamamoto: I think you should just because you sit at the forefront of creating all the customer engagement for the company. If you are a CMO that is really plugged into the entire customer journey, you’re engaged with the product individuals, you’re engaged with support, you’re engaged with sales. Because of those engagement points, you know a lot and you learn a lot and you have a lot of insights on what it takes to actually improve that engagement because every moment matters and some matter more than others. Moments that matter are the ones that drive delight, or they drive sadness. You have the opportunity to be able to look end-to-end and impact that delight and that happiness and that simplicity. I think because of the function that we play and the role that we try to play in driving delight and engagement and desire and connection with our customers, it’s a perfect fit. Again, if you so choose.
Drew Neisser: Yeah. The counterpoint to that is it’s a big enough job without it. I don’t think you can be successful without partnering with the CX person. Clearly marketing is dependent on so many different roles from finance to make sure that they give you a budget and HR to make sure that you can actually communicate with your employees and do things like change comp plans and review systems. So, if you aren’t going to take on CX alone, obviously you have to partner with whoever is and hopefully your company does have a CXO or somebody who’s dedicated to it.
I would think the other part of it is, if you’re going to have both roles then you better really have a strong VP of Marketing and a strong data person and probably a strong whatever else that gets you to customer experience. You may or may not want to rush into your boss’s office and add CX, but I do think being able to simplify how you measure is important. We talked a lot about that. You talked about pipeline and that seems to be common when I ask for metrics that matter. Marketing driven pipeline seems to be at the top of the list. We didn’t talk really about how you measure brand, but we’ll save that for another episode. We talked about getting departmental buy-in. What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned from your experience thus far in these dual roles?
Mika Yamamoto: In these dual roles, because we’re driving a transformation, a lot of the role has to do with change management. It’s understanding the difference between driving a small coalition of the willing to show what’s possible and then having other people join, or in other cases driving an entire company movement and knowing when to do one or the other. Driving an entire change across an entire company and forcing people to do something that isn’t inspired or that they don’t want to do typically doesn’t turn out that well.
It seems counterintuitive, but we’ve got a coalition of the willing working on a certain initiative right now and there are 14 people out of hundreds of sellers that are helping us. We’re testing this theory were, if we actually use data with these 14 sellers to more effectively predict where they should focus their accounts, then they will close deals faster and those deals will be bigger. So, we’re taking them and creating a sales twin, looking at someone who’s been at the company just as long and comparing and contrasting, showing how their peers who look exactly the same on paper are actually pulling out ahead. When you start to see, as a seller, other people around you that are just like you retiring quota faster, getting to club faster, and closing bigger deals, that becomes a massive motivator to be interested in what they’re doing. That’s an instance where we could have forced everybody to drive these data-driven approaches or taken 14 people to do it among hundreds and I think, in the end, we’ll end up seeing bigger impact and bigger uptake of these approaches by having started small and going big.
Drew Neisser: Yeah, I love that because it’s really about small victories and testing, just constantly trying new things. One of the great things about being in the marketing role is there is an expectation that you’re going to bring fresh thinking to the table. You have that opportunity, but don’t blow it, as you suggested, by going big. You don’t necessarily need the big “ta-da.” What you need is proof, and you can do that through testing. I also love this language, using a “coalition of the willing” to create a company movement. That’s an awesome place for us to wrap up the show. Thank you so much for joining us here in New York City.
Mika Yamamoto: Yeah, serendipitously I was here, so it’s good to see you in person, Drew.
Drew Neisser: It always makes for a better show. As always, thank you to the listeners for spending the time with us. I hope you got a lot out of the show and, as always, you know how to reach me. Give me your thoughts on this and what kind of things you’re doing to create a coalition of the willing. With that, thank you. And until next time, keep those Renegade Thinking Caps on and strong.