Lindsey Christensen believes that the role of marketing goes far beyond that of making money.
In this episode, she talks to me about how once companies define their values and missions, they should stay connected to them and promote them in their marketing. We also discuss the need for diversity and change within the tech industry.
With over 14 years of experience within the business, she is currently CMO of the design and development consultancy, thoughtbot.
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Louis: Bonjour, bonjour and welcome to another episode of Everyone Hates Marketers.com. The no fluff, actionable marketing podcast for people to sick of shady. aggressive marketing. I'm your host Louis Grenier. In today's episode, you'll learn how to market your product and service through your company values. My guest today believes that marketing holds a very important role and that goes far beyond just making money.
She believes in driving positive change in industry, in the tech industry in particular, she has 14 years experience in the biz, leading a lot of marketing teams out there. She's now the CMO at thoughtbot, which is a design and development consultancy, and has a very interesting podcast, that is, the name is probably as interesting, if not more than my name and my podcast name The podcast name is Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots, which I love because it makes no sense, which is great. So Lyndsey Christiansen, welcome abroad.
Lindsey: Hey, it's good to be here.
Louis: We rehearsed maybe like 10 minutes for me to be able to nail your first and last name. So thank you for your patience.
Lindsey: Yeah. I'm glad we logged in an hour early.
Louis: Yeah. Always needed, and then I had to teach you my name anyway, took a long time. So what's wrong with tech and the tech industry today?
Lindsey:Ooh. how long do you have? Well, I think we share a lot of the problems that other industries are facing., so things like diversity, equity and inclusion, is a big area of problem in the tech industry.
Louis: Would you say it's the biggest?
Lindsey: I think it is actually, because I think, I think that then feeds into all sorts of areas. Like we aren't able to truly make authentically valuable, helpful products because we don't have representatives from different walks of life, building those products and then, we see the ramifications of that when things are launched and that they are, they're not representative or they can't help everyone. And I think this is becoming increasingly more alarming. Because you think about things like artificial intelligence, and if you have only white men creating artificial intelligence, then you're creating this almost entirely separate entity that has a very particular viewpoint of the world and could then kind of, it just builds from there.
It escalates. so, and let you think about different use cases for artificial intelligence. But such as, one example is that, can it predict who is going to commit crime? You can kind of extrapolate, the problems that are going to come from that.
Louis: Right. Okay. And yeah. And I'm glad you're pointing out on the, on something that I like to mention a lot on this podcast is that I'm a white male.
I've been, come from a middle class, I mean, lower middle class background. Well educated, that is more educated then I would say average, if you look at worldwide. So very lucky living in a country where I don't have to fear for my fucking freedom or anything like that. And so I feel very privileged and I'm always trying to get, talk to those sensitive topics, because we need to, and that's my role as well to do so, as a white male, who's luckier than most.
So anyway, to go back to the, to the [inaudible] intake. So, diversity. and all the problems that connect with is an interesting one because we don't necessarily talk about just diversity of, reaching out to all types of customers and having fucking black skin color people, in your pictures, it's about it starts with, from within, right?
So having diverse, folks coming from different backgrounds within the company, right?
Lindsey: Yeah, absolutely. it's not just about your customers. It's about who makes up your company, whose creating the product.
Louis: Yeah, exactly. Because then it has a repercussion on you. You mentioned artificial intelligence and who's creating the product and obviously you are anything is a byproduct of the people behind it.
And, I tend to butcher those things, but I remember reading this research, on, basically the more diverse your team is, the more likely this company is going to grow all the faster. It's going to grow something like that. I mean, you recall this one?
Lindsey: Sure. Yeah. I think this is pretty well-documented that diverse teams are better at problem solving.
And one of the things they point to is that there isn't group consensus because people aren't completely comfortable with each other.
Louis: So there is not a group consensus.
Lindsey: Right, there's not group consensus.
Louis: Yeah. Which is the fucking biggest, one of the biggest enemy of the marketing team in particular or creative teams in particular.
Right. When everyone brings their own color, it turns out grey.
Lindsey: Yeah. Yeah..
Louis: So, so that's the, so that's, you would say that's the source of most problem in tech. It's like it comes from there. Like, that's the actual thing that has ramification everywhere. Can you give me another example of the ramification that this problem has in the industry, in the tech industry in particular?
Lindsey: Sure. I think another example is teams that have worked on, facial recognition software, and then it turned out, once it's launched, it actually only recognizes a certain type of face, like a Northern European type of face, or, the example of hand dryers or automatic sinks in bathrooms that actually weren't registering nonwhite skin, because obviously the people building it and the people they tested with it, it just never was a problem until it got out in the field.
Louis: And that could have, like, those are obvious examples with like external things that you can actually see from like a person, the color of their skin or whatnot, but then you have all this stuff around, like, I'm going to fucking forget what I wanted to say, but the, when you have sight issues, like daytonism, is it the way you say it in English?
Like when you see just a few colors, instead of all those, the full spectrum?
Lindsey: Oh, I'm not sure what the term is. I forgot. I mean, we say like colorblind, but actually I'm not sure that's actually the inclusive term for it.
Louis: Hold on. Yeah. Like, yeah, that's it. Oh, pro protanopia, which is a form of colorblindness, anyway, forget about it.
Louis: Yeah. Let's say yes and move on. Okay. So, so yeah, we believe pretty much exactly the same thing. and I'm glad you're here to talk about this, but now let's get in a bit more practical and talk about how to actually grow and how to actually market your product and service through something that is much more of an internal thing, which is like your company value and values.
Before I let you tell me what you think they are, but most of the time, what I personally see and what you can see a lot is those companies talking about the fucking values and talking about, like to be on very environmental friendly and to be, to care about people and all of that, like Coca-Cola is an example of a company that says that openly while producing plastic, Nestle is a French company that did that recently, where they fucking polluted a river, killing tons of fish. Literally they're being sued right now. One of their value is to be, to protect the fucking, the environment, something stupid like that. So you see a lot of like, from, especially from the brands, companies who claim one thing through the values and then do the absolute opposite.
So what, how do you define what. Actual company values are what's your definition?
Lindsey: Well, I think whatever Coca-Cola and Nestle have as their company values, we'd probably agree on paper what they are right. There are these pillars of. what they stand for, that are connected to their mission and the type of company they want to be.
I think where we disagree is how true to those values they are. And do they actually, walk the walk when it comes down to it, or is this just, they're blowing smoke up our ass for lack of a better term.
Louis: Exactly. Yeah. So it needs to be, you need to connect the values with actual acts and it needs to be in conjunction with your behavior.
Right? You can just claim something.
Lindsey: Yeah, absolutely. And the reason I think this is so important for marketing. And really, truly successful long-term marketing success and company success is because I think the two are so deeply connected and intertwined. And I think this is something I've learned over the course of my career, that if I had like gone back to young Lindsey, and I could kind of retell this story about why it's so important to find a company that has strong values and how that's actually going to impact the quality and the success of your marketing that I would do that. So now I love talking about this.
Louis: Right. So let's go deeper. So let's say you have to start a new job and all, like you're part of a new company and you know that this is an extremely powerful principle to actually market using your company values and to build a strategy around it.
How do you go about it? Like, what is the first step that you would advise listeners to take.
Lindsey: I'd say before joining first really vet the company that this is something that's important, especially if you're a marketing leader. So hopefully you're meeting with the CEO and other leadership members, maybe you even do like backdoor reference check with people on the team to see if they are, a really value oriented mission driven company, because that's not something that you, as an individual can go in and change. So there has to be some foundation for you to work with there.
Louis: So by backdoor, questions and stuff, is it, how do you advise to go about it?
Because it's a bit sensitive, right? You'd reach out to two internal employees to ask how easy it actually to work there. Like not the bullshit on the, about page and on Glassdoor. Like. Right. How do you handle that? Or how do you advise folks to handle that?
Lindsey: Well, one you can just ask in your like, interview process, if you can meet with, and pick someone like an individual marketer or an individual developer, just to ask how, what it's like working there, someone that's maybe outside of the group they'd put together, that you can maybe get some honest answers from.
And even like customers, if customers of the company, "How have you liked being a customer?" I think they'll have a really good perspective.
Louis: Okay. Okay. So, so that's kind of step one, but surely you, your values, your personal beliefs needs to be aligned with the company's, right? It's how do you make sure that's the case?
Lindsey: Yeah, I think it's good to. getting into some of the career advice. I think for myself, I think for a lot of people actually increasingly, so we want to work at companies that mean something, our work in life kind of balance flow are more and more, into each other. Right.
Our work is a part of identity, our identity and who we are. We want to work somewhere that matters. So having, a grasp on, what is important to you and what you would get fulfillment from in a company is a great exercise to go through, before you're going into interviews with companies, what are the types of companies I want to work with and that'll help you actually also like select them and kind of, reach out to them. And you can write a really compelling cover letter when you are really bought in to their mission, into their values.
Louis: Yeah. So it's really about matching that with what you believe. and I always advise folks who asked me, how do you find a job in marketing to treat it as a marketing campaign itself and selecting a very handful of companies who you truly want to work with and go for it a, fucking a hundred percent and go at it in a way that is a bit different. So, if everyone is sending you a stupid cover letter over email with stupid CV using the same stupid template, anyone else then how the fuck are you going to stand out? So if you really put your marketing hat on and understand. Okay, how can I stand out then the world is your oyster. It's could be quite fun actually to apply. Now I know that it's not easy, especially at the minute for folks to find jobs. but definitely do not just do the basic, especially if it's a company that really fits your beliefs, right?
Lindsey: Yeah, absolutely.
Louis: All right. So now you found a good company. I'm super good to hear how tactically do you do strategically first and then technically, how do you go about marketing through the company values and put a strategy together? So how do you do that?
Lindsey: Right. I think the first core element is actually internal.
So there's the saying that, the best marketers, the best advertising that you can get is from the employees at your company. I think that's very much true and a way to get them on board and helping you share the message of your company. because also, right, right out the door, like your positioning should also be aligned with your values and your mission, right.
Part of what makes you compelling and differentiated from your competitors is who you are and what you stand for. So getting your internal team bought in on that, understanding that message, understanding how you're going to use that message out in the marketplace is going to greatly amplify what you can do.
And a big part of that is partnering again with your CEO so having this message repeatedly from the top from leadership, this is what we stand for and that's why we're doing XYZ. Whatever it is. at the beginning of every presentation, documented in the handbook over and over again, can create this really powerful, extended marketing team that is the rest of your company.
Louis:So let's talk about positioning. she's a topic I love talking about and you talk about being compelling and differentiated at the same time, which is a textbook definition of like differentiation, radical differentiation, making sure that who you are is one of the differentiator.
So how did you. So as a marketing leader, you're not the CEO, let's say you're CMO of your marketing. You can influence the positioning, you can work with your CEO to do so. How would you advise folks to come up with one? Cause you mentioned, how do you stand, what you stand for and therefore what you do you stand against?
Like how do you in your career, how have you done it in the past?
Lindsey: I think the best way to do it is to talk to customers, assume that you have customers at this point. I know sometimes that's not always the case. but interviewing them and understanding, what do you love about us or love about our product or what made us stand out?
Or how did we best help you. If values have made it into your product and your offering and your brand, you're, you'll often hear that from the customer and the way they talk about it will be a good indicator of how you can weave that into your positioning.
Louis: So do you have an example of like maybe in time, your career when you did this research and found out that yeah, one of the values actually was mentioned a lot by customers.
Louis: Yeah, well, yeah, I'll use thoughtbot as an example. so I did was doing a whole bunch of, positioning research and differentiation research and talking to a lot of customers. And at the time we had mostly been using positioning that spoke to the products we create. So we're a product consultancy, so we help clients build products, really great ones.
So I kind of, I expected everyone to say, like you helped us build an amazing product and what I ended up hearing over and over again was, you helped us learn. You helped us grow as a team. You were mentors, you were teachers, you were guides. You helped us create a better culture. And that all actually connects with our values.
Our purpose is that we think there's a better way to work and our jobs to learn it and share it with as many people as possible. So I was like, Holy cow, we've got this like perfect match of what people love about us. And our values. We need to be telling that story over and over again.
Louis: Okay. So if I can phrase it myself to see if I understand properly, you interviewed customers past customers, existing customers, and you ask them, what did you like about us?
What did you get as a result of. working with us, most of them talk about stuff that is just beyond the service you offer. Like, as you said, you basically help people to build a better product, but they went one step beyond in the ladder. They talked about learning. They talk about, influencing their culture.
So it went beyond that and it connected with your values, which is great. but then did you come across a time in your career where that didn't happen? Where you felt there was a massive disconnect between what customers were saying, and what you were expecting or what the company was standing for.
I don't know, like a basic example would be, I dunno, all customers saying, I love it, I love you because you're cheap and and your company stands for exclusivity.
Lindsey: Yeah. Yeah. I think that has definitely happened before. I'm going to be sensitive to mentioning any company specifically, but I think I have worked places where, I definitely worked at companies before, where we said, we really cared about the customer and helping the customer, but what we were executing on felt a lot more like our own financial plan. Like we were trying to hit certain sales, no matter what. And we were building features that maybe one customer wanted, but the majority didn't.
So it wasn't really valuable. And there was just like a lot of mismatches between what we pretended to be as a company and what was actually happening. And, that felt very conflicting and unfulfilling for me.
Louis: How did you deal with it?
Lindsey: I left
Louis: I think I know the answer. Did you try anything before? Like, because maybe some folks listening to this right now in this exact situation, right?
Maybe they can't quit right now.
Yeah, I think I did find fulfilling projects within the company. And this was like a bigger company, which I think also it gets more complicated at a bigger size, right, b ecause you can influence less and the leadership's beholden to Wall Street and all those things.
But I did find more fulfilling projects with other people who are like-minded and were doing actual, like user interviews, which wasn't really happening in a lot of the organization. and then building campaigns built around those user interviews and that felt like, okay, this is like real stuff we're building.
Louis: Okay, so let's go back to positioning and the research you've done. We've talked about customer interviews. I would say probably in 40, 50, 60 interviews, and this podcast never gets old, what would be your number one advice when interviewing customers, what is the , what is a big thing that, a mistake you've made. Before you mentioned the young Lindsay before turning to your young self, did you... is there a particular mistake that you say we should avoid?
Lindsey: I mean, the biggest thing is like, you should always be doing more. You should always be doing more interviews, but also it's tough. Right? So you should always be doing more interviews, but you also don't want to get stuck in a place where you're not moving forward. So kind of figure out what feels like a good place for you to. Glean enough insights that you can move forward within reason, around what you've learned and make decisions, whether that's about positioning or campaigns or whatnot, with the understanding that you'll continue to do interviews, you'll continue to refine. but you know, we need to, we need move along. We need to get shit out.
Louis:Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. You can do that. You can get caught into the research mode and never ship anything and it's easier to. I think it's comforting once you nail the customer interviews process. And once you're comfortable with talking to customers, you can actually do that four fucking months without shipping anything.
Lindsey: Analysis paralysis.
Louis: Yes. Yeah. That's a good point. I don't think we've ever talked about this in those terms before, so that's interesting. but I suspect that if you're listening to this episode right now, I suspect you're not doing enough customer interviews. I struggle. I don't think I've met many marketers that say I need to stop doing customer interviews.
So regardless do more. but you mentioned, so step one, I mean, step zero was to reach out to, I mean, do your research before joining, making sure that your values aligned with the company values. Step one, you kind of mentioned positioning as making sure that you have a narrative, something to stand for and therefore something to stand against too, to repeat everywhere.
And I very much loved that, which is something that I see happening a lot. Do you work on a strong positioning, strong narrative? And you just get too lost in the day-to-day and then just no one really gives a shit. No one remembers it. No one shares it. Everyone talks about it their own way. So how do you deal with that part of your problem, which is we found a narrative.,We found something that we stand for and against. And I would question you about that in the next few minutes, but how do you make sure that everyone shares the same message?
Lindsey: I think it's through coming from the top. Documenting it and repetition. And from there you just do your best. Everyone is not going to nail the positioning. The best you can do is to keep reinforcing what it is, why it's important, how it's influencing everything that you're doing. And, you know that they get it and they say it as and how they can.
Louis: So needs to come from the top. Definitely happened to me a few times where the, if the CEO is not involved, if the stakeholders are not involved in this, if it's the marketing job to come up with the positioning, it's not going to stick.
So in this really come from the top, as you said, and then, because usually as the marketer, as the person in charge, or if you've been involved in the project, it's the positioning by heart, why, all of the small details and why we're using this word, and not this word, but that's not the case from the rise.
So I'm going to butcher this thing as well, but there's a saying, don't stop until you get sick of the, what you say, don't stop until your customers get sick of what you repeat over and over, stop when your accountant gets sick of it.
Lindsey: I haven't heard the accountant element of it. but yeah, the other parts for sure.
And it rings true, right? Like we'll get sick of it. The team will be like, Oh, we've been saying this forever. But chances are your customers and definitely your prospects haven't heard it enough. So if it's right, keep doing it.
Louis:That's how you build memory structures in people's brain, right? I mean, to go to the physiological facts around people's brain structure, you need to expose people to the same thing over and over again, to have a neural network, to be quite strong. And so that after a few months it doesn't disappear. And you need to refresh it regularly as well, with new structure, with new assets, like you talk about your story and then you share faces of the company.
You share the logo, you just completely constantly refresh this part of people's brain so that they think of you when they need to. which is super important. So to go back to one thing I wanted to talk about, which is, I know a few people, quite a lot of people are scared of this, which is, what you stand for because to me, what you stand for also implies the flip side, which is what you stand against.
Right? So how you approach it, maybe in your current company, in term of having a positioning that is quite, I would say forceful, but you stand for something and therefore against something else?
Lindsey: Well, one thing for us, that's important because we help people create software or improve software is not working on software that we think is detrimental or harmful. And we say this publicly, we say it internally. And as I mentioned, like where the rubber hits the road is like, we will act out on it, in the sales process or in the market.
So, for example, we will reject clients that don't align with our values and more or less what I'm talking about is like this harm one, especially like, would this do harm? So, like software that's related to cigarettes, for example, there's also an instance where a large organization came to us with a very interesting, very financially attractive project.
But they had a pretty well documented history of supporting anti LGBTQ legislation. So in those cases, what we'll do is, first of all, we'll actually talk to the person about why we're rejecting the engagement, because we think that's also important. in order for them to be able to change, they have to know that it's a problem with potential partners.
And also because we do hope they'll change. We genuinely hope, maybe they'll, I mean, the cigarette ones may be tough. but in the other instance that maybe they will stop doing these things and prove it, and then we'll be like, yeah, okay, like, we'll work with you. Like you've proven that you really value, growth and change.
So we'll talk to them about it. Oftentimes we'll then, announce it, the decision internally. and then, sometimes if it's appropriate, we'll, talk about it publicly as well.
Louis: So that's on your case, like basically you're connecting, you're positioning what you believe in, into real life financial decisions, right? Because it's not easy to say no to money. So it sounds like, I mean, it's, it really sounds like unless you're CEO and stakeholders, the key stakeholders believe in this, in those values hardly like they really, truly fucking believe in them a hundred percent and this positioning, it will be very difficult to make it work.
Right. If your CEO is at 90% there, then when this company appears with questionable ethics, then that's when it becomes those 10% that the CEO doesn't is, not too sure about that could be, become a discussion where actually, maybe we should get them on board, right? So you need the CEO and all of those stakeholders to be fucking a hundred percent on both, like 110%, right.
Lindsey: Absolutely, and I think we even go above and beyond that, in that we have a mechanism for people who are potentially going to be staffed on a project to rate the project. And so the ratings are something like I would love to work on this. I'd be okay working on this, I'm not crazy about it, but I'll do it, I don't want to work on this for personal ethical reasons. And then I don't think anyone at thoughtbot should work on this for ethical reasons, at which case it would be evaluated.
Louis: So when does that happen? Is it prior to, like during the sales process, when folks inquire about your services?
Lindsey: No, that's actually when the deal has been closed. So that would be significant to walk back. but it's happened.
Louis: It's happened?
Louis: Well, you don't have to mention a specific example, but was it a, I mean, it doesn't really, it doesn't really matter. I think you explained it enough. I'm not going to make you feel uncomfortable sharing, details that are not that important to the story.
Okay. So we have a positioning, that we stand for, but I think we haven't covered yet, the, how do you go from collecting data from customers getting some words out from them, talking to your CEO and having something compelling. to share, like, what do I, what is the step in between?
Lindsey: Okay. As far as how you actually act on your values and positioning?
Louis: As far as, how did you define those dispositioning and those values in particular? What is, how do you like to, translate research into, and discussion when you see you into something tangible for everyone to understand.
Lindsey: Well, I think an important step between is also getting other stakeholders on board. So, and in the process, like in addition to interviewing clients, also interviewing those stakeholders and what do you think is our competitive differentiation? What are we good at? What are we bad at?
What do you think customers love about us? What are our best customers? What are our worst customers? All that good stuff. Then from that, hopefully you've got some insights emerge and some, something you should be starting to get, like, get some spark, like ideas, inspiration. I'm like, Oh, well, okay.
Like I now I see where this is going. Like for me, it was like, Oh my gosh, this, mentoring this very personal thing about working with us. That's where this is going. so how do I get everyone on board and it's then presenting that information and maybe giving like a final opportunity for people to have input, but it's essentially buy-in get their buy-in on it.
So that, then when you're rolling it out to the company, you've got. several layers of leadership let's say, are totally on board because they've contributed and they've been a part of the process.
Louis:And how long did it take you to do something like that for your current company?
Lindsey: I mean, when I did this, now it's probably like two years ago, a little bit after I had joined to like totally reevaluate what we were talking about. It took months, like maybe on the order of like three to four months of interviewing. Also doing a data analysis of our customer profiles and augmenting that data, which we hadn't done.
So that was a little bit, time consuming. Cause it was like a first time effort kind of thing. And then along the way, it's like you're meeting people with either in small groups or one-on-one, or in a larger group, but you're continuing to build consensus towards that point, which is like, yes, we agree on this differentiator, this positioning.
Now we're rolling out to the company. Now we're creating campaigns. We're going out in the market.
Louis: So what's your differentiator again, just to repeat it.
Lindsey: Our differentiator is that when we create products with you, we mentor you so that you end up a better team after we leave.
Louis: Nice. So that's what it does. Right? When you do this work properly, you're able to succinctly summarize and explain why you're different without spending five minutes, which you've done. So thank you. another advice that I have for on this, cause I've gone through a few of those before is if it lasts, if this project lasts more than three, four, five months, it, you can lose momentum and it can become a drag where it never fucking finishes.
So definitely try to have a sense of urgency with a deadline. Right. You seem to have, did you go through long fucking yeah [cross talk]
Lindsey: Like this project is probably one of the longer ones I've worked on. I'm a pretty fast agile scrappy marketer. So this was, my long patient strategic, initiative, but yeah, so for me, I definitely was setting benchmark, like dates that I wanted to hit, have the section wrapped up, and then I worked towards, a leadership meeting that was happening in like November. So it was like, okay, let's wrap all of this up in November at the leadership meeting. So then we can bake it into our annual plan and then roll it out to the team at like, the big annual meeting.
Louis: Okay. So let's talk about how do you bake those things in then into, you mentioned marketing campaigns in particular, like let's talk about the marketing aspect and impact that it had.
So when you roll that out, you join, you roll that out, you rolled it like this is a boy run different. This is what we stand for. This is why people love us. how did you translate that into actually marketing campaigns and marketing activities?
Lindsey: Yeah, so. I'm a really big fan of frameworks and how they can help you get organized and also move towards execution and understand how the execution is going.
So I tend to use a framework called OGSM which is objectives, goals, strategies, and measures, and the great thing about the OGSM, is that it's almost like, it's hierarchical. so you're starting with your company purpose then moving towards your marketing objective. Like what is your big business goal?
It's usually, help drive revenue. And then from there you're getting more and more specific. So what goals, what big goals are going to help us move towards meeting this revenue goal? So maybe a goal is, we're going to do or let's, we're going to contribute to, repeat clients like X number of repeat clients.
Okay. Great goal. What are the strategies we're going to use to help achieve that goal? We're gonna do great customer storytelling. and maybe that takes the lens of case studies or maybe it's events, or maybe it's a video. And then how do we understand if those strategies were successful? Let's set metrics for each one. So this takes the form of like a spreadsheet. and for me, it's my mental framework. That's how I'm always thinking. but you could also use something like, OKR's or, there are a bunch of kind of goal setting frameworks.
Louis: There's another one is ugly to say to the V2mom, Vision, Values fucking horrible, start again, what it stands for. Vision Values, Methods Of Cycles and Measures.
Lindsey: Ooh, I'll have to check that out.
Louis:Yeah, no don't. So objective is what you need to achieve. Those are words, right? And then the goals is what, what you need to achieve when in terms the numbers. Then there's strategies, are the choices you make to achieve objectives and goals. I'm literally reading what I've seen. And the measures or the numerical statements of how the company will benchmark progress toward implementing each strategy or initiative.
Lindsey: Real sexy stuff!
Louis:No, I know, but I love this shit as well. I completely get you. Yeah, what's important here. I would say, I mean, you might disagree with this, but I will say what is even more important than what is there is what is not. Right. Because this type of framework is about what are you not going to do? What strategies are you not going to fucking try?
Do you agree? Or do you disagree?
Lindsey: I love that you point that out. It's a way to demonstrate to other people what you've decided to prioritize. And as you said in doing so what you've decided not to prioritize at least for now. At least for now, saying at least for now it makes people feel better.
Louis: Yeah. Yeah. That's I can see again, feel the 14 years of experience. Like the diplomatic one. I don't have it yet in me. So at least for now, but actually, yeah. Forever. No, but, so what is usually the timeline for you? The timeframe, like once you have very clear positioning, like the true North star and what we stand for, and then you go through the OGSM framework.
What is the typical length for it?
Lindsey: For a single OGSM framework for me, it's usually on a quarterly basis. However, your objective is definitely at least annual and it could be multi annual. It could be, and again, that's usually like a company objective that you're mapping to. So it's like, we want to see 300% growth in the next two years, let's say. And then your goals, I think that can vary too. So, goals that are quarter or even a year in scope can be great because you're allowing yourself to be flexible with your strategies and your measures. So you've got that agility, which I love and I crave, But you also want to give yourself some time to be able to make progress on what are hopefully ambitious goals.
Louis: Because the issue that I have, usually when, when you plan quarterly and short-term is that sometimes you prioritize short term activities, short-term campaign short-term shifts, and most of the time, the brand building side of things, the things that take longer for it to work, it gets deprioritized.
How do you balance the, the short term, performance versus brand building activities.
Lindsey: Yeah. I think that's really important to call out. And when you get to some of the, sometimes things have measures that are less concrete. And so I'll try to think of some examples for you, which is, they're less concrete, but they're within reason. So like we want, and it could be like, maybe it's around like thought leadership or something like that. And so, and then your strategies are, we're gonna be, have our leadership team speak on at specific events. And then the metrics can then sometimes are like, did we do this or did we not do this? Versus like, yes, we increased thought leadership by 27% this quarter. It was like, no, we made some, very reasonable, hypotheses around who to get our leaders in front of and what company or like what partnerships to associate with. And we made progress on it. Like we got it done.
Louis: Yeah. So it's more, it's not necessarily hardcore metrics that you need to reach. Those metrics could be process oriented. but for those, you need to trust the process, which is sometimes something that is difficult for people to understand. Like, if it's not a goal, like conversion rates or increase in sales, it'll feel a bit like, just this feeling. Really? Like we're going to be on 50 podcasts? Just to give an example, how is that going to move the needle?
How do you answer that? I mean, again, we're going beyond a bit, what we talked about before, but I think that's interesting given your experience, how do you. How do you justify those process-oriented activities?
Lindsey: I think one, it helps to have a mix. So to have, lead gen goals or pipeline goals for like a different area of your OGSM.
And, like short answer. Sometimes I just split in half. Like we're going to spend half our time on some brand things and some of the metrics are going to feel fluffier. And then the second half of our goals are going to be demand gen, and they're going to be really crystal clear. This many leads, this many dollars in, and it can help people feel better about, some of the more nebulous areas.
Louis: Okay. So we have this framework filled out for the next quarter. The objectives are a bit longer term as you described. how do you translate? So then I feel like we haven't touched on how to actually fill that out, which is fine. And I guess we won't have that much time after that. So let's talk on this.
How do you advise. To actually pick the things to do and not to do. How do you prioritize what you put in there? Cause it's quite difficult to do for a marketer that like as a sea of possibility in front of them.
Lindsey: Yeah, absolutely. So one thing I think is really important through all of this process is that you're also partnering with your sales counterpart, the leadership of the sales team, I think just in general is always really important for you to have a strong relationship for you to be agreeing on areas of importance, areas of impact and how you're going to work towards those areas. I think that's a good way to have like sort of a first filter of, what are we going to work on?
What is also like a little bit, honestly, sometimes it is a little bit like what's sales excited about that they're going to go 110% at, and we can be like fueling that fire or like clearing the way in the market for them to lead the charge. So that can be a good first way to wrap your head around some areas of focus.
Louis: Okay. Anything else on top of that? Let's say you don't have a service team and like maybe the companies that rely solely on marketing, like inbound. I don't know.
Lindsey: Yeah. Well, to go back to my affinity for frameworks, a good old fashion SWAT analysis. I don't know if you've had any SWOT episodes, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats.
Louis: in business school. No, I'm joking also after it's actually helpful. Yes.
Lindsey: Yeah. Again, it's like, let's write down, you know what we understand, what we think. and again, you're probably like tapping other leadership folks as well around, what do you think? Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats, and then that can really surface some things that you need to address, or that are really attractive for you as far as a campaign.
For example, like if you may identify that a certain industry. Is strengthening, they've got a lot of investment or they're, they have a particular pain that you solve really well. And what comes out of that is then okay, like, well, let's build a campaign around, this industry, like, what do we think we could do that could move the needle if we really focused on this one industry. What content do we need? What kind of lists are we going to build? Are we going to do account based marketing? And you're just kind of narrowing in and in and in on like what you want to focus on.
Louis: Yeah. Another framework that is connected to that is the, is from the book, Good Strategy, Bad Strategy, which I love because it touches on, so the diagnosis, which could be disordered and so you look at the lay of the land as of today, what's going on, right? Whether it's internally, externally, then you have one sentence that summarizes the direction you're going to go into and which implies all of the other relations you're not. And then a coherent set of actions to actually achieve this, and I fucking love this every time I do it just clarifies everything and yeah, you can use SWOT and whatever to fuel the diagnosis, but it gives you so much clarity too.
And the confidence that I, yeah, we're going in the right direction because that's kind of my, one of my biggest pet peeves. I think you've noticed that from my questioning is the, this lack of focus, this just going after everything and testing one thing for one month and then saying, Oh, it didn't work.
I just can't deal with this. But I feel it's confidence. I feel it's like the confidence that you don't have to focus on everything. And I actually. Having an okay idea, but going in it a hundred percent is probably better than having 10 good and just doing it..
Lindsey: Oh my gosh. I totally agree. And that's really refreshing that you say that.
Cause I, I often feel the same and I feel like, I don't know why that it's like a controversial opinion is that like the more I moved towards leadership roles, the more I realized, we're all kind of just doing our best, picking a, a reasonably good direction and then using everything we know about making that direction successful, but it doesn't actually mean like another direction wouldn't have also been fine.
And I think that's a huge kind of jump that especially like junior marketers to more senior marketers need to make. And I think you're right. Part of it's confidence is like, Yeah, I can think of something totally reasonable and we can move towards it and not getting so in your head about the millions of things you're not doing.
Louis: Yep. I think that's a nice way to add these kind of step by step going through all of this framework. Thanks so much for going through this. I have just have two questions to ask you before I let you go. the first one being, what do you think marketers should learn today that will help them in the next five, 10, 50 years.
Louis: So I kind of mentioned this one, but I think it's sales. Building relationships with sales and also sales in general. I think, having some sales experience can make you a better marketer. I think being aligned with your sales team, makes your marketing and your campaigns more successful, right?
Learn how to do that, and, you got your ticket.
Louis:To get to where?
Lindsey: Success town.
Louis: Success town. What are the top three resources you'd recommend listeners today? So it could be anything books, podcasts, events, whatever frameworks.
Lindsey: I'll spare you, more frameworks. I think one thing that has been really helpful for me that I would really recommend is actually like doing marketing round tables with your peers or with people maybe a little more senior with you. To just have a place, to be really honest about what you're worried about or like what's going wrong or to say, like, I feel like I'm not going in the millions of directions I should be going in because, it's it can be, it's just, it's like therapy basically. Cause everyone's like, Oh yeah, we're all having the same challenges. And yeah, these things, our CRM still suck and sales is still hard to work with and then you leave and you're like, okay, I'm not alone on this Island, this marketing Island.
Louis: Yep. So absolutely number one and any way to connect with people, right? Like podcasts or LinkedIn or whatever, where you can find to talk to people. People love to talk about themselves. You're hearing other people's problems.
Lindsey: I'd also recommend if you're into, like value based marketing and mission driven marketing.
Katie Martell speaks a lot about this. She's got, a newsletter and a blog and is all over the social medias, and just is really great about kind of creating case studies of companies that do it well and companies, especially that do it poorly that say one thing and then act another way. And then kind of similarly I really love the way Wistia, the, video company talks about brand affinity. We talked a lot about how having brand goals and campaigns can feel kind of difficult to communicate or to measure, and they have some great content around, how do you think about brand and brand affinity and how do you communicate its value?
Louis: Yeah, I need to check that out again because they've been pushing that recently quite a lot, so yes, very good recommendation. And once again, thank you so much for going through all of this. What if someone wants to reach out and ask you questions or just connect with you? How can they do that?
Lindsey: Sure you can find me on Twitter at Lindsay 3d. check out thoughtbot if you are building an awesome product and you liked what I talked about today, and you can listen to my podcast at Giant Robots.FM.
Louis: But what's the real title? What's the full thing?
Lindsey: Giant Robots Smashing Into Other Giant Robots. Not little robots - giant!
Louis: I'm not going to ask you how you came up with the name.
Louis: Lindsey, once again. Thank you so much.
Lindsey: Yeah. Thank you. It was a pleasure.