What's Working In Marketing™: How To Better Understand Your Customer with Katelyn Bourgoin, CEO of Customer Camp

Brand & Positioning Strategy
Content & Messaging
January 5, 2022

What's Working in Marketing™ is a podcast where we uncover what’s working across the digital landscape by tapping into the world’s best data-backed research and through candid conversations with industry experts. Join us if you're ready to learn what's working when it comes to your marketing efforts.

On this episode, we spoke with Katelyn Bourgoin, CEO of Customer Camp. We discuss how Katelyn digs deep into the buyer journey, and how marketers can examine what's taking place before a prospective customer even knows a product exists. Katelyn asks tough questions in her role and we are positive that you'll learn from her unique perspective as a customer focussed (or obsessed) marketer. She's been referred to as the customer whisperer, so have a listen if you want to get clearer on who your customers are and how to build a better experience.

You can listen to What's Working in Marketing™ – A Podcast by RightMetric wherever you get your podcasts — including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Tune In, iHeartRadio, and Pocket Casts.

Here's a full transcript of our conversation with Katelyn:

Charlie Grinnell: Welcome to What's Working in Marketing, a podcast for marketers that uncovers what's working across the digital landscape by tapping into the world's best data back research and through candid conversations with industry experts. I'm your host, Charlie Grinnell.

Charlie Grinnell: On this episode, I'm joined by Katelyn Bourgoin, CEO of Customer Camp. I'm super excited to chat with her. She's known as the customer whisperer. Thank you so much for joining me today, Katelyn.

Katelyn Bourgoin: Thanks for having me, Charlie.

Charlie Grinnell: I'm very, very excited to talk to you. You're someone who I've followed on Twitter for a long time. And so, what I usually do with these episodes is like, I go back to the beginning. I like to get an understanding of your career journey and how it's contributed to where you're at today. So, why don't we start there?

Katelyn Bourgoin: Yeah, for sure. I think it's a great way to kick things off, because I definitely am where I am today because of making lots of mistakes before. But I started off my career in marketing. I started working at an agency, got kind of like what I perceived in my dream job right out of school, and stayed there for a couple of months.

Katelyn Bourgoin: I got to work with all the big brands in Atlantic Canada and see how some of the best advertising that was coming out at the time was being made, and got really lucky. I got headhunted by a gentleman who had just sold his agency, and he said, "I want to do something different. I don't want to start another agency. I don't want to headcount, but I've got these few big clients. And I would love to bring you in as a contractor. So, you'd be a freelancer, but I guarantee you a certain amount of work. How do you feel about that?" I was like, "That's amazing."

Katelyn Bourgoin: So, I get to have my foot in both doors being an employee on one sense, but also have the opportunity to build my own business. So, after only two months of working in the industry, I left and started my own business. And a year and a half in, I've grown, I've got three employees of my own. I'm doing a lot less of his work or subcontracting out to that. And we start working with bigger clients.

Katelyn Bourgoin: And it was awesome. I love the work we were doing. We were getting to work with cool clients like Target and Holiday Inn. And I wanted to do something bigger, and do something where we weren't just exchanging our time for dollars, which I think a lot of people that come from the agency world understand. So, I decided to start a tech company because how hard could that be right?

Charlie Grinnell: Why not?

Katelyn Bourgoin: For anybody who wants to spoiler, very hard. But we slogged away for about four years. We raised a bunch of venture. Things look great from the outside. Forbes was calling us the next LinkedIn for women. It was a business...

Charlie Grinnell: Wow.

Katelyn Bourgoin: ... for women entrepreneurs that we were building, and things looked great. Inside, not so great. We definitely had not built the right product. We were good at marketing, the product. Luckily, my background came in handy.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Katelyn Bourgoin: And we were growing quickly from acquiring new users perspective. But it wasn't sticky. People weren't hanging around. They weren't inviting their friends. It wasn't becoming a habit. And as network, you need that.

Katelyn Bourgoin: And so, after really slogging away for a couple of years, got to the point where I just like, "This isn't going to work, and we need to say goodbye to it." And it was really painful. And so, shut that down, trying to like licking my wounds, trying to figure out what am I going to do next.

Katelyn Bourgoin: And what I was lucky about was that I built this amazing network within the tech community in Atlantic Canada. And our lead investor, they came to me and they said, "You are really good on the marketing side, not so great on the product side. And we've got all of these teams that we've invested in who are great on the product side, but they don't have people who know that their products exist, because they suck at marketing. Can you help them?" And I was like, "Are you going to pay me?" They're like, "Of course." I was like, "Okay, good." So...

Charlie Grinnell: Good talk.

Katelyn Bourgoin: Yeah, good talk, good talk. So, I got to go and sit down with all of these brilliant founders, and ask the question that we marketers want to know, which is, "Tell me about your customers." And really surprised to learn how often I couldn't get very good answers. Things like, we sell to businesses that sell on the internet with anywhere between 10 and 500 employees. And then, there'll be a pause, and I would assume there's a lot more coming. And then, that would be it. I feel like, that's everyone.

Charlie Grinnell: So, everyone.

Katelyn Bourgoin: Yeah, everyone, everyone, or I would hear founders openly debating who the customers in the meeting. So, it'd be like, "We're going after this group." And then, somebody else would perk up and go, "Yeah." But like, they're a target as well. And it was just really clear to me that there was this lack of real depth of clarity on who the customers were, and why those customers were buying. And that was leading to all challenges and mistakes. So, that led to what the work I do today. I launched Customer Camp initially as a training company, and I worked with a lot of business support organizations, venture, funds, innovation labs and helping their teams to really get clear on who their customers are and why they buy.

Katelyn Bourgoin: And then, that sprung off to us doing some done for you research, qualitative research helping companies to better understand their customers. We only take on a few of those projects a year because we've got a pretty small team, and it's not where we want to spend the most of our time.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Katelyn Bourgoin: But to make sure that we're being able to create the best training and products to teach people how to do this work, we want to, obviously, eat our own dog food and consistently be out there and doing it and refining and refining.

Katelyn Bourgoin: So, that's how I got to where I am today. But really, our focus and my passion is just helping companies to understand what's happening in their buyers lives, that triggers them to realize they need a new solution, how do they go about looking and seeking solutions? And what makes them choose ours? Or our competitors over the other options? And how can we leverage that information to market smarter? So, that's what we're passionate about the Customer Camp.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah, what's so funny to me is it sounds incredibly simple when you explain it, but two things come to mind. One, it's not simple. And two, it's something that is often overlooked. And one of the things in prepping for our conversation that I've noticed is, you've had this rallying cry around whoever gets closer to the customer wins. Can you just kind of unpack that a little bit? When you say getting closer, what does that actually mean?

Katelyn Bourgoin: It means knowing more than like looking at a big set of data and saying, "Okay, our customers are women aged 24 to 36, who tend to live in cities, like that stuff isn't..." It's great to have, it's going to help you to target better when it comes to where you want to put your ad placements and whatnot. But it's not the reason why people buy.

Katelyn Bourgoin: And I think that is brands and business leaders so often, we have a very shallow view of who our buyers are. And we often only are really paying attention to the buying journey from when they discovered us.

Katelyn Bourgoin: And so, there's so much insight you can gather from learning how customers go about looking for solutions, like yours. And more importantly, what triggered them to begin in the buying journey in the first place.

Katelyn Bourgoin: And a lot of companies don't do that digging. And the reason why is, it's not as easy to get just by looking at data. You have to go out and dig for it, you have to unearth that you have to actually, talk to buyers and really dig in and get them to unearth memories from their buying journey that they wouldn't give you through a survey. That you couldn't get by looking at the clicks a user had before they became your customer.

Katelyn Bourgoin: So, I think that a lot of times we want to get... We want to use quantitative data to give us the answers that we need. But there's a lot of depth that it's sometimes lacks. And companies are not going out and getting that data. And therefore, they're missing that closeness with their customers that they could still benefit from.

Katelyn Bourgoin: Obviously, I'm preaching to the converted here. Companies that are doing it are having incredible results. I love David Cancel, the CEO of Drift. They're one of the fastest growing SaaS companies in history. He's been banging this drum since the beginning. And he finds time as the CEO of this fast-growing company to go out and actually, talk with customers and listen to them. And I always find it very interesting when leaders often at much smaller companies that are struggling, say, "Oh, I don't have time for that, or that's somebody else's job. It's not my job to talk to customers." And you see the fastest growing companies, their leaders are doing it.

Charlie Grinnell: Totally. It's so funny, you bring that up, like one of the phrases that comes to mind is looking before you leap. And talking to your customers before you go and spend a bunch of money or time or resources on doing marketing or doing sales, whatever makes sense to the business is, is something that I find a lot in conversations is people are... They're busy because they're busy, instead of like taking a step back and being like, "How can I think about this strategically? How can I look before I leap, so that when we actually start to move and use the company's budget time resources, what have you, we're doing it in an informed way? Have you seen that on your end?

Katelyn Bourgoin: Absolutely. I love that you say they're busy because they're busy, because one of the things that over the last year and a half that I think that all marketers benefit from understanding buyer psychology. The more accurate term would be behavioral economics.

Charlie Grinnell: Yup.

Katelyn Bourgoin: And behavioral economics, it's not really been a thing for all that long. So, it's not as though like, marketers have been working in the industry for 15, 20 years. I've just been ignoring this goldmine of insight. It's really, an emerging discipline. And I started getting really nerdy about behavioral economics like a year and a half ago. And the more that you learn about the brain, the more you can see how a lot of the mistakes that we make are being fueled by this ancient hardware that we have, right?

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Katelyn Bourgoin: So, when you think about the brain, there's a great book, Thinking, Slow and Fast or Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, and describes system one and system two. And I might screw this up. But I'm pretty sure that system one is the intuitive, like emotional, like we're not really thinking deeply about it. And then, there's system two, where we actually have to put effort into problem solving, and really rationalizing and thinking about the decisions we're making.

Katelyn Bourgoin: And I think a lot of marketers are busy, because we don't want to spend time digging deep into the hard stuff. We want to find answers fast because that's what our brain is designed to one. And then, we want to start executing on those things.

Katelyn Bourgoin: So, we spend far too little time analyzing and trying to understand customers, and far too much time executing stuff that isn't necessarily aligned with what customers actually, care about.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Katelyn Bourgoin: That's the challenge I've seen a lot of marketers making.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah, I agree. I think it's so funny that the other phrase like, I have that one phrase of like, "Look before you leap." The second piece of this is actually a Charlie Munger, "Fish where the fish are."

Katelyn Bourgoin: Yeah.

Charlie Grinnell: And it's such a simple thing as marketers. And I typically, RAM these two things together, I'm like, "Look, before you leap, so that you can fish where the fish are." It sounds like such a simple concept. But it is often something that's kind of, I guess, overlooked. And speaking about, this brought up something that I shared on LinkedIn. There was a New Yorker article that was posted, and it was talking about like, the whole thesis of the article is, it's time to stop talking about generations. And I'd love to just get your hot take on this. Do you agree or disagree? Marketers placed too much emphasis on demographics when it comes to building or refining strategy?

Katelyn Bourgoin: Great question. And it's funny, because this is what I wanted to get into. I think that they placed far too much focus on it, because that's not why people buy things.

Charlie Grinnell: Yup.

Katelyn Bourgoin: You and I might be demographically similar in some ways, and different another's. Obviously, we're both Canadian, we're all into the same 10-year age bracket, we're both marketers. But when it comes to how we shop and decisions that we make, we don't buy things because of those markers.

Katelyn Bourgoin: I don't buy things because I'm a 36-year-old woman who lives in Nova Scotia, who likes drinking wine and listening to business podcasts. Those are attributes about me, but it doesn't explain why I buy.

Katelyn Bourgoin: And so, one of the things that I like to make clear, when I talk about talk to your customers, there are so many people out there myself included in the past, again, I learned from mistakes. I remember, say we did a lot of customer discovery before we launched my tech company. And I thought that we were validating, that we were creating the right thing, we're going to build the right product.

Katelyn Bourgoin: And it turns out, we're doing it completely wrong because we are getting people as Fortune Teller, we're asking them we're like, pitching them on like, "This is the thing that we're building, and what do you think? And how great could it be?"

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Katelyn Bourgoin: And, of course, they're saying, "Oh, my God, that's awesome. And what about this? And what about that?" And the mistake that I think people make is they think that the goal in talking to customers is to ask customers what they want. And it's not, that's not the approach you should take because customers... It's not their job to know what they want.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Katelyn Bourgoin: And the other thing that frustrates me that is common is, people will go, "You can't ask customers what they want, because they would have just said faster horses."

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Katelyn Bourgoin: For one, that quote is untrue, there's no evidence and report ever actually for that. But that's not what the marketing should be, or sorry, that's not what customer discovery should be about. And what it really should be about is digging in beyond the demographics, beyond the firmographics of a business or psychographics of a person to understand the causal effects that are moving somebody to go from completely uninterested and not in the buying journey to being triggered to begin to look for a solution as they start evaluating and looking for solutions.

Katelyn Bourgoin: What are they considering? What is the criteria that matters to them? And the more that you learn about that, the more that you can identify, oh, our customers, maybe they are all students, but they're not buying because they're all students, they're buying because they're all facing this similar challenge. When they get to college, they run into this thing.

Katelyn Bourgoin: And so, I'm a big believer in taking a step back and understanding first your target buyer based on the context of their situation. And then, if you are like most businesses, you have limited resources, which every business does, then going, okay. So, we know that we could target buyers like this, who have a similar context, a similar job to be done, or we could go after these folks, or we could go after these folks.

Katelyn Bourgoin: And if we want to make the most compelling marketing, then we're probably going to want to double down on one of these audiences and really speak specifically to them, kind of like niche down. But it's not because of their demographics. It's because they share a similar context, and the way that we can communicate with them and maybe, the places where they're hanging out, like all of that might be aligned.

Katelyn Bourgoin: So, I'd say, going back to your original question, absolutely. Marketers spending too much time just focused on generations. We sell to Generation Z.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Katelyn Bourgoin: But why is Generation Z the one buying? That's what you want to unpack.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Katelyn Bourgoin: And then, you still might be able to go, "Okay, so we do sell to Generation Z, but it's not because of their age necessarily. It's because of these causal reasons."

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Katelyn Bourgoin: But now, where is Generation Z spending time, right? They're on TikTok, and they're on college campuses, and they're reading these publications. So, I think that you have to look at the causal reasons and the correlation. And then, bring that together and your strategy.

Charlie Grinnell: Mm-hmm. It's funny, this article from the New Yorker that I was referencing came out a little while ago. And then, recently, on LinkedIn, Twitter, there's been that meme where it's like Ozzy Osbourne and Prince Charles...

Katelyn Bourgoin: I know.

Charlie Grinnell: ... right side, right? And it's like, demographically they all stack up. But in terms of how they roll is completely different. And so, yeah, that's something that I've just been thinking a lot about is like, just because you know who a person is demographically, or who a customer is demographically. That doesn't arm you with how you should market to them, or what makes them tick, or what makes them want to buy, right?

Charlie Grinnell: And so, that's something that I think that's a step change for marketing. Whereas, it used to be about like, "Who are we targeting? Cool, that's what we're targeting. Okay, now run the marketing campaign." And like, Don Draper, off you go. Whereas, now to your earlier point, and what we've been discussing is, with it being so noisy and competitive out there, you have to go a layer deeper to give your brand a chance to even earn some of that attention.

Katelyn Bourgoin: Absolutely. I've got a talk if you want to... We can maybe link to it in the show notes.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Katelyn Bourgoin: It's all what people really buy, and I dig into this and unpack this more and share my own buying journey with buying an alarm clock. And...

Charlie Grinnell: Oh, interesting.

Katelyn Bourgoin: ... I probably think this is the demographic explanation of me, 36-year-old woman lives in hell like blah, blah, blah.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Katelyn Bourgoin: But the reason I bought the alarm clock is because I had a very specific job to do. It was... Yeah, I made a New Year's resolution to get in shape. And part of that meant trying to get up 90 minutes earlier, so I could have time to work out in the morning. And I was really struggling with that because I'd sleep with my phone by my bed like most of us do, I'd use it as alarm clock. But it was also very tempting to stay up like scrolling on Twitter.

Katelyn Bourgoin: And so, when you look at the alarm clock that I ended up buying, it's this old school bell alarm clock. You can probably picture them.

Charlie Grinnell: Nice.

Katelyn Bourgoin: And the reason I bought that, and I went through quite a journey to find the solution was because I needed something that would force me to get out of bed earlier in the morning when I was tempted to sleep in. And I tried a bunch of different solutions.

Katelyn Bourgoin: And the fact that it didn't have a snooze button, the fact that it was super loud, the fact that I could set it on the opposite side of my bedrooms, I'd have to literally get out of bed to go turn it off.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Katelyn Bourgoin: The fact that it was only $20, and that it was cute. All of the things that you learn about that buying journey. It's like, "Oh, well, if I sell alarm clocks, there's so much insight now into how to go after people like Katelyn." When you dig in, it's like, "Okay, why am I even trying to lose weight?" And there were all these more emotional reasons. I do a lot of speaking and I want to be able to feel really confident on stage. And I also want to exercise to them in a really stressful work environment.

Katelyn Bourgoin: So, you dig into all this stuff. And suddenly, a person, the characteristics of a person, like me start to emerge. But it's because of all of these other elements. So, it's like, yeah, it's like high achievers, people who are probably fans of James Clear and want to use atomic habits, all of this kind of cool stuff starts to emerge. But you see that through understanding the deeper side of the buying journey.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Katelyn Bourgoin: You can't gather that just by being like, "Okay, here's all of Katelyn's data points." Let's make sense of this, right?

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah, that does make a ton of sense. And yeah, now, I'm like, "Do I need to be buying into alarm clock?" You got me thinking over here.

Katelyn Bourgoin: Funny enough, a lot of people realize this because searches for old school alarm clock spike in January. So, but if you had that data point without the insight behind it, you might not know why, right?

Charlie Grinnell: Mm-hmm.

Katelyn Bourgoin: And if you know that, let's say you sell an old school alarm clock, you want to position your alarm practices like incredible cool innovation, it's like the dumb smart phone. I don't know if you've heard of it, there's like, we've got the smart phone and then a lot of people are getting so addicted to their phones...

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Katelyn Bourgoin: ... that company put up the dumb phone?

Charlie Grinnell: Yup.

Katelyn Bourgoin: The no snooze alarm clock it's like, what it doesn't have is the value...

Charlie Grinnell: Removing a key feature...

Katelyn Bourgoin: Totally.

Charlie Grinnell: ... that previously was a feature that now might not be a great feature.

Katelyn Bourgoin: Totally. And so, now, you think about, okay, if I know that my target buyers are buying this because they want to be able to wake up earlier because they want more fitness. And let's just say hypothetically, you decide that, so I want to go after.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Katelyn Bourgoin: January only happens once a year. But guess what happens every day at all day? People get engaged. And suddenly, they go from, "I want to look amazing in my wedding dress or my talks." And then, they start down the path of trying to figure out how they're going to create this new routine.

Katelyn Bourgoin: And so, now, you could start targeting that moment. So, there's so much you can learn when you dig in and get that backstory, and a lot of companies are missing it.

Charlie Grinnell: Mm-hmm (affirmative). So, on that note, I want to pivot a little bit here. It's kind of conventional wisdom that product features and prices is what has been used to differentiate brands in the past. But over the last few years, I think we've seen that customer experience is really the thing that has been the main differentiator. Do you agree with that? Do you disagree with that? And if so, how do marketers ensure that they're using insight to build a better customer experience?

Katelyn Bourgoin: Yeah, I mean, I totally agree with that customer experience is part of it. I think that the other part of it is, the better marketers are winning. And the reason why it goes back to our ancient hardware, we don't want to spend an enormous amount of mental energy analyzing different products. If you go to search for an old school, or if you go to Amazon, there are 40,000 listings.

Charlie Grinnell: Wow.

Katelyn Bourgoin: We do not have the mental energy to look at more than maybe five of those and try to dissect them and decide which one is the right one.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Katelyn Bourgoin: And so, marketers can do us this huge service, by really being clear about what their products value is, how it's better, why it's the right solution for us. And then, getting that word out through great marketing, through driving word of mouth with happy customers because we don't want to spend a lot of time analyzing feature per feature.

Katelyn Bourgoin: We don't have the energy, good enough is good enough. I don't know if you've ever had this experience. But there's always a new project management software being released.

Charlie Grinnell: Of course.

Katelyn Bourgoin: And for a moment, I'll see it like I know, I've looked at click up a little bit. And I thought like, "Should I move over?" And then, I thought by myself, I'm like, "Every time I move, it's never that much better?" And I'm just like, it's just a distraction because yes, there's probably, a software with a better feature. Yes, there's a product that's probably better than the one you're using today. But oftentimes, good enough is good enough.

Charlie Grinnell: Yup.

Katelyn Bourgoin: And we need to realize that our consumers are not making super rational, always well-informed decisions. They are trying to decide quickly, so they can turn their brain back off and go on autopilot.

Charlie Grinnell: Decision fatigue is real.

Katelyn Bourgoin: Absolutely. And the clearer we can be about why us, and the better we can be about just showing up, so that we're top of mind, the more effective we're going to be able to get our marketing. I love... I'm reading this great book right now, which your listeners would probably like. It's called Blindsight. And it's written by a career marketer and a behavioral economist and they wrote it together and they have a business together called Pop Neuro. I think it's Pop Neuro.

Katelyn Bourgoin: And in Blindsight, they talk about the associations that smart brands make and how it takes them a long time and they just commit like, when you think about, let's assume that this is before the Coronavirus because obviously, the word Corona has taken off a new meaning.

Katelyn Bourgoin: But when you used to think about the beer Corona, like what would be the first thing that came to your mind?

Charlie Grinnell: A beach.

Katelyn Bourgoin: Exactly. They have spent an incredible amount of energy, associating their brand relaxation in the side, right?

Charlie Grinnell: Yup.

Katelyn Bourgoin: So, that is an incredibly powerful. There are so many light beers out there. But the fact that that's the what you think of when you think of a Corona, like what do you think of when you think of Coca Cola?

Charlie Grinnell: I would think Coca Cola, I would say polar bears or like an ice-cold Coca Cola in a glass with the fizziness at the top.

Katelyn Bourgoin: The fizziness at the top, right. And Coca Cola has done something... Now, this is... It's interesting because you didn't you didn't say what I was expecting you to say. But like, what, according to the book, and when I think of it with my own perspective of Coca Cola, the big thing that they tried to own is happy.

Charlie Grinnell: Yes.

Katelyn Bourgoin: Coke is happy, like Coke is a happiness. And Red Bull, Red Bull tastes terrible. In blind studies before it was released, everybody said it was disgusting. And yet, it became one of the fastest selling drinks in the world. And as for this idea of energy, Red Bull gives you wings.

Katelyn Bourgoin: Now, there's so many other energy drinks out there. But does any own the like mind share that Red Bull has because they set it first and they did it well. So, I think that we as marketers, our opportunity is to spend time thinking about how to best position our product the way an alarm clock company could by being the no snooze alarm clock.

Charlie Grinnell: Yup.

Katelyn Bourgoin: And then, really, really go deep dive there.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah, I want to just expand a little bit more into this. We've talked a lot about customer experience. And I feel like other kind of phrases surrounding this, whether it's customer research, personas, customer journeys, all that sort of stuff. How do you kind of see that from a process perspective? Are a lot of that stuff necessary? I think from my perspective, I've watched these two camps form on some people are pro persona, and other people are like anti persona, where do you sit within all that? Is all that necessary? What do you think?

Katelyn Bourgoin: My goal is ultimately, what's going to actually, create the most value internally? And I think that there is value to having personas, but the value is much more limited than a lot of people would like us to believe as people that are trying to sell us on the process.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Katelyn Bourgoin: When you have a growing team, and you have new stakeholders coming in, if you really do understand who your customers are not just from a demographic, psychographic, firmographic perspective, but like, what is it that they're trying to achieve? What's the context of their situation? And what moment is our product the best?

Katelyn Bourgoin: And you can put all of that into a page, a two-page document to give somebody a crash course. And as they're just getting started, I think that's a great resource to have. I think that it falls apart when that's all that companies are doing. So, when companies have this one document that lives somewhere in a Google folder, and you see it once, and then it disappears.

Katelyn Bourgoin: The problem with that document that I've seen is that that again, like you go back to like how our brains work, they don't work that way. We do not remember data points about people. We do not remember like, okay, our customers there's these three personas and marketing, Mary has two kids and a dog. What we remember is things that happened more recently, and we remember stories. But what I've been pushing for is this new method that I call the trigger technique, which I can again, share a link to Twitter thread, where I outline this.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Katelyn Bourgoin: The goal trigger technique is, I believe, marketers are often not given a lot of time for going and talking to customers, because it's perceived to take a long time, and it historically has. I hear all these horror stories from marketers, somewhat small companies, some of big brands, that some people go off on the team and spend two, three months doing qualitative research, and then come back and have this report, and they drop it on everybody's desk, and it's heavy and full of stats and data. And people go, "Okay, nice." And then, they forget about it.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Katelyn Bourgoin: And I think that that way of doing customer research, while it makes us feel good as researchers who feels like we've gone out and gathered enough, it's not actionable, and it's easily forgotten.

Katelyn Bourgoin: And again, this idea we remember what is recent. And so, what I'm pushing for is, this idea of using even a single buyer journey interview with the right customer, and being able to extrapolate the most important pieces from that what I call it the cornerstone insights, which is like, what was the buying trigger? What was the job they're trying to get done? What were their pains with other solutions? And what were their selfish desires?

Katelyn Bourgoin: Because if you can pull those four things out of an interview, suddenly, you have the needed foundation to figure out some really exciting stuff from a marketing perspective. So, you can figure out like, who's the right target buyer? What are the right target moments?

Katelyn Bourgoin: So, instead of thinking about channels, they go, "What are the moments where they might identify that they have this job to be done? Where else are they looking for potential solutions? How do they go about looking? And then, what's the right promise that we should give? And how do we create a call to action that's maybe compelling?" And all this can lead to these really, really great marketing ideas.

Katelyn Bourgoin: And I think that it's this bridge between these places where teams tend to be on the qualitative research side, which is either we go off and we spend months doing it. And then, the output is this report that nobody pays attention to, or we don't do it. And we're fueled only by quantitative, and maybe, we're doing the odd survey, but really not spending that much time getting first party data.

Katelyn Bourgoin: I think, there needs to be a bridge between those two things. And I think that the trigger technique works great, because it's a great way to get new team members to quickly build empathy with your target buyers. If this was being done, let's say on a larger team, and there was somebody who's going out and feeding these insights on a consistent basis back to the rest of the team. Then, you get that recency bias, right? People will remember that.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Katelyn Bourgoin: And those stories that they're hearing what a single buying journeys, that's the other thing that annoys me. A lot of personas tried to put together this holistic buying journey.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Katelyn Bourgoin: But yes, because that buying journey, you can't take 30 different interviews and put that all into this one, like story.

Charlie Grinnell: Nobody buys like that.

Katelyn Bourgoin: No, nobody buys like that. And so, if you actually, hear one story from one real buyer, and the picture of the person isn't this random stock photo, but it's the actual picture of the person, that's the way to build empathy faster, and fast matters in companies because again, we don't want to think very hard.

Katelyn Bourgoin: I don't know if I... I think I went on a bit of a tangent there. But yes, I think personas have value, but they're limited. And I think that they should be complemented by consistent one-on-one discussions with customers...

Charlie Grinnell: Yup.

Katelyn Bourgoin: ... because even though each conversation is going to glean new insights and interesting anecdotes, it's more about the marketer, just having the opportunity to feel that closest with the customer, and to spur those ideas that they wouldn't have had otherwise. You don't have to pretend like it's an exercise that you go off and do once and now you're done.

Charlie Grinnell: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, I feel like the persona thing was probably more relevant back in late 90s, and 2000s. And as things have progressed, in terms of how competitive it is to earn someone's attention? How many options and choices are out there? How many data sets are available? How many people like yourselves who are preaching to go talk to customers? There's so much more that you can do. And it's like, if persona was kindergarten, we should be in university by now.

Katelyn Bourgoin: Yeah, I love that.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah. So, digging a little bit into your Twitter archives here. You said before, that people buy from brands that they know, like, and trust, but that too many marketers focus on being known, while little focus on being liked and trusted. And those are kind of afterthoughts? How does a brand go about becoming better liked and trusted?

Katelyn Bourgoin: I mean, this is a bit cliche, because you're hearing it a lot more these days. But I feel like every brand really does need to think of themselves as a media company. There's lots of changes happening in the environment all the time. And there always is, but you need to think about how do we get in front of people and have them pay attention, right? It's like, I love that the phrase pay attention, uses the word pay because we only have a limited amount of time.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Katelyn Bourgoin: And when we spend time somewhere, it means we're not spending it somewhere else. So, there is a cost to our attention.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Katelyn Bourgoin: And if we want to get people to pay attention, we need to get in front of them with stuff that inspires and entertains and delights and educates them. And that's not ads. So, sometimes, it's an ad.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Katelyn Bourgoin: But most of the time it's not.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Katelyn Bourgoin: And so, I think that like and trust factor comes from doing the hard work of building a cannon of awesome content that people want to engage with and leveraging the people who your brand already cares about and is already interested in authentic ways to get in front of them through those channels.

Katelyn Bourgoin: So, I think that we spend so much time thinking about when people are actively looking for solutions like ours for instance on a Casper. Casper was the original bed-in-a-box company but there are actually, hundreds of competitors now.

Charlie Grinnell: Yup.

Katelyn Bourgoin: And when you google Casper, the first thing you see is five ads and other brands competing against them saying, talking smack being cheaper, better quality, blah, blah, blah than Casper.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Katelyn Bourgoin: And so, Casper now needs to go out and defend for people that are actively looking for their solution. The challenge that a lot of these bed-in-a-box companies and the same is true with the meal kit companies is, they really didn't do the work to differentiate.

Katelyn Bourgoin: And so, when the manufacturing of bed-in-a-box became easy enough that other customers go and do it like, "Why buy a Casper over another one?" It's unclear. And so, that like and trust factor, I think headspace the meditation app.

Charlie Grinnell: Yup.

Katelyn Bourgoin: I don't know. I'm assuming this would have been a paid thing. But they have a mini-series on Netflix, all about sleep science.

Charlie Grinnell: Yup.

Katelyn Bourgoin: And that's genius, right? You're not just creating ads. You're not just doing a podcast. You're actually, inserting yourself into a place where people are already looking for a solution like yours and telling a really compelling entertaining story.

Katelyn Bourgoin: I think you're going to see a lot more of that. A lot more brands recognizing. We really need to be at the forefront and think of ourselves as media companies if we're going to earn and keep our audience's attention.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah, I completely agree. There's a few things that pop into mind there. Number one, always kind of comes back to this idea, and I've asked clients this over the years is, if you didn't sell your product, what would your business talk about or say?

Katelyn Bourgoin: Mm-hmm.

Charlie Grinnell: And that's a really great way to kind of frame it up is like, okay, great. You sell mattresses. Cool. Imagine if for a day you weren't allowed to talk about mattresses or talk about that, what else would you talk about that is relevant to you as a brand?

Charlie Grinnell: And so, I think the Casper example is brilliant because it's like, yeah, there's that sleep side of it, or whatever. It makes me also think back to what you said about Red Bull earlier was the idea there was that whether you buy the product or not, you're going to spend time with our brand through content and through other places online.

Charlie Grinnell: And I think we're seeing other businesses do that. We're seeing HubSpot acquire The Hustle. So, whether you're again, a HubSpot customer or not, we know that you're interested in business. Therefore, we're going to create an ecosystem where, yeah, whether you buy from us or not, you're still going to spend time with an extension of our brand.

Charlie Grinnell: I know Shopify is also doing the same thing. With Shopify studios, they want to create content all around entrepreneurship, because that's what their product enables. And so, yeah, it's fascinating just to see that, but I think about, you say it's cliche, I would tend to agree with you as like, it's been being preached for a long time, but talking about it and doing it are two very different things.

Katelyn Bourgoin: That's right. And I think that's one of the things that we as marketers suffer from that maybe our clients, or customers do not have nearly as much familiarity is like the curse of knowledge.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Katelyn Bourgoin: We spend every day thinking about, how can I market smarter? How can I create this really compelling and worthwhile experience for potential buyers? Whereas, our customers aren't thinking about how marketing works. They're just on the receiving end of it. And to that point around, what else is going to make people like, and trust us? Another huge opportunity, and this is something that the best brands have always done is, community, right?

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Katelyn Bourgoin: When you think about Red Bull, why did Red Bull build the audience that it built so quickly? I don't know if this is a thing in Vancouver, but it certainly was here. Do you have Jägerbomb? Is that something you've heard of?

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah, of course.

Katelyn Bourgoin: Yeah. So, you take two of the things that are perceived to be some of the grossest in the beverage industry, Jägerbomb, which was not a popular look here for a long, long time. And Red Bull, which is at that time, kind of like an emerging brand. It's like building awareness, but like, and you combine those two things, what was it that spread the awareness of both of those things? It was the community element.

Katelyn Bourgoin: It was getting probably, hiring recruiters to get people into bars and getting them to buy them Red Bull shot, or like Jägerbombs. The community piece of it's really big, too. And I think a lot of brands... A lot of smart brands have been doing that forever. But other brands are now recognizing, okay, it's not enough for us to have a great product. And it's not enough for us to have great content or be really good on social.

Katelyn Bourgoin: We also need to be able to bring our people together, and let them connect with each other besides us leading the charge. Letting them be leaders and letting them be part of it, too. And some really, smart brands are doing that really well. And other brands are paying attention and trying to figure out how do I do it?

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah, bingo. I couldn't agree more. I think it's something that we're going to continue to see, especially with this kind of pendulum between brand and performance and marketing that we've seen, right? I think a lot of pre-COVID, the economy was good, businesses revenues were good. So, there was a lot of investment in brand, community building, that sort of thing.

Charlie Grinnell: COVID hits the pendulum swings back the other way, because maybe some money taps have kind of turned off, so to speak. And they're like, "How are we maximizing for dollars in the door?" And now, I think two years into this thing, we're seeing the pendulum come back into the middle, where it's like, you can't just optimize for performance and conversion. You have to be focused on that brand building, that community aspect.

Charlie Grinnell: And so, I definitely, agree with that. I want to kind of... As we start to wind down this episode, I have a few more kind of quick questions here. What are you most excited about when it comes to marketing today? Could be a trend, could be a brand.

Katelyn Bourgoin: I think what I'm most excited about, and a lot of marketers are going to grimace when they hear this. But I think what I'm most excited about is the shifts that have happened, particularly in the privacy space, and the tracking space, that's going to make it harder for Facebook and Google to track what we're doing and serve up the right content to us because I think what will come from that is a real need for businesses to better understand their buyers because they can't just throw money at Google and Facebook, let them figure it out anymore.

Katelyn Bourgoin: We need to inform the message more. We need to be clear about who we want to get in front of. And I think that that's going to ultimately be really good for brands and really good for consumers and potential customers because we're all sick of getting marketed to, and we want to have a better online experiences.

Katelyn Bourgoin: And so, I'm excited about that ship because I think that we don't do anything in life unless usually, there's some type of push or pull, right?

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Katelyn Bourgoin: Here, we're pushed by a pain or pulled by something that's attractive. A lot of brands now are getting pushed to do things differently because of COVID because of all these changes, and I think that on a whole that's going to be a really good thing. And I think it's going to lead to more creativity. I think it's going to lead to smarter use of budget. I think if somebody did a better experiences for customers. So, I'm excited with that.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah. And so, next question here. I'm a huge... I've full disclosure, I dropped out of university. I'm a huge advocate for reading and consuming information. That's kind of like how I got into everything. I don't have a marketing degree or business degree or any degree for that matter. So, I always ask, how do you stay up-to-date on business and marketing? Who are you following? What are you reading? Who are you listening to?

Katelyn Bourgoin: Great question. I would say, honestly, Twitter is my favorite source of information. I follow marketers that I'm inspired by. When they drop a link to a new podcast episode, and the topic looks interesting, I listened to it. If they are... A lot of people are doing some really, killer tweets, threads that are basically, better than blog posts that are there. So, I find a lot of content there. And beyond that, I spend less time I would say reading books about marketing. I used to read a lot.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Katelyn Bourgoin: And so, if you're coming into your career, and you're new, or definitely spend some time there. The tech and the channels and all that stuff, it's always going to be changing, and you're always going to feel like you're really behind the eight ball on something. I still don't have a TikTok account. It's an important choice for me, because I'm like, "I do not want to be addicted to something else right now."

Charlie Grinnell: Oh, you will, they'll get you.

Katelyn Bourgoin: Yeah, I know how sticky it is. And so, I also feel like as a marketer, a lot of shame around X and how am I completely ignoring this massively important platform. But from a personal perspective, I'm like, "I just, I can't do it." And so, there's always going to be another TikTok. There's always going to be another marketing tool that's out there that's claimed to be the best one.

Katelyn Bourgoin: What's not going to change is the way that the human mind works, and the way that we make decisions and the cognitive biases we have and how they feel us this way, and that way. So, I'm spending a lot more time focusing there than I am on kind of the more traditional marketing content these days.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Last question, where's the best place for people to get a hold of you?

Katelyn Bourgoin: Twitter. I spend lots of time on Twitter. I try to be responsive to every message. So, you can find me @katebour, K-A-T-E B-O-U-R, and that's probably the best place. I'm a new mom as we were talking about before we hit play on this.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Katelyn Bourgoin: And so, it takes me a little bit longer to get back than I used to. Sometimes, I'll look at something, plan to respond, and then completely forget because then the baby starts crying. So...

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah.

Katelyn Bourgoin: If you don't hear back from me right away there, hit me up again. I'm less responsive to emails and LinkedIn messages. I feel like, again, I feel like I need to be really focused. So, if you want to chat that's probably the best place to get me.

Charlie Grinnell: Yeah, as someone who discovered you and started following you on Twitter, I can vouch that you're a worthwhile follow. I've definitely enjoyed watching your tweets and picking up little nuggets of wisdom over the years.

Charlie Grinnell: So, yeah, everyone follow Katelyn on Twitter. Great. Follow. Well, Katelyn, thank you very much for taking the time today. I really appreciated chatting with you. I learned a bunch talking to you in person after following you for many, many years. I'm sure the audience did the same. So, thank you very much.

Katelyn Bourgoin: Thank you.

Charlie Grinnell: For show notes, other episodes, and more content, check out rightmetric.co. If you enjoyed the show, please subscribe and leave a review wherever you listen to your podcasts. Thanks for listening.

Added by: 

Recent Case Studies

Scroll horizontally to view more case studies →