How to Build a Dynamic B2B Marketing Team: Mitch Fanning

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

It's one thing to do marketing; it's another thing to build a cohesive, collaborative, and productive marketing team.

In this episode of Marketing Spark, Mitch Fanning provides insight into what it takes to build a team that drives marketing success.

One of the things that Mitch likes in a marketing hire is "grit", which is the ability to get the job done even when things are challenging.

Mitch also talks about how to create a partnership with a CEO to ensure that marketing gets the support it needs, as well as his marketing HR priorities.

 

You're listening to marketing spark, the podcast that delivers insight, tools and tips marketers and entrepreneurs in the trenches in twenty minutes or less, as the intro suggests. I'm interested in talking to marketers who operate in the trenches, people who build, operate and optimize marketing engines to drive growth and competitive markets. Today I'm talking to that kind of marketer, Mitch Fanning, BP marketing at rentsing but provides marketing software and services for the multi family industry. Welcome to marketing spark match. Thanks for having me on there. Mark. Maybe we can start by telling me a little bit about how long you've been at rent sinc and what rent SINC does. So I've been at rent SINC for about a year and a half and, as you've already kind of mentioned, rent sinc provides marketing solutions for the multi family. So one way you can think about it, one way the listeners can think about it, is that it's multi as sorry, it's hub spot for multi family, but just with services. My big role is not only to help shape product strategy but to formalize an execute on the go to market and scale operations. So what is multifamily, just to give us a little bit of color on what that involves. Okay, so this is interesting because my background is not a multi family so multi family is really the the owner, operators, the investors, the property management firms that essentially, you know by manage and essentially invest in apartment buildings. And what's really interesting it, to me, at least in this space, is that this industry, when it comes to marketing, it's kind of where the Bab space was like ten years ago, meaning, and what I mean by that is when it comes to technology, when it comes to their technology stacks and the things that they're doing, they are just kind of catching up to the to the Bob Space. So it's almost like history is repeating itself. So, as a marketer, if you're dealing with customers who may not be terribly tech savvy, does that mean that a lot of your marketing is around education, because you've got people who may not be using a lot of technology at all? Do you have to win them over to the fact that technology is a is a valuable and useful tool and then convince them that your software is something that they should consider? I think it just like I would say any any industry or any situation when things are kind of ahead of its time. I would have said that was the case maybe three, three four years ago. A couple things have have changed that. Number One, you're getting into a situation where you're finding a lot of young people are running these marketing company marketing teams in a in multi family and to Covid people have had the change the way they've done business, and I know that's probably a...

...reoccurring theme on this podcast, but multi families no different. So over the years you've held a number of leadership marketing roles at a variety of companies and I think it's given you some really interesting perspective on the marketing landscape and how it's evolved over the years. Can you talk a little bit about the role of a CMO? Would an early stage company, because it's a really important job, but often it comes after the products been developed, it comes after a sales team has been created and sometimes the marketing person is late to the game for release, for rivally speaking. So what is their role and and how do they establish themselves so that they can have a seat at the table? This is a great question and we probably could probably talk a lot longer than fifteen minutes on this one particular subject. I would say, first of all, if I'm being if I'm being honest, you as a marketer, you really need to be honest with yourself in when I'm what I mean by that is you really have to ask yourself, am I a builder or am I a farmer? And what I think that means, at least to me, is not everyone is designed to be in an early stage technic, tech environment, and not also includes anyone else outside of marketing, you conclude, product etc. But if you are that person, the one thing I would say is your you need to be really good at standing things up and that that's everything from the technology. That's that's that's everything to do with the programs, etc. But I think you also need to be really good at understanding the business. And I think one of the things, and I would say that no matter what stage of the business you're in, but I think a lot of times early stage marketers come in as individual contributors and they get stuck there, and the problem with that as they get siloed and they're not able to connect what they do to business results. So I would say that's number one but I would also say you have to really understand other other functions outside of your own, and I don't think a lot of marketers spend a lot of time understanding business in general, whether it's as understanding what'Sass means, the business model behind that, the metrics at that. You know, investors and CEOS actually track and to they don't spend a lot of enough time outside of their own discipline. So what do you mean by that? I think what I mean by that is they a so here's the thing. When you go from a individual contributor to leading marketing, the the toughest thing, beyond the...

...things I just mentioned, is managing up and educating internally. And I don't necessarily think it's it's something that just marketers have this infliction over, but I think it's just a hard thing to to train yourself to do it, in other words, continually trying to communicate what the vision of the company is, what marketing is doing externally, but also internally. One of the things that I've written about recently on Linkedin is the ability or the necessity for early stage mark marketers to establish a partnership with the CEO, because if you look at the evolution of early stage companies, it's usually the founder who is the Jack of all trades. Early on they drive product development, they drive sales, they drive marketing and over time they'll give up some of those responsibilities. So it could be project of elimate, it could be sales, but marketing is always very close to their heart because it's their company, it's their vision, it's their story. So when a marketer comes on, there's a dance that the CEO and the marketer have to go through because they've got to not only delineate. Okay, this is what I do, this is what you do, this is what your responsibility responsible for and this is what I'm going to own, but the lines are blurred when it comes to marketing. So, from your experience, how do you establish a partnership with a CEO, with the founder, the person who's very vested and marketing you can be very close to the heart and it does put a lot of pressure on marketers because they have to perform, but they also have this other stakeholder that they have to dance with at the same time. Probably the answer I'm going to give is not it's obvious, but it may not be the one that people want to hear. It's if you if, number one. You should know. You should ask really good questions before you get into that company, around around that particular subject and get a sense for is that CEO actually going to essentially give up that function and let you kind of run him? And if they don't, don't go there too. If you see that that's happening early on, that's a red flag and it's probably not going to change. One thing I would say is if they're not like that, I would say definitely you need to show them. You've got to build a relationship with them. I mean, this is something that we all know. But again, just like you know, educating, communicating internally, to to the company at large what marketing does and what you know what the company is doing as far as where it's going. I think it's just something you have to do and work at. First you've got to show some early wins, of course, and and then you've got to build up that strategy and start to think long term. On the flip side, and I'm talking from personal experience here, is what happens if you run into a situation where you have a ceo they declare definitively declare...

...that they want to do marketing and they believe that the time is right for marketing to help scale and accelerate growth. But when you when push comes to shove, they don't give you the engagement that you need there. They don't want that partnership. So you're trying to tell their story, reflect their vision, do with the things that they believe in or they believe should be done. But when you do them that you get pushed back because apparently you did you did the wrong things. What you didn't get from them was engagement. So your left to your own devices. So what do you do in those situations where you want a partner, you want someone to contribute and and go on, go with you on the ride, and that's not happening. This is what I would call the hard things. About the hard things, right, I mean it's the things that you don't you don't actually read in a marketing in a marketing book or any type of marketing resource or marketing podcast. Like how do you actually basically effectively change? It's change management, right, and so these situations are hard and it's you're not going to you're not going to read that in a book. I would say again go back to rule number one, meaning, you know, you have to understand that if they're if they're not going to be the type, if they don't if they don't see the value in marketing in and they're not letting go of that function or in a way, again we can kind of go down this rabbit hole, but in a way, you know, interrupting or again not letting that that function go, that's a red flag. But at the same time, you know, when you bring them something, you have to be willing, you have to be willing to take that constructive you know, feedback. It's not an easy answer for sure, but I think people know when they're in that situation, the problem is, just like a lot of times in this has to do with everything, not just marketing. It's the inaction. We don't act when we're in those situations. We don't make a decision to leave that situation in and I think that's that's really what it comes down to. It's the inability to act and remove yourself from that situation. Assuming that you've found yourself in a good situation, you've got a relationship with D CEO, you've there's there's terms of engagement that have been established and you start to build out marketing. So you put together your ramposition, you've got a marketing strategy, you want to make things happen and you come to that really sticky juncture, or the really interesting juncture or that challenging juncture when you've got to build a team. You've got to figure out who do we hire internally, because, as a lot of functions are being secure from third parties these days, and do we hire someone from ops first, or we do we we go with analytics first. How do you put together that, that marketing HR plan? Wake what are the things that you need to consider, and are there any...

...sort of common beliefs or common approaches at that a marketing leader should take? Again, what I would say is, you know, my personal hiring philosophy is higher for grit first. Everything else is secondary. And what I really mean by that is, again a lot of people are attracted to that high growth start up or tech company because it's just it's romantic, but what they don't understand is every year, sometimes every six months, not only does the company change, but they actually have the change within the company and that's not for everyone. You need to have a growth mindset, and that really is what I mean by grit, someone who's passionate at really evolving as a person and there and there their persistent, they've got perseverance, they're willing to do the hard things. When it comes to building a team, though, I mean it really depends on what the what the business is looking for. So I always think about it as the Oka are is, what's the what's this? What's the what's the objectives? What are the strategies, and then build the team structure around that to actually execute. But if you were just asking me point blank, what how would I go about building a team structure? Number one, if it was just like a blank slate, ops and analytics. First you need, at the end of the day, you need metrics, you need someone owning the text act, and that's what somebody in ops would do. If it's if it's obviously software, it would be the product marketer. That would be the second person I would bring on and the reason why I'm in that order. And then, obviously from there it's calms or brand and demand, and the reason why I would go in that order is, again, text act, right, it's the it's the engine. The product marketer is important because what happens is you start doing demand and the first thing you're doing is you're creating original positioning, you're creating original messaging, you're creating it and and the demand person is doing that all the time. And what happens with if you get a product marketing, you get that, that positioning, that messaging in place, then they can just use that content to fuel their programs. Rand Fish Can, who runs a company called Spark Toro, recently wrote a blog post saying that company should outsource as much of their functions as possible to agencies or contractors, as someone who runs marketing has someone who's an internal marketing leader. What's your approach to that? How much can or should a early stage company outsource so that they can be cost efficient, they can dry productivity and they can allocate the resources in the most efficient way? I definitely would Wudn't outsource ops. I definitely wouldn't outsource product marketing. When it comes to demand, it depends. I would say, you need you need someone who's running demand, but when it comes to building out or when as you get, as you grow, you're going to have specialties on that team. So, for example, I'm looking to have someone who's just...

...going to own paid channels or paid advertising. Now we're looking at actually outsourcing that position, so someone actually who is going to fit in that position, who's WHO's a specialist, sure, in that situation, and also to it's also because we're not sure of the actual essential essentially the band with that for that for that position. So I think when it's very specialized, sure, I wouldn't outsource thought leadership. Again, so brand or content. So you know our calms and Content Person Does essentially thought leadership in that is essentially brand. I wouldn't outsource that. You want somebody within the company who can be us a domain expert or several and you definitely don't want to. So I guess at the end of the day, if it's specialized, sure, and you're not sure if they're going to be a full time position, that's that's probably how I would approach and that's actually how I am approaching it now, as a marking landscape has evolved, it's almost like there's two sides to the marketing landscaped. On one side you got the brand experience, brand content. People like myself who are focused on brand positioning and messaging and thought leadership and all those good things. On the other side of the House you've got the data Geeks, the people who are running the numbers, who are trying to optimize everything. It's all about little tweaks and watching the data and making data driven decisions that drive sales and marketing activity. I understand and I recognize that metrics are a necessity, but here's the question, here's the sixty fourzero question. Should everything be measured? Does everything have to be measured just because it can? And what are the perils of relying to heavily on data to make marketing decisions? I love this question. So here's how I would answer that. So, number one, I think everything can be measured to some degree, even I would even go as far as to say brand can be measured. The way I would look at this, though, is the way I initially look at it, is, is demand subsidizes brand, meaning you have performance metrics. Performance Marketing needs to be measured a hundred percent, but that piece of the the marketing order, the marketing engine, can can to some degree subsidize brand marketing. The way I would kind of think about this, though, is you need to first nail your category because that's the context and who your best fit customers. The the analogy I give is you know, mark, if I were to ask you, do you want to go out for dinner tonight, you know what do you feel like? Your first initial thought would be, well, do I feel like a tie in? Do I feel like Chinese? Those are categories. Then if you nail the category, you said let's go for Chinese. Then we'd started to think about what are the best Chinese restaurants? That's brand. Now, if I looked and...

I told you, wait a minute, there's a two for one deal on facebook for this particular restaurant tonight and that would happen to be the second best Chinese restaurant in Toronto, we maybe end up going there. That's demand. You have to look at the fact that not everything can be measured. Sure, but if you don't actually go to that framework and nail all the components, you're going to be hard pressed to actually make the metrics work for you. Now, going back to brand, I will say you probably can measure it. The way we're looking at measuring it is by kind of a proprietary metric called reach. I won't get into that. But the key here is the way we're going to do it long tour term is you basically do an aided or unaided brand awareness study. At the end of the year. You basically ask, you know, a an unaided brand awa in the study is this if or sort an aided would be this? If I said to you, mark which one of these software companies do you like best, or do you recognize coke or Pepsi, you would you would rank them, you know, one and two. Now, from a perception point of view, that's the other side of how you can. You can measure brand. If I said to you what's the sweetest one of the two, you would say, well, we'll coke is the sweetest and maybe that's the positioning that the coke is going for. And then you basically just do the same study year over year and see if if you've got a lift off those two metrics. So the point being is you can, but should you do it early? Know sometimes it's you know sometimes, again early stage, not everything has been measured right away. You've got to build into those type of metrics. One of the questions I'm asking marketers these days, especially bedb marketers, is that with the evaporation of conferences, the places where you connect with prospects and customers and those serendipitous relationships that are built simply be because you sit beside someone during a panel session. Those are not going to happen. I don't think there's going to happen for a year, at least a year, and that's just my own view of the world. How do be deb companies spark conversations with prospects? I'm not talking about a chat Bot or somebody reaches out and and I I contact box or fills out any book download, but real conversations where I get on the phone and we're talking to each other and and we're connecting and we're beginning to establish relationship it. I think a lot of brands are having a hard time doing that. Any thoughts about how you can make that happen? Neither the approach that Rensink is taking to address that challenge. It's not an easy answer, for sure. The probably the answer I'm going to give is going to seem like it's a Coppo, but it's doing the things you should have been doing anyways. So you know, for us we're we're providing...

...thought leadership in the form of a podcast and rental or industry reports, through through Linkedin organic and you know, we're kind of go the tactics that are involved in all of those initiatives are, you know, are can vary. You know, one thing you know my CEO, and I got to give him credit for, is he's willing to go the long play. So again, get the right company with the right leadership team, the right CEO, because they see value in the long play and that's content. In the meantime, we are going running our demand Jen we're going account base, because that's the play for us in our industry. But I don't think there's a I don't really think there's a silver bullet. I think you need to have that air cover and you need to run demand and you need to do a combination of both. The end of the day, it's usually about figuring out what works best and that's just experimentation. So it's more about the process you're going through and are you improving then it is. What is that silver bullet? Yeah, I wish there was a better answer. I wish there was a more definitive answer and and it's a very tough question to be asking these days. Because it's a new marketing landscape and we're all trying to adapt and we're all trying to figure out ways that we can differnch at ourselves and really get those conversations going. Mitch, thanks for coming on marketing spark today. If people are looking to find you online, where do they find you? Are you on Linkedin? You have a podcast or website? Let us know the information about where you where you can people can learn more about what you do. Yeah, I mean you can just Google midge fanning. I think I'm going to be the first two shows up. I run a podcast called build the scale, but yeah, Linkedin is always the best place to find me. Well, thanks for listening to another episode of marketing spark. If you enjoyed the conversation, leave review and subscribe by Itunes or your favorite podcast APP. For show notes, today's conversation and Information About Mitch, Visit Marketing Spark Dot Cola blog. If you have questions, feedback, would like to suggest a guest or want to learn more about how I help me to be companies as a fractional CMO consultant and adviser, send an email to mark at marketing sparkcom talk to you next time.

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