Welcome to the Marketing Stir podcast by Stirista, probably the most entertaining marketing podcasts you’re going to put in your ears. I’m Jared walls, Associate Producer and Stirista’s Creative Copy Manager. The goal of this podcast is to chat with industry leaders, to get their take on the current challenges in the market, but also have a little fun along the way. In this episode, Vincent and Ajay chat with Michael Bouteneff, Global Marketing Director, Strategic Growth at MasterCard. He shares as he calls it his meandering career journey that touches on molecular biology and music publishing among other things. He also discusses in depth. The current state of the marketing events space. Ajay has some thoughts on public transportation and Vincent claims, he knows how to drive. Give it a listen.
Vincent. P: All right, ladies and gentleman. It’s me. Vincent Pietrofesa that must mean one thing and one thing only, it’s Stirista’s the Marketing Stir. Welcome. Welcome. Welcome. Thank you so much for listening again. I am one of your hosts, Vincent Pietrofesa the vice-president of B2B products and partnerships at Stirista. Who is Stirista? Let’s pay the bills really quick. I just like to say that I heard it on like radio shows and podcasts. It’s not really paying any bills, but Stirista we are a marketing technology company. We actually own our own data. Business to business, business to consumer. We help companies utilize that data to get new customers, email acquisition. We also own our own DSP AdStir, we can help use display CTV, OTT. That’s it. That’s all. That’s the only pitch about Stirista. Oh, thank you so much for being here. The other person who’s here. Who’s with me all the time on this, my shotgun he’s riding shotgun and I’m riding shotgun to him. He drives, I don’t even drive. I live in New York city, ladies and gentlemen. My commander- in- chief here at Stirista, San Antonio’s finest. Mr. Ajay Gupta. What’s up Ajay?
Ajay Gupta: Hey, Vincent. You’d actually appreciate this. There’s a bus station. That’s opened up pretty close to my house and it’s massive. The funny thing is nobody uses buses in San Antonio, so it just exists and it’s massive in an area where… I would think the land is pretty expensive there. So, we occasionally see a couple of buses. So, I thought of you this morning actually as I was crossing through it and thought Vincent would use it.
Vincent. P: Well, all right. Let’s unpack what you just said there a little bit. So, when you think of buses, you think of me as someone who rides public transportation-
Ajay Gupta: Public transportation.
Vincent. P: You know the crazy part actually in now port authority have taken the bus. The bus, that’s a unique people set on that bus there. I’ve taken the bus a few times. Never actually in Manhattan, only leaving it. And you said massive and a waste of space. So, let’s explore that as well Ajay. I love that you think about me when that comes to-
Ajay Gupta: Yeah. I don’t know if I would go that far.
Vincent. P: No. No. That’s what I heard. I don’t know if our guests heard that about me. I’m kidding. I’m kidding. We know you love… The people out there know our love is real on the Marketing Stir here, but you wouldn’t think people take public transit in San Antonio. I didn’t see any of it. I’m actually forced to drive when I go to San Antonio to visit you guys.
Ajay Gupta: Yeah. We actually had to take your license I believe last time you were there just to make sure you could drive.
Vincent. P: It’s an old one. I always tell people I have a license. I just don’t drive that often. I know how to drive. It’s just like, just enter the car at your own risk. That’s what I tell people. But yeah, it’s been a long time since I’ve like driven consistently. Especially when we go on road trips, my wife loves to drive because she gets car sick. It’s a whole other thing. All right. Anyway, but what’s good, any plans for the weekend?
Ajay Gupta: Yeah. We got this final match of our Saturday Tennis League. So, it’s a big one. And you wouldn’t believe the kind of pressure I’m under as the captain to select certain players you would think this is a life and death situation, but-
Vincent. P: You put yourself in these situations, you’re the captain of the SS Stirista of the… Is it the over 40? Not the over 40-
Ajay Gupta: Wow. Wow.
Vincent. P: …tennis league. I’m sorry, you are not 40 yet.
Ajay Gupta: Is this still over 18, but thank you for checking.
Vincent. P: Well, people who follow the Marketing Stir know your tennis escapades, but let’s get to a new escapade that we have here. I am extremely excited about this next guest. Let me tell you why a number of reasons. One of course, it’s a company that everyone’s heard of and know. Yes. That’s great. But we’re from the same area. We’re from the same era. We love a lot of the same music. He’s involved in B2B. I’m involved in B2B. So, I always love to hear that. I love our guests who talk about other things, but I especially love B2B. So, let’s give a very warm welcome here on the Marketing Stir to a gentleman from MasterCard. Yes. That MasterCard heard of it. The global marketing director, strategic growth, ladies and gentlemen, Michael Bouteneff. Michael, what’s going on?
Michael. B: Hey, Vince, how are you doing? crosstalk
Vincent. P: I am hanging in there. I noticed my voice cracked at the end apparently, I’m still going through puberty at 42, but hey that’s the marketing star.
Michael. B: It’s never ever too late for that.
Vincent. P: It never is. Michael, thank you so much for joining us, calling in from Westchester County, my old stomping grounds there, born and raised in one or two towns over from Michael. So great to be here. I want to get to some of those things I talked about. I wanted to get to the personal side. I want to get to the music I want to get to the… all of that fun stuff as well, but first let’s get to also some fun stuff. It’s the Marketing Stir, so people want to talk about that. Everyone knows MasterCard, right? So, a lot of people think the credit cards right off the bat, but I want to have people learn more about what you do at MasterCard, your division it’s different. So, can you talk about that and your role within the company?
Michael. B: Sure. Look when I was first tapped for an opportunity at MasterCard at that point, my impression of the company was the same as everyone else’s. MasterCard is a credit card company. And the reality is MasterCard has really grown way beyond just payments. It’s invested and made acquisitions in the space of cyber security, blockchain, artificial intelligence, data and insights. And it’s also diving into new industries, and it has been for some time, such as governments transit, you were talking a lot about buses. So, it has extensive relationships with hundreds and hundreds of cities around the world, helping them launch new forms of payment, new ways of executing digital flows to help transit companies run where they run in their particular cities. So strategic growth is really one of the businesses at MasterCard, which is honestly run… There are a lot of different components to it. It’s truly meant to be a unit based on looking at new opportunities, whether they be industry focused, philanthropy driven even, or working with governments, et cetera. And that’s where I work and play every day. And it’s a big challenge but it’s a lot of fun.
Vincent. P: And tell us a little bit about, specifically what you’re doing there within your role.
Michael. B: Sure. So, as you said, I’m the global marketing director. So that includes a mix of activities that cross product marketing, event marketing and digital marketing, generating demand, progressing pipeline, et cetera. So, a lot of different activities, depending on what stage that particular business unit happens to be at.
Vincent. P: And Michael, I want to talk about how… we always love this question here because it’s not always a straight path right to marketing, but I was looking at your educational background and I would imagine it wasn’t a straight path based on what you studied to marketing, can you tell us a little bit about how you got into it?
Michael. B: Yeah. Really had a meandering journey in my career. I started in college I was a molecular biology mayor. I was wearing a lab coat and being a geek in a lab, looking through microscopes and creating DNA. It was very weird, but a lot of fun. But then I immediately graduated and went into the music industry. I had this huge interest in just music. I wanted to start a band and I joined a company called Harry Fox Agency, which is involved in music publishing, IP rights, et cetera. And in doing that, I got to work with companies like Napster and MP3. com, which I don’t know how many of your listeners will even have heard of those companies at this point. It might just be you and me, Vince and Ajay, but at that time the digital music revolution was in full swing, and it was an amazing place to be, it was the right place at the right time. And that made me decide to get an MBA. I wanted to dive into startup culture and the startup environment, and that was my entry into it. And shortly after that I worked for a couple of startups and search engine marketing and start photography and a few places. There were somewhat unstable experiences. I got laid off at one point I left another. and then I decided to go corporate. So, I joined Nestle and spent an amazing seven years at a company called Gerber Life Insurance Company, which is just straight up growth, digital marketing, all day long for seven years. It was a huge dive into that space of search marketing, display, social, et cetera. And then I spent four years at IBM in cloud and consulting and telecom, a few different roles there. And then I joined MasterCard about two and a half years ago to join strategic growth.
Ajay Gupta: Michael, what’s been a highlight for you while being at MasterCard for the last couple of years?
Michael. B: Yeah. There’s been several. Because strategic growth is so dynamic, it really shifts based on where we see the tide’s going and new bus… The business I work with really range in spectrum from seven figure revenue generating businesses to, ” Hey, I’ve got this business model I want to pursue. Can you help?” So, there’ve been several, but I would say one of the most notable ones recently, we launched something called the City Possible Summit. So, the global cities team is really focused on reaching local governments. They’ve really made quite a lot of headway over the last couple of years, building relationships with cities all around the world and the City Possible Summit was an all virtual summit with a thought leadership event spanning a full day where we brought in city leaders, technology partners, academic innovators, as well to speak to big topics and challenges that were reaching that industry. And of course in the pandemic facing world, going virtual is what you need to do, but this was truly an outstanding event where you love to see an event where your executives and EVPs and presidents are super excited about it because you’re successfully building the brand, but you’re also simultaneously making your sales teams happy because you’re generating opportunities at a scale that makes them very happy. So, across the board, that was just a phenomenal success for us.
Ajay Gupta: That’s great. And so, this was a virtual event that was planned during the pandemic and happened during the pandemic, sounds like?
Michael. B: That’s right. Truly in response to it, we were looking to launch our inaugural city possible event as almost a physical event initially. We completely shifted of course, and went digital. It was a massive three-month long project, but really turned out quite well for us.
Ajay Gupta: And Michael, how has the pandemic in general, it sounds like you’ve had to make some changes with the conference, of course, like everybody else, but how has the pandemic in general affected you and the company?
Michael. B: The pandemic was really painful for some companies and for some companies, it was very helpful. We were really fortunate in that we spent about a year and a half before the pandemic building relationships. What’s core to City Possible. And again, this is just one business within strategic growth, but its evolution was the creation of something called the City Possible Global Network. And it’s really a group of cities that have committed to collaborating and contributing to discourse to identify common challenges, co- create solutions, et cetera. That’s all backdrop to say, we built these relationships before the pandemic happened. And that was really proved to be extremely valuable to us because when the pandemic did hit and these cities that are really, when you think about local governments, local governments are on the front lines, helping and working with people that live in their cities. These days we’re suddenly challenged to find ways… how do we disperse aid digitally to people in an environment where we’re trying not to invite people to come to public spaces where we’re trying to tell people to socially distance and a lot of cities weren’t set up to do that. So, the amount of inbound interest we were receiving organically driven by the relationships we had already built and driven was almost literally overwhelming to our team. We had to motor to try to keep up with that demand. So, that was one thing that was just huge. We had built the foundation that enabled that before. But then of course, reacting to that situation with something we had not built was building the digital platform to enable the virtual discussions and thought leadership events that we were hoping to have, we’d have to plan to have in a completely different way.
Vincent. P: And Michael with City Possible, is that like you’re building that solution and then rolling that out for a lot of individual cities to take part in, what’s the marketing strategy behind that particular program?
Michael. B: Sure. The pillars of City Possible truly revolve around three things, number one is the global network of cities. It’s really that opportunity to convene a lot of different voices from completely different contents around the world, but share the challenges that they have in common and share the approaches that they’ve taken to attack those challenges. What’s wonderful about the public sector is you’re talking to a bunch of people that are not competing with each other, whereas if I serve say the airline industry or another, just any commercial industry, many of your potential clients could be potentially competitors. In the public sector, you have governments who truly want to learn what they can from people who’ve been through the same trench that they need to get into and learn from it. So, in answer to your question, one pillar is that network. Number two, it’s a process for co- creation. Once we’ve identified a challenge who wants to raise their hand to be part of this working group that’s going to help us build a way to attack this challenge. We’ll pull in technology partners, we’ll pull in the cities that want to participate, et cetera. And the third part of it is really a proven suite of solutions that we know work because we’ve piloted them, we’ve tested them. We now have a blueprint for how this can work. And that’s all part of it.
Vincent. P: Well, it also seems like thought leadership is part of it, just sharing knowledge across the globe. So how important in general is thought leadership in your marketing?
Michael. B: For sure it’s critical. From a marketing perspective especially when you’re entering a new market and you need to build trust, you need to build credibility from the ground up thought leadership was absolutely 90% of what we focused on in the beginning especially and throughout that’s never going to go away. In our case, we really try to focus our thought leadership on the voices of cities, the cities, and the city leaders and the city innovators. They’re the ones we want to shine the spotlight on. And we act as the facilitator and convener to that, but as it matures, once you’ve built that credibility and built the trust, you’re still of course, continuing the thought leadership because that’s adding value to the community and that’s core and central. But then you can start looking to other forms of marketing as well, such as you might use now start looking into demand generation and experienced design and how do we now progress relationships and opportunities through our marketing funnel, et cetera.
Ajay Gupta: So, Michael, we have a crack team of producers here that like to do research before somebody comes on as a guest. And one of the interesting things we found out about you was you were a lead singer in a couple of bands in your early twenties. So, we’d love to learn a little bit more about what that was all about, what kind of music you guys did, and if you’re still making any music.
Michael. B: Sure. Yeah. You found me out. I did. I went into the music industry because I was hoping to find opportunities like that. And I found some amazing friends in part and buddies, girls and guys. And my first foray into that was forming a… within the company of Harry Fox I worked with we found about 10 people that were interested in just starting up a funk band. So, it was a 10-piece funk band with a brass section that I was the lead singer of. I was in that for a couple of years of fun. And then I joined an alternative rock band that was honestly a live wanna be band for those of you on the air who remember live from the nineties. So, love that. But yeah, right now I’m really into Logic Pro and I’m sitting at the same inaudible when I produce and write music. So, right now I’m working on the EP Project it’s called Realm. The project means the Phonic Boom. I don’t know what my band name is yet even, but I’m figuring that out. It might be that same name, but it’s an alternative rock/ future bass, figuring that out as I go.
Ajay Gupta: That’s very cool. Yeah. I want to.
Vincent. P: I want to dig into that a little bit deeper. I just want to get back to some of the marketing side, because on the Marketing Stir, we do love to explore ways that you’re marketing. What’s working for you? Now, I always like to tell our guests, there’s some secret sauce. Don’t say it. We have a lot of listeners, especially in the marketing field, but for you, what are some… A, I want to understand who are some of your targets that you’re going after? So, for your division, who’s an ideal customer for you. You said, it ranges from the business side, but understanding is its certain industries? Is it just companies by a certain size and also what type of marketing are you utilizing? So, to get in those customers?
Michael. B: No, absolutely. The process as a marketer and for all of us really here whether I was at IBM or MasterCard or somewhere else, or we’re an agency I always think of it as these concentric circles of audiences depending on the goal. So, the biggest circle, the widest circle is the mess of public. You would never go all out trying to market to the public, but let’s say the first circle, the largest is maybe you’ll influence your community, and they’re not going to be your buyers. They’re not going to be your decision makers, but they are very much your influencers and when you’re building brand awareness, and when you want thought leadership to be amplified in some way that’s the community whose attention you’re trying to get for sure. And you’re hoping to drive waves of amplification through those and that audience, but then digging a little deeper now, like your next concentric circle, you have the folks that report to, and inform the C level and VP level audiences. So, it might be your directors. It might be your practitioners. People are on the ground who are like, ” Man, I’ve got this challenge and I need a solution for it. I needed a technology. I need a platform. I needed a way to digitize payments so that I can give people who are off the grid who need help because of COVID. I need to find a way to get money to these people. How can I do that when they can’t get into a post office because of COVID et cetera, et cetera?” So that’s another layer. And there’s some tactics that feed to that. It might be a combination of paid social. It might be search. It might be just a really targeted LinkedIn campaign. And then you have your buyers and decision makers and CVP level folks and where do they play? They might not be Google searching for a solution, but they might be swiping through their LinkedIn feed, looking for the least thought leadership and thought leadership paper. It really depends on who you’re talking to. So, we try to think of those different categories and levels of people. We’re at different levels of decision- making power ability, and just that process they might be in a different role in their process and market to them in the right way based on what resources are they looking at to help them make their decisions.
Vincent. P: And thanks for sharing that, Michael. One of the other things I want to talk about is the makeup of your marketing team, what makes your team go. And to that I know each of my questions seem like they’re like inaudible parts, but I’m very curious. So also, in addition to that, what are some of the technologies that you’re utilizing some of your tech stack within that team that helps you go?
Michael. B: Yeah. Also, team is funny because especially strategic growth, it truly is a startup issue. So, there are many teams even at MasterCard, I would say that manage everything from the end to end. I’ll give you one example from IBM, and then we’ll give you an example from what our makeup looks like. At IBM, we had a squad of people focused on in my last role before focused on the telecommunications and entertainment industry. And there that squad focused on that industry was made up of a product marketing manager, which was me. We had a content director really focused on producing whether video or thought leadership content articles, et cetera. We had our digital marketing specialist, who was really focused on launching campaigns and pay media. And then we had our campaign manager who had a 360 view of different touch points, whether they be digital events, PR, et cetera, making sure that our messages and our assets are consistent across all and all of the being launched in synchronicity, et cetera. And it was great. It was nice to have that division of role. We would all come together and an agile marketing process. And that was one way of doing things. And there are teams that work like that at MasterCard too. It just happens the team I’m on, it’s a little more fluid and dynamic. We don’t always have those various… we have those different resources available to us, but very often we have to hunt for them within MasterCard or find the funding for it to look for agency help. So, I find myself running events. I find myself building campaigns sometimes by my own hand in LinkedIn, for example. I sometimes will hunt down a graphic designer who can help me create an infographic. When we’re working on content marketing, where we’re building an event or we’re building ComAgent campaign. It varies from business-to-business unit based on just how mature they are in their growth stage. So, City Possible is now mature. It’s been around for two and a half years, and they have a good, dedicated comms, resource and a dedicated business team. Whereas some of the other teams I work with don’t have that yet. So, it really varies quite a bit.
Ajay Gupta: Michael, one of the questions we like to ask our guests, it’s one of our staple questions is I’m sure you get quite a few messages on LinkedIn, and we love to understand what are some of the messages that you respond to? What are some messages that annoy you and general pet peeves?
Vincent. P: It’s our LinkedIn pet peeve question Michael.
Michael. B: Oh boy, that’s fun. Favorite LinkedIn message. I think like any other human being like my ICG drawn to sparkly things and my attention 100% of the time is absolutely caught and maintained when I see some funky, cool augmented reality or animation tech or demo that’s displayed. If it’s moving and it’s flashy and it’s animated, it catches my attention. White papers still work on me for some reason. I download them 100% of the time. It’s irrelevant to me. I still read them only 30% of the time after I’ve downloaded them. I think that’s the same for all of us. We always have high hopes for what we’re going to consume and actually just dive into it. And that just falls through most of the time. Pet peeves are any posts starting with, I am so humbled and grateful for the opportunity given to me to accept this award by such and such, et cetera, et cetera. It’s like, look, we know what you’re saying, right? I’m the best, bow down to me. I’ve just learnt something else that you haven’t, and I’m better. By the way, for the record, as soon as this interview is done, the first thing I’m going to do when this is published and say, ” I’m so humbled and feel so grateful for the opportunity to have been selected by…” I’ll be that guy. But I’m annoyed when I see it elsewhere. In truth in defense of those folks, somebody needs to invent a new way to share wonderful news and share the victory you’ve experienced without using the word humble, because there’s nothing humble about it.
Ajay Gupta: That’s a good point. I always struggle because-
Michael. B: It’s hard.
Ajay Gupta: … good to put in award out on LinkedIn, but you don’t want to be like, ” Hey, look at me.”
Michael. B: We all want to share it. So, how do you share it without obviously sharing it? I don’t know.
Vincent. P: I have some ways. But I won this side, I’m sorry Ajay, I’ll let you answer that next question. But when I won this award, it was this Rising Star Award Ajay actually received one as well while we were at different companies. It was 40 and under Michael, it was the Rising Star, 40 years old and under, I was 40 years old when I received it, it was June and in August I would have been 41. So, I was the oldest rising star in history. You know what I said? I was like, ” Well, it’s about time. What took you so long?” I didn’t say I was humbled. I was like Rising Star. I was like, I believe I did say that on the stage or in an inaudible I was like, what took you guys so long? So anyway, go ahead Ajay.
Ajay Gupta: No, I think you definitely felt like he had risen by then and it was almost offensive to give in. He’s almost qualified for what we call Silver Apple, which means silver hair. And what is it? 20 or 30 years?
Vincent. P: 25 years in the industry. Maybe I’ll be the youngest Silver Apple Award winner Michael and I was the oldest crosstalk Rising Star… In our industry there’s these two awards, but not that awards mean anything.
Michael. B: That’s right. Yeah. I think it’s how great a 30 Rock episode that had Liz Lemon was winning the 80 under 80 Award. I thought it was just hilarious inaudible
Vincent. P: I love it. Yeah. I remember that. I love that show. So go ahead Ajay. I was jumped in front of you with my non- humbleness there.
Ajay Gupta: No, it’s all right. Your humor is what we live for Vincent.]
Vincent. P: Thank you.
Ajay Gupta: So, what’s coming up in 2021. Anything new and exciting happening within your department or the company?
Michael. B: Yes. I can’t really share-
Ajay Gupta: Something that you can share.
Michael. B: … most of it. Or any of it. It’s all honestly, new businesses and new business models. They’re just maturing. So internally we’ve got things baking all the time that I’m extremely excited about. But in terms of what we can share, we recently launched a strategic growth wide campaign around our 1 billion Initiative, as well as in solidarity initiative the 1 billion Initiative is all about work that MasterCard has underway. And again, I should probably give some kind of disclaimer, I am not representing MasterCard’s voice in presenting this… these opinions are my own cetera, et cetera, because I might not be communicating this as clearly as someone else at MasterCard could. We’re really launching some really cool stuff at MasterCard. The in-solidarity effort and initiative is our work to help address racial inequity, which I think is a phenomenal initiative. The 1 billion Initiative is something we also announced last year. I have a lot of stuff happening this year that’s going to be progressing and growing that, being more aggressive about it. MasterCard is really wonderful about putting its money where its mouth is. Its mantra is doing well by doing good. And we literally live by that. So, there’s just amazing stuff happening. As far as other business units, enterprise partnerships that I do a lot of work with. There’s just a lot of new digital things that are launching that I’m excited about coming out in Q2, Q3, can’t wait. A lot of work underway. I wish I could share more of it.
Vincent. P: Tell us all your secrets, Michael. What will you be doing in these next…? Well Michael, I want to touch upon something that you said, because you found startup culture in one of the biggest companies in the world, right? So, talk to us about, did that draw you to the job? Do you like that aspect of it? Talk to me a little bit about it.
Michael. B: It did. So, when I was working at IBM, I actually had one of my all-time favorite jobs at IBM at that time. I had a great team. I had a great product, just wonderful people all around me doing incredible things in AI and blockchain and the entertainment industry and telecom industry. So, I really not in a place where I wanted to move. And I was convinced just to have a call with someone and heard the pitch as to what City Possible is doing, what strategic growth was involved in, and the initiatives underway to do things that genuinely benefited the world. So really that mantra I mentioned doing well by doing good. It’s something that the CEO who is no longer CEO as of December, we’ve actually just had a recent CEO switch going from one amazing person to another amazing person. Both CEOs really hold that mantra to their hearts dearly. And so, everything that we work on, everything that position always has a slant that’s benefiting a community or country or people somewhere. And that is extremely attractive to me. You want to wake up every morning, not dreading like, ” Oh man, I’m about to sell something that’s just going to hurt someone somewhere.” Or just not benefiting someone anywhere, that’s number one. So that was wonderful about the role. The second thing that was wonderful about this is, I love being stretched. I think we all love being stretched and feeling like we’re being challenged in new way every quarter because I work with seven or eight different teams that are working in completely different industries on completely different points of the spectrum from mature business to just proving out a new business model. That’s huge. That just feels like that’s an opportunity to exercise every muscle in my body, every skill set that I’ve learned throughout my 17 year marketing career from wearing my growth marketing hat where I’m interested in a trench building a campaign from scratch with my own hands to building multi-tier messaging frameworks to organize the way we think about how we guide companies or new clients or partners as they enter an industry themselves, or as they transforming industry with us? I love that mix between corporate culture and growth hacker, you can’t find that in every job.
Vincent. P: I like that. It’s a great way to describe it. So, Michael part of the job, is it involved traveling? I’m sure, obviously that’s ceased, if not if it does involve traveling, what are your plans to get back out there?
Michael. B: Yeah. It definitely has. Pandemic time, not so much, but it was before. So, in 2019 just to paint a picture, it’s actually a pretty fun year. I got to go to Barcelona for one event. Usually, it’s around events that I travel for. So, we had invented a smart city expo Barcelona, which is great. I also went to Hawaii for the US Conference of Mayors, which is nice. And South by Southwest in Austin was something that we were looking at, at the time. So definitely usually around industry focused events that we’re diving into. In the future will we be doing that? It’ll be interesting to see where things go, especially for public sector facing businesses. For governments, especially TNE is just strapped, travel, and entertainment is just always a struggle for those folks and teams that we try to work with. And now that everybody’s adopting virtual as a great way to go in and engage more consistently and more easily, I could see a public sector being way more virtual heavy in the future because budgets are strapped. There’s teams that don’t have budgets to easily throw around. But for others I could see it definitely going more virtual again. There’s just something to be said for what happens in face- to- face environments. I’m sure we all find that, now when you attend a virtual event, even if it’s a day long thing or two-day long thing, you’re very much focused on the panels that are happening, it’s really hard to find opportunities to meet people for just quick chats and quick conversations. I know for one event that was recently in as a sponsor, for example, we had a virtual booth, and we also had a speaker on a panel and we didn’t have a single visitor to our virtual booth. We made sure it was manned. And that’s just the reality of it. There was another event I was on where we had a huge digital experience that was built, and I think maybe 20 or 30% of the audience that participated in the content that was being served up as the panels and speakers, et cetera. That participation was great. Great engagement with that live content, but the virtual demos experiences, et cetera, probably saw 20% of the attendance. So virtual is tough. It’s hard to get people to just really engage with them with a handshake and a face- to- face conversation. I think physical events will definitely be back at some point when and where will really just depend on how comfortable we are as a planet and in doing that again.
Ajay Gupta: Well, what kind of marketing strategies are you using to promote those events and are there a certain marketing software or stacks that you really like?
Michael. B: Yeah. So that depends on whether you are running an own event or whether you’re running an event where you’re essentially buying in or partnering with an existing industry leader. It’s run completely differently, right? If you’re partnering with an industry leader, you really hope that they have a huge built-in audience already. And you’re leveraging very much those channels as part of maybe AA Sponsorship package or something like that. So that might be leveraging email and display and content resources, things that that industry partner might already have. If it’s an own event you’re doing that yourself, you need to build your own audience from scratch. And if you don’t already have an audience that can be a real challenge. So, you have to think, you have to work back from how many people do I want to be at this event, what would be a success for me? That’s like the first question that you have to answer. And then once you know, let’s just say it’s 100, maybe it’s 1000. Then it’s like, okay, knowing what my cost per attendee is, you might not know what that is yet. If you haven’t done it yet, you have to try to estimate it. What budget do I have to run in search or LinkedIn, or paid social or display, or perhaps on an industry publication that’s online what is going to be on my marketing mix, and which are more efficient than others to get to the end goal of the audience that I want to build. And then of course, beyond that, you also have to think of your concentric circles. You’re my influencer community versus my buying decision maker community versus my practitioner community. What mix of those three kinds of people do I want to reach, and which channels and touch points make the most sense to reach out to those? So, it’s a little bit of a three-plate balance of where do I throw my money out based on the budget I have. If I don’t have a big budget to do that, and if I’m starting from scratch, is it going a little smaller? Maybe it’s not a huge public event. Maybe it’s more of a round table or series of round tables, and it’s almost more of an ABM, Account Based Marketing Approach where you’re like, ” Hey, I’m just going to go after these 10 or 15 accounts. I’m going to reach out to them.” There are a lot of new agency startups who specialize in building these round tables that are focused on bringing 10 people into a webinar conference. I feel like I’m hit with those weekly now. It was cool at first and now it’s like, ” Okay, do you want to spend an hour and a half of my time, even if I have a$ 20 lunch voucher, I don’t know. Maybe, maybe not.” But in other words, are these new opportunities to get really focused around trying to get specific accounts in the door, and maybe that’s the way to go before you go for the full event. So, a lot of it depends on your end goal. If you truly want to create a splash and build big brand awareness, you probably do want to go bigger, bigger audience requires a bigger budget. By the way requires a huge amount of time to build something like this. So maybe is it an owned event or is it an existing event? I want to buy it to. You have to weigh all those things.
Ajay Gupta: I have a question I’ve been curious about it about these round tables. So, from a solutions provider side, they come to companies like us, and they want us to pay to a certain amount, like a PR fee, right? But from a brand side, are they offering some incentive to the people on the brand side to participate in those panels? Is that how inaudible
Michael. B: I haven’t actually looked into it as an advertiser yet. I think I might just to see what it looks like, but for what I can tell because I participated in a few, honestly, just to explain… I want to see how the channel worked. I like to test out new things. And it seems to be like something new and emerging. It is a hybrid between an event and a digital experience but it’s one step away from an actual sales engagement, and the models seem to vary because I tend to ask the person I’m speaking to, ” Hey, so what do you do here? Who are you paying? Who pays who? What do you get out of it?” I probe and I try to get the secret sauce. It seems like companies are paying for it and are told, ” Look, this is a…” They’re being sold to, as I understand it, it’s a research opportunity. You can ask a lot of different people in different disciplines, within an industry or exploring a lot of questions about what you do, what are your challenges, et cetera, to help inform and drive how you’re going to position and message your own products. So, it might be a good thing to do if you’re about to launch something new. Yes, you could be tempted to make it a lead generation opportunity, but when we really strongly discourage you to do that, and we don’t want you to sell to anyone. So, in the things I’ve participated in, they try to be non- salesy, and they don’t like hound me much after the round table which is great because if I were to be hounded, I would be very annoyed, honestly. The last thing I want to do is find myself trapped into a timeshare. I don’t think any one of this timeshare things. More like, ” Hey, come to lunch for an hour.” And it turns into this six-hour longest nightmare, where you would just want to go on your vacation. I’ve done one of these like two or three nights in the Bahamas or Florida, it’s free. And you’re locked into this day long thing where you’re just handcuffed to this event. That’s why these things are very close to being. And I think they’re very conscious of that. So, they try very hard into forcing whoever’s paying for it, not to sell, not to hound, not to even like really even suggest a Lead Gen opportunity. And I think that’s critical because that would make it super painful, super-fast and no one would ever do it again. So, they have to straddle that and make sure it’s giving value around the people at the table, meaning, hear from your peers about the challenges they’re facing, et cetera. Throw in a$ 20 lunch voucher and hopefully everybody’s happy at the end of the day. I feel like in some cases it’s worked in some cases it’s not, and that’s a newer thing that’s emerging. It’s interesting. I’d like to see where that goes. We’ll see.
Vincent. P: Yeah. That’s funny. The, I don’t want to be locked into a timeshare too like Del Boca Vista after that. I remember when I went to Mexico, these last two years with my in- laws, they have a timeshare already that they bought years ago, but they get sucked into this day long thing. And it’s like, yeah, you get like a free buffet lunch. It’s delicious. And I’m glad I don’t have to sit through it, but my father- in- law just has to sit through this thing every time. And I’m like, ” Jeff, why do you do this? Let’s just pay for the lunch-
Michael. B: That’s right.
Vincent. P: …The conversion rate is good. We’re okay.” Yeah.
Michael. B: I will never forget the pain. We were on a six-day vacation, and it was like, ” Oh, free jet ski voucher.” I was like, ” All right. I’ll do it.” And it was just painful. We got on a bus. We were forced to take tours of these apartments. By after four, I swear I was four or five hours, by the end of that, I just wanted to rip the voucher up. And like, I only have six days here. I don’t want to waste a day doing this.
Vincent. P: I bet it’s like 15 minutes on a jet ski that-
Michael. B: Yeah. Exactly.
Vincent. P: No, I get it. Well, Michael, we are almost out of time, but I want to talk more about this music that I want to get into the personal side of you there. So, do you like the writing aspect, the playing of the music, the singing, what’s your forte or is it all three?
Michael. B: All three. So, I was in an acapella group in college, that one of my best experiences ever. But also, I play guitar. I record and produce, and I’ve been getting more into electronic sound synthesis. So now I try to mix in both acoustic sounds are recording with like old- school microphone but also producing just experimenting with sound design as well. It’s been a lot of fun.
Vincent. P: That’s cool. And that’s that acapella group he’s referring to is the Colgate 13 ladies and gentlemen, I told you we have a crack team here, Michael, and then there’s some… Is your favorite music? Is it all over the place? Like my tastes are, or do you have it narrowed down to a few different genres?
Michael. B: I still love alternative rock, always have always will. I got into over the last 10 years, I’ve added to that. So, Emo Dashboard Confessionals now I’m into things like, I love Imagine Dragons. I love 21 Pilots. But I also love now, like future base is, something I didn’t know about a year earlier, but like a millennium if you’ve heard of that at all or Gryffin these are bands have smaller, but really diehard fans. Honestly, it’s combining some hybrid between EDM, Electronic Dance Music and alternative rock. And it’s meeting in the middle somewhere where it’s like, sounds, sound design, sound synthesis, but also just old school, like hard vocals, et cetera. It’s a good space. I love it.
Vincent. P: That’s cool. Now it’s interesting we have a lot of people on our team, even on this podcast. My hobby is, I love standup comedy and I love the performance of it, the writing of it. So, yeah. Good. I learned a little bit about music today, too. Future base, I did not know that I’m sure our producers, at least two of them probably, Vin and Valerie know what that music is. Jared’s our age, so he probably doesn’t know. But anyway, but no, Michael, this has been great. We really appreciate you spending time with us here on the Marketing Stir. I love everything we talked about and getting to know you personally, and a big shout out to the Colgate 13. If you’re listening, we love you.
Michael. B: Absolutely.
Vincent. P: And this has been amazing. Thank you so much, Michael. That is the goal Marketing directors, strategic growth, at MasterCard, Michael Bouteneff. I am Vincent, that’s Ajay. This has been another episode of the Marketing Stir. Thank you so much and have a great day.
Jared Walls: Thanks for listening to the Marketing Stir Podcast by Stirista please like rate and subscribe. If you’re interested in being a guest on the podcast, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And thanks for listening.