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October 1, 2018 Issue



Q&A with Ed Gillespie, Executive Director of BizMark, CT LLC. BizMark is helping B2B Companies Innovate, Launch New Products, Enter New Markets and Generate Demand with Research, Strategy, Creative and Compelling Content



Ed Gillespie

Executive Director


BizMark, CT LLC


Interview conducted by:

Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine, Published – October 1, 2018


CEOCFO: Mr. Gillespie, your website indicates you are about driving more B2B. Would you tell us the focus at BizMark?

Mr. Gillespie: We focus on helping B2B marketers— So businesses who market to other businesses can be more successful. We provide a host of marketing and communication services that help our clients bring innovations to life, so they can reach new customers and launch new products.


CEOCFO: What are some of the differences between Business to Consumer and B2B?

Mr. Gillespie: B2B is very different. One big difference is there are longer sales cycles. Somebody might buy a pack of gum at a grocery counter, but when you are buying a $2 million software platform, it may be six months a year or eighteen months from the time you started conversations until you close the deal. You need to be able to manage customer expectations and continue to hold that momentum over a period of time.


The second big difference is that you are dealing with multiple audiences, so you not only have to convince one person… you often have to convince many people with different needs. If they are from large corporations it may be compliance and finance and marketing and executive teams. Even at smaller companies you have gatekeepers, business owners and people who are using your solutions. You need to get them all onboard to make a purchase.


The third big difference is the fact that all of our clients have a sales force—so there you not only need to convince your end customer, you also need to engage your sales force and provide them the tools they need to be successful. Lastly, most of our clients are dealing with products that are more complex, and bigger ticket sizes. Often a handful of customers with big deals can make or break the quarter. In B2B you are dealing with a smaller number of sales but each one has a greater impact and that means that details really matter.


CEOCFO: Can you train a salesperson that may come from a different environment to have patience to deal with a longer-term sale?

Mr. Gillespie: Yes, because a lot of our clients have done that. Typically, you are going to find in any sales organization the top 20% of your sales people can really go and tackle anything without a lot of supervision, they are just naturally gifted, you can give them a napkin and a pen and they are going to be able to take-off. You probably have the bottom 20% of performers who no matter what kind of tools you put in their hands they are just going to struggle. From our perspective where we are trying to help our client is that middle 60%, which are the people that have some sales abilities but need help in terms of moving forward. The B2B world while it is definitely sales force driven, there is a lot of integration between the sales force and the marketing teams—everyone needs to work together to nurture those clients over the extended periods of time with content and other assets that continue to move the dialogue along.


CEOCFO: When a company turns to you is it generally with a specific request or do they need help to figure out what they need?

Mr. Gillespie: It is a combination. Most of the time we work a lot on a project basis and our clients are looking to do something different, they need to launch a new business or product or they want to explore a new sales channels. Or they might be looking to get people to think differently. Or take a product that has worked successfully in one market and try to move it into another market. In some cases, they have a specific thing they are trying to do and in other cases they have a specific problem they are trying to solve:  for example, retention rates are not as high as they should be. Or they are buying a company and they need to integrate that sales force and whole operation into their brand and operations.


CEOCFO: Would you give us an example of an engagement - what someone wanted, how you crafted a program for them, and what the result was at the end?

Mr. Gillespie: We work with a lot of incredible clients such as Pitney Bowes, Broadridge, Wolters Kluwer, and Nestle. One organization came to us and they were selling directly to small businesses. They had a sales force out targeting small businesses across the country. What they realized is that when the sales people went in, they had brochures, cut sheets and sales sheets, and they were making the same pitch to every business. The executive there had the acumen to realize that not all businesses are the same and wanted to know how they could customize and target their message more effectively. We worked with them to do a ground-breaking national study to understand the attitudes and buying behaviors of customers and prospects. From that we were able to identify five different key segments that had very specific needs—each that would react and respond differently to a different kind of sales message. Further than that, we worked with the sales people to help them identify when they walked in the door just by visual clues, early questions and things like that to understand which segment that they are really looking at and what message would be the most effective. The last thing we did was move them out of their paper-based flyers, cut sheets and sales sheets, into a totally digital presentation so they could actually customize what they were talking about with the prospect—engaging them and addressing the pain points. The results were tremendous efficiency for the sales team in terms of getting new orders.


CEOCFO: When you are working with a company, what are some of the nuances you might look at due to your experience and expertise that less knowledgeable people do not take into account?

Mr. Gillespie: First I think you have to be practical in terms of a real understanding of what you are trying to accomplish and what you are trying to do. Our clients face realities -- whether it is budget constraints, deadlines, management expectations, customer demands. They are working in the real world, so you can’t come in with the pie in the sky kind of ideas that looks great on paper but are in fact difficult to build and integrate into the business. Most of the BizMark team have held senior marketing positions and have been Chief Marketing Officers of companies, whether it is in financial services, manufacturing, insurance or healthcare. So they understand what it takes to implement things. We are coming up with solutions on the marketing side and we understand that it has to integrate with the Salesforce platform with the operating systems, with the way the customers really set up to engage their customers and prospects today so that what we can do can actually be implemented and be actionable. That it is beyond just having ideas; it is about having ideas that can be seamlessly integrated into the clients’ businesses.


CEOCFO: Speaking of technology, as you are talking about longer-term sales, technologies change quickly and what is the important one today may not be in six months. As you are crafting a solution how do you take into account what may change in technology, world events, that could affect what is going on?

Mr. Gillespie: You have to be forward-looking and you have to think about things beyond today. Effective marketing is about building flexibility into what you are doing. We work hard with our clients to get accelerate market launches—so they can get much more learning through in-the-market testing—seeing what really works and making adjustments on the fly. We are facilitating low-cost grassroots kind of pilot initiatives, so you can really get out there and finalize your sales play without a big investment. Then when you do investments in terms of media spending or in terms of building something, you know it is going to work. Many times we might recommend putting together a little sneaker brigade to fulfill something before actually going in and building it. We want to make sure that is going to be effective and get that real-world learning in before building.


CEOCFO: Are there services that do not get the attention that you think they should?

Mr. Gillespie: The first big challenge is crafting a solid creative brief—you want to make sure your communications strategy is aligned with your goals and the market opportunity in advance. We spend a lot of time with clients working through the creative brief to make sure the positioning we are taking in the market is going to be the most compelling to the audience—a positioning that’s going to motivate them to act based on what is going on in the world today.


Obviously, there is a lot more change in terms of how people are engaging. For example, today video is a lot more prevalent in getting much more engagement with a client than it was two years ago. You always have to be evolving and making sure you are touching customers and reaching them in ways they want to be engaged.


CEOCFO: How do you help your clients with some of the basics where someone should be able to call you and get an answer if they prefer to do it that way?

Mr. Gillespie: We had a client the other day lamenting that they were trying to fill a new internal marketing position – and the candidates were so focused on technology: they worked on Groupon, they worked on this technology and they knew that app. The candidates really were missing out on the fundamentals of what it means to be marketing in terms of understanding your target market, being able to really understand the competitive threats and opportunities, understanding what is on your customers mind and being able to position yourself in a way that solutions need to be acted on. The challenges our clients are trying to overcome is usually one of two-fold. One is that they are not thinking competitively, they are thinking about what their benefits are without looking at the other options. The other big threat is that they do not consider the challenge of inertia and that prospects are not just sitting at their desks waiting for them to call.


CEOCFO: How different is it from industry to industry and what might move a potential customer?

Mr. Gillespie: In B2B, industry expertise is important both in terms of understanding your client’s industry… plus understanding the customers they serve. One of the things we bring to the table as a senior team is that the BizMark professionals have over twenty years of experience in the field—working for a variety of industries and corporations. One of the biggest differences in industries is regulations. We work with some clients that are highly regulated—such as financial, healthcare, insurance, investments—where you need to know how regulations impacts what you need to say and how it needs to be said. The other big difference is in terms of hard goods, manufacturing products, physical devices verses services and software. With B2B a lot of what you are selling is a service where there is nothing to put in your hands and hold, touch and feel, so you need to be able to communicate what you do, and the value delivered which can be a bit more challenging.


CEOCFO: How do you reach out to prospective clients or are people coming to you at this point?

Mr. Gillespie: Most of the work we get is that the phone rings. We have been here for fourteen years and the clients we work with we have long-term relationships in terms of what we do. On the client side, there are times when people move positions and go from one job to another, so we might start with a company in one department and then after a period of a couple of months we are in a second department, then a third, fourth and fifth, until we are working for the entire organization. Then if someone moves to another company, that is often the first call they will make, to help them with some of the challenges they are facing there. Most of the growth has been organic.


CEOCFO: I know business is good as BizMark was recognized on the INC list. How do you continue the trajectory?

Mr. Gillespie: You have to think about where you want to go. One of the big moves is investing in senior people. To continue that trend, in March we brought in Lisa Goldstein, who has been a market leader in healthcare space and financial services for the past twenty years. Lisa has come in and brought her network as well to BizMark. Within a matter of weeks of Lisa being here, we were working with clients that we never worked with before because of their relationship with Lisa. That is one way to do managed growth, which is investing in senior people who can really deliver value to clients.


CEOCFO: What surprised you as BizMark has grown and evolved?

Mr. Gillespie: I think what surprised me is how much I continue to love what I do every day. I was at church a couple weeks ago and the pastor asked who would go to work if they were not being paid. My wife looked over and said, “I knew you had your hand raised.” It just continues to remain just a great joy—the fact that we get to be involved with so many great people on the client side and I personally get to work with so many great people here at BizMark.


The challenges continue to remain big, too. We think what our clients do is hard, they are trying to get organizations to make decisions and spend a significant amount of money and we think that is hard. The fact that we get to help them do that and be successful is very rewarding.



“You have to be forward-looking and you have to think about things beyond today. Effective marketing is about building flexibility into what you are doing. We work hard with our clients to get accelerate market launches—so they can get much more learning through in-the-market testing—seeing what really works and making adjustments on the fly.”- Ed Gillespie


BizMark, CT LLC



Ed Gillespie







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