For many companies, the concept of social business is often poorly understood, poorly executed and, in some cases, completely overlooked. What is social business and why is it important? That’s what Broadsuite Media Group’s Shelly Kramer, host of #CMOTalk, and her guest, Travis Wright, explore on this episode of the show. What is social business and why is it important? Great questions!
The “socialization” of a business extends well beyond the acts of creating a Facebook and Twitter account and posting content on those channels on a regular basis. An effective social business strategy encompasses many things, some of which include social selling, socialized customer service, internal social advocacy programs, the social media element of human resources, establishing a reputation of thought leadership for key executives and company leaders, and establishing and strengthening relationships with customers and potential.
Travis and Shelly, both of whom have much experience in building social enterprises and helping companies navigate the waters of social business and online marketing in general, have much to share on this topic. According to Wright, customer experiences can make or break a company. In today’s digital era, one bad experience can be shared thousands of times and has the potential to tarnish your company’s image. Think United Airlines and banning leggings, in full compliance with company policy, on passengers traveling on airline family passes and the brouhaha that ensued in the social media space as a result. When your company places a priority on socializing with customers and prospects, and working to build great relationships, it’s much easier to weather a storm if and when it happens to come along. And it will.
The Danger of Becoming a Commodity
Travis and Shelly take a deep dive in this part of the show into the danger of becoming a commodity when it comes to your customers. If you sell them something and walk away, chances are good that when they need to buy again, they won’t remember you. Developing strategies that allow you to stay connected—to prospects before the sale and to customers after the sale—is what builds strong businesses and mitigates the danger of becoming a commodity.
Don’t Compete on Price, Compete on Service
Another topic touched on in this episode of CMOTalk was the fact that technology has made the marketplace uber competitive, and sometimes it’s not possible (and definitely not smart) to compete on price alone. Instead, when you can focus on providing the absolute best in customer service, it can be a smart way to develop a competitive advantage. Not only that, building good relationships with existing customers can lead to a powerful selling tool—referrals. And strong connections to past customers can lead to not only repeat business, but to referrals as well.
Want to learn more about the importance of a social business landscape? Here’s the video of the full show. While you’re at it, subscribe and never miss an episode.
If you prefer podcast format, you can listen and/or subscribe to the CMOTalk podcast here:
Shelly Kramer: Well hello there. Welcome to this weeks’ episode of CMOTalk. This week I am thrilled to be able to have as my guest and very old, very dear friend, and someone who actually happens to unlike most of my guests, live in the same city that I live in. Although neither one of us tend to spend much time here. But I’m so happy to have you, Travis Wright. Travis, welcome.
Travis Wright: Thank you so much. It’s a great honor to be on the show here. I’m actually rocking my Kansas City hat right there. Pow!
Shelly Kramer: I like it, I like it. We are big Kansas City fans here. So, you know a little bit about Travis. Travis has done a little bit of everything. Before we started rolling on this show he was telling me a little bit about his time in the Army as a Russian linguist. And as you might imagine in this particular time in which we are living there were quite a few jokes that went along with that. But in addition to that, Travis is currently, what are you, the Chief Technology Officer. And are you one of the founders of CCB Digital?
Travis Wright: That is correct, yeah. I’m one of the co-founders
Shelly Kramer: That’s what I thought
Travis Wright: And you know, I’m the CMO, CTO, so Chief Marketing and Technology Officer, essentially.
Shelly Kramer: Right. Well and I think your company is kind of the same size as mine is so I think we all wear a lot of different hats. But anyway, CCB Digital works with both B and B to C brands, really doing a lot of the same things that we do helping our clients navigate the digital space. Travis has done a lot of interesting things in addition to his time in the Army. He’s been, gosh he’s been with Symantec, and tell me a little bit, I can’t remember. What are some of the other companies, the big companies you have worked with?
Travis Wright: Ah, so Symantec was probably the largest company that I was an employee of. I’ve done, you know, different consulting projects for other large companies over the past 20 years now, which is crazy to think that I’ve been in Marketing since 1996.
Shelly Kramer: Yep, it goes fast, it goes fast.
Travis Wright: It does go fast.
Shelly Kramer: Well one of the reasons I wanted to have Travis on the show today is because he has a new book that’s out, and the book is, I think the purpose of the book is really to help people do what it is Travis and I spend our days all day every day doing is help people navigate this digital space and kind of be able to connect all the dots because Marketing is no longer simple. And you know I don’t know that it ever really was simple. I think that people thought it was simple or people thought you could kind of have your own do it yourself formula but in todays’ day and age there really are, I think Marketing is both an art and a science. It’s very much driven by data and with, you know I was just watching something the other day about business failure rates and you know one in five new businesses fail in the first year. If you happen to manage to make it to ten years you are kind of an amazing success story because that doesn’t just happen. And in my experience a lot of reasons those businesses fail, even really well funded businesses, is because they don’t understand Marketing, they don’t understand the need for Marketing. They don’t budget for Marketing and you know, if you don’t do those things you’re history. Let me show you, here’s Travis’ book. It’s called Digital Sense. And it’s just out. It’s available on Amazon. I will remind you about that again. But Travis, let’s talk a little bit about, you know, tell me a little bit about what motivated you and your co-author to write this book. Were you seeing things when you were working with clients? You know what? I remember this story a little bit. Go ahead and tell us what lead you down the path.
Travis Wright: Yeah so, you know it’s one of those things where I decided in 2015, I decided it was about time to write a book and I was like you know, I have enough value to help educate people on some of these things and enough experiences along the way that I figured out, and I’m kind of a hacker as well. It’s like, I look at things through a different lens in a lot of ways. And so being a Marketing Technologist and having worked at Symantec and having access to all of these tools. I mean at this point I bet I’ve demo’d over 1000 different marketing technologies over the past four years, five years, probably even more than that comparatively speaking. But while I was at Symantec helping all these organizations with the silos within the company kind of work together. How do you make the organization a social business? Because what I was finding out was a lot of companies, they were kind of just taking social media on at the end, as like an oh by the way. All right, all right, we’ve got this all ready, oh and we probably need a hashtag. What are we going to do on that guys? Like you know what? No, like we actually need to embed social throughout your whole business. It’s not just Marketing. Social is important for your selling organization.
Shelly Kramer: Right
Travis Wright: HR needs to be social media savvy because they are vetting employees. They are using social advertising to actually find and recruit new talent. You know your C-Suite needs to be socially savvy where maybe they are out there being a thought leader and talking about you know stuff in the space. And then obviously, Customer Service and Customer Experience. It’s so important with social media. So it’s not just Marketing. And I don’t think a lot of companies really got that. And uh then a lot of different things happened over time including the story with the Kansas City Chiefs which I ended up talking in a few different places. And I was in Denver in 2013 and that’s where I actually met my co-author there. And we’ve become friends and we chatted. And in 2015, late 2015-2016, 2015 actually, we decided that we should write a book. 2 days later Wiley actually sends me an unsolicited email saying hey, we’ve read some of your articles on Ink and we’d love for you to propose a book to us. And I was like wow! That was the universe speaking loudly right there.
Shelly Kramer: Okay.
Travis Wright: I was like, all right, all right, I guess we are going to do a book.
Shelly Kramer: You know, I have an interesting story about social and how companies, especially sometimes enterprise levels companies think about social or don’t think about social except as an afterthought. We had a very large enterprise client, and we fought a lot of battles within the organization. Of course, as you know there are people who get it and you’re adapters and social selling who really understand the value social can bring. And then there are of course the doubters. And then there are also the dabblers. So we had somebody come, somebody emailed me that was part of a team pitching a piece of business. This was a very large engineering firm. The email that I got was hey, we’ve been participating in an RFP for the City of New Orleans and the Mayor of New Orleans really loves Twitter. So can you just tweet him up a bunch? Because they are going to be deciding on this RFP in the next like two or three days. And so you know, I know you’ve had hundreds of these conversations but it’s like you don’t just, like, please understand, that for anyone that understands social whether you’re talking Twitter or any other social channel, it’s, they are savvy. So, all of the sudden if you come from nowhere and start tweeting them up it’s going to be so transparent. And so obviously, the only reason you are doing it is to, you know, push your RFP chances forward. And that can backfire on you. Especially if you have somebody that is really savvy and are using those channels. And it was like are you kidding me, like really, like gosh, you know what I’m saying? Guess what? You have to develop relationships with people in real life or online just like you do in real life. Go figure.
Travis Wright: Absolutely. Tweet them up!
Shelly Kramer: That’s what he said. Could you tweet him up a bunch for us? Yeah.
Travis Wright: No, that’s great. And you are right on. It’s all about those relationships and you know, especially from us, you and I who are here in Kansas City. We’re in the Midwest, right? If we did not have the ability, and John Jantsch is also here in Kansas City. And one thing I have noticed about both of you is you guys are very effective at building authentic, amazing relationships with epic people. Right? And I love this quote by Brian Solis. “You can’t do epic shit with basic people.”
Shelly Kramer: You know, you can’t.
Travis Wright: It’s so true. And really, that’s one of the things. I had a startup back in ’07 and we were four days away from getting half a million dollars in funding and then we got a knock on the door from the FBI saying that the principal at the capital firm was getting arrested for a stock market FINRA violation.
Shelly Kramer: Awesome.
Travis Wright: And I had already trained my replacement at Centriq Training, where I was Lead Web Design and Development Trainer there. I was Adobe Certified Trainer and taught all the Adobe Suite and SEO and all this other stuff. I had already trained my replacement and we were four days away from getting half a mil and then we get the knock on the door. And so, I got really drunk that night, haha. And through my hangover the next day I was like you know what? I’ve got to get my hustle on because I can either have this victim mentality and cry about woe is me or I can say you know what? I’m going to be a victor and I’m just going to go out and build relationships with people, because I don’t have relationships really outside of Kansas City at that point. I said I’m going to build. And that was when I first got online on Twitter. And I said I’m going to use social media and connect with all these amazing people. I think that over time good things will happen as a result. And it seemed to happen.
Shelly Kramer: Well, I think that’s similar. You know, my path has been very much the same. I’ve owned a Marketing Consulting Agency for 23 years this year. So it’s a long time. I realized early on the role that the web was going to play in business and how it was going to connect people, and the role that blogging, and not being afraid to put yourself out there from a you know, this is what I think about this. And you and I do this and we have done this for so very long. We write and we get up on stages and speak. But for the very average person, even for a very intelligent person stepping out on a limb and throwing your thoughts on any topic into the universe can be a pretty intimidating thing. So I remember doing my own thing, take a deep breath and I’m going to walk out on this limb and I’m going to start building relationships. I’m going to start using different social channels and I’m going to start blogging. And I’m going to start leading clients down this path as well. My network is a lot like yours. We have huge networks all over the world and there’s not any city, anywhere, anywhere, that either one of us could go that we won’t have a friend that we could have a drink with or have dinner with or spend the night at their house or whatever.
Travis Wright: So true.
Shelly Kramer: So that’s kind of the power of that and explaining that to people, to your clients, the power of that. And today absolutely none of our clients are in Kansas City. They are all over the world.
Travis Wright: Same thing.
Shelly Kramer: So it’s funny too when I have to work hard to stay connected to the marketing community here in Kansas City because none of my clients are here and none of my work is here. I’m traveling a lot. So I don’t know a lot about what goes on in our market.
Travis Wright: That’s the exact same way I am. I don’t either and that was a conscious decision because whenever I was doing startups in the ‘90’s and early 2000’s the startup community here was not very good. The Kaufman Entrepreneurial Foundation was here but they were very exclusive on who they let in.
Shelly Kramer: Right.
Travis Wright: They weren’t really doing a lot of internet stuff. I think that once Kansas City got Google Fiber they sort of flipped the switch a little bit and now the entrepreneurial community here is thriving and there are a lot of really, really smart people here and we have really, really fast internet. Right, so a Gig per second. But if you think about this, we are in 2017 and by 2020 we’re going to be talking about 5 G and we are all going to be having 20-30 Google Fibers each going to our phones and our car and our refrigerator.
Shelly Kramer: Right.
Travis Wright: And everything else, so it’s interesting how the world his changing and it’s the exact same thing is that I realized, and I consciously said you know what? I’m going to build relationships where I want to have clients and it’s on the west coast, because I love the innovation that happens out there. I love the startup world. That’s my DNA. I’ve been working and learning and doing this space for so long. Companies that are B2B, that are in the startup world, that is really where our bread and butter is for the most part.
Shelly Kramer: That’s great. That’s great. So, tell me about what you decided to tackle in Digital Sense. If you could maybe break it down for me in like 3 different buckets, or something like that. That would be interesting for our audience to hear a little bit about.
Travis Wright: Sure. So based on the experience with Symantec and understanding how large organizations are very siloed and how they’re not connected, that social business strategy was one element of the business that I think a lot of business owners and marketers need to understand. And just sales people, and executives and seeing how it filters through all elements of your business. Then we also have the lens of customer experience, right? Because your customers are very fickle today. They are looking for solutions for their problem and if someone can give them the solution to their problem they will go and do business with that person. You know what? Sometimes they aren’t as loyal as they were before because they just care about what they are trying to solve their problem on.
Shelly Kramer: Don’t we all?
Travis Wright: We all do. All day long. And so now what has to happen is you have to give people a reason to business with you. An amazing experience. You weave customer experience because you can have people come and just start leaving nasty reviews for you all over. You give somebody one bad experience, they share it out, and just like the story with the Chiefs. We shared it out and the next thing you know you have a whole community that is sort of riled behind saving the Chiefs. Which is one of the stories in the intro to the book, which was one of the things that sort of lead us down this path, because customer experience is so very, very important. And if you are not making your customers feel loved, and solving their problems as well, they are going to go somewhere else. Right? So that’s that bucket. Then we have the marketing technology bucket where once you figure out all these things what are you trying to accomplish? What are your major goals? You get buy in from your executive team, and you get all this planning and you build your teams up and you get all your resources and then you start figuring out the tools you need. So we talk about all these different types of marketing technologies and how to build a stack. Then we weave it all through the lens of digital transformation and the mindset that you need to actually be able to do digital transformation.
Shelly Kramer: That’s awesome. That’s great.
Travis Wright: Thank you.
Shelly Kramer: So it sounds like it can be a pretty handy guide. I think it could really be helpful for a business of just about any size.
Travis Wright: I think if you are in Marketing or if you are looking at going into Marketing. There have actually been a ton of University’s that have reached out wanting the book for 2017 Fall supplemental textbooks. Which is pretty cool. We have frameworks actually in there. We have the customer experience framework, and we talk about the social business framework. Actually, we talk about a few different ones because there are a lot of different frameworks out there. So we have taken the best pieces of all those and are helping people make sense of those. And the marketing technology stuff. So we actually have put some actionable frameworks and exercises in the book to help people walk through and understand how to do this stuff on their own.
Shelly Kramer: That’s awesome. I always look for those kind of resources, especially when I’m reviewing and recommending something because I think when you can give people that added take away it really adds a lot of value.
Travis Wright: Yeah, that was the thought process behind it. It weaves through a lot of different areas of the business, right? And so a lot of what we do for our clients is work with B2B companies. And so we are working with different kinds of content for different stages of the buyers journey or customer journey and there’s so many different elements of things that can be done. And a lot of companies are like, oh, let’s put more blog posts out. Well yeah, blog posts are great but if you have yourself an e-book or some infographics or some whitepapers, then that’s going to be great for that prospect and the demand gen space but then as they move towards becoming an MQL and a customer they need different kind of content. Maybe they need video testimonials or case studies, or webinars. Then once they become a customer it becomes a whole different kind of content that they need to keep moving forward. So a lot of stuff to think about when you are working and planning and figuring things out.
Shelly Kramer: Yeah, you know, one of the things that always amazes me is, especially in todays world, and something I preach a lot is that I think we are all in danger of becoming a commodity. It doesn’t matter what it is you sell to somebody. And so many times people make a sale, and they are just done. They move on and your sales team, in many instances, is way too focused on new sales as opposed to thinking what can I sell to the existing customers. I had a client a few years ago that owned a company, still owns the company, that sells aluminum bleachers. And you know what? There are so many kinds of aluminum bleachers. I had no idea until he became my client.
Travis Wright: Nice.
Shelly Kramer: You have kids in sports and you have the bleachers that fold up into the wall, and you have bleachers that are out at your baseball fields. Anyway, he sold all different kinds of aluminum bleachers. And he sold basketball flooring, and he sold basketball rims. He sold ADA equipment for swimming pools and diving platforms and all that kind of thing. But his bread and butter business was kind of aluminum bleachers. That’s where people found him. He sold all of this on the internet and he didn’t keep inventory or anything like that. A tremendously successful guy. And we actually started working with him because the Google Panda Penguin updates had happened and he’d been relying soley on SEO and doing some SEM work and he was smart enough to know he needed content. So we started writing some blog content for him and doing some other things for him. One of the first questions that I asked him was “What happens after you sell something to somebody? Tell me about that process.” And he said “Well, you know, they make a purchase and we send them an email that says: hey Travis, thanks for your purchase. Here’s your shipping link for you to track shipping. Thanks for your business, have a great day. See you later. Bye.” Okay, what happens after that? Nothing.
Travis Wright: We sold it. We’re done.
Shelly Kramer: So Travis buys something and you thank him and you send him his link to track his shipment. He was a super nice guy and he said “You know, of course if anybody has a problem they know to call us.” But I said so Travis bought bleachers. How does he know you sell basketball flooring? How does he know that you sell basketball goals? How does he know that you can take care of all his needs with regard to a pool? I mean the fact that you are not touching him after the sale ever again makes it so easy for him to forget. Because we all do this. You buy something and then two years later when you need something else you go “Who was that guy, that company?” And then you just Google cause you don’t really care. You just want new basketball flooring.
Travis Wright: Right.
Shelly Kramer: And it’s too hard to try and go back and dig through your memory banks and try and find out who that super neat guy was because he has never talked to you again. We find, and this is a guy that has built a very successful multi-million-dollar business, but he was leaving all that business and all his future customer relationships on the table. He was really putting himself in the position of becoming a commodity because you can get what he sells anywhere. And really, the pricing isn’t all that different and I think that’s really the reality of the world. You know if you try and compete on price you are screwed. So compete on service because not everybody gets that and not everybody can do that. But I just thought that was a great example of how people leave so much business and so much opportunity on the table and they fail to understand that we put all our efforts into chasing that new customer. And so often we find this in the largest level enterprise of our clients that don’t put any effort into maintaining a relationship after the same and really understanding. I mean, it’s Marketing 101. I remember learning this lesson when I was just starting out in my twenties that an existing customer is so much more valuable to you in your business no matter what you do than a new customer. So anyway, I think there are so many different ways you can touch them. Email is particularly valuable but there are other ways you can do it and it never ceases to amaze me how many people leave that totally out of the marketing strategies.
Travis Wright: Yeah, absolutely. The lifetime value of a customer can be really huge. A lot of times that first engagement, that first sale that they do can be just a small portion of what they do over the lifetime. And sometimes they are like, hey, thank you for this little one, now I can go get another one. It’s that whole sales process of landing and expanding. Right? So go in with a client, work with them, even if it’s on a small project or you’re working on a certain sort of an area within their business. And then how can you expand into other areas of their business? What else can you do to help add value to them and as long as you are adding value and helping your customers grow revenue or grow whatever their goals are then other areas of the business want to work with you. It’s amazing. And then what’s great is they leave and go to another company and they want to hire you as well because they enjoy working with you and then you’ve got these legion of people out there. A lot of our business comes straight from referrals. I mean we don’t do a lot of out bounds or sales stuff at all. They come to us now and that’s the nature of building up your personal brand, building up a good strong company and a strong reputation around your work and then doors open up on their own. Like it’s literally POOF. And you open your email and it’s like, wow! Look at this! Amazing! It’s like manna from heaven.
Shelly Kramer: That does not suck! That’s for sure! Well everybody, our time is drawing to an end. I want to thank you for hanging out with us today. Travis, thank you so much for joining me and we will do a recap here and let you all know where you can find a copy of Travis’ book, Digital Sense. And if you are not already paying attention to and following Travis on Twitter or being connected to him on LinkedIn, find him, follow him. He’s a great guy and you could learn a lot from him. Thank you my friend. It’s been great having you.
Travis Wright: I really appreciate that. Thank you so much for having me on the show. And actually, if you want to do a giveaway we could do a signed book giveaway to one of your audience members if you like. If you want to figure out the mechanics behind that. I can sign a book for sure. I would love to.
Shelly Kramer: We will do that. That will be great. All right my friend, thanks for joining us.
Travis Wright: Thank you. I appreciate it so much! Thanks for having me on the show. It’s so funny that we are both here in Kansas City and then we meet on the internet here instead of in person.
Shelly Kramer: I know.
Travis Wright: We should probably hang out sometime in person. It would be great.
Shelly Kramer. We should. Well we are done here. Thanks everybody and thanks Travis.
TRAVIS WRIGHT BIO:
Travis Wright is an author, marketing consultant, keynote speaker, entrepreneur, data and analytics geek, tech journalist, growth hacker, podcast host, and mediocre stand-up comic. He is the former global digital and social strategist at Symantec for the Norton brand, he was a Russian linguist in the U.S. Army, and is the co-founder and Chief Marketing Technology Officer at CCP.Digital, a Kansas City and SF-based digital advertising and content agency.
Over the past 18 years, Wright has helped hundreds of B2B and B2C companies, from well-funded start-ups and SMBs to the Fortune 100. He is also a columnist at Inc. Magazine, podcast host of VentureBeat’s VB Engage, and author of his first book with Wiley & Sons, Digital Sense, which published in January 2017.
Shelly Kramer is a Principal Analyst and Founding Partner at Futurum Research. A serial entrepreneur with a technology centric focus, she has worked alongside some of the world’s largest brands to embrace disruption and spur innovation, understand and address the realities of the connected customer, and help navigate the process of digital transformation. She brings 20 years' experience as a brand strategist to her work at Futurum, and has deep experience helping global companies with marketing challenges, GTM strategies, messaging development, and driving strategy and digital transformation for B2B brands across multiple verticals. Shelly's coverage areas include Collaboration/CX/SaaS, platforms, ESG, and Cybersecurity, as well as topics and trends related to the Future of Work, the transformation of the workplace and how people and technology are driving that transformation. A transplanted New Yorker, she has learned to love life in the Midwest, and has firsthand experience that some of the most innovative minds and most successful companies in the world also happen to live in “flyover country.”