Episode 009: Marketing Automation with Brad Banyas
I talk with Brad Banyas the founder and CEO of 366 Degrees, a CRM application for mid-sized business. We talk about the shifting market of CRM and how the missing functionality is making business more difficult than necessary. Brad shares his view of the future of marketing automation.
Marketing Automation is Future Proof
We discuss how marketing automation is changing and how its role is no longer a “set it and forget it” afterthought.
Brad is currently the CEO of Outsource Management, Inc. (OMI) which he founded in 1999. OMI is the go-to resource for emerging mid-size companies that embrace CRM, Marketing Automation and Sales enablement platforms to grow and dominate their niche.
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Frank Bria (00:00):
The SAAS CX Show, episode nine.
From founders and CEOs to founders and CEOs. It’s the SAAS CX Show. You’ve found the one stop shop for all things CX. Each interview is an in depth analysis of a successful, growing SAAS company building a world class customer experience for their users. And now for your host, serial SAAS entrepreneur, founder, consultant and advisor, Frank Bria.
Frank Bria (00:31):
Hey everyone. Welcome to the SASS CX Show by SAAS founders and CEOs for SAAS founders and CEOs. I’m your host, Frank Bria and today’s episode we are going to talk about marketing automation. But first the SAAS CX Show is brought to you by the SAAS CX group. Number one reason for ideal customer churn, not getting value from your software. Find out how to fix that by downloading our SAAS churn checklist. We cover the seven things you need to have in place to ensure your ideal customers stay, use and love your software, decrease churn by 10 to 25% in just three to six months. Find out more at the show’s homepage. Saascx.Show. That’s saascx.show. And now I am absolutely pleased to be introducing today’s guest, Brad Banyas, Brad’s the current CEO of Outsource Management Inc (OMI), which he founded in 1999. We were talking about that just before the interview about it’s very rare for founders to be sticking around that long these days, so good for you guys. OMI is the go-to resource for emerging mid-sized companies that embrace CRM marketing automation and sales enablement platforms to grow and dominate their niche. Brad, welcome to the show.
Brad Banyas (01:42):
Frank. Thanks a lot. We’re really excited to be here and I’m looking forward to the conversation. Thank you.
Frank Bria (01:46):
Yeah, absolutely. All right, so you’ve been around since 1999 so what have you been doing all this time? Just give us the background!
Brad Banyas (01:55):
Evolution, not a revolution kind of thing with OMI. We actually started the company in ’99 and we actually were one of the first software for service providers and the financial services area. So we wrote a product called Statement to Web that allowed people, you hear all this digital transformation today, we were doing digital transformation about 20 years ago, but it allowed banks and credit unions to have people convert to e-statements and e-notices and online statements really early on. So that product and legacy SAAS product is still around today, believe it or not. So it’s still alive and kicking. But about 10 years ago I wanted to move more back into kind of the customer relationship management space. So we had been a Salesforce customer for 10 years at that time, 20 years at this time. It made a lot of sense to kind of build around our expertise. So we started our CRM practice which today is anything Salesforce and Microsoft dynamics. But out of that came a lot of usage with marketing tools, things like HubSpot, ParDot. Mailchimp, all the guys that have been around long enough for people to know what they are, right? But we were kind of frustrated between our own CRM and our marketing platforms because the sales guys had no visibility to what was going on, which campaigns were running who was engaging, who was engaged, who wasn’t engaged. So, you know, we were kind of dumb like that. There was probably 5,000 marketing automation platforms at the time, so we decided to write our own called three 66 degrees. So it was a good man, but the main differentiation we were trying to do there was bring some of these disparate tools together Frank. We had email tools like Mail Champ or Constant Contact. They had landing page tools like Lead Pages or Woo Forms and social media platforms like HootSuite or V True, which is now Oracle Social Cloud. We had some experience with all these tools, so we kind of wanted to bring it all together for someone to easily connect their CRM in that case Salesforce, and be able to target and segment without the traditional list management and have kind of a better view across channel, you know, their social pages or landing pages or email and then kinda throw in you know, automation was starting to be really big. So we really wanted to do a good job being able people to automate things like as simple as, you know, marketing, onboarding, product onboarding you know, lead nurtures. And so 366 was born about two years ago, long story short.
Frank Bria (04:22):
Nice. No, that’s great. So just out of curiosity, cause I got to ask 366 degrees, that’s curious. What’s the numeric significance there?
Brad Banyas (04:33):
So it’s a divine number by the way, if you believe in divine numbers. But the real story behind that is it was part of the megalithic period and it was actually a measurement that they believe, in Stonehenge and all the monuments, that there was 366 degrees in a circle. So the megalithic period wasn’t as dumb as they thought. They knew that the parallels the world was round. So basically it was a measurement came out of geometry. I can’t take credit for that actually. And ownership in a company called 366 Software that we sold the Lexmark probably, oh, way back. But so that’s where the name came from and that’s what it means so.
Frank Bria (05:13):
Oh, that’s cool. Well, yeah…
Brad Banyas (05:15):
And it’s a leap year! There’s 366 days this year.
Frank Bria (05:19):
Yeah I was gonna say this year, 2020. So, I saw that and my first impression was, Oh, that’s kinda cool. It’s a bigger than 360 degree view for the customer.
Brad Banyas (05:30):
It’s got Kevin Bacon in there, Six Degrees of Separation. It’s got some Bacon in there. No, it’s actually, you can look it up. There’s a lot of cold kind of folklore stuff about it, but it’s not really interesting unless you’re geometry geek, but there is some meaning behind it, so yeah.
Frank Bria (05:44):
That’s cool. Well, as a former mathematician, I’m going to go look that up later. So that’s cool. So what’s the focus in terms of types of companies, size of company? What’s the sort of, ideal client profile?
Brad Banyas (05:57):
Yeah, so we started kind of in what I would say the small business area, cause we have some other partnerships with CRMs like Nimble CRM, if you’re familiar with them. But our typical customer’s probably small to mid market.An average company with us probably has about a hundred hundred employees and they’re really kind of in that market where someone needs some more sophistication than like a MailChimp or constant contact and wants to do some integration with a CRM and a little bit lower down, obviously from a pricing of like a Marketo or Pardot. So we fit that kind of market where people are getting into it and they don’t want to have a price tag of $100,000 a year and software licensing. So we’re kind of in that mold, in that range. So today, our clients are anywhere from manufacturing, high tech, insurance, photography, you name it. There’s no specific verticals.
Frank Bria (06:50):
Okay. So from a vertical perspective, it’s not so important. It sounds like the dynamic that you were solving for is where there’s this unnatural separation between the marketing efforts in the Salesforce and just being able to tie them together. So there does need to be a certain level of sophistication in the company to have that disconnect already kind of built in. But you know, companies that are large enough seem to have that going on, so.
Brad Banyas (07:17):
Yeah. Well, I mean there’s, two markets, right? Primarily we are integrated natively with Salesforce and then other products like Nimble, so Nimble is kind of the Soho CRM. Simple, very easy to use. Microsoft, Google, we play very nicely with that, so you don’t have to have the sophistication of a Salesforce to take advantage of it. So we’ve kind of got two spectrums, you know, a five man company up to a hundred or 150 person company.
Frank Bria (07:43):
Nice, nice. And, I mean, you mentioned before, right, this is a crowded space. How was the differentiation and the sort of bubbling up to the top process been for you guys? What angles have you taken? How have you, you know, tried to cut through the noise?
Brad Banyas (08:03):
Yeah, I wish I could say it was easy and it was like putting butter, you know, on a pancake. But the reality that we’ve been through this before, so and we do a lot of integrations from an OMI perspective. We’ve really gone through channels. The smartest thing I think we did, we wanted to be able to connect to leading platform. So we’re in the app exchange, we’re on Nimble’s marketplace. We did some key partnerships with video marketing platforms like Vid Yard, if you’re familiar with Vid Yard and some other key, what I would call platform plays, that have really given us I would say awareness. It would have been very expensive to buy. So people on those platforms, people starting to look at marketing automation. They find us through those channels. And then we have a pretty large partner program. We’ve got a pretty aggressive program to, you know, beat out the guys where we pay revenue share with some of our partners. So a lot of those people that were maybe partnered with some of these other leaders weren’t quite making you know, the revenue shares. So it was very attractive. And then when we became one-to-one or we may beat them in a certain area that’s driving kind of our sales side.
Frank Bria (09:13):
Yeah. Well that’s a natural, I think for you guys, would be a natural a fit given the fact that you’ve got all these integration connection points, you know, to be able to leverage the marketing channels of your integration partners. It’s nice that that aligns, it’s not pounding down the door quite as hard as you would if you didn’t have those integration points in place.
Brad Banyas (09:34):
Yeah. And you know, from an OMI perspective, as you know, I know we were talking about 366, but we’re pretty heavily into consulting with platforms like Salesforce and Microsoft. So we do a try for the customer. If they want to put in Marquetto or Marketing Cloud or Part I, great, we can help them do that. But oh, by the way, we happen to own a marketing automation platform. So some of those go our way and some of them are not a good fit.
Frank Bria (10:01):
Well that’s great. That’s a classic, really strong solution oriented approach. You know, when you got the services, custom services kind of matched up with the software platform. I wanted to ask you about, and this is going to sound like an architecture question, but it’s actually more of a strategy question. One of the problems that sound like you’re trying to solve for here is connecting all these disparate tools. So anyone who’s done anything with marketing automation knows that there’s like 7 trillion different things which all do something slightly different or different parts and getting them to talk to each other is, you know, not easy. We’re starting to see these things like Zapier and stuff come out now where there’s, you know this sort of meta-connection software. As you were putting this together, did you sort of see yourself as the sort of meta-connector of all of these tools or was having some sort of a base code CRM more important and the connection was kind of the thing you’re solving for? Does, does that make sense?
Brad Banyas (11:10):
Great. It’s a great question. It’s a great question. So we’re very familiar with Zapier and pricing who, you know, HubSpot bod and we have a partnership with a company called Flow Gear. It’s kind of an API iPASS platform. We took a different approach. We weren’t trying to be kind of a pie seeing or really have people create Zapps cause I don’t think that’s really scalable for most businesses in the small business. It was very difficult for them to kind of figure out even how to create a Zapp. So we took the strategy approach to connect natively in Salesforce, which is, you know, pretty much the leading, leading CRM right now in the market with, you know, whatever, 29% ownership there and then Nimble and some other smaller, but I would call, getting started CRM platform. So we’re native on Nimble and Salesforce. So we felt that those two platforms could give us propel us to where we needed to be. So we haven’t gone off and integrated into every CRM that’s out there in the market. It’s not really our intent, but our APIs are open. We built it as an API platform as well. So if someone wants to create a connection to XYZ CRM, they’re welcome to knock it out.
Frank Bria (12:20):
Yeah, that makes sense. Yeah. I mean I think you’re right in the sense that you know, the sort of meta API connection feels like, all of those solutions feel like solving for a problem we shouldn’t have.
Brad Banyas (12:41):
Yeah. It gets complex if you’re using kind of what I would call these ad hoc connectors. As your business grows and the complexity of your business grows, you really kind of created a rat’s nest of noise. And so we come from obviously on the all my side, the bigger side. So we get to understand what these smaller companies are going to come up and go through. And you do have to think about that stuff if you’re really going to standardize on, you know, any marketing automation.
Frank Bria (13:08):
Yeah, I mean at some point you do. I mean it’s like the old network. It’s like the old networking communication problem, right? You have six people in a room and one more person comes in the room. You’re not linearly growing the connections, you’re exponentially growing them so. That’s interesting. All right. I want to turn the attention a little bit to your solution itself, the software itself. As you thought through, obviously one of the big problems you were looking at was, you know, getting visibility between these two different groups and, you’ve got two different skill sets, two different, I mean generally speaking, the sales and marketing folks, two different needs sets, two different types of users. How did you think through you know, displaying the information in ways that were going to be useful to each of the different areas to create visibility and this, you know, there’s different things they’re kind of interested in. What was that process like from a UX design perspective?
Brad Banyas (14:06):
Yeah, I think why we did it is the problem that I told you that we were having internally between our marketing and CRM is the problem. Everybody has it, they call it marketing and sales alignment now or treated differently or whatever they want to put on it. But the reality of it was we wanted to just get work done, right? I mean we wanted to be able to easily, and I would tell people, I’m not a marketer. So when, you know, when we first started doing this and the marketing people, they’re like, “Oh, well, you know, what’s an MQL? What’s the…?” You know, our mind from a business perspective is we want visibility, we want a sales guy to judge whether someone’s engaged. You’re not a qualified, we don’t want a spreadsheet. So we’re a little different. So the marketing people I think struggled with us early and they gave us great feedback. But I would say that the point we were trying to do was really kind of, give the, Salesforce says it today with, there’s 360 customer view is give visibility to transactions or marketing messages or outreach that traditionally the salesperson wouldn’t see or the operations person wouldn’t see. And that’s what we solved by bringing it into the CRM. So to your question, we leveraged a lot of the existing capabilities of Salesforce or the CRM. We were just bringing the context and the content to the lead or contact record in a viewable format. So a lot of our end result, how somebody who’s worth viewing that activity was really easy from the CXI because we could basically customize it to whatever they were used to in Salesforce or Nimble. Does that make sense?
Frank Bria (15:44):
Yeah, yeah, it does. Yeah. And there’s a lot of that in higher end CRM systems where there’s going to be some semblance of customization or, and I know software guys hate the word customization, but you know, tailoring of the screens in a way that kind of fits the model. It seems interesting in this connection between the sales and marketing side that the sales view, the sales customer journey, you know, thinking of the salesperson as the customer, the user in this case, they’re very account focused, right? They’re very people focused and they want to know kind of, “I’m going to pull up Joe and I want to know what’s going on with Joe”, where on the marketing sides sort of campaign focused, they probably don’t even know Joe’s name. And it’s almost like having two different, kind of looking at a glass aquarium from the top to the bottom, you know, and trying to see what’s going on inside. That’s an interesting problem to tackle.
Brad Banyas (16:44):
Well, I mean everyone’s always, and even marketing sales, “Hey sales one’s better content, better marketing material marketing, you know, is providing it. Nobody has access to it or nobody knows where it’s at”. So our kind of approach to that is, “Hey, build beautiful templates, beautiful content, beautiful campaigns. If it’s a lead nurture sequence, make it available to someone in the CRM that they can make a choice”. And “Hey, I’m talking to Frank today and Frank seems interested in 366. I happen to have an actual lead nurture right here for 366 degrees that I can push a button in my CRM and launch a cadence to get Frank interested, right”? That’s different than, “Hey, here’s all my leads, drive this cadence out for me in mass and let me know what the open rates were”. Well nobody cares and it doesn’t mean anything, right? And nobody cares. So we’ve tried to take that approach where marketing sale controls content, creative video, but now they can make these products or service, you know, lead nurtures, product onboarding, you know, whatever the business case is, simply available that people can use that when needed. And so another thing we struggled with as a people working in Gmail and Outlook, is the ability, if I’m talking to you and you send me an email, I may want to say, you know, “Frank’s a good candidate for me to put him in this nurture”. So we’ve kind of from a UI perspective, built some browser capability that I can just highlight Frank’s name or email and I can include you immediately trying to make it ubiquitous and easy for you to get people into some kind of cadence or communication.
Frank Bria (18:24):
Right. Yeah. Shortest path, fewest clicks. Yeah. That’s great. So want to turn the attention to the future a little bit. So you know, you’re the co founder, you’re the CEO of a solutions company with a great focus in marketing and CRM and obviously co-founded the software company. What do you see coming down the pike if you look in the next two years in the CRM and marketing automation space, what do you think’s changing? What do you think is going away that today we’re doing? What do you think we’re going to be doing that we haven’t even thought of yet?
Brad Banyas (19:02):
Yeah, I think the ability, I think content is real big and having the ability to, you know, grab content quickly, use content specifically if you’re not just focused on one products. I mean, the problem with dealing with as a SAS provider is, you know, we have clients as you know, across all industries, right? It could be healthcare, insurance, whatever it is. It’s very difficult for us to be, you know, vertical experts in healthcare or manufacturing. But I think the ability for people to disseminate content really quickly and then let that user, which in this case could be sales, marketing, customer support, whatever, access that quickly and get that out no matter where they’re at. So I think the old days of going to CRM, managing a lead record and all that are really old school and I think people are looking for really more what I would call live content, real content content that’s changing. And you have to have platforms that are going to be able to deliver that or grab the customer profiles or lead profiles, wherever that may be indirectly really quickly. So I think it’s going to be interesting as these things turn into really more what I would call it used to be customer communication platforms is what we call them. It’s really going to be communication platforms that may include text, email, voice, whatever it may be in the current CRM systems are moving there, but it’s going to be a hard jump. So I see us moving into that kind of place where I can go grab information, disseminate information, and measure who’s engaging really quickly.
Frank Bria (20:34):
Yeah, I mean in some sense you’re kind of describing marketing in place, you know, bringing the marketing to the user rather than the user having to go into some kind of a marketing system in order to kick things off.
Brad Banyas (20:46):
Yeah, correct. Just like I was saying, people think of campaigns, it depends what industry and I mean if you’re Coca Cola or you’re, I don’t know, Delta and you’re running large campaigns, it’s all volume based too. I mean there’s still gonna be that volume of sends for campaigns, mass campaigns, but really with the trend more back to account based marketing, account based selling, that’s going back to the traditional way we used to sell way back when, right? We had to get a relationship with five or 10 key people at an organization and that’s bringing back some of these more personal campaign launches, right? Personal cadence launches, not mass communication. We’ve all been turned off to that. So it’s interesting to see it come back around and I think we’re trying to make that one-to-one interaction or personalization really easy for you to consume anywhere, if that makes sense.
Frank Bria (21:40):
I think that’s really smart. Forrester, I think put a research paper out last year, late last year about this where they talked to B2B buyers and asked them, you know, some of their pain points around this. And they definitely said that I think 65% of the survey respondents said they’ve been absolutely inundated with content, no more content. But then they asked them what do they want? And interestingly enough, the thing they came out with was empathy, you know, people, they want to feel like the person they’re talking to on the other side of the email or text or whatever it is, actually understands their problem and issues on a very personal level. And it’s going to be interesting to see that switch. You know, we had mass, and then we had mass personalization and now interestingly enough, we may be going back to personalized again.
Brad Banyas (22:27):
Well, I wanted to ask you, what did you get from me before the show?
Frank Bria (22:31):
Yeah, there’s, right, exactly. So we talked about that before, after we booked the interview you know, I get a surprise package at the office and it’s a welcome card with my face on it and a mug with our company logo on it as “Hey just wanted to show you kind of what we do”. That was incredibly impressive. And I reached out to you too to let you know that you’re right.
Brad Banyas (22:57):
I was just going to tell you, I mean, but my point in that is no matter what product we have, 366 degrees is an open platform. There’s APIs we plug into things like those gifting platforms. I mean the key is orchestrating all of these key data sources where your customers live or your prospects live. The key is orchestrating all of this information and you’d be able to execute some message relatively quickly and be able to at least see is ineffective. You know, is this the right audience? Is this the right target? And that’s not really necessarily one system. So I think we’ve kind of approached 366 degrees. We’ve got a traditional marketplace like everyone says, but we’re putting key people in there that we think are leaders in the spaces that we integrate. And so we feel those types of integration points we can continue to bring, you know, value, whether it’s through a third party direct mail component, like you got whatever it may be. That’s the key.
Frank Bria (23:54):
Well, I mean that is such a, I think for a lot of people that’s going to be eye-opening because when we think about connecting and CRM, we do think about other marketing automation components, the online stuff. But the fact that you guys have a direct link into this, you know, direct mail fulfillment, personalized gifting, that’s a bit of an eye opening thing. It’s like, wow, I never thought about that. Normally we would just export a list out and go get a vendor and all that stuff. So that’s really clever and you can, again in place, marketing in place at one press of a button, “Hey this is something we need to send out”.
Brad Banyas (24:30):
And the target is, you know, it depends what your audience is and who you’re targeting. In the B2B space, I mean we have to build relationships with, you know, multiple people and companies. So it’s not a mass market, mass email, approach. So those little things where you can take 20 seconds and personalize something, it takes everything. Texts, phone calls, face to face, direct mail. And I think the world is looking for this one “Hey Brad, can you tell me this one thing that’s guaranteed going to work for me”? I’m like, “no, I can’t. I can’t. But I can tell you, if you execute these processes over and over again, you get better at it and you get more effective and you know how to use them”.
Frank Bria (25:08):
Yeah, you’re right. The enterprise sales dynamic is something which, I think a lot of CRMs were originally designed to try to solve that problem and I don’t think they did very well. There’s still that personalization missing out of it. I’m looking forward over the next year. Speaking specifically about 366 degrees, what do you guys see as kind of the big challenges over the next 12 to 18 months for the company?
Brad Banyas (25:36):
I think our challenges you know, there’s always challenges. Are you doing the right thing or are you putting the right features in? Are you adding the right, you know, what someone may think is great, nobody uses it. So adoption on different features and things we add are always in my mind, sometimes a crap shoot. You can spend a lot of time thinking there’s a lot of value there and then people don’t find it. I think our biggest challenge is just competitors in the market and big, big, big, good companies. I mean, great companies, you know, you’ve got the hotspots of the world, the Salesforce, Part I’s of the world active campaign just raised $100 million. I mean, and these are great companies. I tell people, “Hey, you can’t go wrong. You chose a good company”. But I mean, that’s our challenge is because it’s really a money grab. It’s kind of a winner take all through consolidation right now. So we’ve always, obviously we’ve been around 20 years, so we’re in for the long burn. We’re not looking for the, you know, hit get out and I think that’s the challenge for any organization that’s trying to stay for the long term is you know, there’s a lot of competition, a lot of big money going into some very good platforms.
Frank Bria (26:48):
Yeah. I mean, that’s always the good and bad thing, right? You’ve got a lot of outside money coming in. I, it’s interesting you mentioned the active campaign thing cause I just got that email this morning as we’re doing this recording from them on that press release. So that was interesting to see. But usually that’s a sign that there’s going to be some innovation coming, which is great. I mean, that’s always great for users, great for product managers and it’s always pulling your hair out for the CEO to sort of stay above the surf, you know, as the water comes tumbling in.
Brad Banyas (27:22):
Well, I think it’s also, I say that, you know I think 366, we really been officially around a little over 18 months now. So, you know, people ask me, we’re still on the disciple phase. We’re still babies compared to some of these people. And we never knock, people are like, “Oh, MailChimp, that’s just a…” No MailChimp’s a couple of billion dollar company. That’s not a rinky dink email system guys. So we’re realistic about it, but we’ve got great customers, very good partners that believe in where we’re going and what we’re trying to do. And you know, we’ll just try to do the right thing for the customers and, you know, build up things that are relevant.
Frank Bria (27:59):
That sounds like an exciting path. That’s awesome. Brad, we’re out of time. Thanks so much for spending the time with us. I know you’re busy and we really appreciate you carving out some time. One last question before we go. People want to connect with you guys, 366 degrees, find out a little bit more. What’s a great way for them to do that?
Brad Banyas (28:16):
Yeah. So they can just go to www.366degrees.co as in company. That’s www.366degrees.co as in company. And then also, I think we did for the show, we gave a month free or something. So if there’s a code and you do want to sign up, it’s all caps. SAASCX. So SAASCX and we’ll give you guys a free run at it and give you a try and we really appreciate it. But Frank, thank you for having us on the show. I’ve enjoyed the show in the previous episodes so thank you very much. I appreciate it.
Frank Bria (28:50):
Hey, thanks. Thank you. And thanks for the generous offer to the audience. I really appreciate that, the link is in the show notes page, so if you’re out and about listening, come on back. You click on through directly to see what’s going on there and give it a try. Thanks again Brad, really appreciate it.
Brad Banyas (29:04):
Yeah Six Degrees from Kevin Bacon. Let’s go.
Frank Bria (29:07):
That’s right. And thank you so much for being with us on the SAASCX Show. I’ve been your host, Frank Bria. Just a quick reminder, if you want to reduce customer churn by 10 to 25% in the next three to six months, check out our SAAS churn checklist, it covers the seven things you need to have in place to ensure your ideal customers stay in use and love your software. Download it at SAASCX.show. That’s SAASCX.Show. We will see you next time. Make it happen. Buh bye.