How Manufacturers Can Use Data to Survive and Thrive
For the latest episode of our manufacturing podcast, Data In Depth, we sat down with Lisa Arthur, marketing expert and advisor for Scoutbee. Lisa shared tips for manufacturers to create a data-driven marketing strategy, including ways to use data to create informed buyers. She dug into key steps for building a data-driven plan including getting strategic, streamlining data, tearing down internal data silos, and honing processes.
Check out this interview below and head over to Data in Depth to listen to our other episodes!
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Announcer: Hi and welcome to Data in Depth. A podcast where we delve into advanced analytics, business intelligence, and machine learning. And how they're revolutionizing the manufacturing sector. Each episode we share new ideas and best practices to help you put your business data to work. From the shop floor to the back office, from optimizing supply chains to customer experience. The factory of the future runs on data.
Andrew Rieser: Welcome, and thanks for joining us for another episode of Data in Depth. The podcast exploring the world of big data, and its role in the manufacturing industry. I'm your host, Andrew Rieser. On today's show, we have independent marketing strategist and advisor, Lisa Arthur, joining us. Lisa is going to share her thoughts and experiences on using data to thrive and survive. Welcome Lisa.
Lisa Arthur: Thanks Andrew, great to be here.
Andrew: Great to have you. So before we dive in, it would be great if you can share a little bit more about your background and experience, and how marketing and data fit into that journey.
Lisa: Sure. It's not anything I planned for. And, interestingly enough, I actually started out as a political journalist. And decided that that was not gonna be the career I wanted to pursue long-term. But I took that storytelling and jumped into marketing. But I came up, and that was over 30 years ago in high tech, I came up from the marcom and brand-side Andrew, like a lot of marketers out there. But since I worked with leading companies on data, like Oracle, and Teradata. And I led big marketing organizations, I had to develop my own data chops. And that actually, it sparked, I was at first really afraid of it. But then it sparked a love. And not just of the data but the insights, the outcomes. That leaders can drive from this data. So that passion, along with my role as a CMO for a martech firm, a primo, led me to not only use our own tools to revolutionize our marketing. But we led a digital marketing revolution back around ten years ago. And were acquired by Teradata, I was able, with the data and that martech infrastructure to be able to bring it all together. And in working with amazing clients like the American Red Cross, and other big brands, wrote a book, to help other marketers embrace and love data and it's called Big Data Marketing, and, I think that's one of the reasons we're here, but also it's still a very relevant term for marketers today is that big data, and how do we make it not about the data but the insights and the outcomes about our buyers?
Andrew: Yeah, absolutely. I appreciate the background of level-setting. I always like to hear everybody's journey, and how that perspective ties into where folks are today. Really appreciate the comments about just having to dive in and understand this world of data and how you can apply it in the martech world, but, also, as you explained, we're seeing that every day now, so, data's become a major impact in every industry, and, just in the recent news with the pandemic that's going on right now in the U.S., a lot of this is data-driven, so a lot of data companies have stepped up to present this information out, to share dashboards and reports about how this COVID virus is evolving and changing and the impacts that it's having state by state. So, a timely conversation in unfortunate circumstances, but, really would love your perspective on what you're seeing and then how this applies to the data to thrive in a marketing strategy that you have.
Lisa: Yeah, I think data, across the board is not only saving lives, but it’s the path to the future, and, that's the future for business, for us individually, but, it's really what we do with the data, right, and I think that's what we're seeing with the recent news, and, everything has transformed Andrew, over the last months. According to fortune.com, there are some 94% of the Fortune 1000, that are actually seeing supply chain disruption. So if we take it even beyond marketing, our manufacturers out there are in distress. There's a need to both triage right now, and that's daily, hourly, as we keep our businesses afloat and we build a bridge past COVID-19. But also, it's a chance to look to the future, and, I don't know how many of our listeners out there remember 2008 Financial Crisis, I certainly was in Silicon Valley for that, and saw the doors shuttering and houses foreclosed and, we all came out of it, and for the most part, the businesses that used the time to refocus, on the things they needed to coming out of it, really thrived in that outcome, so out of this darkness, there are silver linings. And all of our listeners have that ability to help be in that role. So now is the time to retool, and get ready for this next phase of business, that we'll shape, and we will shape as we emerge from this pandemic. And to focus on the buyers, and sourcing too, because I can't keep our supply chains going without both sides of the equation, right, our customer-facing and our supply side of the business. And all of that will help connect, go-to-market and supply chain even more than it is today.
Andrew: I think that's a great perspective, and, I think that you're spot on, with, now's the time to retool for the future, and, so, I think that's a good segue to dive in, so some of the steps that you shared of taking a more data-driven approach to marketing, I'll just outline the five steps and then maybe we can tackle all of 'em if we have time, or just a few that you feel are most pertinent. But, essentially steps one through five are, step one, get smart, get strategic. Step two, tear down the silos internally. Three, untangle the data hairball. Four, make metrics your mantra. And five, process is the new black. So, I'm sure there's a lot of great nuggets in there, with each one of those steps, but maybe we can start with that first one, get smart, get strategic, and you can share your perspective on how companies can think about it this way.
Lisa: Thanks Andrew, I think step one, especially in these times, is the right one to focus on today. Because it's what we can do from a work from home environment, and it's what we can do with the collaboration tools, like Slack and Zoom and other teleconferencing tools that we have. So let me talk a little bit about that. Today, if you think about it, many companies have already mapped out their buyer journey. And what do I mean by that, buyer journey? It isn't just the marketers buyer's journey, and we know, as B2B marketers, right, more than 60 to 70% of our business is done, before we actually get that lead in the door, or a conversation. So, that digital experience upfront is very important. However, it really is mapping the entire process for the customer. From, unknown surfing on your website, to the point where I'm an advocate for your products, and your company. And, I'll use an example from my background, to talk about this. I was at a company that was about 60 million in size at the time. We were a high-tech software manufacturer, so, we made the software, we serviced it. We delivered it to-market. And, with that, $60 million isn't a huge software company, if you compare it to some of the other brands I've already mentioned. But, it was really shocking when our marketing team and our customer service team teamed up to look at the customer journey, and Andrew, do you know how many touchpoints, can you guess how many touch-points, a $60 million high-tech marketing software manufacturer would have?
Andrew: I feel like this is a trick question, so I'm gonna go with 10.
Lisa: Okay. I am so glad you said that, because you are far off, and it's a magnitude of 290 off. We had 300 touch-points. It's absurd. You'd think about that. And as we looked at that, it was like, how painful is it to do business with our brand? Our company?
Lisa: So what we did was we created a task force. And that's why I'm saying this is a great time to do it. We've got these collaboration tools, let's pool together our account managers and success managers. Let's pull together our field reps if that's where we get our service information as manufacturers. Let's pull all the customer-facing teams together, and map these out and then look at where we can reduce it. And that's all the way from, I wanna court you to be a customer, to, you're my customer and I wanna love ya 'til you're so successful, we're best friends. So, that's why I think this is really a good time to do it.
Andrew: Yeah, absolutely. I always love the mantra of KISS, of Keep It Simple Stupid. It seems like businesses, more often than not, over-complicate the processes, over-complicate these journeys. And, back to your point, now's the time more than ever to realign and anticipate what this new world is gonna look like coming out of this, with, I won't call it a new way of doing business, per se, but I think that you'll definitely see better ways of how we'll be able to engage with the customer.
Lisa: You're absolutely right. And, I think as a marketer, this is such an exciting time, for us, to say, "Okay, I have the time I never have," right? 'Cause if you think about marketers, we're deadline driven, we focus on the quarter, we focus on the year. It is constant, multi-tasking, and, we rarely get this gift of time to think about it, and, the first step around getting strategic, and building that foundation for data-driven marketing, is really deeply understanding those buyers and prospects. Understanding what they find of value. And then building the vision and the strategy, around how your products and services can actually meet and exceed those needs. So, that's where you can use that virtual internal force, to pull together some of those insights and touch-points. Interviewing buyers and prospects, and even when I was the CMO of a 125 plus organization, I would do interviews with buyers and prospects myself. Now, I know a lot of times we relegate that work to agencies, and branding firms that do that data, and that's fine to have that. My belief is, as marketing leaders, we've gotta roll up our sleeves and be a little more on the front-line. Because it's the nuances that we hear, we see, that go from good to great marketing.
Andrew: Absolutely. And so, in times like this, where you see, everybody is shifting to remote, shifting from working from home, shifting to having to rely on, coming up with out of the box ideas to not only service existing customers, but to also differentiate themselves through the noise of being bombarded by folks that are, I'm sure, waking up every morning to a inbox full of solicitations and things like that. What advice would you share for marketers as they think about this differentiation, and how to be authentic, in this day and age where you are doing' outbound and engaging with customers, but, don't wanna get lost in the noise?
Lisa: Yeah, that's a great question Andrew. I think one of the biggest pieces of advice I would give marketers today, is don't market. We're in a time, even before this pandemic hit, people do not like being marketed to. And I would just ask you, do you like being heavy-marketed Andrew? Probably not.
Andrew: Regardless of the times, I don't.
Lisa: That's right. And so —
Andrew: I like to be an informed buyer, and I think that there's enough data out there that I can research on my own what it is that I'm in the market for. And then, from that point, jump into the journey. The cold solicitations, I feel like, I don't think I've ever responded to any of those.
Lisa: Yeah, I don't either. And you know where they're gonna lead, and it's never a place you wanna be. So, you're spot on, informed buyer. Those two words are really key, so. As we engage today, whether it's to triage communicate on what is needed, what we can do to help our customers, and our prospects, right, because they're also struggling. We have to use the information we have to add value, that means, to educate, to understand their pain. What would we want if we were in there shoes? And the key is outside in versus inside out. And I remember, as the CMO, with a few CTOs. And CEOs, having to debate and defend and take that customer voice. And out of those debates came the right answer, of what we needed to internally communicate, but also, the best way to do it for the customer. And I think in this times those debates are not bad. We as marketers should be the champion for those buyers and prospects, what we believe they need, based on the data we either have, or some calls we've made to find out how we can help, and then the right communications flow. I also think shorter is better. I've noticed a lot of long messages, and I'm not sure, even before this pandemic, people don't take the time. So I call it content junking. If we have a white paper that is very important, and has great content on how to mitigate supply chain disruptions, right, which might very well help today. Then let's chunk it out where, people can consume it over the course of a few interactions versus all at once. And I think those are gonna be successful. So, to wrap it up, don't market, be the voice of your customer and use your knowledge of what they need, and then, do it in a consumable way, so that the engagement continues.
Andrew: Yeah, I love that advice. So, something that keeps standing out to me, based on the steps that we walk through that maybe I can get you to untangle a little bit, is the data hairball that you reference, so. Can you maybe shed some light on what you mean by that, and how that plays into this?
Lisa: Yeah for sure, in fact that was one of the more controversial aspects of the book, was untangle the data hairball. Let me talk about why it was controversial, first. And I promise not to ask you another question, but is where I would normally wanna ask you Andrew, what the image of a hairball means, right? And to me it's just the grossest thing. I have a cat, so I have firsthand experience of it, that might've been the inspiration. But, with that, data is everywhere in the organization. And the data we do have, it's a hairball. I remember running complicated campaigns, outbound strategies, off of spreadsheets. And the Red Cross, who I worked with, and they were working on untangling the same data hairball for them, they have over 270 chapters in the US alone, that was as of when I was working with them a few years back. And, all of their data was on post-it notes, in these chapters, 'cause the local chapters, it's a not-for-profit, they're not well-funded, right? And I think that manufacturing marketers, and we're probably not that far off, we may not be using post-its, but spreadsheets, and different applications, we've got information here. So we have our own marketing hairball, then we have our own organizational business hairball, because in marketing, I might need service data, for understanding when a product is gonna come up for renewal, to be able to upsell and cross-sell, that customer, right, if I don't have that data, then I'm just pushing promotions, because I am guessing of their date, and I don't know how they've used the product, I don't have any of that additional information. So, tearing down the data hairball, is one, and it links back to the get smart, get strategic. What's our customer interaction strategy? How are we gonna measure our demand, our engagement, right, what are those measures? And then what's the data we need, and then working across the organization. Our CIO is our best friend here. Leveraging those relationships, making those relationships stronger. And using that to pull the data together we need, so that we can be effective. Because the one thing our customers hate is I give you data, and you don't remember it.
Andrew: Yeah, I think that's accurate. So, let's flash forward a little bit, let's assume that we are working with a more advanced manufacturer that has untangled the data hairball, and has a decent strategy in place. Broken down the silos internally, and have access to the right information at the right time. For companies that are in that sweet spot, what's next for them, how do they now take this, for lack of a better word, clean data, informed data, data that has already been shared with them, and then make sure that they are putting that to the best use for the business and for the customer?
Lisa: Yeah, I think that's a great question. And, if you think about what unites marketing, and the supply side chain of the house, it's the buyer. Right, it's the customer. It's the prospect. And, one of the key things is getting the product to the customer. That's a brand experience, it's important in how that happens. So as we're navigating through these times, sourcing and procurement have become a key area for us across the business, to look at improving, so that we can give our customers what we promise when we promise, and do it more efficiently, effectively, for our internal business. So that's where I'd love to focus next, I know that's weird marketing and sourcing, and it was Dan Mahlebashian from GM. Dan is now retired, but he's the former Global Executive of Contracting and Procurement for GM. And he was based in Detroit, I did a webinar with him in October. And he was the one that helped me understand how important sourcing is, because, the way we source components of products, the products, it needs to help, not only deliver on the customer needs, but that supply base should also be similar to the customer base. So it's a chance for marketing to inform sourcing, and for sourcing to use new tools like AI, to actually innovate its supply base, and find what they need faster, and in this day and age where we're seeing supply chain disruptions like we talked at the beginning of the program, that's more essential than ever, Andrew.
Andrew: Absolutely. I think you hit on a couple good key points there, so, we often reference the supply chain as the value chain, so, whatever partner suppliers, distributors, across the board in this industry, what's the necessary data, the necessary information, and the collaboration and tools and technologies that ultimately bring this data to light, to then provide value to the end customer that is ultimately gonna be using that product. And so, there's a lotta great new technologies, with things like blockchain, that we've talked about on previous episodes, as well as AI that you just mentioned. So, as a parting question before we wrap up the show, where do you see the future of all this going, are there any insights that you would share or any passion of an area that you plan on diving in deeper in the coming months and years, as it relates to all of this?
Lisa: Yeah, I've actually been advising, a company called Scoutbee, over the last year. And, I think they are where it's headed. They certainly have others that are doing something similar but not like they're doing. And, if you think about, in sourcing, in procurement, and what we're seeing now, right, we've got emergency supplies that are needed. But then our supply chains are also still in need, but we're having to throttle things back and forth. What we're seeing is the most innovative procurement leaders are using AI-powered scouting technology to digitize this process, because right now it's taking months. And companies like Scoutbee that leverage an AI engine can turn that to weeks. Which, in this day and age is critical. We've seen innovators like Audi take this, and really quickly source an alternative product. Be able to introduce that into their supply chain. To actually improve the customer relationship with that product. And what they did was they did it within seven weeks. And it would've taken months before that. So, I think we're gonna see, sourcing digitize, we're gonna see big data, like we've seen applied in marketing, applied more in procurement and sourcing. And we're gonna see these organizations start to have better insights, help drive innovation, and more importantly, help mitigate the risk of supply chain disruption, going forward. So, I'm super excited about that, and super excited, as you talk about the value chain, that we in business need to continue to come together more and more, and I think that's gonna be another silver lining out of this pandemic that we're seeing, is, we are coming together, not only within companies, but across countries to help each other, and, I can't imagine that our value chains aren't gonna thrive and survive, with the data we have today, going forward. So, I hope that answered your question Andrew, I am very optimistic about the future, and just know that as we stick together over the coming weeks, things will get better.
Andrew: Absolutely. Yes, I think that definitely answers the question, and, Lisa I really greatly appreciate your time and the conversation today. Very insightful, and, I too am looking forward to what's to come in this space.
Lisa: Excellent, well thank you, and thanks to all your listeners for being here.
Andrew: Fantastic. So for those listening, if you'd like to learn more about Lisa, we'll make sure that we include some of her links, and the topics that we discussed today in our show notes. And if you enjoyed this episode, please take a moment to rate the episode and subscribe to Data in Depth, available on iTunes, Google, Spotify, Stitcher, and pretty much anywhere else you might consume your podcasts. Thank you for joining us.
Andrew: Data in Depth is produced by Mountain Point, a digital transformation consulting firm focusing on the manufacturing sector. You can find show notes, additional episodes and more, by visiting dataindepth.com. Thanks for listening, and be sure to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.