TRS 014: Danny Lambert Manager of Demand Generation of CareCloud
Marketing automation doesn’t work straight out of the box. Instead marketing teams need to dig deep to build out the necessary content and retrieve the right data point from their existing CRMs. Danny Lambert of CareCloud walks us through how he and his team grind it out with sprint strategy sessions.
Danny has managed to stay ahead of the trends throughout his career in marketing. During his time at IZEA, he was helping brands understand the vale of influencer marketing before it was the hottest buzz word. He has a very technical approach to digital marketing and brings such an interesting insight to our show. Take a listen.
This episode continues our series on Insight Marketing Conference in Lancaster, PA on September 25.
Read Full Transcription
Marcus: Hey, marketers and business leaders, and welcome to an exciting new episode of The Revenue Stream from Web Talent Marketing. I’m Marcus Grimm. I’m the Chief Growth Officer for Web Talent Marketing in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. And you know, we didn’t really set up The Revenue Stream to necessarily have “seasons.” We started this podcast up at the start of the year, and we rolled out several episodes. But I guess if you wanted to say there’s a logical place to start Season Two, well this would probably be it. And I’ll give you two reasons for that. First up, we’re a couple weeks late coming out with this episode. I’m sorry it’s been a wonderful summer, but we’re a few weeks behind. But also you’re going to note that for the next several episodes of The Revenue Stream, all of our speakers have something in common. You see right here in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on September 25th to be exact, marketers from around the US will be descending upon our wonderful city for a one day event full of fun and education.
Marcus: The event this year is going to be in its fourth year. It’s called Insight Lanc, and you can go to Insightlanc.com. So my idea for the next several episodes of The Revenue Stream is we’re going to be bringing in several of our great speakers who are coming to Lancaster in September to speak, and introduce you to them and learn a little bit more about what they’re going to be speaking about when they come to Lancaster. Now before I introduce today’s speaker, I do want to direct you to that website again. It’s Insightlanc.com. You can find out more about the event. And as we release this podcast, we are still at the crazy low Early Bird price of just $175. And for anyone who’s been to that event, it is a bargain. And this year’s lineup– I personally think it’s one of the greatest ones that we’ve had in our four years that we’ve been doing it. So kicking off that is today’s guest who is Danny Lambert? Now, who is Danny? Well, according to his bio on the Insight Lanc website, Danny’s worked across large and small organizations in both the public and private sectors. Danny has been leading successful marketing teams across various industries, including healthcare, technology, ecomm, and more. He previously led marketing operations at IZEA and is currently driving the strategy and execution of high growth marketing initiatives as the head of Demand Generation at CareCloud, a Miami based healthcare IT organization. Hey Danny, welcome to The Revenue Stream!
Danny: Thanks for having me, Marcus. I’m really excited to be here, and I’m excited that you mentioned the Insight Marketing Conference. That’s going to be a really good event that you have in your neck of the woods here in a couple of months.
Marcus: Well, we’re looking forward to it, and I’m thrilled to have you on today. You know, your bio has all the types of buzzwords in it that suggest that we could speak for hours, and we might! But before we get into your talk at Insight Lance, let’s back up a little bit and get your background. I know CareCloud’s based in Miami. I think you told me you’re currently based in Austin. When you called into our studio line, it was a New Jersey number that popped up. So let’s go through your background. Where’d you grow up? Where’d you go to school?
Danny: Yeah, absolutely. I kind of pride myself nowadays on being a bit of a nomad, but my roots are actually in your neck of the woods in New Jersey. I grew up in northern New Jersey, Morris County area for the vast majority of my young life. I think I was there through 21. I went to school up there. I started at UMass Amherst. I then went to Ramapo College where I graduated, and I started my professional career up in the trade show industry in that region. And then over time it kind of developed. You know, you grow out of certain areas, you move to certain places. So I ended up popping around from New Jersey to Orlando, to Miami, and then ultimately now where I reside in Austin, Texas. So it’s definitely been a bit of a journey, both professionally and personally. But a very exciting once to date.
Marcus: Well, let’s go through some of those because I think you’ve got one of those– it’s an audio, it’s an audio show here. It’s not video. So the people might not be where you’re relatively young guy, but you’ve definitely had a nice progression of roles through the years. So talk to us about, have you always been in marketing or are you a sales/ marketing? Walk us through your, your career path to this point?
Danny: Yeah, I mean, I guess it’s a couple of ways. I’ve always wanted to be in marketing, like ever since I was in high school. I took a marketing class there and in shared marketing, and from that day forward I knew this is what I wanted to do with my career. So I went to school for that, and I graduated with the intentions of working in marketing. But it’s so broad, especially at that time. I tech was getting so big. These marketing automation platforms and methods are the future were just being introduced and adopted widely. So for me it was more so just getting a foot in the door out of school. Which a big part is I found my niche, which was I wanted to be good at SEO and I wanted to have a technical skills because I felt that that would be the future.
Marcus: Yeah, that’s really interesting. So let me stop you there. So as your first role out of the gate, you get the opportunity to work in CRM and marketing automation, which even today a lot of marketers haven’t done. And now you bounce from there into one of the other second big buzzwords, which is influencer marketing. So two pretty fortunate opportunities right out of the gate there.
Danny: Yeah, it’s interesting how that one came about. It’s the way I very much feel about marketing– is aligning yourself with the skills that people need, very similar to how software development works, and then people will find you. And the better you get, depending on what region you’re in– it’s advantageous early on in your career also to be in some of these, I won’t call them secondary markets because that’s not necessarily the right way to position it, but if you’re competing in like New York City or San Francisco for example, you’ll be bypassing these opportunities that you may otherwise get in like Orlando for example– Which is a great market, but there’s a little bit of a smaller talent pool. So early on, at least in my career, that was very advantageous for me because I did have a lot of these skills that other people may not have had, whereas in a larger city, it may have been a bigger talent pool to choose from.
Danny: So I think that helped at that time because getting into influencer marketing is extremely interesting then because it had yet to really hit that growth curve that you see now. It really became the buzzword in the past year and a half to two years I feel like. Which was an interesting time in marketing in general because you’d be on the phone selling influencer and people weren’t quite bought into it yet, which is a completely different world than it is now where like they’re calling you up crazed, hungry about getting the best beauty influencers. Before you were very much pushing and now that market is a core market for sure.
Marcus: What were you responsible for there? Were you responsible for Lead Gen?
Danny: Yeah, it was a very similar role, less some of the like finance operations side. I was still the Salesforce Admin, but here I had implemented Hubspot because for our use case that made more sense. I was leading all demand gen. So inbound pipeline for our sales team as well as sales operations. So we needed to configure a price quote system as a way for us to efficiently get our contracts in front of potential clients. So given my familiarity with a Salesforce and our whole stack and our whole process flow, they had me implement at that time, they recently changed names I can’t remember who they are now, but like a SteelBrick equivalent for configuring prices, quotes and getting them out, getting them signed off from both legal finance and reviewed and then all the way through your accounts receivable. So that process was pretty unique, but outside of that, most of it was driving demand gen through PPC, video, influencer, SEO, all the various means of driving for our business at that time.
Marcus: So now let me ask you a curve ball question. You are a young man in influencer marketing, one of the hottest buzzwords in the space, and you switch to healthcare IT. How in the world does that happen?
Danny: Part of it is growth potential. For myself personally, I try to think about where I want to be in my career. And IZEA is an amazing company; they’re going to do extremely well for themselves. But my growth within the organization was relatively limited. But it was twofold: I intend to be a CMO, so I really want to work towards a career progression that aligns with that. But also healthcare is a very hard industry to break into. And if you’re not from it, if you haven’t gone to school for it, there’s not a ton of opportunities in your career where you’ll just be drawn to it or have an opportunity to get in. So in speaking with my mentors and the people who I respect greatly, that was the right transition for me to get a foot in the door and see if this is an industry that I A) enjoy, but also one where I really feel like you can help people for the better and and it’s relatively broken as of today.
Marcus: Real intentional process there. So that brings us to CareCloud. Now we’re going to talk about some of the projects that you’ve done at CareCloud, but let’s set a framework for the audience here. You’ve been there a year and a half. What exactly does CareCloud do?
Danny: Yeah, so CareCloud is a cloud based EHR and practice management technology. So what that is within the health care world is anytime you go to a medical group and you check in and do your patient forms, your registration, and then you see the doctor and they do the whole clinical encounter, and then you check out and they bill your insurance. That entire process needs to be managed through a software– actually it’s a couple of different softwares joined within one platform. And our’s facilitates that whole process via the cloud, which is relatively unique because health care has had these EHR systems around since the ’60s. But unlike everywhere else where it has been a fast transition to the cloud, that has not been the case within health care. Although we know that is the inevitable future, that everyone will transition to the cloud, but it’s still in its infancy as an idea and we’ve been around since 2009. So we’re in a unique position within this market because there’s large competitors like Epic and Athena and all these, you know, multi-100 million dollar, even billion dollar organizations. And then there’s us a relatively disruptive startup that’s really pushing not only the transition to cloud but for like more streamlined healthcare. So it’s a very interesting dichotomy within our space between these more legacy systems and the competitors like ourselves who are trying to revolutionize healthcare as we see it.
Marcus: Exactly. So let’s unpack your particular funnel a little bit and how you guys go to market. You mentioned the two big guys: Epic and Athena. And anyone who’s in healthcare IT knows those names. But who is your customer? And I guess what I’m getting at is, you know, how do you guys differentiate? If I’m looking at CareCloud, am I automatically not looking at Epic and vice versa? So who is your customer, and what’s an ideal prospect look like for CareCloud?
Danny: Yeah, that’s actually a really good and challenging question to answer for a lot of organizations. As many startups, although we wouldn’t technically be a true startup anymore, know that you can’t serve everyone, especially when there’s players out there who have made 30 years of progress. We had to really carve out our niche. So at current time we focus on a physician and outpatient practice only. So if you work at a hospital, we don’t actually service hospitals or large healthcare systems. We know it needs to be outpatient physician groups. And that’s based on functionality. It’s a little bit beyond the scope of this conversation. But within that, you then carve it down into different sectors. You typically have your one to five physician groups, which are the smaller independent groups that’ll either get bought up by larger groups, transition into hospital organizations, or they just want to remain independent by themselves and have affiliations.
Danny: And you’ll have a 6-10 or 6-25 full time position groups, which is our, our mid sized targets. And then we have a 25-50 and 50+. And when we get talking about ABM, those numbers have become much more important in that world, but that’s how we figure out by average ACV and twhat we’re able to offer them, our margins, etc. To see where we are profitability wise, where we are for cost of customer acquisition, where it makes sense for us in each one of those groups, and then you go one level further beneath that which would be a specialty. So when you have these different size groups that are all outpatient, there are certain specialties that softwares will always be able to serve better. Some are designed just for one, right? You might have an orthopedic EHR software and ophthalmology EHR software. So we focus on the 25 roughly specialties, although we can service more within those various size groups. And that’s how we figured out how we distribute our marketing spend and our energy.
Marcus: So I want to ask you a question. It would be, because that was a really good answer about who your target markets are, and you said, “Well, we’re kind of a startup but we’re not a startup really anymore.” And it sounds like one of the reasons I would say you’re not a traditional startup anymore is you guys have actually figured out what audiences work and which don’t work. I guess my question is, could the marketing department have given me an answer that good a year and a half before you went there? Had they locked in the audience, or has that been part of your work as you’ve gone there?
Danny: It’s part of my work as well as product marketing’s work. That function has a lot to do with defining our audiences, defining our customers and personas. So I’d say no, it’s not like myself taking all the credit. It was certainly defined to a certain point when I arrived. And so unlike some of these more traditional systems that don’t work in these sprints like we do, it’ll take them six months to a year to release any functionality. We release every month. So not only is that our target, right now, but it’s always changing as we release new OB/GYN functionality or whatever it may be. Our market then shifts continuously, and that’s why that product marketing function so important. A year from now that that will not be the same guaranteed. We already know where our target market’s going to change. So we are always accounting for that in the sprint meetings and our monthly recaps in our 1:1’s. Where we want to be going. Where we can service the most efficiently. And then most importantly, what’s changed over time.
Marcus: And you’re starting to tease here a little bit about what we’re going to be transitioning to talk about in a few months which is that sprint process. But the one thing that I do want to say about it now is, when you say your audience changes, it’s really important to realize in this particular instance, the audiences isn’t changing because of the whims of a salesperson or the whims of a CEO. But you’re using that sprint process to really prove out almost on a scientific basis. Does this audience work or not? Yes?
Danny: A lot of the time; if our inbound mechanisms are as efficient as we need them to be and we’re getting a healthy lead flow from the variety of areas that we’re targeting, it’ll tell you in time based on your close rates where your functionality lacks or where it exceeds expectations. So a lot of it is kind of these look backs at the end of each quarter. Seeing what our close rates were within specialties and sizes and unique business cases and seeing why that is the case. And then either adjusting our positioning in those areas or hyper targeting the ones where we’re having a lot of success because that drives down our cost of customer acquisition and increases our NPS scores and all of our post-sale metrics that we really look for.
Marcus: So you mentioned there lead flow. You mentioned closing percentages. Let’s talk about the pipeline flow. Right now, LinkedIn has CareCloud with roughly eight people in marketing, 16 in sales, looking at their titles. So what does it look like? Does it look like marketing is generating leads and then somebody else qualifies those leads and passes them on to sales? Is sales coming to you and saying, “Danny, let’s, let’s deploy an ABM strategy to get in front of this customer.” What does the pipeline flow look like?
Danny: Yeah, we work very hand in hand with our sales department. So within marketing, we separate it into two main functions with some stragglers that support both. We have the growth team, which is what I’m on, and then we have the product marketing team. So we’ll all work together. They’re doing competitive analysis, messaging, branding, sales enablement materials stuff to make us competitive with our messaging and our brand. And then on my side of the hous is: how are we driving enough inbound and now outbound pipeline for our sales team each month. And that can be through anything from SEO, PPC, ABM, field marketing, etc. All of that falls under that, that growth spectrum as well as PR, which is kind of off on its own island, which is one of the ones that I was thinking about.
Danny: Once that pipeline comes in, it gets qualified in a variety of ways. It goes to the lead scoring triggers, it goes through a firmographic analysis. So like I mentioned before, if they’re not a medical practice that we can target in the right size and the right specialty, it’ll never get passed along to a sales person. Like all of that stuff’s immediately cut off the top and then it goes through intent. If they’ve scheduled a demo or a product tour, or what I like to call a macro conversion, will immediately be thrown over the fence to our SDR team, which technically sits on the sales team but is very much a part of our marketing department. We work hand in hand like every day, and every single lead has to go through that SDR department, the ones that reached that qualifying criteria to be a hot enough need to be worked.
Danny: And the ones that don’t go through nurturing campaigns and flows to try and get them to the point where they’re raising their hand or showing enough intent that they should be passed along to the SDRs. At that point, people are probably familiar with BANT qualification. We have a similar one for healthcare that we call Medic. So they go through this like five stage qualification process and if they reach all of that criteria, they get the buyer, they get a timeline to get, all the various criteria that they need, they’ll then create an opportunity and throw it over the fence to either inside sales or field sales, which is just split up based on size. If the group is below a certain size and go to inside, if they’re above, they’d go to field, and then from that point they work together to get it to the point of a demo and then the process is completely handed off to the sales team. We’ll work hand in hand with them. A lot of times product marketing for materials the need, for case studies they need, as well as for events. They will oftentimes suggest, “Oh, I have a lot of clients or perspective clients going to this event. Can we work with marketing and facilitate all of that?” So we really are all in each other’s performance calls where we’re working hand in hand on all the campaigns, it’s a the breakdown of at what stage each person is working on it. But that whole process just seems to work pretty well for us so far.
Marcus: Now it seems to me that when you talk about this, and I’m sure there’re several listeners that are like, “How, would you even do a lot of the things CareClouds doing?” It seems to me that that one of the key components of your system as well as one of the key experiences you’ve had through the years, has been through the use of marketing automation. You talk about that your early experience was with Pardot. And now you’re talking about Hubspot. Could you even begin to do what you’re doing now without marketing automation, and where does market automation fit from your perspective into the tech stack?
Danny: Yeah, it would be impossible. It fits everywhere. I don’t limit marketing automation. I think that Hubspot did a phenomenal job of branding and creating your category similar to what Drift is doing now with conversational marketing in that they wanted to create a category and that’s what they put themselves into. But there’s many other tools that lay outside of your traditional marketing automation platforms like Pardot, Hubspot, Marketo, that are extremely important in rounding that out. So Zapier is a good example. Segment is a good example. Those softwares into themselves don’t do very much without a strategy, but play a very important role once your strategy and your tactics are in place. So facilitating all the information, getting it where it needs to go, triggering the various things you would otherwise have to do manually is the invaluable component that marketing automation as a whole brings to your stack.
Danny: Like trying to figure out who clicked through an email, who spent time on page, who did certain events but ultimately didn’t raise their hand. You would have no way of doing that without a market automation platform and tools like Zapier and all of these allow you to facilitate that flow of information. Just as an example, anytime we run a webinar, we needed to update our campaign object in Salesforce for the people who had attended, no showed, clicked on the call to action, etc. So that our followup campaigns can be automated. They’ll go into a dynamic list, and they’ll send the appropriate messaging to each person based on whether or not they attended the webinar. Prior to marketing automation software, you would have had to go into your webinar software, export these lists, split them up, create different messaging. It just takes all of those moments that you used to have to do manually and make some very seamless. And for that reason, it’s like the most invaluable part, I think, of a marketing technology stack.
Marcus: Tremendous answer. The one line that you said in there, that I think a lot of people don’t realize, is I do think through the years, there’s been a lot of people that buy marketing automation and think it’s going to work out of the box. You said something super important, which is, you know, when we work with clients, I tell them you need to spend a ton of energy right now on strategy and content and then find the right tool at the end. I’m sure you’ve seen something similar in your career where somebody got the tool deployed and they just expect the leads come in.
Danny: Yeah, I do a presentation a couple of times a year on marketing technology stacks and how to build one. And it’s amazing how many people will be like, “well, what about this tool versus this tool versus this tool?” And the answer’s always, “What is your use case?” If you don’t have a job to be done, I don’t know if you’re familiar with that framework, but it’s supposed to solve a problem that you have. And if you’re making a problem to solve with technology is probably a sign that that’s not going to work.
Marcus: Right! That is very well said. Now, I’m going to cheat here a little bit, and tell you that I went on to CareCloud’s website and I pulled up the BuiltWith extension so I could see what else is in your tech stack. And I see you guys are currently running Terminus. So obviously account based marketing, or ABM, is part of the strategy. Where does ABM fit in right now for you? And what are some of your opinions on ABM: on what it does well and what it doesn’t do well?
Danny: Yeah, ABM it’s kind of always been around. I forget who it was that really put the label on to this type of marketing, but especially in a space like ours, B2B realistically but health care especially so, is it’s really, really difficult to reach the end consumer in a meaningful way, especially when they’re not in a buying process and trying to incentivize them to consider you versus their incumbent. Imagine the conversation you would be having if someone came to you today and it’s like, I want you to replace Salesforce. He laugh in their face.
Marcus: Right, right.
Danny: You’d be like, “Absolutely not.” And that’s the kind of battle that we face. It’s like that whole rip and replace. A medical practice, since the Act in place that forced people to adopt EHR technology, they’ve been on them for probably almost that whole time, and it’s their lifeblood. And the conversation that we’re having day in and day out is you need to rip out this system and replaced it with something to future proof yourself. Because what you’re on now is not going to do what you needed to do three years from now, five years from now. And in that case, we’re selling a vision to someone who’s not necessarily buying. So the inbound mechanisms, all the things that you would rely on to drive pipeline through your sales team today, assumes that people want the education, wants to know more, are already shopping.
Danny: And a lot of cases in an industry or in a space like ours, that isn’t the case. They’re fine with what they have. They’re really, really busy. Medical groups and physicians are super burned out. The last thing they’re probably doing short of having a major pain that forces their hand is looking for a new software. So where ABM really bridges the gap is we’re driving a certain percentage of inbound, which is a large percentage of our pipeline. But to be able to bring in these larger deals, you need to strategically reach out to them, have them understand that you’re really thinking about them as an individual group and their best interests, not blanketing all of them. With a strategic plan as to how we could benefit them in a way of their current vendor could not, and short of doing that on a one-to-one or a few-to-one setting, you would never be able to draw those people in because they’re not really buying, they may not be interested, and it’s a really difficult thing to do through inbound alone.
Danny: So we use a variety of different softwares, strategies, tactics, etc. to A) get ourselves in front of them enough where they’re familiar with our brand and then B) to start educating them to understand what’s going on around them and what they need to be considering as they approached the next 10 years. And as all of these things, such as value based care, are going to start affecting healthcare even more than they already have, how they should align themselves with the software and the companies that they want to work with for the next generation.
Marcus: That is a really neat framework. I appreciate that; that you’re using ABM as a way to support more of the outbound stuff where the buyer just hasn’t figured out that they have a need yet. That’s really smart. I want to transition now, and we’re going to talk a little bit about what you’re actually going to be coming to Lancaster to speak about in September, which is the sprint process. And one of the things that I’ve really figured out– We started this call, and I think you and I were mentioning offline before we went live here. The sprint process is a very, very common thing in the software world. I don’t hear it talked about as much in the marketing world, but I think we figured out very early on in this call is you’re as much of a software guy as you are a marketer. So I’m no longer surprised you deployed it, but I do want to talk about how you deployed it for marketing. So for people on the call who’ve never been through a sprint process, how do you define what a sprint is and how it might be different than me and my marketing team sitting together and working on a plan?
Danny: Yeah, a lot of times it really is just the time frame, the speed, and the cohesiveness. A lot of ways that marketing departments work, and even us to a certain extent, I guess not a hundred percent sprint or a hundred percent agile all the time. Although I wish it were. You’ll come up with rough plans; you’ll say this is what we want to accomplish, and we will accomplish this by end of quarter or will accomplish this by end of the month. But the amount of items and things that need to take place between the start of the month or they started a quarter and the end, could be varying every week. It’d be ever changing, and you don’t know how the interdependencies among your team are affecting each other until late in the game. And that’s why software has relied so heavily on it, is you need to be able to deliver on time and effectively.
Danny: And if you’re not reviewing it, working together at every single step with key deadlines for everything that needs to get delivered, you’re bound to be late and you’re bound to be ineffective. And we started using it actually with an outsourced projects– it was actually a development project. We are building a micro site, and I really wanted to just use an agile framework that we could manage these developers overseas also our designer or developer and internal marketers to get this thing done on time because it can be really challenging with language barriers, time areas (because they’re 10 hours ahead or whatever it may be) just to make sure this gets done on deadline. And we had our whole scrum process where we meet, we defined our backlog, the define our sprints, and we worked in one week sprints. And we’d say, “At the end of the week this is what I’m doing, this what you’re doing, and this is the expectations.” And then we’ll have this completed, we’ll review it, and then we’ll push it and then the next week we’ll work on the next session. So we have a clearly defined timeline, and at the end of all that you have your retrospective meeting where you say, “This is the things we did well. These are the things we did poorly.” And then you regroup, redefine and you do that process again.
Marcus: This particular process that you went through, is this the one that you will be talking about in September? The sprint that you did for a personalization strategy?
Danny: No, the one I’m going to be doing is going to be focused more on how to implement personalization within your organization in one sprint’s worth of time. We use the sprint process across various different project management. So the first one was this web development project, but now we use it for all of our inbound campaigns. So everything that we run as a cohesive unit goes through the sprint process. It may take longer than one sprint, in which case you’ll have it roll over, but we manage all of our projects sprint based. Now that session at Insight Marketing will be wholly focused on how to use that framework to implement personalization within your organizations.
Marcus: I want to go back into a couple of the key components of a sprint and see if you apply them on your marketing team. So some of the product sprints that I’ve been on, we’ve got multifaceted teams from a variety of perspectives. Are you suggesting that for the organization? Are you bringing in a sales person into a sprint, or for your purposes, is it just the marketing team?
Danny: It depends on what the sprint is. For personalization sprint, it would need to be product marketing, sales, designer, development, a handful of others depending on what mediums you’re going to use. But if I was doing a web development sprint, for example, like I was building a microsite or a couple of landing pages, it’s unlikely that I would pull in a sales person outside of maybe some messaging. But if it’s a full ad campaign that also will include emails coming out on behalf of the sales reps, because a lot of time we’ll do marketing automation on behalf of them, they’ll be tied in. So their function has to fit at least one of the sprint criteria where they need to be involved, and for every person that you need their opinion, there’ll be included in that sprint group.
Marcus: Here is probably, I think, the most important one because, on all the sprints that I’ve been involved with, everybody seems to say the same thing. It’s an amazing process. It works great. We got to market faster. However, if I’m using the strict literal sprint framework, I’m dropping basically everything for five days. And this is the only world that I’m living in. And I’m fascinated talking to you because you’re talking like there are sprints every day there. And so like I think the skeptic on the line might be saying, “Well, how do you guys get any work done if you’re just doing these sprints all the time?” So I’m super curious to know in an organization where sprints are so much a part of the culture, is that what you do? You tell the team, “Hey, we’re only doing an ad campaign sprint for the next five days.”
Danny: Yeah, it’s prioritization. You know like that’s the biggest way that you look at it. The reason why software does sprints is prioritization of features and what needs to be done. So whatever it is that’s in that sprint that week means that’s the most important thing for us. It’s already been pre-prioritized. Similar to like a product backlog, we have in a column all the way to the left everything that we could be working on. And as a collective unit we decided, well this is the thing that will have the most impact to be done at this point in time. This is the most necessary component to work on, and we need everyone’s buy in. Because if someone is like, “Oh, you know, I really should be doing this. This isn’t going to affect my goals, or help me hit my quota, or X, Y, and Z,” it’s going to fall apart.
Danny: As a unit you collectively decide this is the most important thing or things for us to be working on during this time, and the sprint is the work, right? The sprint is what you should be working on. All agreed upon a to hit your goals collectively, and where that tends to fall apart a lot is when you’re not managing expectations and you’re not aligning what the sprints are with your ultimate goals. And then people start missing their metrics and people lose faith. So the prioritization component on the onset is probably the most important part of the sprint.
Marcus: That is very well said. So now let’s go into what you’re going to be talking about in September, which was the personalization strategy and how you deploy a sprint there. So first off, take me to that moment where the team says, “You know what? Here’s why a personalization strategy is the most important thing.” What were the key drivers or what were the key ah-has that said– and this particular sprint was it a five day sprint? Three day sprint?
Danny: No, this was a month broken out into three legs.
Danny: So it was just over a week for each, just because of the size of each task and each sub tasks that we had to do. But what drove this was just kind of a general market trend. We were sitting in a room– and marketing as a whole has moved from very broadcast from like billboards, magazines, radio, traditional media, to more segmented like email, direct mail, all these various ways to get a relative one to one. And now because of what technology’s enabled us to do, not only can you do true one to one can you truly personalized one to one. And that’s becoming the expectation of what end consumers have, right? When you use Amazon and Netflix and Spotify and everything that you encounter is personalized to you. When it comes from a B2B marketer, why would they expect it to be any different? And in a market like ours where no one’s truly doing innovative things and we have less marketing budget, being that innovator within our space, which aligns with our brand of being cloud based and thought forward, it was a necessary evil, right? To find a way to be able to have our messaging, although we’re hitting them through the same channels, be unique to them and stand out in an inbox.
Marcus: So you mentioned you had three separate weeks there. If I were to look at an outline, how did you divide up those three weeks?
Danny: Yeah. The first whole week was data. The personalization strategy is extremely challenging if you don’t have reliable data. So we were figuring out the accounts, the contacts, and all the various data points that we needed to be able to actually personalize the experience to them. So accurate addresses, accurate specialties, roles within organizations, states, a variety of other things, all of the components in which we’re going to be personalizing on in the later state needed to be accurate and accounted for for everyone who we were targeting.
Marcus: So that’s the part where people are now having to pay for their sins of keeping crappy data in the CRM, right?
Danny: Unfortunately the people who were putting the crappy data in weren’t the ones who had to pay for their sins in this case.
Marcus: That’s very well said! But to your point, if the end result is personalization, that’s where you had to start with your problem, right?
Danny: Yeah. Bad data in bad data out. That’s a very overly used statement, but it couldn’t be more true, especially in a personalization strategy. If I’m showing up and my organization name is wrong or spelled wrong or I’m personalizing based on geography and I have the wrong state or no state, all of those things will eventually make your model fall apart.
Marcus: And I’m going into the weeds a little bit here, but in that first week, were you doing data cleanup or was it more like data analysis to say, “Do we have good enough data to do this?”
Danny: Both. That was why they weren’t one week sprints as we need to first figure out what do we need and was it possible. So the first part is, once we get this information, is what we want to do possible? Because if we did all this work to get it and then we weren’t able to actually use it in a way that we’re envisioning and be a waste of time. So the first couple of days, all right, once we have this data, is it going to be possible to do what we’re envisioning? And once that was, yes, then these are the five fields, five data pieces that we need on each person or organization to be able to do this. And then once we have clearly solidified that and mold over it, then we started to go to actually how we can find that data and bring it in. And then we split that up amongst a couple of team members.
Marcus: And there’s some discipline involved there. Because I’m sure you had creative people in the room that, throughout the spring process– at this point they still want to talk about deployment and you kind of got to temper them and say we got to start with the data.
Danny: Yeah. It’s specially tough for people who are a part of an initial sprit and haven’t been involved later and they have a function within it, but it’s not, it hasn’t started yet.
Marcus: Yeah. Right. That’s awesome. So first week, okay, we prove out the data. What happened in the week two?
Danny: Once we had all of it confirmed, that was when we started the actual campaign creation. So this is the nice thing about sprint that is very different from waterfall, is once we had the data points figured out and what we want to use, then the creative team could start figuring out what the landing pages are going to look like with the copy was going to look like while me and a couple other members of the team finished cleaning the data. So we’re working in tandem. We know the points we need. While we finish up finding all the information, you start working on the creative: what the landing page will be like, where we’re going to personalize, what the holistic experience would be like. So that next week, once we’re finished with all information, we’ll have our mockups ready; we’ll be ready to start development.
Danny: And so at that point we kind of ended up the exact same time and had our retrospective for that week. And then planning for the next one. All right, we’re going to start the development with these developers on this. You’re going to start building the workflows, etc. So that next whole week was divvying out the tasks of who was going to build what so that in the second end of sprint meeting, we would have all of the actual initial campaign created, and then the final week would actually be execution and making sure that it all went out properly. That second week was the hardest though, because you run into a lot of unexpected issues when you’re actually building it more so than you do in the planning stages.
Marcus: Talk about why that is. Is it because that in planning stages, it’s pipe dreams? This will all be easy, and we won’t have any issues?
Danny: Yeah, exactly. When we’re interfacing with a couple of API’s, and we’re building a couple of our own. We’re interacting with Pardot’s API in a way that very few people are. And that’s where it got really challenging. It’s like, all right, we needed– one example was the way Pardot generates their API keys. It’s not a unique key to me that is the same all the time. They refresh their API keys. I forget what the timeframe was like every 10, 15, 30 days, whatever it was, you’ll be generated a new API key. So when we’re going through the testing phase, we realized that this is something that they did and we’re no longer able to relay the information that we needed. So we had to reconfigure that so that it would automatically pull the updated API key before people would start. But that was something that we hadn’t accounted for. So all those little nuances come up along the way. So you have to give yourself a little bit of buffer or else you’ll never hit your timelines.
Marcus: Now on product sprints that I’ve been involved with before, you don’t even necessarily come out with a feature release at the end of the sprint. You come up with a mock up that you put in front of somebody and get their feedback on. But it sounds like in your world, where you folks are used to doing a lot of sprints, that really wasn’t the goal here. You were just saying, we’ve got this project, we have have confidence in this project, and we’re going to deploy it.
Danny: Yeah, especially because we’re so tactical. Once we have the plan in place of what needs to be done at the end of the sprint, there needs to be something material, like it has to be in front of someone, there has to be away from me to analyze it. And that level of feedbacks would not be in end of spring goal, at least in our organization. That would be one of the steps within the sprint, to get the mock up done, get it reviewed, and then get it starting to be developed. We don’t want to end this sprint on something very qualitative. We want to end it on something actionable and measurable.
Marcus: Makes sense, especially when you’re running so many of those sprints. Final question I have for you is, for people that are not familiar with the sprint process, Google has documented theirs. And it’s interesting to me for people who are not familiar with the sprint process, that there’s a lot of you could call them games, you could call them tactics, you can call them inspirations: ways to generate fresh ideas for people that are not necessarily used to the process. And I’ve been in organizations that have deployed them very, very successfully. I am curious with sprints being so much a part of the culture, do you need those tricks to get your team to come up with good ideas, or is your team pretty savvy at this point as it comes to how we come up with our next idea?
Danny: Yeah, you always need it. This isn’t so much product development where you’re getting a lot of feedback from users actively requesting features that then go into a backlog that you can then prioritize and then put new teachers on top of it. This is very much what you’re seeing in the marketplace. What you’ve seen that’s unique has come out that we could leverage that didn’t exist before. So outside of the actual sprint meetings, we have our marketing one on one all hands calls, which is just where we go over ancillary items that don’t fall into sprint. And in those we like to do, although this is a very I don’t want to say unpopular opinion but, structured group think where it’s just mind mapping, seeing everything that you’ve seen out there, competitors stuff that you like, influencer stuff, whatever it may be that you thought was particularly interesting in the past week. And we ideate new ways that we can leverage these, and then those will get added to the backlog as ideas and then when it comes down to measuring what we think will have the most impact, all of those are taken into consideration.
Marcus: Oh, that’s a great idea and a great format for that. Hey, marketers and business leaders! Well, that sound means that we’re nearly at the end of our program, which means I’ve only got a few more rapid-fire questions for Danny Lambert. Danny, are you ready for the Marketing Minute?
Danny: Ready as ever.
Marcus: All right, sir. First question: Apple or Android?
Marcus: All right, second question your browser screen: Ad blocker or no?
Danny: Yes, ad blocker: I have it but I disabled it roughly half of the time.
Marcus: How do you make that decision?
Danny: Because I realized I need to see the ads to write better copy than other people. So when I don’t want to be bothered, I turn it off. When I want to be inspired, I turn it on– or the opposite of that.
Marcus: Outstanding. Third question for you. Personal viewing habits: are you in fact a cord cutter or are you a cable-holic?
Danny: I’m a cord cutter. I haven’t had cable in years.
Marcus: Outstanding. And my final one for you, sir. You’re going out on the town. Are you taking Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, or Don Draper?
Danny: Elon Musk. It’d be really awkward conversation, but, God, he’s interesting.
Marcus: Outstanding. Well, hey, I am super happy to have you on the program today, Danny. We really appreciate it; thank you so much. For those who are listening in: as a reminder, Danny Lambert is with CareCloud. He will be coming to Lancaster on September 25th at the Insight Lanc Conference where we’ll have marketers coming into to Lancaster, Pennsylvania from all over the country. I want to thank today’s guest Danny Lambert. Again, my name is Marcus Grimm with Web Talent Marketing. You’ve been listening to The Revenue Stream.