020: Power of Storytelling in Software, Managing Perceived Value with Kyle Lacy

Kyle Lacy is the VP of Marketing at Lessonly, a high-growth, venture-backed training and learning management software for businesses. He is the author of 3 books and he did over 100 speaking engagements around the world between 2012 and 2014 when he was at Exact Target (now Salesforce Marketing Cloud). We discuss ego, your perceived value in business, and storytelling. We also discuss how to use event marketing, direct mailers, social selling, and personal branding as ways to build meaningful connections with both buyers and peers.

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts here.

Show highlights:

06:00 – Kyle’s music background made him love marketing. Playing in a band got him interested in applying marketing concepts to get shows and promote. Music also taught Kyle how to tell a great story.

09:00 – Ego and your perceived value are reflections of your truth. And, they help you move forward when you’re a young professional. One thing that Kyle learned early in his career: if you can’t execute and deliver on your perceived value then you’re a liar, whether you mean to or not. Kyle started his early career with his own firm, Brand Swag, which was both successful and struggled because of Kyle’s ego early in his career.

12:30 – Then, Kyle was on the global speaking circuit at Exact Target (now Salesforce Marketing Cloud). He learned the importance of balancing his personal-self with his professional-self. He felt that if he wasn’t careful, there actually wasn’t a lot of distinction between Kyle the speaker and Kyle the human. While it was fun for him, his profession got somewhat over-consuming.

14:30 – From speaking so much around the globe, Kyle learned how to tell a story better than his competitors in software. While they were dumping marketing tool feature sets on audiences, Kyle was focused on how lives changed from email marketing and shared those wins, relevant to the audience, whether that was in Germany, Asia, or the US. In Kyle’s view, Andy Raskin is the godfather of how you tell a great story. Remember, your perceived value: the only thing that makes you different is the story you tell.

15:30 – Kyle is more nervous in front of 50 people or being in a small room for a networking event. But on the other hand, he can more easily get in front of a huge room of people. Why? Kyle knows that he can control his “personal brand” better in a 3,000 person setting where the audience cannot question him. In a small setting, so many unknowns can come up in the conversation, so it’s a bit more nerve-wracking.

19:00 – Should executives be building a personal brand and a network? The answer is, yes. All LinkedIn is doing is acting as a place to cultivate that network. You can only handle 100 relationships well, how do you handle the rest? With social media.

21:00 – How does Kyle think about managing sales and marketing tech stack? Does the tech help hit goals or not? If it’s a nice-to-have software, they probably won’t buy it, especially with so many narrow “point tool” in MarTech.

25:00 – SDRs at Lessonly: how do we bridge marketing efforts to SDR efforts? At Lessonly, they’re doing a lot of direct mail sends. Marketing is a good business function to execute continuous rapid improvement (just like software and product teams), which especially works well for SDR teams since they’re very process driven. When running a test, Kyle suggests that we always need a kick-off and a retro. SDRs themselves feel more creative reporting under marketing, and they love that they have more license to test as long as they’re following a process.

29:00 – Event marketing at Lessonly: 5 Tradeshows and 14 field events per territory, with generally having a no-presentation-policy but rather getting customers to talk to prospects organically. For example, they’re doing “Taste of Lessonly” where prospects come and talk and hangout in a comfortable yet curated setting, versus having them come and sit through content pitches. Why does it work? Great customers are just people, and we’re all tired of being hard-sold to. Instead, people just love meeting their peers and learn from each other. Buyers don’t like when a vendor tells them what to do. For paid ads, Lessonly is doing Google and Bing but no real investment in banner ads. They spend their focus and dollars on direct mail sends.

33:00 – Why direct mail with paid dollars, versus banner ads? When thinking about a contact-based approach, especially in B2B… Do you spend $300 to maybe put a banner ad in front of that person, or do you spend $100 to send a highly personalized direct mailer to their desk, and with tracking you know they got it (using a tool like https://sendoso.com/)? In 2019, it’s too easy to “buy tech, scale, and automate”, but really we’re just humans. Feature sets are old news, so how do you win? Direct mail and organic conversation at events just feels good to us as humans, and builds trust.

35:00 – Account Based Marketing: focus and targeted, who are your target lists? Spend money to talk to those contacts. If your sales team feels you need more leads, you’re just going to haphazardly throw money wherever. VERSUS, a named-account strategy: let’s say we want 10 top call centers in US. We are going to create campaigns specifically for that. It depends on go to market, though. In the case of MailChimp, they’re selling to smaller businesses and need more coverage, so they’re doing something different because their smaller deal sizes at higher volumes.

Fundamentals: know your deal size, know how many accounts you’re going after.

39:00 – Getting ready for Lessonly’s annual event. NOT a product conference, but instead it’s all about learning, developing, and teaching people how to “do better work”. Most keynote speakers are Lessonly customers. How do you have better conversations? How do you move faster and build a culture of “sharing before you’re ready” to increase the feedback loop?

Closing remarks.

Find Kyle online: