Emily Hackman from Astea
Chris: Hello and welcome to Thought Leader Magazine. My name is Chris Carr. I run a marketing agency called Farotech, which is a digital marketing agency that’s located just outside the city of Philadelphia.
Today on Thought Leader Magazine, we have Emily Hackman. Emily is with a company called Astea. They are a field service management platform and they’ve been a client with us for about two years now. Welcome to the show Emily.
Emily: Thank you.
Chris: Great. So, before we start, I wanted to sort of give a background on, you know, sort of who you are, some of the specs that we talked about before.
Chris: You graduated from Fox School of Business with a B.B.A. and concentration in Marketing. What year was that?
Emily: A little while ago.
Chris: Okay. And then from there you went on to DuPont?
Emily: I did, yep. That was my first job out of college.
Chris: Alright and then now you’re the Executive Director of Global Marketing at Astea.
Emily: I am.
Tell Me About Your Career Prior to Working at Astea
Chris: So, tell me about your career prior to working with Astea? What lessons did you learn?
Emily: I think probably the best lesson I learned was two companies prior to Astea. It was a mid-size enterprise. We had about a thousand employees and the biggest lesson I learned there was learning how to find the people with the right information and that takes a while in an organization of that size.
I would be tasked with a project and artifact to figure out who are the internal subject matter experts, who do I need to go and sit with and interview and pick their brain and understand everything from their point of view in order for me to be able to market it and that takes time in any organization. It’s part of your ramp up process when you join a new company. But it’s something that I learned to navigate well and then you learn who you need to go to with different challenges and different problems and you need to learn how to navigate them and it’s just the politics of it. But it’s learning who is who and who knows what.
Chris: Sure. Sure. So, when you go and you move on to a company like DuPont, which is this massive machine, right. They probably have a very systematic way of doing it and we were talking about a story where it’s saying it takes two months to do a one day job sometimes because of the bureaucracy or just this is how we do it here. So, what did you run into there?
Emily: You run into a lot of people who had been there for years and years, many people for their whole career and so it was ingrained in them that there’s a process, Oh, if I need to do that, I have to send these five emails and I need to go through these 10 people to get that done. But when you bring someone from the outside in who hasn’t been indoctrinated into that culture yet, then someone like me and some of my peers at the time, they just said, well, why can’t I just go and talk to so-and-so? Aren’t they in charge of it? Well, you can’t do that. Well, but why not? Right, and DuPont has a facility right outside of Wilmington, Delaware and there was one plaza on one side of the street and another plaza on the other side So, you know, the joke was, well, so-and-so works in that other plaza. I’m like, but that’s literally across the street and I had moments where I’d just be, you know, talking to a lifetime DuPonter and I’d say, well, isn’t so-and-so across the street in Barley Mill Plaza? They said, well, yes. I’m like, well, I’m just going to go get in my car and go drive across the street and talk to them. Like, well, you can’t do that. I’m like, well, why not?
And so, like I said, my colleagues and I who were brand new to the organization and young and we would just say, well, we’re just going to go do it and then everyone else was so surprised and we would just get… That was our motto was we got stuff done because we didn’t follow the rules. We broke the rules.
Chris: Yeah. Yeah. It’s not like it was exactly West Coast either. You know what I mean? It’s across the street.
Emily: It was quite literally across the street.
Chris: Yeah. That’s funny. That’s funny. Now, you grew up in Harrisburg.
Emily: I did.
Chris: And you’re one of the first guests on our show that’s a pretty accomplished hobbyist.
Emily: Oh, well thank you.
Tell Me About Your Vocal Career
Chris: So, tell me about your vocal career.
Emily: My vocal career, I wouldn’t call it a career. Now, I studied music from a young age. It is my love and my passion, and I studied piano and voice for years and years and what I learned when I was studying vocal performance, for my first degree, I realized that if it became my profession, if music became my job, it would somehow lose its impact in my life. And so, I decided instead of to make it my job, I would continue making it my love and my passion and what I did as a creative outlet and so that’s when I decided, well, what should be my next biggest challenge? I’m always about, well, what’s my next biggest challenge and how do I get there?
And so, in my mind, the next biggest challenge was business. I wanted to go into business and I kind of stumbled into marketing. I had always loved advertising, especially old advertising, like turn of the century advertising. But you know, I took an intro to marketing course and when I was just, you know, taking some liberal arts courses and I fell in love with it and so I thought, well, this is my way that I can accomplish my goal of being in business while still having that creative element in my profession.
Chris: Sure. Yeah. So that’s like one of those things that I think it’s easy to say, well, just do what you love. Right. It’s not easy because sometimes the thing you love if it’s your job.
Emily: It’s different.
Chris: The love is gone. You know, it’s crazy. Because I mean, thinking just when I started this company, I was pretty much a graphic designer by nature. Wasn’t my major in college or anything, but I knew I wanted to draw.
Chris: I didn’t want to wear a suit. I didn’t want to do a bunch of things. Now I wear a suit and I do sales.
Emily: Here you are.
Chris: Exactly and I do payroll. That gives me kidney stones every two weeks. Not exactly.
Emily: Living the dream.
Chris: Living the dream every day. So that’s very, very interesting. So, now I want to kind of pivot to Astea. Tell me a little bit about Astea in your own words.
Explain Astea in Your Own Words
Emily: So Astea is a 40 year old company. We were founded in 1979. In its essence we are a software company and what’s important and impactful about Astea is that our founder and CEO actually created the first service management software that ever existed. So, he and his team and then this company that he’s built over the last four decades, literally were the first movers in this market and so there was a lot of inherent value in that.
There was a lot of inherent success in that obviously and the challenge I had when I first came in was, well, how do you retain all of that value of being the first mover, being the original thought leader while still modernizing the brand? Because a lot of our competitors who entered the market, say 15-20 years ago were agile. They were a little bit more digitally native than we were and so that was one of my biggest challenges in joining Astea.
Chris: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. So, what happens that we find is when we work with companies that were pioneers or basically very well established it’s very easy to just start working on all of your clients’ stuff.
Chris: Basically, all that work and you’re throwing all your energy towards making it right for your clients and in the background, your competition comes in, they don’t have those pressures right out of the gate and they get to basically paint a brand new canvas and they have the luxury of being able to stand on your shoulders but then present it in a new way without the collateral damage that it takes to move a big boat and shift a big boat. You know what I mean?
Emily: That’s very well said and that’s exactly what happened because where we started losing in the market was sales and marketing because we never had to focus on sales and marketing before. We were the company. Everyone copied our technology because we were the first of its kind. So even from a product standpoint, we were superior.
But to your point, we focused completely on the product, completely on our customers. Customer focus has always been big for Astea and then that was something that, I think they forgot to work on the business and it was more of an afterthought and then all of a sudden we had all these big marketing and sales focused companies coming in and dominating this space and we had to completely do a 180 and rethink the focus of the company and really drive it more to be a sales and marketing driven culture.
Chris: Great. So, tell me a little bit about the CEO Zack. He’s run a business for 40 years, which, we’re close to 20 and it’s not, it’s not an easy path. Do you know a little bit about his journey and his story?
Emily: Sure. He actually referred to Astea this morning as his personal child. As you can imagine, he created the concept of Astea, created the software behind it himself literally. He is an engineer. If he were sitting here talking to you, he would say, Chris, I’m an engineer, by trade. I like to build things and that is what he does very well. And so, he did that with the product, but then he also did it with the company and he took it global.
We are global, and he helped to grow it all throughout the world by aligning with companies that perhaps would have started a little bit smaller but then as they grew throughout the decades, we grew with them and he also was very smart in making sure that we kept the focus on the customer. So instead of just creating products and features and enhancements that we thought the market would like, we, we just always went back to the customers and said, okay, what do you guys need and what are your new challenges and how can we create software that will help you solve your challenges today, tomorrow, five years from now? And if you look at, some of the research reports on Astea, particularly like the Gartner Magic Quadrant. You’ll see that we have one of the highest customer retention rates in the industry, like 98%, something like that and that’s why, because everything we ever did was to satisfy the needs of our customers.
Chris: Yeah. But now you run into the challenge, tight that you can service your clients really well, but because you’re spending so much energy on your existing clientele, he’s 38 years into the game. How long have you been with Astea? Two years.
Emily: Two and a half years.
Chris: So, he’s 37 years into the game and he realizes, you know what, it’s like change or die, right?
Emily: Yes, it was. It was sink or swim. Yeah, it was. It was. We have to completely reimagine the entire way that we do business and it is one of the reasons they brought me in to help them do that from a brand perspective and from a culture perspective too I think.
Chris: Yeah. And so, you bring a whole host of branding strategy. What are the key responsibilities you have at Astea?
Emily: I do anything and everything marketing related. So, from lead generation and marketing communications to PR to advertising, to analyst relations, everything. Everything I do. The only role that I can play in the product development standpoint or the product marketing is that if I have the ear of the customer and I spend more time with them and prospects and I’m paying attention to the market, what are the analysts talking about? What are our competitors talking about? What am I hearing at industry conferences? Then I can bring that back to our development team and say, if we’re not doing this, we are now going to be five years behind.
Chris: Great. Great. So, you’ve already sort of developed this marketing foundation for really large brands. You’re working with DuPont; you’re working with some of these other companies. You’re figuring out on the fly how to work in a smaller world, how to work in a bigger world. Foundationally you come to Astea, you realize that, you know what, there’s got to be some really big bold moves here. Where did you start?
Emily: Started with the website. I looked at the brand as a whole and I said, well, before I even redo anything, right before I redo the website, redo our collateral, redo how we do host webinars and what white papers and marketing content we produce. I had to answer three critical questions, which took a while, which were who was Astea, who is Astea and who will Astea be. And how I did that was by looking at our audience and I say audience because I think when we were talking earlier, I said, I look to our customers and I look to them for guidance because their needs are continually evolving and so as their needs have evolved, so have how we met those needs, whether from a product standpoint or a services, a professional services standpoint. But when I thought about that statement, I realized that the term has to be a little bit broader.
It’s not just what our customers needed us to be and how our customers needed us to evolve so that we remained relevant for them and continued providing value. It was what the market itself needed and so once I was able to get a clear picture of the answers to those questions, then I started literally with the website and that was the launch pad for the new brand and so everything I did from that point on had the same look and feel of that, the same modern feel, the same usability, approachable. We changed tone from being professional and academic and technical, jargony to personal and colloquial and approachable and relatable and human and all of these things that the market wanted us to be and it was very similar to the evolution that I think all B2B brands have gone through, which is you look to the B2C market because they are the trendsetters and they’re the ones setting the bar extremely high and slowly that has started bleeding into B2B, right? And now we expect the same kind of amazing, delightful, personalized, how did you know I wanted that retailer. But they, they know that you want this at a certain point because they have the technology and they have the data on you to do it.
And so, we had to think more like a B2C provider and less like a B2B vendor. We had to figure out who our audience was, give them what they want, but more importantly from a brand perspective, communicate with them in a way that made us feel more human.
What is The Buyer’s Journey Like For Your Clients?
Chris: So, then you also had improved their visibility. So, we have the great privilege of working with you, help build the website. We’re also working with you. You’re kind of quarterbacking the campaign, but we’re running a campaign to generate leads and nurture leads and convert leads and stuff like that. All the magic that’s entwined in that. So, tell me, what is sort of the path of the journey that clients take? Meaning like how do they find you and then what experience do they have and what do they leave with?
Emily: It really depends. Some of them can find us at industry conferences we’re at all of those, you know, the interesting thing for us is if someone has been in the service world long enough, they probably know who Astea is. That is the one benefit that we have with our brand recognition. The fact that we’ve been around for 40 years. So, you probably know who we are. If you don’t you will find us at an industry conference. We will be there in some form.
What I’m trying to do now going forward is being at these industry conferences less from a sales perspective and more from a thought leadership, educational value driven perspective, I’m starting to do that more where I have people on main stage, I have people in breakout sessions, we’re hosting round tables, we’re bringing our customers so that they can tell our story. We’re infusing the voice of that customer in our story.
So, if you don’t find us in those ways, now that we’ve modernized our marketing operations, now you can find us digitally. Now we have a blog. We went from having four to seven blog articles a year to like 50. We’re on pace to a hundred blog articles this year and so we’ve just quadrupled everything. Same with press releases. We used to do like maybe one or two or three a quarter, maybe up to five and we’ve doubled that from 2018 to 2019.
So, we’ve not just doubled down on things like quantity of messages, but then quality too. So, I’m trying to make everything more authoritative, more authentic, more genuine, and more personal. So, I’m looking to the voice of the customer. So, I want our customers to tell a story. I’m interviewing them, I’m putting them in front of the camera. I’m putting them in a workshop at conferences so that everyone can hear from our customers. Don’t listen to me. Go hear from our customers. They can tell it better than I can, and they can talk your language and relate to you, Mr., or Mrs. Prospect but we’re also doing it with our internal SMEs.
We have all these people, our average tenure is 15 years, and one of the most valuable things about Astea is our talent, is our people, is our internal knowledge and experience. It’s unmatched in the industry. So why am I not highlighting these people? Well, they weren’t highlighted before. Well, they are now, I’m putting them on videos. I’m putting them on webinars. I’m putting them in white papers. We just hosted a webinar, a live Q & A webinar with our director of cloud hosting last Thursday. We just interviewed, our VP of Customer Success a couple of months ago and put him in a white paper. These people have really valuable insights and they have great experience that they can share. So, I need to highlight that and the best thing that I can do is marketing is not tell my story is tell all of those stories.
What Does Your Target Client Look Like?
Chris: Sure, sure. Now we’ve developed a system with the, helps our clients, like you segment your audience and then get the right message to the right client at the right time. That’s the mission, that’s the dream. Yeah. So, what does that client look like? Or maybe clients because I’m segmenting. What does that look like in your space and what message do they hear?
Emily: So, our target audience is service centric companies. So, they install, they maintain, they repair some kind of equipment. Typically, the companies that we work with are larger. They tend to be global. The other thing that we look for is we look for the key buyer persona.
So, we sell into IT, we sell into the C-suite. operations or field service depending on the nomenclature that they use and by understanding who each of those buyers are and what needs they have; we’ve started writing content specific to them. We understand your challenge in IT is this. And so, we’ve written specific articles and specific assets for them. Same with finance. We wrote like the CFO’s guide to field service software and so we’re answering our buyer’s questions but to your point, we’re also answering them at the right time. Because the other thing we did earlier this year was we did this whole content mapping strategy where we looked at all the content we had produced in the last few years and said, okay, what sales cycle does it fall into and who is it speaking to and what questions is it answering? And by doing that analysis, we found all these gaps and that’s what we’ve been working on this year is filling those gaps. So, we had a lot of content that was focused on the early sales cycle stage, but none towards the middle of the evaluation or the end when they’re really making decision while they’re vetting vendors. And by filling in those gaps, it gives everyone throughout the organization, throughout the whole customer journey what they need.
How Has Astea’s Technology Changed From When it First Started and How do You Market It?
Chris: So Astea is going on 40 years now and so when Zack started this company, there was no platform for this industry. So, he comes in, he creates this platform. Now you’re in a spot where the technology is how the industry works. How has the technology changed from when he started this 40 years ago and then in all that chaos, how do you market it?
Emily: Well, I think emerging technologies play a big role in that. So, things like artificial intelligence, and elements of machine learning are now, inherent in our platform, whereas that didn’t exist before. So, things like that, just as technologies have been introduced, we’ve adopted them and in two different ways. If it makes sense for us to adopt it inherently, like figure out how to build it ourselves, then we will, if it makes more sense for us to partner and integrate to another technology, then we do that.
We really look and see what’s best for us as a company and then a lot of times what’s best for the customers and if it’s better for customers, for us to focus on our core competencies instead of going and spending all this R & D on, say creating our own IOT platform, then we’ll just go and partner and integrate to the best of breed IOT platform. Just like we are the best of breed FSM platform. So, we take very much of an integration approach and take best of breed for every single line of business application that you need and marry them together in a way that is seamless for the customer. So, from the customer’s perspective, it seems like they’re working out of one platform, which is namely our platform, but then they’ll be able to pull information from IOT. That’s a good example.
Chris: Great. Great. Now, just to kind of paint a better story, I’m going to say this is ABC company, they’re a great company to work with and they just signed on the dotted line. How does your platform work for, I probably didn’t give you enough information, but I’m wondering whether you can run with it. How does an organization like that implement your software and run it on a day to day basis? So, tell me what goes on in their life, what fires do they have? How does your solution help and what does your platform look like end to end?
Emily: So, our platform is going to manage everything in our business. It’s going to manage their customers, their contracts, all of the customer sites that they manage, all of the, we call them assets in the field service industry, but it just means equipment.
So, everything that they manage, how they monetize it through their contracts, who they manage it for, who are their customers and then their resources. So, the resource allocation, their workforce planning. So, what employees do they have, what skill sets do those employees have? Where are those employees physically located and we take all of that information and we feed it into our machine, and it spits out every single day this is what ABC company should do today because you have these service orders that were submitted. Each of them have different SLAs. Each of them have different priorities based on who the customer is. Each customer is located in a different place as are your technicians, your field service technicians, they’re all located in different places and they all have different certifications and skill-sets and training. They each all have different parts because if ABC company needs to fix a certain piece of equipment, they might need spare parts.
So, it’s all of these moving pieces and that is literally how robust our platform is. It figures out everything for you. It even figures out the invoicing. The only thing, like I said earlier, that you have to do is hook it into your general ledger system. Everything else our platform does for you.
Chris: So, we were talking yesterday, and you were saying, I think Chris, when you’re thinking about this, you think the system could just be totally reactionary, but you were saying the technology is so good that it’s actually predictive. Unpack that.
Emily: Right. So, in our world today, it’s humans telling other humans, my machine is broken, but the future is powered by the internet of things and artificial intelligence and predictive analytics. So, in the future it will be a machine telling a human I am broken or based upon these activities I am going to break or based on if you’re collecting historical data on that machine, then you can perform an algorithm.
You can do some predictive analytic models to it and you can figure out and predict this machine is going to break at this day, at this time, at this location and you can have a technician already scheduled to go and he or she can get that notification on their mobile device that morning. The machine might not break yet, but by the time they’re there, it might already be broken. So, the whole point is that at some future point in time if we’re not quite already there yet with IOT, humans don’t have to be involved the machines will tell us.
Chris: Wow. Now, I’m trying not to get political here. I think it’s Andrew Yang, he’s running for politics and he’s talking about how eventually we’re going to be in a spot where there’s going to be a lot of job displacement because essentially the machines are going to take over and in a good way and a bad way. You know what I mean? Like I think, you don’t have to go all Terminator here to think that the machines are going to kill us all.
But what I thought was very interesting and when we started talking about the hybrid of having machines, speaking with each other, communicating basically operations at the speed of light, but then also introducing human elements so that your clients are in a scenario where they’re sort of benefiting from the best from both. So, in other words, you’re just making the computers they have better. Is that, is that a fair statement?
Emily: Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, and artificial intelligence is not at a point where humans don’t have to be involved anymore. We are nowhere near that point. What’s interesting about AI and any kind of learning technology is it’s you teaching a machine how to learn like a human does based on experience and then have reactions and make decisions based on different scenarios like a human does.
So, I don’t know, I always found it kind of ironic that even though it’s artificial, intelligence would mean it’s a machine thinking. The whole purpose is we’re trying to make it be more like us. I don’t know if that makes any sense, but I also think that whoever’s being an extremist and saying, wow, the machines will take over the world and humans will no longer be needed. Humans will be repositioned. Humans will always have some kind of role to play because we are not replaceable, and emotions are not replaceable and think how many decisions you make that aren’t based on pure analytics and facts. We make decisions based on everything in our life, including experience and emotion and those are things that machines don’t have.
Chris: I also think technology brings different opportunities. So, where you might have one individual in a certain chair doing a certain job, when it’s replaced with technology, that doesn’t mean that the guy leaves. It means this guy is able to pivot to something else that they didn’t have the time for.
Chris: And so that’s why I’m not entirely all doom and gloom about this. Now, you know, at a broader vision, like do I think that people at a hamburger place are going to be replaced by kiosks. Yes, I do. But in the grand scheme of things and specifically in your space, I just think that people are going to be able to do more.
Emily: I think that they will and to your point, here’s a great example. I think, email is evil and needs to be stopped. Email is a time suck. It is. And I told my team this week, I said, because we have these big projects that we’re working on this week and so we’ve literally been working on them morning till night. And so, I literally, the last couple of days I’ve had to shut off my email and I’ve told people I am shutting off the email today. I think I told you that yesterday morning. I’m like, I’m shutting off of email if you need me, text me or call me and so I said to my team members, I’m like, you know, we should have dedicated days and times every week where we shut off our emails so that we can actually work and get stuff done and my point in telling you that is I want one of those AI bots that will answer my email for me because I spend the vast majority of my time answering emails when I could actually be producing more. And so, I agree with your statement. I think when used and infused in the right way, it can help us humans do more valuable things.
Chris: I’m taking that to an extreme level. So, I have an assistant. My assistant…
Emily: I’ve heard.
Chris: My assistant writes my emails, I check my…
Emily: That’s amazing!
Chris: emails twice a day. She flags me if I have a fire but it’s just a waste of my time to say please and thank you when I can be in front of the client dreaming, brainstorming, and doing things like this.
Emily: And doing what you’re good at too. Email management is, it’s certainly just like time management and project management. There are things that you learn and there are skills that you gain throughout the course of your career. But not everyone is good at email. We all know this very well. It’s just another form of communication and if it takes you away from whatever your core competency is then it really needs to be stopped.
Chris: Yeah, it’s crazy. It takes her on average between 15 to 30 minutes to schedule me.
Emily: Oh, scheduling meetings is another huge, when are you available? This is when I’m available.
Chris: Exactly. And then we tell the client before we know what our internal team is. Well, what if the client… It’s a mess. And so, the last thing you want me doing is not talking to you because I’m trying to figure out can I schedule a meeting with my accountant? You know what I mean? It just doesn’t bring any business value to my clients. So that’s one of those scenarios where I started from a time management thing, I said it’s going to be expensive, but if I can be multiplied in areas where I’m going to succeed, it’s worth it.
Emily: It’s worth it.
Chris: Now if Christiie was a machine, so be it meaning that’s what you’re saying, right? Is that we can solve this problem. You’re going to get to do the things that you’re good at more rather than you…
Chris: Yeah. Yeah. I get it. I get it. I want that world.
Emily: I want an AI bot to check my email.
Chris: Yeah, that’s right.
Chris: So, it’s November already, 2020 is upon us.
Emily: I know.
What Does The Future Hold?
Chris: It’s crazy right. What does the future hold?
Emily: The future holds how can we do more with more. Now my past and present was how do I do more with less, but I’m hopeful that my 2020 world, including my 2020 budget is how do you do more with more and so that’s exciting because I can say, okay, what are these things that I’ve wanted to do for the marketing department that I haven’t been able to do?
So, some of that means media development. We need to do more video; we need to do more podcasts like this. We need to, like I was saying earlier, create more, assets that communicate with our audience in ways our audience wants to communicate with us. But we also need to be more strategic in storytelling, Infusing the voice of the customer, infusing all of the knowledge and expertise and experience of our internal subject matter experts but then it’s taking those stories and doing something strategic with them. Some more strategic PR, more strategic editorial, more strategic media relations. It’s being more strategic in how we’re taking that message and putting it out there to the market but it’s also things like martech.
I need to have more tools for doing ABM, right? Like we were talking about earlier, if B2B brands want to be more link B2C, they have to be highly targeted, highly personalized, and they have to be timed exactly right and that means ABM. So, I need tools to do that. I also want to do more with social media because again, it’s a way that starting now in the B2B space, your clients and your prospects and your influencers can engage with you and your brand in a way that is personal and human and so I want to do more there. I want to do more monitoring there. What is our brand awareness on social media? How many times are we mentioned? When were we mentioned in what way? When were we mentioned on what topic? What do people care about when they hear the name Astea? What piques their interest? But then I want to augment that. They have several tools out there that I’ve used in the past and want to introduce for 2020. That’s employee advocacy and making it very easy for employees to like and share and comment on things that we in corporate marketing put on our social media channels.
Chris: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. That makes a lot of sense. So, if you’re going to do more with more, how is it that you have a bigger budget?
Emily: Well, it is hopeful that I will have a bigger budget, but Astea is actually going to be joining forces with one of the competitors in our space, which is really, really exciting. That news was announced a little over a month ago. The sale will conclude in a few weeks and it’s really exciting.
From a very high level it’s looking at, you know, two entities, two organizations joining forces to create something that’s larger than the sum of its parts. That’s how we’re looking at it and if you look at our industry, there’s a lot of consolidation and there’s been a lot of consolidation in the last year or two. And so, the company that’s buying us obviously was watching and aware of all of that and said, well, if we joined forces with Astea, we gain all of these things that we want, and we need. We gain all these great clients; we gain penetration in certain markets where maybe we’re not as strong. We gain all this talent. That was a huge part of why they wanted us.
So, we have all, like I was saying earlier, we have all these people with over a decade of experience in service management technology. You can’t go out and recruit and hire 200 people just overnight, but you can if you join forces with an organization like Astea. So, there’s a lot of positives in it and I am hoping that they see the value in what we’ve been doing from a marketing perspective and hence my hope that I will be able to do more in 2020.
Chris: So right now, you have just shy of 200 people working at Astea. So then if you go and you do this merger, you’re significantly larger. How do you think between marketing, sales, and a great platform, how do you also think it’ll improve culture?
How Do You Think The Merger Will Improve Company Culture?
Emily: Oh, I think it’ll improve culture a lot. Their culture is very similar to ours. Astea has, because people have been there for so long and our original founder is still our CEO and president. Astea has this great culture of being very family oriented. People have been working together for years, enjoy each other’s company, have become friends and I think our new owners are very much the same way. They really think of themselves as a family. They’ve even told me that in the future, they don’t want it to be after it’s concluded, and we are officially part of them. They don’t want it to be an us and them scenario. and this is not the first time that they’ve acquired a company. They’ve been acquiring several different companies to complement their different product lines. We are just complimenting their field service management line.
But they’re mostly an ERP company, so they’ve acquired another ERP company just in the last six to eight months. And so, they’ve been through this before and they understand that it takes a while to integrate two cultures and it takes a while for employees to feel like they’re part of this brand new, bigger world and that can seem daunting and it can seem intimidating. But since they’ve done it before, I think they’ve learned how to do it well and they are also smart in seeking out people within Astea who are excited about this and will be their internal champions to help them spread the good word.
Chris: Yeah, that’s what I was wondering is that sometimes this happens, I didn’t know whether people are coming off nervous or whether it actually feels like it’s a shot of adrenaline.
Emily: It’s both and that’s depending on who you are. I know that we certainly have Astea team members who haven’t been through something like this. And I was, you know, talking to you guys earlier, this will be my third time. And so, I’ve been through this before. I know it can be stressful. I know it can be scary because the truth is, because you don’t know what the future holds, but you have to be able to look at it from a positive lens and you have to be able to look at it and say, no matter what happens, I think this is going to be exciting.
It’s an infusion of support and strength and capital and resources and the backing of a company that’s 10 times larger than we are. So really it’s just an opportunity to grow. And if you embrace that opportunity, you will succeed.
Chris: That’s awesome. That’s really cool. So, I’m excited for you. And so that’s going to probably be in the next couple of weeks, is that correct?
What Are You Doing to Keep Yourself Sharp and Manage Your Time?
Chris: Awesome. Awesome. So, for you as an individual, we’re going to kind of go into a little bit professional development here. So, you’ve been in this chair for about two and a half years, but your development of your career has been significantly longer. So, on a day to day basis, what are you doing to kind of keep yourself sharp, to manage your time? Are there books you’re reading or what do you do personally to kind of keep yourself in shape?
Emily: I am a LinkedIn person. I think I’ve gotten used to being on LinkedIn for seeing what my connections are up to but also just my news in general, since I am so busy, and I wear 18 different hats. I don’t have the luxury of time of sitting and reading online articles. And at night I’m so tired I don’t want to sit and read a bunch of articles because I’ve been reading and working for hours and hours. So, LinkedIn is a really good source of information for me but I’m also old fashioned in that I like to learn outside of a digital realm. and so, I did attend a CMOs conference last year that I really, really loved.
Chris: What was that called?
Emily: I think it was just called like the CMOs conference, something like that and they host them in different regions throughout the country and they host like typically two a year, one more East coast, one more West coast. I did the West coast one last year or at least Western region. It was in Denver in March last year and it was great. For me it was wonderful because it was still early enough in the year that I could go and hear all these different speakers and network with all these different peers from all these different industries and it was really validating because I thought, okay, for 2019, these are my big initiatives. Am I on the mark? Am I not on the mark? And so, when hearing these speakers and talking with all of these other marketers, I learned that what I’m doing is right. I’m not alone in my biggest challenges which also makes you feel better when you’re not alone.
So, something like that was really impactful. I’m looking to go to another one of those again. I want to take a continuing education course through Harvard’s professional development school. They have a digital marketing course that they hold. It’s a five day intensive type of a workshop environment. I don’t have the luxury of time to be taking classes at night. I do too much at my job. I don’t, I don’t have that kind of time. So, something that’s completely immersive like that that gives me a big shot of, information and experience in a short amount of time would be really impactful.
Are There Any Habits You Do On a Daily Basis?
Chris: That’s great. That’s great. So, it sounds like you’re dumping a lot of good stuff in from basically trying to seek out more knowledge and stuff like that. Are there any habits you do on a daily basis?
Emily: Really it’s my music that keeps me going.
Chris: Is that right?
Emily: It is. It all comes back to music. No, I always get to a point in my day where, you know, your brain gets tired, but yet you need to keep working, especially when you’re creating something. It takes a lot of mental energy to be creative, whether it’s creating a design like craft design or whether you’re writing something or creating a presentation or creating the whole strategy behind a campaign. It takes a lot of energy and what rejuvenates me later in the day besides my chai tea is music.
So, I’ll put on my Amazon music and I’ll play some of my songs and I’ve done it with my team member all this week. Like I said, we’ve been locked in my office working on big projects and I would get to a certain point in the night where we know we have to stay late again and I say, okay, what do you want to listen to? And we’ll put it on, or we’ll watch a funny YouTube music video or something and it gives us the energy and it kind of relaxes us and then we can work for a couple more hours and then we can trod on home.
Chris: That’s fun. That’s fun. Great. Well, you know what, we’re getting close to the end of our time, but thank you so much for coming on the show.
Emily: You’re welcome.
Chris: This has been wonderful.
Emily: Thank you for having me.
Chris: Learning about you, learning about Astea. So that takes us to the end of our show. if you want some more information about Astea how do they find out about you?
Emily: Astea.com, a-s-t-e-a.com.
Chris: Okay, great. Great. And so, we’re going to leave you there and the next segment is going to be our five minute marketing segment. Enjoy.
5 Minute Marketing
Chris: One of the challenges that we hear often is I’m not getting enough out of my digital marketing plan.
So, the first thing that I do is I look at your database. There’s an expression in marketing that says you are only as good as your database. And so, what happens is companies spend a lot of time and energy and money developing a CRM and then basically doing as many marketing efforts as possible to push people into that database. But the problem is that they don’t take it one step further and the next step that you have to do is marketing segmentation.
A lot of times it feels very simple to basically look at your database and say, you know what, I need to figure out the unique properties of each of these records and segment them into little groups. So, the critical part of that process is to segment those contact records into little buckets based upon what we call buyer personas.
If you haven’t done a buyer persona process, this is how this process should work. Usually what happens is you get critical stakeholders into a room and then with a spreadsheet or another tool, essentially what you do is you ask critical questions and then you see how does it change from one buyer persona to the next buyer persona and to the next buyer persona because what you don’t want to do is you don’t want to be like the companies that essentially do unsegmented marketing or they get one message and they blast it out to their entire list.
The reality is, is that if you can take the time and to segment and find a way to get the right message to the right client at the right time, your open rates and conversion rates will soar. I’ve seen it happen. We’ve been doing this for nearly 20 years, and that is the most critical part of our inbound marketing process.