We can talk about influence marketing or even influencers … or for that matter just social media marketing all day and it still doesn’t necessarily mean the C-level folks in your business are going to understand and approve what we want to do.

Some of us talk to the C-level. Some of us are at the C-level in our organizations. But the hard truth of the matter for marketers, even the CMO, is that those of us in the weeds of building marketing strategies and executions are seldom understood or even trusted by the CEO, COO, CFO and other executives in charge. That makes it harder to do our job.

So we need to market internally to the C-Suite. And that means we have to market ourselves.

Stacey Danheiser knows all about marketing internally to the C-Suite. She is the author of the books Stand Out Marketing and Value-Ology. She’s also the CEO of Shake Marketing, which works with C-Suite executives at B2B brands help help them understand marketing and growth.

She took some time to sit down with me recently to talk about what the C-Suite’s perception of Influence and Influence marketing was, how we can better market ourselves to them and what the future may hold for us and our work. 

Some executive level smarts coming up from Stacey on the show today.

Winfluence is made possible by Cipio.ai – The Community Commerce Marketing platform. What does that mean? It’s an influencer marketing software solution, but it has additional apps that function to tap into your brand community to drive commerce. Community Commerce Marketing moves beyond influencers to fans and followers, customers, employees and more. Try its generative AI application, Vibe Check, with a two-week free trial at cipio.ai/vibecheck, and generate a library of social captions in minutes you can use right away.

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Winfluence - Reframing Influencer Marketing to Ignite Your Brand

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Stacey Danheiser Transcript

[00:00:00] Jason: On this episode of Winfluence.

[00:00:01] Stacey: Ask the question to the leadership and your stakeholders what their perception of marketing is, because you need to understand what you’re working with. It’s very hard to change people’s minds or beliefs if you don’t first know what they are, so that’s the first piece of the puzzle.

[00:00:18] Jason: There’s a difference between being an influencer and actually influencing. I’m Jason Falls, and in this podcast we explore the people, companies campaigns and stories that illustrate that difference. Welcome to Winfluence, the Influence Marketing Podcast

Hello again friends, thanks for listening to Winfluence, the Influence Marketing Podcast.

We can talk about influence marketing or even influencers or for that matter, just social media marketing all day, and it still doesn’t mean the C level folks in your business are going to understand it and approve of what we want to do. Some of us talk to the C level, some of us are at the C level in our organizations.

But the hard truth of the matter for marketers, even the CMO, is that those of us in the weeds of building marketing strategies and executions are seldom understood or even trusted by the CEO, the COO, the CFO and other executives in charge. That makes it harder to do our job. So we need to market internally to the C-Suite, and that means we have to market ourselves.

Stacey Danheiser knows all about marketing internally to the C-Suite. She’s the author of the book, Standout Marketing and Valueology. She’s also the CEO of Shake Marketing, which works with C-suite executives at B2B brands to help them understand marketing and growth. She took some time to sit down with me recently to talk about what the C-Suites perception of influence and influence marketing was, how we can better market ourselves to them and what the future may hold for us and our work.

Some executive level smarts coming up from Stacy on the show today. And if you wanna present some executive level smarts to your organization, I certainly recommend looking at cipio.ai and Community Commerce Marketing. Cipio is our presenting sponsor, I love what they’re doing so much, I joined the company as executive vice president for marketing in November.

cipio.ai is a community commerce marketing platform. It has a family of applications that helps you drive commerce through your own community. One of those taps into a big theme for 2023 for brands and creators, and that’s efficiency. Whether you’re a brand or creator, you probably spend a lot of time writing and rewriting captions for social media content.

You also have to make sure that content will perform well by keeping up with the trends across social media. Our gift to you this holiday season is a solution called Vibe Check. Think of it as an AI content generator with an extra brain for optimizing social media posts and predicting success. Tell Vibe Check your idea of your post or even campaign.

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It mines that data for deep learning insights to give you not just content, but content that will perform that makes it very different from other AI content generators out there. Now, I’m not a fan of automating content creation. It takes the humanity out of it but, the generative AI that cipio.ai produces in Vibe Check is really impressive, but that’s actually not the point.

You still need to review and edit, make sure it’s perfect. Vibe Check gets you 90% of the way there, which saves you time. cipio.ai wants to give you that power and time as a holiday gift. Sign up for a two week free trial, no credit card required. Go to Jasonfalls.co/vibecheck V I B E C H E C K, Jasonfalls.co/vibecheck and start creating all the captions and content you need with the click of a button.

It’s free for two weeks, just see if you like it, I’m betting you will. Jasonfalls.co/vibecheck. Seriously, folks, this is going to change the game for you, if you write a lot of content or have a lot of clients you need to write content for, it’s just gonna make it faster, more efficient, and I think you’ll really love the predictive nature of the recommendations. Jasonfalls.co/vibecheck. How to market yourself internally to get better buy-in from the C-suite. Stacey, Danheiser is coming up, she’s next on Winfluence.

Stacy, you’ve spent a good deal of time on the brand side as a marketer, but also advising brands and CMO types, I want to get to the influence marketing stuff in a bit, but I’m curious what your take is on the complexity of marketing today versus perhaps 10, 15 years ago. How much harder is it lead a marketing organization in 2022, 2023, than it was when you were maybe coming up on the brand side of things?

[00:05:15] Stacey: Yes. Yeah, that’s a great question. I’ve seen a lot evolve over the past. I started in consumer marketing and then I switched over to B2B marketing and, when I first graduated and got a job in marketing, my role was really aligned with a business priority, and my title was Acquisition Marketing.

So it was not related to a tactic, it was do whatever you need to do, use whatever tactic available and acquire new customers. And then the jobs that I got after that were retention market. So I got to see both sides of acquisition and retention. Cross-sell, upsell, all that stuff.

What ended up happening, I think as tech came on the scene, all of a sudden marketers had to become specialists in understanding how to use the tactic and how to use the tech. And that has now become, I guess we’ve come full circle back, right? Because CEOs are complaining and heads of marketing are complaining that the marketers that have now grown up in that environment don’t understand business. they may understand the tech, but they don’t understand, why they’re doing certain things and how that relates to business priorities.

So, that’s the biggest challenge I think today is that you have a whole sort of group of marketers who may be really, really smart and understand the tactics and how to use specific tactics, but they don’t necessarily understand how that puzzle piece fits into the broader puzzle.

[00:06:46] Jason: Yeah, I get that resonates with me. I also think though and maybe, I think there might be two, problems at play here because I also think that you’ve got, you can focus on advertising as a marketing choice, or there’s demand gin and content marketing or lead gen and site optimization, which leads to SEO.

Then there’s PR and social and influencers. Almost all of those things existed in 2005. It gets much less complex prior to the dot combust, so like the 1990s. But I also think a lot of marketing’s problem today is even though people are skilled at the tactical stuff, it’s like paralysis of choice. Like which channels do we use, which tactics are the best? Does that resonate with you as well?

[00:07:30] Stacey: Yeah, absolutely. I think I just saw, the updated marketing tech landscape as an example. That whole diagram, watching that thing evolve over the years is just insane. And at some point, and that, that is, I can’t remember what the psychological principle is called, but going into overwhelm of choice, where eventually we just want, just narrow it down A or B, somebody do the work for me to narrow it down, and I think we’re experiencing that decision fatigue and being able to select the right things.

[00:08:03] Jason: Yeah, so let’s zero in on influence marketing here, since that is what these fine people came to hear about. The practice and segment of the options out there for marketers is still very young, and that means the C-suite in many organizations either isn’t familiar with it or doesn’t trust it. I would ask if that’s a fair assessment.

What are the C-level, folks you talk to think about influence marketing, or I guess I should say influencer or marketing since I’m guessing they haven’t heard my definition, which is a little different, but what’s the C-suites take on it? What have you heard?

[00:08:33] Stacey: Yeah, I think there’s some, there was another stat that I saw that said, 13% of CEOs come from a marketing background. So, I like to always start there because the question I have for CEOs is, what do you think marketing should be doing and what is your definition of marketing?

And so in progressive companies, they may have already understood and adopted some influencer principles. In B2B that is a very small percentage in consumer marketing, you can at least have some examples and say, see how people are doing it. But I’d like to start with that question because I have found that most CEOs are non marketers and they don’t really understand that full responsibility and gamut of what marketing could and should be doing.

So, Rather than starting what is your take on influencer marketing? I start with, what is your take on marketing in general, because I gotta understand what perceptions we’re working with here. And a lot of times, depending on the industry, you’ll hear things like marketing equals events, their event planners, and they help us with trade shows, or they help us put together events or marketing equals social media or marketing equals collateral.

In the, financial services industry, where you have to get all these quarterly financial documents sent every quarter. The marketing team is responsible for that, so in their heads, you know that marketing equals putting all that stuff together. And that’s, I think we are working on it.

And I think, I spent a good deal of time educating CEOs and chief revenue officers and chief financial officers on what does good marketing look like and how should marketing be helping your business.

[00:10:13] Jason: So I guess my follow up question to that, which, you know if the influencer piece of it is, a very small slice of a bigger puzzle that CEOs need to get their head wrapped around. And I’m glad you shared that percentage. 13% of CEOs come from a marketing background, which means folks, 87% don’t, and so that’s part of the problem.

But my follow up question was gonna be. For the influence marketing practitioner out there listening, either on the brand side or the agency side, that obviously presents the challenge of buy-in, but if it’s marketing in general has the challenge of buy-in, then influencer marketers are just a sliver that, how would you advise someone who is chomping at the bit to unleash marketing smarts, not just influencer marketing smarts, they’re really, anxious to go at it, but they can’t get that internal support, what’s their path to finding it?

[00:11:03] Stacey: Yeah, so there’s really, three different things that I typically advise. So the first one I already mentioned, ask the question to the leadership and your stakeholders what their perception of marketing is, because you need to understand what you’re working with. It’s very hard to change people’s minds or beliefs if you don’t first know what they are.

So that’s the first piece of the puzzle. The second is to spend time understanding the business and understanding, what your stake cultures care about. So for example everybody says, oh, it’s all about revenue, that’s one sort of take of course, but there are 10 or 15 other things that the C-Suite is contemplating and thinking about.

And in order to effectively market yourself and market your plans to those individuals, you need to know what they’re what they care about. And, these are questions like, how does our business make money? Which customer segments are the most profitable? Which geographies are the most profitable?

Where are we struggling? And having the biggest, issues? What’s the sales team having success with right now? And where are they struggling? Because if you can find a problem and find one of those big challenges to then position your, influencer marketing or any campaign, or any event, or really any marketing tactic or program that you wanna run against, then you’re more likely to get that sold, right?

Because value is in the eye of the beholder and we need to understand what the other side cares about and values so that we can position our programs effectively. And then the third thing, just real quick, is knowing what customers need and want and how they make decisions. this is a really big missed opportunity, I think happening in a lot companies.

There’s a huge disconnect. 80 plus percent of CEOs believe that, the chief marketing officer in the marketing function can be more influential, but they have very low confidence that this is happening, it’s like 30% believe that they actually are playing into that role. And one of the number one reasons why is they are not representing the voice of the customer internally.

So imagine you’re sitting around an entire group of people and this happened to meet multiple times working, five different Fortune 500 companies, and you have very loud and vocal people sometimes in those meetings and planning sessions. And the strategy of, hey, whoever’s the loudest wins, it doesn’t always work.

And so one way that I found to get around that is to have a pulse on customers. And that means that you’re doing, like at minimum, doing customer research once a year, and that typically, we would hire an outside agency to do research for us. We would purchase third party research reports just to like marketing would own that we would actually budget for this and that marketing would have access to that information.

But on top of that, I would spend time with the sales team and travel with the sales team to understand and hear firsthand what are customers saying that they want or need. Where are customers finding out about us?

Where are they spending their time? How are they getting educated? And Basically, when you arm yourself with that information, it now becomes not an opinion of one, hey, this is my opinion and I think we should do influencer marketing, no. It becomes, hey, I wanna show you some data, that our customers are interacting with these particular people or these particular companies, and this makes sense for us to align with them and here’s why.

And so then now of a sudden it’s not an opinion. you’re really proving that out with the customer lens in mind.

[00:14:41] Jason: Yeah, and it all comes down to, I think communicating business value for, whether it’s marketing overall or whether it’s influencer marketing or even SEO or whatever it is you’re doing, if you can deliver that business value explanation, which, points to what you said. I have a quick example for the influencer marketing folks out there who are interested, and it doesn’t have anything to do with revenue either.

I happened to have a project not too long ago and, there was a complexity in the product that the C-suite at that brand were having trouble figuring out how do we explain this in a way to the consumer that will make sense and as simple, and explaining really complex things in a simple way is hard to do.

And it just so happened that we were working with a creator. I didn’t intentionally go out looking for someone who created explanation videos well, but we were working with a creator who did explanation videos, and I challenged him to take this, one particular product and this one particular feature of that product, and explain it in a way that would be simple for people to understand.

When he came back with the video for everybody to watch, like the client just did cartwheels. They were like, we’ve been trying to figure out how to explain this for three or four years and we haven’t been able to do it. So again, it’s finding the right creator to solve the problem that illustrates the business value. You solved something, it didn’t have anything to do with driving revenue, but it certainly was a blockade in the way of driving revenue, that made everybody happy.

[00:16:10] Stacey: That’s a great example.

[00:16:11] Jason: We’re talking to Stacy Danheiser about getting corporate and client buy-in for influence marketing efforts. When we come back, I’m gonna dig into something Stacy does to help marketing pros like you better prepare and position yourselves to maybe one day be in that CMO role where the decisions are yours, stay tuned.

 Back with Stacy Danheiser, her B2B consulting firm is called Shake Marketing, but she is also the mastermind behind the Confident Marketer Playbook. She’s helping us earn buy-in for our influence marketing efforts within our, organizations and our clients’ organizations. Stacy, let’s talk a little bit about the Confident Marketer Playbook.

I’m not a huge fan of the online course world personally, though I have taken a few of them in my time and that some of them have, a really good place, but you’ve actually built something pretty unique, I think, tell folks what the Confident Marketer Playbook is and who it’s for?

[00:17:10] Stacey: Yes, it is specifically designed for B2B marketers aspiring to be in a leadership position, or maybe they’re already in a leadership position and want to gain more skills or up-level the team around them. And it is an eight week program, and I’m with you on the online courses. I’ve personally purchased, probably a hundred and the finish rate is very low.

And so what I wanted to do was recognize that model doesn’t necessarily work for everybody. And so this eight week program is live. So we, do a live training every single week, and then we also do a group coaching call every single week for marketers to get real input and feedback on their plans, on what they’re struggling with.

And really at the end of this, equip them and empower them to have the tools to be more confident and earn more credibility when interacting with their stakeholders and their peers. And as well as just, reduce the overwhelm and the random acts of marketing that seem to be going on a lot right now.

Because I’m very anti random acts of marketing and pro doing less better, and getting very focused, we should not be, running around with our hair on fire every single day of our lives and so…

[00:18:30] Jason: Wait a minute, you’re not describing anything other than marketing. That’s every marketing organization I’ve ever been around is hair on fire constantly.

[00:18:39] Stacey: Yes. And so you know, that’s what I do. We either do it in a group cohort for the company if there’s, a team of 8 to 10 people, or you can be put into a cohort with a group of peers from other companies. And so we go through, step by step, starting with really the how to become a competent marketer.

What does that even mean and what are the skill sets and the competencies, and the mindset required to step into those shoes. And really my goal for this is to get more marketers out of that order taking position and more into the driver’s seat. And so anyways, it starts with that and then we go through all the elements that are required to build a marketing strategy and to get C-Suite leadership buy-in, get your sales team buy-in, and build a real solid execution plan, that will excite you and that can be executed without, staying up till midnight working every single night.

[00:19:42] Jason: Well, that’s pretty valuable. So in, your experiences of working with the cohorts that you have over the course of the last few years, what are the top maybe three or four skills or, perhaps experiences that marketing professionals in that sort of B2B, I’m aspiring to leadership, but I’m in middle management.

What do they lack that might put them in the position to be a marketing leader one day. Where do you see people needing the most?

[00:20:09] Stacey: Yeah, that’s a great question. I think number one is really customer understanding, because I think a lot of marketers, depending on the size of the organization, and I work with companies that are scaling up, they wanna grow fast, I don’t really work with startups a lot but I work with kind of scale-ups and then Fortune 500, so I have both sides of that equation.

But as you you would declare basically when you go get your first job in marketing, you’re declaring an industry that you’re going to become, known in and or become an expert in. And it’s really hard to change industries later because people want to hire marketers, especially that understand the industry.

There’s a huge learning curve just to go into any industry and what I see happening a lot right now is that there’s a lot of junior level, folks that are put into, content marketing roles, thought leadership roles, influencer marketing roles, but they don’t really understand the industry that they’re operating in, and therefore they don’t understand the customer problems.

And it’s very difficult to be seen as a strategic partner if you don’t have that knowledge and that background. Now, of course a lot of that comes with experience. So it’s just time and working in a particular industry. But also there’s strategic kind of shortcuts that you can make to get that knowledge quicker, by really, one demonstrating curiosity and recognizing that you’re in control of your learning plan, that nobody’s going to come and tell you, hey, here’s the specific books you need to read to get into our industry, and here’s the associations to join and here’s the people to talk to and here’s, how to get a crash course.

You really have to take ownership of that. And so I think that’s the number one gap I see is that just a lot of people are not taking ownership of learning the industry, learning the customers, and learning the products that they sell. And so if you just even spend time on that one thing, your perception of the value that you’re adding will go up because you’ll understand what people are talking about in these conversations and decision making room.

[00:22:13] Jason: Yeah, I’m glad you said, understanding the customer better, because I think in, and I’ve been at several agencies, a couple of brands over the course of my career, and I think almost at every stop, and I don’t think anybody would argue this with me because it’s true, we make decisions based on assumptions about 95% of the time and data about 5% of the time.

And it should be the other way around. Your assumptions are never really gonna work out the way you hope they do, unless you’re just lucky. And some people get lucky and some people have good instincts, that’s fine. But if you if you have the data to back up the decision, it’s a heck of a lot more sound decision.

So I’m always Fascinated with marketers who don’t pay attention to the customer more specifically. I’m also always amazed at how distracted, perfectly smart, effective, savvy marketers can be. And perhaps this goes back to the complexity conversation of what marketing has become, but when you’re thinking strategically, everything in my mind should be focused on the business goals, the marketing goals, objectives.

Yet even seasoned marketing professionals today will invest time and resources into initiatives that either don’t or can’t ladder up to the overall goal. I wonder if this is ADHD coming to bear on the field, is it shining new object syndrome? Why do we get fascinated with things like and I’ll use an example engaging with a specific mega influencer, who the person loves versus finding what I like to refer to as a more right creator that can actually drive conversions and brand value in a more meaningful way, what’s wrong with us?

[00:23:50] Stacey: Yeah, I think shiny object syndrome is definitely real. You know what I like to advise is that, step one, have a plan. And this is, I’ve been doing some research. I have a scorecard that I created called the Confident Marketer Scorecard, and we can share that or you can Google it, but it basically, one of the questions was around do you have a marketing plan?

Do you actually have a marketing strategy and a plan? And most people say, we have a half baked plan. So I like to start there, do we have a plan? And I would always advise, like, let’s bake 80% of the plan and let’s leave like 20% unbaked. 20% really is the experiments. . And so in that example that you just gave, you know how I would reposition that?

Would it be let’s do a small experiment or a small pilot project, how are we going to gauge whether or not this is working? What are the time parameters that we wanna have this in place? How much money do we wanna really spend on this? And instead of going full blown until we know it’s been proven, tactic to work, we start with doing an experiment.

And that sort of helps shiny object syndrome a little bit because you can still say yes to ideas, especially when they’re coming from your CEO or other key stakeholders in your business, but that you don’t have to necessarily throw your entire plan out the window to accommodate that.

So I think that’s a really big one to move yourself out of that order taking mode is to say, do we all know what the objectives are? Why are we doing this and is there a potential better solution to this problem other than this idea that somebody had in the middle of the night to go spin up a brand new partnership or go, hey, let’s go start a podcast, or let’s go do whatever.

[00:25:33] Jason: I love it when the non marketer executives come to the table with, we should be doing this, because I heard a podcast that said we shouldn’t, I’m like, oh, wow, that’s great insights.

[00:25:43] Stacey: Yes.

[00:25:44] Jason: Stacy, this has been a really useful chat, thank you for your insights today. Where can the people out there, find you if they’re interested in connecting or learning more about the course, your work, your books, and so on?

[00:25:54] Stacey: Yes, my website is shakemktg.com. Please connect with me on LinkedIn, Stacy Danheiser, I’m pretty active there and would love to connect with you and then the Confident Marketer Scorecard, I mentioned is a free tool that you can Google or maybe we can drop a link on the show notes.

[00:26:13] Jason: Absolutely, we will put links to all that in the show notes. Great conversation, Stacy, thank you so much again. I feel a lot smart.

[00:26:21] Stacey: Thank you.

[00:26:25] Jason: Great tips and insights there from Stacy. Jump over to our show notes to find links to all her resources out there. You can find them at jasonfalls.co/stacydanheiser. That’s S T A C E Y D A N H E I S E R, jasonfalls.co/stacydanheiser. If you don’t remember how to spell her name, just go to jason falls.com, click on articles and find this episode.

Also, don’t forget to completely change the way you produce social media content for the better. Get Vibe Check from cipio.ai, a two week free trial, no credit card required await you at jasonfalls.co/vibecheck and to help us create a bigger and better vibe here on the show. Tell someone who might wanna know more about Influence Marketing about this podcast. Send them to influencepod.com or share a link to this episode on your favorite social network. If you have a moment, drop Winfluence a rating or review on your podcast app of choice, we are on all of them.

You can also help make a future episode of Winfluence awesome, ask your question about influencer or influence marketing that you want my answer to or take on. Send an email to [email protected] if you’re feeling adventurous, record a voice memo on your phone and email me that file. I’ll let you ask the question right here on the show using the recording.

Winfluence is a production of Falls and Partners. It’s presented by cipio.ai, the technical production is by MPN Studios. Winfluence airs along MPN, the Marketing Podcast Network. Thanks for listening, folks, let’s talk again soon on Winfluence.

 Winfluence, the Influence Marketing Podcast is an audio companion to my book Winfluence: Reframing Influencer Marketing To Ignite Your Brand. Get your copy online at winfluencebook.com. While you’re there, sign up for the latest ideas about influence marketing delivered in my periodic newsletter, or book me to speak to your company or organization about influence marketing.

And if you need help with your influence marketing strategy, drop me a line at [email protected]. If you were someone you know as an influencer, a brand manager that uses influence marketing or one of the many amazing people working in the influence marketing services world, and they would make a good guest for the show, email me at [email protected].

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