Balancing Analytics with Human Connection: A Conversation with Plannuh’s Scott Todaro

In today’s MarTech conversation, we speak with Scott Todaro, the CMO at Plannuh, a MarTech company that offers software for marketers to build and manage marketing plans, budgets, and ROI.

Todaro discusses how more marketers need to embrace strategy and the psychology of their buyers. He also explains that content is still king and that every MarTech company needs a robust content strategy.

Tell us about Plannuh

I am a co-founder, along with Peter Mahoney, who came up with the idea for Plannuh. I’ve been in marketing for 28 years, and Peter for 30.

The reason why we built Plannuh is that marketers have had a mountain of tactical software products built for them over the last 20 years delivering capabilities such as sending an email or doing account-based marketing. There's nothing really to help marketers operationalize their strategic marketing: build their goals, their plans, their campaigns, manage their budget efficiently, and then be able to track the success, not just how many leads you got, but down to the true ROI.

We felt that because marketers have become very reliant on tactical tools for doing specific channel-based activities, the art of building a logical set of goals and truly understanding the target audience that you need to reach has been lost. And it needs to be part of the overarching mix.

So, we built a platform that allows marketers to manage their marketing plans and budgets. It helps them structure their campaigns and marketing spend while also allowing people to collaborate; it creates visibility into strategic marketing giving teams a true understanding of their ROI.

We're headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. Right now, we have a little over 100 customers, so we're still in the startup stage.

We're going after mid-market companies between $10 million to a billion dollars in annual revenue. They're the ones that need this most. They don't have a system set up, but they have a lot of complexity that needs management.

What do you do in your day-to-day work as CMO of Plannuh?

Most of our marketing strategy is content-based. My day-to-day is to keep working on enhancing the machine that we've built, selecting the right types of messages to reach our target audience, and creating the right types of content assets that give people value. I mean, not just talking about a product and evangelizing it, but really good content that sometimes goes on the fringe of what we do, that people can get value from.

I've been doing marketing, sales, and partner roles for pretty much my whole career: I've got two business degrees with concentrations in marketing, I used to be a marketing professor at the University of Massachusetts for four years, and I co-authored a book, The Next CMO. So, needless to say, I'm pretty passionate about marketing.

What is thrilling for me personally now is being the head of marketing where I’m selling a MarTech product to other leaders. When I sit down to talk with other CMOs, I know exactly what their pain is because I've walked a mile in their shoes—I have failed, just like they have. And it is just so amazing to have those discussions.

I've seen the whole industry evolve over time as technology has come into the mix. It's amazing to see where the avenues are leading right now. That said, it can't be all about technology; marketers need to start thinking top down from a strategy standpoint, as opposed to spending all of their time worrying about a bottom up approach by starting with the channel. It's more important that you get the central message that your audience cares about right. So that's what I work on day in, day out is trying to find that perfect blend between art and science to perfect this function.

What are some of your goals at Plannuh?

Our goal at Plannuh is to empower marketers by allowing them to validate their marketing spend and achieve operational excellence.

We calculate ROI not only on the campaigns but on the plan level. I was talking to a CMO that had implemented our product about six months ago; he had some campaigns running, and he had a meeting with the CFO. He went into the meeting, and the CFO said, “Yeah, I'm going to need to see some ROI on that campaign.” And he fired up Plannuh, he went to the campaign, he said, “The ROI is 2.7x.”

When you share ROI numbers with executives, you're speaking their language. The CEO, the CFO, they want to hear that there is return on spend, and once they see the value of marketing, they'll keep investing more money in marketing.

We’re also aiming to bring strategy back into marketing. I focused on the blend of technology and human-driven strategy in my day-to-day work, but Plannuh is encouraging other marketers to do this, too.

More and more marketers today fixate on numbers and analytics, but when you can get into somebody's head, and you can get into the psychographics of what makes somebody tick, that's not going to come from a computer. That's going to come from a human understanding another human.

Marketers unfortunately are focused on the tactics. They generate leads, and they keep the website running. So, we at Plannuh are hoping to help marketers rethink their approach by using a platform for structuring their strategic marketing to achieve goals and realize operational excellence.

What has been most effective and why?

One of the things that we did that was particularly successful on our end was write a book for marketer called The Next CMO. There's nothing about our product in the book—it's just best practices that we've accumulated over 70 years of doing marketing.

The great thing about a book is that it's got a lot of insightful content in it. To get additional content assets out of the book content, we sliced up each of the nine chapters in the book into three blog posts. Then we pulled all the quotables, and that became our Twitter and LinkedIn strategy. Next, we took the chapters, and we turned them into ebooks. And lastly, we took each one of the chapters and turned them into a webinar series.

And so, with just one book, we filled a full year of content, and the content was incredibly compelling because we spent months writing the book.

The other thing is community. We're going to be rolling out a community soon that's actually based off best practices covered in The Next CMO book. We've got over 10,000 marketers that have downloaded the book or asked for a physical copy of it; we’re going to roll all these people into the community.

Those are just some of the programs that we've run recently that have worked exceptionally well to create awareness, groundswell, and lead generation.

What has failed, and why do you think those tactics failed?

One of the key things that I find that marketing leaders struggle with—and I struggle with this, too—is really being able to communicate a clear vision to your team. Finding the right people, giving them the guidance and goals, getting everybody unified, working together across multiple disciplines—it's very difficult to do, especially the larger the team gets.

I think the other failure is that marketers tend to fall in love with their marketing. You find that an idea sounded like pure genius in your mind, but it does not resonate in the marketplace—a lot of times, it just falls flat.

Sometimes, it's good to find your steady state, build your base, and reserve money for experimental marketing to try and blaze some new trends. If you do, then I think you'll have that perfect blend of exciting projects for your team to work on while still keeping the lights on with a basic tackling to make sure that you're hitting your revenue targets.

How does content marketing fit into your strategy?

Content is king. You’ve got to go out there and invest time into building compelling content. Whether you need to outsource or whether you have the skill set internally, you've got to create a good content calendar and figure out how you optimize the content to reuse it.

Do not write content that is too far off what you do. So, for us, we write about goals creation and management, campaigns, strategy, marketing plans, budgets, and ROI because that's what Plannuh offers. That's where you're going to get the greatest tie-in, really understanding what you offer and the benefit and determine what type of audience is most apt to benefit from your product.

Connect and find out more

You can find Scott Todaro on LinkedIn and Twitter and get more information about Plannuh on their website.

We hope you enjoyed this industry spotlight. You can find out more about our series of interviews with MarTech leaders on social media.