As your marketing career progresses, you will go through many transitions. Or perhaps you have already.
For me, it was starting in B2C and moving to B2B. From ads in the newspaper to digital. From advertising copywriting to content marketing. From the FM radio to podcasting.
How do you make a successful transition? Understand the economics of the business.
That lesson comes from the guest on our latest podcast episode after his own transition from consumer-packaged goods to a business with a franchise model.
Listen now to the How I Made It In Marketing podcast to hear Derek Detenber, Chief Marketing & Merchandising Officer, Batteries Plus, share lesson-filled stories about looking past direct competitors, understanding the purpose of the business, and much more.
This article was published in the MarketingSherpa email newsletter.
“Replace the claim with the reason” (that lesson comes courtesy of Website Wireframes: See real webpages optimized for marketing conversion).
It’s far easier to make empty claims than provide true reasons for customers to buy. Especially if you’re a copywriter, designer, or junior-level brand marketer who doesn’t know a compelling reason the customer should buy.
But customers are far more likely to act if you provide them compelling reasons instead of empty claims.
So, our latest podcast discussion did my heart some good, as Derek Detenber, Chief Marketing & Merchandising Officer, Batteries Plus, discussed specific stories of how he helped shape brand positioning and define the purpose of a business – leadership that can help the marketing team and supporting agencies clearly communicate a reason for customers to buy.
You can listen using the embedded player below or click through to your preferred audio streaming service.
First, a little background… Batteries Plus is a consumer electronic retailer with more than 700 locations.
Some lessons from Detenber that emerged in our discussion:
A quality product isn’t enough, you need to craft experiences.
Detenber took the three-box approach he learned from Cindy Alston and Marie Devlin at Gatorade and used it at Artisanal Brewing Ventures, which operated five craft adult beverage brands and used its 16 taprooms to create an experience – treating the customers like family so they leave as brand ambassadors.
Understand the economics of the business.
Moving from CPG (consumer packaged goods) to Wendy’s, which had a franchise model with 6,000 locations, opened Detenber’s eyes to considering all the stakeholders in a business.
Don’t just focus on your direct competitors.
At Pepsi-owned Gatorade, Detenber and his team had a maniacal focus on competing against Coca-Cola-owned Powerade. But when business started to soften, it wasn’t because of Gatorade’s direct competitor, it was because a new category was becoming popular – enhanced waters like VitaminWater, Sobe and others.
Detenber also shared lessons he learned from key people in his career:
Todd Magazine, CEO, Blink Fitness (former President, Gatorade division of PepsiCo): Sweat the details.
Detenber got the numbers wrong in a marketing budget meeting at Gatorade and tried to bluff his way through the meeting. Magazine stopped Detenber’s part of the presentation. He pulled Detenber aside later and told him that when one number is wrong (and, even worse, you don’t own up to it), then leaders question the validity of every other number in your budget and presentation.
Craig Bahner, CEO, Sara Lee Frozen Bakery (former CMO, Wendy’s): Be strategically consistent and tactically agile
Bahner taught Detenber how to balance staying true to the brand identity at Wendy’s while still testing and learning new tactics to discover what worked best.
Debbie Gonzalez, SVP of Global Marketing and Communications, Concentrix (former Chief Brand Offer, Massage Envy): Understand the purpose of the business.
At Wendy’s, Detenber helped clarify the position of the brand. But at Massage Envy, Gonzalez taught Detenber how to redefine the category by understanding the purpose, vision, and values of the business.
Scott Williams, CEO, Batteries Plus: Leadership requires talent and passion.
Detenber is now learning a leadership lesson up close from Williams, as he transforms the Batteries Plus ecommerce engine – how to press for change yet keep a calm demeanor.
This podcast is not about marketing – it is about the marketer. It draws its inspiration from the Flint McGlaughlin quote, “The key to transformative marketing is a transformed marketer” from the Become a Marketer-Philosopher: Create and optimize high-converting webpages free digital marketing course.
Not ready for a listen just yet? Interested in searching the content? No problem. Below is a rough transcript of our conversation.
Daniel Burstein: As your marketing career progresses, you will go through many transitions or perhaps you have already. I know for me it was starting in B2C and moving the B2B it was from luxury real estate to software to marketing, from ads in the newspaper to digital, from advertising copywriting to content marketing, from the FM radio to what you're listening to now, podcasting.
So many transitions. Well, my guest on this episode has a great story of a fundamental lesson he learned in the transition from consumer packaged goods to a business with a franchise model and you can apply that to any transition a marketer makes really, understand the economics of the business. So true. That's just one of the many lessons filled stories we'll hear from Derek Detenber, the Chief Marketing and Merchandising Officer at Batteries +, thanks for being here, Derek.
Derek Detenber: Hey, thanks for having me.
Daniel Burstein: Great! So, I'm just going to quickly go down your LinkedIn. I cherry picked a few of your experiences so people understand who we're talking to. Started out as Senior Client Representative at IBM. And then you moved over to the B2C side, Senior Marketing Manager at PepsiCo for its Gatorade and Propel Fitness Water Brands at different times. Director of Marketing for EAS and Zone Perfect Business at Abbott Laboratories. Vice President of Brand Management at Wendy's. Senior Vice President of Marketing at Massage Envy. And right now, Chief Marketing and Merchandizing Officer at Batteries+. Maybe we can call it CMMO. What's that extra M in there for and tell us about your current role.
Derek Detenber: Yeah. You know, as I go through my career, I'm just trying to add letters to it. No, it's Chief Marketing and Merchandising Officer. So, at Batteries +, we are a 700-unit franchise business, retail business. And, you know, obviously as part of retail, the product assortment and how it's merchandised in store is as important as how we generate demand through marketing. So, my two groups are the Category Management Merchandising group and then the Marketing Communications Group.
Daniel Burstein: Okay, great. So, let's start by looking at some of the things you made in your marketing career. Like I said, I haven't been anything else, but I think you know, great thing about marketers is we make things right, we walk away, and we make them. You could walk out of that store, and you know, like I affected how everything looks in that store.
You know, I don't know, accountants or pension managers. I don't they don't really make things in my mind, but we make things. So, let's look at some of the things you made. So, the first lesson you learned, you say a quality product isn't enough you need to craft experiences. That sounds like a true maker. So, tell us about your approach and how you've done that in your career.
Derek Detenber: Yeah, you know, it's something that I've kind of learned and built throughout my career from an experience standpoint. You know, it really started with the Gatorade business. It was a very experiential business from the way that we marketed the products to the orange coolers on the sidelines. You know, sponsoring youth sports events and things. So, we wanted to get athletes involved in the brand very early and that obviously translated into a very good business. As things have changed in the world of marketing, as you mentioned in your intro, going from newspaper to digital and things like that, the nature of experience has changed over time.
And so, in my most recent experience, I was the Chief Marketing Officer at Artisanal Brewing Ventures. We were a group that bought and operated craft breweries, distilleries, and cideries. And, you know, while we'd love to think that our liquids were the best liquids on the planet, you know, the marginal difference between this beer and that beer and that spirit and this spirit are relatively small.
And so, you are really trying to market on the nature of the brand and how you can create a story and experience behind that brand. So as part of that business, we operated 16 Taprooms, and that way we could get consumers to come in, try the product, we treat them like we they our guests in our home and hopefully they leave not only liking the product, but being an ambassador of the brand.
So, by creating good high-quality products, that was table stakes. Everybody basically in the craft industry today creates a good product, some better than others, but they're good. Today is not like the beginning of craft beer where you could pull something off the shelf and be like oh this isn't very good. Most of the products are very good. And so, you have to kind of take it to the next level of how do we create a better experience, a better story, for consumers to really love your brand?
Daniel Burstein: Yeah, I love that. You've got this three-box approach that you use, can you tell us about that?
Derek Detenber: Yeah. You know, this goes back to kind of really learning how to do advertising. I credit Cindy Austin and Marie Devlin for teaching me the three-box system that we used at Gatorade. It was a really a three-tiered advertising approach. And this was back when TV was sort of the master channel that we marketed in.
And, you know, the bottom box, we called it was really about efficacy. It was about how this product works. And you would see ads talking about the science and mnemonic devices that have Gatorade going into the body and rehydrating people. And then you'd see the middle box, which is really how Gatorade fit into people's lives. So, this is where, you know, you used everyday athletes, you know, high school athletes, college athletes and showed them doing their thing. And then, you know, how Gatorade them kind of played into their rehydration and recovery types of occasions.
And then the top box was really kind of the glitz and glamor of sport. It's where we use professional athletes. Peyton Manning, Derek Jeter, you know, Dwayne Wade, Tiger Woods at some point and so on. In those in those ads, they were they were the big ads they're the ones that everybody really liked working on and wanted to see. And it really put Gatorade in the context of, you know, big sport, big events, on the sidelines, on court side. But, you know, when it really came down to it, what was interesting about those boxes, we could play with the levers in any given year or quarter based on immediate plan and, you know, flex on more top box ads or more middle box ads or more bottom box ads.
But every time we did a media mix analysis, the ads that really drove the business were the bottom box. And that's kind of how we came up with this box structure. It's almost like a pyramid, you know, knowing that that this stuff that you're putting in your body works better than water for those rehydration occasions is what really the business was built on. And as much as we like those top box ads and we used them and we used them effectively, the bottom box really was what we had to do to see this product in people's minds and get them to choose this over water.
Daniel Burstein: You know, that's great. And if you're listening and you're a B2B marketer, right? So, you know, Derek's talking about his experience of Gatorade with Artisanal Brewing. So, I found some data we published that is, you know, kind of perfect. Explains why B2B’s can help with this, too. We published data from Elastic Path it showed 54% of B2B C-suite leaders felt they had lost customers due to a poor-quality commerce experience.
So that experience is so key to it. And when I hear what you're saying, I also think of it's similar to when I worked in the software field, right? So, one box there is a technical that you need to talk about, about the software and actually how it works of course, you know. That other box is okay, there's different roles within an organization. There's the business level, there's a technical level, there's even the partner level. You have to communicate, okay, how does it fit in your specific role?
And then kind of the flashy athlete box, you know, there's obviously there's the big events. There's even, you know, TV advertising. I remember I think was EDS who did that Super Bowl ad about hurting cats. So, I think whatever, you know, kind of company working for, you can really understand that this can apply to you. But the other thing I want to bring up is that customer experience part you talked about like with Artisanal Brewing, because I see this is growing more and more, especially in a post-COVID age where we're interested in the in-person experience.
So, the experience I had is, you know, I don't know if you've noticed, if you ever go to Starbucks, I would go to Starbucks, you know, a few years ago and it was a nice experience. I would go I'd buy a newspaper I'd read the newspaper there. You know, sometimes I'd bring my kids on the weekend. I bring a game of checkers, a game of chess, and we'd hang out there. It was that kind of third place.
And then something I noticed before COVID and then during like, you know, they like stop selling the newspaper and then, you know, during COVID. And now what I do, I got, you know, Starbucks yesterday morning. You go in the app, you walk in, you get you get it from the drive thru and there's no relationship with the barista anymore. And something I've noticed is, you know, they're bringing Howard Schultz back. And one of the things I think he's trying to drive home again is to your point, like with the with the beer, it's expensive brown water, you know what I mean?
Without that experience, it's expensive brown water. So, anyone who's got a chance to touch a customer, even e-commerce companies you know, we've seen this with Warby Parker, with I’m talking with so many companies that were e-commerce and didn't have that physical experience with customer, they're trying to bring that back.
And I'm guessing that's kind of a way that Batteries+ too competes with some of the e-commerce vendors out there. Right. I know like when I've gotten into one it's like you get more of a technical expertise there versus just how I'm searching three different websites and I hope this works out.
Derek Detenber: Yeah. You know, the Batteries+ model is very interesting because it's an e-commerce business per se, but it acts at least online, it acts a little bit more like a B2B business because most of the products or many of the products that we sell, we can't ship due to the nature of a battery or, you know, lithium battery and things like that.
So, we want people to shop, we want to convey, you know, what we feel is the difference in the brand, which is the expertise that we know what battery is used for which application that you're in need of at that moment in time. And then ultimately, we need to get people to move to the store to actually pick up and close that deal.
So, the online experience has to be extremely streamlined in the sense that I don't want to go there and look at it like Amazon. We sell black boxes. Everything looks the same in terms of a battery, so I don't want to go there and see a list of 25 batteries and then ultimately put the ownness back on the consumer to choose.
I want to go there and say I had this issue with this car make model or this motorcycle or this boat, and this is the battery that you need to have, and it's available in this location that is close to you. And if it's not available, this is the perfect substitution for it. So, we've got to be able to convey that expertise more so than just display products in any e-commerce setting.
Daniel Burstein: And I think that ties well into our, our next lesson. So, you know, one challenge I’ve definitely seen in my marketing career, sometimes people come in, it's like that old saying that Generals say like you're always fighting the last war. And sometimes when people come into an organization, they're like, oh, this worked for me before let me just try to stick it into this box and see what works.
So, I think your lesson is understanding the economics of the business. I can see how that helped you go into Batteries+ they have a very unique model. Tell us the story about when you went from a consumer packaged goods brand to a franchise brand and how you learned you really had to understand the economics of that business.
Derek Detenber: You know, so as you mentioned, the first part of my career, I'm selling Gatorade, I’m selling water. I'm selling, you know, protein drinks and nutrition bars. These things, you know, are our fight, so to speak, would be with the operations side of the business, making sure that, you know, we have the right assortment, we have the right SKUs, limiting the SKUs to the ones that are most effective to produce. But ultimately, once we made the decision to produce a product, whatever it was, operators produced it. We shipped it to a retailer, found a spot on the shelf. And, you know, the margin structure of all of those steps in the process were easy to understand. You move into a franchise business and specifically a retail franchise business or a quick serve restaurant franchise business, and every decision that you're making from a marketing standpoint, whether it's a promotion, price promotion, a new menu item, it has an impact at the store level.
It either creates a good experience or potentially a friction type of experience with the person at the register, or if it's more of a menu item. There are things that have to happen in the kitchen that are unique and different based on that menu item. It could require equipment, it requires space, it could require training, it could require additional ingredients that don't have, you know, high utility or high velocity through the kitchen.
And so, you know, when I came into that world, it's like, man, if I want to do something, I've got to really understand all of the impacts that it has. And I had a couple of franchisees, you know, remind me of that fact or try to teach me that fact. And you learn it pretty quick if you spend some time, you know, in the restaurants or, you know in a store in this case with Batteries+ my new job. But, you know, it's a very different type of mindset versus creating something, put it in the package and ship it out. It's, how does this work? How can we deliver it with quality and with consistency you know across, at the time, 6000 restaurants, you know, in the Wendy’s system? So, it was just a very different way to look at the economics.
You had to really understand the P&L of the business, not just the P&L of the franchisor who I was employed by, but the P&L at the unit level. What impacts do you have on labor? What impacts do you have on even things like smallwares, forks, spoons, mixing equipment, you know, food waste, you have to understand all of those things. So, it's just a very different P&L mindset that you had to have as a marketer, which was a great experience and ultimately a great tool to have, you know, through the rest of my career.
Daniel Burstein: And I assume it's also kind of a lesson in understanding who your customers are. All right. So, in your case, not just the end customer as a franchisor, the franchisees are your customers as well. You mentioned the restaurants, did you actually go into the restaurants? Like how did you try to kind of get to know that customer better, the franchisee customer better?
Derek Detenber: Yeah. You know, there was something that Wendy's did a great job of. And you spent your first couple of weeks, you know, working the lines. You were in work, the different positions in the restaurant. You know, you made sandwiches and it was really a, you know, it was in two ways it was a great experience. It's a great learning experience of how things worked and how things operated and how precise you had to be in the kitchen to take an order, make it accurately and get it out the door at the speed that we wanted to get it out the door. But it was also a good experience in the sense that it gave you an appreciation, you know, for the staff of all these franchise owners that are that are working day in and day out trying to deliver the product. And you can be the best marketer in the world and have the best ideas and the best ad campaign in the best menu. But if it can't be executed consistently across the system, it's going to flop.
Daniel Burstein: So, we talk a lot about creativity on this podcast. And true creativity is not creativity that's boundless, right? True creativity is really understanding the limits in the structures within which that creativity has to operate and creating something that works. And really, it also gets me thinking of, you know, understanding the economics of the business. As marketers it's also good to know where and how the money is made, what are the margins of the products, what is the business model? Is this a loss leader? What is the cost of acquisition per customer? Because we could have a seemingly successful marketing campaign or seemingly successful short term marketing results and realize that we're, you know, maybe due to our incentives or promotions, we're losing money on the products and we're not, you know, keeping customers. So, there's not a lifetime value there.
So, I think that's a big lesson in many different ways, not only when you're making a transition. And so now we talk about you mentioned don't just focus on your direct competitors. And I love this because this is even on the B2B side, I used to work with a software company and I'd work with the competitive sales office sometimes to, you know, understand the win loss reports and some of these things.
And, you know, I felt it wasn't just the business thing of understanding the win loss. It wasn't just like, okay, what intelligence, customer intelligence can we glean from that? I felt this real tribalism, you know what I mean? Like any time, we would beat the bigger software companies. We’re like Yeah! You know, and we were like yeah, we're so much better and stuff. And I realize kind of that was bubbling up in me went to the customer that didn't matter at all. They didn't, they didn't care about that. But like when you're in marketing and, and when you can kind of see your results so clearly you feel that like you're on this team and it's very difficult. You can easily get, you know, blindsided by the competition. So, tell us, you know, in your career how that happened.
Derek Detenber: It's actually happened a couple of times. I guess for the first time that it happened, I was working on the Gatorade brand. Gatorade was owned by Pepsi. Powerade, its most direct competitor is owned by Coke. And we had a maniacal focus on Powerade in the vein of kind of Coke versus Pepsi Cola wars. It was the same for Gatorade versus Powerade.
We had an 80 something share at the time, and we didn't want to lose, you know, a point or a 10th of a point of shared to Powerade. And we measured it weekly. And it was just very, very, very focused and we understood why that was the focus at the time. But if you go back to, you know, early to mid-2000s, if you wanted something in the grocery store that was not a soft drink, not a carbonated soft drink, that was not milk or juice or water, really the only thing that was available at the time was Gatorade or Powerade.
And so, as people were leaving the carbonated soft drink business and just like they do today, consumers are looking for flavor. They're looking for refreshment. So, milk, juice, water sort of didn't fulfill that flavorful refreshment type of need state, but they didn't want the calories and they didn't want the perception of drinking a soft drink.
You were kind of in this world of Gatorade and Powerade, so you know, in the in that time period in mid-2000’s Gatorade was growing ten 15%. It was really the three or four years post the Pepsi acquisition. And business was good. Everybody was happy. And then all of a sudden you know, we weren't losing share to Powerade, but our business was slowing down. Because the share was measured in the sports drink vertical specifically. So, we're sitting here wondering why are we why are we slowing down here? When we're it's Powerade that's taking from us, it’s got to be something else. And you look around and you have all of a sudden you have all of these smallish new brands that are out there, VitaminWater probably being the most prominent of them at the time and probably today. And what they were doing, they were they were stealing the occasions that, frankly, Gatorade and Powerade didn't really have the right to win. It was a flavorful refreshment, but at a much lower calorie than a Gatorade or Powerade
And so, when consumers are saying, hey, I don't want juice, milk or soft drink and I want some flavor, and I don't just want plain water. VitaminWater, so they were certainly positioned to take that space and they did. And they grew and they got acquired. And VitaminWater became a mega brand. And, you know, Gatorade has certainly responded with different caloric offerings. And different, you know, water brand in Propel that was tied to it. So, it was a good lesson of you can't always look straight ahead or straight at the competitor. You got to look at the environment and specifically you have to look at what the consumer's needs states are and how they're being fulfilled.
You know, another couple of times that's happened in my career, at Wendy's, I was there at the time really when, you know, we called them fast casual restaurants so like a Panera or a Chipotle, they were really starting to grow. And, you know, our direct competitors at Wendy's are the Burger King’s and McDonald's, you know, we're fighting the burger wars, if you will. But what consumers were telling us is they were kind of migrating a little bit towards Chipotle and Panera was, hey, I'm willing to pay a little bit more for better quality. I'm willing to pay a little bit more for a better in restaurant experience. I'm willing to pay a little bit more to be treated right by the staff and those locations. And at the origin of Chipotle and Wendy's, no Chipotle and Panera excuse me. That's what their value proposition was. And so, you know, it actually in Wendy's case, it worked to our advantage because we always thought, hey, we have actually better-quality food at fast food prices.
And so, we try to play that up in our positioning. And we almost took a little bit of a middle ground between, you know, your core fast food McDonald's, Burger King, Taco Bell, etc. and sitting in between the Chipotle’s and the Panera’s. So it was fast casual quality, but at fast food prices. And that was really the positioning that we took at Wendy's. And it was a good example of really looking around and seeing what consumers were willing to pay for.
And then even most recently had Artisanal Brewing ventures. You know, craft beer has been growing for 20 years. Craft beer is flavorful. It's not, you know, like the Miller Lite, Coors Light, Bud Lights of the World. It's got unique taste to it and it's got a little bit of a story to it. But then all of a sudden, these things called hard seltzers come around and they go from zero to, you know, mega growth in the matter of a couple of years. And what occasions where they are taking, flavor, but less calories. Sessionable, meaning I can drink the in multiples versus craft beer where, you know, a lot of them are packed with, you know, pretty high ABB levels.
And so, they were taking occasions away of, you know, at the beach, at the pool, you know, hanging out with my friends. And so, craft beer in some ways maybe didn't see that as a perfect substitute but consumers did. So, I think you see this in a couple of different spots in my career. And I just think it's imperative for marketers to obsess with your competition. But really, you have to over obsessed with your consumer and understand, you know, who this consumer is, what's going through their head, what's their buying journey, what's their needs states, and how do you fit in whatever your product or service that you're marketing, how do you fit into that world and make sure that you're fulfilling those things better than anybody else?
Daniel Burstein: Yeah, you know, it kind of reminds me of one of those crime or mystery movies where it's always the one you least expect. You know you focus on that one and it’s always the one you least expect. But I think you bring up that really good point. And I think it's a very prescient point now, coming out of COVID 19 and these things, how did customer behavior shift? How did customer demand shift?
So don't like you said, don't focus on your competition, focus on your customer, and that's the way you learn about your competition. But actually, I want to bring up, you know, you mentioned your three-box approach. I think there's also kind of a three-box approach to competition that can really help us, you know, kind of not overlook things. I posted a blog post called Understanding The Three Types Of Competitors, it’s actually one of the most popular posts we published it’s quite simple. And so, correct me if I'm wrong, you understand Gatorade better than I do? But so, the three types, there's a direct competitor, right? So, for Gatorade, like we said, this probably Powerade, there's an indirect competitor. So, for Gatorade, that might be VitaminWater, but also don't overlook there's a replacement competitor.
So, for Gatorade, for example, it could be reusable water bottles, right? You could be entirely focused on I'm going to beat Powerade. Now, this indirect competitor comes on VitaminWater but when you think about it through the customer perspective, then you think of like, oh, well shoot, maybe we're competing against a reusable water bottle and how would that change our strategy? And then it might be like, well, Gatorade will sell, and you know in the powder form, and you could put it in a reusable water bottle. And, you know, that's how it can help. As you talked about how you position yourself in the marketplace and in the mind of the customer.
Derek Detenber: Know, I love that model. I think it's very, very appropriate. And, you know, there are always going to be substitutes and they're always going to be indirect competitors. And so, I love that.
Daniel Burstein: So, the first half of the podcast, we talked about some lessons from the things you made. But the other great thing we get to do as marketers is collaborate, work with others, make these things with people and learn from those people. And so, the first person that you learn from Todd Magazine, he is currently the CEO of Blink Fitness, but he was the President of the Gatorade Division of PepsiCo when you worked there. And he taught you to sweat the details. Very, very fitting for Gatorade, by the way. Sweat the details. So how did Todd teach you that?
Derek Detenber: Well, you know, as I was kind of a junior level marketer at Gatorade, one of my roles or routines that I had to perform on a weekly basis is, you know, tracking the business from a business results perspective, reading the IRI Nielsen data, the shipments and all of those things, as well as managing the marketing budget and you know, I got into a pretty smooth routine. It was something we did weekly and monthly. So, you know, I kind of had it on rails at least. So, I thought. And there was a meeting this one time, just one of these, you know, normal weekly meetings. And I had gone through my presentation and I'm about halfway through and there is a number that's wrong on the page.
And so, you know, I was pretty good about that stuff, you know, kind of obsessing over the details but in this particular instance, Todd, stopped the meeting. He knew the number was wrong. I was trying to deflect and position it like it was sort of right, even though in my heart of hearts I knew it was wrong, too. I just didn't want to be wrong in the meeting. So, Todd stopped the meeting, said I said we're done with this and moved on to the next person that had a role in the presentation. And, you know, afterwards, you know, I'm mad because it was a little embarrassed and also just a little bit of ashamed that I kind of missed something. But, you know, afterward he comes up to me and he said, do you know why I stopped the meeting? And I'm like, Yeah, I think so. But he went on to tell me. He's like, you know when your numbers are wrong, never mind that you tried to defend a wrong number that you know was wrong. How do I trust that anything else was right?
Or should I be asking questions about everything else, about your assessment of the business, about where we are on the budget? You know, you're telling us and it's your role to tell us where we are and what to look at and what's the state of the budget and how should we think about the business and so when you're wrong, I'm going to question everything else that's in the presentation. That's just the nature of a leader. And it was a good lesson. You know, I'm not saying I haven't made any mistakes since but, you know, I certainly put that lens on as I'm as I'm looking at presentations or I'm looking at recommendations and saying, okay, where are the holes in this? Where are the questions going to come from? If I were sitting in Todd's shoes or, you know, a CEO shoes or whoever, a franchisee shoes, where are the question's going to come from? And do I have the right support in this document or this presentation or whatever it is to be able to support my point of view? And I think it was a good lesson, a humbling lesson, but one that's certainly shaped how I think about data, details, presentations and preparation.
Daniel Burstein: Yeah, I think I mean, I learned a few things from that story and things I can think of in my career, too. So, one of it is, you know, as we talk about taking the customer's perspective and what they're thinking through. Any time you're presenting internally or to a client, also taking their perspective, like you said, you know, kind of stress test that presentation or that report, what kind of questions could they ask?
And if you answer those questions before they get there, you're going to have one step up. Because an old boss used to tell me when we were presenting, I was an advertising copywriter early in my career and we would present a concept to a client. He'd always say, we don't even want them to pick up the pencil, right, you want to have all the information. He says, like, you know, once they start picking up that pencil, they're not going to stop. And it gets to your point of like, you know, usually your boss, your business leaders or even your customers, they're not going to know about all the information that you're presenting, but they will know about some of it. And when one of those details are wrong, you might not know which one it is. They're going to question everything else. Right? But if they know a thing and then you, you know, kind of what you're saying is accurate, then they're probably more likely to believe everything else you're saying.
But the other thing, what I loved is that, you know, you tried to bluff your way through it. Because the other great thing earlier in my career, you know, I'd come out of college and I'd go into meetings or presentations or, you know, and I would feel like I had to know everything. You know you’d get a question in a meeting with a client, you'd be on the spot and you kind of answer and bluff your way through it, even if you didn't know. Didn’t think I could make any mistakes. And something I've learned if you're a younger marketer, so true. If you're in a meeting or if you're somewhere and you don't know the answer or you're wrong. Just fess up to it or even offer to get back. Okay, this seems wrong. Let me do some more research and I will get back to you versus like you said, I'll just try to bluff my way through it.
Derek Detenber: 100%. You know, it was a PepsiCo at the time, I'm sure it still is, it’s a competitive marketing environment. And, you know, being wrong or showing a little bit of weakness is something at the time, I didn't have the maturity to do. And so, I think it's your 100% right from a lesson standpoint. You know what let me let me think on that one or let me get back to you or let me do some research and just move on with it. It'll be a much better situation for you in the long run.
Daniel Burstein: Well, I think we've all been there, so thanks for sharing. I think we can learn from it. The next person we're going to talk about learning from is Debbie Gonzalez. Now she's the SVP of Global Marketing and Communications at Concentrix. And when you were. Oh, I'm sorry. I'm skipping some of them. Skipping some. We have a Craig Bahner is currently the CEO at Sarah Lee Frozen Bakery. He was the CMO of Wendy's when you worked with Craig. And you talk that you learned how to be strategically consistent and tactically agile. So how did you learn that from Craig?
Derek Detenber: Yeah, it's funny. If anybody on my current team or former teams since my Wendy's experience are listening to this, they're going to laugh because I use this all the time. You know, when we got to Wendy's, when I got to Wendy's, the business wasn't in good shape it was pretty sick. The menu was a little stale. They had gone through, you know, many different leaders, many different advertising campaigns. The real estate and in-store experience was getting a little dated. And so, we knew we had to change, and we knew we had to change very rapidly, and we had to change everything about the business from the brand identity to the menu to the marketing communications platform, just, you know, everything. And, you know, I mentioned where we kind of netted out. I mentioned earlier where we kind of netted out on the positioning being, you know, fast casual quality and fast-food prices.
And so, we knew strategically where we wanted to go and how we wanted to present the menu and what we wanted to do from a marketing communications standpoint to make it more modern and make it more relevant to a younger consumer we knew strategically what to do. The problem was and you know, the challenge I guess, was in a franchise environment, you're trying to bring along 6000 units. They're not all going to be remodeled at the same time. They're not all going to put up new signs at the same time. You know, the marketing communication side of things, it was a brand-new advertising campaign. And prior to that campaign there was a saying the Wendy's, if your marketing ideas or your campaign is going to be a good one if it was TV or radio or billboards. You know this was 2011, 2012 somewhere in there. Digital social hadn't really been part of it. And so, you know, as we kind of went through this process we knew we had to get younger, if you will, in the way that we communicated. We had to be on social, we had to be digital. And yes, we still had to do TV and all of those things. But we knew we had to change perceptions of not just a consumer but our franchise environment too, our franchisees.
So, I think the notion of strategically consistent, tactically agile came about because we were confident in where we needed to go and how we needed to get there. If that’s how I think about strategy is how you compete in the market, the choices that you made. How those strategies were going to be applied. Were going to be the tactics that are then portrayed to a consumer. We didn't know exactly what was going to work and what wasn't going to work. We had our intuition, we had our testing process, we had our experience, but we still had to convince franchisees and we still had to convince consumers that this brand was changing, and it was different.
And so, it took a few you know, I would say many of the things we got right, some of the things maybe we didn't get as right. But if you look at it in total, you know, that was a pivot point for the brand and I would say that, you know, by and large, it was something that moved the Wendy's brand to kind of where it is today, which has had really steady growth over the last decade or so.
And but like I said, when you look back in history, that pivot point looks pretty positive. The trends, if you look at same store sales looks great. How we got there, how the sausage was made was a little sloppy. And so, I think that's the lessons that I took from that is do your homework on your vision, do your homework on your position and do your homework on your strategies. Make sure that those things are super, super sound. But as you apply tactics, you're going to use your experience, you're going to use, you know, testing data, whatever it is. But understand that if a tactic is not working, especially in today's world of marketing, when you've got so many numbers and so many data points and analytic minds to help you along, it's okay to not get something right. It's okay to have a tactic that doesn't work. Just know that you've got to be agile enough to change quickly. Don't waste money doing something that's not working. You know, what can you learn from why it didn't work? Apply that learning and move to something else and move quickly. And so that was something that was you know, kind of engrained in me and our team through Craig and something that I still use today. If you're going to do a tactic and it doesn’t work, fail fast, fail forward, and apply it to the next thing that you’re doing to impact the consumer.
Daniel Burstein: Yeah, I think that's also kind of very relevant in the kind of covered post-COVID era we are coming out of. Today where many things have shifted, but what should stay core and true to the business. And to me, when I hear you say that it gets the difference of what is the core value proposition of the business versus what is the marketing experimentation to communicate that. And Wendy’s, you know when it comes to Wendy's, I always loved how they would say, you know the Dave Thomas thing, why do we make square burgers? You know, because we don't cut corners, right. As you talked about. Yeah. I love that was beautiful. And that's, you know, way back in the day, and you talked about, it was the Chipotle’s and Panera’s were coming up, you realized Wendy's had that right positioning. So, it’s how to get, you know, that experimentation to get that right messaging out there. So that doesn't necessarily mean you shift the core value proposition of the business. You know, find out what is still true about the business.
Derek Detenber: Yeah. And sometimes in a franchise environment, that's hard because the nature of a franchisee, franchisor business is you're spending franchisees money in marketing. So, you know, you want every dollar to be working as hard as it can and you'll be facing questions from franchisees about, you know, how is my money working and so on and so forth. And so that's why, you know, if we're going to fail, fail small, fail fast, move forward and that's how the mindset is.
Daniel Burstein: So, I appreciate you being very open to talk about the failing part, but I think that the flip side is the success. So, if you're testing and you've got that pilot or A/B test or whatever it is, then you've got that proof to show the franchisees or whatever other, you know, group you have to convince. Sometimes it's the board of directors and sometimes it's a client of like, you know, okay, this seems kind of scary for you. We're just going to do this small little test. And now, look, we've got some data and proof to show this is worth investing more in.
Derek Detenber: Yeah. 100%. And certainly, over the last ten years or so, that's gotten easier just with data availability systems that weren't available at that point in time at Wendy's. But absolutely, the concept of that is, is spot on. And, you know, you're able to use data to say, you know, to make a course correction or to use data to say, no, no, no, we got this right. Let's double down here for impact.
Daniel Burstein: Okay. So, let's talk about getting more to kind of the core of the business. And you talked about Debbie Gonzalez right now she's the SVP of Global Marketing and Communications at Concentrix, and she was the chief brand officer at Massage Envy. And you talk about understanding the purpose of the business, right? So, when Wendy's we talked about you kind of clarifying the position of the brand, but what were you doing at Massage Envy with Debbie? What did you learn from her?
Derek Detenber: You know, at Wendy's, we knew where a quick service food fit into people's lives. They have three meals a day, basically, and seven days a week, you know, more or less. You had 21 occasions to potentially impact a customer when they were hungry or when they needed food. At Massage Envy the challenge was a little bit different. You know, they had entered this white space world of accessible, convenient, affordable massage and it was great. And the business really thrived and grew and but, you know, as, as the white space in terms of geographic territory started to close up a little bit and unit store growth started to slow as with any, you know, franchise concept that's in rapid growth, what we really had to do was define the business that were in.
We didn't want to just be a massage business that was, you know, affordable and accessible and whatever. We at the time, you know, proactive wellness, taking care of yourself, doing things to stay out of the doctor's office was really, you know, the prevailing consumer trend in health care. And so we thought that was a more aspirational and, you know, growth potential space to be in. So what we really had to decide is what is this business all about? It is this business about convenient, affordable massage or is this business about, you know, being part of a proactive, you know, wellness or health care journey. And if it's the former, then we have to double down and be the best at massage that we could be.
But in reality, you know, convenient, affordable massage when you're not talking about an experience that's at a resort or, you know, at the beach, your latitude to be better than other people is pretty limited. There's not a ton of, you know, bells and whistles that you can put on that. So, what we really wanted to be was how do we get into the wellness business? How can this brand stand for, you know, whatever that the wellness trend of the day is? So, it allowed the business to get into the facial category. It allowed the business to get into, you know, assisted stretching, which you see in other concepts with stretch zone and stretch lab now. It allowed the business to get into percussion therapy, which is something that's really starting to pop now with different athletes, you know, buying into, you know, brands like Theragun.
So, the definition of what business are we in and what's the purpose of this business was at the heart of what we had to do and what Debbie was leading at the time when I came on board. And so, you know, the lesson that I kind of take from it is, you know, in some ways it ties a little bit back to, you know, where are your competitors coming from? It's, you know, what business are we in, what right do we have as a brand or as an organization to be in that business? And what are the proof points that we need to put out there either as a brand or as a system in the case of Massage Envy or even a Batteries +. That we have the right to be there. And you can believe in us as part of that journey. And so that was a different type of brand repositioning experience than what Wendy's was. But, you know, something that was super impactful and frankly, super educational for me.
Daniel Burstein: I like the way you say we have the right to be there. You know, why should you be there? So, when I read this story, it got me thinking of we have a free digital marketing course. And in Session eight, one of the lessons is replace the claim with the reason. You know, and so many times in my marketing career, like on the agency side or whatever, it's easy to get in these meetings and it's all these claims, it's all these claims. And in the meeting, they're like, oh, so we've got this budget to run this, and at the time I was running full page ads in The Wall Street Journal, you know, big budgets get in front of people. It's like, oh, well, so we can, we can say whatever we want in that ad, right? We're paying for it. And you forget like, well, hey, that's a claim. We could say whatever we want, you know, but is anyone going to believe us? Is the customer going to believe us?
And so, I think, you know, I encourage every marketer, even if you're a junior copywriter to the marketing leader, to kind of have that skeptical customer look at every claim that comes up. Because what you did there is you had the actual reason, right? So, I love that you were working on a business level and coming up with what is the reason customers should shop with us, customers should buy from us, customers should you know get whatever product from us. And then from there, then you get into the proof points, like you said, you get into the marketing messaging.
So, whether you're that junior copywriter or that marketing leader, if you're working with an agency, sometimes, you know, you throw at the agency like, oh, come up with a spiffy campaign with us. But first, as a marketing leader in that business, what is the reason? What are you working on in the business that then you can message out to the customers?
Derek Detenber: Yeah. And how do you develop those proof points that are really believable? So, like you take Batteries + for instance, you know, we're in the phone device repair business. Okay, well, your name is Batteries + but you're in the device repair business. So how do you convey authority and expertise in that space to a potential customer?
And so, you know, we have a partnership with Samsung now to be one of their select providers of their parts so OEM parts, OEM type training. And so, we're qualified through the training in the parts to be an authorized dealer of phone repair for Samsung phones. Okay. Well, Samsung OEM parts, you know, real high-quality training. Now we've got a right to be in that business. And so those are the types of things that as you look at your business and really focusing on not just what business are we in, but to your point, what's our right to be in this business? And how do we win at this business?
Daniel Burstein: Now, I'm going to repeat those words I love hearing you say the right to be in the business. That's a great lesson for all of us. Well, speaking of Batteries +, you talked about Scott Williams, a CEO of Batteries +, and you got to see up close and learned from him. Leadership requires talent and passion. So how are you learning that from Scott right now?
Derek Detenber: You know, he's a different type of leader than anybody that I’ve worked under. He is as calm and measured as they get and what I'm you know; we're going through right now a big transition of our e-commerce engine. So, we're going from a homegrown legacy system to a more contemporary system. And as with any big transition like this, there's been a lot of things that we've learned along the way. And, you know, I've only been at Batteries + for five or six weeks here. And you know, what Scott has kind of shown me through this is, you know, he's deliberate in the way that he asks questions and pushes on the team to really get to good insights of what's going on. What are we doing next, what resources do we need and so on?
But, you know, he is as you can imagine when you're going through this, it's kind of all hands on deck trying to make sure you're getting your sessions up and your conversion rate to back to where it needs to be. And he keeps a sense of discipline and a sense of push on the team, but also an incredible sense of calm in the way that he deals with you know, a pretty big initiative that's key to the future success of the company. So, you know, I'm looking at him saying, man, my hair is on fire after four or five weeks trying to get this thing right. And you seem really, really calm. And I know that you're not. But, you know, it's just been a good lesson for me on just kind of how to demonstrate leadership in really kind of tough and pressure cooker types of situations.
Daniel Burstein: I mean, I think that's great, you know, being a leader, not just kind of communicating things, but showing also too by your own leadership, taking that discipline mixed with the calm. I know here with our own. I'll just give a quick shout out to our own CEO, Flint McLaughlin. He always teaches kind of humility because we're big on experimentation and so he published a blog post out to the world with his The Five Greatest Mistakes He's Made as a leader. So, I think it's one thing to say, hey, you should be humble. That's another thing to say to the world. Here are the mistakes I've made. Right. So, it's one thing to say, hey, we need to be disciplined but calm, it’s another thing to see that in action.
Derek Detenber: Yeah, it's he's you know, Scott's a very, very humble but yet very accomplished leader. If you look back at what he's done across his career and, you know, having worked for him for, you know, five or six weeks, I can see why he's been successful. I can see why people follow him. I can see why people have followed him from prior, you know, prior experiences to come work for him again at Batteries +. And so, I think we have an amazing leadership team that Scott has assembled that has, you know, legacy knowledge of the Batteries + system in business. But also, knowledge from people that have come in from other categories, from other types of businesses, franchised businesses, non-franchised businesses, you know, I'm very impressed with what I'm seeing from this team. Again, you know, five- or six-weeks in. But the type of thinking, the type of experience, the type of demeanor and leadership that this team is showing us is truly remarkable.
Daniel Burstein: Well, those are some great qualities of a good leader, deep knowledge, discipline, calm, humility. Let's talk about let's leave people with this. What are the key qualities of an effective marketer?
Derek Detenber: That's a great question. The one I always put at the top of the list is empathy. Empathy for the consumer, empathy of understanding the consumers need states, buying cycle, what they need from your brand. Really putting yourself in their shoes is very, very critical to being successful as a marketer. I think second is you have to have this kind of innate balance between creativity and analytic ability, which is what I find very fun about marketing and something challenging on a day-to-day basis.
You're going from a meeting about business results in numbers to a creative meeting, trying to understand, you know, is this piece of art, whatever it is, conveying the right message to the consumer. So, you know, having that balance of creativity and analytic ability is the key to success in marketing.
Then finally, I think in every one of these roles that we've talked about today and in different ways, marketing as a function is at the kind of center of a lot of things, it's at the center of, you know, creating vision, we talked about that. The center of positioning, the center of understanding the business from from a numerical standpoint, analytic standpoint at the center of product development communication. And those things impact everybody in the organization. And so, you find yourself in cross-functional environments quite often. You find yourself being looked to lead in a lot of different ways, whether you're a junior marketer or mid-level marketer, senior marketer, So I would say leadership and the ability to instill confidence in your vision as a marketer and be able to really support that through your connections and communications across the organization, is the third, you know, criteria for a great marketer.
Daniel Burstein: I want to really emphasize that last point because when marketing gets a bad rap within an organization, it's a cost sink, it’s a cost center, right? But really it should be helping drive the business strategy forward, right? That's what marketers should be doing.
Derek Detenber: Absolutely. Our job is to create consumer demand. It's to create pull and without, you know, good, effective marketing, you know, from all disciplines of marketing, you know, obviously I'm biased, but, you know, if we're not creating demand, we're not selling anything. And so, you know, we've got to do our job and not be really viewed as a cost center. But, you know, being viewed as a department that is changing the perception of your brand so that you can influence the behavior that you want from your consumers and ultimately deliver the demand creation and consumer poll and ultimately sales.
Daniel Burstein: Well, thank you so much for sharing all your stories and lessons, Derek. I think we all learned something to do our job better.
Derek Detenber: I appreciate you having me on, this has been a lot of fun.
Daniel Burstein: Yeah, fun for me, too, and hopefully fun for everyone who is listening. So thanks a lot for tuning in today folks.
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