I ensure customer experience comes before everything else - Talk Marketing 031 - Steve George

I ensure customer experience comes before everything else – Talk Marketing 031 – Steve George

0:14  Introduction

Martin Henley  0:14  

Hello there, my name is Martin Henley, this is The Effective Marketing Company YouTube channel and if you’ve spent a second here, you will know that I am on a mission to give you everything you need to be successful in your business. As far as I’m aware, the only way for you to be successful in your business is by being more effective with your sales and marketing. Not only on this channel, am I giving you everything I know about sales and marketing. I’m also giving you everything I can extract from anyone who will talk to me about sales and marketing. 

Martin Henley  0:43  

Today’s guest has been managing events since 2003 for businesses, including Oracle and CNBC in Saudi Arabia. He is Director of Customer Advocacy and Community Engagement at Insider and the Insider Reshape Conference, which attracted this year such luminaries as Barack Obama, and our very own Ionut Danifeld, which is how come he is speaking to us today. When I asked him is there something quirky, I can tell people about you, he told me that he has lived or worked on three continents. He is an eternal optimist. He loves to be in love and he can get as fluffy about things as we could possibly imagine. Today’s guest is Steve George. Hello, Steve.

Steve George  1:33  

Hi Martin, great to meet you. By the way, I do see only myself in here in case you want to put yourself right.

Martin Henley  1:39  

Yes, the you’re there. So that I can put your name title up and your job description. That’s why that will happen. So people know exactly who you are and where you are from. So we have to go quick. Today, we’ve only got 45 minutes, and it normally takes longer than this. You’re specialist subject today is customer marketing and you don’t think this gets enough air time. I’ll be honest, I’m a little bit shocked, I thought there only was such thing as customer marketing, like, oh, unless you’re talking about marketing to existing customers, is that what you’re talking about? 

Steve George  2:18  

To existing customers. 

Martin Henley  2:20  

Okay, good. So you market to get customers and then you should market, if you’re sensible, to your existing customers. Okay, good. We’re going fast. So just to reiterate, for everyone, the format is very simple. There’s only five questions. First question is, how are you qualified to talk to us about customer marketing? The second question is, who do you work with and how do you add value in their lives? The third question is, what is your recommendation for people who want to get better at customer marketing? And the fourth question is, what should people read? And the fifth question is who will you throw under the bus who might enjoy to have one of these conversations with me? So question number one, how, how are you qualified Steve George, to talk to us about customer marketing? Before we do that, really is this an issue? People don’t know that they should be marketing to their customers?

Do people not know that they should be marketing to their customers?

Steve George  2:21  

You think it should be evident right? We should  be marketing to customers but let me  paint the scenario for you a little bit. We have tens of thousands of SaaS companies today, right? 

Martin Henley  3:27  


Steve George  3:28  

Let’s take the field of tech, Fintech, Martech go in any kind of tech. Only 15% of these companies have a function called customer marketing. I’ll tell you why that makes a bit of a difference. These are the companies this 15% I mentioned about they’re the ones who have got a defined, objective, strategy, goal that they want to achieve with this  function. The rest of them have it rolled under the general marketing function, which is great but there’s just so much for you to do. We are in a hyper scaled, you know, hyper growth model of business today. So if I was going to 2002 when I started work, it was a very different landscape. You didn’t have the headache of are they going to stay are they going to leave every single year that question was never there because once you invested in the technology, it’ll take time for me to learn something different, will take time to integrate to my existing processes, get the team skilled up to do all that. Today is not that today, people can change technology within you know, a six month period three month period. It takes three to six months to use Insider in any company, any size, any business model and that is long as it takes for a company to to be lost to another business. Right? We hear this all the time. Why does this matter? Let me bring that also. So let me paint you the picture a little bit more deeper. In a SaaS company with a customer marketing function, they are the ones who know what the customer needs. They know who they’re going to get those testimonials from those assets from, they know who they’re going to have as a referral for another sales deal. Right? This is where it matters, these customers don’t want to just keep giving, and giving, and giving back to a business that’s supposed to be giving back to them. 

Steve George  5:32  

These customers want to know that you are thinking about them, their business, the KPIs they need to hit. So within Insider, we have broken that down to, I have my advocacy, I have my loyalty part, the advocacy part is where we’ve got the top notch advocates giving us peer reviews on Gartner, doing those amazing analyst interviews, on Forrester, etc. We’ve got those events that we do, only for our customers, or for the larger audience where the customers are like, Yeah, I want to speak about, you know, how, how are we using architects, how we’re using smart recommender and that’s important to us. That’s the advocacy part. The loyalty part is where we are giving back to our customers. Do we know what training they need? What skills that need to be developed? Do we know how much of the product that we’re, you know, asking them to use? Are they aware of can we help them by giving them better trainings? Can we kind of do a pairing almost like a dating for ASEAN, but we do pairings based on you know, what is this customer trying to achieve? Are they interested in going to a different market? Would they be willing to from Singapore, willing to speak with someone in Latan because they have set up their business model that way that they want to, you know, speak to others in Brazil, or Mexico or the US? This is the difference between the two?

How do Insider and the Reshape Conference deliver value for customers?

Martin Henley  6:58  

Okay, good. Good. Okay. So just so people know, because I don’t know, actually. So just so I know, can you explain to me what Insider is, so you are a SaaS provider. Then also, this Insider Reshape Conference, and maybe some of the other events that you’re involved with, just to give us a bit of context. Then I am desperate to speak to you about the subject of customer marketing because this is the first time I’ve ever heard it described this way. I absolutely want to have that conversation.

Steve George  7:36  

Sure, sure. Let me explain Insider. Well, when I joined in 2019, I was going, Wow, this company exists. It was a marvel to me. In eight years, this company with six founders, you know, our CEO is a lovely woman, she basically, with team took this company to 20 different markets. We are a MarkTech company, we are a MarTech platform, what does that mean? Anyone can be a MarTech platform. True. We serve over 800 brands, you could think of the global brands like Ikea, Lazada, to Samsung, Nissan, to the local brands, like Madeira, Madeira, in Brazil to, you know, Ingatlan in Hungary. We work with all of them. 

Steve George  8:25  

How do we work with these high growth start ups to enterprise brands? Now, customers, if I take customers right now, you’re your consumer, for any and every b2c brand. They are fragmented across different digital platforms, right. So I as a consumer, I’m taking myself as an example right now but you know, you’re in Bali so you could you can think of that as an experience as well. Consumers want to interact with brands, where they’re comfortable. It could be from the comfort of their home, it could be from, you know, a metro where they’re, you know, travelling to work or back. It could be on a mobile app, if you’re lucky to get the customers to download your app and engage with you on that. Or it could be on social channels like Facebook or WhatsApp, or eMail, let’s say if you’ve got a lovely loyalty based subscriber base. What we do as Insider, is help create that journey for the customer, whichever platform you’re on, whether you’re online, whether you are, you know, on Facebook, whether you’re on a website with your app, whether you’re an email, we create those personalised journeys for our customers with trigger points with what is the business need for that particular season that that product launch for that particular month for that moment. It’s all about the moments that matter for customers, and we are there to help our customers get those personalised journeys to their customers at scale. If that makes sense.

Martin Henley  10:01  

It makes sense. We’re gonna have to have another conversation another day about that whole thing. 

Steve George  10:08  

Yes, yes. 

Martin Henley  10:09  

Yeah. Okay, good. So, okay, let’s not open that can of worms, I’m really interested in that idea. So is there. Okay, let’s not open that can of worms. Customer marketing. The issue for me with marketing, in as much as there is an issue, is that it is too fluffy. 

Steve George  10:36  

Oh, good. 

Martin Henley  10:38  

The issue with that is that it has a reputation for being too fluffy, ie, it doesn’t deliver value or it doesn’t deliver a discernible value. This is the understanding of marketing that I am at war with. There are two metrics that take away that excuse altogether. The one is the cost of customer acquisition. What I tell people is, if you are proactively marketing, you are in the business of buying customers, of course, you need to be careful about talking about buying people in that way, I’m not saying that, you know, you are buying the opportunity to have customers. The second metric is lifetime customer value. So what people don’t know is that in corporations in the top 500 businesses in the world, the average cost of customer acquisition is somewhere in excess of 30%, of turnover. So essentially a third of what you  spend in your business, a third of what you make in your business goes into acquiring customers. Most businesses don’t even know that they’re doing this so they don’t have that cost in their minds. So literally, if they’re selling at a 20% margin, they’re losing 10% every time they take on a customer. That’s the first part of the equation. 

Martin Henley  12:01  

The second part of the equation is lifetime customer value, which is what you’re doing, which is customer marketing. There’s a thing that I quote over, and over, and over again, at the beginning of the the noughties in the UK what the government did in the way the government’s do, is they employed a load of just past it, middle aged men, who might have been company directors, etc. They sent them out as consultants, government paid for consultants to consult with small businesses and they called that Business Link. They did a study that found that it is 17 times more expensive to find, and win a new customer than it is to sell to an existing customer. Having said all of this, this is why I’m desperate to have this conversation. I’ve got an idea of why it doesn’t happen. I’ll tell you this, because I’m I’ve spoken too much. So I’ll say this one thing, and then I’ll get out the road. I’m much more interested in what you have to say. People don’t speak to their existing customers, because they think …. your face drop like a stone, because they think if people are continuing to give them money, then some weird hoodoo has gone on and they shouldn’t mess that up by making the customer aware that they are still taking their money. That’s everything I think about this. Now you tell me about about customer marketing.

How does customer marketing drive vale for SaaS businesses?

Steve George  13:29  

All right, let me share a little bit more data here, right. The reason you take five times more time to sell to a new acquisition customer is they may not know you well enough, they may not have heard of you, they do not have any references to your technology your products. So this is where that’s the one big challenge there. This is where customer marketing really plays a huge part. Okay, and this is the advocacy part I was talking about. So let’s say you’ve got into a new market let’s take UK as an example. Right? You’ve worked with the UK, let’s take Company X. Company X has another base in Singapore.  A very smart business decision Insider did was focus on Asia first, moved into Europe, and now of course across the Americas. What was really smart for us is winning the customer base in in APAC, Singapore, right and using that knowledge, that working knowledge with a particular customer saying hey, would this be applicable to someone in Europe? This is where customer marketing really comes into play. Right? We see this all the time at Insider, customers across geographies are recommending us to each other. So now you see how that acquisition cost goes down quite a bit. 

Martin Henley  15:02  


Steve George  15:02  

The second part you asked about is okay, Steve now, why are we not selling to our existing customers more? This is the conundrum, this is something I don’t get. Every investment guru on the planet will tell you 90% of your investment comes sorry, 90% of your revenue comes from your existing customers. If you’re not allocating at least 10 to 15% of your budget, at least, to retaining customers, to upselling, to your customers to expanding some of those opportunities to cross sell other products, you’re hitting yourself in the backside, because there’s this base of customers who are willing to work with you, who believe in your product, and you just need to tell them what more they could do with the existing set of products you’ve got. That already is a great revenue model. 

Steve George  16:00  

Now, of course, you have to still, you know, acquire new customers and this is where marketing breaks off a little bit. The reason why marketing is a lot of fluff and this is something I’ve been, you know, kind of putting the screws to as well, is because we don’t know our customers. There’s a general model of marketing where let’s just spray and pray that somebody out of the 15 million people you’ve just reached out to is going to realise that we have a great product. Versus let’s drop this on us. At Insider we have different levels of communication with those who are in senior management to those who are using the product or in the managerial executive levels. So why would I want to mix that kind of messaging if it doesn’t hit the mark? 

Martin Henley  16:55  


Steve George  16:55  

Does that answer some of those questions?

Why do SaaS businesses not invest in customer marketing?

Martin Henley  16:58  

It answers some of those. The thing is, we’re both answering the same question. Which is why is this so stupid? Why does nobody do this? Because for me, like what I tell people, is that … people want to talk about all this. I’ve don’t I’m not that sort of person that does that. Let’s talk about the secrets of marketing. There’s no secret of marketing, you know do some marketing is the secret of marketing. But if there is a secret to marketing, if there is a question, at the core of every marketing initiative for every business on the on the face of the planet, is what is the value that we are delivering? Who knows the answer to that question?

Steve George  17:45  

I love this question, by the way, and I’ll tell you something that that Insider has done, right? So at Insider, the powers that be all decided, hey guys, look, marketing is great. We’ve been getting amazing pipeline of leads, everything else is great but let’s turn marketing to a revenue generating engine. Right?

Martin Henley  18:07  


Steve George  18:07  

This conversation is what I’ve been waiting to hear from everybody, right? So by default, if you look at the early 2000s, to, you know, let’s say let’s say even till 2010, the idea was marketing’s job is to get 25% of the leads to my sales guys. 

Martin Henley  18:25  


Steve George  18:26  

From their marketing can do simple touch points, simple nurtures, make sure that I’m creating enough, you know, fluffy assets, as you call them. You know, it could be a ebook, it could be a brochure, it could be an event, collateral, it could be case studies. That was all great. As you get into 2015 and now, because you know, you’ve had this unfortunate case of the pandemic turning into endemic and the way people are working and this is why SaaS has got this extra boost, I would say, it’s just accelerated a lot of those digital transformations for sure. What’s happened is people have realised, company CEOs have realised that if marketing is not driving revenue, I can downscale my marketing quite a bit. I don’t need 15,000 events out there. If I can make do with 10 webinars, if I can create roundtables. That shift in mentality has changed the way we perceive things. Now, this is brought two problems. One, marketing is completely external facing which is we are driving or most SaaS companies are looking at just driving more leads, more acquisition, more collateral, to make sure we are the number one out there. That’s the first problem. The second problem is a lot of the CMO’s are not aware that the You need to focus and put time into creating a customer marketing strategy. That’s the two challenges that is becoming apparent, right, you will see a lot more customer marketing, job descriptions right now, by the way, if anyone’s interested in joining Insider in the cast marketing team, I’m hiring. Yes, if companies are not aware of this, it will become evident very soon. This is the year where we are pivoting slowly, but surely, towards creating these decisions, the strategies that we need to focus more on our customers. You can’t just do a round table a quarter or an annual catch up to say, my customers are happy. They’re not, because you’re not serving the individual customers needs. If you don’t have a customer marketing function, you don’t know what trainings they need, you don’t know what kind of assets they require, you don’t know what kind of upsell content across your content they need to know about a particular product and how it served others in their industry, in their geography.

Martin Henley  21:14  

Yeah, I’m 100%. So the answer to the question, who knows what value are you are delivering is your customers. There isn’t a customer, there might be a few, there might be some, but the vast majority of people, businesses, don’t continue to pay your invoices unless you are delivering value for them. So what goes on in the world, I think is marketers sit in their silo, scratching their heads, before it gets to marketing, product development sit in their silo, trying to imagine all the challenges that the market might be facing and how to fix them, Tthen marketing sit in their silo, wondering about how they’re going to develop messages, who they’re going to target and what messages they’re going to develop, and how they’re going to land them. Then salespeople sit in their silo thinking, well, how on earth are we going to sell this product, we’re not getting leads. For me, the alternative to this, which is clearly much better, is a virtuous cycle where you win a customer because, however, you win that first customer by luck, you managed to hit on something that addresses a challenge that they have. Now you have the ear of that customer and they might tell you about other challenges that they might have, that you could develop products for. They will tell you what the value of those products are, which informs your messaging and your targeting. Then you send your salespeople out to make it as easy as possible for them to buy this thing and hear about more of the challenges that they might be having, which then feeds your product development so it just goes round, and round, and round, and round, and round, and up, and up, and up forever. I’m glad you told me you’re an eternal optimist. This isn’t the year that this is changing brother, like it might be happening in your business but this has never changed in the history of time. I don’t believe it’s changing now. If anything is happening, it is a fad that will be completely forgotten in eight months time because businesses refuse the beauty of this logic, the sensibility of this process, because for some reason they want to put all these things in all of these silos. 

Martin Henley  23:35  

I was selling software at one time in my life we had boffins creating stuff, solutions, and then it’s like, go sell it and we would go talk to people they’re like, it’s not what we want. We want this and that and the other. Then we go back to the business say, you know, they’re not actually into this but we had a really nice lunch and they told us that they need this and this and this and that like you’re not in product development. Don’t listen to them. Don’t tell the boffins you know, this is insane, this situation, this is insane. The alternative is a virtuous cycle. You know Yeah, sorry. I’m I’m on one because I really feel strongly about this.

Steve George  24:12  

Your right, right? A lot of my business is to talk to other SaaS vendors as well, that’s that’s the way it is right? I love events, I love generating content for events. That means I get to talk to a lot of people.

Steve George  24:28  

Yeah, and of course I’m customer marketing so I can speak to all my customers as well. 

Martin Henley  24:31  


What is the danger for SaaS businesses that don’t invest in customer marketing?

Steve George  24:34  

A general problem SaaS companies will have and this is a management problem if your product marketing, if your product development, if your marketing, if your sales and your account, or your customer success teams don’t talk to each other your business is doomed to fail. You are doomed to have high churn rates. You’re going to have very low retention rates. You’re going to have a lot of customers constantly complaining. You’re going to have your own team complaining because nobody’s listening to them. This is working in silos. 

Martin Henley  25:08  


Steve George  25:10  

One of the lovely things, I think I’ve seen at iInsider and this could be just because, you know, I saw it at Insider, is the second I joined the company and this is all of our regional marketers. The customer success team, the accounts team, the account managers, the marketing, the sales guys sat together, we have these monthly and bi-weekly meetings to make sure we’re serving our markets really well. My job becomes even easier when this happens because customer marketing is a function that sits between sales, marketing, customer success. It has been fed a lot of content from Product Marketing, because that’s the company’s directive of how they move forward. Product marketing, product development take a lot of feedback from Customer Success teams, because they are the ones who are, boots on the ground, working with customers day in day out. This cycle, is if it’s not created in a in a SaaS company, you cannot be the next Adobe, you cannot be the next Insider. Right?

Steve George  26:16  

I say this very openly. As an optimist, there’s the one thing I really love about a conversation I had yesterday on my podcast with Acacia Agarwal from from modular thing. He said, I don’t need to change the world, I just need to be able to influence one person. I go by that strategy completely. If I can even change one person’s mind this year, to include a customer marketing function in their companies, I’m in a much better place than I was last year. This domino effect will pick up, it’s like Uber, the first company that said, Okay, everyone can be a taxi, everyone can be a rider, everyone can be a driver, you’ve got a car, and you can drive from point A to point B. They started that and then everyone else picked up and all that lovely stuff. Delivery companies, you know, it was UPS, FedEx, DHL, when I was growing up, nowadays, you’ve got so many more of those delivery companies, there’s a lovely new concept called dark stores now, right? These are all coming up because the market is evolving. It takes one person to push that, make that small change, and then others pick up. I’m not the first person to take customer marketing, by the way, I’m not but I’m a huge advocate, to make sure your customers experiences come before everything else. And that is the only way to solve for SaaS to survive. Yeah,

Steve George  26:23  

I think this goes way beyond SaaS. I think probably SAS has a better approach to marketing than most bsuinesses, because you have the margins, because you have the the yield, there’s no limit to how many times you can roll out your software, for example. So I think this goes way beyond SaaS. I think there’s data, is there data about how many software’s are bought by corporations and never implemented?

Steve George  28:28  

I used to know this back in 20 years. So I used to work for this company Liferay. Lovely company. It’s the the American story, right, started off from a garage, grew up into this big company. It’s across the globe. I did know this in 2010 and 2013. I cannot tell you today, how many software’s out there but I can tell you from personal conversations with a lot of my customers back then, was they would buy a product because the head office said so They couldn’t use it because they didn’t have the skill sets. It didn’t match the market. There were some legalities behind not being able to use the product in those markets, which the head office was not aware of when they bought or purchased the product and try to push it down. This is the unfortunate part of customer experiences and this is the lovely part about customer marketing. You need to also be culturally sensitive to what works. If I do a a webinar today on WhatsApp for marketing, right. It’s great in Europe. It’s amazing in India, but the majority of Asia is not ready for it. Australia use SMS marketing today also with our product. They use SMS marketing, they don’t care about WhatsApp, so I cannot push the same content there. I can’t do a webinar with the same effect In Vietnam, and hope to do literally a translation of that event in the UK. This is where you have to change your model of work the same way you have to change your technologies that you use, or the channels, you will see channels, not technologies, but change the channel to use to communicate with your customers, whether it’s b2b is the same thing. The human psyche, the human way of connecting to things is always going to be the same, you’re going to be just as impressed with an amazing experience, you know, fine dining, etc. as another person anywhere else in the world. It’s the point where that makes a difference. So if I’m a customer who’s pissed off, I’m about to churn, I don’t really like anything about this product and I’m saying, Hey, guys, look, I want to give you this, you know, amazing experience going to Fiji or Bali, it will not make a difference, if I don’t understand what is causing that problem. That’s where customer marketing really sits in is to understand how do we create those touch points with the customers at different levels without trying to create our own agenda, and saying, Okay, I’m only going to do events, because that’s all I want to do.

Why is it that so few SaaS projects are implemented?

Martin Henley  31:29  

Yes, it was, there’s a conversation going up this Tuesday. So where are we now it’s going to be like the 20th or 21st of February, with a guy called Jamie Badar, he was selling high level software in Australia. He did a survey, I don’t know how they did or he had access to a survey and it was the top five objections that salespeople face when they’re selling software technology. It was something like salespersons, not listening, that they can’t meet the budget, something else something else. In that five was, we don’t believe we’ll ever get this implemented. Which kind of comes full circle to where we started, which is this idea that businesses don’t believe that they’re delivering value and in that instance, if they provide the software and it never gets implemented, or it doesn’t get implemented properly, or never it gets used, then they’re clearly not providing any value, you know, so, yeah, so this 100% makes sense to me. 

Steve George  32:39  

Just to touch one point on that Martin, within SaaS, and this could be the old school way of thinking versus what’s being done right now. Right. We recently purchased a few different products on our for our for ourselves and I was looking at, you know, the onboarding process between what we do for our customers versus what I’m getting as a customer from another SaaS vendor. One thing that we do at Insider is there is a period of getting the first campaign out. Your onboarding process is, let’s get to identify all your business KPIs in the next three months, let’s draw the map on how we’re going to get there. This is what our current managers do, this is what our customer success managers do. They identify the biggest hurdles in being in being able to implement that three month programme. Face it, when you have a new product, you’re not going to think of the whole year, from an executers level. Your product, your strategy comes from your decision maker so this could be a CMO, Comms Director, etc. The person who’s going to execute is only thinking about the next three months, because I need to learn a new product, I need to be able to use this and make sure that my boss doesn’t think I’m useless at this job. So this is understanding your customer, if you can get that three months right the rest of your journey with your customer is smooth sailing, because you’ve created rapport, you’ve created education, you’ve trained them to be able to use this product by themselves, and you’re there to help them. We do these business reviews. We make sure that our customers are always succeeding. At Inside we call our customers partners because we’re, their success is our success and it’s not separated.

Martin Henley  34:38  

I think you are blessed Steve, because you have found yourself in a company that thinks like this because my experiences, from my career working in tech companies, working in all kinds of companies, and then me running my businesses 2005 I’ve been working with Lord knows a 1000 different businesses is that this isn’t their attitude. This is why I don’t think this is the year where this changes. You are blessed, because you found yourself in this situation. I would fall over if more than 1% of businesses actually had this same attitude because my experience is the opposite. They’re not even understanding marketing, let alone customer marketing. I think it’s a bit of a disaster. I’m feeling under pressure, I want to ask you about these events and this one, because we have to finish now in 10 minutes. This Reshape, Inside Reshape conference, where you had Barack Obama speaking, you were director of that, Is that right?

Steve George  35:51  

Correct. Let me touch on why we brought this up as this also comes back to the service attitude, the experience culture, we’ve got at Insider, right? This is 2020, we’re in March, we go into lockdown and all of a sudden, the whole world starts changing, right? You you start hearing about furloughs, you start hearing about, you know uncertainty in the job market, you start hearing about businesses shutting down because they don’t know how to deal with this. There’s this slight digital pivot, and then there’s a rushing race to it. That was 2020 for us. 

Steve George  36:28  

I will touch on two things here. One I am, your right, I am blessed to be working on Insider because we are one of the few companies that chose not to lay a single person off. In fact, we did not leave a single person off. The company had a very strong culture towards their employees. Now, I also believe each employee is an ambassador. Now, what happened here and why we created Reshape is we started talking to our customers, we started talking to our community of prospects, those we’re trying to sell to and asked how can insider help? There was one question that that a lot of my close customers who I really have that interaction almost on monthly basis said Steve, you got a lot of events experience Insider has got a lot of amazing customers. Can we create something that is able to bring all these uncertainties in one place and can we discuss about this? Now this didn’t come from me, this came from our senior management. Right. From the point of that conversation to execution was six weeks. In June 2020 we put together one of the biggest leadership summits on the planet. 2021, we, and you mentioned this before, there’s only one degree of separation between people these days. Having first Barack Obama having you know, Martin Sorrell, Sir Martin Sorrell, right one of the gods of advertising in the agency business, to every single person, we had 240 speakers last year, across 90 countries, we had 15 or 16,000 attendees, I can’t remember the exact number. On the days of the event, it was It was breathtaking. It all started because we wanted to serve our customers. We wanted to bring to light some of the uncertainties and discuss them. I won’t say there was any solution that came out from the event but the discussion led to changes, strategic changes, process changes, and changes in how leadership worked across CX, customer experience, that’s our bread and butter. Across leadership, because they have to understand the value of investing time money and training their employees and using technologies, to a new community we have started called Shemarkables, which was a byproduct of Reshape. All it did was it enforced the idea that we need to invest more time, energy on developing the skill sets, to the lovely women in digital and CX. To that extent, we are now running our first show Shemarkables webinar on the second of March with the global CMO of Netflix. Bosma St. John. So you know, it’s just these conversation that we keep having and trying to add value to our customers and to the community that we serve.

Martin Henley  39:36  

Right. I watched yesterday and I’ve got a bit of an issue with Gary Vaynerchuk. I hope he’s not a mate of yours.

Steve George  39:49  

I do know Gary yes.

Martin Henley  39:50  

Okay. So the issue I’ve got is that it was a thing he did a couple of weeks ago at a Sage conference, a Sage World Conference thing. He was saying to people just do a podcast, you know, just do that and then you’ll be successful, kind of a thing. He’s not exactly saying that. I’ve said this to people myself. I’ve said the opportunity of social media is to step into the media shoes, and be that step closer to your market to your customers. I still kind of believe that but Gary Vee did put my nose out when he said, you know, just do that and you’ll be successful. The point is, you’ve done this on a grand scale, you’ve stepped into the shoes, not even of a media, but of an events organiser in your industry and you are that much closer to your market. So the only point I want to make about that is that there must be value in that for you to have done it twice, you know, so that’s really good. Man, we’ve got five minutes left, and we’ve only done question number one.

Steve George  41:00  

We’ll do a follow up to this. 

Steve George  41:01  

I like to do a follow up. 

Steve George  41:04  

Yes, we should. What can I what can I leave the audience with? I What can I add, which I have not added in the next five minutes?

Martin Henley  41:14  

You’re asking me?

Steve George  41:16  

Yes. What would you like the last message from Steve to be for this particular podcast?

Martin Henley  41:22  

I think I want, we’re gonna have to have a whole other conversation, because you’ve just taken the lid off things this time around. So you have customer success teams, and you have account management teams, and you have sales teams, and you have customer marketing.

Steve George  41:44  

It’s a fairly new division within Insider. It’s growing. Yes. But we have taken that first step a year and a half ago, right. It’s still growing and I think there’s a lot we can do but yes.

Martin Henley  41:56  

Right. Man, I don’t think there needs to be a final. I think if we’ve landed that message today, your example is clearly demonstrating the value of doing this. You know, maybe you could give us a sense of the kind of value maybe that you have achieved in the time that you’ve been in this role. That might be useful.

Steve George  42:24  

Yeah, okay. So you know, we started this conversation with there are 10s of 1000s of SaaS products out there. You can throw a shoe in the crowd and you know, you’re going to, well, don’t throw a shoe, but you’re going to hit someone who’s working in Saas..

Martin Henley  42:38  

Don’t assault anyone on our advice, we won’t be there when you go to court. 

What have Insider achieved through customer marketing?

Steve George  42:42  

Please no, exactly, it’s only figurative guys, do not take it literally. In the in the last year and a half to two years time we have propelled Insiders advocacy to a point where we are number one, you can look at any chart out there, whether you’re on G2, you’re on Gartner, you’re on Forrester, you’re on IDC; we are there, we’re up on the chart, we are number one, and that’s not because, yes, Insider is an amazing and fantastic product. I don’t doubt that. But our customers have stepped up and said, you know what, I love the experience with Insider, I want to talk about it. That’s achievement number one.

Martin Henley  43:29  


Steve George  43:30  

That took us about two years, right? It took us about a year and a half, two years time. Second one, our upsell revenue, I still say is it it’s in its infancy but it’s getting there. We’ve started doing ABM eBooks and ABM marketing to our existing customers, which is a huge achievement. Before that, if you look at any part of marketing, it was always ABM e-Books for new customer acquisition. It takes you literally two days to put an ABM e book together if marketing and sales works together with customer success. Two days, you can do it for every one of your accounts within a quarter if you’ve got a huge database of customers. Right? That’s achievement number two, the achievement number three, today I can I can call my customers, friends and partners because we have that relationship with them, then this can be any level. Right? This is not just you know, Steve George, a customer marketing person. No, no, this is every single person within our marketing function. They are customer marketers themselves. So it’s that shift in mentality and that is a third achievement, I would say, that is what we have.

Martin Henley  44:48  

The thing is your best salespeople are your customers. When when they go to people who know and trust them and say this has delivered huge value for us then people believe it. Which is what I need you to do for me now, I need you to refer me to two people who will come and endure one of these conversations. You and I are going to have to do a part two, so we’re going to have to schedule that. Who do you think might enjoy to have one of these conversations with me?

Steve George  45:18  

Three of them if you’re interested. So, someone I really think you would enjoy speaking to is Martin Maru. He’s a programmatic genius. He used to be at personal computer. Now he is at a company called Bordeaux. In Netherlands. It’s in the delivery tech space. David Bowsher. Sorry, David Bosler. I apologise. He’s the VP of APEC for conference square. He’s done an amazing business growing the b2b business, in the SAS business in digital experiences in all of AIPAC, brilliant guy. Excellent. Third one would be unwrapped Gupta from Ada, agency side, what are the few independent agencies still existing on planet? He’s his fun, creative mind. He’s a great leader again. But he’s also taking the business. He’s the chief strategy officer at Ada. So he’s taking the business and the customer experiences of the business to a new level as well.

Martin Henley  46:17  

Excellent. That would be brilliant. Can I ask you to put together like a little introduction on LinkedIn saying I’ve done this and I enjoyed it or otherwise, and it’d be great if you could do it. And then I will pick it up from there. Okay, we’re going to have to say goodbye, man, because but this has been too short. So we will definitely do this again, very, because you’ve just put a head full of questions in my head. So now it’s full. So we will do this again shortly if that’s cool.

Steve George  46:49  

I look forward to thank you so much for that, Martin, and it was a pleasure to be on the show.

Martin Henley  46:53  

You’re an absolute legend. Thank you so much, Steve.

Steve George  46:56  

Cheers. Oh, great time.

Martin Henley  46:58  

You too. Cheers. Bye. Okay, I’ll stop the recording there. Okay, man, thank you so much. This is cool, but there’s just so much I want to ask you

Martin Henley

Martin Henley

Martin has built a reputation for having a no nonsense approach to sales and marketing and for motivating audiences with his wit, energy, enthusiasm and his own brand of audience participation. Martin’s original content is based on his very current experience of running effective marketing initiatives for his customers and the feedback from Effective Marketing’s successful and popular marketing workshops.



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