February 11, 2021 | Susan Groeneveld

WS Shares Replay | Change or Die (w/ Calgary Marketing Association)

At the end of January, WS Chief Intelligence Officer Susan Groeneveld and Media Director Mazen Tannir presented Change or Die as part of Calgary Marketing Association’s webinar series. In just under an hour, Susan and Maz explain how outcome marketing can inform a new model that brings marketing to the C-suite table, and ensures that business goals are considered and included at every stage of the marketing planning, execution, and optimization process. 

Jan Wood: Hello, everyone, welcome back or welcome if you’re just joining us for the first time to our Calvary Marketing Association 2021 webinar series. Of course, my name is Jan, I am with the Calgary Marketing Association, and joining me today, the reason why you’re all here is we are going to be hearing from and sharing information with Susan and Maz. So welcome, Susan. And wow, we have attendees rolling in very, very quickly. So I would just like to take a minute to allow everyone to get settled in, do a little bit of housekeeping and then Susan and Maz I will for you to do your presentation and have your conversation if that’s okay. 

Maz Tannir: Super. 

Jan Wood: All right. Oh, perfect. Um, so as you all know, this is a live presentation. But we do record it. And we will be sending you all every one of you who have registered a copy of this presentation with this within the next 24 to 48 hours. So watch for that in your inbox. We are leaving a lot of time at the end, because we’ve already had so much curiosity around this subject. We want to allow lots of time for questions and answers. So please, as you’re going through listening to today’s conversations and presentation, please leave your questions or your comments in our Q&A box. And we are going to get to as many of your questions and comments before the end of the hour. Then I would like to just say a huge thank you to our membership who has stayed with us through this very interesting time. And a very, very special thank you to our corporate partners who have shown their support of the Calgary Marketing Association and really the marketing community. So thank you so much to our Platinum Partners Canada Post and Calgary Economic Development, our Gold Partners, ATB Financial, DAC Group and WS, and a thank you to our Friends Partner, which is Chaordix. A huge thank you, thank you isn’t enough, but we could not put on these webinars without you. 

So without further ado, I am going to read the really interesting bios of Maz and Susan and then as I said hand over the controls so that you can see what you came here today to be a part of. So, Maz. Located in Toronto, thank you for joining us in our time zone. Maz has 26 plus years of experience to effectively develop, negotiate, and tailor media strategies to align within marketing goals. He is adept at incorporating research and analytics and finding patterns that allow different media to work together. Maz is certified in programmatic advertising, Google AdWords, social media marketing, and has been trained in multiple media courses throughout Europe and Canada. And Maz is actively involved in industry organizations including IAB Chair, Diversity and Inclusion Task Force and Programmatic Training Committee and Ad Club Toronto Digital Day Committee. So you know, just a few things on the go, you know, just taking a few moments out of your day right? 

And Susan, growing up on a ranch and experiencing the natural circle of life from an early age armed Susan with a fearless and curious determination to create significant positive contributions for others. Her 25 year plus career in marketing has contributed significantly to economies in North America and Japan. Susan co created WS about 18 years ago and with the goal to create measurable marketing success for WS clients located across North America. A co-creator of multiple globally recognized award winning companies, she is an expert in marketing consultancy, business model development, and marketing outcome approaches. And Susan, this is what I love about you, Susan wonders about the problems we can solve and is inspired by the power of humanity to do good. So what a wonderful way to just hand over the controls to the two of you and let you share your knowledge.

Susan Groeneveld: Thank you, Jan.

Maz Tannir:  Thank you, Jan. Well, that was quite the introduction. And welcome, everybody. It’s great to be here. Thank you for giving us an opportunity to actually dress up today, it’s been a while since I’ve worn a shirt. So I’m Maz, in case you weren’t sure, I don’t like to be called Susan very often. And we’re gonna have a little chit chat today between Susan and myself, and we’re going to talk about “Change or Die”. But before we begin, I have to give a little plug to the agency in terms of who we are and what we do. 

So for those of you who don’t know we are full service, and we like to refer to ourselves as an outcome marketing practice. We work on delivering insights-driven business intelligence, alongside a full suite of marketing services that we offer. What we’ve been doing is we’ve been working very closely with our clients in putting the customer, the audience, in the heart of every marketing strategy, rather than focusing strictly on the product. Myself, I, you know, I had prepared a whole speech about who I am, but I think Jan gave the introduction, and I’m grateful for that. But yes, I’ve been with WS since 2014. I immigrated to Toronto back in 2005, and I’ve really had a focus on the digital aspect and where the digital landscape is moving to, hence my involvement in committees with the IAB and the Ad Club of Toronto. But I’m also a person that likes to spark a conversation about diversity inclusion, not just in the workplace, but in the data that we gather, and removing this unconscious bias that we see. And I was recently elected as the Chair for the IAB Diversity and Inclusion Task Force. But enough about me, I’m gonna pass this on to Susan. Susan is the founder of WS, which makes her my boss, and she’s also the Chief Intelligence Officer. So Susan, let’s tell these folks a little bit about you, and let’s get into it.

Susan Groeneveld: Thanks, Maz. Thank you, CMA, actually, we’re really excited to talk to you all today. Again, Jan did a bit of an intro, but I just kind of want to double down on starting companies and being an entrepreneur, as well as a marketer. Everything that we do comes back to the core at WS and a part of creating companies, we’re actually co-founder in True Media that you may be familiar with. We started a research company called Evoke. And then what I’m really proud of is a not for profit that we created, actually, for species care, better care, called Cat Healthy, and that is globally recognized. 

Our latest venture, though, beyond WS is really informing outcome marketing. We’ve just launched an AI company, a machine learning company in partnership with AltaML, in animal health. And on that journey, it has reinforced why outcome marketing is so very, very important, because I’m coming at it as a startup entrepreneur, with significant dollars. And I mean, who cares about that, but the point is, the marketing has to be effective. So that’s really helping inform the type of agency that I’d like to work with when I’m starting these companies. So this growth mindset entrepreneurial approach has really been the fuel that has driven WS. We’ve always prided ourselves on digital first and customer centric. And to that we’ve been able to attract some of the best talent in North America to our team like Maz. I should say, since COVID, we’ve actually started hiring, you know, we’re already in Toronto, but now, people from Austin, Texas, Victoria, Winnipeg, right across North America, helping us with our work. We really believe in collaboration and this approach is really attracting some of the top people in marketing, so we’re really excited about that.

Maz Tannir: So Susan, I have to ask you, when we were preparing this presentation, you said hey, can you put this particular slide in for me? And you said that you weren’t gonna tell me why until we were actually presenting so enlighten me.

Susan Groeneveld: Yeah, thanks Maz, for tolerating me in this. This is really a presentation about change. Not about dating and how it’s changed. This is really about change, you know, as humans, right, we know we have to change. Listen, we’re in this terrible COVID pandemic time, so that’s really, really intensified the spotlight here. This is how my great grandfather would have farmed at the turn of the century and it really kind of informs this entrepreneurial approach. Back then they sold Clydesdale horses to other farmers. You couldn’t farm without horses. And then along about World War One, another pivot moment, tractors came on the scene, so new technology. It basically blew out the horse market, they weren’t really needed. So the family had to make a real pivot in deciding how they’re going to make their livelihood. And one of the real things they decided to do when they did pivot was to better understand their customer. This is kind of a built-in mentality, they shifted to raising purebred cattle, which doesn’t sound like a huge shift, but it really was, right? Because this wasn’t about powering crops, and growing food, this was trying to raise genetics that were significantly better. 

This massive shift that we’re going through right now isn’t unfamiliar to humanity, and I think there’s some lessons here. You know, we’re going to be okay, we’re going to get through it, but really, we have to keep changing. And now that we know better, we have to apply these principles. I really believe it’s our responsibility to adapt and evolve. And I’m just going to put a fine point on that, the longer you’ve been invested in making money a certain way, the harder it is to change. And so we’re seeing a lot of that with multinationals, where they’re setting up VC arms, where they can de-risk some of this new thinking, or they’re trying to establish, you know, technology or digital companies. And they’ve pulled that out of the traditional mindset. Now, let’s think about that from an agency perspective. If we’re really used to a traditional approach, it’s really hard to do this shift. So that’s why we’ve really doubled down on it with WS. And, you know, I’m excited to share what we’re doing today with you. It doesn’t mean anyone’s doing anything wrong, this is just an incremental shift in marketing.

Maz Tannir:  So I’m going to ask you a few questions, Susan, as we get into the presentation, but you know, after hearing that story, I have to ask the title of “change or die” that we had talked about originally… quite a powerful statement. Are we seeing any more optimism coming out from this change and this growth? Why are we doing this?

Susan Groeneveld:  Yeah, it’s a really exciting time, like, you know, five years ago, I was in a presentation. And the President of Havas actually said if you’re in an agency right now, and you don’t wake up every day and go “holy, what’s going on?” you better be. And I think since that time, we’ve just seen technology accelerate, right? So we really are doubling down on the tools, we’re really doing a good job on the tools. But I think we’ve lost a little bit of the line of sight of why we’re doing it. Peter Drucker, if you haven’t heard of Peter, you know, please pick up a book, I think he’s written about 50 of them. He’s known as the father of modern management. He’s a PhD business consultant and he introduced many beliefs and really helped modernize management. But he really believed that companies only existed for two reasons and that was innovation and marketing. And that was in the 1940s. Good news is, I think it’s actually more relevant today than it was then. It’s just that we’ve got a whole new toolbox.

Maz Tannir: But we are seeing quite a shift, though, Susan. In a lot of our client meetings that we’ve been having, and that’s why this next slide resonates quite a bit. We are seeing the involvement of CFOs sitting at the table with us. And, you know, we look at a large trend that’s happening globally, where budgets are being declined by the CFOs, because they’re not seeing a quick return on investment. How much more are we going to be seeing these CFOs and the finance departments taking part in the marketing conversations?

Susan Groeneveld: Yeah, you know, more and more, right? Like they were always at the C suite table. We weren’t. Marketing was always viewed as a support, right? So we were happy in that middle management level. Every once in a while we’d bump up into C-suite. But what we’re really talking about now is trying to figure out how to get back to C-suite so that we can be more relevant. And that’s what I mean when I said that we’ve lost the thread a little bit over the years. 

In 2019, the same study from McKinsey also found that 83% of global CEOs say that marketing can be a major driver for growth. So now here we are talking about growth. And you’ve probably heard about growth marketing, and growth marketing is really performance and brand put together. And then our shift to outcome is just taking that growth a little bit farther. In order to drive it, we have to really move past thinking in measurable results like impressions, click-throughs, page engagements. What stopped us from being in the C suite is we don’t speak the same language. Net Promoter scores are great and brand equity numbers are great for us but adopting a mindset of a CFO and thinking in terms of outcomes helps establish us as a driver of value for the business. They want to know ROI, they want to know cost of acquisition, they want to know customer lifetime value. And, you know, maybe, maybe we can actually guarantee some marketing outcomes – more on that later. But we need to be able to speak in their terms. And quite frankly, if I’m CEO, which I am in a different environment, I want to know what the ROI is. I think there’s a nice alignment there, but we really have to work harder. 

You know, for the agency folks, and I’m not sure who our blend is, so, you know, hopefully, this is relevant. But if there’s agency people on the webinar, you know, we put it at the foot of our marketing client to approve what we’re doing. And you know, they’ve come to us because we’re experts. And so there’s a bit of a dichotomy there, where if we’re in a vendor relationship, it’s really hard for them to approve what we’re doing. So they’re going to actually pick tactics to approve because they’re more comfortable there and that’s why we’re shifting. We need to help them actually get back to C-suite too and bring marketing to a bigger stage. 

For people on the client side, if we have people on the client side on the webinar today, what we found in McKinsey’s research is the type of CMO that’s most effective is a “unifier”. So that’s somebody that’s figured out the ecosystem. They know that sales has to be involved and they know that finance has to be involved and they know that they’re trying to build these pathways. In marketing, we also have to build these pathways, it isn’t just “leave us alone, and we’ll figure it out and then plug and play”. And so there’s they’re seven times more likely to grow, if they have a CMO that is a unifier. And so collaboration is going to be another name of the game as we talk about this.  We need to listen and we need to not think we’re the smartest people always in the room for this to be really effective.

Maz Tannir: And the market really has changed. And yes, I used Bernie Sanders in this slide. I don’t think there’s ever going to become a time where we’re tired of seeing this Bernie meme, not me personally, at least. But the traditional method is represented by this image of Bernie as being alone and very company-centric versus working and focusing on the customer. The tactics that were used had a lot of subjectivity in them, you know, we would always say we don’t think the customer is going there, or the client would make certain assumptions about which tactics would work and which tactics wouldn’t. And it was a question of “just get the customers to us”, there wasn’t anything else beyond that. The way we’re seeing this transition from traditional marketing to what we look at here as outcome marketing. And this is where everything changes. And this has become the DNA in terms of how we’re working around it. So very customer-centric, focus on the customer, understanding them. And we’re going to talk a little bit about each one of these. 

Focus on the strategy, don’t just look at acquisition, but work on the retention. Try to get your customers not just to stay with you, but to become advocates of your company and your product. And then evidence based. So you know, with all the tools that we have today at our arsenal, we are really able to understand what is working and what isn’t. And taking that evidence now becomes a lot more fruitful, a) for me as a media buyer, for example. We’re looking at the data that’s coming in, we’re seeing what works, what doesn’t, we can pivot really quickly and this is now becoming the outline of what growth marketing is and how we are going about our approach.

Susan Groeneveld: Growth marketing for an agency is an incremental but truly profound shift. When we look at these different corners, touchstones, I would say, it has changed everything at WS. It has changed how we get paid, it has changed how we structured our teams, it has changed our process. It has fundamentally changed everything, every facet of the – I don’t even know you know, we want to call ourselves a firm because there’s a discipline to it now that we’ve never had, there’s a rigour to what we’re doing. It’s really a big shift and part of the reason why we’ve been able to do it is that most of our multinationals have venture capital funding involved on board. And we’re gonna see more and more of this. We do a lot of work in agriculture. There’s a lot of investment that’s happening in agriculture and this attention to ROI is heightened and so that’s really helped hone our approach. We’ve been doing this for at least three years now and I really do believe this is the future. 

You know, I’m going to use Elon [Musk] here as an example. So we know that Elon’s anti-advertising. We also know he’s like the richest man in the world and his mom just actually put out a book. I don’t know if you know that Maz. And she’s Canadian! Anyways, it’s been said that the budget per Tesla is $6 per car but he has mastered social media and PR, but what he’s really, really figured out is understanding his customer. And yes, he’s made some terrible 20 million dollar mistakes along the way but we know that Tesla owners are some of the most loyal in the world and we know that this company actually was created in I think it was 2005 or 2003, and they are the most valuable car company in North America, in that short period of time. So he is really fulfilling Drucker’s idea that we exist, companies exist, to innovate and market and you can’t do one without the other. But how we go to market is really different. 

You know, with our Austin team, we talk a lot about Elon, because he’s moved his business down there and our traditional thinkers are terrified. Because we don’t know, right, he’s like, he feels like he’s gonna just come out of nowhere and say stuff. But what he’s really figured out is what people may want. If we really just let our audiences tell us, they will help us see the way through. If you want to actually, just as an aside for the people on the call, if you actually want to see Tesla in action, sign up for a test drive. And, you know, one of our people in our content team actually did that and they ended up buying a Tesla. We had asked them to sign up to inform, you know, the kind of work that we want to do with our clients and it’s very effective, apparently. So kudos to Tesla. But all of these things, you know, we say the words, we’re going to show you actually now, a little bit of how we put it into action. Some of our clients say, you know, that’s nice conceptually, but are you really doing it? So we’re gonna show you a little bit of the secret sauce here.

Maz Tannir: And so this is how we begin. It’s a systems approach that we take, you know, think supply chain links, and how everything works together. We start with the front end planning, and this is where we evaluate these particular opportunities, we see the strategic fits, the benefits, and the risk towards the agency. We get a full understanding about what the outcomes are, for the sake of planning and before we even start moving the needle anywhere. There’s a full on assessment that we develop. We move it then to the engineering stage and really, this is where everyone starts to come together in the meetings. This is where we start developing solutions, we’re designing the plans, we’re working and modifying the outcomes. And when anything changes throughout this entire process –  whenever the client comes back, and they tell us that there’s been a market shift, or there’s been a product shift -we always come back to this particular stage, and we reevaluate the plan that we’ve put together, because it has to begin from here. 

We move into execution. This is where we start getting all our resources together. What are the different tools that we need to prepare to go to market? We launch and deploy all the channels. Obviously, from a media standpoint, there’s a lot of optimization that we can do while campaigns are in the market. We’re looking at numbers, we’re looking at data, or data and how you pronounce it is really up to you. But we have to see that we’re trending towards that outcome. If we aren’t, in a lot of cases, we actually move back into the engineering phase to say “did we engineer this correctly?” and we start one more time. And then we validate. So this is where we’re taking that outcome that we had put up right at the start. Was it accurate? Was it relevant? Do we need to go back into engineering to start all over again? Was there something we needed to tweak? And correct me if I’m wrong here, Susan, but a lot of the time at the validation stage, we have our clients involved with us here, in a lot of these stages, but mostly here on the validation.

Susan Groeneveld: Yeah, we’ve really changed the discussion with all of our clients because now we think this way, whether they can implement the full process, we think this way for everyone. And we really start with what does the data tell us? So obviously, you know, I think most people now have dashboards, or at least Google Analytics, or whatever you’re using to measure. And so we’re actually starting those conversations with our clients early in the discussion obviously. We have quality assurance checkpoints throughout this whole system. So we’re telling them what’s working and what isn’t. We’re not waiting for them to tell us. So that’s really big – now we’re in partnership, now we’re having partner conversation, and we’re trying to make their lives really easy. 

The one thing I want to say is we say here that this is a systems approach. This is kind of terminology, you’re going to hear more and more about, where we’re actually trying to figure out the relationship because it’s not a linear model anymore, right? It’s not that we just had a full line of sight and we knew how to get things done as an agency. Now we’re trying to spend time in that front end, and in the engineering to figure out how they all work in relationship. So the other critical thing that I really want to point out here is we’ve shifted our thinking – from “wowie-zowie we want to get the most impressions possible and see it’s working, see our messaging is right!” to sending the right message at the right time to the right person. It’s a very disciplined approach and we’re not trying to just pick “oh, we’re gonna just do a lot of awareness, and hopefully they engage, and then maybe we can get them to a conversion”. We’re actually really mindfully listening and watching the experience. And I know Maz, from your point of view, from a media point of view, this is a radical shift, right? Where before it was like, get as much value out of media as you can. Do you want to speak to that at all?

Maz Tannir: Well, we’ve moved away from this impression counting and even the CPM conversation,  and we’re working with publishers on more of a partnership level now, where they understand the outcomes that we want to achieve. And so they’re putting their tools together, they’re putting their best ideas together and it’s up to us, as a media department to see what fits in and what works best, knowing the intelligence that we know, internally. But it absolutely has shifted that mindset, that you know, a click-through rate, you know, was an objective of ours a long, long time ago but today, a click-through means nothing if there’s no conversion attached to it, if there’s no action that’s taken on a particular site. It’s really shifted the digital buying landscape and the way we go about our planning and evaluation.

Susan Groeneveld: Yes, and it takes us down the road of, um the client wants to know what the outcome is, right? Tell me the bottom line, Whether we have to do three DMs and five e-blasts or, you know, whatever the ratio is, that’s on us, right? That’s not on the client of proving how many, because we’re actually watching that data. And so that’s the other thing is we’re collecting a database along the way. So it’s so exciting. It’s just so exciting, because now the decision making that we have has data behind it.

Maz Tannir: Yeah. And so we’re aligning marketing with business objectives now. It’s really changed that entire outlook. We keep saying ROI is our North Star and it really is. It’s beyond the return on advertising spend only, now we are looking at the data that’s coming in from the clients and matching that up with the KPIs that we are setting. So I’ll sort of stop the conversation here and turn it into an interview. What are you seeing in that transparency coming in from the clients? Because they play a major role in this particular chain.

Susan Groeneveld: Yeah, and thanks for that, Maz. And I mean, it is not for the faint of heart. This is where your business acumen really comes into play. And again, people understanding the bigger picture. But what happens is, you know, and you guys know, right, we go to the client, we say, “Okay, what do you want to have happen?” And they say, “well, we want to, no one knows who we are. We can’t get to this market, we need more awareness.” Or “we need to have this many millions in sales or multi-millions in sales.” We come back and we say, “okay, where do you think this market is?” We actually assess, we assess the size of the market, we look at conversion based on other experience that we’ve had in that same category and we say, “okay, based on that, and knowing your goal, let’s say, for example, is to sell so much of a product, we can actually assess and say, based on this, and what we know about conversion in your market, we think actually, this is what it will take.” 

Because, you know, let’s face it, right, we have our standard, you know, if it’s B2B, it should be 5 to 8% of your revenue. For a lot of startups, we don’t know yet what our revenue is, we have projections, but we’re kind of just dabbling in and a lot of these companies we’re working with, I just look at them like they’re multimillion dollar startups. We’re trying to change the footprint here, because we’re in such a digital digital world now. So it’s extremely illuminating for them and this is probably the client’s favourite slide and this is the slide that actually makes it into C suite, and actually can help grow budgets, because we can actually say this is what we see in conversions. So it is also predicated on rinse, refine, repeat, right? So now you can see, like, if we have actual data, we can apply that and see if we’re making inroads in a lot of these places, you know, are we loving up on the customers we already have? And then that helps us set up our 2021, or whatever, goal. So it’s a profound shift, and it’s hard work, too, it’s really hard work. 

Maz Tannir: And speaking of the customer, a lot of the times we’re discussing personas and what we know about a particular customer. Is he or she very literate with technology? Do they read certain publications? Are they following certain blogs? But really a persona and the way we’ve elevated it to, you know, I like to call it a persona. 2.0, if you will, is understanding that journey that the customer is taking. And this is a particular case, and I’m going to let Susan tell you a little story about this particular person but before that, just take an idea of where this customer is, and all the various touchpoints that this customer has had with a brand. Now, this becomes very interesting to us from a media perspective as well, because now we are placing ads, according to the journey that this customer is taking, so we know when certain touchpoints are required. So even if we look purely at, for example, their social interactions, we know how often now they are interacting with social media, whether they’re using a certain platform versus the other and it really allows us to understand and get a better understanding of this customer. And that’s become very important to us, and a lot of our planning, and our work with these various publishers that we work with, is dictated by what we know about these customers in these audiences. So Susan, I know you were very involved with this particular customer. It’s a real-life person, isn’t it?

Susan Groeneveld: Well, not that involved. 

Maz Tannir: No, no.

Susan Groeneveld: Like, I’ve never met him just for the record. And I know that’s not his picture. But I think that the point that you’re really trying to make and bring home here Maz is you know, there’s a lot of top of the funnel personas, right? If your client is struggling to know why you’re showing them a persona, then you’ve kind of missed then you’ve missed the thread again as the agency. So what we’re doing is we’re actually taking all the data that we’re learning while we’re engaging with these customers and actually building out real people personas, and then bucketing them based on other persona work. So in this particular case, actually, this fellow ended up purchasing. This is his path to purchase. So we know that he purchased. A lot of the clients that we work with, we ask for their sales data, and we have a seamless system where –  in my performance, Graham’s probably laughing right now – we try to make it seamless, but we’re trying to make sure that that information goes all the way through. Because you know you think about it, right? We are in a unique position where we can see the media, we can see the behaviour of the customer and then we can see the transaction that actually happened. 

So then mapping that data together is our sweet spot. And so we’re doing that and creating these personas that are actually high value, real time and you know, something that is going to make us uncomfortable as marketers that we’ve worked through with this outcome marketing is this is really about de risking the marketing and making it more cost effective. So we’ve shifted our value from the tactic instead of 10 different tactics, or 10 different emails, or whatever it is, into how many do we need for this particular type of person to actually pull the trigger? So we can actually start to bucket someone like this, and say, okay, this is how many touch points on our website. This is how much. By the end of this conversation when we handed him off and in this case, one of the metrics was a hot lead hand off, we said, just talk to him about the flotation tires on the unit. It was an air seeding piece of equipment. Just talk about tires, that’s all this guy cares about is tires, because we’ve been watching him as he engages with the brand. And you know, it came to a sale, so then it was like, okay, so how many more are like this guy? and then we start to bucket it. 

The other fine point I want to take on this too, though, is we’re doing this now but the other thing that’s happening is we’re aggregating data, and, you know, I’m just going to throw out the word machine learning, we’re actually going down this path already. And we’re doing it based on customer behavior. And, you know, you’re going to hear a lot more about that. In the future, already, we’re bringing AI into marketing, which is, you know, programmatic. But we’re gonna see this in this persona development work. It is fundamentally crucial to getting the marketing right. My other point on this, though, too, is when we’re working with companies that are bringing new products and ideas to the market, this also helps validate product market fit. And so that’s actually kind of up the chain from marketing but we’re starting to see how marketing can help inform product market fit, so that you can pivot actually to the greatest value for what you’re trying to achieve with your company.

Maz Tannir: Now, it’s interesting on this particular persona, you mentioned the sale. But why don’t you let these great folks know what he actually purchased and for how much because I think it also validates how important it is to continue it. 

Susan Groeneveld: I mean, we’re in ag, so this was an air seeder, and it was a $350,000 purchase. So hey, you know, people can look at B2B and go, yeah, well, that’s easy, right? That’s easy to put the metrics around. It also applies B2C, it’s just you need more of them.

Maz Tannir: Absolutely. And that’s where attribution models change as well, the way we’re looking at it, because the attribution, and you see here from a customer journey standpoint, and this is just an example, this is not based on a particular client, but driving that audience through the various channels, where we hope they would click if they don’t, what else could potentially happen. And this is done in preparation for the launch. So this is done in advance because we want to know where our ads are going to be driving people to, and where we expect the customer to go before we can take them into the mapping that you saw earlier. And the hope here is to drive them all the way to purchase, and then retain them and turn them into the advocacy of the particular brand that they’ve purchased.

Susan Groeneveld: Yeah, so evidence-based and agile, right, Maz? Like this is where we will turn on a dime if it’s not working. You know, we map it one way, we have that persona that’s told us this is the map for this customer segmentation. If it’s not working, we pivot. 

Maz Tannir: Here’s a question for you, Susan, again, changing the format slightly. From a creative standpoint – so you know, we looked at traditional marketing – and I have to say this otherwise, our creative director, Ric is going to be angry with me that I didn’t bring up the creative team. A lot of the time, agencies were often, and I believe they still are, recognized for the creative work that they’re putting out and what they’re able to do for their brands. Where does that fit in with growth marketing? I mean, I’ve spoken about media, we’ve spoken about the project management and the finance part of it. But still creative is king, yes?

Susan Groeneveld: Yeah, for sure. You know, that’s the dichotomy a little bit, right? We’re talking about performance marketing because we can, because we have new tools, but fundamentally, you guys, humanity, we have not changed since we started walking upright, right? We have the same needs, desires, wants, you know, and that’s core. You know, the classic assumption is that your thinking brain should direct decisions in life, but practically it really doesn’t. We know that emotion drives most of the decision making. But if you’re not even talking the same language as the CFO, you’re not going to actually hit them emotionally, and I do know that C suite people have emotions. They just want to make sure that they know what you’re talking about, and you’re talking in their language. So it still applies.

But we don’t want anyone to think that we don’t value creative ideating. In fact, all of this is because of creative ideating. We most certainly do. And we know that confident creative eats data insights for breakfast. So you know, 10 years ago, there used to be this, just let me think of the idea. I don’t want to hear about the data. Those are actually getting interwoven. There’s nothing more delightful than an art director answering the client’s question of is it really working when they can actually talk to the results of that particular tactic? It is just such a powerful feeling. 

So in this highly collaborative environment, we really, really want everyone to be engaged with the messaging for the various mediums, whether it’s PR media content, and then we have to generate it to be the most effective, but mark, creative is at the hub. But we don’t start, we start with a business conversation with business solutions. And then we bring it to the engineering team that includes creative and said, Okay, now how are we going to do it? You know, one other key point, and I know we’re close to wrapping up is we as agency, a very wise person told me this, as agency, we’ve been paid to be active to do it to get it done, right. There are incredibly talented people I know on this webinar, that know how to get it done. And we get paid or used to get paid by getting it done. What we’re suggesting in this model is that we’re actually paid to think, as well. And so we’re moving that value closer to the business goals of the company. And then we’re not trying to just create a lot of stuff to make money, we used to get paid by the activity that we created. Now, we want to get paid by the outcome. And honestly, you know, I don’t think the client cares, as long as we hit their business goal. How many of what we recreated, and that’s on us, right? It’s just that we’re just so used to just pulling the trigger, that is what has got us into these kind of side engagements, right, where we get really deep into one thing, and we need really talented people to figure this out. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not simple. But I’m really excited for the future, you know, with this shift in this approach, and we’re really seeing the benefits of that now.

Maz Tannir: So before we wrap it up, I have a little surprise for you, Susan, and that you probably haven’t seen in this presentation and sorry. You surprised me, so I’m going to surprise you with one. But one of the great things that we are working on, and again, it comes from that passion of the industry, the passion for work. This is a project I know is very, very close to your heart. But one of the things that WS was able to do in 2020 was give back to our industry here in Canada, a value of over a quarter of a million dollars in marketing spend and advice. Do you want to talk a little bit about this and sorry, I know I’m putting you on the spot but I do think everything that we’ve spoken about today with outcome marketing, be it the personas, be it understanding the market a lot better, using tools to make informed decisions –  all that passion, all that information gets triggered down, and we give back to the industry in our way. So maybe you want to give a little shout out here to this incredible organization and the work that we put together for them.

Susan Groeneveld: Yeah, you know, this is Canadian, Outstanding Young Farmers. And really, we saw when we did the data, there’s less than 9% of the population of people that farm actually fit the age demographic in Canada. So I just actually saw an announcement today with Plant Proteins Canada that’s focusing on building the next generation, FCC. We’re also very interested in growing and you know, the agency of old, we used to kind of do things to support our clients. And now with outcomes, we really feel like we’re invested in the change, and we want to be a part of it. And so if we can drive growth in this incredibly valuable industry, we will. We’ve also in fairness, you know, some of that, that funding actually went into, you know, helping feed kids as well with another program with Mealshare, not as ag-related, it’s still ag-related in that it’s food but a little bit, you know, up the chain. So all of you, you know,it used to be when you could go to a restaurant, you could ask for a Mealshare meal, you still can. 2020 has been incredibly challenging for them. But I guess, you know, back to bottom line here, this is the shift from an agency where we’re support, to a firm where we’re actually a vested partner, and looking to see the same success as our clients. So really excited and proud to do that work.

Maz Tannir: That’s great. So folks, thank you very much. What I’m going to do is I’m going to turn it back to Jan, but feel free to take a screenshot of this. Get in touch with Susan or myself, we are on pretty much every single social media platform, the agency is as well. We’re always driving some great content out there on the market, on outcomes. But again, this is a collaboration, so if anyone out there is watching, listening in and feeling like yes, this could be certainly a story that we want to be telling as well, please get in touch, we’d be more than glad to speak. Jan, I will send this back to you.

Jan Wood: Thank you. Thank you, Susan. Thank you, Maz. I have booked my Tesla appointment, so can check that off my list of things to do. Yeah, that is a lot of information. And I invite  our attendees to just take stock for a moment and the questions are starting to come in. But please state your questions, we’ve got just under 15 minutes to answer all of your questions. My first one,  there’s one up here on our q&a board but this one seems like a really great starting place. So I’m an agency. What’s the first step of integrating outcome marketing into my agency? So I’m sitting, and I’m like, Okay, I’m ready, I get it. I’m ready. I’m going to take a very definite pivot, which is the word we love to use over the past 11 months. What’s step one?

Susan Groeneveld: Oh, boy, you know, that is such a hard question. I’m going to go to how we started because that’s my only frame of reference. And, you know, we were traditionally a  really brand-centric agency. And then we started to employ performance. Right? So we’re doing a lot of funnel conversations and beyond the funnel and flywheel and you know, talking about that, and then we were seeing the kind of conversation that was resonating and not resonating with our clients. And oh I like this next question. Sorry, super distracted, shiny object. But anyways, I would say start really understanding performance marketing, and then I would say that business acumen, do you have somebody on the team or somebody that can really move past a marketing conversation and into a truly business kind of mentality. I think we all think we can but I think, you know, really understanding your audience with your client, because if it’s falling flat, then it’s not working.

Maz Tannir: But Susan, it took us a while as well, to get to this. This isn’t an overnight change. Because there’s not only the buy-in from management, there’s the buy-in from the clients, there’s the buy-in from the staff as well, and the teams that are going to be working on it, and sitting at that table, to have that shift in mindset, from what used to be to what is today.

Jan Wood: It’s culture-based, right we had a presentation last fall on culture. And really, it’s so much more important that you get buy-in internally, and from the top down, as well as the bottom up, and then it will ooze out into what you do and the world you are working with. Correct? 

Susan Groeneveld: Culture, culture can’t be, boy, I can’t say enough about this, right? Like, you need people that get it and we’ve had to figure that out over time. And I mean, you’re out there, you’re out there. But this is not for the passive or people that just want to be told what to do, or you know, want a script. There’s a lot of playground work in this.

Jan Wood: Yeah. And you know, Calgary is a great place to do this because we pride ourselves in being innovative, right? We’ve always prided ourselves in being the ones that can do a whole lot with very little money. So you know, what a great place to incubate this and then make it happen. Okay, I’m going to get to the questions because they’re starting to fly in now. Great presentation. In terms of marketing attribution, what model are you using? Examples seem to be focused on digital. What other mediums are you using to determine best fit, out of home, direct mail, what? Give us some ideas.

Maz Tannir: We do use a whole slew of tools that we have at the agency and at our disposal. A lot of the time, we also work very closely with the publishers to see what formats they have internally and how they’re measuring their media impressions and their media activations. We’ve stayed away from the concept of last-click attribution, as you saw in the customer journey, there’s a lot of different touchpoints. And we are planning media around those particular touchpoints as much as possible. So from an attribution standpoint, ultimately we’re looking for what the end result is going to be and where we drive them to. But we use a lot of different tools, not just the usual Google ones, or the social listening ones, but there’s a whole bunch of different tools available when we work with attribution models. With digital media, obviously, with the programmatic channels, we create those tools with them, so there’s a bit of a partnership there. But when we’re working with out of home or direct mail, those call to actions, we look at also search impressions, and what’s moving the needle there based on that particular timing. We’ve done that with television, we’ve done that with radio as well. 

Jan Wood: All right. So here’s the one that caught your attention. Are you advocating that agency compensation be paid per performance?

Susan Groeneveld: You know, advocating? I don’t know if that’s the right term. Have we entered into agreements with clients in a pay for performance model? Yes. In fact, we have. Is it going to work for every client? Absolutely not. And again, that is, you know, in working with partnership, we have talked about guarantees in the work that we’re doing and baseline, and we’re getting ready for that now. So I know, it’s been tried in the past, right, like, we’ve talked about this forever, in terms of trying to figure out how to get paid for the work that we’re actually doing rather than, you know, a direct mail or a print ad. I would say that people are more open than ever and I would say that if you do that, there are some lessons to be learned and it’s not as easy as following the thread. But we have had experience in this and, you know, am I actively searching for it? Not yet. Because I do think in the multinational, like, you know, our clients are bigger or tend to be bigger, that’s a big shift for them. But does this show that we’re undervalued? In a lot of respects, yes. It does.

Jan Wood: This conversation has been coming up over and over and over again for years now, but it’s coming up more often. We seem to be getting more comfortable or more bold with the belief that this is worthwhile. Okay, so there’s a request for the link to the McKinsey study. Can I guarantee that you’ll get that to us and we’ll get that out to you? And Barbara would like to know that given all the changes in database access, privacy and future regulations, how will you pivot your business? 

Maz Tannir: There is a major change happening in our industry, that’s going to change not only the way we’re buying media, but the way we consume it as well. And what we’ve been working on extensively is building that first-party data. Ultimately, that’s the goldmine, if you will, of any client. And you saw how we’ve been tracking and how we’ve been monitoring them. So our very big focus on first-party data, with the disappearance of the cookie, those relationships with publishers becomes even more important for us to nurture and see what access we have to, let’s refer to it as second-party data. But yeah, we are making a lot of changes. And, you know, it’s gonna be very interesting to see what comes up from the IAB and the trade desk conversations, you know, and that’s coming up really soon to understand how we’re going to be looking at user IDs online. But I have to say it’s actually really, really exciting. And getting these clients on board with us recently has been great. So collecting that first-party data, storing it inside of a data management platform and then using that to build look-alikes as we go along. But yes, the compliancy is certainly something, Barbara, that we are not nervous about, more excited about, because it is going to dictate the way that we move forward.

Jan Wood: We have like three minutes left so I just want to make sure. There’s one more question here that’s being typed in. What tracking tools are you utilizing to help document and map that user journey? And then is there integration with the client’s CRM?

Susan Groeneveld: Yes, so many questions here. So thank you, anonymous attendees. I wish Graham was in this presentation. He’s our Director of Performance. And you know what, I knew this would come up, but I should have had my ducks in a row. I can just do a high level. But you know, please reach out after because I doubt if I’ll be satisfactory, if you’re asking these questions. We do use any number of automated marketing tools, we really work with our client and whatever they’re using. But our primary for the agency right now is Act-on. We actually have a tech stack list that’s on our website, but it’s outdated and I think we did it like four months ago, so work in progress. So we do house a lot of the database information in Act-on because we can watch behaviour engagement there, and then manually enter the social engagement as well.

When we talk about CRM, and I mean, sorry, Graham, I’m probably butchering this because there’s probably more, but when you talk about CRM, we do work with all the CRM platforms that our clients would be using. Salesforce is a big one. And so yeah, we’re very keen on integrating to their CRM, this has to be a collaborative program. I know the team is working on something that’s North American right now in terms of CRM with one of our clients. And then do we take into account sales cycle length and funnel conversion rate? Absolutely. That’s actually, part of what we’re trying to bake here is if we can start to predict based on an audience, you know, what this could look like, and then apply it over and over and over again. And the other thing too, we’ve done, you know, that we’ve noticed here is advocacy, in a lot of categories we’re not really, really, people think they’re doing a really good job at loyalty and we got to do a way better job.

Maz Tannir: But all that information that we’re gathering in from the clients’ CRM and their databases. It’s fuel to the front end planning that we’re doing as part of our process cycle. So yes, we have to find ways of integrating with them. They feed us and then we aim to feed that system back as well. So it’s really a two-way thing.

Susan Groeneveld

Susan Groeneveld is a co-founder of WS, Cat Healthy and Sylvester AI. Recognized for many award-winning and marketing initiatives in food and healthcare; Susan has over 25 years of business building experience. You can connect with her on LinkedIn.

Maz Tannir

Maz uses 26+ years of experience to effectively develop, negotiate and tailor media strategies to align with marketing goals. He is actively involved in industry organizations including the IAB (Chair, Diversity and Inclusion Taskforce and Programmatic Trading Committee), and AdClub Toronto (Digital Day Committee). You can connect with Maz on LinkedIn.