#16 Spray & Pray or How to Measure Marketing Results
Episode #16 of Students vs. Startups has a focus on how to measure marketing results in social media. Vanessa Stirling, “Yeti at Large” at Measured Results Marketing, shares with the audience how the company started and how she interacts with clients. She even explains the origin of Yeti!
The student participants are all candidates for a master’s degree in Technology Management from Georgetown’s School of Continuing Studies. From left to right are Chris Ajiri, Dilma Zurita, and Chris Davis.
A 26 minute listen
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“It’s so great to finally find somebody like you. It’s been trying to like find a Yeti. We didn’t know people like you existed.” Of course, being marketers, we heard that and thought, “That has to be our brand.” .” Vanessa Stirling, Yeti at Large, Measured Results Marketing
“One area of success that we’ve had is working with the partner channel.” Vanessa Stirling, Yeti at Large, Measured Results Marketing
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If you enjoyed this podcast, you may want to listen to podcast #11 Zimpatica on
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This is the transcript
John: Welcome to Student Versus Startups showdown of the Potomac. My name is John Gilroy and I’ll be your moderator today. We’re kind of changing the formats here these last few podcasts. We’ve reached about 14 or 15 podcasts and gotten some feedback.
Trying to make it more podcasty and less radioy so I’m gonna let people still enjoy their regular 1940’s opening and I’m a maybe switch the way I do things around here, then I normally do it. I just want to let you know if your listening to this podcast we are sitting in the 10th floor of building in Rosslyn, Virginia, right off the Potomac River. We have a table here, we have students on one side we have startups on the other.
The idea is to have a conversation, to have an exchange of information where everyone learns something. The startup gets free publicity, and the students get to go back and forth with actual live human beings so that’s kind of good.
The students we have, you might know them from their previous podcast, but they are Chris Ajiri, Dilma Zurita and Mr. Chris Davis. Chris how are you?
Chris Ajiri: Doing great.
John: Tell us about your background please Chris.
Chris Ajiri: Yes. I’m an Auditor by profession and a student at night. Currently at Georgetown trying to get a Master’s in Technology Management. I should be graduating in December.
John: You know I went to your LinkedIn profile, he’s got all kinds of letters after his name. CFE, CPMP, so what is the CIA? I thought that was over in McLean. Now what does the CIA mean?
Chris Ajiri: It’s a Certified Internal Auditor.
John: Ah so people are scared of you then huh? They should be. Dilma your background please.
Dilma: I’ve been in technology field for a few years in different but specializing, providing technical support to end users and currently managing the client and technical support for the Association of Medical Colleges. Just like Chris, I am a student in the evenings at Georgetown and looking forward to learn about new technologies and build some additional networks.
John: All three of our students are candidates for Master’s Degree in Technology Management from the School of Continuing Studies at Georgetown University. Someone who knows a little bit about Georgetown University is Mr. Chris Davis.
Chris Davis: Hey how are you doing? I’ve been at Georgetown for quite a few years working in the IT Department, University Information Services in various roles focusing on customer support. currently, IT Support Account Manager but I’m also in the program at SCS Technology Management that seems to be a natural fit in making lots of new connections especially with professionals in the industry to actually grow my knowledge.
John: They’re my students and every day on the class board I put on there “Building your professional network.” I put that on the white board, don’t I Chris?
Chris Davis: Yes absolutely.
John: One way you can build your professional network is by meeting people from startups. Our startup is a company called Measured Results Marketing and the website’s just like that. The person with us tonight is Vanessa Stirling. Her official title is “Yeti at Large.” Well you’re gonna have to explain that for our listeners here Vanessa.
Vanessa: I was always get to explain that. I got to pick my title and I sort of missed the whole crazy title trend back in 90’s so that’s what I picked. What it reflects is I do a lot of different things for the organization. I do do some client facing work but I’m also in the background doing the accounting, processing, HR, paperwork and as well as just helping guide and shape the organization as we grow.
John: You also have an MBA from the University of Denver so you have some academic training as well.
Vanessa: I do. I had a creative writing undergrad so I had to do something a bit more practical.
John: Creative writing is very practical for this podcast. Here you have to make up answers.
Vanessa: Not in Haiku form I hope.
John: I’ll ask the question I ask everyone. What business problem does Measured Results Marketing solve?
Vanessa: We help B2B and professional service marketers solve the problems they have with their infrastructure. This is all to do with building out the right demand generation engine for their particular business.
John: My, my, my. Demand generation. That’s exciting. Dilma you have a question for our guest here please?
Dilma: So Vanessa if you could select only two methods to reach out this market, what would they be?
Vanessa: To my particular market?
Vanessa: One area of success that we’ve had is working with the partner channel. There’s a lot of technologies at play that marketers use so we have formed some really good relationships with the channel marketing there. The other is sort of a combination of traditional tactics around awareness, building awareness. We have a really memorable brand with the Yeti. Using that through different tactical channels such as social media, blog posts, LinkedIn, and doing traditional events and networking, things like that.
John: I have to jump in. When they go to trade shows they have these big banners with this big monstrous guy in blue looks like the Yeti. Looks like a Yeti.
Vanessa: That would be a Yeti, John.
John: That’s the plan. I figured that one out huh?
Vanessa: Yeah. See it worked.
John: Maybe you could expand a little on what a channel is. There’s some listeners who know what channels are. Some people don’t know, they think it’s something with television or something. Tell us what a channel is in your world?
Vanessa: A channel is just a way to get to the markets. You could go direct which would be to the consumer. You could work through third party which would be a partner channel. There’s different ones like that.
John: Chris Davis please.
Chris Davis: Am I hearing correctly the customers you’re actually trying to target are other people doing marketing and not necessarily going to the business that needs some sort of marketing plan …?
Vanessa: No we work for businesses. Typically most of our clients are technology companies or professional services companies. They all have one or a team of marketers that are trying to solve this problem for their own company. How do we best get to our market? What are the right tactics? How does it all work from an automation perspective? How does all of that knit together? We come in as a consultant.
Chris Davis: What is the level of engagement with these companies? Is this envisioned as something where it’s a onetime maybe several month period where you’re helping somebody craft a strategy and get to know the tools or is this something that’s really meant to be ongoing in perpetuity?
Vanessa: Obviously from our revenue perspective we prefer the perpetuity idea and thankfully we have had really good retention rates where people have either come back after a period of time or have continued to engage us from the initial project.
We try to be very flexible because depending on the pain point that the people are experiencing, they may need different things. Sometimes we just come in and do a demand generation workshop where we help them just map out how the heck are we going to hit our number this year. There’s a number of components to that or it could be more complex.
We’re like great we understand that but we don’t have enough hands to do it nor do our database systems talk to each other. Can you help us do all of that? We can, so we bring in people to support them and actually are an extension of their marketing team which what we really like to do.
Chris Ajiri: Yes, so I don’t think anyone asked about how long have you guys been in this business? That was one of my first questions. Secondly is, how do you see or what are the challenges you’ve had while building your, the business?
Vanessa: Sure. This is our fourth year of being in business. The challenges, you know something that’s very typical of a startup is, figuring out how to build in order to grow. That’s everything from identifying the people with the right mix of talents and background which is really hard to do in this space because not everybody has adopted these kinds of technology yet.
Therefore there aren’t the kinds of people who know how to do it. To finding the right sort of resources to bring on board, you know human resources. Then it’s other typical small business growing pains. How do you fund that next growth stage? How do you, where the heck do you store all the documents? Should we use Dropbox or Google … all those kind of infrastructure questions that we have as a business ourselves.
John: I gotta ask you leading question have you ever hired any one of the Georgetown School of Continued Studies?
Vanessa: We do actually have someone who came out of, I don’t know if that’s specifically where he came from, but he did work at Georgetown
Vanessa: Mike yeah. Great.
John: What a small world huh?
Vanessa: Yeah he is great. He actually worked for me at a previous company and was an obvious choice to bring onboard.
John: An obvious choice for the next question is Chris Davis.
Chris Davis: Where do you see your company going in five years?
Vanessa: Marketing is getting more and more complex. I started in the days where people still used newspaper ads. That’s a lot of time, I’m dating myself. Now … I think it’s Gartner statistic out there that’s talking about, marketers will spend more on technology than the IT departments will. There’s a lot of investment going into this which just makes things complex because technologies don’t like to talk to each other. People don’t’ know how to use it.
Someone comes in to implement it and then they leave to go to the next job and so it lands on someone else’s lap. I think our company will continue to evolve along those pain points. As the trends in the marketing technology field go, our consulting expertise will follow. I can almost see us having … as you’ve seen in other consultants, different practice areas where we help people with different sort of technology problems.
Dilma: Considering that you’ve been in business for four years, from today’s perspective, what would be the most challenging moment that your business had in this four years?
Vanessa: It’s all been great. I mean every time we look up we, and reflect on what we’ve been able to accomplish, we’re so proud of ourselves and grateful to the customers. The challenges just roll in every day. Whether it’s key personnel having to take leaves of absence or … running into a technology problem that we just can’t solve. Different things like that so it varies which is what I like about it. It’s so variable and so interesting.
Dilma: Is there anything that you can think of that you would’ve done different?
Vanessa: I think I would have gone bigger sooner, if I could’ve. I think I would’ve built out the team, maybe hired the first person sooner, done things like that. I think there’s a lot opportunity in this area. I liked to have really gone after it harder. Of course reality intervened with funding and things like that, that if I … had a make believe world that’s what I would’ve done.
John: Chris go big or go home. What do you think of that? That sounds kind of scary to me.
Chris Ajiri: That sounds destructive right? In a sense, that sort of leading into my next question. Do you see yourself as a destructive company where you wanna change the framework how marketing is done or what is your strategy in the sense of, I know you wanna go big and take over.
Vanessa: I don’t think disruptive is the right word. It’s more around enablement. There’s a lot that marketing is able to do. It’s so much more than figuring out shrimp or chicken for the user event lunch or what color logo should we be. It’s really bringing that revenue in the door. I think enabling marketers because we’re all recovering marketers. We’ve all run marketing organizations, been in the trenches, trying to do all this. We really feel this pain. We wanna come in and really enable them to do it cuz the whole point of marketing automation … and customer relationship management technologies and all this is to make your lives easier, it’s to automate that. So often it’s a source of frustration.
John: Well Vanessa we’re gonna feel some pain if we don’t take a break here. Your company again is measuredresultsmarketing.com. That’s how to find it, is that right?
Vanessa: That’s exactly right.
John: Well great. The founding sponsor for Students Versus Startups is the Radiant Group. If you enjoy solving problems and like to work with bright people the Radiant Group is the place for you. Contact Al D’Leonardo Usher at theradiantgroup.com.
We’re hosted by the Eastern Foundry. It’s a community of government contractors who are bringing innovative solutions to the government marketplace. For more information, go to Eastern-Foundry.com.
Finally, our monthly sponsor is a leader in enterprise cloud computing, natively converging compute visualization and storage into a resilient software to find solution. For more information go to newtanics.com.
Welcome back to Student Versus Startups showdown on the Potomac. Well, we all know our students. We have PMP Chris. We have Dilma and we have Mr. Chris Davis on this side of the table. On the other side of the table we have Vanessa Sterling form Measured Results Marketing who tells people that she’s a Yeti at Large which is kind of an interesting concept there. Dilma, do you have any questions about the origin of this term?
Dilma: Sure. Vanessa what made you choose the term Yeti. How many Yeti’s are your team?
Vanessa: Well … the name of the company came first because ultimately marketers are trying to find the best combination of activities and generate the right kind of business and be able to measure their results.
One of the first clients who came to us with this kind of problem was talking and says, “It’s so great to finally find somebody like you. It’s been trying to like find a Yeti. We didn’t know people like you existed.” Of course, being marketers, we heard that and thought, “That has to be our brand.” We ran with it. We’re a small organization. There’s about six core people in the organization but we have a large bench of other resources that we can bring in for the very specialized tasks where you might be getting into the programming in the back end of the technology at place.
John: Chris Davis gotta question for you. Do you prefer Yeti, Sasquatch, or the Abominable Snowman? What do you think would’ve worked better?
Chris Davis: Rolls off the top of the tongue . . .
John: You have any questions for Vanessa?
Chris Davis: Yeah so it sounds like you’re a pure services company in that your relationship between your staff and your clients are probably a paramount of importance. How do you handle the turnover especially if you have somebody leave. How do you handle maintaining that relationship seamlessly for your clients.
Vanessa: Yeah it’s very important to us cuz … having been on the other side of the desks, having been the marketers, there’s nothing worse than being let down and you still have to deliver. We take a lot of care with that. Through the development of the company a lot of the work we’ve been doing internally over the last few years, is operationalizing our internal processes.
What is the right way to get from the sales stage over to the implementation phase? What are the papers that we need? What sort of meetings do we need to have? What sort of set ups do we need on our internal IT side? It’s all the way through working with the clients. It’s typically weekly meetings. Just making sure the communication, some people like email some people prefer the phone, sometimes we’re in their offices.
It’s really making sure that all along the process that the client is informed and knows what’s going on with their business so that we can service them in the proper way. I think that’s why so many of the clients do come back to us. Sometimes they move on to a different company and they come back to us which is a really good compliment that we take to heart.
John: PMP Chris. Got anything for Vanessa?
Chris Ajiri: Yeah I just wanted to find out if you use any marketing automation and can you just elaborate a little more.
John: Do you eat your own dog food?
Vanessa: Oh absolutely. Absolutely and that’s a lot of where I spend my time. We do. We use Salesforce as our CRM and HubSpot as our marketing automation tool. Our website is built on Word Press using an adaptive template. We have a lot other plug-ins. The standard Google, Hot Jar, different things like that that help us analyze in our demand generation ecosystem.
John: Dilma any questions?
Dilma: Given that you get to hear all of the problems that your customers or potential customers having, are you working any new products? Have you thought of any additional products that you may come up with or are you just focusing on what you’re currently doing?
Vanessa: I think a lot of our engagements have a unique aspect to them. For example, we always tend to do a demand generation workshop with people to understand with them how are we going to hit that target revenue number with them.
Some of the nuances might be that, one that came up recently, they wanna market to certain segments in different ways but they couldn’t do it because their data in their database was so dirty they had no way to actually identify the right personas, the population in order to do that. So that’s a different nuance.
That’s something that isn’t necessarily a product but it’s definitely in our wheel house because there’s a lot of both automated and sort of strategy things that you can do around that to make sure you can actually market to the people that you want to market.
Chris Ajiri: I know we haven’t, can you give us a taste of types of clients that you work with? Are you more in the government space or commercial space or is it a mixture of different types of clients?
Vanessa: Certainly, most of our clients are in the B to B world. I would say most of those provide a technology … SAS product in these days. A lot of them are also professional services or have a mix of the product and the services. We also have others. We have a huge landscape company.
We’ve worked with retailers. We’ve worked with manufacturers who have a product that they just sell through a distribution channel. There is some variety.
Most of us have come out of the tech space. That’s where we feel like we have the most experience but a lot of the problems, the pain points, are being felt in other business areas so we’re able to come in and help them analyze and fix those.
John: Vanessa, just for the benefit of our audience, you threw out some terms that many people know, some don’t. B to B and SAS what do those two terms mean please?
Vanessa: B to B is business to business versus business to consumer. Business to business would be like one of your sponsors, it’s Nutanix? Is that how you say it?
John: Nutanix, right.
Vanessa: Nutanix. Yep. B to C would be Best Buy, McDonald’s, something like that.
John: Business to consumer.
John: What’s SAS mean?
Vanessa: SAS is software as a service. This is delivering a software product where some people might have … in the old days you would’ve downloaded it and actually had a license on your machine. Now it’s all accessible through the cloud.
John: So something like Netflix or Salesforce? Would that be a SAS?
Vanessa: Those are great examples.
John: Oh great cuz I know we have listeners from every range of the world and maybe throw out these terms and everyone knows what B to B, B to C, B to G. Chris what’s B to G? You’ve heard that one haven’t you?
Chris Davis: Business to government?
John: Yeah. Business to Government. Any questions Chris?
Chris Davis: Yeah so it sounds like you’re pure services at this point and you’re leveraging a lot of your expertise to use a wide variety of tools to help your customers and their marketing.
Do you see any particular space in there to introduce any kind of, do any kind of development, introduce any other kind of tool to massage the process to actually … to do better integration that would actually help your marketing work and maybe even give you a product that you can sell or do you not have ambitions … had you had ambitions like that?
Vanessa: I don’t see that happening in the short term and the reason is there’s cuz there’s such a ponderous of work right now in just dealing with the applications that are out there. That keeps us busy enough. Could that happen in the future? Definitely! The great thing about being smaller organization is you can make that change happen in just a 50 minute chat in the local Starbucks.
Chris Davis: May I ask, is there one killer marketing tool that you think is great that you find nobody is actually using?
Vanessa: No, I think one of my favorites right now is Hot Jar, to give them a plug. A lot of times the responsibility of analyzing how your website is performing falls on one person who also does nine other things. I think Hot Jar really understands that pain and has done a good job of answering that. I’m sure there’s others that I’m just not familiar with but that’s one of my favorites right now.
John: Chris A?
Chris Ajiri: Just a question about strategy, exit strategy, right? Are you, they always ask the question, what is your five to ten year plan or are you building enough to be bought out or what is the strategy for you?
Vanessa: Right now we are definitely in build mode. There’s a lot of opportunity for us individually as well as expanding the team to get into some of those practice areas. That’s where I see its going. I don’t foresee us exiting at any time soon. There’s a very crowded agency market but we stand sort of different from the rest because we’re more focused on the technology and the infrastructure process side of things. I think we have a real first mover advantage right now.
John: I wannna jump in before Dilma asks a question here. You were at the HubSpot conference and there are people HubSpot that are saying that 50% of your marketing budget should be budgeted towards video. Do you agree with that? What do you think of that? That’s a big number to me.
Vanessa: Well, I’ll give the classic consultant answer. It depends. What you always have to figure out as a marketer is how does your market want to consume the information. In my past I was selling to engineers who were typically 50 plus. I would say video for them was not a good idea at the top of the funnel but in the middle of the funnel or the bottom of the funnel when you’re trying to explain how your product works or how to use it, video is a great idea. It really does depend on your target audience and where you are in your communication plan.
John: Now Dilma would look good in video with that suit you have on there so I’ll let you ask the next question, Dilma?
Dilma: Sounds like you been successful and there’s plenty of potential customers out there. If a larger company would come out and offer to buy out your company, would you sell it?
Vanessa: That would be a tough one. I think a lot of founders have this problem of letting go of the thing that they’ve built. I think right now no. We’ve got more than enough to keep us busy and work towards really building out our organizations.
John: Chris Davis?
Chris Davis: What is the key strategy or marketing strategy that you find your clients just do not have on their radar that you’re making them aware of when they come to you? Something that people just, not thinking of at all?
Vanessa: I think a common problem, let me reframe the question a little bit is, marketers forget to talk to their market. They get this ivory tower syndrome where they’re stuck in their office programming email campaigns and picking out which events to do and helping the sales org with their proposals etc. and no one has talked to the market. You haven’t had a marketing team go out to an event, talk to buyers, you haven’t had them tour client sites, attend trainings, sit on sales calls. I think that’s a gap I see in a lot of marketing organizations. You just get too busy and too overwhelmed.
John: Well great job students. Great job Vanessa. Now if someone’s listening to this and wants to have more information what website should they go to to learn about your company?
Vanessa: They can go to measuredresultsmarketing.com.
John: Pretty simple to remember. Great. Well we’re running out of time here ladies and gentlemen. If you liked this podcast, please give us a review on iTunes. I’d like to thank our founding sponsor, The Radiant Group, our host Eastern-Foundry and our monthly sponsor Nutanix.
Signing off from high atop a nondescript building in lovely downtown Rosslyn, Virginia, I am John Gilroy. Follow me on Twitter, @RayGilray and thanks for listening to Students Versus Startups Showdown the Potomac.