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Digital Marketing Strategy with Keith Jensen

George Grombacher April 10, 2022

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Digital Marketing Strategy with Keith Jensen

LifeBlood: We talked about digital marketing strategy, how enterprise level companies differ from B2C companies, the role of best practices, working with private equity backed companies, and career advice for those interested in digital marketing, with Keith Jensen, CMO of brightfin, and Portfolio CMO of Periscope Equity. 

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You can learn more about Keith at and LinkedIn.

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You can learn more about us at LifeBlood.Live, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook or you’d like to be a guest on the show, contact us at contact@LifeBlood.Live.

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Our Guests

George Grombacher

Keith Jensen

Keith Jensen

Episode Transcript

Come on

Unknown Speaker 0:11
life with this Georgie and the time is right welcome today’s guest strong a powerful Keith Jensen. Keith, are you ready to do this? I’m ready, let’s go. Let’s go. Keith is the Chief Marketing Officer of bright fin. And a portfolio Chief Marketing Officer at Periscope equity specializes in end to end Marketing Solutions excited to have you on key tell us a little about your personal life SmartBox your work and why you do what you do? Well, personal life is simple. It’s very little of it.

Unknown Speaker 0:44
It’s a lot of work. But my wife and I live out in San Diego, California, we have a dog that we love, like a child. And, and yeah, just a lot of work love what I do been in marketing for almost 20 years now and can’t imagine it any other way. Nice. So tell us about your work with Bryson.

Unknown Speaker 1:06
So it’s interesting. I mean, I, a lot of my history comes in marketing for healthcare organizations and technology software, but a lot most of the time related in some way to to health and safety.

Unknown Speaker 1:20
And embracing is totally different. It’s a it’s an IT expense management company. And I had no idea what that meant. And essentially what I learned was, okay, you got these really huge organizations like you know, Adidas, and Volkswagen, which are clients of ours. And you know, imagine they’ve got a company cell phone policy where, you know, directors and above get cell phones, think about how many people that is spread across how many areas and every cell phone has a carrier plan? Have you ever looked at your at&t or Verizon plan? Like, do you think you could decipher what you’re actually getting billed for? You know, and whether you use I mean, everyone just pays it, right. And then think about how many times you’ve had a cell phone that’s Company issued, sitting right next to your personal one, and you never use it, right. And so one of the things that bright Finn does, which I think is the easiest to understand who for someone who’s never really gotten into the telecom expense management space, is that we help manage those 10s of 1000s of cell phones, mobile devices, IoT Internet of Things to everything that kind of floats around, that has a carrier plan attached to it from like at&t, or Verizon, that could be, you know, billing you money, and we help you see it all in one platform, we help you save money by being, you know, by going, Oh, this these 50 people under they only went five minutes into their plan, let’s instead of let instead of before the quarter, or the the month closes, and they’re going to pay 100 bucks for each of these, let’s bring it down. So they only pay 10. You know, so in almost every case, we save our company, our customers more money than they pay us which is great. We also do the same type of thing for fixed assets like hard wire phones, cloud environments, like AWS. So it’s interesting. It’s, it’s, it’s, I’d say interesting. It’s interesting to me, because now I’m in it, and I love it. And I’ve connected to it. But I can I can understand why be very uninteresting to a lot of people. It’s just It’s fascinating to your point. It’s like I didn’t even realize this was a thing. And then you dig into it. You’re like, Oh, my goodness, look at all the opportunities to help companies save money become more efficient. So what what size company are you marketing to? Who is who is the end user? Typically, their their enterprise or larger mid market companies typically 500 million in revenue and above?

Unknown Speaker 3:52
Yeah, like so when you if you line up, we just opened a new office in Denver, and we did a, a big wall of logos, and it’s impressive names. We’ve got a lot of big clients and they’re, they’re great.

Unknown Speaker 4:05
But we certainly do have have smaller ones that we’re able to serve you know, more on the emerging market side. Like if you have three four or 500 Cell phones, you know, we can we can help you it’s typically the point where you start someone starts to go, oh my god, what am I gonna do here? You know, five people broke their phone, these two people were asking me about upgrades to their plan. You know, these other people just got hired two people quit and we don’t know how to wipe their device. Right? Like that’s that kind of inflection point of a few 100 is typically where somebody starts pulling their hair out and starts looking for a company like bright fin. Nice. And Periscope equity. That’s a private equity company. And you So walk me through what’s what’s going on there. Is it is it a portfolio of companies that you’re working with all the companies that are backed by Periscope and you’re helping them with their marketing as well?

Unknown Speaker 5:00
That’s right. And I’ve done this for a few private equity groups. Another one was wad Capital Partners. But essentially, what’s happening is that private equity groups, which are investment firms, right, they are investing in companies to grow them. And then eventually, after five, six years, they will sell them. Sometimes it’ll be to, you know, another private equity firm, that’s going, okay, great, you guys grew them from 30 million in revenue to 100 million in revenue. Now another private equity firm gonna go, we’re gonna invest in them at 100 million, and grow them to 500 million or take them public.

Unknown Speaker 5:37
And so what a lot of private equity firms are doing is they’re investing in Portfolio operations, what they’re calling it. And

Unknown Speaker 5:46
when they have, let’s say, a private equity group owns or has invested in five companies, that’s their portfolio of companies, right? And they’re, you know, they’re going, Okay, we borrowed money from people to invest in these companies, and with the thesis that we are going to grow them over a short period of time, right, with an injection of our capital and our expertise, we can grow them exponentially. And so now they have to execute on that. And a lot of the forward thinking private equity firms are looking at a portfolio Operations Group, which is essentially not an investment team, not the typical folks that are going, huh, which company should we invest in and all that it’s a separate team that is more operations focused, they’re, they’re coming in once the investment is made, and saying, Okay, now we own this, you know, telecom expense management company like, right, then what resources what playbooks? Can we put in place? You know, Oh, what, what marketing resource? Can we have come help them out for a few months to make sure they have the right marketing leader? That’s typically what I’ll do is all for part of my time, I will work across the portfolio of companies that Periscope invest in and I’ll help them and say, you know, do we have the right marketing strategy in place? You know, what about technology? You know, tech stack? Are we using the right ABM platform? Do we even human? Do we need to do get Google AdWords with right dashboards in place, you know, is the right marketing team in place with the right structure? So I’ll help them put all that in, and then you know, Coach along the way, and helps share best practices among groups? Yeah, I appreciate that. So you’ve been doing this for almost 20 years for 20 plus years? A good little while, as you get the opportunity to sit down with with one of these portfolio companies?

Unknown Speaker 7:41
How how, I don’t know what the exact question is, I imagine a lot of the challenges are similar, but a lot of them are different, b2b versus b2c kind of a thing? What what does that first conversation look like?

Unknown Speaker 7:55
You know, I always like to go in with a little bit of data. So I’ll go to you know, the publicly available sites, you know, subscription sites like sem rush, and things like that, where I can go in and go, Alright, how’s their SEO been tracking? You know, how are they going against competitors? In terms of amount of keywords? Are they running anything on on Google ads, you know, pay per click a lot harder find out if they’re doing any specific Account Based Marketing through a company, like a terminus or anything like that, but

Unknown Speaker 8:23
but I’ll go in with some kind of get a little bit historical data just to get a better understanding of like, is their site performing? You know, the way it should?

Unknown Speaker 8:32
And then yeah, you’re right. It’s, it’s completely segmented, based in the path goes differently if they are a b2b company, are they targeting, you know, small as it’s quick transactions, you know, low average value of the the actual transaction. So like, if you think about a company I worked with, that was in like, the training space, a lot of times it might be three $400 to transaction, they could get that deal done in a couple hours, sometimes, you know, a team member reaches out get someone on the phone, and then boat makes the transaction whereas bright fin in some cases, it’s a it could be a six to nine month pipeline, where you open up the opportunity, and then you are talking with them and working through that that, you know, phase of contracting, negotiating and all that for a long time.

Unknown Speaker 9:20
And then there are certainly companies that are more b2c Where Yeah, it’s going to be a different strategy. You might invest more in things like AdWords and an SEO and it’s not that SEO wouldn’t be, you know, important all around, but with the b2b companies like like a briefing, it’s great if we rank for more keywords, that’s fantastic. But the most important thing is getting in front of the people we care about you think about it seem to start a company out of a you know, 100 companies, we may be a perfect fit for 10 of them based on like a tech stack. So as an example, a company that really companies that gravitate towards

Unknown Speaker 10:00
breakeven are companies that use another piece of software called service. Now, if you if your company is large and use a service now, there’s like, no, it’s a no brainer, why you use Bing or any other group, it’s we’re natively integrated, it’s just a perfect fit. So we try to do as we go, okay, out of all these companies, which of them use ServiceNow? Okay, so now you got a company, but at that company, you’ve got 10s of 1000s of employees, you know, okay, who do we care about? Well, it and finance? Okay, well, who at ITM finance? Well, at it, it’s like managers and above and, you know, finance, like directors and above,

Unknown Speaker 10:36
you know, and then we start honing in a little bit more, then we will run our ads so that they get just in front of the eyeballs of the people who work with the companies that we care about, you know, and that’s Account Based Marketing. So, yeah, depending on the type of business, b2c b2b, you know, the market, they’re going after, it varies, but

Unknown Speaker 10:57
we’ve been around as long as I have, certainly have, you know, the kind of playbooks in place for for whatever, typically, though, when you’re working with private equity groups, they will, you know, invest in similar type businesses. So, a lot of like, what capital, I was on the healthcare side, so it was a lot of healthcare services, businesses, a lot of companies like physical therapy, gastroenterology, dermatology, you know, individual locations, kind of scattered around the country, as a whole another challenge for search engine optimization, I got to figure out how to rank locally for, you know, dermatologist near me in 50 different cities, you know, versus like a bright fan, which is software, and I don’t have to worry so much about SEO in terms of like, local SEO, I need to get in front of people who are searching for, you know, technology expense management rights, ie financial management. And so, yeah, different strategies, but the playbooks all exist at this point. So it makes sense.

Unknown Speaker 12:01
How excited are you about about the future of, of, of internet marketing of and if you’re talking to a young person, you say, you know, there’s so many opportunities out there?

Unknown Speaker 12:14
You know, I think the I, dia of digital marketing

Unknown Speaker 12:21
has expanded so much, and I don’t even think it’s like, I don’t know that I’m so much. It’s not the excitement so much about digital marketing, but although digital marketing has opened so many possibilities, but I think the thing I get most excited about is when you have so many job opportunities, because private its offer because private equity groups will invest in new companies. And now I come in and I go, Okay, do we have the right people and, you know, those companies are going to grow faster than they’ve ever grown before. So we have to hire more. So I do a lot of interviewing for marketing professionals of all types, and all kinds of levels from, you know, hiring VPS, down to hiring coordinators.

Unknown Speaker 13:02
And the thing I get most excited about is exposing marketing professionals to a career path that they may be hadn’t thought about. And I say that because most people when they get out of college or finish a degree in marketing, they think about it as two paths. I can go to an agency, an ad agency, and I can work out a whole bunch of clients and they can be big names and blah, blah, blah. Or I can go internal to inside of a company and be like a marketing specialist or coordinator inside one company. Now, I think most gravitate to agencies I did, I gravitated to it because it’s sexy area get bigger logos, and you get differentiation of work. And you get to work with a lot of creative people. When you go internal,

Unknown Speaker 13:48
it’s crapshoot, right if you if you have a leader who’s phoning in, or isn’t super excited about the job, you you could get stuck. And it doesn’t it’s not very exciting.

Unknown Speaker 13:59
So I do think a lot of people gravitate to ad agencies. But here’s the thing. You know, when I got out of college, I was I really wanted to do every I said I want to think of the ads, I want to write them. And then I want to design them. Right. And so I taught myself design programs and read books about copywriting and went to school for some of that.

Unknown Speaker 14:19
And it was it was hard to find a job at an ad agency that would let me do both right like almost every ad agencies like narrow you’re a copywriter or your graphic designer, you’re either coming up the idea isn’t someone else’s designing them or you are designing someone else’s idea. And both of those sounded like they suck to me, you know, and I want to do that so I got lucky I ended up finding a really small ad agency that was like, geez, you want to do both, you know, God bless we’d also hire you people that that would be fantastic. And and so I worked there for a bit it was fun. Got to a lot of stuff got a nice title early on of like a creative director title.

Unknown Speaker 15:00
which was was exciting coming out of college. But eventually I got this opportunity to move in house and what I learned there was, while at ad agencies, you are doing a lot of stuff for different clients, it’s kind of the same thing in the sense that like, you’re pitching, you’re coming up with a campaign, you’re writing it, you’re designing it, you’re giving it to them. And then in most cases, you don’t really see it so much anymore, because you’re moving on to the next and maybe you hear oh, it’s doing good, or, but you don’t, I don’t feel like it’s as fulfilling

Unknown Speaker 15:35
internally, what I found was interesting is that, if you find the right company, like I did,

Unknown Speaker 15:42
in your and you want to learn new stuff there, they’re like, Oh, this is fantastic, you know, as much as one person can do if they can diversify their skill set, it’s a real benefit internally. And so there were times where we would do campaigns, once I went internally, as a healthcare company, we would do ad campaigns, and we would hire a photographer. And, and after a few years of that, you know, my boss came to me, and he said, What would it take for you to learn how to do that? I was like,

Unknown Speaker 16:14
a camera, good camera, and, and some lessons. And he’s like, why? Well, I sent out and ended up being like, 20 grand, I got, you know, maybe $70,000 worth of camera and some lessons. And next year, we were shooting the, you know, the campaigns, and then I started getting into it, we got this camera, we should do video. Sorry to get into learning video. And, you know, now one of the things that I love being able to do for companies is come in and say, okay, like, we can write, design, you know, shoot video photography at it, like, it’s all done internal. And I love being able to, like teach that to to marketing professionals. But, um, so where I was going, though, was the career path. So I think always learning is important, like I just mentioned, but also, when you’re internal. If your company is a private equity portfolio company, there’s an opportunity that a lot of marketers don’t realize,

Unknown Speaker 17:12
typically, marketers will go will think about their, their monetary opportunity as salary. And bonus, right. Maybe if they go with a startup, which is risky, they might get equity. Right. But other than that, there’s not a whole lot of other avenues for for cash to come flowing in.

Unknown Speaker 17:33
Interesting part of private equity, is that, if you are if you are a marketing leader, if you get to the point where you could lead marketing at a private equity company, which could be a small company, private equity could invest in, you know, not a startup, but maybe five years later, they’re making, you know, five $10 million, like, private equity might come in and absorb them. So let’s say now, you’re a marketing director, kind of leading marketing for a private equity firm, or private equity portfolio company, and you do a good job. And five years later, that company sells for, you know, five times what that private equity firm invested in it, they’re gonna go, Okay, we need that person to go work at our next company, you know, and I remember when I was my first opportunity, when a private equity firm was hiring me at one of their portfolio companies, they said, In the interview, they said, Do you think you might get bored with this in like, a year or two? And I said,

Unknown Speaker 18:29
I hope not, you know, I, but I honestly don’t know, how can I predict that? And they said, Well, if you do, don’t quit, just just come tell us, we’ll put you in one of our other companies. And it was at that point where I’ve worked in at private equity backed companies before, but it was at that point where it clicked where I was like, oh, okay, this is a longer strategy, right? Like, getting get in on the private equity side, whether it’s this private equity firm or others, they’re always going to look for someone who understands how private equity works, understands the fast growth model, and can execute on it. And also, after a while, like they’ll start giving you equity in those companies. If you’re good enough, you know, it’s it’s, if you can, if you go through one or two exits is what they call it, where you’ve been a marketing leader at a company that has sold for a good, you know, profit, and then you do it again. You can go in and go, Okay, oh, yeah, I’ve worked at two companies that grew from 10 million to 50 million. And now I’m going to go now you’re a company offered to hire me and you make you’re at a 10 million revenue. I’d like I know, I’m going to take a little drop of my salary and bonus than I was before, but I’d like some equity if you guys sell for this amount of money that I want this amount of money. And it’s not a guarantee but from what I’ve seen, you know, good private equity firms value talent, they value people who understand how to, to, you know, make these companies efficient and how to make them make money.

Unknown Speaker 20:00
They’ll reward you for it. I love it. That’s really does make sense? How important are our titles in the world of marketing?

Unknown Speaker 20:09
I don’t think they’re that important. Um, you know,

Unknown Speaker 20:14
I say that, but I’ve certainly fought for titles before. So I think you know, now,

Unknown Speaker 20:19
maybe, maybe, you know, I’ve had a chief marketing officers title a few times, I think maybe I’m discounting the way I felt before.

Unknown Speaker 20:29
But, look, there are times where,

Unknown Speaker 20:32
in the private equity world, there’s a lot of mergers and acquisitions, right. And so one of the things a private equity firm may do is they may look at an industry and say, there are two or three companies that all do a similar thing, all around the same, you know, size, maybe we should buy all three of those, merge them together into one. And, you know, may kind of be a little bit of a superpower all of a sudden, now, instead of these three companies, each being 10 million revenue. Now, there’s one company that’s 30 million, and they’re their real player.

Unknown Speaker 21:10
And at that point, when those types of things happens, you you have this marketing team joining that marketing team, and the disparity of titles is wild, right? I mean, like someone is a VP of marketing, and one with less experience than a Director of Marketing at another. So I think, I think maybe I say that they’re not important only because I think I discount, I don’t really take them at face value anymore. Maybe when you, if you were to normalize five companies that were all the same size, and they’re larger, you know, 100 200 million or above in revenue, then yeah, maybe the director is more equal to a director or whatever. But the size companies that I often play in, you can have a really wide range of titles, even without, like a specific skill set. So I think it’s, it’s, it’s nice to have from personal level, but, and it’s good, it looks good on a resume. But ultimately, I can think of at least 10 marketers who had good titles that did not have, you know, the skills to back that title up. And that’s really what it’s all about, is having the skills to back it up whether the title or not makes sense. Keep the people ready for different speaking tip, what do you have for them?

Unknown Speaker 22:28
i It’s always keep always be learning. I mean,

Unknown Speaker 22:33
I I would not be where I am today, if I hadn’t, oh, if I don’t always wise always want to learn new stuff. And I think some people always equate that to like, read more books, and maybe if that’s your thing, and that helps you learn great, I don’t read a ton of books. I’ve got probably a handful of books that I will reread because I love them so much. One of them is switch by Chip and Dan Heath, if you don’t haven’t read that in your marketing, you should actually I mean, anybody should I it’s more of a psychology type book. But um, but I think for marketers, it’s, it’s pretty brilliant. But I I’d say always be learning in the sense that one of the things I like to do is get the marketing folks from the different companies that are in our portfolio, and, and bring them together and have somebody do a knowledge sharing session. So somebody is an expert at Google AdWords, and let’s do a session. Let’s record it, let’s put it on a private Vimeo account where, you know, only our marketers are able to access it and

Unknown Speaker 23:35
you know, things like anyone who does design, you know, why if you don’t do video production, why, you know, why wouldn’t you go learn after effects and Premiere and just have been dangerous enough to be able to crank out little social media videos, because as you think about the the needs of a company, like How amazing would it be if you could not only do the things that you’re supposed to be doing but also go oh, by the way, we can instead of having, you know, little posts for this thing, let’s just make a little video, it’ll take me you know, 20 minutes to animate the words coming in and it’ll be get a little bit more intention online than a static post. So I think always learning is is just something that I’ve

Unknown Speaker 24:18
given as advice to so many marketers, and

Unknown Speaker 24:21
that’s what I’d say as the one thing that makes a difference. Well, I think that is great stuff that definitely gets caught. Thank you. Thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you? How can they engage with you?

Unknown Speaker 24:34
If you want to connect with me feel free to go to LinkedIn, Amman there Keith Jensen, je n s e n and check out bright fin comm. I don’t know if there’s any it or finance professionals at enterprise organizations out there but if there are any ones dealing with with concerns that would be related to telecom expense management or it financial management. Bryson’s the way to go is brave and calm. Love it. And if they’re marketers

Unknown Speaker 25:00
He said, That’s interesting. I’d like to learn more about private equity, where would you point them?

Unknown Speaker 25:05
You know, it’s not, it’s not a widely publicized thing, quite honestly, I’d say go to LinkedIn and connect with me. And I’d be happy to tell you all about it. And

Unknown Speaker 25:18
that’s one of the things I really enjoy doing is if I can help anybody on a career path, even if it’s not with one of our portfolio companies, and I’m happy to so feel free to connect with me. Awesome. Well, if you enjoyed this as much as I did, so keep your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas by Keith on LinkedIn. We’ll link that in the notes of the show, and then check out bright as well. And check out everything they’re working on over there. Thanks again, Keith.

Unknown Speaker 25:45
Thank you, and until next time, keep fighting the good fight. We’re all in this together.

Transcribed by

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