What is digital transformation, how can it help your business, and how do you get started?
Douglas Karr, Founder of Martech Zone and VP of Highbridge, has lived through decades of digital transformation. From his time in the US Navy programming PLCs (shout out to the industrial engineers and marketers!), to realigning satellite feeds for newspaper digitization and pushing the envelope for personalization with a certain pro football team, he has seen how digital technology can truly transform the customer experience and usher in intelligence and efficiency for companies small and large.
The challenge lies in going from idea to successful implementation, and it is no small feat. Douglas talks about the high failure rate of technology implementation, and typical mistakes companies make during the process. He gives smart advice on how to gain approval, get started, and gain executive approval.
The following transcript was created by an AI Bot which has yet to learn slang words and decipher Wendy's Texas accent. While it is no substitute for watching/listening to the episode, transcripts are handy for a quick scan. Enjoy!
Have you ever heard the two words, digital transformation and thought to yourself, what the heck is that? And is it something I should be paying attention to for my organization? Well, my guest today will help you understand what it is and how it could be applied to your company to help you better serve your customers, work more efficiently and get more ROI out of your marketing and sales budget. He has seen it all from his time on a Navy ship where he was testing and troubleshooting places.
Some of you know what that is and work from there and in works into a marketing role as a business analyst, where he helps companies today solve business challenges utilizing systems and processes. We have a great time talking about all the digital transformation that he's seen in his career and how to gain traction when things are stalling. Or maybe you can't get executive approval for a specific project in the hint is it all starts with business need and taking one project at a time. Let's do this.
Welcome to Content Marketing, Engineered your source for building trust and generating demand with technical content. Here is your host, Wendy Covey. Hi and welcome to Content Marketing Engineered. On each episode, I'll break down an industry trend, challenge, or best practice in reaching technical audiences. You'll meet colleagues, friends and clients of mine who will stop by to share their stories. And I hope you leave each episode feeling inspired and ready to take action. Before we jump in, I'd like to give a brief shout out to my agency, TREW Marketing.
TREW is a full service agency located in beautiful Austin, Texas, serving highly technical companies. For more information, visit trewmarketing.com. And now on with our podcast. Hi, everyone.
I'm here with Douglas Carr. He's the founder of the Martech Zone and the vice president of Highbridge, which is a digital transformation consulting and development firm. Welcome to the show, Douglas. Thank you for having me.
Where are you coming to me from? I am just outside Indianapolis, Indiana. So. And what's it like today in Indy? It's a little chilly. It's a little chilly out there, but we haven't had too much snow or anything, so it's nice. Good. And I know also in your office today is another guest. Oh, you're a guest. Yeah. Gambino, he will probably interrupt us any moment because every time I'm speaking to the camera, he thinks that I'm talking to him so well, you know, he likes to be talked to. There's nothing wrong with that. Exactly. Well, I have a bird dog that's six years old and she can't hear a thing, but she's still.
Oh, that's fantastic. Yeah.
Yeah. Well, Douglas, I'm so excited to have you on the show today. I think her and to have a lot of fun just walking through your history in marketing and also in engineering and your perspective on how database database marketing has changed and digital transformation. And I think we'll all learn a lot from your experience. So it should be a good time.
I hope so. Let's do this. All right.
So first, before we get started, I introduced Highbridge as a digital transformation firm. What is digital transformation to you?
Yeah, for me, there's kind of two pieces to it is one internally within your organization, there's opportunities to automate and improve accuracy and centralized data and information. And so digitally, your employees are transformed. Right. So if I want to look up a customer and I want to see all of their transactions, complaint's support calls, you know, I can go to one central place and I can find all the information I need. And so most companies have dozens of systems, you know, everything from accounting to workflow and content publishing and everything else.
Centralizing that information is really, you know, the opportunity for a company to digitally transform itself, because then it's it's just easier for people to do their work. The second side of it is the flip side is the customer experience. And so the opportunity there is how can you use digital technology to basically transform your customer experience and now digital transformation before we talked about it, before pre covid and and a lot of what we were doing was that the external experience.
So if I'm a customer, you know, my my bank teller is right here, right.
I don't I don't go to the bank. I don't this is how I take a picture and deposit my checks. This is how I log support requests. This is how I check my balance. This is how I pay. And so I don't even have to have a bank anymore because this is my bank. And so. A good example of that they're not a client or anything, but would be Chase, right? They've done a fantastic job on their application.
And so the digital transformation that Chase made was they put their bank, you know, in an app and really just made it so simple for people to utilize and everything that it did, it involved their business. And so companies really struggle. They have all of these disparate systems and processes and people. And and so sometimes it's people that need educated. Sometimes it's processes that could be optimized. And then obviously there's platforms that can help with that. And we we try to take a holistic look of all three.
And I talked about pre covid post covid is OK. Companies, you know, are really some of them are cash poor. Some of them have had to do layoffs. Some of them had to to really, you know, strain under the under, you know, economic conditions. And so now where we used to work on customer experience is a ton post covid. We're working on automation a lot to help these companies kind of, you know, get through with the resources that they have.
Whether it's touchless or, you know, some sort of self-service. I've noticed even I went to put fuel in my car the other day and they had replaced the fuel pumps with more updated ones. And aside from the annoying, I think it was Chaib TV or whatever it was. Right. I also noticed all these new payment options. Right. So instead of touching the Jermey machine with my credit card, I could wave Google Pay or Apple Pay.
Right. And look like even more options for coming. So yet again, another transformed experience for the consumer.
Yeah, and it's and it's interesting for the United States, we were actually kind of behind the times on some of that stuff.
When you compare us to like Asia, Asia, you know, wireless payments were huge. You know, that's how they. Ninety nine percent of their I'd take ninety nine point ninety nine percent of their transactions were done through devices. And the United States was still working with cash and checks a lot. And so this really has accelerated the digital payment side of the business. Interesting.
Well, I want to take a step back because I want to look at how we got here. And you and I, when we met previously, both commiserated a bit over things like Lotus Notes and programmatic databases and just just, you know, life in being a business professional in the 90s. And but but even before the 90s, you started your career as an electrician's mate in the U.S. Navy initiative and did some programming in. And I slap you.
Tell me how someone starts working as an electrician and becomes a marketer and a, you know, database expert.
Yeah, I you know, it's funny once once I explain kind of the path, it totally makes sense. But a lot of people are just shocked on paper.
It sure doesn't exactly taper.
It doesn't, you know, so I'll take you back to my days as an industrial electrician basically is what it was within the Navy. You know, most of my time, every single day was, you know, reading publication manuals, writing publication manuals, doing preventive maintenance and then fixing equipment. So troubleshooting and repairing. And when you think about that, you know, it's writing, you know, following instructions to a tee and then logically troubleshooting equipment.
And so the Navy just taught me an incredible discipline there on basically how to utilize equipment to measure, test, you know, troubleshoot and then repair. And so I'm forever thankful for that. I was out at sea for four and a half years. I was repairing equipment day in and day out, you know, and it just made me a really good troubleshooter.
That discipline to troubleshooting. Well, you know, while I was in the Navy places, you know, we're starting to take their place. Programmable logic controllers and and your listeners, you know, if you have if you have some older listeners or watchers, they'll laugh at this. But we even had drum systems that were, you know, it was one hundred switches and the drum would slowly move and the drum and the switches would go in and out and everything.
And I had to repair some of that equipment. Then we went having a mainframe computer in the room and. Exactly. The Matrix printer. Yeah.
And so then we moved to programmable logic controllers, which basically we could put timing, you know, we could basically program when things turned on and off and timing and everything.
And and here you come.
See, there's going to be, you know, and and so programmable logic controllers.
I just caught onto them quick. I really loved the fact that I could program and test and and everything else. And typically, you hooked up a laptop to a programmable logic controller reader, you know, and then it was ladder logic, you know, most of it, you know, on changing timing and distances and everything else. And I just had a blast with that.
Well, probably around the end time in the Navy, I got out in 92. That's when all of a sudden we started to get computers in the Navy. What's funny is I think our ship had one computer outside of one, I should say one PC. You know, there was controllers and and computing equipment all over. But but an actual, you know, Microsoft Windows PC, we had one on the ship and and we shared yeah.
We shared time on it, you know, and and and so then I got out of the Navy and I was totally addicted when I would sit down and watch, a lot of times I would just sit there and play with the computer, just trying to figure it out all day and absolutely just became obsessed with it.
And at the time I went out and bought one.
People would laugh. Now I think it was like I think I spent like eight thousand dollars. I was.
And it was and it was a terrible brand, too. It was like that was the cheapest I can. Yeah. Yeah. And and but I just wanted to learn this technology and I started playing with it and I had played, I think with a RadioShack terrorist ad back in high school, you know, and I played with an apple to tinker.
Yeah, I was a teacher, but I didn't know circuitry in and my brother, he's an apple too. Yeah. Yeah. He had like circuits. He would go fix people's TVs in high school. Yeah. Yeah. Your electrical engineer.
Exactly. And so I was always someone that was just curious and computing just was just amazing to me. Well, fast forward.
I got a job at a newspaper and that was really the pivot, was I? I got out of the Navy with an honorable discharge and I went to work for I went to work for the shipyards for a while and everything else. But then I picked up this amazing job at the it was at actually the Virginian Pilot out in Norfolk, Virginia. And and the founders of that company, the owners of that company was privately owned.
They were already they saw it. They saw the writing on the wall. And so we you know, one of my first jobs there was we replaced a satellite system where page data was actually being transmitted from downtown to our production facility. And I think it was like, you know, twelve hundred, you know, bytes per second or something.
You know, it was just it was so slow and uncloudy days, it would you know, it would take us longer to pass data. And then every once in a while a wind would come in and the satellite would you know, the receiver would kind of twist and you'd have to go up and realign.
And it's like, that's good. Yes. And so then all of a sudden, she used the fax machine. Yeah, exactly.
Well, you got to make it easier when you got to think of a newspaper page from a pixel density standpoint is massive, massive, just a, you know, hundreds of megabytes. And so so one of the first jobs was, hey, we can put fiber and connect this stuff via fiber.
And so that's what we did. We we started connecting with fiber and then the p.l.c. programming that I was doing, all of a sudden we realized, hey, we can connect like a forty six PC to a p.l.c. controller all day long and just capture data. And so we started connecting PCs to the places and then we started monitoring maintenance uptime, downtime. What equipment was breaking the most, not breaking the most. And then we actually got into predictive maintenance.
So instead of, you know, once every three months go clean up this piece of machinery, if we saw that it had a higher failure rate, we would do it once a month or once a week. And if it if it never broke for a year, why go DPM on it? Wait, wait a year. Wait nine months to do it.
And so we really started to get a lot more efficient and we saw equipment times just kind of skyrocket. And in a at a newspaper, you know, the saying is that, you know, if the presses aren't rolling, you're not making money. And so and so you just wanted to keep everything running all the time.
I was programming pages, building databases, using OS two warp was my, you know, back then and Microsoft and and and just just having a blast, just pulling all the Microsoft access databases and pushing.
Those are still a thing, right? Yeah, somebody's exactly pushing and pulling data.
And I, I then got I got a job as an analyst where I really got to start to do a ton of automation. So we used to do these 26 step processes to take data from subscriber data and put it down to a machinery level. And I just figured out, oh, I could automate that piece and then automate that piece. And I joke with people that I had a I think I had a Motorola StarTalk phone. I don't know if people remember those, but I literally started to like my production manager was an amazing, amazing gentleman, still a friend of mine.
But his his thing was, hey, if you keep automating, I don't care what you do all day. And so I literally sat there and kind of automated my job where I could re attempt through an SMS message. I could re attempt processing jobs and stuff. I, I'd go out to lunch for two hours and and not have to do anything. I would get text messages that this job was received and that job was starting.
And, and so I, I automated myself out of a job kind of. And when I did that, people started to kind of take notice that, hey, he's really talented in this area. And I wouldn't say that I'm a great developer. I just saw opportunities where automation could take place.
And so the analysts part of you that can connect business need to technology and figure out.
Yeah, and then personally, personally, it's a I hate doing the same type of job twice. I hate it. I hate repetition. And so if I have to do something twice, I'm usually saying, how can I automate this? How can I. Is there a way that I could. Is there a tool out there? Is there code out there? Is there a solution out there where I could automate this? And and about that time, that's when newspapers started to do a lot more, you know, subscriber retention analysis and database analysis and database marketing.
And so I wound up getting recruited by a company in Denver, Colorado, that was world renowned for their database marketing in the newspaper industry.
And so I moved out to to Denver and helped The New York Times build out a national database, which was terabytes, which was not even heard of at the time, Toronto Globe and Mail, and then started working with these export transform and load, you know, extract, transform and load ETL tools.
And just, you know, I just didn't care what the platform was.
I would figure out how to program it. And, you know, and so I was I was working across languages, across platforms, across technologies. And it just was totally addicted. And then and then I had two kids out there and my ex-wife was actually lived outside of Louisville. And and so I was flying the kids back and forth between Colorado and and Louisville. And I and I and I said, you know what, the dot the dot bomb started to hit.
So funding started to dry up in in these big database marketing agencies and everything. And so I decided to move to Indianapolis.
I got a job at the local newspaper and helped them. Back to your roots. Yep, back to my roots.
But help them digitize, you know, for two and a half years, built a direct marketing arm of the company and in and just advancing the technology and then really saw that the newspapers weren't sold on it. And it's a it's a I still love newspapers. If I walk into a press room, I still love the smell of ink. But but I just saw that they they were so ingrained with, you know, from top down within their organizations of people that were print that they weren't really sold on on digital no matter what.
And so and so it wound up becoming friction for me there with leadership that, you know, I'm I'm showing them all the growth and I'm showing them all the stuff that we're doing.
And you're the change agent there. And they didn't really care. And so long story short, I got fired.
Which which hey, there's a there's a lesson there to everybody. Absolutely. You know, that that sometimes opportunities come. And and I tell people I've had a series of just luck. I went home and I sat down on the couch and I thought, man, I'm a single dad, I'm unemployed. What a failure I am. And the phone rang and it was a friend of mine, Pat Coyle, good guy. And he said, hey, I'm trying to help the Colts really get, you know, the Indianapolis Colts, you know, get up digitally.
Do you have any.
I'm and I said, well, matter of fact, I have tons of time on my hands right now, and so I went and worked for the Colts, which was magical because it was Super Bowl season and helped them do integration's over there with their with Ticketmaster and then email marketing and the email marketing company that we we I talk them into using was ExactTarget, which was an Indianapolis based fledgeling, an email marketing company. And and the second kind of maybe it's the second or third, you know, kind of lucky point came was they heard what I did over there.
And one of the founders, Scott Dorsey, took me out for pizza one day. And of course, I'm old school, so I'm dressed in a suit and tie and everything else from your newspaper date.
And I sit down in front of Scott and tell them, you know, what I've been up to, and he hands me a stack of jobs and he goes, well, pick one of these jobs and you got it.
And that was what you over here. That was what that was. And so I picked integration consultant because that was to me, it was working externally with all these companies and doing the same thing, figuring out how to automate and how to use these systems and the ever changing positions.
So, yeah, doing the same thing. You're talking to someone new with new challenges.
Yeah, I'm talking to sales with prospects. I'm talking to customers with problems. I'm talking to the development team on what solutions might work. And so I worked at ExactTarget for another two and a half years and they just, you know, skyrocketed in growth.
And and eventually it got to a point where and this is no criticism of the company. Every company that grows that fast, you know, you start building layers of management and bureaucracy and silos and stuff.
And I'm not that way.
I can't. I can't. You can't. You know, you can't put baby in a corner, right.
And and so I got bored and I left for one year because I had a non compete, basically, that I couldn't go work for any of the partners or anything. I left for one year and worked in e-commerce and analytics because I felt that was a piece of my resume that was weak. And and then came came back after that year and worked for a couple of the other startups that other partners had built. And then, of course, ExactTarget sold for a couple, I think it was two billion dollars or three billion dollars to Salesforce and and start my own agency had a blast running my own agency.
My business partner was an amazing, amazing business partner, and she decided to split off and start her own agency, which is doing incredible. And and I and I kind of support what are my next steps here.
And so I I was speaking and doing, you know, education and just straight consulting for about a year and then just got sucked back into the salesforce where they have a real problem in their industry, where they have tons of people that can kind of. You know, the the example is, you know, a mechanic, you know, they have tons of mechanics in their industry that know how to turn the bolts and get the system running, but they don't have a lot of people that can kind of train the racecar driver.
And so and so three other gentlemen that I know that have, I think, probably 20 years in the industry as well, we kind of put our heads together and said, why don't we go help these people kind of transform how they're using the platform? Because there's in digital transformation, as you know, there's a high failure rate. I think it's, you know, two thirds of of of projects. And these are enterprise, hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions of dollars.
I think it's like two thirds of them don't realize a return on investment. And so and most of that isn't because of the capabilities of the platform. It's really the priority and and how it's implemented and how it's really leveraged, you know, within the organization, how it's adopted.
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And so we have not heard that statistic. That is I'm just imagining all the money and effort that goes into an implementation two thirds. That's atrocious.
Well, I think I mean, you know this as well. You know, these aren't silver bullets, these platforms. And then when you're when you're enterprise, you know, these systems are wide open. They can be customized and transformed and integrated. And there's there's a million capabilities with them.
And so, you know, we were your accountant marketer.
I'm a content marketer. If we're going to write a use case on our platform, we write to use case about how this company transformed in 400 percent efficiency and everything else. And and that's what happens in an industry a lot, is people look at the platform and they think, oh, well, there. And, you know, the forester, you know, quadrant there, Gartner says that they're fantastic. All of their, you know, ratings and reviews are fantastic.
We're going to pick that because that's a safe, you know, that's a safe purchase. And unfortunately, that doesn't that doesn't it doesn't take care of your people and process issues. And so, you know, so I think most of the time our job is to, you know, is to kind of create a roadmap of maturity for a company and say, you know what, you spent the money, you're paying the licensing fees.
Here's the first thing we can do to help recoup some of that. Here's the next thing that we can do.
I love that roadmap to maturity.
And not feel overwhelmed by it has all and limited capability. I have to do all of it all at once. And then, you know, when you're everything, everybody, you're nothing to anybody. Right. Well that's that's it.
And these poor companies, I feel sorry sometimes because they you know, they get their log in and they they open up and there's 10000 things that they could do and they just go, oh, my God, you know.
Yeah, and and then migration, you know, sometimes they don't have the time to train their people. Sometimes they don't have the talent to to integrate internally. So so, you know, almost every time when you're implementing enterprise software, you have to get, you know, a partner and a salesforce.
Salesforce has its own internal consulting, but they can't possibly keep up with demand. I think they they want to grow to like four different partner agencies around the country to help with this. That's how high the demand is. And and they're highly dependent on these partners, because if a partner screws up an implementation, then the company fails, then they don't renew. And, you know, and it and it steamrolls like that.
So for a company who has disparate systems, let's say, in the middle market, so marketings over here, sales is over there, accountings there and so forth, where do you see the biggest bang? Like where do you tend to start to integrate? And are there places where you draw a line and you say you can leave that there forever or at least for now?
That's a great question. And it goes outside. The platforms again, is typically what we do when we're talking to clients is we we talk to the people at the top and and we identify, you know, what are your goals? Why did you why are you going down this road? What are your competitors doing? What's you know, what made you, you know, kind of call us or talk to these people about platforms? And typically they'll talk about, well, we're spending a ton of money on this or we're not seeing a return on that, or our customers have a far greater experience or something like that.
And then we start talking to people down the ladder and we start seeing, you know, all the way down to, you know, what is your job like every single day.
And in marketing, which is obviously where I love, love to work in marketing, oftentimes we find that marketers who are creative individuals who come up with extremely amazing ideas for how do you. Promote a company and stuff, most of their day is spent moving data, you know, and and when you have all of those systems, so they're clearing accounting data and they're trying to align that with with, you know, maybe it's renewal information and what makes someone renew versus not renew.
And then how do we how do we take that? And how do we say, well, if everybody that renewed their company is like this and so how do we look up more companies like that? And how do we write content that companies like that?
And and so there's this there's this huge change. It will all the way through all of that analysis. They're not getting any work done that's creative, that which is their strength.
And so what we wind up seeing is when we when we find out what the organization's goals are at the top and then we start going down the ladder and we find out what people are doing on a daily basis, that's where we see those huge gaps and opportunities.
And so we'll we'll talk to maybe it's you know, in a recent company that we were working with, the the their email marketing people, literally, it was like a production shop.
They were just pumping and dumping emails all day long. I mean, and then it was seasonal.
So, you know, so towards the end of the year, they're working, you know, 15 hours a day trying to keep up with the demands. And so the opportunity for them was to go to hey, instead of, you know, batch and blast type emails, why don't we create customer journeys, you know, and why don't we string together a bunch of events and timelines and actually design a process. And and the output of that now is now they're not pumping and dumping emails all day.
Now they have a process.
Maybe it's they're seasonal, you know, they're seasonal giving starts in October through January 30th or whatever. And so we can recreate a journey, create a series of emails. And then now what they can do is on a daily basis, monitor the performance of those emails and tweak them. And so they can ab test. They can add new images, they can update statistics, they can update the content. And so now all of a sudden they get a lot of time back into their into their day where they're not, you know, creating that next email from scratch.
And now they're able to spend their time creatively and actually enhance results. And that's what we tend to see, is we we see these opportunities where within the organization where there's those automation. And then, of course, externally we flip it over as well.
We were working with a company least, and they were I think they were working on an implementation for two years and literally had not launched the platform yet, few years.
And it was a massive organization. Wow. And and so the company called us as kind of a last ditch effort to to come in and see whether there was opportunity as well. We sat and worked with their leadership team and then we started to identify that a majority of their profit within the company was coming from one central small kind of portion of the overall business. They had like a key account, you know, type thing. And so so we basically came in and said, look, you're you've spent all this money and you're trying to, you know, eat this elephant, you know, and and why not instead, why don't we just take this one portion of your business and let's see what we can do to flip that.
And so what wound up being this huge project, you know, corporation wide that touched hundreds of people, wound up instead of just a key account of a dozen people and helping them automate their processes and reporting and everything else to make their jobs easier. And then, you know, revenue skyrocketed, profitability skyrocketed. And then we could go to the next day, you know, the next the next center and the next center.
And so those are the good examples of where, again, we're not talking about platforms here. You know, we're talking about internal resources and where people spending the most time and where is it most painful. And for them, the customer experience and was, you know, transformed as well, that all of a sudden key accounts had a much better experience, much better communication, much better resources online. All of those pieces that that actually helped them move faster through the customer journey and actually get to get to a purchase.
And so those are two examples.
Yeah, they're very good examples for a couple of reasons. Obviously, there's a theme here of breaking down the big elephant into the bite sized chunks. I guess that's sort of how PC that is these days, to say that the way that I don't know anybody, it's eleven. Yeah, well, let's say a big, big stake.
You go there, you can get big Texas.
Yeah, but aside from that, it's a good reminder because I feel like we as marketers often pitch to leadership the need to integrate systems or upgrade our platforms and we talk about it around the tool instead of talking about it. And in terms of efficiency, impact to the customer, impact to the business. And I love that you started there. You know, how will this help you be more creative? How will this help you better serve your customers?
How will this help you be more efficient and get time back in your life? And so I imagine that at times you're in that same position where you have a champion within the account that's brought you in and really wants to do these creative things. And you partner with them to help pitch in with management into saying yes. So in any tips for those marketers that are sort of stuck in this come, I need approval. I need to win over leadership.
But this will be my non pissy body eating elephants word.
Yeah, well, some companies won't write sometimes. You know, I was working with a company. This is probably, you know, five, six years ago that they had a sustained inbound process that was coming from radio that was really good. And so every month they they could you know, they knew that they could get whatever one hundred and fifty leads, you know, through their radio programming and advertising. And but over the last three years, you know, it was dwindling.
You know, it was like, you know, five or ten less per month.
Five or ten Spotify. Yeah.
Yeah. And so and so. Yeah.
And so they they so they knew that their leadership said, you know, well this digital thing, you know exactly what you're saying, like Spotify and and there's these other channels. So we need to talk to somebody in this industry.
And so I we helped them, I think it was for about 90 days and then we had to tell them goodbye. And the problem was that their leadership team was everything was.
But radio does this, but radio does this, but radio does this. And the problem was that their entire culture was wrapped around that solution, which was getting diminished returns. And we weren't we weren't going to change the culture within the organization. And so there wasn't any use in us continuing with them. And we and we weren't mean about it.
We just said, you know, I mean, I think I gave the example in newspapers before. I always tell people that, you know, new newspapers weren't killed by digital. They did committed suicide, but they were they were killed. And what I mean by that is that within a newspaper, they weren't bought into digital and all of their leadership was 40, you know, 30 and 40 years of newspaper experience. And they were brilliant newspaper people.
But what they needed was digital people and they were. And then if a digital person came in, that person was kind of the enemy culturally within the organization because everything was built around, you know, print and distribution and everything.
And so and so there's some organizations where as an employee, you do have to sit back and you have to say, you know, am I fighting the good?
Is this is this place really going to turn? Is it is it really is the culture here actually going to accept this? Or is the culture, you know, just going to continue where my my job every day is just frustrating. And sometimes you have to leave, you know, for for a marketer that sees opportunity, though, you know, for a marketer that sees that they're that their leadership is open to it. I always like the you know, that that story of there's an old Navy story.
You know, I don't know if you ever heard of a monkey's paw. It's a it's basically a little rope, not, you know, and so you have these massive ropes on the ship and you have to take and that's what holds the ship to the pier and everything else. But you can't throw that rope and lasso you, you know, the thing. So instead, you tie this monkey's pie in this tiny rope, you throw the monkeys.
I forget what it's called, some kind of knot or whatever. You throw that to the guy on the, you know, on the pier and then he pulls in, you know, the big rope.
And that's the same kind of approach that a marketer could take, is if they can talk to the organization and the organization is open to testing. You know, then the marketer can say, look, I'm not asking for us to totally digitally transform. I'm not asking for the organization to do this. But what I'd like to do is do this one test and it's here's the budget associated with it.
It might fail, but we we could learn some things from it. And but it might also open your eyes that there's opportunity out there. And so I kind of take a look at two.
Two of those things is I, I try to look at what the competition is doing and where are they succeeding that we're failing and failing. And then what could that monkies Pobby, what could that one pet project be that I could bring within the organization that could turn some heads and and typically those are there. You know, you're you're brilliant from a content marketing standpoint.
You know, that CEO can drive leads and so it might not be paper click, it might not be advertising because that could be a more expensive, you know, buy in or whatever. But maybe it's you know what? I want to spend a month and do research, primary and secondary research, get some graphic designs done.
And maybe it's build a beautiful ebook that walks someone, you know, from front to back, you know, through our products or services.
And and if you can just sell that internal, you know, and then, you know, obviously all of a sudden you're going to see some leads and you're going to see some traction and you're going to see some SVO and you're going to see some people registering for download.
Now, you can go back to your leadership team and say, OK, I want to kind of walk you through. You know, we spent whatever twenty five thousand dollars on this initiative and we built all the pages and we built the content. We hired graphic designers. Here's what we came up with, you know, and here are the results. And here's the trend. Right. Because, you know, with SEO, you know, from an organic search standpoint, it's typically, you know, maybe month one, it didn't do anything.
But by month three, all of a sudden it started to take off. Definitely a lag.
Yeah. And and when I was I could see along with this example, because I love where you're going with this is is also in and, you know, we can replicate this. But in order to do that, you know, here's how much time it took and systems could cut that by a third or a half or whatever it is in order to bring this to scale for our organization. Yeah, exactly.
And and so that's what I always try is like what is there something that we could do to, you know, to get these folks to kind of open up that? Oh, the data is showing that this is moving in the right direction.
It might not be profitable. Right. You know, you could spend that money and produce an amazing ebook and everything else and you might not close anybody and, you know, 60 or, you know, 90 days. But if you can show people, you know, here's here's the trend. We did one job and here's the trend on that.
Typically, you know, a good leader, a good manager will look at that and go, oh, that sounds like there's an opportunity here to, you know, let's let's try a second test or let's try a third test. And what did we learn from this first one that we would apply to the next one?
And typically that's kind of the road that I go down, is is if we can if we can flip their mis, you know, perceptions or misconceptions about about, you know, digital on the opportunity, then, you know, it kind of it kind of snowballs, you know, and and a good company, you know, where the culture is open to that change. They're going to start, you know, kind of moving down that road. The other piece of that, too, is I always ask people this, right?
You probably do the same thing.
We actually we had this conversation.
You know what? We're talking about doing a podcast together. And that's that.
A lot of times when people are really close to this, like, well, what do you mean building out a website and building out, you know, a content library and a set of articles and everything else.
You know, we we've been selling with, you know, dial for dollars for twenty years, you know, which is there another salesperson at it?
Let's throw another salesperson at it. And and you ask them, you know, well, tell me about the last big purchase that you made at your company, you know, and they'll they might talk about a car. They might talk about an office complex or they may. Yeah. How did you find them? You know, where did you go do that research?
How did you you know, and and 99 percent of the time, you know, it's not.
Well, I had a sales guy call me. You're a sales lady. Called me 928.
I opened up a printed catalog. You know, I get that one. Yeah, exactly.
Ninety nine percent of the time it's well, I did a search and I found this and I found that and I, you know, and and you go, wow, isn't that interesting? Isn't that interesting that you're you know, you're someone that you're looking at your own business and you're apprehensive about transforming your business digitally, yet you're you know.
You're adopting digital, you know, on your own and moving in that direction, and that's and that's, you know, nowadays you see that everywhere, right? I mean, I asked you I asked you how you you know, how you got your business. And your first response was, you know, these engineers, you know, go and they find us online and and they start reading about us and they touch base with us.
And over time, I Jefferson about. Yeah, there's. So. Wow. Well, this was so helpful. I think that the the role that you play as a business analyst is so critical and a lot of small and medium sized companies don't have that function. I've never interacted with that function. And it was helpful to just walk through, you know, what you do and how you help companies sort of bridge that gap between and a process and technology and business need.
And it's a very unique role. Not everybody is great at it. And so I appreciate you being out there helping marketers do this in and giving advice today on those that are frustrated within their own company cultures of hears and paths, whether it works out or whether that person needs to go somewhere else, which is is viable, too. So, yeah.
Well, the irony is, is, you know, 30 years ago I was using a meter to troubleshoot equipment and now I'm using analytics and competitive research and everything, and I'm still troubleshooting and troubleshooting those places all over again.
So maybe that's where the marketers can go, you know, go, go, go hop on a ship and work on these or not.
Exactly. Well, Douglas, how can people connect with you?
Well, the site that I that I love, that I've been doing, I think for 12 years now is called Martek Zone. So Martek zone. And then, of course, you can listen to the podcast, which you've been on Martek Zone interviews. That's at a different you are interviews that Martek that so and those are the two. And then and then the consulting side of the business is Highbridge consultants, dot com. And so that's it's just a big, big URL there.
It's just Google. It just. Yeah. And you could Google me if you Google Douglas with K.R., you'll you'll see me everywhere. So great. And parting advice for listeners today. Yeah.
I mean my parting advice is this is it's overwhelming, right? The systems these systems can be, you know, so broad and everything else.
And so what I was talking about before with, you know, just chopping it down and and trying to analyze one problem that you have and how you could solve that one problem. I think that's critical. Finding a good I'm not trying to sell my own service, but you're in the industry as well, finding that good consultant that has had exposure to other industries, other companies, other platforms to me is almost an essential because your job at a company is to do your job and it's to get your job done most of the time at a company.
You just don't have that exposure and that opportunity to look at broadly what's happening with technology in your industry and everything else. And so my parting advice would be identified that, you know, that problem where you see it, you know, boy, if we could just fix this one problem. Yeah.
You know, we could get ahead and then go look for a resource to help you because the resources are out there.
I think the great thing about your your company and my company is that we work across industries, customers, clients, we've seen all these. And so what we're able to take is those tidbits of information and bring those tidbits back in that intelligence. A lot of people look for output.
You know, how many blog posts can you write for us? You know, where your expertise comes in is? No, we've seen that problem before.
And here's a solution that worked for it and that's going to save you so much time and frustration and effort. And so that's what I say, identify a problem and then go find a resource that can help you fix that problem. And invariably, you know, you're going to see success. They're great.
Thank you so much, Douglas. Appreciate your time today. Absolutely. Thank you. Thanks for joining me today on Content Marketing Engineer for show notes, including Links to resources, visit True Mercanti Dotcom Slash podcast. Wow. There you can subscribe to our blog, Inari newsletter and order a copy of my book, Content Marketing Engineering. Also, I would love your reviews on this podcast. So please, when you get a chance, subscribe and leave me your review on your favorite podcast subscription platform.
Thanks and have a great day.