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Differentiate Your Business with Drew Neisser

George Grombacher May 8, 2022

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Differentiate Your Business with Drew Neisser

LifeBlood: We talked about how to differentiate your business, the challenges and opportunities of increasing complexity, a framework for successful B2B marketing, how to ask the right questions, and how to get started, with Drew Neisser, Founder and CEO of Renegade.  

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Our Guests

George Grombacher


Drew Neisser

Episode Transcript

george grombacher 0:00
Come on life blood. This is George G. And the time is right to look at today’s guest strong a powerful Drew nizer. Drew, are you ready to do this?

Drew Neisser 0:18
I am indeed. Thank you, George for just doing your show.

george grombacher 0:21
I’m excited to have you on. Drew is the founder and CEO of renegade. They’re an award winning strategic boutique for b2b innovation and CMO, huddles. He’s also the author of CMOS periodic table Renegades guide to marketing, as well as renegade marketing 12 steps to building unbeatable b2b brands. Dru, tell us a little about your personal life more about your work and why you do what you do.

Drew Neisser 0:48
So on the personal front, I live in New York City with my wife and a French bulldog named Louis, we have two delightful grown up kids who live over in Brooklyn. I’m a Ben Franklin fanatic. You’ve already mentioned I founded two companies. All of this is fueled by the fact I’m a perennial student, I’ve interviewed over 500 Chief Marketing Officers, and that’s been the fuel that’s enabled me to write the books, do the podcast, write the articles and even start seeing all huddles and do my coaching. So it’s, it’s good to be a student.

george grombacher 1:21
Nice. Well, amen to that. You have a favorite Ben Franklin book?

Drew Neisser 1:26
Well, look, there’s he’s been written about more than any founding father, there’s hundreds and hundreds of books. And interestingly, PBS has a new series coming out on him, Ken Burns documentary. So you know, I recommend his autobiography for anybody. It is the great sort of American Horatio Alger story of you know, rags to riches.

george grombacher 1:46
Nice. Well, I appreciate that. I will check that out. I’m excited about the the documentary. So all right, what, as as as we continue to grow and evolve as human beings, and we incorporate and have technology thrust upon us. And we are a business trying to market to other businesses. How are how are you thinking about what was maybe what was the motivation for for the new book? What was it the jumped off the page that said, I really need to write this.

Drew Neisser 2:17
Yeah. And appreciate you asking that because that sometimes my first book I wrote because I could, this book I wrote because I had to, and that was I noticed that b2b marketing had gotten ridiculously complicated. And I just had the audacity to think I could help radically simplify it. And so started with just an outline of it, went on a roadshow, talk to a bunch of CMOS, kept interviewing CMOS, ultimately came up with the 12 steps, and the cat’s framework, which will probably be a helpful part of what we talk about next.

george grombacher 2:47
Nice. I appreciate that. Yeah. It’s, is it a surprise that we like to just layer on additional complexity on top of complexity?

Drew Neisser 2:57
It isn’t, it’s simple as hard. I mean, it really is. It’s hard to strip away. You know, in the first part of this Katz framework is courageous strategy. And it takes courage to say no, it takes courage to have focus. It takes courage to be unique. I mean, just think about yourself in seventh grade. I mean, you weren’t going to be the guy. I mean, I was the guy who wore I’m gonna date myself, or shoes and bell bottoms. But that made me unique. And that was scary. It was a scary place to be.

george grombacher 3:28
Yeah, it’s true. It’s, we don’t want to stand out. In fact, probably that’s, that’s, that’s probably a genetic thing. Because if we’re an outlier, then bad things happen to us.

Drew Neisser 3:40
Yeah. The cave bear will come and get us. Yes. True.

george grombacher 3:43
Alright, so it requires it requires courage for us to be ourselves, but then also to say, the emperor has no clothes. We are we’re doing too much. And it’s unnecessary.

Drew Neisser 3:54
Yeah, I mean, you know, this. I like to think of it with everything else. You know, with cats. There’s four things courageous, artful, thoughtful, and scientific. But when it comes to strategy, you got to narrow things down. You can’t be all things to all people. I mean, Peter Drucker said, the definition of strategy is knowing what you say no to. So if we start there, and we say, okay, we were going to dare to be distinct. We are going to dare what does that mean? Well, it means as an individual, like, I only wear this color shirt on my podcast, that’s it. This is it. You want to find I’m the guy, I’m wearing this shirt. Why? Well, because works with the background, because it’s part of the brand colors that we promote. It’s a little thing. It’s a little thing, but those little things add up and whether you’re a big company or small company, you’ve got to decide what are sort of the signature items of your brand. And that again, takes courage. Well, this guy wants this and this guy wants that. No, no, I’m sorry. And I there’s a story I tell of a construction company in my book that does decided to focus only on hallways. And for coops and condos. That’s it. They gave up 30% of their business in order to do that, but now they win 70% of the time, they’re included in every one of their bids. And when I asked him, was this hard at first he goes, Yeah, it was really hard because we had to turn business down. But now it’s easy, because everybody calls us for hallways, and they have a higher profit margin. I mean, it’s so it can be painful. to fire your bad customers, it can be painful to focus. But it’s ultimately it’s just so rewarding.

george grombacher 5:36
And again, that’s the courage thing, right to

Drew Neisser 5:40
courage thing. Yeah. And then it takes courage to sort of commit to a purpose. I talk about purpose in the business, but I talk about both in terms of big purpose, but big P purpose, save the world and little P purposes. Just what are you doing? It doesn’t have to be saved the world like we’re just making hallways better. Right. That’s all that’s our purpose. We help cop cops and condos to repair their hallways. Cool. That’s a good purpose. It’s clear. It’s the sink. I get it.

george grombacher 6:07
Yeah, yeah. Nice. All right. Well, let’s just continue along Long your framework, the artful piece, what does that mean?

Drew Neisser 6:16
So there’s several components, but I don’t care whether you’re an entrepreneur or part of a company, you first have to recognize that you can’t do much alone. You got it, you got to welcome we and that’s the first part of artful ideation, you might say, wait, what’s artful about that? It is artful, to be able to get other people to come to consensus around a single idea. I mean, one of the things I love Ben Franklin for is, he did a zillion he’s credited with a zillion things, but at the time, he tried to get other people credited for it, he didn’t want to because he kind of knew well, every one of these things from the fire department, to the library to the to the university, they think it’s for me, they’re gonna start to hate me. So but you don’t need to get the credit. And so artful ideation is about welcoming we, it’s about perfecting pithy as I go along here. And it’s about delighting with design. And I want to emphasize that a lot of entrepreneurs forget about design, they just slap up a website, and design matters, because design communicates Are you going to be easy to work with or hard to work with? And it’s just a question of, if I go to your website, it takes me five clicks to find what I want, you’re gonna be hard to work with. So artful is thinking about this world out there beyond yourself and helping them achieve their goals.

george grombacher 7:40
I love it. And it seems to me that that also, as you are figuring out what your path to distinction is going to be, there’s a lot of potentially cooks in the kitchen, but somebody does need to make a decision. And so being artful and helping to get consensus just internally within your organization seems to be essential.

Drew Neisser 8:00
Yeah, and I’m glad you mentioned that, because a couple of stories in the book refer to CMOS, who said, from the day one, I got the idea. And it didn’t work. And it didn’t work, because they hadn’t built consensus around it. I mean, one of the things that I recommend is so easy that a lot of CMOS don’t do is do an employee survey, get their opinion, at the very beginning, the first thing you do when you arrive on the job, find out what they think, are they proud of the company that they work for? Are they proud of the marketing you it takes maybe 10 minutes to set up the survey, I’ve written it in the book. And when you do that, you set up the opportunity to get consensus. Without luck. There’s no great ideas that are bought by committee. There’s no doubt about that. But if you make people believe they’re part of the process as least they’ll give you the benefit of the doubt.

george grombacher 8:51
Yeah, yeah. That’s well said. You know, I that’s that’s literally a lesson I just I I’ve known for a long time, but then I forgot it with my kids and smacked me in the face when I made a decision about things and they thought it sucked. So I have a two year old dig their heels in on something is not a pretty thing. No, it is not. Yeah.

Drew Neisser 9:11
I’ve often wondered how the cat’s framework would work with as a parental guide. And but I think there’s some aspects to it that can work. And I think this next part is, which is the thoughtful execution. If you we think about our execution, the things that we do to help our companies go forward. Often we say what’s our sales pitch? What’s the message? Who’s our target? Instead of saying, how do we help them? Start there? How do we help and so the whole purpose of calling this whole section on execution thoughtful, is about Okay, so a two year old what’s they want? Let’s start there. And then we’ll get to what you want. But if you start with They are and you help them whatever their short term problem is, chances are you’ll get the audience that you want.

george grombacher 10:07
Yeah, I think that’s really well said and then goes back to, to really simplifying things again, and being courageous enough to say, Yeah, we could come up with this brilliant solution with all these different layers of intricacy and everything else. But why don’t we just figure out number one, what the people within our organization are looking for. And then the people that we’re serving, help figure out what they want. And if we’re able to do that, well, then it’s probably going to be easy, easier. Yeah,

Drew Neisser 10:38
I mean, I think there’s some times in some categories where they don’t know they need this yet. And you’re creating a category. And that’s a little bit harder, because you sort of have to help them see the problem that they didn’t even know they had. So sometimes you’re selling where you’re the only it’s like, they either by you or they don’t buy anything. And in those cases, again, if you and this is part of what I’ve learned from interviewing CMOS, and why I recommend doing interviewing, anybody should be interviewing. If you interview 25 people in your target audience, by the time you’re done with those 25 people, you will know more about their chart or their business than almost anybody. It’s amazing. And so then you can give them 10 things that they probably didn’t know that they knew about their business or didn’t know about their business. And by giving that information to them, then you have a chance to say, Oh, you’re right, this is a problem. Oh, you’re right. Oh, yeah, I thank you. Okay, that was valuable. Now, what is it that you’re selling?

george grombacher 11:39
That’s fascinating. What popped into my head was, it would if, if you were to, to, to build a widget, would you want your widget to be just a solution in a marketplace that already existed? Or to be solving problems that the customer didn’t know that they

Drew Neisser 11:55
had? Yeah, it’s it’s a tricky thing. I mean, and sometimes customers don’t know how to articulate the problem, right? I think I have this problem. Or I didn’t even know I could fix this. Oh, that’s amazing. And that’s where this, this technology comes in. But I want to get at one other thing here that I think is important, which is one of the reasons why I can call the book renegade marketing. Is it flips targeting on it’s just completely upside down? Most companies say, how are we going to attract new business? They talk about prospects first, everything is will this work to attract new business? And in the book I talked about No, no. Employees first, that’s the first target audience, if they don’t buy whatever your new messages, it will fail, period, end of story. Second target customers, if they don’t buy your new story, they won’t, you know, if they don’t believe that’s them, that this is helping them that they’ll reinforce if this is somehow good for them, you’re done. So you know, I always like to think about marketing as employees, customers, and then prospects. And if you do the job, right against employees, you could probably stopped there. I know, several companies that like one company insurance company, happy employees, equal happy customers, that’s their marketing. And then, you know, you could keep going and just say, All right, well, it’s really about customers. And so we’re gonna just do everything we can to celebrate our customers. Again, none of this is rocket scientists. But it takes courage to say stop talking about prospects. We haven’t nailed it with employees yet.

george grombacher 13:25
Yeah, no, I think that makes a ton of sense. So Drew, I wrote down the s, but I can’t read my handwriting.

Drew Neisser 13:32
Ah, well, so that gets us to scientific method. And here’s the thing, you can be courageous and and that’s awesome. You can create this distinctive brand, you can be artful in the way you build consensus around the idea and how you execute it, you can be thoughtful in the way you reach all these people. But if you don’t have some metrics in place, you’re gonna fail. And it doesn’t even matter whether it’s a personal thing or professional thing. On a personal level, if you don’t put metrics, you’re just one of the, oh, I got to do more, I got to do more, I got it, you don’t get yourself a set a moment to say, I did this. I’m not saying you stop. But at least you can pat yourself on the back and said I accomplished something. And I think that’s important. I think we have to have a little self gratitude and, and so having the scientific method and then this is the exciting part about the scientific method. Once you started measuring, whatever it is that you need to do that your boss will believe or your CFO will believe that marketing can contribute, then you get to move to the fun stuff. And then the last chapter of the book is called test to triumph. And to me that’s the most exciting part about marketing is you can always be take testing something take 20% of your budget, try two or three things agree with a CFO how you’re gonna measure those and off you go and, and that’s what makes marketing just just an infinitely interesting profession.

george grombacher 14:52
I love it. With a guess the stereotype of creative people is that they resist tracking they resist Probably filling out spreadsheets and tracking numbers. Do you find that that’s true?

Drew Neisser 15:08
So I think every, you know, great creative person wants to get from here to there. They’re solving problems. And so where is there? And, and it, I think the notion that certain things aren’t measurable is true. But I think you can create a lot of directional metrics that will help the even the most creative person see the work that they did had an impact. Right? It increased awareness, it increased a understanding of the business, it drove more site traffic, it allowed the CEO when he went to a hotel, suddenly they somebody knew their company name, or, you know, the anecdotal things where a salesperson said, God, you know, the last 10 people I called knew who we were. So there are in the book, I create all sorts of surrogate metrics that you can use to measure what matters. And they’re not necessarily expensive, either. But you got to have something in place. Otherwise, how do you justify your existence? If you’re an employee in a marketing department?

george grombacher 16:12
Yeah, yeah, there certainly is that. Appreciate it? Well, Drew, the people are ready for that difference making tip? What do you have for them? Well,

Drew Neisser 16:21
we live in this gift to get economy. And whether you like it or not, if you want someone’s attention, you have to give something of value. And I’m going to add another layer on to that whenever I’ve been stuck on worried about the future. And I’ll say March 2020. As an example, I looked at the 2020, as an agency owner and said, Oh, God, here we go, another recession. How is this going to work? Are we going to survive? Is everybody gonna cut budgets? And instead of saying, Oh, we got to cut a staffer anything. I said, all right. The formula here is Who can I help? And so I went out to a bunch of CMOs and said, Hey, how you doing? How’s this going? And would you like to meet with other CMOS, and I started seeing all huddled like two weeks after the pandemic shut down. As a way, I had no idea where it would go. But I knew the spirit was right, that it was a gift to get that somehow or other if I helped them through it, there’d be a payback. And it turned out it was a new company called CMO. huddles, and we now have over 100 subscribers. So if you keep that give to get right here, no matter what the crises or situation, you’ll have a great place to start from.

george grombacher 17:34
Well, I think that that is great stuff that definitely gets come up. Yeah, I think that that’s, I think that that’s incredible. And thank you for sharing that story. I was really curious about that. Cmo, huddles and how it came to be and I’d see immense value and I’m glad that that’s taken off. So beautiful. Well Drew, thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you? How can they connect with you? Where can they get a copy of renegade marketing 12 steps to building an unbeatable b2b brand.

Drew Neisser 18:01
So that’s on Amazon audio, paperback, hardcover, ebook, whatever. You can find me on Renegade, calm and if any of your listeners want a chapter of the book, they just hit me up on LinkedIn. It’s Drew nizer on LinkedIn, and I’m happy to share a copy of the book.

george grombacher 18:19
Excellent. Well, if you enjoyed this as much as I did, sure drew your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas. Find Find Drew nizer, Dr. E, W, and EISSE are on LinkedIn and also pick up a copy of renegade marketing 12 steps to building unbeatable b2b brands. Wherever you buy your book. Certainly Amazon. Thanks again, Drew.

Drew Neisser 18:44
Thank you, George. Thank you.

george grombacher 18:46
And until next time, keep fighting the good fight. We’re all in this together.

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