The Life-Long Customer

Brand-Building as a Newcomer: Tips and Things to Avoid - with Candace Sheitelman, Chief Marketing Officer, Edify

December 16, 2021 Revenue Rhino Season 1 Episode 119
The Life-Long Customer
Brand-Building as a Newcomer: Tips and Things to Avoid - with Candace Sheitelman, Chief Marketing Officer, Edify
Show Notes Transcript

One of the challenges of being a newcomer is changing the minds of brands or customers from what they're accustomed to. 

In today's podcast, Candace Sheitelman, Chief Marketing Officer at Edify shares with us some useful tips on brand building, especially as a newcomer. Tune in to learn more!

"It's always tough to be the new kid in any space, but I think it even has a layer of additional complexity when you're the new kid in a space that's been around for a long time. The natural state of being in the customer experience space is resistance.

'These are the companies we've always used to do this.'
'These are the brands that people trust in this business.'

Being the newcomer, you have a little bit of a hill to climb. It's getting brands out of the mindset of 'the way we've always done it is how we have to keep doing it.' That's the challenge of being a newcomer in an existing space."

- Candace Sheitelman, Chief Marketing Officer, Edify


To listen to more The Life-Long Customer podcast episodes, follow us on LinkedIn

Follow the host Brad Hammond

#thelifelongcustomerpodcast #customerjourney #marketingleadership #b2bmarketing

Introduction: 0:04
From Revenue Rhino, I'm Brad Hammond, and this is The Lifelong Customer Podcast. We're interviewing successful sales and marketing leaders in discussing ways in which they're building lifelong relationships with their customer.

Brad Hammond: 0:20
Welcome to the LifeLong Customer Podcast. I'm your host, Brad Hammond and today I have Candace Sheitelman from Edify. Candace, it's really nice to have you on.

Candace Sheitelman: 0:29
Hi, Brad. Thanks for having me.

Brad Hammond: 0:31
Really excited. So could you first tell me a bit about yourself and then about your company?

Candace Sheitelman: 0:36
Sure. So I have been a marketer for longer than I would care to admit but let's just say, more than two decades. I spent the first part of my career in actually the same space that I'm working in now, which is very interesting. I left for about a decade in between to run my own marketing agency. And I came back to the customer experience space in the last two years because I really, really liked what Edify was doing. And I wanted to be a part of building a new brand in an old space.

Brad Hammond: 1:09
Very cool. So tell me about Edify? What you guys are up to, what you're doing?

Candace Sheitelman: 1:13
So Edify is a newcomer, relative newcomer, to a space that's been around for a long time. I mean, basically customer service. Some people say call center, contact center, customer experience. It's been called many things over the years and by different vendors and what have you. And Edify exists basically to fix what others have tried to fix for 20 years and we haven't really moved very far.

Brad Hammond: 1:39
Nice. And what does marketing look like in the space? Who are you at targeting? Who's your target market, all that?

Candace Sheitelman: 1:45
So, this is where it gets really interesting. I think most people don't give a lot of thought to the call center or contact center, if you will. But if I were to ask you the question, "What was the last experience you had when you called the company you do business with?" Maybe it's your bank, maybe it's an airline, maybe you needed to return something to a retail establishment you patronize. Typically, those interactions are extremely painful. Am I right? So oftentimes, we just accept that for what it is because that's just how it's always been. But the truth is that when you strip away all the technical jargon and everything else, it's really just that we're all customers, right?

You're a customer, I'm a customer. We all patronize different businesses, both as individuals, as professionals. I have money to spend in my business, things that I'm acquiring, as a parent. So I'm a customer, basically, all the time and so are you and so is everyone else. So we are going after brands who care about the experience that those customers are having with them and want to make it better and are trying to think about it in a new way because the way that we've thought about it for the last 20 years is just really broken.

Brad Hammond: 3:04
Very cool. That's awesome. Alright, so let's hop in to today's topic, which is, how do you build your brand when you're the newcomer to the space? So love to just hop in, hear your thoughts on this and all that you have to share.

Candace Sheitelman: 3:18
Okay. So yeah, this is one of my favorite things to talk about because it's always tough to be the new kid in any space but I think it even has a layer of additional complexity when you're the new kid in a space that's been around for a long time. So I would say that the natural state of being in the customer experience space is resistance. I think there's just a very overwhelming sense of, "Well, this is the way we've always done it. And these are the companies we've always used to do this. And these are the brands that people trust in this business." So being the newcomer, you have a little bit of a hill to climb in terms of saying, "Well, wait a second. So you've always been doing it that way but how's that going for you?" Right?

Not so great, when you think about how far we've come and we have iPhones or Androids in our pockets that let us talk over voice, text. If I'm on the phone with you and I need to show you what I'm talking about, I can just take a picture and text it to you. And if you still don't get it, well, then in a moment, we can just hop onto video. But we can't do that with the brands that we patronize. And why is that?

They have so much more technology, so much more expensive, expensive with a P and extensive with a T implementations in their businesses. Yet the experiences we have when we talk to each other are so much better and so much more rich and so much more simple than when we're talking to a business. So, it's getting brands out of the mindset of the way we've always done it, is how we have to keep doing it. That's the challenge of being a newcomer in an existing space.

Brad Hammond: 5:13
Totally. And what are some of those tactics you can use if you're in that position? So you're a newcomer to the space, maybe you don't have that brand recognition, the trust, maybe even the budget. How do you enter into the market and really capture market share being in that position.

Candace Sheitelman: 5:30
So I think one of the really important things in our position is using the relationships that we have both with market makers, the thinkers in this space. And it just so happens that those people have been in place for as long as this industry has been in place. So keeping those relationships and nurturing those relationships and convincing them to hear about a new approach is part of it. And then, they will go ahead and proliferate your story for you, which always carries more weight than us telling the story about ourselves. And then the second factor is really focusing on our customers. So when people are buying our software, committing to making sure they are beyond thrilled because that is who we need to go out and tell the world, "Hey, that way that you're still doing it, I know you feel safe there but there is such a better way to go now and look at what it's doing for me."

Brad Hammond: 6:30
Totally. So I think we think of brand as really being so much more than a company's logo and color scheme and all those assets but really, how are you approaching your market? Who are you as a company? All this stuff. When you're a newcomer to the space, do you want to act like those pillars that have been in that space for a while? Or do you want to come in completely different, be 180 degrees opposite to them?

Candace Sheitelman: 6:57
That's such an interesting question because one of the first things we did in the beginning was a very traditional brand archetype study. And this may be, too in the weeds, but we came out of that exercise knowing that we wanted to be an outlaw brand.

Brad Hammond: 7:14

Candace Sheitelman: 7:15
One of 12 brand archetypes. But basically if you're going to come in and turn everything on its head from a technology perspective, we built Edify from the ground up. The co-founders are the CEO and the CTO. They have written every single line of code. Everything in the product is ours, owned by us. Nothing is third party. So you're coming into solving an old problem and a really bold new way by literally starting from the beginning. Which, if those pillars of industry had the chance now to start again, which, of course they can't, it would take way too long and be way too expensive and they're so behind that. If they could though, this is what they would build. And so I think when you're throwing out the existing model and starting all over again, the same has to apply to the way that you build the brand and the way that you market.

Brad Hammond: 8:10
Totally. And that sounds really interesting. What is an outlaw brand? Could you explain that for some of the folks maybe less familiar?

Candace Sheitelman: 8:17
Yes. So I think the best and most succinct explanation of being an outlaw is, some people will love us and those who love us, really love us. And some people will really hate us and they'll probably feel pretty strongly about that. But the one thing that you cannot do with an outlaw brand is ignore it.

Brad Hammond: 8:38
So you got to respond to whether they love you or they hate you and all this-

Candace Sheitelman: 8:44
At least, you'll have conversation. At least, even if they don't like you, people will be like, "Well, did you see what those guys are doing? Yeah, I can't believe they're doing it like that." But hey, you're talking about it, aren't you?

Brad Hammond: 8:58
Yeah. Can you give us some examples of what that positioning looks like that either creates a love or hate relationship in your market?

Candace Sheitelman: 9:05
In my space or just in general?

Brad Hammond: 9:08
Just like in your space, maybe more broadly to how it applies. Like what are the things you're doing, the way you're positioning yourself to create that conversation. Whether it be like or dislike for your brand and what you're doing.

Candace Sheitelman: 9:23
So for us, I think part of telling that outlaw story was just stripping away all of the extra words and confusing definitions and padding, I guess, that has come around messaging in this industry. That just is there to, I don't know, derail buyers into thinking that they need this old thing. When you strip all of that away and the way that we often tell our story as a brand is, yes, while we are technologists and developers and marketers and podcast hosts, we are customers, too.

So we understand how painful it can be to be a customer. Once you boil the whole thing down to that, everything else is just extra. Because right there, you are creating a level playing field with anybody you're talking to, whether that's a reporter, whether that's an analyst or a market maker, whether that's a prospect or a customer. Everybody looks at me and says, "Yeah, you're right. It is super painful." And why is that okay?

Brad Hammond: 10:47
Totally. Do you ever pick on those pillars of industry? Do you challenge them or directly call out things that have been done and they shouldn't be done that way anymore?

Candace Sheitelman: 11:00
We actually do. And I would offer to you that each of the executives on the leadership team here have a little bit of a different authentic persona, if you will. I do my own social, no one does our stuff for us. So the voice is real and where you will see that kind of thing come out is when the pillars are making claims of being first or, and only, that we know for a fact is not the case because we built the first of whatever, fill in the blank that was. Because the only way to actually do that is to start from the beginning and write the code yourself. That's how it's not bolted on or tied in ... Or to use a favorite phrase of a colleague of mine, "Duct taped and chicken wired together."

When you take off the covers of these pillars, they have duct-taped and chicken wired, many acquisitions, many different products, much functionality over the years. And that's what the brands have purchased. Because for example, it used to be that you would only call in to a business that you needed to ask something to. And then all of a sudden you could email. Well, they had to buy an email thing and tape it on. And then people wanted to be able to chat from their website. And so they had to buy that thing and plug it in and Frankenstein it all together.

So there are certain things that are only possible when you start from the beginning with that intent in mind. So we will call that out. We have a general counsel in-house, whose very astute seeing claims that are out there. And to be honest, as a leadership team and a marketing team, we are all very active on social. So you see other vendors news and other things come out and you're like, "Oh, come on guys, really? Come on, tell the truth." So that is definitely part of being an outlaw. And you know, like I said, some people love us, some people don't but nobody's ignoring us.

Brad Hammond: 12:57
Totally. Let's talk about pitfalls. What are the landmines of the traps that you can run into when you're the newcomer in the space and looking to build your brand?

Candace Sheitelman: 13:07
So mostly I would say that happens from the mouths of the pillar competitors, those entrenched vendors who create fear and doubt in a prospect by saying, "Well, that's really risky. How are you going to go with this new company like this? How do you know they're going to be around? How do you know the technology really works?" And of course in the very, very beginning, that is a hurdle we have to overcome. And I think every startup has to own that, right?

There has to be a chicken or an egg, at some point, right? We have to have customers who are willing to take that chance and have them tell the story so that the next customer's willing to take that chance. And a great example of that, that we have ... Actually, we have a couple of really good examples. But not too long ago, we announced a customer called, Forever 21. I'm sure you're familiar with that brand?

Brad Hammond: 13:58

Candace Sheitelman: 13:59
And they have really made tremendous strides in their customer experience department from switching to Edify. The technology that they had before was a pillar. Yes, it was a pillar brand but it was holding them back from being able to do things that they need to do for their customer base, which is younger, more digitally native. They want to interact by text. They want to interact by chat. They don't want to sit on the phone when they have an issue with their short shorts, if you will.

Those are the ways that our story gets told and that proliferates. And then somebody says, "Oh, well, if Forever 21 thinks so, then maybe I think so, too." And then the second way that happens is through other brand partnerships. So for example, we just announced two weeks ago that Google named us “Recommended Partner for Contact Center.”

Brad Hammond: 14:58

Candace Sheitelman:  14:59
So yeah, those kinds of things are really meaningful when you're the newer guy on the block.

Brad Hammond: 15:06

Candace Sheitelman: 15:07
So being Google Chrome OS recommended partner for the contact center takes that conversation in a different direction with some of the bigger brands who are like, "Oh, okay. So if their engineers thought so, perhaps my engineers might think so, too, and we should take it from ..."

Brad Hammond: 15:26
Totally. Yeah. You're the new innovative company now that's leading the charts. I love that. So let's wrap up here with a crazy question or a fun question. What is the craziest marketing initiative you've ever done?

Candace Sheitelman: 15:41
I love this question. I love this question and I have two answers. The funny part about my answer is that both examples I'm going to give you are from trade shows in Las Vegas. Who could have guessed that crazy would happen in Las Vegas? The first one is from many years ago, in the beginning of my years in this industry. There was a big show in Vegas and we were another little startup, different company at the time. And we put a Porsche, an actual Porsche in the trade show booth, along with a craps table and if you rolled six sixes, you won the car.

Brad Hammond: 16:20

Candace Sheitelman: 16:21
It was quite a spectacle. There was a line out the door coming to play craps in our booth. And again, we were very small. We ended up getting acquired but creating a scene like that at a big trade show in Vegas, when you're the newcomer is just such a trip. And the other one that's going to be a lot of fun is actually coming up this December in Vegas. We are standing up a live call center on the show floor. So we will have four agents taking calls in real time at the trade show.

Brad Hammond: 16:55
Nice. That's awesome. And I think the two things that stand out with those, are taking risks as a marketer because I'm sure it would've been interesting if you had someone won the Porsche and it's like, "All right, we got to pay for this now."

Candace Sheitelman: 17:08
Yeah. We got to cough up that car.

Brad Hammond: 17:10

Candace Sheitelman: 17:11
But sometimes you have to weigh the risk of doing something crazy like that, if it aligns with your brand against what you might have to cough up at the end.

Brad Hammond: 17:21
Totally. Well, any final advice for those other marketers listening today?

Candace Sheitelman: 17:28
I would say, my biggest piece of advice is not to question your gut. If you know something to be true in your gut, you're probably right. Even if it feels crazy or it feels outlandish or it feels dangerous. There's something there that you can pull out and experiment with and see what's going to happen. It's worth it.

Brad Hammond: 17:56
Love that. Well, on that note, thanks so much for joining the podcast and sharing all your wisdom insights here. Really appreciate it.

Candace Sheitelman: 18:03
Yeah. Great to meet you. Thanks for having me.

Brad Hammond: 18:05