How to Stand Out in a Noisy Market Using Human-Centered Communication
As markets continue to change and industries become more digitized, it is more important than ever before for companies to stand out in an environment that is inundated with noise. What should B2B marketers do to stop the “digital pollution” and be more uniquely positioned?
In this week’s episode, we have an insightful conversation with communications expert and author Ethan Beute (Chief Evangelist, BombBomb) about what he calls “the case against digital pollution”. Tune in as Ethan talks to us about how B2B marketers and their companies can rise above the rest, generate attention, build trust and relationships, and grow revenue through an approach he calls human-centered communication.
Topics discussed in this episode:
Companies & links mentioned in this episode:
Christian Klepp, Ethan Beute
Christian Klepp 00:00
Welcome to B2B Marketers on a Mission, a podcast for B2B marketers that helps you to question the conventional, think differently, disrupt your industry, and take your marketing to new heights. Each week, we talk to B2B marketing experts who share inspirational stories, discuss our thoughts and trending topics, and provide useful marketing tips and recommendations. And now, here’s your host and co-founder of EINBLICK Consulting, Christian Klepp. All right, welcome, everyone, to this episode of the B2B Marketers on a Mission podcast where you get your weekly dose of B2B marketing insights. This is your host Christian Klepp. And today, I’m joined by someone who is on a mission to rehumanize your business through human centered communication. So coming to us from Colorado Springs, Colorado. Mr. Ethan Beute, welcome to the show, sir.
Ethan Beute 00:49
Thank you so much. Happy to be here. Enjoyed all of our conversations leading up to this recorded one, and I’m looking forward to this one too.
Christian Klepp 00:56
Likewise, Ethan, really looking forward to this discussion. And that will be for before continuum. Look what landed on my lap. Boom. (showing Ethan’s book)
Ethan Beute 01:04
Christian Klepp 01:05
I would ask you for an autograph. But under the circumstances, you know, I’ll just show it to you. Ethan, let’s start this conversation with a topic that you’ve been passionately advocating for a year or so. And I mentioned it in the intro, rehumanizing your business through human centered communication. So just from what you’ve seen out there, you know, your own personal experience, especially with B2B Marketing, where did we go wrong? And how will this approach help us to improve our relationships with people, not just professionally, but personally as well?
Ethan Beute 01:41
Sure, I guess we’ll take it all the way back. So you blended two titles of two books that I’ve coauthored “rehumanize your business” and “human centered communication” in that setup, and so I’m gonna, I’m gonna go with “rehumanize your business” first, I think we’ve somehow normalized over the past 30 years, that we are perfectly comfortable and confident, relegating some of our most important and valuable messages to a form of communication that doesn’t differentiate us, doesn’t build trust and rapport and doesn’t communicate nearly as well as when we look each other in the eye, even if it’s through a camera lens. And so by that, I mean, faceless typed out text, we rely on it in so many forms. We’re spending more and more time in digital, virtual and online spaces, that’s going to happen more in the future, not less. Pandemic accelerated it, like it accelerated so many things, but it was already happening. And it’s inevitable. And the problem is that so much of this digital communication is both visually and emotionally impoverished. And in that way, it’s missing what humans need and want most from one another. And so if this starts to sound soft, then I’ll say, you know, this starts to make trust harder to build, it makes trust more fragile. It makes it more difficult to understand the single most important thing that people want to understand from us, which is our intent. And I’ll just spend a minute on that and give it back to you. We’re asking people all day, every day to say yes to something. It could be a micro Yes. It could be a macro Yes. A macro Yes in a B2B context is probably a sign contract or something like that. And a B2C (Business to Consumer) space, it’s a swiped credit card, or, you know, keying it or some of the faster stuff, we have, like shop pay into the thing like yes, I will make this transaction or make to make this purchase. But again, going back to B2B, it could be a renewal, it could be an expansion, it could be… you know, all these things that we need want, or it could be the micro yeses, yes, I’ll return this phone call. Yes, I’ll reply to your email. Yes, I’ll make that personal introduction. Yes, I’ll give you that piece of data that you need. Yes, I will speak of you positively to the other influencers of this decision that you don’t know exist, because you’ve only met with me inside my my company or my account, I guess, to use it in the seller’s language. So we need these yeses big and small and to say yes, people are judging our intent. Even more, and certainly before, they’re judging exactly what we’re putting in front of them. And by intent, I mean, do you seem to believe what you’re saying? Do you seem to have my best interest in mind? You know, these these things that, you know, colloquially, we say, people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care. And that’s what we’re talking about here. And when I can’t see you, when I can’t hear you, when I don’t know what it’s like, when I can’t experience you in some way that I missing a lot of that intent information and makes it more difficult to proceed. And if people aren’t proceeding on the small stuff, it becomes very, very difficult to have them proceed on the large stuff. And so I guess that’s the rehumanize piece is, let’s look back at how business was done. 100, 200, 500 years ago, it was a lot more direct. It was a lot more human And it was a lot more face to face. It was a lot more intimate. It was conducted in human voices, not corporate voices. And so to rehumanize is to use today’s technology, specifically, video is what we spend a lot of time thinking about, talking about teaching, in order to restore what’s missing from the B2B buying and selling experience.
Christian Klepp 05:20
Absolutely, just give me a second there like you, you unpacked a lot in those last couple of minutes. And…
Ethan Beute 05:27
I was raring to go on this.
Christian Klepp 05:29
No, you’re you’re clearly on fire, and I love it. I love it. You said something, I wanted to go back to it, visually and emotionally impoverished. And I think that that is something clearly with a lot of deep meaning there. And that’s clearly something that’s, you can see that a lot of companies have gone, all right, especially with their outreach, you know, the way that they do outreach, the way that they do prospecting, I got one this morning, where the guy jumps straight into a pitch, just as I accepted the connection request, where he just immediately says, Well, are you doing this and this and this and this? And this? Would you consider using my app? And I’m like, well, well hang on a second, pal. He doesn’t even know who I am. Right. Who are you? What do you do? You know, like, get to know me a little bit first. And I think that’s going back to your point, right? Like people are so caught up with playing the numbers game, hitting those sales quotas, right, that they make that extend… I’m sure you see it that way too. They make this excuse that they do not have the time or the capacity to build relationships online. Right. And I would argue, and I’m sure you argue that as well. But that’s an important step that they should not be skipping.
Ethan Beute 06:39
Yeah, I think to tie that back to your original question, too. I mean, I see a lot of this. You know, in general, I would characterize if I had to summarize what you just shared, I would say it’s this bias toward efficiency, with a blindness to effectiveness, right, and this happens all the time. And, I get it. And this kind of goes back to where we maybe went wrong a little bit. And by that I don’t mean we should stop doing x and start doing y exclusively. I mean, let’s restore the balance. I mean, the second book that I co-authored with my longtime friend and team member and our CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) at BombBomb, Stephen Pacinelli is called “human centered communication”, we’re calling for a restoration of this balance toward what people need and want, what’s best for other people, because what’s best for other people, whether their recruits, strategic partners, suppliers, vendors, customers, prospects, etc. What’s best for other people is actually what’s best for our business. And so let’s pay a little bit more attention to the effectiveness piece. What is actually working and what isn’t, not just what can we do lots of and turn into money at a .75% rate, you know, and I think a lot of that to go back to your do your first question, again, is, takes root in the Industrial Revolution, which were only, you know, 200 years out of the onset of so we’re still in its shadow. Henry Ford’s assembly line is only 100 years old 110 or so. And, and what we had there was this, we started to become enamored of what we could measure what gets what gets measured, gets done, and all these other things that are now just kind of normal standard things we started that was truly when people became cogs in the machine, like in a very literal sense. And we started to interact with these machines and try to figure out like, what’s the appropriate role for humans, what’s the appropriate role for the machines, we’re obviously still in that mix, even though the machines have changed, and people have changed too, it still becomes this very old problem. And so you start thinking about maybe a business development rep, or a sales development rep who’s like, every single day, I need you to give me 125 of these 75 of these 50 of those and a better result in, you know, 25 of those. And, you know, they’re set up in these systems and these processes that are dehumanizing to them, that are dehumanizing to the people on the other end. And we wonder why. A, you know, we’re not generating the appointments, or the revenue that we want to, and b we wonder why people are leaving and asking about promotions and changing to other departments and things like this. It’s like, there’s this really strong bias toward efficiency that is tied to a scaled industrial mass mindset, mass production, mass marketing type scenario. And the answer if we are to move forward and to put people in their best place and to put tools and technology in their best place in relationship to one another and in relationship to the reasons we’re even entertaining any of this commercial activity at all, it is to find a more appropriate balance that takes a look at effectiveness and efficiency somewhat equally, and we’ll probably get into another layer of why.
Christian Klepp 09:59
Absolutely, it almost sounds similar to something that you mentioned in the book about cause and consequence. And I’m glad you brought that up. Because it was such a beautiful segue into the next question, which is, oh, surprise, it is about cause and consequence. Talk to us about that a little bit like, you know, the causes and consequences of digital pollution and what needs to be done to address these. And let’s appreciate that. You know, there’s a lot of things out there, but just maybe, you could summarize it for us.
Ethan Beute 10:30
Sure, yeah. So the subtitle of the book is “a business case against digital pollution”. And Steve defined digital pollution as we’re in the process of this, he did a much better job, making it super concise, than I tend to make things and he calls them “unwelcome digital distractions”. So unwelcome, I didn’t ask for this, I don’t know where it came from. I don’t know why it’s in front of me, I’m not pleased by it. Digital, of course, we’re talking about digital, virtual and online experiences, for the most part, and distractions is taking me away from what I really need and want to do. So when we think about our potential in B2B sales and marketing motions, to create what someone is going to receive as digital pollution. You know, the likelihood the way we’re doing it, on average, right now is pretty high. And we need to think, and if we’re honest with ourselves, we’re saying well, okay, if I can do 1000 of these, and convert it at 3%, in order to convert that at, you know, 2%, you know, so now we’re talking about 2% of 3% of some number, why wouldn’t I just put a couple more zeros behind that number, because I can, I can get the data, I can get the list, I can run the, I can, I can send the emails, I can run the ads, whatever. And I think we lose sight of what the counter effects of that pursue, which is, it’s easier to block and delete you than it was before. You know, with a tool like superhuman, I can block an entire domain from ever hitting my inbox. Again, not just an individual email address, almost anyone using email can, you know, block an email address and say, you know, spam abuse, never let me get an email from this person again, or from this email address again. We can now block entire domains. So if you have one rep, running a sanctioned or unsanctioned, slightly overzealous campaign and you get the wrong person on the wrong day, and they’re like, enough of this, yeah, that person is dead, your entire domain, your entire company for all time. And so, which is to say nothing of blocking, and deleting, you know, reporting ads and turning those things off. And so it’s not just a matter of, you know, we’re only doing this at 3%, I wish we were doing it at 4%. We’re ignoring the 96 or 97% failure rate in that scenario, and certainly nothing we’re going to do is ever going to get to 100%. But if we act like the 96, and 97, doesn’t matter, then we’re ignoring negative word of mouth, we’re ignoring our own active shrinking of our addressable market by getting ignored, deleted and blocked. And certainly that becomes a greater risk. Because it’s easier than ever to make noise. We regard digital noise as benign. It’s just relatively speaking. I mean, it’s obviously frustrating. But it’s just like the sheer volume of things. We say pollution is in this category, where the recipient in the moment contextually relevant, deems this to be unwelcome, and distracting. And it’s probably going to be, behave in a way that is going to create a negative effect for your business that you’re not paying any attention to. And so whether it’s intentional, whether it’s just incidental, or whether it’s in this largest category of kind of consequential pollution, something about the way we’re going to market is creating this negative experience for other people. We just need to be aware of it, we need to be talking about it, we need to be thinking about it. Because it is you know, not everyone is going to mark it with a B to C play. That’s where we can say, well, we have a TAM (Total Addressable Market) of 1.6 billion people, like some people I know are like have a TAM of like 500 companies, you know, and so you think about some of the negative effects we’re potentially creating there. And it really is a highly consequential to our future.
Christian Klepp 14:30
Absolutely. And I love the way that you broke that down so beautifully. And explained it. That in itself, at least for me was is a strong case for those trying to play the numbers game to stop doing that, to stop doing it. And if I were to use another analogy or another comparison, it’s almost like going on a first date and just completely blown that right? The chances of you getting a second date are probably like close to zero. And I would argue it’s the same in the business world to certain agree.
Ethan Beute 15:01
Yeah. And just to walk that out one more step, it’s like, if someone is listening to this right now, oh, it’s really not quite like a first date, because I’ve got this thing. And even if they don’t love me, they need to talk to me again, because I’ve got this thing. I’m like, Well, you know what so do other people, you know, customers are in control. We all know this. This is an information symmetry issue. It’s a customer word of mouth and megaphone situation. It’s a negative or positive review situation. So customers are in control, there’s more competition than ever. The one exception, I’ll say if someone is listening in there in like a very high barrier to entry market, like, I don’t know, some sectors of aerospace maybe, or biotech or something like that. But in general, most of us are facing a hyper competitive situation. And then of course, we have product parity. And so your widget may do things that the other widgets, or your service or your platform or your whatever, may do something slightly different than other services. But A) a competitor can knock that off in a matter of months, or weeks, or sometimes even days. B) it may not be the most important thing, it might not be as important as you think to other people, and then C) it takes a lot like a great deal of commitment to understand the nuances and the differences in any complex sale. You know, some of it is still a leap of faith, you’re never going to get every question answered, you’re never going to get every doubt removed, you’re never going to mitigate every single risk. People are making these decisions in large part based on trust and relationship. And so this idea that they need my thing, even if I’m kind of a jerk about it, or even if they don’t like me, personally, I think you’re underplaying all of that the dynamics in here, especially in a more complex B2B sale.
Christian Klepp 16:56
Absolutely, absolutely. And, you know, going back to what you said about trust and relationships, right, and about building credibility online, and I’m sure you’ve read some of these reports too, Ethan, like, there was one that Gartner released about a year or so ago about the B2B buyers journey. And not entirely surprising for me, still interesting to see, 17% of B2B buyers will talk directly to the vendor. So that means they’re probably not going to do that until they’ve come, you know, independently verify conducted their own online research to see whether this vendor even fits the requirements that they’re looking for. Right. And then they might go and talk to that vendor. Maybe. Right?
Ethan Beute 17:45
Yeah. And then you’re seeking to validate more than anything.
Christian Klepp 17:49
Absolutely. Absolutely. So you brought up some of these already in the past couple of minutes, but talk to us about what steps we can take to stop digital pollution.
Ethan Beute 17:59
Sure. So in general, so it’s funny “rehumanize your business” is a book that I just started writing on my own. It was based on I think my first seven years of helping pioneer this movement toward video, email and video messaging, and it’s really a guide book, kind of what why who when and how video email and video messages. Human-Centered communication was Steve’s idea, and he laid out some of these truths that we’ve already acknowledged here that we’re going to be doing more work digitally, virtually and online in the future, not less. Typically, sales and service in the broadest definition. These environments are noisy, and polluted. The tools that we’re using most often have some deficiencies or some impoverishment. And so how can we help people in light of those facts? And so we roped in a bunch of our other expert friends. And our goal in doing all of this was just like an open pursuit, research conversation, a lot of reflection on what kind of framework can we create that would be helpful in this situation? And how do we hang some very specific strategies and tactics into it so that people could leave this experience of, you know, reviewing the book, or reading it all the way through start to finish? You know, how can we leave them with something that will be useful to them? And so the framework we came up with, we titled, “human centered communication”, and what we’re doing is blending a 30 or 40 year old practice human centered design, with our daily digital communication. And so I’ll just give you one pass on human centered design and how it relates to our daily digital communication to have a start thinking about so where do we go from here. Besides some of the mindset shift that you and I have already talked about with this kind of effectiveness versus efficiency and, you know, thinking more about how we make people feel, we feel like we want to go on a second date type scenario. And so, human centered design that probably the world’s foremost practitioner, adherent proponent is a design firm called IDEO. And so I’ll just speak to theirs… that one of their simplest and best models of it, they’ve used human centered design for a variety of products, services, systems and processes over the years, they designed the first Apple mouse decades ago, using human centered design principles that was more of a physical ergonomic, like, how big is the average human hand? Like? How should it move, you know, these types of things? What is the shoulder rotation going to be like all, you know, that was very practical and physical and ergonomic exercise, but they used human centered design to undertake it. But more recently, they’ve designed water systems in Africa, obviously, a much more complex situation that isn’t a physical ergonomic thing. It is much more systematic, cultural, practical, technical, etc. So you can apply this to anything. So we’re just applying these principles to digital communication in order to be more effective. And so the three components of a human centered design are desirability what people need and want. Feasibility, what technology allows us to do, and Viability, the definitions of business success, you know, what does the business need? And so, you know, I would generally argue that you could undertake a human centered design on moral or altruistic grounds, it’s just the right thing to do. It values other people. But the system doesn’t have… the design principles, don’t even ask you to do that. It does have viability is 1/3 of the decision. The trick is, you need to start with desirability. What did the people involved in this product service system or process, not just those creating it, not just those buying it, but every one affected by it. Stakeholders is the way we describe that currently.
Ethan Beute 21:53
When we think about the stakeholders, what do they need and want? What are their needs, wants and interests? And when we consider those first, and then go to the way we apply technology and integrate that with our definitions of business success. How can we make this financially viable, then we’re in a much better position to make something that works because what works for people results in business success. Whereas where we so often start is, okay, let’s start with business viability. How much revenue do we need? Or how many registrants do we need? Or how many appointments do we want? Or how many attendees do we need? You know, these types of things? And then we go to what does technology allow us to do? And we typically stop there. And people have long said that marketers ruin everything. And they will. They have kinda, you know, this, this is fun to say, because it’s partly true. All good humor has some truth in it. But I think we can also acknowledge with a lot of the cadence, tools that… sales automation tools, let’s just generically call them that. Salespeople could ruin everything too. And so when you when you put all that together, when you start with what we need and want as a business, and then immediately go to what does technology allow us to do? It’s cheaper and more powerful than ever. You wind up with this formula for playing the numbers game, treating people like numbers rather than it’s people and settling for you know, small conversion rates. And you can still do a viably because that’s where you started. But it doesn’t value people, the people are executing it, the people receiving it and all the other, all the other people involved in it in a way that makes it truly sustainable over the long term. And that’s why you see last thing, just want to make this relatable because I know it can get really theoretical. You know, I am making these numbers up. I’m not quite you know, you did a nice job like hitting that Gartner survey very specifically. But, you know, we used to say something like, oh, it takes seven touches in order to get someone’s attention, or to provoke a reply or whatever. And then it was like, now it takes 15 touches in order to get so like, like, we’ll just keep going here, like what is it now, five years from now, like it takes 72 touches to blah, like it’s just not possible. That’s why we have the systems and algorithms, it’s filtering what we see sorting things for us prioritizing messages, et cetera, et cetera, like the machines are going to have to help us in the face of all this noise. And so the real question about pollution is, do you want to be the thing that when robots are judging, you know, when this person reaches out to that person? Do we generally get a favorable positive signal or a negative one? Because the favorable signals are the ones that are going to go to the top? Do you want to be on the top of the list? Or the bottom of the list or maybe even excluded from the list altogether? That is the pollution conversation in it. It’s anchored in. Are we thinking about what the people on the receiving end as well as the executing end? What are their needs, wants and interests and that’s what human centered design calls us to do.
Christian Klepp 24:53
Give me a second to catch my breath here. (laugh) But I will, well first of all, thanks for sharing that. Secondly, let me go back to your last point, it reminds me about a piece… Well, it was you could either look at it as a as a piece of advice or a question that a former employer of mine asked us in a team meeting many, many years ago, he said, Do you want to be part of the solution? Or do you want to be part of the problem? Right? And going back to what you were saying earlier, you know, with regards to digital pollution, a lot of these people just get caught in the fray, they eventually become part of the bigger problem. Whereas they’re probably going out there mostly with good intentions, I don’t know, needs to be verified. Secondly, IDEO, I mean, great company. I mean, we we talked about that, their book “creative confidence”, right. And I loved reading that as well. Also talking about, you know, design principles. And you know, you brought up desirability, feasibility, viability, and something that IDEO advocates and I’m sure you do as well, is like, testing everything. And it doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to test it and have quantifiable results. We’ll talk about that in a second. But to continuously iterate as you go along, because I think the problem also, especially when it comes to B2B marketing, there’s many of us that just, we’re just over planning all the time, right? We’re just spending way too much time planning, right? And simulating all these scenarios. I’m not saying that that’s a bad thing. But if that’s the only thing you do, and then you focus less time and energy on actually implementing some of that stuff. Right. That’s where it can get a bit hairy.
Ethan Beute 26:37
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. It’s, it’s really interesting, it’s highly iterative, it is about feedback, it is about conversation, it is about customer listening. And the nice thing is, we have a lot of tools available to us. The one tool that I don’t think we use often enough is a telephone or zoom and actually talking with real customers. But there is something too in, you know, having those conversations up front in the design process, you know, what is this message campaign product service? Like, what experience are we seeking to create? What do people really need and want here? What have we tried in the past that didn’t work, let’s ask customers about that, or prospects or employees or whatever. And then we can use like in the iterative process, we can start moving more toward signals rather than conversations. But I think conversations somehow always wind up at the end of the line. Because it’s, you know, for folks who are listening and not watching, like I’m air-quoting, it’s like, it’s unscalable. And again, this gets to this effectiveness thing. It’s like, there’s something missing from our data in general, and that is context. And a real conversation or a set of conversations, is the only way to get that context. And sometimes we lead with the numbers to create hypotheses that then we validate, or kind of tweak or dial in through conversation. And sometimes something is revealed in conversation. Or as a pattern, let’s say, across 8 or 18 or 82. conversations that then we can go look at the data differently and see, does the data bear this out? You know, did these 18 people that we talked to are the same kind of emerged? Do we does it… does the data support that? So it can go one or the other. But like this conversation piece, I think is missing in general. And it is an iterative journey to your point.
Christian Klepp 28:26
Absolutely. You know, you just got me thinking about another question. As you were talking, I know we wanted to save all the metrics and all that kind of fun stuff for later on. But like, what’s your take on… How much focus and energy you should spend on qualitative versus quantitative results and findings, like so all this, all this, like, dark social stuff, for example, or like messages that you got on LinkedIn? Right? Or conversations in the Slack channel where people are singing praises for, you know, not necessarily the product or the service, but the person, the individual? And their and ultimately the company?
Ethan Beute 29:06
Yeah, in general, I would say this is a balance question. And I think if we were to balance qualitative and quantitative, then we would be spending a lot more time focused on qualitative feedback than we are today. And I just say that because the fastest, easiest, most powerful thing is to go into large, large, large volumes of quantitative feedback and draw conclusions from them and to your point and again, to the spirit of balance that is perfectly helpful, but it’s missing color, context, flavor. That’s why marketing attribution like you know, it’s still regarded as a holy grail. We still say like, like, first touch, last touch or some formula that weights these things differently given different things like in that alone, just the idea of attribution being as challenging as it is, I offer that just that it’s a relatable example of the fact that the data doesn’t have all the answers. If it did, then then we wouldn’t need qualitative feedback. But you know, right now, it’s a little bit of both. And so I think, I think of quantitative as a lot of the what, and I think that the qualitative is a lot of the why. There can be flaws in both types of data. You know, sometimes the way we ask a question to somebody and listen to their response, like it was a leading question, or, you know, it took an option off the table, or we’re relying on someone’s memory about something that happened six hours or six days or six months ago. And they’re, you know, people’s memories are notoriously faulty. And so there’s a there’s an art and a science to working with both types of data. And I think pursuing both from both perspectives is really valuable.
Christian Klepp 31:00
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And you’re right to say that, you know, whether you’re talking about qualitative or quantitative, they’re both, they both have their flaws. They both have all the answers. In an ideal world, you should use both. In reality, many tend to use one and up the ladder. Right. So now we get to the point in the conversation, where we’re talking about actionable tips, right, and recommendations. And let’s appreciate… let me just set this up for a second here. Let’s appreciate that. The things that you’re talking about, they don’t all happen overnight, right? This isn’t an app you can download, and boom, here we go. Right. But what are some small steps that B2B marketers can take? Right, that helps them to humanize or to quote, your book rehumanize, the approach and break through all this visual noise out there?
Ethan Beute 32:04
Sure. I guess it’s as simple as this. And this is going to sound elementary or intuitive to a lot of people. And to those that it does what I’m about to say does come across that way, I would say make it a commitment, then not just the first step. Because I would assume it sounds elementary to you, because you’re already doing this sometimes. It’s just now let’s operationalize it make it a true commitment. And it’s as simple as this is asking what’s in it for them? This is that first step, starting with desirability, like what’s in it for them. So often. So I’ve been I’ve been teaching, coaching selling, video email and video messaging for a decade. And so often I’ll add, I’ll hear people ask questions like, you know, why didn’t they open my email? Or why didn’t they play my video? Or, you know, why didn’t they reply? And, you know, that’s better than not asking a question. It does have some curiosity baked in. But it’s backward looking, it’s looking at what already happened. And it’s really about you and what you wanted out of it. And so bonus points for asking, but there’s a better way to ask that. And it’s to make it forward looking. It’s to do it on the front end, and stop asking about why you didn’t get what you wanted out of it. Instead, what’s in it for them? It’s just that easy. If you ask what’s in it for them, why would they open this email? Why would she play this video? Why would he make that personal introduction, if you just stop and think about what’s in it for the other person or the other people, and then write a subject line around that write an opening line around that, record a video message around that, open the conversation around that, if you’re clear, if you’re very clear about what’s in it for the other people, then everything else is going to flow better in terms of creating a message or a campaign or an experience. And I think it’s funny. I was talking to my wife, she’s not in sales or marketing. She’s not in technology. She’s in a trust based, relationship-based business. But you know, when I was just describing humanized communication to her, she was just like, doesn’t everyone do this? I’m like, No, you are truly one of the most empathetic people I know. And it’s your default. But for a lot of us, even if that’s how we are in our personal lives, to some degree, we somehow get in, we take our seat inside this machine, and we put on the hat, the marketer hat or the business development hat or the, you know, whatever. And we behave in ways that are sometimes counterintuitive to the human impulse. And I think asking what’s in it for the other person is as simple as it gets. And I think the more often we can ask that, the better off we are, I think second layer, we’ve already talked about more customer conversations, more validation with like more color and nuance than just, you know, congratulations, we move the number from 2.62 to 3.0. Amazing, that’s a lift, good job. But you know, let’s talk about the 97%.
Christian Klepp 35:05
Yeah, well, that’s absolutely right. That’s absolutely right. Yeah, and just on the topic of like, metrics. And I know we’ve covered some of this already. But like, is there anything that you else you wanted to add in terms of like what B2B marketers should be paying attention to? Because, again, Let’s appreciate that. Not everything needs to be measured, at least not in quantitative format.
Ethan Beute 35:26
Yeah, I mean, this is this is an approach. It’s a style, it’s a workflow. It’s a mindset. It’s a framework. It’s how we show up on our zoom calls. It’s how we compose our messages. It’s how we set the tone. So I mean, really, any of the numbers that you regard is valuable, upstream precursors to the ultimate number, revenue. I don’t think you need to throw any of those out, I think if you take on this approach, and I’ll take a quick sidestep here. So I host the Customer Experience podcast, I’m preparing episode 200 right now, as we record this, so and I’ve asked every guest to define customer experience, which some of those are self episodes. So let’s just say I’ve asked that question now. 170 sales, marketing and customer success leaders, primarily B2B, although not exclusively, a lot of technology, but not exclusively. And, you know, what I’m looking to do there is to see where do the answers converge? Where do they diverge? And what is the truth at the center of, you know, 150, 170 different people, you know, as to what customer experiences. And it comes down to the mechanical side, and then the the emotional side or the human side. But the essence of customer experience In my observation is how we make people feel, how do we make people feel about themselves? How do we make people feel about their problem or opportunity? How do we make them feel about us as individual human beings? How do we make them feel about our team, or our brand, or our product or our service? And the reason that’s important, and this ties, I was thinking about this actually earlier in our conversation, and it’s just coming out now is it like, I think we overlooked the feelings because they’re hard to capture and characterize. That’s why there’s some potentially some flaws in the way we go about collecting, or even it processing qualitative data, is that we take people at their literal word. But you know, feelings beget thoughts, some of those thoughts are conscious, some of those thoughts are subconscious. In both cases, those thoughts guide our behavior, the conscious ones turn into online reviews and word of mouth positive or negative or otherwise, the subconscious thoughts that come from our feelings guide the vast majority of our decisions. And so I think most people would agree that we’re, you know, we are, we are emotional creatures who rationalize our decisions, we make decisions emotionally, and then we rationalize them afterwards. There’s a great, great, great deal of science over the last 100 to 200 years in support of this. And, and so this idea that we would overlook how we’re making people feel, as we try to engage them with a variety of different touchpoints across a customer journey, or a buyers journey. Or even frankly, for that matter, employee and recruiting, you know, that experience as well. I think if we think about how, what, what’s in it, for other people, they’re made to feel a little bit more seen, a little bit more understood, a little bit more appreciated, and it’s easier in that context, to move forward, you know, when you’ve, you know, you know, shut down a phone call, or shut down a zoom call, or shut down a chat on a website and said, you know, these people just don’t get me or I am done, you know, or whatever the case may be. Likewise, you said, Oh, my God, that was just the best that was so much faster or easier or better than I expected. And so much of that is in is in understanding our prospects and our customers, anticipating their needs and wants a little bit and playing into them. And I don’t mean that in a manipulative way. It’s just like, I spent the time and energy upfront to see you and understand you. I still have come with some discovery questions. So I can dial into that even further. But the more we can create that feeling of being seen, heard, understood, appreciated, valued, as early and as often as possible, the better off we are period. And the challenge in all of this to go back to your question, the challenge is all of this is that there is no metric for that. It shows up in all the other metrics. It shows up in the conversions, it shows up in the show rates, it shows up in that, you know, it shows up in all the metrics.
Christian Klepp 39:53
Yeah, no, that’s absolutely right. That’s absolutely right. I just wanted to pull up these two little anecdotes. Just to drive that point home again. And I think I’m sure it’s the same in the United States. But over here in Canada, there’s a lot of AI going around, especially with banks, right? So you, you’ve got a problem with your car, you have an inquiry regarding your bank account, and then you call up a hotline. And the first thing they do is they push you into this 15 minute, like, prerecorded like message sequence, and you, you dial on one for this, and you dial on two for that. And by the time you actually get to a human being, it might even be 30 minutes. Alright. And I’ve had that experience with a with one bank here. I’m not gonna say who it is, but it just completely drove me nuts. Right. And then I had an issue with my Pay Pal account. And yeah, they pushed me into that sequence as well, as well, but it didn’t take quite that long. And I actually got on a call with the customer service representative, and this person was so focused on finding out what the problem was in reaching that solution ASAP, as opposed to like, okay, asking, like 100,000 questions, right? And that’s going back to your point, right? That’s probably also a topic for another podcast episode, right? Like, what, when is the right time and the wrong time to be using automation? But case in point, right, how you make people feel at the end of the day? Do you want them to end that call frustrated? Telling themselves I’m never going to bank with this institution again? Or do you want them to leave saying, wow, this person really cared about me?
Ethan Beute 41:31
Christian Klepp 41:33
Right. Okay. So we get to a question where you get up on your soapbox, but a status quo that you passionately disagree with? And why
Ethan Beute 41:47
This is a such a good one. And I mean, I guess there are a lot of directions I could go, I feel like I’ve soapbox done plenty of stuff. And thanks for teeing me up for that. I guess the one I’ll go to I feel like everyone is calling every number besides revenue, a vanity metric. So that’s it, the status quo is calling. I’m saying it is status quo to overuse the term “vanity metric”, and to discard potentially useful pieces of information as vanity metrics. And really saying, like, really all that matters is revenue. It’s true. That revenue is the number that matters. I would argue profitable revenue matters even more than revenue in general.
Christian Klepp 42:37
Ethan Beute 42:36
And so what happens there? Is it like, you know, if someone is offering a metric, there’s a really good conversation to be had there. If your gut reaction is this is vanity. You know, it’s like, okay, so you shared this with me, you shared the shift from month to month and year to year. Why do you think that’s important? What is the downstream consequence, like there’s a conversation to be had there. And it may result in either A) greater appreciation of that metric that you first discarded as vanity, and or B) it could result in that person having a learning moment, where they’re going to maybe change what they’re paying more attention to. And again, I would just go back to the pass on kind of attribution. And it’s just messy. Anyone that knows exactly why $1 got produced or reproduced, or exactly why $1 turned into $1.72 on contract renewal. Anyone knows who knows exactly why that happened? Congratulations, most people don’t. And it’s a big, messy process. And I’m not just going to throw something away as a vanity metric until we have a good conversation about it.
Christian Klepp 43:44
Yeah, well, that makes perfect sense. And I think it’s going back to what you said earlier on the conversation, people are so obsessed with measuring everything, right, that sometimes you get lost in well, to your point. What has priority and what’s just fluff? Right?
Ethan Beute 44:02
Yeah, there you go.
Christian Klepp 44:03
Ethan Beute 44:03
So there. And to be fair, there are vanity metrics.
Christian Klepp 44:08
Absolutely, absolutely. I’m not I’m not disputing that at all.
Ethan Beute 44:10
No, no, I in fact, I’m reacting to your observation there because you’re right. Some people track 85 things when there really are only like, five to fifteen levers that really matter right now. And if you want to get to like, you know, that some team that’s responsible for delivering those two of the five key numbers, maybe needs to know what okay, what are a couple of upstream measures so that we can forecast this correctly, which ones are positively correlated with, you know, the outcome that we’re seeking and so you know, there should be a couple of numbers behind each number but a big board that has 85 numbers on it is just not that useful.
Christian Klepp 44:48
Correct and and I know that our conversation is not about data. I mean, it’s like human centered communication, but like, you know, if we are going to talk about data like what is the story… What what story you’re trying to tell? Have a state all right. That’s the…
Ethan Beute 45:02
Who’s the audience?
Christian Klepp 45:03
Ethan Beute 45:03
Cuz you’re gonna tell the exact same story differently to different audiences. That’s why we have executive summaries to everything that we produced. The executive, what’s the summarized version, but that, you know, the frontline team that’s most responsible for this thing needs all the details and the twists and the turns and the backstory and the context, you know, and so it’s it’s telling the story well and telling the story well, for the right audience.
Christian Klepp 45:28
Absolutely. Absolutely. Ethan, as expected, this was such an incredibly informative and insightful conversation. Thank you so much for coming on the show and quick introduce yourself and how folks out there can get in touch with you.
Ethan Beute 45:42
Sure. Again, my name is Ethan Beute last name is spelled Beute. You can find me on every social network as Ethan Beute. LinkedIn is probably the best place to start. My title is Chief Evangelist at BombBomb. Software company based in Colorado Springs. As you’re kind enough to mention off the top. I’ve already mentioned we’re about video email and video messaging. And I’ve co-authored two books with my friend Stephen Pacinelli. They are “rehumanize your business” and “human centered communication”. You can learn more about both of those at Bombbomb.com/book. It is just the word bomb twice BombBoomb.com/book And this has been super fun. I really enjoyed I appreciate the opportunity.
Christian Klepp 46:19
It was an absolute pleasure and not to sound too biased, but it really is worth a read guys. So do grab a copy when you can. Ethan, once again, thank you so much for your time. Take care, stay safe and talk to you soon. Bye for now.
Ethan Beute 46:32
Thanks. Thank you
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