🥳 Anita Toth, Chief Churn Crusher
Play • 21 min

Convert for the endgame, retention. Marketing is a lot like dating. Sales is where you're getting a little more serious. The wedding is where they convert to be a customer. You got your onboarding, which is your honeymoon. Woo-hoo! This is going to be awesome! But guess what? The bulk of that whole relationship is the marriage, which is retention, and it is not tactical, and it is challenging. Which is why for your post-sale team, they're really relying on you to choose those right dates and attract the right people to get into these long-term relationships with.

Here’s what Ryan Paul Gibson said about Anita:

Anita Toth. The first guest I would think of is Anita Toth. Anita is interesting. She's on the customer success side and she has a great name. She calls herself The Churn Crusher. We've talked a couple of times and what I like about her is she is, like me, hyper-focused on a part of a business that is very important for long-term success. Churn is going to be such a big metric for SaaS companies going forward. How do you keep customers around for longer, and why? How do you succeed in that? And she just lots of fun. So I think she's the first one.
—Ryan Paul Gibson, Founder of Content Lift → Listen

What are 3 ways that your team converts your market into revenue?

1) Establishing partnerships with key companies that also serve our ICP. So what we look for in an ideal partner is that they're complimentary to what we do, and this allows us then to combine our marketing efforts. And the one thing we do is, each quarter we identify and look to develop one type of a partnership with, like I said, a company that is doing something complimentary and already working with our ideal customer. So that's the first one. 

2) Creating content that really speaks to the pain points of our ICP. What we've chosen to do is just focus on four pillars for all our content. So for us, it's customer feedback, churn, customer relationships, and voice of the customer. And that's been really helpful because it's really easy to start creeping outside of that. Those four pillars really keep us focused then on our ideal customers. 

3) We use storytelling everywhere we can. So this might be from personal founders stories. So I'm the founder. So my personal stories to client stories. We're an agency that collects customer feedback. Not such a sexy topic for a lot of people. We love it, but what we do is we use techniques like customer interviews to help bring the hard data we collect to life. So this way, potential clients can better see themselves in the story than they can just looking at the numbers. So those are the three ways that we do that.

What are 3 hard problems that you recently overcame?

Ooh, this was, this was fun. 

1) Going up-market to now sell voice of the customer programs to Chief Customer Officers who are employed in much larger companies than we've served up to this point. So it meant doing a lot of research to understand how they see their issues, how it manifests for them, and what's at stake for them if they don't solve the problem. We're in the process of finding out how we can leverage some of our content and just adapt it to this new ideal customer profile. 

2) This seems so trivial, but putting in a new system to start culling old content that doesn't serve us well, or finding new ways to refresh it. We use it for our two main ideal customer profiles. So this is for Chief Customer Officers and Customer Success Leaders, and we do have a small third ICP, Customer Success Managers, but it's been harder than anticipated because it's really difficult to throw away, discard, stuff that you've put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into, and if you can't adapt it, it means it's got to go. So that was actually harder than I thought. Sitting down and deciding what we're going to keep and, and what needs to go.

3) Saying no to opportunities that don't align with our vision of making happier customers across the world. So as a company grows, there's some tempting opportunities that we've had to turn down because they pull us from our vision. But I wouldn't say we've overcome this yet. We've been kind of pulled to the side a couple of times. It's a continuous issue that we have to deal with, but we know that if we stray, then it could potentially ruin us. So that's been really challenging to stick to our guns when we see shiny new opportunities and just say no to them. Nope. We're not going that route.

What are 3 roadblocks that you’re working on now?

1) Well, we're hiring our first CMO. I'm just starting to chat with potential CMOs, so this is a huge step for us. We're going to start with a fractional CMO first. I want to see what it's like to work with a CMO, and then eventually we will hire someone out of that experience full-time. Gut rather than just like jumping right in and hiring someone full-time, we've decided to go the fractional route. It will just help us also better understand, what does the CMO need from us and how that relationship works? So that's one roadblock. 

2) Finding new ways to market to CCOs. So like I mentioned, we're going upmarket now and our other two ICPs, so Customer Success Leaders, and our very small group of Customer Success Managers, are very active on LinkedIn. So we've devoted like 80% of our marketing efforts there. It makes sense. They're congregating there, as well as in some Slack groups. But, Chief Customer Officers are different. They're on LinkedIn, but they're not necessarily active like our other two ICPs. So our challenge has been, now we have to come up with a whole new marketing strategy for this new group. It's been a bit challenging. I think we're going to go the old school road of cold email. I think that's where we're headed. 

3) Creating new content, of course, for those Chief Customer Officers and creating new funnels. They definitely buy differently than our other ICPs, who may or may not have budget, but Chief Customer Officers do hold budgets. So, we have to figure out what is that buyer's journey like and how are we going to facilitate that through our marketing?

What are 3 mental models that you use to do your best work?

Okay, Chris. So like full disclosure, I had to look up what mental models are. I know what they are, but I was like, “but really what are they?” So this gets a bit esoteric, but I think it's worth talking about, because I did look them up and these are things I use. I just didn't know those are the terms. 

1) Create routines for my success. So my morning routines look boringly similar every day. But, what this helps me do is conserve energy so that I'm not wasting a lot of time and I can really get in my work and focus. 

2) Here's one of the esoteric ones: it's called Bayesian Thinking. We should continuously update our probability estimates as we come across new information. So, essentially when you come across new data, you shouldn't blow it out all out of proportion. Like, “Email marketing has tanked! Zero response rates!” Just crazy stuff like that. We hear stuff like this and then we don't update our thinking. Is this accurate? Is it not? So, the thing is that you should use it to update confidence in your existing beliefs, and if you do, what happens is your reasoning will be more nuanced, accurate and useful. So, when you information comes in, questioning your thinking on it, but you don't have to panic, or what most people do is get very rigid. So you're just looking at your beliefs. How does this information affect my beliefs? What can I learn from it? 

3) We've heard of Occam's Razor. I didn't know that there's Hanlon's Razor. So here it is. Never attribute malice that can be adequately explained by neglect. So in other words, when something happens, and it looks like somebody has “Done something to me.” Maybe it wasn't a malice thing, but maybe they just didn't know. And this is particularly important as we're hiring and working with new team members that I look at myself and say, Did I provide this person the information they needed to do that part of the job? Is this malice? Probably not. It's just neglect. They didn't know that they needed to do that. Or I didn't explain myself. Or I didn't give enough resources for that, to be successful in that task. So this is something I'm very conscious of. I do have other employees I work with, but particularly for a CMO, because I've been doing a lot of the content myself, and I feel it. There's going to be a little resistance in being able to pass it over. Like I said, especially if I put a lot of blood, sweat and tears in, it's going to be a little bit challenging to hand that over. So it's called Hanlon's Razor.

What are 3 techniques that GTM teams need to try?

This is a fun one. 

1) Looking to convert for the endgame, which is retention. Some marketers agree with this. Most marketers either haven't heard of this, or it's something they're not interested in practicing, and that's looking to convert for the endgame, which is retention. One of the challenges, I work on the post-sale side, so with customer success teams, it's all about retention. But, it's really hard to retain a very poor fit customer. You can throw as much money, support, resources, time, energy, into them. And if they're a poor fit, they're a poor fit. And they're a poor fit because what happens on the pre-sale side. So both marketing and sales. Customer success is a gold mine of information about how customers think, feel, what problem they're trying to solve, how they viewed their problem and how they view their solution. As a marketer, yeah, I used to have a Facebook ad agency, so I do understand what it's like to be on the pre-sale side. Understanding like, “How does your solution fit in with their bigger ecosystem, their bigger problems?” The more you can get all of this info from customer success, the easier it makes your job to come up with marketing campaigns that are much more targeted to those specific issues and those customers’ way of thinking. So, for me, it makes sense if you can. It might mean your leads go down, but if the quality of them goes up, and revenue for the company goes up, well, then you end up looking like a hero. Especially, if you can show that, “Hey, we changed our campaigns. We're attracting less leads, but way better ones. Wow. Look how it is on the backend that we're retaining customers. Our customer lifetime value has increased, our retention revenues have increased, all from our marketing.” And then lastly, just about customer marketing, this is now a burgeoning field that is really, really growing quickly. We're already seeing it in marketing with the separation between pre-sales marketing and customer marketing. So that's one, sorry, I went a little long on that, but I’m very passionate about it. 

2) If you don't have a customer success team… then meet with support, meet with your professional services team, meet with whoever is post-sale and talking to the customer, and find out what your customers think, feel, and this is the biggest, how they conceive of their problem relative to the other issues going on. It's not just about your solution, your product. How did they see the problem? Because if you can manage to see it through their eyes, then you can position much better to attract those, again, good fit customers, which is what you want.

3) Focus on yourself and not on what the competition is doing. Marketing can get very tactical. I'm more of a strategy person. Again, I had a Facebook ad ad agency in the days when we were still using Power Editor, like that's how long ago it was. Tactics were changing constantly, but you get tired of that versus, “Okay. Our strategy is to start attracting better fitting customers.” That's a strategy. A tactic is, “We're going to change whatever color button on one of our landing pages, and AB test and see how it goes.” So, those are my three suggestions for that

What are 3 questions that you love to ask and why?

1) Tell me more. So, we do customer interviews, right? We're speaking with people all the time. It's not a question, but it's my favorite thing to ask. “Tell me more. I'm curious, can you tell me more…” That is one of my favorite things to ask. And then of course I was going to say my second and third favorite are kind of similar, but let's get away from that…

2)Thoughts? I will ask this question, “Thoughts? Your thoughts?” And that will be an email, just like that. Thoughts? Or I ask, “Thoughts?” if it's a conversation like this, where we can see each other, they can see I'm kind of like, not shrugging, but encouraging you to speak.

3) How did you feel about that? Or how does that make you feel? Buying decisions are made on feelings first, rationalized second. And even for something like gum. “Oh my God, my breath smells bad. I don't want others to think badly of me.” Feeling. “I'm going to buy this gum and solve that issue.” Right up to really big things, like if you work for an enterprise company, the people who are championing your product have a lot at stake in terms of their status, how others are going to view them, maybe their job might be at risk. So, it's understanding that that decisions are made on emotion first, and then rationalized. So I always ask about feeling. Business settings. I sell B2B. “So how do you feel about what I'm proposing? How does that make you feel?” And then, of course, I also ask, “What do you think?” But I want to get the feeling. I want to get a sense of, “Alright, what's really going on?” So that I can tailor how I'm speaking with them or, or the other questions I'm going to ask, to go a little deeper. So those are my, I'll call it 2.5 because the first one's not really a question, but I use it as a question.

Who are 3 operators that should be our next guests and why?

Oh my God. So I’m so excited by these people. I hope that they can come to the show.

1) André Chaperon. I've been a huge fan of André Chaperon, Tiny Little Businesses, for years. He is a pull marketer, so he believes in building worlds that your customers want to enter, and because your values align, they end up staying with you for a very long time versus using, again, this tactical approach. He also has a partner now, Shawn Twing, and really all they do is email marketing. That's the only thing. You sign up for their list. They're not on social. Wow, they have done very well over the years by doing this, building a world, and then pulling people into that world with their content. So, love, love André for that.

2) Justin Welsh. Another guy that I have just started following, his name is Justin Welsh, he's on LinkedIn and Twitter. So Justin's got almost like 200,000 followers on LinkedIn. Even though he uses tactics, his overall goal is to make customers happy. So he's also looking down the funnel, and on the post-sale side, Uh, he's got a great group, which is like $99 a quarter. I went in and learned so much about structuring LinkedIn posts, and structuring Twitter posts, in a way that you can repeat and reuse. And it's the structure, that really works well because he's a great copywriter. Using that structure, you put in great content, and then, of course, you end up getting a lot of engagement. 

3) Ann Handley. Love of my heart, Ann Handley. She's with MarketingProfs. She's, I think, a few years ago was one of LinkedIn's biggest influencers. She is just fabulous. So she is a writer. Her newsletter, goes out every two weeks, so biweekly. She puts 8-10 hours just into that newsletter, and when you read it, it's so incredibly engaging. 

I don't subscribe to a lot of newsletters. Big surprise: André’s, I do. I read Justin's, and I read Ann’s. And that's why I'm recommending them because these are top notch people who really know their craft well, and align with my worldview, which is to bring readers, bring leads, to bring people into your worldview versus trying through, you know, I'll call them sort of spammy tactics, we've all encountered them. So it's a very different approach, and it really aligns with my value around customer retention and keeping customers for life.

Connect with Anita on Linkedin → Anita Toth

Work with Anita

June 2022 · Interview by Chris Morgan, Host of Market-to-Revenue

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