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The Changemakers: How to Optimize Your Digital Marketing Strategy with Shaped By

Kerry Guard • September 6, 2023 • 37 minutes to read


Our CEO, Kerry Guard, joined Dave Corlett on his podcast, The Changemakers where she shares her story and how we, at MKG Marketing, help tech startups–expecially in cybsersecurity–scale and impact growth and cutting through the noise.

ShapedBy is a branding agency, focused on enaging content through. They challenge their clients to unleash creativity across their marketing. To come up with memorable ways to build brands and land sales.

Dave is the business development respresentative and podcast host of The Changemakers.

Key Moments

GA4 – The impact from UA and how we need to shift how we think about user behevaior and the data to go with it.

3rd Party Cookies – Soon to be a thing of the past pushing us back to a time where first party data is the primary data that we'll need to cultivate then navigate to move users through the customer journey without always knowing who they are.

Building value – Don't just capture 1st party data to turn around and immediately sell to your customer. Bring value by educating them, giving them tools to make their lives easier, and/or connecting them with the right people that are going to help them right now.

Creative problem solving – Creativity doesn't always mean painting a picture. It means stepping outside of the problem, pulling it apart, and viewing it from new angles so you can see a new way to approach something that hasent' been working.

Take a listen


Dave Corlett: Hey, Kerry, welcome to the changemakers How you doing today?

Kerry Guard: I'm good. Thank you, Dave, thank you so much for having me.

Dave Corlett: Happy Friday.

Kerry Guard: It's Friday. Yes. And last day, the last working day of April. So

Dave Corlett: Yeah. And the long weekend on the horizon. I think we'll both be feeling pretty chirpy today. And you're on Guernsey? Right, the lovely island of Guernsey, can you tell our listeners a little bit about Guernsey who for those who don't know?

Kerry Guard: Yes, so, Guernsey is in the channel between England and France little closer to France, but it acknowledges the monarchy and so it's got a British accents mixed in with French roadsides.

Dave Corlett: Eagle as listeners will notice that your accent isn't so British. Well, I'll tell you why a great place to start will be how you came to be where you are today and actually how you came to found MKG marketing.

Kerry Guard: Sure. So I found my way to Guernsey specifically, I'll just get that out of the way because my husband grew up here and in the middle of a pandemic. Because Guernsey is a nine mile wide island. They figured out how to get COVID under control. And so with our children about to turn four at the time and send them off to school we thought now we're never and we made the leap in the middle of a pandemic, which I don't recommend.

But I am very grateful we're here absolutely love it. I am originally from Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, on the east coast where I went to school at Drexel University and studied photography, which clearly I did not do anymore, but it was a great start. And I absolutely loved it for a while it lasted but I really wanted to move to New York. That was my mission in life was to get to the Big Apple and my uncle who worked in marketing at the time in sales, he sold People Magazine, you throw authority back to the good old days of magazines, and he said he could get me a media planning job.

And in my very first interview at Universal McCann, I remember my who became my boss persecute my boss asked me if he knew if I knew what media plan He was. And I said, No, tell me more. I couldn't lie. When we put me on the spot and started asking me questions. I was like, Oh, you're gonna teach me it's gonna be great. And so from that point on, I fell in love with media planning. It was just lovely dichotomy of, you know, I love photography, but it was a lot of, you know, go through university with it.

There's a lot of gray area in terms of what people liked and didn't like, and media planning was, was very cut and dry. Your audience is here, this is the product you sell. You need to get your product in front of your audience, the number of sales, the number, say, negotiate some pricing, and there you go. Like it was just like, Oh, yes, it knows binary, yay. And so I absolutely fell in love with media planning. I started on the Verizon Wireless account, planning, TV print, and at home. And then after Verizon. I went on Bacardi for like a hot second as a promotion. But it was all at home. And it was super boring. And it wasn't creative at all. I still needed even though like binary I do. I do have a creative bone.

And so I called up my uncle and said, "What do you got who's who's looking," and he recommended publicist modem had just won the General Mills account. And I was able to leap into digital from there.

I started as a assistant media planner on the Yoplait account. And I basically owned it $10 million that I planned and executed on end to end for just about two years, year and a half. And then I met my now husband, on the lovely island, the islands seem to run in our in our story, but on the island of Hawaii, and he lists me off to Seattle, where I then joined MEC on the Microsoft account. So that was my leap into tech. And I absolutely loved it.

And I had Seattle was sort of a culture shock. It wasn't sort of a culture shock was absolutely a culture shock. People were leaving the office at four, the office lights went off at 5:30 is very confusing, because in New York, you you work you start work around 738. And you don't stop until around 7:30. Right. And, and people believe the opposite for going home to see their families and tuck them into bed that was going up. And they had these things called SLA service level agreements. And it was like, well, the email comes in and you just take care of it, right? They're like, No, no, like, you have other things you need to get done. So like, you'll get that done in a few days. And I was like, that's weird. So this whole work life balance thing was very new for me, and I didn't quite understand it.

But my husband and I moved around a bit. And I grew to really, and then we had kids and stuff really grown to appreciate what work life balance can mean. And that's really why, you know, I went from NBC to a smaller company called Block duty, I got picked up by a headhunter. And I went to a boutique shop in Seattle. And it was somewhere between because it was a smaller shop. And it was NBC is huge. It was a smaller shop. But somewhere between like the Seattle lifestyle, work life balance, but with the pressure of New York. And I was like how this doesn't work. This is weird. And one of the challenges that my business partner, my now business partner and I were facing at the time he him and I worked together, what duty was that?

We were working on big accounts like Western Digital. And at the time, back in the day, 2008 here, taking you all back, I guess it was 2011. By then, these products were sold in store, mostly, Amazon was just sort of ramping up. They were still mostly books. And so everything was really sold in store. And so when we'd run these big brand campaigns with impressions and clicks, they'd be like, so how did we do be like? Well, here, here's your share. Here's why people clicked on your ad. So people visit your website, they're like, Yeah, but like, How much money did we make? Or like, ya know, we we can't measure that. And we were really tired of having conversations. I was about to move down to California with my husband who got a job at Netflix. And I turned to my class one day and said, What if we went and like, did this thing and started a company around measurable media, this idea of actually being able to measure our impact and to end and we had the time I had picked up a very small RFP that our existing company won't do to get turned down because it was small peanuts. But it was a travel company was an online travel company like oh my gosh, we can actually measure, like, how many rooms we booked, this would be amazing. And so that's really what kicked off our initial excitement over the idea. And then when I was moving down to San Francisco was like, we could really do this thing. And that's how Tom, could you started. We are now almost 12 years old. We got about 16 people and we've primarily focus on complex tech companies. We've worked with anybody from a container online trainers to cybersecurity to data management. And we really want to help those companies for their mission.

Dave Corlett: Wow, that really is quite a story. And you mentioned began for 12 years now. Um, how's that journey been for you? Has it been kind of smooth sailing ups and downs

Kerry Guard: I've been any company right has, especially with the throw drop pandemic in the middle there for kicks, has there has struggled for sure. But mostly, it's just been this lovely rhythm of organic growth. So we're not looking to be the next universal McCann or or MEC, like the big companies I mentioned, we're really looking to be a very people first oriented organization. And with that comes growing really intentionally and slowly so that, you know, because if you have fast growth, it's really hard to keep your culture packed. And that's just really important to us. So it's been this lovely, slow and steady build over time. And I don't know how big we'll get, but we're just enjoying the ride for now. Nice. And you fully remote, fully 100%. Yeah, we have people I'm in the UK, obviously, we have people from the East Coast to the West Coast, in all the time zones. So yeah, fully remote have been since since 2011.

Dave Corlett: Since before it was fashionable. And in terms of the common challenges that you help, MKG's clients to tackle, what are some of those at the moment.

Kerry Guard: It's really around scaling. So companies get funding, and they need to all of a sudden get customers. And they need fast, impactful growth. And so we come in with recommendations around search engine optimization, making sure that search compounds so the quicker you can get your search optimization in place, the faster you can get a content system up and running to deliver consistent ongoing content that really speaks to the pain of your customers, and the keywords that they're searching for around that pain, that that takes time to grow. But when it does, it compounds it has huge impact over time. And then digital advertising is that more that faucet that off on. But again, like if you can start really small and intentional, right out of the gate, you get that funding, you're ready to grow, you activate your pain, search, then you grow into display, and then you get fancier with things like Account Based Marketing in the long run, you can, you know, look to compound that growth between those channels, measuring it measurement, like I said, very important. So we have analytics that is built in and ensures that we can optimize from a micro standpoint, you know, every day making adjustments to a macro standpoint of saying what's the big picture? Where are the trends? Where do we want to take these accounts and help them with that impact. But it's really about that scale they're looking to, they got this lovely on this lovely funding, and now they need to add something with it and be grow relatively quickly.

Dave Corlett: Yeah, so in terms of funding, what kind of businesses typically we're looking at it kind of like North sort of seed and series A are a bit further along than that.

Kerry Guard: So we it really depends on how much funding they get. I mean, I've had anywhere, you know, we've had series, a company show up where they got 30 million in funding, right, we can, we can get some good initial budgets out of that and start that journey, right, we don't need hundreds of 1000s of dollars to activate SEO and digital ads. That's the beauty of these channels, you can start them at a really intentional budget size of you know, six to 8k a month and get going. And so we can we can do that we've worked with more than, you know, companies who've have hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to actually being sustained on their own with their sort of through that they're like now actually making revenue and they want to make more move into that enterprise stage or that exit, right, whether that's getting bought, or whether it's going public. And so that's that real activated growth stage of they have a lot of money, and they need to use it and really grow their audience. So both, it's just two very different strategies of how we activate and help out those companies.

Dave Corlett: Yeah, and I know from our initial conversations around working together, in partnership, that you've got quite a lot of cybersecurity clients as well. Is that a particularly unique industry would you say? I mean, I think it's something that we've certainly found particularly in terms of recent, you know, I say market forces that have kind of negatively impacted some kind of categories and some areas but not cybersecurity in in a huge way. Because obviously, it's so, so important. What's that looking like for you at the moment?

Kerry Guard: Yes, so we've worked with companies in cybersecurity for over seven years, and we're growing the category we're looking to really hone in on it. It's very specific audience both in who we work with directly as marketers, as you know, and also the audience that they're trying to market to the seaso audience is a very tricky sort of folks you got to get in front of and build trust with over a long period of time. That's why sales cycles for cyber companies tend to be anywhere from eight plus months, right? Because you got to really build trust with those that you know, as a vendor to those CISOs. And we're finding that too, even on the marketing side, like the marketers, as well, having lived in the cybersecurity world, you got to build that trust, and it takes it takes time. And so when we do that, and we have landed clients in the cyberspace, that we ended up really working with them for a long period of time, because, you know, once you really build that relationship, then it's a great place to build on. So we're all about long term. I think that's why several makes so much sense for us is because not only we worked in it, we have case studies to prove that we can get in front of the seaso audience and be really intentional and thoughtful about it. But also, we're in it for the long game with them with the cybersecurity companies, we're not just in it for a project here or there. We really want to come to understand your product, what pain it solves, what your audience really needs, and how to cultivate a relationship between them and their potential customers over time.

Dave Corlett: Yeah, absolutely. It's such a crowded market, though, isn't it? It's so so cluttered, you know, and there's often, you know, radio listeners will know that we've talked about this time and time again, on the podcast. But I think for good reason. You know, there is often a difficulty in cutting through with a not necessarily even a unique but a distinct message, what the value is and what the benefit is of one cyber solution over another. I'm being a bit generalist there. But I think on the whole it kind of, because it's so cluttered, it kind of it rings true, is that what you're seeing is, is it difficult to cut through with something that's unique and kind of indistinct?

Kerry Guard: I think at the end of the day, it really comes down to a couple things. One is there's lots of verticals within cyber, right, in terms of the different from endpoints to MDR, to XDR, to, you know, insert acronym here. And so I think from that standpoint, there's a lot of verticals that are popping up, right, a lot of new categories that are emerging, based off of the different threats that are arising and showing up every single day. And then within those categories, different solutions are showing up, depending on the audience, you have companies anywhere from trying to work with enterprise write to even small enterprise to medium sized businesses and an even smaller. So I think, yes, it's very crowded, but I think each company is really distinguishable depending on who they're trying to help and in what category and what you know, kind of which solutions fit together also matters. So I think it really comes down to and you know, this better than me, Dave being more in the content space, but it really comes down to the education piece of really building out the brand of what they do and what's unique about who they are terms to the audience that they're trying to support. And then getting that information in front of the right folks, which is where we come in, and then allowing customers to make the decision themselves, right. But if you keep showing up, it's just being really supportive and helpful saying I understand your pain, I understand what you're going through. Here's how this product will help that, well, here's things that are that we have learned that you can go off into yourself without our product and just continue to show up with that value over and over and over and over again. And building that trust while people are passively looking for solutions than when something happens in a trigger happens. Oh, no, I need insurance. Oh, no, I need training, oh, no, I got hacked, and I need to you know, threat detection. Then when they go into active searching or active finding and buying, then they'll gonna remember you because you've constantly showed up and said, I know about you, I know about your pain, and I understand what you need. And that right time, right fit sort of happens through that constant, you know, showing up? So yeah, it's crowded, but I think it really depends on how you show up in the marketplace that it doesn't need to feel that way.

Dave Corlett: Yeah, absolutely. And I suppose it's no different to any other kind of sector or category really, you know, Value Trust, playing the long game being consistent. And again, in our world, that's that's very much from a kind of look and feel and a visual point of view and a brand point of view. On your side. It's that getting in front of the right people consistently with the right message. You know, I think cybersecurity in some ways, I guess it's no different to to other sectors as well. But I'm also a little bit conscious of boring our audience that aren't in cybersecurity, with this constant talk about this industry that's fascinating to us, but may not be sharp people. So we'll move on now and just talk a little bit about digital marketing in general, really, from shapers point of view. It's something that we dip our toes in every now and then and certainly take an interest in what's happening in terms of the wider marketing sphere, I suppose but it'd be great to hear from your point of view, what some of the more sort of prevalent Pressing trends are within the world of digital marketing right now that maybe our audience might need to be aware of.

Kerry Guard: I'm trying to think of where to begin, the trends are endless, I think there's a couple of things we need to be aware of. Right. So some big changes that are, have been coming our way for a long time. And Google will at some point, actually pull the cord on this. And we all need to be ready on two things, right? We need to make sure that your GA for a setup and you are away from Universal Analytics, I know change is hard, you all I get it. It's Universal Analytics has been the crutch for so long, we all know how to use it. And GA four is entirely different. And it's very much around engagement versus sessions. So we need to not only make the shift into the platform, but we need to make the mental shift of how to use it, as well. And July is upon us. So if you haven't made the shift, please, please, please make it now just and you can have them both running in parallel, right. So you can still have your your UA ball back as you get comfortable with GA four. But the sooner you get that set up, and you make sure that it's wired into all of your systems, and you can measure and you're not duplicating content, and it's clean data, the better. Because July is going to show up and Universal Analytics is gonna go away. It's gonna be really, really sad day for a lot of us. So that's one thing I would say the other thing that Google is doing helpful, not helpful is getting rid of third party cookies. While this is really hard from it, from an advertising standpoint, it's really necessary when it comes to people's privacy and how that data is used. And it's been long over abused. And so the government's been cracking down, it's getting harder and harder to regulate. And so Google just made the decision that third party cookies are going away, which means we sort of need to like backtrack a little and figure out how we're going to get back to first party data, which is making your site incredibly valuable to your audience so that they'll want to subscribe that they'll want to show up on a regular basis, making sure that your social media systems are up and running, and that you have a good cadence of sharing content. You know, from a LinkedIn standpoint, and even activating your employees or people within your organization who really love your company and what you're doing and want to share it and having them share on LinkedIn too, so that you're feeding both the company page and then feeding back into the website. So really looking to how you can capture first party information. And and the only way to do that is to, people are very skeptical of giving away their email address. So if they're going to give your email address, and then you're just going to show up the next day with a salesperson, this is not the strategy for you do not that is not a best practice. If you're going to capture somebody's email address, you better have a really good nurture system behind it to really cool again, cultivate a relationship with these folks, they will tell you when they are ready to buy, the market has changed, call emailing a cold calling is slowly slipping away. Nobody wants it ourselves included. Marketers are the hardest people to market to why? Because we don't want any of it. Because we know how it all works. So don't do to others what you don't even want done to yourself, essentially, if you're going to capture somebody's email and start building that first party database, do with incredible intention and integrity. But we have to make that shift because third party cookies are going away. And we're not going to be able to market to these folks unless they've been to our site and unless we've captured their information over time.

Dave Corlett: Yeah, it's fascinating episode 33 of the change makers, which was released as we're talking just last week was with Meghan bar, who's the VP of brand content and communications at zoominfo. Now ironically enough, zoominfo started out as as essentially a database where you could buy email addresses and contact data to run your your email campaigns, however spammy or annoying, they might be now zoominfo themselves. So I've actually poached Megan, from the world of journalism to build an internal newsroom, essentially, to build a content machine that is all about what you've just talked about. building an audience showing them value time and time again, playing the long game and getting them to come to your to you and your platform. Because the content that you're producing and sharing is so interesting to them that you're building that first party audience, I think what each it's just really, really interesting, and how does that impact on on the work that you do and the kind of the conversations that you have with your client.

Kerry Guard: It really comes down to again that that value and thinking about demand gen versus demand capture or lead gen or whatever you want to call it. You know, a lot of times especially in this more smaller startup arena, we tend to fall back on the lead gen and demand capture side of things because we feel like it's low hanging fruit it feels like it's going to get us results instantly and that sucks. clearly not the case, especially if you have an audience that doesn't know about you. So really, the way it's impacted us is is trying to help our clients shift with the times and get in the long game, right? We know you need leads yesterday, we know you need revenue tomorrow, we're just kicking off here. So the way we need to approach this is to really build a relationship with your audience through really intentional marketing, and SEO and digital ads, and bring that value showing up with them consistently. And so it's this conversation change that's really impacted us and trying to take control of a very frantic audience who's getting a lot of pressure from up top, and trying to calm everybody's nerves to say this is going to take time. But the sooner you start, it's why I'm trying to say like, yes, we want to work with companies who are a bit more established, who have a marketing team who are ready to go, obviously, right, that's the dream. But then the day, the sooner you get started this, the minute that seed money hits, and you can say, You know what, I can carve out a little bit of this for SEO or digital ads and get ahead in the demand gen piece, start building that audience, now we've got having a product or not even having a product yet, you could be prototyping, but what you could be doing is so exciting, that you could build an audience now, right? And so the sooner you do that, then when you do have a practice ready are you do have that new feature ready to go Are you are you are in, you know, past beta, and you're ready to do go to proper go to market launch, you have an audience that you've already cultivated. So it's this, the really big shift is this conversation around, moving away from lead gen and more into that demand gen and helping folks understand it's not, it takes time, and it takes intention. And if you stick with it, it will pay off.

Dave Corlett: I think that's really, really good advice for founders in particular, you know, of early stage companies, because, you know, I mean, all of the advice seems to be when you're getting your your business off the ground and your product off the ground, it's product product product, then all of a sudden, you need people to sell it to and then it's leads, leads, leads, and then you get to a certain size and all of a sudden you realize, actually, we need a brand here, we need something to build a company around and a story and a vision that we that we don't have, and we can't kind of, you know, trying their best to retrofit that and make that something that people want to buy into and believe in. Whereas I think that's really, really good advice to actually, the sooner that you can start to not even just think about these things, but start to seed them into what you're doing, then, you know, the groundwork is there, the foundations and the framework are there to build pretty much so that to build on when you have when you need them. 

Kerry Guard: And I have a great example. Yeah, I have a really good example, we worked with a client for over seven years, and we got on the ground floor with them when they were going after category, they were trying to create a category around wire data. And it wasn't anything that was real. And so trying to convince an audience to use something that they had never heard of and, and getting out in front of people who aren't even searching for this problem was really, really hard. And so we were able to help them make the shift into cybersecurity, which was a huge game changer. But it had everything I just shift. It wasn't just our SEO strategy, it was their entire brand awareness of how they showed up. And so we started with them when they were really early stage and worked with them over seven years until they got bought out by vein. But the the thing that the real shift that happened for them is when they brought in a team around demand generation there, they literally brought in somebody who was the VP of demand generation, and she was all about Account Based Marketing. And that was a huge shift for them in their growth. And we went from like an 8x ROI to a 17x ROI. And, and really when she got to the long game, right, that didn't happen overnight. It took us time, but it was about building those benchmarks every month to say, Okay, here's, we're at 8x. next quarter, we want to be at nine, right and those micro adjustments towards and figuring out what's working and what's not. We knew SEO was like 30% of their your revenue. And we needed to grow that and make that even more impactful. And then I'm the IBM on top of that in relation to to search and display. And then we added in we even got fancier down the road when they got closer to actually wanting to sell the company than we did direct site buys were like, Okay, let's show up on Bloomberg and New York Times. And let's build that awareness. Right, we were able to go from just SEO, then adding in display and Account Based Marketing, to then building out their huge page search and we just built the building blocks on top of it and in six years they went from startup to buy out right start soon build that to bands, and the capture will happen.

Dave Corlett: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And I think obviously, you know, demand generations so well versed within business of certain sizes, but I think again, you know having that vision to say, you know, this is something that we're going to build into our into our organization from from almost day one, really make sure that actually those foundations being laid is a bold move. But yeah, I'd love to see more and more startups kind of adopt that approach. And something just touched on there was was ABM really interested to know what your involvement is with your clients? And also, has that changed or increased or kind of that role bigger over the last few years as IBM has become such a talking point on such hot topic?

Kerry Guard: Yeah, it's absolutely increased for sure. When we were working with this company and building and you know, when they initially started ABM, we actually kicked the program off with them. So we were using terminus, we got our campaigns up and running, we set the initial campaigns, and then when the demand gen hire came in, the VP of demand gen, she said, this is working, this is awesome. I'm gonna go build an internal team to this. I want somebody on this every minute of every day. And so that was her plan and doing that. And she could do it because it was a very controlled audience that she was going after. And it made a lot of sense for the size of company that they were now we're working with a we're working with the same VP, she left that company, she's gone to another one. And they're 10 times the size, they're huge. And they're ABM programs too big. They have too many products, too many campaigns, they need extra support. And so actually we're helping out on very specific, they're working on their core business there. So they said, Okay, we're going to focus on our core business, and then we do all these acquisitions all the time. So we're gonna have you manage the ABM on these acquisitions using either LinkedIn specific, you know, on its own or a tool, like sixth sense to make it happen. And so it really depends on the size of the company and where they are and how much dedication they want to put towards ABM, as well as how big the budgets and things are. But yeah, we are definitely we have another client in the cybersecurity space who is also doing ABM and we're just kicking the program off. And so they want to use us to get it going. And then we'll see where they take it, whether they take it in house or whether they keep us managing it. Yeah.

Dave Corlett: Yeah, no, I suppose to the point about ABM, obviously, becoming more and more prevalent every single day. And the tools like Terminus and Sixth Sense, obviously a massive part of that, you know, smoothing that that that process and giving the real kind of that the platform and the data to be able to put together some really impactful campaigns. How'd you do you guys have a way of constantly moving with the times and being able to integrate and embed and test new technology as far as your side of things is concerned?

Kerry Guard: Yeah, I mean, Terminus and and success are the biggies. So those are the two we mostly use. And really, it comes down to the client side too, because it'll depend on the beautiful thing about ABM platforms like sixth sense and Terminus is that they plug in on top of your tech stack and directly into your Salesforce and your email solution. And so you really want to find the right tool that's going to fit your tech stack, I don't know that one's any really better than the other, it's just a matter of marrying market information, you know, like on LinkedIn, with your database of who your ideal customer profile is, and what account and then figuring out what accounts you want to go after, and building campaigns and messaging to hit not just the accounts themselves in terms of the people that work there just holistically, but to say then, okay, what are the roles or responsibilities of these folks and what pain do each of these folks feel and think being able to deliver a very specific message to those people with in the account you're really going after. So I don't know that one tool is necessarily better than the other, I just think it matters around your specific tech stack, they all work very similarly. They have their nuances of what makes one different over another. So it's just doing the research to figure out what makes sense for you. But usually, it's client directed.

Dave Corlett: This and we're half an hour into our conversation on this wonderful podcast about creativity in tech marketing, and something that we haven't kind of touched on, which I'd really like to is, what kind of creativity means to you in your world, and how you encourage the team at MKG to spark an embrace a culture of creativity, if that's something that you that you do.

Kerry Guard: It is I absolutely believe in creativity. And, and really, it starts in brainstorming. I think creativity comes from having multiple people in the same room ideating. and problem solving, creative problem solving, right? Like we had a client show up in Q4. And they were very much like we don't work with enterprises, we're going after small businesses. These are who we want to work with. But we were having a really tough time from a search standpoint were like but their messaging is saying this, but they're saying our audiences this and there's a disconnect here and we just can't quite put our finger on what it is. And so got the team, no room, there was a lot of brainstorming a lot of pulling apart that data to say what's happening. Building up dashboards is always a very creative process because it's like how do you visually want to take something like numbers which is, you know, very mathematical and raw and actually build a visual for it to tell you a story of what's actually happening. And then from there to say, and then to dig into the marketplace and do the research and then cultivate a creative solution to say, what, what are we going to do about this really tricky, this really tricky problem. And we landed on the fact that it's actually not small business. It's small enterprise. So there's this whole new sort of audience that's opened up, and what a small enterprise means. And then we get to go on this creative journey to understand and build personas and really, like lean into the audience. And so while we're not actually building creative asset, one of the creative ways we do when we I think creativity functions isn't coming up with creative solutions, or going about a problem in a creative way to get to the actual right issue that's happening. The other thing that's been really creative for us and really fun, and my strategist is all about it right now is chat, GBT. He has leaned into it so hard, and actually our sales team as as well. And I know that our SEO team has really been playing around to figure out what can this thing do. And it's definitely a creative muscle because you have to test and learn every which possible way that you can really activate the system to give you content in a really meaningful way. It's, it's the right queries, it's figuring out the right voice, like my husband did a query the other day about, right this marketing speak as if it was Don Draper. Right? And, and that's a huge creative outlet for my team. Rather than just straight up writing title tags and meta descriptions, they can actually use this new chat system to get an initial idea down in a way that they may not have thought about writing it, and then being able to hone it to then fit the right audience. So it's been a huge creative outlet that way to be testing this this system as it relates to what we do from an ad copy standpoint, and title tags and meta descriptions and copy for landing pages. Yeah, it's been fun.

Dave Corlett: Excellent. Yeah. I don't think we could have possibly got through this conversation without talking about AI in some capacity. But yeah, I think, I mean, I think everybody's trying to wrap their heads around, really, you know, how whatever you do, AI can use, it can be used to either make efficiencies or help you in that journey. And the whole prompting side of things is an industry itself. Really, I think I'm hearing about a very lucrative one and imagined for some people that are taking it to new heights, because that's, as you said, you know, it's an area where you have to get creative. And you have to learn how to get creative as well. It's a muscle that we don't kind of use very often. From that point of view, I'm sure that we will be is there anything else from an AI standpoint that you guys are looking at, besides chat GPT.

Kerry Guard: We use for podcasting and the like, we tend to use transcripting a lot, testing a bunch of tools, I use otter, which does have okay job. But my team's really leaning into Fathom right now they're really enjoying fathom, which has been a huge help from a content generation standpoint, we'll host I have a podcast, obviously, my business partner has a podcast called What's the problem. And then we just launched a new one called, whom, and yet the initials are CEO, which makes me giggle. But it's essentially our sales guy sitting down with our team internally and asking them questions as it relates to what they do to really understand to be able to really showcase the, their expertise on a more regular basis. But you know, even then, we're using transcription to then help us produce the blog posts. And then also then dropping I actually took all my podcasts. One of the questions I ask is, what's the challenge you're currently facing. And so we actually took that chunk out of, you know, the last like, 15 episodes, I did, and drop that into chat GPT. And then found themes, and hash happy, like, sort of sort through ways of that. So there's a bunch of different ways to use check GPT in conjunction with transcripts, I know people who are building out courses, to say, I've done all of these interviews that I've had to do for my job. And now let me use my transcripts, and chat GPT to create content around course material to teach you this thing. Whatever it might be. So there's, not only are there other AI tools, but then it's interesting to start thinking about how they fit together to help us find go through just enormous amounts of data and find trends.

Dave Corlett: It's exciting. It's a little bit nerve wracking, it's a little bit daunting, but ultimately, it really, really is changing everything. We're exactly the same way. Auditing pretty much everything we do at the moment to find where our AI can help us be better. You just mentioned your podcast. Am I right? So you've been doing it for four years. 2019 a pretty long time in podcast world.

Kerry Guard: It is. Yeah, I'm pretty proud of it. I you know, it started out as a hobby. I guess. I just wanna have some conversations and record them. See what happens. And it's really turned into a wonderful learning tool, it really gives me a chance to sit down with my ideal customer and hear what they got going on and hear how they're approaching challenges. And then more importantly, sharing that out to the community to say, you know, that's one of those one of the things I love about the shift that sort of happened in our industries, whether it's cyber, or other complex tech, like you know, FinTech or SAS is this openness of sharing information, I feel like it's less about used to be very much like, I don't want to share my secret sauce, and I don't want to share how I do things. And it's, it's really opened up where people are like, you can go find this information anywhere. So I'm just gonna tell you how I do it. And you could do that with that as you will. And we could all just sort of learn from each other. And that has really been the joy of why just keep going with the podcast. Yeah. 135- 138 episodes published.

Dave Corlett: That's pretty impressive. What's it called in case our audience want to go and hunt it out, which I thoroughly recommend you do?

Kerry Guard: Well, inspired by moving to the UK, I had to put tea in there somewhere. So it's called Tea Time with tech marketing leaders.

Dave Corlett: Excellent. Excellent. I'm not a tea drinker. People find that weird, especially as a Brit. Don't like it? That's fair. As simple as that really?

Kerry Guard: Were of a coffee person. 

Dave Corlett: I don't know if it is, though. I really don't know if it is, but I think I'm going to lose listeners. But you know, it's a hill I'm gonna die on. That's fair enough.

Kerry Guard: Got to like what you like.

Dave Corlett: Exactly. Listen, Kerry, thank you so much for joining me, it's been a really, really great conversation. We've covered so much in such a short space of time. It's been fantastic. But there's a question that we end with on the podcast, which is, from your illustrious career so far, is there one particular campaign or project or initiative that you are more proud of than any other?

Kerry Guard: You gave me his question ahead of time to think that I would have off the cuff and put people on the spot. Oh, there's, there's a couple of cycles by fine. Okay, so my very first campaign that I ever did that I was so proud of was with yo play, and it was around Breast Cancer Awareness. They do this thing every year, I don't know if they're still doing it. But back in the day, they did this thing every year where if you click the lids off of the yogurts, you could raise money, like every for every lead you sent in, they would give five cents to breast cancer research. And so we sort of flipped what we call flipping the funnel. So instead of trying to fill up the funnel, as much as possible to get to a small audience, we activated a very small audience to go spread our word, essentially, what we're trying to do, because what we did was we actually took the marketing the media budget, and said, Let's try and save as much of the media budget as possible and donate that it's that became the message. And so the strategy behind that, which was the the creative team came up with the fact that they want to use me a budget. And I said, Well, we still need, you can't just build it, and they will come and keep mine. I was like 24 at the time, and I'm in front of all these creative bigwigs. So, my my shining moment, so to speak early in my career was we do need some budgets to activate a very small audience, but we'll find the loudest and they will go seat it for us because social media was just like Facebook was just really becoming a very used thing at the time. It was huge. And so it was a very easy thing to do. And it was huge, a huge success. I think we donated over a million dollars and it was really fun. Fun to do. And it's sticks with me to this day. Yeah.

Dave Corlett: Yeah, I can see. Brilliant. That's fantastic. What a great note to end on. Listen Kerry, thank you so much again, really, really appreciate your time today. Happy Friday once again and a big thank you yeah.

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