Welcome to The B2B Mix Show. We’re focused on digital marketing and sales topics to help you elevate your B2B brand. Check back on Mondays for new episodes.

This week on The B2B Mix Show, we speak with Dawn Colossi of FocusVision about how the role of the CMO is evolving to Chief Experience Officer.

During our conversation, Dawn touches on the following:

  • Understanding what customer experience entails
  • How CX impacts both the organization and the role of the CMO
  • How CMOs and sales and marketing departments should respond to changes in CX
  • Examples of brands and the customer experiences they offer
  • And more

Want to connect with Dawn online?

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dawn-colossi-1a06083/

Twitter: FocusVisionInfo

FocusVision: https://www.focusvision.com/

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Episode Transcript

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Alanna Jackson
Welcome to the B2B Mix Show with Alanna and Stacy. Each week we'll bring you ideas that you can implement in your own marketing strategy. We'll share what we know and advise from industry experts, who will join us from time to time here on the show. Are you ready to mix it up? Let's get started.

Stacy Jackson
Hi everyone. I'm Stacy Jackson.

Alanna Jackson
And I'm Alanna Jackson. And we are the co-founders of Jackson Marketing. And in case you still haven't heard, we are also sisters. We're bringing you another episode of the B2B Mix Show. Stacy, what's the topic of today's episode?

Stacy Jackson
Well, no doubt you've heard about the importance of customer experience. And Forrester reports that experience driven companies have higher brand awareness, higher employee satisfaction, and just overall better customer retention and satisfaction rates. So as marketers, it's time to find your footing when it comes to customer experience and incorporating that into your job and your career goals.

With this growing emphasis on customer experience, todays CMOs and those who aspire to the role, need to be thinking about the role and the impact that CX has on their jobs. So to that point, today we're speaking Dawn Colossi, CMO of FocusVision, about this very topic. Dawn will share her insights on why the role of the CMO is evolving to chief experience officer. Alanna, would you introduce Dawn to our listeners?

Alanna Jackson
Absolutely. Dawn Colossi is a transformative marketing communications professional, with 20 plus years experience in marketing, corporate communications and public relations. As the CMO for FocusVision, Dawn drives marketing strategy to create worldwide marketing strategy to drive revenue through brand and demand. She's a thought leader in digital marketing transformation, marketing strategy and demand generation. Publishing numerous articles and being interviewed and featured in a wide variety of publications, and a featured speaker at industry and digital events.

At her previous position as senior director of worldwide digital marketing and brand strategy of Commvault, Dawn built an always on, customer driven marketing model based on data, including intent signals and digital body language, to increase revenue and market share. Aligning sales and marketing to strategically connect digital engagement with personal interactions across prospect, customer and partner audiences is at the center of health and growth for modern businesses. As a result of her groundbreaking work she has been named one of the top women in martech and digital, and won the SiriusDecisions ROI award for digital content marketing strategy. Dawn, welcome to the B2B Mix Show.

Dawn Colossi
Thank you so much for having me.

Stacy Jackson
So there's a tremendous amount of buzz, as I mentioned earlier, about customer experience these days. At one point most people probably would have equated customer experience with customer service, but that's really changing isn't it? Can you tell our listeners, Dawn, your view on what customer experience entails?

Dawn Colossi
Yes. Customer experience has evolved to include every single touch point with a customer. From the emails that you send them, to the ads that they see, to the experience on your website, to the experience they have when they call into your phone line, to going into a brick and mortar store, or flying on your airplane, and everything afterwards too. So customer experience really is very inclusive of every single interaction that our customers are now having with brands.

Alanna Jackson
And what do you think has caused this increase in the importance of customer experience and how does it impact both the organization at large and the role of the CMO specifically? Do you think some of that has to do with like the Amazon effect that everyone talks about?

Dawn Colossi
I think Amazon had a huge part in that in changing consumer expectations. The truth is consumers are more empowered, they're more informed, they can conduct their own buyer's journey with anything just by picking up their smartphone, right? They can search, they can read, they can read customer reviews, they can see how something rates all from a device they hold in their hand. And there's so much information coming at them. So the way brands used to get in front of customers with ads, or with a television spot, or on the radio, that doesn't work anymore because mostly people are tuning that out. And second, nobody's making a buying decision, no matter what it is, without going through some type of journey. Like I said, whether that's just a Google search.

So the way a brand needs to stand out these days is really through the experience that you have with them. Because customers have so much choice and they're not stuck to just the mom-and-pop shop in their town anymore. They can shop from anywhere in the world, they can work with any brand. And there is no way of rising above that noise if you're not making your experience, whether that's through your website, whether that's through your search, whether that's from content that you're delivering in different places. If you're not delivering that content or you're not delivering a great experience on your website, you lose your customers pretty quickly. So that experience, again, from that very first touch through to the buying cycle, and through the actual purchase, it is paramount for brands to be able to survive and thrive in this experience economy.

Alanna Jackson
And one thing you mentioned that commercials and things like that on TV are no longer the prominent piece of advertising that a lot of companies used to rely on. It's funny that you mentioned that because a lot of people get on Hulu I want the commercial free, and you get so angry if you actually have to watch a commercial. And because we're so used to getting things how we want them and getting that experience.

Dawn Colossi
I mean, yes, I don't remember the last time I watched commercials. I block ads as a digital marketer [crosstalk 00:06:03], but I block ads on my devices. I even have uploaded RoboKiller to my phone, so that telemarketers can't get through if it's an auto dial.

Alanna Jackson
Those are funny to listen to sometimes.

Dawn Colossi
I'm an elusive consumer. So as a marketer I have to look at that and say, "Okay, if I'm able to block, then of course the people I'm trying to get in touch with are able to block. So what I need to do is be relevant to them when they're looking for something, and when they're trying to make a decision." Because just putting out an and, or just sending an email that gets blocked too, it gets caught in your spam folder, right? That doesn't work. So you need to be ready, consumer and business to business, your search has to work really well, your social presence has to be there, you have to have content.

It's why so many of the consumer brands are changing to influencer marketing. Because thousands and millions of people are watching content on YouTube, and if they're using certain brands then they're able to get in front of their audience because their ads aren't getting in front of their audience anymore. And again, now it has to be easy to get onto their website, order it, and have it delivered pretty quickly without any shipping costs. Because if you're charging me $12 for shipping, I'm probably going to go to another site that's not going to charge me for shipping. So the consumer's so in control with so many choices and can do it so easily, that it needs to be a frictionless experience.

Alanna Jackson
And it's funny, we get so used to ordering on Amazon if we we're a Prime member and we get free shipping all the time.

Dawn Colossi
Oh yeah, I stopped in the middle purchase the other day because it was $12 shipping. I was like $12 then I stopped.

Alanna Jackson
Exactly, I did the same thing.

Dawn Colossi
Yeah.

Alanna Jackson
It makes a difference.

Dawn Colossi
Absolutely.

Stacy Jackson
Yeah, it does. So as a CMO and anyone who aspires to that role, how do we build customer experience thinking into our priorities, compared to maybe the traditional priorities that marketers have had of brand building, advertising. How do you prioritize and balance those?

Dawn Colossi
The first step is really knowing who your customer is, and what they care about, and why they do what they do. And the only way to really, really understand your customer is to go through the right research processes and ask them. There are surveys everywhere we look, and every time we finish a purchase or get off a plane, whatever, there are thousands of surveys out there and that's important. But I do think the companies, and we've seen this in a recent study just completed with Harvard Business Review. The most successful companies are doing quantitative, which is surveys, and qualitative research, which is asking, and having conversations, and doing focus groups, and digital ethnography, to understand what their customers are experiencing and why they drop in the middle of filling out a form.

So doing that right research at the very beginning of trying to build an experience, to really understand what your customers care about. One of the stories that was told in that Harvard Business Review study was from Gap. And what they did was they put feedback mechanisms in their dressing rooms to capture their audience while they were there, to see what they thought about their experience, but what they found was nobody was using those kiosks because they were in and out, and they weren't interested in giving their feedback at that moment. And they weren't. They were assuming they were getting to the right place. When they went back and they realized actually, a better place is to go out and ask those people who are signed up on our website, and who are interested and to really deep dive into what they cared about and how they thought, they were able to get very valuable feedback.

So in their words, they were putting the cart before the horse. They were assuming that that was the right experience, but instead of asking or understanding how their audience was feeling, and then fitting what they were trying to do to the experience that the customer wanted. So it's really important, especially because we can all say, "We're working on customer experience. We're working on customer experience." But unless the customer has informed that customer experience, it's not really a customer experience, it's a brand experience.

Alanna Jackson
Right.

Stacy Jackson
Right. Gap is an interesting example you bring up, I remember several years ago when they tried to change their logo, and loyal shoppers went crazy. So people want to be part of what the brand is, that's even a part of the experience these days it seems.

Dawn Colossi
Yeah, everybody talks about there not being any brand loyalty anymore, and that's not true. There's different brand loyalty. You don't buy the same brand because that's what your mother brought, and that's what your grandmother bought. But you do stay loyal to brands who serve you well. I mean, how many people can raise their hand when you say, "Is Amazon running your life?" I'm one of them. Why am I such a loyal user and why is a lot of my monthly income going to Amazon? Because they make my life easy. And my essentials show up every month without me having to go and buy them, or have to even think about them. They just show up on my doorstep because I subscribe to them.

So we are loyal to those brands and Gap being a really good example, there are people who are very loyal to Gap, right? And that's how they dress. And that's part of their personal brand. For that to change, it's a personal change for them. So it's really important. And what we're seeing is the younger consumers to again, from another study. Millennials are looking for, and Gen Z, are looking for brands that are socially conscious and share their beliefs. And we did a study around LGBTQ, and during the month of June, we see a lot of rainbows, and a lot of brands out there supporting the LGBTQ community, which is great. But those brands that are being seen as inauthentic, it actually hurts them more than it helps them. So because again, doing a mixed study with a mixed sample, both heterosexual and from the LGBTQ community, both were saying, "If it's not authentic, if you're not doing other things rather than just putting a rainbow up, we believe that you're just using the cause to make money."

So they really are looking for those brands that are going out there and standing behind what they believe in. And I think one of the best examples we saw last year was Nike. they went out with the ad of do what you believe in, even if it's not what everybody else agrees with. I know those aren't the right words, but that was the spirit behind it. And people got very, both sides. Very against it, very for it. But at the end of the day, their customers were very for it, and it helped revenue numbers, it boost their stock price. I don't know if they did it for those reasons, I mean every brand wants to grow, but if you're authentic and everything you do is behind that, your customers... And they knew their customers, they knew what their customers would believe in, that pays off for a brand.

Alanna Jackson
Yeah. And I think sometimes brands just kind of get caught up in the latest thing that's happening, and they see it working for other companies, so they just go into really quickly trying to jump on that bandwagon, or trying to jump on a cause, without thinking through, "Does this really fit with our brand? Or, "Are we going to come across as authentic?" And I think that that's where a lot of brands kind of lose that whole process.

Dawn Colossi
Yeah. And, "Are we willing to do more than use the colors?" Pink included, right? I mean we're in breast cancer awareness month. You see brands like Estee Lauder company who is very much a supporter, but they're also doing a lot behind the scenes. It's not just using the pink ribbon. So those are good examples of brands that are all in on a cause.

<---Break--->

Alanna Jackson
And we are back. So continuing to talk about the brand piece of it, with all the changes that are happening in the buying behaviors because of the things that technology has done, it's just really transformed everything. It seems like the brand itself has kind of taken a back seat to the customer experience, when it comes to driving that customer loyalty and repeat business. How do CMOs as well as sales, marketing departments respond to these changes? And then what are some of those most important initiatives in driving sales and loyalty?

Dawn Colossi
The truth is that the brand and your experience are becoming one. Well, yes you have to have consistent colors, and a consistent brand message, and a consistent brand mission, and everything needs to look alike and act alike. Your experience is part of that. And if your experience isn't great, or it's inconsistent. We also, we did a study early in the year what happens when marketing is not matched to the customer facing employees? And what we found were companies estimated they were losing tens of millions of dollars, when there was that disconnect between what marketing was doing and what their front end employees were doing.

So that brand has to live through all of your employees, all of their interactions, what they believe in. And I think we can all think of some really good examples where there the digital experience is great, the brand is very consistent, everybody knows the brand, it's got great brand equity, but the experience is just awful. So there's just a disconnect between those two things. So I really do think the brand attributes have sort of become table stakes, you have to have that. But what really differentiates the brand is the experience, and what really personifies the brand is the experience that you have with it.

Stacy Jackson
That's an interesting point you bring up about the customer facing employees have to embody that experience that the marketing team is trying to convey. Because there's a regional, I guess it's regional, chain of stores in our area, that really talks about how they treat customers and what their experience should be like when you come in. But it doesn't always match up based on who's working that day.

Alanna Jackson
Yeah. I know exactly what company you're talking about and it drives me insane sometimes. Because I see how sugary sweet they are on the commercial, but then you get in there and it's not always quite that same response.

Dawn Colossi
No, it's funny, I just had that experience yesterday at a local grocery store, and I try not to go in the grocery store. I have most of my things delivered now. Well, we're all destined to become hermits. But it's usually crowded and so on and so forth. And again, commercials are great, the emails I get are very friendly, they always have great offers. And the cashier didn't even greet me, she was miserable. So I said, "Hi, how are you today?" And she said, "Hi," and kept going. And I was tempted to go up, but then there was a line, to say, "Your people have to say hello, and how are you?"

It just really hurts it because everything else you're able to take. The fact that it's crowded, that's good for them. They run out of stuff, okay, well that's because they're crowded. Those things you take because it is what it is. But when you don't get treated nicely, then now the brand has really suffered.

Alanna Jackson
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Right.

Stacy Jackson
So it's HR has a stake in customer experience too then?

Dawn Colossi
Oh, absolutely. And it if you look at Richard Branson, he always says that it starts with your employee experience, right? Because happy employees go out of their way to make happy customers. Unhappy employees or unengaged employees don't really care what the customer experience is, they're not delivering that brand promise.

Stacy Jackson
Right. So as far as people who want to join the C suite, in that marketing or customer experience role in the coming years, what disciplines or skillsets should they be thinking about, and investing in for themselves so that they're ready to take on the CXO role?

Dawn Colossi
I think more than ever, CMOs really have to become data-driven, and they need to understand the data that's coming in. And when I say data, I mean all kinds of data. Big data, which is clickstream data, that we're seeing from our websites. Web behavior, email opens, ad performance. But we also have to look at small data, and small data is that human data that we can collect through surveys or through different types of research, and bring those together and integrate those two types. Because that big data that we've all been so busy learning about and collecting, doesn't tell us why. Why do their customers do that? Why did they decide not to do that? Why do they buy from us and not somebody else? Why did they leave us and go buy from somebody else? They don't tell us that.

But that small data, that survey data, that qualitative research that enables us to follow a customer through our store, or in their home using our product, when people do sign up to do that, really allows us to see the experience through the customer's eyes, so that we understand why they decided to make that decision and why they decided to make that purchase, and understand that emotion. Because emotion, no matter what you're buying, is a part of your buying decision. And if you can understand that as a CMO, and understand how to bring those two pieces of data together, it's a lot of data, but both sides of that data together, and you can read it and understand it and become a customer advocate, that's the most important thing that you can become.

I see the role of the CMO on the C suite really being the customer advocate role, right? Understanding what the customer wants, what the customer needs, what the customer expects, and then being able to bring that to the entire C-suite, so that all decisions are made based on that customer and everyone aligns behind that customer, and that customer experience.

Alanna Jackson
Are there other points that you'd like to share with the listeners, that you think are important for them to think about and understand when it comes to the evolution of the role of the CMO?

Dawn Colossi
Yeah, I mean the CMO used to be the person who is in charge of the advertising budget. And what that entailed, whether that was TV, radio, airport ads, highway ads. And really what it's evolving is again, how do we make sure that there is a consistent, frictionless, relevant experience to what our customers are expecting? And that comes from looking at how our customers are consuming, and finding us, and making decisions. And as I said before, that means maybe abandoning the traditional marketing channels and going after channels where audiences are now spending a lot of their time, like social, like video, in different locations, and areas, in content.

It's funny I heard my 17 year old say that she consumes content. I was like, I thought that was a marketing term. The younger generation, they understand that they're taking in all of this content off of the internet, and they're making a lot of decisions based on it. The other thing I saw was the gen Xs and the baby boomers, have really gone on into their digital lives, full speed ahead. So they are also very influenced from where they are, and what they're looking at, and what they're reading.

So marketing needs to be a part of that, again, in an authentic, unintrusive way. Because we've gotten smart enough that we don't want to be marketed to, we don't want to be advertised at. And we have, I have taken steps to make it stop. So that means the CMO really has to figure out, how do I become important and meaningful to the consumer who is buying what I'm selling? And how do I build that relationship digitally and then in person?

Stacy Jackson
Right. So before we get to our just for fun question, which we'll have for you, is there anything you'd like to share with us about FocusVision, or anything else about yourself?

Dawn Colossi
So FocusVision, I started working with FocusVision about a year and a half ago, and I have been in B2B technology marketing my entire career, never on the consumer side. And what I learned is the power of doing the right research. So we sell research technology. A survey platform, a online focus group platform, we do a digital ethnography, which is basically someone signs up on their phone and then you go through their experience with them. And all of these things, being a B2B marketer, we never did too much research, especially in technology. We always felt we didn't have time for that. And our our sales people already knew our customers, or our executives already knew our customers, what our customers wanted, or our product managers did. And what I've learned in this past year by doing the right research, because how do you come to a research company not do it? Is that we didn't know and we didn't ask.

And a lot of times what the customer as a whole wants, and what they're looking for is a lot different than what's being interpreted by those different folks. So I do think it's definitely become a soapbox of mine. I was with a group of very technologically advanced marketers and CMOs last week at a conference, and while they were all talking about their marketing technology stacks, and the content that they were building, and how they were managing that, and how they were managing the buyer's journey, I asked, "Okay, so how do you know what to put into the engine? How do you know what content to write? How do you know what they care about? How do you know that?" And they all sort of looked at me, like 10 heads. I'm like, "Did you do any research?" And they're like, "No, what do you mean? Yeah, we asked sales, what are you talking about?"

And I was like, "See, that's the problem. Is that so many companies are moving so fast, they don't even stop to consider asking the customer." And it's easy today. Gone are the days of 10 page paper surveys that we send to people's houses and pray that they come back. I mean, that's gone. It's all very easy, it's easy to fill the survey, it's easy to find the right sample, it's easy to do an online focus groups, so you don't have to worry about renting a site, or finding the right buyers in one geographical area. So it's so much easier and so much more accessible today than it was during the madman era. And look, they were smarter than us because they were asking the customer.

So I think it's time to get back to basics. Well, the technology is absolutely part of the journey and people are living on their mobiles. Really knowing the customer first, will make all of that other stuff work.

Alanna Jackson
Yeah, that's huge. And you just have to talk to the customers because otherwise you're just making it up in your own head.

Dawn Colossi
Yeah. And you don't understand why it's not working.

Alanna Jackson
Right.

Stacy Jackson
Yeah.

Alanna Jackson
So we have one more question for you and it's a just for fun question. So if you weren't CMO for FocusVision, what would your dream pursuit or career be?

Earlier today I said barista because I thought it would be a no stress job. It is sort of my joke when I get into stress mode. But if I wasn't in marketing I'd probably be working, and I do plan on doing this, my dream eventually is to go into nonprofit and work with somehow helping young women start their careers. Have an equal footing, regardless of their background or their economical background. So that the most talented, hungry people get a chance too get into the career they want, without any sort of economic or socioeconomic barriers.

Stacy Jackson
I love that. That's great.

Dawn Colossi
Yeah. There's so many people that maybe even just something as simple as learning things like Excel, and word, and different things like that, could help someone go so far in their career.

Yeah. and I, I look at my own kids and I have one who graduated college and one who's now in college. And my son had so many advantages because he was in a position where his parents could support him no matter where he went for his internship. So he wasn't limited. And he can go anywhere and we paid for whatever we need to pay for because he wasn't being paid or anything. But most kids don't have that, and so what does that mean? That doesn't mean that he's better for the job. It just means that his parents were better off to afford that. And that's not quite fair, and I think it limits our pool of talent also.

So I think all young people looking to start a career, no matter where it is, should be able to take advantage of those situations without having to worry about the economic part of it.

Alanna Jackson
Right. You'll have to let us know if you ever start that so that we can be a part of it.

Dawn Colossi
I will. I'm sort of hellbent on it. It's been in my mind for a couple of years now. So hopefully it's my next chapter.

Stacy Jackson
Terrific. Well thank you so much for joining us today. Dawn, if listeners would like to connect with you, what's the best way for them to do that?

Dawn Colossi
LinkedIn, definitely. It's Dawn Colossi, easy to find because there aren't others of me. Last name spelled C-O-L-O-S-S-I.

Stacy Jackson
And we'll include that in the show notes.

Dawn Colossi
Thank you.

Alanna Jackson
Okay people, that is a wrap. If you want to get in touch with me or Stacy, you can hit us up on social, on Twitter. Stacy is @stacy_jax, that's S-T-A-C-Y_J-A-X. And you can find me @alanna_jax, A-L-A-N-N-A_J-A-X. Or you can look us up on LinkedIn if you're not a Twitter fan.

And don't forget, you can always leave us a voicemail on the Anchor mobile app, or on our show page on Anchor. Have a great week.

The B2B Mix Show is hosted by Stacy Jackson and Alanna Jackson, of, you guessed it, Jackson Marketing. If you need help with your B2B inbound marketing efforts visit us at jacksonmarketingservices.com. Yay.

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