In this episode, we speak to Deidre Hudson, the CMO of Payability, the leading funding platform for eCommerce businesses, providing much-needed growth capital to thousands of seller-entrepreneurs based on their marketplace sales.
When we spoke to Deidre, she had recently started - her first CMO role. We talk about how Deidre started out dreaming of being an accountant while in high school, and ended up learning to love the analytical side of marketing.
More about Deidre here
More about Payability here
More about Plannuh here
More about The Next CMO podcast here
Hey, Dierdre thanks so much for being with me on the next CMO podcast. Really excited to have you here. And it would be great to hear a little bit more about your background and about pay ability.
Deidre: Absolutely. Thanks Peter, for having me. I'm a huge fan of the next CML. So really glad to have this opportunity to chat with you and your listeners. So my background, I have been involved in marketing for. A little over 20 years. And I guess interesting about my story is that I started out wanting to be an accountant.
I was in high school and I was fascinated with the realm of accounting. And I used to write letters to the American Institute of certified public accountants. That's back when people actually wrote letters I would request information and I was just, just excited to go to college and study. That's what happened while I was putting myself through undergrad, I was working in the membership and marketing department of the human rights organizing.
[00:01:00] And the person I was working with his name was Lee Wiener. He was a brilliant statistician, and we were doing lots of direct mail and lots of kind of demographic and psychographic analysis on different marketing segmentations. And I fell in love with. And I fell in love with marketing from a data perspective, because I love the fact that one row of numbers in an Excel spreadsheet could indicate an entirely different type of person then that second row of numbers.
So I switched my major over to marketing and it's been just marketing since then.
Peter: well, that's it. It's amazing. And the funny thing it reminds me of. The monster.com commercial about 20 years ago, where I think they have all these kids that they're interviewing, saying I want to grow up and be an accountant. And it's like, Th I, so I can't believe there actually was someone who wanted to grow up to be an accountant.
So it's, that's, that's fascinating. In, in of course the the number focus in the analytical focus I'm sure has served you quite [00:02:00] well. And, and now you also have an exciting first milestone because you actually just recently accepted your first CMO job. Is that right?
Deidre: That is correct. I had the good fortune to start working with pay ability in may of this year. And it's been just an amazing ride. It's great group of people. Our co-founder Keith Smith is a serial entrepreneur and he built this company about six and a half years ago. And what we do that is so interesting to me that I, that I really find fascinating is that.
Funding to e-commerce sellers. So people who are selling on marketplaces and platforms like Amazon and Shopify, but what we do that I think is even beyond just the offering of the funding, is that we help people to realize their dreams, Amazon sellers, Shopify sellers, they're are coming to that platform and they're starting businesses.
And they're doing this with the hopes. Fulfilling a dream either having a secondary form of income [00:03:00] or being able to work for themselves and build their own businesses. And we've become a really strong part of that by providing the funding that they need and the working capital that they need in order to grow that business.
So I just find that ex this just a wonderful story. I'm so connected to that human element part, and I've been really fortunate to be able to work with this group of. And then transitioned from the role that I originally started in, which was a VP of growth marketing and transition into a CMO role. So it's been exciting.
The past seven months have been incredibly exciting and I can't wait to see what else we do next
Peter: Yeah, it's, it's amazing. And in the company is is, is really interesting. In, in that you, you provide you provide capital to people who, who are looking to grow their businesses in very specifically people who are e-commerce sellers. And is it exclusively Amazon? I can't remember. Is it, or a variety of different platforms you work with?
Deidre: It's primarily Amazon, but we do work with some Shopify sellers. And we are hopefully going to be expanding [00:04:00] into different marketplaces as well. But for right now, it's, it's primarily
Peter: well, That's great. And of course, anyone who is starting up a business in its early stages knows that access to capital, especially if you are selling products online is something. Or even if you're selling services and need marketing resources. As an example, those are extremely, it's extremely important and critical to actually drive growth.
So. It's great to hear. And it's amazing the kind of innovative companies that have sprung up to, to fill in the gap to service this, this market, which is really exciting. So, so tell me a little bit you so background in sort of this analytical side, we're in a growth marketing role what was the transition like?
What was the sort of the biggest surprise. When you went from the growth marketing head to the sea, to the CMO position, what would change the most for you?
Deidre: That's a really interesting question. It was actually, the transition was a bit of a surprise for me. It's something that Keith and I had talked about when I first began [00:05:00] interviewing for the position. And honestly, it's something that I didn't know if I wanted because CMOs have the shorter shelf life in the C-suite.
So I wasn't quite sure. I wasn't quite sure I wanted to pursue that, but You know, I, I thought that I would have a really good opportunity just to be able to continue to lead the team. And I guess one of the biggest, your question, one of the biggest transition points is just really taking a step back and being able to just have additional time to just think and strategize about.
You know, where do we want to go? What do we want to do? How do we want to frame and, and, and carve out marketing efforts going forward. And what does that overall strategy and vision look like? I think that it's important if you're leading a team or in any kind of leadership capacity is to be able to have a vision and be able to communicate, to communicate that vision and to get people to buy into that vision.
So I think that's been just the biggest transition
Peter: Yeah. So the focus on sort of defining the, the vision and the now it it's interesting because did you find that in, [00:06:00] in that transition, were there things that you felt like you needed to personally develop as far as skills to get there to that next level? Or did you feel fully prepared? Just having spent time as an analytical and a growth.
Deidre: No, definitely not feeling fully prepared, which is, I think that's part of the fun. I think that if I was in a role that, you know, I knew backwards and forwards exactly how to do it and exactly what to expect, then, you know, it would be pretty dull and boring. So yeah, I, you know, I think that one of the biggest things about transitioning into this role is for me is a, it's still having my hands on the data.
And that kind of goes back to my, you know, my original story of basically how I got here is that as I was formulating my career early on, And this is kind of after I fell in love with marketing from a data perspective, I really formally decided that good marketing was based on getting data, analyzing data and [00:07:00] using.
So when I started my career, I was really into the analytical side and we were doing lots of, as I mentioned, lots of database marketing analysis and segmentation analysis. And then from there I wanted to move into a role that allowed me to focus on getting the data. So understanding, you know, how data is stored in relational databases and understanding ETL and things like that.
And then I moved into the using data part. So now formulating campaign, the putting together marketing strategies, that's going to help us reach our target audience. part of even being part of the CML. My I'm still very heavily involved in the data and really getting my hands dirty in the data, understanding, you know, how our customers are how our prospect audiences coming to us, how they're interacting it's with the us.
What does that journey look like? And how do we can, how we can utilize that for optimizing our marketing campaigns. I hope that answered your question because once I get started talking about marketing, I can go all
Peter: No it did. It did. And I think the I think there were a couple of things. We're important to point out that you mentioned one is that you didn't know all the answers and, and that [00:08:00] there's this leap that you have to take to get into a new position. And, and I think that the people who were willing to take that leap by the way, by the way, are the ones who are most successful typically, because they're, they're willing to take the leap because you, you never learn anything new.
By definition, if you don't try something new and it's not like it can go you know, interesting. You, you don't go to school to be a marketing executive. You go to school to be a marketer. Maybe I went to school to study physics, but that's a different story for a different day. And, and, and then ultimately you you have to sort of learn things on the fly.
And so, so tell me about I, I actually met you of course, through one of your sources of learning, right? So.
through through our book. Yeah.
Deidre: absolutely. I, the, the
Peter: I feel like I'm leading the witness here too much. This is a, you know, you don't have to say nice things about my book now, but, but maybe you will. Let's say
Deidre: [00:09:00] No, I, no, I really, I really do want to share that story. I think it's a funny story. So I came across Nick's emo your book maybe about a year ago, and now it's in my previous role. And I, first of all, I was very attracted to the book based on the title. The book is called the next CMO, a guide to operational marketing excellence.
And I was so intrigued by that because it didn't talk about becoming a C a CMO through being an expert in branding or being an expert in inbound or outbound marketing. It talks about being the next CMO by developing strategies and tactics for operational excellence. Now I focus about the past seven or 10 years of my career on demand generation marketing.
One of the th or the way that I kind of framed out demand generation marketing is that it's based on four pillars and that's people process programs and performance. [00:10:00] I think that process is kind of the unsung hero in growth and in scalable growth. So I was very attracted to this idea that. Achieve these leaps and bounds in your career by focusing on an area that a lot of people just don't focus on.
So that was definitely part of my learning path. And as I read the book, I've just became more excited and more excited about the things that I was reading, because I had thoughts of these ideas and kind of. Part here and the piece there, but the book really brought it all together for me. And as I started implementing the things that I was reading in the book and just kind of implementing those strategies and, and absorbing that mindset, I started to see tangible.
In my team that I was managing at the time, and then being able to take that with me onto a, to pay ability and, you know, from the VP of growth marketing bullet, and then they put the CMO role. So, yes, so you've been a part of my growth. And when I posted my LinkedIn posts the night with a picture of the book and the book has my [00:11:00] colored tabs and it's dog eared and pages folded down.
And I just basically said, I guess,
Peter: Exactly exactly. I said, we, we found it. I think you tagged planet on, in the book or maybe even me. I can't remember. And so I saw the post and I said, oh my God, I have to meet this woman. And and so it was, it was amazing to hear the story. And of course, really exciting to w when you, when you put a lot of work into something, it's amazing to see that it, it has a little bit of impact here and there.
And I'll tell you my, my secret sauce. One of my co-authors Scott who's my COO here at plana had, has spent like me decades leading marketing teams, but more importantly, he had. Teaches marketing, planning and marketing strategy at the university of Massachusetts. He's on a hiatus right now.
He's a visiting professor. But he, he actually spent a lot of time sort of developing his methods, his curriculum and, and we sort of mashed the minds together around our joint [00:12:00] experience and, and put this together. And we found that there was a little bit of a gap there. So anyway, Thrilled that, that you enjoyed the book and and I'm sure it doesn't deserve any credit for for your, your CMO elevation.
But but I was very kind of you to, to mention the book in the same breadth, which was, which was a lot of fun. So let's, I could talk about me all day long. But I I'd love to maybe pivot here and talk a little bit about. Sort of how you think about now, you've got this new CMO job in the last six months or so and now you're coming into a new year, right?
So you've got a, a new year we're about to kick off 2022 when we're recording this anyway. How are you thinking about putting your thoughts and your strategies and your plans together for the coming year as as a relatively new CMO.
Deidre: Great question. So the way that I am thinking about 20, 22, and just kind of as a, as a backup for that, when I first started with pay ability and this is a [00:13:00] strategy that I have come to utilize in working with various different things. I really like to spend the first few months just understanding what's going on.
You know, I have a very humble attitude of, you know, the company has been in business. They've been successful. It's not for me to come in and just kind of get rid of everything or change everything or turn everything on its head without having a good grasp of what's going on. And, you know, what's been working what hasn't been working.
So I did spend the first few months when I arrived, the pay ability is really trying to understand. Talking to a lot of different people trying to understand different facets and different aspects of the business. So after spending some time doing that and just really getting that basic or that foundational level of understanding, I've developed our strategy for where we need to go and where I think that we want to go for 20, 22 and what I am envisioning doing, really focusing on developing and maintaining and strengthening.
Strong [00:14:00] relationships with our customers. I'm very customer focused and I think that it all begins with the customer. And especially in our case where we're offering funding to to Amazon and to Shopify sellers. But they're not me. they may not necessarily be at that point where they need funding when we have our first interaction with them.
So it's important that we find a way to develop and keep a presence in front of our target audience, develop a way of maintaining and studying a relationship with them. So those are the things that I think that we're going to focus on for next year. It's how do we develop these strong relationships with our target audience and how do we get them to connect?
A little bit sooner in the process, right? Cause we look at our sellers journey and that usually starts from that first point of interaction. But I'm very curious, interested in what happens before that interaction what's going on in their lives before they actually interact with us. So I'm going to be very devoted and very focused on that that full seller's journey, really looking at how we can be a part of what we're [00:15:00] calling micro ecosystem.
Because there's a lots of different systems that an Amazon seller interacts with along their journey from sourcing product to worrying about inventory and pricing and research. So how can we be a part of that and be embedded in each of those micro ecosystems and do that in a way that is authentic.
Peter: Well, that's it. It's really interesting that you bring this up because I was just. Debating some of these concepts with the team in, in the, the thing that you bring up is the idea that as a marketer, what you're trying to do is you're trying to create this opportunity, this environment, where you can start a dialogue with your customer early enough in the consideration process, so that when they're ready to consider, they can actually turn.
And as, as, as in a sales role what you want to do is you want to encourage people. So you want to sell them as soon as you know, their name is. And [00:16:00] how do you deal with that tension? Because of course, And I'm asking you this out of a necessity because we're dealing with this right now. Our sales team is chomping at the bit to try to talk as many people, as many people as possible.
And at the same time strategically, what we're trying to do is we try to really build, build a. Build a bill it's through our content creation that received here, our book, our community that we have, et cetera, it's really about building that community out there. But there's this tension between marketing that has sort of a long-term strategic view in sales, who says, I want that right now.
I need to convert that. So how, how do you deal with that without sort of alienate alienating the customers by reaching out to them too soon before they're really ready to.
Deidre: That's a really good question. And I think that, you know, part of that goes back to that age old conundrum of the sales and marketing relationship. Right. And kind of demystifying that relationship. So I will say that we have a really good [00:17:00] relationship with our internal sales partners and we stay in constant communication with them.
We have a. We have funnels built out and we have points of demarcation. So we're, you know, kind of marketing owns that relationship and then kind of sale sales then takes over that relationships. We have clear demarcation points. And I think that the way that we do that, and we're still working on this, you know, to be honest is, you know, how do we do that?
And that's to understand what channel that really comes down to understanding who our customers are and where they live. Right. So, in those places and that we can be there with the right messaging and that we can really kind of guide them along that journey so that we know when they've taken a particular action.
This is the point where, okay, this is at hand raising action. That's indicative of a person that's ready to talk to a salesperson. And then we definitely hand that over to our sales team. So I think it's that combination of things, right? Like really just understand. Who else target audience is where they are, where they spend their time starting that, build that relationship, and then having that [00:18:00] good internal
I think it's a great way to think about it and really have a clear set of definitions around who does what to whom is pretty important. Obviously there is a natural tension for salespeople to want to engage as soon as possible. In, in some times you just have to have to understand that we're where the right role is in the right time to engage.
So another thing I was thinking about recently in Dierdra and I had a chance to chat the other day too. And we, we were talking about the, the Mehta environment that we're in, in the fact that, that in in fact, you saw some acceleration in your business because of the pandemic because lots of people wanting to start businesses as an example, which is really fantastic.
And hopefully That's a trend that's going to. Over over time. But as you look out into, into the coming years, year and years in particular, I had, I purposely added the, the S there. What are the things that you think [00:19:00] about that may be changing in the world around you that you need to think about? Th that may have an impact on the way you think about your marketing?
Deidre: That's a really interesting question. You know, for the past several months, it's been all about supply chain and how the supply chain is impacting businesses. You know, not just a brick and mortar businesses, but e-comm businesses. So to think about, you know, what may be next, you know, what's the next thing that we're going to have to concern ourselves with?
I think it's going to mainly just be the fallout from, you know, what do we do now? I mean, we've come from, if you think about we've had kind of back-to-back. Really explosive things happening in, in the world and in the market. Right? So we've coming up the pandemic and people learning how to shop and, and live and survive you know, in a more digital fashion.
So coming off of that, and then we've gotten into the supply chain issues. So I think for, for [00:20:00] next, it's really going to be, what does our normal look like? And you know, what does this quote unquote new normal look like? Are we going to continue to work in hybrid roles? And what does that mean for our day-to-day digital lives?
Are we going to go back to being fully, you know, everyone fully working and living and working together as we did before the pandemic and just kind of understanding. What does this look like? I think there may be just some uncertainty of, you know, we thought that, you know, we, we didn't know what the pandemic was.
We didn't couldn't anticipate that. And then we couldn't anticipate the supply chain issue. So I think it's just kind of getting back to some, some semblance of, of a new normal so that people know how to work it live and shop and get the things that they need
Peter: I think it's a good way
Deidre: a way that may.
Peter: it. That the reality is that I think most marketing leaders need to get their head around is that there's always some major distress. In the world, there's always some change and hopefully it doesn't come along side with a lot of human [00:21:00] suffering, like in the pandemic, as an example or some economic challenges and structure challenges, like the supply chain issues that we're dealing with.
But there, there are always changes that are going to happen in our environment. And, and I think one of the roles for a marketing leader is to one sort of always be looking into the horizon to see what's what's happening and what's changing. And to really start to build your plan and your process in a way that can change it.
And and knowing when to change is always a really difficult thing. So. And as, as an example, it is, I, I think about my plans, right? I've got things like my Mo my strategy, which is my business strategy, which is the high level. My business goals, which are sort of that next level of what am I trying to achieve.
That's that's going to help support my strategy, the marketing strategy that I'm going to use to achieve those marketing goals and then sort of the [00:22:00] specific plans and campaigns related to that. So when do you change, which of those things is a really difficult question that you need to think about?
Okay. People think about changing their marketing mix all the time, but at some point you need to think about, well, does my strategy need to change? Does my marketing strategy need to change to my goals, need to change or does my overall business strategy need to change? And that's a very difficult place to be.
And I could see that then in, in your world, in, in pay ability, there there's some really exciting things in, in, in that market, because that feels like there's a. A an ongoing trend of people. The barrier to start a new business has gone way, way down. And and I, I can't believe it's not going to continue to build and accelerate, so that presents a massive opportunity, but it may.
effect ultimately how you think about it.
In a positive way. How do I grow [00:23:00] beyond this thing? You know, I've got now financial services that I offer people are there, these other things that you can, as you start to predict what's going on in the world that you can do, how do you adapt your plan over time? And, and I don't know how, how much you've had those discussions yet, but the really important ones I think, to, to have as, as a CMIO to, to think about how you affect that strategy overall.
Deidre: and I think that's a really good point. And that goes to I think what we were speaking about earlier in terms of. You know, we're trying to develop and build those relationships with our audience before they need us. Right. So being able to have those types of relationships and being able to offer different services, you know, potentially beyond funding to help them grow and to help solidify that relationship so that when they do grow and as they do change, pay ability can still continue to be a part of that growth and have that relationship.
And I think that by focusing on the [00:24:00] customer, matter what happens if your focus is on the customer, then you should be well-positioned to be able to weather change, because as you said, and as we know, the only constant is change and change is inevitable, but if we're focused constantly on the customer and understanding what their motivations are, what their drivers are, what their needs are, then we can continue to
Peter: one of the things I wanted to make sure I asked you Dierdre too, is the you you know, a lot of people talk about sort of the, the, the T marketer, right? Someone who's got super deep in one area and broad and others in, in your depth is around growth. So w w w what do you think what do you think every market.
Should be thinking about when it comes to putting together their plan for, for growth as for growth marketing in their function. I don't know. That may be the most vague question in the world, but I'd love to tap into your mind as a growth marketer by by, by history. How, how you think about that?
What, what should we all be thinking about when it comes to putting together our [00:25:00] growth plans?
Deidre: Yeah, and that's not to be too obvious, but you know, I do think it comes back to the book and the operational excellence. I think that in order to grow, you need to be able to scale. And if you're going to scale, you need to have a set of processes and and procedures in place that allows you to.
Do the things you're trying to do. I mean, not just a very simplified over-simplified example that I'm sure lots of companies can relate to. Is that going to a trade show, for example, and working at a trade show, working at a conference, coming back to the office, you've got a list of leads. What do you do with them?
Right. If you don't have a process in place for how that leads. Handled and who's handling it. And what does that nurturing plan look like? And what does that conversion plan look like? Then? You're not going to be able to really leverage the fruit of. That conference. So very basic, [00:26:00] very basic example, but it is an example of, you know, if you're going to grow and you're going to try to achieve growth, you need to be able to scale.
And if you are going to scale, you can't do that by having to basically reinvent the wheel every time. Right? So every time I go to a conference, I need to come back and then decide, okay, sales is going to do this. And the is going to do that. Or who's going to take this conversation. If I already know what that process looks like, I'm much more agile.
I can I can react faster. I can get out to to market with those customers faster. And then I don't have to worry about what are we going to do with this? I can move on to the next thing. So I think that that path to scale to growth is scalability. And the path that
Peter: it's a really great point. And it's interesting. One of the things that I wanted to highlight based on your, your response there is, is the idea of having a standard way and a process and get things done. And interestingly, I find that a lot of marketers [00:27:00] struggle with doing things the same way and doing the same things more than once, because by.
They tend to be super creative people and, and want to always do something new. And that can be a new process. It can be a new campaign. The reality is if something works, maybe you should keep doing it. And refine it to get it a little bit better and maybe stop if it stops performing. But I find that that a lot of people will do a bunch of different things and then not want to repeat.
Because that isn't smarter creative, but the reality is that, that you see a lot of people who have, you know, their you know, impression set to one effectively for, for these campaigns and whether that's a webinar that they do, they literally do at once. Why don't you do it six times? There are all these other people that didn't do it as an example.
But then having the standards and the processes behind it to make sure. You're not, you don't have any leaky [00:28:00] pipes and you're not going to miss some of the economic value that you created through your marketing and have it just spill on the floor because there isn't a good process to follow up. I think that's sort of the bane of existence of a lot of people, especially who were in the demand business.
If they feel like it's not really being not being handled and followed up on that can be really frustrating.
Deidre: Yeah, I totally agree. And you know, one of the things that I used to tell and I've talked with this previous companies and this company as well. When you have the process in place that actually frees up your brain and gives you the brain space to think more creatively. So even though it seems like, you know, a process, and this is why I say process is the unsung hero.
It seems like having a process is kind of anathema to react to creativity. It's actually an enabler of creativity because now your brain is free to be creative because you don't have to think about the same [00:29:00] thing over and over again. Now you have space to be able to think about new.
Peter: and speaking of advice and you know, hard to believe, but we're already running up to the, to the end of our scheduled time here. One of the things I like to ask everyone on, on this show is is about what advice they would give to future.
You know, to, to current or, or aspiring CMOs. And so I I'd love your thoughts, especially from your perspective having just made that transition in the last year to the CMO role, what advice would you give to others who are either about to make that transition or already have been in the seat?
Deidre: Well, I can, I can continue to pound my process drum and just, you know, I just wanna really make sure that that's something that is not overlooked because I believe that that is a key to success. But the other part really is, and this may sound a bit cheesy, but the other part really is surrounding yourself with a good.
Now me in my role as a [00:30:00] CMO, you know, I know about the different types of marketing that we're doing. I've been doing different types of marketing, but I want to hire people who were smarter than me. I want to hire the best paid media person I can find, I want to hire the best email marketer I could find.
I went through. Run, you know, spin ropes around me in terms of their knowledge and their deep expertise in that subject. I want to teach me things about that subject. So I would say surround yourself with the best team that you can, and don't be afraid to admit when you don't know something. And you know, that's one thing I think that, you know, we think that being in leadership roles, we're supposed to know more than the other person, but I don't mind not being the smartest person in the room.
If that someone else can bring something to me that I don't know and can help us as a team and as a company. So I would
Peter: that's a lot and I really appreciate it because the, you, you hit on a lot of things and and obviously I know that you are the queen of process appreciation, which is good. But beyond that, I think the the, the It really resonates [00:31:00] with me around surrounding yourself with people that are smarter, certainly deeper than you in, in other functions, because it's the only way that you can elevate beyond he, her own personal limitations is to augment your intelligence with other smart people.
And that's what really makes the difference. And I've seen the best leaders do that pretty consistently. So that's really great advice Well, I. Really wanted to thank you for for being part of the show for reading my book and posting about it. That was so fun. I really appreciated it. Dierdre and I look forward to continuing our discussion off the podcast sometime in the future.
And for those of you who are listening, if you have. Ideas for other guests for other topics you'd like us to cover. Just drop us a note at the next CMO implanted.com. And I really encourage you all to join our community, which you can get to at the planet website. And we have great follow on discussions about the same stuff.
So thanks again. Dierdre thanks for being part of the show. [00:32:00]
Deidre: Thank you so much, Peter. I really enjoyed it. Take care.