The Next CMO Podcast: Communicating your Brand Message via Frontline Employees with Chris Wallace

Episode Notes

In this episode, we speak to Chris Wallace, the co-founder and president of Innerview, a brand consulting firm with a unique perspective — they specialize in helping brands leverage their front line workers to communicate their brand values more effectively.

Episode Summary

In this episode, we speak to Chris Wallace, the co-founder and president of Innerview, a brand consulting firm with a unique perspective — they specialize in helping brands leverage their front line workers to communicate their brand values more effectively.

Innerview created a concept called the brand transfer score that helps measure how effectively your team communicates your brand message to your customers.

Chris has an amazing pedigree with a degree in communications from Syracuse and an MBA from Temple university, where he continues to teach as an adjunct faculty member.

If you are planning to invest in your brand, you definitely need to listen to this episode to make sure you are getting the most out of that investment.

Useful Links


Full Transcript

00:00:27] Kelsey Krapf: Chris. Thank you so much for joining the next CMO podcast today. We’re super happy to have you on the show. Love to learn a little bit more about you and what you do for interview.
[00:00:38] Chris Wallace: Well, Kelsey, thanks so much for having me on and Peter as well. I’m excited about the show. Um, a little bit about me. I’m trying to think, uh, trying to think where to start.
We’ve covered some of the basics, uh, before the show started here. I’m from upstate New York originally. Syracuse a former resident and Syracuse university graduate. But, um, I, you know, spent most of my career in really on the sales side of the house. So maybe some of your, your marketing listeners may have just cringed a little bit, but, um, I’m sort of a reformed salesperson and, uh, really spend my time now really helping marketers bridge the gap between their marketing strategy and their messaging and their, and their frontline channels.So that people who are out there are out there selling for them. Now we kind of play marriage counselor between the two. That’s
[00:01:22] Peter Mahoney: great. I L I liked the, uh, the idea that you are reformed. I actually refer to myself as a recovering CMO, uh, because, you know, since I dropped the mantle of CMO, when I started to run this company and found it, I, uh, I decided that recovering is probably the best way to talk about it.
[00:01:40] Chris Wallace: it’s a great way to think about it, for sure.
[00:01:42] Peter Mahoney: It is great. And obviously, I, I. Tongue was firmly planted in cheek. Chris, when you were talking about the love, hate relationship or hate, hate relationship between sales and marketing, because I, I think it’s really pretty dramatically improved over the years where I think marketing and sales people these days have a much better understanding of the relative value.
And certainly the people I talk to all the time endeavor to create really strong relationships, but a piece of it is really understanding. Uh, about how to collaborate and how to actually use your, your, one of your important, most important marketing channels, which is your Salesforce to amplify a message effectively to your, your, uh, your target audience.
That’s one of the most high fidelity ways that you can
[00:02:28] Chris Wallace: communicate for sure. One thing I would, I would say, though, in our experience, we’ve seen the improvement in that relationship on the B to B to C side, excuse me, on the B2B side and significantly in the. You know, five, five to seven years, but we do a lot of work on the B to C side and the B to B to C side.
And it’s very different there. Um, you know, B2B has really had a lot of organizations, the foresters of the world and the Gartners of the world have really pushed the thinking of really how the, the, the marketing side is feeding sales and how they need to work symbiotically to get. And, you know, what we’re finding is that same level of sophistication is not there on the B2C side because marketing looks at themselves as we drive demand.
And th the selling channels it’s really very separate. So, um, the divide is wider there, and the dollars are big because, you know, the consumer brands spend a lot of money. So, um, that’s a big area of our focus.
[00:03:23] Peter Mahoney: It makes a lot of sense. And it’s interesting because there there’s a lot that we see because we talked to a lot of marketing leaders from both B2B and B to C, and there’s a lot of really interesting sort of interplay between those two target markets that we see.
A lot of them, one tries to learn from the other, the B2B marketers are trying to do a better job in learning how to. How to market more to the individual, because of course you don’t sell the companies, you sell the people who happen to work for companies. And so that, that idea of really creating a kind of consumer relationship with the consumer of your product or service, even if they’re inside a company, I think is really.
And it’s interesting that we like may have spent most of my time, probably 80% of my time more in the B2B space. I always looked fondly at the greener grass on the other side, say, no, those B2C people are really smart. They know everything going on, but it turns out maybe there’s a couple of things that they could learn from the B2B side is what
[00:04:28] Chris Wallace: you’re saying.
The silos are just further apart. That’s all. And B to B, those, those folks sit closer together and beat. Um, I think that the, um, the scope of their day-to-day work, um, is not, they’re not joined at the hip this much, right? There’s a lot of big, big agencies involved and big ad spends and things like that.
And that’s where the marketers focused their time. But, you know, as one of our clients says all the time, we’re great at putting it up on the billboard. But when the billboard drives the phone to ring, we’re not creating, making sure that the person who answers the phone can represent the same message that was on the billboard.
So, um, that’s really the role that we play. You know, if the silos are there and the divide is wide, you know, we, we sort of become the glue in between them.
[00:05:12] Kelsey Krapf: So can you tell us a little bit more about your relationship between brand and customer experience?
[00:05:19] Chris Wallace: Yeah. I mean, I think this is another thing that’s really interesting. Um, on the, on the B to C side, um, customer experience has been, you know, a very fast growing trend and an area of focus for the last several years.
And then it just took off, you know, exponentially during, during COVID. But, um, it’s also different from B2B. B2B is just really starting to get focused on customer expects. But the way we look at it as the lines between brand and customer experience are getting blurrier and blurrier every single day.
Right? When, when you think about how customers are choosing the brands that they’ll do business with, um, the customer experience is starting to define the brand, right? You think about the companies that do it best, the American expresses of the world, the BMWs, the, uh, the Ritz Carltons right. Their brand is defined by the experience.
To the customer, not necessarily the product. So we really think of it as the, the lines between them are blurry, but it’s really important that you have that you’re synced up between those two things. Right now, we look at it as a brand promises to simply that’s what a brand is a collection of promises.
The brand says, we can do this for you. Trust us. We can do that. The customer experience is really the backing up of those promises. Are the people out there serving the customers every day? Are they aligned to what that promise is? Do they understand what that promise is? And do they act in a way that is consistent with what the brand is saying?
You look at the Patagonia’s of the world. Well, they do that. They, they, they walk the talk as another one of our CMOs friends says, but you know, we’re really out there trying to help brands walk the talk because very few words.
[00:06:57] Peter Mahoney: Yeah, it’s interesting because the. Th the, the implementation of brand when you’re dealing with people gets a little complicated, obviously.
So you can do a lot when it comes to, uh, to creating digital experiences that are brand aligned. And, but when you get to that organic kind of connection between your brand, in a person that’s supposed to be expressing the brand, what are the kinds of things. That a company can do to get better. I mean, obviously not everyone is going to be BMW or Patagonia right at the beginning.
So what, what kinds of things should people start to think about, uh, to maybe first diagnosed? Do they have a problem? And then two, what are the key things they might start to address to, to sort of amplify or align their brand through their human capital?
[00:07:51] Chris Wallace: Yeah. So, so it’s an excellent question. The one thing I would say.
Um, one thing we never find a problem with is getting marketers to admit that this is a challenge that they have, marketers are very willing and forthcoming with this center. You know, we always ask how confident are you that your, your message is being told that your front, you, by your frontline teams, the way that you design the message and they all laugh and they roll their eyes.
So th the diagnosis part is really where we’ve put a lot of focus and attention, not so much to tell them that they have a problem. It’s more to pinpoint where to improve it. Right? Like, you know, most people know that their shoulder hurts, right. But they don’t know how to address it. So they need some sort of diagnosis.
So the way we approach that. The way you start any good relationship, you base it on listening, right. And truly listening and trying to understand, um, in the case of our group and interview, what we do, we built a tool where we built a process called the brand transfer study and the brand transfer score.
And essentially what it does is it takes. The same type of mechanisms that brands go out and gather feedback from their customers. We’re gathering feedback from their frontline teams. So we look at it as if you can influence the person talking to the customer, you can reach the customer. Um, you can, uh, you can only buy so many ads.
You can only put up so many billboards. You can only put so many banner ads online. You can reach your customers directly through those communications, but when the moment of truth happens and they’re inter interfacing directly with someone from your company, making sure that you can influence the outcome of that conversation by influencing that individual, that’s what this diagnosis allows them to do.
So, um, and, and it’s really important to, to say we truly listen to them and we listen because we want to understand their attitudes and their perceptions. Those are the two phrases. We always use attitudes and personal. We don’t care what they know. We don’t care if they know that you have the best warranty in the industry, we don’t care if they know that the product specs.
Yes. That matters to some degree, but other people can go do knowledge checks. And that’s where most organizations put their attention is well, let’s, let’s confirm what our sales team nails. We don’t care what they know. We care what they, what they perceive. We care what they believe. And if they don’t believe in your product, it becomes awfully hard to represent it in front of a customer the way you want.
[00:10:06] Peter Mahoney: fascinating because I assume there’s a, the idea of sincerity or authenticity that comes through in those interactions when someone really believes in lives, the brand values is, is that the way we should
[00:10:19] Chris Wallace: think about it? Yeah. I mean, I think that I jokingly Sam or reformed Salesforce. Uh, here, here’s a, here’s a little, a little tidbit.
Um, I’ll never stop selling. Right. You know, especially being an in, you know, a small business owner and working in the consulting game, you’re always selling. And I think about that idea of, you know, the, the ability to sell when you believe in something that doesn’t feel like selling, right. W when you believe in something, you know, somebody said to me, a number of years ago, Energy transfers.
Right. And when you truly believe in something, you have passion for it, that authenticity comes through. And I truly believe that. You can’t fake that customers know when it’s being faked. And you know, when you’re being served by somebody who really truly believes that they’re providing you value and providing you help.
And I don’t care if you’re selling B2B or B to C or, or somewhere in between, um, that always shines through. So our goal really is to understand what’s in the heads of those people out there talking to the customer. So we can influence them. We can reach them with the right message in some cases, take what they believe in and just amplify and say, we’re glad to hear that you believe in the service that we provide.
Let’s focus on that, more lean into that and remind them, really remind them what they believe in so much in the first place and amplify that message. And it drives the right behaviors. It drives that authentic approach, like you said. So, Chris, do
[00:11:41] Peter Mahoney: you have a good. Example, maybe a juxtaposition of what happens when you do this right.
Versus when you do it wrong. So help us understand for, for our listeners what the impact of this problem. If you’re not amplifying and sort of living your brand values through your, your front facing population, what, what’s the impact of doing that? Do you have a way to illustrate that?
[00:12:09] Chris Wallace: Yeah. And I’m going to give you an, I’ll give you a couple of illustrations.
Um, we’ve done a lot of research, uh, with, with both marketers and with frontline teams to really understand their perspective. And, you know, what we found is the, um, the marketers don’t have a tremendous amount of confidence that the front lines are telling this story. Okay. But then we ask them, how are you communicating with them?
How were you trying to get this message out? So I’ll start with where I think organizations are struggling. Okay. So w w what’s happening, that’s wrong. Um, and what we hear from both frontline employees and from marketers is the connection points between marketing and the frontline teams typically take the form of.
Uh, the two, the two primary culprits are email communication and product. So when you think about bringing something to market, you think about how are we going to compel action, right? We want them to act in a certain way, want them to act in a way that’s consistent with the brand. We want them to believe in the product.
I don’t know about you, but emails and product trainings. Don’t really drive me to believe in it. Right? You get a lot of people looking at their watch to get a lot of people rolling their eyes. They’re they’re turning their camera off on zoom so they can go walk their dog. We see that all the time with branch or primarily focusing on doing it through product training and through emails.
So that doesn’t work. We have data that shows it that does not move the needle. It’s not driving confidence in your brand to that. Driving confidence in the marketing. They’re easy. They’re efficient, they’re super efficient. They’re cost-effective ways to get the message out. You check the box and you move on.
So I’m going to, I’m going to draw parallel to organizations that we’ve worked with, that we believe are doing it right. Um, we worked with a major jewelry brand and a online jewelry brand name that a lot of people would. And they had, they basically were going to market with a message around how customer centric, they were their expertise.
You know, we care about you and we are, the experts come to us and the phones were ringing and we listened to a lot of phone calls and we worked with their teams to help them understand that what they were telling the customer were through those ads was not what was happening in the cost. Okay. It wasn’t what was happening.
Now we could take that brand alignment exercise. And we can put it into a training and we can put into an email, but you can’t train people to care about the brand that they represent. You can’t train them to feel like the work that they do matters. Right? You have to help them feel it. You have to help them experience it.
So we created a series of different experiential type tactics inside the organization. Um, a big part of which happened to be the listening right hearing from them. How do you think the brand excels? What do you think you do for the customer? That’s special? The brand stuff, we take, what we hear from the frontline teams.
We mash those together, help them experience that message in different ways, peer to peer interaction, you know, different ways that we get them engaging in this message. And lo and behold, now they’ve talked themselves into. How valuable the services that they provide to customers. We’re not selling them, we’re helping them, you know, in that case, we’re helping them make the biggest decision of their life, diamond engagement ring to, to, you know, to propose and things like that.
So, um, I know that it’s kind of a, a kind of a long twisted path, but emails and product training don’t work, really getting underneath what people care about as it relates to the brand. And then, and getting that out to them in different ways of helping them experience it. That’s where we see.
[00:15:35] Peter Mahoney: So is there like walking over hot coals kind of things that happen?
So how does, how does this feel to the employee? What’s the experience for them around sort of getting this different level of relationship with.
[00:15:49] Chris Wallace: Uh, I’ll give you an example of another, um, another engagement that we’ve done, major manufacturing brand consumer company. And they, um, we worked with our sales team.
They were rolling out a major new initiative for their, for their retail partners. And we ha we did one of our brand transfer studies and we heard from their team, please do not do another webinar. Please don’t get us, you know, changes to our desk for 90 minutes. We’re out seeing our customers. We want, we want, we, we need the information, but help us get it in a different way.
We built them a couple of different things. One was a series of, uh, peer to peer, um, sales conversations. So getting them, getting the, the regional sales teams on a call, um, professional facilitator and really driving the dialogue of what conversations are you having? What are customers responding to?
What’s working? What’s not. So we’ll call that a critical thinking exercise. It’s not handling. As one of my partners says a 72 page, one pager that, that, you know, most companies do and say, here’s all the information. How can we get them to soak in it and forced them to think rather than handing them something that they’re never going to look at?
Most organizations are content to hand it and they never. Um, the other thing that we did for them, that accompany a podcast here. So for these outside sales reps, we developed an internal podcast series where they could provide feedback on what they wanted to know more about where they felt like they had gaps.
And then the executive team would, would record the podcast episode with us. And then as their sales reps are driving from appointment to appointment, they can listen to the 17 minute episode. And again, soak in that information. Right. If they’re about to go in and talk to one of their dealers about this major initiative.
So we’re really taking the information. When I say experience, it’s no different than a consumer experience, we’re just giving it to them on their terms, understand what the, what the audience’s terms are, give it to them on their terms. And they’re much more likely to consume it.
[00:17:38] Peter Mahoney: It makes a ton of sense.
Obviously, people learn through multiple modalities more effectively, and when they’re interacting versus having stuff. Sprayed at them. They tend to absorb and understand the information a little bit better. So I imagine Chris that this would be further complicated in an environment where there. Heavy employee turnover.
And I think everyone’s seen that now. I mean, we’re hearing all this, uh, post pandemic people who sort of figured out, Hey, I don’t have to work here anymore. I can work remotely. I’m going to go do something new. So there’s the great quit happening now when people are changing, I think there’s, there’s a huge challenge and this huge war for talent out there to, especially with things like salespeople who are, have a pretty transferable skill.
So how, how do you think about that when you’re trying to deal with an ever-changing population and then maybe related to that, if you do this correctly, my assumption is that you probably reduce some of that turnover because they really start to feel the love with the.
[00:18:49] Chris Wallace: You definitely, you literally just answered the question.
Um, I think that the, um, when we think about the turnover piece, that is one of the biggest areas of pushback that we get when we start talking to an organization that. Well, we turn over, we turn over 30% of our frontline population every year. Anyway, investing in them doesn’t make sense and it truly becomes a chicken or the egg.
Right. Um, if they felt more attached to your organization, if they felt more compelled to be an ambassador for your brand, rather than just an employee and a number in that process. Then they’re likely to stay. Um, we’ve proven that the engagements that we do, we do not sell ourselves as an employee engagement, so you can reduce the attrition.
That’s not, that’s not what we’re selling. We’re selling better connection with your customers, better customer conversations, better sales, conversion, bigger upsell, all of those things. Right. And that truly a better value based conversation with your customer, but the halo effect of that. Retention goes way up.
Um, we’ve proven that the largest, the largest single project that we’ve ever done. It was specifically targeted at that decreasing the frontline attrition rates. And that pays for itself many, many times over if you invest in that. So the idea that I won’t invest because my people just leave anyway. Well, if you most organizations, if you take that attrition down by 5%, which is very achievable through these types of programs, 5%, that’s a lot of money to most organizations, especially with.
[00:20:22] Peter Mahoney: It’s interesting. Go ahead, Kelsey. Sorry, I’m gonna
[00:20:25] Kelsey Krapf: say, I’m curious how else you’re measuring the results of, you know, these brand transfers and merging the two together. Like how are you defining what those certain metrics are and how to achieve them to
[00:20:37] Chris Wallace: every organization’s a little bit different Kelsey, but I can say that the ones that are most consistent are going to be sales conversion.
So if we, if, if the potency of our differentiated message. Is as strong as it can possibly be when somebody is engaging with a customer, we will win more deals. Right. And I think any marketer who’s listening to this would agree if I can get more of my message, keep more of my message intact when by the time it gets to the customer, I’m likely to win more deals.
I’m likely to convert at a higher rate. So sales can be. And then, um, ticket size or, or attach rates. So, um, people are buying better goods and they’re buying more of them. So, so the average ticket goes up. Um, then I would say a tier two metric for us would be customer satisfaction. We do not go in and say, you know, some organizations know down to the dollar, how much a point of customer satisfaction is more for their company.
Um, most organizations don’t. So we don’t typically focus on that as a primary metric, but we definitely see sales performance and customer satisfaction go up at the same time. If those are not inverse, those go up at the same time. And then the third is employee employee retention. We typically don’t get into employee satisfaction.
We feel like that’s a little bit soft. Um, we want to be able to measure it in dollars. So employee retention is usually something most organizations know. You know what the improvement can save them as an organization.
[00:22:05] Peter Mahoney: So it’s really fascinating, Chris, because if I, if I look at the brand projects that I’ve done over the years, as an example, we spent a lot of money on brand realization.
So taking the. Either brand campaigns or corporate brands and trying to express them mostly in some digital or physical form, but I don’t think we ever did a good job maybe in passing and sort of some lip service to really deep in handing out some new t-shirts to the employees, but really didn’t do enough.
I don’t think to, to get them to. The brand and it’s, it’s amazing because especially if there’s a change in the areas, when we’re, I’ve been involved in a major brand change, it’s because there’s been some fundamental change going on in the company. And, and I, I imagine that if you look at the value of. A, uh, a brand transition in sort of a return on the investment of a brand transition, pairing it with this kind of, uh, th this kind of indoctrination with, with your frontline employees must be incredibly important.
I suspected it will help you realize more value
[00:23:22] Chris Wallace: out of that. No question. We jokingly call it marketing. So when you, when you have a major initiative that you’re undergoing, and when you say major organizational change, it’s typically things like, um, a merger, right? Or a merger acquisition, you know, a company rebrand, you know, that you product introductions, things like that.
Anytime change is coming to your frontline teams to your, your representatives, you know, day-to-day. Um, w if you, if you back up your bet with a little bit of marketing insurance, then your ability to, if you’re driving customer demand and you’re driving reaction, positive reaction to your brand, and then they show.
To talk to you and they don’t get what they were promised. It’s destructive to your brand and it’s wasting your marketing spend. So one other area that we can, we can measure Kelsey is cost to acquire, right? If sales conversion goes up, your CTA goes way down. I mean, and really, really fast, right? One point of conversion drives your CTA down pretty significantly.
So when we jokingly call it marketing insurance, we really do look at it as sort of that missing element. And a rule of thumb we use is a 10% investment. Look at what your initial, what you’ve invested in the initiative, whether it’s a product, you know, product marketing, whatever the case may be. If you backed that up with a 10% bet on, on your 10%, you know, insurance on reaching your own people, your ability to, to realize that value goes way up.
[00:24:49] Peter Mahoney: How should we think about the implications of. Uh, channel organization. So if someone is interacting with their clients primarily through non-employees, is there a way to get them to embrace the brand and as a different in that
[00:25:04] Chris Wallace: case? Yeah. Th that’s that’s where we’re spending. Most of our time right now here is really around sort of the non-employee selling channels.
And the, there is a way, um, the. The recipe. I’m going to try to give it to you as simple as I, as I can think of that, which is the first thing is you’ve got to listen, right? And again, that’s where, you know, we’ve really built this listening mechanism with, with our BTS process, because you’ve got to hear them and truly understand, you know, we really try to understand them.
You have to look at them at, especially the ones that are representing them. You can’t think of them as somebody you’re selling to, you have to look at them as somebody you’re selling. Okay. And that idea is so important. You’re not convincing them to buy your product. You have to convince them to represent it the way that you want to so they can sell it to somebody else.
You have to win their heart and their mind, right? Most organizations are only concerned about. Really one thing, their wallets. So listening on the front end and then getting off of the, the constant treadmill of just throwing more stiffs at your channel partners and trying to buy their attention. It is not what motivates people.
And everybody always says the same thing. Well, we know how to motivate salespeople. They’re coin operated, pump another quarter, and then they’ll do what you want. But when we work with major manufacturing brands that have retail partners that they go to market with. It doesn’t work that way. You know, they need to find better ways to engage them.
How do you learn how to engage somebody you’ll listen and you ask them what they need. You ask them what their challenges are. You ask them what their gaps are, and then you meet them where they’re at, just like we did with the sales team. You know, we did the podcast series for them. We did the sales huddles for them.
Um, there’s a lot of ways to reach those, those dealer and those channel partners. You’ve gotta be creative. You’ve gotta be willing to try different things. It’s easy to throw a spin.
[00:26:51] Kelsey Krapf: So once you, you know, create these systems in place that are going to help with, you know, sales, the frontline and marketing, speaking together, and, you know, creating the same messaging, how do you make sure that your clients, uh, maintain that?
How are they continuously keeping that in their system? Because everybody knows there’s many times we’ll create something, you know, we’ll have good results. And then all of a sudden we’ll go back to our old.
[00:27:17] Chris Wallace: Yeah. Um, well, once again, I’ll say that when we, when we do one of our, our branch transfer studies, um, there are, remeasures included with that.
So when, after you, you, if you’re launching something or you’re measuring something for the first time, you shouldn’t stop measuring that, you continuously go back and take a look and say, are we aligned? Is that message still getting through? So that’s a way to stay calibrated in terms of how to maintain the discipline inside the organization.
The the best way I can think of it as, um, if you find yourself doing the thing that, that you would say, well, this is what we do every time, or this, this is the playbook we use every single time. By the time you reached that conclusion, you’ve got to change it up, right. It becomes noise organizations. I go back to the product trainings and emails, organizations have gotten comfortable with the fact that as long as the box is.
I sent it out. People technically have it that I did my part of the job, but marketers shouldn’t be content with that. And that’s where the biggest, I would say the biggest challenge, Kelsey, to organizations, either starting down this path or maintaining this path is marketers realizing how important of a role they played in it.
If marketers say. I managed the brand. I manage the external message and it’s up to training or ops or whomever else inside their organization to manage that customer conversation. Well, guess what I mean? You’re, you’re, you’re, you’re leaving your message to chance. So being willing to monitor it and then change when you need to change.
Um, we have an organization that we work with that had a great new tactic that they pushed out to their field and they saw a really great success. And the first two years it was cranking. And then your three is still pretty good. And your for diminishing returns, it became part of the noise. You got to refresh it, you got to fix it up.
You got to switch it up for people, keep it fresh.
[00:29:12] Peter Mahoney: So I L I love the concept that you guys created around this brand transfer score. Uh, so it sounds like what you’ve tried to do is correct. Sort of a standard diagnostic that helps people understand sort of, where are you on the, on the spectrum of being able to effectively communicate that brand value to the customer?
And is that something it, w w what is the range look like? Are most people pretty good at it? If, if you, if you look at the data that you have today, uh, where the most people fall within, uh, within your grading
[00:29:46] Chris Wallace: system, Well, I’m pleased to nuts. We actually just released for the first time, our first ever aggregate brand transfer score.
So across all the ones, the dozens that we’ve done with major brands and about 8,000 frontline employees, the average brand transfer score, and it’s done, it’s done on a scale of zero to minus 100. Okay. So zero, zero means you’ve lost no, no efficacy of your message. Right? Your entire message is. You are statistically aligned from your corporate tower to your frontline retail store?
Okay. Um, the range that we typically see is the best in class is in the, um, the high single digits. So minus seven minus eight is best in class. If you’re a minus seven or minus eight, that means that the view at corporate and the view at the front line, It’s virtually the same. Okay. Not exactly the same still opportunities for improvement, but they’re virtually the same.
Um, on the low end, we’re down in like the minus 45. So we don’t, we typically don’t get into the minus seventies and things like that, but minus 45 range, that’s usually before something’s launched and people don’t really know what’s coming and we’re trying to do an evaluation. But the average score is minus 20.
So what that means is statistically speaking, the frontline teams have a 20% different view of their value proposition than the corporate team does. So one fifth of your messages, essentially getting lost in trends.
[00:31:15] Peter Mahoney: Very interesting. It’s funny. I, my mind immediately went to the formula for the coefficient of restitution, uh, which is what measures the bounciness of balls is the way to think about it.
Right. Um, and, uh, and that’s, that’s sort of it, right? What is the, what is the efficient transfer of energy? And if you drop a ball, does it come all the way up or very close to your hand or does it sort of just fall flat and stay there? Uh, and, and it’s, it’s a good way to think about. You’re scoring system is a great way to think about the efficiency and in the loss lossiness of the brand communication, because the reality is you’re never going to get a full, a hundred percent transfer, obviously, but can you get reasonably close?
And, and what, what is the value have you tried to, have you tried to sort of connect. The connect, the relationship of the score to business value. Is that something
[00:32:10] Chris Wallace: that you’ve worked through? That’s a big area of focus for us right now, you know, we’re, we’re in the process of really trying to see if there’s causation between the, the, the brand transfer score and the, really the improvement in the brand transfer score.
And then the, um, the, the business results that they get. I can tell you one of the challenges that we have with that. The organizations we work with are introducing new things. So fast that by the time we would be going back to remeasure and do the second way, but a brand transfer score and really getting that feedback from the front lines to see if the score changed, they’re already onto the next thing.
So w we’re finding that it’s this interesting dynamic of they feel good about getting that information. They feel good about being able to tailor the message to their frontline. Um, and then they’re great. Let’s do the next one. Let’s keep it going. But I think there’s one, there’s one really important thing to note the scores are not good or bad.
I think it’s important to know, like, even though we have a score, we want us to, it’s not good or bad it’s alignment or misalignment, but we can learn just as much from a, from a minus side as we can from a minus 35. And the reason why. For most organizations, when they’re a minus five, we are still learning what the attitudes and perceptions are.
The frontline teams we’re learning the things that they truly believe in. So if you’re an organization trying to message to your front lines, knowing what they believe in it aligned or missiles. It becomes a tremendous opportunity to amplify that, to remind them to, to ensure that they really understand how that fits into their role and the role they play in delivering that every day.
So just because you’re aligned doesn’t mean that you haven’t learned something from it, you learn the things that you can double down. And a lot of cases, people pay us to confirm their hunches. People pay us to say, I think we’re off here. Right? We want to do the measurement and it comes back and they say, ha, I knew it sometimes confirmation either that you’re doing well or that you’re aligned can be just as gratifying to a CMO because that gives them confidence to push their strategy.
[00:34:13] Peter Mahoney: Makes a lot of sense. I completely agree with that. And the, the idea of, of being able to validate some of those key assumptions is, is super important. Obviously, Chris and we talked a lot about the sales facing staff members, but obviously this kind of a brand transfer value applies also to anyone who’s customer facing.
[00:34:41] Chris Wallace: Really any odd. So, um, again, we do it with, with sales teams, we do it with customer service teams, or we do it with customer success teams. We do it with dealers, right? So, um, those are our favorite ones to do. We just did our first one with pharma. So when we broke into the pharma category, And we did it with healthcare providers, but not looking at the healthcare provider as a sell to audience, but a sell through audience.
Right? Those are the people who have to represent the product to the patients. And it’s a great example of one that we did where there was validation involved. The chief commercial officer had a hunch and the data he got back said at two, what I thought, I think we’re on the right track. We doubled down before ahead with our message.
We had our team more sinked up to that message. And, you know, it really can be done to any audience. It doesn’t have to be customer facing. We just feel like that’s where the rubber hits the road in terms of selling opportunity.
[00:35:35] Peter Mahoney: Yep. That’s it. That’s amazing. And I completely agree that the, uh, you know, that kind of the sales transfer experience, I’m sure there’s a very strong, uh, there’s a very strong business case for, for that level of investment.
So how, how should, uh, What should the investment be? So think about it this way. I mean, people talk about, uh, you, you talk about the, the insurance metaphor as an example, which is kind of interesting. Uh, but if you’re, if you’re spending a hundred dollars on, on your brand campaign, should you spend 1%, half a percent, 10%, what should you spend to, to make sure and optimize the, to make sure that it’s really.
[00:36:18] Chris Wallace: Yeah. So my point of reference is going to be more on the B2C side. Okay. So my point of reference is about 10 to 15%. So, you know, we know, for example, we were talking to a client one time, but a major initiative that they were doing. And major product, they were pushing out and they told, we were told what the initial, just the ad spend was not how much they were paying their agency.
Anything like that. They told us how much the ad spend was. And they asked us the question, how, you know, what, what percentage? And we said 10 to 15%. Now, when you think about the 10 to 15%, what we think that 10 to 50% equates to is that 10 to 15% is what you will immediately split. On more ads and more messaging.
As soon as you see that it’s not working as well as you want. So we look at it as, rather than hold on to that money and spend it after it’s not working. It becomes that insurance on the front end to say, what if we truly back up our backs, we’re making this big bet with the advertising, but what if we back it up and ensure that when the phone rings matches up, people are energized to see.
Just a couple points of conversion, easily pay for the fraction. That’s invested in what we do. So, um, it, it just depends on the mentality of the person that you’re talking to, but we look at it as spend this on the, on the, spend this money on the front side, rather than wait for things not to work and just keep pouring money into something that’s not.
[00:37:45] Peter Mahoney: And when are the logical points for people to consider doing this kind of an assessment? Is it when you’re launching a big campaign, a big brick, new brand thing? Is it, is it any time? So how, how, how should the CMOs and the audience think about now that hopefully we’ve piqued their interest? What, what’s the right trigger point for them to, to look at making this kind of a new.
[00:38:09] Chris Wallace: It’s an excellent question. It’s probably one of the most important parts of the timing of this is really key. Most of the people that we work with. They, they come to us when something has been out there and has not performed as well as they wanted it to. So it’s usually the first conversation is a break fix type of conversation.
It’s the been out there for a year. It’s dying on the vine. You know, we’ve got to figure out how to jumpstart. Um, then that immediately transitions into, well, why wouldn’t we get out ahead of our, you know, our next launches and do this on the front end. So most of the time that we’re doing engagements, now, our clients are doing them on the funding.
So after they do the first one, they realized the different use cases and say, now this becomes baked into our go to market process. That’s the best way to use it, right? There’s the least, the least amount of waste, the least amount of time that’s lost in the marketplace. This becomes a tool to help you get your, your, your speed to market your ramp time.
Um, shortened basically. So that front end piece really becomes where companies settling. So is there an
[00:39:09] Peter Mahoney: easy way to tell whether it’s likely a. Brand message transfer problem versus just a crappy message or a bad offer. So sometimes that happens too. And w w what are the things that a CMO should look out for to say that, that, Hey, this could be, this could be my frontline experience.
Transferring the message.
[00:39:35] Chris Wallace: Yeah. So, um, we get asked that question a lot. And I’m going to, I’m going to be disciplined and stay in my lane. They’re going to say, it’s not my job to tell you whether or not it’s a good message. That’s what your, your brand agency does for you, right? We’re a niche provider, but we’re a high value niche provider.
And we’re, it’s not our job to tell you, we assume you came in with the market research. We assume that you know what the customer wants. We assume the product and the message were designed to meet that customer need. We’re not w we don’t tell you whether or not that’s right. But whether the message is right or it’s wrong, if we can make you five, 10, 15% better, that, that cures a lot of deals.
Right? So even if it’s not the best message, if you, you still got phone draining, if you can convert more of those, or you’ve got people walking into a store, or you’ve got sales calls that are happening, if we can convert five, 10, 15% more. It’s definitely worth the effort. So we’re not going to come back and say, well, we think you got the wrong message.
However, a brand transfer study does uncover a lot of frontline intelligence that companies end up using to say, maybe we want to tweak the message. Our front lines are telling us that this is what customers think. There’s a big difference between what happens in the trenches and what customers say in market research.
That’s one of the things we have.
[00:40:51] Peter Mahoney: And what is the, what’s the scale that starts to make sense about putting the effort together to do this kind of program? Is it, is it, uh, 20 frontline people or 20,000? Uh, I suspect it’s somewhere in the middle.
[00:41:04] Chris Wallace: Yeah, it definitely is. So, um, we typically say with a brand transfer study, 50 people or more, if you’ve got 50 people out there representing you, and that can be through a variety of things.
Um, that’s where we can, you can start to see some leverage from it and it’s worth it. Now, there are, there are upstart companies that are, you know, venture or private equity backed that have a lot of money in the bank and they need to scale quickly. They may only have 30 or 40 people, but man, they need to nail that down.
They need to nail a support mechanism that their salespeople have because they may have 40 today, but they might have 400 a year from now. So, um, it really just depends on the circumstance, but, um, if you, if you look your organization, you don’t have, you know, four or five dozen people representing you.
You might just not see the leverage from something like that.
[00:41:52] Peter Mahoney: Makes sense. So I know we’re getting to the end of our time, but this, this is really fascinating, Chris. Uh, and, uh, in it’s I look back again to the projects that I’ve been involved in over the years and the companies I’ve been involved in. And I, I can just, I know that.
Some of the gap came at this level where that, that last mile communication was, was part of the problem. There, there wasn’t a real embracing of the brand message. In some cases, there was an eye rolling, which is probably can, can be pretty destructive. Uh, obviously, so before we roll into our last question, just, just, uh, help, help our audience understand where can they learn more, uh, about, uh, interview
[00:42:36] Chris Wallace: short.
So is the company’s site website. Interview and it’s I N N E R V I E w Um, Kelsey was nice enough to, um, to give me a compliment on the website. So I was very pleased by that. Um, and then brand transfer is where you can learn more about the proprietary process that we have learned a little bit more about, you know, how we do that peak under the, under the current.
[00:43:02] Kelsey Krapf: This has been great. Chris, I love the conversation and my wheels are definitely turning on some of the campaigns we’ve run and seeing whether or not it’s a brand transfer problem ourselves. So appreciate the, uh, the feedback and the insight. But lastly, we always love to ask, what advice would you give to aspiring CMOs or CMOs
[00:43:20] Chris Wallace: today?
So the biggest piece of advice I can give, and I’m going to switch it up because, you know, thinking about. Um, typically my answer is, um, always be gathering feedback, but, but specifically for your CMOs, I’m gonna, I’m gonna say. Think about the people who represent your brand as a marketing channel. Right?
Think of them, you know, and you said that very well before Peter looked at them as an audience to be marketed to and an audience to be one over as a segment of your marketing plan and strategy, not as a group to be taken for granted. Um, they, we always jokingly say, they’re the gateway to your customer.
They can decide Peter, you talked about the eye rolls. We see that all the time, good products have come and gone and lots of. You know, left on the cutting room floor because sales teams didn’t embrace new products. They didn’t embrace new initiatives. They rolled their eyes and said another thing from corporate.
Well, if you really look at them as an audience to be worn over those investments can pay off in much bigger ways. So, um, it really is protection against them against seeing things fail. So, um, that would be my biggest piece of advice is look at those groups who represent you as an audience to be won over and sold to and marketed, to not taken from.
[00:44:34] Kelsey Krapf: Well, great. Thank you so much for your time today, Chris, make sure to follow the next GMO and plan out on Twitter. I’m sorry, the next day. Well, I’m Plannuh can I redo
[00:44:44] Peter Mahoney: that? Yes, we’ll do that.
[00:44:48] Kelsey Krapf: Thanks so much for your time today, Chris, make sure to follow the next demo and plan out on Twitter and LinkedIn.
And if you have any ideas for topics or guests, you can email us at the next CMO at Plannuh dot com.