Here we go again with another Q&A with Marketing Leaders, our interview series built to provide SaaS marketing leaders with the best insights and actionable tips on how to improve their marketing planning by learning from the best marketers in the industry.
For our latest Q&A, we sat down with Kyle Lacy, VP Marketing at Lessonly.
Lessonly is powerfully simple training software that helps teams learn, practice, and Do Better Work. Lessonly is used by over 2.5 million learners at more than 750 leading companies including Zendesk, Jostens, Trunk Club, and U.S. Cellular to share knowledge, develop skills, and reinforce best practices. The result is faster onboarding, higher NPS scores, more closed deals, and a superior customer experience.
Kyle brings over 12 years of experience in marketing, strategy and digital operations. Prior to joining Lessonly, Kyle held senior positions at OpenView Venture Partners, Salesforce and ExactTarget. He is also the author of three books, Twitter Marketing for Dummies, Branding Yourself and Social CRM for Dummies.
What was the best marketing advice that you’ve gotten in your career?
The best marketing advice I ever received was from Scott Maxwell. It may surprise you but Scott is not a marketer. He is founder and managing partner at OpenView, an expansion-stage venture capital firm based in Boston. He is a huge advocate of focus. Whether that’s through prioritization of time or through go-to-market focus. Just the idea of focus has been hugely impactful on my career. You cannot succeed personally or professionally unless you are focused on a few things that will generate a big impact.
What is the most common marketing mistake that you see?
This definitely dovetails with the first question!
I’ve found that the most common marketing mistake is a lack of focus. A lack of focus on use case, persona, industry, and channels. Lack of focus also includes time and project prioritization. The company will fail if you do not focus on specific personas and use cases. Your team will fail if you do not focus on prioritizing time and energy.
We do not focus on campaigns, but around experiences. A better experience always wins, it’s the only thing that makes you relevant.
How has your role and the marketing landscape changed in the last few years?
It might come as a surprise but I really don’t think the role has changed that dramatically for me over the last few years. The main tenets of marketing that I was taught when starting my own company and eventually while at ExactTarget, Salesforce, OpenView and now Lessonly. There is a natural maturation of my role as I take on more responsibility but the tenets are the same. Focus on a persona, tell a great story and create the best experience possible.
In your opinion, what is the most important skill that marketing leaders need to have?
Being okay with using the words, “I don’t know. What do you think?”
In Max Yoder’s book, Do Better Work, he talks about the importance of acknowledging that you don’t have it all figured out. You must be confident and uncertain. Be vulnerable with your thoughts, opinions and feelings. Progress is messy and that’s okay! This is especially true in marketing. Especially, ESPECIALLY true in marketing at a high-growth software company.
What does your marketing planning process look like?
We have a pretty fluid planning process at Lessonly.
Of course, we have our normal quarterly planning meetings where we suss out the quarterly objectives that align with the company goals. Outside of that, the team is tasked to come up with extremely creative ideas that do two things:
- Tell our story in the best way possible.
- Get attention.
We do not focus on campaigns but around experiences. I’ll give you an example. Instead of doing a landing page for the retail industry and the pain points we solve, my team designed a board game. A better experience always wins, it’s the only thing that makes you relevant.
We manage expectations by having daily standups and weekly planning meetings. All in all, we are spending 3.5 hours a week in planning and prioritization meetings.
You should always plan to hit your numbers, but make sure that you leave space for your creatives to do what they do best… build experiences that drive brand value and revenue.
What are some factors you consider when building your marketing strategy?
I bet you get a wide range of answers to this question!
For me, there is only one central factor that helps determine our marketing strategy…the experience, opinions and feelings of the buyer.
How do you decide what channels to utilize in your marketing plan?
We tend to focus on the channels that have traditionally worked for us in the past.
On top of that, we are running multiple tests to find new channels. The team is tasked with running 3-5 tests a month depending on budget and time. Testing new channels is crucial and we really bake this into our marketing planning.
In your opinion, what’s the most underrated marketing channel for B2B?
They work really well if done right. Some companies have them classified under Sales but I believe that they should be organized under marketing.
There is only one central factor that helps determine our marketing strategy…the experience, opinions and feelings of the buyer.
How do you know if you planned well?
Achieving your goals is a pretty good way to evaluate your marketing planning.
For me, I know I planned well if I hit my pipeline and revenue numbers.
What are your biggest challenges in terms of marketing planning?
I don’t think I’m alone in saying this but prioritization of projects is always our biggest challenge.
Do you redesign the one-pager that is out of date or do you design that cool board game? Do you prioritize revenue-generating projects over culture initiatives?
It can be challenging because of the sheer number of initiatives that we’d like to run. You need to come to terms with the fact that you won’t be able to do everything you’d like to do because of your constraints. It’s always prioritization of time and energy.
What marketing planning advice do you have for other marketing leaders?
Rigidity kills creativity.
You should always plan to hit your numbers but make sure that you leave space for your creatives to do what they do best… build experiences that drive brand value and revenue.
Kyle talked a lot about how much he prioritizes the experience of the customer or buyer when building out his marketing plan. How does customer experience factor into your marketing planning?