Adam Pierno with Arizona State University

Industrial Talk is chatting with Adam Pierno, Brand Strategy Leader at Arizona State University about “Understanding Yourself from the Customers’ Perspective”.  The following is a summary of our conversation:

  • Industrial IoT security and marketing strategies. 0:00
    • Palo Alto Networks offers industrial IoT security solutions with improved ROI and reduced complexity.
    • Scott MacKenzie interviews Adam on industrial talk, discussing marketing, sales, and leadership in the utility industry.
    • Adam shares insights from his book on branding and marketing, emphasizing the importance of collaboration and education.
  • Brand strategy and customer insights. 5:51
    • Adam is a brand strategist at Arizona State University, where he practices and teaches data-driven audience and brand strategy.
    • Adam's work involves figuring out the complexity of the Sun Devils brand across academics, athletics, and lifelong learning, and helping mid-sized and small businesses with similar challenges.
  • Branding and marketing for a university. 8:18
    • Scott MacKenzie asks Speaker 2 about differentiation at Arizona State University (ASU), with a focus on brand and how it relates to the school's charter.
    • Adam explains that ASU's brand is built on the idea of providing opportunities for everyone who wants an education, regardless of who they are or where they come from.
    • Adam highlights the importance of understanding the customer's perspective when marketing a business, emphasizing that the customer's needs and wants should be the focus of any messaging.
    • Adam and Scott MacKenzie discuss the potential for a manufacturer to be passionate about their product, but the messaging may need to be adjusted to better resonate with customers.
  • Understanding customer base for business growth. 13:23
    • Adam identifies two groups of customers: “best customers” who buy high-margin products and “light buyers” who are new to the category.
    • Adam creates a Venn diagram to balance messaging that retains current customers while attracting new ones.
    • Scott MacKenzie emphasizes the importance of thorough persona development for businesses, using customer interviews and geographic research to gain insights into customer preferences and behaviors.
  • Market research and customer insights. 18:02
    • Adam explains that customers often don't know how to identify their competitors, and it's not always clear-cut.
    • Adam uses interviews with customers to gather insights on their competitive landscape, but it requires asking the right questions and building rapport with the customers.
    • Scott MacKenzie: “The number one output of research is more research.”
    • Adam : “It's like mining for gold, you usually find a big deposit, and then you're chasing dust.”
  • Involving stakeholders in research and addressing conflicts. 23:46
    • Scott MacKenzie and Speaker 2 discuss the importance of involving all stakeholders in the research process to ensure buy-in and success.
    • Adam uses workshops and active listening to address grievances and conflicts within internal teams.
  • Persona development and market research. 26:40
    • Scott MacKenzie and Speaker 2 discuss the importance of building a persona based on customer research, with Speaker 2 highlighting the value of using real sales data to identify the best customers.
    • Adam then describes their process for creating a persona, including conducting customer interviews, surveys, and gathering video clips to add a personal touch.
    • Adam discusses their approach to marketing strategy, which involves gathering data through surveys and interviews, and then sharing that data with the team for further analysis and questioning.
    • Adam emphasizes the importance of asking the right questions to uncover valuable insights, rather than simply relying on survey data or assumptions.
  • Brand positioning and messaging strategies. 31:26
    • Formulating a message that resonates with the target audience by understanding their motivators and values.
    • Adam emphasizes the importance of adapting to changing customer needs and preferences.
    • Develop a measurement system tied to the brand platform and customer insights to track success beyond sales.
  • Marketing strategy and brand planning. 37:27
    • Adam suggests starting with customer interviews to identify what messaging is working and what's not.
    • Adam advises against relying solely on discounts to drive sales and instead suggests focusing on building a brand through consistent messaging.
    • Adam discusses their two books: “Under Think It” (2016) and “Specific” (2020), which provide guidance on marketing strategy and effective communication of key benefits to the best customer.
    • Adam highlights the importance of understanding the best customer and using customer insights to inform marketing decisions, rather than oversaturating them with information.
  • Marketing and branding with Adam. 42:23
    • Scott MacKenzie is distracted by shiny objects and wants to learn more about marketing, while Speaker 2 emphasizes the importance of internalizing customer insights and communicating effectively.
    • Adam shares insights on navigating politics and relationships from a different angle, emphasizing the importance of listening and understanding.
    • Scott MacKenzie highlights Adam's book and encourages listeners to connect with him, emphasizing the value of amplifying one's message and elevating conversations.

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Welcome to the Industrial Talk podcast with Scott Mackenzie. Scott is a passionate industry professional dedicated to transferring cutting edge industry focused innovations and trends while highlighting the men and women who keep the world moving. So put on your hard hat, grab your work boots. And let's go Hi there and welcome to Industrial Talk again, thank you very much for your continued support of this platform that elevates the conversation that amplifies the wonderful women and men of industry. We celebrate you on this platform each and every day because you are bold, brave and you dare greatly. You are innovative, and you're solving problems and making the world a much better place. Thank you so much. Compensation includes in this particular podcast, marketing strategies, how about that? I, I always geek out on marketing strategy at appear No. Under thinking a marketing strategy guidebook for everyone. That's who we're talking to. Let's get cracking.


Anytime I can talk about marketing, I get all excited. It's just it's the blood pressure, the blood pressure of sales. And I love sales too. And I love the fact that


we have opportunities for you to be successful out on an Industrial Talk. We just completed


broadcasting on site from PowerGen. It was here in New Orleans. So we just buzzed on over. And it was great to be able to talk to these leaders in Power Generation and all of the stuff that they're doing from sustainability what what are the solutions to continue to deliver power


and and do it responsibly. It's it's just been a great it was just a great experience and a lot of buzz, a lot of excitement that was powered gen Be on the lookout if you're, if you're interested in that topic, we're gonna have a ton of information coming to you and learn as much as you can reach out to these professionals. It's all out there. Because we're all about education. Yes, collaboration. Absolutely. And of course, innovation and innovation is everywhere. And you can't have innovation without the passion to collaborate or educate. That's, that's where I'm at. Alright, Industrial Talk. We're expanding. We're doing a lot more. We have a wonderful series in marketing, and sales out on industrial Academy.


The cost is nominal, it is less than what you would pay for a cup of coffee. But it just is. It's just how I deal in the world of marketing and sales. From Industrial Talks perspective. Also leadership is out there. Industrial Academy, we have some webcasts that are out there specifically around supply chain utilities, digitalization. So check those out, cybersecurity all out on Industrial Talk.


Go to it. And we're just really trying to make sure that this is a central location for you to get the information you need. And more importantly, find the real Sherpas in those particular topics. So that you can say, Yeah, I'm interested in this, oh, this person has spoke on it. Let me reach out to them and find out more all about that collaboration. We're going to be broadcasting


at the end of this month


at distributech, which is again, more utility specific, but that show is incredible as well and how to manage those assets. It's that that's going to be another great opportunity to speak to some incredible


Well, companies that are really leading the way. Alright, let's get on with conversation here.


Pierno No, Adam


under thinks that the guy is busy as can be. He has a wonderful way of looking at branding, marketing, why it's important.


And it has got massive street creds. I'm going to have the link to this book out on Industrial Talk. So it's, it's, it's a it's an easy read. It's only 130 148 pages. But it's chock full of wisdom. All right, here is Adam. Adam, welcome to Industrial Talk. Are you having a good day? I'm having a great day. How about you?


Hey, no complaints? And thank you for asking. No, I will not complain, and I will not complain to you. Absolutely. Why would I? I'm here to listen if you need if you need a show. No, no, don't talk to my wife. Because she'll just like, No, he doesn't even know I'm not even. I won't say anything. I'll just sit there like a bump on a log. Understood. All right. For the listeners out there. We're going to be talking about Mark and we're going to be talking about that avatar, we're going to be talking about that customer and they have their customer views. You. But Adam is going to do a better job than what I just did. Adam, before we get into that topic, and that conversation, give us a little background on who you are. Yeah, sure. I mean, where to start? So my full time job is I practice brand strategy at Arizona State University which have to step up. What brand I mean it Sarasota stay Come on. I


used to have a cool how can you guys get rid of that?


That mascot? That cruel mascot? That was right. The sun devil still our mascot? Is it? I thought?


Because that was what? Walt Disney. Was it? What's What's the story? Well, yeah, so yeah. Someone from Walt Disney did create did draw that. Yeah, that's right. Good, good memory. That's a heck of a brand. Yeah. And so the Sun Devils is just part of our brand. And so part of my work is figuring out all the complexity. So we you're right, if that's funny that you kind of hit that right in the sweet spot. So I do great strategy for the sunburst brand, which is our academic our learning enterprise, or academic enterprise. It's, you know, the big piece, but we have to do a lot of code shifting about around when we're talking about athletics and the Sun Devils. And when we're talking about academics, and when we're talking about lifelong learning, and we're talking about our different area geographies and our different offerings. In addition to that work, I teach a course there that is called Data audience and brand through the Cronkite School, which is a graduate program course. And that's something we're going to talk about some of the content of that today. And then on top of that, I'm really fortunate to have a consulting practice, where


I guess mid top, midsize and small businesses turned to me and it's everything from wholesalers retailers, at least one international law firm, and some others. Work with me on the same topics we're going to talk about today, you know, knowing your customer and really matching your offering to what they really need.


Cronkite said Walter Cronkite, correct? No way. heard of him.


Maybe the scuttlebutt, the internet says it.


Was he a student there eventually or just headed? I'm sorry, I'm gonna deviate from what our conversation because I'm like, Walter, no, he just a naming sponsor, the school is so cool. And how do you? How do you differentiate from




What is offered?


The typical, you know, reading, writing and arithmetic from a college perspective? How do you differentiate your offerings versus maybe the offerings of,


you know, another university, and then another university, and then another university? Yeah, I mean, we're really lucky because most college presidents don't. Not only do they not think about brand, it's not that they don't understand it, but it's just not even on their radar. If something to think about our president, his name is Michael Crow. He happens to have just a really intuitive understanding of the concept of brand and that idea of differentiation. So about 10 years ago, he hired the first cmo in the university. And that predates me, I've only been there about five years. And that person developed there, did the research and develop the original brand platform, which since I've had the the pleasure of testing, validating, evolving, to make sure that we are creating that differentiation. So ours is connected to our charter. Our point of differentiation is that we want to offer everybody who wants an education the opportunity to have


So our charter says, like your Ivy League's, that measure themselves by how many people, they keep out who they exclude, we measure ourselves by who they include and how they succeed. So we want as many people who want to learn to come to us, and we will create the program if it doesn't already exist, so that they can succeed and either graduate or advanced their learning however they want. That's cool. So our brains built on this idea of better life, and whatever that means to you, you get to tap into that. I like that. I like that a lot. All right, let's get into the conversation, the topic that that break it down.


What is it? What What, what's the problem? What's that statement out there? That's what,


from a manufacturer or from a business from an industry perspective help us? Well, a funny thing, you know, I've been doing this, this line of work for 30 ish years, right, going, well, let's say 27. And the one thing that is always a tell for me, when a meeting is gonna go badly with a new client is when they say, let me tell you about my business. When they start there, and it's all me focused.


It's they they're not thinking correctly about the marketing component of their business, of course, they have to be experts in their business. And I trust that anybody I'm sitting across a conference room table or elsewhere at a barbecue.


I trust that they are. However, if they want to grow their business, if they want to reach people, they have to figure out how to translate it into what their best customer looks like, and feels like and thinks like and wants from them, you know, what does the offering have to be positioned as for that person to think they need it? Versus just hearing that? It's the best of its kind, or no one else can do what we do, or we don't have any competitors? Because we're the only one that uses Right? Like, heard this a million times. So a lot of times people leave it on the factory floor, or they feel like they have some special sauce. And it should be clear to everybody. It isn't clear to everybody. Nobody's thinking about your business. No, let me just zero people that are not you or married to you are thinking about your business.


You can't even say your your kids are not even thinking about you. Because


my kids are no


way. My kids do not think about my business. My work hardly at all until I have a daughter who's starting to look at colleges shop about me, right? I was gonna say She better be a Sun Devil. And I hope so fingers crossed. Well, you're on in and I'll talk about why Sun Devils are a great place to go. For what it's worth,


improve your brand.


So let's let's, let's take a scenario. I'm a manufacturer. Yes. Hi. I built this company from the ground up. I'm more passionate than anybody else out there. About my widget. My thing? My what I've done, yeah. I'm more passionate than anybody's like, Okay, well, so what? And and you're gonna tell me that I have to change that messaging? Well, I wouldn't necessarily tell you, you have to change it. Because I don't know if that's just because you're saying it to me when we meet doesn't mean that's your your external messaging. But I would do a hard audit of your messaging first. I would also do, I would also look at whatever your competitors say. And then really what I do in in any work that I take on is, I am less focused at the start on the competitive set or the marketplace, I am much more focused on who are the customers. And then I tried to divide those into two groups. There's a book called How brands grow, which is just a, like, you should read that book, Scott is, well, you're in your reading mode. Brands grow. Yeah, and it is about


the way well, obviously the way brands grow. But what the central thesis of it is, is you need to attract more light buyers, then create loyal customers that will buy you like 5% more heavily. You want to build like more people coming to you. So counter intuitively, what I've figured out is I look at who your customers are, and I divide them into two groups, who are the best customers. In other words I will work with, I will talk to your team. In this scenario, I would say you know, who are the people that you sell the most high margin widgets to? Or whatever the thing is that makes you the most money who's that customer and let's figure out what they look like and I will do a deep dive into what all the ways that they think about choosing widgets.


And then I look at that how brands grow customer which is like that next wave what's the growth audience? What is that light buyer then that we can understand their motivators their driver




then we tried to create a Venn diagram, where we say, I wouldn't recommend anything from a marketing standpoint that alienates your current best customers, because I don't want you to shrink before you grow. But I do want you to look at okay, how do we leverage what we know about your best customers makes them loyal? Makes them choose? Who makes them recommend you? And how do we message it to those light buyers, those new people, there's new entrants to the category, who can quickly learn and have a shorthand, so they understand it without having to try all your competitors first.


Are you for lack of a better term? Are you you're taking the existing customer base? The the good ones, the good customers, why they're good, whatever the parameters are associated? And are you creating sort of a look alike? type of Avatar? Like? It's Oh, yeah, so I actually use the word persona, persona, the difference between a persona and an avatar, and there's different schools of thoughts on this, but


if you talk to someone in kind of ad agency world, they usually will say, Oh, I hate personas.


And upon


about five years of investigation, and that is because they've never, usually they've never worked with a good persona that is thoroughly defined for them that has all the detail. So what a lot of times what a persona, or we're going to Avatar you get is like, you know, Barney, the buyer, and it says Barney is time starved mom, you know, it stays very high level, I go into extreme detail. So starting with customer interviews is usually one of the first places I start, depending on my familiarity with the industry or the marketplace, then I will do depending on the business, I love physical businesses. So I have consulting clients that are retail, you know, they have a store.


your zip code tells me the most about you than anything else except your DNA code, which I can't read. But I can read your zip code, and I can go into databases and learn pretty much within like, if I had your zip code stock, I could do like a mind reading trick on you right now of your preferences in media products, you know, by category what you prefer, and it is 95% accurate, it's, it's unreal. So for those physical businesses, and you can do this, even if you don't have a store, if you know the shipping addresses or the physical addresses of your customers and a b2b environment, as well.


You can learn so much about that customer base, what drives them, you know, what they think, what they feel, what they watch what kind of what kind of media they consume. So, starting with interviews, then doing that geographic research, then doing a survey. And again, I tried to segment that survey, to really get to big picture, big picture and then dive into details about how do they find the category? And then how do they make decisions? What makes them choose this brand over the competitor brand? Who else do they think are competitors? Another key thing I think, in the scenario laid out about the widget salesperson is


a lot of times they will say either I don't have a competitor, you know, we're the only one that has our special sauce. And I respect the Mojo there. But it's not true. You don't actually even get to decide who your competitor is, you may say our competitors Brand X, the customers decide. So what's happening over the last four years, everybody's competitors, Amazon, like you might have got a doubt. Even in the real world, peep those entry buyers who don't know where to go get the thing are going to Amazon or Alibaba before they call someone as a contract manufacturer for them. Because they don't know how else to get it and they'll go well, I need this, this widget.


These two websites pretty much have everything and they turns out they do. So


no understanding how to figure out even what your marketplace is and who your competitors are. That's not always as cut and dried as like give me a list of who you think you lose out to and let's do a win loss analysis, which is also it's a useful tool. But it's it's limited. You have to ask the customers, who else do you buy from? What are the pluses and minuses of everything in the competitive set? You know, you're the known competitors and then this group that the customers identify for us during the process. Are they when you have that


interviewing process of the customers? Are they are they open to that or do they want to not share their are they reluctant to share their their insights here usually they're usually pretty comfortable. I mean, I think part of it is the the I conduct those mostly as often as I can do them directly


and you have


To know how to ask questions and how to how to relate to people. So on the per retail client, I might be talking to housewives in, you know, some part of middle America that buy these types of products and go to these types of stores, for example, that is a different conversation than talking to chief technology officers that hire IP attorneys. But you know, you can have on both, and you just have to know what kind of what levers to pull, what kind of


what things are third rail, what things are safe to talk about, okay? They don't want to talk about that. What's my way? And how am I going to get them comfortable enough to broach this subject with them? It's something they don't want to talk about, or they feel is sensitive to them? How do you prevent


the constantly analyzing, and looking into that, that detail that you're just driving deeper and deeper and deeper and deeper? When is that point of saying, Ah, we got it. Now we can then progress to the next phase, because I can see you just going, oh, we need more. We need more information. Oh, we're getting great clarity into this and you're down to you know, the the nose on the individuals face? Totally. A boss that I used to have who's now a good friend of mine used to say that the the number one output of research is more research.


Anytime you engage in research firm, they always come back with like any, here's the next questions. I try not to do that. But I do love coming back and saying like, Okay, well, this is this is my hypothesis, was it right?


I think when I know, when I feel comfortable that the hypothesis was we have enough answers that they can act on it.


In my case, I'm not a research firm. So I'm looking for delivery of an end product, which is a brand platform, a brand strategy or marketing strategy, that a firm can say, Okay, now we know this about our customer. This is the detailed persona that we need to act on are these other detailed personas, and maybe two or three or four, probably not more than four, too many to juggle.


And then these are the ways we can activate that this customer loves is looking to solve this one part of the problem that we think of as the universe of our widget. So we have to message that we can do that better than anybody else for these five reasons to believe. Now we go forward, you know, I don't I don't want to give people


it has to be comprehensive, but not totally complete. You know, it has to be enough to act on and learn from, I don't think you can ever get to every single possible eventuality or every single possible answer of what this million Americans would think, for example, that's the challenge with data analytics, because they're always saying, there's more gold in this data. There's more Golders. Let's


just do more, let's do more, let's do more, do more, but but it's just like mining for gold, you usually find a big deposit, and then you're chasing dust you're chasing after that. Yeah. But it's for if you're new to it, you're gonna get a big benefit up front. Yeah, then you're gonna hit you know, Valley. And then you'll kind of get into a groove. If you have a good practice, where you have a ongoing source of insights, then it's diminishing returns for most businesses, you know? Yeah, there's only so much you can learn unless you're gonna hire a bunch of data analysts.


So do you ever have any pushback from let's say, the sea level, saying, This? Is this? Is it right here? This is the persona elements of a conversation? Do you ever pull them in beforehand? Or when do you pull them in? Well, every step of the way, so I am, what I have learned in my time at ASU, which is a very complicated place and working at agencies before that, working on brands like


Delta Airlines, and just really complicated businesses. You cannot do this as a kind of a sole author, you can't just go do this research and then come back with the answer. And give people here's the Grail here, you wanted it now just go forth and prosper each step of the way. It is, here's my hypothesis. Here's what I'm going to try to learn during this phase that just during the interview phase, I want to learn these three things. If we learn these three things, it's successful and will set us up for the next phase. Then during the survey, you know, here's what we want to learn. This way. You're able to take criticism, take questions, take doubts, and shape what you're doing. In that next phase, you can address those things and honestly addressed them like I take those critiques really seriously in terms of I don't take them personally I say okay, well then they must need to hear something about that. That on


likes it for them and makes it valuable. You know, I try to figure out what's the what's the constructive output I can bring to this. So if we talk about it each step of the way,


people tend to buy into things that they helped create. Yeah. And there is always that person at every company that either accidentally or intentionally is excluded. And they come in at some point like a wrecking ball. And they say, Well, I don't I don't know what this data is, or like, that's not true to my experience, or that doesn't represent this anecdotal customer that I met. And so the early bring those people in, give your team or me or whoever you're working with the chance to take the thorn out of that person's Paul, you're going to be much more successful. And I think it's uncomfortable to have conflict sometimes. But let's have it upfront. Like, let's duke it out. Let's, let's let another thing I do is


workshops with internal teams. Yeah. So I air the grievances, since we're near the holidays here, Scott, and could talk about Festivus Festivus. For the rest of us, I tried to, I may not walk out of the room with complete alignment. But I will make sure that everybody heard from each other, and understands, oh, 10 of us agree. But these two people have to have different points of view. And now we've heard it like, here's what here's, I never thought of that. Or I've been discounting it, or I just never bothered to ask them why they thought that and now I understand it. So then we can make a plan on how to address it or talk about in the room, why we're not going to address it, why it's not why it's not really a problem, or why it's not a problem we're going to solve. So we nailed down the persona. Everybody's shaking their head. Yeah, that's right. Maybe I have some reason. But for the most part, here's the persona. But what's the next phase? How do you get the value out of that effort? What what do you do next? Yeah, so the the, the persona is built in waves. So I do not build on after the initial interviews, which is customers. And we'll identify kind of who are the best customers, and then contact them create some interviews, I'll also do internal stakeholder interviews that point, then we do geographic research at the at the very beginning, from that I will create a draft persona that will bring that to the team. And I'll say that it looks something like this. And they will usually say wow, that that feels really close. Here's some areas that feel off or I have questions about or that's not right. Okay.


The next phase is


a survey.


And again, we use real sales data to identify the best customers, what does that archetypical like, best customer look like? If we could? The way I always say it, Scott, if fate was going to wipe out 90% of your customer value, and you had to rebuild around 10% of your customers, who do you want that customer to be, you know, based on how you make the most money, highest margin or where you're going, you know, we're in this industry, we're in this business, but we're going to move here.


That's where we kind of recruit for our


survey audience. So now I take that survey data, and I tighten up the persona, and I come back. And then at that point, it is usually pretty ironclad. But the last thing I do, and you'll see I'm working kind of far out, gets a little closer in. The last thing I do is another round of customer interviews. And again, I'm picking from the survey at almost, this is kind of my best practices. The last question in my survey is would you like to tell us more will compensate you in this way?


Either a 30 minute, 15 minute interview, an hour interview, whatever they'll do depends on the business and the complexity. But you take that and now I have real faces real video clips. And I can ask these people really deep dive questions into whatever the two or three greatest parts of the data that I have is, so it's easy for me to get


media ratings, or find out what kind of credit card they prefer, or what kind of car they drive. Like. That's simple stuff. It's easy for me to learn from the survey of what competitors they've identified and why they choose. That's easy. But it's sometimes it's hard to say on a given Saturday, you get in your car, why do you drive to this restaurant instead of that restaurant? And you can do all the surveys in the world and they might just say, I don't know, we just get in the car and drive. I'm not really sure why but there is a reason why you just have to. Sometimes you have to pull that out through


deeper dive. So at each each part of the funnel, I'm getting tighter and tighter on talking to real people more directly. But I'm checking back in with the team each time and showing them and everything I'd find this as my own approach. I don't know if everybody does this, but everything that I find all the survey data, I publish it to the company to take, take it and do


whatever additional data mining you want to do on it, read it again, let's talk about it more. Here's my report. But here's the raw data, it's yours, you take it. Here's the zip code analysis, it's 980 lines, I've turned it into 30 slides, but here's the raw data, take it, it's yours.


And in that, sometimes you get that person that's not heard from very much at the company who has the chance to go look at that spreadsheet that you've given them. And they come back with great questions. And heart of what


marketing strategy is, is identifying the questions to ask more than getting to the answers. And when you're in a lot of businesses, especially businesses, the size that I'm working in, and like five to 25 million in annual revenue, those might be founder, led, founder owned and led family owned. So people are not always comfortable asking questions of the person who invented the widget that they make. And who's the to the original tooling that they still use? So giving people hey, here's a, here's a folder full of data, just go crazy. And hit me up with questions. Sometimes it's like a very junior person who has time to kill and says, let me just go through this and say, Hey, you have a question about this. I've noticed the opposite, right? I've seen this. Can you tell me more about it. And from that you can get to a really rich insight, just by kind of making the depth again, this is all great. What's what's the next step? How do you formulate a message that that's in line with your persona, that will resonate? That will


be you know, we're all here to grow our business? Yeah, bring bottom line value, whatever that is revenue, blah.


How do you? What's that next phase? You don't you don't just stop there. Do you know?


Because of the number of industries I'm describing, I'm being sort of vague, but like, right now, what's happening in the world is every every brand is trying to figure out how do we talk about AI? Because AI is such a buzzword? How do we the way we're, we're Oh, are you see that lawsuit that New York Times? Yeah, open AI? Which makes sense? Because it's a that's a good question. You're gonna lose that lawsuit? Yeah. But it's a good question. Because that whole little AI is going out there and grabbing that content and bringing it on in and massaging. And it's like, yeah, yeah. But every every brand from news providers to Kellogg's wants to tell you how AI is part of their business model. Yeah. Putting it in the in the framework of like, what does that mean, to me, the customer, or the prospective customer is even more valuable? So to your to answer your question. When I'm making the persona, I'm not just making a general description of the person, I am at the at the first level, but once I get into the survey level, what I'm doing is figuring out what are their motivators, what drives them, what turns them off, what makes them pull into your parking lot, but not get out of the car, because they see something that that just doesn't feel right to them, or they're talking to a salesperson, and they get they get it from that person. Yeah, I get to those answers. So that


the thing that the output that I created as a brand platform brand position that says, we're going to build our church on these


themes or values, and we're gonna base them on reasons to believe that are true today. Not things that we hope to be in 20 years, we're going to be the premier provider of


data and software like, I don't care about 20 years, I want to hire you today. What are you going to do today, if I call you, you know, tell me what the widget does right now. And why it's better than widget be over there.


And get to all that data, confirm it in the interviews. And then we build messaging that addresses those things directly or indirectly, or sometimes both. So that you creating a lattice. And then the last test of it is making sure like what does messaging even mean? Some organizations, you know, still run newspaper at some organizations are all digital and social.


It's gotten kind of genericized to say, to talk about all our messages.


That's like kind of advertising is a dirty word. People don't want to pay to do it. So they want to do like organic, social and think that that's going to drive numbers. It isn't I'm sorry. You have to run ads. And those ads have to be based on something which is the customer, not you, because the primary thing you got to take that mirror and you got to turn it around the business needs to be looking at the back of the mirror and not the front of the mirror.


Yeah, no, yeah.




it's a journey.


But is it is it nimble enough to be able to say yes, it's not etched in concrete here. This is a dynamic journey where we're going to continue to sort of hone and refine because




back to the original


use case, for lack of better use case, I'm a manufacturer, I've been doing this since the beginning of time, this is my business, I built it where it is today.


Now you're gonna come in here and you're gonna tell me that I gotta do X, Y, Z, and sustain it. Right? I, I've been a number of organizations where, where it's like, Hey, we're all thumbs up, it's ready to go, we're gonna do that come a year later, like, they're back to the same. Yeah, totally. Or they have the brand platform, and they make the set of things that are the original, the easy to dues or the the exciting to dues, you know, even maybe they make a TV commercial or something big. That's not easy to do.


But then Old habits die hard. So you kind of make that you do we set up a, you know, a LinkedIn profile or whatever. But are you keeping it up? Are you maintaining, so the most, the most important thing then is to create a measurement system. So based on this platform, here's how you're going to measure success, besides sales, number one is going to be sales and rep. If those things are working, the brand is probably delivering for you. But number two, it's like, let's figure out what are the metrics and measures that we can put in place that are specific to your widgets and your company and your customers. So a lot of people will rely on something like NPS, which is good, that's the Net Promoter Score,


which is a good measure of very high level satisfaction. And you can, you know, dive into a couple of value maps there of of, I would recommend you for these three reasons. And I would not recommend you for these two reasons, or whatever it is. But you can do so much more in terms of, if you made a content stream out of each of the brand values that we agree on. And then you measure the performance of those over time. So a year is a great time, a quarter is probably not enough, but maybe in the first quarter, it would be smart, we're going to create an equal amount of content and all and see which one is driving the most engagement, the most comments the most signups or, you know, eventually sales and sales calls or whatever it is, it has to be bespoke to whoever the widget maker is, and whatever their businesses, whatever their drivers are. But now what you're doing is you're creating a measurable achievement, tied to the brand platform, which is tied to your customer insights. So it's all a straight line. At that point, it's undeniable. Over time, over over one or two years, what you get is, oh, we have we chose three brand values. And this one is, you know, speed of service is just continuously the number one thing. That's the thing people want. So alright, let's let's look at the brand platform. And let's see if we tweak it a little bit and promote that. Make that higher, and we go to the messaging to your point and our advertising, let's figure out how do we let's do an A B test where we amplify the speed of service message and everything we're doing. Let's do that for a quarter. And let's see what that does to sales, taking into account seasonality and everything else we have to think about.


Can I approach this incrementally? Because I'm already overwhelmed by ears bleeding listening to you. Say I, I still have so geeked out about it. Um, no, no, no, no, no, it's all good. I like it, that I'm just, I get it. I'm playing the other role. But I've got my own headaches over here. My business, I've been doing this, and I can't stop I got to do it.




you know, can we just sort of dip our toes in it? Can we just sort of move forward a little bit? Can we can we prove something? Right? Right? Can we do something that is not this? Maybe this? Yeah. So if you wanted to do this on your own, for example, you could do you need me or one of the other million people that do what I do, you don't, you actually don't, I would start with customer interviews. And then if you're already creating content, if you're already creating, you have a marketing team, or you have one person who sits in a cubicle and makes Facebook posts, great, or write your emails,


you can start by saying,


let's make a conscious effort to sit down once a month and look at the performance of those and really what to take and go what is it that we think is really performing? Is it that we said 50% off, because that's not a message you're gonna build a brand on, you might drive clicks or like, I don't want to call them sales, you might drive, top line ref. But you can't really build very much on a discount. So if it is that you probably want to diagnose that more quickly and not wait, you know, three to six months of research to figure that out because that is circling the drain in my opinion. I agree. So incrementality Yeah, you can start now just by doing a content check. And it doesn't have to be a huge meeting. It could just be like let's just look at the numbers together and try to figure out what's working


It's out there to you know, you just gotta, you gotta, it's it's there. But you'll quickly realize that it's probably better to have somebody to speed up that learning curve, get things done a little bit faster, get a little bit more thorough about it. But I don't know, man, I love this stuff. You have a book? I do I have two books. Do you have two books? Tell us about your books? Well, the first one I wrote in 2016, when I still was working at an ad agency, and it's called under think it. And it is how to approach marketing strategy and brand planning. You know, it's, it's from A to Z. It's meant to be a guide book that you keep in your pocket and dog eared pages and circle things and try to be a thought starter for you that has, if you're starting from zero, and you have no foundation for what your marketing plan is, it's a kind of a three act play of start here do these things. Here's I think these things get all the way through measurement. It's not exactly a how to, but it does contain all the pieces that you need to do it. Yeah.


The second book I wrote in, I think it came out and 19, just or maybe early 2020. And that's called specific. And that is all about how


people do not think about your business. And we're all totally oversaturated with content with information, I don't want to think about a new brand. I just want to buy the thing I want to buy, I don't want to have to like deep dive and watch a 60 minute video to understand why this mattress is better than that. And I just I just want to go to sleep. You know, I want my back not to hurt or whatever, whatever the problem is I'm trying to solve. So the that book looks at real world examples of brands that get it and have figured out how to really effectively communicate their key benefits to their best customer. So it's a lot of what I just talked about, good. It's how do you get to know that best customer but it's a ton of pretty obscure examples of brands that are in companies that are doing it right, and are basing a lot of what they do on you know, a single or a handful of customer insights and really understanding how to best serve that that best customer that they can build on their Amazon. Oh, yeah, they're both on Amazon. All right, we're gonna have to wrap this up. How did they get a hold of you? They're saying by Andy, sir. And he's got bad skills. I want to talk to Andy. Okay. Yeah. So you can go to Adam Pierno dot and it's not Andy. It's a Adam. Yeah, mistake. So sorry. Maybe you have a call with a guy. Oh, no, no, no. Somebody else's. No, it's Adam. Oh, listener. Make a note of it. Don't listen to me. Listen to Adam. Yeah, you can go to Adam here. No, Doug. Kind of a catch all. And also, specific is as my consulting site. Okay.


I'm writing this down. By the way. You got it. Brandon. Scott, you fill out that form. I'll help you out right away.


I'm all giddy.


It's all the bad part about me is all these you get distracted by Oh, that's cool. Shiny, shiny, shiny, shiny, shiny, shiny. Shiny, shiny. Shiny. shiny. Shiny. Don't ya go? Hey, that's pretty cool. Yeah, I'll download it. Yeah, here's my email. It's a curse.


Yeah, if it happens three minutes later, I'm like, What is this?


Subscribe? Yeah. This must be spam. Somebody must have broken like, Oh, she's. But I think there's a such so much great information out there. And I and my, my


bailiwick is I don't want to miss it. I know, like, I still receive, you know, sales notifications via texts from companies that it's like, Hey, that's pretty cool. I don't buy anything. I just want to see how they're using. Yeah, I just want to say, Hey, look at that, and they're using it that way. Look at that, look at that. I'm the same way can never stop. You can never stop learning. You know, you can't it's just stupid to budget and don't come to me listener and say I can't learn and I don't have enough time in the day. You got the internet. I know one more. One more thing because I think I was kind of making fun of that widget person that you that you invented.


Like a widget. That person in my experience, even though the beginning of the conversation may be let me tell you about my business or we don't have a competitor or whatever kind of dumb thing I was making fun of them about. They usually have an intuitive, like, they usually have internalized the customer insight. And they just maybe they had been in business for 30 years or maybe it's because they just don't have a peer at the company or maybe it's just because they're not


very communicative. They usually have the insight and a little ball. And they there, they know what they're operating against. But they haven't socialized that for communicators true. And sometimes it's just about breaking the iceberg down a little bit and saying, like, Oh, so you invented this whole company for that. That's great. Like we can we build on that.


So sometimes, you're navigating my case, as an outsider, you get an opportunity to kind of navigate the politics from a different angle, or navigate the relationships from a different angle. And the research helps, but it's more just trying to get two people to hear each other that haven't heard each other before. You are great, Adam. Thank you, sir. Appreciate His name is Adam, not Addy, make a note of that. That's awful. He's


gonna have all of his LinkedIn. And we're going to have all of his contact information, we're going to have his website out there. And you're also going to have to get his book. So we're going to have that link to Amazon. So be or not, you'll be able to get all the information because you need to make sure that you connect with Adam in a big way. Thank you for being on Industrial Talk. My pleasure, man. Really nice to talk to you. All right, listeners, we're gonna wrap it up on the other side, we're going to have all the contact information for Adam as, as I said, so we'll be right back. You're listening to the Industrial Talk, Podcast Network.


tip of the iceberg, there's so much we can learn about how we can better market our businesses, open up opportunities, create that flow coming into your business for success. There is so much that can be done it never.


It's just so exciting. And you just gotta keep at it. And find those individuals that you trust to help you navigate those waters. Adam, pure note right there, showing the book again on the video. So anyway, again,


you need to amplify your message. You need to elevate the conversation, you need to be part of the Industrial Talk, podcast, and ecosystem. It's out there. It's simple, it's easy. You just go out to Industrial Talk, easy to spell, and you click Let's talk. You'll be talking to me. There's a lot of great resources out there. So don't hesitate to use a Be bold, be brave, dare greatly hang out with Adam, change the world which I know you're doing. We're gonna have another great conversation shortly.

Industrial Talk is chatting with Adam Pierno, Brand Strategy Leader at Arizona State University about “Understanding Yourself from the Customers’ Perspective”.
Scott MacKenzie

About the author, Scott

I am Scott MacKenzie, husband, father, and passionate industry educator. From humble beginnings as a lathing contractor and certified journeyman/lineman to an Undergraduate and Master’s Degree in Business Administration, I have applied every aspect of my education and training to lead and influence. I believe in serving and adding value wherever I am called.

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