How Godfrey is Improving the Customer Journey

Michael Barber, SVP and Chief Creative Officer at Godfrey, joins the Content Experience Show to dig deeper into the customer journey.

In This Episode:

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Full Episode Details

A Smoother Customer Journey

The need for great content is a well-understood concept, but what happens once your customer starts to engage with that content? How smooth is the customer journey from that piece of content to your product or service?

Those are the questions being asked by Michael Barber of Godfrey. He proposes that the next step to improving the overall experience for your customers is to focus on the steps in between.

There are a lot of small details that can get lost when the major focus is solely on the content and the sale. By working to create smooth, consistent transitions from your content to the sale and beyond, you can ensure a more natural customer journey that will make it easier for them to return again and again.

In This Episode

  • How to help your ideas resonate more clearly whether in content or speaking
  • Why some companies should have a customer experience team
  • How to better understand what your customer is experiencing when interacting with your business

Quotes From This Episode

“There are so many nuances between the initial awareness of a piece of content and actually experiencing that content.” — @michaeljbarber

“You have got to build a group of customers that you can have honest and brutal conversations with.” — @michaeljbarber

Go out and experience what your customers do. Click To Tweet


Content Experience Lightning Round

What is your number one piece of advice for getting to and through the airport alive?

Michael’s advice is to just breathe and understand that you are not in control of the situation!

What is the absolute best cold brew you’ve ever had?

Without a doubt, Cartel from Phoenix, Arizona!

See you next week!

Episode Transcript

Randy Frisch: Welcome to Conex: The Content Experience Show. I'm Randy Frisch. Anna's here with me, and we have a perfect guest this week. I mean, this guest was literally bringing the words "content experience" to us, and we thought we had to be the ones getting on this podcast on a weekly basis and telling our guests, you know, we got to get them to think about the importance experience, but I feel like Michael was just bringing that to us today. He's the SVP and Chief Creative Officer for Godfrey, a B2B agency. And Anna, I know you'd seen him speak a lot of times, which is why you were excited to bring him on here.
Anna Hrach: Totally, yeah. Michael and I know each other through the Conference Circuit. So he's one of those speakers that I see at pretty much every conference I go to, and we chitchat here and there, and I've always been a big fan of his stuff, and he just does experience so well. I also follow him on social media, and he just does experience so well there as well. So, it just was a really natural fit to bring him on.
Randy Frisch: Isn't it funny how as you guys talked in this podcast about always seeing each other at conferences, and I'm going to kind of set a little bit of my background. I was like a summer camp guy, and at summer camp, you always had your summer camp friends. They were different than your city friends. I feel like at conferences, it's the equivalent of our friends from camp, right? It's like, "I can't wait to see you next year at Conference Circuit," right? And then you just end up bumping into those people and it's this whole secret society of people that know each other.
Anna Hrach: Yeah, it's just cool to see people that you're in the industry with, but you don't work with directly and you can talk to. I feel like you get to have a lot more of honest brutal conversations and tips and tricks. The only difference is you're not hammering out like leather bracelets or weaving any sort of friendship thing, right? Like summer camp.
Randy Frisch: This is true, but I mean, maybe that's an opportunity untapped.
Anna Hrach: True.
Randy Frisch: Be that person who gives up bracelets at conferences. Sometimes I feel like this podcast, at the same time, is kind of my year-long conference, because we get to bring people in here every week, pick their brains, hear what they're thinking about. It's kind of those brutal, honest conversations, and today really was that. I felt that Michael really challenged us in terms of, "What are we doing in our organizations? Are we thinking enough beyond the creation of content to how people will consume it?" But not just from a content perspective. He challenged us throughout that entire customer lifecycle or the term he used was customer journey.
Anna Hrach: Yeah, and for anybody out there who has either done a customer journey map or has not yet done a customer journey map, this episode really has some great advice on sort of the value for it and how to and even tips and tricks that you can work in to your existing customer journey maps. But, I'm so glad we finally got to broach this topic, because I'm a massive fan of them. And Randy, you brought up a great point in the conversation, which is that everybody has personas; it's time to take them deeper.
Randy Frisch: Absolutely. Well listen to the end of the podcast. I always like to give people a reason to stay to the end. You'll find out some really great advice on cold brew coffee situations. So, if you're trying to figure out what to drink at the next time you listen to the Conex show, you'll hear from Michael right at the end of this podcast. Until then, why don't we let you bring him in, Anna?
Anna Hrach: Sounds great. Michael, thank you so much for joining us today. Really, really excited to have you on the show.
Michael Barber: Yes. Well, we've been a huge fan of you for a long time too. So, to kick us off, would you mind just telling us a little bit about yourself?
Michael Barber: Sure. So, currently, I run Creative at Godfrey. We are a B2B agency that specializes in mid-market, industrial manufacturers. I help run our Creative team of about 35 individuals, before that, because this is a relatively recent change. I ran my own agency for about four years. I called barber&hewitt. We were acquired by Godfrey. And before that, I was really lucky in my career, from a very early stage, literally the day that I walked out of school to work for some of the country's, I think, some of the best agencies that the country's put out. So just been in the right place at the right time, and it's been an incredible ... oh man, 14, 15 years of a professional career at this point.
Anna Hrach: Yeah, you've done a ton in those 14, 15 years. And not only have you obviously done sort of your day-to-day role within your agencies and owning your own agency and your own consultancy, but you are also a notable speaker now, and you've actually been basically at almost every single digital summit this last year, right?
Michael Barber: Yeah, I sort of fell into speaking. So, Jay Baer, who was my first boss at college, put me on a stage about 11 years ago, and said, "Speak," and my response was, "Well what about? I don't know what I'm going to say," and he said, "You've got something to say, so speak." But speaking has largely become more of a passion, a real passion over the last two or three years, and I think for me, that passion has extended largely because ... I mean, and you guys know this, is that, there are hundreds of conferences that are happening at any given year at any given moment and all of us marketers are going to these conferences.
I often struggled with, was I getting what I wanted out of spending a day away from the work that would help the work get better? And too often that that answer was no. And so, what I've tried to do is at least present different topics in different perspectives that I didn't see in the Conference Circuit, and it's been fairly successful. So, the last three years have been a real ride for that speaking career and something I just love to do.
Anna Hrach: So one of the things that I genuinely love and what's actually funny is that you and I always see each other at conferences. I think this is actually the first time we've talked outside of a conference in like four or five years, right? I'm pretty sure it's been that long.
Michael Barber: It has.
Anna Hrach: So one of the things that I love is, especially when Randy and I were talking about changing the show from content prose to content experience, you immediately got on the wish list of people to come on board, because you really embody experience in pretty much everything that you do whether it's from speaking, which I'm going to ask you about in just two seconds, to the work that you do in a day-to-day basis, to your personal life on social media. But jumping back to that conference experience, so, obviously, you kind of got shoved on stage, and said, "Speak." How has that evolved from then to now? Because you receive amazing amounts of praise for the experience that you provide on stage. How does that come about and how did that evolve?
Michael Barber: This is a really good question. This evolved from thinking about the fact that a lot of us that are on stage are basically saying the same thing, but there's many of us that aren't necessarily positioning it in the best way. I'm not trying to be a critic in that sense. I just mean that a lot of us go to these conferences and we're hearing the same thing, but often, it doesn't get the chance to sink in, because it's being presented in the same way. And on that experience path is, how could we be presenting ideas in potentially way different angles? And so, that's how I have approached speaking over the last few years is, how do we say the same things, but in ways that allow it to stick with an audience?
And as an aside, what I learned very quickly is as you get into this industry as a speaker, there is one thing that you have got to be doing and that is reinvesting in yourself. And so, I've had the chance over the last two years to reinvest in myself from a speaking perspective, getting professional help from speaking coaches. I think more than anything that has been the single biggest change over the last few years, is I've had the opportunity to go through professional coaching, as it relates to that speaking, and it's elevated the speaking game. But it's also instilled a level of confidence in the topics that I present and how I present them and how I get them on stage that I think allows that different perspective to come through in really nuanced ways.
Anna Hrach: That's awesome. Sometimes it just really takes some of that critiquing and somebody to really take a step back and say, "This is what you're doing and how you're doing it, and here's how you could amp it up." Now, a lot of our listeners right now are probably thinking to themselves, "Well I'm not necessarily going out to be a professional speaker," but Michael, one of the things that I think is especially critical in content experience and just the experience we provide is just even presenting those ideas and thinking about the experience that we provide to our internal team members, even presenting information to our audiences, what are some of the biggest tips you found about just creating that experience and making sure our ideas are resonating really clearly like you talked about?
Michael Barber: For sure. I don't think that there's a lack of solid content out there and there's certainly not a lack of solid amplification tactics that organizations are using whether we're doing this internally or externally. I think often, and this is the biggest thing I often challenge either audience members or our creative team and our strategy team, at Godfrey, about is, what's the experience from end to end? Or what's the experience between that amplification point and the actual piece of content that we are trying to get our audience's attention on?
And I think too often we forget about the nuances in between whether that's how someone transitions from one platform to the next, or are we speaking the same way from an amplification perspective on any of these places that we're amplifying our content whether it's owned, earned or paid channels? And does that experience extend in the same way? Does it resonate in the same way when someone gets to that piece of content whether it's text, video image or otherwise, right? Are we thinking through that experience? Is it a challenging experience? Is there friction between that experience that we could remove? Because if there's anything we've learned over the last few years as marketers is just the abundance of channels that we are asking consumers, we're asking normal human beings as non-marketers.
We're asking them to participate in all these different places, and they are willingly doing so and sometimes not. We often forget that there are so many nuances between that initial, if you will, point of knowledge or that awareness of a piece of content and actually experiencing that content, that we don't sort of concern ourselves with. Maybe it's not our job. Maybe we just haven't thought through it, but often, it is those points in between that people struggle with. And so, for me, whether I'm on stage or I'm talking with our teams about what we're recommending to clients, it's don't also just nail the piece of content, nail the way that we amplify it to the best of our ability, given the insights we've got, but also think about the in-between, because that's where I think we're losing the audiences that we're going after, is that in-between experience.
Randy Frisch: Okay guys. So I've been holding back my comments here but partly because you guys are saying all the things that I'm usually out there having to force on people. So, it's nice to actually sit back and hear others preach this. It's funny. I mean, where I work on a day-to-day at Uberflip, when I'm not doing this podcast, we actually looked at a framework for this a while back. We saw that a lot of companies were doing just what you said, and we summarized that as people thought about creation, and then the next pillar that they talked about was distribution and then analytics, right? So they had three. So it was create, put it out there and then see what's working.
We said exactly what you're saying, which is, you're skipping over between creation and distribution. You know, the thought into, where are you pulling people back to? What is that experience at the end of the day? So I couldn't agree more with you, Michael, in terms of everything you're saying here. I guess what I'd love to get your thoughts on, as you work with some of the clients you have over the number of years at agencies, is who in these organizations should be owning that experience, and that's the part that I find that marketers struggle with, because a lot of content marketers were hired to create content and a lot of digital people or demand gen were hired to syndicate that content. But, who in your mind should be owning it?
Michael Barber: This is a really great question, something I think all of us as organizations have struggled with, even as agencies and teams that do this professionally or at least consult professionally on. There hasn't been a group of individuals inside an organization that's been challenged with how do you own and how do you optimize and how do you ensure that these experiences are frictionless or don't cause the users added time or added needs to experience that piece of content. Now, in the past, we have largely allowed marketing teams to weigh that for those needs, those responsibilities, to weigh on their shoulders.
The problem is, is that, most of those marketing teams aren't challenged or even have the opportunity to make fundamental changes at the organizational level to create that opportunity to change what that experience in between those pieces of content might be. Now, those walls are starting to break down, and I think more than ever, you're seeing either marketing or organizations go down this customer experience path, if you will, with identifying what does that team look like and what are their challenges or their calls to action with inside the organization.
But it requires an organization that can fundamentally say, "Hey, we need someone to understand the nuances in between these experiences and then have the power within the organization, both deliberately and explicitly within the organization, to be able to make changes within any parts of the organization that could help create those more frictionless experiences."
Randy Frisch: That makes a lot of sense, and you dropped a big one there, which is this idea of customer experience teams. I want to be able to dig in deeper to that. We're going to have a quick pause here to hear from some of our sponsors on Conex and then we'll be right back to dig into what Michael means by a customer experience team.
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Randy Frisch: We're back on Conex, with Michael Barber talking all about content experience, and specifically, Michael dropped this idea of who would own that experience, and you suggested some orgs are going as far as having customer experience teams. Could you tell us a little bit more about that or maybe even an example of a company you've seen doing this well?
Michael Barber: For sure. So, what I mean by a customer experience team is someone that can challenge fundamentally two things. One, what is the actual way that customers are experiencing the organization? So that individual or that team has the charge to understanding how do customers and prospects get to know us as an organization, what do they experience as they build that awareness for us? Or around organization, I should say. What are the things that help them make those buying decisions that they are actually going to fill in a form or buy a particular piece of product or call an account rep or make that first step? Then what's the experience from that particular prospect, as they get to know organization?
How does that conversion happen? How do they become a customer? And then, what's the experience after that relationship, with the customer, from that point of purchase for the lifetime that we are doing business with them? So the first charge is getting to know that customer on from an external perspective. The second charge that you often see that makes these teams successful is that they are able to go into any part of the organization. This could be marketing, ecomm, web, supply chain, R&D, and understand how all those parts of the organization can fix these experience issues with how those customers experience that company.
So it's really a two-part challenge that we often see. It's the power to be able to understand customers really well externally, and it's the power to be able to go in and understand where are the pain points within the organization internally and be able to lead change within those parts of the organization.
Randy Frisch: I was listening to you at the first part, and I was like, "Well I don't get why this wouldn't just fall under marketing," but then as you got into the deeper part, once we get into post-sale, once we get into all these other orgs, it does get pretty complicated to think, "Okay, well marketing should own all of that."
Michael Barber: Yeah, it's too challenging. As a marketing team, we are often challenged with so many parts of the funnel for a lack of a better term of describing this, but the funnel doesn't fundamentally touch unless we look ... I mean, the funnel I should say touches all parts of an organization that we aren't charged with and don't have any responsibilities around. And so, for marketing to be challenged, unless they are actually ... you operationalize this as an enterprise organization and say marketing also owns this idea of customer experience, then fundamentally, they can't go in and make change. They don't have the power structure or the dynamics within most organizations to make that change.
Why this has worked well for organizations to bring in or at least augment or build a customer experience team is it allows those organizations to fundamentally say, "These are the people or the players that are charged with helping these experiences and gives them the responsibility to make change within the organization." And whether that's a pivot of slicing off part of the marketing team and charging them with those sorts of tasks around experience or whether it's bringing in someone that can help build a team around experience, organizations finally have to just say, "Hey, these are the individuals that have responsibility for it and here's their charge within it, otherwise stuff just does not get done.
Anna Hrach: It's so funny. I love hearing your take on this because I totally agree. One of the things that I've seen most is that the marketing department or anybody in charge of marketing or advertising, it's so frustrating for them to sit back and say, "Okay, we can set this up and knock it out of the park, but then on the back end, we're really struggling with how to operationalize this and how to really weave it through." What has been some of your experiences and maybe even some advice that you have for marketers out there who are struggling with the operations side to really get it consistent and cohesive for that customer experience? What are some tips you have for them for even approaching those on the operation side or even how to start making this change internally?
Michael Barber: Two tips. One, you have got to build some group of customers that you can have honest and brutal conversations with. We've heard this for years. As marketers, it's like, go out and experience what your customers do. If you're a retailer, go into the store and see what happens. If you are an online, if you're a dot-com only, watch a customer go through your site. There a number of tools that can help you do that. Do that sort of augmented research that allows you to understand those instances, but fundamentally, you have to understand where customers and specifically different types of customers, how they interact with your organization.
When I say different types, I'm talking about someone that has no understanding of who you are, but also, who are the people that spend potentially 10% or 20% more with you, and what are they doing differently? What's their experience that's different that you could be affecting those customers that aren't spending that much with you and hopefully challenge and figure out what is it that gets them to come back and then reinforce those opportunities with customers that may not be spending that additional 10% or 20%, right? So it's fundamentally getting to know a group of customers at different and how they experience your organization, depending upon if they are a potential prospect all the way through those organizations that are ... those customers that are very loyal to us and spend additional dollars.
What is driving those nuances with us? And then, two is really, really taking the time to map that journey, and I know this is something that everyone will say, but I don't think enough organizations do a really good job of really understanding what are the nuances of that journey at any given moment whether that person is a potential customer or whether that person is spending 10% to 20% more with us on any given year. And what is the experience that they're having that allows you to really fundamentally understand what are those parts and pieces that they're touching? What are the differences that they experience that cause them to either become a customer or not? What are the pain points that they experience?
And it's not just online. I think too often, when we cut when we talk about journey, it gets siloed into the digital team or the online team. The problem is, is that, no customer thinks in terms of offline or online. They are just fundamentally trying to solve a problem, so what are those things that help them solve that problem to become a customer? And what are the things we're doing as an organization to help them spend more? I think if we can understand those two nuances really, really well, we can begin to break down some of these places where we have opportunities and where we're doing things right as well.
Randy Frisch: I think this is like the evolution exactly of everything that we're talking about, right? When you think about this idea that we have to get beyond just creating content, some instances that when we were talking about creating content, we were all obsessed with personas, right? Like, do you know who you're writing for? But now that we're talking about, you know, to Michael's point, how do we use content or what's that experience? Now we have to think about how those personas actually engage with us over time, and I think it just speaks to the evolution of having to think of more complexity. And personally, this is the stuff keeping me up at night these days.
Anna Hrach: You know, Michael, I couldn't agree with you more, especially on the customer journey mapping. I'm a massive fan of customer journey mapping. I think it is so underutilized. And to Randy's point, people really are catching up and have personas now. Really mapping that customer experience, I would just request that everybody out there doing a customer journey map, please for the love of God, throw out the funnel when you are mapping your customer journey, because it is not about your funnel. It's literally about your customer's journey and the steps that they are taking to get to you and even beyond. But yes, Michael, I completely agree with you 100%.
Michael Barber: And I think what's interesting is ... You touched on something there just really quickly and around this idea of personas. I really love the idea of building personas. I think sometimes we let them dictate a lot of things for us, and unfortunately, there's only so much time in the day to nail different personas with our organization when the reality of the fact is that everyone that is touching your organization as a customer is its own persona. The way I see where we're going is that the tools and the platforms that we're creating, as organizations, whether you're an agency or a piece of software, is we're going to have to fundamentally understand that, eventually, we will get to a point where we are building thousands of different persona types based on the behaviors that we see from customers.
Now, it's really hard to scale right now, but that's the path we're going down is, how do we create an individualized experience based on what we know about these people either inherently, first-party data, third-party data and research, those sorts of things, because this idea of having 5, 10, 20, 30 personas is limiting in respective to, "Do we develop things that allow us to be very personalized for that individual customer that is trying to do business with us or is continuing to do business with us?
Randy Frisch: Yeah, absolutely, Michael. It's such a good point to keep in mind. One of the stats that I probably overuse is the one from Gartner and CEB that talks about in B2B at least, which is I know where you focus, at Godfrey, it's that there's about 6.8 people weighing into the evaluation of a solution. So, to your point, how do we even comprehend connecting with each of those, let alone creating enough content for each of those different personas? And to your point, that's going to be how we have to adapt as organizations to get more and more personal. So it's a really interesting topic.
I feel like we're setting up the sequel to have you back on this podcast, because we are just about at time, but talking about getting personal, what we're going to do, we're going to take a short break, and then we're going to bring it right back. Anna's going to get to know a little bit more about Michael behind the scenes. Stick around right here on Conex.
Anna Hrach: All right, Michael. So I was giggling a little bit earlier. I don't know if you realize you said this, but you actually referred to non-marketers as normal humans, and I think that's hilarious, because I agree with you entirely. So, let's get to know you as a normal human. So we've gotten to hear a ton of amazing information from you as a marketer. Now, it's time for normal Michael human side. So as I mentioned before, you do this amazing thing where you create basically your entire life from professional to personal as an experience. And anybody that follows you on social knows you travel non-stop, right?
Michael Barber: I do, yeah. It's not only just for work, but it's a passion. I was lucky enough to grow up with parents that took us places, and it's something that's just continued into my adulthood. I just love experiencing new cultures and having those random interactions with people that you don't think you're going to have.
Anna Hrach: Agreed entirely. I mean, travel is amazing both personal and professional. You also spend a lot of time at the airport, which is probably the ... speaking of friction, the place where everybody experiences the most friction as a traveler. What is your number one piece of advice for getting to and through the airport alive?
Michael Barber: Oh wow. Breathe. You're going on any given moment, it doesn't matter if you are a new traveler or you don't travel that often or whether you are executive, platinum, diamond, gold-star status, the airport is just a really challenging place. I think if we just stepped back and go, "We are not control of the situation," we would often be okay with the nuances of everything that happens inside in the airport. And coincidentally, as a marketer, I love the airport because you can sit back and see this, as I call it, this normal human behavior that you don't often see. It amplifies all the things we want to know as marketers — how do people react with stress? How do they deal with these sorts of situations? What are the pain points?
People get really, really truthful at the airport about what they're struggling with, with an airline or the TSA or day-to-day things that are going on in their lives. There's just something happens when we walk into an airport that we let that guard down, so it's a really just microcosm example of where you should be paying attention to people when you're this industry.
Randy Frisch: Absolutely, like being a loved airline is like having the worst child ever and really being able to keep them under control, right? It's just mission impossible.
Anna Hrach: So, you also, I know from your Instagram stories, love coffee, like with a passion. What is the absolute best cold brew you've ever had? Because I know you have a preference for cold brew.
Michael Barber: Anna, hands down, there is no argument here. It is still and forever will be Cartel in Phoenix. This was a tiny little shop that opened as a roaster about ten years ago and blossomed into an eight-or-nine-location operation around Arizona. There's one in the airport. If I have an opportunity to make a stop and have to do a layover somewhere, it will always be Sky Harbor, because it is right next to Gate C-13. They have been doing cold brew since you called it an iced toddy, and it is just spectacular. So, if you're going to experience the best cold brew in the world, you got to get to one of the hottest cities in the world, that being Phoenix.
Randy Frisch: Well, listen, Michael, I know another one of your cravings is donuts, and I'm going to, you know, without even asking you what your favorite donut brand is, I'm going to tell you that if you like donuts, you and those listening to this podcast should listen to a previous recording with Kelly O'Brien from Krispy Kreme, where we talked all about content for donuts, which I think needs to be your next client in some sort of way. I know you're B2B focused, but if you can get a donut client, then, I mean, just imagine all the perks and the benefits of all that travel.
Michael Barber: Yeah, exactly. The side perk being I would have to workout twice as hard, because I would be stuffing my face with these donuts on a regular basis.
Randy Frisch: Life is all about balance; it's all about balance.
Michael Barber: It is.
Randy Frisch: Listen, Michael, this has been great. It's been a ton of fun to have you on the podcast here. I encourage everyone to check out the group that Michael's with at On behalf of Anna Hrach at Convince & Convert, I'm Randy Frisch at Uberflip. This has been Conex: The Content Experience Show. You can find us on Spotify, on iTunes, on Stitcher, on Google Play, these days, anywhere you can find your podcast. Let us know when possible what we can do to make this more engaging. Until next time, thanks so much for tuning in.
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