Episode 12: Nora DePalma of Dialogue Marketing on AI in marketing
The founder of Dialogue Marketing talks about the explosive developments in AI in marketing—what it will mean for customer service, client relationships and marketing agencies.
Rudy Fernandez: Hey everyone. This is Rudy Fernandez from Creative Outhouse. I had a great time speaking with Nora DePalma from Dialogue Marketing. She and I connect on several levels. We both own businesses, we’re both very curious at a sort of nerd like level. So our talk about artificial intelligence and marketing was fun. We talked about how AI is changing the way we do our jobs and which of us will still have jobs in the future. AI is here, and it’s being used more and more in marketing. So I think you’re going to get a lot out of this episode. Check it out. Welcome to Marketing Upheaval.
Earcon: You’re listening to Marketing Upheaval from Creative Outhouse.
Rudy Fernandez: Welcome to Marketing Upheaval. My guest is Nora DePalma, president and CEO of Dialogue Marketing. Dialogue helps clients create two way communications with their audience, whether it’s a small audience or a big audience. One tool that’s becoming fundamental to engaging with customers is artificial intelligence, so we’re going to talk about that and her company. Thank you for joining me Nora.
Nora DePalma: Thank you.
Rudy Fernandez: One of the biggest changes overall in marketing has to be this idea that brands can no longer be pushed out to audiences. And I love that whole aspect of your company. It’s a dialogue.
Nora DePalma: It’s a dialogue. Yes.
Rudy Fernandez: Yeah. And there has to be a back and forth for customers because now customers have allowed a republic voice. So how have you seen your clients adjust to this?
Nora DePalma: The clients we see that are really doing it well think about branding throughout their organization. So the branding is not just the purview of the advertising team, it’s your customer service, it’s how you answer the phone, it’s every experience and touch point that your customers have with you. And thinking through what that experience is. Companies that have that mindset and communicate that mindset to employees are the ones that are doing really well.
Rudy Fernandez: So how do you create that? And it’s funny because I agree with you, I’ve always felt like the most important audience is your internal audience, because it doesn’t matter what you tell the outside world if your people aren’t supporting it. How do you create that sort of brand that’s internal, external, everybody is on board?
Nora DePalma: First of all, you have to be true to it. I think all of us have probably had an experience if we’ve been in the industry or been in our careers more than 20, 25 years, we’ve probably come across a situation where a company didn’t walk the walk that they were talking. And everyone knows that. And that just starts to develop distrust between leadership and employees. And that is a very outdated and going away kind of top down view of leadership. The first job of any leader is to build trust in their organization, to be able to get their attention and their interest. Not everyone has to be out there with a great solution to solve the world. It’s a solution that solves somebody’s problem.
Nora DePalma: It’s something that’s just as mundane as an everyday packaged good, can have a purpose to it meaning it makes somebody’s life better. So when you’re able to align your employees around the idea that what you’re doing matters, that’s an important point. So then that begins to get employees to want to talk about what you’re doing and to think about how differently about how they engage with everybody. How do they help people understand why they’re so happy? Like why does this mean so much to them?
Rudy Fernandez: Yeah, I agree. I think there has to be a reason why you do what you do other than make money, otherwise it gets old.
Nora DePalma: That’s not a reason to get up in the morning, it’s a reason to feel good that you’re supplying for your family, and you’re going to have a roof over your head. But at the end of the day to feel like you’re really connected to something that will then connect to your customers, that this is something you’re really doing, you really have to do it. So it’s not advertising to tell someone you’re doing something, it’s doing it.
Rudy Fernandez: So what are some examples of doing it well?
Nora DePalma: The best companies I’ve seen doing it well are really looking at when they think about the content and the creative that they’re putting together with our help or with a company like you. They’re thinking about it from the standpoint of trying to be helpful to their customers. Seth Godin is my spirit animal, the guy who wrote Permission Marketing. And he talks about marketing, it’s an act of being helpful that marketing is the generous act. Which I don’t think too many of us grew up thinking was the case. It was get that message out there. When you think about marketing almost being this advocate for your external audiences and how do you help them? Is your content an article on your website or is it an article on your website that’s also parsed down that people can get answers on your website via chat?
Nora DePalma: It can get the right answers from your customer service. You’re figuring out what questions they have and you’re getting it to the customers at any point in their buyer journey. You’re thinking about being helpful. And that’s kind of a sea change. But companies that go at it from that perspective, I think are going to be more successful. And you can kind of tell which companies are still thinking about it in an old way, we control the message. And you get that read pretty quickly. It’s the way they treat their employees, the way they even think about, treat their customers like, “Well, I can’t be spending my time on Facebook talking to customers.” Oh really? What are you doing that’s more important than talking to customers?
Nora DePalma: But the underpinning of that gets to this the whole idea of how do we use technology to make this happen at scale? So when people start to get a little afraid of this and think, “Oh my Lord. I can’t spend all day on LinkedIn, and Facebook, and Twitter, and leveraging technology to help that happen at scale.” Making the dialogue happen at scale is exactly where we have planted our flag. Because I come from more of a traditional public relations background where we always had to earn attention. And it is very much an earned attention environment now, even if you may pay to get that word out. And it may very well be traditional advertising, it may be social, digital advertising, you may have to pay to amplify your message. But the message is always coming from the standpoint of earning somebody’s attention and holding onto it.
Rudy Fernandez: Yeah. That’s a good way of putting that. So then let’s talk about that technology, specifically AI. You hear AI a lot. I think it’s sort of that thing that’ll happen maybe in a sci-fi world. But the reality is AI is everywhere. We see it every time we go on Amazon and it suggests other things we can buy. What are some other everyday AI things that we don’t even know?
Nora DePalma: Probably the biggest one is auto-correct. And it’s the biggest joke, right?
Rudy Fernandez: Oh God.
Nora DePalma: And I think, to me, it sort of represents exactly where AI is now. It’s getting 60 to 80% of it right, and 20% of it is SNL worthy. And that’s to me from everything I’ve seen right now of where artificial intelligence is for marketers and for business. As a marketer, thinking about how this is going to help me do my job better, first of all, to save my clients money, to work more efficiently myself, but also most importantly is get the right message to the right person at the right time.
Rudy Fernandez: Going back to what you said earlier. If you have a million or more or even fewer than that, customers, you can’t interact with them on a daily basis. But how does technology help you do that for example?
Nora DePalma: So one thing you can do today is what are the common questions people are asking? SEO experts have been doing this for a long time. You write content that’s going to be found and a lot of that research is powered by artificial intelligence. So what are the most common questions people have about your product, about your category, about your company? And surfacing that information to start to be able to proactively create content that maybe initially is being told to somebody on the phone by customer service, but eventually is going to parse down into chat that you can do. And maybe that chat is with a person and maybe that chat is with a bot based on 80% of your customers always ask this question. So why put them through the hassle of having to call you or dig through your website. Get it out there when they type it in, have the question ready. This is how I can start to scale my conversation with people.
Rudy Fernandez: So chat bots are a great example. I think when they first came out they were just similar to auto-correct.
Nora DePalma: Yes, exactly.
Rudy Fernandez: But they’re getting better and better.
Nora DePalma: Just like auto-correct. Right.
Rudy Fernandez: There’s a difference between artificial intelligence and, let’s say emotional intelligence. So artificial intelligence, it bases its responses, it bases its actions on previous information data-
Nora DePalma: It’s learning as it goes. Yes.
Rudy Fernandez: … learning. So while that’s great and it probably helps you 90% of the time or more. What happens when new situations arise that are different?
Nora DePalma: First of all, it’s never going to be ahead of the new information because none of us are. But what it does is take reams and reams and reams of data to help you get to a point where you can make an emotional intelligent decision. So the most recent example, we’re running Facebook ad campaigns and Google ad campaigns. And up until just recently, I was spending an awful lot of time and looking at both platforms, putting together spreadsheets, trying to figure out what’s the difference in the CPM between the two platforms, what’s the difference in the cost per click between the two platforms, what do I need to know?
Nora DePalma: And then I’m going to give them a free plug I haven’t bought them yet, but WordStream brings those two together. It’s not every platform I still got to look separately at Pinterest, I still got to look separately at Houzz, but that’s so much of a big chunk of what we’re spending goes through them. And they’ve put together, they call it the 20 minute work week. And the idea is it’s pulling data from those two areas and saying, “Hey, you know what? You might want to spend here, you might want to spend there, you might want to shift it around.” Google AdWords, your Google Ads, gives you that directly in the platform.
Nora DePalma: So every time you log in, it’s giving you suggestions. Now interestingly enough, I just read this week, watch those suggestions because they may not, like don’t just automatically take them because there may be things that they’re missing. But the more it learns what you do and what succeed, the more you work with it, and the more you refine it and you find successes, and it find successes, it’s going to get better for you. So in that regard it’s almost like a person, right? It’s learning as it goes along.
Rudy Fernandez: Yeah I saw, I guess they did a study pretty recently about ads that were written by, let’s say copywriters and ads that were written by an AI technology, and the responses. And the AI technology did better, which-
Nora DePalma: Yeah I know.
Rudy Fernandez: … many people listening aren’t going to be happy about that.
Nora DePalma: For all of us in agencies, we’re going, “Oh, okay. How about that?” So I always identified, and first and foremost as a writer, even though it’s been decades since I was a journalist. And I like to write personally. For me to think about artificial intelligence writing for me, that took a long time to get my head around. But when I started to think about it from the standpoint of, “Wow. Writer’s block may end in my lifetime.” Just getting stuff down and getting a starting point is where so many of us sometimes fail. And this technology can really help us jumpstart that.
Rudy Fernandez: Well, actually that’s a good point because there’s artificial intelligence and some people are referring to it as augmented intelligence. Back in the 90s a computer beat the grand master at chess. So that was a big deal. But then what they discovered was when you had a chess player with a computer, that chess player can beat the computer every time. So it’s not as if the computers replacing the human, it’s the computer is helping the human be better.
Nora DePalma: Augmenting the human, right. Yeah. That’s everything in marketing. There will be tasks that will be replaced, but not people.
Rudy Fernandez: Will there not be? Because it seems like some people will be replaced. Some people who do tasks that are-
Nora DePalma: Repetitive.
Rudy Fernandez: … repetitive.
Nora DePalma: Right. Data entry reporting, some basic writing, like a personnel press release, things like that. But the demand to help support… So some of that work on the other side of things, that’s going to increase. And we all know that there’s demand for coders in technology.
Rudy Fernandez: Sure.
Nora DePalma: So for us creative types, it will probably winnow down, if somebody is not great in a job market that we have now where there’s not enough applicants for the jobs. You’ll sometimes get some people that aren’t the top of the level. This, first of all, may help them be better or second of all the people who are going to succeed in the creative fields, they have to absolutely have to know their audiences. The research person, the data person who is also over there crunching numbers. I don’t see that changing.
Rudy Fernandez: Sure.
Nora DePalma: And nobody seems to be thinking that’s changing. If you’re really committed to not being curious, and not really understanding your customer, and not getting into that, you may run into some problems because the emotional intelligence is going to be the differentiator.
Rudy Fernandez: Yeah. Data is data. Unless it’s relevant. You have to figure out what does it mean?
Nora DePalma: Yes. Yeah. And it’s so helpful for us now. We do public relations different than we used to. We start by running through different platforms to understand where are most of the articles? Who’s writing about this topic? What type of content is it? Is it articles? Is it video? How is this story being told? A, to find out where we fit in the conversation. And B, to find out where we can differentiate ourselves. So that’s not anything we had even five years ago-
Rudy Fernandez: Oh no.
Nora DePalma: … to be able to have a sense. We could see who was covering a topic, but we didn’t necessarily understand, what did the content look like? How are people engaging with it? How viral did that content get? Now we can pull that kind of stuff up in just a couple of clicks.
Nora DePalma: Yes. He has one of the best overall articles on artificial intelligence.
Rudy Fernandez: Yes. I read it.
Nora DePalma: Yes.
Rudy Fernandez: He talked about how if you took someone from the 1500s and brought him into 1750 through time travel, that person, he may be impressed by the changes in the world map, and maybe the roads are better. Nothing huge. But if you took someone from 1750 and brought them into now, that person’s head would explode because there was no electricity, satellites, and DNA, and this magic square we carry in our pockets that does all these amazing things. That person would just die of shock. And I guess the point is we tend to look back at innovation in a linear fashion as if it’s always going to progress as it always has. But now-
Nora DePalma: It’s exponential.
Rudy Fernandez: … it’s exponential. So the stuff we’re talking about AI is doing now, in five years it’ll be doing things that we can’t even imagine.
Nora DePalma: That’s pretty much what people are saying. We can look ahead now and say certain areas of writing, data crunching, we know that’s coming. What’s coming beyond that is harder to see. So it’s interesting that you talk about… And I got really into this because I went to this conference PR 20/20, is a PR firm in Cleveland, Ohio. And they hosted a conference to help all of us get better understanding about it, which I thought when you talk about a generous act of marketing, I’m going to bring a whole bunch of my competitors together and we’re going to talk about this. I give them a ton of credit. And went to all these sessions and started to understand how things change from here, and how we communicate with each other, and engage in commerce, engage in in humanity. All of that’s just going to change so much.
Rudy Fernandez: Hence the name of this podcast, I guess.
Nora DePalma: How perfect.
Rudy Fernandez: A blog you wrote about AI. You said that AI will enable companies to save money on marketing, and they could invest those dollars in innovation, purpose, and culture. Which will have a positive impact on the business and the world at large. So are you seeing a shift from marketing dollars going towards, let’s say external audiences to more internal audiences?
Nora DePalma: No. I think it’s more people, if they don’t… I think they can start to differentiate themselves by what they do versus what they say. So that’s both audiences, that’s internal and that’s external. But that gets back to what we were talking about earlier about walking the walk. So if you are not innovating in the old days you could do ads that made it sound like you were, and everybody would believe it. But now if you’re not innovating everyone knows it. So put that money into innovating. Make sure you have a good new product pipeline, or make sure if you’re an idea company trying to advance some kind of an idea, if you’re an entity or an NGO.
Nora DePalma: Put the time and the effort into researching it and make sure that you’re doing everything you can to advance that cause. The money goes into the value of what you’re creating versus, frankly big advertising. I’m not trying to say advertising is going away. Advertising done through the lens of what Seth Godin is talking about, is thinking about being helpful or being inspirational. You can be inspirational. Get information out there. So it’s not that advertising is bad, it’s thinking about that balance between actually creating value versus just talking about it.
Rudy Fernandez: Yes. I understand. Now, as someone who creates advertising, I’m hoping you’re wrong.
Nora DePalma: Because the kind of advertising you’re going to create and the kind of public relations I’m going to be talking about are going to be rooted in something different than they used to be.
Rudy Fernandez: Of course, of course.
Nora DePalma: But someone still needs to tell the stories.
Rudy Fernandez: Absolutely.
Nora DePalma: They need to tell them in a compelling way. And what has advertising always been? When we think about the Super Bowl, what’s everybody talking about? It’s the content. Advertising is content. And what engages, and entertains, and informs, and inspires. Whether that’s in a 30 second spot or that’s in a blog post that you’re amplifying through LinkedIn or any one of those. It’s all content and to be helpful or inspirational. Just all of it is focused in that direction.
Rudy Fernandez: So one of the things that I think I hear you say, and it kind of dovetails into the Deloitte Tech Trends 2019, is that they referenced adapting engagement tactics that meet customer expectations based on an ongoing relationship. And they call it Beyond Marketing. And their point was that companies can’t just say, “Oh and we’ll do marketing.” Marketing has to be part of what a company does. Similar to, let’s say Apple, marketing has always been as core to their product as their computers and their motherboards. But their point was that more and more companies should bring that function of branding within their own walls rather than having external companies do more of it. What are your feelings on that?
Nora DePalma: Well, I guess it depends on some of the areas. So the first thing to think about is what we talked about earlier, that marketing the brand should be everybody. So the experience with the company and everybody’s contributing to what that experience with the company is. There are some areas that I think do make sense to have internally. I think the closer the conversation is to the customer, the more benefit there is to having that internal. Companies have outsourced customer service for years. Some of it well, some of it not so well. I’ve spoken on behalf of a brand before and used their tone and been very successful at it.
Nora DePalma: I would say in general, having the customer communications be internal as much as possible is probably going to be the way to go. Where I’m less buying into it, where I’m also seeing the trend about creative coming in house. And obviously that’s a topic near and dear to both of us. And I can see both sides of it. I could see having photographer, videographer in house. I can see a basic writer in house. I can see some of those tasks. Like if you’ve got to just knock out website descriptions and things, that does seem to make sense.
Nora DePalma: But I think you still would always want to have some kind of team of external partners who are doing the work to look ahead for you. We’ve always done this in the creative fields. You’re ahead of your clients in knowing what’s resonating now. You can’t just read Adweek and say, “Oh, I’m going to do that Instagram story. And that’s going to work perfectly fine.” So I think having that kind of external guidance as well as probably having external guidance just in implementing all of this.
Rudy Fernandez: Sure.
Nora DePalma: … Like a marketing technologist. Having to pay someone internally to keep up with all that versus someone like us that we can do this on behalf of multiple clients and cross pollinate that learning. I feel like that’s still a good external thing. But I definitely could see where talking to the customers, engaging across all platforms, having that be closer into the company, and an essential part of the company branding makes sense.
Rudy Fernandez: Yeah and even data management as well, as part of that.
Nora DePalma: Yes.
Rudy Fernandez: We work with internal creative departments. And I’ve seen it work well. I think one of the things we offer is a lot more objectivity.
Nora DePalma: Yes. Yes.
Rudy Fernandez: So in your blog I referenced earlier, you identified three things that companies need to get started in AI for marketing. You said they need developers to write to code, data scientists to refine the data, and marketing technologists to put into production. So to me, as a small business owner, it’s like, “That’s a lot of people doing things that I don’t normally do.” Do you think that’s something all, let’s say PR agencies or ad agencies or marketing agencies will need moving forward?
Nora DePalma: Not right away. I think at some point. This PR 2020 was interesting. They did create an in house exclusive capability. They worked with engineers to create these, a way to do a personnel press releases through artificial intelligence. The client inputs data into a form, it spits out a press release, someone gives it a quick glace over, and there’s a draft to the client in an hour.
Rudy Fernandez: Did it work well?
Nora DePalma: Yeah. They’ve refined it, but yeah they’ve got it to the point where they’re working. So they put an investment in engineering, something unique. I’m not there yet. And I don’t even know that every big… Huge enterprises should be looking at this. But I would say for most small to medium size businesses, leveraging the platforms that are out there. Now that’s ginormous. There are so many of them. And it’s a test and learn kind of thing. In some cases you may already be working with platforms that use artificial intelligence, and you’re not even really thinking about it. I’ve been a HubSpot partner for a number of years and a lot of what HubSpot does is powered by artificial intelligence. But they don’t say that, they just say, “We’re going to make it easier for you as you write your blog post, we’re going to serve up suggestions to make sure it’s resonating with the topic you want to talk about.” That’s artificial intelligence.
Rudy Fernandez: I think artificial intelligence, there may be biased people think science fiction movies where computers take over. Do you think artificial intelligence needs better PR?
Nora DePalma: Oh, I would definitely say so, yes. And in some cases it’s not going… PR isn’t going to help it because when we get into some of these issues of propaganda and such, definitely there needs to be a lot of ethical discussions around it. But I do agree with you that just what we’re talking about here, it does need more PR just to understand. Everybody calmed down. Where does it fit in? Where did you use it? And where is it in your everyday life? As we talked about earlier, it’s already here. So I think you’ve made a good observation, helping people understand, “Wait a minute when it comes to the business world it’s just here. And this is what it’s doing. And this is what it can do.”
Rudy Fernandez: That’s why I think they invented the term augmented intelligence to sort of say, “Okay. It’s here to help.”
Nora DePalma: Yes. Yeah, exactly. But that has not caught on. Everybody says artificial intelligence.
Rudy Fernandez: And then Arnold Schwarzenegger’s going to come with a big machine gun.
Nora DePalma: Yes. And that’s the first thing everybody thinks about.
Rudy Fernandez: In our emails, you referenced Martech 5000. And I started to read that with a Tim Urban article in mind about the exponential growth of technology. The first part of the article said that the Martech 5000 had actually decreased in the last year. But then they pointed out that it’s not that it decreased, it grows so fast it was so hard to keep up. Because you had a lot of new apps and then you had larger platforms that were becoming open. And so they in turn spawned thousands of others and they said it should be Martech 50,000.
Nora DePalma: Yes, yes. Well at a minimum it’s Martech 7000 something. And it can look overwhelming and it can create paralysis to say, “I don’t even know where to start.”
Rudy Fernandez: So how do you get past that? I always get emails about the latest greatest. How do you avoid the paralysis or just pressing delete on your emails?
Nora DePalma: Oh I press delete on a lot of emails. But for me, and this is kind of the power of PR, I tend to investigate something if I’ve heard it at a conference or I’ve heard it on one of the podcasts that I would listen to. I listened to Michael Stelzner, Social Media Marketing Jungle. And every time before his episode starts, they give the tech tip of the week. So I’ve gotten quite a few from there. I tend to be an explorer in that realm anyways.
Nora DePalma: One of the platforms they showed at this conference that was interesting was that it would do this kind of thing for you. But they said, “We need customer data upfront.” And I said, “Well, what would the customer data be?” And I’m thinking, you export something from your CRM and you categorize all your media coverage. I’m thinking of data. And they said, “Oh we go talk to them.” Oh well yeah that would be a good… So it literally grounded. And I think some companies may have gotten away from that type of market research. They were over reliant maybe-
Rudy Fernandez: Sure.
Nora DePalma: … on how much data, and maybe not talking as much, thinking about ways to really get close to your customer. This company before they do anything before anything artificial happens, it’s the emotional intelligence. They’re actually out there talking to your customers.
Rudy Fernandez: That’s great. Actually, speaking of the automated versus the people, other side of it. A man I know who has an automated system that PR agencies use, part of it is keeping track of social media mentions and responses and such. But also automating their responses in some cases. He was pitching to a PR agency and they weren’t interested. And the reason was we have people to do that. So the funny thing was to me is you missed the entire automated point. But I also understood his point of view too. He has people working for him that he wanted to keep employed. So how do you… That’s going to be a barrier in the transition, or do you think that will just take its course?
Nora DePalma: It will take its course. It’s not going to stop. So that’s why I’m vested now. And I think most business owners should be in thinking ahead. You don’t want to leave any of your employees behind. But thinking now about what could be automated. And a good employer hopefully is going to help to work with those employees to redirect. And maybe if it’s someone who’s doing data entry now, this is someone who starts to become more adept at evaluating Martech platforms.
Nora DePalma: So there’s training that has to happen in there. As we look at all of this shifting, there are going to be a lot of mismatches between demand and skills. So this is where I would hope business and government would actually come together in starting to address some of those skills gaps that are going to take place in marketing. They’re taking place in other industries. I had never been one to think, “Okay, that’s going to hurt people. I can’t do that.” It’s going to happen anyway, so how do I prepare for it?
Rudy Fernandez: If there’s anybody who can adjust quickly to the changing times, it’s the government.
Nora DePalma: Yeah. I wouldn’t actually say they would lead. But I would like to see them help support. I would like public policy around re-education-
Rudy Fernandez: No, I agree.
Nora DePalma: … and job training.
Rudy Fernandez: I agree. And it’s coming faster than anybody knows I think.
Nora DePalma: Yes. That’s the big thing, like that this is as far as it is right now that press releases are being written with artificial intelligence. I did not know that before I went to this conference in July. And I thought, “Okay, I need to be aware of that.” And the other part of my job is the data analysis.
Rudy Fernandez: True.
Nora DePalma: And I do spend a great deal of my time and some of my team’s time getting that data together so I can make sense of it. But I’m excited about not having to do that part anymore and being able to start thinking through what I’m looking at without having to do all this data input beforehand.
Rudy Fernandez: In your blog, you said data driven first drafts, this goes back to your copywriting aspect, data driven first drafts will free up creatives to focus on refining the message to make the emotional connections with our shareholders. How would it save creatives time? Artificial intelligence.
Nora DePalma: I think it’s that first draft, whether it’s a first draft of a paper or writing something. It’s getting beyond that blank piece of paper to start creating. So having something that started for you that you can react to and refine, I think saves us from a lot of angst when that blank piece of paper is in front of us.
Rudy Fernandez: So what do you think humans will continue to do versus machines?
Nora DePalma: It’s going to be in the emotional part of it. There’s certainly things that come up when I see suggestions in Google Ads, that you just stop and go, “Wait, no, no, that’s not right.” So I think the part that humans being ahead of the machines is how to engage with the other humans. We know somebody needs this information to make this buying decision, but how do they really want to receive that information? Is it literally just a straight article or is it post-purchase justification where what they really want is something to justify the emotional purchase. I don’t see any of those thought processes and those decisions going completely to machines. I don’t see humans being replaced in making those judgment calls.
Rudy Fernandez: At what point does all this knowledge and data people find useful? And at what point do they find it creepy?
Nora DePalma: Oh the creepy factor. Well, that comes into the personalization, and to me that goes back to Seth Godin and thinking about being helpful. So if people want… His whole premise in Permission Marketing was you have permission to talk to somebody, “I’m interested, I want to hear what you have to say.” And if you receive an email with buying information at the point that you’re ready to buy and it’s got some information in there that really helps you, that’s helpful. If that same email comes in and you’re not ready to buy or you’ve seen something negative about the company, that’s going to be creepy.
Nora DePalma: And this is maybe the biggest shift, like people who have been at work for 30 years or more were used to being told, “This is what we’re going to do. The consumer is going to take this. This is a product we’re going to put out there.” Versus the dialogue idea. Thinking about being able to take all that information to facilitate a good dialogue, that’s where data is good and getting it to the right person at the right time, the right message. Deviating from that in any way and saying, “Well, what I want to tell them is we’ve won 15 awards.” Okay, that could be creepy because that’s not what the person’s looking for. That may be what you want to say but it might not be what they want to hear. And I think that’s the dividing line.
Rudy Fernandez: So lastly, because we’re both entrepreneurial, own our own companies, I wanted to ask you about business ownership. Because one of the things on your bio that I loved was you didn’t start a business because you wanted to own a business. Which that connected with me because I didn’t want to own a business, but I did because I wasn’t finding a kind of connection that I wanted with clients. And a kind of internal atmosphere. So tell me a little bit about your story and how you decided to start a company.
Nora DePalma: Well, as you saw in my bio, I was in a situation where corporate America couldn’t be flexible enough to meet my family’s needs. And I had some ill family members. So I just took a leap of faith to consult so I’d have a more flexible schedule. And from there I found I liked it. I liked sort of eating what I kill.
Rudy Fernandez: Yeah. No. That’s a term I just use today talking to somebody else.
Nora DePalma: Yeah. And people are telling me, “Don’t use that term.” But something about, it’s by your sheer guts and thought. What’s between your ears is what directly impacts how you earn and how you live. That ended up really appealing to me. Along with the idea that I could create this for others.
Rudy Fernandez: We talked a lot about technology. What are the things that excite you the most and scare you the most?
Nora DePalma: Excite me the most is I love learning all this stuff and I love thinking about ways to be better informed, not just about our client’s businesses, but about their customers. To know enough to be able to connect on an emotional level and an authentic level, I find exciting. And of course my iteration of dialogue, my company now bringing those talents to bear on things that can make a real difference. That’s what excites me. What scares me is what I don’t know. Every morning I’m thinking everyone else knows something that I don’t.
Rudy Fernandez: Yeah. And then you go out there and you realize, no, we’re all just kind of making this up.
Nora DePalma: Yeah. I know some things, you know some things. And probably the worst person in a meeting is, “Oh, he didn’t know that?”
Rudy Fernandez: No, no.
Nora DePalma: Anyone who calls himself a guru or anything like that. Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope. We’re all in this learning together. But I have to keep reminding myself that and not wake up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night thinking, “Do I even… What do I not know?”
Rudy Fernandez: Yes. I think we all do that.
Nora DePalma: Yes.
Rudy Fernandez: Thank you so much, Nora. This has been wonderful. I really have enjoyed this very much.
Nora DePalma: Thank you. Appreciated it.
Rudy Fernandez: Hey, thanks to listening to Marketing Upheaval from Creative Outhouse. If you want to learn more about Dialogue Marketing, visit Dialogue.marketing. For show notes, previous episodes and previous to upcoming episodes, visit CreativeOuthouse.com/podcast. And if you liked this podcast, please give us five stars. Subscribe and share it with your friends. Our producer is Susan Cooper. Special thanks to Gopal Swami and Acoustic Music for creating our ear-con. And to Jason Shablik for his audio advice. That’s it for this episode of Marketing Up People, and remember if the current state of marketing has got you confused, don’t worry, it’s all going to change. See you.