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Episode 316: Why Showing Clients Your Human Side Beats a Hard Sell With Cassidy Shield of Narrative Science

Episode Summary

Knowing when to play it cool and let the customer come to you can work better than a hard sell.

As VP of Marketing at Narrative Science, Cassidy Shield has learned that the most effective approach for drawing customers to the company’s product is by showcasing its abilities and the brand’s values.

What exactly does Narrative Science do? The brand calls itself a “data storytelling company” — its software Lexio transforms analytics data into plain language stories that people can easily understand and use without a degree in data science.

Cassidy says it takes a special type of customer to understand the product’s value. “They’re not afraid to make a decision that’s against the norm,” he says. “We’re looking for early adopters of technology.”

On this episode of Tech Qualified, Cassidy explains how he’s restructured and reinvigorated Narrative Science’s marketing team since joining 18 months ago, and why a subtle marketing approach works for the brand.

“It’s been largely that strategy of building content we feel is valuable and providing experiences, and putting our people first so we’re seen as humans, which is critical to establishing that trust and relationship. People then get comfortable taking the next step, which is, ‘How can you help me?’”

Guest Profile

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Key Insights

Episode Highlights

“Narrative Science was started 10 years ago: We pioneered software technology that takes data and turns it into language or stories. We like to say we’re a data storytelling company. Our mission is to take data and analytics and put it in the hands of everybody in the company — and we literally mean everyone.”
“Because of the nature of COVID and the fact that it’s probably one of the biggest data stories that we’ve ever experienced as human beings, it can be confusing to understand. We put COVID data in our products to help explain to our community what’s going on. Here’s something we’re all struggling to understand: Let’s put it in our products and explain it to you like a human.”
“In a market that’s been down 30 percent in our segment, we’ve been able to hold our own. That’s given us a very clear playbook about how we want to take this forward, from a digital and content perspective. The team’s really got their feet under them and I feel good about it.”
“Sales and marketing alignment is a marketing problem: That’s what I’ve enforced in our team. If you want to be aligned with sales, it’s our responsibility, it’s not sales’. They’ve got the toughest job in the company. They’re on the frontlines all day, they have a number. If you want to get aligned, marketing has got to do the work to make that happen. The teams really resonated with that, and I feel like we’re in a good spot.”

“We’ve all made mistakes together: This has not been a smooth ride. Through that process of success and failure, we’ve all seen the team grow. We’ve been able to get people in the right position where they maximize their value. I think we’ve done a good job, as an entire company, of pushing responsibility and accountability in all parts of our organization, of really empowering the team to be accountable for their pieces. And we’ve hired good people who have really stepped up.”

“It still takes a big leap of faith to try something new — to spend money at all. That’s obviously a challenge for us. We have good relationships with big customers who’ve bought other products from us, so we talk to them about what we’re doing with this new product. We know that we’re gonna have more success with folks who know and trust us as a brand and as a company.”
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