You Should Talk To

Kyle Lacy, CMO at Jellyfish

March 06, 2023 YouShouldTalkTo Season 1 Episode 22
You Should Talk To
Kyle Lacy, CMO at Jellyfish
Show Notes Transcript

The CMO leads brand management, marketing communications, market research, product marketing, distribution channel management, pricing, customer success, and customer service and manages the marketing team. And one of the primary responsibilities of a CMO is to bridge the gap between the company and technology by setting the requirements for the management of and access to customer data.But tech, in general, is having a rough time, with layoffs, etc. We have seen a lot of depressing news lately, and it's hard to get through this situation; it's hard for CMOs to manage the expectations of scared and worried teams. 

In this episode of YouShouldTalkTo, Kyle Lacy, the CMO of Jellyfish, explains how to manage your teams' expectations successfully and how you can succeed in the future. Kyle and our host Daniel Weiner discuss brand measurement, the importance of driving efficient revenue, and what separates the good agencies from the bad.


πŸ’‘ Name: Kyle Lacy, CMO of Jellyfish.

πŸ’‘ Noteworthy: Kyle has spent the last 17 years building, scaling, failing, and winning in high-growth software. He is currently serving the Jellyfish team as their CMO, and before joining Jellyfish, Kyle had the pleasure of building a company called Lessonly. He has also led teams at Seismic, OpenView, Salesforce, and ExactTarget. 

Kyle has been recognized as one of Indiana's Forty under 40 by the Indianapolis Business Journal, Anderson University's Young Alumni of the Year, and TechPoint's Young Professional of the Year. In addition, he is the author of three books: Twitter Marketing for Dummies (Wiley, 2010), Branding Yourself (Pearson, 2011), and Social CRM for Dummies (Wiley, 2012).

πŸ’‘ Where to find Kyle: LinkedIn l Website

Key Insights

⚑ You don't have to measure everything. Brand measurement programs measure aspects of a brand's product, competition, and category, and one of the main reasons for conducting brand measurement is to ascertain changes that improve your brand's performance. But, according to Kyle, in the marketing world, there is a dilemma about whether or not you should spend a ton of time and energy trying to measure a brand, and he doesn't think you should. "I get the measurement fanatics that think you should measure everything and can measure everything β€” which is true. You can build attribution models to measure absolutely everything that you possibly could want to do, but there are some times where experiences β€” like a great direct mail or a great event, or a podcast β€” it just doesn't need to be measured. And I've found that creatives are more creative when it's the idea that's more important than the actual revenue generated."

⚑ It's important to drive efficient revenue. While the past few years have seen plenty of investment, successful fundraising, and rapid growth, things have changed. Tech is having a rough time regarding the economy and layoffs, and Kyle says that it's still about growing but while driving efficient revenue. "If you drive efficient revenue β€” both inbound and supporting outbound, or your product β€” then you're going to have a good story to tell. If you don't do it efficiently, it's going to be very, very difficult in the near future."

⚑ The marketing team needs to understand the leading and lagging indicators of where the market is going. Kyle is the CMO of Jellyfish and successfully leads his team and manages their expectations. From the leadership standpoint, Kyle explains how CMOs should manage the expectations of their teams. "We have a product that is needed; there's a reason why we have product/market fit. We need to execute and be proactive and remember, and have empathy with the market. I've said that for the past six years to my team, so it's not

F98EF495_32 - YouShouldTalkTo - YouShouldTalkTo - Kyle Lacy

[00:00:00] Kyle Lacy: The senior people matter because they've been around it long enough to where they understand that, they understand how to deal with type A personalities and know how to deal with them, so they get to the end result. The best end result, not the here's-what-the-customer-wanted result or here's-what-the-agency-wanted result, here's what we think is best for the market.

[00:00:59] Daniel Weiner: Hello and welcome to another episode of the YouShouldTalkTo podcast. I am Daniel Wiener. This podcast is currently brought to you by myself at YouShouldTalkTo until a sponsor ponies Up. YouShouldTalkTo pairs brands and marketers for free, with vetted agencies and, or freelancers for marketing and tech needs.

[00:01:16] Kyle's already laughing at me. We're off to a good spot. Why do I do this? Because finding agencies, great ones, is a giant, enormous pain in the ass and takes a shitload of time. I am joined today by Kyle Lacy, who is CMO at Jellyfish. Kyle, thank you for joining us.

[00:01:32] Kyle Lacy: Yeah. Thanks for having me. Much appreciate it. I was laughing because it's a great in intro for the sponsors. So, those of you listening that component it up, you should.

[00:01:41] Daniel Weiner: I'm waiting on Apple. We were just talking about how much we both love Apple. So, when, uh, whenever uh, they want to give me whatever they would like, I'll just take some new AirPods, truthfully, and they can have whatever they want, so.

[00:01:52] Kyle Lacy: I would take anything from them, you

[00:01:53] know? We talked about that.

[00:01:55] Daniel Weiner: My first question, what the hell is Jellyfish? Tell us.

[00:02:00] Kyle Lacy: So, Jel, I mean, it's pretty simple. It's, uh, Jellyfish is an engineering management platform for engineering leaders to better manage their teams, both from an allocation's perspective as well as team health. You know, anything across the board when it comes to how do you make sure that your engineering team's doing their best work.

[00:02:17] And, of course, we can get way more tactical and technical, but we're not gonna do that on this call. But you can check out for the website.

[00:02:25] Daniel Weiner: Any story behind the name?

[00:02:27] Kyle Lacy: I think there, there is basically, I mean from what I can tell, 'cause I've been here at, at the time of this recording, this is, like, my 90-day birthday at Jellyfish. There, there were a ton of names that were thrown around, and Jellyfish is a unique enough name for a software company that it stands out.

[00:02:46] And it's also the, the essence of the jellyfish as a technically, I guess you would say it's an animal, right?

[00:02:54] Daniel Weiner: Yeah, I think so.

[00:02:55] Kyle Lacy: Yeah. 

[00:02:55] Daniel Weiner: We're, we're mar, we're marketers. I'm not a biologist.

[00:02:58] Kyle Lacy: I know, right? You know, it was more that, you know, there's nuances in, like, how a jellyfish has a bloom of other jellyfish and the grouping and connection to the ocean and surfing and the waves and that type of stuff.

[00:03:10] But really, it's the, you know, it's a real, it's kind of just a different name to stand out in the market.

[00:03:15] Daniel Weiner: I like it. Let's jive, dive into the, the meat of it. What is an unpopular opinion or a hot take of sorts that you have in the marketing world?

[00:03:23] Kyle Lacy: An unpopular opinion that I have in the marketing world. I would say, you know, unpopular, depending on who you're talking to, but I've had the most flack that I get from peers or Soapbox, people on their Soapbox is whether or not you should spend a ton of time and energy trying to measure brand. I don't think you should, but the caveat is that you've gotta drive revenue first. And so, when I get the, uh, fanatics, the measurement fanatics that think you should measure everything and can measure everything, which is true, you can build attribution models to measure absolutely everything that you possibly could want to do,

[00:04:05] but there's sometimes where experiences like a great direct mail or a great event, or this, a podcast, right, it just doesn't need to be measured. And I've found that creatives are more creative when it's the idea that's more important than the actual revenue generated. And it's, it's kind of like, you know, it's like, it's kind of like this idea of a rising tide, lifts all ships. And if you're doing it correctly and it's a, you're celebrating the customer and the prospect and you're giving them a great experience, the, the revenue's gonna come. So, that's where I get most of the flack because revenue, revenue marketers, demand gen marketers, sometimes it's, it's hard to, to take in that you, you prob, you don't need to measure it necessarily.

[00:04:53] Daniel Weiner: I agree. You miss all the cool stuff if you don't, uh, or if you attempt to measure everything. I also somewhat take the opinion. Do you think you can get, like, you said you can measure everything. Do you think you truly can get, like, a hundred percent attribution?

[00:05:05] Kyle Lacy: Yeah, yeah, you can. It's gonna take too much time and energy, and it's not actionable, right? So, you know, if you think about marketing spend as it relates to this podcast, you, you know, 70% of my budget usually goes to demand gen revenue pipeline activities and 30% goes to experiences. And that's a very, that's kind of a broad statement, but the 70 percent's most important.

[00:05:29] That has to be efficient. It has to drive pipeline, it has to support deal velocity for the sales team no matter what the go-to-market model is. And then the other 30% can be used to surprise and delight people because ultimately, you know, that's, that's our job as marketers.

[00:05:45] Daniel Weiner: No, makes total sense. Uh, it's funny you bring up the rising tides, raises all ships. I, I joke that, uh, rising tides raises all ships. I just want a bigger, better boat for me and my friends and family,

[00:05:55] so. But I still want everybody else to win. I just kind of want to get my yacht there first.

[00:05:59] Kyle Lacy: Yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, and that's the brand side of it. You need a big yacht.

[00:06:04] Daniel Weiner: I'm with ya. You've worked in SaaS and tech, I believe your entire career, at least most of it. Tell us a little bit about that journey, and truthfully, from the beginning to now, what's the biggest change you've seen?

[00:06:16] Kyle Lacy: Yeah. I, the first five years at a college I worked, I was a designer, and I worked for a small agency called Round Peg in Indianapolis, and she actually let me start an agency in her office. And so, I ran a design agency. We did web, board press, logos. I designed brochures and photoshop, which is stupid, and I'll never do again,

[00:06:39] but this was a long time ago. And I wasn't tradi, I wasn't traditionally trained as a designer. I kind of taught myself. When we ran that firm into the ground because we were young and had no idea what we were doing, I was lucky enough to join my first software company, which was Exact Target, which was based in Indie.

[00:06:55] And, you know, the year I joined, they probably hired 500 people. And it was, it was already a rocket ship. I was lucky to be able to speak all over the world at conferences, meet a bunch of marketers, basically get a view of what it means to scale something to an IPO. We IPOd, we were bought by Salesforce.

[00:07:14] I spent a year at Salesforce and realized it was too big. So, through that process, I worked at a VC firm after that called OpenView, and then what, you know, lessonly was my first real marketing leadership role as a VP of marketing on the exec team. We grew that for five and a half years, sold it to Seismic. I was on the Seismic exec team for a year.

[00:07:36] Much different, much more like an exec target where, uh, hundreds of millions of revenue over, over 1200 employees. Also, realize that was too big, and now I'm at Jellyfish. So, the biggest change that I've seen, probably the most impactful change for software has been what OpenView kind of led with, which is product led growth.

[00:07:57] This idea that, you know, the, the Datadogs of the world, the, the Expensifys, the Calendlys that you can, you can build an experience where the product is used before they buy. And I'm simplifying product-led, but that's the biggest change that I've seen in both software as well as, as marketing because it's a, it's a very different type of approach.

[00:08:24] And we're getting there with, like, t tools that help you do product tours and stuff like that, that are, you know, for, for somebody like Jellyfish that's more sales led. But yeah, that's been the biggest change. Most of my career's been in sales-led, but that's, the "try before you buy" has changed pretty dramatically over the past decade.

[00:08:44] Daniel Weiner: Yeah, it sounds like we've shifted more towards a little bit more beneficial for the buyer as well with that model.

[00:08:48] Kyle Lacy: Yeah. Which makes sense, right? You know, intuitively with the advent of the Internet, right? And then all of these peer networking groups, sites like G2, you know, you're more likely to, to really know what you want to buy before you ever get to the first meeting or, or a site like, you're just gonna go use it, and the product has to sell itself.

[00:09:11] Daniel Weiner: Yeah, absolutely. Tech, in general, I would say, is having a, a rough time economy-wise and layoffs, and we see a lot of depressing news lately. In general, what's your advice to other CMOs out there, uh, uh, companies like yours or, or beyond, you know, even on the B2C side, anybody, how do you, how do you get through this and what's kind of the, uh, what are you leading with, you know, with your team internally, externally, all that sort of stuff?

[00:09:36] Kyle Lacy: Well, the first, the first order of business is efficiency. Especially these grow, the growth-stage companies. And I'll, I'll repeat back what I've heard multiple times from investors. Nobody is gonna look back two years, three years from now and fault you for not growing faster than you think you could have.

[00:09:57] They are gonna fault you if you didn't grow efficiently. It's not, so this, this idea that 2020, 2021, '22 are all about super growth, fast growth, raise funds, grow, grow, grow, grow. Especially in high-growth software which I've lived in. Now it's about still growing, but you wanna be efficient while doing it, which, you know, I think is, I think it's a good pivot in general.

[00:10:24] I think it needs to happen. And for CMOs it's about, again, drive efficient revenue. If you drive efficient revenue, both inbound and supporting outbound or your product, then, you know, you're gonna have a good story to tell. If you don't do it efficiently, it's gonna be very, very difficult in the, in the near future.

[00:10:45] Daniel Weiner: Sure. And just from an overall leadership standpoint, you know, downstream, what do you, what's your note to CMOs of how to manage, you know, expectations of scared, uh, you know, worried teams and stuff like that? Hard to see some of the headlines. What's your, your note to them there?

[00:10:59] Kyle Lacy: Yeah, I, I think that it's a, it's the same messaging that I would give anyway. It's the, we have a product that is needed. There's a reason why we have product market fit. We need to execute and be proactive and remember and have empathy with the market. And the, I would probably, I've said that for the past six years to my team, so it's not any different,

[00:11:27] it's just let's make sure that we're looking at the right metrics, so we understand the leading and lagging indicators of where the market's going for your specific segment. And that's, I, I haven't really adjusted my messaging outside of that 'cause it's all about execution.

[00:11:47] Daniel Weiner: No, that's totally fair. We'll dive into this some agency stuff now, your o, what's your overall opinion on agencies? And I'd say you have a unique perspective as being marketing leader now is probably getting hit up by agencies and coming from agency side many years ago. What's your overall opinion?

[00:12:03] Kyle Lacy: It's very, very difficult to find a great agency. And I'm talking across the board, design, web, paid, PR, whatever, communications.

[00:12:17] Daniel Weiner: I tend, I tend to agree, and I do that for a living.

[00:12:20] Kyle Lacy: Yes. I know, I know. It's very difficult to find. And usually, you can't find a one-fits-all needs, right? Like, I haven't, I haven't had great experiences where I've hired an agency, and they're doing multiple things.

[00:12:33] It's usually you're finding somebody that is an expert in one thing, and that is the one thing that they, they are doing, right? Whether that's SEO content, website, branding. I now, there are cases where agencies, you know, at a macro level are really good when it comes to trying to scale something.

[00:12:53] Daniel Weiner: Sure.

[00:12:54] Kyle Lacy: Um, a lot early-stage companies, and make sense that you would outsource that type of stuff.

[00:13:00] But in my experience, you have to be very upfront with agencies on what the success metrics are that you're gonna measure them against and look at them on a biweekly basis.

[00:13:11] Daniel Weiner: Yeah, I think it's interesting. I think the, even from my side, like, there's something like 90,000 agencies in the US alone or at least companies that consider themselves agencies. And I find the biggest thing that I guess I never realized when I started doing this, I'm curious what your opinion is, the more VPs and CMOs I talk to, it's not that they're necessarily talking to bad agencies, they're talking to the wrong agency for their situation.

[00:13:34] So, you know, they have an ask, and they have a budget, and they'll talk to typically three or four agencies, and all three or four, maybe, like, wrong for their particular situation and they're just not willing to explore more. And even sometimes when I'm helping, I'm like, "If you're not super, super pumped to sign that contract, even if it could be the worst decision you ever made,

[00:13:54] should be really excited on the front end of the promise of signing that thing." And I think people talk to too few outside vendors often. Do you think that's the case or?

[00:14:04] Kyle Lacy: Well, I think, well, I think I told you this when we first met and when I was introduced to you. Uh, the hardest part is, is having all the upfront conversations with all these different agencies that all do the same thing, right? It's just, it, they all, you know, from my perspective, if I go to one website, go to another website, I ask my peers, they give a bunch of feedback,

[00:14:25] it's just really, really hard to vet initially. And, you know, I think that I, you know, the agencies that I have worked with, I haven't signed a contract where I'm like, " Blah." But the same thing applies to, like, job, like, candidates that you're hiring for. If you're kind of like on the fence, then it's not, it's not worth it.

[00:14:46] Right? So, I, which is why what you're doing, what you do is so valuable because we, nobody else has the time to be like, "Here's 20 agencies. How, how many should we talk to? Let's talk to 5 I have no idea why. You know, I've got 5 because Jane told me she worked with this agency, and she loved it." But Jane is a completely different company, right? 

[00:15:08] Daniel Weiner: Yeah. No, I totally agree, and thank you for the plug. I appreciate it.

[00:15:12] Kyle Lacy: Oh yeah. Um, That's easy.

[00:15:14] Daniel Weiner: Thank you. This is a fun one. Most marketers with your title I speak to, like, this is like a trigger warning, I feel like I should say, are getting hit up, like, legitimately sometimes, like, hundreds of times per week from some that I've talked to typically at bigger consumer-facing brands,

[00:15:27] but I'm curious, is that the same for you between Slack, email, LinkedIn, all the things by vendors and agencies? And is there anything when you're not in buying mode, or even if you are in buying mode, that an agency or vendor, I'll throw in, can say to make you take a call when you're not in that mode or stand out or anything?

[00:15:47] The, the vast majority say no, truthfully, and I, we, we love transparency here, so.

[00:15:51] Kyle Lacy: Yeah. No, I, I am, I'm a little bit different. I am always, I don't know if this is the right thing to say honestly, but I am never not in a buying mode.

[00:16:04] Daniel Weiner: That's fair.

[00:16:05] Kyle Lacy: However, the two things that I see very, very, very rarely, it's very rare, is a reference to something I have said or, uh, quote from this podcast or a post that I've done about brand or whatever being referenced in the outreach.

[00:16:29] And the second part is something actionable.

[00:16:32] Daniel Weiner: Boy are you, boy, are you in lock? Because after all of these podcasts I've heard from your, uh, I think this is episode 22, I have heard from literally virtually everybody like, "Oh my God." After we record, every LinkedIn message has, like, "We saw you on the YouShouldTalkTo podcasts." So you're, uh, can thank me when that happens.

[00:16:49] Kyle Lacy: I wanna be very clear. The, it's not, "We saw you." You need to reference something on and, and have some type of connection and then, but that's only the first part. Most people can do that. Giving me something actionable, like, as an example, "Hey, noticed your website load, load rate is X. That's an F on

[00:17:10] Here are five or six things that I think you should do free of charge to get faster low times," whatever. That's a terrible example. But those are the people that I will read and consider talking to. The next step I do is I either ask my peer group about it or I go to the website and vet, you know, a gut check on whether I actually believe that you can do what you say you're gonna do.

[00:17:34] Daniel Weiner: Okay, we'll have to do a follow-up check to see 

[00:17:35] Kyle Lacy: Yeah. Yeah. I'm more than happy to.

[00:17:38] Daniel Weiner: Like, a month, a month after this airs we'll see.

[00:17:40] Kyle Lacy: Yeah. The actionable part is what you people usually don't do. Right? And that's, I don't, if you're giving me something upfront that's valuable, I am more than likely, at least responding.

[00:17:53] Daniel Weiner: That's fair. What do you want to see from agencies and vendors when you are evaluating them? So, you've made it past the initial stage, or you're, say there's five that you're talking to. How can an agency or vendor stand out? What's important to you?

[00:18:06] Kyle Lacy: Something I think I would feel I would have to pay for. if I, if I read it, so I, here, here's a great example. I won't mention the vendor or anything, but one of the harder things to do for a software marketing team is win-loss reviews, right? Like, calling a, a close-loss prospect and talking to them and asking them why they decided to do X, Y, or Z.

[00:18:28] I had a vendor reach out to me and send me a call that they did with a deal that we won without asking me to do it. Nothing. The whole transcript, the top five takeaways, and that was the outreach email. That is quality because it gives me an example of what they do. It also means that they care about my time because they're sending me something that's actionable.

[00:18:55] Right? So, for, you know, I've seen, I've seen situations with design firms well, where they will send a mockup of something without me asking or, uh, SEO organic. They will send a keyword analysis to me without me asking. Those, those vendors are more likely going to get my attention because they did something outside of send an email.

[00:19:24] Daniel Weiner: It's interesting to hear that. I don't think you're, you're wrong. I think my hypothesis of this entire thing, like, I have opinions on what's important to me and stuff like that. What I find, if you boil it all down based on all of these conversations I have, it's know your audience. Because I know I've talked, like, even on these podcasts, other CMOs, they don't want to see certain things like that

[00:19:43] and it's a big gamble. I come from agency, so it's a gamble to do the mockup 'cause if you hate it, they've lost you potentially.

[00:19:50] Kyle Lacy: It is on the design side it is, for sure.

[00:19:52] Daniel Weiner: Yeah, even the SEO stuff, like, if you miss or, like, misunderstood. So, I have this constant chat with agencies of when it's worth doing stuff like that, so it's interesting to hear from different people of what they want, and at the end of the day, it is, like, pretty split of, that's truthfully my unpopular opinion in which I'm curious your take on.

[00:20:09] So, my quote-unquote unpopular opinion is the work doesn't matter. And what I mean by that is, of course, the work matters, but to get to do the work, you have to have a wonderful process, and you have to win first to earn trust and all of this stuff, and I think a lot of agencies 

[00:20:24] Kyle Lacy: Yeah, that's fair. 

[00:20:25] Daniel Weiner: over-index for like, "We're the best at X."

[00:20:27] And I'm like, "No one gives a shit about first."

[00:20:29] Kyle Lacy: I, yeah, I think it's, I, I would agree specifically for design web, you know? I think, I think more the more tactical type agency could, could get, would have a higher success rate with, like, the, "Here's how I think you should do paid differently." Or, "Here's a competitive paid ad, and I think you should rewrite it in this way."

[00:20:49] The design side, fully agree with you. Like, if you send me design and it's not, you know, it's not the, the direction that I would go, then you've lost before you could ever pitch. So, the other, you know, the other, a huge driver for me is also my peers, you know? And, and you, you know, u, understanding the network and the community,

[00:21:11] that's how we were introduced, right? Like, that's, that's a massive win for me if I have a peer that I respect referring somebody. And I don't, you, you might know this better than I, but I don't, I don't think agencies have a great system to manage that. I worked with a great agency at Seismic, and they had a great system for that.

[00:21:33] They had me on the hook for talking to, I did three reference calls for them, but they had a process for it. That was the first time in my career that I'd ever experienced that.

[00:21:44] Daniel Weiner: Yeah. I see, uh, I see two sides of the community coin, which is interesting. So, Kathleen Booth, who's SVP of marketing at Pavilion, who I, you're in as well, uh, I had her on the podcast, and she had a quote that's always stuck with me that, uh, "Community is the new Google," where, you know, no one's starting their search at Google.

[00:22:00] They're starting with community and then going to Google. That part's awesome. You have to, like, have the community. What I've seen though is an uprise lately in communities of people saying, "Hey, does anybody know anything about X agency?"

[00:22:14] Kyle Lacy: Yeah.

[00:22:14] Daniel Weiner: Yeah. And if, and it's truthfully, I feel bad for something, like, there'll be agencies I know,

[00:22:19] I haven't really seen it with any that I've worked with 'cause I would probably chime in where somebody will be like, "Oh, like, I, they're the, they're the worst. Don't work with them." And they don't really, like, provide context, which I think is, like, a dangerous

[00:22:30] Kyle Lacy: I agree.

[00:22:31] Daniel Weiner: Piece of the community thing. Which is why I think it's funny, like, even in communities or on LinkedIn

[00:22:36] I see, which is why I like to think I provide value. People will say, "Hey, does anybody have a recommendation for X?" And no one asks a single question. They just list agents. They'll, "Yeah, work with these guys." And I'm like, "You didn't ask anything. You don't know it. Like, what do you mean?" You know? So, it's hard.

[00:22:51] I think the community is mostly good, but it does have some, like, you know, you get blacklisted truthfully without context from some of these things as an agency.

[00:22:59] Kyle Lacy: Yeah, and I, there are CMOs, marketing leaders, CEOs that will take that, that face value. I, it's, it's the easiest thing for, and Kathleen's right. The easiest thing for me is that it builds a list, and then I'll go vet. Right? But, and that's why, you know, that's why we were initially introduced. But I, you know, the vetting process is what's the most difficult.

[00:23:25] Daniel Weiner: You alluded to it earlier, too, of specialized agencies. I've seen a big shift, uh, especially since COVID, a little before, of bigger brands moving towards smaller independent agencies, specialize and call it one to two things. Is that typic, typically your preference, and you've seen the same? 

[00:23:41] Kyle Lacy: Yep. Yep. It is.

[00:23:43] I don't know, man. I can't give you one example of an agency I've worked with that knocked it outta the park by doing multiple things. I mean, that's, that's reality. Even some of the amazing firms I've worked with, they, they were maybe great at content and brand, and then we got to the web portion, and they failed miserably.

[00:24:03] Daniel Weiner: Yeah. It's 

[00:24:04] hard, it's hard to do multiple things really.

[00:24:06] Kyle Lacy: It is. It is. And that's why, you know, I think that a full-service agency, I'm less likely, I'll still pick only one service that they offer. Like, I won't, I won't have 'em do the web design and the organic and the paid because I don't think it's realistic. I don't think it's realistic on the customer side to expect that, and I don't think it's realistic for an agency to do it full-scale.

[00:24:31] Daniel Weiner: Yeah. I, I work with many full-service agencies in general. I'm recommending them for one to two things even when they are full-service. Uh, they can sell what they want when they get on the phone, of course, and if sure can win stuff, sure, but yeah, I'm generally recommending for three at the most, I'd say.

[00:24:48] In particular, in the past, can you think of a really great agency experience you've had? And in particular, what made it great? Uh, this kind of goes into, I'm curious how much weight is on the actual work versus, like, the process.

[00:25:01] Kyle Lacy: Yeah. I mean the agency I've worked with had the best experience with both. It was the, the process, the management of, what made it great initially was the management of all of the type A personalities that had to give feedback. They, they were brilliant at making sure that the exec team all felt heard, making sure that there was enough time and energy spent in vetting the ideas that in the background, they were probably thinking that's the worst thing that you could possibly do, but they at least gave it FaceTime so that the exec that brought it up felt like he, he or she was listened to. And then, so they had what, they had one person that ran it really, really well, and that person would bring in experts, like, for a video script, for the website, for, the designer would come in and talk about typeface and color palette. And so, the process was always managed by a senior person. I think that's what, that's what works for this agency.

[00:26:09] Sometimes you're handed off to an account manager, and you feel like you're just being, you're just a ca, they're just managing your calendar.

[00:26:16] Daniel Weiner: The b team after you get the A team for the...

[00:26:18] Kyle Lacy: Yeah. And we had the A team the whole time. Now, and when we gave, so towards the end of the process when we started getting into web, and it started not working, we gave them that feedback, and they took it and, and they made the right decisions to say, "Hey, like, we understand, you know, we wish you luck in the future," and we parted ways and I'll refer them for any type of brand work because they were great at it.

[00:26:45] So, it was mostly how they managed the opinions in the room, and we still got to what I thought was the right end result.

[00:26:56] Daniel Weiner: That's great. Can you think of, on the flip side, a really negative agency experience you've had without, uh, mention, throwing anybody under the bus and, and what made it negative? We love a spicy story here, so lay it on, lay it on me.

[00:27:07] Kyle Lacy: I can give, I have, I've never had, like, a, a really negative. There's been an.

[00:27:13] Daniel Weiner: When, when, when, when, when were you most pissed off? Is that a better word?

[00:27:15] Kyle Lacy: Yeah, no. 

[00:27:16] Yeah, I, so there's been an agency, agency we used in the past, and we collectively over the past four companies I've been at, I'm not gonna pick a specific one, that the designer on the project, junior designer would not take any feedback we were giving.

[00:27:37] Basically, the mindset, taking the mindset into meanings of, "Your ideas are stupid. I'm the designer. This is what is right." And, uh, at towards the end of it, end of it meaning us cutting the, the project, they, they had to remove him from the meetings because I, and this was earlier in my career as well, so it wasn't like I was managing the room appropriately as a, as a junior leader.

[00:28:05] Any feedback that we gave, they would bring back iterations that didn't include any of it. And it was the air, the air of the designer. The way that they approached it was very, um, opinionated and.

[00:28:19] Daniel Weiner: Arrogant a little.

[00:28:20] Kyle Lacy: Arrogant. Yeah. So, that's probably the worst experience. But, but ultimately, you know, I, I, my feedback to the leadership was, "I should have removed him in the first meeting.

[00:28:30] Like, there's no way that that's gonna work out for you anywhere." Unless it's like a top-tier, you're paying a million dollars for a rebrand and, and it's, like, the designer at a top-tier firm, and even then is probably not worth it.

[00:28:45] Daniel Weiner: Yeah, and that's a good point, too, that I don't hear a lot. Like, it's, uh, I guess selfless is the word or self-aware maybe of when you're a g, like, I talk to plenty of VPs who have just gotten into a new role, and I guess one of the biggest things I guess I didn't realize before doing this, I was like, "Oh, every VP and every CMO has hired a million agencies in their career," and it's just not the case,

[00:29:05] truthfully. Sometimes they've inherited they're, you know, so now that you are more senior in your career to that person who just got into their new VP role or new CMO truthfully, and is going through it first, what's the, uh, the note for how to get the best out of your agencies? Whether you're giving them or hiring a new one, like, what do you do? Is it, what's, what's most important, and how do you get, you know, to that positive experience?

[00:29:27] Kyle Lacy: I mean, make sure, the one thing I didn't do with that agency was I didn't spend enough time vetting the personnel that was gonna work on the account. Where I get, yeah, where I get, where I have issues is when an agency comes in and expects to understand the persona use case pain points within, like, two weeks of signing on, and that's their feedback is that, "Hey, a VP of engineering would like this," when we've got a team that's worked with that persona for five years. So, that, so I would caution agencies, in general, to come in as, "We can become an expert to who you sell to within, like, a month of us signing a contract" 'cause it's not realistic. I don't care what type of onboarding process you have. So, that's why taking, taking, understanding the personnel that will be on the call, the seniority of that personnel, of those personnel, the best, the best agencies I've ever worked with had senior people on the account the entire time. So, for me as a, if I go back to Kyle when I was dealing with that other agency, I would've vetted the personnel on the account much earlier and said, "Hey, I don't want the account manager running this process that's been at the agency for a year. Like, I want a senior partner because we're paying X amount of money."

[00:30:46] Daniel Weiner: That may be the answer to the next question, but I'm curious if you have another, what do you think agencies, uh, oftentimes or all of the time, get wrong? Like, what's something you wish more agencies, quote-unquote, got or understood about the perils and the, the challenges of a CMO?

[00:31:01] Kyle Lacy: Uh, well, I think that's it. I don't think a lot of agencies spend enough time understanding all the other shit that we're dealing with. Right? And the best, again, the best people I've.

[00:31:12] Daniel Weiner: You mean they're not, they're not top priority? Every morning you wake up to, uh, make sure your agency partners are taken care of?

[00:31:18] Kyle Lacy: Well, no, it's just, it's, it's understanding the persona much like we have to understand VPs of engineering. Like, what am I dealing with outside of this project that is going to affect my ability to be the best customer for that agency? And it's very much a product marketing spin for the agency as much as it is we, us having a product marketing team for a software company.

[00:31:41] And I just, I don't, that's where the senior people matter because they've been around it long enough to where they understand that, they understand how to deal with type A personalities and know how to deal with them, so they get to the end result. The, the best end result, not the, not the here's-what-the-customer-wanted result or here's-what-the-agency-wanted result, here's what we think is best for the market.

[00:32:08] Daniel Weiner: Yeah, no, I agree. I got some shit on LinkedIn recently 'cause I posted that I didn't think results were what made an agency good or bad. It was the, the people and process and subjective.

[00:32:18] Kyle Lacy: You know what? I, it's very subjective, and I agree with you. I, I think the re.

[00:32:23] Daniel Weiner: Well, that's one. I'm back. 

[00:32:25] Kyle Lacy: Yeah. 

[00:32:25] You're right. I, I, I do think it depends on the agency. Like, if you're.

[00:32:29] Daniel Weiner: Well, you'll get fi, you'll get fired if the results suck eventually, don't think that makes you bad.

[00:32:33] Kyle Lacy: No, no, but it, it, yes, absolutely. I agree with you completely. I, I think it's mostly just how do you manage the customer in a way that it feels like your feedback is being taken appropriately, and if you don't agree with it, doing it in a non-violent way that has empathy so that it's not just, you know, that arrogant designer I dealt with earlier in my career.

[00:32:57] Daniel Weiner: Do you think a negative agency situation can be salvaged, or once it's reached that point of, uh, you're pissed off, it's kind of, uh, the seat of doubt has been sewed?

[00:33:05] Kyle Lacy: Me personally, I, uh, I'm, I'm pretty laid back in general, so if there's, like, if the, now if you come to me without a solution, then yeah, you've lost it. You get one chance, you get one, like, two strikes. I'm just.

[00:33:20] Daniel Weiner: I think I, I, I joke you get 1.5 chances. One big one and one small one.

[00:33:24] Kyle Lacy: Yeah, definitely. I'll give, I'll give an agency the second chance, especially if it's like an account manager that wasn't dealing with it appropriately or a designer and they put somebody else on the account, or they put a senior per, like, the senior person switched out, like, I'll give it another chance, but not two.

[00:33:42] Daniel Weiner: Yeah. What are you most bullish on in the marketing space? I, I normally ask what do you think of, like, NFTs and Metaverse, but I think maybe we're past that, but events are back. Uh.

[00:33:51] Kyle Lacy: Chat GPT.

[00:33:54] Daniel Weiner: I don't know, man. That's a, that's a whole other conversation. 

[00:33:57] Kyle Lacy: Yeah.

[00:33:57] Daniel Weiner: I've played around with it.

[00:33:58] I can't get back in these days.

[00:33:59] Kyle Lacy: Chat, Chat GPT designing websites from the ground up without any human involvement.

[00:34:05] Daniel Weiner: Geez. That'll be the next frontier. I won't even have to do anything. be out of a...

[00:34:09] Kyle Lacy: Yeah, no, I, what's most exciting for me is I think that a lot this market and a lot of the efficiencies that you have to find as a marketer and a marketing team will get, will get teams back down to the basics that are the most important, which is understanding the customer, giving them the best experience possible

[00:34:27] and those companies will win. And I'm excited that, it, it's, it's hard, the market is hard, but I believe that we will be at a better place coming out of it because we've gotta get down to the basics again.

[00:34:43] Daniel Weiner: I can't remember who I saw writing about, maybe it was you actually, the, the answer to virtually every problem you have or any question you have is talk, go talk to your customers And, like, so many people, we get in so deeply invested in tactics and the, the budgets and all that sort of stuff and we forget that there's like a bunch of people using the thing that you can go talk to for free usually, so.

[00:35:05] Kyle Lacy: And that's, and Go, Gong is a great example of a tool that marketers underutilized because you've got hours and hours and hours of prospect and customer calls that you're not listening to. I mean, that's.

[00:35:16] Daniel Weiner: What a smart product Gong is.

[00:35:18] Kyle Lacy: It is. It is. Any of those a, any of those in that space. It's just a brilliant tool that I think sales uses a lot, but marketers should be using more often.

[00:35:27] Daniel Weiner: You hear that, Gong? Pay up. Big fan of your work. My final real question for you, and then we'll do a couple fun ones before you wrap up. What keeps you up at night from a marketing or business standpoint?

[00:35:36] Kyle Lacy: What keeps me up at night?

[00:35:39] Daniel Weiner: The best answer I've received so far is from the only person I have interviewed, the, uh, head of, uh, brand for Samra, who lives in Barcelona, who said, "Truthfully, I sleep pretty well. And I'm." 

[00:35:48] Realized, I realized we should all move to, we should all move Europe.

[00:35:51] Kyle Lacy: Sure, they do. Very, very European of them. What keeps me up at night? It's, it's a combination of my team, so making sure that they are taken care of and necessarily happy but fulfilled in what they do. And number two is revenue. I mean, if, that's ultimately, my team being fulfilled and executing appropriately and us driving revenue that's needed to grow companies

[00:36:18] because ultimately, the big win for me as a leader is when you can ha, you can have a financial outcome that it benefits more than just the company. It benefits the community, it benefits families.

[00:36:32] Daniel Weiner: Yeah.

[00:36:33] Kyle Lacy: And that's what keeps me up at night because that's ultimately why I'm in high-growth software.

[00:36:40] Daniel Weiner: Oh, I hope you get some sleep.

[00:36:42] Kyle Lacy: I sleep pretty good. I don't, I guarantee you, I don't sleep as well as your guests from Madrid, but I'm in, I'm in bed by 8:30. I get up at 4. It's pretty easy.

[00:36:51] Daniel Weiner: Do you? 8:30 and 4? What do you do? Are you a workout in the morning for that, or are you?

[00:36:55] Kyle Lacy: I got, if I, if I didn't work out in the morning, I wouldn't, I would never work out. So, I've gotta get it done.

[00:37:02] Daniel Weiner: I've tried. I'm like a 5 o'clock person.

[00:37:04] Kyle Lacy: 5, 5's good. 4's a little early. And I'm, and I'm saying that with all humility because it's the days, the days get long when you wake up, when you wake up that early. You're eating lunch at, like, 10:00 AM.

[00:37:17] Daniel Weiner: I was gonna say, yeah. What was your very, very, very first job?

[00:37:22] Kyle Lacy: I worked at a place called the Gaither Family Resource Center in Alexandria, Indiana. I don't know if anybody listening knows Bill and Gloria Gaither, who are gospel singers. One, actually one of the more successful gospel singers of all time. They're based in Indiana. And it was, they, they had, uh, something called the Gaither Homecoming series that were VHS tapes.

[00:37:46] Them in a room with all their friends singing hymns. And they had hundreds of these, like, years and years and years and years and years of these videos. And I worked in the store and sold those videos, and we would have people come in and drop a thousand bucks on, ultimately, you would argue it's the same thing over and over and over again.

[00:38:08] It's the same people singing the same song, but it was, it got me my first look at, like, scalability 'cause.

[00:38:16] Daniel Weiner: I was gonna, I was gonna say, what did, what did it teach you that you used today, but it's super clear. This is the path to high-growth SaaS.

[00:38:22] Kyle Lacy: Yeah. Like, hey, put out a video every year. We're guaranteed X amount of revenue. I'm like, "All right. Reoccurring revenue." Bill Gaither, the early ARR guy. 

[00:38:30] Daniel Weiner: You invented SaaS. You invented SaaS, it sounds like.

[00:38:34] Kyle Lacy: He just, he just had, he's just really good at writing gospel music. So, that was my first job.

[00:38:39] Daniel Weiner: Love it. What's your final meal if you have to pick?

[00:38:42] Kyle Lacy: My final meal? Oh, man. Filet.

[00:38:45] Daniel Weiner: How's it, how are you cooking it?

[00:38:47] Kyle Lacy: Ooh, probably in a cast iron in an oven.

[00:38:52] Daniel Weiner: I just assume medium or medium rare.

[00:38:54] Kyle Lacy: Oh, medium rare.

[00:38:56] Daniel Weiner: Okay. Totally fair. And then my final question for you, who is somebody who inspires you personally, professionally or both?

[00:39:03] Kyle Lacy: Oh man. Somebody that inspires me. Yeah, someone, someone that I, uh, I've been lucky to get to know since the pandemic. Uh, we're every Thursday night there's a, there's a call, um, there's a Zoom call called Thursday Night Sales, and it's, like, 150 people get on every

[00:39:23] Thursday night. 

[00:39:23] Daniel Weiner: I used to go all the, I used to go all the time. Is it still, uh,

[00:39:27] Kyle Lacy: You used

[00:39:28] to go? 

[00:39:29] Daniel Weiner: Wild?

[00:39:29] Kyle Lacy: Yeah. 

[00:39:30] Oh yeah. It's.

[00:39:30] Daniel Weiner: The beginning of, at the beginning of the pandemic, yeah, that was like something I found. I was like, "What is this thing?"

[00:39:35] Kyle Lacy: Yeah, so Scott Le, Scott Leese, and Amy Volas are both two individuals that, that I look up to personally and I think have, have really made an impact in a small community of people. And I, I have a lot of respect for somebody that can be that consistent. And shout-out to Justin Welsh. She was on there originally, but Scott and Amy have been on it.

[00:39:58] We've, you know, almost. 

[00:39:59] Daniel Weiner: I didn't know Justin was on at the beginning.

[00:40:01] Kyle Lacy: Justin was orig, it was originally Justin and Scott and Amy. Or maybe, actually, you know what? I have no idea. They're gonna hate me for getting that. I, but Scott, you know.

[00:40:13] Daniel Weiner: Whatever. I'm not cleaning it up unless they wanna sponsor it. No one gets anything unless they sponsor. 

[00:40:17] Kyle Lacy: Here's why. Here's why I have respect for them. There are individuals who have put in really hard work at the beginning of their careers and now have lucrative consulting companies and gigs, and, but they have never changed their attitudes or minced words.

[00:40:32] Like, they tell you what they think all the time, and I have a lot of respect for people to do that. So, shout-out to Scott and Amy. Small shout-out to Justin 'cause I think he's similar.

[00:40:42] Daniel Weiner: I totally agree. I think the last one I attended, if I remember correctly, uh, Gaetano Denardo, I think was his name, was like.

[00:40:48] Kyle Lacy: He played guitar. Yeah. So, that was, so I've been almost every Thursday since it began for, like, I mean, that's going on. We're going on three years, I think.

[00:40:56] Daniel Weiner: Damn. I attended pretty consistently, I wanna say 2020 or beginning of 2021, like, or probably 2020 then 'cause it was like a COVID.

[00:41:05] Kyle Lacy: It was a COVID thing, and it, it's been, yeah, it's been just a good community of people.

[00:41:10] Daniel Weiner: That's awesome. Well, I appreciate you joining, Kyle. This was awesome. Uh, can't wait to hear how many people hit you up referencing, not just the podcast, you better put something specific.

[00:41:20] Kyle Lacy: Good luck, everybody. Good luck. And hey.

[00:41:22] Daniel Weiner: It's like hun, it's like the Hunger Games.

[00:41:23] Kyle Lacy: Yeah, another, just another thing real fast. If you send me a note and you don't hear from me, send me another note, please. 

[00:41:30] Daniel Weiner: Kyle, what are you doing to yourself here?

[00:41:32] Kyle Lacy: Like, my LinkedIn inbox is a, is a mess. My inbox is a mess. Like, don't get offended if I don't respond initially.

[00:41:40] Daniel Weiner: Okay.

[00:41:41] Kyle Lacy: But if you do crappy job with outreach, I'm never gonna respond.

[00:41:45] Daniel Weiner: All right, totally fair. Thank you very much for joining, and, uh, yeah, I look forward to talking to you soon.

[00:41:49] Kyle Lacy: Absolutely. Thank you.