Demolish and rebuild your B2B strategy with Jaime Punishill, CMO at Lionbridge

A digital transformation of marketing within an organisation is often necessary to modernise a business and adapt to changing customer habits.

In this episode of the FINITE Podcast, Jaime Punishill talks to Alex about how he transformed the marketing of Lionbridge, and has reached new heights of marketing success over the last three years. Jaime is an experienced CMO, having lead multiple transformations in a tried and tested process.

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Full Transcript 

Alex (00:07):

Hello everyone and welcome back to another episode of The FINITE Podcast. If there’s anything that last year has shown us it’s that there’s very little separation left between marketing and digital. And so I’m excited to be talking with Jaime Punishill today. Jaime is Chief Marketing Officer at Lionbridge, the global leader in delivering services and technology for translation and localisation. 

Jaime’s been on a journey of completely transforming the marketing organisation from the ground up at Lionbridge, so I’m looking forward to talking to Jamie about how he’s approached and manages such significant change and rebuilding a digital first marketing organisation from scratch. Happy listening!

FINITE (00:44):

The FINITE community and podcast are kindly supported by 93x, the digital marketing agency working exclusively with ambitious fast-growth B2B technology companies. Visit 93x.agency to find out how they partner with marketing teams in B2B technology companies to drive growth.

Alex (01:05):

Hey Jamie, thanks for joining me today.

Jaime (01:07):

Great to be here.

Alex (01:07):

I’m looking forward to talking. I know a really interesting story to tell of your transformation of marketing in your current role. I’m looking forward to diving into it in a bit more detail, but as we always do before we dive into that, I’ll let you introduce yourself. Tell us a little bit about what you’re up to now, your background and current focus.

About Jaime’s background in digital transformation

Jaime (01:25):

Sure. That’s great, so I am Jaime Punishill, I’m the Chief Marketing Officer of Lionbridge. For those who don’t know Lionbridge for one of the world’s largest translation and localisation firms, which is a fancy way of saying we help companies operate in many, many markets when they need to cross language barriers or cultural barriers in the way content is presented or experiences get designed. And that can be digital, that can be print, could be the manual in your car, could be your iPhone and everything in between. Right? 

All of these things have many, many languages and serve many, many markets. I’m responsible for all the marketing activities, both external communications and branding and demand gen, as well as internal communications for Lionbridge. I’ve been here for just over three years, and I think we’ll get into a little bit about what the transformation here at Lionbridge has looked at. Most of my career I actually spent in financial services in one way, shape or form. 

I started in digital transformation back in the mid nineties before that was a thing because I was 25 and I knew what the interwebs were and apparently that made me qualified. And I really came more from a digital transformation, product innovation space. And then as the 2000s progressed, marketing was taking on more and more of that responsibility, both digital transformation, customer experience, user experience, product definition, et cetera. 

And so I naturally got pulled into marketing and into handling more traditional marketing responsibilities. And that’s how I ended up here. I’ve got B2C background, B2B background B2B2C and sort of everything in between. So I’ve had a rich and varied journey to this point.

Alex (03:13):

Awesome. Yeah, it sounds like that. And it sounds like you’ve touched on that, still challenging coming together of marketing and digital and digital marketing and head of digital versus chief marketing officer versus chief digital officer. And I guess everywhere we look that’s still quite a diverse landscape of different roles, encapsulating different things with people from different backgrounds. I guess it’ll be interesting to see particularly after this year, when I think everyone has realised that digital has sped up, if not become the only thing they’ve been focusing on. I think every market has become a digital marketer in the last 10 months or so, where that ends up.

Jaime (03:48):

It pains me to imagine that it took 2020 to convince people that digital mattered. But to your point, the fact that that probably is true explains why we have chief digital officers in the light because it’s really a forcing function, right? 

Because the truth is digital isn’t a thing, right? It is a channel that is true, but it is also really a mindset, it’s a process. It’s a whole bunch of things that frankly should be incorporated across all functions. Right? It’ll be like the American Foreign Legion. The success of the CDL will be when there’s no need for a CDL.

Alex (04:24):

Yeah. That’s a pretty good summary. And that sets the scene nicely for what we’re talking about today, which is the digital transformation of a marketing organisation as a subject. And I guess, using your experiences coming into Lionbridge, how you’ve gone about that. I guess we’re going to start the conversation somewhere back around 2017. Is that right? But, tell us a little bit about your initial arrival at Lionbridge.

Jaime (04:48):

We can start wherever you like, but if we want to start there, let’s start there.

Alex (04:52):

I should say to listeners that we’ve got a slide deck here, which Jaime’s used before and people won’t be able to see, but it begins with a nuclear waste sign, which I’ll let listeners read into how they wish, but I’ll let you explain how you started there.

Why Lionbridge was in need of a digital transformation 

Jaime (05:06):

That’s one of my more fun side. That slide for those who can’t see it, I apologise, but I’d be happy to send it to, it shows what happens when you discover one animated gif and you think to yourself, if one works, why not have eight for each of the stages I’m talking about. But on a more serious note, when I got to Lionbridge, there were a few fundamental truths that you could see pretty quickly. 

One, as an industry there really wasn’t a lot of marketing and ironically, it’s a little bit of a side story, but next year is our 25th year anniversary as a company. And so we started to think about the celebration of the 25th anniversary. And we were working on an ad design for an ad for January. So I was going through old magazine ads from the mid and early two thousands that we had issued. And you always chuckle when you go back and you look at those old adverts in any industry, but you can really see that as an industry, marketing is not a mature function. 

As a general rule, and this is true across most of the large competitors, and I think that says a lot about the state of the industry. The industry itself is really 30, maybe a little less years old, it’s kind of like the auto industry in the twenties. And so it’s done a big maturation, it’s had a big sort of first couple of cycles, but there’s still a lot of professionalism and growth and maturation to happen.

And so I walked in and what we had was a very competent marketing team. The marketing functions themselves hadn’t been bad, it wasn’t that they were doing the wrong things, but it really didn’t have a strategic seat at the table. It really wasn’t integrated into the sales motion at all. There was a somewhat toxic relationship really between the central marketing team and various parts of the organisation. Whether they were the fall of the marketing team or not, it didn’t matter, it was what it was. And so, hence the flashing nuclear sign to start that was, it was really going to be a full reset. 

I spent a lot of time, I went around the company, I interviewed all kinds of folks and all kinds of divisions inside the marketing team, inside sales, inside the operations teams, et cetera, to really try to understand the history of where we got to. And my boss and I concluded that you don’t see this often, but that actually we would get better faster by literally throwing everything out and starting from scratch, even though that was going to take a lot of work and time. Than trying to remodel where we were. 

And again, it’s not that there wasn’t lots of goodness in there somewhere, but sometimes you have to do that full refresh to gain acceptance and that’s what we did. And so that was the beginning of the journey. And so that started with a rebrand, the next move was to consolidate. We had quite a few brands, in fact we had 75 brands, sub-brands, attribute brands, acquired brands, product brands. It was a real mess, with very little support behind any of them. 

So really to help the transformation of the organisation, and it wasn’t just marketing, Lionbridge was taken private by HIG. And the real intention was to take an incredibly amazing organisation in terms of what we do, what we do for our customers on a day in and day out basis. It just wasn’t running as amazing as the work that it did and so even a rebrand can be part of that cultural transformation. So that’s why we started there. 

And the first move there when we revealed the brand was to tear down our website, which had a lot of structural problems, both technological as well as capability wise. So we took 1100 pages down and I don’t know how many languages and we just stood up eight pages, just to give you a sense of the tear down. And said, we’re better off just standing up the 8 pages, losing the SEO, et cetera, because what we need to do is build this back up block by block by block. So that was the beginning of the journey, such as it were.

Alex (09:25):

I have to ask you, any degree of change like this can be difficult for everybody involved, right? Not just a marketing function overall, but other colleagues, other people that might be involved. What does that process of bringing people on the journey look like? I guess hearing you speak, it sounds like you’re not afraid to knock some things down and maybe just apologise afterwards. 

And I know myself that can be the quickest way of getting stuff done sometimes, but at the same time, you’re new in a role you want to build rapport. You want to bring people on the journey with you where possible. How do you find that balance when there’s so much change happening and so much demolishing happening?

How do you build rapport as a marketing leader in a new organisation? 

Jaime (10:06):

I’d like to say that there’s some perfect formula, it’s an art. And you’re usually sitting on the razor’s edge for most of the time, because you are trying to, honour the past and honour the heritage and even the rebrand itself, right? I mean, if you think about it Lionbridge is a 25 year old company, one of the leaders in the industry, it was the largest language provider for a very long time, a very innovative player in many, many ways. 

So there’s a lot of really rich, incredible heritage and pride. And it acquired a bunch of companies that were also very successful that had their own pride, and that was not so dissimilar to my experience at TIAA, which is where I was before, 120 year old company literally invented the product set that it offered. And to rebrand that is very difficult for folks, even though intellectually they know, but it’s hard not to feel like you’re throwing out who they were. 

And so I think you have to be very mindful of the fact that there’s a lot of heritage and pride and goodness in what came before. Even if it wasn’t all working exactly the way it needed to. This is no different than city planners thinking about old buildings versus new buildings. How do we honour our past and at the same time position ourselves for growth and a different future? And so I think part of that is a mindset that you have to take. 

And I can’t say that the 25 year old version of me would have been as careful and as delicate with what had come before the, I’m not going to talk about how old I am, but the much older version of me. I think has a much better appreciation and sense for how to honour that. And at the same time, try to create the space and bring people along. And I did this a couple months in. 

I think it was maybe February of the very first year was our first sales kickoff with the new leadership team. And I got on stage and the first thing I did, I had found an old slide or some story about how Airbnb runs their weekly meetings. I don’t know if they still do, but at the time, they talk about, I’m not even going to remember it, elephants, unicorns, and dead fish. I’ll have to find out exactly what it is, but it’s basically how do we acknowledge the things that we’re not talking about that we should be talking about, right? 

The things that stink around here that we’d have to get at, because they’re no good. I do forget what the third one was, but it was very much a, let’s be super transparent and honest. This hasn’t worked, this is what we’re going to clean out, we want everybody’s involvement. And I promised the sales team back then a world-class marketing organisation. 

I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to do that, but I painted a clear vision, I acknowledged their pain, I said grab my hands, trust me, give me a little bit of patience and let’s go. And I won’t pretend like it was all rainbows and unicorns and sparkles and celebration along the way. 

But I think if you asked our sales organisation in particular and they’re really one of our prime constituents, they would have a very different view on the marketing organisation today, than they had back then. But I had to ask them for their trust and then I had to go earn it.

Alex (13:29):

We’ve talked a bit about the rebrand website, kind of stripping that right back. But what about team and resource and structure, is that hugely different now to how it was then? How much change did you make to the team that you found yourself leading when you first arrived?

How does the structure of a marketing function change with a transformation? 

Jaime (13:41):

There’s nothing scientific about this. This is the world, according to Jaime’s estimation, but I generally believe if you’re going to lead a transformation, you should assume at least 40% turnover. It’s going to be big. In our case, it turned out to be much larger. It didn’t happen all at once. 

And my first move was to bring in some new leaders. I felt like we needed some more seniority and some very specific kind of skill sets, who were both sort of leaders and doers. Because there was a lot of digging your hands into the soil and getting your fingers dirty kind of work that we were going to have to do. 

We’re a small team, we’ve got a global remit, but my team’s 20ish people. It’s not a large group in the greater scheme of things. I had a bigger digital only team at TIA than the team I’ve got here to handle all the marketing functions. And then a lot of folks chose to leave all by themselves. That quite often happens, I’ve done this a few times. You come in, you paint a new vision and they themselves opt out. And that helps in some ways. I did this at TIA, I did not do this at Lionbridge, but at TIA to help affect the change, going back to your question, we actually eliminated every job. 

We worked with our HR team and came up with a plan where we actually eliminated every job we posted 40 new jobs, and we invited everybody in the organisation to apply for any of those jobs that they wanted. Because I’d heard a story, I don’t actually know if it’s true, I have been able to revalidate it. But then when Andrew Carnegie would buy a steel factory, that first thing he would do is fire everybody and then set up a table outside with a stack of applications, because he didn’t want anybody to feel like something had happened to them. They’d had to choose an opt in to be part of the new thing. 

And it was very true of it at TIA, and we didn’t have quite the same version of it here, but that’s kind of what had happened. I think there are one, two, maybe four people who were part of Lionbridge who are on my team now when I started, but not all of them were on the marketing team. And in fact, I think only one of them was officially part of the marketing team. 

So that’s almost a hundred percent turnover, from day one to now. Again, not all at once. And it wasn’t necessarily by design. Like I said, a lot of that was folks looking at the new operating model, looking at our new expectations on pace and quality and saying, I’d rather be somewhere else. And that’s okay I can honour that. I’d rather have people who want to follow me into battle, so to speak than not.

Alex (16:23):

And so you’ve got a website that’s pretty basic, rebrand kind of out there in the open. At what point and how do you start going about getting content up and running again, campaigns executed? Tell us a bit about the kind of first steps into really starting to scale up now that you’ve started, as you put it on your slides, resuscitating the patient.

When do you start to scale marketing after a digital transformation through content? 

Jaime (16:41):

I had a little bit of a luxury and I have to say, I don’t know that in retrospect I would do it again the same knowing what I know now, but we had a long conversation with my boss about what was happening with leads. To the point where we said, if we just turned it off, if we turned demand gen off, we’re not sure anybody would notice. The sales people just weren’t using the tools that were there, they didn’t have faith in the leads that were being generated. And we said, well then let’s just turn it off. 

So I had this really interesting window where quite literally we weren’t doing any demand gen activity, which is almost like saying we’re going to stop your heart for a little while because that’s how we’re going to do the surgery. Which of course they do in some very extreme surgeries. And that’s kind of what we did. So part of the very first set of hires was a new head of content. It was one of the very first things we did and we gave her a mission to set a new brand voice and a new standard for quality. 

And we read the industry as being very sophisticated and high brow in the way it had written content and it was kind of missing an easier and more accessible set of content. So the first job was let’s fill the gate with a lot of stuff that isn’t so technical, so unique. And the team went on a big mission to start publishing document after document. And we just went across industries, across verticals, across countries. I started to fill things in and then the next thing we did was plan. 

So we got that initial 8 page site up, but that was really a stop gap to a real digital experience, which took us about four more months. And that was a lot, that was 100 pages of content to write. It was quite a big surge for the team. And that was the next piece to really fill that gap set. And then we went about localising it and taking one language and turning into 10 languages. Which we, as a localisation company you would think would be easy and something everybody does. But if you actually look at all the localisation provider websites, you’d be surprised how poorly localised many of them are. The cobbler with bad shoes such as it were.

So you’re absolutely right, the next place we really leaned into was the content engine, and there was a real philosophy behind that. That was twofold. The first was as an industry, there weren’t any really good destination places, we thought that most of our customers went to find content. So we were really going to have to get into a content syndication, content sharing strategy to pull people back into our site and our home where we thought we could really drive the demand gen. 

And so, we very mindfully said, we’re going to just flood the market with content. We’re going to be relevant. We’re going to show up in every search and we are going to hit the different needs of the market, and we’re going to spread it out where they are and invite them back to our home. And that bought us some time to create a better home. I had to create all that content to even drive the traffic. 

And then that would be, really the beginning of the flywheel for the demand gen engine, right? Which is really driving that traffic in so that we could get people all ultimately over to a salesperson, because it’s really sales driven. There are two kinds of purchases in this industry. There’s some sheer transactional stuff, but most of the work that we do is a relationship, a strategic relationship with a partner, helping them with lots of things. And that’s really sales driven when it comes down to it.

Alex (20:25):

Makes sense. And so it looks like the next steps on the journey were really, we’ve talked about localisation, but a lot of them in the more advanced, data driven elements of marketing automation, looking at data overall. Tell us a little bit more about how you started to build from there. And after that, I’d love to get your view on, and I’ll remind you about this question, but just whilst it’s on my mind, how you went about taking other parts of the organisation such as the finance team on this journey too. 

Because I know that some of the things that you’re talking about here, they’re not cheap to do and to do them properly needs an investment. And so building that business case is a challenge a lot of marketers I talk to struggle with. So it’d be great to hear about that too, but yeah. Tell us where you’re headed next.

How do you build out marketing processes and automation after a transformation? 

Jaime (21:04):

So that year one really was, assess the team, assess the state, begin the reset process and really lay the foundations. And frankly give some of the new members of the team time. I had to give the leaders time themselves to figure out what was their roadmap. I brought a new head of demand gen, what was she going to do? And she needed three, four months to really get a good sense of the industry and the approach that they had. 

Brand and content, the same thing, we had no product marketing function, we’re trying to create one. We were a services business that didn’t really understand how to construct offerings and product positioning, et cetera, et cetera. So that first year was really just like a construction site. You know, we scoped it all out. We filed the permits and we dug the hole, but we didn’t build a lot. 

And so that’s really what year two was, construct the engine and position ourselves for what I imagined year three would be, which is really turning the flywheel. So year two was to tear the marketing tech stack literally to the ground, everything left. We left Marketo standing, we actually pulled all the data out of Marketo. We cleansed it, we enriched it, we de-duped it. We put it all back in. We rewrote lead scoring. We rewrote lead routing. We changed the way it integrates with Salesforce. That’s not a light lift, what I just described. 

And we brought in a whole host of new tools. And so that was a big lift obviously to bring in these tools, integrate them, start to use them, operationalise them. In the meantime, the content team is just pumping out new content. Again, building that mass presence and the demand gen team is starting to do testing and learning. So now we’re, let’s see how SEM works. You know, what kind of response is it? Long tail, fat tail. 

So we face a lot of competition. Where’s the noise in the system, you know? Let’s try paid. Is it LinkedIn? Is it Google? Is it Facebook? Is it display networks? And so we kind of went throughout the year testing. We tried some offline tactics as well, but my instinct was, generally the B2B journey is so heavily digital anyway, and too many marketing organisations are still over steered to offline spend versus online. And I was determined to invert that relationship, but that doesn’t mean there should be no offline spend. 

And so again, we’re just testing tactics and that kind of describes year two. Add staff, test tactics, build data that gives us confidence in a strategy, give the team time to construct all of these pieces. So at that point, we had to turn the demand gen and the demand gen engine back on. I couldn’t let that sit fallow for that long. So we were sending leads through and their quality varied and quantity as well. 

And this of course is because the sales organisation is going through its own change all along the way. And so year two was really about me beginning the real relationship with our CRO to try to figure out what that new go-to-market motion should be while each of us was revamping and rebuilding our own organisations.

Alex (24:26):

Tell us about the finance side of things. Cause these tools, it sounds like you’re already using Marketo, so there’s an investment there. But all of this work costs money too. I assume there’s external suppliers, you’re building up your team. Did you arrive at Lionbridge, having had the discussions around like here’s a budget you’re going to have and you’ve got our support or was that a battle to some extent?

How to get buy-in from the rest of the organisation to build out marketing? 

Jaime (24:45):

Lionbridge is a little bit different than what I walked into at TIA. And so each requires different strategies for getting the budget necessary. At TIA, I’m just gonna use it as a foil for a second. There was some spend, they had the right people, but probably not the right budget in terms of both advertising spend, media spend as well as systems. So that was go build a big business case, find a way to attach it to some big business plans and win both marketing and finance over on the business case. And so that one, I attached it to this planned rebrand of the company. And that’s really where we found the budget. 

This was different at Lionbridge, the budget actually to that we have today is less than what the company spent on marketing before I got here. And so it was less about going to find the budget, than zero-based budgeting. So we just took everything, we said we’re not going to look at what we’ve spent before. What should we spend? And construct a budget and then prove to the CEO, to the CFO and ultimately to the board, actually you see this engine? What we’re going to do is we’re going to build this engine. 

And when you put fuel in the engine it goes faster and the more fuel you put in the engine it goes even faster. And so I knew that was going to be a multi-year exercise and that’s exactly what’s happened. We were trenched, now we’ve systematically added dollars into that budget, and we can see the results this year. You know, this year as we really were turning the flywheel, and fast forward a little bit in the story, but we’ll have 60% of the pipeline will be marketing influenced, probably a quarter of it is marketing generated across all the different dimensions of it. 

And so we’re being successful in a new logo, in up sell, in existing renewals, across all the dimensions and it’s really clear where, as we push new dollars in, that we reached sort of the maximum on the spend where we’re not saturated, where we’re just throwing dollars and getting little return. Every time we have an incremental lift in spend, we have an even greater lift in performance from the marketing engine. So we have a lot of room to grow, but it’s growth by success begets success.

How do you prove the success of the digital transformation and marketing efforts? 

Alex (27:01):

You were obviously new into this role. You need to prove effectiveness pretty quickly. Most marketers these days are to some extent living by a spreadsheet in some form or another, others in the business are saying, where’s our results? What you’ve just described is at least a couple of years, more or less to some extent as a demand gen engine fully paused at one point, was that pressure from above or elsewhere in the business that you felt to really be outputting leads? 

Were you having to say to people, look I know things are on pause now, and this is going to have to take some time, but this work is really important and it will pay dividends in the future? So I think the average tenure of a CMO was I think, three years or somewhere in that range. So you’ve got to deliver results pretty quickly. So tell us about that.

Jaime (27:46):

Yeah. And again, what I was able to do here says a lot about what the state was here. I wouldn’t have made the same set of decisions somewhere else. I think it’s important to note the first year was truly a rebuild across almost every function in the company. The new CEO brought in a whole new leadership team, which meant the sales team was going to go through a restructuring. The finance team went through a massive restructuring. The operations teams was going through a bunch of changes. Technology was going through a big restructuring. 

So I knew there would be a little bit more space to operate, but that is finite. And so I knew in year one, we can turn that demand gen engine off for part of the year, start to turn it back on. Year two was the most difficult in terms of pressure. The sales engine starts to rev again. There’s no sales engine that doesn’t say, don’t give me any more leads. There’s way too much coming in from marketing, please stop. It just doesn’t happen. And so the call comes and then there’s the yard of giving it enough while still buying time to get really good. And we did, we put in a bunch of new sales enablement tools. 

The new brand was really starting to settle in. So frankly, people were feeling it. And I will tell you when the new brand came out, me and my brand team will tell you, we got some very aggressively angry notes about the new brand. I think somebody told us we would never sell anything in Japan ever again, it was a big cultural shift, but by early the next year, the market resonance around it was quite positive. 

And so the salespeople were starting to feel it. It hadn’t fully settled in, but they were starting to feel that people know who we are a little better. They’ve got a more positive impression of who we are. And so that started to see some of it, the leads are starting to flow in and they start to convert. That’s always important. Year two was definitely the hardest because the engine wasn’t operating at full speed. I’m not the first to coin this by any stretch of the imagination, but the mental model here was designed to fly. 

So we had a plane, the plane was already in flight, but we had to redesign the plane while we had to rebuild the plane. But that plane was at 35,000 feet full of passengers and it couldn’t crash. And so year two was where we were literally dropping engines and putting new engines up while trying to maintain altitude while everybody’s screaming faster, faster, faster. And by the end of the year, you could start to see the leads flowing in more consistently in a way that at least the promise of year three would buy us enough time to really get into the year three motion. Which takes us into year three, which starts hard and fast with COVID.

Alex (30:51):

Absolutely, we’ll come on to that. I guess just quickly before we get into that, thinking about the kind of measurement and KPIs side of things, which is interesting, but I guess maybe one advantage of pausing all of your demand gen to the extent that you did is that you’ve got kind of a flat line baseline to benchmark against. You’ve got that line in the sand, which a lot of businesses that size that Lionbridge’s aren’t really able to do. Was that an advantage? And just tell us more widely about the kind of KPI target side of things.

How do you measure the success of a digital transformation? 

Jaime (31:19):

That knife cuts both ways. On the one hand, the previous KPIs for a whole variety of reasons weren’t trusted. So, , the first thing I did when I got here I said, great show me all the dashboards showing what are we doing? And I go, look at all the leads and look at all the marketing influence pipeline. And then we’re going around. And I talk to all the business leaders and they’re like, yeah we don’t believe a single thing that you have in those dashboards. 

So on the one hand I had dashboards and baselines. On the other hand, I had nobody who believes them. And it was hard to tell just how valid they were. So we threw them out. The good news was now we had a perfectly believable set of data going forward. The bad news is we have no comps, so you don’t know what’s good. 

What should be the CTR for our campaigns? What should be the conversion of the site? What is the length of the sales cycle and so on and so forth? So it became a very big startup all of a sudden, because we had to reestablish the KPI base in terms of what was a reasonable expectation set. So that I think is where it was a little bit unique because it was this blend of a large company with a little bigger budget and more ambition, but really almost a ground startup like activity. Which is okay, again there’s benefits and puts and takes to each of those. 

But the truth is, as we came into year three, we had a much better sense of where we thought we could have a big impact. And the initial KPIs that we laid down after year two, we said, this is the pipeline we think we influence. This is the dollars we think we need in order to get there, which were met with some skepticism. We’ve validated them in spades this year and beyond. 

So now when I come into the budgeting cycle this year and I say, based on the budget, here’s the pipeline we expect to contribute to the pipeline we expect to generate. And if you think that that works to hit the overall number, great, if not then we gotta have a budget conversation. I couldn’t have had that conversation two years ago, for sure. But even a year ago, it still felt somewhat unproven and some stuff just takes time. 

So you’ve got to figure out how to survive long enough. Transformations, they take a lot of work and the art, it is truly a baby, right? And babies would not survive out there by themselves without you, you have to keep them alive long enough until they can function themselves. I think change management transformations are quite similar.

Alex (34:03):

You mentioned 2020. Obviously COVID struck, 2020 on your slide deck refers to global domination. I guess the question is we’re now in mid December recording this. Has global domination been achieved? What was the impact of COVID? And I’m sure you’ve got exciting plans for the years ahead.

How digital marketing can thrive through Covid and beyond 

Jaime (34:20):

You’ve got an old version of that slide, which is a little sassier that was actually created even before this year. But it was sort of our vision for year three was really going to be our scale year. That’s where we built this machine that we could just turn the dial on, we could turn faster. And we still actually had a lot of build this year, right? This year we replatformed to Adobe in the first part of the year, we rolled out our ABM platform and it was a busy first half of the year. So we were still adding floors to the top of the building. But the rest of the machine could move. 

COVID has been interesting. I think COVID has pressed really hard on every organisation about you’ve got a quick litmus test of just how modern your marketing motion or your sales motion is because the pressure scenario and all the toys got taken away except for digital. And all of a sudden, everybody was locked in up there, no trade shows, there’s no in-person sales meetings. 

The usual motion, particularly in the B2B space, all got wiped out. And so quickly lots of people said, oh yeah we’re doing agile marketing. Are you really? We’ve got a great digital presence. Do you really? Oh yeah, we’re using social media. Really? I like to call this the Kabuki theater, lots of folks were doing Kabuki theater of digital transformation or what have you. And they said the right things. And they put in the right people, et cetera. 

But if you looked at their budget, reasonably speaking, it was really dominated by old school activities, 12 month calendars and you think about all of that stuff, all of it went out the window almost immediately. We actually have a facility in China. So we had very, very early exposure and warning to what the possible impact on the supply chain that worked for us and what our go to market motion might be. And in some sense, we had an advantage because I think we were able to react. 

I had my first offer in the market in early March, that was really like, we know you’re about to have to go through a massive transformation of your workforce and you’re gonna have to do all this new internal communications. And you’re not going to be able to hold in-person team meetings. So here’s an offer to help you cause we knew that was coming. 

And so I think the advantage we had is I had just built a modern marketing organisation in the last two years. We were ready. We would have been ready anyway for a good year. COVID actually in some sense, made the transformation a little bit easier because it took away the ongoing resistance in other parts of the organisation to embrace this new motion. Hey salespeople, we should really do social selling a lot more. Yeah, I’ll try to find time. I’ll go through the training, et cetera. Well, okay, great, now you can’t get on a plane.

You better figure out another way to get in front of folks. So in that respect, it became a truth, serum for everybody for just how modern was their marketing motion? How modern was their sales motion? How integrated was their sales and marketing motion? Particularly in the new digital universe. And if you weren’t designed to be agile, it could be quite a struggle. We have the exact opposite, which is because we had done all those things, we were able to lean into this. 

We’ve done more marketing, we’re running a couple hundred campaigns right now. Every month the marketing spend has gone up. We’re in a business that is fortunate to, while there are certain industries, travel and hospitality have obviously been quite negatively impacted. And so we’ve seen revenue fall there. We also have lots of life sciences customers and lots of tech customers. And obviously e-commerce has been huge and globally commerce has been a boom. 

And so we’re in an industry that could benefit or could thrive, I should say more correctly inside of this environment. And we’ve had a good year, but if we hadn’t done those first two years, if I hadn’t gone through all of that pain to get through to this modern motion. 

It’s data driven, it’s agile, it’s digital first. It is very customer centric. It’s very authentic and empathic or empathetic rather. It’s designed. It’s got all the right buzzwords in it, but it’s real. It’s not just kabuki theater. And I think that’s been the key to our success, is we actually have constructed that motion. And then the timing was perfect in that regard.

Alex (38:45):

I was going to say, it sounds like timing was absolutely perfect and that’s good to hear that everything you’ve been working on has started to pay dividends and almost being, I guess, verified and proven by everything that’s happened, even though it’s been a tough year for everyone. But, that’s awesome. 

I think you’ve told a pretty great story that it sounds like you’ve had a busy few years and covered off pretty much everything there is to cover off in rebuilding a marketing organisation like this. So yeah, I’m grateful for you sharing the story with everybody so openly, and I’m sure there’s some learnings for any marketer that’s going through similar either in a new role or current role. So yeah, I’m hugely grateful again for you sharing your time. And thanks for coming on the podcast.

Jaime (39:26):

It’s a real pleasure. I’m more than happy to share any of the hard lessons and war wounds and insights from that. So I appreciate you giving me the space and inviting me on here. It’s been a pleasure.

Alex (39:42):

Thanks Jaime.

Jaime (39:43):

All right. Thank you.

FINITE (39:45):

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