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Podcast: ft. Nico Visiers - Thinking Team and Customer First in a Talent Crunch

NetWise Sep 1, 2021 7:46:29 PM

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Show Notes: 

- Our guest this week is Nico Visiers, Managing Director (U.S.) at Making Science, a technology and digital marketing consultancy specializing in e-commerce and digital transformation. He dropped into the data basement to talk to us about the impact of the pandemic and the "talent crunch" on marketing agencies like Making Science, and the brands the represent. Including:

- Nico's story of coming to the US to get his pilots license, eventually starting his agency, and finally into the agency's acquisition by Making Science which gets us where we are today.

- The impact of the pandemic on how all companies sell things - lots of retail going online means that companies need marketers, so they hire out of agencies, making it even harder for agencies to retain talent.

- Digital sales means new complexity and new and different things that need to be understood, tools and how they interconnect and connect. This also means that there is a lot of demand at brand for the talent that traditionally worked at agencies.

- How digital means a need for agility and response to data more than before.

- The impact that this has had on marketing agencies forcing them to think in a much more "team first" way than they have in the past. This means rethinking hiring and compensation models.

- The real pitch for working at an agency: getting to work "in dog years". This means working on many launches, over and over, rather than a launch every once in a while (in-house.)

- The role of marketing teams in reshaping business in the new landscape and the increasing overlap between marketing and other departments.

- The importance of understanding how the first party data is handled between departments.

- How "the data is the customer" and how this drives archetypes to help with understanding your goals and driving personalization effectively.

Want more details? Give the episode a listen!

Links:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicolasvisiers/

https://www.makingscience.com/en/

Join the Data-Driven Marketer Discord: https://discord.gg/XtueptFubh
 
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Transcript:

Adam Kerpelman:

How many calculators do you have within your reach right now? Because I remember as a child being told, "Well, you need to memorize this arithmetic, because you won't have a calculator on you at all times." I have at least six say within my vision right now.

Brian Jones:

Six.

Nico Visiers:

You count your phones? Do you count your phones in that?

Adam Kerpelman:

Yeah.

Brian Jones:

I looked at my phone second. I've got my college calculator that I just do mostly addition and subtraction on.

Adam Kerpelman:

Right. What is it? I can't remember what you do ...

Brian Jones:

I can't do calculus.

Adam Kerpelman:

Couldn't do calculus.

Brian Jones:

I don't know how to make it do calculus. I was trying to remember what ...

Adam Kerpelman:

Integrals. There it is, dude.

Nico Visiers:

Integrals.

Adam Kerpelman:

They were wrong on that one. Hey, everybody. This is the Data-Driven Marketer sponsored by NetWise. I'm Adam.

Brian Jones:

I'm Brian.

Nico Visiers:

And I'm Nico.

Adam Kerpelman:

Welcome back for another hang in the data basement. Thanks for joining us. Special thanks to our guest, that third voice that you heard, Nico Visiers, who is the managing director of Making Science US. Thanks for joining us.

Adam Kerpelman:

At this point, traditionally I'll just throw to you, if you want to give it a quick intro. You told us some of your story and I immediately said, "Stop. Let's do that on the podcast."

Brian Jones:

We've got it.

Nico Visiers:

Well, thanks. Thanks Adam and Brian for having me. It's a pleasure. Quick story. I was born in Spain. My mother is German, my father is Spanish. When I was 18, I decided to come to the US. As I was studying you guys, I could have said many, let's say, many formal reasons ... But the bottom line was I saw Top Gun.

Nico Visiers:

And I saw those pilots and I thought, "Well, I need to wear those glasses. I need to fly." Learning English was my first step. I decided to go to a small town in Olympia ... Sorry. In the Washington State called Olympia, next to Seattle. I spent some time learning English. And then, I started flying single engine planes.

Brian Jones:

Very cool.

Nico Visiers:

Yeah. That was cool. It was a very interesting also trying to learn English at the same time you're trying to fly. Probably, the tower control didn't have as much fun as I did in the process.

Adam Kerpelman:

I feel like I need to jump in. Brian. How much did Top Gun influence your decision to move to San Diego?

Brian Jones:

Oh, that's interesting. I wouldn't say it actually influenced my move to San Diego, but I watched Top Gun every day of my life for 10 years when I was a kid. It was so influential. I had the jacket. I had the glasses too. Boy, I appreciate that.

Adam Kerpelman:

I still have the glasses.

Nico Visiers:

Anybody play volleyball?

Brian Jones:

Oh, yeah. Huge volleyball player.

Nico Visiers:

Awesome. Awesome.

Brian Jones:

That's the best song for volleyball, every time it comes on. Right?

Nico Visiers:

Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, after I did that for a while, I just basically went to college. I studied finance and marketing. I did my graduate school also in Spain. And I've been working in the service industry ever since.

Nico Visiers:

2009, I started with a co-founder a small agency called Multiplica, which we grew and expanded in Columbia and Mexico. I then became the majority shareholder of it recently. Then, I decided to sell off. And I definitely went through a lot of pain during the pandemic, because of our focus in the travel sectors.

Nico Visiers:

So I'm very much looking forward to this podcast and sharing with you some of the experiences that I had during that time, and that I'm currently having now that I was bought out by a publicly traded company.

Adam Kerpelman:

Brian and I've both been through similar experiences. I spent a lot of time before coming in-house at a company at marketing agencies, and Brian's company was bought out by NetWise. Whether it's good or bad, the stresses that come with all of those situations are rough.

Brian Jones:

Those are big processes. For sure.

Adam Kerpelman:

The agency world is a particular one that I don't know that every marketer listening necessarily understands. It's a very weird construct almost. I guess any client work situation is this way, but ... You have a company and you have a bunch of people that work at the company.

Adam Kerpelman:

But if you don't keep clients coming through the door ... Who eventually are done with you and leave, it's natural as part of the whole thing .... Then, the whole thing falls apart really fast.

Adam Kerpelman:

And so, in your context, I feel almost like I want to say, "Sorry. You had it rough." I had to shut down a startup because of the pandemic, so I feel you on that front. It's rough to suddenly lose the travel industry, if that's your focus. For sure.

Nico Visiers:

And I think the biggest challenge that usually agencies focus is ... How do you get to, what I would call, a minimum monthly recurrent revenue that will allow you to have a team that is stable? And then, as you grow, you basically have that, "Let's work a bit with contractors. Let's work a bit with people that you and you can trust."

Nico Visiers:

As you get more clients and your baseline starts going up, you start getting more and more people in your agency. And if that is the case, then you just basically are keeping ... Let's say, 80%, 90%, or 70% of everything that you produce is made in house, and the rest you can basically have a talent that you look for externally.

Nico Visiers:

The challenge is when your baseline drops immediately from one day to the other, which was what the pandemic created for me ... How do you work with that? Who do you keep? Because I cannot ask for a PPP loan to finance people sitting down without working. I cannot build something that I'm going to sell in three months.

Brian Jones:

Right. That's an interesting ...

Adam Kerpelman:

At least, in theory, you can't. I mean, if Shake Shack can get a PPP loan ... But that's kind of a different political conversation.

Nico Visiers:

I agree.

Adam Kerpelman:

Well, this is a good transition, I think, into the topic that really brings us together, which is ... We called it, "The Great Resignation." It was a blog post that we wrote, that was about some of the stuff we saw in our NetWise dataset. About people moving from job to job and some of the patterns there.

Adam Kerpelman:

It sounds like, from what you were telling us before, that the first place that you started to run into that behavior was ... You found an out for the company, which was getting acquired and rolling into a company that has the MRR for you to not have to dismiss a bunch of people. And you still had a bunch of people that said, "No, thanks," and left.

Adam Kerpelman:

I think a lot of people are running into that now, as they say, "We're going to go back in the office." They're stunned at the number of people that are saying, "Nope, not for me." And then, that's part of the Great Resignation.

Adam Kerpelman:

I can certainly understand if people are like, "Yeah. Well, we're getting acquired, and it's not what I signed up for. So I'm going to move on." But it sounds like you caught the tip of the quote, "Great Resignation," there in terms of ...

Nico Visiers:

Well, we did the homework. Basically, when we were during the pandemic, obviously everybody had to make a lot of sacrifices. We were a private company. I was basically financing our monthly loss and the question was, "How long?" And that was the discussion. How long?

Nico Visiers:

At the beginning, everybody was saying, "Don't worry. This is going to take like two, three months." Okay. Two, three months. Two, three months, you can manage. But if you know it's not going to be two or three months, if it's going to be a year, then you have to have reserves. And then, you also need to be honest with your team. You need to say, "Okay. If everybody took a 40% pay cut, how long will that take to get back to normal?"

Nico Visiers:

Now, the challenge I had is, when I was getting out of the pandemic or starting to get out of the pandemic ... Because I still think we are, I would say very much into the pandemic. But as things look better, now we are just a company that is one fourth the size of what we were before the pandemic. I don't need a top level managing director who's going to manage five managers, because I don't have my five managers.

Nico Visiers:

The challenge is also the shift in your business paradigm. Basically, it forces you to completely reshuffle your company, and give people new positions, and give them new responsibilities. Obviously, if you've declined in size, you need to decline the compensation packages for everyone. Including me.

Adam Kerpelman:

And it's not as simple as like when The Simpsons staff decides to take a 40% pay cut, so they can have another 10 seasons. That happened like four or five years ago. Unilaterally, they were all just like, "You know what? We're all millionaires. We'll take a cut."

Brian Jones:

Different. That sounds more like a fun choice.

Nico Visiers:

It is. It is. And I don't know what happened in your organizations, but I think ... For example, in our case, we were already quite diversified. We had people living in different cities. We had people working in international locations. Yes, we did have an office and a hub, but post-pandemic nothing much changed when it comes to the working dynamics.

Nico Visiers:

What really changed was our ability to engage physically with our clients. And I think that basically opened up a situation where you're just basically ... As you lose that personal touch, as you stop seeing your clients in person and you have those meetings and you have those brainstorming sessions and you have presentations and you go to lunches ... I just stopped completely all that. All of a sudden your relationship becomes transactional.

Brian Jones:

Interesting.

Nico Visiers:

And then, how can you tell somebody that was paying you for doing ... Let's say 10,000 hours of work a month, and now they're paying you to do 1,000 hours a month. How can you tell them that you're not going to do so many things as you did before?

Nico Visiers:

Or you're not going to have all the rock stars that you had before, because half of them had to go to other companies? Or that you're going to have to spend some time training the new people that are going to be able to serve you, but don't really know about you? A lot of stress, I would say.

Brian Jones:

That speaks to the other big shift that has happened from all this, which is that how we sell things is completely different all of a sudden for a lot of businesses. Like you were mentioning, Nico, I think before we started recording, about a shoe company. Talking about how 70% of their sales were offline in real stores, and they had to move online.

Brian Jones:

At the same time that you see a lot of marketing collapse during the pandemic, because there is no industry to serve for so many industries ... Other industries are like, "We've never done this before. What the heck are we going to do? We can go digital." And I feel like there's been so much complexity in every area.

Brian Jones:

Some businesses can't survive. Others could survive, but they're not sure how anymore. They have to totally reinvent what they do and their business model. How has the shift in how companies are selling and how many companies are now trying to figure out digital strategies and remote strategies ... How are you seeing that impact your business and marketing in general?

Nico Visiers:

Well, it's a very good point. Because I think ... First of all, as any company is trying to grow online and to do more in digital, they have to figure out many things that before perhaps they didn't really have to care for. When you are the CEO of a company, and you have 20% of your overall sales in one specific channel ... It's important, but you give it 20% of attention.

Nico Visiers:

All of a sudden, when it becomes 95% and it's basically your livelihood, I think most CEOs have started to realize, now they need to understand what's happening in the digital marketing ecosystem. The first thing that they do is they start trying to hire teams. Obviously, what's the best way to hire a team? Go to the agency that used to serve you. Most agencies have been, I would say, a perfect forum for them to pick talent.

Nico Visiers:

The second is you have all these people now that are talking to you about tools. We were talking about how technology and tools influence marketing. Well, now you have to be very smart also about the tool stack that you have. Because all of a sudden, the same way different people in your organization have to talk with each other, you need to have tools that talk to each other.

Nico Visiers:

Because if you don't have the tools talking to each other, you don't have consistent, relevant information that is given to you in real time, so you cannot make decisions. Before, it would be very easy for the logistics guy to see how much was sold in each store. You just need to figure it out. You go into your logistics software and you figure that out.

Nico Visiers:

When you're selling online, you are seeing live sales. You need to understand, what is that? How much percentage of that is former clients? How much are new clients? How can you basically give attribution to all the efforts that you're doing online?

Nico Visiers:

All of a sudden, you need to not only understand all the tool set, but you need to also make sure that tool set is interconnected. A lot of projects of making sure that all that is basically working.

Nico Visiers:

And then, I would say that the biggest change that I've seen during these times is the need for agility. Everybody understands that you can do something ... I don't know if you've ever heard this. You can go fast, you can go cheap, or you can go good. So choose two.

Adam Kerpelman:

I've said it at least once this week.

Nico Visiers:

You need to go super fast, because the boat is leaving every day. Literally. But you need to do it well, and you need to do it in a way that you can actually afford, because you've been hit by the pandemic. I think all those things combined and the talent crunch is basically what I'm seeing right now companies are faced with.

Brian Jones:

Hmm.

Adam Kerpelman:

I hadn't really thought of the aspect where ... I'm on a few different calls during the week now, where other marketing professionals from other companies complain about how hard it is to hire for marketing right now.

Adam Kerpelman:

It hadn't occurred to me that what supply of marketers is available is probably at the agencies. And so, they're just getting brain drained right now, I'd imagine ...

Brian Jones:

Interesting.

Adam Kerpelman:

... Which really creates a struggle about, "How do you keep people?" But then, like you said, it even factors into what I was saying about agility. And it really creates this multi-factor almost mess, because you need the kind of people that are of that agile mindset. And it has to function to their core.

Adam Kerpelman:

Because when we're talking about the idea of the data-driven marketer, we talk about agility and adaptability all the time. You need to be able to respond to incoming data quickly, and then adapt to what you're doing. The people that are apt to do that are probably apt to switch jobs really quickly once the data is coming toward them. That, "Maybe this isn't the job I want."

Brian Jones:

Right.

Adam Kerpelman:

It creates really a multilevel complex retention problem or whatever.

Nico Visiers:

And if you think about it ... The one thing that as an agency you can basically tell somebody, which is an absolute truth is, "If you go to a client, you're going to get bored."

Nico Visiers:

Because you're going to get to do one time, one thing. And I will get to do that one time with as many clients as I have. I'll get one launch with each client. You get one launch. I'll get one migration per client. You'll get only one in your company.

Nico Visiers:

What I'm trying to say is, life with us is dog years. We're just going faster. Not because we're better, not because we are fancier. No. We just have more situations where we are tapped in to help. At the end of the day, what I'm trying to say, when I'm trying to get people from a client or when I'm trying to stop them from going to a client ... I'm trying to explain to them, life here is just faster.

Nico Visiers:

Hopefully, you get to a big enough company where you're just going to have the same type of pace. Obviously, there are, I would say, very many companies that have that fast pace. But you have to look for them.

Adam Kerpelman:

I wonder. I've always felt like the people running the agencies that I worked for were using the fact that they were places like Chiet, that people wanted to work to make everyone a contractor. There were people that had been there for 10 years and have never been past contractor status. And I understand why those people want to leave. You're treated as disposable.

Adam Kerpelman:

And then, I'm curious if there's maybe a shift in that dynamic within the agencies. It kind of made sense to me when I was there. Because a lot of times you would get put on an account, and then you'd be part of the pitch. And then, if you didn't land that account, then they would dismiss you again.

Adam Kerpelman:

But sometimes you would have been there for a couple of years and then they put you on an account. And if you didn't get that pitch, you'd still get kicked out. You'd be going, "Well, I wouldn't have said yes to the account if I knew I was going to get dropped as soon as we didn't get it. It was a very dicey account. That's why the challenge was exciting. Now, I don't have a job."

Adam Kerpelman:

I wonder if that's ... Again, I present it as my perspective. Because I think there's a broader challenge, which is just, "How do agencies, companies, everyone need to think a little bit differently to maybe try to focus on retention?" You can say from my agency experience, a simple thing would be to put some people on salary that you're keeping on contract right now, so you don't have to pay for their healthcare.

Nico Visiers:

You just mentioned something that is absolutely true. And I think one of the things that I had to do when I was making decisions is, "What is most important to me?" Or what is most important to the company? Usually, you have three things. You have people, clients, and company. So if you prioritize, and you have very clearly prioritized ... Your people are first, your clients are second, and company is third.

Nico Visiers:

And if you understand that, and that is the way you approach every decision, it simplifies things. For example, when I decided to sell, I asked my team. I didn't look for what was the best for the company. I said, "What is the best for my team?" After that, what was the best for my clients? And if it's good for my team and good for my clients, it shouldn't be bad for my company.

Nico Visiers:

I think there is clearly some contradictions, when this thing is absolutely clear in an agency. Where your raw material ... The only thing that you have is talent. If you don't care for your people, you're just doomed. But then, you have the second problem, which is probably what you're referring to. Most agencies have different compensation models. Your compensation models are not adjusted to that thinking.

Nico Visiers:

The way you're compensated is usually in terms of profitability of an account, in terms of how much revenue can you generate with less time FTEs, less number of FTEs. What I think is missing the connection here is many companies are saying, "Yes. Fully stacked. Awesome places. You come here and it's beautiful and everything is fabulous."

Nico Visiers:

But then, you look at how people are being remunerated and how the compensation, their variable pay is remunerated. And it's just talking a completely different language. It's talking, "Screw people. Try to squeeze as many hours as you can from anyone." And if you do that, you'll get your bonus.

Adam Kerpelman:

I think the reason it came to mind in that context, like you said, I'm very familiar with the pitch. Not because I've heard it, because I've lived it. The exciting thing about agency life is you get to be on a new account all the time. It's like getting to start a new company every six months to a year. Instead of just drilling down on, "Okay. What's the next thing we need to do," which sometimes it gets really boring.

Adam Kerpelman:

We just got through a launch over here, which is big, exciting times. But for sure, on the marketing front, there's a little bit of feeling like we're walking in a circle going, "Okay, what's next?" That doesn't happen at an agency.

Adam Kerpelman:

The problem, I think, that you're talking about the solution for is traditionally that's been hooked to, "Okay. But also every time we reboot, they're going to restaff half of us," which means everyone is always a little worried that they might be gone after this next account.

Adam Kerpelman:

It makes everybody kind of tense. And then, also it really promotes a burnout culture, where there's a lot of people grinding for 18 hours a day in the office. And if you were to just stand there as an objective observer, you'd be like, "Most of you are not working."

Adam Kerpelman:

And it's like, "Yeah. But I have to be here. Because if I need to appear to be here along with my peers also, so that I get put on the NPR account and I still have a job, " kind of behavior. Which partially doesn't even work anymore, if you're talking about the digital space.

Adam Kerpelman:

That's an interesting rabbit hole to chase down. But I like your answer better, which is like, "No. You just have to rethink your model around people, and not treating them as that level of disposable."

Nico Visiers:

Any company that is in the service industry, if you grow, everything is easier. Because as you grow, you can give people opportunities. And those who stay will see that those opportunities start creating themselves. You have to have that machine of getting more and more clients. And it's like a Catch-22, because as you get bigger, you need more structure.

Nico Visiers:

As you get more structure, you need more procedures. As you get more procedures, people have start losing that freedom of, let's say, personalizing the way they do things to a certain degree. Because you have to have more controls, et cetera, et cetera. Now, what we started the conversation today with is, what is all this about this Great Resignation?

Nico Visiers:

I think what you said about reboot or restart ... I think many times that the challenge is, when you've been through a lot of pain ... Let's say you lost an account, or you just had a streak of losses. Or in the case of the pandemic, you've lost a considerable amount of your business and you've had to make adjustments. You've seen that happening within your immediate friends, the people that you work with.

Nico Visiers:

I think people just want to say, "Oh, I want something new. I want new smells, new people, new conversations." And then, remember the people that stay, they have to endure the conversations with the clients where perhaps they don't know what's going on.

Nico Visiers:

Perhaps they don't know where the person who had that know-how put it. Or they also need to, let's say, have the conversation of saying, "Well, I cannot do so much for you anymore, because now you're paying me less. Or it's a different relationship." So it's hard.

Nico Visiers:

When you get a new client, it's awesome. Because first of all, everybody is super happy and excited. You're like, "Yes, I'm going to do everything for you." But when you're reducing ... As we always know, upgrading is phenomenal. But when they move you from the front chair to the back chair, I don't know anybody who likes that. I don't.

Adam Kerpelman:

It's cheaper.

Nico Visiers:

Uh-huh (affirmative).

Brian Jones:

What role does marketing play now? Whether that's agencies, whether that's new teams at companies that are being built now from the ground up to totally move a business model. What role does those marketing teams play in reshaping business, the face of business right now? Reigniting business areas that have been just completely shut down by the pandemic?

Brian Jones:

Because they will change, right? Nothing's going to be exactly the same. For instance, travel will come back again, and it'll look different. It'll come back in different rates and stuff, but there will be a business opportunity there again. How does marketing play now? It's a whole different world.

Nico Visiers:

Well, I really think that what we can do as marketers is help the organization understand what's going on with your clients, with your customers. You need to understand what has shifted in terms of their behavior. What do they do now? What do they want now? What are they telling you now? You can quantify what they tell you with digital analytics. You just look at the traffic. You look at what's happening.

Nico Visiers:

You can also do user testing. You can ask them things. You can do questionnaires, et cetera, more qualitative focus groups or whatever. But then, you also need to figure out what others are doing when it comes to the value prop. Because as things have shifted so dramatically in such a short time, some people have realized. And then, they basically offer something new and they are getting the attention.

Nico Visiers:

You need to also pay attention of what's happening around you. I always say quanti, quali, and then look at the environment. And if you put that all together, and then you start looking at the complete user journey instead of just sections of what you're doing as a company ... What is happening to a client from the day they basically get in touch with me, until the day they become loyal fans or advocates?

Nico Visiers:

All that, the mapping out of all the user journey and understanding what are the specific archetypes that you're serving. Let's say, for example, the cruise industry. I think many people that are of younger age are now going to be inclined to go to cruising. If cruising is, let's say, coming up with proposals that are interesting, because ... Perhaps I didn't think about it before, but if I started thinking about cruising, you go to different places.

Nico Visiers:

It looks like an interesting value proposition, but if I go to the boat and I see more people like me, that's even better. The challenge is if before they had a customer base, that was, let's say, 65 and over ... If I go there, even though the product is fantastic, I might not feel that at home.

Brian Jones:

Right.

Nico Visiers:

So what I think now many companies are saying, "Well, we think we have a different customer. We're going to try to give them that product." And then, obviously things have to work out. It's like you can optimize ... I was to a guy who has a hotel company. He's responsible for marketing.

Nico Visiers:

He was telling me, "We can optimize all we want, and we can personalize so that couples don't see the pictures of the children. But then, they go to the hotel." And if they open up the hotel, and the first thing they see is 50 children screaming ... Yes, I optimized for my conversion, but I lost a client. Because they're never going to give that.

Adam Kerpelman:

I'm curious. One of the things we talk about a lot on the podcast here is the extent ... Sometimes it may border on complaining. The extent to which every other department is increasingly coming to the marketing department, and asking us to help answer questions that are like, "I feel like that's a product question. Why are you asking the marketing department?"

Adam Kerpelman:

But the reality is, as everything gets increasingly digital ... More and more, I'm the one with my fingers on the analytics, where we can say, "Oh. Well, here's how people are talking on Google. Here's these broader things that, that are ..."

Adam Kerpelman:

It's weird. Because they don't feel ... They're part of the research process for presenting good digital marketing strategy, but they also end up being product research.

Adam Kerpelman:

I'm curious from an agency standpoint, are you seeing the same thing? In terms of clients who come in and say, "We have this thing we want to sell, but also if you get signals saying we should sell a different thing, we'll also do that?"

Nico Visiers:

Oh, yeah.

Adam Kerpelman:

Which is weird, because it's not traditionally what you go to an ad agency for. Traditionally, you go to an ad agency and say, "Look, here's our product. Sell it." You don't say, "Also, if they want a different type of shoe, please let us know. And then, help us develop that shoe."

Adam Kerpelman:

Because now you're like, "Well, now I feel like you're paying us to do ... You should go get IDEO or something, because that's a different consultancy."

Nico Visiers:

You're really touching on a very good point. One of the things that we do for companies is optimization, and we use testing tools to help them. Now, what I always say is, the moment everybody in the company asks to test something, that's the moment where everybody's understanding the importance of hearing the customer voice.

Nico Visiers:

Because you're just basically saying, "We have a hypothesis. We don't really know for sure, so we would like to test with statistical significance what response we're going to have to something specific." Whether it is a potential campaign, a new product, new value proposition, new pricing or whatever.

Nico Visiers:

In doing all that, the challenge of what you just mentioned is you have different departments involved. You have many different types of people that are going to want to be in the decision room of what we test and what we don't test.

Nico Visiers:

What I usually try to say when we talk to clients is, the more everybody understands that you are being guided by your customer ... Or let's say that the best way to be able to respond correctly to whatever you want to do is understanding what your customer will best react to.

Nico Visiers:

The only way to do that is if you test it. Now, you cannot say, for example, that tomorrow I'm going to test whether or not I can put a tennis court on a ship. Because that's basically ... It takes probably ... I don't know. I'm not an expert in that, but let's say-

Adam Kerpelman:

Imagineering. To be sure.

Nico Visiers:

... Exactly. Or whatever. But you can definitely test out what products you can compliment to others in the service industry. For example, you can test many things in a quick way when product development is more service development.

Nico Visiers:

When it comes to specific, let's say, fashion items ... What you had is companies like Farah, who basically turn their product super quickly. They have systems that they actually use to analyze how many people stop in front of a product. They have metrics.

Nico Visiers:

And then, they see if people don't stop, they basically ... In the afternoon, they would put a different product there. Everything is metric based. When everything is online, you just basically have to figure out, what do you prioritize? How do you actually move things around? And then, again, going back to what you say. It's all about data now.

Nico Visiers:

So who owns the data? Before it was, "Who is responsible?" Now, I would say, "Who owns the data?" Because if I am in charge of customer relationship management, and I need to manage my loyalty program ... All of a sudden, everybody wants to talk to me. Because if I send the newsletter, I'm probably the guy who's going to create the most converting traffic in a very quick way, super fast for them.

Nico Visiers:

I can launch a promotion for my cohort very quickly, so now they want to talk to me. But it's a different team that wants to talk to me, because it's my data. I think we're probably going to have to figure out a way to make sure that companies understand that their first-party data is their most important asset. How do they basically use that and not destroy it? Because if I send an email, another sends of promotion, and everybody starts sending people crap, then ...

Adam Kerpelman:

People start opting out. And then, certainly at least in European countries, that's the big problem.

Nico Visiers:

Oh, yeah.

Adam Kerpelman:

Because then you can't do anything anymore. I think the thing you're getting to, that I wrote down as a possible title for the episode is ... I think the moral is, we're pushing this idea of data-driven everything. And it's exciting to talk about the utopian ideal of advertising that is perfectly delivered to the right person at the right time.

Adam Kerpelman:

And then, I never have to see pharmaceutical ads that are clearly not for my age demographic, while I'm just trying to watch TV. What it comes down to ... This is the title of the episode possibly, is that the data is the customer.

Adam Kerpelman:

And I don't mean ... The data is the most material representation you have of the desires and the behavior of the customer. And so, the data is ultimately still just a signal on people. And so, you can go back to the client and say, "Well, here's what we see in the data." But what you're really expressing is, "Actually, it looks like your customers want a different thing than from what you just pitched us."

Adam Kerpelman:

And so, we should have the conversation on that standpoint. Not to say, "Oh, we did tests, and you're wrong." It's actually just, "We went and asked a bunch of questions in our way, and the customer answered that they're not interested. But here's what they are interested in." Or whatever.

Nico Visiers:

And if you rally everybody around archetypes and you start talking about Matthew and Lisa, instead of the customer ... And if you actually generate a PowerPoint where you depict Matthew and Lisa as, for example, your archetypes. People start saying, "Do you think actually Matthew would like that? Do you think he's going to buy that? Do you think he's going to go for that?"

Nico Visiers:

People start getting it. Because, again, the same way we were talking about being detached when you're not face-to-face. When you're analyzing a bunch of data, you forget what you just said. I think it's super important, what you just mentioned. You have to treat that as goals. Many times we forget that there are archetypes.

Nico Visiers:

Everybody talks about personalization. I think some companies are very good at segmentation. Very few do actual personalization. If you don't want to see ads, you can probably figure out a way to stop them. But the question is, when are people going to talk to Adam? Or to Brian? When are people going to talk to me?

Nico Visiers:

Sometimes it's funny things. I don't know. I just got a new credit card from Citi and they sent me, "Watch your personalized video." I got it on my phone. And I look at it, and it was basically like a two minute video. The personalization was they put my name on the video, and they put my limit and the day I started. The rest was the video. I thought it was cute. I thought it was cute. Okay. Nice touch. You made a video. Okay. Thank you.

Adam Kerpelman:

But it's for sure not the dream world of me only getting marketed things I want to buy. Instead of ...

Nico Visiers:

No. Very far away from that. Very far away from that. And then, having to spend a half an hour trying to connect it with my other cards, and trying to figure out what does work and all that. Then, that limits my ability to say, "Why did I do that?" I just wanted the miles, I guess.

Adam Kerpelman:

To bring it back a little bit to the resignation conversation. I'm curious if you have run into ... Increasingly, I've been bumping into CMOs and executives like that, who have literally been mentioning that they've started hiring people that ... They bridge the marketing and the HR department.

Adam Kerpelman:

They're literally called talent marketing. And they focus all day on doing marketing things, but targeted at people who they might want to hire. That's one of the answers that's come up a number of times in conversations. About how to handle how hard it is to hire in marketing right now. I'm curious if you bump into any of that sort of stuff?

Nico Visiers:

Well, there are a very large number of organizations that now, what they are doing is, they're basically offering companies talent. Staff augmentation. Basically, when they call to an agency, they are just looking for bodies. Silicon valley is super famous for that. As an agency, you try to sell yourself and everybody will say, "No, I need to talk to the person. I need to meet the person."

Nico Visiers:

You're basically selling bodies. What I do see, and I'm going to get to your question ... What I do see is, increasingly, the people in the companies need to have a much better understanding of the profiles and of the work that they will have to do. In order to have relevant conversations, to be able to convince those people to come work with them.

Nico Visiers:

What you have is, I would say, highly qualified people that are working in human resources. But having an understanding of all the different parts of all the different types of marketing or technologies or different responsibilities within marketing ... Perhaps, even having done some of them themselves gives them an edge when it comes to having conversations.

Nico Visiers:

At the end, I still think that ... And I really wish for that. I guess that's my sentimental approach to life. I really think people keep on making decisions based out of a feeling. In the first two minutes of talking to both of you, I can probably tell whether or not I'm going to have a good time and I'm just going to free-flow. Or I'm just going to be like, "Oh my God. I don't even know what I'm going to say."

Nico Visiers:

Clearly, I have no problem in talking. No. But what I want to say is, if you meet somebody, and you need to convince them in the first 15 minutes of a conversation that they're going to have a great place to work with and great people to work with ... You just want to be there telling them as a friend, as a colleague.

Nico Visiers:

"I know this guy, I've done what he does. He's very good at it. And I think you're going to be phenomenal working with him." That conversation is different if I start talking about, "Well, your tool selection in your CV is actually phenomenal. And I see A, B, C, and D, which I don't know what it means, but I guess that's good enough for the hiring manager."

Adam Kerpelman:

It really feels like the answer in the end for a lot of the great ... Again, I say quote in scare quotes, "Great Resignation," because I feel like it's easy to present it that way. As if it's a phenomenon out of everyone's control.

Adam Kerpelman:

What it really is, is a paradigm shift accelerated by a massive global crisis that is requiring a lot of people that have not had to think of their employees as people in a long time to have to do that. They're all grumpy at the people who want to be treated like people. They keep talking about it like, "Come on. Stop asking that I treat you like a person. This is outrageous."

Nico Visiers:

I agree. And if you guys think about the last time ... I don't know. I lived in Miami for a long time. And I remember going to New York and people telling me, "Well, you guys are awesome, because you're cheaper than New York agencies. Because you pay Miami salaries." Well, welcome to the new-new.

Brian Jones:

Right.

Nico Visiers:

What happens now? All the people in the agencies in New York, during the pandemic flew to Miami. They're staying in Miami. They're having drinks with people in Miami, who were working for agencies in Miami that paid 40% less. Now all of a sudden, all the people in Miami are looking for jobs in New York, because they still can stay in Miami while doing a job in New York. Or the same thing with San Francisco.

Nico Visiers:

Three people in my team, for example, left two companies in San Francisco and Canada, I think, and Chicago from Miami. They still are in Miami. But all of a sudden, all those companies that wanted people to come and go down that path that you mentioned with the lights, with everything ... Now they're saying, "Well, we don't really need that, because nobody's here. We can hire the people in Miami for less." That's, again, another shift.

Brian Jones:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). That's a wild change right now. Across the board.

Adam Kerpelman:

Man. I have a bunch of other things that I wrote down as we were talking to keep the conversation going, but then I looked at the clock. And I realized that we're out of time. But thanks. Thanks for joining us, Nico. This is great. We'll have to have you back to keep chasing some of these other things that I've written down.

Nico Visiers:

I would love to be here with you guys anytime. It's phenomenal. You guys do an absolutely great job. And it's nice to hear you guys, because many of your conversations on many of the podcasts that you guys do ... They resonate. You guys have to keep on doing this. It's awesome, and it definitely helps.

Brian Jones:

I appreciate that.

Adam Kerpelman:

Well, thank you. Thank you for that support.

Brian Jones:

Thanks for taking the time to hang out with us.

Nico Visiers:

Absolutely.

Adam Kerpelman:

Thanks to everybody else for listening. This has been the Data-Driven Marketer sponsored by NetWise. I'm Adam.

Brian Jones:

I'm Brian.

Nico Visiers:

I'm Nico. Thank you.

Brian Jones:

Take it easy, everybody.