Strategy Sessions Episode 16: Marketing Buzz With Lightyear

Featuring Chris Gregg, CEO of Lightyear

Chris has more than 10 years of experience across the technology industry from founding and leading fintech companies to leadership roles in Fortune 500 companies. His views on the product marketing world are worth listening to.

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In this episode we discuss:

  • Product development and the Lightyear start up story
  • Positioning and why it’s so hard
  • The challenges and benefits of being a mid market provider v enterprise
  • Selling on features v benefits (FAB and Which Means That)
  • Running a bootstrapped business
  • Surviving and thriving through COVID 19
  • Dealing with hyper growth
  • Marketing planning when the future is uncertain
  • “Follow me home” or how big business uses ethnography
  • The importance of talking to customer services and support
  • Measuring performance (KPIs and OKRs)
  • Some of the mistakes Chris has made (and what he learned from them)
  • Product teams v marketing teams
  • The Belfast start-up scene
  • Running a team in Belfast and Sydney
  • Why we should all focus on climate change

Chris’s Book Recommendations

Other Stuff We Talk About In The Show

https://smxmuenchen.de/en/ – come and see Andi talking about “which means that”

FAST not SMART objectives – it was MITSloan Management Review not HBR…. SORRY. Don’t @ me. Lightyear’s expansion plans and support from Invest NI https://www.investni.com/media-centre/news/lightyear-double-ni-workforce-over-ps1m-investment

Chris Gregg

Chris Gregg, CEO and Co-Founder of Lightyear,. 

Chris got his start initially working for a large hospitality group in Australia, before becoming a tech entrepreneur. Like most good entrepreneur stories, he set out to solve the problems he was facing in his day job, namely the vast amounts of disorganised paper littered throughout offices and archives.

Fast forward to 2020 and Chris has founded his second company, Lightyear, focusing on solving the unique problems encountered in the Accounts Payable environment.

Lightyear is an award winning intelligent Accounts Payable and Purchasing Automation platform using Artificial Intelligence and machine learning to automate data extraction, and processing of purchase orders alongside supplier invoices.

After 2 and a half years Lightyear has assisted thousands of businesses with transitioning to paper free environments. Each year we are processing $5 billion worth of supplier invoices, saving customers over 500,000 hours per year and saving 1000+ trees from being cut down.

Find Chris on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/greggchris/ and Twitter https://twitter.com/LightYearChris

Lightyear are everywhere!

Andi Jarvis

If you have any questions or want to talk about anything that was discussed in the show, the best place to get me is on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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Make sure you subscribe to get the podcast every fortnight and if you enjoyed the show, please give it a 5* rating.

Andi Jarvis, Eximo Marketing.

Interview Transcription

This transcript has been done automagically using Happy Scribe and hasn’t been checked by a real person, so there may be some hilarious mistakes where the AI can’t work out our accents – I’m sure they’re trained on just the American accent.

Eyup and welcome to the Strategy Session. My name is Andi Jarvis, and I’m so pleased that you’ve come along today. I’m joined today by Chris Gregg from Lightyear. Chris, how are you doing?

Andi. I’m great. Thanks for having me. Great to be here.

Brilliant stuff. Lightyear, if you don’t know the company based in Belfast, Chris, tell us what like does. You’ll be able to explain it much better than can.

Yeah, thanks. So, like, you’re going to pay a little automation solution and what that means is we have a cloud platform that helps large SMEs and mid-market businesses automate their payables process. For those of your listeners who don’t know what a process is. Right. That’s basically out of business is a process of taking all of the supplier invoices that they need to pay, having those invoices approved for payment, getting the data entered, and then ultimately making the payment to suppliers.

So it’s not exactly the sexiest thing that you’ll come across, but every business has to pay bills. Right. So it’s a critical piece of the puzzle for any business. We’ve been going for about two and a half years, so we’re still pretty young, moving from startup to scale up offices or head offices here in Belfast. As you’ve mentioned, we’ve got 15 people here and then we have a head office in Sydney, Australia. All those guys get the lovely sunshine while I get the the the short days and the cold nights.

And we’ve got 10 people down in Sydney, Australia. And focus historically has been on sort of the ANZ markets, the UK and Ireland. But as a business, we know we’re starting to get our get into our stride and we’re looking at how we start to expand globally. So it’s a pretty exciting time for us here. You’re brilliant.

Now, one of the reasons I wanted to get you on, because last year has a really interesting back story. But you mentioned it’s two and a half years old, but there’s a little bit before that. Two and a half years as well, isn’t it? So do you want to take us back to the beginning?

Yes, sure. I’m sure you’ll be amazed that much younger than I actually am!

Much, much younger. Much, much younger.

OK, I’ll take you back to 2008. I moved to Sydney, Australia, and my brother was already over there and we were working in the hospitality industry for a large hospitality group. We had 15 bars and restaurants across Sydney and we had a massive paying point, a costly paying point, which was how we were managing our payables process.

It was costing us around 15 bucks per invoice to get that data entered, approved and paid. We had a van that drove around every day around the venue and picked up paper, rolled up to head office and data was typed and the van came back from head office in the photo warehouse with big warehouses of filing cabinets.

It was crazy.

Sounds painful.

Unbelievable. Yes, incredibly costly, time consuming and just inefficient. And that was hampering the business’s growth. Why we couldn’t grow and scale the business at the pace we would like to. So we looked around the market for something that could solve this problem. And at that time, and 2010, this was not there was nothing there was big enterprise solutions. There was sort of emerging software as a service, small business solutions, but nothing for a mid-market multi location type of business.

Just around that time, Xero with an X were emerging. There were now one of the largest small business accounting providers in the world, as I’m sure you know, they were just emerging early stage and software as a service wasn’t really a thing. The Internet was a bit like dial up modem. Is it safe? Is it not? So we were pretty early. Stage Xero fostered this fantastic ecosystem and then they encouraged local entrepreneurs to basically build our on solutions to their core platform, which would help businesses solve more problems.

So we thought it’d be a great idea to leave our jobs, mortgage, the houses, etc. And we had a couple of developers. We no development experience whatsoever and we decided to start a tech business. Right. So fast forward three years. We made a lot of mistakes. We could write a book about how not to do a startup. To be honest, we ended up pretty broke and all that sort of stuff. But we got Angel Angel investor who really helped us out.

And in 2013 we won a few awards such as Xero’s Emerging Out of the Year. And ultimately that put us on the radar of Intuit, who are the world’s largest and small business provider, through Quikbooks online. And ultimately we sold that business to Intuit and in 2014. So that was the original journey. And that product we built was you can say it was being one of Lightyear right that was solving the same kind of pain points, but it was a much more basic build on old legacy technology.

So fast forward to sort of two and a half years ago when we decided to go and do Lightyear, we were able to take all of the learnings and sort of really hit the ground running. And luckily for us, the market had to move on too much to be a.

So accounts payable seems to be one of the last untouched segments of business paying points in a lot of innovation around payments, reporting, accounting software, but the actual accounts payable process, to be honest, most of the market are still on backward desktop or even using Excel solutions. So luckily for us, we seem to be typing it pretty well at the moment. The market is much more receptive to cloud solutions at this point. And we’re really we’re seeing particularly through covid in 2020 with the move to remote working.

We’re really moving a lot early adopter phase into the the majority of adoption. So hopefully timing it pretty well.

And do you think the reason why the market hasn’t moved on is that there seems to be in the product world, in the tech world at the minute a drive to enterprise for every solution? And I think we have looked at looking at the numbers hugely. As soon as you start talking about enterprise solutions and enterprise scale, you start to realize that without changing your cost base too much, you can change your revenues quite significantly. I don’t say I’ve not looked into it too deeply.

So it seems to me that that sort of mid-market products, as soon as they start to get any traction, just goes, oh, enterprise and scales. Is that why you think about the gap left in the market?

Yeah, absolutely, Andi. I think the middle ground is a hard one, right. Because you can you can build a small, small, simple solution, relatively straightforward, that can solve simple pain points and then you can scale out because you’ve got a massive market on the messaging. Pretty simple. Enterprise is, on the other hand, great because of you get a lot of average revenue per user, even longer sales cycle gestation period. But you can land a couple of big whales and it’s a company maker, right.

And in the in between is a difficult area because you still have to build nearly as much functionality as an enterprise product because all of these larger and mid-market larger systems, they all have really complex points. So you’ve got to invest a lot of money as a software provider to build that complexity. But you don’t necessarily get anywhere near the same amount of revenue as an enterprise solution. So I think that’s the main reason that it largely gets neglected.

And you see that across the board, you always see enterprise and small come first and then the mid-market is kind of what’s left over. But for us, that mid-market opportunity is still enormous and we see a lot of mid-market customers that are just neglected. And and for us, we’ve got not that much competition. So we really feel for us, but offering really sort of we say enterprise standard technology at some price point, as well as what we try to do and as a business that might give us that absolutely aggressive scale attack on SMB from an and business perspective, it might give us that topline revenue per user, but we can build a really solid, sustainable business that can still grow very quickly in the global scheme.

Right.

We had April Dunford on the show last year who told us, you know, April wrote a book about positioning called Obviously Awesome is a kind of world expert on position, especially with companies like yours. And she makes a really good point that she makes a lot of really good points, actually. But she makes about when you position your position against you, look at your competitors and you go away position against these guys and these guys, these guys and actually your competitors Excel and the intern. And actually, that’s a really different sell for your work from a marketing perspective. How how do you communicate that message?

Is that something you mentioned when you were in in Sydney and you started building this? At first it was manual input. Is that something you still come across now? How do you position your marketing to kind of get away from that problem?

Yeah. So, again, the problem and the solution and the benefit is really how we can position our products. So, you know, the a lot of our clients, as you mentioned, are still still on Excel. So we position ourselves around the world as Axtell, not providing so for also some basic things like ours. So Excel doesn’t have a central distributed ledger. Now that’s obviously changing a bit with three, six, five and stuff like that.

But having one central up to date Ledger, it doesn’t really have privileges and tracking. So you can sort of track the different interaction points. And for a product like us, that’s a financial product to get audit, having not owned history and traceability and accountability is super important, right? Because we have businesses are paying suppliers. So for us, it’s about what areas of benefit do we provide over those old storage solutions they’re using? And we try and hone in on those.

And for us, it’s about a centralised ledger, the collaboration, the live data, and more importantly than what you can do with that data. I mean, Excel is a fantastic tool. We love it.

We actually use it internally for some things…

Not for managing your invoices?

No! Not for product! But it has a lot of uses, right, and you get lots of data, but it’s not necessarily easy to get your fingers on that data, analyze it easily. You know, you need to layer on business intelligence tools. So those are some of the areas that we look to really accentuate our point of difference and sell the benefits.

Does that take you, though, into talking about products and features quite a lot, I know you said you’re selling the benefits, but if you’re trying to compare yourself to another solution, does that tend to lead you towards feature versus feature sort of marketing approach?

And if that does, does that open up the door for your competitors, for people to then just start watching features between your products and product b and product c?

Yeah, it’s you know, it’s something we grapple with a lot as a marketing team here. We there’s three in my team. We’re still pretty small. But, you know, the benefit of that messaging to an SME and mid-market business… it’s quite generic: save time, save money, whatever, you could stick out on any product. So by default, in order to get a point of differentiation, differentiation across, we do end up trying to you’re going down that feature route.

But again, one of our mistakes we made in the earlier days and Lightyear was, we just were to feature-led. We weren’t selling the benefits. So I think for us, we’re still learning every day and trying to get it right. We try to get that balance. But you’re dead, right? I mean, no matter what way we lead in from the marketing conversations, always come back to what do you do that day these guys don’t do right or what can you get me feature-wise? So we end up nearly always having a feature length conversation for sure at some point.

So, I mean, this kind of strikes to the heart of things that I love talking about. So I talk about FAB with people, features, advantages and benefits and how you you kind of structure them the easy way I’ve come across recently, not come across recently.

Something I’ve been working on for a while, I should say, is that three words, “which means that” so just list your features, “which means that” usually gives you an advantage, “which means that” you don’t always get to a benefit.

But if you’ve got 20 features and you do the exercise, you’d usually find you’ve got three or four benefits that really have power and keep going through that. And just those three words really bring things to life for people.

So I love to presentations about rant about as often as I can and then take the old Simon Sinek approach and spin it round.

Benefits, advantages, features, start with why and all that sort of thing. But do you find, though, that when your customers come calling that they just want to talk features first?

Yeah, primarily, yeah, again, maybe it’s it’s our market that they already know their pain points and they already certainly for us, they already know and they know the benefit they’re trying to sell. Right. It’s I’m doing data entry and that’s costing me time. So I want to get my time back. I making errors. So I want to get more accurate data.

So they kind of already come with that preconception. And maybe that’s a good thing for us because then we can kind of get directly into. So we’ve got an educated purchasing persona, right? When they come visit, they’re shopping for software. Typically that might be indicative of the fact that we a smaller business. So we’re not spending millions. We’re bootstrapped, right, so we haven’t taken any funding on. So we don’t have the luxury of spending millions on testing and learning.

So our top of funnel is quite narrow. So our and top of funnel persona is they’re already kind of shopping for payables, which absolutely leads us to a lot of features.

I love that tip you just gave. It’s like for me it’s a same concept, that adultness. So what? That’s great. So what? I

should give a shout out to SMX Munich. I’m speaking the 16th of March and the presentation is called, “which means that” it’s about exactly that. I’m not sure how well it’s going to translate into German German speak English better than the English. Right. But that’s fine. But I’m just hoping that “which means that” works in German. The German organizers say it will. But if you don’t shmucks Munich. I’ll put the link in the show notes. Please do come along and talk about that in a bit more depth. So, yeah, that’s a sales tip for you as well, Chris. Come on.

Awesome.

I’ll be there in oh days. I’ve made them promise to invite me back next year when it’s actually in person because in twenty, twenty one it’s obviously going to be remote.

But I don’t like country. Yeah.

Brilliant, brilliant. I’ve kind of opened the door to covid in the covid klaxons. Going to go off in a minute. Hold on.

But you can’t do a podcast at the minute without talking about the great accelerant, the great covid crisis of 2020.

Lots of businesses struggled, lots of businesses saw sales go through the roof. You don’t need to divulge numbers, but one, how did it affect you and to what changes did you have to make to keep things rolling?

It’s been such a tough year for everybody personally and in business. We count ourselves fortunate that we we got relatively impacted and we had an accelerator covid. So if we look at coming into March, whenever covid really started to get grips, we were focused quite heavily on retail and hospitality in Australia and in the UK. But 50 percent of our revenue came from those channels. And overnight, both governments just had a shutdown of those industries. So yeah, we took a jolly good kicking to be almost in April.

Overnight, by the way, we were that was going up to up to the right suddenly took a sharp detour. So so it was tough. Top line revenues were hit pretty bad. We lost fifty percent overnight, which is never easy to consume.

We were lucky not as a business because we’re self-funded. We didn’t have massive costs, so we were able to consume that for a period. So it was squeaky bum time, to be honest. You know, it’s like, well, how long is this going to last? In hindsight, we were fine because it was only a three month and then we sort of pick back up. But yeah, it’s really tough from that perspective. But on the flip side, as we talked about earlier, recovered and forcing people to work from home really force businesses to work like crap.

I was using paper last week. I know I don’t have physical people to sign this paper. What am I doing? And then it started to be telephone calls, emails, all of that manual communication methods, which was just not working. So we saw two hundred fifty percent increase in Q2 on our inbound enquiries, which was absolutely amazing for us. So I’m glad to say that’s worked out really well. We made a couple of pivots to try and take advantage of the of the situation.

We focused heavily from a product roadmap. We focused on remote working specific tools. So we had to we have a twelve month roadmap rolling at any time. And we brought forward all of those features that were going to help our businesses survive and collaborate remotely. And then we split the team into. So we’re still a small family business. We’re owned by my brothers co founder. So we we pride ourselves on customer service. For me, absolutely everything starts with a good product and great service.

Marketing sales on all just comes on top of that platform. So we wanted to do what was right. So we set up an internal scrum team that their job was just to liaise work with our customer base that were being really badly impacted, all the payment, holidays, whatever support we post. A few blogs I tried to give a general advice, stuff like that, and we’re lucky we have a lot of bookkeeper’s that use our product or recommend our products.

Again, we try to get them to help our businesses where we could and tried to be a connector. So that was one half of the business. And then the other half was on the acquisition front, accelerating that. We did a few basic things like expanded our hours. So we saw that a lot of our customers or potential customers were not shopping in the morning or night for solutions because they had to look up their kids nine to five. So simple things.

We split our teams up and we gave twenty four hour coverage, simple things like we downloaded every communication tool on the South Side because whatever a customer, whatever where they wanted to speak to us, we wanted to just make that easy. So some basic tactics like that that probably aren’t revolutionary, but they really made a difference for us.

And you said in a revolution with the number of companies that didn’t do them is amazing.

Problems of the two hundred and fifty percent growth in enquiry’s culture, because it’s something like, oh, brilliant, 10 percent growth in a quarter. But actually, your team’s built around handling your normal volumes, what issues that he caused. Yeah, so they issues, right? It’s a good excuse to have. I mean, so we really prior to that spike, we were lucky. We sort of we were growing. So we were we were scaling up.

We were getting ready for steel. So we already had a little bit of capacity, certainly not adequately prepared for that sort of growth, but we just meant customers quite. Maybe they didn’t get that quick response. Right. Things like that, we have to sort of start to ordinarily we’d be very reactive and very available for conversations, for onboarding and training and things like that. So we just have to drive some of those Eyup. But we sort of moved to anywhere we can to make things right.

So training, for example, we started to do a bit more group based, webinar based training. How can we start to service more people without using any more internal resource? So, yeah, things like that. We try to outsource it. But I’ll be honest, if Testament maintained it was just a lot of work and a lot of work, the guys to sort of attend the day a little for me it feels like these were businesses that were struggling, struggling to survive, struggling to do things.

So it was very empowering for us that we were able to actually get in and make a difference to my guys were very happy to put the extra in. And that was quite a rewarding period to be on, really.

So what do you do from a marketing perspective then, as you start to plan for twenty, twenty one? So we’re recording this in December. It’s going to go out in 2021, obviously.

But when you when you start planning, you’ve got a look at well a plan for this year went out of the window because of covid customer numbers and a different scale to where we expected them to be because where we are.

What do you look at from a marketing perspective? Are you looking at continuing that growth? Have you reset your trajectories of what you’re aiming for? Does that mean pushing more into certain channels? What’s the thinking, the discussions that you’ve been having?

A great question, Andi and probably a very long answer, but I’ll make it I’ll keep it as short as I mean, we’re in a transition period like the last two years for us as a new business has been, as I mentioned, really focused on product and support the wraparound services. Right. I’m a big believer in getting the word right before you start to go and try and load up your funnel. So looking at that middle and bottom part of the funnel and we’ve done a really good job on that and what we’ve been doing in the last six to 12 months, three covid, which is a bit skewed, is really testing on a budget.

And one of the things I’m a big believer in is just rapid testing, rapid prototyping. So just try different things that we take probably every channel of LEWISON. And on a limited budget, we’ve done little test, right, by vertical, by industry, by channel, different mediums, different keywords, different Google AdWords, really just trying to see what pops and sort of get a gauge from the market. So we’re listening to shoppers perspective, but also listening to our customers, big advocate internally, not making assumptions.

And so we spend a lot of time listening to customers and watching customers. Something into it are very big on is this concept of follow me home, which means you obviously watch them, right? What’s their behaviour? You don’t you don’t ask because then you don’t get leading answers. So again, spend a lot of time just really trying to get to know our customers. And answer your question specifically, you know, from a planning perspective next year for us, it’s very much about how we’ve realigned our forecast that went up quite aggressively.

So over the last two months, we’ve increased our spend week on week and we’re trying to test the elasticity of the increase. And if we double or triple, do we get a double, quadruple or why is the linear equation so done?

A lot of data analysis on that. Another thing for us from a modeling standpoint, that a massive one is that data element. We dig really deep in it’s not just like that’s look at the Google ads numbers, look at the graph that’s that’s actually understand is there any accounting metrics in there and are social things? Because we find that if we just look at things like likes and shares and things like that, it doesn’t really give us a story. So we sit down and we spend a lot of time.

But for me, that takes us away from other areas of the business. I mean, that’s critical. That’s the foundation you need to understand where you’re span’s going. So for us, with limited budget, when we do start to pour more juice on that fire, hopefully it’s going to set us off in the right direction.

And we’re still learning. Right? Like I say, a lot. There’s so much we’re not doing. And I think that’s something as a business leader. I’ve had to become comfortable with this. What we’re not doing, so I can stay a bit, stay but not around, so. OK, this is this quarter’s target. We’re going to do this. We’re not doing that. It’s as important as they are, really not. So next year, we’re excited to build the they might start looking at other channels and other geographies as well.

I mentioned North America. I’m sure we’re going to have lots of learnings. Everyone tells me that is like an individual country.

So that’s so much fun, right? We learn. We’re learning every day. And that’s that’s just a really exciting journey to be on.

So I want to ask you about two things. Going to go back and talk about the follow me home that the did into it. And then I want to talk a little bit about some of the mistakes that you’ve made as well. So I think what you talk about is ethnography. It’s fancy marketing title.

And only yesterday I was I was on a podcast, which is coming up some time around now, marketed Not Life. It’s the podcast that goes with Market Life Conference. And we’re talking about ethnography, how a lot of marketers, especially digital marketing, spend so much of the time looking at data and information open to the point of sale. And then never care about what happens to that person afterwards or, you know, it falls into somebody else’s team to look at repeat purchases and things like that.

No. Why would you not want to find out what they do with your product or service after you’ve bought it, it just seems like absolute madness to me.

So what what we’re doing to approach it? And what lessons did you take from that? Yes, and so for me, as a business leader, I have the overall vested interest of the entire fuddle and that includes attrition. But I think back into it, we had a cross-functional team and there was a certain level of collaboration, but there was also certain silos. You guys go and get customers, right? You guys retain customers, marketing team. But for me, it’s so costly to acquire customers today, right, in the digital space.

I agree. I don’t understand why they don’t want to retain those customers or why you don’t want to learn from those customers to help refine your messaging when you’re going on top of funnel.

I think the most of the great marketers I’ve worked with, they’ve got that holistic approach and they corral their teams to cross, collaborate and share information. But, you know, you’re right, there’s a lot that don’t do it. And I don’t quite understand why. And I think for us, our customers are brilliant. They love to talk. They’ve got you all to just engage them. They love to talk to you or not. Follow me. Home concept.

It’s about watching. OK, so it might be used to be a person potentially not so much at the moment, but dialing in. And I just said, I tell you I’ll just go like you’re just go about your daily business the next hour and you just watch them. Where do they go if you’re with them in person reacting where they’re getting frustrated, where like what are you saying to like, I’m really picking the areas that make them feel warm and fuzzy.

That’s where someone’s getting warm and fuzzy. Just directly transcribe that into what you’re talking about when you’re talking about your product. And that’s sort of watching our customer. We also talk to your front line.

All the support is supporting. There’s a wealth of knowledge right there, talking to customers, all that they’re hearing what they don’t like, what they do like. So I really encourage any marketing organization should be absolutely stepto with their their customer support.

And which guys were you listening to the interview I did with Paul for this podcast? Because that is the other thing we talked about is how many marketers don’t talk to support or depending on the size of the business, smaller businesses. Sometimes it’s the receptionist is the font of knowledge about everything. And you talk to the receptionist.

Now, people don’t like this. They don’t like that. Well, how do you know? Well, they bring all the deal with all the returns. And then you go upstairs, you talk to them and like our product does this. It does this. It does this. That’s not what the receptionist is telling me.

People just don’t talk across organizations that, you know, all your pay grade is not big enough to be in this important meeting room. You’re like, bring those voices in. That’s that’s the voice of the customer. Get that in the room. That’s right.

You’re darn right on there. And I didn’t want to broadcast, by the way, in case you think I’m ripping off Paul, these are all my old ideas. You’re dead. Right. And I think that’s well, that’s interesting.

So for me, as a startup challenging organization, I love that because that’s where big incumbents get complacent. They have all these layers and you’re dead, right? They just don’t engage. And you end up of these these silos and these problems. And for us, that’s fantastic. We have a totally flat structure. And every one of us from one open plan office, everybody’s talking all day, but one hundred percent agree. When I think back of my corporate days, those were the main challenges.

And then I think those words, OK, ours, kampai and all that sort of stuff, again, fundamentally can breaktime, innovation and collaboration. So we think really carefully what how we incentivize our team and everybody has that holistic incentivization. It’s not just about you go do this and we find it. That really helps encourage the collaboration element. Brilliant.

And the old Dubbo’s phrase, show me how you measure me and I’ll show you how outperform something like that. So, yeah, people you know, you said I’m an object. They’ll go and do that. And if that’s not aligned with everything else, then you fall to pieces.

I really like that. Like the sound of the let’s talk about some cockups.

People love hearing about the mistakes and they don’t they don’t have to be recent. They can be you know, they can be old school as well, from Sydney, from from America, from Belfast.

Give us an example of something that you thought was going to be a great marketing success and just fell flat on its face. And what did you learn from Lux? That’s important, but the stories can be fun.

But what did you learn from. Yeah, at that right. That is the most important thing, right? I mean, there’s no such thing as a failure as long as you take something from it and you do something better than next time. And while I’ve made a whole host of mistakes just within like Ecomm, but probably on a small scale, not only interesting, but I think probably all the biggest say mistakes. But I was part of a team that into it in Australia and we did this really bold and aggressive campaign.

I was called Infinity at the time, but basically we were we were a Challenger brand and we went out and basically spent a lot of money to get a few customer verbatim and say we are for the best in the market right now.

And all the transparency at that time, we were nowhere near the best in the market.

Rather, the product just wasn’t there. I know I don’t want to be critical. There was a lot of good things about that company and we work really well as a team. It got a lot of energy into the team. It gave us a sense of purpose. But I think if we’re honest with ourselves, the actual result probably didn’t deserve any favours. It probably exposed a few product gaps and weaknesses so that for not in hindsight, that probably wasn’t a great outcome.

But to your point, what do we take from it? What did we learn? How do we pivot? We looked at the data, analyzed the data and some of the really great things where we learned how to work well together. So it wasn’t a success strategically. The execution, the collaboration, everything about it went really well. And we learned from it. Right. We look at the results we saw probably we weren’t getting what we wanted in terms of at day one.

We said, OK, what’s your key metric? We probably didn’t get that. But as we evolved, we changed our metrics, our objectives, and it became just more than what we set out to do. And I think that’s really important right now. Don’t don’t set out with a target. And then no matter what, you’re trying to hit that target, it’s OK to change things. Right. And this maybe comes back to the KPI conversation.

A lot of business to say that’s a KPI. If you don’t get that, you don’t succeed and that can’t be right. So it’s got to you’ve got to understand that you have all. But there can be great outcomes and sometimes better outcomes from a project, a project holistically, but not actually deliver on what you set out to deliver. And that’s absolutely fine.

I was reading a Harvard Business Review thing about setting KPIs and smart objectives, but this guy was arguing for faster objectives, not smart.

Now, I can’t remember the areas in the T, but the important thing I took from it was at the F was for frequent.

And he made the point you were making that actually you set an objective for a year and you maybe if you do really well, you review after three months. If not, you maybe review of the six. Sometimes you don’t even review it until the end of the year. And it’s a pass or fail.

Right.

Actually, the best way to set objectives of frequent weekly conversations about the objectives. And that does mean the objective moves sometimes. And he went on to explore how difficult that can be. Big organisations, obviously, what your objectives are trying to hit this, which helps to that which helps to do different bits, hits the overall corporate objective.

But the main point to take from it was frequent smart script, but Frequence Better, which was the thought was really important because you touched on that actually move things as the goal, just change direction of trouble. If it’s not right.

Is there something that you can bring in to how you work now?

Yeah, absolutely trying to do that. And I mean, we haven’t had a quarterly target that has started off on day one. And I ended up seeing targets on the last day of the quarter. So we we always move in so many things and start up particularly touchy and you have to have that flexibility. So, yeah, we’re big on that. I think what’s important for a marketing organisation or just any organisation in the business is work. Find what works for you.

Right. There’s OK. There’s all these frameworks which are super beneficial, smart, KPIs, whatever. But I think don’t get hung up on following the specific guidance and trying to fit your organisation into a framework.

Take the concepts, take all the benefits that they provide and just make it work for you and for us. That means super agile, superfluid, continually changing. And I think what’s important for me as a leader to maintain is that it’s fine to change and then they don’t get beaten up by not having that metric. It’s time to change the metric change. Brilliant.

From a purist marketing perspective, I’m also getting a message that must connection’s unstable.

So let’s hope you can still hear me from a pure marketing perspective. I talk about marketing in the fall product price place promotion.

I’ll argue with anyone wants to talk about five or seven or whatever, but let’s stick to fall for the minute.

When I have SAS people on on the show, I always ask them about this because as you grow to a certain size in SAS product, get separate.

Marketing really, really quickly. So it sounds like in your organization, you’re all in one room, two rooms, because you’ve got the one in Sydney and there’s a lot of sharing and a lot of information. But as you scaling and growing up and you start to get into departments and silos, is marketing going to be unhooked from product?

And if so, how do you make sure that that continues to be that feedback continues to come between the departments? Yeah, so it’s a definite risk Andi, right, and it’s a fear that something keeps me awake at night as we scale, how do we keep the connection? So, yes, it’s definitely a risk. I think a few tactics that we will try and deploy and well, unless successful, we will find out, making sure that somebody is identified as that connector.

So somebody needs to be a cross functional person. And your job is to make sure that that marketing team with that priority and that support team are totally connected. That’s not me as a CEO. That needs to be somebody whose specific job is to make people connected. So we’re going to identify that champion that’s not sort of operational connect or rule and anything else. A lot of the sort of things you can do is just behaviour, your culture.

We’ve got customers stuff all over the walls. Any time we get great feedback and things, it’s plastered all over the internal communication channels and they just really put the customer front and center so that the whole business thinks customer. And then that builds a hunger or marketing team. They say this and they’re hungry to go and learn more. Wow, brilliant. I could use that or I could learn a bit more. So you’re trying to drive that natural hunger and curiosity to keep people collaborating.

So it’s a good question and it’s definitely going to be a challenge for us. But hopefully we can find a way that works well. It still keeps the connection. Keep that going.

Brilliant. And I want to talk about Belfast for a little bit. You’re a local, but as you said, you had the joys of living in Sydney. You’ve done a stint in America, and now you’re back home. Belfast, for those who don’t know, has kind of reinvented itself over the last few years as a bit of a tech hope.

There’s a huge ecosystem. There’s a lot of companies doing security payments and all sorts of stuff like that. Probably within a couple of hundred yards of where you’re sitting. There’s businesses that have a global impact in that sort of space. What are the benefits and drawbacks of that cluster and of being in Belfast as well? Yeah, it’s a great question. It’s such an interesting past Belfast, right? You know, I’m sure most of our listeners are aware, you know, 30 years ago, the tech innovation was probably a sort of bomb making, that sort of thing.

So, you know, I’ll say that because I’m not from here, but I can say it up and, you know, but prior to the troubles, which I think a lot of sort of the latest generation probably think the troubles, but there’s been a history of innovation. And Belfast know Titanic built their biggest shipbuilding company in the world, the roadworks and aerospace just really massive sort of history of innovation. And I think that’s sort of been built within the Northern Irish people.

But I was in Sydney and I was in Silicon Valley for a year. So I’ve got the sort of experience I know cities can really turn into innovative hubs. And I’m really glad to say that what I’m seeing here in Belfast, it’s very much moving in the right direction in that regard. There’s a lot of things going for it geographically. It’s fantastic. You know, you can manage Europe and North America pretty well. South Africa is directly below us from a time zone perspective.

So it’s really well placed geographically. Fantastic University Belfast are two really great unis, which for a city of our size is it’s quite unique and they provide a lot of really great talent. It’s quite affordable to leave, but also deploy. So one of the big factors when I set the business up was, well, how much is it going to cost me to run the business from this location? And Belfast is equally as affordable as you’ll find in the sort of developed Western world and the ecosystems are thriving.

There’s a really supportive government agency investment in Ireland, lots of hubs like Catalist I’ve done here and shared offices, lost collaboration. It’s brilliant. I mean, it’s it’s I was totally surprised I came back. I really wasn’t expecting it to be as bad as it is. And just recently in the fintech 50 was announced to the UK. We were announced as one of the fintech 50. Northern Ireland had two others. So three out of fifty UK wide companies identified as the 50 most fastest growing scale ups.

And that’s amazing.

So we had the highest representation for head six percent of the list for about one percent of the population. So that’s a less than one percent anyway.

So, yeah, really, really good. And you became the poster boy for Invest Northern Ireland with that press release after that, which so I maybe we’ll put a link to that in the show notes as well.

What about the drawbacks of and I don’t want to be negative. I’m really positive about Belfast in the place. But are there any drawbacks? And I’ll give you a conversation I have had with I’ll not mention the name of the company, but they struggle sometimes in Belfast to recruit developers, particularly certain other skills as well, because there has been such an explosion of companies. Go to Belfast. We want to be based there, the hoovering up talent to work for big companies.

It just becomes quite difficult to get and retain people. That is one thing you hear sometimes if you’ve got any. Does that sound like something? You’ve got a problem with any of the drawbacks of things you’d like to feel like the city to focus on for the next five years? Yeah, definitely.

It’s careful what you wish for. On the one hand, you’ve got these great big international companies. FDI is coming in and they’re driving a little investment in innovation. Right. Which then creates the help. But on the flip side, and it’s a really competitive market and as a startup particularly, you’ve got to be willing to work hard. Right? You’ve got to be really on it. You can’t. And the bigger companies tend to have a lot of benefits, Commander, for their Wacol, the tech extended holidays.

And that’s all great. But that doesn’t really work for a startup that needs to start making money super quick. Right. So, yeah, the talent is hard in certain areas, particularly tech and echo. That also doesn’t affect us because we’re not seeking investment at the moment. But it’s hard to get to a series Eyup a lot of companies can access seed funds and things here, but there is no sort of there’s no local primary big investors do series and baby.

So something I hear a lot from the co-founders networks are it is hard to kick on to that next global level. Those are probably the two main drawbacks. I need to be honest, but I definitely would say the positives much outweigh the negatives here. Really, look, it’s such a great change to see in a city, because I’ve been here 10 years now and have been coming for maybe 20, so you can see how it develops and evolved and has a real energy about the city as well.

So, you know, long may continue.

It’s not perfect. Far from it, but it feels like it. There’s a lot of people trying to drag it into the in the right direction. So it’s good to have you here as well.

What about the Sydney office? How does that work? Obviously, you mentioned time zones. Yes. You can do 24 four support. That’s great. But what challenges do that cause you as an organization?

Yeah. So product wise or some challenges in out different localizations, things like that. So it’s obvious overheads, their coverage of tech support. Right. So our tech team are here.

Things can go wrong in the middle of the night. So at the moment, unfortunately, our CTO wakes up at a bed. The other the other red iterated phone, the same state that I love.

But we put the bat signal up. So, yeah, the challenges.

It’s like that we will mature. I don’t think we’ll be able to better cross skills into both offices and then management meetings, things like that, we focus a lot on having collaboration and making sure we’re together, but that means late nights, early mornings for our staff. But I don’t think in this day and age in tech, I don’t think that’s anything unique to light.

You’re right. That’s kind of what global organizations like to do. And I guess any other drawback of Sydney is Price writes, rent is expensive, the price of wages are expensive.

Stuff like that full of Aussies as well, isn’t it? That’s the problem. That’s right. That’s right. That’s right.

But for us, for the hate mail, for the hate mail to come in, maybe cut up, it would send these brilliant Aussies are fantastic. They’re great. Bunch of very laid back. Where did you get brought on the corporate right.

I look, I’m a big rugby league fan as well. So Sydney and Brisbane as a great sadness for me.

But to listen, we’re really not a team. I can see the time on the clock. And there’s a couple of questions that I want to ask you, because I ask everybody they so books.

What books do you read for marketing, for running your business? Where is it you get your information from?

Yeah. So a lot of guys will hit me for saying this, but I don’t really have time to read books. And I understand books have a lot of benefit. I have three, two kids, nearly three. I struggle to just find the time, to be honest, Andi. So my recommendation for anyone like me who’s really tambour, I can just have snippets, 20 minute, 10 minute reads and I’ve signed that Lincoln to be almost as fantastic.

They lengthened the algorithms seem to know me really well and if they’re pretty content to let their algorithms, things like medium, I get the newsletters, different bits of content each day.

So I’m more of a snippet reader Andi to be honest, but I find that I probably get much of what I need from those.

Is there anybody in particular? Any news you so you go, oh yeah, that’s this one that comes through.

Yes. I’m, I’m sort of fintech orientated. So they find extra newsletters as good for me. It’s fantastic. And then just medium sign up the medium newsletter and it gives me a great traveller, entrepreneurs and things like that. Super, super good content, good sort of stuff.

And to finish off, what is the one question you were expecting me to ask you today that I haven’t asked you?

I thought you’d ask me what I want for Christmas.

I want a better golf handicap for a start.

But on a more serious note, I think, you know, I think everyone, myself included, need to start thinking a bit more about the world for me. I think it is really highlight to me the level of inequality I think the world is having on a really bad path in climate change and stuff like that. So maybe I’m getting older and but as I mature, I start to think about these things more about the world, and particularly so for me.

I would love everybody and both private and corporate, to start hopefully making more of a concerted effort on government, making more of a concerted effort on things like climate change. So that would be my wish for Christmas, I think if you can make it out of that for Christmas.

Well, it’s interesting. You mentioned I was reading just the other day about, um, about covid-19 when it first hit. It was, oh, we’re all in this together. But as you start to look at the stats now, it really is disproportionately hit in working class people. It benefits people of certain age and races.

When we’re not quite holding this together, it seems the poorer you are, the more you’re going to get hit.

So, yeah, I think your Christmas wish is a good one and one that we should work next year to to bring to life the light year foundation.

That’s what we can launch next year.

We just don’t get a bit of like charity stuff this year for us, which is really rewarding and really happy to do it. But definitely, you know, it’s funny you say we have had chats about the light year by nature. So, you know, I think it’s blown all of us to try and make an effort to do that or not. Certainly something we’ll try and get keep getting better at as a business. Great stuff, Chris.

Thank you very much for your time. If anybody wants to contact you, how do they get in touch with you?

You can find me on Twitter like yea Chris. Or you can email me or go to our website like er Dot Clyde and find me there and we’ll put all Chris’s details in the show notes as well.

So Chris, thank you very much for your time. Thanks, Andi. It’s been a pleasure, Chris. Thank you. Bye.

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