Kyle Lacy is the Chief Marketing Officer at Lessonly, a training and enablement software company based in Indianapolis, IN. His team is tasked with leading all things marketing. This includes overall brand strategy, events, content marketing, marketing/sales ops, sales enablement, product marketing, and thought-leadership.
Before joining Lessonly, Kyle led Marketing Strategies for OpenView, the Global content marketing team at ExactTarget, and the Salesforce Marketing Cloud managing content in 5 countries and over $15M in the pipeline a quarter.
He is also the author of three books, Twitter Marketing for Dummies, Social CRM for Dummies and Branding Yourself.
In episode 12 of the MOV Podcast, we explored how the role of videos in Sales Enablement and Outbound sales can drive some incredible results. Kyle also spoke about how VC firms use videos for their benefit; and the kind of role that a VC firm plays in helping their partner brands.
So without further ado, tune in to learn more such interesting marketing insights and the kind of content and marketing campaigns that Salesforce and other large enterprises produce, only on the Mad Over Videos Podcast by guch featuring Kyle Lacy.
Pranav Chimulkar: Hey guys, welcome to the MOV podcast by guch. This is episode number 12. And this is a short one, we have just 30 minutes for this one, we have a very special guest today. Joining us on this episode is the CMO of lessonly. That is Kyle Lacy. Please welcome Kyle on to the podcast.
Kyle Lacy: All right, thank you. It’s good to be here.
Pranav Chimulkar: How you doing, Kyle? First of all, thank you for making time and coming on the podcast.
Kyle Lacy: Yeah, absolutely. I’m doing great. Thank you. Thank you for having me.
Pranav Chimulkar: Awesome. So without a lot of wastage of time on small talk, I would rather jump into the questions. There’s so much that I want to ask you, and there’s so little time. So we’d start with first trying to understand your perspective as a CMO of Lessonly. How do you approach your job? What is your perspective as a CMO of a startup like Lessonly?
Kyle Lacy: I think that there are a couple of things, the most important part is that marketing should deliver revenue. I think a lot of software marketers talk about influence in pipeline generated, but I believe that marketing in a startup should be revenue-focused, to begin with. On top of that, I think it’s also important that the experience is primary when it comes to prospects or customers. You know, the way that I frame it is that the experience that somebody is having with your brand, whether we’re stream yard experience or lessonly experience, it’s the only thing that makes you relevant. And Marketing is always at the front line of that experience. And that’s what’s important.
Pranav Chimulkar: Right, I’ve heard this point, way too many times, I think every guest preaches the same thing, that marketing and sales, that is revenue have to be like, tied at the hip. And there’s no way that you could be doing things that don’t contribute to the growth of the company. I mean, yes, there are things that cannot be measured. But you know, at some point that these are contributing to the brand, to sort of like the perception of the brand, right? Yeah.
Kyle Lacy: Yeah, absolutely. And brand. And if you are building a revenue stream, you’re going to have the ability as a marketing leader to go to the board and say, I need X amount of money for a brand campaign. I think that’s also very important.
Pranav Chimulkar: Yeah. How important do you see the role of videos in marketing today? Because I mean, traditionally, marketing did not have a lot of videos in the mix. It was more of PPC and whatever content like long-form text, images are today, like the consumption of video has gone really up by a lot of notches, and then also, because of the new normal that you’re going through, I think a lot of our interactions are also on video. Right? So all our communication is moving towards video, how important do you see video as a marketing mix?
Kyle Lacy: Ah, It’s very important. And I think there are multiple different versions, as you said, right, you’ve got the customer videos that are a little bit more high end of the customer talking about doing business with you, you got the lower end versions of that of people taking video of themselves like selfie videos, putting them on LinkedIn. You’ve also had video used in outbound sales. So like our outbound sales team uses video all the time when they’re doing prospecting. And then you’ve got just the stuff like this right, you’ve got the human, I think it’s sped up because of the pandemic and zoom and people stream yard people, people realizing that it’s just much easier to do this, and they thought it was before. So you have a lot more video coming out. But I think you’ve got the high-end video that I still think is important when it comes to demos and customer videos, but you also have the low end of like people just creating content themselves. And I think all of them are important when it comes to brand development.
Pranav Chimulkar: Correct. I want to pick up a couple of those points that you said and dig a little deeper into it. One is sales enablement and the second is outbound sales. How do you see videos, one, impact sales enablement? And then what kind of role are videos playing today in outbound sales?
Kyle Lacy: Yeah, well, at least on let’s say top of funnel side. So outbound sales, we use a demo video. At our forum, if you request a demo, you get a demo video right up front that’s been very successful for us, SDRs, or BDRs personalizing video to be sent, whether that’s on LinkedIn or an email or whatever, it has been very valuable. I think seeing somebody instead of it just being email contents, very important. On the sales enablement side, it’s a great way to practice, right? So if you have, I mean, we have, we have video functionality built within lessonly, where you can practice your pitch via video. And so you can see somebody’s mannerisms, you can get feedback on how they’re approaching their pitch via video. And then you’ve got enablement on products and stuff like that, where screenshots and video. I mean, it’s just very important overall, that video is part of both strategies.
Pranav Chimulkar: Yeah, yeah. And I also want to ask you one another question, which I found this keyword in your LinkedIn profile, when I was skimming through it is one of your expertise is in working towards speaking demo interest. This is such an important metric for a lot of b2b SaaS companies, where somebody signs up or shows interest in the product. How do you see videos directly leading to something that will generate more demo interest? Well, I
Kyle Lacy: Well, I think that I think that any raising of the hand to say I would like a demo is a visual cue, right? You’re saying, I would like to see the product. So the way that we think about it, and this could always be done better, I think everybody can do it better, is you’re showing the product via video as much as you can so that they get a flavor of what they’re going to experience. Because for us, I want to prime that pump as much as I can, before that lead gets to the rep or if you’re a product lead company, before they start using the product, right, and making sure that you retain those people that are signing up.
Pranav Chimulkar: Yeah, I think another important point that I just want to bring up, because you just see that is from my previous episode with Matt Fleming. One interesting point that the prospect has already made up their mind, way before they do the signup for the demo, then I mean, I also want to understand how you look at the customer journey, because he’s possibly evaluated your competitors, he’s made up their mind, or he or she has made up their mind in order to like sign up for a demo. Because of the consideration of all your competitors, the evaluation has already happened. So how do you influence somebody at that stage?
Kyle Lacy: How do you influence them at this stage of the demo? Sign up? Is that what you’re asking?
Pranav Chimulkar: So, Yeah when they sign up for a demo.
Kyle Lacy: There are tons of ways there’s like, webinar, all the content portals, right, video webinars content that they can read on the site, we got rid of most of our forms on our website. So it’s only a demo form. So all the contents open there searching, you’ve got G2, capterra, other customer review sites, you’ve got analyst reports, there’s a ton of stuff to help prime that pump, but I think the main thing is just making sure you get as many customers talking about you as possible. Be a video or a recommendation site like G2, Or capterra.
Pranav Chimulkar: Yeah, awesome. I want to take a step back and take you back to your journey in your career, start off your career. You spent quite some time being at a VC firm leading marketing for a private venture firm, right? Again, I want to know, as the VP of Marketing for one view, like what’s your perspective towards venture capitalist firms in general, benefiting from videos, because most of them are used to having closed-door sessions and, into event marketing and things like that. I mean, some of them are like the best VCs in the world. They own good IPs like a very good podcast that some of which you’re part of. And I want to see because most of them, I mean, the vast majority of them are not using videos. What do you think? How can a VC firm use videos for their benefit?
Kyle Lacy: I mean, I just think, again, it’s the same reason why a customer like a company would, you’re showing the human element outside of just pictures, right. I think that people I think people want to know partners. I think that people want to know investment, people who are going to make investments in their company. And right now, it’s so important because there’s so much money out there that VC firms have to compete unless you are the chosen few, like Andreessen Horowitz or any of the big ones, right? Where, where your portfolio is what leads, right everything else, it’s like, you’ve got to make a name for yourself outside of just the investment strategy. So I think just videos one portion of that’s important, it shows the human element of the company.
Pranav Chimulkar: Yeah, you actually hit the nail on the head when you say that, okay, there’s the there used to be competition for entrepreneurs looking to raise money. Yeah, because there was a limited number of VCs a long time back, and then you knew that, okay, that’s going to be a bloodbath for the founders. Yeah. But today, I think that there are a lot more VCs out there with money, and you have the ability to choose and pick whom you want to partner with. Right? That said, how we think VCs have to sell themselves in today’s world, right? Thinking of it for a brand, we talk about the outcomes of using our product, right? You use this product, so many things, or some of those average marketers, they happen to talk about, hey, we have this feature, we have this technology are our products are secure using this kind of technology, whatever. And the better marketers out there talk about outcomes. What do you think the VC should talk about?
Kyle Lacy: I mean, it’s how you support the founders. I mean, you as a co-founder, you want a VC firm that sits on your board, that’s going to tell you what they think you should do because they’ve had experience doing it. Not because they’ve invested in a ton of companies, it’s because they were operators in the past. And if you think about it’s not enough necessarily differentiating you anymore, honestly, because every VC firm can say they have operators. So it’s really about what I’ve found, especially working in open view is that focus is actually primary, right? The open view focuses on Series B investments, they focus on b2b software companies, and they focus on product lead growth companies, right. So the focus allows you, to build a product-market fit for the VC firm. And that just makes it so much easier when it comes to messaging positioning and targeting. Because you understand who you’re talking to, and how, and why they want to talk to you.
Pranav Chimulkar: Right? This is one part of it, like when you’re handling the brand for a VC firm, this is how you look at it. But there’s also the other angle where the VC is also supporting the founders. Yeah. And leading them as, somebody who’s already good at marketing, I think, a few tech founders who are not so adept at these things, they look up to their partners to help them and guide them in these things, whether it is in terms of strategizing what kind of budgets and locations have to be done, or the kind of partners that you should work with, whether it’s a creative agency or a production house, or like hiring in house talent, etc, a lot of things that they look up to, what do you think, what kind of role does the VC have in today’s date, in such a thing? And then our VCs, actually to the second part of my question that we see are actually doing a very good job at advising the portfolio companies in marketing in special.
Kyle Lacy: I mean, it definitely depends on the VC firm, some VC firms, or primary investments, and their board seat is where they exhibit their support, right? There’s a company, you know, VC firms like OpenView, first round, Andreessen Horowitz they have, they have support teams that are there to support the founders and the companies. So I think VCs OpenView was one of the first to do it. But I think a lot more have said, Okay, this makes more sense to me, if I have a portfolio company that I just put 10 million US in, right? And they need help to recruit a CMO, I’m gonna have the recruiters working in house at the firm to help recruit that talent. So it’s very important that VCs are developing that but there are also VC firms that don’t have that because they’re smaller. And that’s fine as well. Just you as a founder and an operator need to decide what fits best for what you need.
Pranav Chimulkar: I would like to flip the question and say that Okay, there are a lot of times when the founding team has a very strong marketing talent within themselves. But it has so happened that when you raise money, from a venture capitalist, the partner on board often says that, okay, you’re going to be using this money for product development, for example, you’re not going to be spending a lot of this in marketing. I mean, some of them, they’re reserved in the way they want the founders to spend the money. What is typically something that a team who wants to spend some of the money in marketing has to do to convince the partner to be on board with that plan?
Kyle Lacy: Well, first, I’d caution bringing on partners that will do that, that will be open-minded, number one, but outside of that, I’d say that the best thing that I’ve seen and done is to say, here’s the investment that I need, you’re right up, you do a forecast, basically, here’s the investment I need here, based off of historical data, here’s what I think I can produce from lead gen perspective. And here’s what we could close in a six-month time frame or, 12 months, depending on how long your sales cycle is. If you haven’t done that, then the partner can say, I told you so. But you can. I mean, I would love to see I’m sure there, I’m gonna get we probably get a ton of content, but like, you’re wrong Kyle, but I love to see a software company that succeeded that didn’t have marketing. Because it’s fundamental to growing a business. And if you can’t fit, engineering is important. And it’s probably the first thing you should do always right. And if your product lead engineering is even more important, and product marketing is more important. But messaging and positioning and the culture, like that, is built from the very beginning and needs to be stoked and needs to be supported. And you can’t scale a company without.
Pranav Chimulkar: Yeah, of course, I think you have an amazing product and you keep it hidden in your closet. I don’t think so that’s going to work outright. Yeah. You have to put it in front of the right people, for them to know how valuable your product is. Like I will, again, take a slightly a step back in your career, while you would at ExactTarget heading, content marketing, right for them. I tell me, what was the difference between that role and this role? I mean, I’m assuming that they did an IPO, they were acquired as well. I want to know what is the difference between working in a small brand as a marketeer and heading, like marketing for a large brand? What what what kind of difference? Like in the mindset you need as a marketer behind these things?
Kyle Lacy: Yeah, and to be clear on the exact start target side of the year, I joined, I’m pretty sure we hired about 400 people that year. So I was bottom of the barrel just running content marketing there plenty of other people running marketing, right, like my boss, Daniel, and Candela, who’s now CMO at Conga, my boss, Jeff is now CMO, job bi, he was CMex. He there’s so much that goes into it. But the one main thing is support. So there are two things support and communication are very different. In an org, like ExactTarget, we were producing research content and video for seven countries in four different languages. And so you just were communicating constantly with every marketing manager from Brazil to Germany to Japan. And then you were trying to figure out budgets and making sure we were running consumer research in each city, in each country. So the amount of communication that you have to do at a company that large, you know, there were almost 3000 employees is very different from what it is at Lessonly where we have 170 employees, right, where I built the planet exact target. And then I had to get approval through four or five different people. Here, I build the plan and I asked our CEO, and most of the time, I don’t have to ask our CEO, right, I just do it and resources right I mean, we just had a way you know, the exact target was over 200 million in revenue. We have way more resources to do what we wanted to do than I do at Lessonly but still, I have plenty to deal with Lessonly as well.
Pranav Chimulkar: Yeah, I think there’s a trade-off like the both of them have like their own pros and cons where on one side, you have a lot more like the budget to spend and support in terms of more colleagues, but then also bring in a lot more friction to get things done. I think we’re talking about that ExactTarget got acquired, and you happen to join Salesforce or to take care of their marketing. I want to know, Everybody knows Salesforce, right? Why does a Salesforce have to do a lot of marketing? This is a b2b question. I’d also like to throw it out in open and I want you to, I want to hear what you have to say about it. I see Google advertising on television commercials in India. I mean, everybody knows Google, if you open your browser, the default search browser is google. Still, they advertise saying that, hey, do your searches powered by Google? I mean, why? Why do big brands that everybody knows about still have to do?
Kyle Lacy: Well, I’d say that I would argue that Google doesn’t have huge amounts of penetration in India, do they?
Pranav Chimulkar: I mean, there’s still no competition. If you know, Internet, and you know, Google, that’s for sure.
Kyle Lacy: Okay. So I could spend an hour just talking about this. But there are certain cases to do or most of the advertising I see for Google or Uber here in the states is mostly PR, like talking about the pandemic and making sure you stay healthy. And all that stuff, like it’s very positive spins on PR, for Salesforce, I mean, all of them, you want it, you want to stay the market leader, right, and you want to continue staying the market leader. And when you have the ability to produce great marketing, because you have the cash to do it, and you have the talent to do it, then you want to continue doing it. And Salesforce does a great job. I mean, their marketing is on the point that always has been. But I do think that there are different cases for every single one. I mean, you could talk about, I would argue that there are different business units within Salesforce that need the marketing because people don’t know that Salesforce has x product, or they want to sell it into the base or whatever, for expansion revenue. But for people like Google, they’re just trying to get the word out. But hey, don’t forget about us, which we never will. But it’s mostly just, to get the name out to the small set of people that might not know about them.
Pranav Chimulkar: Absolutely. I think that you mentioned that Salesforce does a lot of these things, I would like to talk about a few if you could just throw some light on the kind of initiatives that Salesforce undertake in order to generate, I’ve heard that they generate content, which I mean, is linked to like millions of dollars worth of pipeline, right? How does that happen? Like what kind of initiatives, typical initiatives that somebody like Salesforce does? And, how much contribution is in the video, right to that mix?
Kyle Lacy: Well, if you talk about thought leadership, there are two avenues that I’m familiar with. They do a lot more, but for me, it is their state of reports, state of sales, state of service, data marketing, which originated at exact target, that was what my team was doing the state of email marketing, the state of social media, that type of stuff. That is thought leadership, because journalists will write about it. Right, they’ll write about that stuff. And then on the other side of it, the other side is dreamforce. Their user conference, so if you want to talk about video, the stuff that they’ve rolled out after COVID hit here in the States has been spectacular. Their live events. They couldn’t have done it any better, in my opinion. And all of that’s video-based. And I remember when I was at Salesforce, they would hire Hollywood directors to do their customer videos. Because it’s entertainment, that’s entertainment, and they were beautiful, and they’re still beautiful videos. They’re so good at it.
Pranav Chimulkar: Yeah, I think you’d need that kind of vision to see through that, and people are on and I mean, a lot of people create, like really serious content in b2b and, and they think that, hey, we are a business. We are not supposed to talk this way. They’re supposed to behave in a certain way. And they end up forgetting like you eventually putting that out on social media. What is social media? People come there to have fun people come there to get entertained, and they don’t come there to get sold to. So that is something which I really find amusing that people don’t even understand why it’s equally important to create more interesting content, even though you’re in a b2b.
Kyle Lacy: Absolutely. And I’ve heard it said that every business is an entertainment business. And that’s so true. And if you can’t entertain, it’s going to be hard and said, some of these large companies like Salesforce, Oracle, they are good at it, but they need, they need to evolve, and they will, Salesforce will evolve, we’ve seen it happen about six times now. They’re not going to, they’re not going to die off. But I 100% agree with you, for sure.
Pranav Chimulkar: I think, almost about to come to an end to the podcast, I just want to quickly run through a couple of questions. One is, you as a person, what kind of goals are you setting for yourself to like, contribute to the business that you’re a part of right now, in terms of being the CMO? And secondly, if you could give three actionable insights for people who are listening, people who want to be a CMO? I mean, you’ve seen the grind, you’ve come from the bottom of the food chain to become a leader of the entire verticals, what do you think are three actionable insights for somebody that you would like to give out? So these are two questions?
Kyle Lacy: So repeat the first question for me.
Pranav Chimulkar: The first question is, I want to know what kind of goals you’ve set for yourself and Lessonly in marketing for the remainder of 2020, and 2021.
Kyle Lacy: So I mean, for the team, we always have, our revenue to managing goals, like those are stuff that we always talk about. For me personally, I am focused on mental health, and the support of my team, and making sure that as you know, in Indiana, as we move into winter, again, it could get a little bit gloomy. And as we’re all still quarantined, I think just investing and pouring into my team to make sure they understand that we’re here, that we’re supporting them, I think is very important. And something that I’ve focused on quite a bit. And that’s, primary for me. We can set goals all day long. But if my team is not in it, they’re mentally not there, because they’re depressed, or they’re having problems or whatever, we’re screwed, right? So the second question on tips to be a CMO. I think the first thing is, practice proactivity. Constantly. What made me good at my job at ExactTarget was I was, proactive, and I acted, I wasn’t necessarily afraid of what would happen if I were to make some choices. So that allowed me to learn, and grow into my profession. The second thing is practice autonomy. Learn how to self govern yourself, learn how to make sure that you can survive on your own, and you’re not constantly managing up, right? You’re not constantly asking questions and trying to figure out how to do things, just go do them. And the third thing is just to develop a community of people that support you. I got very lucky that the people that I worked with that Exact target are still friends today, and still support each other. And also, I’m a part of a community called Revenue collective. That’s 3000 revenue leaders across the world. And we support each other daily. And so whenever my time and lessonly is up because it will come at some point, that is the first place I’m going is my community saying, Hey, I think I’m ready. What do you guys think? And the people that don’t have that support system, it’s very hard to transition and change and grow in your career, because you’re trying to do it on your own. So those are my three.
Pranav Chimulkar: Awesome, I think that brings us to the end of the episode, I’d really like to thank you from the bottom of my heart to make time out for you to like, come join us for this conversation. And I hope you and your family are staying safe at this time. I think this is something that everybody says but I really mean it. And since you just told me about the region that you’re from, I think the kind of state that is right now. I hope we all make through and yeah, we see a ray of better sunshine on the other side.
Kyle Lacy: We will, you too man! It is very appreciative. Thank you.
Pranav Chimulkar: Thank you so much. And I really appreciate that, so signing off for this episode, and hopefully this will be back with a new episode and a new guest very soon.